China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), the developer of the Missan oil field complex in the east of Iraq has released a tender for the supply a crude oil export pipeline.
CNOOC plans to build a 42-inch pipeline from the Burzugan oil field, one of three fields in the Missan complex, to storage facilities at the Al-Fao peninsula in the south of Iraq.
SK Engineering & Construction has won the Wasit Gas Plant project, launched by state-run Aramco of Saudi Arabia. The project is made up of four packages. SK E&C alone clinched three of the projects; construction of facilities for gas processing, natural gas liquids (NGL) fractionation and sulfur recovery. The contracts are worth a total of US$1.9 billion.
The gas processing facility construction is at the core of the entire project. Once completed, installation is scheduled to produce sales gas after removing impurities such as sulfur and carbon dioxide from natural gas extracted from the Hasbah and Arabia Gas Fields.
The sulfur recovery facility project involves creation of a recovery unit which extracts sulfur from composite material. The project also includes construction of relevant facilities, such as the water and air suppliers, necessary for the management of such a plant.
The NGL fractionation facility to be established by SK E&C will be used to produce ethane, propane, butane and gasoline compounds on a commercial scale by processing NGL.
SK won the project on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) turnkey basis. Scheduled to be completed in 2014 after 38 months of construction, the Wasit Gas Plant will be located in the coastal area of the Gulf, approximately 50km north of Saudi Arabia's biggest industrial city of Jubail. Down the road, it will process approximately 70 million cubic meters of natural gas from the Arabia and Hasbah Gas Fields for domestic use.
Emerging as a Big Shot in the Saudi Arabian Plant Market
SK E&C stepped into the countr¡es plant construction market in 2009 when it constructed the Jubail Oil Refinery, worth US$500 million. In the following year, it signed US$300 million and US$600 million contracts for the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) and Yanbu Oil Refinery, respectively.
At this time, it beat no less than 12 competitors and succeeded yet again in winning a mega-scale project from Aramco, one of the worlds largest oil companies, by highlighting its superb track record in project execution and product quality. This will serve as further momentum for SK to rise as a powerhouse in the Saudi Arabian construction market. SK has continued its winning streak in the Middle East nation for three years. Currently, it is engaged in four projects there, with combined construction costs amounting to US$3.3 billion.
The Wasit project is especially significant in that it is SK’s first gas plant construction project. The company is expecting the achievement will further shore up its business portfolio, which has more traditionally been oriented towards oil-refining, petrochemical and power generation plants.
“The Wasit Gas Plant undertaking will cost approximately two trillion won in total and is our first order obtained abroad in 2011,” said Kim Yoon-Geun, senior managing director of SK E&C and in charge of the Middle East and Africa. He added, “We will continue to focus our abilities on the arena and attain the overseas business goal of six trillion won across plant construction, civil engineering, and general construction, etc.”
British architecture and design firm Benoy has won two major contracts in Malaysia.
The deals were revealed at the global business summit organised by the British government at the 'British Business Embassy' at Lancaster House to build partnerships between UK firms and international businesses.
Benoy, which has projects in 50 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, has recently opened an office in Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur, its ninth global studio.
Benoy is involved in enhancing the development masterplan of KL Metropolis, Kuala Lumpur’s new International Trade and Exhibition District.
Led by prominent Malaysian developer Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd, the development comprises world-class exhibition space, architecturally advanced office buildings, luxury apartments, boutique hotels, a museum, art complexes and a specialist healthcare precinct along with a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences.
The design concept for this ambitious mixed-use destination is inspired by some of the world’s greatest international urban masterplans.
In addition, one of the largest developers in Malaysia has instructed Benoy to deliver a masterplan for the first transit orientated development in the heart of Subang Jaya, Malaysia.
The concept for EAST Precinct is to successfully integrate a mix of retail, hotel, serviced apartments and office suites within the transport infrastructure to create a unique landmark destination that will form an integral part of Subang Jaya City Centre’s vision for the future.
Graham Cartledge CBE, Benoy chairman, said: "The creative industries are undoubtedly an integral part of the UK’s economic success and future growth, and Benoy is delighted to be a part of this important global summit today.
"As an established British brand, we are particularly pleased to announce our involvement in two landmark projects in Malaysia. Benoy’s first steps into this vibrant country mark an exciting new phase of the firm’s international journey."
Italian contractor Impregilo has a 30% share in a joint venture that has been awarded a US$ 650 million contract to build a bridge in California, US.
Its joint venture partners are US contractor Shimmick Construction and Spanish company FCC Construction. The Port of Long Beach awarded the design and construction contract for the new Gerald Desmond cable-stayed bridge in Long Beach, connecting the city and its harbour.
The structure will be 610 m long with a main span of 300 m and 2 km of access viaducts. Construction is scheduled to take four years.
The bridge represents the first contract win by Impregilo since its board was taken over by Salini earlier in July. Salini is a privately-held Italian contractor that owns just under 30% in its larger rival and has outlined plans to merge itself with the company.
Pietro Salini, the new managing director of Impregilo, said the Gerald Desmond Bridge contract strengthened the contractor's role as a player on the international market for major projects - a strategic direction in which Salini is keen to push the company.
"This new success in a market as highly competitive and selective as the US recognised the expertise of the company in the construction of infrastructure initiatives of particular complexity and highlighted the high potential of the group."
Petrofac, a London-based oil and gas service provider, said it has been awarded two engineering, procurement and construction contracts for Petro Rabigh's Phase II petrochemical expansion project.
The EPC contracts are for tank farms and common utilities for Petro Rabigh, which is jointly owned by Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical. The projects are among the first major awards made by Saudi Aramco under its In-Kingdom EPC program. The refinery is located about 93 miles north of Jeddah.
Petrofac will handle the contracts from its Saudi office in Al-Khobar.
Kenya is on the brink of building Africa's first underwater museum, which will be dedicated to studying marine life and shipwrecks.
Designs of the proposed museum, which is expected to be open in 2014, have already begun with the help of US architects and a budget for construction costs is being discussed at government level.
"Apart from studying shipwrecks that happened in the Indian Ocean Coast, we will also be studying the marine life that exists [there]... Construction is set to begin soon and it is expected to be fully operational in the next two years," said Cesar Bita, head of archaeology at the National Museums of Kenya.
Kenya will be one of the few countries in the world to have an underwater museum. The US and the United Kingdom have such facilities as well as China, which has the world's largest underwater museum. Egypt is carrying out studies to also construct an underwater museum but it has not advanced its initiative like Kenya.
The museum will be located in the shores near the town of Malindi, a popular tourist destination. "Shipwrecks attract a lot of fish which feed on micro-organisms on the wood [of the ships] and they are also a habitat for the fish and several other aquatic species. We will partner with many organisations in the study of marine life," said Bita.
"The marine life that we aim to study is several species of fish, turtles, and even dolphins because there seems to be a relation between feeding and the shipwrecks," Bita added.
Human remains from the shipwrecks will also be archived in the museum records.
"Building an underwater museum is a good idea but expensive. It is happening when the government has put at least one percent of its annual budget on scientific research and innovations. Other areas however need to be prioritised, such as the science of development," said Prof Germano Mwabu from the department of economics at the University of Nairobi.
He said more should be invested in health research such as malaria, which affects millions of people in the country each year.
Chevron Corp. announced in July that its subsidiary will proceed with the expansion of its Bibiyana natural gas field in north-west Bangladesh.
The new project will include expansion of the gas plant to process increased natural gas volumes from the Bibiyana field, additional development wells and an enhanced gas liquids recovery unit. The project is estimated to cost approximately $500 million and is expected to boost Chevron’s total natural gas production capacity in Bangladesh by more than 300 million cubic feet per day to 1.4 billion cubic feet per day and 4,000 barrels per day of natural gas liquids. First production is expected in 2014.
Technip was awarded by Ithaca Energy Ltd an EPIC subsea contract for the Greater Stella Area (GSA) development, located 280 kilometres East-Southeast of Aberdeen, Scotland at a water depth of approximately 90 metres.
Technip’s operating centre in Aberdeen will execute the contract, which is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2013. Genesis, Technip’s consultancy subsea and offshore engineering company will complete the detailed design workscope and flexible flowlines will be manufactured at Technip’s flexible pipe plant in Le Trait, France.
Selection from Sheila Hare, Nexus Editor
Foreign workers earning less than £2,000 a month will no longer be able to bring their spouses and children to overcrowded Singapore.
Singapore's population has expanded hugely in recent years, putting a strain on resources.
Singapore has started tightening the screw for foreign workers as it faces unrest from citizens at their rapid influx.
From the start of September foreign workers will need to earn at least S$4,000 (£2,000) a month before they are allowed to bring their spouses and children with them to stay in Singapore.
Overseas workers whose families are already in the city state won't be affected by the changes, unless they move employer after September 1.
Some workers will also no longer be able to bring their parents and in-laws on long-term visit passes.
Singapore's Ministry of Manpower also plans to criminalise marriages of convenience to obtain immigration privileges and the forgery of immigration documents.
Singapore's immigrant population has rapidly expanded over a short space of time. Of a total population of five million, more than one million are non-Singaporeans, the majority of whom are also working in the city.
This has led to a backlash from locals worried about being pushed out of the jobs market while public transport and housing is squeezed.
While Singapore has the world's highest proportion of millionaires, there is widening wealth gap between rich and poor.
The Ministry of Manpower said: "This will help ease the pressure on our social infrastructure. Nonetheless, Singapore remains a global talent capital. We continue to welcome highly skilled foreign professionals who wish to bring their dependants to stay with them."
The new measures are one of a number announced by the government in the last 12 months. Last year it introduced an extra 10 per cent stamp duty charge for any foreigner wanting to buy property on the island. It has also raised the fees for foreigners wanting to send their children to local schools.
From the start of this month, manufacturing companies have been forced to cap the percentage of foreigners they hire to 60 per cent of the workforce, down from 65 per cent.
One British expat who has lived in Singapore for five years said: "Singapore has become a victim of its own success. It has done so well at attracting foreign talent to the country it now has the problem of too many wanting to relocate here.
"This also leaves it in the enviable position of being able to cherry-pick the best foreign workers."
The number of ‘global nomads’, employees who move from country to country on multiple assignments, has increased significantly over the last three years causing challenges for employers when it comes to providing expatriate benefits, says a survey.
According to Mercer’s 2011/2012 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Internationally Mobile Employees, which provides an overview of expatriate policies within large multinational companies, provision of expatriate benefits remains a key priority for multinational companies.
Around 85 per cent of multinationals have implemented procedures to monitor success of expatriate benefit policy, while 53 per cent of companies have seen international medical plan premium increases of 6 per cent or more.
While percentage of short-term expatriates (those assigned to a project for less than a year) has fallen from 17 per cent to 11 per cent, long-term expatriates as a percentage of the total assignee population increased from 21 per cent to 40 per cent between 2008-09 and 2011-12, Mercer said.
“We are seeing that multinationals are expecting their talent pool to have varied geographical experience as a prerequisite to climbing the top rungs of the career ladder,” Mercer’s Asia Pacific Global Mobility COE Leader for Information Product Solutions Phil Stanley said.
According to the report, the need to develop global leadership talent and the growth of new business ventures abroad has prompted a rise in global mobility.
“Seasoned professionals who can bring solid international experience and a depth of knowledge across a number of operating environments are vital to companies looking to create or expand new ventures abroad and gain a competitive advantage,” Stanley said.
The survey results show that only 12 per cent of companies have established international retirement plans to ensure continuity of benefits.
Employers are also facing challenges to provide expatriates with a broadly equitable system of healthcare whilst managing costs as the quality and standards of medical healthcare vary significantly from country to country.
Nearly all (98 per cent) respondents currently provide private medical insurance for their globally mobile workforce compared to only 57 per cent in 2005.
“An international medical plan provides equality among expatriates and reduces administration effort and time resource constraints. But challenges remain, particularly around costs,” Stanley said. The report said that 20 per cent of companies saw their premium increasing between 11-15 per cent.
Addis Ababa. "The Chinese will come and build roads, stadiums and infrastructure.... They will build labs, but who will run the labs?" asks Jean-Pierre Ezin, the AU's chief pointsperson for education. He pauses for a while, and then replies: "Africa needs India for developing its most precious resource: human capital."
Sitting barely a few metres away from the new Chinese-built towering building of the African Union in his office in the old building, Ezin resists being drawn into the much-touted India-China comparison, but agrees that there is a world of difference between the engagement of India and China in Africa.
"The Chinese are good at building, but we need skilled people to run these establishments. They are not really interested in what we really need - the transfer of knowledge," said Ezin, AU's Commissioner for human resource and science and technology, in an interview to IANS.
India, on the other hand, Ezin points out, is strong in training and skill-building and has some of the finest educational institutions. "We need to develop skills in Africa. India is building 10 vocational educational centres at the rate of two per region. We need an acceleration of India's efforts in this direction," he said.
India is a critical partner in developing Africa's human capital, he stressed, adding that Africa is looking to India to set up higher education institutes in the continent.
Ezin, who has a doctorate in mathematical science from a French university and has held key posts in international scientific research centers, is a firm believer that the so-called African renaissance or resurgence can only happen through transforming the continent's educational landscape.
"The authorities in the continent are not aware of the fact that the biggest need of Africa is human capital. They need infrastructure, roads and airports, but above all, without robust human capital, we can't move ahead."
It is in this sphere of education and capacity building that India can make a big difference, he said, while pointing to over 100 training institutes India has pledged to build all over the continent at the last two India-Africa Forum summits held in New Delhi and Addis Ababa.
These institutions encompass a wide array of areas ranging from agriculture, rural development and food processing to information technology, vocational training, English language centres, and entrepreneurial development institutes.
The four institutions India has offered at the Pan-African level include the Institute of Information Technology will be established in Ghana, the Institute of Foreign Trade in Uganda, India Africa Diamond Institute in Botswana and the Institute for Education Planning and Administration in Burundi.
These training institutes, India hopes, will help build the industrial and managerial base of the continent by spawning a new generation of entrepreneurs and an educated middle class that will shepherd African resurgence in the day to come.
India's trade with Africa at $50 billion is nearly one third of that of China with the continent, but New Delhi has carved a niche for itself in capacity building. The training institutes distinguish India's development-centric approach from that of China's focus on massive infrastructure projects, hydrocarbons and mineral resources.
These training institutes, together with vocational centres, Africa hopes, will help alleviate the problem of massive youth unemployment. The African youth make up 40 per cent of Africa's population, but they account for 60 per cent of the unemployed. Around 95 million young people in sub-Saharan Africa are illiterate and are either unemployed or in low-paid jobs.
Ezin is also all praise for the India-aided Pan-Africa e-network that seeks to bring tele-education and tele-medicine to African people as a sign of India's empowering engagement with the continent.
The 68-year-old mathematician is upbeat about the AU's pet dream project: the Pan-African University, which is shaping under his guidance.
Pan-African University is a network of five regional thematic institutes which will be based in five regions of Africa: 1) Institute of Water, Energy and Climate Change - Algeria (North Africa), supported by Germany, II) Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences - Yaounde, Cameroon, supported by Sweden, III) Institute of Life and Earth Sciences, Nigeria, supported by India, IV) Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation, Kenya, supported by Japan, V) Institute of Space Sciences in southern Africa (location to be identified).
GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands--Known as a tax haven for the mega rich around the world, the Cayman Islands is proposing the unthinkable: a direct tax on expatriates to help fix the budget woes of the British territory.
The proposal — called a “community enhancement fee” and unprecedented in the island's history — is effectively a 10 per cent payroll tax on all foreign workers earning income over US$24,000 in the Cayman Islands.
Blaming the previous administration and Britain's hard line on the island's budget for the current financial problems, the premier said the measure was the least onerous approach with the Cayman Islands already one month into a new fiscal year.
“This is a tremendous step away from the normal government budget, but (London) has the upper hand,” Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush said.
Barely two years ago, in the face of pressure from Britain to increase the territory's revenue, Bush stated, “our position is, and will continue to consistently be, that we do not believe that direct taxes are good for this country.”
While foreign workers make up about 50 per cent of the labour force, there are plenty of loopholes that would exclude the majority of the top earners in the county as well as civil servants, leaving the bulk of the payroll tax burden to middle-class income workers in the private sector.
The 10 per cent tax proposal has shaken up the business community in the Cayman Islands, with some calling for a public protest against “taxation without representation” on Monday.
The territory, a beach-lined group of islands south of Cuba, is home to most of the world's hedge funds and has long relied on the “no direct taxation” model as a cornerstone of its lucrative financial industry
A brand-new web platform, Expats.bg, has been launched in order to provide a wide array of networking and information sharing options for the benefit of the expat community in Bulgaria.
Expats.bg was formally launched Tuesday, July 24, 2012, and is now available for registration, and publication of expat forum topics and posts, expat wikis, expat classifieds, expat news, and expat opinion articles, among other features.
All expatriates living in Bulgaria as well as all friends of Bulgaria from around the world, foreign nationals and Bulgarians alike, are invited to join Expats.bg!
According to its Publishing Team, Expats.bg will be "a web portal for expats living permanently in Bulgaria, for people residing temporarily in Bulgaria, for visitors, or for friends of Bulgaria from all over the world."
"Expats.bg is a free, user-run online platform that seeks to contribute to the making easier, better, and more interesting the life of a vibrant expat community in Bulgaria," the Publishing Team says.
Expats.bg offers a wide range of unique features such as forum discussions, writing and editing of topical wikis about expat life and experiences in Bulgaria, publication of news stories about the life of the expat community in Bulgaria, publication of opinion articles by expats, and space for classified ads by expats.
The Publishing Team has pointed out all of the contents of Expats.bg will be User-Generated, and Community-Based and the call for User-Moderators it has issued - i.e. members of the expat community in Bulgaria who will be authorized to observe and moderate the contents of the web portal in order to guarantee that it will be used to benefit the community – has generated great interest.
The first user moderators who were selected from among the dozens of applicants are to receive their authorizations and moderator profiles later this week, the team said upon the launch of Expats.bg.
For more information, registration, and participation options please visit Expats.bg
KUWAIT: There are some habits and behaviours practiced in Kuwait that may seem strange, or not understandable, for many people, especially expatriates. Some tenants who plan to move out of their apartments try to make money before leaving by placing ads about selling their apartments, although they are not the landlords and it is not their property. Yet they believe that by leaving their apartment, a new tenant should pay them for the privilege of being next to rent this house.
According to attorney Aziz Al-Saayid, such behaviour is not illegal and there is no penalty for seeking such money. “Rent contracts in Kuwait differ from residential or commercial. In the Egyptian legislation it was previously forbidden to let the apartment or the house or transfer the rent contract to another person for a financial payment. But in Kuwait this act is legal and there is no restriction in the law regarding this issue,” he told the Kuwait Times yesterday.
“If a tenant left his house for key money, and even if he wrote this deal with the new potential tenant, it would still be legal. As in general, the contract rules the relations between the parties of the contract. The case for houses is similar to the case for shops and stores. So, for instance, the owner of a restaurant sells his restaurant which has its customers, he is receiving compensation for the increased business. In the end, key money is a kind of deal between the old tenant and the new tenant,” added Al-Saayid.
Although the cases are not that numerous, many people have experienced making payments. Some people criticize the practice, while others think it normal. Jamal, a 50 year-old expat, never had to pay key money for a house. “I know such acts are practiced for shops, as there is profiting and the place is making money. I met with tenants who were leaving their apartments and demanded my paying money to rent the apartment, along with the existing furniture, which is like selling me the furniture by force. I think that receiving key money for just leaving an empty apartment is wrong and unethical. I would never rent a house in this way,” he explained.
Yet attorney Hussein Al-Asfour thinks that receiving key money for leaving an apartment is just an agreement between two tenants. “In the end, the landlord doesn’t really care if a tenant left when there is another one replacing him. The old tenant, however, should inform the landlord or his representative that he found a new tenant to replace him. Thus receiving the key money is not a crime,” he pointed out.
Al-Asfour warned, however, that paying this money might lead to a crime. “For instance, if the old tenant receives money from the new tenant and then for any reason the landlord refused to rent the apartment, and the old tenant disappeared or left the country, the new tenant might file a case of swindling against him, demanding his money be paid back,” Al-Asfour said.
DUBAI: The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU), an Emirati institution whose goal is to promote cultural understanding, respect and co-operation between cultures in the UAE, officially announced the beginning of its 2012 Ramadan programme taking place from July 22 until Aug. 15.
Guests are invited to witness the Adhan (call to prayer) and watch their Emirati hosts pray before sitting down to a traditional Emirati Iftar. The programme also includes a walking tour of Bastakiya (traditional old Dubai) and a Bastakiya Mosque tour before ending the evening with Arabic coffee and dates for dessert.
Alongside experiencing an authentic Emirati Iftar, visitors are encouraged to ask questions about Ramadan and any other UAE cultures and traditions. Nasif Kayed, general manager of the SMCCU, who personally runs the programme, commented, “Our mission is to engender cross-cultural awareness, understanding, appreciation and respect here in the UAE, and what better time to do so than during Ramadan over a traditional Iftar? Expatriates can experience local tradition first-hand and are encouraged to ask any questions they might have about Emirati life, safe in the knowledge they will receive accurate, honest answers.”
Throughout the year, the cultural centre will hold tailored events for companies and work with corporations from around the UAE, providing them with information on cultural integration in the workplace.
The SMCCU is the primary partner for international businesses looking to meaningfully integrate their corporate culture within the UAE.
Expatriate women in the UAE are breathing fire and we can't blame them! A recent law issued by the capital's Central Bank stipulates that women are not allowed to open or manage bank accounts for their own children.
A potential problem has hit expatriate women in the United Arab Emirates, leaving them fuming. The Central Bank in Abu Dhabi has issued a law that denies women the right to either open or manage a bank account for children whom are under the age of 18.
This rule has caused outrage among expatriate women; particularly divorced women with custody of their children.
The backlash against this law is that women believe it to be oppression or a symbol of their inability to sponsor their children.
A spokesman for the bank told reporters that it is the father who is eligible to open and manage a minor’s bank account. Failing that, a close male relative. An uncle or grandfather will do, but not a woman.
The restriction is causing difficulties for female expat workers. Many say that they do not understand or see the logic behind this law. Furthermore, even if a father must be there to open an account, he must also give a separate authorization paper to allow the mother to have access to it!
Eighteen year olds are generally allowed to open savings accounts for themselves and you must be 21 years old to open a bank account in the UAE.
Such a law is frightening, not simply because it slaps a feel of handicap and inequality on women but it also begs the question; what’s next? Perhaps at some point, women won’t be allowed to shop on their own either.
It wouldn’t surprise us if women in the country (if not already) would begin to rally through social media or other appropriate platforms. There has already been an urge for the government to intervene and break the curse of this rule.
“I can’t believe that we are in the 21st century and treat women as illegitimate custodians of their own children,” A high-profile expatriate working woman was quoted by Gulf News.
Women are allowed to vote, be independent and work. They can become managers, CEOs and vice presidents but the buck stops with the bank account (pun unintended). We can’t believe we are in the 21st century either.
Property values plummet while living costs soar and bank transfers waste millions
Post Office Expat Payments Index reveals rise in living costs for expats abroad at almost four times the UK inflation rate
House values fell for more than half of expat homeowners in Europe: by over 25 per cent for 2-in-5 in Spain and two-thirds in Cyprus
Confidence levels low: 75 per cent making cutbacks and lifestyle changes
But international bank payments estimated to cost expats £217 million
At a time of continuing uncertainty for the eurozone, a new report by Post Office International Payments has revealed that many UK citizens living abroad may be facing even more testing times than their UK-based counterparts.
Against a backdrop of falling property values and low confidence levels, the Post Office Expat Payments Index found that the cost of living abroad has risen by an average of 11 per cent since 2011 in destinations worldwide – rising closer to 15 per cent for those based in the eurozone. However, the report suggests that people transferring funds abroad via UK banks are collectively paying an unnecessary £217 million1 in transaction charges when these international payments can be made free of charge.
Post Office consumer research among members of ExpatForum.com living abroad or with holiday homes overseas reveals that their living costs are almost four times the 3 per cent UK inflation rate (April 2012). Only 3.5 per cent of over 900 people surveyed had seen no increase in costs over the past year but almost half (48.4 per cent) said they had paid out more than 10 per cent extra on household expenditure, motoring and meals out. Nearly two-in-five (18 per cent) said they felt that these prices had risen by over 20 per cent.
The surge in prices was even more marked in the most popular European countries for expats, according to the Post Office report. Spain, Cyprus and Portugal were particularly hard hit with food and fuel prices named as the key issues:
Spain: two-in-five expats said the cost of eating out had risen over 15 per cent, while 71 per cent reported an increase of over 10 per cent year-on-year for fuel.
Cyprus: All of the Cyprus-based respondents said that prices had increased with 30 per cent saying prices had risen by over 20 per cent and a quarter reporting a rise in the cost of food of more than 20 per cent.
Portugal: two-in-five people reported year-on-year rises in living costs of over 20 per cent. 85 per cent said food and household bills were up by over 10 per cent.
While living costs were rising, almost three-quarters of respondents worldwide (72 per cent) reported that the value of their property had either remained static or fallen in the past 12 months – one-in-ten by over 20 per cent. With confidence at a low ebb, more than two-thirds (67.5 per cent) said that the price rises had already impacted on their lifestyle and would mean making significant cutbacks this year.
In Europe the position was worse: 70 per cent of homeowners in Spain said that their property had fallen in value since 2011, two-in-five (21.4 per cent) suggesting falls of over 25 per cent. More than two-thirds of those living in Cyprus reported a drop in the value of their home and 22 per cent said the fall exceeded 20 per cent. In Portugal more than three-in-five homeowners said their home had lost value in the past year: over one-third (35.5 per cent) by 10 per cent or more.
UK expats owning homes in France fared better. Only 16.4 per cent of respondents believed that the value of their property had dropped over the past year, with over half (52 per cent) saying their home was worth the same as 12 months ago.
The Post Office Expat Payments Index found that over half (51 per cent) of expats transferring funds from the UK did so via their bank. Despite many expats saying they needed to make cut backs, they potentially waste an average of £1583 each a year by paying bank charges on these transactions rather than using a fee-free International Payments specialist like the Post Office. This figure rises to as much as £300 for those banks making higher charges.
The £158 wasted would be enough to pay for 130 litres (28.6 gallons) of petrol or a pair of return flights between the UK and the Costa. Alternatively £300 would buy 12 meals out for two with wine in the Algarve.
With 1,375 million UK expats estimated to be transferring funds via their bank, this means that an average of over £217 million is wasted annually on high cost transfers. According to 42 per cent of respondents, convenience is the main reason for using their bank. Only a third (36.5 per cent) had chosen their provider because no fees were charged.
However, when the Post Office survey compared the euro rates offered and charges levied by six UK banks and two specialist providers (Moneycorp and Post Office International Payments), it found that all six banks levied charges and that these increased for higher value transfers in the case of some banks. Furthermore, none of the banks offered improved exchange rates for higher value transactions.
As a fee-free provider, Post Office International Payments was cheapest for transactions in the three price categories surveyed (£500, £2,000 and £10,000) – saving expats as much as £329.69 on a £10,000 payment.
We found the following website that offers really useful information on the law for landlords, there is an excellent list of scams and frauds perpetrated by less than honest tenants, worth having a browse to make sure you know the signs of a potential scam.