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NALS calls for impartial report into lettings market

first_imgNational Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) CEO ex Isobel Thomson (pictured) has criticised the government’s proposed ban on tenant lettings fees and called for an impartial report by the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) into the lettings market.Her comments follow the CMA’s recent recommendations for the legal services sector, which after a year-long investigation found that lawyers need to be more transparent about pricing and join a redress scheme, legal requirements that agents must already meet.“Despite the findings of the report, which calls for more transparency, the legal industry has been allowed to continue without the same level of government intervention the lettings industry will face with a ban on fees,” she says.“The proposed ban is based on limited research and anecdotal evidence, as well as a lack of understanding of the likely consumer detriment that will be caused by removing payment for the services the agent provides.“We believe more impartial information is crucial in advance of taking such a drastic measure as a ban.“Given the government’s focus on improving the experience for the consumer across a number of sectors, and the importance of the private rented sector, NALS believe the CMA is best placed to undertake a report into fees and charges in the lettings market and how it should best operate to ensure a fair, safe experience for tenants, landlords and agents.”In November NALS set up an industry forum including leading agents and representatives of two redress schemes and officials from the Department of Communities and Local Government to hammer out at an industry-wide agreement to cap fees. Chancellor Phillip Hammond then announced the proposed outright fees ban in his Autumn Statement, only a few weeks later.NALS says it will press for a CMA investigation into the lettings market at the forum’s next gathering in January.National Approved Letting Scheme NALS Isobel Thomson ban on tenant fees tenant fees December 21, 2016Nigel LewisOne commentAKBAR ALI, PROPERTY MANAGEMENT PROPERTY MANAGEMENT 21st December 2016 at 1:02 pmI am a landlord and a director of an online agency– we charge minimal fees to landlords– we charge minimal fees to tenantsThis way we can negotiate the best deals for tenants, if the ban comes in without listening to people in the industry it will have affects that won’t benefit tenants; my business model will mean I have to charge fees on the 1st month’s rent, so no change really, but it will no longer be called admin fees, or they pay over 3, 6, 9 , 12 months with added interest.Capping fees would be better and keeping on top of what agencies are doing, the government’s proposals are weak and don’t do what tenants are hoping for!Log in to ReplyWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Hong Kong remains most expensive city to rent with London in 4th place30th April 2021 Home » News » NALS calls for impartial report into lettings market previous nextRegulation & LawNALS calls for impartial report into lettings marketCEO says fees ban is based on ‘limited research’ by governmentNigel Lewis21st December 20161 Comment887 Viewslast_img read more

Indonesian Defense Ministry to Select Preferred Tenderer

first_imgBack to overview,Home naval-today Indonesian Defense Ministry to Select Preferred Tenderer View post tag: Naval View post tag: Defense September 6, 2011 View post tag: Indonesian View post tag: select View post tag: Navy As is expected, Indonesian defense ministry will select preferred tenderer for delivery of new non-nuclear subs for national navy.In 2009 Indonesian defense ministry addressed invitations to French, German, Russian, and Korean shipyards, although the program was annulled then due to lack of financing. Decision to choose a tender winner was postponed for 2011. For a long time official sources has been declaring that main candidates were Russia and Korea, but according to recent reports of Asian media agencies, joint proposal of Turkey and Germany has great chances of success as well.Therefore, currently two out of three bidders are countries building Project 209 non-nuclear submarines under German license.According to China Post, South Korean defense minister Kim Kwan-jin will visit Indonesia in Sept 7-9 with the view to discuss delivery of three Project 209 non-nuclear submarines; the contract cost is evaluated as $1.08 bln. If South Korea wins the tender, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) would be a prime contractor for three 1,400-ton subs. The minister will be accompanied by representatives of nine Korea’s largest defense companies which obviously also count on new orders.As is said by experts, choosing South Korean offer would strengthen bilateral military technical cooperation. Previously, these countries had signed agreements on joint development of a new-gen fighter KF-X, delivery of six-by-six armored personnel carriers made by Doosan DST and trainer/multirole fighter T-50 Golden Eagle made by Korea Aerospace Industries. It should be mentioned that Indonesian Navy already operates two Project 209/1300 non-nuclear subs modernized in South Korea.Another offer of Project 209 submarines for Indonesian Navy was tendered by a consortium of Turkish and German companies.According to Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) plans to compete in the tender jointly with German company Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW).Initially, it was supposed that HDW would attend the tender as a partner of Daewoo, but the South Korean company applied for tender alone. Being in peril of loosing potential contract, HDW offered Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries to take part in the tender. That proposal was made with regard to the fact that Turkish president Abdullah Gul had visited Indonesia in Apr 2011 and signed a bilateral agreement in the area of military industry.Prior to that, Turkish industry along with HDW had built fourteen Project 209 and six Project 214 diesel electric submarines. In July 2011, a new contract between SSM and HDW took effect providing delivery of six new Project 214 non-nuclear subs to Turkish Navy. In June 2011 HDW handed over a certificate to SSM authorizing it to sell Turkish-built Project 209 subs to Indonesian Navy.To improve competitiveness of own offer, director of SSM Murad Bayar told to Indonesian defense ministry that Turkey was ready to lease one or two Project 209 submarines until new subs would be completed. In addition, Turkey would train Indonesian personnel. Murad Bayar also promised to redirect significant portion of works to Indonesian companies including PT PAL and ensured the project would be fully supported by HDW. Additionally, the offer provides preferential payment terms.In case SSM wins the tender, the submarines would be constructed at Golcuk shipyard by Turkish company Savunma Teknolojileri Muhendislik ve Ticaret A.S. jointly with Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft.It should be noted that despite tough competition, Turkey and South Korea closely cooperate in defense sphere. Turkey produces KT-1 Wong Bee training airplanes under Korean license. In July 2008, South Korea agreed to transfer production technology of Altay main battle tank to Turkey. The $400-mln contract became the second largest Korea’s export agreement after the $1-bln contract signed in 2001 when Samsung Techwin transferred technology of self-propelled howitzer K-9 Thunder also to Turkey. Korea Aerospace Industries is one of leading candidates to design a new generation fighter for Turkish Navy till 2020.[mappress]Source: rusnavy, September 6, 2011; View post tag: Ministry Share this article Authorities View post tag: News by topic View post tag: preferred View post tag: Tenderer Indonesian Defense Ministry to Select Preferred Tendererlast_img read more

USS Independence Tests Mk 110 Gun

first_img View post tag: Gun USS Independence Tests Mk 110 Gun View post tag: News by topic View post tag: americas USS Independence (LCS 2) successfully completed a test event with the ship’s Mk 110 57 millimeter gun on May 20. Share this article May 30, 2014 View post tag: Mk 110 View post tag: USS Independence View post tag: Navy View post tag: Naval Held at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Point Mugu Range, the test demonstrated Independence’s surface warfare capabilities by engaging a stationary target using the ship’s core combat system.As part of the test plan, Independence crew members tracked a surface balloon, also known as a Killer Tomato, with SAFIRE, the ship’s electro-optical/infrared camera, and the Sea Giraffe radar prior to engaging the target with the 57 mm gun.“I’m pleased with the outcome of this test on a number of levels. Not only did we validate the current combat system software and the procedures for safely firing the core weapon system, but the crew also received valuable training time, improving their proficiency with the ship’s sensors and weapons,” said Capt. Tom Anderson, LCS program manager.USS Independence, the lead ship of the Independence variant of littoral combat ships, will operate off the coast of Hawaii as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, in July. USS Freedom (LCS 1), the lead ship of the Freedom variant, participated in RIMPAC in 2010.[mappress]Press Release, May 30, 2014; Image: Wikimedia View post tag: Tests Back to overview,Home naval-today USS Independence Tests Mk 110 Gun Authoritieslast_img read more

THE: Oxford best in UK for medicine, humanities, and social sciences

first_imgThe Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings, which recently put Oxford in first place globally, have released rankings by subject group. Oxford gained the top spot worldwide in the clinical, pre-clinical and health category.The groups categories cover arts and humanities, business and economics, clinical, pre-clinical and health, computer science, engineering and technology, life sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences.Oxford was ranked top worldwide in the clinical, pre-clinical and health category for the sixth year running. This follows a successful year, with Professor Sir Peter Ratcliffe receiving a Lasker Award for his work. Earlier this month, Oxford University was awarded £126.5m by the National Institute for Health Research to support medical research and Oxford’s Professor Robert MacLaren performed the world’s first eye operation using a robot.Professor Alastair Buchan, Dean of Medicine and Head of the Medical Sciences Division at Oxford said, “We are delighted to have come first in clinical, pre-clinical and health subjects for the sixth year running. This success is because of the quality of our students, who come to Oxford because of the quality of our faculty. We are pleased to be able to house students in a fully integrated basic science, translational science, clinical science and population health division, which has a global impact, especially through our overseas units.”Oxford also performed highly in other categories, and did not drop outside the top ten for any subject. For social sciences Oxford came second globally, nine spots ahead of its nearest European competitor, the University of Cambridge. The Oxford Humanities Division tweeted earlier today that the award was “testament to lots of hard work.”For arts and humanities Oxford University saw off all British competition, coming third overall in the world, behind Harvard and Stanford. Oxford also took third place in the computer science, engineering and technology and business and economics categories, again coming in ahead of all its UK competitors.Oxford University came third in the life sciences category, behind Harvard and Cambridge universities, and in physical sciences came sixth overall, second in Europe.last_img read more

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Announce 2018 Halloween Run Theme

first_imgPigeons Playing Ping Pong are currently in the midst of an extensive 2018 Fall Tour tour which will keep them on the road through the beginning of December. During that stretch, the band will mount a four-night Halloween run with a very special theme: “Red Hot Sgt. Peppers,” a mashed-up tribute to the music of Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Beatles interwoven with their own original material.Pigeons Playing Ping Pong will bring their special “Red Hot Sgt. Peppers” themed show to The National in Richmond, VA on Halloween night and reprise the party the next night, November 1st, at Neighborhood Theater in Charlotte, NC and the succeeding two evenings at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, GA (11/2 and 11/3).The Baltimore-native jam-funk quartet has built up a reputation for mounting cleverly-themed Halloween tribute sets. Notes the theme announcement press release,2015 saw the theme of “Dead Zeppelin” where PPPP mashed up the music of Led Zeppelin and The Grateful Dead. For 2016, they took on a more abstract theme, “A Tribute To The Letter P,” where the band performed covers of songs which began with the letter “P.” Last year’s theme for 2017 paid homage to those we’ve lost with the appropriately named “R.I.P.P.P.P. A Tribute to Musicians We Have Lost,” complete with music from Frank Zappa, The Allman Brothers, David Bowie, Notorious B.I.G. and more.As frontman Greg Ormont notes,We’re so stoked about this year’s Halloween run! We’ve been flirting with the idea of doing a Red Hot Sergeant Peppers theme for a couple years and I’m happy that we finally decided to do it while we’re back on the East Coast. It’s been an absolute blast putting our spin on the material, which is so well written and full of energy. Can’t wait to unleash RHSP on The Flock!” For a full list of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s upcoming shows, see below. To grab your tickets to their “Red Hot Sgt. Peppers”-themed Halloween run, head to the band’s website. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Tour Dates: 10/16 – Bozeman, MT – Rialto +10/18 – Boulder, CO – Boulder Theater +10/19 – Boulder, CO – Boulder Theater >10/31 – Richmond, VA – The National *11/1 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theatre *11/2 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse !11/3 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse *11/16 – Philadelphia, PA – Theater of the Living Arts #11/17 – Philadelphia, PA – Theater of the Living Arts <11/23 – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live11/24 – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live <11/29 – 12/1 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club @11/30 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club <12/1 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club>12/12 – 12/16 – Puerto Morelos, Mexico – Holidaze12/27 – Nashville, TN – The Basement East &12/28 – Nashville, TN – The Basement East **12/29 – Covington, KY – Madison Theater **12/31 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE **1/26 – Port Chester, NY – Capitol Theatre+ w/ Andy Frasco & The U.N.> w/ Cycles* w/ The Kitchen Dwellers! w/ Orange Constant# w/ Hayley Jane & The Primates< w/ Joe Hertler & The Rainbow [email protected] w/ Goose** w/ The Magic Beans&  w/Midnight NorthView Upcoming Tour Dateslast_img read more

Smith Campus Center, re-envisioned

first_imgHarvard University unveiled its initial design concepts for the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center during two open houses on Thursday and Friday.More than 80 members of the Harvard and Cambridge communities attended the viewings, curious to get a glimpse of renderings and initial plans for the 1960s building across from Harvard Yard. Representatives from the project team were on hand to answer questions, solicit feedback, and talk through ideas.Two more sessions are scheduled for the Harvard community on Feb. 2 and 4.  An additional session will be scheduled for the Greater Cambridge community, also in February.“I am incredibly pleased at the turnout we had for our first open house. The ideas and feedback we’ve received have been — and will continue to be — invaluable as we develop the programmatic and design aspects of the building,” said Executive Vice President Katie Lapp. “Feedback from all members of the Harvard community is absolutely essential to ensuring that the Smith Campus Center fosters intellectual, cultural, and social experiences for all members of our community. I hope to see even more folks at the open houses scheduled for the next week.”Formerly known as Holyoke Center, the building was renamed in 2014 in honor of Richard A. and Susan F. Smith, who donated the funds for its renovation.  The redesigned center is expected to provide a major boost to the University’s multiyear effort — through the Common Spaces Program — to create and improve locations that foster campus’s intellectual, cultural, and social campus experience for the Harvard community.An artist’s rendering of the proposed design for one of the renovated areas of the Richard A. and Susan F. Smith Campus Center. Courtesy of Hopkins ArchitectsA comprehensive set of renderings, depicting both interior and exterior images, were on display. One showed a new, transparent pavilion facing Massachusetts Avenue, which will provide a welcoming and vibrant entrance alongside a redesigned exterior plaza. Other renderings showed how the lower levels of the building are being reconceived as multi-level spaces for formal and informal gatherings, with food venues, flexible meeting spaces, landscaped courts, and roof terraces.  The 10th floor will offer additional common spaces with magnificent views of the Charles River, Harvard Yard, and sections of campus beyond the river.Students, faculty, and staff have been engaged throughout the planning process. Community input has been garnered through public meetings in Harvard Square and at a community open house. Harvard planners conducted more than 25 focus groups and received nearly 6,000 responses to a campus-wide survey. The first two open houses, combined with the upcoming ones, are key steps in that extensive outreach process.“We’re really excited about the available collaborative space. We’re working on making an entrepreneurship hub on this side of the river. And for us, the ability to be able to reserve a space to work, meet, or do projects is really key,” said Eric Ouyang ’17. “It will be so nice to have something like this campus center that’s so inclusive and so centrally located.”Harvard has also prioritized sustainability in the project and is using an integrated approach for design and construction, with a goal of creating a space that visually and symbolically represents Harvard’s commitment to sustainability. The design process is driven in accordance with the Harvard Green Building Standards, as well as the University’s five-year sustainability plan, which lays out goals and priorities for building and operating a healthier, more sustainable community.The design is still preliminary but is expected to include green roofs and walls, plentiful natural light, rainwater collection and reuse, a high-performance glass facade that maximizes energy efficiency, an interior garden for the arcade, and healthy-building materials.“We’re really excited to see these plans, especially since they’ve incorporated so much green space,” said Lacey Klingensmith, a student in the sustainability and environmental master’s program at the Extension School. “Right now, there is such a scarcity of open space with natural light, and we think this will be great for students.”The project will roll out concurrently with a project focused on cleaning and restoring the facade. The greater Cambridge community and the public will continue to be welcome in the building.Additional open houses for the Harvard community are scheduled for Monday from 4 to 6 p.m., and Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., on the second floor of the campus center. (Attendees should use the 1344 Massachusetts Ave. entrance, which is to the left of the main entrance.)As with the first events, attendees are welcome to have their questions answered or engage with project planners.After gaining input on the project, the Cambridge Historical Commission, the Cambridge Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Harvard Square Advisory Committee will have to give their approvals. That permitting process will begin later this year.last_img read more

Vermont Yankee reports new well with elevated tritium levels

first_imgVermont Yankee reported late Monday afternoon that two of the new monitoring wells the nuclear power plant just installed have tested positive for the radioactive isotope tritium. The three new monitoring wells were installed to complement the three drilled in 2007. Confirmed analysis from the new wells show tritium concentration is at 70,500 picocuries per liter in the nearest new well about 75 feet to the south of the well where tritium was first noted several weeks ago.At a new well about 100 feet further south, the tritium is at a much lower concentration of 1,840 picocuries per liter. Two other monitoring wells to the north, and one to the south, show no elevated levels.  The purpose of the monitoring wells is to characterize the tritium concentrations in the ground water to aid in the investigation. Yankee spokesman Robert Williams issued a statement saying this is useful information that will help engineers working to identify the source of tritium in the plant’s groundwater. Engineers are planning six more wells around the plant buildings to gather further data on the location of the highest tritium concentration and to focus the investigation on the possible source.  Williams said that while the multi-disciplined technical team continues to investigate the source of the tritium, he said it is important to note that there has been no elevated tritium level found in any drinking water well samples or in Connecticut River water. The existence of tritium in such low levels does not present a risk to public health or safety whatsoever, he said.Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that occurs naturally and is also a byproduct of nuclear plant operation. The Environmental Protection Agency has set safe drinking water levels of tritium at 20,000 picocuries per liter.The Vernon plant is seeking approval from the state to relicense the plant another 20 years beyond 2012, when it is scheduled to be decommissioned. The Legislature must first approve the license extension before the Vermont Public Service Board ultimately rules on the case. Vermont Yankee owner Entergy is also seeking to spin the plant off, with five other older nuclear power plants, into a new company called Enexus.Source: Vermont Yankee. 2.1.2010last_img read more

Vermont company to lead energy efficiency effort in Washington, DC

first_imgVermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC),The Sustainable Energy Partnership, led by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), has been selected by the District Department of the Environment to create and operate the Sustainable Energy Utility (SEU) in Washington, DC. The SEU will help families, businesses, and institutions in the nation’s capital save money and energy, and support local job creation and economic development, by offering programs that spur investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. With funding of approximately $7 million in fiscal year 2011, the SEU will operate under a seven-year performance-based contract with aggressive goals in job creation, energy savings, renewable energy deployment, and a significant level of targeted spending for low-income housing. Funding comes from the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund, established by the Council of the District of Columbia as part of the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008. ‘VEIC is excited by this opportunity to lead a world-class partnership that will help District of Columbia residents and businesses build a clean energy future for their community,’ said Scott Johnstone, Executive Director of VEIC. ‘Through our operation of Efficiency Vermont, we have shown how investments in energy efficiency are good for the bottom line, good for the environment, and good for the economy. We look forward to putting this expertise to work in the nation’s capital.’ Residential and commercial energy consumption in buildings is the largest driver of greenhouse gas emissions in the District of Columbia, with 15% of emissions coming from residences and 52% from commercial and institutional sectors. The District of Columbia estimates that it currently spends approximately $79 million each year on energy use in public buildings alone. The SEU will help address the challenge of reducing that energy use, while also providing new ‘green jobs’ employment opportunities for District of Columbia residents. SEU services will begin to launch in May, with three ‘quick start’ programs for residential and commercial customers. The SEU offices will be located in Washington, DC, with necessary technical and support services provided from VEIC’s Vermont office. More information is available at is external).VEIC’s work for the SEU represents a continued diversification of its activity outside Vermont. In 2010, VEIC was selected to start up and operate Efficiency Smart, an energy efficiency initiative that currently serves 47 communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. About VEICThe Vermont Energy Investment Corporation is a mission-driven nonprofit organization, founded in 1986, dedicated to reducing the economic, social, and environmental costs of energy consumption through cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies.VEIC has consulted in 28 states, 6 Canadian Provinces and 7 countries outside North America to design programs that reduce energy use through energy efficiency and renewable energy. In addition, VEIC operates Efficiency Vermont ‘ the nation’s first statewide energy efficiency utility ‘ as well as other implementation services across the country. For more information: is external) April 22, 2011; Burlington, VT ‘last_img read more

Ecuadorian military engineers help rebuild Haitian regions devastated by earthquake

first_imgBy Dialogo January 27, 2014 MINUSTAH presence to be reduced Hard work is recognized Ninety military engineers with the Armed Forces of Ecuador recently completed a series of reconstruction projects in Haiti, part of the ongoing effort to rebuild the country following the major earthquake which devastated the Caribbean country on January 12, 2010. The earthquake registered at 7.3 on the Richter scale, killed as many as 316,000 people, and destroyed or severely damaged 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings, according to Haitian authorities. The recent effort was the fourth such mission completed by Ecuadorean engineers since the earthquake struck. On May 21, 2010, the Ecuadorean government declared it was mobilizing the Armed Forces to provide humanitarian assistance to Haiti. Each of the three branches of the military – the Army, Navy, and Air Force – were mobilized. Ecuador also donated heavy equipment worth $10.4 million. Including building materials and the value of the labor of the soldiers and volunteers, Ecuador contributed about $30 million to the reconstruction effort. The reconstruction work was carried out under the framework of the South-South Cooperation, an ongoing exchange of technology, equipment, and military resources between countries in the global South. The Army Corps of Engineers led the effort, in which members of the three branches of the military repaired or constructed dozens of schools, bridges, and sewage systems, which benefitted 150,000 Haitians. Ecuadorean Maj. Marco Navas led the humanitarian mission. Civilian volunteers from Ecuador, including some government employees, also went to Haiti to help with the repairs and construction. The first Ecuadorean military reconstruction mission to Haiti, known as Marhec 1, began in the summer of 2010. The Ecuadorean military and volunteers completed the final mission, Marhec 4, in December 2013. Overall, 330 Ecuadorian military engineers were deployed to Haiti to participate in the four missions, officials said. In addition to repairing and constructing buildings, roads, and sewer systems, Ecuadorean military engineers also taught Haitian soldiers courses in surveying, soldering, and using heavy construction equipment. Providing such education empowers Haitians as they continue to rebuild and recover from the earthquake, said Daniela Bermeo Torres, a sociologist who is also the commercial director of the coast region of TECHO in Ecuador. TECHO is a group which organizes volunteers who work on projects to improve communities throughout Latin America. “It is important that the work done in Haiti is accompanied by training, empowerment, and in the case of military institutions, training and workshops so that Haitians themselves continue the reconstruction of their country,” Bermeo Torres said. “Probably the most important thing that can be achieved in Haiti is to ensure relevance in the efforts and resources invested in the empowerment of Haitians to continue weaving their way to reconstruction.” Bermeo Torres served as Director of Funds for TECHO Haiti in 2011 Ensuring access to education Just before they left Haiti in December 2013, representatives from the Ecuadorean military held a ceremony at Ségure National School, which Ecuadorean soldiers and volunteers helped rebuild. “Children have access to a better education with the remodeled facilities,” said Carine Luberisse, the director of the school. The Ecuadorean military rebuilt classrooms, restrooms, and constructed an outdoor multi-purpose sports court. The military also built a security fence around the school. center_img Ecuadorean Defense Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa expressed gratitude for the work of the military engineers and the soldiers and volunteers they directed. “We deeply appreciate it because we know the intensity of the work carried out in adverse, very difficult conditions, away from their families,” Espinosa said when the military engineers, soldiers, and volunteers returned from their mission in Haiti. The Ecuadorean contingent carried out the most recent mission in the province of L’Artibonite, located in the center of the Caribbean island. The Ecuadorean military completed a number of construction and renovation projects: • The repair of two bridges and the construction of 80 kilometers of roads. • The construction of a building for kindergarten students, and the renovation of two other schools which had been badly damaged by the earthquake. • The construction of three new health centers. • The repair of 48 kilometers of irrigation canals for agricultural use. • The construction of access roads to more than 300 schools and houses. U.N. peacekeeping missions The Armed Forces of Ecuador is also participating in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). In 2013, Ecuador also sent 14 officers of the Armed Forces as observers or staff members to U.N. peacekeeping missions in Africa. Empowering the people of Haiti UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to present options for MINUSTAH’s reconfiguration by March 2014. The stability provided by MINUSTAH peacekeepers is crucial as Haiti develops its own police force, according to Carl Meacham, director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), a Washington, D.C. think tank. “(MINUSTAH) was formed in June 2004 to restore public order after the ouster of [former president] Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and played a key role in stabilizing Haiti following the earthquake. MINUSTAH’s main task continues to be maintaining order and the rule of law.” Meacham said. The incidence of homicides in Haiti is by far the lowest in the Caribbean — 6.9 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). While MINUSTAH has helped improve public safety in Haiti, security forces must remain vigilant, Schneider said. “There’s no question that MINUSTAH’s presence has resulted in reduced gang activity in Haiti. Secondly, the violence that comes along with gang activity has dropped. By going after the gangs, you significantly reduce that,” Schneider said. MINUSTAH currently has 6,270 peacekeeping troops, including 2,425 police officers, in Haiti. Its peacekeepers come from 19 countries, mainly Latin America, and its police officers hail from 41 countries. The largest “blue helmet” contingent is represented by Brazil, which has 1,700 peacekeepers in Haiti. Other key contributors to the MINUSTAH mission are Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. A UN Security Council resolution adopted in 2013 calls for cutting troop levels by 1,249 by June 2014. MINUSTAH’s operational budget will fall from $648.4 million in 2012-13 to $576.6 million for 2013-14.last_img read more