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Cuba announces five fold increase in fuel prices

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The Cuban government has announced a five-fold increase in fuel prices as it struggles with shortages and a deepening economic crisis.

It said that from February the price of a litre of petrol would rise from 25 pesos ($0.20; £0.16) to 132 pesos.

The government, which subsidises many goods, hopes this will help to reduce its deficit.

It is the latest measure making life more difficult for cash-strapped Cubans.

Finance minister Vladimir Regueiro said the cost of diesel and other types of fuel would face similar mark-ups. He also announced a 25% increase in electricity prices for major consumers in residential areas, as well as hikes in costs for natural gas.

Mr Regueiro said the government would also open 29 new petrol stations which will solely accept payment in US dollars in order to raise foreign currency to purchase fuel on the international markets.

“These measures are aimed at reviving our economy,” Mr Regueiro told state television on Monday.

Cuba has been hit hard by economic turmoil, blamed on the coronavirus pandemic, the tightening of US sanctions in recent years, and structural weaknesses.

Last month, economy minister Alejandro Gil said that Cuba’s communist government could no longer sell fuel at subsidised prices, emphasising it was the “cheapest in the world”.

But economics professor Omar Everleny Pérez told AFP news agency that while petrol in Cuba may be cheap by global standards, when compared with salaries in the country it was “very expensive”.

He added that the new price structure would affect “the whole of society”.

In a nation where few people own vehicles, the rise in the cost of petrol pushes hopes of car ownership even further away.

Cuba, which depends heavily on imports, has suffered growing shortages of food, medicine, and consumer goods for the last four years.

The price hike comes on top of rampant inflation driving up prices for basic items and stagnant salaries for state workers, upping the pressure on Cubans already struggling to make ends meet.

The fuel crisis has led to long queues forming at forecourts, which sometimes stretch for miles and mean that filling a vehicle with petrol can become a days-long ordeal. Public transportation has also been sorely affected.

Last year, the shortages forced the government to cancel Cuba’s 2023 traditional May Day parade.

(BBC News)

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The G7 Summit begins today

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Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries are meeting for a three-day summit, starting today (13 June) to discuss global affairs in the southern region of Puglia (Apulia), Italy.  

Heads of state of the seven members – the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom – as well as the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission will be present at the event.

Italy, the host of this year’s event, has extended an invitation to more than 10 other countries for sideline discussions. These include UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notable absentees are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who it  is reported, had been invited.

Support for Ukraine is top of the agenda. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive on the summit’s first day for two sessions dedicated to the war-torn country. The G7’s most anticipated outcome is an agreement over a $50bn loan for Ukraine backed by profits accrued on Russian assets frozen in the West. 

The war on Gaza is also expected to dominate talks. 

Pope Francis will also be among the guests – the first time a pontiff has been invited to the summit – for a session dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). Other specific sessions will be on migration, financial issues and the situation in the Asia Pacific. 

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Heat forces shut down of Acropolis during afternoon hours

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The Acropolis in Athens will be closed during the afternoon today (14 June) for a second consecutive day, as Greece swelters under unseasonably high temperatures.

The Culture Ministry said the hilltop citadel, which is Greece’s most popular ancient site, would be closed from midday to 5 p.m. 

All other archaeological sites in the Greek capital will be closed during the same hours. 

Temperatures are expected to exceed 40 C (104 F) today in much of central and southern Greece, including greater Athens, the Cyclades islands and Crete.

The weather is expected to cool Friday and Saturday. 

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University Impact Rankings 2024

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The Times Higher Education (THE) announced the University Impact Rankings for 2024 yesterday (12 June), identifying and celebrating universities that excel across multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These institutions stand out by demonstrating comprehensive excellence in contributing to global sustainable development. They also showcase their commitment to addressing the world’s most pressing challenges, including environmental sustainability, social inclusion, economic growth and partnerships.

THE evaluated 2,152 universities from 125 countries/regions to produce the overall Impact Ranking for 2024.

Australia’s Western Sydney University tops the list for the third consecutive year. The UK’s University of Manchester and Australia’s University of Tasmania follow in joint second place. Denmark’s Aalborg University is in fourth. Overall, the top 10 includes five countries across three continents.

The top newcomer in 2024 is France’s Institut Agro at joint 21st.

India is the most-represented country in the overall table, with 96 institutions.

Meanwhile, the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka has been ranked in 4th place among the Sri Lankan Universities and ranked between 801-1000 among the world Universities in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024.

The University scored high marks for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 4: Quality Education. The University joined the ranking in 2023.

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