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Facebook, Google could face a UK tax overhaul, report says

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Facebook and Google could soon have much higher taxes in the U.K., according to a BBC report.

Regulators are eyeing a proposal that would tax the internet giants on total revenue, instead of profit, the British government’s economic policy agency told the news outlet. That would tax the companies more proportionally based on the amount of business they do in the U.K.

European authorities have been considering the idea of higher taxes for digital giants for months.

“At the moment [they] are generating very significant value in the U.K., typically through having a digital platform with lots of users interacting with that platform,” Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride told BBC.

“That is driving a lot of value, so you’re looking at social media platforms, online marketplaces, internet search engines — where at the moment the tax regime is not taxing those activities fairly,” Stride said.

A change could be announced as early as mid-March, BBC reports.

Read the full BBC report here.

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El Salvador proposes law to make bitcoin legal tender

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Nayib Bukele, El Salvador’s president, delivers a speech to Congress at the Legislative Assembly building in San Salvador, El Salvador, on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. Photographer: Camilo Freedman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has sent a law to the country’s congress proposing to make bitcoin legal tender.

If approved by the legislative body, El Salvador would become the first nation in the world to give the cryptocurrency this status.

Bukele posted a screenshot of the “Bitcoin Law” in a tweet on Wednesday.

“The purpose of this law is to regulate bitcoin as unrestricted legal tender with liberating power, unlimited in any transaction, and to any title that public or private natural or legal persons require carrying out,” the law reads.

If the law is passed, prices can be shown in bitcoin, tax contributions can be paid with the digital currency, and exchanges in bitcoin will not be subject to capital gains tax.

Bitcoin is known for wild price swings that have prompted critics to suggest it is not suitable to be an effective currency. It’s still unclear how El Salvador will ultimately roll out bitcoin as legal tender.

The exchange rate with the U.S. dollar “will be freely established by the market,” according to the proposed law. El Salvador’s current official currency is the U.S. dollar.

The law also says that the state will “promote the necessary training and mechanisms so that the population can access bitcoin transactions.”

Approximately 70% of El Salvador does not have access to traditional financial services, according to the Bitcoin Law. The cryptocurrency is seen as a way to increase financial inclusion.

The proposal will need to go through El Salvador’s legislative process before being passed as law.

Bukele’s move to submit the law to Congress comes after he announced last week that El Salvador has struck a partnership with digital wallet company Strike, to build the country’s modern financial infrastructure using bitcoin technology.

In April, bitcoin hit a record high of $64,829.14, but has since dropped by nearly half, according to CoinDesk data. It is still up over 230% over the last 12 months. That rise has been attributed to a number of factors including rising interest from institutional investors and large companies such as Tesla and Square buying bitcoin.

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World’s most livable cities Auckland, Osaka, Adelaide

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A general nighttime view of the Auckland skyline as seen from the new Park Hyatt hotel in the Viaduct Basin area of the city on May 16, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.

James D. Morgan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

As the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, the metropolitan city of Auckland in New Zealand has been named the most livable city globally by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

That’s largely due to the country’s successful handling of Covid-19 which allowed schools, theaters, restaurants and other cultural attractions to remain open during the survey period from Feb. 22 to March 21, 2021, according to the EIU.

New Zealand implemented a strict nationwide lockdown for several weeks last year to slow the spread of the virus. It also shut its international borders to most travelers.

Asia-Pacific cities dominated the top 10 rankings this year, even as the pandemic caused overall livability around the world to decline.

The top 10 most livable cities in the world, and their scores according to The Global Liveability Index 2021, are:

  • Auckland, New Zealand (96.0)
  • Osaka, Japan (94.2)
  • Adelaide, Australia (94.0)
  • Wellington, New Zealand (93.7)
  • Tokyo, Japan (93.7)
  • Perth, Australia (93.3)
  • Zurich, Switzerland (92.8)
  • Geneva, Switzerland (92.5)
  • Melbourne, Australia (92.5)
  • Brisbane, Australia (92.4)

The livability index ranks cities based on more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors across five broad categories: stability, health care, culture and environment, education and infrastructure.

Due to the pandemic, the EIU added new indicators such as stress on health-care resources as well as restrictions around local sporting events, theatres, music concerts, restaurants and schools.

‘Big shake-up’ in rankings

The impact of Covid-19 has been fairly obvious in the rankings, according to Simon Baptist, global chief economist at the EIU.

“There’s been quite a big shake-up in terms of, certainly the top 10, but also right throughout the ranking, based upon the Covid-19 situation,” he told CNBC.

Cities that were in lockdown or were experiencing a surge in cases during the survey period saw their scores reduced on several criteria, which led to many European cities falling down the ranks, Baptist explained.

That includes the Austrian city of Vienna, which consistently ranked near the top over the last several years. This year, however, it failed to break into the top 10 and came in 12th position.

Asia has some of the world’s most livable cities, it also has some of the least livable.

On the other hand, cities in Australia, New Zealand and Japan remained relatively open, with good availability of services, while their health-care systems were resilient due to a comparatively low number of cases, he added.

The Hawaiian capital of Honolulu was the biggest gainer on the index, moving up 46 places to finish 14th due to its efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus and rapid vaccine rollout. Among other cities, Taipei finished 33rd while Singapore came in 34th.

Asia vs. Europe

On a regional average, Asia ranked well below North America and Western Europe, according to the EIU. Damascus in Syria remained the world’s least livable city — Syria marked 10 years of civil war this year.

“Asia has some of the world’s most livable cities, it also has some of the least livable,” Baptist said. While cities in Australia, New Zealand and Japan dominated the top 10 positions, places like Dhaka, Bangladesh, Karachi, Pakistan and Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, languished near the bottom and have been doing so for a while, he added.

Baptist said the list is updated twice a year.

Since the first survey period ended this year, some of the top cities in Asia-Pacific saw a spike in Covid-19 cases, including Melbourne and Tokyo. On the other hand, European and North American cities have aggressively rolled out their vaccination programs and are in the process of opening up.

Australia and New Zealand have not yet re-opened their borders to most travelers — a factor that Baptist said may affect the future rankings of their cities.

“It’ll be interesting to see there, if things in Europe and the U.S. have opened up more, especially in terms of international travel. But (if) things in Australia and New Zealand still have not, then we might find the ranking of Australian and New Zealand cities suffering a bit,” Baptist said, adding that he expects the European cities to potentially show a big improvement by the next survey period.

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Tesla’s China sales struggle to bounce back from an April slump

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Tesla China-made Model 3 vehicles are seen during a delivery event at its factory in Shanghai, China January 7, 2020.

Aly Song | Reuters

BEIJING — Tesla‘s sales in China rose in May from the prior month, but failed to recover levels seen in March, according to the China Passenger Car Association.

Tesla sold 33,463 electric cars in May, up 29% from April’s 25,845 units, data released late Tuesday showed. The number still fell short of March’s 35,478 car sales.

The rebound in sales comes despite growing negative press and regulatory scrutiny on Tesla over customer reports of brake failures. The auto industry has also cut production due to a global shortage in chips.

Tesla shares fell 0.25% in the overnight New York trading session. The stock is down just over 14% for the year so far.

In May, Tesla shipped 11,527 vehicles from its Shanghai factory, lower than the 14,174 cars reported for April, the passenger car association data showed. Figures for March weren’t available.

Overall sales of pure-electric cars more than doubled from a year ago, rising 186% to 162,000 units in May, the association said. Some in China’s auto industry have cast doubt on the accuracy of the association’s figures.

While Tesla’s cars rank among the top 10 new energy vehicles sold in China, the report said local start-ups such as Nio also performed well in May. New energy vehicles include hybrid-powered cars.

The report said Volkswagen accounted for nearly half, or 48%, of new energy vehicle sales from mainstream joint ventures with foreign brands.

However, the report said luxury electric cars from Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi have yet to see a major increase in customer purchases.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

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