E-scooter Trade-in-Grant among measures to assist food delivery riders affected by footpath use ban

The introduction of a S$7mil e-scooter Trade-in Grant (eTG) is one of the measures included in a Transition Assistance Package for food delivery riders to cope with the recent ban on the e-scooters on footpaths.

Noting that around 7,000 food delivery riders utilised e-scooters at work alongside the majority who use traditional vehicles such as motorcycles and bicycles, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) on Fri (8 Nov) said that the eTG aims to financially assist said riders in the process of switching to bicycles, Power Assisted Bicycles (PABs) or Personal Mobility Aids (PMAs).

“Under this scheme, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) will match dollar-for-dollar the food delivery companies’ funding support for their food delivery riders who trade in their existing e-scooters for alternative LTA-approved devices,” said MOT, adding that “each rider will receive an eTG of up to S$1,000 for PABs or S$600 for bicycle”.

“For delivery riders with mobility difficulties who are eligible to use PMAs and wish to continue working for their delivery company, they too will receive an eTG of up to S$1,000.

“The eTG scheme will be administered by the food delivery companies, which are also working with retailers to bulk purchase and bring down costs of these devices,” said MOT.

Delivery riders who work for more than one company will only be eligible for one eTG disbursement, the Ministry added.

Food delivery riders who wish to qualify for the eTG must be existing e-scooter food delivery riders as of Thu (7 Nov), and are required to surrender their e-scooters at disposal points located at Grab, Deliveroo and Foodpanda’s premises.

MOT urged food delivery riders to approach their companies for more details on the grant scheme, which will operate till 31 Dec 2019.

The package, jointly created by MOT and LTA with the three major food delivery companies, will also include a joint effort between NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) with Grab, Deliveroo and Foodpanda’s to provide food delivery riders seeking new jobs with employability support under the Adapt and Grow initiative.

Affected drivers will receive customised information on career events starting from next week.

MOT encouraged the affected food delivery riders to contact WSG directly via hotline at 6883 5885, or to drop in at any of the five WSG’s Careers Connect and NTUC’s e2i centres for immediate assistance.

Food delivery riders seeking further information on the career services and employability initiative may visit WSG’s website and the Adapt and Grow initiative website.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF) and ComCare schemes will also be available to provide temporary financial assistance to riders via the nearest Social Service Office or PA Community Club, MOT added.

Commenting on the decision to ban the use of e-scooters on footpaths, MOT said that it was a “difficult” one to make, particularly in the light of food delivery riders’ affected livelihood, and “arose because of many instances of irresponsible riding”.

“Even as the delivery riders switch to other modes of transport, they should be mindful of safety both for themselves and other path and road users.

“They should strictly abide by the safety rules, including speed limits, so as not to cause unnecessary injury,” MOT added.

CNA reported on Wed evening (6 Nov) that around 50 e-scooters riders gathered at a Meet the People session in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s ward Ang Mo Kio to address their grievances regarding the ban, with many of them seen in GrabFood delivery uniforms. 

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47% of Canadians Are Drowning in Debt: Here Are 4 Easy Steps to Fix This

You Should Know This

As Canadians, we struggle with saving money. There was a recent shocking survey done that shows that 47% of Canadians don’t expect to be able to cover necessary living expenses over the next year without taking out more debt.

Considering that the stock market has been on a strong bull run since 2009, the debt issue is surprising to learn. There’s no reason almost half of Canadians should take on debt to cover things like food and shelter. Here are four simple steps you to take action, fight debt, and invest wisely.

Pay off your “bad” debt first

If you hold “bad” high-interest debt, like credit cards or certain car loans, try your hardest to pay these off first before doing anything else. This differs from “good” debt, such as mortgages that are used to buy income-producing assets.

Set up an automatic savings plan

The best type of savings plan is the ones that you don’t have to think of at all. If you set up a direct payment from your paycheque into a savings account or TFSA, you won’t see the money come out, and you will adjust your spending towards what you have in your account. Try starting with 10% and moving up from there.

Build your emergency expense account

Once you have about three months of living expenses safely tucked away, you will find a huge relief and a significant weight lifted off your shoulders. You won’t have to worry about borrowing to cover basic costs anymore. Now the fun part begins!

Use your TFSA to invest

I recommend keeping your emergency account in the highest-interest savings account you can find. Then, use your TFSA strictly for investing. This will help you build a good habit of associating your TFSA with investing only. Your TFSA is best used for investing for the long term. It’s incredible what your TFSA can accomplish given some time and by investing in good stocks.

One stock that you could consider buying is BCE (TSX:BCE)(NYSE:BCE). You might know it better as Bell. BCE provides the communication needs of consumers, businesses, and government customers and is the largest telecommunications and media company in Canada.

Bell’s business internet service helps small businesses thrive in Canada’s vibrant economy. This $56 billion market cap company has one of the most reliable and secure internet services in Canada.

The company’s fast, stable, and scalable internet speeds enable small business owners to maintain their competitiveness and ensure profitable growth. About 8.3 million homes and businesses enjoy the fastest internet speeds. BCE’s broadband fibre-optic network is also the largest in Canada.

With a considerable dividend yield of 5.07%, BCE is ideal for your TFSA, as none of these dividend payments will be taxed. Had you invested $10,000 in Bell 20 years ago and reinvested all dividends, your money would be worth a staggering $65,411 today. This goes to show the power of continuous compounding and holding your investments for the long term.

Conclusion

If you are having trouble climbing out of a debt trap, follow these four steps and see how investing in good stocks can change your life for the better.

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Fool contributor Christopher Liew has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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Mainland Chinese student jailed in Hong Kong protests

A student from mainland China arrested at a Hong Kong democracy protest was sentenced on Thursday to six weeks in prison for possession of an offensive weapon — the city’s first such case involving a mainlander in almost five months of unrest.

Since the first mass demonstrations in June, more than 3,300 people have been arrested in Hong Kong in connection to the protest movement, with some charged for rioting and illegal assembly.

Around one-third of the arrestees are students.

Chen Zimou, a 24-year-old music and English student originally from Chongqing in southwestern China, was arrested for carrying an extendable baton during a protest in July.

He denied participating in the protest and the prosecutors did not have any evidence to identify him as a protester.

He has already spent two weeks in custody after his conviction and will spend four more weeks behind bars following his sentencing in court on Thursday.

Hong Kong has been upended by the huge, often violent, pro-democracy protests which have battered the financial hub’s reputation for stability.

Beijing runs the city under a “one country, two systems” model that grants Hong Kong freedoms unheard of on the authoritarian mainland, but many activists fear those liberties are being eroded.

Also on Thursday, a 16-year-old was found guilty of two counts of possessing offensive weapons, the first conviction of a juvenile since the protests started.

The boy was arrested in September when he was only 15, for carrying a laser pointer and a modified umbrella containing a walking stick.

Yuen Long attack

Chen, who studies at the University of Hong Kong, goes across the border to the mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen every weekend to give piano lessons.

His lawyer said Chen carried a baton for self-defence following a mob attack on protesters by suspected triad gang members in Yuen Long train station — which he must pass through when commuting to Shenzhen.

That assault on July 21 left nearly 50 people including passers-by in hospital, some with horrific wounds.

Chen has been critical of both protest violence and police brutality, writing on Facebook after his arrest that the government should carry out an independent investigation into police actions, and that top officials “should propose a compromised solution to meet the protesters’ five demands”.

His status as a mainland student has brought him heavy criticism from internet users across the border.

On China’s Twitter-like Weibo, users blamed him for standing with “rioters” in Hong Kong, while some even went further, harassing his family.

Behind the “Great Firewall” on the mainland, news and information on Hong Kong’s protests have been heavily censored with state-owned media pushing its own narrative.

The city’s leader Carrie Lam has said she is “saddened” to know that many students have been arrested and some were severely injured, yet she has provided no solution to the crisis.

The first protests, in which millions marched, were sparked by a now-abandoned attempt to allow extraditions to the mainland.

But as Beijing took a hardline the movement snowballed. Protesters are now demanding an inquiry into the police, an amnesty for those arrested and fully free elections.

– AFP

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China slams British MP university report as ‘fictitious’

Beijing on Thursday criticised as “fictitious” a report by British politicians claiming there was “alarming evidence” of Chinese interference on university campuses.

The report, which was released Tuesday, cited examples where Beijing-linked organisations appeared to suppress freedom of speech at institutions of higher education.

One academic told lawmakers he saw Confucius Institute officials confiscating papers which mentioned Taiwan — which Beijing considers a rebel province awaiting reunification — at an academic conference.

Likened to France’s Alliance Francaise, Spain’s Instituto Cervantes and the British Council, the Confucius Institute teaches students about Chinese language and culture at hundreds of universities around the world.

Christopher Hughes, a professor at the London School of Economics, said he had seen Chinese students in the British capital engaged in activities to “undermine Hong Kong protestors”.

“China has always adhered to a principle of non-interference in internal affairs,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing.

The UK lawmakers should “do more to… advance China-UK relations, instead of making fictitious remarks and sowing discord,” Geng added.

The report comes as pro-democracy demonstrations in semi-autonomous Hong Kong have sparked tensions across universities in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, as students organise rallies both in support of — and against — the protest movement.

In Australia, public rallies and acts of solidarity have been staged at several campuses, angering some mainland Chinese students who have physically confronted protestors and torn down message boards.

The Chinese government does not appear to have tried to quiet the tensions, with consulates in Auckland and Brisbane praising the “spontaneous patriotism” of pro-Beijing students.

Hong Kong has been convulsed by five months of huge and increasingly violent protests calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability — representing the biggest challenge to Beijing’s rule since the city was handed back to Britain in 1997.

In July, Australian education minister Dan Tehan said the government was looking at whether deals between thirteen local universities and the Confucius Institute breached foreign interference laws.

It came after the Sydney Morning Herald published 11 of the 13 contracts between the Confucius Institute and Australian universities.

Four contracts featured clauses giving the organisation final say on “teaching quality” and stated activities must respect “cultural custom”.

In return, the universities received minimum funding of Aus$100,000-$150,000 and 3,000 Chinese books and other materials.

– AFP

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Why My 5-Year Price Target on Canopy Growth Is $6 a Share

Marijuana leaves, cannabis on a dark background, beautiful background, indoor cultivation

Well, Canopy is admittedly more like $5.86 a share at writing, but that still amounts to an impressive 78% drop from the company’s closing price as of the time of writing.

Canopy Growth Corp. (TSX:WEED)(NYSE:CGC) is perhaps at the pinnacle of the Canadian cannabis industry, and in many ways has paved the way for other smaller players to achieve valuations that have simply skyrocketed in recent years.

I’m a conservative long-term investor and don’t concern myself with the story behind these stocks as much as the fundamentals and numbers. When the numbers don’t add up to the story folks are telling, I like to dive a little deeper.

Here’s the Coles Notes version of my takeaways from Canopy’s financial picture at this point:

  • Cash burn (negative free cash flow) of -$1.35B over the past trailing 12 months
  • Common stock issuances of $5.23B in the past year needed to fund the company’s cash burn and CapEx budget
  • Capital expenditures of $740M in the past year
  • Acquisitions/Other investing activities of $1.37B in the past year
  • SG&A costs that are 2.5 times higher than revenue
  • Revenue growth of “only” 28.5% comparing TTM to past full fiscal year
  • Four consecutive massive earnings misses
  • Paper profit gains due to inventory valuation difficult moving forward
  • 31.7 price-to-sales ratio

Okay, that’s a lot to take in, but here’s my take on what the numbers mean.

Let’s start at the bottom: the company’s 31.7 price/sales ratio is absurd by any stretch of the imagination. Even the most hyped up technology stocks can’t reach this kind of astronomical insanity (mind you, some pot stocks were hitting valuations of 135 times sales in the past, as I’ve touched on before).

In general, a price target of two times sales for a fast-growing stock that has reached maturity can be seen as a realistic long-term target scenario.

Let’s use that as a solid rule of thumb for where Canopy will be in five years as a mature cannabis producer in a mature market that has everything figured out.

Let’s also use the company’s recent revenue growth rate of 28.5% (comparing TTM to past fiscal year, crude I know, but also in my opinion aggressive given the fact that it gets harder and harder to grow at ridiculous percentages over time) to factor in where revenue will be in five years. Taking the company’s TTM revenue of $291M, we get revenues which just cross the $1B plateau in 2024.

Keeping the assumption of a 2 times price-to-sales ratio, we come up with a market valuation somewhere slightly more than $2 billion, translating to a $5.86 price target using the current number of shares outstanding (of course, all this math goes out the window when, not if, the company issues more shares).

Another statistic that’s not on the initial list is the company’s long-term debt obligations, which have surpassed the $1 billion mark. The company is levered to nearly four times its revenue and will need to either add on more debt or sell more shares (diluting shareholders) to keep up with its billion-dollar-plus annual cash burn.

Forget about the absolute glut of inventory in the market and a thriving black market in Canada. These headwinds are not factored into this model, but could be interpreted as being reflected in my ultra-conservative P/S multiple used.

The large variance between my calculations and those of other Bay Street analysts can mostly be attributed to revenue growth rates that I don’t see as realistic.

The Canadian cannabis market is limited, and I’ve touched on why Canopy will have a difficult time truly penetrating global markets in previous analysis.

Here’s another thing to consider: in order to double your money on Canopy in the next five years, and assuming an end state price-to-sales ratio of 2, you’d be factoring in a 100% annual revenue growth rate.

Stay Foolish, my friends.

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Fool contributor Chris MacDonald has no position in any stocks mentioned in this article.

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