US budget; UK vaccination; Alibaba fine

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Today on The Leaders' Brief -

  • U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed federal budget, released last Friday, could be called a polar shift from his predecessor Donald Trump’s fiscal approach. The Democrat President has earmarked a total of $769 billion for non-defence programs and focuses on several domestic issues such as public health programmes and aims to ramp up the fight against climate change. In fact, the proposed $1.5 trillion budget for 2022 increases funding for domestic programs by 16% at 3.3% of the country’s GDP while increasing the military budget by a mere 1.7%. The plan is expected to be strongly debated in Congress.

  • The United Kingdom’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised Britain to avoid using AstraZeneca shots for those aged below 30 over concerns of blood clotting at a time the country is preparing to ease lockdown restrictions. Wei Shen Lim, chair of the British health advisory board told a press briefing that based on available data and evidence, it was preferable for adults aged under 30 to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca jab. He, however, pointed out that “We are advising a preference for one vaccine over another vaccine for a particular age group, really out of the utmost caution, rather than because we have any serious safety concerns”.

  • In the highest ever antitrust fine in the country, Chinese regulators have fined Alibaba Group Holding a record $2.75 billion for violating anti-monopoly rules and abusing its dominant market position. The Jack Ma owned corporation has seen its businesses being targeted by Chinese authorities on several occasions since October, last year, including a decision to freeze the planned $37 Billion public listing of Alibaba’s fintech firm Ant Group, after the company had cleared almost every hurdle. China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) had launched an antitrust probe into Alibaba soon after the IPO was halted in December last year.

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