MORNING MINUTES: What will make headlines today, Feb 24, 2015

Good morning. Morning Minutes is a round-up of stories that will break today and which we think you'd be interested in. It appears on weekdays, available by 7am.

Maid levy cut - what impact will it have?

Among the Budget 2015 measures announced on Monday, one item caused many to cheer: From May 1, households eligible for the Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession will enjoy a further discount on the monthly levy.

Employers of foreign maids now pay $265 a month in levies, or $120 if they qualify for a concessionary rate. The concessionary rate will now be cut to $60.

The concessionary levy will also be extended to families with children aged below 16 years, up from below 12 years old today. How will this affect the number of maids coming into Singapore? Will it lead to salaries going up? - AMELIA TAN

Rise in petrol tax - what now?


Budget 2015 also saw an immediate increase in petrol duty rates. This was meant to encourage less car usage and reduce carbon emissions. Petrol duty rates have remained unchanged since 2003.

The duty for premium grade petrol will be raised by 20 cents per litre to 64 cents per litre, while that of intermediate grade petrol will be increased by 15 cents per litre to 56 cents per litre. So have pump prices gone up? We'll get drivers and petrol companies to weigh in on the measure. - ADRIAN LIM

Fed chairman Janet Yellen to begin congressional testimony


Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will begin two days of testifying before Congress today (Singapore Time Tuesday 11pm), with the US central bank facing its gravest political threat since the drafters of the Dodd-Frank Act tried to strip it of its supervisory powers.

The Fed is being pressured from both the left and the right.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and other Democrats have blasted the central bank for being too cozy with the banks it oversees.

Republicans, including potential 2016 presidential contender Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, have focused on its aggressive monetary policy.

Lawmakers from both parties are demanding greater transparency and accountability from an institution that has the power to impose capital requirements for banks and influence how much Americans pay for a mortgage or a car loan. - LEE SEOK HWAI

Disqualification for Anwar as MP?


Malaysia's Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim could be automatically disqualified as a Member of Parliament today.

Opposition party Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has reportedly not asked for a royal pardon for his release. PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli said that Anwar had not given instructions to ask for such a pardon.

On Feb 10, Malaysia's Federal Court upheld Anwar's five-year prison sentence on charges of sodomising his former aide Saiful Bahari Azlan in 2008, after rejecting his appeal. - MELISSA HENG

Eurozone leaders to weigh in on Greek proposal

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Eurozone finance ministers are due to approve or reject a list of reforms Greece has to submit by midnight Athens time on Monday in return for a four-month extension to the country's debt bailout.

Should the measures by Greece, which is struggling under 320 billion euro (S$492.76 billion) of debt, fail to win EU approval, another round of emergency negotiations may be triggered this week. If they get the greenlight, the extension can go ahead, pending approval from some European countries' parliaments. - LEE SEOK HWAI

SEA Games volunteers lauded for their commitment and support

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More than 17,000 people have signed up as volunteers for the SEA Games to be hosted in Singapore and in recognition of their spirit to help out at the biennial meet. Minister for Community, Culture and Youth Lawrence Wong will host an appreciation night on Tuesday for the volunteers of the Singapore SEA Games at Universal Studios Singapore's Waterworld. The event is to thank these volunteers for their commitment and support ahead of the June 5-16 Games. - JONATHAN WONG

Gunners adjusting for stiff Monaco test

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English Premier League side Arsenal prepared for their Champions League Round-of-16 game against Monaco with a completely different footballing test. At Selhurst Park on Saturday, they came under intense aerial bombardment as they sacrificed some of their usual attacking flair to hold on just long enough to win the game 2-1. On Wednesday, at the Emirates, they will play a very different game, against a canny, disciplined Monaco side who will be far less quick to launch the ball into the box.

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