September 2006, Issue 58
gapw@apcity.org
 
 
  High Level Conference on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Set for October
UN Adopts Global Strategy to Combat Terrorism
Gandhi's Non-Violence Proposed As Counterterrorism Tool
 
  CHINA: Legislature Adopts Corporate Bankruptcy Law
Law Enhancing Legislators' Supervisory Powers Adopted
New Rules to Regulate a Range of Issues
Shanghai Signs on to New Pollution Limitations
Gov't Lays Stress on Energy Efficiency
Law Ensures Migrant Workers' Children of Education Right
Gov't to Examine Compensation Status for Farmland Occupied
China Issues New Property Policy to Deter Overseas Speculator
Shanghai Issues New Policy on Commercial Bribes
CPPCC to Focus on Development of Sci-tech
Rural Life Insurance Rules to Be Tightened
Shanghai Plans Household Garbage Disposal Fee
Taxes, Fees on Land Use Increased
China Urged to Introduce Fuel Tax, Energy-saving Fund
New Rules to Prevent School Food Poisoning
Long-term Strategy to Fight Piracy
Public Health Emergencies to be Released Monthly
New Law Aims to Make Legislators More Powerful
Draft Rules for Divulging Mental Patients' Identity
China Launches New IPO Rules Aimed at Stabilising the Market
New Housing Rules to Be Adopted
National Standard Issued for Supermarket Regulation
Five-Year Plan to Cope with Pressures of Aging Society
China Strives to Protect IPR
JAPAN: Abe Aims at Revising Education Law, Upgrade Defense Agency in Fall
Government Set to Ease Multiple Regulations
Govt Drafts Plan to Reform National Medical Centers
Draft Bill Would Open Space to Military Use
Govt to Set Mandatory Targets for Disabled Employment
Abe Wins Pledge to Continue with Coalition Rule
NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA: Six-Party Talks Dying Or Dead? -- No Progress a Year After Joint Declaration on Way Forward
SOUTH KOREA: Seoul Unveils Long-Term Growth, Social Welfare Plans
Discrimination Against HIV Carriers to Be Banned
Gov't Seeks to Ease Development Restrictions Around Seoul
Property Policy Will Work This Time
Finance Minister Urges More IMF Quota Reform
32 Trillion Won Set Aside to Improve Water Quality
MONGOLIA: Draft Law on State Secret Drawn Up
 
  INDONESIA: Govt Unveils Plan to Empower the Poor
Govt Prepares Bill to Protect Domestic Workers
Govt to Adopt Severance Plan
Government Prepares Labor Regulations
SINGAPORE: Launch S$100m R&D Programme for Environment and Water Industry
NTUC Launches 6 New Financial Plans to Help Young Families
NEA Launches Two-Year Plan to Boost Environmental Health Education Programme
THAILAND: Rights Panel Pushing Govt to Drop Biosafety Bill
VIET NAM: Enterprise Law Eases Administrative Burden
 
  INDIA: Centre Declares Services in Five India Government Mints as Public Utility
Pvt-public Port Projects May Get Fresh Guidelines
Actuaries Bill Comes into Effect
New Income Tax Act to Come into Force from Apr 1, 2008
Governance Rules for Unlisted PSUs Soon
States Want Indian Govt to Foot Bill for Right to Education
Centre Plan to Amend Immigration Act: Minister
NEPAL: Parliament Endorses Amended Army Act
PAKISTAN: Cut in Defence Budget to Reduce Poverty
Women*s Right Bill Draft Approved
Bill Seeking Changes to Media Laws Introduced
 
  IRAQ: Deputy Premier Says Militia Law Coming Next Month
IRAN: Major Housing Construction Project Launched
KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament Passes Counterterrorism Bill
KAZAKHSTAN: Parliament Portfolio Includes More Than 130 Draft Laws
UZBEKISTAN: New Microfinancing Law Enters into Force
 
  AUSTRALIA: Millions in Funding for South Australian Regions
DVDs, CDs and Computer Games: Good News for Consumers, Bad News for Pirates
Super Changes Target Workers
Human Genetic Information Protected by Privacy Act
Proposed Corporations Act Amendments
Corporations Amendment (NZ Closer Economic Relations) Bill 2006
Government Media Reforms to Be Introduced to Parliament
Minister Tells the World: Standby for Greenhouse Gas Reductions
Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2006
Project to Prevent Anti-Social Behaviour by Young Children Shows Promising Results
Forty-One Community Safety Projects Funded in Latest Round of National Community Crime Prevention Programme
Review to Strengthen Community Aged Care
FIJI: Tuition Fees Assistance to Replace Per Capita Grant to Schools
NEW ZEALAND: Government Revamps Regional Economic Policy
Employment Law Stirs Barely a Ripple
Housing Plan Designed to Tackle 'Entrenched Social Problems'
 
  ADB Appoints Ursula Schafer-Preuss as Vice-President
Governments Must Prepare Better for Future Disasters, Says OECD
IMF & WB Annual Meetings Focus on Governance and Growth
Dynamics of Corporate Governance Premium
World Bank Battle: How to Fight Graft?
 
  CHINA: Fight Against Bribery in Construction Sector
Protesters Demand Chen Shui-bian Resign
New Anti-terror Forces Established in 36 Cities
Gov't Departments Named for State Fund Violations
Wu Guanzheng Emphasizes Fighting Corruption at Its Source
China 'Audit Storm' Uncovers 15.6 Bln Dlrs in Misappropriated Funds
New Ambassadors to Five Countries Appointed
Superintendent General of Land Appointed
JAPAN: Antiterrorism Office to Be Established
Ministries Conduct Drill for Bird Flu
New Komeito Chief to Quit on Sept. 30
Profiles of New LDP Leadership
Roh Appoints New Education Minister
UN Governance Center Opens in Seoul
Cronyism in Aide Selection Process
Ex-Daejeon Mayor Nominated Presidential Commission Chairman
Korean Named No. 2 for U.N. Human Rights
MONGOLIA: N. Demberel Appointed As Head of Press & Info Service
Heads of Some Agencies Appointed
 
  BRUNEI: 13th Civil Service Day Celebration Next Week
INDONESIA: Groups to Educate Public on Corruption
Musa Hassan Appointed IGP
New Deputy Director General of Tourism Malaysia
MPs in Accord on Pay Rise for Civil Servants
Open System for Transfer of Civil Staff
IGP Wants His Men to Come Forward to Help Fight Corruption
MALAYSIA: 300 Government Servants Sacked Over Disciplinary Problems
PHILIPPINES: Civil Service System Celebrates Its 106th Anniversary on September 19, 2006
SINGAPORE: Rank Among Top Five of Most Corrupt-Free Nations
Public Warning System to Be Sounded on September 15
Singapore Among Top 10 Countries With Good Governance
THAILAND: Army Coup Ousts Government
Thai King Confirms Coup Leader as Head of Interim Government
 
  BANGLADESH: Experts for Controlling Public Expenses to Contain Inflation
Public-private Partnership: New Route for Development
The State of Our Governance
INDIA: Dayanidhi Maran Releases CD Projecting E-Governance Roadmaps
India Cuts Asean Sensitive Items List by 294
MALDIVES: Police Integrity Commission Created
Lack of Local System of Governance Deprives the People of Their Rights: Atolls Minister
NEPAL: Govt. to Form Taskforce to Resolve Problems of Industrial Sector
PAKISTAN: &Local Govt System to Be Strengthened*
Judicial Report Be Made Public, Says PFUJ
&Bureaucracy Asked to Focus on Public Grievances*
Govt Urged to Revamp Legal Education System
Tax Facilitation Centres Set Up to Receive Returns
 
  AFGHANISTAN: First Parliamentary Group Formed in Lower House
Ghazni Appointed New Governor; Security Initiatives Announced
KYRGYZSTAN: President Accepts Resignation of Security Chief
KAZAKHSTAN: New Opposition Party Established
President Appoints New Health Minister and Regional Governor
TAJIKISTAN: Islamic Party Gets New Leader
UZBEKISTAN: A Framework for Fghting Faud and Corruption
 
  AUSTRALIA: National Institute of Clinical Studies to Join NHMRC
New MOU Sharpens Focus on Migrant Statistics
Appointment of New Federal Court Judge
FIJI: PSC Looks to Reduce Civil Service Costs
NEW ZEALAND: PM to Meet Mayors over Auckland Restructure Plan
 
  ADB Launches Student Essay Competition on Asia's Future
KM A Catalyst for Developing Countries: Enterprise Solutions Not Suitable For Administrations
Time Machines Wanted: ITU TELECOM Opens Competition to Predict the Digital Future
Public Governance Seminar Identifies Challenges Faced in APEC Governments
World Bank Releases Largest Available Governance Data Source
 
  CHINA: Gov't to Spend 100 Mln Yuan on Farmer Training
HK Gov't Calls for Community Support on Waste Management
Innovation Encouraged in Copyright Industries
Premier: Building a Better Gov't
Innovation in Local Development Stressed
SOUTH KOREA: Innovation Funding Misuse Revealed
Uri Speeds Up Pension Reform
 
  MALAYSIA: MCA Bureau Revamped
Johor Sets Up Hotline for Complaints About the Environment
PHILIPPINES: Adopts New Terror Alert System
SINGAPORE: SCDF to Provide Emergency Safety Tips Via Mobile Phone Downloads
Outstanding Character Development Award Given Out for the First Time to 13 Schools
THAILAND: National Animal ID System Underway in Poultry Sector
Thai Government Launches Arabic-Language Web Site
 
  BANGLADESH: Bangladeshi Who Founded Bank for Poor Wins Peace Prize
Better Management of Water Resources
INDIA: Education for Innovation
Govt to Optimise Utilisation of Renewable Energy Sources
Kerala Govt Will Ensure Social Control on Private Managements
 
  AZERBAIJAN: Defense Ministry Details Planned Reforms
IRAQ: Parliament to Discuss Regional Formation Law
KYRGYZSTAN: Opposition Calls for Constitutional Reform
KAZAKHSTAN: President Opens Third Parliamentary Session
TURKMENISTAN: Election Commission Sets Date for Local Elections
UZBEKISTAN: Senators Propose to Develop Corporate Management Code
 
  AUSTRALIA: Agreement Means Better Care for Older Tasmanians
More Local Companies Supported by Innovation Programs
New to Business Checklist Released
One-On-One Support for Gunnedah Youth
GRDC Calls for Innovation to Drive Industry's Future
Students to Get International Qualifications ※Passport§
PM Pledges to Stop Training Drain
Minister Hockey Announces Groundbreaking Trial
 
  The 6th Annual Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region Coming Soon
Unemployment, Working Poor Overshadow South Asian Growth
ADB Raises Developing Asia 2006 Growth Forecast to 7.7%
Progress Made in Bridging the Digital Divide: ITU Report Cites Advances in Connectivity Among Least Developed Countries
ATMIA Pioneers Online Corporate Governance Assessments
World's Poorest Countries Increasingly Wired, UN Agency Reports
Urgent Need to Invest More in Developing World's Record Youth Population, Says World Development Report
UN Marks International Peace Day
 
  CHINA: Digital TV Standard Announced
Guangdong Raises Minimum Wage
Online Advertising to Hit Over 4 Bln Yuan in 2006
China's Largest Government-run E-business Site Opens
China to Bring Clean, Safe Water to All Rural Residents by 2015
Digital Broadcast System Launched for Games
Rural Medical System Covers Nearly Half of Farmers
Computer Software Help Judges
China Leads Next Generation Internet Development
Plans Outlined for Breakthrough in Info Industry
JAPAN: Starting Salaries for New Graduates Remain Flat in 2006
Japanese-Funded Healthcare Project Launched in Mekong Delta
506 Teachers in '05 Tagged Incompetent
NORTH KOREA: Food Shortage Reaches 800,000 Tons
Invited to Attend Next Asian Forum
SOUTH KOREA: Biggest Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Power Station Has Completed
Workers at Small Firms to Receive Retirement Allowances
 
  INDONESIA: Govt Asked to Use E-payment System
Govt Establishing Online Identification System
Indonesia Begins Rolling Out 3G Service
MALAYSIA: I-Bhd, Intel Provide Digital Infrastructure at I-City
E-learning for Customs Staff
PHILIPPINES: President Pushes ICT Skills for Youth
DepEd to Bat for Integrating ICT in Basic Courses
SINGAPORE: Government Agencies to Have Greater Online Security
New Family Website Launched for IT-Savvy Parents
Singapore InfoComm Technology Companies Leverage on Boom in Financial Services
THAILAND: IT Through the Ages
Thai Government Working to Improve Living Conditions in Southern Provinces
 
  BANGLADESH: Emerged as One of Asia*s Top 10 Mobile Phone Markets
ICT and Business Development in Rural Areas
BHUTAN: Rural Communities Join the Information Society
INDIA: Maharashtra Launches First-ever Study on E-waste
IMF Raises Indian Growth Forecast to 8.3 Percent in 2006
IDBI Bags Two IT Awards from IDRBT for Its IT Initiatives
National Award for Ngos and Human Rights Activists for Eradicating UN-Touchability and Combating Offences of Atrocities Against SCS on the Anvil
SRI LANKA: ADB Project Inaugurated to Restore Tsunami-Hit Road
PAKISTAN: Rural Electrification Project Hits Snags
Pakistan Can*t Progress Without Inter-Provincial Harmony, Says Aziz
 
  AZERBAIJAN: Fees on Internet Domains to Go Down
IRAN: First Tourism Website Launched
Telecom Infrastructure Ready for E-Commerce Expansion
KAZAKHSTAN: President Opens High-Tech Park
UZBEKISTAN: Linguist Launches E-Dictionary
Fourth National ICT Summit Opens in Tashkent
 
  AUSTRALIA: Greater Reliability for ABC Local Radio in Victoria
Over $5 Billion Spent on Cultural Activities in Australia
Call for Bush Broadband Ideas
New Report on Early Childhood Qualifications
Government Delivering Jobs for Disabled Australians
Scams, Frauds and Your Business: Competing Fairly Forum
Broadband Blueprint Near
Roundtable Endorses Need for National Wind Energy Code
Govt Unveils New Digital TV Channels
FIJI: Fiji's Moving in the Right Direction 每 PM
NEW ZEALAND: $40m Polish for Children's Dental Service
NZ Ditches IBM System i for E-Government
 
  Asian Governments Should Stay on Alert for Financial Downturn: UNESCAP
ADB Launches US$10 Billion Asian Currency Note Programme
More Work Needed to Create Robust East Asian Financial Markets
The Battle of Singapore? A Confab of the IMF and World Bank's Governing Boards Takes to the City-state
 
  CHINA: Raise Tax Threshold for Domestic Firms
China Won't Be Hasty in Currency Reform: Central Bank Chief
Regulations on Issuance of Securities Take Effect
Banking Sector to Improve Service for 2008 Games
Regulators May Relax Bank Rules
JAPAN: New Ashikaga Bank Owners to Be Screened
Fiscal Reforms Must Be Speeded Up
Local Governments Scramble Under Impact of Budget-Allocation Reform
BOJ to Adjust Interest Rates Gradually
Keizai Doyukai Calls on Government to Ease Criteria for Angel Tax System
Banks Want to Downsize Postal Savings Bank
Panel Calls for New Steps to Avert Local Government Bankruptcies
SOUTH KOREA: Welfare Budget to Jump 10% to $65 Billion in 2007
National Debt Expected to Increase
Global Tax Administration Forum Opens
Ministry to Set up Public Fund for Finance Professionals
 
  INDONESIA: Bank Regulation Amendment Slows Reform
Govt Considering Tax Incentives as Lure for Major Investors
SINGAPORE: MAS Invites Feedback on Proposed Amendments to Banking Act
Singapore Unveils Tax Incentives to Spur Infrastructure Investments
VIET NAM: Domestic Banks Hit by Poor Service
 
  INDIA: Public Money Wasted on Useless Patents
CPI(M) Calls for Public Investment in Agri Sector
Bank Mergers Must for Survival, Says Survey
 
  IRAN: New Trade Strategy Under Final Review
UZBEKISTAN: New Leasing Company Created to Finance Public Transport System
Centre for Securities Market Introduces Changes to Regulation on Corporate Bonds
 
  AUSTRALIA: Better Co-Operation in Banking Supervision with New Zealand
Red Tape, Poor Funding Holding Back Aged Care
NEW ZEALAND: Finance Firms Face Tough New Rules
Tax Take Higher than Forecast
 
 
 
  CHINA: Private Schools May Provide an Alternative
Beijing Invests Heavily to Improve School Facilities for Migrant Students
China's Private Sector Accounts for Half of National Economy in 2005
Private Firms Powering the Economy
JAPAN: To Protect Postal Bank from Takeovers
Postal Privatization Details Eyed by April
Japan Business Lobby Chairman: Hope Abe Continues Econ Reforms
SOUTH KOREA: Woori to Be Privatized By March 2008
MONGOLIA: Privatization of Power Station to Be Withdrawn
Savings Bank to Be Privatized
 
  INDONESIA: Government to Auction 400 Property Assets
MALAYSIA: Meeting with Private Sector to Clarify Delivery System
PHILIPPINES: Making Education a National Priority
THAILAND: Prasert Attacks PTT Privatisation Critics
 
  BANGLADESH: Effect of Private Universities on Public Universities
Rupali Bank to Be Sold Out for $330m to Saudi Prince: Privatization Commission*s Decision
INDIA: Public and Private Sector Need to Promote India as Healthcare Destination Worldwide
Private Sector Comes Forward to Support Girls* Education
MALDIVES: President Advised to Privatise MIFCO Finance Minister
NEPAL: Private School Operators 'Surprised' by Announcement of Reservation
PAKISTAN: Lakhra Power Plant Privatisation Opposed
Institutional Mechanism to Identify and Implement Counter-terrorism Initiatives and Investigations Jointly by India and Pakistan
Poverty, Illiteracy Big Evils of South Asia: NGOs
 
  IRAN: Expats* Capital Can Improve Privatization
Private Banks Can Use Foreign Exchange Reserves
Gov*t to Restrict Involvement in Private Industrial Activities
 
  AUSTRALIA: Private Sector Key to Solving City Thirst
Corporate Australia Encouraged to Participate in Youth Development Program
FIJI: Fiji's Private Sector Awaits Commerce Commission Move on Electricity Charges
NEW ZEALAND: Govt Wants More Women on Private Sector Boards

High Level Conference on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Set for October

The Inaugural Session of the 5th Ministerial Conference on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) will be held in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, People*s Republic of China (PRC), on 20 October. The media is invited to attend. The Conference will bring together Ministers from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, PRC, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to discuss future regional cooperation efforts in Central Asia. Representatives of multilateral institutions, bilateral and other regional organizations, and the private sector are expected to attend a series of meetings including a Business Development Forum starting on 16 October. ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda will make a keynote speech at the Ministerial Conference. CAREC is a broad partnership of the participating countries and six multilateral institutions to promote economic cooperation in Central Asia.

The program is focused on regional initiatives in transport, trade facilitation, trade policy, and energy that are critical to improving the economic performance of the region. ※At the Conference, Ministers will consider a Comprehensive Action Plan to guide the strategic management of the CAREC program and will also discuss ways to accelerate the momentum of regional cooperation by broadening and deepening the program,§ said Xianbin Yao, Deputy Director General of ADB*s Central and West Asia Department, at a press briefing. All who are interested in covering the Conference and related events, please register as representatives of media (newspaper, magazines, radio and on-line) through the website homepage of the Ministry of Finance, PRC (www.mof.gov.cn) that will open on 1 September.

From http://www.adb.org/ 09/01/2006


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UN Adopts Global Strategy to Combat Terrorism

The United Nations General Assembly today adopted a comprehensive global strategy to counter terrorism, overcoming differences between Member States and a year of often fractious negotiations to agree for the first time on a common approach to fighting the scourge. The strategy, in the form of a resolution and a plan of action, includes practical steps at the local, national and international level 每 ranging from strengthening the capacity of individual States to prevent and combat terrorism to ensuring that human rights and the rule of law are always respected in the fight against terrorism. It also calls for measures to enhance the role of the UN system to deal with terrorism, and to make sure that the world body*s efforts are better coordinated. Speaking after the strategy was adopted by consensus at UN Headquarters in New York, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson said ※we should consider this as a great achievement for the General Assembly, which has established itself in the area of fighting terrorism.§ Acknowledging that the past 12 months of negotiations have sometimes been ※troublesome,§ Mr. Eliasson said the definition of terrorism remained a source of contention for many nations.

But he said it was a sign of the mutual commitment to defeating terrorism that States were able to overcome their differences and find enough areas of common ground to devise a strategy. The strategy makes clear that it is vital to consistently, unequivocally and strongly condemn terrorism in all forms and manifestations, committed by whomever and for whatever purposes. Terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group. Identifying some conditions 每 such as prolonged unresolved conflict, human rights violations, socio-economic marginalization and lack of good governance 每 as conducive to the spread of terrorism, the strategy*s plan of action stresses the importance of achieving the UN*s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), resolving conflicts and promoting dialogue and tolerance between civilizations. The resolution calls for the strategy to be reviewed by the General Assembly in two years* time to chart the progress made by Member States.

Welcoming the strategy, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement that it ※sends a clear message that terrorism is unacceptable, no matter who commits it, no matter what the reason.§ Mr. Annan said he hoped Member States would now move swiftly to implement all aspects of the strategy so that they can ※honour the victims of terrorism everywhere.§ The Secretary-General congratulated Mr. Eliasson and his two co-chairs, Singaporean Ambassador Vanu Gopala Menon and Spanish Ambassador Juan Antonio Y芍?ez-Barnuevo, ※for leading the membership to this historic achievement.§ In May, Mr. Annan unveiled a series of recommendations for the counter-terrorism strategy, which world leaders pledged to work towards at last year*s World Summit in New York. Speaking to reporters following today*s action, he said: ※I am extremely happy that the General Assembly has approved this historic document on the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. And I think it is the first time the 192 countries have come together and taken a stand on the issue of terrorism. Now the test will be how we implement it.§


Form UN News Service 09/08/2006



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Gandhi's Non-Violence Proposed As Counterterrorism Tool

Peace activists, religious leaders and lawmakers gathered here Monday to highlight Indian peace campaigner Mahatma Gandhi's vision of non-violence as an effective counterterrorism weapon. "We have to stop this madness and the only way is to adopt non-violence," said Arun Gandhi, the grandson of the legendary Indian independence hero, at a rally marking the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States which left nearly 3,000 people dead. "Let us follow the path Gandhi showed us 100 years ago on this very day -- a path of non-violence to right wrongs," said the 72-year-old junior Gandhi at the rally at the historic Lincoln Memorial grounds in Washington. The rally coincided with the centenary of the Mahatma Gandhi's first public non-violence campaign against race prejudice in South Africa that helped steer the Indian nationalist movement against British rule. John Lewis, a Democrat from the House of Representatives and outspoken critic of President George W. Bush's military intervention in Iraq, stressed non-violence as a mechanism of international diplomacy. "As we pause and reflect on what happened five years ago, we must get the nations of the world to push for peace and lay down their tools and instruments of violence and war," he said.

"Violence is obsolete as a tool of our foreign policy," said the lawmaker, who had used non-violent actions to help address injustice to African-Americans during the height of the civil rights movement. While Gandhi confronted violence with non-violence and love, he did not propose a "timid retreat" in the face of injustice, noted another Democratic lawmaker, Chris Van Hollen. "Gandhi sought to confront injustice head-on through the power of non-violent examples," said Van Hollen, who lived and studied in India when his father was a Foreign Service officer. The rally, which included peace prayers by representatives of major faiths and performances by Indian musicians, was organized by the Tennessee-based M. K. Gandhi Institute for Non-Violence, founded by the junior Gandhi, who is now a US citizen. The institute held a conference entitled "Non-violence in the age of terrorism" at the weekend to help devise a curriculum on non-violence and conflict resolution for public schools in the United States and Canada. "The much sought-after question at the conference was how to reexamine Gandhi's theory of non-violence in the context of violence in 2006," said Hitabrata Roy, an Indian-American, who like thousands of Gandhi's followers was jailed while protesting British rule in India.


From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 09/12/2006


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CHINA: Legislature Adopts Corporate Bankruptcy Law

China's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, on Sunday adopted corporate bankruptcy law, aiming to protect both creditors and workers of bankrupt enterprises. The law will go into effect on June 1, 2007. The trial enterprise bankruptcy law, which was promulgated in 1986, will be abolished at the same time.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/27/2006


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Law Enhancing Legislators' Supervisory Powers Adopted

China's top legislature on Sunday voted to adopt a new law that aims at empowering its lawmakers with better government supervisory authority. The Supervision Law of Standing Committees of People's Congresses at Various Levels, which enhances the supervisory powers of lawmakers and prevents administrative and judicial bodies from abusing their authority, goes into effect on January 1, 2007. It was passed at the 23rd session of the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature. The session was concluded in Beijing on Sunday afternoon. "The correct implementation of the law must be ensured," said President Hu Jintao, also General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, at a meeting with leaders of non-Communist parties, federations of industry and commerce, and persons without party affiliation. The meeting was also attended by the country's other leaders Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin and Zeng Qinghong. Supervision in general and enhancing the supervisory powers of people's congresses is a one of the cornerstones of a Socialist democracy and governing a country by the rule of law, Hu said. The stipulation of the people's congress supervision law must insist on the leadership of the Party as well as on the people as the masters of the state, and stick to governing the country by law. "The supervision power of people's congresses is endowed by the Constitution," Hu said. The aims of supervision is to ensure the implementation of the Constitution and laws, the fulfillment of administrative, judicial and prosecuting powers, and the legal rights of citizens, corporations and other organizations, he said.

The priorities of the supervision should be issues concerning reform, opening-up and stability and the people's interests, as well as those concerned by the general public. "Governments, courts and prosecuting organs at all levels must accept the supervision of people's congresses, and the committees of the Party at various levels and Party members must support the supervision," Hu stressed. The president also hoped that non-Communist parties, federations of industry and commerce and persons without party affiliation would cooperate to improve democratic supervision regarding the implementation of the Constitution and laws and regulations. The legislature began drafting the supervision law as early as 1987. In the last 20 years, the NPC received 222 motions from 4,044 NPC deputies with suggestions on the stipulation and promulgation of the law. The draft law was submitted to the Standing Committee for a first reading in August 2002 and was finally adopted after four discussions and revisions. Over recent years, the standing committees of people's congresses at various levels have examined and evaluated several aspects of government's work. The standing committees of people's congresses at various levels have also evaluated local official's governance performance and pointed out their shortcomings.

Chinese lawmakers will continue to monitor judicial bad behavior, such as extracting confessions through torture, prolonged detentions that are illegal, unreasonably high litigation fees and poor enforcement of court orders. China's top legislator Wu Bangguo said the promulgation of the supervision law attaches great importance to improving socialist democracy and a socialist legal system, and will enhance people's congress's supervision capability and help promote judicial justice and administration by law. He said the objective of the supervision work conducted by the people's congresses is to ensure that the Constitution, laws and regulations are correctly implemented, administrative and judicial power well exerted, and the legitimate rights of citizens and corporations safeguarded. "The country's administrative and judicial organs are elected by people's congresses and supervised by people's congresses. Despite their different functions, the people's congress, administrative bodies and judicial organs should perform their duties independently and concertedly under the leadership of the Communist Party of China," he said. Wu added that the Standing Committee of the 10th NPC has paid great attention to the improvement of the supervision work by hearing reports from governments and judicial organs and launching law implementation inspections. In the future, the focus of supervision work will be issues closely related to reform, development, social stability and the fundamental interests of the people, he said.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/28/2006


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New Rules to Regulate a Range of Issues

Trade in endangered fauna and flora is to be regulated in China from September 1 and officials say the country's first regulation covering this issue will be strictly enforced. The rules cover wildlife listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). China became a member of the group in 1980. Chen Jianwei, deputy director of the Office of State Endangered Species Trade Management, said the rules forbid trading in wildlife and related products banned by the CITES convention. The regulations make it clear that approval from the Chinese government is required for the export and import of wildlife and wildlife products for non-commercial purposes such as scientific research, breeding or exchanges. Zhang Jianlong, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, said the rules, known as the Regulations on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, would play an important role in protecting endangered species, safeguarding the ecology and assist sustain endangered plant life. Fan Xiaojian, deputy minister of agriculture, said the rules would also protect grain, ensure biological safety and promote sustainable development of agriculture and rural economies. China's rich bio-diversity has nearly 20,000 aquatic animals and around 600 aquatic plants.

The country's grasslands are home to approximately 7,000 plants and 10,000 animals. But the country's wildlife resources are under unprecedented threat from fast economic and social development, said the deputy minister. Frequent international exchanges and a rapid increase of international trade in wildlife could drain biological resources and lead to an invasion of foreign species, he warned. The Ministry of Agriculture, which is responsible for management of aquatic creatures and plants, would enforce the regulations, he said. Willem Wijnstekers, secretary-general of CITES, welcomed the new regulations as they signaled the progress China had made in complying with the convention. The regulations stipulate government departments at both central and local levels must crack down on illegal trade in wildlife such as the pelts of large cats and ivory, said the secretary-general.

Other laws, regulations coming into effect September 1 A number of new laws and regulations ranging from compulsory education to data protection and which will impact on the daily lives of people and the country come into effect in China on Friday, September 1. The new regulations include:

- Free compulsory education ensured "Equal compulsory education for children in cities and the countryside" was for the first time written into the newly-revised Compulsory Education Law. The revised law is to ensure children get nine years of free compulsory education. The costs will be met by local and central governments. They're required to include the expenditure in their budgets.

- Reservoir compensation funds guaranteed The State Council's Subsidy Policies for People Who Were Relocated to Make Way for Dams and Reservoirs becomes effective on September 1. The central government will spend more than 13 billion yuan (1.63 billion U.S. dollars) every year subsidizing 22 million people who were moved to make way for water reservoirs created by dams. The money will be raised by increasing power bills by 0.62 cents per kilowatt hour. China has built more than 3,000 large and medium-sized dams since 1949 for flood control, electricity generation, irrigation and water supply.

- Controls on explosives tightened China issued strict new controls and regulations on the civilian use and storage of explosives after a series of accidental explosions in recent years. The government will also establish a database to monitor all transactions and transport of explosives. All manufacturers, vendors and users are to establish a registration system that ensures the quantities, type and the destination of explosives are entered into the government's database.

- Protection of mapping data The Mapping Management Regulation states that important mapping data must only be released by the government.

- Prohibition of foreign aid fraud The Ministry of Commerce's "Foreign Aid Guidebook" attempts to remove corruption from the management of relief materials and financial aid destined for foreign countries. No department or agency will be allowed to seek illegitimate gains through collusion with bidding companies, it says. The ministry will evaluate each foreign aid project and penalize those who violate the regulation. The penalty includes fines of 30,000 yuan (US$3,750).


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/31/2006


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Shanghai Signs on to New Pollution Limitations

Shanghai municipal government has signed letters of guarantee with its districts and county to impose tough new pollution limits that exceed national standards. Shanghai tries to reduce effluents detected by the chemical oxygen demand test by 15 percent and sulfur dioxide discharges by 26 percent by 2010. China has demanded a 10 percent cut in both pollutants during the same period. The municipality intends to limit its sulfur dioxide emissions to less than 380,000 tons a year and keep effluents detected by the chemical oxygen demand test to under 259,000 tons a year by 2010. Last year, the municipality discharged 512,800 tons of sulfur dioxide and 304,400 tons of chemical oxygen demand effluent. Statistics from the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau showed that 88 percent of sulfur dioxide pollution comes from domestic sewage while the electrical industry discharged 60 percent of effluent detected by the chemical oxygen demand test. The municipality plans to invest 4 billion yuan (US$502 million) to upgrade desulfurization equipment on coal-fired electrimunicipality generators with a capamunicipality of more than 9.57 million kilowatts. Officials said this would cut sulfur dioxide discharges by 190,000 tons a year. Also, over the next four years, dozens of sewage treatment plants will be built, raising the municipality's sewage treatment rate from the current 70 to 80 percent by 2010.


From http://www.china.org.cn 08/30/2006


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Gov't Lays Stress on Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency has been brought to the forefront of the national agenda with the State Council yesterday releasing guidelines on energy saving for the first time. The State Council document describes energy saving as "of strategic importance and playing a decisive role in economic and social development." It urges local governments at all levels to make energy saving a priority; and spare no effort to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency. He Bingguang, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission, described the document as a "concrete program to promote energy saving." For example, it requires public buildings to keep air-conditioning temperatures above 26 C in summer and below 20 C in winter to save electricity. According to the target for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), energy consumption per 10,000 yuan (US$2,470) GDP should drop to 0.98 tons of standard coal, down 20 percent from 2005. The document instructs all ministries, provincial governments and major state-owned enterprises to submit detailed energy-saving schemes to the State Council in two months. According to the guidelines, energy saving should be a priority in sectors such as manufacturing, construction, transportation, business, government departments, and residential and rural areas.

From http://service.china.org.cn 09/01/2006


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Law Ensures Migrant Workers' Children of Education Right

The amended Compulsory Education Law, which comes into effect in China Friday contains a new provision that ensures the right to education for children of migrant workers no matter where they live. The provision stipulates that when both parents or legal guardians are migrant workers living and working with their children in locations other than where the family is registered, local governments where they live and work must provide for the child's education. By the end of 2004, more than 6.4 million rural children of compulsory education age were living in cities with their parents. Another 22 million rural children remain in their rural homes, while their parents worked in cities, according to the Ministry of Education. Children who were brought to cities by their migrant parents are often charged school fees that are much higher than those charged by schools in rural areas. Yet the likelihood that these children will move often makes it difficult for some cities to meet the demand. Numerous private schools for migrant children have been established to migrant children in cities and they have been constantly attacked for being ill equipped, lacking infrastructure and qualified teachers to guarantee quality of education. The Compulsory Education Law was promulgated in 1986 and the revised Compulsory Education Law aims to give children in both cities and the countryside nine years of free compulsory education.


From http://www.china.org.cn 09/01/2006


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Gov't to Examine Compensation Status for Farmland Occupied

The Chinese government is to improve compensation for farmers whose land is compulsorily acquired with the strict implementation of a new system drawn up by the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), said a senior official with the MLR on Sunday. The new examination methods on compensation for farmland, put into effective on August 1, will be the criteria, said the official. Average per capita farmland has dropped to 1.4 mu, but the government plans to retain at least 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) by the end of 2010. The government has been maintaining productivity by compensating those whose land is acquired for construction. The system requires those claiming farmland for construction to pay a compensation fee, farmland reclamation fee, land use fee or other compensation charges. Enterprises or institutions responsible for compensation should clarify their compensation programs with a specific project and the project, once completed, should be up to the designed requirements. According to the MLR, farmers reclaimed about the same amount of farmland as was acquired from them last year, but much of the reclaimed land was poor compared with the land they lost. For example, 67 percent of farmland occupied for construction last year was equipped with irrigation facilities, but only 35 percent of reclaimed land had such facilities.


From http://service.china.org.cn 09/04/2006


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China Issues New Property Policy to Deter Overseas Speculators

The Chinese government continues to rein in overseas speculators in the country's property market, as it is now requiring foreigners to get approval before they send funds out of the country that were earned from selling houses. According to a circular on management over foreign investment in China's housing sector, which was jointly released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) and the Ministry of Construction, overseas investors who want to take over or acquire stakes in Chinese property companies will come up with the full purchase price. If they want to qualify for loans from Chinese or foreign banks, overseas-financed property companies will have to provide 35 percent of the funds needed for a project from their own resources, the circular said. The circular also asked relevant departments to enhance supervision over property deals using foreign currency, requiring banks and local foreign exchange administrations to report property purchases made with foreign currency. The Chinese government is also asking overseas institutions to provide documentation of their presence in China when buying property for their own use. These documents will be obligatory when they bring in foreign currency or register their properties. According to the circular, funds from foreign property investors should flow directly to the Renminbi accounts of property developers.

China's new policies on overseas investment in the property sector aims at shutting the gate on speculators from overseas, sources with the Ministry of Construction said. A recent regulation allows overseas residents who have worked or studied in China for more than a year to buy one housing unit for their own use. China's land resources are scarce and its population huge, so the government must take a long-term view and step up supervision of property investment by overseas institutions and individuals, said the ministry in a press release. Overseas funds have swarmed into China's housing industry, as investors make a double bet. They're hoping the RMB will continue to appreciate and they're expecting estate prices to continue to soar. Housing prices in some Chinese cities have doubled in recent years, putting home ownership further out of the reach of many local citizens. Overseas institutions and individuals are highly active in the market, but there are no clear rules and standards regulating their presence, the Ministry of Construction said. The new policies are aimed at improving the quality of market information available to real estate regulators. Officials currently only have a partial picture of the type and volume of transactions that are being carried out. Figures from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) show that of its 187 members, 137 control the overseas investment in their domestic property market, indicating that China's new action is internationally accepted common practice, the ministry said.


From http://service.china.org.cn 09/05/2006


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Shanghai Issues New Policy on Commercial Bribes

Corrupt officials in Shanghai may get a lighter punishment if they spend bribe money on their jobs, according to Shanghai's new policy on commercial bribery, which triggered a fierce debate among law experts and industry insiders, Legal Daily reported today. The No. 2 criminal division of the Shanghai Higher Court and the prosecution department of Shanghai Prosecutor's Office jointly issued the policy on July 18, which contains the controversial clause. If the money is accepted while they're working, it's a bribe, no matter how they use it, said Cao Zidan, professor at China University of Political Science and Law. No mitigation should be considered, he added. "I think it's a scientific approach, which makes the judgment more rational, though it may conflict with the current legislation system, said Lu Jianping, vice president of the criminal law research institution of Beijing Normal University. Using a bride for work purposes violates the law, but it can be considered a venial sin on a sizeable basis, said Zhou Qihua, a professor at China's prosecutor's college. The suspect should have no intention of possessing the money, otherwise, it's a typical bribe, he added. The policy also stipulates that golf membership and gym cards are also forms of bribery. But if they don't use the membership cards, it should not be considered a bribe. Additionally, according to the new policy, those who are forced to accept bribes will also have a lighter punishment.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/05/2006



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CPPCC to Focus on Development of Sci-tech

The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held a special workshop Wednesday to lay out their vision on the implementation of the country's long- and medium-term plan for the development of science and technology. Jia Qinglin, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee and member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau, and State-Councilor Chen Zhili addressed the meeting. Over 20 members of the CPPCC National Committee spoke at the meeting, offering their opinions and proposals on issues like science and technology macro-management, the creation of a joint managerial system for the military and civilian sectors, the setting-up of a mechanism encouraging market innovation, and the fostering of talented individuals. State Council officials attending the meeting said they see these proposals as an important reference and will study them carefully. In his address, Jia called for a serious study of President Hu Jintao's important instructions regarding the development of science and technology and of Jiang Zemin's thoughts on the issue, as well as asking members to make new contributions to the promotion of science and technology in China thus making the nation innovation-oriented.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/07/2006


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Rural Life Insurance Rules to Be Tightened

China's insurance watchdog is preparing to release new rules to regulate and promote the development of life insurance in rural areas. "The rules will probably be made public at the end of this month or early October," Gong Yisheng, director of the system department of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), told China Daily yesterday. Gong disclosed that the threshold for insurers' entry into rural areas will be even higher than for cities, due to the fragility of the rural market. For instance, the insurer should have outlets in local markets to ensure service for rural residents. And they will not be allowed to flee the rural market at will. "All these measures aim to maintain a good environment for insurance development in rural areas," Gong added. With the 'word of mouth' phenomenon particularly strong in rural areas, misleading sales or unreasonable refusal of claims will result in mass reimbursement demands, thus damaging the local insurance market, he explained. At the moment, accident and health insurance are the best sellers in the countryside, but products tailored to farmers are in short supply. "Comparatively high premiums, inflexible payment terms and incomprehensible policy clauses are the major problems," said Zhou Fuping, a researcher at the CIRC, adding most insurers made little or even no changes to policies in rural areas.

"To give farmers more choices, insurers are encouraged to offer more affordable policies and easy to understand clauses when entering the rural market," said Gong. "We will soon embark on a pilot programme that differentiates premiums in different regions." The life insurance industry in China's countryside has developed rapidly in recent years. There are around 14,000 outlets in rural areas, covering 30 per cent of towns and villages. For example China Life, the country's largest life insurer, has 427,000 sales agents in counties and scored 12.9 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) of premiums from the countryside in the first half of this year. When developing the rural market, insurers are also paying attention to migrant workers. Statistics show that China has some 120 million migrant workers, accounting for one-tenth of the total population. To better protect their livelihoods, local governments have played an active role in helping them get insured. In Shanghai insurers, entrusted by the Shanghai municipal government, offer comprehensive insurance to migrant workers. By the end of 2005, about 2.5 million migrant workers had been insured, with claims topping 200 million yuan (US$25 million). Furthermore some insurers, such as New China Life, offer services that enable migrant workers to get timely reimbursement in the city even if they buy the policy in their hometowns. "We will strive to popularize this service in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Shenzhen, the major destinations for migrant workers," said Gong. "In major labour exporting provinces, such as Shandong, Sichuan, Hunan and Anhui, we would like to offer more affordable insurance products with financial support from the local government."


Fromhttp://news3.xinhuanet.com 09/07/2006


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Shanghai Plans Household Garbage Disposal Fee

Shanghai plans to issue the standard of garbage disposal fee by the end of this year, and will select some areas to promote the charge as a trial, Oriental Morning Post reported yesterday. The trial will most likely be carried out in Pudong, Yangpu and Xuhui districts, as the three districts are now discussing the charge scheme. An official from Yangpu Environment Development Co Ltd said Yangpu District plans to charge 5 yuan (63 US cents) per household a month in older neighborhoods, and 6 yuan in newer neighborhoods. "The fee may be levied on migrant residents per capita, which hasn't been decided yet," the official said. Pudong New Area plans to charge the garbage disposal fee according to quantity, the sanitation bureau said. The district may also sell garbage bags to residents at a higher price instead of the garbage disposal fee. Xuhui authority said the charge is still under discussion and they haven't decided when the trial promotion will begin.


From http://www.china.org.cn 09/07/2006


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Taxes, Fees on Land Use Increased

In an attempt to curb runaway investment, China will drastically raise land fees and taxes, the authorities said yesterday. In its latest directive, the Ministry of Land and Resources ordered that compensation be doubled for human displacement relating to new developments. The land use fee for new construction projects shall also be doubled, the ministry announced. The current charges vary from 5 yuan (US$63 cents) to 70 yuan (US$8.78) per square meter. The government also intends to triple taxes on the use of urban land, which currently stands at 1.2 yuan (US$15 cents) per square meter. The ministry estimates that the new policy may push up the price of some industrial land by 40 to 60 percent. However, developers will be able to absorb the rise, given the policy's results in test cities. The ministry said higher land prices and fees would check excessive land redevelopment for industrial projects and force local governments to improve project viability. China posted an economic growth of 10.9 percent in the first half on the back of a 30-per-cent growth in fixed asset investment, both of which registered recent year-highs. In a bid to prevent a possible economic crisis, the central bank has twice raised the benchmark interest rate this year and the government has clamped down on unauthorized investment projects.

The government believes that checking excessive credit and land supply growth could be an effective way of cooling the economy. On Tuesday, the State Council, or the cabinet, announced macro-control policies aimed at tightening land supply. Highlights include tougher punishments for local officials involved in illegal land transactions, more emphasis placed on safeguarding the interests of farmers losing their land, and setting a minimum price for industrial land. The policy also strips local governments of their authority to spend the money from land sales, and orders that the revenue be incorporated into local budgets under supervision by higher authorities and local legislative bodies. Under this policy, the government will raise taxes from investors for land use, which will be used for the protection and development of farmland. There will also be a ban on leasing land from farmers for construction purposes, a back-door tactic increasingly used by local governments and investors to dodge taxes on land sales and approvals by higher authorities. "The solution to major issues in the economy lies in deepening reforms of the economic system, but for now, approaching the problems in land use is the most direct and efficient way," said Sun Wensheng, minister of land and resources.


From http://www.china.org.cn 09/08/2006



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China Urged to Introduce Fuel Tax, Energy-saving Fund

China should introduce a fuel tax and set up an energy-saving fund to help it reduce its wasteful consumption of oil, an official has said in the People's Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece. "Imposing a fuel tax is designed to lead to rational oil consumption by increasing the cost of consumption in a gradual way," said Gao Shixian, head of research at the National Development and Reform Commission's energy centre. China is the second-largest oil importer in the world after the United States and its need for fuel resources has jumped sharply as its economy booms with growth of 10.9 percent in the first half of the year. Demand is expected to average 7.03 million barrels per day in 2006, 7.42 million bpd in 2007 and 7.8 million bpd in 2008, the International Energy Agency said in a recent report. Meanwhile, to ease the impact of oil price fluctuations on consumers, Gao suggested the fuel tax rate should be adjusted in line with international oil prices. Setting up an energy saving fund would help boost energy efficiency, Gao said, without explaining how. Gao said China must also establish a new oil product pricing mechanism that reflects true market supply and demand.

China caps oil costs at home in order to stifle inflation, with prices based on the previous month's oil product prices in New York, Singapore and Rotterdam plus transportation costs and customs duties. Last year, major fuel shortages emerged in the southern business hub of Guangdong after Chinese refiners, faced with certain losses, held back supply at a time when they had to pay then-record oil prices. Chinese refiners have been losing billions of dollars since oil prices broke through 60 dollars a barrel because state regulations limit the prices they can charge customers. Beijing has been struggling over how to overhaul its rigid and distorting oil pricing system but is concerned that a completely free market could lead to social instability if poorer people suffered as a result of high prices.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/11/2006


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New Rules to Prevent School Food Poisoning

City authorities have threatened to close schools that fail to meet strict new hygiene standards, brought in after a series of food poisoning cases. Chengdu Municipal Education Bureau in Sichuan Province yesterday issued an emergency circular calling for improved efforts to ensure food safety in the city's kindergartens, and primary and high schools. Kindergarten, primary and high school canteens that fail to meet hygiene standards will be closed and can reopen only after making improvements, the circular said. The bureau is to send 38 groups of supervisors to districts, cities and counties under Chengdu's administration over the next week to ensure the new rules are followed. Last week, pupils at Dunyi Primary School, in Wangsi township near Chengdu, started vomiting after lunch in the school canteen. As of yesterday afternoon, 66 pupils were in hospital diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis. There was also a food poisoning case at Tashui Junior High School in Anxian, Sichuan, which affected more than 60 students. And a total of 606 pupils and teachers became ill after lunch at Chongzhou City Experimental Primary School canteen. The bacterium that caused the food poisoning outbreak here was later identified as shigella sonnei, which causes dysentery. After this outbreak, parents complained that the local government had been slow to admit the scale of the outbreak. Also this month, about 1,000 of some 1,300 students at Junle Town Central School in Pengzhou, another city under Chengdu's administration, ate cold soybeans and soup made of fatty meat and potatoes at the school canteen. Many were ill afterwards. Three of the 38 hospitalized students were diagnosed as suffering from food poisoning that resulted from shigella sonnei.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/12/2006


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Long-term Strategy to Fight Piracy

The Ministry of Culture has worked out a long-term supervision mechanism for the audio and video products markets to carry on the success of the country's 100-day crackdown on piracy. The mechanism, based on the principle of "stringent management and tough punishment," orders both routine checks and occasional raids of CD and DVD stores, and the establishment of a register of offenders, according to a ministry official. Local cultural departments have been requested to cooperate with industry and commerce, police and transport departments to clamp down on street peddlers and other unlicensed distributors, and to break the transportation and sales network for pirated goods. Local cultural departments are also required to assess the performance of companies and stores in the business of providing audio and video products every six months. The names of offenders will be publicized in the media and special records made of those found with a cache of more than 1,000 illegal copies. Chinese police reported on Sunday that they had confiscated more than 6 million pirated publications by the end of August as part of the 100-day crackdown. Local police raided more than 32,000 publication markets and distribution companies, and closed down 355 companies that produced illegal copies in bulk, according to a report by the Ministry of Public Security.

The campaign started on July 25 and is said to be unprecedented in terms of its duration and number of government departments involved. In a related development, five major US motion picture companies have filed a lawsuit against a Beijing firm for allegedly selling pirated movies, a Beijing court confirmed yesterday. The plaintiffs -- 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and Columbia Pictures -- are demanding that Beijing Shiji Haihong Commerce and Trade Company and its subsidiary video shop pay each of them 500,000 yuan (US$62,908.9) in damages, stop selling their movies and issue an apology.The movies named in the case to be heard by the Beijing No.2 Intermediate People's Court are: The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Mr & Mrs Smith, War of the Worlds, The Incredibles and Bewitched. The action taken by the US companies is unusual because foreign companies typically turn to government departments for assistance in such matters due to concerns over lengthy trials and low compensation from the courts.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/13/2006


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Public Health Emergencies to be Released Monthly

The Ministry of Health will release monthly information on current public health emergencies in China. This is the first time that the health watchdog will be providing a national summary of such data. "The release will be made on a regular monthly basis from now on," according to sources with the Ministry's information office. Major epidemics, diseases of unknown origin, major food or workplace-related cases, and other serious incidents that pose a threat to public health, for example SARS and bird flu, will be reported, the Ministry said. The ministry recorded a total of 279 public health emergencies in August, involving 4,128 people and leading to 202 deaths. Infectious diseases and food poisoning were the top two killers last month, accounting for 74 percent and 21 percent respectively of the total number of cases. The public health roundup is part of the ministry's overall contingency plan. The ministry has been publishing monthly reports on epidemics since February 2004. Recent incidents include a lead poisoning case in northwest China's Gansu Province that has affected 368 people to date. The poisoning was a result of pollution from a smelting plant near Xinsi and Muba villages in Huixian County. The smelting plant has been shut down, and the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) is conducting further investigations. In another development, tap water supplies to 80,000 residents were resumed on Tuesday evening in Yueyang County, Hunan Province. Supplies were suspended for four days after the county's main drinking source was contaminated with arsenide. Managers of the two factories linked to the contamination have been detained.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/13/2006


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New Law Aims to Make Legislators More Powerful

A new law designed to help Beijing legislators secure their supervision over the administrative and judicial organs of the municipal government is expected to go into effect in 2008. The Beijing Municipal People's Congress (BMPC) released a draft law yesterday called Regulations on the Standing Committee of the Beijing People's Congress' Discussion and Decision of Major Issues. The law came after the nation's Supervision Law of Standing Committees of People's Congresses at Various Levels was released in late August. It will have effect from January 1. "The contents of the law proceed from the national ones, with many regulations and explanations at length, and it is so far one of the most detailed among the 28 issued for municipalities and provinces," said Liu Weilin, deputy secretary-general of the Standing Committee of the BMPC. According to the draft, the Beijing municipal government and other judicial bodies must report to the standing committee for discussion in 11 subject areas. They are industry; finance; environment; resources; education; health; social security; historical site and cultural relics protection; residential housing projects; major public emergencies; and establishing sister-city relationships with foreign cities. "The law will enhance lawmakers' powers to prevent abuse in administrative and judicial bodies and keep them working properly," Liu said. Municipal government and other judicial organizations must complete their reports to the congress at the beginning of each year. Besides clarifying the specific issues and projects, the regulation also stipulates procedures for discussion and measures for effective implementation. If reports fail to reach the BMPC in time for discussion, the BMPC may demand modifications or simply override the provisions of the original law. Enforcement officials will be called to account if the laws are not properly executed.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/15/2006


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Draft Rules for Divulging Mental Patients' Identity

The Beijing Municipal People's Congress is discussing a draft regulation that says that those who divulge the identity of mental patients can be fined up to 30,000 yuan (US$3,750). The draft of the Beijing Mental Health Regulation also said those who force mental patients to take new drugs without approval will be held criminally responsible and those who illegally restrict the freedom of mental patients will be held civilly responsible. Public hospitals are not likely to force mental patients to experiment with new drugs, said Luo Xiaonian, director of the Psychiatry Department of Beijing Anding Hospital. He also said protecting a mental patient's privacy follows basic professional ethics for a psychologist. The draft regulation said patients are allowed to voluntarily experience new drugs. Drug developers must inform volunteers of the details and risks of the clinical experiments and sign an agreement with patients or their agents. If the person is not competent to agree to a new clinical drug test, his or her guardians must give their prior consent and an agreement must be signed between the guardians and the drug developers. Developers of new drugs should pay those who attend clinical experiments. According to the draft regulation, doctors are entitled to recommend that patients with severe mental problems be hospitalized. But if guardians or family relatives of the patients refuse hospitalization, doctors may not force patients to stay in hospital nor restrict their freedom. Shen Teng, a lawyer from a Beijing-based law office cited by the Legal Evening newspaper, said hospitals have a duty to prevent patients from doing harm or being harmed when in hospital. Statistics show there are 130,000 registered patients in Beijing with severe mental problems. China now has 16 million mental patients.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/16/2006


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China Launches New IPO Rules Aimed at Stabilising the Market

New rules governing the sale of Chinese shares and aimed at stabilising the market by meeting excess demand in initial public offerings (IPO) will be launched this week, a state press report has said. As of Tuesday Chinese companies issuing over 400 million shares on the stock market can adopt an over-allotment option, which grants the underwriter the right to sell more stock than offered by the issuer, the Shanghai Securities News said. Over-allotment options, also known as "greenshoe options," are often seen as helpful in bringing about stability in markets where large demand for new shares would otherwise cause post-IPO prices to soar. This often happens in Chinese markets, one example being Bank of China shares which soared by 23 percent on their first day of trading in July after the bank raked in 2.5 billion dollars in the mainland's biggest-ever IPO. The new regulations also cover the sale of new shares to strategic investors, specifying that they must keep their shares for at least 12 months before re-selling them, the newspaper said. Meanwhile companies which aim to list on the Shenzhen small and medium enterprises board will no longer be required to set an IPO price range before arriving at a final price. The rules also require simultaneous subscription for the retail and institutional tranches of all IPOs. China's largest bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China's (ICBC), will be the first to offer the over-allotment option in its dual listing next month. ICBC is expected to issue 18 billion shares in Shanghai and 36 billion in Hong Kong, according to a report on Monday by the China Business News. The IPO is reportedly priced at 2.7-2.8 Hong Kong dollars (35-36 US cents) and at an equal amount in yuan, China's currency. The world's biggest IPO was in 1998, when Japan's NTT DoCoMo telecom operator raked in 18.4 billion dollars.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/18/2006


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New Housing Rules to Be Adopted

China is expected to adopt new housing policies by the end of the month to favor middle- and low-income urban residents, officials and insiders said over the weekend. One important adjustment is to divide current affordable apartments into two types: those for sale and those for rent. This will create the backbone of the nation's housing guarantee system in the future, said an official with the Ministry of Construction, who declined to be identified. Different from past policies, cities will be encouraged to construct and lease out "low-cost housing" for low-income earners. Moreover, local governments will provide rental subsidies. These measures are the latest steps towards regulating the real estate market. On May 29, nine cabinet departments jointly issued an eight-article announcement to curb property price hikes in many cities, reports said. "Cities at all levels must work out concrete plans on housing construction before the end of September," it said. "Because China is a populous nation, it is unrealistic to be able to help every person purchase an apartment," said Fang Mingli, a real estate entrepreneur in Beijing. By building low-cost houses, China hopes to tackle the problem of the large-number of urban residents who cannot afford to buy a new house, he noted. One controversial issue for real estate developers and insiders is that small apartments no bigger than 90 square meters must now account for 70 percent of new homes being built. "Low-priced apartments are welcomed by the majority who fall under the system of social resources distribution," said Meng Xiaosu, who is chairman of China Real Estate Development (Group). But "the requirement for smaller apartments can present a problem." Currently, the proportion of investment in economically affordable housing only accounts for five percent of the total, which is far short of the increasing demand for new houses from middle- and low-income families, Meng said. "The ideal proportion of economically affordable apartments in China's real estate market should surpass 30 percent," he suggested.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/18/2006


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National Standard Issued for Supermarket Regulation

China's consumers will soon have a national standard by which to judge the hygiene and safety of supermarkets -- although the standard is voluntary. The standard would take effect on October 1, the China Chain Store and Franchise Association (CCFA) announced Monday.The new standard, which was recommended, was aimed at standardizing the operation of supermarkets and improving their environments, CCFA chairperson Guo Geping said. It was drafted by the CCFA and issued by the Ministry of the Commerce and gives high priority to the safety of fresh food products, which have proved a risk for many supermarkets. The standard has detailed provisions on hygiene conditions in which fresh food products are displayed, processed and kept, and the equipment used. It also has requirements on the construction and conditions of floors, walls, corridors, shelves and other facilities. For example, it requires separate entrances and exits to allow easy evacuation of customers.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/19/2006


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Five-Year Plan to Cope with Pressures of Aging Society

China plans to boost social welfare and medical services for its senior citizens as pressures of coping with an aging population increase. A national program on the aging population for the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010) was issued by the China National Committee on Aging with the approval of the State Council on Thursday. Li Bengong, a senior official with the committee, said that although welfare payments and medical subsidies for retired people have been significantly increased over the past five years, demand has increased even more. China's elderly population is expected to hit 174 million, or 12.78 percent of its entire population, by 2010, a big increase from the current figure of 143 million. According to the program, China will integrate more seniors in poor areas into the rural cooperative medical care system and the old-age pension system, and is committed to solving problems for retired people with financial difficulties.

The pressure of the aging population in rural areas is very noticeable. About 85.57 million old people in rural areas, 65.82 percent of the country's total, are not covered under the country's social welfare system, nor do they have pensions or adequate medical care. China plans to increase the number of beds in homes for the elderly by 800,000 in the cities and by 2.2 million in rural areas over the next five years. At present, China has 380,000 homes for the elderly with 1.2 million beds. This means that 1,000 elderly people compete for 8.6 beds, far less than the average 50 to 70 beds in developed countries. Under the program, governments at various levels are required to increase financial support for infrastructure projects for elderly people, as well as cultural and educational activities. By 2010, 10,000 more seniors* colleges and schools will be built. The central government will also encourage domestic private enterprises and foreign capital to invest in services for the elderly so as to optimize and diversify its investment structure.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/22/2006


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China Strives to Protect IPR

China will strive to take various measures to protect the intellectual property rights (IPR),said visiting Chinese Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan in Brussels on Friday. When answering questions from Belgian business leaders, Zeng said China's position on IPR protection was "clear" and the action to fight the IPR infringement was "resolute." According to Zeng, over the past 20 years, China has set up a comparatively complete legal system for IPR protection and marked achievements have been scored in cracking down on IPR infringements. The vice-premier listed up various measures the Chinese government will take on IPR protection in the future: -- to launch more publicity campaigns to promote the awareness of IPR among the general public; -- to make the IPR laws more sound and take more severe actions to crack down on IPR infringements; -- to expand communication with other countries and relevant international organizations, and to properly handle the disputes on IPR protection; -- to improve the bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanism on fighting IPR infringements. Zeng also told the Belgian business leaders that China will tighten its efforts on environment protection, adding that China will strive to build itself into a resource-saving and environment-friendly society.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/23/2006


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JAPAN: Abe Aims at Revising Education Law, Upgrade Defense Agency in Fall

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, who is widely believed to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi later this month, pledged Sunday to seek parliamentary enactment of revisions to the Fundamental Law of Education and upgrade of the Defense Agency into a ministry during an extra Diet session likely convening in late September. His previous Diet session adjourned in June carried over to the next session bills aimed at revising the education law and upgrading the agency. Abe made the remarks during a meeting in Morioka of members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the Tohoku area, northeastern Japan. He is seen certain to be elected new LDP president on Sept. 20 and prime minister during the Diet session convening as early as on Sept. 22.A government-sponsored bill to upgrade the Defense Agency would change the name of the agency to the ''Defense Ministry'' and make the Self-Defense Forces' overseas international peace cooperation activities part of its regular duties, in addition to its fundamental duties such as defending the nation and providing disaster relief at home, the officials said. The government bill to revise the education law, meanwhile, calls for developing among students ''an attitude which respects tradition and culture and loves the nation and homeland that have fostered them. ''A separate bill submitted by the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan to revise the law describes patriotism to be taught to students as ''cultivating love toward Japan.'' The Fundamental Law of Education was introduced in 1947 to realize through education the ideas in Japan's pacifist postwar Constitution.

From home.kyodo.co.jp 09/03/2006


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Government Set to Ease Multiple Regulations

In response to calls from special structural reform zones to ease certain regulations, the government has decided to revise about 20 items of legislation. The revisions, which will include permission for cars used by doctors visiting emergency and disaster sites to be designated as emergency vehicles, were approved the same day by the Liberal Democratic Party's Cabinet Division. The National Police Agency will revise the Road Traffic Law's enforcement ordinance in fiscal 2007. Among other deregulatory measures to be implemented is a liberalizing of the Road Law, which forbids shopping streets from erecting any kind of canopy if the street happens to intersect with a road. The Kagoshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry has applied for a special deregulation zone license to allow people to continue shopping without umbrellas when it rains. The Construction and Transport Ministry likely will revise the Road Law's enforcement ordinance within the month. As part of the reform of education boards, the government will give local boards of education a free hand in deciding on the number of directors--currently set at five. However, only those areas that have applied for the necessary transferral of power to allow for the building and management of school facilities will be recognized. Decision-making power relating to cultural and athletic events will be transferred to city, town and village mayors.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 09/09/2006


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Govt Drafts Plan to Reform National Medical Centers

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has drafted a reform plan to turn six national advanced medical centers, including the National Cancer Center, into medical "bases" that can make policy recommendations once they become independent administrative corporations in fiscal 2010, ministry officials said Tuesday. In addition to their conventional role in developing trailblazing medical treatments, the six national centers will also join forces with communities to reinforce their leadership in building up a system for medical services, including home care and treatment of terminal diseases. With the national centers offering recommendations, the ministry plans to flesh out policies for the treatment of cancer, and heart, pediatric and geriatric diseases, among others. The ministry met with the directors of the national centers Wednesday. The national centers are core medical facilities for pediatric and geriatric diseases, but some experts say the centers have difficulty shedding light on the causes of diseases and putting medical treatments into practical use. They also say that some patients simply regard the centers as good hospitals rather than research facilities that play a leading role in medical science.

The ministry has come under pressure to improve treatment for terminal diseases, such as cancer, and services for around-the-clock home medical care, as well as to tackle the shortage of pediatricians, obstetricians and gynecologists. In the case of cancer, the ministry has to come up with a treatment model suitable for various medical situations, such as treatment for easing pain and determining whether patients should be transferred from hospitals to hospices or their homes. It plans to consult with doctors at the national centers for advice on the framework. According to the guidelines for the reform, directors of the national centers will take part in mapping out the policies; the health minister will establish a system capable of ordering the centers to take measures to cope with diseases requiring emergency attention; and exchanges between universities and research institutes will be carried out. The centers are expected to set up a network linking major hospitals specializing in each field in the country, sources said. They will also distribute the treatment framework and gather and offer information to promote ties with local hospitals, general medical practitioners, related facilities and the ministry, the sources said.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 09/14/2006


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Draft Bill Would Open Space to Military Use

A draft bill for creating a new basic law regarding space development aims to allow space activities for defense purposes, such as launching reconnaissance satellites, according to a copy of the draft obtained Saturday by The Yomiuri Shimbun. The draft, which was formulated by the Liberal Democratic Party, stipulates that Japan's satellite operations and other space development activities, which are currently limited to nonmilitary purposes, will be allowed to contribute to international peace and secure the safety the nation and its people. The most important point of the bill is that the government would be allowed to launch its own satellites for defense purposes. The bill also calls for a strategic headquarters for promoting space development to be established by the cabinet. After obtaining approval from coalition partner New Komeito, the LDP plans to submit the bill to the Diet during the upcoming extraordinary session to convene Sept. 26, or during next year's ordinary session. In 1967, Japan ratified a U.N. treaty on space activities, which includes a principle that activities and the use of space are limited to peaceful purposes. The Diet in 1969 adopted a resolution that the country's space activities should be limited to peaceful purposes.

Some Western countries have interpreted the principle as stating that military activities not considered offensive in nature are possible under the U.N. treaty. However, the government has interpreted this as meaning Japan cannot use space for any defensive purposes. The government's interpretation has caused some inconvenience, including a ban on the Self-Defense Forces from developing their own reconnaissance satellites. As the government's information-gathering satellites can use only technologies that have become widespread in civilian-use fields, military experts have pointed out that it would be difficult for the satellites to detect signs of North Korean missile launches and other important military affairs. To make it possible to use satellites for defense purposes, the LDP wrote in the draft bill that the country's space development "should contribute to peace in the international community, peace and independence of the nation, and secure the safety of the nation and the people." If the bill is passed, the government will change its interpretation that space development activities cannot be used for defense purposes. A majority in the government, the LDP and New Komeito believe that changing the interpretation is possible and will make the government policy compatible with international standards.

The draft bill stipulates that the nation's space development should contribute to disaster relief, disaster prevention, the strengthening of social safety, the stabilization of energy and food supplies, and aid the overall security of the nation. The draft bill also says that space development should contribute to industrial development and diplomatic activities. The draft bill proposes that the government make comprehensive basic plans regarding space development, and that the cabinet will establish a space development strategy headquarters chaired by the prime minister and attended by cabinet members and experts. If the bill becomes law, Japan will be able to own defense-purpose satellites with advanced capabilities.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 09/17/2006


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Govt to Set Mandatory Targets for Disabled Employment

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will instruct prefectural education boards to promote the employment of disabled people in a new policy, which will also set out a mandatory employment rate of 2 percent or more to be achieved in 10 prefectural boards of education by 2008. This is the first time that numerical targets have been set for government and municipal offices regarding the employment of disabled people by prefectural education boards. In light of education boards' independence, the ministry has hitherto only offered guidance. However, within the month, the ministry's Employment Security Bureau chief will issue instructions to labor bureau chiefs across the nation to reinforce the ministry's position. As of June 2005, among 47 prefectural boards of education, the only prefecture that had achieved the mandatory employment rate--based on the Law for Employment Promotion for the Disabled--was Kyoto Prefecture, with 2.12 percent. The ministry has set numerical targets for the two phases of its plan--from 2006 to 2008, and from 2009 to 2011.

The goals of the first phase are to achieve the mandatory employment rate in at least 10 education boards, and to raise the disabled employment rate by at least 0.4 of a percentage point in the remaining 37 education boards. The goals of the second phase are to achieve the mandatory employment rate in at least 30 education boards, and a disabled employment rate of at least 1.65 percent in 17 education boards. According to the ministry, most government organizations, including central and prefectural governments, have achieved the mandatory employment rate. However, education boards have a conspicuously low figure. This is primarily due to the fact that there are not many disabled people who hold a teacher's license. The ministry said the mandatory employment rates can be achieved through various measures, such as increasing the number of disabled people working in clerical positions.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 09/21/2006


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Abe Wins Pledge to Continue with Coalition Rule

Just days away from being named prime minister, Shinzo Abe made the rounds Thursday of key politicians and won a pledge from New Komeito to continue ruling in coalition with his Liberal Democratic Party. Thursday not only marked Abe's first full day as new president of the ruling party, it was also his 52nd birthday. He spent the morning making courtesy calls, meeting with Takenori Kanzaki, the outgoing leader of New Komeito, as well as his successor, Akihiro Ota. He also met with former Prime Ministers Yasuhiro Nakasone and Yoshiro Mori and received a congratulatory call on his mobile phone from Stephen Hadley, national security adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush. Abe made clear he wanted to keep close relations with Washington, telling Hadley that Japan and the United States should continue working closely together. Abe and Hadley collaborated in putting together and winning passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned North Korea for its series of missile launches on July 5. In his meeting with Kanzaki, Abe asked for New Komeito's continued partnership in the upcoming extraordinary Diet session set to convene Tuesday when Abe will formally be named prime minister. "I want to make the relationship of trust in the coalition even stronger," Abe said. Kanzaki promised to cooperate to make the coalition even more stable. He is scheduled to step down as party leader at a New Komeito party convention slated for later this month. Ota will be formally selected as new party leader at that same convention. Abe also asked for New Komeito's cooperation in a series of important elections scheduled in the coming months. Two Lower House by-elections will be held Oct. 22, followed by the Okinawa gubernatorial election in November.

Unified local elections are scheduled for next spring and the Upper House election will be held next summer. Abe also got the ball rolling on a promise he made during the LDP presidential campaign to strengthen the functioning of the prime minister's office. He began accepting applications from central government bureaucrats who are keen to work on policy initiatives directly under the prime minister. Abe borrowed the idea from similar systems employed at private companies that set up in-house recruitment programs to encourage those with ambition to move to new positions. Abe hopes to have the staff in place by Tuesday when he is set to name his Cabinet. The policy team could eventually grow to about 10 members. Abe's round of meetings included a call on the home of the late Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda. He talked with Fukuda's son Yasuo, a former chief Cabinet secretary, who at one time was considered a leading rival to Abe for the LDP presidency. Abe also visited the Tokyo home of the late former Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita. He met with Mikio Aoki, a former Takeshita aide who is now chairman of the LDP Upper House caucus.

From http://www.asahi.com 09/22/2006


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NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA: Six-Party Talks Dying Or Dead? -- No Progress a Year After Joint Declaration on Way Forward

It is a year to the day since delegates to the fourth round of the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions hammered out their first joint declaration in Beijing. It was by far the most notable accomplishment by the members - the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia - in their efforts to denuclearize North Korea diplomatically and peacefully. But nothing has happened since then. "Everything that we agreed in the Joint Statement of principles can be discussed only after the six-party talks resume," Lee Yong-joon, Seoul's deputy chief nuclear negotiator told The Korea Herald. "Discussing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula and any other issues included in the Joint Statement can only begin on the agreement from all parties," said Lee, the director-general of the Foreign Ministry's task force on the North Korean nuclear crisis. The follow-up negotiations never got started, however, as North Korea boycotted the talks in November citing sanctions imposed by the United States. The talks have been on hold for 10 months now. The prolonged suspension has also left Seoul and Washington at odds.

Some blames Washington's hostile policy towards the North for aggravating the situation, while others point their finger at Seoul's engagement policy for failing to give a good nudge to the reclusive state to respond to international calls for resumption. Most recently, the presidents of Korea and the United States agreed to "comprehensively" seek for ways to solve the crisis. It remains to be seen whether their accord results in any substantial progress. On a broader note, for South Korea it is crucial to maintain the multilateral discussion framework that will be the only practical tool to sustain the agreed principles. It is in fact, all South Korea can offer for the time being, experts say. "What Seoul can do at the moment is to voice our suggestions, mediate between the United States and China, and maintain at least a minimum level of inter-Korean relations," said Hong Soon-jick, a researcher at Hyundai Research Institute. A possible turning point could be the U.S. general election on Nov. 7. It is clear that North Korea is holding its breath for the time being to see if the balance of power shifts in Washington. "Depending on the outcome of the election, it could add weight to voices within Washington that the current harsh policy toward the North may just be giving more time for the North to develop its nuclear weapons," Hong said.

"If such voices do become louder, it could perhaps bring another change to the situation." The Joint Statement in a total of six articles spelled out from A to Z the principles that would be required when starting full-fledged negotiations to dismantle North Korea's nuclear activities in return for incentives. But as they were broad and general, written in highly diplomatic terms, follow-up talks were expected to be even harder. The accepted reason that North Korea bolted from the talks was the U.S. Treasury Department's financial moves against North Korea's alleged money counterfeiting and money laundering activities in September, just before the signing of the Joint Statement. Washington banned American banks from dealing with Banco Delta Asia in Macau for allegedly helping with North Korea's illicit activities. The ban eventually led BDA to freeze its North Korean accounts worth $24 million. Similar measures are spreading across the world now, according to U.S. officials. Reacting to the "sanctions," North Korea in turn used its "missile card" by test-firing seven ballistic missiles into the East Sea on July 5.

But that gamble failed to budge a hawkish Washington, which continues prepare powerful measures that would further isolate the North. North Korea, with an equal display of stubborn behavior, released another statement last weekend through Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. "Our country will never return to the talks under U.S. sanctions," Kim said at the Nonaligned Movement summit in Havana on Saturday. South Korea's Foreign Ministry consequently appears pessimistic there will be any resumption of the six-party talks anytime soon. For the United States, taking harsh measures against North Korea's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is part of its flagship foreign policy. North Korea, meanwhile, could be truly determined to become a nuclear state, or could be waiting for better terms in order to find a face-saving way to exit its ambitious military programs. In a report released to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 19 Joint Statement, the ministry said yesterday, "North Korea believes that the United States' financial measures are part of its hostile policy and that it is impossible to return to the talks unless the problem with BDA is solved. To the North, the BDA issue is a political issue directly linked to the Sept. 19 Joint Statement."

China, which takes credit for creating the six-party talks framework, remains keen to restart the talks, and is currently making every effort to persuade the North to return to the table, according to the ministry. Japan, which is eager to ramp up its alliance with the United States, is committed to the comprehensive and common implementation of the Sept. 19 Joint Statement, it said. Russia is also in support of resuming the talks, and believes that bilateral talks between the United States and North Korea would be an effective solution. In the Joint Statement, the six parties agreed that the goal of the six-party talks "is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner." They said the North was "committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and exiting nuclear programs and returning at an early date to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards." In return, the parties agreed that the North had the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy and agreed to discuss "at an appropriate time" the subject of the provision of a light water reactor. Among other incentives were normalization of bilateral ties with the communist regime, and the promotion of economic cooperation in the fields of energy, trade, and investment. South Korea, for its part, offered to provide 2 million kilowatts of electric power. (by Lee Joo-hee)

From http://www.koreaherald.co.kr 09/19/2006


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SOUTH KOREA: Seoul Unveils Long-Term Growth, Social Welfare Plans

Korea unveiled a wide range of plans on Wednesday (Aug. 30) aimed at boosting the nation's economic growth potential and social welfare on a mid- and long-term basis. According to the "Vision 2030 Plans," the country aims to become one of the world's top nations in terms of economic growth and social systems by 2030. According to the plan, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) will reach $2,406 billion in 2030, a sharp increase from $788 billion in 2005, and its per capita GDP will amount to $49,000 in 2030, similar to Switzerland's current level, from $16,000 in 2005. Korea is the world's 12th-largest economy, with the 12th-biggest trading volume. According to the plans, the country's competitiveness will be raised to 10th place in the world from 29th in 2005 and its quality of life upgraded to 10th place from 41st at present. To that end, Korea will upgrade economic and social systems and increase spending on social welfare. The country plans to beef up the service industry, help smaller companies to be competitive and increase spending on research and development in order to strengthen its growth potential. According to the plans, the country will increase spending to boost the low fertility rate and help senior citizens.

Korea's fertility rate hit a record low in 2005 as more and more women engaged in economic activities and married at older ages. The nation's fertility rate fell to 1.08 last year, down from 1.16 the previous year, according to government data. The birth rate figure represents the average number of babies that a woman in the 15-49 age range bears during her lifetime. Last year's fertility rate was far lower than the world average of 2.6 and the average 1.57 in advanced countries. Such a trend turned the country into an aging society in 2000, when the ratio of the population aged 65 or older exceeded 7 percent. The figure is expected to double by 2018, when Korea is predicted to officially become an aged society. In order to help boost the low fertility rate, the country plans to spend more than 30 trillion won ($31.3 billion) over the next five years. The government said it will implement the plans without tax hikes till 2010, but needs to discuss tax hikes after that. It did not detail how it would fund the plans until then. In 2030, the country's social welfare level will be similar to advanced nations' current stages, it said. Around 2 percent of the country's GDP on average will be spent on improving the social safety net every year until 2030, with an average 9.8 percent increase in social spending every year until then, according to the plan. Also, the country plans to diminish social conflicts, which have cost the country too much in the past. The country will also continue efforts for market opening and increase assistance to other countries as well.

From http://www.korea.net 08/30/2006


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Discrimination Against HIV Carriers to Be Banned

Discrimination at workplaces against those infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) will be banned. The government on Tuesday (Sept. 5) decided to submit revision bills for the law about protection of HIV/AIDS patients to the National Assembly during a Cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook. According to the revision bills, employers will be banned from discriminating against HIV carriers or AIDS patients, or placing them at a disadvantage in employment, promotion or job training for reasons related to their disease. If HIV carriers are not well, they will have the same sick leave as other employees having different diseases. Employers cannot fire them due to their health issue. Employers who do not abide by the regulations will face legal charges, including up to one year of prison or 3 million won in fines. So far, there have not been punishments for those discriminating against HIV carriers at workplaces. The revision will also allow people to undergo HIV/AIDS checkups anonymously if they do not want to disclose their names. A new clause will be set up to recommend HIV carriers or AIDS patients take medical treatment voluntarily before medical centers order them to do so. The government also decided to charge an extra 1,000 won on overseas airfares to collect aid funds for developing countries, by revising the law related to the Korea International Cooperation Agency. Overseas travelers will be forced to pay an additional 1,000 won on their airfare, which will be used to root out poverty and diseases in developing countries such as African nations. The surcharge will be implemented as early as the first half of next year. The government plans to collect the money until 2015, the year the United Nations aims to eliminate world poverty.

From http://www.korea.net 09/06/2006


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Gov't Seeks to Ease Development Restrictions Around Seoul

The government is considering easing a set of restrictions on the construction of factories in and around Seoul to help boost investment and create more jobs. Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Kim Seok-dong said Thursday (Sept. 7) that six companies, including Hynix Semiconductor, have expressed a desire to invest in Seoul and its adjacent area. Hynix plans to invest 13.5 trillion won to construct new chip-making factories and expand existing facilities in the Seoul Metropolitan area. Many companies prefer to have their plants and other business facilities in the region compared to provincial areas for easier access to the market and overseas shipping. The current regulations have often been blamed for forcing some local firms to shift production to China and other countries. ※As of now, six large and medium-sized companies want to invest in Seoul and its surrounding area. The government has been considering a range of measures aimed at easing regulations and creating a more business-friendly environment, including allowing companies to invest in the metropolitan region,§ Kim said. He said the government will make a decision as early as later this month.

※Although the government has restricted building factories and other industrial activities in the Seoul areas to prevent over-development and encourage companies to invest in provincial areas, we have also allowed companies to expand their businesses at times if deemed essential for national development,§ Kim said. Last month, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance and Economy Minister Kwon O-kyu also said the government was considering relaxing development restrictions, adding that it plans to examine the regulations and decide how it will ease them in a bid to help boost the nation's industrial competitiveness. Kim also said the economy is currently experiencing a temporary slowdown due to labor unrest and damage from seasonal rain, stressing there is no possibility of a sharp downturn. ※It is somewhat premature to predict that the economy may cool off down the road, based on current business conditions. We need to assess where the economy is going after reviewing key indicators for August,§ Kim said. He also said the ministry will stick to its initial macroeconomic policy stance, while supporting the construction and other sluggish sectors through fine-tuning measures.

From http://www.korea.net 09/07/2006


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Property Policy Will Work This Time

The government decried property policies under former administrations as failures caused by inconsistency and assured success would come from its current policy in the long run. "Whenever property prices rose, the past administrations would tighten regulations, raise taxes and spill out new supply plans to cool down the market," the government said in a recently released publicity booklet. "But they eased control as soon as concerns of stagnation were raised, and the pendulum kept on swinging back and forth, resulting in a property policy failure in the mid- to long-term." Fair taxation and redemption of unearned income were long-cherished projects of the previous administrations, but the military government until the early 1990s could not afford to deal with them as its own legitimacy was questioned, it said. The Kim Dae-joong administration (1997-2002) could not do much either because it was busy getting over the 1997-1998 financial crisis. The booklet titled "A Guide to the Property Policy of the Participatory Government - the End of Speculation" was published by the ministries of finance and construction and the Government Information Agency. "A series of property policy measures unveiled by the Participatory Government between October 2003 and March this year, however, will succeed as it has a consistent goal of improving market transparency, curbing speculation and increasing supply," it said.

The booklet referred to the property measures announced on Oct. 29, 2003, Aug. 31, 2005, and March 30 this year as a "three-part workout program" with a consistent theme of stable housing for all citizens. It claimed that the market is steady now and property prices of old apartments slated for reconstruction in the three most speculative districts of southern Seoul are falling, a year after the so-called 8.31 announcement. Property prices in the prime residential areas of Gangnam had soared as speculators sought to purchase the old apartments to collect windfalls by reconstructing them. Reconstruction is considered to be the only way to increase housing supply in the saturated southern Seoul area. Regarding the property price surge in 2003, the government explained that it was because the policies were aimed at long-term effects rather than an immediate outcome. It went on to attribute the price hike in 2005 to partially eased control, low interest rates and speculative demand which arose before the large-scale sale of apartments in Pangyo. It mentioned nebulous expectation of an appeasement and seasonal factors as reasons for the unstable market early this year. "Increasing housing supply is not the correct answer to curb prices in Gangnam where practically no one is homeless," the government said. "The complex real estate tax cannot be called burdensome as it targets only high-priced homes that account for 1.2 percent of the total."

From http://www.koreaherald.co.kr 09/16/2006


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Finance Minister Urges More IMF Quota Reform

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) decision to increase quotas for Korea and three other countries was ※very appropriate§ but there should be more governance reform in the organization, Finance and Economy Minister Kwon O-kyu said in his keynote speech at the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings on Tuesday (Sept. 19). The IMF announced Monday that 90.6 percent of its 184 member states approved raising the quota, or voting shares, of the four most under-represented countries _ Korea, China, Mexico and Turkey _ after voting by letters. Korea, which had had only a 0.76 percent stake in the fund in spite of its position as the world's 12th largest economy, had the quota almost doubled to 1.35 percent. China had its quota move up to 3.719 percent from 2.980 percent, Mexico to 1.449 percent from 1.210 percent and Turkey to 0.548 percent from 0.451 percent. ※I sincerely thank the Fund and its members for supporting the ad hoc quota increase for four emerging market countries including Korea,§ Kwon said. ※However, there is still much to be done. Many countries' quotas still need readjustment to properly reflect their changing economic weight.§ He said quotas for Asian countries need the most augmentation to reflect their improved positions in the global economy. Regarding the World Bank's poverty reduction efforts, Kwon explained that Korea has decided to establish a $30 million fund in the IBRD and a $1.5 million fund in the IFC within the year.

※We will also invite 1,000 Africans to receive vocational training in Korea within the next three years,§ he said. He said Korea will continue to share with developing nations its development experience, transforming itself from a recipient country to a donor nation in one generation. He cited trade liberalization, active investment in human capital and efforts to build a transparent society as three major factors contributing to the rapid economic development. Kwon also said during a meeting with the Korean press in Singapore that the government will continue efforts to increase Korea's stake in the fund's second phase of reform, as the quota raise still doesn't fully reflect Korea's economic power. He said 23 countries, including India, Brazil, and most of the countries in Middle East and Latin America, voted against the quota augmentation. Kwon also defended the Swedish welfare model, saying that Korea should learn how Sweden has implemented its social welfare policy. Kwon wrote a report on Sweden's social welfare model for President Roh Moo-hyun while he was an ambassador at the OECD. As a center-right alliance planning to trim welfare programs won the recent election in Sweden, criticism has mounted that the government is trying to learn from a failed model. Kwon said, however, that processes were more important than results in Sweden's virtuous circle of welfare and growth. Kwon cited rational decision-making, education and transparency as some important virtues of the Swedish model. ※Sweden reformed its pension system, which even included partial privatization,§ he said.

※Sweden has never delayed policy measures. Whenever there was a problem, they solved it immediately.§ he said. ※Sweden, which turned itself to a rich Nordic country from poverty, has focused on how to distribute its increased wealth.§ ※The government has emphasized collective interests. Sweden was able to expand its public sector thanks to transparent government,§ he said. Kwon said there was no objection against government service expansion as people trusted government services. Kwon implied that while the government has taken fine-tuning measures in its macroeconomic policies this year, there may be rebalancing measures next year. He also said that the ministry plans to announce ambitious plans to improve the corporate environment at the end of September. ※About two thirds of the measures can be implemented within the year,§ he said.

From http://www.korea.net 09/20/2006


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32 Trillion Won Set Aside to Improve Water Quality

The government has allocated 32.7 trillion won for a 10-year project to improve the quality of water in the nation's four major rivers. Beginning this year, the government's new comprehensive measure will run through 2015. It aims to improve water quality in Han, Nakdong, Geum and Youngsan Rivers, the Ministry of Environment announced yesterday. Through the plan, the government wants to bring up the "good water" percentage to 85 percent from the current 76, and will also expand the nation's sewage systems to 90 percent from the current 81 percent by 2015. About a third of the budget will go to the Han River, which runs through Seoul, while 30 percent will go to Nakdong River in South Gyeongsang Province. Nineteen percent will go to Geum River in North Jeolla and 18 percent to Youngsan River in South Jeolla. The government's last comprehensive measure to improve water quality - between 1996 and 2005 - had been found to be fairly successful. The comprehensive grade of water quality improved from 74 in 1996 to 80 in 2005. But it was still found to be worse than in 1990. (by Shin Hae-in)

From http://www.koreaherald.co.kr 09/20/2006


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MONGOLIA: Draft Law on State Secret Drawn Up

The Globe International NGO of Mongolia has implemented a project State secret and information freedom starting from July 1 with the financing from the democracy program of the US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar. Under the project, a team of Mongolian lawyers has drawn up more advanced draft law on protecting the state secret after having compared the law of Mongolia on the list of state secrets with similar laws of other countries. The project team considers that the new draft law will make a real contribution to strengthening transparency and open governance in Mongolia, to providing citizens with true information and to increasing the involvement of citizens in the state affairs.

From http://www.montsame.mn 09/06/2006


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INDONESIA: Govt Unveils Plan to Empower the Poor

"Helping those who help themselves" could describe the government's latest approach to tackling the problems of poverty and unemployment, with community development programs at its core. Under the National Community Empowerment Program, the government will encourage rural and urban communities to determine by themselves the type of welfare development projects they need. It will then support the projects through funding and guidance on their implementation. Some Rp 14 trillion (US$1.5 billion) is allocated in the 2007 budget for the ambitious program, which is expected to improve conditions for the needy in 69,929 villages and subdistricts. The funds are considered sufficient to provide about 5 million jobs a year. Each village has to submit a project proposal for approval for funds, ranging from Rp 250 million to Rp 1 billion. Infrastructure, health and education-related projects will be encouraged, while those causing environmental degradation and the socially sensitive construction of religious prayer-houses will be denied.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono said the community-based program was a synergy and enhancement of two similar programs -- the "District Development Program" and "Urban Poverty Alleviation Program"-- which have been carried out since the financial crisis struck in 1998. "What we want to do now is bring the program to a wider scale, reaching every community in the country," he said in a media briefing Thursday. As of 2006, the two programs have reached 39,282 villages and subdistricts in 2,600 districts, or roughly half of the country's total communities. The government also will continue its rural health insurance, tuition-free basic education and "conditional direct cash subsidy" programs for the poor through related ministries. The programs are in line with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's recent state-of-the-nation address. However, the speech caused controversy, with the government accused of whitewashing the reality of poverty and unemployment by providing outdated data.

The poverty rate was said to be 16 percent, while unemployment reportedly affected 10.4 percent of the 220 million population. The government targets lowering the poverty rate to 8.2 percent and its unemployment to 5.1 percent by 2009. Boediono said the projects could become a development role model, citing an independent audit from Moores Rowland showing that the programs were able to cut costs by half compared to government-run ones. Graft levels also were less than 1 percent. "The projects will be carried out transparently, accountably, and with full participation of the community, particularly women. Funding will be directly disbursed to the communities, with no project middlemen," Boediono said, mentioning success stories of a community irrigation system in North Sumatra and bridges in Central Sulawesi.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 09/01/2006


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Govt Prepares Bill to Protect Domestic Workers

The government is drafting a law on domestic workers that is aimed at providing legal protection from widespread exploitation. The draft, now under discussion with all involved parties before it is brought before national legislators, guarantees the rights of housemaids as informal workers, after many years when their employers could do as they wished. Their rights will be guaranteed from the moment they are recruited by labor supplying agencies and during their employment. But critics say the bill is deficient in not mandating severe punishment for anyone who exploits or abuses maids. Housemaids can be recruited by labor suppliers or by their prospective employers, with the main requirement that they are trained in household chores to ensure they meet job requirements before they start. Also included in the category of "housemaids" are babysitters and caregivers for the elderly. Like those working overseas, the bill mandates that domestic workers would be entitled to a monthly payment, annual bonus, days off and knowledge enhancement to improve their productivity. It also states they should be able to maintain communication with their family, to unionize, perform their religious obligations and receive labor and health protection.

Working hours are set at eight hours a day, with the right to take a rest period. They also can have one day off a week, and take annual leave of at least 12 days. Because of different conditions among regions, the minimum wage for domestic workers will be set by local administrations through bylaws. On their part, housemaids are required to have professional skills, maintain good conduct, protect the employer family's privacy and security, as well as notify their employer and/or recruitment agency at least 15 days before they resign. The director general for labor inspection at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry, Maruddin Simanihuruk, said housemaids were treated separately from the formal workforce because their employment was family-based and industrial relations did not apply. "The bill is a lex specialis (special law) because household jobs have their unique characteristics which do not need detailed regulations. They stay with their employers. Living together with them makes them dependent, allowing them to save their monthly salary but simultaneously leaving them prone to abuse. "Despite all the special characteristics, he said, the sector could be regulated to ensure mutual benefits to workers and their employers, and to avoid unwanted incidents. In cases of exploitation, harassment and disputes, the bill allows domestic workers to report the incidents to their employers' neighborhood chief, or go to court, for settlement.

The housemaids' right to unionize will allow their associations or unions to help provide advocacy for their members, Maruddin said, referring to the Domestic Workers Union in Yogyakarta. He said the bill carried no physical sanctions against any violation of the agreement between housemaids and their recruiting agencies, or any violation of the labor relationship between workers and their employers because the job was informal. "To protect housemaids from human trade and abuse, the government has enforced the domestic violence law and will apply the human trafficking bill which is being deliberated by the House of Representatives." The two laws could be used to prosecute abusive employers for committing crimes in their workplace, he said. Maruddin hoped the long-awaited bill, which has received support from the National Commission for Protection of Women and Children and women's rights organizations, would soon be submitted to the House, and enacted in 2007.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 09/07/2006


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Govt to Adopt Severance Plan

The government will issue a regulation on severance payments by the end of the year in an effort to boost Indonesia's investment climate, a minister said Wednesday. Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno said the move follows the government's decision to drop its controversial plan to revise the 2003 Labor Law. "Labor unions and employers have given their support for the inclusion of severance payments in social security programs," he said, adding that the 1992 law on social security programs would be revised to adopt the severance payment scheme. The new policy is aimed at allaying dismissed workers' fears of losing their income, and reducing the financial burden on employers if they have to cut jobs. Under the regulation, severance payments will be paid by PT Jamsostek, the state-owned firm that administers social security programs. The secretary-general of the Indonesian Employers' Association, Djimanto, hailed the plan, saying it would smooth the recruitment and layoff process for businesses at a time when the country faces a poor investment climate and slow economic growth.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 09/14/2006


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Government Prepares Labor Regulations

Following its decision to drop the plan to revise the 2003 Labor Law, the government says it will soon issue a regulation detailing termination procedures and severance payments for workers to give them more job certainty. Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Erman Suparno said the regulation would also detail crucial issues on outsourcing, contract-based workers and other contentious issues. "The most important thing is that the government regulation will not be contrary to the (labor) law but we are seeking the best solution so as not to burden employers in its implementation," Erman said in Bogor at the weekend. The minister said the government would also revise the 1992 law on social security programs to allow state-owned labor insurance company PT Jamsostek to provide a termination scheme for dismissed workers. "The government will discuss in details all these issues with other stakeholders, mainly the labor unions and employers, before issuing the government regulation and revising the social security program law in the House of Representatives," he said.

Earlier this year, the government dropped a plan to amend the labor law in line with recommendations from five state universities that conducted an indepth study of the legislation. The study, ordered by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, recommended cutting workers' conditions, especially the large mandatory payouts to dismissed workers, which employers said were too costly. The bill, which also gave employers more freedom to outsource employees, was fiercely opposed by labor unions and later dropped. Employers on Monday hailed the planned government regulation, which they said could accommodate aspirations earlier included in bill. They also warned the government they would act "unilaterally" if it ignored their aspirations. Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) secretary-general Djimanto hoped the regulation would amend the nation's social security system. "With the severance payment scheme to be handled by PT Jamsostek, employers will have no problems in cases of massive layoffs," he said.

He said most small- and medium-companies in Indonesia were labor-intensive and that large layoffs were often unavoidable because of businesses dependence on foreign orders. Jimanto said labor-intensive companies such as shoe, textile and garment factories would continue "rationalizing" their employees, recruiting contract-based workers to reduce their labor costs and outsourcing part of their labor to home industries. "This is a last resort and we have to do it for survival in this poor economic climate," he said. Meanwhile, the chairman of the Confederation of Indonesian Prosperous Labor Unions (KSBSI), Rekson Silaban, said the regulation should not violate the labor law and change long-service and severance payments for dismissed workers. "The regulation should also detail outsourcing, so that it will be clear which jobs outside (a company's) core business could be outsourced, and the ratio between permanent and non-permanent workers should create job security among workers," he said. The unions have also proposed an increase of mandatory employer contributions to social security premiums to at least 20 percent of workers wages from the current 13 percent to provide more for workers in retirement. Rekson said the rise would mirror similar social security programs in Malaysia and Singapore, where employees automatically had from between 30 to 44 percent of their salaries paid into the schemes.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 09/19/2006


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SINGAPORE: Launch S$100m R&D Programme for Environment and Water Industry

AS$100 million programme was launched on Thursday to accelerate research and development in the environment and water industry. The Environment and Water Research Programme will focus on technology scanning and identify areas of research and technology development needed to position Singapore as a global technology leader. It will provide funding to the industry and academic and research communities for basic and applied research projects which pursue innovative and novel ideas. The Environment and Water Industry Development Council has earmarked an initial funding of S$100 million over the next five years for the programme. The programme is open to local and foreign organisations. Separately, PUB has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia's research institute to collaborate in research to improve the efficiency of water production plants. The tie-up will also look into developing innovative technologies to keep the cost of water production reasonable. Both agencies will jointly participate in applied research and development projects on potable water supply and water desalination infrastructures.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/07/2006


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NTUC Launches 6 New Financial Plans to Help Young Families

The National Trades Union Congress has launched of six new financial plans, which are aimed at young families and those planning to have children. Two of the plans are the result of a link-up with the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation. The Parenthood and Children Plans will benefit younger union members with young children. And with almost 50 percent of Singaporeans already insured by NTUC Income, both OCBC and NTUC hope to sell 9,000 policies in the next three months. Seng Han Thong, Assistant Secretary-General, NTUC, said: "In the last few years we have more members, young parents and they have this need - how to take care of their new born babies. We now have this strategy to engage everyone from young. It's the target of the labour movement for all. Government is encouraging Singaporeans to give birth to more babies and as a labour movement we also want more babies. In time to come they will become more good workers for Singapore."


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/09/2006


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NEA Launches Two-Year Plan to Boost Environmental Health Education Programme

The National Environment Agency has launched a two-year plan to boost an environmental health education programme for preschoolers. It will be bringing the environmental health education kit to childcare centres and kindergartens run by private operators. There are about 79,000 children in these centres. The kit uses hand puppets to bring alive lessons about good environmental health, like clean toilet habits and good personal hygiene habits. The kit has been used since last year on almost 300 kindergartens and childcare centres under the PAP Community Foundation. NEA has also launched a Public Health Badge programme aimed at older primary school children. It will be working with the Singapore Scout Association and Girl Guides Singapore to get more Cub Scouts and Brownies trained in three areas. These include mosquito- breeding prevention, food hygiene and good personal hygiene habits. Scouts and Brownies will have to undergo different training and complete projects to earn badges in these areas. NEA has plans to extend this programme to other uniform groups.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/16/2006


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THAILAND: Rights Panel Pushing Govt to Drop Biosafety Bill

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has stepped up its call for the caretaker government to drop the draft biosafety bill for fear the legislation would pave the way for commercialisation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com/ 09/05/2006


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VIET NAM: Enterprise Law Eases Administrative Burden

The Law on Enterprises was passed by the National Assembly on November 29, 2005, and took effect on July 1, 2006.The law provides a unified legal framework for common business operations of both foreign-invested and domestic enterprises. Both foreign-invested and domestic enterprises are governed by the new law in terms of form and operation. The ownership of capital is no longer determinative, and the concept of a separate form of State每owned enterprise becomes obsolete under the new law. State-owned enterprises must be privatised and converted into liability limited or joint stock companies within 4 years from the effective date of the law. This may end up being too short a time period, as the process of equitising these companies has been moving slowly, and it is necessary to ensure that companies which survive equitisation are solvent. In comparison to the 1999 Law on Enterprises, under which a single-member limited liability company must be run by an organisation, a new form of single-member limited liability company is authorised by the 2005 Law on Enterprises, allowing an individual to operate a single-member limited liability company.

The new law also gives partnerships legal entity status, although the practicality of this provision remains unclear due to the fact that partnerships, by definition, do not have independent assets separate from those of the partners, an element heretofore necessary to prove legal entity status. Foreign investors under the new law have more options in determining their form of investment form and can select any form of business organisation defined in the new law, such as limited liability company, joint stock company, or partnership. The new law also simplifies administrative procedures for establishing and registering a business entity. The most important change is that the time for processing and issuing a business licence has been decreased to 10 working days from the previous 15 working days. The legal documents required for establishment and registration are provided in detail in the law (Articles 16-20), eliminating the need for additional regulatory guidance in the form of a decree or circular. The new law has also clarified the management structure of the enterprise, more strongly protecting legal rights of members and shareholders in an enterprise. The law has clearly set forth duties and responsibilities of managers, especially those who hold positions of board member or director. Under Article 57, the general director must represent at least a 10-per-cent ownership of shares and possess strong skills in management.

The law also increases the powers of the Audit Committee (Article 121 to Article 127), whilce Article 46 provides that the legal representative of the enterprise must permanently reside in Viet Nam so that he may be subject to service of process. The law guarantees the rights and interests of members and minority shareholders. Under the 1999 Law on Enterprises, by comparison, the capital share of members or member groups having the rights to call a meeting of the Board of Management was 35 per cent. The new law lowers this to 25 per cent. Article 79 stipulates that the shareholder or group of shareholders owning holding more than ten (10) per cent of total ordinary shares for a consecutive period of six months or more, or holding a smaller percentage as stipulated in the charter of the company, shall have the right to nominate candidates for the membership on the Board of Management and the Audit Committee; to call a General Meeting of Shareholders; and to request the Audit Committee to inspect any particular issue considered necessary and relating to the management of the company.


From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 09/06/2006


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INDIA: Centre Declares Services in Five India Government Mints as Public Utility

The Central Government has declared services in the India Government Mints at Kolkata, Mumbai, Noida, Cherlapally (Ranga Reddy) and Hyderabad as public utility service under the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 for six months with effect from 28th August 2006. In a notification issued here, the Labour and Employment Ministry has said that this is being done in public interest. The employees in these Mints would among other things, be required to give notice to their employers six weeks in advance of proceeding on strike so that conciliatory proceedings could be started. During the conciliatory proceedings and seven days after their completion, the employees cannot go on strike.


From http://pib.nic.in/ 08/31/2006


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Pvt-public Port Projects May Get Fresh Guidelines

NEW DELHI: The government may introduce new bidding parameters for public-private partnership (PPP) projects in the port sector to attract private investors. The existing bidding parameters based on revenue-sharing may now be changed into a combination of both licence fee and revenue share model. The new model may cap revenue share at 20% while inviting quotations from bidders on a one-time upfront premium. The changes in the bidding process may form part of the model concession agreement (MCA) for ports, expected to be finalised by September, shipping ministry sources told ET. The expected changes in the bidding process follows a Planning Commission review of the port sector. The commission has argued that the bidding system on a revenue sharing basis is not consistent with a rate of return regulation. Experts say port operators have been quoting high levels of revenue share that may be difficult to sustain when the rate of return is fixed at 15% on capital employed. For projects that are not viable, the PPP model would award contracts based on the grant used by a concessionaire.

The government has also worked out other options that may be relevant for attracting investments in the port sector. One of these may form part of the proposed MCA for ports. Alternative models include least present value revenue (LPVR) and tariff-based bidding. ※In LPVR, the bidder quotes its expected returns from investment and once this is recovered, the concession comes to an end,§ sources said. ※In tariff-based bidding, the bidder will fix a tariff for incoming vessels and other services, and the lowest tariff bidder gets the contract. This system will benefit port users who will get the advantage of competitive tariffs,§ sources said. The commission has said that inconsistencies in the revenue sharing model have a three-fold impact. First, the concession pact may have to be renegotiated; second, there may be a breach of predetermined regulatory and bidding principles to the detriment of the port users, and last, the PPP may fail if the port operator goes bankrupt. ( by Subhash Narayan and Priyanka Talwar )


From http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ 08/26/2006


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Actuaries Bill Comes into Effect

The Actuaries Bill, 2006 has been enacted. After the President signed the legislation as passed by Parliament and its gazette notification, the Act has come into force. Under the Act, the Institute of Actuaries of India will be set up to conduct examinations for the profession of actuaries to regulate the profession. The Institute would look into professional misconduct and create necessary facilities for the growth and training of the members of the profession. As a result, the Actuarial Society of India would be dissolved and its assets and liabilities transferred to the proposed Institute of Actuaries of India. The traditional responsibilities of actuaries in life and general insurance business include designing and pricing of policies, monitoring the adequacy of funds to provide the promised benefits, recommending fair rate of bonus where applicable, violation of insurance business, ensuring solvency margin and other insurance risks like legal liability and loss of profit. Actuaries also define the risk factors, advise on the premium to be charged and re-insurance to be purchased, calculate the reserve for outstanding claims and carry on financial modelling. An actuary works as a consultant either individually or in partnership with other actuaries in multi-disciplines like insurance, information technology, taxation, employees benefit, risk management and investment.


From http://pib.nic.in/ 09/04/2006


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New Income Tax Act to Come into Force from Apr 1, 2008

The government today said the new simplified Income Tax Act is likely to come into force on April 1, 2008, replacing the existing Income Tax Act 1961.A report to simplify and rationalise the law relating to income tax, prepared by officials from Central Board of Direct Taxes, was presented to Finance Minister P Chidambaram today. Chidambaram told reporters that the report is an exercise of the future and is not aimed at amending the existing Income Tax Act 1961."This report is about a brand new income tax act, which if all goes well, will come into force from Apr 1, 2008, that is assessments made for 2009-10," he said. He said the new act will hopefully come into force from April 2008 subject to Parliament approving it "well in time".


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 09/08/2006


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Governance Rules for Unlisted PSUs Soon

NEW DELHI: Public sector undertakings (PSUs) buckle your shoes, or face the flak from the government. The government is mulling corporate governance guidelines for unlisted central public sector enterprises (CPSEs). The proposed norms will make it mandatory for PSUs to have at least one-third of their respective boards filled with independent directors. So far unlisted companies have been out of the ambit of guidelines stipulating independent directors. The move will bring more than 70 unlisted profit-making PSUs under the ambit of corporate governance norms. These include companies like Coal India, National Mineral Development Corporation and National Fertilisers. The government clearly defines independent directors as those who hold no pecuniary relation with the particular PSU where they serve as independent director. This apart, the proposed guidelines also make the setting up of an internal audit committee mandatory. This committee must have at least two-third of its members as independent directors. The committee will look into the financial record keeping and reporting of accounts by the company. It will also be in constant touch with an independent and external auditor.

As per the proposed guidelines, it will not only be necessary to have one-third independent directors on the board but all subsidiaries of the PSU must have one independent director of the parent company on their board of directors. Moreover, members on the board of directors cannot be member of more of the board of directors of more than ten PSUs and chairman of more than five at the same time. The new corporate governance guidelines also seek to put in place a formal whistle blowing mechanism to keep a check on fraud or misappropriation of funds within the PSUs. This is also being done to avoid victimisation of employees who report such misdemeanours, by the management. A separate section will also have to be dedicated by the company on the compliance with the code of conduct in its annual report, if the current guidelines get approved. The move will bring more than 70 companies under corporate governance norms as less than 40 profit making PSUs are listed on the stock exchange, which are in nay case governed by clause 49 of the listing agreement, that mandates 50% of the board to be populated by independent directors. ( by Gunjan Pradhan Sinha )

From TIMES NEWS NETWORK 09/11/2006


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States Want Indian Govt to Foot Bill for Right to Education

The model Right to Education Bill runs into one more hurdle as states find the financial burden of the Bill too high India*s draft bill on the right to education is in a financial logjam once more with the states saying they cannot implement the Bill unless they receive financial assistance from the Centre. The watered-down model Bill was sent by India*s Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry to the states for their consideration late last month. The states* problem lies with a clause in the model Right to Education Bill 2005 that makes it mandatory for schools to pay the fees and other school expenses of school students from Class 1 to VIII, since, under the draft Bill, all out-of-school children between the ages of 6 and 14 (including disabled children) will have to be in school and the government would have to pay for their education. Government-run or aided schools will also have to set aside reserved seats and pay for the education of children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who can be identified on the basis of their annual household income. However, the appropriate local authority appointed by the states will specify the school where the child can be admitted. Also, parents who choose to admit their children in non-free quota schools will not be allowed to claim free education from the state, according to the model Bill.

The HRD ministry estimates that the cost of implementing this will be around Rs 50,000 crore, an amount so large that it literally passes the buck onto the states, abandoning the idea of a central Right to Education Bill. Thereafter, it has asked the states to draft their own laws to actualise the fundamental right to education, based on the model draft. Now, it says: ※We can provide 75% of funds where free education has been enforced in unaided schools and up to 50% in other states.§ The ministry*s rationale is that the prospect of more funds will prove to be an incentive to private schools to adopt the policy of free education for those who cannot afford it. However, the model bill makes no mention of this provision -- another point that has irked aided schools. ※It is more or less silent on special provisions for unaided schools, as it was in the earlier version of the Right to Education Bill,§ says Kavita Krishnan of the All India Students Association. In fact the HRD ministry, under pressure from private schools, has dropped almost all sections on the regulation of unaided schools in the model bill. The only sections still in the model bill pertain to disallowing admission on the basis of capitation fees or interviews. One of the few clauses that is acceptable to the states is a state-wise administrative set-up for improving the quality of education.

From Info Change 09/12/2006


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Centre Plan to Amend Immigration Act: Minister

The Centre is thinking of amending the Immigration Act 1983 to eliminate harassment and exploitation of NRIs, particularly those employed in Malaysia and the Gulf countries, Union Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said today. An MOU would be signed with Malaysia and the Gulf countries to avoid middlemen in recruitment, he told reporters here. The Judiciary and Lokayukta "should pay more attention to check rampant corruption" in Karnataka, Ravi said, but avoided any reference to the corruption charges levelled by some opposition leaders against the government of late.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 09/18/2006


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NEPAL: Parliament Endorses Amended Army Act

The House of Representatives (HoR) unanimously passed the bill to amend the Army Act on Friday. The amended Army Act formally ends the link between the king and Nepali Army (NA) that existed for the last 237 years. The King will no more be the Supreme Commanders of the armed forces that will be under the control of the government and the House of Representatives. The new act has made provision for a special military court headed by an appellate court judge to look into criminal offence involving army personnel for, corruption, torture and disappearance. Other members of the court will be defence secretary and head of the NA's legal department. As per the Act, appeals can be filed at the appellate court if challenging the decision given by the military court. Similarly, the Public Service Commission will be involved in the appointment of senior army officers. The army will be controlled and mobilised by the government on the recommendation of the National Security Council (NSC). Home Minister, Finance and Minister for Foreign Affairs are the members of the NSC, which is headed by Prime Minister. The Chief of Army the Staff will no more be the member of the NSC. The new Act also replaces the king as patron of the Army Welfare Fund with the prime minister.


From http://nepalnews.com 09/22/2006


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PAKISTAN: Cut in Defence Budget to Reduce Poverty

ISLAMABAD, Sept 2: The Human Development Report 2005 attributes the prevailing poverty in South Asia to the excessive expenditures on keeping large armies, nuclearisation and weaponisation of the region, and suggests drastic cuts in defence budgets and redirecting the same to social sector to end the growing insecurity. The report &Human Development in South Asia 2005, Human Security in South Asia* has been prepared by Mahbubul Haq Human Development Centre. The report presents a very grim picture of the state of affairs in South Asia especially Pakistan and says the increasing expenditures on defence, militarisation, nuclearisation and large standing armies have been the main reason for the prevailing poverty and insecurity in the region. ※Large armies and nuclear weapons cannot guarantee security. Human security can only be guaranteed by addressing the root causes of conflicts.§ State security cannot be achieved without ensuring the security of people. The region has witnessed some large-scale wars and many smaller conflicts. Yet in this region security of people is increasingly under threat not from outside the borders but from within in the form of conflicts within states/regions due to social, religious or communal causes. According to the report, inter-state conflicts continue and contribute to escalating defence budgets.

The burgeoning nuclear arsenals have increased the stakes of violent political confrontation without guaranteeing regional security in any way. ※Poverty and widening income inequality, food insecurity, the changing nature of employment and unemployment against the backdrop of greater global economic integration underline the economic vulnerability of South Asians.§ The study says crisis of food insecurity in the region is mostly related to low access rather than low availability of food. Severe inequality in land and income distribution prevents the poor from meeting their minimum daily nutritional requirements. The gender disparity in intra-household access to food exacerbates the food insecurity of women. The public food distribution system and other food distribution programmes in South Asia have mostly been inefficient and poorly targeted. The study expressed the fear that given its shrinking natural resource base and burgeoning population, by the year 2020 South Asia would account for nearly half the developing world*s under-five children suffering from malnutrition. ( by Bakhtawar Mian )

From http://www.dawn.com/ 09/03/2006


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Women*s Right Bill Draft Approved

ISLAMABAD, Sept 4: A select committee of the National Assembly on Monday approved the draft of ※Protection of Women*s Rights ※ bill. PPP Parliamentarians and Fata legislators wrote dissenting notes on various grounds while signing the draft, but announced they would support the bill in the lower house. The meeting which was chaired by Nasrullah Dareshak was attended by, among others, six ministers and ministers of state, representatives of MQM, Fata and PPP and the attorney general of Pakistan. Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Sher Afgan Niazi later claimed that the government had succeeded in achieving a consensus on a package of amendments to the bill. Talking to newsmen, Mr Niazi said the government would give sufficient time for debate on the proposed amendments and would get the bill passed during the current session. Minister for Law and Justice Chaudhry Wasi Zafar rejected arguments that the bill was meant to achieve the objective of modernisation of society in order to please foreign powers and said that an effort had been made to protect women from going to jail without conviction. He claimed that not a single Quranic law had been altered and some laws which had been wrongly included in the ※Hudood§ laws had been put in the Pakistan Penal Code. Under the new set of law, he asserted, anyone required for trial under ※Tazeer§ would be tried under the PPC, instead of Hudood. PPP Parliamentarians information secretary and member select committee Sherry Rahman said that her party was not satisfied with the amendments but would still support it as a minimum effort towards safeguarding women*s rights. She said that supporting the bill did not mean that her party was supporting the government, but it was meant to be an effort to advance its agenda of giving protection to the womenfolk against undue harassment and coercion. ( by Ahmed Hassan )


From http://www.dawn.com/ 09/05/2006


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Bill Seeking Changes to Media Laws Introduced

ISLAMABAD, Sept 5: People*s Party Parliamentarians (PPP) MNA Sherry Rehman on Tuesday introduced the Freedom of Information Bill 2006 in the National Assembly seeking several changes in the six media ordinances promulgated by the military regime and making freedom of access to information a fundamental human right. The bill, which was originally submitted by Ms Rehman some two years ago, was referred to the standing committee concerned of the National Assembly by the speaker for its clause-wise examination. The bill, according to Ms Rehman, has been moved to guard against abuses of power and provide citizens the appropriate knowledge of the government*s activities and to create essential involvement by civil society in public service issues by giving them access to the records of public bodies. Moreover, she said, the bill had been submitted to empower the public and citizens groups to monitor the operations of the government and public bodies and to create a culture of non- abusive, across-the-board accountability of governments and curb VIP and elitist models of governance. Explaining the reasons for submitting the bill, Ms Rehman in a statement said there was a widespread consensus in the media community and informed civil society that these principles had by and large been ignored by the framers of the six media ordinances.

Not only are these new media laws arbitrary and lacking in legitimate parliamentary sanction, she said, these in fact amounted to curtailment of transparency in many significant ways. ※They also provide, quite alarmingly, for the provision of imprisonment for journalists which is totally unprecedented and unacceptable in civil cases. By deviating from the spirit of freedom and openness, these ordinances also represent a substantial deviation from the 1973 constitution,§ she said. These laws are the Freedom of Information Ordinance, the Press, Newspapers, News agency and Book Registration Ordinance, the Defamation Ordinance, the Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Ordinance, and the Associated Press of Pakistan Ordinance. As it stands, there are already laws and regulations in place that severely restrict the freedom and independence of journalists as well as media bodies and corporations. These are the Official Secrets Act, 1952; the Security of Pakistan Act 1952; the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance 1962; Sections 123-A, 124-A, 153-B,295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code; the Contempt of Court Act; the Anti- Terrorism Act; laws penalising discussion on religion; offences of false news and laws penalising scandalisation of national heroes. She said instead of removing the deficiencies of earlier draft laws, the ordinance introduced in 2002 made access to information extraordinarily difficult.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 09/06/2006


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IRAQ: Deputy Premier Says Militia Law Coming Next Month

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih told reporters at a September 14 press briefing in Washington that the government will propose legislation in October to disband militias, Reuters reported the same day. Salih said the continued existence of militias impacts the government's credibility. "The prime minister has been adamant that this cannot be tolerated and that the state must be the sole practicer or holder of weapons as such," he said. Salih also spoke candidly about Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia, the Imam Al-Mahdi Army, saying: "There are discussions with Muqtada al-Sadr and other political leaders in the country that they all have to make a choice -- either they are part of the political process and renounce arms and integrate into the country's political system and governing institutions, or the present situation will not be acceptable." In Baghdad, Iraqi Accordance Front leader Adnan al-Dulaymi told reporters that the government will face an imminent catastrophe unless it addresses the issue of militias soon. Meanwhile, police have said some 100 bodies have been found in and around Baghdad in the past two days, many bearing signs of torture. KR


From http://www.rferl.org/ 09/15/2006


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IRAN: Major Housing Construction Project Launched

Representatives of a group of Iranian construction companies are accompanying President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his trip to Venezuela to participate in construction projects in the Latin American state, Minister of Housing and Urban Development Mohammad Saeidikia, announced here Monday. Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for 10,000 residential units in the new town of Parand, he expressed hope that cooperation between Iranian and Malaysian private sectors would lead to standard urban development and house construction in the new cities of Parand and Hashtgerd in Tehran province, the Persian daily Donya-ye Eqtesad reported. The minister told reporters that some 20,000 residential units are expected to be built in two phases in the two cities by 2010, adding that a minimum of $500 million worth of investment has been made in the project. ※The Iranian side has provided the required land, whereas Malaysian companies will draw up the blueprint and implement the project,※ he said, adding that the Malaysian investment was the first in Iranian new cities.

Referring to the participation of domestic companies in foreign construction projects, he said that companies will enter into negotiations for the construction of residential units in Algeria, Libya and Syria. Meanwhile, managing director of New Cities Development Company, Seyyed Mahmoud Mirian, said the new cities are expected to accommodate some 800,000 people by the closing year of the Fourth Plan (2005-2010), adding that the new cities housed a population of 360,000 in the final year of the Third Plan (2000-2005). ※At present, studies are being conducted on housing patterns, resistant buildings and (quality) construction certificates to promote both qualitative and quantitative conditions in house construction,※ he said. Mirian noted that a majority of the units will be built by housing cooperatives as well as domestic and foreign mass construction companies under the supervision and control of the new cities* officials. Under the Comprehensive Housing Scheme, the private sector participated in establishing residential, trade, administrative, sport, industrial, religious, entertainment and health centers, he said.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 09/19/2006


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KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament Passes Counterterrorism Bill

Kyrgyzstan's parliament has passed a bill giving the National Security Service the authority to command and coordinate all counterterrorism operations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," September 6, 2006), akipress.org reported on September 7. Forty-nine of 58 deputies present voted in favor of the draft bill, which now awaits President Bakiev's signature to become law. The bill would also create a counterterrorism center within the structure of the National Security Service. DK

From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 09/08/2006


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KAZAKHSTAN: Parliament Portfolio Includes More Than 130 Draft Laws

By the beginning of the third session of the Parliament of third convocation the Parliament received more than 130 draft laws, Ural Mukhamedzhanov, Chairman of Mazhilis (Parliament's Lower House,) told journalists today, September 6, Kazakhstan Today correspondent reports. "Now we already have 133 draft laws in the portfolio. And we must work very actively to pass the most important among them in due time and manner," - he has said. Among priorities Mr. Mukhamedzhanov mentioned the draft law "On the National Budget 2007," the draft Environmental and Labour Codes, the draft law "On Local Self-Management," and a number of others.

From http://eng.gazeta.kz/ 09/06/2006


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UZBEKISTAN: New Microfinancing Law Enters into Force

Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed a Law "On microfinancing" on 15 September 2006 and it was published in central newspapers of Uzbekistan. Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan (lower house of parliament) passed it on 21 June and Senate approved it on 25 August. The law regulates relations in development of microfinancing services' market, meet demand of population and businesses in financial resources and services to improve their businesses activity.

From http://finance.uzreport.com/ 09/18/2006


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AUSTRALIA: Millions in Funding for South Australian Regions

Reducing salt in the River Murray, protecting the nationally endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot and coastal health checks are just some of the many projects being funded across South Australia through a major $54 million package announced today by the Australian Government and the South Australian Government. This latest round of regional funding from the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP) and the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust brings the total regional investment in South Australia to date from these programmes to $190 million. Australian Ministers for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, said funding for the State's eight regions would support ongoing and new projects in 2006-07 and 2007-08. "For example, in the South East, &corridors' with be created to link vegetation patches for species for Bandicoots and Sugar Gliders. Other work will help the nationally endangered South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo to access nesting sites. This is critical work - less than 1,000 of these birds remain in the wild." Mr McGauran said Kangaroo Island's primary producers would benefit from activities to improve water quality and deal with feral pest control.

"Lucerne and other perennial pastures over more than 1,000 hectares of land will filter nutrients while also lowering groundwater recharge," Mr McGauran said. "Another project will control feral animals like deer, goats and pigs, which cause havoc on the Island's farms and protected areas. A bait trial shows up to 80% of the pig population could be reduced with ongoing work. "In the State's north, the South Australian Arid Lands and Alinytjara Wilurara regions will tackle weeds by treating thousands of hectares for highly invasive boxthorn as well as controlling feral animals like camels, rabbits, cats and foxes." SA Minister for Environment and Conservation, Gail Gago, said the two year funding package will help protect and manage natural resources like water and soil, control pest plants and animals. It will also be boosted by other cash and in-kind contributions from the South Australian Government. Minister Gago said, "The funding will be administered by the eight Natural Resources Management Boards set up to provide a more integrated to protecting our natural resources for future generations." SA Minister for the River Murray, Karlene Maywald, said, the funding will also help reduce the amount of salt entering the Murray.

"The salt interception schemes at Murtho, Chowilla and other parts of the river are carefully designed and monitored to ensure we're getting healthier water for irrigators and for our environment," Minister Maywald said. Minister Gago said, "The Southern Brown Bandicoot is South Australia's last remaining naturally occurring species of bandicoot. "The creation of habitat corridors in the South East will link isolated populations and make it easier for the bandicoots to find a mate. This is important project will be administered by the SE Natural Resources Management Board" "With salinity in particular we need a long-term, coordinated effort, so we're working together through the National Action Plan programme," Minister Gago said. "For example, in Northern & Yorke the South Australian Government is helping fund salinity projects ranging from water quality monitoring to community education. "We're also supporting Natural Heritage Trust projects like the Eyre Peninsula's coastal habitat audit and stabilising dunes along beaches around Adelaide. "I'd like to congratulate the regional NRM boards, landholders, community groups, volunteers and Traditional Owners on their work so far and wish them well with the work ahead."


From http://www.deh.gov.au/ 08/28/2006

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DVDs, CDs and Computer Games: Good News for Consumers, Bad News for Pirates

New laws aimed at preventing unauthorised access to material protected by copyright should increase the availability of music, film and games in digital form, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today. Mr Ruddock was announcing the release of an exposure draft of the Copyright Amendment (Technological Protection Measures) Bill 2006. The Bill implements the technological protection measures scheme in the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). Technological protection measures (TPMs) are technical locks, such as passwords or encryption, used by copyright owners to prevent unauthorised access to and use of their material. It will now be an offence to circumvent these locks at a time when digital technology and the Internet make it easier than ever to copy and distribute pirate material. Mr Ruddock said he expected copyright owners would continue to make more music, films and games available online as pirates can be fined up to $60,500 for dealing in circumvention devices. "Region coding" devices aimed solely at stopping people from playing legitimate DVDs or computer games bought from overseas will not be protected by the regime. The new regime will have some specific exceptions allowing institutions such as libraries and law enforcement bodies to circumvent TPMs. These laws complement the Government's package of copyright reforms including fair use type exceptions and new offences to target piracy. Mr Ruddock also said there would be a limited review on further exceptions to the TPM scheme.


From http://www.ag.gov.au/ 09/04/2006


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Super Changes Target Workers

TREASURER Peter Costello has announced the details of rules governing changes to superannuation that aim to cut tax on end benefits and keep people working. Under transitional rules announced today, people will be able to put up to $1 million into their superannuation before the end of this financial year. "For people who were planning a large payment into superannuation under the current rules and would have become subject to the contribution limits, we are announcing that subject to any applicable work test, they will be able to put $1 million of post-tax contributions into superannuation before the 30th of June 2007," he said. From the 1st July 2007, the contribution limit will be $150,000 per annum, but for people aged less than 65, they will be able to bulk that up into a three-year contribution. That is, people will be able to make $450,000 in one year, provided they forego their entitlements in years two and three, Mr Costello said. Small business people will be able to put $1 million from the sale of their businesses into superannuation. "For many small business people, their business is their superannuation," Mr Costello said. The changes, Mr Costello said, were designed to encourage Australians to maintain a connection with the workforce. "This feeds into the Government's policy agenda of encouraging people to maintain their connection with the workforce."

"These very advantaged tax rules apply to people who take superannuation after 60 and if you take your superannuation after 60 tax free, then you may be able to maintain a connection with the workforce even on a part-time basis where your superannuation is not taken into account on your taxable income." "The Government will introduce legislation to enact this far-reaching reform this year," Mr Costello said. Mr Costello said settlements for injuries resulting in permanent disablement would also be able to be paid into super. The Treasurer said caps would be indexed to average ordinary time earnings but would only be adjusted in $5000 lots. Mr Costello also announced a five-year transition period in relation to eligible termination payments for people who had existing employment contracts. He said all new entrants into superannuation would have to give their tax file number to the superannuation fund. The supervisory levy on self-managed superannuation funds will be increased to $150 per annum. These changes and the inclusion of administrative costs will add $1 billion over the forward estimates, bringing the total cost to $7.2 billion. The Government's intention is for the legislation implementing these measures to be introduced into parliament before the end of the year.


From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/ 09/05/2006

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Human Genetic Information Protected by Privacy Act

Human genetic information will now be protected by the Privacy Act 1988 after the Privacy Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 passed through Parliament today. The Bill implements some recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission/Australian Health Ethics Committee report Essentially Yours: The Protection of Human Genetic Information. That report was prepared following an extensive consultation process. ※It is important that genetic information is given the same protection as other sensitive information,§ the Attorney-General, Mr Ruddock said today. ※Such information will now be considered &health information* or &sensitive information* for the purposes of the Privacy Act.** The Bill also ensures the continued operation of the Prescription Shopping Information Service, which provides medical practitioners with information about patients they suspect may be obtaining prescription medicines in excess of their therapeutic needs.


From http://www.ag.gov.au/ 09/07/2006


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Proposed Corporations Act Amendments

The Takeovers Panel welcomed the announcement today by the Treasurer, the Hon Peter Costello MP, releasing the draft Corporations Amendment (Takeovers) Bill 2006 for public exposure. The Bill will amend provisions in Chapter 6 of the Corporations Act 2001 relating to the operations of the Takeovers Panel. The President of the Panel, Mr. Simon McKeon, welcomed the draft Bill. Mr McKeon said that the Bill will ensure that the Panel can continue to operate effectively, in the manner intended by Parliament, as the main forum for resolving takeover disputes during a bid.

From http://www.takeovers.gov.au/ 09/07/2006


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Corporations Amendment (NZ Closer Economic Relations) Bill 2006

Chris Pearce today released the draft Corporations Amendment (NZ Closer Economic Relations) Bill 2006 for public exposure. New Zealand*s regulations are due to be released for comment in the near future. ※This initiative builds on the commitment of both the Australian and New Zealand Governments to remove unnecessary regulation of trans?Tasman business and promote greater coordination of business law between the two countries. ※The Bill will implement the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand in Relation to Mutual Recognition of Securities Offerings, signed on 22 March 2006, and will reduce the filing requirements for New Zealand companies doing business in Australia. ※When enacted, the provisions will allow the offer of securities and managed investment interests to be made in either country with the same offer documents, therefore reducing duplication and cost which inevitably get passed on to consumers. The reduced filing requirements provisions of the draft bill are intended to exempt New Zealand companies operating in Australia from lodging the same information with ASIC that the companies have already lodged with the New Zealand Companies Office,§ Mr Pearce said ※I therefore encourage all people with an interest in this issue to examine the draft bill and offer their comments,§ he said.


From http://parlsec.treasurer.gov.au/ 09/11/2006


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Government Media Reforms to Be Introduced to Parliament

The Government will tomorrow introduce legislation into Parliament to give effect to key elements of its media reform proposals, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan announced today. It is the Government*s expectation that the Senate will follow the usual process and refer the package of Bills to the Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 每 Standing Committee for inquiry and report by Thursday 5 October 2006. The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Television) Bill 2006, Television Licence Fees Amendment Bill 2006 and Broadcasting Services Amendment (Media Ownership) Bill 2006 will be introduced into the Senate. The Communications Legislation Amendment (Enforcement Powers) Bill 2006 will be introduced into the House of Representatives, as it contains appropriation measures. These Bills contain the major planks of the Government*s media reform package including proposed changes to the cross media and foreign ownership provisions,§ Senator Coonan said.

※Also contained in the Bills are measures to implement changes to the regulatory regime for digital television, several changes to the operation of the anti-siphoning scheme and measures to move the power to allocate new commercial television licences from the regulator 每 the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) 每 to the Government. ※The Bill to be introduced into the House of Representatives will implement already announced changes in relation to ACMA*s enforcement powers. ※I welcome the opportunity for all issues relating to these important reforms to be considered by the Senate Committee and I encourage all interested stakeholders to make submissions as appropriate. ※I look forward to reviewing the Committee*s report at the appropriate time and acknowledge the interest of my colleagues in ensuring Australian consumers are best placed to take advantage of the digital age and the benefits that this legislation will enable,§ Senator Coonan said. Legislation to give effect to the Government*s announcement that it will allocate two channels of currently available spectrum for new digital services will be introduced shortly.


From http://www.minister.dcita.gov.au/ 09/13/2006


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Minister Tells the World: Standby for Greenhouse Gas Reductions

The world could achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gases simply by changing the &standby* power standards for household appliances like TVs and computers, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, told an international forum in Zurich today. ※Standby power is one of the silent enemies of the global climate. Even when you*re not using them and appliances look like they are turned off, they are often in standby mode and are consuming electricity 每 generating greenhouse gases,§ Senator Campbell said. ※In Australia, 10 per cent of power is spent keeping household appliances on &standby*. The average Australian home has about 40 such appliances, together generating about 750kg of greenhouse gas each year. ※However, by changing appliance standards, we can reduce standby power consumption by at least half without any real impact on consumer behaviour and our appliances will still operate effectively. In Australian alone, this would save the Australian community more than 2.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and about $350 million annually.

※Australia was the first country to publicly pursue the &one-watt* standby power target identified by the IEA and by 2012 only appliances that use acceptable levels of power while in standby mode will be eligible for sale here.§ Speaking at an invitation-only climate change summit in Zurich, Senator Campbell invited his international counterparts to a conference Australia is hosting on standby power in November. ※The Standby Conference 2006 will foster global cooperation by seeking to develop an internationally consistent model to address excessive standby power consumption and will build on past efforts by Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the International Energy Agency§. ※The conference is being supported by APEC, the IEA and the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. It*s another example of Australia*s practical approach to international action on climate change and the role low emission technologies can play in addressing climate change.§ Senator Campbell is in Zurich to attend an informal Ministerial climate change summit, bringing together Ministers from about 30 countries to discuss a global response to climate change ahead of the annual meeting of the United Nations Climate Change Convention in Nairobi in November.


From http://www.deh.gov.au/ 09/14/2006


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Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2006

The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Bill 2006, which amends several pieces of intellectual property (IP) legislation, was passed in Parliament today. ※The Bill marks the introduction of new policy initiatives and the improvement of the operation of the legislation§ said Bob Baldwin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources. The Bill amends the Patents Act 1990, the Trade Marks Act 1995, the Designs Act 2003, the Plant Breeder*s Rights Act 1994, and the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987. The Bill amends the Patents Act to implement recommendations of two reviews of the intellectual property system. The amendments are aimed at strengthening the patent system, promoting competition and ensuring the system does not have any unnecessary adverse impacts on third parties. One of the key changes to be implemented relates to springboarding, which refers to using a patent to collect data in order to obtain regulatory approval of a generic version of a pharmaceutical substance during the life of the patent. Springboarding will now be allowed on any pharmaceutical patent at any time under wider provisions. The springboarding amendments to the Patents Act remove an obstacle to the development of generic drugs in Australia, while remaining consistent with Australia*s international obligations.

In relation to trade marks, the Bill allows certain documents to be made available for public inspection at an early stage in the application process. This amendment will enable the development of a quick and efficient system that simplifies requests for information on trade mark files whilst still being mindful of applicants filing sensitive business information as part of their application. Other amendments to the intellectual property Acts made by the Bill will enhance the intellectual property system in Australia. Mr Baldwin welcomed these amendments, and said ※the Government is committed to encouraging innovation and providing Australia with a strong and robust intellectual property system that meets the needs of Australians. The passage of the Bill is a clear demonstration of this commitment.§ The amendments have also been welcomed by Dr Ian Heath, Director-General of IP Australia, the Government agency responsible for the administration of the patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder*s rights systems in Australia. He said ※the amendments represent another step in the continuing process of improving Australia*s intellectual property system.§


From http://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ 09/14/2006


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Project to Prevent Anti-Social Behaviour by Young Children Shows Promising Results

The Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, today released the Australian Institute of Criminology paper entitled The Pathways to Prevention project: Doing developmental prevention in a disadvantaged community at the International Crime Prevention Colloquium in Canberra. "This is a very important project that trials early intervention programmes for young children and their families living in a disadvantaged area of Brisbane," Senator Ellison said. "The evidence supports the widespread use of interventions during the transition to school, and works with young families, schools and communities to prevent anti-social behaviour, reduce later involvement in crime and increase opportunities for young people later in life. "With a focus on children aged four to six years, the project emphasises the importance of strengthening communication and social skills, and has resulted in improvements in language skills for both boys and girls, and a significant improvement in boys' behaviour and their readiness for school. "Relationships between families and schools also improved, as did relationships between parents and children who were regularly involved in the family support program," Senator Ellison said.

A partnership between Mission Australia and Griffith University, the project seeks to involve family, school and the community in a range of interventions including: individual support for both adults and children; behaviour management programs for parents; early childhood initiatives such as playgroups; programs to link families with schools; and other broad-based community development initiatives. Although there are many promising family support and prevention programs in Australia, few have been evaluated. "We now have empirical evidence that developmental crime prevention can achieve positive results in disadvantaged community settings. The careful monitoring of this project and the dissemination of results can inform the development and implementation of similar services and approaches across Australia. Importantly, longer term tracking will indicate whether these effects continue into adolescence," Senator Ellison said.


From http://www.aic.gov.au/ 09/14/2006


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Forty-One Community Safety Projects Funded in Latest Round of National Community Crime Prevention Programme

Forty-one worthy projects will receive almost $5 million in the latest round of grants awarded under the National Community Crime Prevention Programme (NCCPP), the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, announced today. "The Australian Government recognises that the most effective way to fight crime is at the grass roots level and the National Community Crime Prevention Programme enables local groups, who are best placed to identify issues within their community, to develop solutions for themselves," Senator Ellison said. Encouraging broad community-based partnerships is a key component of the NCCPP in developing a sustainable response to local crime and community safety issues. "In the Community Safety stream of the programme, 41 applications reflect the programme*s central objective of trialling new and innovative local approaches to crime prevention," Senator Ellison said. The Australian Government has committed $64 million to the NCCPP which provides funding for community based crime prevention projects in three streams: Community Partnership stream - grant value of up to $500,000; Community Safety stream - grant value of up to $150,000, and Indigenous Community Safety stream - grant value of up to $150,000. The streams include grants awarded under Security Related Infrastructure, for which additional funding of $6 million was announced by the Prime Minister on 30 September 2005.


From http://www.ag.gov.au/ 09/18/2006


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Review to Strengthen Community Aged Care

Community aged care services provided to older Australians in their own homes will be improved and choices expanded as a result of a comprehensive review announced on 18 September by the Australian Government. Community aged care services provided to older Australians in their own homes will be improved and choices expanded as a result of a comprehensive review announced by the Howard Government today. The Minister for Ageing, Senator Santo Santoro, said the review of all Commonwealth-funded community aged care programs would commence next month. He said the review would examine equity, access, funding, fees, quality and accountability of community care services. It will deliver recommendations to build on advances already made following the release in 2004 of the Government's A New Strategy for Community Care - The Way Forward. Senator Santoro announced the review in his address to the 19th annual Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) conference on the Gold Coast. He said the Government*s objective was to provide easier access to community care, a fairer system of care distribution and improved quality of care for older Australians who choose to stay at home.

"As a result of this Government*s commitment to offer people a choice of aged care options, community aged care services are now helping some 33,000 frail older Australians to continue living at home," Senator Santoro said. "All the available research shows that, where possible, people prefer to continue living close to their families and friends, and the shops, clubs and services that they know. "But with the growth in demand for this type of care, it is time to look at how these packages can best respond to future needs for community care in an equitable and sustainable way." The review will include a number of research, data analysis and modelling projects, including: mapping the needs of frail older Australians against service use to identify gaps and overlaps; examining subsidy and fee structures, with particular regard to equity and choice; assessing private service provision, including barriers to it; and developing options to achieve the best outcomes for people at different levels of dependency. The Howard Government has given priority to expanding and improving services delivered in the community, with funding for community aged care programs rising from $554 million in 1995-96 to $1.8 billion in 2006-07.


From http://www.health.gov.au/ 09/18/2006


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FIJI: Tuition Fees Assistance to Replace Per Capita Grant to Schools

The Ministry of Education has in place a tuition fees assistance to replace the per capita grant paid to secondary schools. Commending the Ministry*s initiative at the Upper House this week, Government Senator Dr. Tupeni Baba said, schools would be getting much more than the usual per capita grant. According to Senator Baba the current levels of assistance through the tuition fees assistance are as follows Form 1 and 11 - $90 per student per year Form III and IV - $150 per student per year Form V and VI - $165 per student per year Form VII - $250 per student per year ※ The per capita grant and the tuition fees assistance are the same as the tuition fees assistance now in place in Form One to Seven covering all students at this level.§ He said. Citing examples to back Government*s initiatives, Dr. Baba said a school with a roll of 100 students in Form I and II would receive $1,600 should the Ministry of Education restore the per capita grant. ※However if we compare this amount with the current tuition fee assistance that was recently introduced to schools, the same 100 students of Form I and II could be paid a total sum of $9,000.§ He said. Dr. Baba added that the Ministry of Education has improved its assistance to non- Government schools through the tuition fees assistance.


From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 09/01/2006


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NEW ZEALAND: Government Revamps Regional Economic Policy

The Government is to revamp its regional economic development policy in a drive to get better national outcomes. Economic Development Minister Trevor Mallard said the Regional Partnerships Programme set up six years ago was now working in a different environment. It was the Government's main regional economic development programme and gave regions guidance and funding to develop and get sustainable economic growth strategies started. It was set up to attack low growth and low employment but these had improved and now the priority was to make New Zealand globally competitive, Mr Mallard said. "Regional economic development should be seen as a blending of local needs and goals with the national priority to transform the New Zealand economy," he said in speech notes to the Economic Development Association of New Zealand in Dunedin today. The Government has proposed consolidating the 26 regions to 14 larger areas. Mr Mallard said 26 partnership regions was too many for the size of the country. "It is certainly too many for government to participate in if the relationships are to be of the quality that I expect." Other proposed changes to the policy included:

* Concentrating funding on building the capability to develop substantive regional economic development strategies, and * contestability of large scale funding under the Major Regional Initiative programme. Mr Mallard told the conference contestability would ensure that the government was supporting the best projects from a national perspective. "This will involve a pool of funding, decision making probably twice a year." The funding would be considered in light of what other agencies and organisations were getting, he said. "It will mean a shift from a regional entitlement approach to one where the contributions to your region can make to national priorities is a much more important factor," he said. Under the partnership scheme the Government provided grants for strategic planning; building the economic development capability of regions -- both got up to $100,000 every three years, and Major Regional Initiatives -- up to $2 million every three years. The partnership included local government, business representatives, iwi, economic development agencies, educational institutions, community organisations and central government.


From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 09/01/2006


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Employment Law Stirs Barely a Ripple

A controversial amendment to employment law which was put on the shelf by Labour five years ago is set to pass into law in the near future with barely a ripple. Parliament is likely to consider an amendment to the Employment Relations Act this week which will mean that staff employed by a contractor who loses a contract will get the right to transfer jobs to the new contractor and/or redundancy. In 2000 it was part of the original law change that scrapped the Employment Contract Act, but was dumped because of a storm of protest from employers. The so-called winter of discontent in 2000 saw Labour slump in the polls as employers lashed out at employment law changes, the renationalisation of ACC and other policies that brought Labour into power in 1999. Faced with such strong discontent from the business world Prime Minister Helen Clark and her Labour Party deputy, Michael Cullen, set out to tone down the sharper edges of their policy programme. Among the changes that were sacrificed to appease employers were the contractor law and four weeks' minimum leave. The changes and others were then the first signs of a rift between Labour and its coalition partner the Alliance party. The Alliance wanted to press ahead with the changes, but Labour ministers overrode the rearguard action.

The party, led by Jim Anderton, later imploded due to the pressures of coalition. The death blow was internal opposition over the invasion of Afghanistan, which was supported by Mr Anderton and his Labour colleagues. Since then Labour has implemented most of the policy shelved during that period and this week MPs will debate the select committee report on the contractor proposal. A flash point for employer anger five years ago, the legislation's passage this time around has come in for little public attention. The National Party and many employers still oppose the proposals, saying they ignore the realities of many workplaces. National argues that if one employer loses a bid to renew a contract because he or she is undercut, it would be impossible for the winning bidder to employ the former contractor's staff on the same terms and conditions. The party cites the example of one family business losing a cleaning job to another family business and the winning family having to employ the other family before their own. Labour says this is shroud waving and the law will protect the employment rights of some of New Zealand's vulnerable workers whose wages and conditions eroded when they keep working in a job, but their employer or contract changes hands.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/04/2006


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Housing Plan Designed to Tackle 'Entrenched Social Problems'

A plan to redevelop large state-housing areas and spare Crown land in Auckland with a mix of state houses, affordable homes for first-home buyers and even some luxury properties will be unveiled today by Housing Minister Chris Carter. The socially troubled suburbs of Tamaki, Mangere and Otara, and the Hobsonville air base and Papakura, are earmarked for the plan. In speech notes for the Real Estate Institute's conference at Sky City, Mr Carter said the plan would tackle the problem of housing affordability in Auckland and reduce the concentration of state housing in troubled areas. In Tamaki suburbs such as Glen Innes and Pt England, Housing New Zealand owned half of the 5000 properties. Proposed new planning rules could create 3000 new homes on Housing NZ land. "These 3000 new homes could comprise 600 additional state homes, 500 homes for first-home buyers, 500 affordable homes for modest-income families, 400 homes for the charitable and community sector and 1000 homes on the open market," Mr Carter said. At Hobsonville, the 3000 new homes planned on 111ha of Crown land could comprise luxury and middle-market housing with 15 per cent state housing and 15 per cent affordable housing. A similar development could take place in Papakura. Mr Carter said "entrenched social problems" in Tamaki, Mangere and Otara could be eliminated by changing the make up of these communities and renewing their environments. "Because many of the state properties in these areas consist of small houses on big sections, it is technically possible to completely redevelop the area."


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/18/2006


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ADB Appoints Ursula Schafer-Preuss as Vice-President

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Board of Directors of ADB yesterday approved the appointment of Ursula Sch?fer-Preuss as a Vice-President for a term of three years. Ms. Sch?fer-Preuss is currently Director General at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Germany. She succeeds Geert van der Linden who retires from ADB's service today. As ADB's Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development, Ms. Sch?fer-Preuss will be responsible for its Regional and Sustainable Development Department, Economics and Research Department, and Office of Cofinancing Operations.


From http://www.adb.org/ 08/31/2006


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Governments Must Prepare Better for Future Disasters, Says OECD

Governments around the world need to be better prepared for large-scale catastrophes and take a more proactive role in working with the insurance industry and other players, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurr赤a told participants at the inaugural meeting of the OECD International Network on Financial Management of Large-Scale Catastrophes in Paris. In a globalised economy, the domino effect of disasters goes beyond their economic and social impact on the countries directly affected. Recent years have seen a dramatic rise in the frequency and severity of catastrophes and the trend is towards greater vulnerability and larger losses. Insured losses are only the tip of the iceberg given that numbers of people with insurance cover are very limited in emerging economies. More than 1,800 people died in Hurricane Katrina in the southern United States last year, with an estimated USD135 billion of damage and insured losses of around USD35 billion to USD45 billion. By comparison, the floods in China in 1996 and 1998 inflicted USD24 billion and USD30 billion dollars in economic damages respectively but only between 1% and 3% of these losses were covered by insurance. To tackle this issue, the Network, which is open to non-member countries, will focus on the financial management of different types of large scale risks, including natural catastrophes, accidental disasters caused by human intervention, terrorist acts and pandemics. It will also assess the extent to which financial sector institutions are prepared to withstand disasters from a financial and operational perspective.


From http://www.oecd.org/ 09/08/2006


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IMF & WB Annual Meetings Focus on Governance and Growth

More than 10,000 people will converge in Singapore September 19 and 20 for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings against a backdrop of Asian economic recovery and the increasing need to scale up development assistance, especially in Africa. Delegations from 184 IMF and Bank member countries will formally consider strategies on governance, clean energy, trade, and education. But the meetings are expected to stimulate discussion on a host of issues, including the need to lift millions out of poverty in Asia, Africa and Latin America through results-driven, sustainable development. Traditionally held in Washington, DC two years out of three, the Annual Meetings this year are being hosted by a country that went from developing to developed in one generation as 250 million people in Asia emerged from poverty in the last decade. The economic growth of Asia and its impact on other developing regions is the subject of at least two Bank publications introduced during the Meetings.

Major reports include: Governance and Anticorruption Strategy〞mapping out how the Bank will work with partner governments, other multilateral and bilateral organizations, civil society and the press to strengthen anticorruption and governance efforts. Worldwide Governance Indicators Update〞in a survey of 216 countries on six criteria including political stability, rule of law, and government effectiveness. Education Fast Track Initiative Progress Report〞on a global initiative to send 100 million poor children to school by 2015, and the funding needed to achieve this goal World Development Report 2007〞on the record number of young people between 12 and 24〞1.3 billion〞living in developing countries and the opportunities and challenges they present. Bank Assistance to Middle Income Countries〞a report to the Development Committee on strengthening the Bank*s technical and financial assistance in richer developing nations. Clean Energy for Development Progress Report〞on the steps needed to achieve environmentally sustainable electricity development, particularly in Africa, to transition to a lower-carbon economy, and to adapt to climate change. Doha Round and Aid for Trade Progress Report〞on recent developments in world trade talks and mechanisms for cross-country and regional aid for trade. Africa*s Silk Road〞a new book on Africa as China*s and India*s new economic frontier.


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 09/12/2006


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Dynamics of Corporate Governance Premium

The idea of corporate governance premium gained prominence with the famous McKinsey survey in 1996, which concluded that institutional investors were willing to pay an average of 11% more for well governed companies. A subsequent survey, in 1999-2000, revealed a relative premium between 20-27% in the selected Asian countries; 18-22% in Europe and the US and 21-28% in Latin America. Since then, corporate governance advocacy included propagation of this critical incentive to improve its standards. The idea is too simplistic, though intuitively appealing, with a potential for validation in the long run. Corporate governance by itself is too fuzzy an idea, unless disaggregated. Similarly, shareholders are a bundle of small individual investors, domestic institutional inv-estors, FIIs, etc each of whom will have a range of ideas on the importance of specific mechanisms of corporate governance in their decision-making in different regions and contexts. Most people believe corporate governance only means compliance with the regulatory standards. While debating the corporate governance premium in different regions, an important question was posed to me at an international insurers meet. If there is such a premium of between 18-22% in Europe and the US, does it imply that companies in this region also do not fully conform to international standards? The answer is that investors, especially institutional investors, are not so naive as to pay a premium for mere compliance. They can make a distinction between form and substance〞they will not pay for mere hygiene.

Premium arises when a company shows qualitative improvements in vital aspects of corporate governance such as transparency and disclosures, shareholder rights, board structures, duties and responsibilities and stakeholder engagement. For example, mere induction of independent directors may not cut any ice, but the quality and competence of such directors may receive some weight. But for a few corporate governance icons, India appears to be still struggling at concept selling and compliance. Further, all institutional investors are not willing to pay a premium. For instance, while many investors with a ※value mandate§ or those who are patient long-term investors appear to be keener on corporate governance, those with ※growth mandate§ or short-term players would not care for the quality of corporate governance as much as the immediate promise of profit. Most companies have yet to develop a belief system and strategy for corporate governance development that makes sense for their sustainability and financial structures. There are obvious trades-off to be made. For example, would a company appeal to an institutional investor who values dispersed ownership and enormous rights, or to those who might prefer blockholders running the company honourably, as it might imply lower agency costs and better performances? Research has indicated inconclusive results on the existence of corporate governance premium. While some mechanisms of corporate governance correlated well with stock market valuations, others had poor correlations. Cynics of corporate governance have always wondered why there is such a gush of financial flows into China, where the pillars of corporate governance and institutional mechanisms are relatively weak.

The answer is that corporate governance is not the only criteria for investment; and the quality of investors and their behaviours may differ between China and, say, India. Studies indicate that large companies in China have improved their compliance standards, and yet lack in substance, which perhaps is the case in India. Nevertheless, there has been steady improvement in recent years and companies listed with the Hong Kong Exchange evidence decent correlation between the quality of corporate governance mechanisms and stock market valuations. Except for the handful of corporate governance icons in the country, India appears to be still struggling at concept selling and compliance. There is a huge void in research relating to corporate governance mechanisms, qualitative parameters, investor profiles, behaviours and stock market valuations. Companies can develop a strategy for improving corporate governance and benefit from it only by supporting deeper research and analysis 每 mere compliance and hope for a corporate governance premium may indeed lead to cynicism.

From http://www.financialexpress.com/ 09/16/2006


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World Bank Battle: How to Fight Graft?

World Bank Battle: How to fight graft? An article in the New York Times reports that ※In his first 15 months as president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz has made the fight against corruption in poor countries a hallmark issue, waging an aggressive campaign that has led to the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and contracts to countries including India, Chad, Kenya, Congo, Ethiopia and Bangladesh. In recent months, however, Wolfowitz's drive has run into a flood of criticism within the bank and among financial officials in Europe and in poor countries. These officials charge that countries are being threatened with arbitrary punishment in a way that jeopardizes the bank's historic mission to reduce poverty. Wolfowitz has begun firing back at his critics in internal meetings and public statements. He notes that under his leadership, bank lending actually went up last year, to nearly $23 billion. "The assistance we provide needs to be used for the intended purposes," Wolfowitz told reporters recently. "And the intended purposes are to send children to school, to help mothers be healthier, to provide jobs for poor people - not to have resources siphoned off into the hands of the corrupt and greedy."

Wolfowitz added that he has tried to rebut what he calls the myth that combating fraud is "somehow at odds with development or becomes an excuse not to provide assistance." #While no one knows how much of the bank's resources are improperly diverted, informal estimates range from 10 percent to the 25 percent that Wolfowitz says went to corrupt cronies and family members of Indonesia's leadership in the 1990s. The backlash at the bank against Wolfowitz's approach centers not on his intentions or goals but on a widespread fear that countries will be categorized in the future as corrupt or not corrupt, and that lending will be shut off in an arbitrary or selective way. #But by all accounts the pivotal moment in Wolfowitz's campaign came when the bank suspended its program to funding health initiatives in India.

"It sent a tremor through the bank that Wolfowitz was serious, that he was going to ask hard questions, look at the track record of countries and make some changes," said Nancy Boswell, president of Transparency International USA, a nongovernmental monitoring group that strongly supports Wolfowitz's anti-corruption efforts. #When Wolfowitz arrived, he acknowledged his predecessor's efforts but also complained that the fraud unit had more than 300 unresolved cases. He increased its budget by nearly 50 percent and appointed a new director to the office. Currently, about 330 companies accused of corruption have been barred from bank-financed business or have been given other penalties. Supporters of Wolfowitz say he is determined to shake up the bank and that his efforts were inspired by bank employees. They say he has had to battle a mentality at the bank that emphasizes loan programs, not crackdowns on corrupt individuals. Wolfowitz said in the interview that the sometimes contentious exercise of drafting a policy by the bank's board was itself healthy. "It's an injustice to the developing countries and their people when we hide problems," he said. "What we've done is empower people in the field who no longer want to accept the status quo."

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 09/14/2006


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CHINA: Fight Against Bribery in Construction Sector

BEIJING, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- China made public 20 severe cases of bribery in the construction sector Thursday, a fresh step in its fighting against corruption. The 20 cases, made public by the Ministry of Construction, all involved government employees in charge of urban planning, project approval and evaluation of contractors' financial assessments. Liu Zhifeng, Vice Minister of Construction, said most involved government posts where power and resources were relatively concentrated, and supervision was lax. He cited Bi Yuxi, the former vice director of the Beijing Communications Bureau who was sentenced to death with a reprieve for embezzling state assets and taking bribes. Liu said those offering bribes were seeking advantages in market competition and illegal profits. "Bribes come in all forms. It could be cash, gifts or masquerading as an information, service or consulting charges, or school fees for their children," Liu said. From January to July, China's procuratorial organs dealt with 1,608 corruption cases in construction sector, about 26.31 percent of the country's total. "Because of the loopholes in rules and enforcement, the construction sector has turned into a hotbed of commercial bribery. The struggle is quite arduous," said Wang Jianming, director of the Bureau against Graft and Bribery under the Supreme People's Procuratorate. China has intensified investigation of commercial bribery in sectors such as construction, land transfers, property right deals, medicine distribution and government procurement after Premier Wen Jiabao promised to crack down on bribery in the year's Government Work Report.


From http://news3.xinhuanet.com 09/07/2006


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Protesters Demand Chen Shui-bian Resign

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Taipei Saturday and thousands remained in the rain as night fell vowing never to leave until the island's leader Chen Shui-bian resigns. Shih Ming-teh, former chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), led a long column of protesters wearing red T-shirts in a mid-day parade to Chen's downtown office. They shouted slogans while giving the thumbs-down sign which has become a trademark gesture of the protesters. Taiwan media said a mass sit-in was scheduled to last until 9 p.m., but Shih said he would remain outside the downtown office, along with other willing protesters, until Chen quits. Shih said on Saturday afternoon that the sit-in would last until Chen resigns. He had asked that the mass protest resume again at 3 p.m. Sunday. "So many people are standing here today to demand Chen resign, which shows the people of Taiwan know the difference between right and wrong," said Shih. "When Chen commits corruption, Taiwan people have the right to oust him," said Shih. He said if Chen refused to resign, Taiwan would be "paralyzed" and Chen would become a "prisoner" of his office. Shih led people in chants of "Chen, step down" during his speech. On Saturday afternoon, people formed a giant "totem" pattern --a bow compass symbolizing rules.

The pattern also looks like a warrior, with a broadsword in hand, cut down the corrupt regime, which represents humans beseeching power from heaven, according to a spokesman for the headquarters. Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang Party, and James Soong, chairman of the People First Party, joined in the mass sit-in in the evening. According to the organizer, the number of people participating in the street protest topped 300,000 on the first day. They were clad in red T-shirts, forming a red sea showing the anger of the mass. A Taiwan newspaper opinion poll found that 68.5 percent of Taiwan residents support the campaign to oust Chen Shui-bian. On Aug. 12, Shih Ming-teh launched the "one million people oust Chen Shui-bian" campaign to force the Taiwan leader to step down after some of his family members were implicated in a series of scandals. Last week Chen admitted that he had used other people's receipts to write off his official expenses and that his family accepted free coupons from a local businessman to shop at the Sogo department store, according to media reports from Taiwan.


From http://news3.xinhuanet.com/ 09/09/2006


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New Anti-terror Forces Established in 36 Cities

Special Police Forces (SPFs) have been set up in 36 large cities to deal with terrorism and riots. Under the direct command of the municipal public security bureaus, they are equipped with sophisticated weapons and vehicles and the cities of Nanjing, Zhengzhou, Wuhan and Shenzhen will be assisted by helicopters. Its members are mainly aged between 25-30 and the height restrictions are 1.70 meters or taller for male officers and 1.65 meters for females. State-Councilor Zhou Yongkang, also a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau, has called on the SPFs to be skillful, disciplined and well-equipped anti-terror forces. In Beijing, the Municipal Government has allocated 500 million yuan (62.5 million U.S. dollars) for the purchase of sophisticated weapons and building new facilities for the city's SPF ahead of the 2008 Olympics. In Zhejiang, one of the most well-developed provinces in the country, efforts are being made to establish SPFs in all its 11 cities.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/12/2006


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Gov't Departments Named for State Fund Violations

China's top auditing body has released a list of 42 central government departments found to have misappropriated state funds last year. Violators include key departments such as the National Development and Reform Commission and the ministries of education, health, culture, commerce, personnel, finance, agriculture, public security, railways and civil affairs. Also on the list are the administrations of customs, sports, forestry, and tourism as well as several ministerial-level institutions including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and National School of Administration. An announcement posted on the website of the National Audit Office (NAO) late on Monday named the violators and the details of their irregular implementation of the 2005 central budget. But the list apparently fell short of the 48 central government departments cited by Auditor-General Li Jinhua in his annual report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) on June 27. Li told lawmakers that the 48 departments and 274 affiliated units had misused 5.51 billion yuan (US$688 million) of the central budget in 2005, but did not name them.

The ministries of foreign affairs, state security, national defense and supervision were not included in the list. The NAO has pledged to open all audit and investigation reports to the public except for those concerning state secrets. Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday that 13 departments named in the audit announcement had moved to correct their wrongdoings and vowed to tighten control over budgets. Monday's announcement, however, has again turned the spotlight on the rampant misuse of state funds due to a lack of tight auditing standards. The transgressions range from reporting non-existent workers or fabricated projects, and embezzling special funds to construct office buildings, to hiding revenues and fabricating expenses. Auditors also found instances of unauthorized spending of cash surpluses, bogus expense claims for receiving foreign guests, unreported sales of assets, and the embezzlement of special and scientific research funds. Analysts said the NAO's move to make public the details will ease concerns that it might be taking a less aggressive approach to the issue. Since 2003, when the NAO published the full text of its annual audit report for the first time in China's history, Li has won nationwide applause and fame.

Dubbed the "iron-faced auditor," Li triggers an "audit storm" each year with his frank and straightforward account of problems in his annual audit report to the NPC, China's top legislature. As a result, a large number of government departments have been exposed for misappropriating funds. In response to media reports, one of Li's colleagues reportedly argued that Li had chosen to focus on the bigger picture in his annual report and left details of specific cases to the daily reporting. Some of the major cases of misappropriation and irregularities revealed in Monday's audit announcement are: The People's Bank of China, the central bank, flouted rules and spent 1.01 billion yuan (US$126 million) on purchasing or building fixed assets. It also misused 126 million yuan (US$15.75 million) of operation expenses to pay employee salaries. A State Forestry Administration department in charge of managing World Bank loans misused 567 million yuan (US$70 million) of funds intended for debt repayment to the World Bank, and spent 1.2 million yuan (US$150,000) to facilitate personal investments by staff.

The Beijing Railway Bureau misused 164 million yuan (US$20.5 million) to build a luxury villa hotel in Beijing's rural Shijingshan District. The Sports Fund Management Center, affiliated to the General Administration of Sports, failed to record 138 million yuan (US$17.25 million) of income from the sale of shares in one of its limited liability companies. In 2002, staff at the center embezzled 27.87 million yuan (US$3.48 million) from the public welfare lottery fund to invest in securities. The money had not been recovered as of end-2005. Staff at the Welfare Lottery Center, affiliated to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, in 1996 embezzled 50 million yuan (US$6.25 million) to open a fixed-deposit account and collected interest. The company, which is under liquidation, has not returned the principal sum. The Ministry of Civil Affairs failed to report 749 million yuan (US$93.6 million) in its public accounts. The Beijing Institute of Technology, affiliated to the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, misused 24.11 million yuan (US$3 million) of scientific research funds to subsidize the purchase of apartments by its employees.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/13/2006


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Wu Guanzheng Emphasizes Fighting Corruption at Its Source

Wu Guanzheng, Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, emphasizes the importance of fighting corruption at its source in an article to be published today. "The crackdown on corruption cases has to be maintained, but efforts also need to be made to build an effective corruption prevention and control mechanism," says Wu, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. In his article in the 18th issue of Qiushi, a CPC Central Committee magazine, Wu says anti-corruption efforts should be made in political, economic, cultural and social fields. In the political field, efforts should be made to regulate the activities of leading cadres and reinforce checks on the use of power. In the economic field, opportunities to use power for personal gain should be gradually eliminated and the crackdown on commercial bribery should be conscientiously pursued. In the cultural field, a social atmosphere that values honesty and decency, and in which corruption is regarded as shameful, needs to be fostered. In the social field, unhealthy tendencies that harm people's interests need to be opposed and corrected and more opportunities need to be provided for people to take part in anti-corruption efforts.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/16/2006


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China 'Audit Storm' Uncovers 15.6 Bln Dlrs in Misappropriated Funds

China's state auditors have uncovered 124.9 billion yuan (15.6 billion dollars) in misappropriated state funds during the first eight months of the year, state press reported Monday. State auditors have handed over the names of 38 leaders and 92 other officials to judicial authorities for prosecution in the latest "audit storm" against corruption, the 21st Century Business Herald reported. The "audit storm" has become one of the latest tools of the central government to crack down on official corruption. So far, 54,000 government units have been audited this year, the newspaper said. In 2005, auditors uncovered a total of 290 billion yuan (35 billion dollars) in illegal or unaccounted for spending by government offices and state-run enterprises, the National Audit Office reported earlier. "The present number does not mean that misappropriated funds discovered by the audit is decreasing," the newspaper quoted an audit official as saying when comparing last year's figure with eight months period. The figure could increase rapidly as more audits are carried out over the last four months of the year, he said.

Most of the misappropriated funds, or nearly 100 billion yuan, were discovered in state-run enterprises, the newspaper said. A total of 14,000 party and government cadres were also fingered for "bearing direct responsibility" for the misappropriation of six billion yuan, it said. The annual audit reports have been open to public scrutiny only since 2003 but the Chinese media has criticized the lack of judicial powers by state auditors and a lack of transparency over how wrongdoings are dealt with and how offenders are punished. For example, little information has been published over where a great part of the 290 billion yuan in misappropriated funds last year went, reports have said. Corruption has become a leading cause of social disharmony in China, especially as party and government officials have enriched themselves from economic reforms that have favored the powerful.


From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 09/18/2006


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New Ambassadors to Five Countries Appointed

President Hu Jintao on Tuesday appointed new ambassadors to five countries in accordance with a decision of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). Gao Kexiang was appointed ambassador to the Republic of Portugal, replacing Ma Enhan. Zhang Ming was appointed ambassador to the Republic of Kenya, replacing Guo Chongli. Guan Xiaosheng takes up the ambassadorial post in Jordan, replacing Luo Xingwu. Su Ge takes up the post in Surinam, replacing Chen Jinghua. Chen Jinghua was appointed ambassador to Jamaica, replacing Zhao Zhenyu.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/19/2006


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Superintendent General of Land Appointed

The State Council announced on Tuesday that it has designated Sun Wensheng, Minister of Land and Resources, as State Superintendent General of Land. Li Yuan, Vice Minister of Land and Resources, and Gan Zangchun, director general of the ministry's department of law and regulation, were appointed as Deputy State Superintendent Generals of Land. The move was seen as a further step to tighten land management in the country. The State Council also appointed Gao Yan and Chen Qiming as deputy directors of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR). Gao has served as vice president of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade since August 2003. Chen was director of department of social work under the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Macao SAR. He Xiaowei, former deputy director of the Liaison Office in Macao, was removed from the post.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/20/2006


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JAPAN: Antiterrorism Office to Be Established

The Public Security Intelligence Agency is planning to establish an international antiterrorism office in fiscal 2007, agency officials said. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States have been followed by other terrorist actions, such as the London bombings of July 2005. Other attacks have been thwarted, such as the aircraft bombing plot that was exposed in Britain last month. Following these incidents, there is thought to be a realistic chance that a terrorist attack could occur in Japan. Therefore, the agency will set up a specialist office to improve its ability to gather and analyze information linked to international terrorism. The agency hopes to expedite the transmission of this information to the Prime Minister's Office. Currently, international terrorist information is handled by two separate investigative divisions belonging to the agency's Second Intelligence Department, the organ responsible for overseas' research. One of the two divisions, the Second Division, exchanges information with foreign intelligence bodies such as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Britain's MI6.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 09/05/2006


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Ministries Conduct Drill for Bird Flu

The government conducted Tuesday a drill to check if ministries and agencies and their staff are ready to work together and communicate with each other to handle the situation in the event of an outbreak of bird flu. The two-day drill began at 10 a.m. under the scenario that the deadly H5N1 strain of the avian influenza virus has mutated into a variety that can be easily transmitted among humans and begun infecting people in a city of another country. The Cabinet Office faxed and emailed messages to ministries and agencies updating the situation every hour and advising them on challenges they would have to deal with. Each office is asked to reply within two hours.

From http://www.japantoday.com 09/12/2006


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New Komeito Chief to Quit on Sept. 30

New Komeito leader Takenori Kanzaki formally announced Saturday he will step down when his term as chief party representative expires Sept. 30."An organization needs to undergo metabolic change to grow. I would like to entrust the party management to someone new," Kanzaki said during a meeting of the party's prefectural representatives.Acting Secretary General Akihiro Ota has been unofficially chosen to replace Kanzaki. The party is scheduled to accept candidacies Sept. 26 for its leadership election, but Ota is expected to run unopposed."I would like to emphasize the color of New Komeito and tackle internal and external issues," Ota said.New Komeito is the junior partner of the dominant Liberal Democratic Party in the governing coalition. The party's key policy and action plans will be adopted at a Sept. 30 convention, according to party officials. The plans feature free preschool education and improvement in ties with China and South Korea.In other moves, Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kazuo Kitagawa will replace Tetsuzo Fuyushiba as secretary general.

From The Japan Times 09/17/2006


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Profiles of New LDP Leadership

Hidenao Nakagawa, Veteran politician Hidenao Nakagawa ascended to the position of secretar general, or second in command, of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party despite scandals still dogging him. Nakagawa assumed the post of chief Cabinet secretary in July 2000 under Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori but resigned that October after coming under criticism for his reported involvement in an extramarital affair and for having links with a senior member of a rightwing group. Focus magazine publisher Shinchosha Co. has appealed to the Supreme Court against a lower court order to compensate Nakagawa, 62, for running a story claiming he had an extramarital affair as well as links with a rightwing group. Since then, he has held two key party posts, acting as Diet Affairs Committee chairman for three years to last October and then as LDP Policy Research Council chairman up to this month. Before taking the chief Cabinet secretary portfolio, he held Cabinet posts heading the agencies dealing with development of Okinawa and the Russian-held islands off Hokkaido, and the former Science and Technology Agency. A graduate of Keio University, Nakagawa worked as a journalist at the Nihon Keizai Shimbun for seven years before entering politics. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and has been elected nine times in total. He is a native of Tokyo, but his electoral district is in Hiroshima Prefecture.

Shoichi Nakagawa named Monday chairman of the LDP's Policy Research Council, has a political stance close to that of new party President Shinzo Abe, sharing his hawkishness on North Korea and desire to revise the Constitution. But his appointment to one of the party's three top posts to support Abe could invite jealousy from party colleagues, as he has served in key party and Cabinet positions throughout the 5 1/2-year stint of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who steps down Tuesday, pundits say. Nakagawa, 53, and Abe, 52, have jointly led a group of lawmakers of their generation promoting revisionist views on history education, and are also on friendly terms with each other, according to people who know Nakagawa well. Nakagawa, like Abe, has called for economic sanctions on North Korea and a new Constitution to replace the one instituted while Japan was under U.S. Occupation. Serving as minister of economy, trade and industry from September 2003 and then as agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister from last October, Nakagawa promoted trade liberalization, taking advantage of his career as a kingmaker in farm policy. As farm minister, however, he did not budge in rejecting U.S. pressure to lift the beef import ban imposed due to concerns over mad cow disease. The oldest son of Ichiro Nakagawa, the late director general of the Science and Technology Agency, who killed himself in 1983, Nakagawa was first elected in that year as a House of Representatives member, succeeding his father in a Hokkaid'o district. He is serving his eighth term. He was given his first Cabinet portfolio as farm minister in 1998 in the administration of the late Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. A graduate of the University of Tokyo, Nakagawa first worked as a bank clerk.

Yuya Niwa, appointed Monday chairman of the LDP's decision-making General Council, is a strongman on social welfare and labor affairs with close ties to the party's ruling coalition partner, New Komeito. Niwa is believed to have won one of the party's top three posts under Abe for having united his faction. to support the new LDP president in the Sept. 20 leadership election. The LDP faction he cochairs with former Secretary General Makoto Koga is the third largest and shares similar roots with the factions affiliated with Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, both of whom ran against Abe in the LDP race. Some of Niwa's faction members had preferred Aso or Tanigaki.Niwa, 62, has served as health and welfare minister twice, first from December 1992 to August 1993 and again from October 1999 to July 2000.The third son of a former transport minister and a native of Ibaraki Prefecture, Niwa has been elected to the House of Representatives 10 times since 1979 from an Ibaraki district. After graduating from Keio University, he worked as a Yomiuri Shimbun reporter and then became secretary to the late Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira before running for a Diet seat.

From The Japan Times 09/26/2006


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Roh Appoints New Education Minister

On September 1, president Roh Moo-hyun nominated Kim Shin-il (65), an honorary professor at Seoul National University, as the new education minister and deputy prime minister. The appointment came 25 days after the official resignation of Kim Byong-joon, former education minister, due to his alleged charge of plagiarism on August 7. If the hearing on his nomination in the National Assembly goes smoothly, the president plans to officially appoint him on around September 20 after he comes back to Korea from his planned visit to the United States. Kim, the most likely candidate, was born in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province and graduated from Cheongju High School and Seoul National University (BA in Education). And he also earned a doctorate in education at the University of Pittsburgh. He worked as an education professor at Seoul Women`s University and Seoul National University and retired in this February. He also worked as co-chairman of the civil society for education reform and educators, a member of the presidential advisory committee on educational reform, director-general of the lifetime education policy advisory under the education ministry, and president of the Korean Education Association.

From http://english.donga.com 09/02/2006


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UN Governance Center Opens in Seoul

The United Nations Project Office on Governance opened in Seoul on Wednesday (Sept. 6), becoming the first UN organization in Korea. The office belonging to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) will handle government innovation, irregularity and corruption, decentralization, research, policy development and education/training covering the social cooperation field. By luring the office, the government intends to disseminate Korea's experience in socioeconomic development and know-how in government innovation to developing countries and to spread its e-government system that has gained international acclaim. The Seoul Declaration adopted at the end of the 6th Global Forum on Reinventing Government in May last year specified Seoul's bid to lure the UN institute. The bid materialized when the government and the United Nations concluded the Technical Trust Fund Agreement for the operation of the center, under which Seoul pledged $1 million. The UN office is located in the Shidongah Fire & Marine Insurance Building in front of Seoul City Hall. In celebration of the center's opening, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs started the Sept. 6-8 Regional Forum on Reinventing Government in Asia at the Grand Hilton Hotel with 21 senior public officials from Asian countries attending.

From http://www.korea.net 09/07/2006


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Cronyism in Aide Selection Process

The issue of politicians close to the ruling party being placed as ministerial policy aides for professional aid for ministers in carrying out policy tasks has festered ever since the start of the Roh administration. According to the analysis on September 21 by the Grand National Party*s representative Lee Sang-bae of the Government Administration and Home Affairs Committee of the National Assembly, which looks at the background of 84 former and current ministerial policy aides for each ministry as submitted by the Civil Service Commission, 39 people (46.4 percent) were from Cheong Wa Dae, aides of ruling party lawmakers, or the ruling party officials. Twelve people (14.2 percent) were professors or researchers, 10 (11.9 percent) from civic groups, while two people each (2.4 percent) were economists and lawyers. Civil servants numbered 13 (15.5 percent). The number of ministerial policy aides is on the steady increase from 21 in 2003 to 31 in August this year. According to the ※Management Rules for Ministerial Policy Aides§ by the Civil Service Commission, policy aides should be chosen with careful deliberation such that the minister creates an internal commission or seek an advice from the Civil Service Commission or academia for recommendation of qualified candidates, but the reality seems to be different. Since the launch of the current administration, six high-ranking officials that were level 4 or higher who retired from Cheong Wa Dae became ministerial policy aides. After Assemblyman Chung Dong-chae of the Uri Party was appointed minister of culture and tourism, he appointed his aide in the National Assembly Lee Kyung-yoon to a policy aide in the level three ranks in August 2004. After Chung retired as minister, Lee returned to the National Assembly as Chung*s aide.

Kim Sung-jin, who had been employed in the presidential secretariat and worked as head of the general election campaign committee for the Uri Party in South Gyeongsang Province in 2004, worked as a ministerial aide to Oh Young-kyo, minister of government administration and home affairs, and ran as a candidate for assemblyman representing the Masan-gap district of South Gyeongsang province this July. Second or third level policy aides are considered high-level officials, but according to the ninth stipulation of the ※high-level civil servant personnel regulations,§ they are not subject to assessment as in other high-ranking officials, such that ministers may appoint anyone of their choosing as policy aides. Representative Lee Sang-bae said, ※The ministerial policy aides should strengthen the professionalism of ministers but are instead filled with cronies. Measures should be taken to assess their qualifications before appointment.§

From http://english.donga.com 09/22/2006


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Ex-Daejeon Mayor Nominated Presidential Commission Chairman

President Roh Moo-hyun has nominated Yum Hong-chul, a former Daejeon mayor, to be chairman of the Presidential Commission on Small and Medium Enterprises, Cheong Wa Dae said Monday (Sept. 18). Yum, 62, replaces Choe Hong-geon, who offered to resign in order to devote himself to his job as president of the Korea Polytechnic University. Born in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province, in 1944, Yum graduated from Kyung Hee University and served as president of Hanbat National University from 2001 to 2002 before being elected as Daejeon mayor.

From http://english.president.go.kr 09/19/2006


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Korean Named No. 2 for U.N. Human Rights

The Foreign Ministry's Director-General for International Organizations Kang Kyung-wha has been appointed the new deputy for the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the ministry said yesterday. The post is equivalent to an assistant secretary-general in the United Nations. Kang will be helping High Commissioner Louise Arbour oversee U.N. activities concerning human rights. The office was first inaugurated in 1993. Kang, 51, holds a Ph.D. in intercultural communications from the University of Massachusetts.

From http://www.koreaherald.co.kr 09/20/2006


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MONGOLIA: N. Demberel Appointed As Head of Press & Info Service

On the basis of related provisions of the law of Mongolia on the state organization s management and financing, Ninjin Demberel has been appointed as the Head of Press and Information Service of the Mongolian Government. In 1999, N. Demberel founded the Propaganda 21 Information, Training and Advertisement center. He is a member of the Administrative Council of the Mongolian Public Relations Association. Prior to the appointment, he was working in the Press and Information Service of the Ulaanbaatar City Mayor s Office.


From http://www.montsame.mn 09/13/2006


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Heads of Some Agencies Appointed

Under the decisions made at the Wednesday s regular Cabinet meeting, B.Battumur, General Customs Authority s Deputy Head responsible for economic issues, has been temporarily appointed as the Authority s Head. G.Galbadrakh has been appointed as the Head of National Standardization and Measurement Center. He has been working in the sector since 1982. The Governor of Khan-Uul District of the UB City, D.Zagdjav has been temporarily appointed as the State Secretary of the Environment Ministry. S.Batsukh has been temporarily appointed as the Head of Civil Aviation Authority. He was working as the Chief Manager of the Civil Aviation Authority. Police Colonel M.Ganbold has been appointed as the Head of General Police Department. The Premier instructed to Mr. Ganbold to improve the police services and to form the state policemen. N.Chuluunbaatar, Director of the Bank and Financial Management Institute, has been appointed as the Deputy Head of the General Customs Authority.


From http://www.montsame.mn 09/14/2006


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BRUNEI: 13th Civil Service Day Celebration Next Week

The Public Service Department will be organising the 13th Civil Service Day Celebration at the International Convention Centre in Berakas next Saturday (September 30). His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, has consented to grace the event as the guest of honour. This was revealed by Awang Hj Abdul Rahman bin Hj Muhammad Husain, the Director of Development and Management, who was speaking during a press conference at Public Service Commission Building yesterday. Awang Hj Abdul Rahman is also the secretary to the Executive Committee of the 13th Civil Service Celebration. The theme of this year's celebration will be "Perkhidmatan Awam Mesra Pelanggan", which emphasises on the importance of being customer-orientated. It is hoped that this would change the mindset of Civil Service personnel, by motivating them to be customer-orientated by becoming effective, efficient, hard working and responsible people, Awang Hj Abdul Rahman said. The highlight of next Saturday's celebration will be the presentation of the Excellent Civil Service Award as well as the handing out of certificates to 1,518 retired government officers from various divisions.

There will also be a three-day mini exhibition on `Customer Day' at the ICC. Twelve ministries will be taking part in the exhibition, which will be open from loam to 4pm. Other sideline activities include "Bertahlil" at the Royal Mausoleum on September 27 at 1.30pm, as well as the reading of "Surah Yaasin and Doa Khas" at the main mosques of all four districts on September 28 from 5.15pm onwards. Various sports will also be organised such as golf, netball, bowling, badminton, futsal, Tug-of-War, walkathon, 'trekking at Bukit Shahbandar, volleyball, table tennis, darts and sepak takraw. These events will run for a month as part of the celebration. Awang Hj Abdul Rahman said that the 13th Civil Service Day Celebration would be held in all four districts: Belait (October 4); Tutong (October 5); Brunei-Muara (October 7); and Temburong (October 9). Among those who attended yesterday's press conference were Deputy DirectorGeneral of Public- Service Awg Hj Mohammad Taib bin Datu Hulubalang Hj Abdul Wahab, directors from various sections in the department and other senior officers. By Achong Tanjong


From http://www.brudirect.com/ 09/24/2006


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INDONESIA: Groups to Educate Public on Corruption

Anti-corruption groups called on the media on Tuesday to help them educate the public. "If you are a public officer and you accept 'gasoline money', 'cigarette money', 'coffee money' and so on, for your services, then you are corrupt," said Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) representative Abdullah Hehamahua at an anti-corruption seminar being held by the Jakarta office of the Development Finance Comptroller. He said corruption meant any bribery or irregular conduct that was based on an inappropriate award. "However, not everyone knows that just the simple action of receiving money outside his or her monthly salary is corrupt," he said. Abdullah said he expected the media to help improve public awareness by pushing an anti-corruption message. "The media that has the role of educating society must also inform the public of how to face such cases, for example, how to report graft to the authorities," Abdullah said.

He said the media's informational role was urgently needed to fill in the gap left by weak law enforcement in handling such crimes. Muhammad Fakhruddin, the deputy principal of a lab school in Rawamangun, East Jakarta, said the press was the only power that could gather society together to fight corruption. His school has included anti-corruption classes as part of its curriculum. "(The media) could educate children about corruption," he said, adding that early-childhood education was important. Fakhruddin also said he believed the media could be involved in a preventative strategy that would help eliminate the factors that encouraged corrupt practices and establish conditions that could detect graft. "The strategy refers to the media's control over the public or the authorities," he said. Abdullah said that in its controlling role, the media needed to set up an early warning system to be applied to every state institution to detect irregularities. "They could do it through investigative reports disclosing corruption cases," Abdullah said. "Or, for local media, they could publish lists of regional officials' wealth." The KPK recently alleged that around 1,000 members of regency and provincial legislative councils across the country were corrupt.

The group's report said of the estimated 1,000 councillors believed to be involved in corruption, 700 are at the regency level and 300 at the provincial. The report also stated that councillors were at risk of being involved in corruption simply because many were ignorant of the regulations governing their jobs. Based on 2005 survey from the Hong Kong-based think tank Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, Indonesia is the most corrupt nation in Asia. I Gde Nyoman Arsana, the head director of state-owned television company TVRI, said a cultural approach was needed to eradicate corruption as the practice was entwined in many Indonesians' daily activities. "There is no weapon as effective as the media to face such conditions. We can change the culture by sending the correct message to the public," he said.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 09/13/2006


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Musa Hassan Appointed IGP

Tan Sri Musa Hassan, 55, has been appointed Inspector-General of Police. Musa, currently the Deputy IGP, will assume the post on Sept 12, taking over from Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar.


From http://thestar.com.my/ 09/07/2006


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New Deputy Director General of Tourism Malaysia

Razali Mohd. Daud has been appointed the new Deputy Director General of Tourism Malaysia, effective 1 September 2006, taking over from Mirza Mohammad Taiyab who is now the Director-General of Tourism Malaysia. Razali has been serving the government for the past 32. With his vast experience in the tourism industry, his new appointment as the Deputy Director General of Tourism Malaysia will certainly help to uplift the performance of the country*s tourism industry, Tourism Malaysia said in a press release on Friday.


From http://thestar.com.my 09/08/2006


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MPs in Accord on Pay Rise for Civil Servants

MPs were in agreement that civil servants* salaries be increased to help them survive in the present times and to stop corruption. Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN 每 Kinabatangan) said the current salaries were too low to meet increasing prices of goods. Datuk Mohamed Aziz (BN 每 Sri Gading) suggested a 40% pay increase for those earning less than RM1,000 a month, 20% for those earning between RM1,000 and RM2,000 and a 10% increase for those earning RM2,000 and above. ※The cost of living and prices of goods have increased. Everything has gone up including petrol and house rentals,§ he said. ※Even marriage dowries are more expensive now, but the pay for civil servants has yet to increase. ※How is a hospital attendant who earns RM497 a month going to survive living in a big city? What is he going to eat?§ Teresa Kok (DAP 每 Seputeh) stressed the need to increase the salaries and allowances of policemen by two to three times. This would attract more young people to join the force. ※Policemen in other countries such as Britain get paid more than ordinary professionals, but not here,§ said Kok. She was surprised that Budget allocations were given for CCTVs and patrol cars but more allocation was not given to salaries. MPs have the responsibility to speak up on any discrepancy in the delivery system, said Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN 每 Ayer Hitam). ※If there are leakages and we don*t reprimand and give constructive input, then we are just like them (those who created the problems).§ (by Zulkifli Abd Rahman, Elizabeth Lool and Florence A. Samy)

From http://thestar.com.my/ 09/13/2006


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Open System for Transfer of Civil Staff

The Housing and Local Government Ministry is reviewing the Local Authorities Act 1976 to have an open administration system for the transfer of local authority staff in the peninsula. Its parliamentary secretary Dr S. Subramaniam said the ministry was now studying the financial and legal implications of the proposal to ensure it was in line with current needs and requirements. ※To improve the delivery service at local authorities, the ministry is now updating the proposal to make local authority personnel part of civil servants before the Cabinet makes any decisions,§ he told Datuk Tan Lian Hoe (BN 每 Batu Gantang). ※However, implementation is up to the Cabinet.§ (by Izatun Shari, Florence A. Samy and Elizabeth Looi)

From http://thestar.com.my 09/15/2006


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IGP Wants His Men to Come Forward to Help Fight Corruption

Whistle-blowers step forward 每 that is the call of the new Inspector-General of Police as he intensifies his efforts to clamp down on corruption and abuse of power. Tan Sri Musa Hassan welcomes whistle-blowers, including those from within the police force, to join in his fight against graft. ※If you have concrete evidence against any police officer, even your superior, who abuses his power or is corrupt, you can come and see me. I can guarantee protection of the informant,§ he said. ※The public can give me information about my officers and men, while my men can also see me if they have information on corrupt practices in the force. ※I will investigate and if there is evidence we will either charge them or hand the cases to the Anti-Corruption Agency,§ he told The Star. Musa said he allowed whistle-blowers in the force as he was sincere in wanting to rid the force of bad hats. He said there was no room for such people, as he wanted only committed and responsible officers and men with integrity in the force.

He said he reminded all state police chiefs and OCPDs who attended his maiden mandate speech last Wednesday at the senior police officers college in Cheras here to set a good example to their men. ※We have been entrusted to uphold the law and as such we must be committed and courteous and follow the rules. Everyone is watching us and one of the reasons that the people want the Independent Police Complaints on Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) is alleged corrupt practices and abuse of power. ※We must change and prove them wrong while at the same time render the IPCMC a redundant body,§ he added. Musa said every one of his men was equal and important to him and that he was willing to meet and listen to them. ※I have also asked my Public Affairs Department in Bukit Aman to create an interactive website for complaints and suggestions. ※We want to improve ourselves, especially our services to the public, and we hope to do it with the help of everyone,§ he said, while urging the public to cooperate. (by Lourdes Charles)

From http://thestar.com.my 09/16/2006


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MALAYSIA: 300 Government Servants Sacked Over Disciplinary Problems

Of the 2,700 government servants involved in disciplinary problems last year, about 300 were sacked. The rest faced other actions such as being demoted, said Tan Sri Bernard Dompok. The Minister in the Prime Minister*s department said on Thursday that the majority of the cases involved absenteeism from work without leave. ※While some 300 were sacked, the rest were given an opportunity to redeem themselves and continue in service. ※But these staff faced disciplinary actions, including being given warnings, demotion and pay decrease,§ said Dompok. He said most of those involved were support staff and with qualifications of Diploma or lower. Dompok, who is also Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity chairman, said while the number of staff involved in misconduct was still relatively low, as there were more than one million government servants. ※The percentage has gone down from 0.62% in year 2002 to 0.24% last year and statistics show that the percentage is going down. ※This is already a good sign and we want to concentrate on bringing it down to as little as possible,§ said Dompok after launching the Third Malaysia Public Service Board of Discipline Chairmen Convention here on Thursday. Dompok said there were some 300 cases bribery cases recorded last year. A survey done by the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2006 revealed that out of 61 countries, Malaysia ranked 29th for bribery and corruption cases. The Competitive Yearbook is an annual report on the competitiveness of nations, ranking and analysing how a nation*s environment creates and sustains the competitiveness of enterprises.

From http://thestar.com.my /09/07/2006


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PHILIPPINES: Civil Service System Celebrates Its 106th Anniversary on September 19, 2006

The central personnel agency of the government, the Philippine Civil Service System celebrates its 106th anniversary. The theme for this year is "Katapatan ng Lingkod Bayan# Pahalagahan," which characterizes the commitment of the civil servants to efficiently and courteously serve the public. Republic Law No. 5, established the career service in the Philippines on September 19, 1900, with the goal of promoting morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, progressiveness, and courtesy in the government service. It would also seek to strengthen the merit and rewards system, integrate all human resources development programs for all levels and ranks, and institutionalize a management climate conducive to public accountability. The Civil Service Commission (CSC) will be at the forefront of this year*s anniversary celebration. Government agencies all over the country conducted flag-raising ceremonies in their respective offices yesterday to begin the monthlong celebration.On September 21, the 2006 Civil Service Award, the highest recognition in the government service, will be given to outstanding government public officials and employees.

The awards to be conferred are the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award, the Dangal ng Bayan Award, and the CSC Pag-asa Award. The CSC Seal of Frontline Service Excellence will be given to top National Capital Region-based government agencies. This is in line with the Commission*s Public Service Delivery Audit (PASADA), a system to check the delivery of government first-rate services. During the celebration, CSC will introduce and gather support for the passage of the proposed Wage Bill which designs the compensation and benefits program for all state workers.An activity, "Bida Ka!" which seeks to stress the contribution of a specific sector, will be undertaken. The "Koleksyon ng Yaman Pangkaisipan" is another activity to highlight the celebration. In this activity, agencies may exhibit books, essays, articles, poems, and other written works of government employees, to give importance to the talents and skills of these hardworking people.Other activities are encouraged like ecumenical rites, open house, retirees* homecoming, livelihood program, seminarworkshops, fun games, and mass calisthenics and other physical fitness activities.We congratulate the Civil Service Commission headed by Chairperson Karina Constantino David, its Commissioners and Personnel, on the occasion of their 106th Anniversary.

From http://www.mb.com.ph/ 09/19/2006


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SINGAPORE: Rank Among Top Five of Most Corrupt-Free Nations

Singapore has been ranked among the top five of most corrupt-free countries in the world. According to civic organisation Transparency International, Singapore ranks 5th out of 159 countries in its Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Despite the high regard, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA) is reviewing the Code of Ethics for accountants to incorporate the latest best practices. The past six years have been marred by huge corporate scandals, the most memorable being Enron in 2001. And then there is the Accord Customer Care Services (ACCS) debacle in Singapore. But industry watchers say that Singapore firms overall have displayed a high level of integrity, largely because of the regulatory framework. Kon Yin Tong, Managing Partner at Foo Kon Tan Grant Thornton, said: "Singapore is ranked 5th out of 159 countries in the Transparency International's CPI, corruption perception index 2005.That's probably reflective of the good regulatory enforcement regime that we have in Singapore compared to our neighbours."

While greed is a strong motivation for fraud, ironically it is not the needy that have been hogging the headlines. Top management is instrumental in steering the direction of the company but some accountants note that many large fraud cases in recent years have been committed, abetted or even instigated by these key managers. Singapore companies may rank highly for their above-board practices, but the authorities are not resting on their laurels. Kon Yin Tong said: "In that review, ACRA would probably be trying the International Federation Accountant's Code of Ethics but we would probably adopt the IFAC plus model, meaning we would take the basic code and add on what is Singapore-specific, to enhance the code, to modernize it and keep up with best practices around the world." A focus of the review could include the issue of auditors' independence.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/08/2006


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Public Warning System to Be Sounded on September 15

The Singapore Civil Defence Force will be activating the Public Warning System on September 15 at 12:05pm to commemorate Civil Defence Day. The islandwide network of sirens will be blasting the 'Important Message' signal for one minute. When the sirens are heard, members of the public should immediately tune in to MediaCorp Radio or TV for an important message from the civil defence force. The public is also advised not to be alarmed by the exercise.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/13/2006


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Singapore Among Top 10 Countries With Good Governance

Singapore is among the top 10 countries in the world with good governance based on the latest World Bank report. For the first time, the World Bank Institute has released data and indicators to show how governance can be measured. According to the World Bank, countries that implement reforms like controlling corruption can expect to reap huge development dividends, which can even lead to a threefold increase in a country's per capita income. Based on the new World Bank governance indicators in the new Governance Matters 2006, Singapore scored full marks for government effectiveness and regulatory quality, while its rule of law and control of corruption got 96 and 99 out of 100 respectively. Singapore also rated well on political stability, but fell short in the voice and accountability category, which measures among other things, the level of civil society participation. "Singapore rates extremely well in 5 out of the 6 governance dimensions.

These are important achievements by Singapore almost across the board. Singapore is certainly in the top 5 or top 8 of the world. Certainly, everyone knows it's used as a case study in the rule of law, government effectiveness and the control of corruption," said Daniel Kaufmann, World Bank Institute. The World Bank Institute says governance must be looked at from the political, economic and institutional aspects, and not just based on one single indicator alone. While adding it's not prescribing a model of governance for countries, but merely providing the data for countries all over the world. Its latest report also shows that governance and corruption are not problems for developing countries alone. Developing countries like Slovenia, Chile, Botswana and Estonia score higher than Greece and Italy when it comes to rule of law and controlling corruption.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/15/2006


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THAILAND: Army Coup Ousts Government

The Thai armed forces dismissed the government and revoked the country's 1997 constitution on Wednesday after a coup to oust Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. A coup spokesman, Retired Lieutenant-General Prapart Sakuntanak, announced the dismissal in a televised address after the army took control of Bangkok without a shot being fired and announced a commission to reform the constitution. The prime minister declared a state of emergency from New York. A government spokesman with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra at the United Nations said the coup could not succeed and "we're in control. "Tanks and soldiers took over Government House in Thailand's first coup in 15 years and Prapart said on television the army and police were in control of the capital and surrounding provinces. The seizure would be temporary and power "returned to the people" soon, Prapart said on all Thai television channels. The army declared martial law, told all soldiers to report to base and banned unauthorized troop movements, suggesting the military leadership was worried that Thaksin loyalists in the armed forces might attempt a counter-coup. Prapart said the armed forces and police had set up a body to decide on political reforms, ousting billionaire telecoms tycoon Thaksin in the midst of a political crisis stemming from accusations he had subverted Thailand's 74-year-old democracy.

"Never in Thai history have the people been so divided," Prapart said. "The majority of people had become suspicious of this administration, which is running the country through rampant corruption," he added. "Independent bodies have been interfered with so much they could not perform in line within the spirit of the constitution. "Weerasak Kohsurat, a deputy minister in a previous government, told Reuters he believed royal adviser Sumate Tantivejakul would head the reform commission and an interim government would be formed while political reforms were agreed. Elections would be called soon and Thaksin would be allowed to take part, he said. Rising Pressure after mass street protests against him in Bangkok, Thaksin called a snap election in April, hoping his firm rural following would counter his metropolitan opponents. However, opposition parties argued that Thaksin had skewed neutral bodies such as the Election Commission in his favor and boycotted the poll. That rendered the election result invalid. Thaksin's Thai Rak Thai party was widely expected to win a re-run tentatively scheduled for late November, increasing pressure on his opponents in the military and the old establishment to resort to removing him by force. "There is no other means to solve the political deadlock," said a former senior official close to the top military brass. "It's been almost a year that the country has no democracy, no legitimate government to run the country. "I've told foreign diplomats Thailand may need to take a step backward, if they think a coup will, in order to leap forward."

The Thai baht fell immediately after Reuters reports of tanks rolling toward Thaksin's Government House office. In New York, Thaksin phoned a Thai television station to make a statement. "I declare Bangkok under a severe state of emergency," he said. The transmission stopped after 10 minutes while he was still talking. Inside Government House, around 50 soldiers ordered police in the complex to lay down their weapons, a witness said, and tanks and soldiers were seen on many street corners although Bangkok remained quiet. In his television statement, Thaksin ordered troops not to "move illegally" and told army commander-in-chief Sonthi Boonyaratglin to report to acting Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya. He also ordered Armed Forces Supreme Commander Ruangroj Mahasaranond to implement the emergency order.

From http://news.yahoo.com/ 09/19/2006


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Thai King Confirms Coup Leader as Head of Interim Government

Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej confirmed Thailand's military coup leader Sondhi Boonyarataklin as the head of a new interim government after the armed forces ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra last night. The king in a royal order confirmed Sondhi as leader of the Thai Political Reform Council, the armed forces group that ousted Thaksin, according to a statement read by an anchor on the Army- controlled Channel 5. The world's longest-serving monarch has kept the veneration of the Thais through 18 military coups in his 60-year reign. Sondhi was granted an audience with the king after the coup. ``The prime minister is the jockey, but the horse is owned by the king,'' said Craig Scholl, senior portfolio manager at State Street Global Advisors in Boston, who manages more than $40 billion, including Thai shares. The Thai Political Reform Council said it now controls the Southeast Asian nation of 65 million people. The council declared its allegiance to the king who is the world's longest reigning monarch. The military had to ``take control and rectify this situation to enable the country to quickly return to normal and to restore solidarity among the people,'' Sondhi, who is army chief, said in a live television broadcast today. The coup took place as Thaksin, 57, was in New York preparing to address the United Nations General Assembly.

He had faced mounting calls for his resignation since January, when his family sold a stake in its telecommunications business for $1.9 billion without paying taxes, fanning concern about corruption among the urban middle classes. Canceled Speech As the coup unfolded, Thaksin canceled his speech at the UN. After staying in his New York hotel overnight, Thaksin left the the city's JFK Airport at 5:35 a.m. local time today and is due in London soon, the U.K. Foreign Office said. The Thai Embassy in London, which said it hadn't any knowledge of his plans, said Thaksin's daughter is studying in London, where the ousted prime minister has a home. Thaksin, who is popular in rural areas for easing farmers' debts, has headed a caretaker government since he dissolved Parliament in February. Thai military leaders may appoint a non-military prime minister and draft a new constitution in two weeks, and may hold general elections in October 2007, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Sondhi. He said the decision to mount a coup was taken in the last two days, AFP said. No action will be taken against Thaksin or his family, Sondhi was quoted by military-run television as telling diplomats. ``All of them still have full rights as normal Thai citizens,'' he said. Bomb Plot Thai police on Aug. 24 defused a bomb that they said was intended to kill Thaksin in a car abandoned near the premier's house. At least five military officials were arrested over the alleged plot.

Officers denied involvement in the incident. ``We hope that the reform council will promptly implement its pledge to return power to the people and to reform politics,'' Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, the largest opposition group in the parliament that was dissolved in February, told reporters in Bangkok today. Sondhi, 59, gave his address flanked by the other military leaders, including Supreme Commander Ruangroj Mahasaranon, Royal Thai Navy Chief Sathiraphan Keyanont, and Royal Thai Air Force Chief Chalit Pukbhasuk and the country's police chief. His comments were broadcast on all Thai television stations. Political Gatherings Political gatherings of five or more people and the stockpiling of goods is banned, the leaders said in statements broadcast on Thai television. Thailand's stock exchange, banks, government offices and schools will open tomorrow after being required to be closed today, military leaders said in their statement. Thai bonds in Bangkok were also suspended today, according to the Thai Bond Market Association. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the effect of Thailand's military coup on capital markets in that country has been muted and is unlikely to spread to other nations. Military leaders took the view that rule by the caretaker government ``created extreme divisions in the Thai society as never seen before,'' Sondhi said. The government ``was widely tainted with corruption'' and benefited cronies. Sondhi's Accusations Sondhi accused Thaksin's government of going against the 78- year-old king. The reform council late yesterday pledged allegiance to the king and met with him at midnight to inform the monarch of its actions. Soldiers adorned machine guns and tanks with yellow ribbons, a symbolic color of the monarch. ``People should not be scared,'' said Lieutenant Viruch, 48, a soldier from the Royal Guard First Division in Bangkok, who wouldn't give his second name. ``We won't be here long. We come to make the country better and restore democracy. I am very happy because people here are friendly,'' he said, waving a pink rose and a water bottle given to him by passersby.

The coup leaders broadcast that they have suspended the constitution and dissolved the Cabinet, Senate and the constitutional court. In most ministries, permanent secretaries will take over temporarily, they said. The Thai baht dropped 1.2 percent, the most since May 15. Standard & Poor's warned it might lower Thailand's eighth-ranking BBB+ debt rating, reflecting ``the possibility of sustained deterioration in Thailand's political situation.'' Before last night's coup, the Thai military had engineered 17 coups since the country changed to a constitutional monarchy in 1932. Thai Coups ``Thailand has had coups for a long, long time so we're pretty used to it,'' said Mechai Viravaidya, chairman of Lam Soon Thailand and a former Thai senator. ``We believe that politics should return to normal fairly quickly because they (the coup's leaders) clearly stipulated that we need some good, solid, quick political reforms and then return to democracy.'' Coup leaders want to return ``power to the people'' and don't seek power for themselves, the military said earlier. Thailand has had a caretaker government unable to enact new policies since Thaksin dissolved parliament. He called for an April vote in an attempt to end street protests in Bangkok and silence critics. The snap election was boycotted by the country's three biggest opposition parties and later annulled by a court. New Elections New elections had been planned in November. Thaksin had pledged to lead his Thai Rak Thai party through the vote and insisted he hadn't decided whether he would return as premier should his party win. The Thai army has been trying to control insurgents in three mainly Muslim southern provinces fighting to establish an independent Islamic state.

More than 1,200 civilians and government officials have been killed in attacks in the region since January 2004. About 90 percent of Thailand's population is Buddhist. Sondhi is a Muslim. The political uncertainty has taken a toll on Thailand's $188 billion economy, the second-largest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. The Asian Development Bank this month cut its forecast for Thailand's growth this year to 4.2 percent from 4.7 percent, citing political turmoil. ``One positive thing is that the political situation will be better from now on so our business can move on without worrying about daily protests,'' said Wichian Sri-ong, 43, a fruit vendor at a market near government house. Thaksin was first elected premier in 2001 after founding Thai Rak Thai, or Thais Love Thais, and was returned with a record majority in February 2005. The self-described ``CEO prime minister'' won favor with Thailand's rural voters after declaring a moratorium on debt owed by many farmers and giving money to every village. (by Beth Jinks and Lee J. Miller)

From www.bloomberg.com/ 09/20/2006


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BANGLADESH: Experts for Controlling Public Expenses to Contain Inflation

Inflation eased slightly in the first month of the current fiscal due to relatively &stable* prices of food items. But economists say this is temporary, reports BDNews. ※I don*t see this decline as a downturn although it gives us a brief relief. Inflation can not be contained unless some basic forces like public expenditure is controlled,§ said Zaid Bakht, Research Director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS). The rate of average inflation was 7.09 percent in July FY 07 compared to 6.66 percent during the same month of the previous fiscal. On point to point basis, it was 6.77 percent in July as against 7.54 percent in June 2006, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) sources said. He attributed the decline to tight monetary policy and reduction of import duty on sugar. Referring to higher government*s borrowing in recent months to fund election-year public expenditure, Bakht said: ※We see quick disposal of fund approval and project approval during this period. But discipline in public expenditure is yet elusive,§ he said. The government borrowing rose nearly by 200 percent in the first month of FY 07 compared to the July FY06.

Bakht also mentioned instability in oil prices internationally and said that a stable price of oil was needed to contain inflation. The rate was also above the target of Bangladesh Bank (BB) given in its Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) for July 2006. ※Monetary policies in FY07 will continue to target the containment of annual average inflation within 7.0 percent..§ the BB said. ※Reduction of imports and recent stability in the foreign exchange market have helped cut down inflation,§ a Bangladesh Bank (BB) senior official said. When asked, a Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) official said that decline in food price inflation facilitated the reduction. ※Our data show a relatively stable prices of food items like vegetables and sugar,§ he said. He expected that the rate would decline a bit more in coming months due to government*s drive against syndication. ※Practice of toll collection from markets and roads may also decline after the caretaker government takes over the power,§ he said. In its MPS for July 2006, the BB also recommended measures to curb market manipulation to keep the supply side stable. ※Complaints voiced in the media about manipulations by major market players and about extortions in the supply chains need attention,§ it said.


From http://www.bangladesh-web.com/ 09/11/2006


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Public-private Partnership: New Route for Development

ECONOMIC Development of a country and welfare of its citizens largely depend on the availability of infrastructure facilities -- water supply, sanitation, roads, power, telecommunication -- and on quality of services. Development of infrastructure is, therefore, of national priority for virtually all the countries. Traditionally, the government is entrusted with the responsibility for planning, designing, constructing, operating, maintaining and financing infrastructure. The situation has, however, changed over the years. Especially, in developing countries, government finance is under severe stress due to increase in non-developmental expenditure like establishment and administrative expenses, subsidies, defence outlay; and inefficiency in collection of revenue, rising corruption and weak governance leading to revenue leakages. Further, with increase in population and needs, demand for investment in infrastructure sector has grown. Government fund is not sufficient to meet this growing demand for investment on infrastructure, and, in most developing countries, share of government budget for infrastructure is shrinking. Added to this is the typical mind-set of the public sector. Lack of accountability in the public sector is a usual phenomenon across countries.

This encourages inefficiency, lack of professionalism, absence of innovativeness and customer unfriendly approach. The obvious outcome is poor or no maintenance of the physical infrastructure assets and continuing deterioration in service level. According to the World Bank estimates, some 1.6 billion people have no power, about 1.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and around 2.4 billion people are affected by inadequate sanitation facilities. Of the total population of the world, about 85 per cent live in developing countries and transition economies. Hence, the developing countries require significant investments for creation of new infrastructure assets as well as for operation and maintenance of these assets. The World Bank estimates this investment to be, on an average, about 7 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the developing countries; and can be as high as 9.0 per cent of the GDP in low-income countries. Achievement of these investment goals would require almost doubling of the present level of infrastructure financing. Conventionally, governments and the public sector agencies have engaged the private sector to only construct facilities or supply equipment to deliver services. For example, a municipal corporation engages a private sector company to build a water treatment plant.

Upon completion of the construction, the municipal corporation owns and operates the plant to supply water to the public. Governments of several developing countries are now changing this traditional approach. Governments are involving the private sector in some form at some stage in delivery of services. This approach is commonly termed as "Private Sector Participation" (PSP), and covers a wide range of private sector involvement. The range covers relatively short term service contracts and management contracts with little or no capital expenditure, which are in the nature of outsourcing of routine operation activities; includes concession contracts, which may contain design and build activities along with provision of variety of services and financing of the entire construction and operation; and encompass joint ventures and privatisation, where there is sharing of ownership between the public and the private sectors. A diagram showing the range of PSP is presented below: The nature of PSP from left to right depicted above indicates that from simple and low level of participation, it moves to complex and high level of participation by the private sector. Of late, public-private partnership (PPP) has emerged as significantly preferred scheme for infrastructure projects.

PPP specifically refers to those forms of partnership government establishes an arrangement with the private sector, and in which the private sector provides some form of investment. As such, PPP tends to exclude service and management contract arrangements, but includes concessions. There is a wide spectrum of reasons as to why governments are seeking this mode. The main goal is to achieve value for money and to deliver quality services through better and optimal use of resources for the same amount of money spent by the public sector by tapping the management and implementation skills of the private sector. A second but not less important reason is the need to provide increased infrastructure facilities and services within budgetary constraints by sourcing private sector finance; and to accelerate delivery of projects, which might otherwise have to be delayed. With PPP, focus of the governments is on acquiring services at most cost-effective basis, rather than directly owning and operating assets. Common types of ppp model: There are many PPP models, including joint ventures and strategic partnerships, to make better use of government assets. However, some common PPP models that are used have been developed on Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) concept.

BOOT arrangement provides the private developer exclusive rights to finance, build, operate, maintain, manage and collect user fees for a fixed period to amortise the investment. At the end of the contract period, title to the asset reverts to the public authority. There is variety of BOOT based PPP structures. The usual models followed are outlined below. Build-Own-Operate -- The public authority either transfers ownership and responsibility for an existing facility or contracts with a private partner to build, own and operate a new facility, such as water and waste-water systems, parking facilities, airports, in perpetuity. The private partner generally provides the financing. There is no public sector involvement in either providing or operating the facility. However, the public sector can "regulate" the private sector's delivery of a "regulated/ monopolistic" service area. Build-Transfer-Operate -- The public authority contracts with a private partner to finance and build a facility. Once completed, the private partner transfers ownership of the facility to the public authority. The public authority then leases the facility back to the private partner under a long-term lease during which the private partner has an opportunity to recover its investment and a reasonable rate of return.

The public authority obtains the benefit of private sector construction expertise and the potential benefits and cost savings of private sector operations, while retaining ownership of the asset with it. Lease-Develop-Operate or Buy-Develop-Operate -- The private partner leases or buys a facility from the public authority, expands or modernises it, then operates the facility under a contract with the public authority. The private partner invests in facility expansion or improvement and is given a specified period of time to recover the investment and realise a return. If the private partner is purchasing a facility, a significant cash infusion can occur for the public sector agency. The public authority does not have to provide capital for upgrading and the financing risk can rest with the private partnerWrap Around Addition -- A private partner finances and constructs an addition to an existing public facility. The private partner then operates the addition to the facility for a specified period of time or until the partner recovers the investment plus a reasonable return on the investment. The public authority does not have to provide capital funding for the upgrade and the financing risk rests with the private partner. The public authority benefits from the private partner's experience in fast track construction using techniques such as design-build, flexibility for procurement, increased efficiency in construction, and time reduction in project implementation.

Recently, the following two variants of BOOT based public-private partnership (PPP) structures are widely in use: Design-Build-Operate (DBO), and, Design-Build-Finance-Operate (DBFO). Under DBO model, the public authority provides funds for design and building of the facility, and continues to engage the same private sector to operate the facility. The operator is paid a management fee. This model is suitable for very large projects for which the private sector is unable to finance wholly. The DBFO model integrates four functions - design, build, finance and operate within one private sector service provider. The private sector service provider raises funds from private financiers, builds, maintains and operates the asset; and is paid for service delivery at specified performance standards in accordance with the terms of contract with the public authority. Structuring PPP format: In developing an appropriate PPP structure, it is important to balance the objectives of the public and the private sectors so as to reach the mission of the partnership as depicted below: It may be underlined that to secure best benefits of PPP, designing a credible structure is of utmost importance so that projects are environmentally responsive, socially sensitive, economically viable, financially feasible and politically acceptable.

Designing an appropriate PPP format entails: l Determination of the nature of the project and identification of its fundamentals that would enable to assess whether the project is appropriate for PPPl Estimation of the project cost, which would enable to develop the financing pattern with private sector contributionl Assessment of potential revenue from the project, as the central theme of the private sector is return on investmentl Allocation of risks -- construction, financial, currency, market, political, etc. -- between the public and the private sector so that these are assigned to the party who is best able to reduce their impact and/or absorb their consequences While building up a suitable PPP model, certain macro aspects have also to be examined. These are: l Does sufficient private sector expertise exist to warrant PPP? l Would PPP entail a higher cost of finance? l Does PPP imply loss of management control by the public sector? l Would setting up of PPP involve lengthy process? The findings of the examination would vary from country to country and differ with types of project. In other words, there is no fixed formula that can be applied to tailor an appropriate PPP structure. What is required is to aim at developing a PPP format that would encapsulate the following features, which, in turn, would help to provide better value for money based on efficiency and effectiveness factors.

These features are: l Innovation -- To tap the capability of the private sector to innovate and reduce cost, increase effectiveness and improve efficiency. For example, in a PPP contract between a municipal corporation and a private sector service provider for maintaining drains, sewers and gutters, the municipal corporation should specify the output that it requires from the private party, such as "All drains and sewers to be maintained free-flowing and free from odours" instead of providing an input specification such as "Drains, sewers and gutters must be cleared at least once every day". l Optimal Whole Lifecycle Costing -- By outsourcing design, construction, maintenance and operation to the same private sector company or consortium. The company or consortium would then be in a good position to optimise the design for economy in construction, operation and maintenance. This is not possible under the conventional public sector procurement approach where design, construction, maintenance and operation are undertaken by different entities. l Suitable allocation of responsibilities and risk sharing. Need for enabling environment: To encourage constructive PPPs, it is imperative to build a congenial operating environment.

The key requisites for creating such an environment are: l Efficient financial markets which can provide funding at suitable terms and tenor to the private parties. l Reliable and transparent investment and regulatory framework. l Systematic training and skill enhancement leading to development of a cadre of knowledgeable and capable public sector professionals adequately equipped to construct and manage complex PPP transactions. One may conclude that PPP is an effective option for managing the fiscal space constraints and in securing efficiency benefits in delivering and managing infrastructure services. Countries throughout East and South Asia have recognised that the public sector is unlikely to mobilise the required resources and that the private sector must be brought in as a supplementary source of finance. But PPP cannot be a panacea if adequate preparations are not made to develop an enabling environment. The need for preparatory work is corroborated by the fact that despite apparently favourable circumstances, the experience in East and South Asia region in introducing private investment into infrastructure development has been mixed at best.

There have been some notable successes in East Asia, but the pace of implementation in many countries, especially in South Asia, has been much slow. The slow pace has not reflected the lack of private capital; although the resources available are probably inadequate to meet the entire infrastructure needs of the region. The operative constraint is not the level of resource availability but the ability to structure projects in a manner suitable for private financing. Greater clarity in policy and proactive efforts by governments to create the conditions necessary to attract private investment in infrastructure would result in successful implementation of more and more projects. This favourable experience would improve expectations among investors and reduce perceptions of risk. That would help to accelerate a process that is clearly already under way, though still lacking the momentum that is needed. ( by Amitava Basu )


From http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/ 09/16/2006


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The State of Our Governance

The World Bank released on September 15 the new Governance Matters, 2006: Worldwide Governance Indicators covering and comparing 214 countries. This is a compilation of more than 120,000 responses from citizens, experts, and enterprises worldwide. In the backdrop of ongoing debate over the state of governance in our country and its performance, let us see where we stand in this latest global finding. The report uses six key indicators to measure a country*s state of governance. These are:(i)Voice and Accountability (measuring political, civil, and human rights);(ii)Political Stability (measuring instability and violence;(iii)Government Effectiveness (competence of the bureaucracy and quality of public service delivery);(iv)Regulatory Burden (incidence of market unfriendly policies);(v)Rule of Law (quality of contract enforcement, police, and the courts); and (vi)Control of Corruption (exercise of public power for private gain).It will be unfair to compare the performance or place of Bangladesh on a global scale in all of the six indicators, given that in most areas〞control of corruption in particular, we have been at the bottom of the barrel past several years. It is worth seeing, however, how we compare in the regional scale〞among the seven South Asian countries.

Regrettably, our performance has not been exactly glowing in comparison with our regional neighbors. Our place among the seven nations is toward the bottom in five of the six indicators, Voice and Accountability is the sole exception. In three of the six indicators Bangladesh ranked last among the seven countries; Rule of Law, Regulatory Burden, and Control of Corruption (no surprise here!). In Political Stability Bangladesh ranked 5th, and in Government Effectiveness, 6th〞 just above Nepal. Voice and Accountability was the solitary indicator where the country was placed third ahead of Pakistan, Nepal, and Bhutan〞which I think has much to owe to our bold press media. That Bangladesh would figure low in the governance indicators is by itself not shocking news. We have become kind of immune to such reports. We have consistently turned the other way when Transparency International or other international bodies called our attention to our endemic corruption, and fecklessness of our law enforcing environment. What is revealing however in this latest report is the consistent deterioration over the past seven years (1998-2005) in all six areas, Voice and Accountability included. The situation was not so abysmal even seven years ago.

In 1998, in percentile ranking of 0-100 (lowest to highest) on a global scale Bangladesh ranked at 42nd percentile in Voice and Accountability, 40th at Control of Corruption, 39th in Regulatory Quality, 38th percentile in Government Effectiveness, and 26th in Rule of Law. We were not exactly ahead of the pack among our neighbors, but we were not at the bottom of the pile either. Where do we stand seven years later? On a global scale, we slid down 7 percentile points in Rule of Law, 17 points in Government Effectiveness, 21 points in Political Stability, 24 points in Regulatory Quality, and a whopping 32 points in Control of Corruption. We have continued our downward slide even with Voice and Accountability with a 10 percent drop from 1998 to 2005. This is our official record; this is our score card in governance. This is what for others to see and judge us by. The corrosion of the six governance indicators has not happened overnight. It has happened, and continues to do so because our political leaders have consistently refused to assume ownership for this deterioration, let alone stem this corrosion.

Our institutions have fallen apart for gross abuse or misuse, our human capital has been wasted, and we have gross disregard for any intellectual assessment〞domestic or foreign〞of our failures. Our partisan politics and greed for power grabbing have taken center place sacrificing national interest. Given what has been taking place in the streets of Dhaka recently, I will not be shocked if the Voice and Accountability lead that Bangladesh has so far takes a tumble further down the tube. I do not know if our policy makers, civil society and political leaders will ever take note of these indicators and the deteriorating trends. As the report observes, the countries that implement governance reforms can expect a huge development dividend. Improved governance outcomes can take place quickly with resolute leadership, the report further observes. In these grim days, I can only hope that a concerted effort by everyone in the country, political leaders, civil society leaders included, can stem this downward slide, and bring changes and reforms that we so urgently need. ( by Ziauddin M. Choudhury )


From http://www.bangladesh-web.com/ 09/19/2006


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INDIA: Dayanidhi Maran Releases CD Projecting E-Governance Roadmaps

The National Advisory Group on e-Governance today met here, for the first time, under the Chairmanship of Shri Dayanidhi Maran, Minister of Communications & Information Technology. Shri Maran released a CD containing the e-Governance Roadmaps of 15 States. The meeting discussed various issues including the need for the Departments to assume ownership of the projects, interoperability between diverse Government systems, and the need for localisation of e-governance applications. As such, the importance of putting the citizens and business entities at the centre of planning and design of projects was proposed along with a cluster-based approach to ensure service-centric delivery of government services instead of piecemeal services delivered by isolated Departments. The Group also deliberated on focus on capacity building, need for flexibility at local level for innovation and the involvement of civil society organizations and small and medium enterprises to ensure the percolation of the Plan. In addition to this, an emphasis on public service delivery within assured time frames, the Advisory Group highlighted the importance of transparency and accountability as key objectives of ICT-enabled governance. It may be recalled that the Advisory Group has been set up as apart of the recently approved National E Governance Plan (NeGP), to advise on policy issues and strategic intervention for speedy implementation of NeGP; to provide specific inputs on MMPs related to objective setting, phasing, implementation methodology; to advise on issues relating to standards, interoperability; and on issues related to capacity building, process re-engineering & Change management The meeting was attended by various representatives from the government, academia and industry, including Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Infosys, Mr. Kiran Karnik, NASSCOM; Prof. Subhash Bhatnagar IIM, Ahmedabad; Secretary DoT & DIT and IT Secretaries of various State Governments.


From http://pib.nic.in/ 09/05/2006


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India Cuts Asean Sensitive Items List by 294

NEW DELHI: India has finalised its revised proposal for tariff liberalisation for the India-Asean comprehensive economic co-operation agreement. Of the 854 tariff lines India had initially proposed to include in the sensitive list of items (not subjected to tariff reduction), the country has now reduced the number to 560. The remaining 294 items would continue to enjoy tariff protection for the first five years following which tariffs would be gradually reduced. The 560 ite-ms in the sensitive list include agricultural products (accounting for more than half the number), chemicals and petrochemicals, tobacco, alcohol and textiles. The four agriculture items of primary interest to Asean countries including palm oil, pepper and tea, have, as promised, been kept out of the sensitive list. India has agreed to reduce duties on the products after a standstill of five years.

India has agreed to reduce duties on crude palm oil to 50%, refined palm oil to 60% and pepper and tea to 50% over a period of 10 years. For the 290 remaining items which would be insulated from tariff cuts for the first five years, tariffs would be gradually reduced to 7.5% by *22. The list includes chemicals & pesticides, rubber products. leather products, foot-wear, textile products, sewing machines and electrical parts. Tariff elimination would be carried out on two tracks. Tariffs on items falling under normal track-1 will be eliminated by *11. Tariffs on items falling under normal track-2 will be eliminated by *15. The future of the India-Asean CECA now depends on how Asean reacts to India*s proposal. Malaysia had earlier said that India*s informal offer made last month to reduce duties on palm oil was not enough. The Asean countries have submitted a sensitive list of 600 products to India. The India-Asean free trade agreement, which is supposed to be operational from January 1, *07, had hit a roadblock when Asean had suspended the talks expressing displeasure over India*s ※long§ sensitive list including 854 products. ( by Amiti Sen )


From http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ 09/19/2006


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MALDIVES: Police Integrity Commission Created

MALE, Sept 3 (HNS) - A police integrity commission was created and members appointed. The purpose of the commission, formed as an independent institution last Thursday, is to increase the trust between the police and the general public. The commission is also supposed to look into cases that the public present, against the Police itself. The reports of the case and what the members of the commission think about the case would be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs and published every year. The commission consists of members from legal, social and management backgrounds. These include members from both government and private entities. The members include Dr Aishath Shehenaz Adam of M. Amazon, Ahmed Najah of G. Fithuroanu Villa, Mohamed Ismail Fulhu of Ma. Maafuna, Aminath Hussein Didi of M. Bageechage, Ahmed Shafeeq of Haa Alifu Dhi*dhoo Ikuleeluge, Ahmed Izzath Sidhgee of G. Gofi and Shabaab Rasheed of Seenu Meedhoo Shabnamvilla. The formation of a Police Integrity Commission was one of the points in the road map that the president had declared. In response, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said in a press release that the commission that had been formed was not one that could be trusted by the members of the public. The purpose of the Commission could only be realized if it could investigate and take action against police. ※The commission created by the President has none of these features§ the press release said.


From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 09/03/2006


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Lack of Local System of Governance Deprives the People of Their Rights: Atolls Minister

Minister of Atolls Development, Mohamed Waheed Deen said at Haa Dhaalu atoll Kulhudhufushi that the absence of a proper local government principle is the biggest reason why people are being deprived of their rights. The Minister was speaking at a general meeting with the residents of Kulhudhufushi last Wednesday. Deen said that the absence of such a system was the biggest reason for the problems of people in the various atolls for the last thirty to forty years. The Minister said that the people of the atolls should not have to appeal to the central government for everything. He said that a true democracy could be established only when the people are given their rights. ※The central government should not have to be approached on every single problem,§ said Deen. ※We are working to establish a system where each atoll gets to keep most of what they earn, so that they can sort themselves out.§ People having to appeal for medical treatment, and the process taking days is an example of how the current system does not work, said the Minister.

※Having to plead for as long as 15 days for treatment is a testimony of the changes that must be brought to the system,§ Deen said. ※A resort in every atoll, and being able to create a lot of job opportunities for the islands would be a great accomplishment. They wouldn*t have to beg if they were more productive.§ The Minister said that independence was vital and that it could only be gained through higher productivity. The government plans to establish councils, so that things can proceed democratically in the atolls, said Deen. The harsh criticism that accompanies the close of every term of leadership can also be combated, said Deen. He said that the solution was to establish a better system of election, and to distribute more power to the citizens. The Minister spoke of several other issues including land reclamation of Kulhudhufushi, the construction of a &Friday mosque*, and the construction of permanent homes for the migrants from Dhaalu atoll Rinbidhoo. Deen also met with officials of Kaafu atoll Thulusdhoo on Wednesday. The Minister also inaugurated the Kaafu atoll official website on Wednesday.


From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 09/23/2006


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NEPAL: Govt. to Form Taskforce to Resolve Problems of Industrial Sector

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has said that the government will form a taskforce to resolve the problems faced by industrial sector of the country. Talking to a delegation of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI), which reached Prime Minister*s official residence to submit a memorandum, the Prime Minister said that the government would form a taskforce once Finance Minister Dr. Ram Sharan Mahat returns home from abroad. He urged the entrepreneurs not to organise strikes, as they would benefit forces that are not favour of peace and stability in the country. Regarding the security for the industries, the Prime Minister assured that he would discuss the issue with the home minister and provide appropriate security to the industries. Talking to Nepalnews after submitting memorandum to Prime Minister, Chairman of FNCCI, Chandi Raj Dhakal, who is also the coordinator of the national struggle committee said that the Prime Minister assured entrepreneurs that he would take the issues of extortion and the demands of trade union with the Maoists.

The national assembly held in Birgunj constituted a national struggle committee headed by Dhakal. ※As the Prime Minister assured us of fulfilling our demands, the meeting of the national struggle committee will take decision about the next round of protest. The first round of protest programme concluded on Friday,§ Dhakal added. In their national assembly in Birgunj on Monday, the entrepreneurs announced protest programmes alleging that the government and the Maoists had been attacking the industrial sectors on different excuses. The entrepreneurs said the industrial sector was facing pressure in the name of trade union movement, reform drive of the government, lack of security and extortion by the Maoists. They also opposed the government*s action against willful defaulters without making difference between willful defaulters and defaulters by circumstance. The agitating entrepreneurs organized sit-in at all the customs points across the country bringing all the import and export of goods to a complete halt. In the capital, Kathmandu, the agitating entrepreneurs organised sit-in at the cargo complex of the Tribhuvan International Airport.


From http://nepalnews.com 09/22/2006


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PAKISTAN: &Local Govt System to Be Strengthened*

QUETTA, Sept 11: The government is extending all possible help to make the local bodies system work and it will be strengthened as councillors became more familiar with the system. This was stated by Balochistan Chief Secretary Mr K.B. Rind at a training workshop organised by Finance Department under Decentralisation Support Programme for tehsil and town nazims and naib nazims. He said that in the early days, elected representatives had faced some problems but the government had removed the system*s weaknesses.of the and introduced reforms for making the system more effective. ※Holding of peaceful local bodies elections in Balochistan was a big success,§ Mr Rind said.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 09/12/2006


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Judicial Report Be Made Public, Says PFUJ

KARACHI, Sept 13: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists on Tuesday demanded that the judicial commission*s report on the kidnap and killing of journalist Hayatullah Khan be made public. A PFUJ press statement says the judicial commission, which held an in-camera inquiry, has reportedly submitted its report to the government. ※The government should now keep its promise of making the report public,§ says the press statement. AP adds: Paris-based Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday said the probes into Mr Khan*s death were complete and the inquiry commissions had sent their reports to authorities in Islamabad.Weeks later, authorities have not made the reports public. ※The government clearly has no intention of releasing the full results,§ Reporters Without Borders said in a statement. ※The lack of transparency is shocking.§ Information Minister Mohammed Ali Durrani said on Wednesday the government*s law department has received the reports, and that they would be released after his ministry got them. He did not give any date.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 09/14/2006


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&Bureaucracy Asked to Focus on Public Grievances*

ISLAMABAD, Sept 14: Acting President Mohammedmian Soomro on Thursday urged the senior civil servants to conform to the highest standards of public service with utmost devotion, dedication and sustained hard work. He was speaking to the participants of the 85th National Management Course organised by the Administrative Staff College, Lahore, who called on him here, a statement said. The acting president said an efficient, honest and hardworking bureaucracy could play a vital role in presented a model of good governance by ensuring speedy solution of public problems. Underscoring the need for on-job training of the civil servants, Mr Soomro said the government was focusing on their enhanced capacity building to sharpen their skills for operating in a fast changing world. He called upon the civil servants to help implement the reforms process introduced by the government in national institutions in order to make them strong, efficient and more vibrant. Referring to the reforms process, the acting president said these were intended to achieve greater transparency and efficiency. Mr Soomro claimed that the government remained committed to making the country forward looking, moderate and progressive in line with the Quaid*s dreams and aspirations. He also claimed that Pakistan today was markedly different from the Pakistan of yester years. The country was on the rise, striving to achieve its rightful place in the world.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 09/15/2006


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Govt Urged to Revamp Legal Education System

ISLAMABAD, Sept 16: Jurists and lawyers here on Saturday urged the government to revamp the legal education system and set up countrywide centres of excellence to produce advocates and legal and judicial professionals of high calibre. The demand was made by speakers at a policy dialogue on strengthening the legal education system: issues, initiatives and strategies organised under the Access to Justice Programme (AJP) of the ministry of law, justice and human rights. Chairing the inaugural session, Justice Amanullah Khan, the chief justice of Balochistan High Court, said legal education was the bedrock on which the whole edifice of judicial excellence stood. But, he added, unfortunately the decline in both professional standards and the quality of legal education had adversely affected the quality of judicial service delivery. All the eight major reports of the Law Commission since 1958 have strongly recommended strengthening the quality and standard of faculty, curriculum and facilities in the law schools, he noted, adding that virtually none of those recommendations was ever implemented.

There was no institution in the country which promoted dialogue about the role and responsibilities of the legal profession or to set, monitor and enforce the standards in legal education, Justice Khan said. He said the legal education sector was facing many challenges including shortage of faculty, infrastructure, resources, lack of research and modern teaching methodologies, obsolete curricula, on-campus unhealthy activities and lack of multi-disciplinary approach to legal education. He said the AJP was destined to reform the legal, judicial, police and administrative justice sector institutions and had kept the legal education system a priority area. He said the government had committed itself to initiating a dialogue with the existing public and private institutions and to establish the centre of excellence in legal education. Justice (retired) Nasira Javed said students should be imparted litigation, writing and drafting skills besides incentives to work hard. She regretted that the legal education committee constituted by the national judicial policy-making committee had yet to produce any practical recommendation for the improvements of legal education system in the country.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 09/17/2006


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Tax Facilitation Centres Set Up to Receive Returns

KARACHI: Income Tax Department, Karachi has made elaborate arrangements to facilitate income tax payers of Karachi. A press note issued by the Income tax department said from 20th September, up to the last date of filing of return, arrangements are being made for erection of tents, provision of drinking water facility and deployment of sufficient number of officers and staff to facilitate return filers. Besides, Medium Taxpayer Unit (MTU), Karachi, Income Tax Department has established three tax facilitation centres or TFCs at 7th floor Hashoo Centre, Saddar, Income Tax House, Karachi and Income Tax Office, Red Crescent Building, near Teen Talwar, Dr. Dawood Pota Road, Karachi.TFC at Income Tax House, will work under the supervision of Commissioner of Income Tax, MTU, Karachi, TFC at Red Crescent Building will operate under supervision of CIT Zone-E, Karachi.Necessary manpower and logistic support has also been extended to these TFCs. Commissioners of Income tax are ensuring to meet emergencies like power failures and un-expected influx of return filers. Except income tax returns pertaining to jurisdiction of MTU, Karachi, all other returns pertaining to southern region, Karachi, received in TFCs shall be sent to Enforcement Division, which will perform following functions to facilitate the safe and timely handling of returns. All filed returns will be entered in prescribed register on daily basis. Enter all returns showing (payable) refunds in prescribed refund register on daily basis. CBR will be informed of consolidated basis daily. All returns will be photocopied and original return will be submitted to PRAL, a technological subsidiary of CBR, for the data entry purpose.


From http://www.thenews.com.pk/ 09/19/2006


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AFGHANISTAN: First Parliamentary Group Formed in Lower House

The lower house of parliament on Wednesday constituted the first parliamentary group, Isteqlal-i-Milli, to present the viewpoint of several members in the form of a group. Presently, every MP individually presents his viewpoint on a special issue, which often results in wastage of time. However, formation of such groups, comprising likeminded parliamentarians, would not only save time of the parliament but also avoid unnecessary rumpus in the House. Commenting on the formation of the Isteqlal-i-Milli group, Khudaidad Sarmachar, an MP and member of the new parliamentary group, told Pajhwok Afghan News only one member would now speak on behalf of his colleagues in the group. The groups were planned to be established soon after commencement of the parliament; however, it was delayed due to difference among MPs. The new group has 26 members with Mustafa Kazimi as its head while Sayed Muhammad Gulabzoi as his deputy.

In today's session, three articles based on directives of the president, were approved through majority vote and added to the law of detention and prisons. The articles were about permission of media men to visit prisons for reporting purposes, facilities for pregnant female prisoners and look after of children whose parents are in jail. The article regarding media men's access to prisons states that journalists would be allowed to enter jails, meet prisoners and take photographs in emergency situation. Under the second article, jail officials will be responsible for shifting pregnant women prisoners to hospital for delivery and for check up after delivery. The women would be allowed to remain on bed as per recommendations of her doctor. Children below three years would stay with their mothers inside jail but the authorities would made special arrangements for such children and they would remain there till they attain the age of seven years, states the third article.


From http://www.afgha.com/ 08/30/2006


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Ghazni Appointed New Governor; Security Initiatives Announced

President Hamid Karzai approved the interior ministry*s suggestion to install the former provincial governor of Khost, Mirajuddin Patan, as the new governor of Ghazni. Mirajuddin replaces Ghazni*s former Governor Sher Alam. The September 19th inauguration ceremony took place in the auditorium of the governor*s compound. According to a US military statement, some 200 Ghazni elders attended the event as throngs of onlookers gathered along the road leading to the compound. The new governor, his staff and scores of Afghan security forces were greeted warmly by the attendees. Mirajuddin served as Khost*s governor for two years and is known for his reconstruction achievement of the Khost-Gardez highway, enacting educational reforms and aiding in security efforts. In his inaugural speech, Mirajuddin touched on his objectives of bringing security to the troubled province, creating peace and unity amongst tribes and his desire to end government corruption. Ghazni has been the latest target of terrorist activity with attacks mounting on police patrols, the assassinations of district security/intelligence chiefs, the destruction of schools, and the grizzly murder/mutilation of two ANA troops some weeks back.

Afghan security forces, however, initiated some recent successes throughout the province. In late August, Afghan forces in Ghazni killed a prominent Taliban commander named Mohammadzai. The latest operations conducted throughout Andar and Qara Bagh districts netted Taliban fighters and a local commander, according to police. This initial push by ANA and police units served as the precursor to the larger Operation Mountain Fury which includes 7,000 Afghan and Coalition troops scouring several provinces, Ghazni included, for anti-government militias and Taliban. Andar recently saw US and Afghan soldiers who brought food, medical supplies and other goods to a town meeting focused on security, government corruption and accountability. Police checkpoints have been established to help quell the increasing dangers along the highways and urban centers.


From http://www.afgha.com/ 09/20/2006


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KYRGYZSTAN: President Accepts Resignation of Security Chief

Kurmanbek Bakiev accepted on September 13 the resignation of Busurmankul Tabaldiev, the head of the Kyrgyz National Security Service (SNB), according to Kabar and AKIpress. Bakiev also fired his brother, Janysh Bakiev, from his position as SNB first deputy chairman the day before, after reports indicated his involvement in an alleged conspiracy by the SNB to target opposition leader Omurbek Tekebaev by planting drugs in his luggage prior to his departure for a conference in Poland (see "RFE/RL Newsline," September 8, 11, 12, and 13, 2006). RG


From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 09/14/2006


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KAZAKHSTAN: New Opposition Party Established

A new opposition party was established on September 10 in Kazakhstan, Interfax reported. At a founding party congress in Astana, nearly 2,500 delegates of the new National Social Democratic Party elected Zharmakhan Tuyakbai as the party's chairman. In an address to a rally of supporters later that day, Tuyakbai announced that the new party will align itself with the For a Just Kazakhstan movement to oppose the government of President Nursultan Nazarbaev. Tuyakbai, also a leader of that movement, was an unsuccessful challenger to Nazarbaev in the December 2005 presidential election (see "RFE/RL Central Asia Report," December 16, 2005). Although the party has yet to acquire official registration, it released a preliminary party platform that includes a call for an immediate suspension of the government's privatization program, the provision of free universal higher education, and a lowering of the retirement age. RG


From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 09/12/2006


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President Appoints New Health Minister and Regional Governor

Addressing a meeting of the Kazakh National Security Council meeting in Astana, President Nursultan Nazarbaev announced on September 20 the dismissal of Health Minister Yerbolat Dosev for "negligence" in handling an HIV outbreak in the south of the country, "Kazakhstan Today" and Kazinform reported. The outbreak is believed to have been caused by the use of tainted syringes or contaminated blood. Fifty-five children and one adult have tested positive for HIV and at least four infants have died of AIDS since early May. Nazarbaev named Anatoly Dernovoi the new health minister and replaced the governor of the afflicted region, Bolat Jylkyshiev, with Astana Mayor Umirzak Shukeev. The president also ordered his government to draft a new national anti-AIDS program within 90 days. Figures released on September 14 by the State Statistics Agency revealed that there were nearly 6,500 HIV-carriers and 400 people afflicted with AIDS in Kazakhstan as of mid-2006. RG


http://www.rferl.org/ 09/21/2006


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TAJIKISTAN: Islamic Party Gets New Leader

A congress of the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP) in Dushanbe on September 2 elected Muhiddin Kabiri party chairman, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Kabiri succeeds Said Abdullo Nuri, who recently died after a long illness (see "RFE/RL Newsline," August 10, 2006). Born in 1966, Kabiri studied Arabic at Tajik State University, and has also studied in Yemen and at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy. He was elected to the lower chamber of parliament in 2005. Kabiri is considered to be a possible presidential candidate, but it is unclear if he will be nominated by his party. DK


From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 09/05/2006


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UZBEKISTAN: A Framework for Fghting Faud and Corruption

On 17 September, the leaders of the African Development Bank Group, ADB, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank Group, the Inter-American Development Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank Group agreed on a framework for preventing and combating fraud and corruption in the activities and operations of their institutions. This builds on the work of a joint Task Force established on 18 February 2006 by the leaders of these institutions. The institutions recognize that corruption undermines sustainable economic growth and is a major obstacle to the reduction of poverty. The leaders have outlined the following joint actions to combat fraud and corruption: agreement in principle on standardized definitions of fraudulent and corrupt practices for investigating such practices in activities financed by the member institutions; agreement on common principles and guidelines for investigations; agreement to strengthen the exchange of information, as appropriate and with due attention to confidentiality, in connection with investigations into fraudulent and corrupt practices; agreement on general integrity due diligence principles relating to private sector lending and investment decisions; agreement to explore further how compliance and enforcement actions taken by one institution can be supported by the others. Further, the institutions will continue to work together to assist their member countries in strengthening governance and combating corruption, in cooperation with civil society, the private sector, and other stakeholders and institutions such as the press and judiciary with the goal to enhance transparency and accountability.


From http://finance.uzreport.com/ 09/18/2006


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AUSTRALIA: National Institute of Clinical Studies to Join NHMRC

The National Institute of Clinical Studies (NICS) will be incorporated into the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) next year. The NHMRC provides advice to Government on the funding and development of health and medical research, public health issues and ethical conduct in research. NICS focuses on potential improvements in health care by ensuring the best available medical evidence informs clinical practice. The move should strengthen the translation of research findings into improvements to health care practice. It follows a review of the objectives and operations of NICS against the principles for governance in the Uhrig Report. The NICS work program will continue and the skills and expertise developed by the institute over the past six years will be preserved. In the 2006-07 Budget, the Government committed an additional $500 million over four years to increase funding for health and medical research grants provided through the National Health and Medical Research Council.


From http://www.health.gov.au/ 08/24/2006


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New MOU Sharpens Focus on Migrant Statistics

Statistical cooperation between the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) has strengthened with today's signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish the National Migrant Statistics Unit within the ABS. Mr Andrew Metcalfe, Secretary, DIMA, and Ms Susan Linacre, acting Australian Statistician, are to sign the new MOU in Canberra on behalf of their agencies. Both Mr Metcalfe and Ms Linacre gave strong support for the MOU and for continued cooperation in the development of a more rigorous statistical base for issues related to migrants and ethnicity. This MOU reflects increased community and policy interest in the field of migrants and their settlement outcomes. Statistics are required to support key policy areas and to inform community debate and decision making in an area which has far reaching impacts on Australian society. The MOU indicates the strong support for the ABS to provide leadership and coordination in the area of migrant and ethnicity statistics, be they sourced from the ABS or other administrative sources.


From http://www.abs.gov.au/ 09/04/2006


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Appointment of New Federal Court Judge

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today announced the appointment of Mr Robert Buchanan QC as a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. ※Mr Buchanan has extensive experience at the Bar, practising primarily in the areas of employment and industrial law,§ Mr Ruddock said. Mr Buchanan has practiced as a barrister in Sydney since 1975 and was appointed Queen*s Counsel in 1988. Mr Buchanan has experience in Federal and State courts and tribunals, as well as in the High Court. Mr Buchanan is the fourth of four additional judges of the Federal Court appointed as part of the Government*s workplace relations reforms. Mr Buchanan will take up his appointment on 8 September 2006 and will be based in Sydney. ※It is with great pleasure that I announce Mr Buchanan*s appointment and I wish him all the very best for his future with the Federal Court,§ Mr Ruddock said. ※I am sure his contributions will be greatly valued.§


From http://www.ag.gov.au/ 09/07/2006


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FIJI: PSC Looks to Reduce Civil Service Costs

The Public Service Commission is now looking at ways to decrease the civil service costs which stands at 70 to 80 percent of the total expenditure in the National budget. As the government gears up for the announcement of the 2007 National budget in November, PSC Chief Executive, Anare Jale said they are working on certain measures which could be implemented in the budget. He has also confirmed that one of the unions involved in negotiations on the public sector reform has recommended a redundancy policy as a means to reduce costs. This would only occur if the two parties agree on the terms for the reduction on the civil service.


http://www.fijivillage.com/ 09/22/2006


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NEW ZEALAND: PM to Meet Mayors over Auckland Restructure Plan

Prime Minister Helen Clark will meet with four Auckland mayors to discuss a secret plan they have reportedly hatched to reduce the number of councils in the region. The idea of amalgamating Auckland's four city and three district councils into a "super city" has come to prominence since proponents announced they would form a "OneAuckland Trust" to promote one structure. Supporters believe such a move would remove duplication, cut administration costs and make planning and infrastructure development simpler. Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis yesterday said that he, Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, Waitakere Mayor Bob Harvey and North Shore Mayor George Woods had been working on a plan for a new governance structure for the region. The four have sought a meeting with Helen Clark to discuss their idea. The PM today said she was interested to see what they had come up with. She was not aware their plan included combining their areas into one authority. "I understand the mayors have been talking about how to get some stronger governance for Auckland and I personally think stronger government at the regional level for Auckland would help push Auckland ahead," she said on Newstalk ZB today. One possible catalyst for the mayor's plan is the 2011 Rugby World Cup, which will require significant development in the region. A spokesman for Helen Clark said it was possible she would meet with the mayors this week, but a day was yet to be confirmed.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/04/2006


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ADB Launches Student Essay Competition on Asia's Future

ADB today called on the young voices of Asia to participate in an essay competition on the topic, ※Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific. §The competition, organized by ADB and ROAD, a network of Japanese university students concerned about development issues, is part of an event that will precede ADB*s 40th Annual Meeting, to be held in Kyoto, Japan, in May 2007. ※Young people in Asia and the Pacific need to be fully engaged in order to effectively address the long-term development challenges confronting the region,§ said Bindu N. Lohani, Director General of ADB*s Regional and Sustainable Development Department. ※The competition provides an opportunity to publicize the vision of today*s youth for the future world in which they will live, work, and govern.§ English-language essays of up to 2,000 words are invited from university students aged 18-29 years who are citizens of ADB*s developing member countries, as well as Japanese students at Japanese universities. The essays 每 written from a country or regional perspective 每 should address one of three specific topics: 1) economic growth and environmental conservation; 2) human resource development and institutions; or 3) industry and infrastructure.

Three development experts will judge the essays on the basis of originality and creativity of thought, structure and coherence of arguments, awareness of sustainable development within the context of the essayist*s environment and realities, and relevance to the competition*s themes. Fifteen winners will be selected from across ADB*s five regional departments 每 Central and West Asia, East Asia, the Pacific, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. An additional ten winners will be chosen from among students at Japanese universities, including seven from developing member country students and three Japanese citizens. All 25 winners will be invited to actively participate in the week-long Asian and Pacific Youth Forum on Sustainable Development in Kyoto in March 2007. The Forum will provide them the chance to deliberate on sustainable development issues. The event will conclude with adoption of a Youth Statement on Sustainable Development, which will be presented at ADB*s 40th Annual Meeting. In addition, the winning essays will be assembled and published in a book. Essays must be submitted online. Those without access to the Internet can submit their essays to the nearest ADB field office. Deadline for entries is 31 October 2006. The competition is being financed by the Japan Special Fund, which was established in coordination with the Government of Japan to provide financial support for ADB's technical assistance programs, and is administered by ADB.


From http://www.adb.org/ 08/30/2006


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KM A Catalyst for Developing Countries: Enterprise Solutions Not Suitable For Administrations

Simple knowledge management solutions, and especially virtual communities, are considered the ※most appropriate§ for developing countries, according to a recent paper in the Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries (EJISDC). Enterprise solutions, on the other hand, are not considered suitable. Five years ago, a 190-nation study revealed a yawning eGovernment divide between the developed and developing world. Most developing nations were at the lowest end of a five-step eGovernment evolution scale. This meant they were able to provide very few interactive services to their citizens. Nations with extensive interactive, knowledge-supported services, the 2001 study noted, typically also maintained considerable IT and government infrastructure to offer these, and were generally well funded. Authors of the recent paper, entitled Enhancing eGovernment in developing countries: managing knowledge through virtual communities, in the August issue of EJISDC, question whether throwing money at eGovernment and knowledge management solutions will help bridge this gap. In their investigation, Christian Wagner, Karen Cheung and associates of the City University of Hong Kong not only explored the need for knowledge management and technologies in eGovernment, but also highlighted the challenges for developing countries in implementing such solutions, distinguishing between enterprise and alternative solutions. They conclude that knowledge management is needed to facilitate information exchange and transaction processing with citizens, as well as to enable inter-government knowledge sharing and integration, and that the internet offers significant potential for developing countries, especially the creation of virtual communities which are ※inexpensive and technically simple§. ※Virtual communities enable knowledge exchange and have been demonstrated to facilitate the exchange of know-how, both in the public and private sector throughout the world,§ noted the authors. Several success stories point to their effectiveness for knowledge management in developing counties. No similar accounts could be found for enterprise solutions, they concluded.

From http://www.pstm.net/ 08/29/2006


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Time Machines Wanted: ITU TELECOM Opens Competition to Predict the Digital Future

ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006, the leading global ICT event, has launched a competition to find the industry*s best future-gazers. The Digital Life Theatre Competition invites companies to submit a 2-minute DVD demo that outlines their visions for the future in a digital age. The four winning demos will be displayed on giant screens as part of the Digital Life Theatre at the heart of the ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006 exhibition from 4每8 December 2006 in Hong Kong. There will be four competition categories to capture the scope of digital life itself: Digital Life at Home; Digital Life in the Office; Digital Life in the field of Media and Entertainment; and Digital Life in Society.

With top names from the world*s leading ICT companies including Microsoft, Ericsson, NEC Corporation, Fujitsu, Intel, Alcatel, HP, Qualcomm, Samsung, Toshiba, Siemens and Motorola attending the event, this is an exclusive opportunity for companies around the globe to increase their visibility and use their originality to attract new business prospects, investors, partners and industry attention. Fernando Lagra?a, Executive Manager of ITU TELECOM events, said: &We want to challenge companies to really think about what the industry can do. Will we find ourselves in virtual workplaces in the future or will we soon live in homes where our gadgets communicate with each other? The objective of this competition is to give us inspiration and guidance in the digital age.* Competition entrants are asked to send their demos to the ITU TELECOM by 15 October 2006. The successful demos will be selected and announced by 16 October 2006.


From http://www.itu.int/ 09/06/2006


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Public Governance Seminar Identifies Challenges Faced in APEC Governments

Improving governance and transparency in the public sector was the focus of an APEC Seminar today. Sponsored by New Zealand, Malaysia and Japan, the APEC Public Sector Governance Seminar provided delegates from APEC Member Economies with good practice ideas that can be implemented in government departments around the region. Speakers at the symposium included Mr. John Whitehead, New Zealand's Secretary to the Treasury, Dr Nguyen Khac Hung from Viet Nam's Department of International Cooperation of the National Academy of Policy Administration, and the coordinator of the World Bank's Governance and Anti-Corruption Thematic Group, Mr. J. Edgardo Campos. In his presentation to the symposium, Mr. Whitehead identified essential elements involved in establishing a well-functioning bureaucracy that is transparent and functional. "Improving the performance of government departments is an important APEC goal as many of the services delivered by governments are core to the well-being of citizens," Mr. Whitehead said to delegates.

"The seminar heard from a number of specialists on how reform of public sector governance can contribute to improving the level of quality and service they provide to their local communities." Dr. Hung spoke of Viet Nam's experience in Doi Moi, the 'renovation' of public administration and reminded delegates of the important relationship between good public management and economic growth. Mr. J. Edgardo Campos provided the symposium with World Bank experience in a broader global context of the challenges in designing well-functioning organizations. "Whether developed or developing, countries continue to struggle as demands of an evolving global economy constantly change," Mr. Campos said. "The typical developing state today is faced with rising expectations, an increasing and disparate population, and a changing international environment that are outstripping its ability to deliver public good and services." Ultimately Mr. Campos said international research showed that transparency and voice are increasingly being found to matter when looking to improve the performance of the government sector.

"Ideally, citizens should be able to hold civil servants directly accountable for the poor implementation of policies and programs." The symposium was attended by around 50 delegates from various public sector positions in the governments of APEC Member Economies. APEC has identified five priority areas for structural reform work in the Asia-Pacific based on the APEC Leaders' Agenda for Implementing Structural Reform (LAISR). These areas are: regulatory reform; competition policy; public sector management; strengthening economic and legal infrastructure; and corporate governance. As a follow-up to the seminar, New Zealand is producing a set of good practice principles for public sector governance which will be considered for endorsement by APEC member economies. The seminar took place in the lead-up to the third meeting of APEC Senior officials for 2006 in Da Nang on September 17.


From http://www.apecsec.org.sg/ 09/10/2006


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World Bank Releases Largest Available Governance Data Source

The new Governance Matters, 2006: Worldwide Governance Indicators launched today demonstrate that governance can be measured, that poor governance is not an exclusive challenge of the developing world, and that reforming countries can make significant improvements in governance and in curbing corruption in relatively short periods of even less than a decade. For example, the report refutes "Afro-pessimists," showing that reforming countries such as Tanzania, Ghana, Botswana, Nigeria, Mozambique, and Senegal have made progress in one or more dimensions of governance over the past decade. And countries that implement governance reforms can expect a huge development dividend, with an improvement in governance raising per capita incomes about three-fold in the long run. The indicators also show that over a dozen non-OECD countries, including for example, Slovenia, Chile, Botswana, and Estonia, score higher in rule of law and in control of corruption than some industrialized countries, for example, Greece and Italy. Some emerging economies exhibit this kind of improvement in other dimensions of governance as well.

Strong reformers over the past decade include countries as diverse as Peru, Ghana, Tanzania, Mexico, Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia with strong improvements in Voice and Accountability, Bulgaria, Slovak Republic and Romania in Government Effectiveness; Armenia, Hungary, Slovak Republic, and Lithuania in Regulatory Quality, and Georgia, Latvia and South Korea on Control of Corruption. "Good governance is becoming widely recognized by government reformers, citizens, domestic enterprises, aid donors and foreign investors around the world as crucial to improved living standards," says Daniel Kaufmann, Director of Global Governance at the World Bank Institute and co-author of the report. "Governments in a number of countries are implementing transparency reforms, such as in procurement, asset disclosure, and in financial management, and some are also giving more voice to their citizens and the media. These reforms can translate into improved governance ratings, and into improved aid effectiveness and poverty alleviation," he adds.

The indicators for well over 200 countries are based on hundreds of variables and a compilation of more than 120,000 responses from citizens, experts and enterprises worldwide, distilled from 30 underlying sources. The current release of these indicators and their data sources represents the largest publicly available data resource on governance in the world. These evidence-based empirical measures help development stakeholders track the quality of institutions, support capacity building, improve governance, and address corruption. The worldwide governance indicators measure the following six components of good governance:
- Voice and Accountability - measuring political, civil and human rights;
- Political Stability and Absence of Violence - measuring the likelihood of violent threats to, or changes in, government, including terrorism;
- Government Effectiveness - measuring the competence of the bureaucracy and the quality of public service delivery;
- Regulatory Quality - measuring the incidence of market-unfriendly policies;
- Rule of Law - measuring the quality of contract enforcement, the police, and the courts, including judiciary independence, and the incidence of crime;
- Control of Corruption - measuring the abuse of public power for private gain, including petty and grand corruption (and state capture by elites).


From http://www.itu.int/ 09/06/2006


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CHINA: Gov't to Spend 100 Mln Yuan on Farmer Training

China has allocated 100 million yuan this year to train farmers in agricultural technology and knowledge, said the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing Saturday. The program has chosen 10,000 villages nationwide and given them 10,000 yuan each as subsidy for training, said Wei Chao'an, vice minister of agriculture. Chinese farmers received merely 7.3 years of education on the average and 92 percent of the country's illiterate and semiliterate people are in rural areas, said Wei. Nearly half of China's 490 million rural laborers merely received preliminary education and 7.6 percent of them are illiterate or semiliterate, said Wei. Most of them have never received any professional training and can hardly meet the requirement in construction of new countryside, the official said. China has focused on developing its industries and cities in the past 20-plus years. Sluggish rural development provides a stark contrast to booming urban economy. China set the goal of building new countryside last year, hoping to achieve balanced development in the country. A report with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said that up to 300 million Chinese farmers will move into cities over the next 20 years. They all need to find jobs in cities. Last week, China's Ministry of Science and Technology published the first volume of books in a series to teach farmers practical agricultural technology.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/03/2006


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HK Gov't Calls for Community Support on Waste Management

Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Friday called on the community to adopt production processes, lifestyles and habits that would help minimize the environmental impact. "Every one of us must be responsible for what we produce, supply, consume and dispose of. And everyone in the community has to share the treatment and mitigation costs," Hui said at a seminar on municipal solid waste control strategy and technologies. He urged the business sector to design products that generate less waste and facilitate recycling, and individuals to reconsider consumption-driven lifestyle and adopt good environmental habits. "Disposal of solid waste is a big challenge for us. If we do not take action to reduce waste, our landfills will be full in five to nine years," Hui said. The government last year published a policy framework for the management of solid waste, which set out a comprehensive strategy for waste management over the next decade. It marked the start of a new process to attain sustainable waste management. Hui said the government will continue to enhance the publicity and educational programs so that everyone understands the nature of the problem, the solutions available, and the price to be paid for a cleaner living environment. He also hoped legislators can rally to the cause and join the government in making difficult decisions for the sake of the environment. "A vote in the Legislative Council for environmental legislation and measures is a vote for the future environment of your children and those who elect you," he said.


From http://service.china.org.cn 09/04/2006


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Innovation Encouraged in Copyright Industries

China has created a favorable environment for copyright-based industries in government procurement and taxation and will do more to encourage innovation. Yan Xiaohong, vice-director of the National Copyright Administration, made the remarks yesterday on the sidelines of the International Copyright Forum, jointly hosted by the administration and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). "We have already asked all governmental departments to use authorized operating systems and software. We will also encourage them to use more home-made software," he said. Home-made software include those developed by foreign software firms that have registered copyright, paid taxes, and achieved 50 percent of added value in China. Although major foreign software companies have yet to meet the criteria, the Chinese authorities encourage them to invest more in research and development in the country. In terms of taxation, starting this year major domestic software enterprises with an annual income of more than 100 million yuan (US$12 million) or annual exports worth more than US$1 million, have to pay only 10 percent corporate income tax, instead of the standard 33 percent. "A favorable taxation policy will encourage more investment in the software industry and will help companies lower costs," said Geoffrey Yu, deputy director-general of WIPO. During the forum yesterday, a Chinese Enterprise Copyright Alliance was established as proposed by major Chinese IT firms including Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited, Netease Group, Microsoft China and Sina Group.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/06/2006


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Premier: Building a Better Gov't

Premier Wen Jiabao has called on the government to build an innovative administration, saying it is the major task for restructuring administrative management and a major part of the country's economic and political restructuring. Wen, who is also member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau, made the remarks in his key-note speech delivered at a national teleconference on accelerating government reform on September 4. According to the premier, since the convening in 2002 of the 16th Party Congress, the government has adopted a series of measures to boost the government's own reform. This included amending the Rules for the Work of the State Council, which feature the three fundamental principles of scientific and democratic decision-making, administration by law, and administrative supervision. The government has focused on strengthening its ability to handle societal issues, provide better public service and establishing a mechanism for handling emergencies. The government has pushed forward the reform of administrative approvals; set the goal and requirements for building a government ruled by law; implemented the Law on Public Servants, and increased efforts to fight corruption. In his speech, the premier stressed the importance of changing how the government functions in a substantive way, saying it is key for deepening the restructuring and strengthening of administrative management. He admitted, however, that many problems still exist even though "we have done a lot of work to change in the aspect of changing government function over the past years," he said.

The premier said that the government has been involved in many things that are not related to the function of government or are out of the scope of government. He pledged to continue pushing forward the separation of government and business. While practicing its functions of economic readjustment and market supervision, the government should strengthen its public service, he said. He called for deepening the fight against corruption and building a clean government, to ensure that government powers will not be misused. "The nature of corruption is misuse of public powers," he emphasized. "Government workers must work for the interests of the people with the powers granted by the people," he said, "Using power for self interests is absolutely prohibited." As of the end of June, the authorities had handled a total of 6,972 cases involving business-related bribes, worth 1.96 billion yuan (245 million US dollars). A number of offenders involved in these cases have been punished. He asked for more breakthroughs in uncovering bribes in the fields of infrastructure projects, transfer of land, trade in property, medical purchase and sale, government procurement, and exploration and trade of resources, as well as monopolized industries. "Fundamentally, the prevention of misuse of powers depends on the reform and the system," he stressed, highlighting the importance of perfecting the system to prevent corruption. He called for displaying democracy and stepping up supervision. "Lack of efficient supervision and control certainly leads to corruption," he concluded.

He also advocated the transparency of government work, making it convenient for the people to handle affairs and supervise the government. "Transparency of government work will improve the efficiency of the government and prevent corruption," he said. Increasing administrative efficiency helps increasing the government's capabilities and credibility, Wen said. He criticized some local governments for failing to implement orders from higher authorities and for losing credibility when they violate laws and regulations. He pledged to adhere to the principles of scientific and democratic decision-making, in order to enhance the level of decision-making and safeguard social justice. The government will set up an appraisal system for government officials, under which leading government officials of different levels will be examined on the results of their work, in accordance with criteria that have been scientifically developed. To build a responsible government means that leading officials must be investigated when they are accused of wrong doings and wrong doings of government must be corrected, said the premier.


From http://news3.xinhuanet.com 09/07/2006


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Innovation in Local Development Stressed

Innovation in technology and systems should be encouraged in realizing local sustainable development, said Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan during his visit to south China's Guangdong Province. Zeng visited Guangdong from Tuesday to Thursday where he inspected some local high-tech enterprises. Zeng said that Guangdong's economy has been developing steadily and rapidly, attributing the achievements mainly to the development of high-tech and modern service enterprises, small and medium sized companies and businesses of diverse forms of ownership. Guangdong should guide those enterprises to play a major role in local economic development by strengthening industrial policies and development planning and improving their innovation capacity to lead the industrial structure to a new level, said Zeng. Guangdong saw a downward trend of energy consumption and pollutant emissions in the first half of the year, in contrast with increases of both indexes for the rest of the country. Zeng emphasized that effective use of energy and environmental protection should be further enhanced and the land control policies of the central government should be implemented to the letter in guiding local land use.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/18/2006


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SOUTH KOREA: Innovation Funding Misuse Revealed

Government agencies have recklessly used innovation-related budgets in doing things that do not match the original purposes of the budgets, indicated Rep. Lee Han-gu of the Grand National Party (GNP) on September 3. According to the lawmaker, the current administration allocated a total of 80.9 billion won〞three billion won in 2004, 35.8 billion won in 2005 and 42.1 billion won in 2006〞in the fields of support/management and assessment of innovation, pursuing of innovation tasks and education on innovation capabilities, but the budgets have been actually used for purposes having nothing to do with innovation. The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) used its innovation-related budgets to buy watches and clocks (worth some 22 million won) in February 2005 and 640 watches (equivalent to about 16 million won) on December 27, 2005. The Police also spent 5.3 million won in purchasing watches for promoting police innovations in April 2005. In May 2005, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) paid from its innovation budget seven million won in leadership courses for promotion of Class 5 public servants, 75.6 million won in specialist courses for international conferences held overseas, and 56.5 million won in outsourced education of foreign languages, respectively.

On December 28, 2005〞three days before the closing date〞the National Statistical Office (NSO) bought 28.2 million won worth of gift certificates in the name of awarding innovation-related clubs and employees. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) paid 2.2 million won and 8.4 million won out of the innovation budgets to policy advisors visiting the Zaytun Unit in Iraq and those attending the meetings of the MOD Commission for Verifying Past Wrongdoings, respectively. The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MOE) spent 900,000 won in fees for examining special government officials, two million won in printing documents for candidates for promotion to Class 3 and others, and 2.5 million won in purchasing gifts for various events. The Cultural Heritage Administration (CHA) spent 360,000 won from its innovation budgets for four employees participating in an event in March 2005 for sending off an eagle in hope of inter-Korean reunification. ※The government should explain in what way these watches, gift certificates and fees for examining special government officials are related to government innovation. If they are unrelated to innovation, it should punish those who executed the budgets and take back the money paid,§ claimed Rep. Lee.


From http://english.donga.com/ 09/04/2006


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Uri Speeds Up Pension Reform

The ruling Uri Party and the government yesterday agreed to submit a revised proposal as early as next week to overhaul the creaking public pension system. Pension reforms have been stalled for three years due to differences between rival parties mainly surrounding how to ensure decent payouts for poor retirees and how to keep the fund from falling into insolvency. With the latest proposal from Uri much closer to that of the opposition Grand National Party, prospects of a settlement have become far brighter, observers say. Minister of Health and Welfare Ryu Shi-min yesterday met with 10 Uri members of the parliament committee on health and welfare to consult on a recently prepared pension reform package. The lawmakers said they will further discuss the matter with the government and the GNP with the aim of enacting it by November. "Pension payments for the elderly population should be settled within a limit that will not harm the whole pension system. Unless we reform the current pension structure of less contribution and more payment, the future generation will be dealing with a serious burden," said Ryu Shi-min at the meeting held at the Assembly building. Rep. Gang Gi-jung also promised to pursue vigorous discussions with the GNP to fine-tune their differences. Uri's revised scheme promises far greater support for elderly people than its previous proposal. It calls for benefits for up to 60 percent of population aged 65 and older, by handing out 70,000 won ($74) to 100,000 won per month to those living under the poverty line and 50,000 won to the rest.

If the GNP agrees with the ruling camp's revised bill, the new system will become effective in July. The new scheme is estimate to cost about 2.7 trillion won, Uri said. In order to stabilize the current pension fund, the government and Uri agreed to maintain the current subscriber contributions of 9 percent of earnings and reduce the post-retirement payments to 50 percent from the current 60 percent by 2008. Experts have been pointing out that state pension reserves will be depleted by 2047 if action is not taken to have subscribers pay more and recipients take less. The situation with pension funds for military officers, teachers and public servants has been worse, with huge shortfalls being covered by taxes each year. Earlier this month, Minister Ryu asserted that the national pension problem could not be solved if it were detached from the three special pension systems, making clear that a certain "sacrifice" is required from the beneficiaries of special pension funds. The pension reform bill has been on hold in the National Assembly since 2003, due to divided opinions between the ruling and opposition parties. Uri had originally called for raising premiums to 15.9 percent and lowering payments to 50 percent, while the opposition camp insisted on bringing in a more generous universal basic pension payment for all those aged 60 and older.

According to the GNP's plan, the whole of the elderly population - defined as people aged 60 and older - would receive 135,000 won monthly with the amount increasing to 300,000 won by 2028. The GNP criticized Uri's plan for failing to take care of the underprivileged, who could not afford pension payments. Uri asserted that the government could never afford the enormous amount of money to carry out the GNP's scheme. But with the ruling camp showing an obvious attempt to appease the opposition with its revised bill, the two parties are expected to come to an agreement soon. With presidential elections coming up next year, settling the pension bill within the September Assembly session has become more crucial for both parties.


From http://www.koreaherald.co.kr 09/21/2006


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MALAYSIA: MCA Bureau Revamped

The Perak MCA Public Complaints and Services Bureau has been revamped to serve the public better. Under new chief Tony Khoo Boon Chuan, the bureau has been divided into seven sections to provide specialised services. The sections are medical and health, legal, women*s affairs, care and counselling, government affairs, local government and education, besides the secretariat. ※In dividing the bureau into sections, the handling of complaints will be more organised,§ state party chief Datuk Ong Ka Chuan told a press conference at the party headquarters here yesterday. He added that more specialised attention could also be given to the public as the appointed advisers under each section were experts in the particular fields. ※For example, in the past when women came crying to the bureau over domestic violence or marital problems and a press conference is called, the problem may be aggravated,§ said Ong, who is also MCA secretary-general. ※Now, with the women's affairs section, our advisers will provide them with counselling first to settle the problem.§ Complaints will be channelled directly by the bureau*s secretariat to the relevant sections. Those involved in the medical and health section include Perak MCA organising secretary Dr Mah Hang Soon, cardio thoracic surgeon Dr Ko Chung Sen, pharmacist Simon Chew Way Chung and nine other doctors. Lawyers Lim Ta Wei, Leon Su Eng Hock, Tan Ai Luan and others will man the legal section. The bureau*s former chief Datuk Ho Cheng Wang, who is a state executive councillor, is now the main adviser. To prepare for the task, Khoo has been undergoing training under the bureau*s national-level chief Datuk Michael Chong at Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur.


From http://thestar.com.my 09/07/2006


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Johor Sets Up Hotline for Complaints About the Environment

A new hotline 〞 Rakan Alam Sekitar 〞 has been introduced to deal with complaints and qualms regarding the quality of environment in the state. State Tourism and Environment Committee chairman Freddie Long said the hotline was set up so that department officers could be more proactive and generate a faster response to tip-offs or complaints from members of the public. Members of the public can now contact the Rakan Alam Sekitar hotline at 07-2366528 between 8am and 7pm from Monday to Friday and between 10am and 7pm on weekends. ※The public can contact the hotline to send important information or complaints regarding the environment. ※Department officials will act on the information given,§ said Long, after launching the Solid Industrial Waste Material management seminar in Puteri Pacific Hotel here on Thursday. Long said the state has set up an observation committee to keep watch on the coastal areas for oil dumping. Among the agencies involved in the committee are the marine police, maritime department, the navy and Johor Port authorities. He urged the industrial sector to manage the dumping and disposal of solid waste materials in a better way. ※The improper dumping of solid industrial materials could drive away prospective investors. ※Materials such as toxic materials must be sent to Kualiti Alam Sdn Bhd in Negeri Sembilan for permanent disposal. "We also have 18 material management recovery facilities in the state for disposal of waste materials that could be recycled,§ said Long. Johor produced some 75,000 metric tonnes of solid waste material per month, which is among the highest in the country.


From http://thestar.com.my 09/14/2006


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PHILIPPINES: Adopts New Terror Alert System

Officials in Philippines have announced a new terror threat alert system to help anti-terrorism units predict the possibility of attacks each month. Under the system, the threat levels are low, moderate, high and extreme. Philippines National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales has said that there is a "high" terror threat assessment in southern Philippines for the month of September, while the threat assessment in Manila is "moderate. "The announcement came as government troops battled al-Qaida-linked militants on a southern island and police warned of possible terror plots for the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks. General Hermogenes Esperon, the military chief of staff, said that a month-long US-backed operation against the Abu Sayyaf and Indonesian militants from Jemaah Islamiyah on southern Jolo island has so far killed 12 militants and captured 10 others. At least 10 government troops and one police officer have been killed, officials said. "Our current operations are designed to pre-empt any attack," Esperon said. "We would like to believe that if we are able to keep the Abu Sayyaf group on the run, then they would not be able to conduct bombings."


From http://www.ndtv.com/ 09/08/2006


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SINGAPORE: SCDF to Provide Emergency Safety Tips Via Mobile Phone Downloads

Your mobile phone may just end up saving your life during an emergency crisis. That is what the Singapore Civil Defence Force is hoping for as it rolls out its latest public education drive by the end of the year. Speaking at the annual Civil Defence Day Parade on Friday, Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee said the "My Ready Mobile" initiative will utilise the community's existing mobile lifestyle. Associate Professor Ho said, "Short educational video clips on critical emergency preparedness information, adapted from the Civil Defence Emergency Handbook, will be made available on a dedicated webpage on the SCDF website. And to ensure that we have this information readily on hand, we can download this information and keep it in our mobile phones." The Civil Defence also intends to keep tabs on hazardous materials stored by industrial companies in Singapore. Come November, a 'Live Inventory Portal' will be launched, where some 430 participating warehouses, refineries and industrial premises can update their Hazmat information online.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/15/2006


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Outstanding Character Development Award Given Out for the First Time to 13 Schools

The outstanding character development award will be given out for the first time to 13 schools. They are among the 170 schools which will be receiving awards this year for their achievements in various fields - from staff well-being, to national education, to academic value added. The awards will be given out at the Education Ministry Workplan Seminar on Wednesday (28th of September). For example, curriculum integration is a key component of the annual outdoor camp for secondary 3 students at Cedar Girls'. Other than learning about teamwork through activities like rock climbing, the girls also brush up on their home economics and science knowledge. "During the camp, we learn how to use the skills we learn in class such as physics, and chemistry skills to build certain structures like a rocket, and also build a structure to distil sea water," said Yeo Si Ning, Secondary 4, Cedar Girls' Secondary School. This is just one of the many innovative methods that the school employs to engage its students. 6 in 10 students are also given leadership opportunities.The girls for example, started a community involvement project where they coached primary students on track and field skills. "The school also focuses on staff development, and to help us do this, we have got twinning programmes to countries like UK, Malaysia and China, and our teachers go there and find out about the best practices in those countries.," said Suresh Balakrishnan, Head of Pupil Welfare, Cedar Girls' Secondary School.

Cedar Girls' is one of two schools receiving the top award for School Excellence this year. The other school is Raffles Girls' Secondary. For the first time, the Education Ministry is also giving out the outstanding character development awards. 13 schools will be receiving this. One of the winning schools, Jurong Junior College, organises overseas community projects twice a year, while values of responsibility and self motivation are also inculcated at an orientation camp for all students. As a result, disciplinary problems are addressed even before they surface. "For our youths at risk, what we do is we give them the ability to contribute as student leaders, which will then add on to their ability to feel that they have a sense of worth. We also provide them with the emotional support and the training that they need, overall, this will boost their self confidence and self esteem and hence develop them in a more holistic level," said Chua Ren Cheng, Teacher, People Development Department, Junior Junior College.The school also gives its students an opportunity to be an entrepreneur through a school start-up fund.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/24/2006


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THAILAND: National Animal ID System Underway in Poultry Sector

Nectec and the Department of Livestock Development have launched an animal identification system using RFID technology that will be piloted at 25 poultry farms by the end of this year. The implementation of RFID was an attempt to convince the export market that Thailand conforms to high standards, according to Livestock Development Department director general Yukol Limlamthong. "The national animal ID system will be a significant foundation," he said, noting that the poultry trials would be part of the national system. Yukol noted that there are around 10,000 farms and poultry related companies nationwide. There is an existing traceability system, but this is manually recorded. Information includes slaughters, animal feed, drugs, livestock products, animal nutrition, and biological products. Thailand is a leading chicken exporter, with exports valued at 30 billion baht per year. By comparison, pork exports come to around one billion baht. The RFID trials will be extended to other sectors including pig and cattle farmers next year. Mr Yukol said that the government would invest in the core system, while the private sector would finance the links to the central database at the department. This would be the most cost-effective solution for the industry, he said. When there is an incident such as an outbreak of disease, authorities can identify particular containers without terminating the whole supply, the director general said.

The Livestock Department currently has 50-80 million baht allocated for the traceability system for poultry. Yukol said that the next step would be to adjust consumer behavior. "Once the RFID implementation is complete, we would encourage consumers to choose the certified food products," he said. Nectec director Dr Thaweesak Koanantakool said IT would increasingly play a more crucial role in the economic system of the country. Nectec has also supported an RFID cluster project and worked with Tesa, Sipa and other related organisations to support and promote RFID adoption. Meanwhile, the Fisheries Department is also working on similar standards. Fisheries biologist Srirat Sodsuk said the department was building a database that would be linked to the national animal ID system. So far the department has worked with the private sector on an RFID pilot project with shrimp. Thailand's animal identification system is expected to comply with the International Committee for Animal Recoding (ICAR) and ISO 11784 and ISO 11785.


From http://www.bangkokpost.com/ 09/06/2006


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Thai Government Launches Arabic-Language Web Site

The Thai government on Friday will launch its first-ever Arabic-language Web site to reach out to the Arab and Muslim world, the Foreign Ministry said.The site, http://www.thai2arab.com, was designed by the Foreign Ministry to provide information about Thai society, ranging from Thailand's revered king to the country's economy, arts and culture, as well as the Muslim community on Thailand.The government hopes the Web site, which can also be accessed in English, will "tighten relations between Thailand and the Muslim world," according to a Foreign Ministry statement Thursday.Thailand is predominantly Buddhist but has a Muslim majority area in the southern border region. The southern provinces have been plagued by a violent Muslim separatist insurgency, with near daily drive-by shootings and bomb attacks that have left more than 1,700 dead since January 2004.


From http://www.smh.com.au/ 09/07/2006


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BANGLADESH: Bangladeshi Who Founded Bank for Poor Wins Peace Prize

A Bangladeshi who established a bank for the poor was Wednesday named as winner of the eighth Seoul Peace Prize. The biennial prize of 200,000 dollars, awarded to Muhammad Yunus, honours peace efforts by politicians, academics, activists and international organizations. "His tireless endeavor to root out poverty and create a new model of giving credit to the poor will bear fruit in terms of greater peace in the world," the Seoul Prize Cultural Foundation said. It said Yunus, dubbed "Banker to the Poor," began fighting poverty during a 1974 famine in Bangladesh. He set up a small bank, Grameen Bank, to give them access to credit. Yunus is the developer and founder of the concept of "microcredit" for entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. The success of Grameen and Yunus's new banking concept has been emulated in 23 countries, the foundation said. The Seoul Peace Prize, established in 1990, commemorates the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which drew as many as 160 countries and were seen as breaking the ideological wall between East and West. Yunus is the eighth winner of the prize, whose other recipients include UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the Czech Republic's former president Vaclav Havel and international relief organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.


From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 09/06/2006


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Better Management of Water Resources

WATER has become a critical component in development. There is now a growing international consensus that better management of water resources will be key in tomorrow's agriculture, not only in places like Sub-Saharan Africa but also in other parts of Asia where clean water scarcity is gradually emerging due to high density of population. Sustainable and equitable use of water and its interwoven relationship with food security, sanitation and health are becoming important factors for people as well as the environment. A few days ago I was in Stockholm, Sweden to participate in a range of events associated with the World Water Week. It also coincided with the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Global Water Partnership, of which I am a Regional Council Member for South Asia. In addition to individual insights on many issues related to water, more than 1500 participants also focused on 'Benefit Sharing in Transboundary Waters', 'Capacity and Partnership Building', 'Economic Implication of Water in Poverty Reduction', 'Practical Implementation of Integrated Water Resource Management' and 'Challenges and Opportunities within the Water Sector. 'Two other subjects drew my particular attention- 'Developing Water Governance Capacities' and 'Breaking Corruption's Grip on the Water Sector'.

I shall focus on these two issues in my article today. These last two factors have assumed special significance. It is now recognised that water projects, when planned and managed properly, act as engines for local and regional development. It is also generally accepted that their primary, secondary and tertiary benefits revolutionise the quality of life for the poor people. The importance of developing water governance capacities has now assumed special importance not only in Bangladesh but also in the whole of South Asia. Various reports published by the FAO and civil society representation dealing with water, have revealed lack of suitable governance and management in the water sector. Studies have indicated that in many places in South Asia, a staggering 30 to 40 per cent or more of the water in pipes and canals go unaccounted due to leakages and illegal tapping. Evidence has also surfaced about inequitable access with regard to water. The Indian-based Centre for Sustainable Development recently provided figures for Bangalore showing that the upper middle and the middle classes receive on average over 200 litres of water per capita per day (lpcd). Compared to this, slums only receive about 66 lpcd on an average. Research in Bangladesh has exposed that in certain slums (bustees) in Dhaka, it is as little as 5-10 lpcd.

Such unequal water distribution have also been noted in areas of irrigated agriculture in certain parts of our country, where small-scale farmers get relatively less water than the more powerful large-scale farmers. All these elements have renewed the importance of governance in the water sector. It has picked up significant meaning. It this context, Dr Hakan Tropp of the Swedish International Water Institute has astutely observed that 'within the international political arena, the concept has evolved from being nearly a political taboo in the North-South development cooperation dialogue to being more widely accepted as a critical issue to be addressed if unsustainable development and poverty are to be tackled'. It is now being gradually understood that decentralisation and privatisation are both challenges that have to be also met within the water sector management in relation to the existing water supply driven infrastructure. It is now also accepted that governance and politics are 'part and parcel of the water crisis, as well as a part of its solution'. Governance here has to be understood as processes of interaction, where the dominant feature will be accommodation rather than domination. It will include both public and private organisations and their inter-active relationships.

Governance also has to be seen as an activity for resolving common problems. In this regard, there will be emphasis on networks, flexibility and informal institutions. The process of governance will determine who gets what water, when and how. It will be a step towards the eventual goal of reduction of poverty and facilitating of livelihood. Meaningful governance will have to address itself to working out not only the best way to make decisions but also its implementation. While doing so, care has also to be taken that the process does not suffer from partisanship and socio-metric overlay. According to the new notions of water management and governance related to the water sector, emphasis will have to be made on horizontal linkages and bottom-up approaches regarding dialogue, partnership and negotiation. This will be particularly applicable at the community level and community oriented area water partnerships, formed with a certain common goal in mind. It will require a strategy where day to day management has to be more inclusive, particularly in matters of decision making. Dialogue, partnership formation and networking among water stakeholders will be vital.

This will be the only way out for responding effectively and efficiently to situations created by emergencies, uncertainties and sudden complex factors arising out of changing social and hydrological conditions. Better water management techniques, particularly in the rural areas, will also need training in conflict mediation, mobilisation of communities, and partnership formation with civil society and private sector actors (as in Britain and the USA). It will also necessitate multidisciplinary knowledge, based on understanding of elements that can facilitate integrative approaches. I have underlined the importance of all these different aspects because, over-time, in Bangladesh, we have to step up our investment in the water infrastructure. We also have to think about privatising this important utility for the general good of the people and for reducing the so called systems loss. This last issue brings me to the question of corruption within the water sector management. It is now being increasingly recognised as a major challenge. The World Bank now estimates that corruption undermines efficiency in the water sector by 20 to 40 per cent. This scale is significant. This is not only true of Bangladesh but also of most developing countries, be it in Africa, Latin America or Asia.

Research published by Transparency International has shown that if water utilities could operate in a corruption-free environment, efficiency could then increase by over 52 per cent. We have to understand that corruption jeopardises the democratic principles of equal access in public decision making by turning agencies meant to serve the public into instruments for individual gain. Commenting on this phenomenon, Professor Patrik Stalgren of Gothenburg University in Sweden has correctly observed that 'corruption undermines the rule of law while breeding discretionary and unpredictable law enforcement. 'I have mentioned more than once in my earlier columns that corruption in different utilities sector in Bangladesh, including water, is undermining government security, increasing the gap between the rich and the poor and fostering a social culture of crime and illicit behaviour. Such corruption manifests itself through falsified meter reading, distorted site selection and overpayment during the procurement of inferior machinery required for the water distribution network. I availed of the opportunity of the World Water Week to ascertain views as to how corruption in the water management sector can be tackled.

I felt that this was necessary given the widespread perception of corruption within the WASA in Bangladesh. Experts responded by stating that anti-corruption measures could be classified under three categories. They felt that this could be achieved through -- legal and financial reform; increasing public awareness and capacity and reform of the public institution itself. They also agreed that though there was no shortage of initiatives to curb corruption, the current level of understanding of the problem left much to be desired. Nevertheless, it was interesting to know that a Water Integrity Network (WIN) is being set up to fight corruption in the water sector worldwide. It will be an inclusive global network that will promote anti-corruption activities and coalition building at local levels between actors from civil society, private and public sectors, media and government institutions. I believe that this will be a significant step towards reduction of poverty through fighting corruption. We in Bangladesh should carefully study the evolving methodologies pertaining to WIN and try to implement them within our system. We should also support, coordinate and share knowledge in this regard within South Asia. Existing experience and emerging lessons could then help all of us both in the short term as well as in the coming decades. Better water management will also definitely assist us not only in achieving the MDGs but also in helping the marginalised groups overcome their deficiencies.( by Muhammad Zamir )


From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 09/16/2006


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INDIA: Education for Innovation

If we are to realise our true potential as an innovative nation, we must face the big challenge: how do we encourage creativity and innovation, and integrate them into the very process of teaching/learning. It is truly amazing to see the extent and vibrancy of grass-roots innovation in our country. From a vast array of innovations in rural India 〞 well-documented by Prof Anil Gupta of IIM Ahmedabad 〞 to the creativity seen in knick-knacks being sold at traffic signals in urban areas (by true one-minute salespersons!), our creative prowess is as visible here as in music, art or literature. Clearly, there is a deep well-spring of creativity that comes from our civilisational ethos. This should be a huge advantage in today*s world, where creativity is highly prized (and also highly priced, as art auctions show) and innovation is of immense economic value. Certainly, intellectual property has become far more valuable than immovable property. Yet, our education system has tended to dampen rather than encourage creativity and innovation. Recognising that a problem can have alternative solutions, that the problem itself can be redefined, is a key element in innovation. Questioning answers rather than answering questions is a necessary part of looking for new solutions.

Our education system discourages this: rote learning and regurgitating passages from the text book (or a guide book) are the way to achieve better academic performance. Debate, discussion and particularly dissension are frowned upon. The expected behaviour in the classroom is to have eyes and ears wide open, and mouth tightly shut. Such regimentation runs completely contrary to Indian philosophy, so brilliantly expounded by Dr Amartya Sen (and captured in the book*s title) in The Argumentative Indian. Our tradition is to question, to argue, to recognise shades of grey and to respect differing perspectives. Even salvation has many paths! Today, most of our schools practice an educational philosophy which is quite the opposite of this. They are, understandably if unfortunately, driven by the examination system which rewards conformity, and performance in the examination 〞 assumed to be testing academic excellence 〞 can make or mar a young student*s whole life. It is time for a radical overhaul of both our examination system and teaching. Despite talk of a learner-centric system, little has changed on the ground. A massive programme of teacher training is essential, so that new pedagogic methods and a new educational philosophy are imbibed by them. ( by Kiran Karnik )


From TIMES NEWS NETWORK 09/07/2006


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Govt to Optimise Utilisation of Renewable Energy Sources

Government has stepped up efforts to make India, holding fourth place in wind energy generation after the US, Germany and Spain, scale up the ladder by optimum utilisation of renewable energy sources, a top official of Union Ministry of Non Conventional Energy Sources said. The capacity of wind energy generation in the country is 5,600 mw, V Subramanian, Secretary, Ministry of Non Conventional Energy Sources told a news conference after the annual general body meeting of the Wind Power Association (WPA) here today. "Environment-friendly" wind energy generation has to be encouraged in a big way to meet the ever-mounting energy demand of the country and this can be done by giving tax credit certificates to units coming forward to generate it, he said. In fact, private sector is playing a pivotal role in wind energy generation in the country and this can be further encouraged by giving such units tax credit certificates based on the electricity supplied to the grid, Subramanian said. Since investment in this sector is driven by 80 per cent depreciation and more investors are coming into it, one of the resolutions adopted at the annual general body meeting of the Wind Power Association (WPA) here today was to increase the level of depreciation from 80 per cent to 100 per cent. But this, however, should not be done, he said. Instead, providing tax benefits to units coming forward to produce wind energy would go a long way in increasing wind energy generation, Subramanian said.


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 09/18/2006


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Kerala Govt Will Ensure Social Control on Private Managements

Kerala government would ensure that there was "social control" on managements of private professional colleges and try to implement the 50:50 management and government fee structure this year, Education Minister M A Baby said today. Replying to an adjournment motion by K C Venugopal (Cong) in the assembly, after which the Opposition staged a walk-out, he said "common people" had approved the government's stand on the admission procedure and fee structure in the colleges. Government was planning to remove powers of managements to hold entrance examinations. Admission procedure had started this year in accordance with a High Court directive, he said. "Government will ensure social control on private managements," he said. However, he dismissed the charge that the government was trying to "blackmail" the managements with the report submitted by a Supervisory Committee headed by Justice P A Mohammed citing irregularities in the admission procedure. The government had only considered the future of students and there was no "uncertainty" in the higher education sector as alleged by the Opposition, he said. Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy, who led the walk out, said the previous UDF government's decision to implement 50:50 government and management fee structure was the only practicable solution to the problem. Instead of solving problems, the government was creating more confusion and uncertainty in the sector two months after the admission procedure had started, he said.


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 09/19/2006


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AZERBAIJAN: Defense Ministry Details Planned Reforms

An unnamed official from the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry released on September 13 details on proposed structural reforms to the armed forces, according to the APA news agency. According to the official, the planned reforms will expand the scope of responsibilities of the General Staff and grant it a greater degree of autonomy within the Defense Ministry, thereby reducing the oversight power of the defense minister. Aimed to conform more closely to NATO standards, the reforms will also shift several departments from the Defense Ministry to the General Staff, including the office of the military inspectorate and the enlistment office. The overall package of structural reform will not be fully introduced until mid-2007, although some shifts in internal financing and personnel have already been implemented. RG


From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 09/14/2006


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IRAQ: Parliament to Discuss Regional Formation Law

In its second sitting after a monthlong recess, the Iraqi Council of Representatives will review a draft law presented by the largest Shi'ite bloc calling for the creation of an autonomous region in the south akin to the Kurdish autonomous region in the north, AFP reported on September 6. "The general committee of the United Iraqi Alliance finished drafting the law of regional formations and submitted it to the leadership of the parliament for review," AFP quoted Hamid Mualla al-Sa'di, a Shi'ite parliamentarian, as saying on September 6. The law "will define how the regions are formed and whether it will be done by the governing council or through popular referendum," he added. Sunni parties oppose the draft law, seeing it as a step toward dividing the country, which would ultimately leave the Sunnis isolated in areas without natural resources. However, their opposition has softened toward a conditional "administrative application of federalism" in the presence of a strong central government, according to AFP. BAW


From http://www.rferl.org/ 09/07/2006


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KYRGYZSTAN: Opposition Calls for Constitutional Reform

The Congress of the Kyrgyzstan People convened a meeting on September 17 in the southern town of Bospiek, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. In speeches to an estimated 2,000 supporters, leaders of the opposition congress -- which unites several political parties, unions, and civic groups -- reiterated calls for constitutional reform and threatened to seek the resignation of President Kurmanbek Bakiev and Prime Minister Feliks Kulov if the government fails to heed its demands. RG


From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 09/18/2006


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KAZAKHSTAN: President Opens Third Parliamentary Session

Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, has announced the opening of the third parliamentary session at a joint meeting of the Parliament Houses today, September 1, Kazakhstan Today correspondent reports. "I announce the third session of the Parliament of the third convocation open," - Nursultan Nazarbayev has said addressing the Parliament Members. 36 Senate members and 68 Mazhilis members are present, as well as government members, responsible workers from the presidential administration.


From http://eng.gazeta.kz/ 09/01/2006


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TURKMENISTAN: Election Commission Sets Date for Local Elections

The Turkmen Central Election Commission met in Ashgabat on September 16 and announced that local elections will be held on December 3, Turkmen state television reported. The commission discussed the logistics and preparations for the district and town-council elections and approved regulations concerning the voting procedures. RG


From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 09/18/2006


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UZBEKISTAN: Senators Propose to Develop Corporate Management Code

Committee on budget and economic reforms of Senate (upper house) Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan (parliament) organized a roundtable on monitoring of privatized enterprises and normative-legal basis of corporate management on 19 September. The meeting noted that issues on denationalzatin and privatization are important direction of socio-economic reforms in Uzbekistan. The participant said some 265 enterprises were privatized with investment obligations in seven years. The roundtable said some US$29.1 million of foreign investments were attracted in eight months of 2006 and domestic investors invested 25.7 billion soums to Uzbek economy. It was said that there are some problems in legislation, which prevent to undertake investment obligations in time and formation of effective corporate management system. The participants said it is necessary to improve investment attractiveness of objects, which are offered to investors. The meeting's participants proposed to develop Corporate Management Code, which would allow to create effective management and control of corporate management. The attendees also proposed other suggestion and recommendations directed to improvement of corporate management system and auditing.


From http://markets.uzreport.com/ 09/20/2006


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AUSTRALIA: Agreement Means Better Care for Older Tasmanians

Older Tasmanians will benefit from a new agreement signed in Hobart today to better coordinate care and services across three tiers of government. The Tripartite Partnership Agreement for Population Ageing in Tasmania was signed by the Premier, Paul Lennon, the federal Minister for Ageing, Senator Santo Santoro, and the President of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, Councillor Mike Gaffney. They praised the agreement, the first of its kind in Australia, as an excellent example of innovative collaboration between governments. "The State Government initiated the negotiation of this important agreement," the Premier said. "It is particularly relevant to Tasmania. One in four Tasmanians is over 55 and, in population terms, we are the second oldest state but the fastest ageing." Mr Lennon said the agreement would build on the work that all governments are doing for older people and would help to address the challenges of an ageing population. "We have a better chance of meeting the challenges we all face to ensure the wellbeing of older people by working together in partnership," Mr Lennon said.

The agreement includes a commitment to joint action for better coordination and access to information, improved planning of aged-care services, and encouraging best practice and innovation in providing aged-care services and accommodation. Senator Santoro said the Commonwealth Government provides more than $200 million each year for aged and community care services to support older Tasmanians. "This agreement should see more cooperation between different levels of government to ensure that planning meets the needs of Tasmania*s ageing population," Senator Santoro said. "I am greatly encouraged by the level of support the Tasmanian Government and the Local Government Association of Tasmania have demonstrated in working with the Commonwealth Government to provide enhanced services for older Tasmanians." Councillor Mike Gaffney, President of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, said councils around Australia faced significant challenges in providing age-friendly environments. "This is particularly the case when we*re working within existing community infrastructure and available services," Councillor Gaffney said. "This agreement recognises that, to meet these challenges successfully, there must be authentic cooperation between the three spheres of government, positive working relationships with business and industry and, importantly, effective consultation with our communities."


From http://www.health.gov.au/ 08/28/2006


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More Local Companies Supported by Innovation Programs

More innovative Australian businesses will be able to apply for assistance with R&D projects with today's broadening of two of the Australian Government's key commercialisation programs. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has announced changes to the Commercial Ready and the Pharmaceuticals Partnerships Program (P3) to allow larger companies to apply for support of their R&D activities. "From today, the turnover cap for companies applying for a Commercial Ready grant will be raised from $50 million to $100 million allowing medium-size companies to apply for assistance with their R&D and early-stage commercialisation activities. "This broadening of the guidelines is a result of recent consultation with industry players and it's an important change for middle-sized companies which may have previously been considered too big to apply," Mr Macfarlane said. Under P3, a higher payment rate of 50 cents in the dollar will be offered, making it more attractive for pharmaceuticals companies to boost their investment in Australian R&D.

The funding is also available to companies with a three-year track record in pharmaceutical R&D either in Australia or overseas or a combination of both. "A stronger emphasis on partnerships will provide even greater incentive for pharmaceutical, generics, and biotechnology companies to benefit from Australia's world-class health and medical research capabilities," Mr Macfarlane said. Australia is already one of the best places in the world to conduct clinical trials, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. The changes to P3 will make Australia an even more attractive location for investment. Australian pharmaceuticals and biotechnology companies must produce for the global market to achieve the necessary scale and scope. The fate of many of our firms will depend on collaboration and securing a place in global supply chains. These changes to Commercial Ready and P3 will help build strong internationally competitive firms by increasing their capacity to innovate.


From http://www.ausindustry.gov.au/ 08/24/2006


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New to Business Checklist Released

The Howard Government has added to its suite of support tools for aspiring entrepreneurs today through the launch of its New to Business Checklist. Speaking at the launch at the Hand Wash Caf谷 in Brisbane, Small Business and Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said the new checklist complemented the wide range of Australian government measures currently in place to help budding entrepreneurs establish their own business. "The continued success of the small business sector depends on making sure that people new to business have the correct and most up-to-date information at their fingertips," Fran Bailey said. "The New to Business Checklist ensures they will know where to go for this information 每 and will ease the way for all those entrepreneurs who might otherwise be daunted by the prospect of starting a business." The checklist brings together a range of information from all levels of government in Australia, making it easier for those people intending to start a business to access guidance and support. It is part of the Australian Government's response to the Banks Report. Downloadable and printable from the popular www.business.gov.au website, it is a new Howard Government initiative that builds on other &How to* guides and tools located on the site to provide start-up advice and information. The three co-owners of the Hand Wash Caf谷, Chris Johns and Kevin Walters, former Brisbane Broncos and Australian Rugby League players, and Ian Healy, former Australian Test cricketer, said: "This is a fantastic product that we recommend all start-up entrepreneurs get access to. The checklist contains a comprehensive overview of things new business people need to consider at the start-up phase. We're very happy to be celebrating the launch of this important tool at our Hand Wash Cafe."


From http://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ 08/31/2006


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One-On-One Support for Gunnedah Youth

Young people aged 8 to 19 years in Gunnedah, NSW, will receive one-on-one mentoring as a result of more than $143 000 in Australian Government funding. The Minister for Community Services, John Cobb, today joined the Governor-General, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery, and local Member, John Anderson to launch the Gunnedah Mentoring Program, funded under the Local Answers initiative as part of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy. "The program, to be delivered by the Gunnedah Shire Council, aims to encourage older community members to volunteer as mentors for young people and offers training to build leadership and initiative to improve involvement in community life," Mr Cobb said. "The Gunnedah Mentoring Program aims to assist young people to achieve their full potential by helping them access support and training, and acquire the skills and confidence required to make the transition to employment. "The mentors help young people to feel that they are valued and play an important role in their community, while the aged community receive recognition for their skills and the opportunity to remain involved with their peers.

"Young people face many social and emotional challenges and as Minister for Community Services, with a major responsibility of youth issues, I will continue to ensure these challenges are addressed. "The Australian Government is committed to supporting young people and their local communities, and the funding delivered to the Gunnedah Mentoring Program is further demonstration of this commitment. "I am sure this great program will benefit a wide range of community members including the mentors, the young people and their families," Mr Cobb said. The $490 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy gives families, their children and communities the opportunity to build a better future. Local Answers helps strengthen communities by funding local, small-scale programs which help communities build skills and identify opportunities and take action for the benefit of their members.


From http://www.facs.gov.au/ 08/28/2006


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GRDC Calls for Innovation to Drive Industry's Future

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) will tomorrow call for tenders for a potential 45 research projects. GRDC Chairman Terry Enright said the tender process, beginning on Thursday, was part of a crucial research effort that was essential to the future of the Australian grains industry. Mr Enright - visiting scientists, research facilities and grain growers in Horsham, Victoria today with the GRDC Board and Southern Regional Panel - said innovative research driven and funded by growers, government and the private sector had underpinned industry growth in the face of many challenges. "The GRDC, funded by growers and the Australian Government, will in 2007-08 provide funding support in excess of $120 million to new and existing research projects aimed at increasing grain production and improving industry sustainability," he said. "The GRDC is the largest single contributor in Australia and provides funding across the entire spectrum of grains research, from breeding new grain varieties to the ongoing development of better farming practices." GRDC Managing Director Peter Reading said the competitive tender program being released tomorrow called for tenders for a range of research projects for 2007-08 and up to the next three years, not including projects that will be re-negotiated. "Broad research areas include natural resource management and the environment, pulse and oilseed breeding, precision agriculture, agronomy, farming systems and on-farm practices, extension, new products, gene discovery, herbicide tolerance and organics," Mr Reading said. "Australian grain producers face many challenges such as drought, weeds, pests, disease, declining terms of trade and increasing overseas competition. Research and farmer innovation continues to meet these challenges while providing an important foundation for the long-term future of the industry."


From http://www.grdc.com.au/ 09/06/2006


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Students to Get International Qualifications ※Passport§

Australian university students will in the future receive a qualifications ※passport§ to improve international recognition of their qualifications and open the door for long term educational and employment exchange, the Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Julie Bishop MP announced today. ※The Australian Government will invest $400,000 for the development of a template for an Australian Diploma Supplement by a consortium of universities,§ Minister Bishop said. ※The ultimate aim for an Australian Diploma Supplement is to assist students and employers, both at home and abroad.§ The Australian Diploma Supplement will be a translation tool, outlining a student*s achievements, the learning outcomes of their particular course of study, provide information about the university awarding the qualification and, potentially, promoting the Australian system of higher education worldwide. Minister Bishop also announced the establishment of a high level Steering Group to monitor relevant international education developments such as the European Bologna process. The role of the Steering Group will include advising government and the education sector on implementation in Europe, and will provide leadership on these important issues. Development of the Supplement is in response to feedback to the Minister*s discussion paper, The Bologna Process and Australia: Next Steps. It also follows on from the Brisbane Communiqu谷 as a result of the Asia-Pacific Education Ministers Meeting, hosted by Minister Bishop in April this year.


From http://www.dest.gov.au/ 09/07/2006


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PM Pledges to Stop Training Drain

JOHN Howard has pledged a new agenda on education and training reform to boost apprenticeship completion rates and offer on-the-job training for workers. Calling for a reassessment of the "skills crisis", the Prime Minister yesterday said "the fact that competition for good workers is high is not a bad thing". However, he admitted more needed to be done to halt the high dropout rate among young apprentices and hinted he would consider incentives to help retrain mature-age workers. "Despite strong progress on commencements, we still lose too many apprentices before they complete their trade qualification," Mr Howard said. "Apprenticeships also need to be made more attractive to mature-age workers, many of whom have worked within an industry for some time and already have many of the relevant skills required in a particular trade." It is an approach embraced by the John Holland Group, where Jason Sutherland has switched from a career as a wood machinist to become a site supervisor on the EastLink freeway construction in eastern Melbourne. The company put him through an intensive two-year training program to enable him to become a project supervisor and now he has a new ambition: to become a site manager.

"Other companies need to take a leaf out of Holland's book and take a chance on guys that aren't necessarily in the construction industry," he said. Mr Howard also said greater flexibility was required by TAFE and private providers for employees and employers. "Employers are demanding greater choice and competition among training providers. They want training delivered when and where it is needed, whether in the classroom or in the workplace itself," he said. "This is especially the case for small- and medium-sized enterprises which often face great difficulty in restructuring work arrangements to allow their employees to learn and earn at the same time." Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said the approach would require recognition of prior learning and new teaching methods for mature-age students. "You could have technical training in the workplace," Ms Ridout said. "(But) you can't just use the old training that applies to entry-level students." Mr Howard also stressed the need for schools to focus on employability schemes and give students basic literacy and numeracy skills.


From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/ 09/19/2006


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Minister Hockey Announces Groundbreaking Trial

Medicare services will be available in Centrelink offices and Centrelink services available in Medicare offices across Australia for the first time. Minister for Human Services, the Hon Joe Hockey MP, has announced a trial that builds on the Government's revolutionary ※one stop shop§ model and will improve customer service and choice at Centrelink and Medicare offices. ※The Government is committed to making it simpler and easier for Australians to do business with us,§ Minister Hockey said. ※I am delighted to announce a groundbreaking trial that offers a mix of services across Centrelink and Medicare.§ The six-month trial will take place in every state and see Centrelink services for seniors and carers available through selected Medicare offices. Non-cash Medicare services will be offered through selected Centrelink offices. This is the first trial of its kind in capital cities and is in keeping with Minister Hockey's commitment to offer a range of health and social services in Medicare offices following the introduction of electronic claiming. Medicare offices already offer family assistance services and LPG information in addition to a wide range of health services. ※Offering a broader range of services at the department's various agencies will make it easier for people to do business with the government all in the one place,§ Minister Hockey said.

※This trial is about better meeting the needs of Australians. It will also test demand for the ongoing expansion of services at Medicare and Centrelink and ensure we can do it in the most beneficial manner§. Exampl es of the types of Medicare services that will be available at the selected Centrelink offices include: Claims for payment by EFTPOS or cheque Enrol and update personal details Register as an organ donor Child immunisation statement Examples of the types of Centrelink seniors and carers services available at Medicare offices include: Updating personal details Lodging a claim for Age Pension, Carer Payment/Carer Allowance and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card Registering for Pension Bonus Scheme General Enquiries ※The trial in these eight sights will test customer demand for shared services across Centrelink and Medicare offices,§ Minister Hockey said. Eight sites in Australia have been chosen to be part of the trial: Centrelink services will be offered at the Hillarys (WA), Port Macquarie (NSW), Box Hill (VIC) and Marion (SA) Medicare offices Medicare services will be offered at the Earlville, Cairns (QLD), Broome (WA), Sutherland (NSW) and Launceston (TAS) Centrelink offices


From http://www.humanservices.gov.au/ 09/25/2006


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The 6th Annual Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region Coming Soon

The 6th Annual Forum on City Informatization in the Asia-Pacific Region (CIAPR VI) will take place in Shanghai, China, 18-19 October 2006, with the theme ※ICT for a Better Life: The Role of Local Government.§ The Forum will be co-organized and co-sponsored by the Shanghai Municipal People*s Government and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force (UN/ICT/TF), the State Council Informatization Office of China, the Ministry of Information Industry of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), five successful CIAPR Forums have been held since 2000. With a focus on inclusion for the poor, innovative e-government solutions and tools, and engaging citizens* participation in the decision-making process, the 6th Forum will be composed of a plenary session, a number of parallel sessions and workshops, covering topics such as ICT and e-government development for all, creating a public value for citizens, enhancing participation and partnership with citizens, creating e-government toolkits (information technology & applications), and citizen-friendly e-government policies and cyber laws. The United Nations Public Service Awards, in the category of ICT Application and Local e-Government, will be presented by UNDESA to recognize outstanding achievement and contribution in local e-government applications. The Forum is expected to attract over 800 participants worldwide, including senior officials form the UN and from central and municipal governments of both developed and developing countries, CEOs of well-known IT companies, and famous experts and scholars of academia, international organizations and NGOs. Contact: The Regional Cooperation Office for City Informatization (RCOCI), Tel: (86-21) 6112 3736, Fax: (86-21) 6112 3739, Email: hyliu@apcity.org or hyliu@siecc.org

From http://www.unpan.org 08/22/2006


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Unemployment, Working Poor Overshadow South Asian Growth

A new report on labour and social trends in South Asia warns of a growing socio-economic disconnect in the sub region, as economic growth and improved productivity fail to translate adequately into job creation and better wages. The report, Labour and Social Trends in Asia and the Pacific 2006: Progress towards Decent Work has been produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations body covering work and workplace issues. The report says that despite "solid" economic growth since 2000 (above 5 per cent in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Iran and the Maldives) nowhere in South Asia has job creation been strong enough to fully absorb new labour market entrants. Unemployment in South Asia averages 5 per cent, compared to the Asia Pacific region average of 4.6 per cent. Young women and men (those aged 15-24) are bearing the brunt, with 11.3 per cent unemployment in this age group. In Bangladesh and Sri Lanka young people are four times as likely to be unemployed as older workers, in India three times, and in the rest of the region at least twice. Young women have higher unemployment rates than their male counterparts. The ILO estimates that halving youth employment would significantly benefit GDP growth in the countries of South Asia.

Unemployment will become more acute in the next decade, the report says, because the South Asian labour force is expected to grow by around 2.1 per cent a year, adding more than 14 million people to the labour market between today and 2015. The most rapid increase will be in countries with the greatest number of working poor and the largest informal economies, such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan, and slowest in Sri Lanka. While real manufacturing wages have risen throughout much of Asia they have not matched increases in labour productivity. Between 1990 and 2002 workers in India actually experienced a drop in real manufacturing wages of 22 per cent (despite an increase in manufacturing labour productivity of more than 84 per cent). In Pakistan the equivalent decline in wages was 8.5 percent. In Sri Lanka real manufacturing wages rose only marginally. The problem of the working poor remains serious. There are currently 202 million working poor in South Asia (2005 figures). This means that among those in employment, 34.2 percent live in households below the US$1 per person per day. If measured at the US$2 poverty line, a shocking 84 per cent of workers in the region live with their families in poverty.

※The large share of working poor in the region is a reflection of South Asia*s large decent work deficit. Millions of workers remain in poverty despite the region*s robust economic growth and rapid improvements in the efficiency of labour,§ said Gyorgy Sziraczki, head of the Economic and Social Analysis Unit of the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, which produced the report. ※This is why it is not enough to just create jobs, they must be decent jobs. Underemployment and job quality are the main problems. The challenge is to move from job creation in the informal economy to productive employment in the formal sector§. Other concerns in South Asia are literacy and skill rates, which are closely linked to income levels. Among the world*s developing regions, South Asia has the lowest adult literacy rate, 55.8 per cent, compared to the global average of 79.1 percent and 90.2 per cent in the rest of Asia-Pacific.

Labour migration has become an important and growing feature of development throughout Asia Pacific. In recent years 1.3 to 1.9 million workers from South Asia - primarily from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - have left home annually to work abroad, more than half the annual Asia Pacific total for migrant workers. Growing numbers of South Asian women are joining the migrant flows and the most popular destinations include the Middle East, Malaysia and the Maldives. Migrant remittances make up an increasingly important share of South Asian GNP 每 12 per cent in Nepal, 7 per cent in Pakistan, 6.5 per cent in Sri Lanka, 6 per cent in Bangladesh and 3.1 per cent in India (2002-3 figures). The Report will be launched at the ILO*s Asian Regional Meeting which is being held in Busan, South Korea from August 29th to Sept 1 2006. Representatives of Governments, workers* and employers* organizations from South Asia will be among 40 countries attending. The meeting will focus on the labour market and employment effects of globalization. It is normally held every four years.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 08/31/2006


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ADB Raises Developing Asia 2006 Growth Forecast to 7.7%

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Developing Asia*s strong economic expansion is expected to continue, with growth projected at 7.7% in 2006 before easing to 7.1% in 2007, according to a major ADB report released today. ※Developing Asia*s rapid growth is underpinned by strong performances by the People*s Republic of China (PRC) and India, which together account for more than 50% of regional GDP,§ said Mr. Ifzal Ali, ADB Chief Economist, in launching Asian Development Outlook 2006 Update. ※The region should take advantage of this strength to act in three areas that could undermine growth if not addressed - the need to complete the adjustment to high oil prices, the need to pick up the pace of fiscal consolidation, and the need to stimulate investment,§ he said. If PRC and India are removed from the calculation, the remaining countries of developing Asia are expected to grow by more modest averages: 5.5% in 2006 and 5.1% in 2007. ADO Update is a supplement to ADB*s annual flagship publication, Asian Development Outlook 2006, which was published in April and forecasts economic trends in the region.

The 7.7% growth forecast for 2006 represents a 0.5 percentage point increase from the April forecast. The upward revision significantly reflects accelerated growth in the PRC due to booming investments and exports. ADO Update forecasts 10.4% growth for PRC in 2006. Upward revision to growth forecasts of the three larger South Asian economies - Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan - on the back of strong export growth also fed the upward adjustment. For 2007, ADO Update forecasts growth of 7.1% for developing Asia, up marginally from the 7.0% forecast in April. The easing from 2006 growth is anticipated based on expected slower demand from industrial countries and continuing high oil prices. ADO Update*s forecast for 2007 rests heavily on the assumptions that policy adjustments in PRC will slow the economy to a more moderate 9.5% expansion and that India continues to grow at 7.8%.

The projection for East Asia for 2006 has been revised upward to 8.2% from 7.7% in April, driven mainly by the faster expansion estimated for PRC that in part influenced upgrades for Hong Kong, China and Mongolia. The April growth estimates for South Korea and Taipei,China were essentially maintained as these countries continue to encounter weak domestic demand conditions, partly due to adjustment to excessive credit card debt. Growth in South Asia in 2006 is projected at 7.5%, up from 7.3% forecast in April. Since 2002 South Asian growth has averaged 7.7%, almost matching that of East Asia and two percentage points above growth in Southeast Asia. Increasingly vibrant manufacturing activities in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are lifting exports, which contributed to some upgrading of growth estimates in 2006. In Nepal, the restoration of Parliament and a broadened political process have improved the economic situation and prospects. ADO Update also raised growth estimates for Afghanistan and Sri Lanka despite continuing security issues.

In Southeast Asia, the forecast has been downgraded marginally to 5.4% from 5.5% in April. Political uncertainty and a postponement of large infrastructure projects in Thailand, and slowing consumer spending in Malaysia have crimped growth from the April estimates for the two countries. But favorable weather conditions and fiscal improvements in the Philippines, and strength in electronics and pharmaceutical manufacturing in Singapore have boosted their outlooks. In Indonesia, efforts to fight inflation curbed growth in the first half of the year but a rebound in the second half is expected to achieve the April growth estimate of 5.4%. In Central Asia, ADO Update lifted projections for the major oil producing countries -Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan - while the outlook for Armenia was also upgraded. These revisions pushed Central Asia*s aggregate forecast to 11.3%, one percentage point higher than the rapid average pace of the past five years. Faster anticipated growth in the Pacific region, now put at 3.3% for 2006, reflected upward revisions for the two largest economies of Papua New Guinea, an oil exporter, and Fiji Islands. ADO Update includes a section on trade issues that may have implications for the longer term, as well as a theme chapter on developing Asia*s rising influence in world commodity markets. ※The outlook for Asian growth is quite positive as both domestic and external conditions remain favorable,§ Mr. Ali said. ※The region should act now to lay defenses against potential risks and ensure the region*s rapid growth is sustained.§

From http://www.adb.org/ 09/06/2006


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Progress Made in Bridging the Digital Divide: ITU Report Cites Advances in Connectivity Among Least Developed Countries

The International Telecommunication Union launched a report in New York today on ICT/Telecommunication development in least developed countries (LDCs). The report examines key developments in the information and communication technology (ICT) and telecommunications sector including trends and challenges in the world*s poorest countries in the period 2001 to 2005. ITU*s findings reveal that considerable progress has been made to bridge the digital divide and that teledensity targets set by the Brussels Programme of Action (BPoA) have been met by 25 of the 50 LDCs. The ITU report was unveiled during a special session on "Integrating Least Developed Countries (LDCs) into the world economy through telecommunications/ICT" held during the Mid-Term Review on implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries for the decade 2001-2010. According to ITU, teledensity has more than doubled in the majority of least developed countries since 2000 with some of them boosting connectivity by as much as 20 times, thanks to rapid growth in the deployment of mobile technologies. The race towards universal access in LDCs has been mainly led by Small Island Developing States such as Cape Verde, Maldives and Samoa and small to average sized countries such as Gambia, Lesotho, and Mauritania, some of which have achieved teledensities of up to 44 lines per 100 inhabitants surpassing many developing countries.

Growth driven by ICT: mobile and internet "The mobile sector in LDCs has grown considerably against fixed lines over the last few years, and the number of mobile subscribers almost doubled in 2005", explained Cosmas Zavazava, Head of ITU*s Unit for Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States and Emergency Telecommunications. "It recorded a significant annual growth of 82 per cent from 2000 to 2005, compared with 12 per cent in the fixed-line sector". According to ITU statistics, least developed countries with the highest annual growth rate in terms of cellular subscribers over the period 2000-2005 were Djibouti (186%), Democratic Republic of Congo (184%), Niger (171%), Liberia (155%), Mali (142%), Sudan (139%), Yemen (129%) and Lao P.D.R. (119%). Prepaid services, accounting for almost 90 per cent of the entire market, have contributed to the explosive expansion of the mobile sector in LDCs. In Afghanistan, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Haiti, Somalia and Niger all mobile subscriptions were prepaid.

Overall, access to the internet has increased and more interest is on deployment of broadband services in rural areas. By 2005, internet user penetration caught up with fixed line penetration in LDCs, providing access to a host of applications, such as e-education, e-health, e-business, e-agriculture, and e-government. In terms of internet penetration, a number of countries have reached penetration rates of around five percent, including Maldives (5.8%), Cape Verde and Togo (both 4.9%), and Senegal (4.6%). Although the majority of LDCs have not yet launched high-speed internet services, popular demand is encouraging more countries to upgrade from dial-up internet connections to broadband. For instance, by 2005, over 89 per cent of all internet subscribers in Senegal were DSL subscribers, compared with 70 per cent in the Maldives, 17 per cent in Cape Verde and 2 per cent in Lao P.D.R. Despite recent progress, LDCs continue to face major challenges. Rapid developments in the LDC telecommunications marketplace require new directions to be taken by policymakers and regulators. Many established policies and regulations have become obsolete, leading to inefficient and increasingly untenable restrictions and barriers to the development and dissemination of the benefits of IP convergence. Policy makers and regulators must therefore forge a transition path away from the old regulations that may have served a useful purpose in the past, but are today barriers to progress.

Equally challenging is the task of developing an appropriate policy and regulatory framework that will help realize the full benefits of internet protocol (IP) convergence. In many LDCs policy changes are required that would provide regulators with flexible tools to implement the transition to new network development opportunities and attract investor financial flows into the sector. The scarcity of ICT infrastructure, the high cost of international bandwidth, the dearth of relevant local content along with the lack of cooperation among development partners and political instability also remain daunting challenges. "What is really encouraging is the fact that there is incredible enthusiasm among LDCs to be part of the Information Society. This, coupled with the emergence of new, low cost and affordable technologies, especially wireless, will hasten the pace towards universal access", affirmed Zavazava. At the special session ITU outlined activities during the next five years

From http://www.itu.int/ 09/13/2006


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ATMIA Pioneers Online Corporate Governance Assessments

The ATM Industry Association has announced that it has launched the pioneering concept of a self-service Corporate Governance assessment system for its members. The new online service has incorporated the association*s industry training material on the seven recognized principles of Corporate Governance into a self-assessment 50 question survey which tests the strength of a member company*s corporate governance system. ※Companies curious about how well they are doing with Corporate Governance, or who want to improve their Corporate Governance, should take the online test!§ commented Mike Lee, CEO of ATMIA. ※We operate in an era of increasing automation and it is important to provide value-adding business services online which are convenient, time-saving and cost-saving.§

Once the Corporate Governance assessment has been completed online, the respondent can immediately view his scorecard, as well as a set of recommendations related to the areas of weak corporate governance which have been identified by the survey. These results and recommendations are then emailed to the member for follow-up actions. ※The exciting thing about the contemporary approach to Corporate Governance is that it provides a system for long-term, risk-reducing management of a business,§ Lee added. §Corporate Governance is becoming a critical success factor for all businesses.§ Last month, ATMIA introduced a companion online ATM Risk Management system, with an ATM Risk Matrix, ATM Risk Survey and Synopsis of risk management recommendations. Both online systems weight answers to questions in terms of importance, allowing a score to be generated with reflects how well members are performing in key areas of risk management and corporate governance.

From https://www.theasianbanker.com/ 09/15/2006


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World's Poorest Countries Increasingly Wired, UN Agency Reports

According to ITU statistics, LDCs with the highest annual growth rate in terms of cellular subscribers over the period 2000-2005 were Djibouti, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Niger, Liberia, Mali, Sudan, Yemen and Laos. Prepaid services, accounting for almost 90 per cent of the entire market, have contributed to the explosive expansion of the mobile sector in LDCs. In Afghanistan, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Haiti, Somalia and Niger all mobile subscriptions were prepaid. Overall, access to the internet has increased and more interest is on deployment of broadband services in rural areas. By 2005, internet user penetration caught up with fixed line penetration in LDCs, providing access to a host of applications, such as e-education, e-health, e-business, e-agriculture, and e-government. Despite recent progress, LDCs continue to face major challenges. Many established policies and regulations have become obsolete, leading to inefficient and increasingly untenable restrictions and barriers to the development, the ITU said in a news release, calling on policy makers and regulators to address these gaps.

From http://www.egovmonitor.com/ 09/15/2006


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Urgent Need to Invest More in Developing World's Record Youth Population, Says World Development Report

Developing countries which invest in better education, healthcare, and job training for their record numbers of young people between the ages of 12 and 24 years of age, could produce surging economic growth and sharply reduced poverty, according to a new World Bank report launched at the Bank's Annual Meetings in Singapore. With 1.3 billion young people now living in the developing world-the largest-ever youth group in history-the report says there has never been a better time to invest in youth because they are healthier and better educated than previous generations, and they will join the workforce with fewer dependents because of changing demographics. However, failure to seize this opportunity to train them more effectively for the workplace, and to be active citizens, could lead to widespread disillusionment and social tensions. "Such large numbers of young people living in developing countries present great opportunities, but also risks," says Fran?ois Bourguignon, the World Bank's Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Development Economics. "The opportunities are great, as many countries will have a larger, more skilled labor force and fewer dependents. But these young people must be well-prepared in order to create and find good jobs."

The report says that young people make up nearly half of the ranks of the world's unemployed, and, for example, that the Middle East and North Africa region alone must create 100 million jobs by 2020 in order to stabilize its employment situation. Moreover, surveys of young people in East Asia and Eastern Europe and Central Asia-carried out as research for the report-indicate that access to jobs, along with physical security, is their biggest concern. Far too many young people-some 130 million 15-24 year olds-cannot read or write. Secondary education and skill acquisition make sense only if primary schooling has been successful. This is still far from being the case and efforts have to be reinforced in this area. In addition, more than 20 percent of firms in countries such as Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Estonia, and Zambia, rate poor education and work skills among their workforce as 'a major or severe obstacle to their operations.' Overcoming this handicap starts with more and better investments in youth. "Most developing countries have a short window of opportunity to get this right before their record numbers of youth become middle-aged, and they lose their demographic dividend. This isn't just enlightened social policy. This may be one of the profound decisions a developing country will ever make to banish poverty and galvanize its economy, " says Emmanuel Jimenez, lead author of the report, and Director of Human Development in the World Bank's East Asia and the Pacific Department.

One study attributes more than 40 percent of the higher growth in East Asia over Latin America in 1965-1990 to progressive policies on macro-economics, trade, education, healthcare, and vocational training, and the faster growth of its working-age population. Countries that miss this demographic window will find themselves lagging increasingly further behind in the global economy. The report says that most policymakers know that their young people will greatly influence their national social and economic fortunes, but nonetheless face acute dilemmas in how to invest more effectively in their youth. The World Development Report identifies three strategic policies that may enhance investment in young people: (1) Expanding opportunities, (2) improving capabilities, and (3) offering second chances for young people who have fallen behind due to difficult circumstances or poor choices. These address five fundamental transitions facing young people and affecting their whole economic, social and family life, namely getting an education, finding work, staying healthy, forming families, and exercising citizenship.

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 09/16/2006


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UN Marks International Peace Day

In New York Secretary-General Kofi Annan rang the Peace Bell, on the seared fields of conflict in Somalia appeals rang out to end the violence and in Afghanistan children flew the once forbidden kites of hope as the United Nations system today marked the annual International Day of Peace from its stately Headquarters building to the furthest flung trenches of warfare. In southern Lebanon, latest focus of UN efforts to restore peace after the 34-day war between Israel and Hizbollah which ended last month, blue-helmeted peacekeepers marched past at their Naqoura base camp overlooking the Israeli border to honour the Day that was established by the UN General Assembly 25 years ago. And in Iraq the top UN official appealed for national unity to promote peace at a time when the war-torn country is confronting the most difficult period of its history. ※For some of us, peace is a day-to-day reality,§ Mr. Annan declared as he stood in front of the bell, a gift from Japan cast from the pennies donated by children from 60 nations, before driving the ringing beam into it three times,§ the last time he will do so as he steps down from his office at the end of the year.

※Our streets are safe; our children go to school. Where the fabric of society is strong, the precious gifts of peace can almost go unremarked. But for far too many people in the world today, those gifts are only an elusive dream. They live in chains: a climate of insecurity and fear. It is mainly for them that this day exists.§ He noted that the last few weeks had seen ※tragic new escalations of conflict in several parts of the world§ and stressed the many ways the UN works for peace from preventive diplomacy to peacekeeping missions and efforts to support democracy and promote human rights. Participants at the ceremony and UN staff throughput the world observed a minute of silence in the name of peace, and a choir sang an anthem of peace. The flags of the world*s nations were paraded in the balmy autumn air on the front lawn in front of the Headquarters building. Four UN Messengers of Peace stood at Mr. Annan*s side - author and journalist Anna Cataldi, Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas, wildlife researcher and conservationist Jane Goodall and tennis champion and actor Vijay Armitraj. And Mr. Annan formally appointed a new messenger, world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who performed for the gathering.

But it was in the deserts and mountains of far off flashpoints of conflict around the world, where UN peacekeepers, assistance missions and humanitarian teams are toiling to rein in the dogs of war, that today*s solemn ceremonies assumed their real significance. In Iraq, Mr. Annan*s Special Representative Ashraf Qazi noted that this year*s observance was of particular relevance when the country and its people are going through a most difficult and challenging period in their history. In a message to the Iraqi people he called on all to join hands in promoting peace and pledged continued active UN engagement. In Somalia, Special Representative Francois Lonseny Fall highlighted two ※particularly violent events this week [that] have pushed peace deeper into the shadows,§ the murder of an Italian nun who had served the needs of children in Mogadishu and the assassination attempt on President Abdullahi Yusuf in Baidoa. ※I wish I could paint a bright picture for Somalia today, but there are too many clouds, too many uncertainties on the horizon. And there are far too many competing interests that have too little to do with the profound humanitarian needs of the civilian population and the development of the country,§ he said in a message, pledging continued UN assistance in fighting disease and providing food.

On a brighter note of hope at a ceremony organized by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which is suffering from an upsurge in violence, over 50 orphans gathered on Nader Khan hill, overlooking the capital Kabul, where they were presented with white kites, each bearing a dove and an olive branch, the symbols of peace. Kite flying was banned by the ousted Taliban regime. In Naqoura, Maj. Gen. Alain Pellegrini, head of the newly enhanced UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and several guests released two white doves and two dozen helium filled blue balloons to symbolize peace. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kosovo and Liberia, UN mission staff discussed via satellite issues of peace with more than 700 students gathered with the Messengers of Peace at UN Headquarters in New York, where General Assembly President Sheika Haya Rashed Al Khalifa told a gathering of children they should be messengers of peace, solidarity and respect for all human beings. And it was not only in conflict-riven areas that the Day was marked. At UN headquarters in Vienna 200 children from 70 schools studying at local and international schools were receiving awards in a ※Writing and Painting for Peace§ competition.

In Bangkok, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) held a ceremony with the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace. And half way round the world in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW) issued a new manual on how to create a successful action plan for the equal representation of women in all peace and security initiatives.

Form UN NEWS Centre 09/21/2006


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CHINA: Digital TV Standard Announced

The Chinese government finally released its digital TV terrestrial transmission standard yesterday, but time is needed for digital terrestrial broadcasting to become a significant business in the world's largest TV market. The Standardization Administration of China's website carried the proposal for the transmission standard, which was approved on August 18 as the compulsory national standard, coming into effect from August 1 next year. Along with 3G mobile communications, the digitalization of China's broadcasting is regarded as a lucrative market, which could be worth over 1 trillion yuan (US$125 billion). Therefore, it will form a key area in a Chinese standard will cut royalty payments and assume an advantageous position in the global industry. Digital TV broadcasting takes place in three ways -- cable, satellite and terrestrial, with China mainly following international standards in the first two areas. Cable broadcasting is the only major transmission format currently used in China, as the terrestrial standard was not decided until August 18 and satellites for direct broadcasting have yet to be launched. At the end of last year, only 4 million households across the nation had access to digital cable TV broadcasting, with the number expected to reach 10 million this year. However, more than 400 million households with TV sets and only 128 million had access to cable TV at the end of last year, meaning that the majority of digital TV transmissions are expected to rely on the terrestrial method. China began to develop its own terrestrial transmission standard in 2001.

Proposals made by Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiaotong University were later merged into a final draft proposal. The Shanghai version borrowed some principles from the US standard and is suitable for transmission in sparsely populated remote areas, while the Tsinghua proposal is based on the same modulation method as current and future mobile communication standards and has its own patents, cutting royalty costs. Zeng Huiming, editor of the Radio and TV Information magazine, said the standard came out late, because of the compromise process, but this delay does not pose a problem since as China has just started to promote the terrestrial transmission model. He believed that an essentially Chinese version of the standard would not pose a serious threat to foreign equipment manufacturers, as many of them were already involved in the Chinese proposals and time remains for them to adapt to the new standard. Sun Min, vice president and board secretary of Tsinghua Tongfang Co Ltd, agreed: "This is just a beginning with this standard. The real commercial benefits still depend on future development." Sun's company, a flagship enterprise of Tsinghua University, is believed to be a major beneficiary of the Tsinghua standard. He said his firm had been working on some transmission and network construction trials, but these remain in their infancy.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/31/2006


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Guangdong Raises Minimum Wage

Guangdong government has issued new minimum wage standards, effective from today, covering the province, news that is being welcomed by migrant workers who are employed there. Guangdong Labor and Social Security Department (LSSD) has set new wage levels for different areas, which have different levels of economic development. The minimum wage ranges from a high of 780 yuan (US$96.18) a month in Guangzhou to the lowest rate in rural regions of 450 yuan (US$55.49) a month. Shenzhen is not subject to the salary standards. Zhao Xiaobing, who works at a private umbrella factory in Guangzhou's Panyu District, currently earns a salary of 690 yuan (US$85.08) per month. The 21-year-old, from east China's Jiangxi Province, earns extra money from overtime payments, and gets subsidies for his lodgings and meals. "I know nothing about the new minimum wage and my boss has not yet said anything about it," he said. "Nevertheless, I'm happy as I'll be able to earn at least 90 yuan (US$11.1) more a month." A few moments later, Zhao's joy turned to concern. "What if my boss does not raise my salary as required?" he asked.

Deng Yaojun, a deputy director of LSSD's labor and salary division, said the provincial authorities would keep a close eye on the implementation of the scheme. "Those who are not paid as required can make complaints to local labor and social security bureaus, trade unions or arbitration agencies," Deng said. "The authorities will be tough about carrying out the new policy." China's laws stipulate that employers have to pay compensation if they break labor laws. They can be fined 5,000 yuan (US$616) to 500,000 yuan (US$61,652). Chen Haiyang, boss of a small garment factory in Guangzhou's Tianhe District, said the new wage rate would impose a heavy burden on his business. "I'll have to raise the monthly salary of each of my 30-odd workers by about 100 yuan (US$12.33), which means a labor cost increase of about 4,000 yuan (US$493.22) per month against my very slim profit margin," Chen said. "I dare not break the regulation, I'll consider moving out of Guangzhou to another smaller city if I can not manage my business here."

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/01/2006


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Online Advertising to Hit Over 4 Bln Yuan in 2006

China's online advertising market is expected to hit 4.387 billion yuan (US$548 million) in 2006, according to Analysys, an information source on the hi-tech and Internet industries. Analysys said the value of China's on-line advertising reached 2 billion yuan in the first six-months of this year. It said the portals, sina.com, sohu.com, and China's biggest search engine baidu.com, took the lead in online advertising in the country, without providing details on the revenues they may have earned.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/01/2006


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China's Largest Government-run E-business Site Opens

"China Suppliers" (www.china.cn), the largest government-run E-business website in the country, was officially put into operation here on Monday. "China Suppliers" is established and operated by the China Internet Information Center (www.china.com.cn) under the State Council's Information Office, which publishes news and information in 10 languages. "China Suppliers" is the government's first large-scale involvement in the country's E-business, a fledgling industry that has been the domain of private companies, said a local observer. The newly-opened commercial website, with the support of the Ministry of Commerce, targets small businesses that want to access international markets. During its trial operation over the past month, some 3.6 million companies registered and it published 40 million commercial messages. In 2005, China's on-line trade reached 650 billion yuan (81 billion US dollars) in sales, with 1.53 million domestic companies engaged in E-business. Until recently, all major Chinese commercial websites were run by private firms.


From http://news3.xinhuanet.com/ 09/04/2006


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China to Bring Clean, Safe Water to All Rural Residents by 2015

One hundred and sixty million people in China's rural areas will get clean and safe drinking water in the next five years and by 2015 all Chinese rural residents will be provided with safe potable water, Minister of Water Resources Wang Shucheng told Xinhua News Agency on Monday. Wang said currently 312 million Chinese villagers are facing water shortages or unsafe water contaminated by fluorine, arsenic, high levels of salt or other organic or industrial pollutants. Although the budget has not been firmly set, the minister said the country plans to invest about 40 billion yuan (US$5 billion) over the next ten years on safe water supply projects. Wang said China is likely to far exceed its UN Millennium Development Goal which was to reduce by half the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015. Worldwide, one in every six people is without safe, potable water and in China there are more than 50 diseases caused and spread by unsafe water, said Zhai Haohui, Vice Minister of Water Resources. China's 11th five-year plan for 2006-2010, approved last March, called for safe and portable water to be provided to 100 million rural residents.

That target number was raised to 160 million after a State Council conference on rural drinking water safety held on August 30. Wang said the increased pace in providing drinking water to China's thirsty rural areas is in line with the central government plan to build a new socialist countryside. According to Wang, the central government will increase investment in rural water supply projects and encourage more private investment in rural infrastructure construction. Wang said more capital from the central government will flow into the poorer western regions of China in the coming years, with the rich eastern region encouraged to open parts of its rural water supply to investors by offering them favorable investing policies. Water supply facilities in urban centers will be extended to villages located in city suburbs. Villages far from urban areas will see the construction of water-supply facilities, said the minister. In areas where local water is contaminated by fluorine, arsenic or high levels of salt, special water-treatment and water supply facilities will be built, said Wang. Tang Min, chief economist with the China Mission of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), told Xinhua that the Chinese government's decision to provide accessible potable water to rural people shows that China has aligned itself with the new concept of scientific development and a "people-centered" approach.

Tang, who studied China's rural problems, said great changes have taken place in China's development strategy in recent years. It has shifted from simple pursuit of economic growth to a harmonious development between economy and society. Statistics with the Ministry of Water Resources said China's per capita water resources are only a quarter of world average level. The ministry said China has built more than three million rural water supply projects since the country was established in 1949, benefiting 273 million rural residents. China spent 22.3 billion yuan (US$2.79 billion) from 2001 to 2005 to provide 67 million people with safe water supplies. Wang said while China works to resolve its own water problems, the country is contributing more to the international effort to solve the world's water crises. In recent years, China has helped fund 83 water and sanitation projects in developing countries, and dispatched many technologists to African countries where they have worked on local water supply projects.


From http://service.china.org.cn/09/05/2006


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Digital Broadcast System Launched for Games

Those in Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games will be able to watch the sporting spectacular free of charge on electronic devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras and MP4 players. Beijing Radio yesterday officially launched a free Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) service, which broadcasts smooth high-definition digital audio and video programs to mobile equipment. "Twelve Beijing Radio channels, as well as TV programs from CCTV-News and BTV 1 are available through the DAB service from today, while China National Radio and China International Radio will join us later," said Wang Liang, head of Beijing Radio, at yesterday's launch ceremony, "Besides, TV programs designed especially for mobile terminals with small screens are also under development. "From the beginning of 2007, DAB services will begin to transmit information about government affairs, daily life, the city and real-time traffic and weather conditions," Wang added. According to a DAB news briefing, municipal services will also be provided such as a hospital treatment register, a long-standing major concern for Beijing residents.

During the 2008 Games, foreigners visiting Beijing will be able to rent receiving devices, easing their access to the events. In addition to helping visitors find destinations such as hotels and hospitals, the DAB system will also be used for audience management and emergency incidents at the 2008 Games, according to an unnamed source with Beijing municipal government. The government estimated that there the city will see over 1 million DAB system terminals spring up by the opening ceremony of the 2008 Games. The receiving terminals must be equipped with digital video broadcasting chips to gain access to DAB services. Cellular phones capable of taking the services will be available by year-end at a price of about 5,000 yuan (US$625), according to sources from Lenovo, Beijing's first designated manufacturer of DAB cellular phones. Rural residents in Beijing are for the moment unable to receive this service, since only the area inside the Sixth Ring Road is covered at present.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/07/2006


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Rural Medical System Covers Nearly Half of Farmers

China's rural cooperative medical system, which requires the government to partly fund farmers' medical expenses, has signed up 396 million farmers--about 44.7 percent of the total rural population, the Ministry of Health announced on Monday. China's rural cooperative medical system, which requires the government to partly fund farmers' medical expenses, has signed up 396 million farmers -- approximately 44.7 percent of the total rural population, the Ministry of Health announced on Monday. By the end of June, 1,399 counties (including some districts and cities) were piloting the new rural cooperative medical system. This is 48.9 percent of China's counties. There were 678 pilot counties at the end of last year. All counties, cities and districts in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Guangdong have joined the system, said ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an. For most farmers in China finding a well-equipped and cheap clinic in rural areas is difficult because investment in medical care facilities in the country is much less than in cities. Financial burdens also hamper farmers from getting proper treatment. Statistics from the Health Ministry show one third of poor rural patients in China choose not to go to hospital and 45 percent of the hospitalized farmers ask to be discharged before they've recovered.

The government began to increase input into healthcare in rural areas after the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003. The central government has decided to double allowances of 20 yuan (US$2.5) this year for each farmer participating in the rural cooperative medical system. Under the new policy a farmer puts 10 yuan (US$1.25) a year into his personal medical care account and the government adds another 40 yuan (US$5). The government will pay a maximum of 65 percent of his medical expenses a year. The total allowance provided by central government this year could reach 4.23 billion yuan (US$529 million), said Mao. The government also promised to spend more than 20 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion) over the next five years on renovating hospital buildings in towns and upgrading equipment. By 2010 China will renovate 22,000 village clinics, 1,300 county-level general hospitals, 400 county-level traditional or ethnic hospitals and 950 county-level maternity and child-care institutes. The new rural cooperative medical system is to be available to 80 percent of Chinese counties by the end of 2008. This year the Ministry of Health is planning to train 500,000 medical staff in the pilot counties and send 3,900 urban doctors to assist in rural regions, said Mao.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/11/2006


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Computer Software Help Judges

A Chinese court which adopted a computer software system to help judges sentence criminals has seen no appeals after more than 1,000 criminal cases. The software, tested for two years in a court in Zibo, east China's Shandong Province, was applied in more than 100 different crimes and aimed at ensuring standardized decisions on prison terms. A local software company and a Beijing-based software company have worked with the Zichuan District Court to develop the program and input laws and judicial interpretations since 2003. Judges enter the details of a case and the system suggests a sentence under a minute. Judges still have the discretion to adjust the sentence on the basis of their own judgment to the case. The Legal Daily newspaper cited a traffic accident case, when a judge input "a traffic accident in which one person died" and the computer stated the "basic sentence should be one year". The judge then input "The accused should bear 90 percent of the responsibility for the accident", and the screen showed "an increase of nine months". The judge input "The accused confessed and promised compensation", and the software replied "reduce the sentence duration by 15 to 25 percent". Finally the judging panel imposed a 13-months jail term. "I believe this computer software system will promote judicial work in China," said Wang Jiandong, chief justice of Zichuan district court, adding that it would help prevent judicial abuse. "Computers, with no emotion or desire, are unaffected by external factors in making decisions. That's why we use it in college enrollments and traffic scrutiny," said Zhang Baosheng, vice president of China University of Political Science and Law. However, other experts argued that trials were very complicated, requiring a good grasp of legal knowledge and plenty of practical experience. Therefore only decisions of judges are trustful.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/15/2006


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China Leads Next Generation Internet Development

China successfully built the core network of its next generation Internet, leading the world in developing a larger, faster and safer Internet that is to dominate the future. The network, namely CNGI-CERNET2/6IX, passed the examination of an expert team organized by the Ministry of Education here Saturday. Experts said the network reached world leading level on the whole with major innovations and will give China a bigger say in the field. China launched the building of the China Next Generation Internet in 2003 and completed in 2005 its first next generation Internet, the CNGI-CERNET2. The success of the CNGI's core network freed China from dependence on foreign key Internet technologies and products and ensured national information security, said experts. Proposed in mid-1990s, the next generation Internet is estimated to increase the information transmitting speed by more than 1000 times to 40 gigabytes per second. It also offers more safety, easier management and almost inexhaustible Internet addresses. In the next generation Internet, the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) was applied instead of the currently used Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4). The two protocols regulate the Internet information traffic in different ways. In developing the CNGI, China built the world's first IPv6-onlynetwork, and for the first time used domestic IPv6 routers, the core Internet components, in its national backbone network.

Experts called it a progress with strategic significance by ending reliance on foreign technologies in Internet construction. With transmitting speeds ranging from 2.5 to 10 gigabytes per second, the CNGI's backbone network connected 25 core nodes distributed in 20 cities across the country. China also achieved innovations in creating a new transitional scheme between the two versions of Internet protocol and an IPv6 source address validation system to ensure network safety. Both of them were granted national patents and became basic references for international Internet organizations to make international standards, according to the Network Research Center of Tsinghua University, the leading institution in the CNGI construction. Recognized as the future direction of the Internet development and a weapon in keeping economic, political and military advantages, the next generation Internet has been a strategic task for major developed countries like Japan and the United States. China has written the development of the next generation Internet into its national economic and social development plan for the 2006-2010 period, and made it a key project in building an information-based country.


From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/24/2006


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Plans Outlined for Breakthrough in Info Industry

The Chinese government has outlined plans to encourage technological innovation and to break down obstacles to the development of the country's information industry. The 11th-Five Year Plan and Long-and Medium-Term Outline of the Development of the Information Industry published on Tuesday lists 13 key fields for development. The information industry was a priority in developing national innovation as it was a driving force of sustainable economic growth, said Wang Xudong, Minister of Information Industry, at a national meeting on innovation in the information industry on Tuesday. The 13 fields include integrated circuitry, software and new electronic components, which are strategic and basic science and technology fields currently restraining the industry's development, said a senior official with the Ministry of Information Industry. The official said the campaign would aim to strengthen the foundation of the information industry by developing key technologies and holding core patents and standards in these fields. The consolidation of communication, broadcast and television, and Internet networks into a complete information industry chain would be achieved by developing high definition television, wideband mobile communication, next generation networks, network and information security, and home network and intelligent terminals. The added value of information industry totaled 1.32 trillion yuan (US$165 billion) last year, accounting for 7.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product. Wang said Chinese enterprises should improve cooperation with transnational corporations and spur innovation efforts in the information industry on the open market. China should also set about completing its auto computing and agricultural information platforms, intelligent transportation system, information industry service platform and scientific study results transformation system. China produces more than 30 electronic and information products, such as mobile phones, personal computers, color TVs, but using foreign core technologies. Less than 10 percent of exports carry local brands.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/30/2006


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JAPAN: Starting Salaries for New Graduates Remain Flat in 2006

Starting salaries for new graduates in Japan remained flat this year despite signs of economic recovery, with 68.9 percent of surveyed major companies saying they left such pay unchanged from the previous year, the Japan Business Federation said Tuesday. It is the eighth consecutive year that more than half of major companies in similar surveys have not increased salaries for new graduates, said Japan's largest big-business group, known as Nippon Keidanren. Based on its recent survey, Nippon Keidanren said starting salaries at major companies this year for university graduates who obtained white-collar clerical jobs averaged 203,960 yen, up only 0.36 percent over the previous year. Salaries for fresh high school graduates in the same job category averaged 159,222 yen, up 0.34 percent. The poll collated the initial salaries for those who finished graduate schools, universities, colleges, high schools and junior high schools, covering people who assumed duties at companies' white-collar clerical and engineering divisions as well as at factories. The growth rates of their initial salaries were limited to 0.2-0.5 percent on average, according to the survey to which 667 corporate respondents replied. About 30 percent of respondents said they raised their starting salaries. A Nippon Keidanren official said, "A growing number of companies have opted to pass on the fruits of improving business performances to employees in the form of higher bonuses, rather than higher monthly pay." "Many companies have remained cautious about hiking their starting wages," the official said.


From http://asia.news.yahoo.com 08/29/2006


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Japanese-Funded Healthcare Project Launched in Mekong Delta

The Ministry of Health on September 19 launched a Japanese-funded project to improve healthcare services in the Mekong Delta through 2011. The three-phase project, which has an investment of US $85 million , including US $70 million in Japanese non-refundable aid, will be implemented in 13 city and provinces in the region. It will be directed at increasing the quality of healthcare services, developing human resources, improving existing hospitals and clinics, and providing medical treatment for the poor. Pilot programmes will be deployed at several localities in the first phase of the project, which lasts for 18 months. The Mekong Delta is one of the three poorest regions in Vietnam. It has a total of 490,000 poor households, accounting for 17.5% of the country's total. The region's medical indicators, such as the maternal mortality rate and the number of people with diseases caused by bacteria, such as tuberculosis, diarrhoea and respiratory disease, are all higher than the national averages. In addition, the Mekong Delta has the lowest proportion of medical workers to population and the least number of medical workers with post-graduate degrees, compared with other regions.

From http://www.nhandan.com.vn 09/20/2006


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506 Teachers in '05 Tagged Incompetent

More than 500 teachers at public schools across Japan were branded as incompetent in the 2005 academic year, down about 10 percent from a year earlier but still the second-highest number since the teacher assessment system began in 2000, the education ministry said Friday.The teachers in question, 506 in the year through March, are rated on such points as skills in communicating with pupils and their knowledge level, based on standards set by each of the nationwide education boards.The latest figure is down from a record-high 566 in the 2004 academic year but still translates into one in every 2,000 teachers among the 898,000 or so employed by public elementary, junior high and high schools across the country.But the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry expects the trend to continue as more and more education boards have established retraining programs for substandard teachers, an official said.Out of the 506 branded inept, 103 resigned voluntarily, six were discharged and two were transferred to clerical posts, the ministry said.Among prefectures and major cities, Yokohama had the highest number of incompetent teachers at 23, followed by Chiba and Mie prefectures, which both had 22. Only the city of Shizuoka had none.Among 20,862 new teachers, a record-high 198 were not offered further employment after a year of probation, up by seven from the year before, according to the ministry.Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, set to become prime minister Tuesday, has said he will reform education, saying teachers with poor performances will be urged to quit.


From The Japan Times 09/23/2006


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NORTH KOREA: Food Shortage Reaches 800,000 Tons

The World Food Program yesterday said it estimates that North Korea's food shortage has reached 800,000 tons this year. Jean-Pierre de Margerie, head of WFP's Pyongyang office, told the Voice of America the impoverished country needs at least 5.3 million tons of rice each year. He said this year's shortage is mainly due to lower food production after floods this summer, fewer imports from China and South Korea's suspension of its food aid. Heavy rainstorms hit North Korea in mid-July, severely damaging farmland and leaving at least 4,000 missing or dead. South Korea halted its regular aid, including rice and fertilizer, to the communist state after the North's missile launches on July 5. De Margerie, who started his first day of work in Pyongyang earlier this month, said he will hold his first official meeting with the North Korean government next week to discuss increasing the regions that the WFP provides for from 30 to 50. He said although the WFP has not kept track of the exact amount of food shortage in North Korea for the past two years, he expects better cooperation with the North after recent productive meetings with North Korean officials.

The WFP suspended aid in December last year at North Korea's insistence, a move prompted by an apparent fear of exposure to foreign monitors. But it resumed the aid in May with a plan to feed 1.9 million of the "most needy" people in the North for two years. Referring to transparency in the WFP's use of the food, de Margerie said the organization remains committed to its policy of "no access, no food." Last month, South Korea sent 100,000 tons of rice through its Red Cross to North Korea in a one-time aid package. The package also included building materials and equipment. Rice aid cost some 195 billion won ($203 million), and the shipment included 26 billion won worth of construction supplies and equipment, including 100,000 tons of cement, 5,000 tons of steel and 100 trucks. Seoul has already provided around $10 million to civic groups here to buy aid to be sent to the North. (by Annie I. Bang)


From http://www.koreaherald.co.kr 09/16/2006


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Invited to Attend Next Asian Forum

Asian political leaders were called upon Friday (Sept. 8) to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula by inviting North Korea to the next International Conference for Asian Political Parties (ICAPP). The call came from Jose de Venecia, speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines. ※Political parties in Northeast Asia should undertake their own efforts, through the auspices of the ICAPP, to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula,§ Venecia said during the opening ceremony of the fourth ICAPP in Seoul. ※The obvious first step is to invite the North Koreans to join our conference.§ Venecia, who played a leading role in inaugurating the biennial forum in 2000, also serves as chairman of the forum's standing committee. North Korea was invited to this year's event but refused to attend, organizers of the conference said. He said participating nations, especially those belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), support the resumption and completion of the six-party talks on the North's nuclear weapons program. President Roh Moo-hyun, who is now in Finland attending the sixth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) as part of his four-nation tour, delivered a congratulatory speech via a video message. ※In order to build trust, discussions are primarily necessary and we should have face-to-face talks to increase our level of understanding of one another,§ Roh said. ※I anticipate this conference to be a valuable opportunity to increase mutual understanding and cooperation among all countries in Asia.§ The first session of the plenary meeting began after lunch with each chief delegate giving a speech on the theme ※Peace and Prosperity in Asia.§ Female participants attended a special workshop for women politicians.

Participants were invited to a dinner hosted by Korean Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook at a restaurant inside the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan, Seoul, later in the day. The second and third sessions of the plenary meeting will be held today, dealing with the forum's three main topics -- regional security and political stability, poverty reduction and good governance, and building an Asian community. The General Assembly will close its three-day schedule on Sunday with a ceremony that heralds the Seoul Declaration on Peace and Prosperity in Asia. The declaration will encourage participants to make joint efforts on the main subjects of security, poverty and governance, the organizers said. The biannual event was co-hosted by the nation's two largest parties -- the ruling Uri Party and the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP). Organizers described this as another example of bipartisan co-existence in Korean politics. Those who attended the conference included Philippine Senate President Manuel Villar; Liu Yunshan, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China; and Shii Kazuo, chairman of Japan's Communist Party; as well as some 100 Korean lawmakers.

From http://www.korea.net 09/09/2006


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SOUTH KOREA: Biggest Pumped-Storage Hydroelectric Power Station Has Completed

Korea has completed its biggest pumped-storage hydroelectric power station after 10 years of construction, a state-run electricity company said Monday (Sept. 4). The power station in Yangyang, 215 kilometers northeast of Seoul, was constructed at a cost of 932.4 billion won ($972.7 million) and is capable of generating a maximum of 1,000 megawatts of electricity an hour, according to the Korea Midland Power Co., one of the subsidiaries of state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp. A dedication ceremony for the facility, the country's fifth pumped-storage hydroelectric power station, is to be held on Sept. 12, the company said. A pumped storage hydroelectric power station pumps water into a higher reservoir at times of low electrical demand, usually at night, and releases it back into a lower reservoir through a turbine, generating electricity. With its upper reservoir about 937 meters above sea level, it boasts Asia's largest maximum operating head of 817 meters, higher than the 667 meters of the Tianhuangping pumped-storage hydroelectric plant in the southeastern coastal province of Zhejiang, China, the company said.


From http://www.korea.net 09/05/2006


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Workers at Small Firms to Receive Retirement Allowances

Workers at firms with less than five employees will be able to receive retirement allowances when they quit their jobs beginning 2008 at the earliest. To date, small companies with mostly temporary employees have not been obliged to pay the allowances. The new policy is part of the government's efforts to enhance the rights and working conditions of non-regular workers, which were announced Monday (Sept. 4) at a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook. The government will also allow regular workers to work part-time under certain conditions such as health problems, child-rearing needs and postgraduate education requirements beginning in 2008. ※The new measure will help prevent an increase of irregular workers by allowing employees, who need to reduce their working hours for various reasons, to maintain their regular worker's position,§ said Kim In-kon, a labor ministry official. The government will also introduce reduced working hours for parents of children aged three or younger. According to the plan, workers will be able to reduce their working hours by half or one quarter to spend time raising their children. ※In this way, we expect to help many married women whose careers usually come to an abrupt halt due to pregnancy or child care amid inflexible working conditions,§ said Kim. ※Working as part-timers without disadvantage, they will be able to pursue both career as well as childcare.§

The government plans to provide employers with financial support or tax benefits to encourage a more flexible employment system, ministry officials said. Workers in special areas such as home-visit tutors, insurance planning and golf caddies, who have been exempt from industrial accident compensation insurances due to their irregular working conditions, will also be able to benefit from the system beginning next year. Non-regular employees of small and medium-sized companies, who have not been able to get enough vocational training from their workplaces, will be able to apply for free job training programs. Under the system, the non-regular workers will be given special cards that will pay training fees in October and if it turns out to be successful, it will be carried out nationwide beginning next March. The subsidies, however, may be used only for taking courses at designated education facilities. To solve irregularities and problems stemming from complicated subcontracting contracts, the government will strengthen its investigation into subcontract trades, subjecting companies which pursue unfair subcontract deals to fines.


From http://www.korea.net 09/05/2006


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INDONESIA: Govt Asked to Use E-payment System

The use of an electronic payment system will not only help promote transparency and efficiency but could also help fight fraud or other forms of illegal payment, especially in the procurement of goods and services. Director for the government and public sector of Visa International Asia Pacific, Dennis NG, told a seminar Thursday that the use of the electronic payment system in the government's procurement activities could help save a lot in state funds. Besides helping to reduce transaction costs, the electronic payment system, he added, could prevent government officers from marking up payments because it did not use documents such as receipts. "Normally, the government uses cash in making purchases. For verification, government officers usually use receipts that in some cases could be counterfeited," he said. With the electronic system, he said, payment would be made with cards and the payment receipts would be verified by the transaction statements issued by card-issuers, making it difficult for card users to cheat the system.

"In addition to promoting transparency and efficiency, the use of cards can also help cut transaction costs as there is no cost charged by the card issuers for the card usage," he said. "With the use of such as card, the holder can also receive special discounts from suppliers," he added. For instance, he said, the British government was able to save US$100 million annually after adopting the system. The U.S. government also saved $1.4 billion of the 2004 national budget thanks to the use of the electronic payment system, he said. Currently, he said, the system is used in government offices in a number of other countries such as Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Thailand and Germany. "The Thai government implemented its government services card in February 2006 and as of today, 80 agencies out of 217 have already signed up with the program," he said. Visa International Asia Pacific country manager Ellyana C. Fuad said that she had talked with some government institutions in Indonesia about the program. "They will study the program and hopefully they will join us soon," she said. She added that if there were state institutions interested in joining the program, then Visa would cooperate with banks to issue such cards. Currently, there are seven banks in Indonesia that issue Visa Debit cards including Bank Permata, Bank Lippo, Bank Niaga, Bank Buana, Bank Bukopin, Bank Mega and Bank Mandiri.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 08/25/2006


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Govt Establishing Online Identification System

The government has launched an online demographic information system to produce national identity cards that incorporate the functions of a driver's license, insurance card, bank card, general election card and passport. The issuance of national identity cards for the entire population, including foreigners, began early this year and is slated to be completed in 2008 at the latest. The Director General for Demographic Administration Affairs at the Home Ministry, Abdul Rasyid Shaleh, said the online system is aimed at constructing an accurate database on the Indonesian population and reforming the chaotic registration system. "The online system to be built from the district to the central level is expected to help the government provide the newest, most accurate and reliable information on demographics. The database will be updated every day," he said Thursday. The new system begins with the construction of population databases in all subdistricts, regencies and mayoralties. The databases include ethnic and religious backgrounds, race, age and profession. "The national identity cards using the biometric technology bear only the name, photo and single ID number," said Rasyid. The new system, which is regulated in the bill on population administration, has been applied in 161 regencies and 26 mayoralties, including Jakarta, Aceh and Banten, on a trial basis.

If the project succeeds, it will be introduced nationwide. More than 26,000 special staff have been trained to operate the new system. "Such incidents as the inaccurate data on poverty and unemployment in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Aug. 16 speech are connected with the poor population administration system. The outdated data were taken from the National Development Planning Board and the Central Statistics Agency, which conduct a periodic demographic survey," he said. Rasyid said the cash aid program for the poor does not always reach its targets because the distribution is based on the chaotic registration of recipients. "A citizen with two to four identity cards could receive the cash aid more than once because they are registered under different addresses on their identity cards," he said. He pointed as an example to one staff member who owns six identity cards in Jakarta, Tangerang, Bogor and Bekasi. The bill expected to be passed into law in September also states that the identity card's number is permanent and cannot be used by anyone else. The identity cards will not include codes that have been criticized as discriminatory against certain ethnic groups, such as those currently used on the ID cards of Chinese-Indonesians. The online system will be used to register voters in the 2009 legislative and presidential elections.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 08/25/2006


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Indonesia Begins Rolling Out 3G Service

Indonesia has begun rolling out its first-ever third generation (3G) cellular services, a report has said. Telkomsel, an associate company of Singapore Telecommunications, began offering high-speed wireless service for mobile phones on Thursday after a successful trial in August, the Jakarta Post reported. "We have built 300 base transceiver stations in Jakarta to provide 3G service," Telkomsel director for planning and development, Bambang Riadhy Oemar, was quoted as saying. The service, which promises access to high-speed Internet surfing, videos and music, is currently limited, however, to just over a dozen discrete areas in the capital Jakarta, the report said. Oemar said that the company planned to invest about 3.0 trillion rupiah (326 million dollars) to increase the number of stations to 3,000 within three years as it expands its coverage across the archipelago nation. Around 60,000 customers had registered for the service so far, six times the number Telkomsel anticipated, Oemar said in the report. Four other companies have been awarded 3G operating licenses -- Indosat, Excelcomindo, Natrindo Telepon Selular and Hutchison CP Telecommunications, the report said. Excelcomindo plans to begin offering services by the end of the year, while the other three are still preparing their trial operations.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/15/2006


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MALAYSIA: I-Bhd, Intel Provide Digital Infrastructure at I-City

I-Bhd has teamed up with Intel Corp in the development of digital services infrastructure at its i-City project in Shah Alam. I-Bhd chief executive officer Eu Hong Chew said Intel was one of a multi-member consortium that would co-undertake the development of the digital infrastructure of i-City. The other members included a telecommunications company, which would be named by year-end, he said after signing the collaboration agreement with Intel yesterday. Eu said I-Bhd and Intel would collaborate on several platforms, including digital township services infrastructure and the setting up of a digital products retail centre, ICT Mall. The ICT giant will also set up an Intel showcase centre at the township to display its latest technologies and establish an e-learning centre using the Intel Solution Kit for Education. ※We are building a benchmark to be more than just a broadband-enabled project. Our initiative will serve many levels as well as the future,§ Eu added. Intel director (South-East Asia, Australia and New Zealand) Philip Cronin said the collaboration would focus on the use of Intel technologies in facilitating the day-to-day activities of the community in i-City.

※Intel will help I-Bhd build a robust architecture to ensure the vision of setting up a truly digital township be realised,§ he added. Designed by world-renowned architect Jon Jerde, the RM1.5bil digital township in Shah Alam boasts, among other things, corporate offices, a retail mall, serviced residences, a hotel, an innovation centre, an intelligent school, a 1,000-ft pedestrian CityWalk and shop offices. The i-City ICT masterplan includes the development of the ICT Mall, an incubation programme, digital technology based township services such as remote surveillance, smart cark parking, information kiosk and sensory-activated light and sound multimedia displays. I-City has already been designated the premier ICT hub for Selangor and has been endorsed by the Tourism Ministry as one of the country's unique tourist destinations. Eu said I-Bhd had seen brisk sales when it kickstarted the first phase of I-City with shophouses early this year. The company expects sales from the project to contribute significantly to its earnings this year. It sold 50% of the 44 units of shophouses with a total value of RM70mil.


From http://thestar.com.my/ 09/08/2006


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E-learning for Customs Staff

The Malaysian Customs Department will provide electronic learning for its staff on all Customs-related tasks. Its director-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Abdul Hamid said the system would be implemented next month after the department had signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Customs Organisation. ※The MoU will be signed during my visit to Brussels in Belgium between Sept 19 and 23,§ he said here yesterday. ※The e-learning system will enable all Customs officers and department staff to learn every aspect of Customs-related tasks directly from the services provided by the organisation.§ Abdul Rahman, who visited SK Belemang near Serom here, said the system would also enable Customs personnel to know about relevant international operations. He said the e-learning would also be available to those in the private sector which had links with the department and agencies involved with Customs work. He said the new system would enable its staff and officers to be abreast of latest developments.


From http://thestar.com.my/ 09/09/2006


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PHILIPPINES: President Pushes ICT Skills for Youth

President Arroyo on Wed?nesday announced government plans to unveil an ※ICT 4 Education§ (ICTE) strategy to harness the power of the digital age to extend meaningful and relevant education to tomorrow*s workforce. In her remarks before the 2nd National ICTs in Basic Education Congress in Cebu City, the President said, ※The Philippine cyber corridor stretching from Baguio to Davao runs along a digital backbone that carries ICT services to every municipality and household. We have earmarked over P21 billion to strengthen this backbone in the next three years.§ She said such investments and planning are essential because information communications technology now provides jobs to millions of Filipinos. ※The computer has changed the way we look at the world, the way we use information, the way we work and play,§ she pointed out. The President said her vision of putting at least one computer in every public high school with the help of the private sector has attained 80 percent of its target.

※Now we are working on increasing the number of Internet-ready computers particularly in the most populous high schools, to increase student online hours and build upon Web-based proficiency.§ She also announced that a system for e-learning for the out-of-school youth will soon rise within a year in the major urban centers of Quezon City, Caloocan, San Jose del Monte, Manila, Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu. The e-learning system for out-of-school youth will serve as a substitute for the formal classroom, leading to the equivalent of a high-school diploma. However, the President said the strengthening of ICT as a means to further education requires more ICT-competent teachers. ※A strategic plan for teacher training is necessary. Majority of public high-school teachers should fulfill the requirements of the National ICT Complacency Standard for Teachers, or NICS, by 2010. By then, we expect that no high-school teacher will be afflicted with computer fear,§ she said. The President cited how interconnectivity has been changing the countryside.

From http://www.manilatimes.net/ 09/07/2006


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DepEd to Bat for Integrating ICT in Basic Courses

Education Secretary Jesli Lapus wants information and communications technology integrated into basic education, and he is working hard to get more money for the purpose. Speaking at the 2nd National ICTs in Basic Education Congress, which started on Wednesday at the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City, Lapus said his goal is to make communication technology a part of the country*s basic education program. ※The quality of, and access to, basic education remains our overriding goal,§ Lapus said. ※All our efforts are geared toward providing students with skills in the use of appropriate technologies.§ Lapus said that computer use in schools is very low. He noted that in public-elementary schools, computer-to-student ratio is 1:25,000, and computer-to-teacher ratio is 1:728. In public-high schools, computer-to-student ratio is 1:111 and computer to teacher ratio is 1:3. He said only 69 percent of public-high schools in the country have access to a computer. The goal is to provide at least one computer to 75 percent of the schools by the end of next year. Over a five-year period, the goal is to equip all 4,729 public-high schools with multimedia libraries and at least 20 percent of all public-elementary schools with computer laboratories. The bulk of the money to fund ICT in education will come from DepEd*s budget.

However, the department is planning to tap local governments, government corporations, the private sector, parent-teacher associations and foreign-development assistance. To integrate ICT in basic education, the department must take into account several issues that affect its implementation, including the obsolescence and maintenance of current ICT resources, Lapus added. Lapus said his department is coordinating with government agencies and non-government organizations to mobilize resources and encourage local government investment through the Special Education Fund. He hopes to spur early creation of an ICT Basic Education Fund for facilities improvement, curriculum development, research and development, monitoring and evaluation and training. ※In the end, this boils down to how much resources we can allocate,§ he said. ※Through our combined efforts, we will be able to provide our children with the quality education they need to become truly productive and competitive.§

From http://www.manilatimes.net/ 09/08/2006


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SINGAPORE: Government Agencies to Have Greater Online Security

Government agencies can expect greater online security when the new Cyber-WatchCentre or CWC is ready next March to provide real-time responses to cyber-threats. Set up by the Infocomm Development Authority, the centre will monitor the security of the government's Infocomm systems and networks round the clock and provide early warning of impending cyber-threats. CWC will be staffed by a team of 12 Infocomm Security professionals comprising security analysts and engineers run by e-Cop Pte Ltd. Using state-of-the-art technology like security events correlation technology, it will be able to detect sophisticated attacks and filter our false alarms. Currently, over 1,600 government services are online to businesses and individuals. CWC is one of the key initiatives under the Infocomm Security Masterplan to enhance Singapore's defence against cyber attacks.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/05/2006


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New Family Website Launched for IT-Savvy Parents

A new portal that focuses on families, for increasingly IT-savvy parents, has been launched. www.family.sg is a one-stop destination for parenting information that will carry news of family-related matters, offer an online channel for parents to air their opinions, and let public agencies keep their fingers on the pulse of what is happening. It is a joint project between the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and MediaCorp Publishing's "Family", "Mother & Baby" and "Kids Company" magazines. Launching it on Friday, Minister of State for Community, Youth and Sports Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon said recent surveys showed clearly more than half of Singaporeans aged above 15 used the Internet, and that inevitably, digital technology had to be used to know instantly what is happening and to stay ahead.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/08/2006


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Singapore InfoComm Technology Companies Leverage on Boom in Financial Services

With the IMF World Bank meetings held in Singapore, Infocomm technology companies in Singapore are taking the opportunity to network with representatives of international financial institutions. A forum was organised on Thursday by IE Singapore and the Infocomm Development Authority for the two groups to meet. Infocomm tech firms say they are in a good position to help global financial companies which are seeking to expand their operations in the region. Cash from ATMS, bills paid through the internet, and telephone banking are some examples of how technology has been incorporated into the financial services world to better serve customers. There are incentive for members of the industry to do more. According to a recent Deloitte report, bank deposits in the Asia Pacific are projected to exceed US$11 trillion by 2010. This presents great opportunities for financial services providers, who need to deploy advanced technology to scale up and enhance their operations. Financial institutions are now looking at solutions for their integrated end-to-end operations. "The ability to integrate data warehouses, customer data warehouse, having different customer segments, to front office delivery systems to trading platforms, to distribution channels, and to be able to do all the operational controls, is very important in a world that is fast changing," said Euleen Goh, Chairman, IE Singapore.

"We've put in the basic co-banking, so we're looking at further channels like internet banking, phone banking. We also need to deploy credit cards which we don't have yet. Then there's treasury systems, trade finance," said Dinesh Fernandopulle, Group CIO, DFCC Bank, Sri Lanka. Companies such as Singapore Computer Systems, which specialise in implementing integrated end-to-end operations, say they are well-placed to help global financial firms expanding in the region. "There are many developing countries that are coming up, for example Indonesia and Thailand. We are in this position that enables us to work closely with these countries. For developed countries that want to have a presence in this area, they can work through Singapore, with IT companies in Singapore, to tap the resources in this region, in the ASEAN region," said Jeremy Ong, Vice President, Trusted Solutions, SCS. Several international banks are already leveraging on Singapore're infocom technology expertise, including Credit Suisse First Boston and Barclays. Credit Suisse First Boston hosts its Global Support Centre here, while Barclay's Bank is centralising its Asia Pacific IT functions in Singapore. IE Singapore and the IDA are working to reach a threefold increase in infocomm export revenue to S$60b by 2015.ㄗby Priyia Paramajothiㄘ


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/14/2006


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THAILAND: IT Through the Ages

Thailand's first IT museum will begin to receive visitors in early 2007, joining two existing museums - the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum - at the Ministry of Science and Technology's Technopolis complex in Pathum Thani. Post Database met with the museum's director, Dr Aphiya Hathayatham, and her advisor Malcolm Bray to see first-hand how this exciting project was taking shape. Dr Aphiya explained that the building was actually completed seven years ago and was originally destined to be an aviation museum. However, that idea was not well received and it was decided to use the venue as an information technology museum three years ago by a committee by then Ministry of Science and Technology Permanent Secretary Professor Dr Pairash Thajchayapong. The purpose of the IT Museum is to introduce a new generation to IT and show that it is no longer simply a matter of science for scientists but something that affects our everyday lives. "Children need a scientific mind to be able to compete in the world of the future," Dr Aphiya said. Bray added that as in most countries, parents here want their children to be doctors and lawyers. They don't understand the career possibilities of IT. "We accept PCs without understanding what happens when we push a button. Today we have e-Passports, immigration, doctors - everywhere we see IT operating. But 90% of the IT, we are unaware of," he said. The museum starts off with communications, from stone-age cave paintings to the rise of the telegraph, Morse code, telephones, analogue switches, radio right through to satellite communications and today's Internet. Another area will explain how logic gates work and can be put together to make simple adding machines.

There will also be a "Spy Room" where visitors can play with all the latest espionage equipment. The museum will have a workshop for training - for everything from software programming to assembling computers. "We will also hold competitions here and have an e-Library. Last year we had a big event with Synnex (a major distributor of IT components) on computer assembly so that the children could understand how the different parts of a computer work together," she said. In addition to the static exhibition, the IT museum will hold science camps where children will learn to make their own simple logic circuits starting by making their own printed circuit boards. On certain days, there will be also hold science drama plays. Bray explained that it was all about putting a real-life person to a name and this is proven to help increase children's attention to the subject. One of the plays planned is to depict how Thomas Edison once designed a piece of equipment to measure the change in temperature during an eclipse. During his experiment, he got to the venue late and set up his equipment in the only sheltered place available, a fowl house. However, when the eclipse occurred, the chickens thought it was night and returned to their coop. "Edison wrote about how he was conducting the experiments with chickens literally sitting on his head, but he got the measurements he wanted. This way, children can suddenly discover Edison as a real man, not just a name in history," explained Bray, who plans to act himself from time to time.


From http://www.bangkokpost.com/ 09/06/2006


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Thai Government Working to Improve Living Conditions in Southern Provinces

The Thai military is trying to improve the lives of villagers living in the restive southern provinces. Instead of hardline crackdowns on separatist militants, the military has initiated several projects to create jobs. In Thailand's violence-stricken southern provinces, new initiatives attempt to improve ties between the army and residents. Lt Col Chalem Ponjinarat, Royal Thai Army, said: "Violence only creates more violence. We think arrests and suppression will not improve the situation. What we need is to help villagers better understand the military's role." For the military, the way to better relations with the community is by helping to raise the standard of living. Rubber tapping is the main source of livelihood for many there, especially the women. The army now supplies bio-fertilisers to rubber plantations, which has resulted in much higher latex yield. Plantation managers say profits have doubled or ever trebled, sometimes reaching over $50 US dollars a day. Another programme has increased the income of many households in Ban Bor Kor village. Some women are participating in a community programme in Narathiwat province, sewing yellow shirts in honour of the Thai King's 60th year on the throne. The programme is a combined attempt from government officials, community leaders, and private enterprise to provide some supplemental income and bring some stability to this restive province. Jantra Lee Ming, Head of Sewing Group, said: "We formed this sewing group because housewives tap rubber in the early morning and we've spare time in the afternoon." The projects are part of a broader nationwide scheme to create local "sufficiency economies" - a goal of the Thai King The aim is to equip people with the skills needed to sustain themselves with earnings from what they produce.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/11/2006


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BANGLADESH: Emerged as One of Asia*s Top 10 Mobile Phone Markets

Bangladesh has emerged as one of Asia*s top 10 mobile phone markets in terms of adding net subscribers, according to the chairman of GSM Asia Pacific, a regional forum of the GSM mobile operators, reports BDNews. Mehboob Chowdhury, the chairman, warns though that retaining the position, eighth ahead of Thailand and Philippines, would be impossible unless the government immediately purged the industry of the ※counterproductive§ policies and shook up the telecoms regulator. Besides, the country has added 8.945 million GSM mobile users in a single year〞from July 2005 to June 2006, according to the latest figure of GSM Association. §It has put Bangladesh in the top tenth position among the worldwide mobile markets,§ Chowdhury says. In an exclusive interview with the bdnews24.com, Chowdhury discloses that Bangladesh now ranks eighth among the top 10 Asian mobile markets in terms of adding net subscribers during January to March, 2006. Citing the data of Informa Telecoms & Media, a London-based research firm, he says Bangladesh has had 1.265 million new users during the first quarter of 2006. The figure is slightly lower than the net addition of Thailand and Philippines combined, and marginally lower than seventh-ranked Malaysia*s first quarter intake. Vietnam, fifth on the list, has added more than two million mobile subscribers during this period, but its total clientele was smaller than what Bangladesh had in the first quarter of 2006. The chairman of GSM Asia Pacific credits the cellular mobile operators with this achievement while being critical of the government*s ※pounding the industry with disruptive policies.§ §When the operators made new connections affordable and started slashing the call charges; the government came up with this disastrous tax last year. It was a bolt from the blue (for the operators) that slowed down the market for a while.§


From http://www.bangladeshobserveronline.com/ /09/08/2006


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ICT and Business Development in Rural Areas

TODAY, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has become one of the most important enabling forces for development. In Bangladesh, development of ICT is being considered as the most significant factor for the socio-economic development and poverty reduction. In Bangladesh, nearly 85 per cent of the population are living in rural areas. Developing agriculture, agribusiness and the rural economy is one of the most important goals of the government. ICT has been creating not only opportunities but challenges to businesses in rural areas to narrow the gap between different regions and realise gender equality and the advancement of women to promote sustainable growth and poverty reduction. One needs to investigate factors of mechanisms, policy environment and major measures and their influences on the acceptance and application of ICT in business activities in rural areas. To a certain degree, one should also investigate problems and difficulties, faced by grassroot business such as organisations, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and households in rural areas in dealing with the shift to new mode of economic activity and life. A number of conclusions and recommendations drawn from this investigation for policy-making process will help government, authorities and business managers to speed up ICT application and development in business in rural areas.

ICT should have a bottom-up approach in trying to send a signal from below to the policy makers and get the response from the government to the need of the people and business communities, especially in rural areas. It will contribute to "speeding up industrialisation and modernisation of agriculture and rural areas". Coordinating institutions for attaining this goal should be: The ministry of local government and rural development, the ministry of information, the ministry of agriculture, the ministry of science and information and communication technology, the ministry of commerce and the ministry of industry and the non-government organisations (NGOs).Increased ICT application and development in Bangladesh will further strengthen the material, intellectual and spiritual growth of the whole nation and in every walk of life. It will promote the reform process, speed up the development and modernisation of economic sectors and enhance the competitive capacity of businesses. It will also effectively support an active process of integration of rural areas into the national, regional and global economy. It creates possibilities to leapfrog in successfully serving the cause of industrialisation and modernisation in rural areas. The status of ICT use in Bangladesh, however, is still very limited, especially in agriculture and rural areas.

Progress is slow, creating the risk of a growing gap compared to many countries in the world and the region. ICT use and development have not yet met the requirements of industrialisation and modernisation, and the needs for international and regional integration. There are many reasons for this situation, such as insufficient awareness of the role of IT, inadequate policies, scarcity of human resource, speed, quality and cost of telecommunications and the Internet and paucity of investment for IT application and deployment. The government has framed some policies and legal documents on ICT application and development in Bangladesh, such as directives and decisions of the prime minister: resolutions of government; ordinances, decrees, circulars of government organisations etc. However, responses to such policies and directives seem to be very limited and mostly concentrated in software development for local and export markets. One of the major measures of the Bangladesh government to promote step-by-step development of the rural areas should be to improve the legal framework, mechanisms and policies with a view to creating favourable conditions and offering high preferences for ICT application and development in rural areas.

A detailed study should be done to frame suggestions that may contribute to the formulation process of all strategy, policy and master plans to promote ICT application and development in rural areas of Bangladesh. The first immediate users of the study would be the related governmental bodies, such as ministry of local government and rural development, ministry of information, ministry of agriculture, ministry of science and information and communication technology, ministry of commerce and the ministry of industry, government and the non-government organisations and national programme on science and technology application and deployment for socio-economic development in rural areas. The recommendations and findings of it would be very useful for them in considering what options may be available, feasible and realistic. One important benefit of this will be the identification of the need for capacity building for policy analysis and decision making of the relevant organisations. The outcome of the study will help solving policy-related problems faced by various organisations. The Bangladeshi companies and households in rural areas would also benefit from this study. Based on the findings, they would be able to design, adapt and adopt appropriate business strategies and plan of actions in the most suitable way toward ICT application and deployment for business development, Local communities, grassroots will also benefit from the outcome of it, as the IT application and development will improve their living standards. In addition, foreign donors' community, researchers and overall public may use the study for different purposes: funding plans, inputs for further research, awareness raising campaign or education, training and exchanging their professional experiences between each other. ( by Syed L. Ali Bahram and M. Shamsul Haque )


From http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/ 09/16/2006


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BHUTAN: Rural Communities Join the Information Society

ITU, in partnership with national carrier Bhutan Telecom Ltd (BTL), embarked on connectivity Dagana VoIP Project to expand the VoIP service to ten isolated communities in the remote province of Dagana, Bhutan. ITU contributed USD 413 500 from its TELECOM Surplus Programme to provide Bhutan with the equipment for the VoIP network, as well as with the services of experts in designing intelligent networks (IN) and billing systems. Since June 2006, villagers, entrepreneurs, and schools in rural Bhutan are now subscribed to VoIP services and local government staff are using telephone and fax to communicate regularly with the central government in the capital city of Thimphu. Some subscribers also run public calling offices (PCO) at shop premises, where anyone can make local, domestic and international long-distance telephone calls according to a BTL-prescribed tariff. People no longer have to walk miles to make a telephone call as the "last mile" connectivity is now a reality in homes and schools in rural Bhutan.

From ITU 08/29/2006


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INDIA: Maharashtra Launches First-ever Study on E-waste

Maharashtra*s first electronic waste or e-waste management study has been launched by the Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) in its largest city and India*s financial capital -- Mumbai. The study*s objective is to prevent the dumping of electronic goods and parts in a state that is home to one of the largest manufacturing hubs in India, and a city that generates the largest amount of e-waste. The six-month study will also aim to set up an effective system of waste management. The MSPCB has already begun identifying major stakeholders in the chain of electronic goods users. The first group includes importers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, consumers and traders; the second includes collectors (scrap dealers, dissemblers, dismantlers, etc); and the third covers regulators like the MSPCB. The e-waste study aims to track the lifecycle of a particular electronic durable from its manufacture to its disposal as waste; to develop a regulatory mechanism along the lines of those in other countries; to devise environmentally-sound technologies to recycle and recover electronic goods. The study will focus on commercial, industrial and IT parks in various parts of the city.

Explaining how the study will proceed, Dr Ajay Deshpande, regional officer, MSPCB says: ※The expert team will first trace the material flow, followed by investigating the quantities imported. Then the team will find out how the components are re-used by scrap dealers and retailers and, finally, the process of disposal wherein sampling of different dumping grounds will be conducted.§ According to a country-level Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) assessment study, Mumbai generates the maximum amount of e-waste. The total WEEE-generation in Maharashtra is 20,270.6 tonnes annually, of which Greater Mumbai generates 11,017.06 tonnes and Navi Mumbai contributes 646.48 tonnes. The Mumbai-Pune industrial belt is one of the largest manufacturing hubs in the country. And Mumbai is not just the port of import for new and used electronic goods, it is also a large user and manufacturer base, both of which generate huge volumes of e-waste. While e-waste basically comprises electronic goods that are not fit for their original use, including airconditioners, cellular phones, refrigerators, music systems and personal computers, the MSPCB study is limiting itself to computers, refrigerators and phones.

E-waste components often contain toxic elements and harmful chemicals, arsenic and lead, which need to be properly segregated and recycled. ※After the study is completed we will decide on recycling technologies for Mumbai,§ says Deshpande. ※In India, an electronic product has a life period of seven years. Abroad, it is only three years. After that, the product is dismantled into spare parts,§ says a senior MSPCB official. According to Ramapati Kumar, toxic team leader, Greenpeace India, e-waste is going to be a huge problem in India. ※The electronic waste in Mumbai is growing rapidly every year. This situation is compounded by the fact that, at present, there is no technology available to deal with e-waste,§ Kumar says. So far, Delhi is the only city in India to have conducted a similar e-waste study on individual households, PC manufacturers and retailers. After the study was completed, a number of recycling technologies were employed.


From Hindustan Times 09/02/2006


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IMF Raises Indian Growth Forecast to 8.3 Percent in 2006

India's fast-growing economy should expand by 8.3 percent this year instead of 7.3 percent as previously projected, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Thursday. Interest rates may have to be raised further to check inflation, the IMF said in its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook, predicting India and China would be twin engines driving the roaring economies of emerging Asia. In 2007, India's growth is forecast to slow to 7.3 percent, still higher than the 7.0 percent projection made by the IMF in April, after growth of 8.5 percent in 2005."On the upside, there is the possibility of even faster-than-projected growth in China ... and in India," the IMF said. At the same time, higher inflation due to rising oil prices could pose a risk for India and monetary authorities there may need to raise interest rates further to check an increase in consumer prices. "In India, inflation has picked up with rising oil prices and strong domestic demand," the IMF said, projecting inflation of 5.6 percent this year and 5.3 percent in 2007.

"While the Reserve Bank of India has risen interest rates in recent months, further tightening may be needed to resist inflationary pressures." India's central bank raised its key interest rate by a quarter point to a four-year high of 6.0 percent in July, the fourth increase since last October. The IMF said countries including India, Pakistan and the Philippines with high public debts or budget deficits should put their fiscal positions on a sustainable footing for the medium-term. With pressure on the government to spend more, the IMF urged India to take measures to broaden its tax base and reduce state subsidies. "In India, strong spending pressures have emerged, limiting fiscal adjustment in financial year 2006/07," the IMF said. "With the general government deficit and debt still high, further consolidation is clearly warranted at both the central and state government levels, including through measures aimed at broadening the tax base and reducing subsidies."


From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 09/14/2006


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IDBI Bags Two IT Awards from IDRBT for Its IT Initiatives

Mumbai, Sep 18: The Industrial Development Bank of India Limited (IDBI), has bagged 'Best Internet Bank for Corporate Customers' and 'IT Team of the Year' awards for the year 2005-06 from the prestigious Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), for its customer-centric IT initiatives. IDBI was selected for the two awards by a panel of eminent IDRBT judges from a list of 30 banks that received nominations, a press release issued here today said. Reacting to the citations, V P Shetty, CMD, IDBI, said "while the awards are a source of deep satisfaction and encouragement for our committed IT team, they are truly a recognition of a larger corporate philosophy: translating innovative ideas into consumer-friendly technology."

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 09/18/2006


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National Award for Ngos and Human Rights Activists for Eradicating UN-Touchability and Combating Offences of Atrocities Against SCS on the Anvil

Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has formulated a Scheme to institute a National Award for such Non-Governmental Organisations and Human Rights Activists who are doing outstanding work in the area of eradicating untouchability and combating offences of atrocities against Scheduled Castes. This was disclosed by Smt. Meira Kumar, Union Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, while presiding over the meeting of Committee constituted for effective coordination to develop ways and means to curb offences of untouchability and atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The meeting also reviewed the implementation of the protection of Civil rights Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The Minister emphasized that to contain offences of atrocities on SCs and STs and untouchability, it is essential to bring about attitudinal changes with collective efforts of NGOs and civil society at large. Since Inter-caste marriages are an effective instrument of combating the evil practice of casteism, she said, ※I have also addressed the chief Ministers of States on 28.02.2006 to consider increase in the incentive amount for inter-caste marriages to Rs.50,000/- and we would provide central assistance to bear 50% of total expenditure§.

Smt. Kumar further mentioned that the results of the persistent efforts of the UPA Government are visible in increase in conviction rate in respect of cases under POA Act, from 10.35% in 2002 to 15.71% in 2004. The number of cases has also declined from 27,894 in 2002 to 23,629 in 2004. She stated that the implementation of the Act was also reviewed in two days Conference of State Welfare Secretaries, held on 14th and 15th Sept., 2006 and she had expressed concern about difficulties faced by atrocity victims in getting FIR registered as well as poor quality of prosecution. In this regard, it was suggested that since identified atrocity prone areas are in interiors with no road linkages, therefore, concerned State Governments on priority should provide proper road linkage to such areas with National Highways, so that facility for proper transportation is created. Steps should also be taken for overall development of these areas, which may include effective implementation of PMGRY and providing House Sites, she added. The Minister highlighted that though the collective efforts of the Government has resulted in arresting the overall increase in offences, yet in the year 2004, maximum number of offences of atrocities occurred in Rajasthan, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. As the states did not respond positive to the suggestion of setting up the Toll Free Helpline, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has been permitted to install a Toll Free connection at its Headquarters, she informed. Whenever any complaint is received, the Commission would pursue it though its field offices and take it to the logical conclusion, so that the victim gets fair and humane treatment and the accused are brought to book.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 09/18/2006


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SRI LANKA: ADB Project Inaugurated to Restore Tsunami-Hit Road

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - President Mahinda Rajapakse and visiting ADB Vice-President Liqun Jin today inaugurated reconstruction work on a Southern Province road badly damaged in the tsunami disaster. Mr. Jin is visiting Sri Lanka to assess progress on ADB assistance for reconstruction and rehabilitation following the December 2004 tsunami. ADB has approved more than $240 million 每 mostly grants 每 in assistance for road rehabilitation, livelihood support, and rebuilding of social infrastructure in the country following the disaster. The Matara-Wellawaya road inaugurated today is jointly funded by ADB and the European Union, and is closely linked to a network of tsunami-affected roads to be rehabilitated with funds from France, Japan, Spain, Sweden, US, and the World Bank. The rehabilitation costs of the ADB-assisted 158 km segment stretching into Eastern Province are estimated to be $40 million. ※While traveling in the past few days to review ADB-supported tsunami rehabilitation projects, I have been impressed by how much has been achieved,§ Mr. Jin said.

※While we must recognize that projects, such as the road we inaugurate today, take many months to plan and design, we must never lose the sense of urgency. The affected people have to return to their normal lives as quickly as possible.§ Following the disaster, ADB has already allocated $38.2 million for roads, $41.1 million for infrastructure and shelter, $4.8 million for restoration of livelihoods, $6.1 million for water supply projects, and $1.1 million for legal assistance. In addition, a $2 million grant project from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, financed by the Government of Japan, is employing about 4,500 families to improve the line drainage system of 500 km of local roads damaged by the tsunami. During his visit, Mr. Jin viewed tsunami reconstruction work, met with affected people who are recipients of ADB assistance, and visited ADB project work sites. He also had policy dialogue on a wide range of issues with the President, treasury officials, private sector representatives, the Governor of the Central Bank, and Peace Secretariat officials.

From http://www.adb.org/ 09/08/2006


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PAKISTAN: Rural Electrification Project Hits Snags

ISLAMABAD, Aug 30: The target set for electrification of about 400 villages in Sindh and Balochistan under the Roshan Pakistan Programme is unlikely to be achieved during the current year owing to non-allocation of funds for wind energy by the federal government, it is learnt. Chairman Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB) Shahid Hamid told a meeting on Wednesday that estimates for electrification of 400 villages (100 in Sindh and 300 in Balochistan) with alternate energy in consultation with the provincial governments had been approved. However, these schemes could not be implemented due to shortage of funds, a participant quoted the AEDB chief as telling the meeting. Minister for Water and Power Liaqat Ali Jatoi presided over the meeting that was also attended by representatives of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), Wapda and the ministry of water and power. The meeting asked the AEDB to submit draft power purchase agreement (PPA) in 10 days for approval by the prime minister to expedite alternate energy projects. The minister directed Wapda to expedite the process of constructing transmission lines and grid stations within the prescribed time to procure energy from wind projects.

The government, he said, had decided to use all alternate options to generate electricity to meet its demand, growing at the rate of 10 to 12 per cent per year. He said the government would take initiatives to expedite development of alternate sources of energy to produce cheaper electricity. Mr Jatio also highlighted the government*s policy of utilisation of renewable resources and said that all the energy generated with wind and solar power would be purchased from the investors and synchronised into the system. He said it was government*s priority to electrify remote village through wind and solar energy because it was economically difficult to link them with the national grid. He assured the AEDB to personally take up the matter with the president and the prime minister for allocation of the required funds for the project. Earlier, in his presentation, Chairman AEDB Air Marshal Shahid Hamid informed the meetings that 62 LoIs had been issued for 50 MW each and 17,909 acres land had been sub-leased to 13 investors in Sindh. He said these 13 companies had completed all the formalities and were ready to sign PPAs to put up their projects after tariff determination by Nepra. He said the baseline survey and on-site installation and commissioning of solar homes systems had been prepared. The meeting was further informed that 100 houses had been electrified with solar energy in each of the four provinces. It was also informed that equipment design, fabrication of equipment and survey of villages had been completed in the pilot project of bio-diesel production plant. Sites had been identified and contracts awarded for solar thermal power plants, the chairman further informed the meeting. ( by Khaleeq Kiani )

From http://www.dawn.com/ 08/31/2006


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Pakistan Can*t Progress Without Inter-Provincial Harmony, Says Aziz

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Monday that the Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee (IPCC) had been revived to promote understanding and harmony between the provinces and the federation regarding national interest issues. Addressing the committee*s inaugural session, the prime minister said that the IPCC needed to work towards removing inter-provincial gridlock to become a truly result- and action-oriented institution. Acknowledging that the existence of political differences was a normal feature of a democratic framework, Aziz went on to stress that the country needed to speak in one voice on issues of national importance. He said that the national interest should always prevail over partisan politics to forge unity, otherwise the country would not be able to progress. ※If there is unity, even the enemy can do no harm to the country.§ Aziz said that the people of Pakistan recently demonstrated the finest example of unity in the aftermath of last October*s devastating earthquake, when every house 每 in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and NWFP 每 transformed itself into a relief camp to help those directly affected by the disaster. This, he said ※was clearly our finest hour as a nation§. On the country*s economy, the prime minister said that Pakistan had come a long way from the period seven years earlier when the economy had virtually become bankrupt.

※Today there is political and economic stability,§ he said, adding that since President General Pervez Musharraf took office, the government now had the resources to tackle economic difficulties. However, he said that the country still faced additional challenges, such as reducing poverty rates further, creating more jobs and increasing nationwide literacy rates. ※We need to ensure that the fruits of economic growth reach the common man, ※ he added. Aziz said that the government, having secured economic stability, was now focusing on transferring the benefits of growth to the general public, the results of which could already be seen in the decline of both poverty and commodity price rates. Seventy five percent of essential items in Pakistan, he said, were being sold at prices that represented the lowest rates in the region, while the country*s per capita income was the region*s highest. Aziz went on to say that all provincial governments should ensure that the prices of essential items remained stable during the holy month of Ramzan, adding that Price Magistrates should keep a vigilant check on market prices. The prime minister also stressed the need to take effective measures to strengthen inter-provincial interaction at the grass roots level, recommending that various institutions be directed to arrange activities in which students and youths of all provinces could participate. He also said that since the country had come into being in the name of Islam, Pakistan, the Ummah and Islam were one an the same thing.

From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 09/19/2006


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AZERBAIJAN: Fees on Internet Domains to Go Down

The fees for registration of Internet domains in Azerbaijan will be reduced by 33%, effective on October 1, reports say. The registration fee, which used to make up 30 new manats ($34), as well as the annual payment for the use of local domains, will now equal 20 manats ($23), said Faig Farmanov, general director of Intrans company in charge of running Azeri domains. ※We are also looking to increase the number of Azeri websites registered with the .az domain. We are inviting local sites with the .com, .net and .org extensions to transfer to this domain free of charge, and use it for free for a year after that,§ said Farmanov. Intrans also plans to start registering Azeri web-pages not in English, but in the native language, the company boss added. Intrans has been in business for 13 years and is the country*s number one Internet service provider (ISP). Over 3,000 domains with the .az extension have been registered since August 25, 1993, when the national domain was set up.


From http://www.bakutoday.net/ 09/22/2006


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IRAN: First Tourism Website Launched

A tourism information dissemination website, reportedly the first of its kind in Iran, was inaugurated here on Tuesday. According to ISNA, Saeid Naqibi Pakqol, manager of the bilingual information website, announced that it lists Iranian and foreign travel agencies, hotels and tourist attractions, adding that information on the site will be updated once changes in travel agencies and hotels* schedules are reported. ※The website also contains pictures of tourism sites in Iran and the world, a newsletter and a travel guide to Iran and other countries,※ he said, adding that its international section will go online in the near future. Iran*s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) officials, academic figures and managers of several travel agencies attended the ceremony to launch the key cultural project. According to the World Ecotourism Organization, Iran, a country with high tourism potential and attractions, can have a share of $12 billion in global tourism revenues by 2010.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 09/07/2006


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Telecom Infrastructure Ready for E-Commerce Expansion

National communications infrastructure has developed adequately, said the managing director of the Communications Infrastructure Company here on Tuesday, adding that the grounds have been prepared for achieving the e-commerce targets. Nasser Yousef-Pour told ILNA that the company is ready to provide all banks and companies involved in e-commerce activities with technical services, adding, however, that e-commerce will not materialize as long as there is no law on tackling Internet-related offenses. ※This law has now become a must due to increasing Internet offences,※ he said, adding that another constraint is the low level of higher education among bank clerks in Iran. ※Most bank clerks here have not attended university and work with traditional systems,※ he said, stressing that replacing the present outdated systems with digital technologies would demand extensive training.

Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Mohammad Soleimani said in May that the ministry is ready to provide the banking system with 200,000 communication ports. The minister told ILNA that there are 60,000 kilometers of fiber optic cables in Iran, which provides a suitable ground for developing digital communications and electronic banking in the country. He said the national fiber optic network will expand by 15,000 kilometers by the closing year of the Fourth Five-Year Plan (2005-2010), stressing that a specialized working group has been formed to help reinforce digital communications infrastructure and boost network security.

From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 09/13/2006


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KAZAKHSTAN: President Opens High-Tech Park

Nursultan Nazarbaev inaugurated Kazakhstan's largest information-technology (IT) park outside the former capital Almaty on September 15, according to Kazinform and "Kazakhstan Today." The new IT park, located within the special economic zone established in 2003 in the village of Alatau, seeks to attract global IT companies and aims to emerge as an "intellectual center" for the region. Nazarbaev said that nearly a dozen of the world's leading IT and communication companies have already committed to offices and training centers in the Alatau IT City information-technology park. RG

From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 09/18/2006


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UZBEKISTAN: Linguist Launches E-Dictionary

Firuz Valiev is reported to have launched an electronic English-Russian-Uzbek dictionary for broad users o-n the global net, according to Narodnoye Slovo newspaper as of September 15, 2006. Trilingual dictionary database contains in 50,000 words and expressions, a considerable part of which entered the modern life in recent years. Mr. Valiev believes that he was in line with latest requirements of contemporary times and changes, took place as of late. Computer version of the dictionary allows instantly find the translation of the word in any proposed language block. Both Russian and Uzbek language people may use the dictionary. Developer also designed the database to systematize a special terminology in the area of finance in Uzbek. According to the author, this will allow uncover the significance of financial terms applicable to the current normative and legislative basis of Uzbekistan in the Russian and Uzbek languages. E-dictionary represents a profound interest for the financial establishments, state financial institutions, and others in the country. Program provides for fast browsing through words and expressions needed for the user, and requires the minimum computer memory. Besides, the convenient interface allows find a necessary term as in alphabetical order and also by the first letter of the sought word, independently from the search language.

From http://www.uza.uz/ 09/16/2006


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Fourth National ICT Summit Opens in Tashkent

Fourth National Summit of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT Summit 2006) held on 25 September at the International Business Centre (Tashkent) opened the ICT Week in Uzbekistan. The forum was organised by the Coordination Council for Computerisation and ICT, Committee for Press and Information Technologies of the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis, Uzbek Agency of Communication and Information, United Nations Development Programme in Uzbekistan represented by the ICT Policy Project and Association of IT Companies and Organisations of Uzbekistan. Extensive and multi-faceted programme of the Summit provides unique opportunity for the representatives of state, educational and private structures to review the achievements and discuss new trends and tasks in implementing the ICT potential as a catalyst of development in various spheres of life. Plenary and sectional meetings will be conducted in the framework of the 2006 Summit. While plenary meetings are intended to serve as a place for strategic dialogue and discussion of the issues of concern to wide audience, sectional sessions are to serve as a platform for more detailed thematic discussions focused in different spheres.

Deputy Director General of the Uzbek Agency of Communication and Information (UzACI) Asadjon Hojaev made a report at the first plenary meeting. He shortly spoke about the course of the implementation of the "Computerisation and ICT Development Programme for 2002-2010." Thus, the Resolution of the President of Uzbekistan approves target reference points for the development of telecommunication and data transmission networks and ICT; a programme for integration of ICT in the activity of state and government agencies; and a programme for the formation and development of the National Information-Search System (NISS). As a result of measures implemented in line with the target reference points and development of telecommunication networks, the total length of fibre-optic communication lines and relay lines made up 9,021.7 km as of 1 September 2006 (104% against last year's showings). The level of digitalisation has reached 69.2% (132.5%). The capacity of digital Automatic Telephone Systems (ATS) made up 1,388,700 numbers (134.3%), and the capacity of all ATS 每 2,007,400 numbers (101.3%).

According to Hojaev, the number of mobile phone users has increased by 75% to 1.93 million as of 1 September 2006. [As earlier reported, the number of mobile users in Uzbekistan made up over 2 million as of 14 September, according to UzACI director-general Abdulla Aripov]. The number of points of collective Internet access has reached 509, and the number of Internet users has exceeded 1.2 million (up by 26.3%). The average connection rate makes up 143.1 m/s. Moreover, efforts are given to integrate ICT in the work of state agencies and government bodies. In particular, their equipment with computer technology has increased 1.9 times and currently makes up 58 pieces per 100 employees. At the central apparatus of government agencies, the integration of Local Area Networks (LAN) made up 85.7% (90.2%), and in the subdivisions 每 62% (132%). Corporate networks exist in 28.8% of government bodies (144%). Around 68.3% of government officers are computer literate (85.4%). State Tax Committee (STC) has agreed with the UzACI on the implementation of the Project on Integration of the Electronic Documents Circulation System (EDCS) in the process of tax reporting. The exploitation of the software set on collection of electronic reports has been started in Tashkent and Tashkent region.

At the same time, EDCS is also gradually implemented in state agencies with due use of electronic digital signature (EDS) and compliance with the information security requirements. Thus, EDCS based on electronic mail accompanied by EDS has been integrated in eight departments, particularly Ministries of Finance, Higher and Secondary Specialised Education, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Economic Relations Investment and Trade, Internal Affairs, as well as UzACI, UzArchive and State Tax Committee. The total of 30 departments use electronic mail (without EDS), and in 12 the integration of EDCS is planned for 2007. In the framework of the Programme on Creation and Development of the National Information Search Systems, publicly accessible information resources have been created. Among them are educational websites, archive portals, media websites (magazines and newspapers), information and index portals, encyclopedic portals, websites of the eminent figures (writers), as well as sport, health, cultural and art portals. ICT Summit 2006 continues. General topics cover the trends and tendencies in the regulative policy, achievements and problems in implementing national ICT development programmes, as well as issues concerning the development of ICT infrastructure, etc.

From http://business.uzreport.com/ 09/25/2006


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AUSTRALIA: Greater Reliability for ABC Local Radio in Victoria

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today announced almost $300000 in funding to help lessen disruptions to ABC Local Radio in Victoria during natural disasters or power failures. The Minister made the announcement in Anakie, Victoria with the Member for Corangamite, Stewart McArthur. Anakie was affected by bushfires in January 2006. The ABC*s Local Radio service offers its listeners a distinctive mix of news, views, current affairs, talkback, entertainment, sport, music, and rural issues. With an estimated national penetration rate of more than 99 per cent, ABC Local Radio is often the only mobile source of vital weather and emergency service information for Australians living in rural, regional and remote Australia. ※In recognition of the important role played by ABC Local Radio, the Australian Government is committing $297 696 for the ABC to install backup generators at its local radio transmission sites in Apollo Bay, Bright and Myrtleford,§ Senator Coonan said. ※This will lessen disruption to local radio services during natural disasters or power outages.

Mr McArthur welcomed today*s announcement as a significant step forward in ensuring ABC Local Radio continues to act as a vital conduit for information to local communities during emergencies. ※The three sites across regional Victoria collectively provide ABC Local Radio to over 7700 people,§ Mr McArthur said. ※The backup generators are due to be installed before the end of 2006 and will support all of the ABC*s existing and future planned services at these three sites.§ Today*s announcement builds on the Australian Government*s significant investment in the ABC. In this year*s Budget the Government announced more than $2.5 billion will be provided to the ABC over the next three years including $822.7 million this financial year. On top of its base funding the ABC will receive an additional $88.2 million which includes $45 million to purchase new capital equipment; $30 million to establish an independent commissioning arm to invest in high quality drama and documentaries; and $13.2 million to increase funding for the ABC*s Regional and Local programming initiative.


From http://www.minister.dcita.gov.au/ 08/24/2006


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Over $5 Billion Spent on Cultural Activities in Australia

More than $5 billion was spent by the public sector in Australia on cultural activities in 2004-05, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Governments in Australia gave the largest proportion of their total cultural funding to broadcasting and film ($1.2 billion) in 2004-05, followed by nature parks and reserves ($1.0 billion), libraries and archives ($515 million) and other museums ($483 million). The Federal government outlaid $1.8 billion for cultural activities, an increase of 4% from 2003-04. Of this total, $1.3 billion (75%) was spent on arts related activity (which includes broadcasting and film), with the remainder ($432 million) spent on heritage activities. State and territory governments spent $2.4 billion, a rise of 1% from the previous year. The largest recipient of funding from state and territory governments was nature parks and reserves which received 40% of the total ($936 million). The local government sector put in almost $900 million towards cultural activities in 2004-05, a fall of 5% from the funding supplied in 2003-04.

From http://www.abs.gov.au/ 08/24/2006


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Call for Bush Broadband Ideas

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Helen Coonan has called for public submissions to the $113 million Clever Networks program, a scheme designed to get the best use out of broadband internet in remote areas. Examples of proposals could include using broadband to help school children in their studies, hospital staff in their work or to spread word of bushfire warnings. In speech at the Service Providers' Industry Association (SPAN) annual dinner, Senator Coonan said technology could be used to bridge the vast distances of rural and regional Australia. The first round of grants is due to close on November 28.


From http://australianit.news.com.au/ 09/01/2006


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New Report on Early Childhood Qualifications

The Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, today released a new report that investigated career pathways for people working in the early childhood education and care sector across Australia. The Pathways to a Profession: Education and training in early childhood education and care, Australia study, was prepared by Dr Louise Watson from the Lifelong Learning Network, University of Canberra. ※High quality education programmes in the early years have been shown to have a profound effect on children*s development, influencing their ability to learn, their acquisition of pre-literacy and numeracy skills and their social development,§ Minister Bishop said. ※Given the increased reliance by working parents on childcare, which provides a vital contribution in the early childhood education of children, it is critical that we increase the proportion of teachers in childcare centres with university early childhood education qualifications.§ The report examined the issue of recognition of early childhood qualifications and previous studies between the vocational and technical education sector and the university sector. It provides valuable information about the range of early childhood education qualifications in Australia across both preschool and child care settings. Findings also identify the barriers, and the innovative models of practice in articulation from vocational and technical education to higher education.


From http://www.dest.gov.au/ 09/04/2006


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Government Delivering Jobs for Disabled Australians

The Minister for Community Services, John Cobb highlighted in Question Time today the Australian Government's role in creating meaningful employment for Australians with disabilities. Mr Cobb said Disability Business Services are providing over 17,000 jobs around Australia in 232 businesses through 380 outlets. "The Australian Government is assisting Business Services provide jobs to people with disabilities, and ensuring their long term viability, through the $99 million Business Services Assistance programme. "The Business Services Assistance Programme provides equipment upgrades, process improvements, product development & marketing assistance. "Employees are learning valuable skills like welding, and using precision machinery. "Business Services have excellent safety and attendance records. "Importantly they are also training potential workers for a range of industries and they provide real jobs for people with a disability. "I would strongly encourage all Australian companies to actively seek business opportunities with Disability Business Services. Mr Cobb said another example of where the Government is helping Australians with a disability is Job Network - through which 11,000 people with disabilities have moved into employment in the last year - a new record. "The Australian Government's reforms are building confidence and self esteem - and giving people with a disability a pay cheque instead of a welfare cheque.

From http://www.facs.gov.au/ 09/06/2006


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Scams, Frauds and Your Business: Competing Fairly Forum

The latest of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Competing Fairly Forums, Scams, frauds and your business, has been launched in the Northern Territory. "The ACCC plays an active role in investigating and prosecuting 'scamsters' ", Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Northern Territory Regional Director, Mr Derek Farrell, said today. "The Trade Practices Act contains many provisions that prohibit different forms of scam conduct and the ACCC enforces those provisions". There are three main types of scams most likely to impact on small businesses: false invoicing scams; business start-up scams, and e-commerce scams. Each of these is examined in detail in the CFF Forum and discussed by a panel of prominent small business, franchising and e-commerce industry representatives. False invoicing scams, aimed at tricking businesses into paying for goods or services they do not want, or have not received, often target small businesses in the hope that operators are too busy running their business to make proper inquiries when they receive new invoices.

Business start-up scams offer the chance to get rich quick for very little effort or to join an existing business structure, perhaps in the guise of a franchising opportunity, where your success is 'guaranteed'. Small business people are also vulnerable to the many and varied e-commerce scams that target almost everyone who logs on each day. The ACCC urges all businesses, and consumers, to be alert and protect themselves by doing research and seeking advice when they are considering new offers or opportunities. A key message of this forum is that if an opportunity looks too good to be true, it usually is. Information and education that will help prevent people falling victim to scams is clearly the most effective way of dealing with the issue.

The recorded forum is moderated by Ms Emma Alberici, from the ABC The 7.30 Report, and the panel comprises ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel; Mr Chris Peters, Chief Executive of the ACT and Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry; franchising consultant Mr Jason Gehrke; Ms Wendy Phillips, of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia; and Mr Peter Coroneos, Chief Executive of the Internet Industry Association. The presentations will be followed by a question and answer session. The first seminar will be held in Darwin on Tuesday 12 September, 6.30 p.m. at Territory Perspective, Development House, 76 the Esplanade, Darwin. To register for this free session contact Ms Peta Youngnickel on (08) 8946 9610. Subsequent presentations will occur in Tennant Creek on Monday 18 September at the Batttery Hill Mining Centre at 5.30 p.m., in Alice Springs on Friday 22 September at the Chamber of Commerce, 1st Floor Todd Mall Centre at 12.30 p.m. and in Katherine on Friday 29 September at the Paraway motel at 3.30 p.m. Further details can be obtained from Ms Youngnickel on (08) 8946 9610. Information is also available from the Small Business Helpline on 1300 302 021.

From http://www.accc.gov.au/ 09/07/2006


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Broadband Blueprint Near

STATE and federal governments have agreed to work together on a blueprint for the rollout of a next-generation broadband network. The Broadband Blueprint was near completion and will be released in a matter of weeks, Communications Minister Helen Coonan said after the completion of the 13th Online and Communications Council held in Canberra today. The ministers have also agreed that the principles outlined in the Federal Smartcard Framework would become the national smartcard principles. "There is a need to adopt a consistent standards-based approach to smartcard implementations across all levels of government in Australia, as set out in the framework," a Council communique says. The ministers discussed progress on Connect Australia programs and Communications Minister Helen Coonan confirmed Telstra would be able to seek funding under the $1.1 billion Broadband Connect element of the scheme. States have agreed there is a need for a national roadmap to broadband development, and they have been asked for further specific input into the document. Senator Coonan said Telstra may revisit its fast broadband project at some time, but the Government would not force it to collaborate with the G9 coalition of telcos keen to work on a network. Senator Coonan said she was confident of getting her media reform package through parliament, but she didn't "take her colleagues for granted". "The issues are not insurmountable," she said. The legislation will be introduced into the Senate "shortly", but not necessarily next week.

From http://australianit.news.com.au/ 09/08/2006


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Roundtable Endorses Need for National Wind Energy Code

Participants at a national roundtable on wind energy have agreed on the need for a National Code for Wind Energy Installations as a &matter of priority*, and to form a working group to drive its development. Representatives of all spheres of government, the wind energy industry, the planning industry, community groups and non-government organisations attended the roundtable, hosted in Canberra today by Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell. Senator Campbell said participants affirmed the importance of wind power in Australia*s energy mix, but acknowledged that concerns about its potential impact on the landscape and the environment must be addressed if the industry was to enjoy broad community support. ※Wind energy installations have grown rapidly under the 10 years of the Howard Government 每 increasing from 20 turbines to more than 650 turbines 每 and they will continue to make a major contribution to Australia*s efforts to tackle climate change,§ Senator Campbell said. ※However, we need to balance the challenge of managing climate change with maintaining a strong economy and protecting environmental, cultural and landscape values.

※The community must be properly included in the planning process for new wind energy installations to ensure that community confidence in, and support for this important source of power continues.§ Senator Campbell said the Code would provide consistency, certainty and transparency in public consultation and approval processes. It would include guidance for wind energy developers on engaging the community, including minimum consultation standards; recognise values of concern to local communities such as wildlife preservation, landscape and amenity; and promote and accommodate community needs in decisions about the siting of wind energy installations. ※The concept of community consultation and support, as it relates to the National Code, is a practical one. It will not require every individual community member*s agreement, but it will focus on the need to put in place processes to ensure that individuals, communities and stakeholder groups play a meaningful role in decisions that affect them.§ Senator Campbell thanked participants, saying the industry and the community would benefit from their work towards a National Code for Wind Energy Installations.

From http://www.deh.gov.au/ 09/11/2006


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Govt Unveils New Digital TV Channels

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Helen Coonan has announced details of two new datacasting channels to be made available to digital television subscribers. Senator Coonan today said two new channels, known as Channel A and Channel B, would fill two unallocated lots of spectrum and help drive digital take-up among Australian consumers. The government hopes the new channels will spur on the development of new digital services. "Both channels will be auctioned as separate national licences, with Channel A to be used for in-home, free-to-air digital services and Channel B for innovative new digital services such as mobile television," Senator Coonan told question time today. "A potential model for Channel B could be a mobile (phone) TV offering, integrated with 3G mobile telephony and internet services, made available on a subscription basis." The government will impose a regulatory regime on the channels designed to encourage new digital technologies and to prevent them being used to replicate existing services. "To ensure Australian consumers get access to new services, as opposed to a replication of currently available services, neither Channel A nor Channel B will be able to be used for traditional, commercial, free-to-air TV services or subscription TV services to fixed in-home receivers," Senator Coonan said. "To encourage new players and services into the media market, there will be restrictions on who can control Channel A - the in-home services. "(But) considerable interest ... has been expressed in the potential use of Channel B by current media and telecommunications players, content aggregators and infrastructure companies. "The government has decided, therefore, not to restrict who can bid for this channel, in an attempt to ensure this channel's success and sustainability."

From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/ 09/12/2006


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FIJI: Fiji's Moving in the Right Direction 每 PM

Fiji*s economy is amongst the most developed in the Pacific Islands Region in terms of the Construction boom and the Tourism Sector said Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. Addressing potential investors at a Fiji Trade and Investment Seminar in Melbourne recently, Mr Qarase highlighted that the findings was taken from a recent survey conducted by the Commonwealth Business Council. According to the Prime Minister he said, such a find indicates that Fiji is moving in the right direction and feels that investor confidence has risen to a reasonable level. ※Investment and Trade are central to the relationship between our countries, as my Government focuses on finalizing strategies for the next five years, we have re-committed ourselves to vigorous pursuit of investment dollars and we need these to accelerate our economic growth,§ the Prime Minister said. Mr Qarase highlighted that Fiji sees huge scope for a new flow of Australian capital adding that Australia is already the country*s major supplier of private sector investment and that Australian companies and entrepreneurs have been involved in many sections of Fiji*s economy and receiving good returns on their investment. ※Government and Private Industry Groups have been working together on a comprehensive export strategy to be launched at a National Economic Summit meeting later this month and has identified 13 priority sectors with good potential,§ said the Prime Minister. The priority sectors which have been identified include: marine products˙forestry˙sugarcane and sugar˙tourism˙health˙agro-business˙the audio visual industry˙information technology˙financial services.

From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 09/12/2006


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NEW ZEALAND: $40m Polish for Children's Dental Service

School dental health clinics are on the way out under a $40 million revamp to the public care of children's teeth. The Government yesterday announced the establishment of new Community Oral Health Service centres which it said would be better equipped and more accessible than current school dental clinics. Some facilities will also offer services to under-18s and adults. It follows a decline in children's oral health, with the number of five-year-olds with decayed, missing or filled teeth continuing to rise. In 2004, only 52 per cent of five-year-olds were free of decay. The new service is the centrepiece in the Government's plan to reinvest in oral health. "Community-based clinics will not just provide treatment services, but will also be an outreach base for all oral health promotion activities," said Health Minister Pete Hodgson. "The clinics will be larger, better equipped, and open for more hours, during more days of the year. In hard to reach areas, mobile clinics and mobile surgical buses will ensure that oral health care is available for all children and young people."

Its primary focus will be on oral health promotion and treatment for children up to Year 8. Some facilities will also offer services to adolescents. Like the existing school service, the new facilities will be staffed by dental therapists and dental assistants. Larger facilities will have an on-site dentist who can perform more complex procedures. Some existing school clinics could be retained and refurbished to become a Community Oral Health Services centre. But Dr Barrie Pratt, president of the Dental Health Foundation, questioned whether the clinics needed to go at all. "The clinic system at the moment is quite workable. It needs re-equipping but is it that obsolete after it's updated? I'm not so sure. There's no guarantee that the other system is going to deliver more coverage of dental treatment in New Zealand. "I do like the idea of dental therapists treating these children. I'm not so sure they're quite capable of treating the secondary schools." Dental Association executive director Dr David Crum welcomed the Government's strategy.

"Overall, we believe this is an important first step, and are encouraged by the attention the issue is being given." But the association was not yet convinced that community, rather than school-based services, would work, he said. Dental Therapists Association executive officer Ngaire Mune said the strategic vision was a "positive move toward better oral health for all New Zealanders". Which of the country's 1100 school dental clinics will be replaced, and which will remain, is still being assessed by the District Health Boards. They are expected to submit their plans to the Ministry of Health from November this year. The first new facilities will open their doors next year, but the "re-orientation" of oral health services is expected to take several years to complete. In the meantime, oral health services for children will continue to be available through the school clinic.

Special focus on Northland Public health authorities in Northland believe the new strategy is especially important for the region, where oral health among young people is the worst in New Zealand. Statistics from last year show that only 31 per cent of under 5-year-olds in Northland have teeth with no holes (caries). Maori children are the worst affected, with only 14 per cent remaining caries-free by the age of 5. Funding available under the strategy for capital investment and operational costs would allow the Northland District Health Board to increase oral health services and offer better access to dental care, said the board general manager for service development, funding and Maori health, Kim Tito. The board plans to work closely with providers in public, private and Maori health sectors to look at options that improve access to dental services for young people. Northland DHB dental adviser Dr Neil Croucher said that when oral health was good, people generally felt good, looked good, ate well and did well. Poor oral health was likely to result in infections, pain and sleepless nights, with rotten or missing teeth reducing chances of succeeding in education and employment, he said.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 08/25/2006


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NZ Ditches IBM System i for E-Government

The New Zealand government is abandoning its IBM System i server platform for e-government applications, mandating a switch to a more standard x86 architecture. Jason Ryan, spokesman for the State Service Commission (SSC) which leads the e-government push, said the architecture change was driven by a need for increased functionality. ※We want a more flexible, extensible environment. It will also be cheaper in terms of total cost of ownership and more efficient to manage,§ he said. The SSC is using a leased IBM i810 server for a range of e-government applications on both Linux and Windows platforms. System i was originally built to operate IBM*s proprietary midrange OS/400 operating system and is now built around the IBM Power 5 + processor which is not x86-based. IBM was not prepared to comment on the SSC*s plans as the company would be involved in a tender to replace the current system. However, Wayne Goss, manager of IBM*s new Zealand Systems and Technology Group, said the company has invested over US$1 billion over the past three years on System i development. On its web-site, IBM described System i as ※easy to manage§ and said it ※simplifies your IT environment§. However, the SSC said in tender documents released this week that non-x86 systems ※inhibit flexibility and, from experience managing a mix of Linux and Windows-based OSs, introduce unwanted complexity and overheads.§ Goss said the new System i hardware was capable of natively running multiple operating systems in their own partitions. He said it was highly secure and freed business from complexity. ※It is the best of IBM in one box,§ he said. ※It is certainly not your grandaddy*s AS/400.§ While only IBM make System i, many vendors including IBM manufacture x86-based machines.

From http://www.zdnet.com.au/ 09/22/2006


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Asian Governments Should Stay on Alert for Financial Downturn: UNESCAP

BANGKOK (United Nations Information Services) - UNESCAP is issuing a warning to Asian governments to reduce exposure to the impact of a sudden or unexpected market downturn, urging a mood of protection and preparation rather than the celebratory atmosphere of today*s prosperity. Asian countries have to stay alert despite the lull in financial markets recently, says UNESCAP in a new report: ※The Calm Before the Storm? Managing the Risks of an Asia-Pacific Financial Downturn§. ※There are a number of new emerging risks which may lead to more stormy weather ahead,§ the report warns. Threats rise from possible interest rates hikes in developed countries, oil price shocks, housing market overheating, and investor overreaction and contagion. The region has bitter memories of the Asian financial crisis in 1997. ※Countries are now in a stronger position to handle turbulence,§ the report says. Governments have improved economic policies, they depend less on portfolio flows, and they have bigger foreign reserves and better banking sectors.

The report cautions that ※as Asian economies are becoming more integrated into the global economy, they also face a higher risk from the constantly shifting global environment.§ The report advises ※it is increasingly important to build strong and flexible economies that can weather global shocks and adapt to new realities.§ Governments should focus on controlling inflation and debt, improving banking regulations, and monitoring complex financial products. Governments can be more flexible by having well functioning legal systems, more responsive labor markets, and broader social safety nets. ※Countries in the Asia-Pacific region must improve regional cooperation to lessen the impact of financial market volatility,§ the report says. UNESCAP recommends strengthening existing regional cooperation schemes by making more funds available against disruptive capital movements, ramping up regional surveillance of country policies and extending these schemes to more countries. The report is part of a series of socio-economic policy briefs on hard-hitting Asia-Pacific issues by UNESCAP available online.


From http://www.unescap.org/ 08/31/2006


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ADB Launches US$10 Billion Asian Currency Note Programme

ADB today launched a US$10 billion Asian Currency Note Programme that will serve as the first regional platform dedicated to issuances of bonds in regional currencies. The programme is Asia*s first multi-currency bond platform since the 1997 Asian financial crisis that links the domestic capital markets of Singapore and Hong Kong, China, as well as later Malaysia and Thailand. Under the scheme, Asian currency bonds are issued in their domestic markets under a single unified framework with a common set of documents governed by English law. DBS is the mandated regional arranger for the programme and sole lead manager and bookrunner for the Singapore dollar issue. The bookrunners and sole lead managers for the Hong Kong dollar issue are HSBC, and for the Thai baht issue Standard Chartered and Bank of Ayudhya.

The inaugural issue under the programme involves the issue by ADB of S$300 million five-year Singapore dollar notes in Singapore and HK$1 billion three-year Hong Kong dollar notes in Hong Kong, China to be printed before the end of the week. ADB also plans to issue THB6.5 billion of 5 and 10-year Thai Baht bonds shortly once approvals are obtained. While the Thai Baht notes will not yet be issued under the programme, the Thai Government has provided its in-principle approval for including Thailand in the programme in the very near future. Similarly, the Malaysian Government has signaled its intention to allow ADB to include Malaysia under the programme structure. ※The programme is a significant milestone for Asian capital market development and for ADB,§ says ADB Vice-President Khempheng Pholsena. ※It is a logical continuation of ADB*s market-opening transactions in Asian local currency bond markets over the last three years and fully in line with ADB*s support to the ASEAN+3 Bond Market Initiative.§

The scheme was established through the close coordination with and support of regulators from Hong Kong, China; Malaysia; Singapore; and Thailand. It allows a leading issuer like ADB to launch a larger bond issue by tapping several Asian financial markets simultaneously under a single unified framework. Such a single structure not only provides significant savings in terms of legal and transaction costs, but also allows issuers to tap into regional markets as and when market opportunities arise without the need to seek new approvals for each and every issue. The programme is structured to accommodate other markets in the region as and when the terms are approved by regulators. ※We hope that this programme will contribute to creating a unified platform which will eventually include the entire region. In our view, the programme signals the potential for Asian capital markets to address Asia*s own large funding needs§, says ADB Treasurer Mikio Kashiwagi. He notes that the programme will allow regional and global issuers to simultaneously tap bond markets in the region expeditiously and contribute significantly to the deepening of bond markets in Asia.

※The format of a linked, multi-location, multi-currency financing can be applied to other leading issuers, including Asian or multinational corporate issuers seeking to simultaneously access a large base of investors across Asia*s leading capital markets,§ says Clifford Lee, Managing Director of Debt Capital Markets at DBS. Jackson Tai, Chief Executive Officer of DBS adds that Asia is becoming the centre- stage for capital formation and is increasingly providing funds for the rest of the world. ※With the &ADB format* and the foresight of regulators from Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia, underwriters from DBS, HSBC and Standard Chartered were able to construct a virtual link of Asia*s capital markets to bring scale and investor demand across regulatory borders to serve a leading issuer,§ he says. ※In the future, leading issuers will not be limited by the constraints of any one Asian capital market, whether it be size, currency or investor appetite.§

From http://www.adb.org/ 09/14/2006


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More Work Needed to Create Robust East Asian Financial Markets

A new World Bank report, ※The Road to Robust East Asian Financial Markets§, released here today argues that East Asia needs and is well positioned to enhance its financial systems to meet the growing and increasingly sophisticated demand for financial intermediation in the region. ※East Asia*s financial system has witnessed a remarkable transformation over the past decade in two important respects,§ said Dr Homi Kharas, the World Bank*s Chief Economist for East Asia and the Pacific. ※The region has emerged more resilient from the debilitating crisis of 1997. It has also accumulated US$1.6 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and US$ 9.6 trillion in financial sector assets at the end of last year. These assets reflect not only the resumption of large capital inflows but also the region*s own savings which amount to almost a quarter of that of the US financial markets and half that of Japan. These developments have reshaped the financial landscape in the region that now provides an opportunity for deepening and extending the reach of the financial sector.§ The report examines the agenda if the financial sector is to fulfill its role. It argues that the demands for financial intermediation in the region are changing. In the past, the financial sector focused largely on the needs of the corporate sector. But as per capita incomes rise, the sector will face growing demands from consumers. At the same time, businesses in the region are looking for a broader range of services, including investment banking services. And with the deepening of intra-regional trade, firms will require cross-border financial services.

A vibrant East Asian financial sector, according to the report, should have at least three characteristics:
- highly diversified in its ability to cater to the needs of increasingly complex and sophisticated economies
- able to provide financial services efficiently
- robust enough to withstand a variety of shocks in a fast changing globalizing world economy.

A key challenge is the further development of securities markets, particularly bond markets,§ said Swati Ghosh, lead author of the report. ※Deep and efficient securities markets will make an important contribution to meeting more sophisticated needs and to improving the resiliency of the financial sector.§ The report notes that although securities markets have grown by 300 percent in the last nine years, the banking sector, with US$5.5 trillion in assets, still dominates East Asia*s financial sector. The region*s institutional investor base of US$1.5 trillion is large, but has considerable potential for future growth given the large pool of savings in commercial banks. To further develop the securities markets the report stresses the need for greater liquidity and efficiency. It says that the efficiency and liquidity of markets is affected by the availability of information to price securities accurately, by high transactions costs, and by the limited size and heterogeneity of the investor base. To enhance efficiency, the report notes, policy makers will need to address each of these elements. The report also notes that the emergence of initiatives for regional financial cooperation is providing an impetus for deepening and diversifying financial markets by identifying impediments to cross-border investments, providing greater liquidity, and facilitating issuance by private sector participants. But the experiences with implementing the Asian Bond Funds Initiative shows that measures also need to be taken at the domestic level. Regional financial integration can significantly enlarge the gains from domestic policy measures and make the development of domestic financial markets more viable.


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 09/14/2006


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The Battle of Singapore? A Confab of the IMF and World Bank's Governing Boards Takes to the City-state

The moral imperative for the world's rich to do all it can reasonably do for the world's poor is axiomatic. Any argument to the contrary triggers eyebrow-raising questions about what it means to be a caring human being and what constitutes the core requirements for being a responsible member of the human race. But once you get past the obvious axiom -- the need to help others in need of help -- little is suddenly so obvious. Reasonable and well-meaning people can have honest differences about how to narrow the gap between rich and poor -- in effect, how to be a truly helpful global citizen. Differences on issues of just this sort are likely to be on display in Singapore, where the annual retreat for the governing boards of the two best-known international organizations has begun and will continue into next week. They are the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In Asia, these two hefty outfits are generally about as popular as taxes and death. Mainly, they are thought to be too Western in their approach to global income and too insensitive (especially in the case of the IMF) to Asian cultural values and embedded traditions.

One reform widely mentioned would thus re-jigger the power structure of the IMF to give greater clout to China, who is now under-represented, as well as South Korea -- and a few others, elsewhere. It's hard to see why this would be a bad idea, unless you're a European governor and Asia's gain is viewed as Europe's loss. Another issue of the moment is the role of the public sector/government in economic development. There are those within the IMF and World Bank who are suspicious of the utility of any public-policy measure that is not market-driven. Such a viewpoint clearly would diminish the role of positivistic government and the importance of carefully calibrated public policy. One potentially fascinating Singapore session will in fact focus on whether capital markets (that acquire and invest monies from the private-sector) can properly be used to finance public-sector projects, such as highways and housing. "If you believe in the applicability of the U.S. example," says Michael L. Klowden, President and CEO at the well-known public-policy Milken Institute in Santa Monica, California, "the answer is an emphatic yes." Klowden, who will be offering a seminar on exactly this subject at the confab in Singapore, says the above observation is the easy part of the issue. The hard part is locating the balance between allowing market forces to operate, and requiring a healthy level of integrity and transparency in the market activity.

"I agree completely with the old saying that it is better to teach someone to fish than to give him a fish," says Klowden. "But it makes little sense to teach someone to fish and then permit people to steal the fishing pole." Sure, too much government (in its regulatory and law-enforcement as well as policy role) can be as oppressive to the poor and to the powerless as so little government that allows the fat cats to swell into blimps. But it is insane to belittle the vital role of good governance in critical areas (public health, education, infrastructure) and to overstate the magical powers of purely market solutions. For a living, breathing example of one society in which the search for optimal public policy has been both sincere and successful, the esteemed governors only have to peer out the windows of their Singapore hotel rooms. For many Americans, to be sure, Singapore's phenomenal success in creating one of the most efficient world economies and one of our safest environments (virtually from post-World War II scratch) sometimes strikes Americans as more of an annoyance than a cause for celebration. "Right, they don't do it the American way," admits Klowden, referring to the nation's "nanny-state" somewhat deserved reputation for planning just about everything for their citizens, including when to have sex.

Even so, Singapore works in large part because the government has delivered the material goods (the car, the housing, the school, the safety) necessary for comfort in a 21st century life. To be sure, the government is as intolerant of what it views as mischief-dissent as it is of saggy economic growth. And so much to the dismay of some Western delegations, the government, as of this writing, was said to be denying entrance visas next week to some well-known anti-globalization activists whose hearts, it believes, are not in the right place.The government will take no chance of Singapore turning into even an echo of Seattle. In 1999, at a big World Trade Organization confab, protestors brought the city and the conference to a halt. But in Singapore, when the government determines what it wants to do, you can almost bet on the outcome. That's certainly not the American way, to be sure. (by Tom Plate)

From http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/ 09/15/2006


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CHINA: Raise Tax Threshold for Domestic Firms

China has doubled the tax threshold for domestic firms in a move to narrow the taxation gap between indigenous and foreign-invested companies, the State Administration of Taxation (SAT) said on Friday. The new tax rate, which took effect in July is expected to cause a loss of 12 billion yuan in corporate tax revenue this year. However, the State Administration of Taxation said it is "a bearable effect" on the country's fiscal revenue. The move followed a report from the National Statistic Bureau which said that the monthly income of urban and township residents averaged 1,533.75 yuan last year, almost twice the amount in 1999. A senior SAT official who asked not to be identified described the move as "a significant adjustment" that is aimed at equalizing taxation rates between domestic and foreign firms. Chinese authorities had hoped to issue a unified corporate income tax law in 2008 but face enormous obstacles. Last year, fifty foreign-invested companies spoke against the reform proposal, hoping to retain existing preferential policies. Zhang Peisen, head of a policy research group of the State Administration of Taxation said the tax change is "a justified step", adding that "this adjustment certainly gives a hint at the government's resolve on tax reform."

Chinese authorities had scheduled to table a draft Customs Corporate Income Tax Law to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the Legislature, for first read in August, but objection from foreign investors and growing concern for a drastic decline in foreign investment inflow has caused a delay. Currently, there are two tax rules in use. One is the Corporate Income Tax Law applied to only foreign-invested companies, the other is the Provisional Ordinance on Corporate Income for Local firms. Although China began to levy a 33 per cent tax rate on both local and foreign companies from 1994, the Corporate Income Tax Law which applies only to foreign-invested companies contains a number of preferential policies that cuts the tax rate for foreign-funded companies to 15 percent or less. Co-existence of the two parallel tax rules does not accord with the international practices and has driven local firms into disadvantage, said Deputy Commissioner of SAT Wang Li. "Considering the resistance in legislation process, China has made a right step in the reform," said Zhang, stressing that the tax threshold adjustment was the statutory right of the State Council.


From http://news3.xinhuanet.com 09/10/2006


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China Won't Be Hasty in Currency Reform: Central Bank Chief

China will not rush to liberalise its exchange rate regime and it is not certain that any relaxation will lead to an appreciation of the yuan anyway, the country's central bank chief has said. "Actually we are not very sure whether liberalisation of the exchange rate would necessarily mean the revaluation of the renminbi (yuan)," People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan told the Emerging Markets newspaper. The yuan, which now trades under a managed float system, faces intense upward pressure due to huge trade and investment inflows driven by a foreign binge on Chinese goods but Zhou suggested these could be offset by financial outflows. "We still have restrictions on (the) capital account. A lot of Chinese citizens and companies want to invest overseas (but there are) restrictions under the Foreign Exchange Act on remittances overseas," he said in the newspaper, published here by the Euromoney group during the IMF and World Bank meetings. Finance chiefs from the Group of Seven industrialised nations renewed calls over the weekend for China to press ahead with reform of its currency regime following the end of its dollar peg in July last year.

At that time, Beijing revalued the yuan by 2.1 percent and put it into a currency basked system, allowing it to move 0.3 percent daily either side of the dollar. Although in principle, the yuan can appreciate quite sharply under this system, it has been allowed to rise by only a further 2.0 percent. New US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who takes the case for reform to Beijing on Tuesday, said China needed "greater currency flexibility and stronger domestic consumption as well as financial sector reform." However, Zhou has made clear that any reform will be "gradual," with complex changes to the banking and financial system. "Chinese policy is clear so we are gradually moving towards more flexibility with the (currency) regime," Zhou told a seminar Saturday on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings. Zhou told reporters that if market conditions showed a need for a wider trading band for the yuan then "we may consider a wider band." Addressing an IMF finance committee, he said China would continue its financial and economic reform to try to control its growth. "We shall pursue our efforts to accelerate economic restructuring and modify our economy's growth model, and widen economic liberalisation to achieve balanced and sustainable development," he said.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/18/2006


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Regulations on Issuance of Securities Take Effect

China's regulations on the Issuance and Underwriting of Securities, which took effect Tuesday, make it possible for the issuer of selected initial public offerings (IPO) to adjust the ratio of shares for institutional and public investors. Under the regulations published Saturday by the China Securities Regulatory Commission, an IPO issuer and the major underwriter can create a "greenshoe" mechanism, which allows them to re-allocate shares reserved for institutional investors to minority investors. According to Article 32 of the regulations, the mechanism can be used if the number of shares offered in the IPO reaches a "certain" size, and demand for the shares far exceeds the offering. A securities regulation official said the move would give public investors more opportunities to buy new shares. Analysts said the mechanism will probably be used in the upcoming IPO of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country's biggest commercial bank. The commission will announce later this week its decision on ICBC's request for an IPO on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/19/2006


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Banking Sector to Improve Service for 2008 Games

China's banking industry will be facing a number of challenges to improve its services during the 2008 Olympic Games as millions of tourists are expected to spend billions of yuan during the event. Domestic tourists are likely to spend 215 billion yuan (US$26.88 billion) during the Olympic Games, while overseas tourists will pump US$4.5 billion into the Beijing economy, said sources with an on-going international exhibition on banking technology and equipment in Beijing. Liu Yongchun, vice president of China UnionPay, a national bank card payment network, said foreign tourists and athletes should not have a problem in using their bankcards in 2008. He said bankcards will be accepted by 90 percent of the merchants near Olympic venues and 90 percent of hotels and scenic spots. Currently only a limited numbers of Chinese banks are authorized to accept foreign bankcards at their automated tellers. Bank of China (BOC), an official partner of the Beijing Olympics, has been approved by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange to provide services to foreign organizations and individual clients during the Olympics. Hua Qingshan, vice president of BOC, said his bank is the only financial institution in China authorized to open temporary accounts for qualified legal persons. BOC has also been commissioned by the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee (BOCOG) to sell event tickets and authorized Olympic products, said Hua.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/21/2006


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Regulators May Relax Bank Rules

Banking regulators may further loosen rules on foreign lenders dealing with renminbi business in response to claims by overseas players that the draft rule is too restrictive. The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and the Ministry of Commerce are likely to lower the minimum amount a foreign bank branch can accept for a single local renminbi deposit originally set at 1 million yuan (US$125,000), said a source from the regulatory body, adding that the two sides had yet to decide the specific amount. The CBRC sent a draft version of the administrative rule on foreign banks to regulatory bodies and a group of foreign and domestic lenders for review in June. The rule, which aims to regulate foreign players, will allow foreign lenders to deal with renminbi business at the end of the year in accordance with China's World Trade Organization (WTO) commitment. But foreign banks claimed the draft rule has too high a threshold and is not conducive to overseas players expanding their renminbi business. "The demand of foreign banks to draw a single renminbi deposit with a minimum amount of US$125,000 will hamper most local residents' ability to deposit their money in those banks," said a foreign banker who declined to be named.

A source said the banking regulator could not reach agreement on certain aspects of the rule with the Ministry of Commerce, which has a major role in ensuring China's WTO compliance. "The two sides have been in continuous discussion and working closely in the past few days, which may finally lead to a lower threshold than the earlier proposal in order to get in line with the WTO principle for a wider open market," he said. Foreign banks would be more willing to accept the new rule if it allowed them to collect a lower minimum amount for a single local deposit, he said. "But this might be the only major change in the final version. The requirement written in the earlier draft saying that a foreign company cannot provide loans of more than 10 percent of its registered capital to a single client is not likely to be changed," the source said. And the banking regulator is not ready to change the criteria demanding all banks keep overall lending no higher than 75 percent of overall deposits. "Those criteria could still be a tough request for foreign players," an industry insider said.

Due to limited access to the renminbi retail market, foreign banks are facing a general shortage of yuan deposits, which could lead to high loan/deposit ratios. CBRC statistics show that foreign financial institutions in China had collected 114 billion yuan (US$14.3 billion) in deposits by the end of August, while 161 billion yuan (US$20 billion) were paid out in loans during the same period. The CBRC emphasized in its draft rule that its purpose was to encourage foreign lenders to register local corporations within China instead of setting up branches to deal with renminbi business. It said the draft rule favored local corporations registered by foreign lenders. "The purpose is to protect the interests of domestic depositors, and a local corporation is easier to supervise than a branch," it said. A total of 103 foreign bank branches and seven foreign banking corporations were allowed to deal in renminbi business in 25 cities in China at the end of June. They will be allowed to expand across the country and extend their clients from enterprises to local residents at the end of 2006 under the revised draft rule.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/21/2006


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JAPAN: New Ashikaga Bank Owners to Be Screened

The government is to begin screening financial institutions that will take over Ashikaga Bank, now under state administration, as early as September, so that the regional bank can find new owners by the end of March next year, Financial Services Minister Kaoru Yosano said Friday. "I feel that the time is near," Yosano said at a regular news conference, referring to when the government will begin choosing the future management of the bank, based in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture.


From http://www.japantoday.com 08/26/2006


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Fiscal Reforms Must Be Speeded Up

Japan cannot be tardy in implementing fiscal reforms given its ageing population and rising global interest rates, Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said on Tuesday. "Our outstanding public debt stands at around 150 percent of gross domestic product and we have noted the need to prevent it from snowballing," Tanigaki told a news conference. "We have no time to spare when it comes to fiscal reforms," his added. Japan's savings rate has been declining in the face of population ageing and that means there was no room for optimism for dealing with growing debt, Tanigaki said." Global interest rates are on a gradual rise as a trend and in that environment, such a huge debt makes (the economy) vulnerable. So we cannot be slow" in implementing fiscal reforms, he said. The Bank of Japan scrapped its zero interest rate policy and raised the key overnight call rate to 0.25 percent in July. It was the first rate hike in six years in Japan. The benchmark 10-year yield hit a six-month low of 1.6 percent on Friday in the wake of consumer price data and a weak industrial output report that fanned expectations that the Bank of Japan will not raise interest rates again this year. The yield on the benchmark 280th 10-year paper rose to 1.695 percent on Tuesday, almost 10 basis points above the Friday low. The central bank is widely expected to keep its monetary policy unchanged at a two-day policy setting meeting ending on Friday.


From http://today.reuters.com 09/04/2006


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Local Governments Scramble Under Impact of Budget-Allocation Reform

Saitama Pref. (Kyodo) Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's decision to reduce subsidies and budget allocations to local governments has local officials frantically crunching the numbers to balance their budgets. The city of Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, with a population of about 500,000, was denied money from the national budget for the first time in 10 years in fiscal 2006 because its tax revenue rose. But city officials say they still needed the money.§ Tax revenue may slightly increase also in the future, but our financial condition is never satisfactory," said Junichi Hashiguchi, head of the city's finance section.§ There are many schools requiring quake-resistance work, but how should we secure the financial resources? As the man in charge of the finances, it's a headache." The Kawaguchi Municipal Government has worked out what it calls "a concentrated reform plan." One problem it expects is an increase in social security expenses as the birthrate declines and life spans increase. Estimating a revenue shortfall of more than 15 billion yen by fiscal 2009, the plan, which started this fiscal year, cuts civil servants' salaries and expenses in all projects, including road and school construction. The government also has decided to sell some of its land.

From fiscal 2004 to 2006, the central government has funneled a total of 3 trillion yen in tax revenue to prefectural and municipal governments, but reduced subsidies by 4.7 trillion yen and budget allocations by more than 5 trillion yen.§ If the budget-allocation reform continues at this rate, local government finances will be battered," one budget expert said. The Fiscal System Council, which advises the finance minister, said in a June report local fiscal reform, including the reduction of the distribution rate, was necessary. It said the central government would likely pass on the pressure to cut the national deficit to the local governments. Koizumi implemented fiscal reform under the premise of locals taking action at the local level, saying change would give local governments more control over their budgets. "But what has actually happened is far from the original purpose of decentralizing," said Kochi Gov. Daijiro Hashimoto at a meeting of prefectural leaders in Tokyo in early August. The main topic at the meeting was future budget-allocation reform. The leaders discussed the problems of Tokyo securing a sufficient tax-revenue supply for the transfers to local governments and the way in which the transfer amounts are calculated." It is unclear what the state and local governments should each do. It is not appropriate to discuss the distribution rate without considering the division of roles," Iwate Gov. Hiroya Masuda said. Fiscal analysts say that the next administration will have to make drastic changes in how the state and local governments will share the limited financial resources.


From http://search.japantimes.co.jp 09/15/2006


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BOJ to Adjust Interest Rates Gradually

Bank of Japan Governor Toshihiko Fukui on Thursday signaled the central bank's readiness to adjust interest rate levels gradually. Japan's economy has been performing generally in line with the BOJ's forecast since the BOJ terminated its zero interest rate policy in July, he said at a meeting of the securities industry. If the economy continues to move in line with the forecast, the central bank would proceed with interest rate adjustments gradually, he said. Since its departure from the zero rate policy, the BOJ has been guiding the unsecured overnight call rate, a key short-term interbank rate, to around 0.25 percent. The BOJ does not see a need to change its assessment on price trends although consumer price growth rates for past months were lowered by larger-than-expected margins under a revised format in August, Fukui said.


From http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/ 09/21/2006


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Keizai Doyukai Calls on Government to Ease Criteria for Angel Tax System

The Japan Association of Corporate Executives, or Keizai Doyukai, on Thursday urged the government to ease criteria for tax benefits to support the establishment of new businesses. In a set of proposals for tax system reform for fiscal 2007 starting next April, the business lobby urged the government to scrap some of the conditions for the application of the so-called angel tax system so that more startups can benefit from the system. The angel tax system is a tax benefit for private investors that provide funding to venture firms. The business lobby also proposed the government ease rules on the deduction of losses stemming from stock transfers in a bid to boost investment in new businesses. Two other major Japanese business lobbies, the Japan Business Federation, also known as Nippon Keidanren, and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have already announced their proposals on tax system reform. Nippon Keidanren called on the government to raise the maximum allowable depreciation of fixed assets to 100 percent of acquisition cost from the current 95 percent in a bid to stimulate corporate capital expenditure. The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry urged the government to lower inheritance tax levied on business-related assets of small firms in a bid to heighten competitiveness.


From http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp 09/21/2006


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Banks Want to Downsize Postal Savings Bank

The Japanese Bankers Association on Thursday called for downsizing the planned postal savings bank before it expands its range of financial services. The JBA made the request to the Postal Services Privatization Committee, a government advisory panel considering how to proceed with the privatization starting in October 2007. The postal savings bank, one of the four firms to take over postal services under a holding company upon the privatization, is expected to have some 195 trillion yen in deposits, nearly two times as much as those at the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the world's largest commercial bank in terms of assets. If the postal savings bank with such vast deposits expands its range of financial services while remaining under government control, it may amount to bloating of the public sector, the JBA said.


From http://www.japantoday.com 09/22/2006


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Panel Calls for New Steps to Avert Local Government Bankruptcies

A government panel on Monday drew up an interim report recommending measures to better monitor the financial conditions of local governments to prevent them from becoming insolvent. The report by the panel working for the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications contends that each local authority should draw up its balance sheet just like a private company and provide the data for public scrutiny. The current legislation enacted in 1955 stipulates that prefectures with debts equivalent to 5 percent or more of their revenues and municipalities whose debts equal at least 20 percent of their revenues be placed under the oversight of the central government for financial rehabilitation The panel made the recommendations in response to criticism that more criteria besides the ratio of debt to revenue are needed to better clarify the fiscal conditions of a local authority. Balance sheets proposed by the panel would detail the debts owed by local authorities, corporations they operate, and so-called third-sector concerns jointly run with private companies. Depending on the seriousness of its financial plight, a local government would be instructed by the ministry to take remedial measures or try to turn around its finances under the supervision of the central government, the report says.

Local governments considered by the central government to need remedial measures would investigate the causes of their financial difficulties and present specific spending cut and revenue-enhancement measures to local residents. The report does not discuss the contingency of a local authority defaulting on its debts or a court getting involved in the financial rehabilitation of a heavily indebted local government. The report merely touched on such matters as issues to be studied in the future. The ministry aims to propose amendments to the law based on the report during a regular Diet session due to open early next JanuaryThe panel's recommendations come against growing public concern about the financial straits of a great number of local governments. The debt-ridden Hokkaido city of Yubari, for example, is expected to be designated next year as a municipality requiring central government supervision for the first time in 15 years.


From http://asia.news.yahoo.com 09/25/2006


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SOUTH KOREA: Welfare Budget to Jump 10% to $65 Billion in 2007

The welfare budget will grow twice as fast as the economic growth rate next year with the Roh Moo-hyun administration spending 62 trillion won ($65 billion) on various welfare programs. The welfare budget is up 10 percent from this year, more than twice the estimated growth rate of 4.6 percent, the Ministry of Planning and Budget announced Friday (Sept. 8). In a consultative meeting with the ruling Uri Party, it said next year's budget will top 239 trillion won, up 6 percent from this year. It estimated the consolidated budget surplus will reach 13 trillion won, equivalent to 1.4 percent of next year's gross domestic product (GDP), and state bonds worth nine trillion won will be issued to cover budgetary shortfalls. The 2007 budget proposal will be finalized at a Cabinet meeting late this month before it is submitted to the National Assembly in December. A planned double-digit jump in welfare spending is in line with its long-term blueprint to raise the welfare budget by an average of 9.8 percent each year over the next 25 years. Last month, the government announced its plan to spend 1,100 trillion won on welfare programs over the next 25 years to make Korea the world's 10th most comfortable place to live, up from the current 29th and raise per capita income to $49,000 by 2030.

In 2007, the government plans to spend about 2.2 trillion won to help support the livelihoods of low-income households, up 10.3 percent from 2 trillion won this year, while providing 1.53 trillion won to help households pay for nursery school and other childcare-related expenses, up 26 percent from 1.32 trillion won. As the number of handicapped receiving state allowances is expected to increase to 510,000 next year from the current 300,000, the government will spend 173 billion to cover this up 54.6 percent from this year's 112 billion won. Education spending will also be boosted to 31 trillion won in 2007 from 28.8 trillion won this year. Defense spending is expected to rise by 9 percent to about 25 trillion won. The government plans to allocate 10 trillion won to boost research and development (R&D) activities, up 9 percent. It will also set aside 650 billion won for the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund to provide food, fertilizer and other humanitarian aid to North Korea.


From http://www.korea.net/ 09/09/2006


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National Debt Expected to Increase

At the end of the next year, the national debt is expected to increase to more than 300 trillion won. According to a report made by related ministries such as the Ministry of Planning and Budget and Ministry of Finance and Economy yesterday, the government plans to issue nine trillion won in national bonds to make up deficits and 14 trillion won in national bonds to stabilize the currency exchange market. If this plan comes into reality, the national debt will increase to 306 trillion won. Divided by the number of population, national debt per head could reach as much as 6.28 million won at the end of the next year. The national debt of this year is estimated to be 283 trillion won, which is three trillion more than previous estimates. Such an increase is mainly caused by 1.3 trillion won in national bonds issued to cover the restoration of flood damage and the increase of the limitation of national housing funds bonds from nine trillion won to 11.25 trillion won.


From http://english.donga.com 09/11/2006


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Global Tax Administration Forum Opens

Tax administration offices wield considerable power in any country, albeit to varying degrees. Businesses are especially sensitive to the national tax services, much more than to most ministerial government departments. In nations where the tax administration is not guaranteed political independence, the government may use it as a powerful tool to control or put pressure on companies that rub it the wrong way. These almighty tax administrators from all across the globe arrived in Korea on Tuesday to participate in the Third Meeting of the OECD Forum on Tax Administration, which will be held in Seoul from September 13 to 15. Often called the ※Tax Administration Olympics,§ the forum is a gathering of major countries* tax commissioners who meet to figure out and set global standards for international taxation issues. As the world has grown more aware of the importance of international collaboration on taxation, the Forum on Tax Administration was held for the first time in Seville, Spain, in 2004 and then in Dublin, Ireland, last year. Korea is the first Asian nation to host this conference. Tax commissioners from not only OECD member nations such as the U.S., Japan and Canada but also a substantial number from non-EU power players in the global economy, including China, India, and Russia will be attending. A total of 40 countries will be represented. Foreign businesses in Korea are also showing great interest in the visit from their home tax administrators. ※Korean companies as well as foreign firms are all paying keen attention to the forum. They had been having difficulties up to now since there is no proper consultative channel between international tax authorities,§ said Ryu Han-ho, head of the Management Strategy Department at Samsung Economic Research Institute.

On Tuesday, the day before the opening of the ※Seoul Forum,§ Jeon Goon-pyo, commissioner of the Korean National Tax Service held a series of talks with Mark Everson, commissioner of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Michel Dorais, commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency, and Richard Hecklinger, deputy secretary-general of the OECD. At the meetings, Commissioner Jeon requested cooperation on tax administration for Korean companies operating in the other party*s country and discussed ways to better coordinate international taxation. During the meeting, Commissioner Everson stated that the U.S. holds a strong [opposing] position on international tax evasion, which received especial attention in relation to the Korean National Tax Service*s decision to levy taxes on the capital gains that Lone Star made from selling off the Korea Exchange Bank. Aside from the official conferences, Jeon is scheduled to hold another series of talks with commissioners from China and Japan on September 13, the first day of the forum.


From http://english.donga.com 09/13/2006


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Ministry to Set up Public Fund for Finance Professionals

The government plans to list the Korea Exchange (KRX) early next year on the nation's main bourse and use part of gains from the listing to train finance professionals. According to officials at the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the government plans to support the Graduate School of Finance and other MBA courses by establishing a public fund as a part of its strategy to make the nation a financial hub in Northeast Asia. The government expects the listing of the KRX to produce about 1 trillion won in gains. Profits from the listing will create part of a public fund as it is done in some other Asian countries. The monetary Authority of Singapore, for example, set up the Financial Sector Development Fund worth 290 million dollars in 2002, to support nurturing financial professionals. Earnings from listing of Singapore Exchange and the government budget made up the fund. Malaysia also set up an International Center for Leadership in Finance in 2003 March, and set up the Capital Market Development Fund, worth 132 million dollars, to train financial professionals. Bursa Malaysia, the Malaysia's bourse, contributed around 70 billion won worth of shares to the fund when it was transformed into a corporation. The government will work on the listing of KRX, with the listing likely to take place next year. The KRX is 86.5 percent owned by 28 brokerage firms. How to use the gains from the listing has been one of key issues that have delayed the listing of the exchange operator.

The government has stressed that training core manpower in the financial industry is essential for its ambitious plan of becoming a regional financial hub. It opened the Graduate School of Finance in KAIST in March this year to nurture elite finance professionals. Currently, 83 students are enrolled at the MBA course, and 24 are studying courses open to high ranking professionals. It has also opened graduate schools specializing in MBAs in six local universities in August this year, bringing up the number of such schools to 12, with around 1,000 students. As there have been complaints that such schools are little different from previous graduate schools, the government plans an overall reform of curriculum and management. It plans to change the curriculum at the schools to better satisfy demand from the financial industry, providing customized education that financial institutions need. Singapore's Wealth Management Institute, for example, has a concrete and practical curriculum with subjects such as derivatives, hedge fund strategy, and real estate, on top of tax and private equity portfolio.


From http://www.korea.net 09/22/2006


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INDONESIA: Bank Regulation Amendment Slows Reform

Despite having implemented on time most of its targeted financial sector reforms, the government has yet to amend a vital regulation that could improve the management of state banks, an official progress report says. The government has so far accomplished nine out of 14 policy actions it had aimed to complete within a month since a reforms package was issued in July, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy's deputy for the macroeconomy and finance, Sahala Lumban Gaol, said Tuesday in the report. Four pending policy actions were related to the planned revision of Government Regulation No. 14/2005 on the settlement of state claims, which is now only waiting for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's approval. Another policy action sets up a committee to better manage the government's privatization programs. "We're literally just waiting for the checkered flag now," secretary to the State Minister for State Enterprises Muhammad Said Didu said. "The pending policy actions have been prepared and finalized, and once the amendment is approved, then it's a go." Said said the State Ministry for State Enterprises had coordinated with the Finance Ministry to prepare a ministerial decree, which would implement better governance in state lenders, and set up an oversight committee for the management of their bad loans. The decree cannot be implemented until the amended regulation was approved.

State-owned banks hope the amendment will help them reduce their rising non-performing loans, because it will allow them to provide debt haircuts -- or reductions -- to creditors or write them off entirely. The Supreme Court had recently approved the government's amendment proposal, ruling that assets of state firms are separate from those accounted for in the state budget, and are to be regulated accordingly to the country's laws on state-owned enterprises. State banks under the regulation are hampered from quickly resolving their bad loans, having to seek the government and legislature's approval first, giving the edge to private banks. Among the policy actions already implemented, Sahala said the Finance Ministry had developed the country's capital markets by last month issuing retail bonds to individual investors, raising Rp 3.28 trillion (US$360 million). The Capital Markets Supervisory Agency (Bapepam), which is under the ministry, has set up a price discovery mechanism, trade reporting system, and tax clearance system for firms going public. Bank Indonesia, meanwhile, has implemented a good corporate governance regulation for the banking industry, while the insurance industry is now also required to regularly provide information to the Financial Transaction Reporting and Analysis Center (PPATK). The government's package is expected to accelerate reforms in the banking sector, non-bank financial institutions and in the capital markets, as well as enhance businesses' access to capital.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 09/13/2006


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Govt Considering Tax Incentives as Lure for Major Investors

The government is planning to offer a 30 percent tax cut to investors putting big money into pioneer and labor-intensive industries. Speaking before around 400 businesspeople here, Minister of Trade Mari E. Pangestu unveiled the government's plan to issue a government regulation to implement the incentive. The facility would include a 30 percent tax cut to investors for the first six years for every investment of $US100 million. In addition, the facility would give investors an option to adopt an accelerated depreciation plan for their assets, meaning they would pay less tax in their initial years of operation, Marie said. In the package, investors will be allowed to carry over their initial losses for a period of 10 years, doubling the current rule of five years. However, only investors putting money in pioneer and labor-intensive industries will be eligible for the facility. The Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) will decide which investors are eligible for the package, processing their requests and forwarding successful investors' details to the tax office. An interdepartmental committee under the Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono will oversee the process and ensure the mechanism is transparant and fair, Mari told The Jakarta Post after the meeting.

She said the draft government regulation was now ready, and was waiting to be signed off by the President. The implementing regulations have also been prepared, Marie said. Speaking at the forum, Boediono said the government was assembling a package of tenders for public infrastructure projects. Those ready for tender are mostly roading developments. Boediono also spoke about risk sharing, where the government would bear certain risks in public infrastructure projects funded by private investors. Boediono said the government would do its best to provide a stable regulatory environment so that investors would have more confidence putting their money in the country. Finance Minister Sri Mulayani Indrawati said the ministry would continue with its prudent fiscal management, while spending public money in areas that would create more employment. The government would also continue to "deepen the bond market" so that it could borrow more from domestic sources at low rates of interest. On monetary policy, Bank Indonesia Governor Burhanuddin Abdullah spoke about the institution's efforts to check inflation in the country. The bank hoped to continue lowering its benchmark interest rate from more than 11 percent now to around 8 percent next year, he said.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 09/19/2006


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SINGAPORE: MAS Invites Feedback on Proposed Amendments to Banking Act

The Monetary Authority of Singapore is inviting feedback to its proposed amendments to the Banking Act. One amendment - the draft Notice on Exposures to Single Counterparty Groups - sets out limits on exposures by a bank to single counter-party groups. It specifies the types of exposures to be included in these limits and the basis for computing the exposures. The approach for aggregating exposures to counterparties that pose a single risk, and the recognition of credit risk mitigation techniques are also set down. The MAS says the changes are part of efforts to ensure prudential standards remain relevant and are in line with international best practices. The other proposed amendment is the draft Notice on Minimum Asset Maintenance Requirements. Under this proposal, all foreign bank branches will be required to maintain eligible assets of not less than S$5 million in Singapore at all times. Full and wholesale banks will be subject to additional asset maintenance requirements. The proposal comes as full and wholesale banks are allowed greater access to Singapore dollar deposits from non-bank customers. It is aimed at enhancing protection for Singapore depositors, while allowing sufficient leeway for banks to allocate their assets internationally.ㄗby Loh Kim Chinㄘ

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/13/2006


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Singapore Unveils Tax Incentives to Spur Infrastructure Investments

Singapore has announced tax incentives to spur investments in infrastructure - in particular project bonds and infrastructure funds. This was revealed by Second Minister for Finance, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, at the ASEAN finance ministers forum, held on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank meetings. Singapore has identified infrastructure financing as a catalyst for growth in the corporate bond market. He said: "The demand is substantial. Our estimates are that in ASEAN, excluding Singapore, infrastructure funding is going to be about $55 to $60 billion over the next five years, inclusive of this year. The infrastructure development is a key component of raising per capita GDP in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and the other countries with a relatively lower per capita GDP." About 97 percent of infrastructure funding is through bank loans against a global average of 72 percent. To encourage project financing through its capital markets, Singapore has identified two areas to develop: firstly the project bond market and, secondly, infrastructure funds. The minister say tax incentives will be introduced to draw investments into infrastructure funding. Mr Tharman says: "First to stimulate interest from project bonds, we will grant tax exemption on interest income derived by investors in approved bonds used to finance infrastructure projects. We have a current incentive which is mainly aimed at non-residents and we are going to enhance this incentive so that resident investors also have this tax-exemption on the income they earn from bonds used for infrastructure finance." Tax exemption will also be given on interest from offshore infrastructure funds and projects.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/16/2006


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VIET NAM: Domestic Banks Hit by Poor Service

Poor banking service and lax co-ordination of commercial banks will become a big hurdle for the domestic banking system, specialists have warned. Nguyen Thi Hien, an expert in the State Bank of Viet Nam*s Banking Development Strategy Department said the country*s banking service system remained poor, making it more difficult for local banks to take part in the process of international integration. Today, commercial banks* activities remain monotonous, focusing on traditional services such as capital mobilisation and lending. Credit services account for more than 70 per cent of revenue while banking service fees amount to 6-10 per cent of total revenue. Domestic commercial banks can now offer around 300 varieties of banking services. Meanwhile, foreign banks can offer at least 6,000 service types. Local banks have been making efforts to expand service types; cheque, credit card, mortgage and ATM services in particular have developed rapidly. But many commercial banks still offer comparatively poor services. Non-credit services consisting of payment, investment, foreign exchange, and finance consulting have yet to develop. But according to experts, advanced banking services are now under trial operation, especially in banking services for retailers and e-banking. Le Xuan Nghia, director of the State Bank*s Banking Development Strategy Department said the banking system now was facing many hurdles as the country entered the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Nghia said that a finance market with fair playing rules for all markets would gradually take shape. Players would have to take responsibility for their own wins and losses, with their success depending on their real abilities. Experts say that many banks have yet to define their key products and are instead trying to carry out multi-function services, meaning that they are not adapting to their real abilities. Experts also attribute the poor banking services to insufficient co-ordination between banking services and non-banking finance activities. Such a change would lead to a diversified banking service that would meet the demand for finance services. Commercial banks are now focusing on non-banking financial services such as insurance, securities, lending, underwriting, cash management, finance and investment consultancy and asset management. Development of non-banking financial services must be considered as an important factor in the business strategy of domestic commercial banks. These services would serve to diversify revenue structures, expand client numbers, thus helping to raise capacity and prevent risks, as well as increasing income for clients.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 09/09/2006


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INDIA: Public Money Wasted on Useless Patents

NEW DELHI: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is squandering public funds on useless patents, allege some of the agency's own scientists. They claim that India's largest public sector research agency is wasting the taxpayer's money in filing patents in the US on spurious inventions. The patents inflate the scientist's bio-data for awards and promotions but hardly bring any funds into the nation, they add. Other CSIR officials, however, insist that it is too early for its US patents to make money and that India must be patient. Each US patent costs the Indian tax-payer about $25,000 for filing and $4,000 annually for maintenance. Between 2002 and 2005, the CSIR obtained a whopping 542 US patents. But a data-base search shows that the agency's US patents include frivolous inventions like herbal tooth powder, herbal drinks and "a new method of mixing water with fly ash to make slurry". In 2002, the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), one of the 40-odd labs under the CSIR, took a US patent (No.6410059) for a substance extracted from cow urine, claiming it enhanced antibiotic activity.

The claim did not pass scientific scrutiny and "has never been substantiated by peer-reviewed publications", U.C. Lavania, a senior scientist at CIMAP, wrote in the Aug 17 issue of the international science journal Nature. "This kind of activity, which is widespread, diverts millions of dollars from research into filing patents," he complained. What has surprised critics is CIMAP's extraordinary feat in taking 80 patents in just four years - half of them in the US - on new plant varieties that Lavania says are unlikely to be cultivated in that country. Top in the list is CIMAP's US patent for a new variety of poppy plant when, according to US embassy officials, cultivation of poppy is legally not allowed in the country, implying that the patent cannot generate any revenue in the US. "Obtaining a US patent, especially on plant varieties, is an easy alternative to publishing in peer-reviewed journals for high-profile scientists, because money for filing patents is easily available, with no questions asked about the financial viability of the discovery," Lavania wrote in Nature. Nature even nicknamed CSIR as "India's patent factory" after noting that its US patents exceeded the total number of patents granted to its counterparts in France, Japan and Germany combined.

According to CSIR's chief of patents division R.K. Gupta, not all its US patents turned out to be duds. A cluster of three US patents on a potential anti-cancer molecule has been licensed out to an Indian entrepreneur in the US for $100,000, he said. CSIR director general Ragunath Mashelkar, whose slogan "patent or perish" propelled the craze for US patents, said it was too early for CSIR to expect big monetary returns considering that only about three percent of all existing US patents are ever licensed. "For us to be noticed, we need a portfolio of patents. That is what we are creating," Mashelkar added. But critics, including A.V. Rama Rao - former CSIR director of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology in Hyderabad, doubt if promoting trivial inventions in order to fatten the patent portfolio is really the answer, considering the cost to the taxpayer. "As far as I know, not a single US patent has been exploited even in India, let alone in the US," Rao told IANS. "In the name of patents, a lot of money is going down the drain." "Most of the patents are not even worth the paper it is printed on," said Suresh Chandran, who handled biotech patents in India before becoming licensing manager for a firm in Singapore's Biopolis. "May be it is a passing phase...but I can tell you that we waste quite a lot on this activity," he said.

Trivial patents for "self aggrandisement" with little commercial value are worrying scientists, not just within CSIR, but across India. M.D. Nair, a Chennai-based patent consultant to drug companies, said that while there have been technology and know-how transfers to local industries, "it is obvious that no major product has come out of Indian patented inventions in the global context and in global markets". In a hard-hitting letter to the journal Current Science, published from Bangalore, N. Udupa and colleagues at the Manipal Academy of Higher Education said the time has come "to curb frivolous patents that do not have commercial viability". Gupta of CSIR said that his agency had been filing a lot of US patents because of its policy "to file a patent on any new finding that meets the criteria for international patent, whether or not we want to commercialise it". "This policy has been forcing us to take patents even if we know they are not worth it," said a senior CSIR scientist, who did not want to be named. "Many of us file patents because it helps us get promotions and awards." Critics say this strategy had served the original purpose of creating patent awareness among scientists and now needs a fresh look to ensure that patents create products and wealth and not just statistics. The only way to do it, said Rama Rao, is for the CSIR to set up an independent division headed by professionals in the place of the existing set-up that just acts as a post office - picking patent applications from CSIR labs and passing them on to attorneys for filing without any rigorous scrutiny of the claims.

From http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ 09/04/2006


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CPI(M) Calls for Public Investment in Agri Sector

KOLKATA: CPI(M)*s all-India general secretary Prakash Karat called for priority treatment to manufacturing and agricultural sectors alike, to enable the country achieve a breakthrough in terms of unemployment and sustained economic growth. Mr Karat was addressing members of the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), eastern regional council, on Thursday. ※Growth rate in agriculture sector remains stagnant for the last few years. Between 1998 and 2003, the GDP had gone up by 5.3 per cent. But employment during the period had gone down by 4.4 per cent. Unfortunately, the ruling parties in Delhi and different states are not very keen to understand the nature of crisis being faced by the agriculture sector. Private investment in this sector has increased considerably in the past few years, but it will not help removing the crisis. We want more public investment in the agriculture sector,§ Mr Karat said. ※GDP growth does not necessarily promote equality and social justice all the time. Our government should work hard to wipe out the regional divide and establish social justice to sustain the economic growth and stability of the country§, he said.

He praised the UPA government for promulgating the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREP) Act which will ensure jobs for at least 100 days a year to unemployed youth in rural India. He claimed credit for the Left that the UPA could be forced to also include that a third of the total jobs under the scheme would go to women. He also appreciated the Union government*s decision to sanction Rs 16,000 crore to increase seats in technical studies to accommodate students belonging to minority community and backward classes. ※The Centre has decided to increase the present capacity of admitting students in engineering and medical courses by 54 per cent,§ the CPIM general secretary informed. He described the move as an attempt by the Union government to offer social justice to the backward class people. Karat criticised the Centre for making efforts to privatise profit-making central public sector undertakings (CPSUs). ※We had advised the government to close down loss-making CPSUs once the government failed to revive those at any cost. Instead, the Congress-led UPA government is making efforts to privatise the profit-making CPSUs. We oppose the move vehemently,§ he added.


From TIMES NEWS NETWORK 09/14/2006


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Bank Mergers Must for Survival, Says Survey

Indian banks must merge with each other to form entities as big as State Bank of India in order to remain competitive, a survey by industry lobby group Ficci has said. The survey says for future growth banks must diversify into rural markets (84.2 per cent of the respondents), improve its human resource systems (63.15 per cent), get bigger in size (52.63 per cent), reduce high transaction costs (47.3 per cent), create banking infrastructure (42 per cent) and reduce labour inflexibilities (42 per cent). To a question on achieving global competitiveness, consolidation in the financial sector has emerged as the most significant measure required to create world class banking system, followed by strict corporate governance norms, regional expansion, higher foreign direct investments and free trade agreements. Respondents said some of the major strengths of Indian banks were regulatory systems (84.21 per cent), economic growth rate ( 63.15 per cent), technological advancement (52.63 per cent), and risk assessment systems (47 per cent).

On being asked to rate on regulatory systems, Indian banks were rated better than Chinese and Russian; at par with Japanese and Singapore*s banks but less advanced than UK*s and US* banks. Respondents rated India*s risk management systems more advanced than China and Russia. Majority of respondents said credit quality of Indian banks is far better than China, Japan and Russia. In fact, 75 per cent of the foreign bank*s respondents rated their working experience in India as ※extremely good§. Given India*s potential over the next decade and beyond, 100 per cent foreign banks respondents stated that they have formulated strategies for future expansion in India. Almost 55 per cent of the respondents highlighted that the FTA*s signed by India till now have helped enhance global trade and thus been of help to banks in their global expansion strategy. Last week, three public sector banks 〞 Indian Bank, Oriental Bank and Corportion Bank 〞 signed a letter of intent to form an alliance. This, the bank CEOs said, is to cut costs and face the future. Analysts say the banks are creating the foundation for an eventual merger when political opposition comes down.

From http://www.indianexpress.com/ 09/24/2006


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IRAN: New Trade Strategy Under Final Review

A senior Commerce Ministry official said here on Friday that the cabinet has returned the country*s draft trade regime to relevant ministries and organizations for further study. Mostafa Sarmadi, deputy commerce minister for international affairs, told Fars that the cabinet*s economic commission, after studying the report on trade regime, decided to return it to, particularly, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, Management and Planning Organization and Central Bank of Iran. He said the state bodies are expected to announce their final views on the issue within two weeks. ※After cabinet approval, the trade regime will be submitted to the World Trade Organization*s Secretariat,※ he said, adding that the English version of the report has also been prepared. Asked whether the report would also require parliamentary study, the official said that trade regime reflects the latest situation of the national economy and will not have to be discussed by lawmakers.

Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said earlier that the country*s trade regime has been drawn up and that relevant talks are underway on various aspects of the document. ※When the government is finished with (experts studies on) the trade regime, it will be submitted to the World Trade Organization,※ he said. The official said the Malaysian envoy to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been chosen as the head of Iran*s working group for WTO accession. ※The working group will also announce its expert views regarding the country*s trade regime,※ he added. Iran currently has an observer status at the World Trade Organization.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 09/02/2006


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UZBEKISTAN: New Leasing Company Created to Finance Public Transport System

Asaka Bank, the second largest Uzbek bank, and Toshshahartranshizmat, Tashkent city public transport company, created new leasing company in order to realize a resolution of the Uzbek President Islam Karimov "On realization to private property of state shares in Toshshahartranshizmat joint stock company". The sides created Asaka-Trans-Leasing, which will lease buses to legal entities, which will transport passengers in accordance with their licenses. The charter capital of the company set at 4 billion soums and the sides own 50% each. The resolution said that the shares of Toshshahartranshizmat worth 51.8 billion soums will be realized to private property step-by-step within 2006-2010. Funds, received from privatization of Toshshahartranshizmat, will be used to finance leasing operation of Asaka-Trans-Leasing. The presidential resolution said 40% of received funds from privatization will be directed to Toshshahartranshizmat to update bus fleet, including on leasing basis. The document exempted Asaka-Trans-Leasing from payment of custom payments till 1 January 2010 to import buses. Currently, some 11 leasing companies operate in Uzbekistan and 14 commercial banks and two NGOs render leasing services.

From http://finance.uzreport.com/ 09/18/2006


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Centre for Securities Market Introduces Changes to Regulation on Corporate Bonds

Justice Ministry of Uzbekistan registered amendments to regulation on order of issue, state registration of emission and redemption of corporate bonds, approved by the Centre for coordination and control over securities market. The centre said in its release said the amendments directed to further improvement of conditions for effective circulation of corporate securities in Uzbekistan, protection of investments in securities market and state regulation in insurance sphere, connected with securities operation. The press release did not elaborate on changes. However, UzReport.com possesses copy of the decree on introduction of amendments. The document said the issuers of corporate bonds cannot use insurance agreement as only security for emission of corporate bonds. It said the issuers of bonds can use insurance agreement as security only in that case if they have security of third persons. The amendments will come into force on 21 September.

From http://markets.uzreport.com/ 09/20/2006


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AUSTRALIA: Better Co-Operation in Banking Supervision with New Zealand

Chris Pearce announced that the Financial Sector Legislation Amendment (Trans-Tasman Banking Supervision) Bill 2006 has been introduced into Parliament today. This Bill represents a significant step towards fulfilling the Australian Government*s commitment to develop a single economic market between Australia and New Zealand. It delivers on the agreement, between the Treasurer and the New Zealand Minister of Finance, to develop a seamless regulatory environment for banking services by implementing the legislative changes that were announced by the Ministers on 22 February this year. New Zealand is currently progressing its own reciprocal legislation through its Parliament. Given the high level of commercial integration between the Australian and New Zealand banking markets, there are key benefits in moving towards seamless regulation of banks on both sides of the Tasman, including minimising compliance costs and promoting efficiency. ※This Government has a direct, substantial and ongoing interest in reducing compliance and administration costs for consumers and business in Australia§, said Mr Pearce.

The legislative amendments are expected to improve the ability of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to cooperate with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which should reduce impediments to banks in choosing the location of their systems and functions within the trans-Tasman market. This is expected to bring compliance cost and efficiency benefits for banks with operations in both Australia and New Zealand and have flow on benefits for consumers of banking services. ※In developing these proposals, the Government recognises that Australian banks operate across borders and need to be competitive in an increasingly global financial system. Allowing banks greater flexibility in how they structure their operations should also assist Australian banks compete with large international banks that are able to centralise systems and functions to secure cost savings. ※The implementation of legislative changes reinforces Australia*s commitment to the trans Tasman single economic market objective and will provide a path for further progress in the area of banking supervision§, Mr Pearce said. Mr Pearce thanked stakeholders in Australia and New Zealand who were involved in the development of this proposal and provided comments on the draft Bill.


From http://parlsec.treasurer.gov.au/ 09/14/2006


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Red Tape, Poor Funding Holding Back Aged Care

Two reports show how government regulations and miserly financing are keeping aged-care services on the breadline. The federal Aged Care Act controls almost every aspect of aged care: - Government subsidies 〞 which account for about 70 per cent of the revenue of an aged-care service 〞 are (understandably) fixed by the Government; - Resident fees 〞 90 per cent of residents are full or part pensioners 〞 are fixed by regulation; - Refundable deposits paid by residents moving into low care are not fixed in terms of the amount but are restricted only to beds designated as "low care". While Federal Government subsidies for aged care are increased each year by an amount determined under a formula that the Department of Finance administers, they bear little relation to the movement in aged care service costs. The indexation rate, based on movements in the basic wage and CPI, has hovered around 2-3 per cent for most of the past decade 〞 well behind increases in other prices regulated by the Government, such as private health insurance premiums (about 7 per cent a year recently) or MPs' salaries 〞 now on the march after an initial freeze in the early years of the Howard Government.

This means that aged-care providers have limited scope to vary their revenue or improve their financial situation. They must focus sharply on the cost side of the equation. One of the tools they use to help them is benchmarking 〞 measuring their performance against a range of peers. Two well-known commercial benchmarking services that regularly report on the financial health of the aged-care industry will deliver a disturbing snapshot of their most recent findings to the Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) national conference on the Gold Coast tomorrow. Both show an industry with small margins. For the nine months ended March 31 this year, a survey by Stewart Brown and Company noted that financial performance was trending down, especially in high care, and that only 30 per cent of the services they measured were at break-even or better. This is a reversal of the upward trend noted by the Bentley Underwood National Residential Aged Care Survey for the period ended June 30, 2005, although this movement was only 2.7 per cent. Notwithstanding that the two studies sample different aged-care providers, there are other reasons for the differences.

In the 2004 pre-election federal budget, the Government responded to the tight financial situation confronting many aged-care services by adding 1.75 per cent to the normal indexation amount and foreshadowed that it would repeat this for each of the four years of the 2004 forward estimates. This is the most likely explanation for the upward movement in the data to June 30, 2005, during which period wages growth was less than revenue growth. This changed 〞 due to large wage rises, initially won by nurses in the public hospital system in NSW, spreading to aged care. These 5 per cent and 6 per cent increases were much more than the extra funding provided by the Government in the 2004 budget, but put aged-care services back into the red, even with additional one-off funds of $500 million in 2004 and $150 million in 2005 to aged-care providers. This has led to a hand-to-mouth existence for the residential aged-care industry, Australia's ninth-largest employer. It has been even harder for those providing community care to people still living in their own homes, who have not benefited from the recurrent and one-off adjustments paid to residential care services.

Why do aged-care services do it, and how can this unsatisfactory situation be fixed? About two-thirds of aged care is provided by not-for-profit organisations. They cannot afford to operate at a loss but they do have philosophical and other reasons to be involved in providing aged care. Similarly, for many of the commercial operators, aged care is their family business. It's what they have always done. It is what they know and what they like to do. For both, there is the hope that things will get better, backed by knowing that 〞 like their clients 〞 they may be income poor but they may be asset rich and could sell often valuable real estate if they had to (the Salvation Army decided recently to withdraw from residential aged care in Victoria). If the Government were to index the prices it pays to reflect the real costs of reasonable inputs for providing quality aged care; if it removed some restrictions on user-pays by consumers who could afford to pay more and if it lightened its regulatory hand to reduce some costs of operating an aged-care service (and the states followed suit) then the aged-care industry could improve its balance sheets. Greg Mundy is CEO of Aged and Community Services of Australia, a representative group of the aged-care industry.

Why do aged-care services do it, and how can this unsatisfactory situation be fixed? About two-thirds of aged care is provided by not-for-profit organisations. They cannot afford to operate at a loss but they do have philosophical and other reasons to be involved in providing aged care. Similarly, for many of the commercial operators, aged care is their family business. It's what they have always done. It is what they know and what they like to do. For both, there is the hope that things will get better, backed by knowing that 〞 like their clients 〞 they may be income poor but they may be asset rich and could sell often valuable real estate if they had to (the Salvation Army decided recently to withdraw from residential aged care in Victoria). If the Government were to index the prices it pays to reflect the real costs of reasonable inputs for providing quality aged care; if it removed some restrictions on user-pays by consumers who could afford to pay more and if it lightened its regulatory hand to reduce some costs of operating an aged-care service (and the states followed suit) then the aged-care industry could improve its balance sheets. Greg Mundy is CEO of Aged and Community Services of Australia, a representative group of the aged-care industry.

From http://www.theage.com.au/ 09/18/2006


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NEW ZEALAND: Finance Firms Face Tough New Rules

Finance companies will face tougher rules under proposals issued yesterday as part of an overhaul of the financial services industry. The Ministry of Economic Development has proposed a two-tier regulatory system for "non-bank deposit takers" including finance companies. They will be required at least to meet tougher requirements for disclosure and for their trust deeds which provide investor protection. The trustees - who ensure finance companies operate within the requirements of their trust deeds - will remain their front-line regulators, but they will be supervised by the Securities Commission. As well, finance companies - as well as building societies and credit unions - will be able to opt to become "authorised deposit takers". As such, they would have to be licensed and have a minimum credit rating and would face increased governance and disclosure obligations. They would also have to maintain minimum cash reserves under the supervision of the Reserve Bank. The ministry is also seeking comment on whether finance companies which choose not to become authorised deposit takers should face mandatory credit ratings, and tougher scrutiny of their balance sheets.

Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel said recent finance company failures and calls for the Government to "do something" about them had not diverted the review of financial products and providers from the path it was following into a "kneejerk response". "It is important to stay focused on the big picture and not to overreact," she said. But some of the proposals relating to finance companies match what commentators have suggested after the failures of National Finance 2000, Provincial Finance and Western Bay Finance over the past four months. Dalziel said the review would ultimately provide "effective meaningful disclosure in plain English, so people can understand what they're getting into" and accountable supervision of the sector. Businesses would benefit from more effective access to capital and increased public confidence. Ministry deputy secretary Mark Steel said the review was part of an overall process of financial reform which over the past six years had dealt with the Takeovers Code, supervision of capital markets and insider trading.

"This is the completion of that process." Other proposals in the review include: * Clarification and simplification of the Securities Act to improve the level of disclosure for consumers and investors and to ease access to capital for sophisticated investors. * A single consistent set of regulations for collective investment businesses. * Greater regulation and disclosure requirements for platforms and portfolio management services * Updated insurance industry legislation which builds on what the ministry recognises as "strong industry self-regulation". * Improving the finance industry's consumer disputes and redress process by either replacing the banking and insurance and savings ombudsmen with a single watchdog or setting up several separate ombudsmen with one supporting organisation. Submissions on the discussion documents close on December 1 and policy proposals will be presented to the Government by April.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/01/2006


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Tax Take Higher than Forecast

Tax revenue for the year ended June was $2.1 billion higher than forecast in the May Budget, most of it from businesses. But the increase does not reflect a perkier economy or higher profits, just an accounting quirk. The Inland Revenue is now confident it can estimate provisional tax accurately enough to record it as it accrues rather than when it is paid. The result is that for a transitional year, that to June 2006, one additional tranche of provisional tax revenue from companies and the self-employed has been brought to book, boosting the Government reported income by $1.8 billion. It accrued before June 2005 but was paid in September. The result is that the official tax take for the 2005/06 year was $56.2 billion instead of the $54.1 billion forecast or the $54.4 billion which would have been recorded under the previous system. As it happens the Treasury does believe economic activity was stronger in the first half of the year than it had expected, and has revised up its estimate of gross domestic product growth for the year to March 2005 from 1 to 1.5 per cent. But it sees company profits as under pressure from rising input costs and wages.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/08/2006


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CHINA: Private Schools May Provide an Alternative

Private tutorial schools are illegal under the country's Compulsory Education Law, as an official from the Ministry of Education was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Such a statement may demonstrate an intention to put an end to debates surrounding such private classes. But this is unlikely to happen. The problem is more complex than it appears. It is not an ordinary violation of the law that can or should be handled with an outright ban. Privately organized schools are not licensed, as is required by the law, and parents have a legal obligation to send their children to licensed schools where unified curricula approved by the State education authorities are taught. State-sanctioned compulsory education aims to provide children with not only knowledge, but also moral principles, codes of conduct and physical training. Such a wide range is beyond the reach of many private institutions. But the emergence of such institutions raises a question we must not evade: Why do parents opt for beyond-the-system schooling? In a culture featuring sky-high parental expectations for their children, few would risk ruining their children's future by choosing a wrong school. They would not have made such an adventurous choice without analyzing the merits and demerits of private and public teaching institutions.

In reality, the parents who chose to send their children to private tutorial classes were attracted by merits absent in public schools. No wonder many parents insist on their children's right to private tutoring, and the organizer of such a class claims that he may file a lawsuit against the education authorities. The amended new Compulsory Education Law, which will take effect September 1, stipulates that students enjoying nine-year compulsory education do not pay tuition and fees. Those parents have to spend 30,000 yuan (US$3,700) a year on their children's education at a private tutorial school in Shanghai. It is easy to outlaw private tutorial classes. But while doing so, the education authorities should ask themselves why those parents are more than willing to pay extra money to have their children sit in illicit classes. Those parents, either teachers in middle schools and colleges or successful businesspeople, know what they are doing. Interviews with organizers and parents who send their children to such schools may help the education authorities discover the shortcomings of the curricula we are using for public schools. Illegal as they are, such classes may be instrumental in finding out what is wrong with their public counterparts. Besides their peculiar appeal to picky parents, private tutorial classes can be a priceless reference for reform of primary education in our public schools.


From http://news3.xinhuanet.com/ 08/25/2006


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Beijing Invests Heavily to Improve School Facilities for Migrant Students

Beijing is to allocate 80 million yuan (10 million U.S. dollars) to improve teaching facilities in schools for migrant children, the municipal education committee has announced. The city has 49 private schools for migrant children approved by the local education authorities, as well as more than 100 schools established without official approval. Most of the unapproved schools had problems, such as potential safety risks, poor hygiene and sanitation, unqualified teachers and low educational standards, said a source with the local education committee. A survey of unapproved schools over the past two months had highlighted problems, said the source. It was also carried out to ensure every migrant child was receiving a proper education. Schools that failed to meet student safety standards, or where staff were unqualified or building unauthorized would be shut down, according to the local education committee. Students from the closed schools would be transferred to public schools or approved schools for migrant children. Migrant families could choose to attend a public school or a migrant school, and public schools were banned from imposing any extra charges, according to an official with Beijing Municipal Education Committee.

In July, the Haidian Education Commission issued a circular clamping down on 37 private schools for migrant children in the district and assigned the 15,000 affected students to nearby public schools. "There are more than 50,000 migrant children in our district, and one-third of them are studying in private schools," said Zhu Jianxin, section chief with the Haidian Education Commission. "A lot of those schools are poorly equipped, and accidents such as food and gas poisoning, roof collapses, fire and traffic accidents might occur at any time." China has roughly 120 million migrant workers, with more than 2.8 million in Beijing, working the lowest-paid and riskiest jobs. The number of migrant schools has mushroomed in the capital as more children and their parents arrive in the city. Most of the migrant schools collect cheap fees and suit the needs of low-income migrant families in the city. Beijing has 370,000 migrant children. The municipal government has invested 137 million yuan to improve teaching facilities in schools for migrant children in the last two years, according to the education committee. Last year, Beijing invested 7.5 million yuan in building five schools specially for migrant children in Chaoyong, Fengtai, Changping and Daxing districts.


From http://news3.xinhuanet.com/ 09/06/2006


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China's Private Sector Accounts for Half of National Economy in 2005

Private enterprises created half of China's wealth in 2005 and are poised for an even bigger role in the coming years, the China Daily reported, citing the findings of a key government think tank. 'The non-State-owned sector is projected to contribute three fourths of China's GDP in five years, when at least 70 pct of the country's firms will be privately owned,' the report quoted the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) annual report as saying. Based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics, the 'Blue Book of the Non-State-Owned Economy' raised domestic private business contribution estimates to 50 pct of China's GDP last year, the newspaper said. They also provided eight out of 10 new jobs in the non-agricultural sectors, the newspaper added. If the contributions of overseas-funded ventures are included, the private economy accounted for roughly 65 pct of the national economy in 2005 and the ratio is expected to jump to 75 pct by 2010, the daily cited the CASS document as saying. Private firms generated sales of 797.3 bln yuan last year, and taxes paid by private firms have grown by at least 40 pct per year over the last five years, compared with an annual increase of less than 7 pct by state businesses, the daily said. Jobs created by private firms in urban areas rose from 150 million in 2000 to 207 million last year while state-owned companies cut 15 million jobs in the period, the newspaper said. Annual investment by private firms almost quadrupled to 5.32 trln yuan last year from 1.38 trln yuan in 2000, with annual growth averaging 29 pct, the daily added.


From http://www.forbes.com 09/21/2006


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Private Firms Powering the Economy

After creating half the country's wealth in 2005, private enterprises are poised for an even bigger role in the years ahead, a key government think-tank said yesterday in Beijing. "The non-State-owned sector is projected to contribute three- fourths of China's GDP in five years, when at least 70 percent of the country's firms will be privately owned," the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicted in its annual report. While the private sector lurked in the shadows only a quarter-century ago, its current high profile is a testament to the country's support policies, but more equitable treatment is needed, industry representatives said at a seminar to mark the release of the report. Based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics, the "Blue Book of the Non-State-Owned Economy" revised earlier estimates that domestic private businesses have contributed one-third to China's GDP in recent years. The latest findings raised their contribution to 50 percent last year. They also provided eight out of 10 new jobs in non-agricultural sectors. If the quantum contributed by overseas-funded ventures is added, the private economy accounted for roughly 65 percent of the national economy in 2005 and the ratio is expected to jump to 75 percent by 2010, the report says. Private enterprises have proliferated, especially in recent years, when the government set out constitutional guarantees and policy incentives to buoy the healthy development of the sector and protect the property of entrepreneurs.

As a result, they have galloped into industries once dominated by State-owned enterprises. For example, private firms generated sales of 797.3 billion yuan (101 billion U.S. dollars) last year an annual growth of 55 per cent since 2000 in smelting and processing of ferrous and non-ferrous metals alone. They have also invested in sectors such as post and communications, power and coal gas, according to the report. In tandem, the growth rate of taxes paid by the private sector has by far surpassed that of State companies and the sector has become a major contributor to State coffers. Over the past five years, taxes paid by private firms grew by at least 40 percent a year, compared with an annual increase of less than 7 percent by State businesses. "In many a local region in China, tax revenue generated by the private sector accounts for over 80 percent of local government revenue," the report says. Despite their stellar performance, said Gu Shengzu, vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, private companies still face barriers in securing financing, which was hobbling their development. Less than 10 percent of total bank lending goes to domestic private firms while overseas-invested businesses enjoy preferential treatment in taxation and financing, he pointed out. Chen Yongjie, one of the main authors of the report, said private companies must be given a level playing field promised to them in terms of market access, financing and tax policies. Chen said he believed that a group of conglomerates competitive in both local and global markets would emerge in the private sector by 2010. "Some of them will join the ranks of the Global 500," he forecast.


From http://news3.xinhuanet.com/ 09/22/2006


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JAPAN: To Protect Postal Bank from Takeovers

Japan Post Corp. said it will try to protect from takeovers, especially by foreigners, the postal savings bank and postal life insurance company that Japan Post's privatization will create, Kyodo News Service reported Tuesday. Postal savings and insurance operations will remain important national assets, even after the privatization, and must be protected from "takeovers by foreign companies at any cost," Japan Post President Yoshifumi Nishikawa said at a committee session in the Upper House of parliament, Kyodo reported. Japan Post will be the holding company of the postal savings and the life insurance company as well as two other units to be created in October 2007, when the 10-year process of privatizing Japan's postal services will begin. Nishikawa said Japan Post will work out transparent rules for the protective measures, such as the issuance of equity warrants to existing shareholders. The postal savings bank and insurance company are due to be listed within four years of their establishment, the report said.


From http://www.easybourse.com 08/29/2006


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Postal Privatization Details Eyed by April

The postal privatization headquarters will ask Japan Post Corp. to provide details by the end of April on how it intends carry out its privatization, officials said Friday.The headquarters is overseen by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and made up of all other Cabinet ministers.Japan Post Corp. was set up in January as a joint stock company to draw up a plan for the privatization of Japan Post, the public corporation that runs the postal system.Issues the plan is supposed to address include how the privatized company will ensure lawful conduct, as recommended by a headquarters panel of outside experts.The headquarters has also instructed Japan Post Corp. to ensure that its information systems are adequate and to take other steps to prepare for the privatization, which is due to start in October 2007.The headquarters called on the panel to study the licensing of new lines of business for the privatized postal savings bank and life insurance company.Japan Post has come under fire in recent months over questionable business practices, including the discovery in May that a post office in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, had provided illegal discounts on mail service to certain large customers.


From The Japan Times 09/02/2006


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Japan Business Lobby Chairman: Hope Abe Continues Econ Reforms

The head of Japan's most powerful business lobby Monday expressed hope that the new administration will continue outgoing Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's reforms of deregulation and privatization of public services. "I have high expectations," said Fujio Mitarai, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, better known as the Nippon Keidanren, referring to the appointment of major party officials by Shinzo Abe, the new head of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Abe, Japan's presumed next prime minister, earlier Monday named a fiscal conservative and a hawkish Cabinet member to top ruling party posts, suggesting he would press ahead with pro-growth economic policies at home and an assertive stand abroad. Mitarai also said he hopes the new administration will continue in the long term, mentioning Koizumi's five-year reign. "As the Japanese economy faces a turning point amid the globalization trend, you cannot afford to let the speed of political decision-making slow down," Mitarai said during a regular news conference in Tokyo. Asked about the recent political turmoil in Thailand, where many Japanese companies base their overseas operations, Mitarai said that "the impact shouldn't last for a long time and it shouldn't affect Japanese economic policies."


From http://www.easybourse.com 09/25/2006


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SOUTH KOREA: Woori to Be Privatized By March 2008

The government plans to dispose of its controlling stake in the Woori Financial Group, the country's third-largest financial services company, by March 2008 in phases, the Ministry of Finance and Economy said on Wednesday (Sept. 6). In its white paper, the ministry's public fund management committee said the government will privatize Woori through block sales and other methods by March 2008. ※We plan to reduce our shareholding in Woori steadily depending on the market situation,§ a ministry official said. ※Up to the March 2008 deadline, we will find investors who are eager to buy Woori. As Woori has enjoyed stable earnings growth, there will be many investors out there awaiting the deal.§ Created by a government-initiated restructuring scheme in April 2001, Woori Financial commands eight financial institutions, including Woori Bank. It is 78 percent owned by the state-run Korea Deposit Insurance Corp. The paper said the government will also put Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, Daewoo International and Ssangyong Construction and Engineering up for sale at appropriate times. ※The sales will be conducted in a transparent and fair manner with the agreement of all existing shareholders,§ the official said. The ministry said it will start selling the shares early next year, two years behind the original plan. Previously, lawmakers were against the sale of Woori when the government set a deadline of April 2005, fearing the state-owned company might be sold too cheaply.


From http://www.korea.net 09/07/2006


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MONGOLIA: Privatization of Power Station to Be Withdrawn

A working group was set up on September 6 at the decision of the regular Cabinet meeting to have it become acquainted with the circumstances created after the privatization and winter preparation of the Baganuur power station and issued proposals on future activities. The group introduced the nowadays situation in the power station to the irregular Cabinet meeting last Friday. According to the report, winter preparation in the power station is insufficient and stands so far at 40 percent. Moreover, 450 million togrogs are required for normal operations of the power station and for passing the winter. The power station conducts its running repairs with loans from domestic companies and enterprises. The group has concluded that the power station is unable to pay in order to normally run its activity, to finance running expenses and to provide winter preparation. The report also reflects the mistakes made in the station s privatization. The Cabinet meeting made a number of decisions to withdraw the privatization issue of the power station on the basis of the conclusions by the working group and professional organizations and to take back its properties to the state ownership. The Coal and Energy Minister B.Erdenebat, the State Property Committee Head D.Sugar and the Ulaanbaatar City Mayor Ts.Batbayar are ordered to complete the station s winter preparation within November 1.


From http://www.montsame.mn 09/11/2006


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Savings Bank to Be Privatized

The first stage of privatization of the Savings Bank of Mongolia was completed last week. The consortium of the Trade and Development Bank, Agricultural Bank and Chinggis Khan Bank, the "D.Batbayar and Emperor group, the consortium of four Japanese companies, the Anod Monnis consortium, the Capitron Bank consortium, the American ATD Bank and the Soyuz Bank of Russia applied to take part in the privatization tender. The State Property Committee officials called a press conference last Friday to announce how many banks will participate in the tender, which was announced on July 4. Nine banks have been selected to partake in the tender by passing more than ten criteria such as running at least five-year activity in the banking sector, having 20 million USD capital assets, owning non-governmental property and others. The Russian Vneshtorg Bank, whose 96.6 percent is under the state ownership, was subtracted from the tender. The selected banks will become acquainted with activities of the Savings Bank under a schedule and will deliver their bids to the State Property Committee prior to 6 p.m. of October 25. The State Property Committee s working group will announce the final results of the tender on November 3.


From http://www.montsame.mn 09/11/2006


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INDONESIA: Government to Auction 400 Property Assets

Asset Management Company (PPA), a state agency set up to manage assets formerly handled by the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA), is putting 400 of its property holdings up on offer in an open auction, to help finance this year's budget deficit. The proceeds from the property assets sale will supplement the company's main revenue generator, the selling of government shares at several private banks, PPA head Syahrial said Thursday. He did not elaborate on the value of the property assets, or when the auction would be held, saying PPA would provide all the needed information to investors through its website (http://www.ptppa.com) in due time. "We are of course expecting to raise the highest possible proceeds from the sale, which will be held before the end of this year," Syahrial said, after the signing of an electronic-based auctioning system for the assets, with the Finance Ministry's Director General of State Claims and Auctions, Machfud Siddik. "We are offering 400 property assets, half of them being apartment units." The assets are located in the country's five main cities -- including Jakarta and Medan. PPA, a unit under the Finance Ministry which took over the management of assets from banks bailed out by the now-defunct IBRA during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, still held at the end of last year 5,199 assets worth Rp 8.9 trillion (US$978 million).

Property assets -- including 219 apartment units in South Jakarta's Puri Casablanca -- make up 3,935 of the holdings, at a value of Rp 3.1 trillion. PPA also manages the government's 25.9 percent stake in Bank Permata and 5.24 percent stake in Bank International Indonesia (BII), which it expects to sell this year as well. The company had recently asked the Finance Ministry to set the value of all the properties it holds so that they can be sold by this year. The 400 properties are part of 600 properties already valued by independent auditors as well. Some 1,500 remain to be valued. PPA is expected to contribute some Rp 2.35 trillion in cash to the state budget this year through the disposal of the assets. It has contributed some Rp 250 billion to state coffers so far this year. PPA had contributed Rp 6.01 trillion last year, from its Rp 5.12 trillion target. This included Rp 2.19 trillion in proceeds from the sale of the government's remaining 5.02 percent stake in Bank Central Asia (BCA) and Rp 2.68 trillion from its 10.5 percent shares in Bank Danamon.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 09/01/2006


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MALAYSIA: Meeting with Private Sector to Clarify Delivery System

A special meeting will be held between the players in the private sector and key government agencies to clarify any discrepancies about announced policies and actual implementation in the government delivery system. Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the meeting would take place before the year-end and was aimed at clarifying the perception that announced policies were not being implemented. Speaking after a dialogue between the National Implementation Directorate (NID) and analysts and fund managers, he said the private sector had expressed concern about the coordination among various government agencies and the government delivery system. He said the open discussion was for fund managers and analysts to voice their suggestions on how to improve this delivery system※Some of the issues raised were the conflicting guidelines among the ministries and the bureaucratic processes. This needs to be improved,§ he added. He also said that there were instances where approvals were only given after 11 weeks when the approvals could have been given after a week. ※We must have more mutual trust. Perhaps we can shift the focus to giving out approvals first and then enforcement can come after by checking the validity of documents as one way to speed up approval processes,§ he said.

Minister in the Prime Minister*s Department Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi said under a comprehensive study, the government*s private investment panel was discussing with private investors and various chambers of commerce to identify key reforms for the government delivery system. The National Implementation Task Force chaired by the Prime Minister would take further action on the findings of the study, he added. ※One common grouse is the long wait for permits and approvals to be granted. A famous story involved hotels, where approvals involved some 71 processes. It has been reduced by half but this is not good enough,§ he said. He said Malaysia*s 25th ranking in the recent World Bank*s report on Doing Business 2007 needed to be improved. Nor Mohamed said the business community*s response to the Ninth Malaysia Plan and Budget 2007 was positive, as it understood the direction of the government. ※They know clearly that we are going to make the private sector retake the role as engine of growth and they know that we are going to be very transparent about the rules and regulations,§ he said. He also said the only issue that the business community kept bringing up was for the government to have better implementation mechanisms.

From http://biz.thestar.com.my/ 09/12/2006


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PHILIPPINES: Making Education a National Priority

In June of this year, the inquirer referred to private sector involvement as the brightest spot in Philippine public education. The private sector has indeed poured a lot of resources into education. At the 2005 Corporate Social Responsibility Expo, I reported that P1.5 billion went into various education programs that year. One year later, over P1.2 billion was poured into all kinds of education initiatives. So much money, so much energy, so much generosity. But clearly, something is amiss. We don*t seem to be reaping the kind of fruits that so much generosity might be expected to yield. We have had many education programs that have helped specific schools, teachers and students. But these programs seem to have had little impact on the overall quality of education in the country. The National Achievement Test (NAT) results remain low, the High School Readiness Test (HSRT) results are dismal, and our ranking in the Trends in International Math and Science Studies (TIMSS) has not improved. We have had many creative and sophisticated programs that serve as showcases in the places where they are implemented. But these programs have often been hard to replicate or to scale up. But every time we hear about our NAT and HSRT results, and about our performance as far as the TIMSS is concerned, we wonder: are we putting our money in the right places? Have our investments been strategic?

The World Bank speaks about ※islands of good governance.§ I think that for public education, the business sector has created ※islands of good practices.§ We have significantly improved the performance of specific students and specific schools and initiated consortium efforts with various education stakeholders. But at some point, we must start thinking about making success not simply insular, but system-wide, and about making the kind of investments that demonstrably improve education quality. As we look back on the various initiatives of the business sector, it seems that we have never really worked together around a common goal for education. Yes, we are united around the broad aspiration of improving the quality of education in the Philippines, but we have taken varied directions without achieving the kind of forceful cohesion that makes an impact on a national scale. So allow me, in behalf of the League of Corporate Foundations and our partner institutions, to propose that we, as a community, seriously consider working together, over say, a period of five years on a common goal. But first, we need a goal that focuses on performance and on students actually and measurably learning better. Second, we need a goal that everyone can understand: one that we can easily grasp, no matter what kind of organization we belong to. Third, we need a doable goal that we can commit to〞not without some discomfort, of course, but with the belief that success is within striking distance. Fourth, we need a goal that articulates direction and galvanizes everyone into action.

By the force of its clarity and stakeholder appeal, this goal becomes not just a target, but also a rallying point, even a national battle cry. We propose that the private sector, the Department of Education and our partners jointly adopt, for the next five years, this goal: To bring up the national average test results from 57 percent to 75 percent in five years. Clear. Measurable. Performance-based. And reasonable. For now, we only ask for the passing grade: 75.But now to the tough questions. Can this proposed goal be achieved nationwide? Is it possible to operationalize this goal across such an ※archipelagic§ spread? I know of a mayor in Nueva Ecija who has made a commitment to take care of raising the quality of education in the 15 public schools in her town. At this level, isn*t 57 to 75 more doable? What if we make 57 to 75 the goal of every region, of every province, every city, every town and even every barangay? Let*s tackle another tough question. If 75 percent is the goal, then what would prevent the government or the private sector from simply focusing on getting better performance from the top schools and provinces, hoping that this would pull up the national average? That is why, along with 57 to 75, we also propose to focus first on the low-performing schools. We must put them on the path to 75. The campaign line is: ※No school below 60.§This way, the NAT average will hopefully rise with the improved performance from these erstwhile low-performing schools. This proposal has four components.

The first one is community participation. Sustainable development depends on the school and community taking charge of their own future. We cannot do it for them. We can only support them. The second component is called ※the minimum basket of goods.§ Our programs and activities should be simple enough to be delivered system-wide. We are looking for programs that can be standardized and scaled up〞not the highly sophisticated ones that can be done only in a few schools. The third component is resource mobilization. The production and delivery of the inputs and interventions must be supported by resource mobilization at strategic levels, a strategy consistent with the principle of community participation and empowerment. And finally, we will need enabling laws and policies. Any school level assistance can prosper only with a supportive and enabling legislative and executive policy environment. This proposal will mean long hours of planning and a lot of hard work in setting up structures and mechanisms before actual implementation. (by Aniceto M. Sobrepe?a)

From http://opinion.inq7.net/ 09/25/2006


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THAILAND: Prasert Attacks PTT Privatisation Critics

Delisting PTT Plc from the Stock Exchange of Thailand would cost the government as much as 600 billion baht, according to president Prasert Bunsumpun. The energy conglomerate, which listed on the SET in late 2001, is the largest company on the exchange, with a capitalisation of 1.5 trillion baht or close to 30% of the entire market's value.

From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com/ 09/02/2006


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BANGLADESH: Effect of Private Universities on Public Universities

We can not deny the great role of private universities in giving access of higher education to many deserving students who cannot be accommodated in the public universities due to seat shortage. What seems to me more important is that when we address some anomalies existing in most of the Private Universities in the country we should not forget about the responsibility of some of the senior teachers of public universities who are serving in the private universities neglecting their duties entailed in their main job. Now-a-days what has become most common in the public universities is the much delayed announcement of students' exam results (which is taking sometimes 6to7 months to finalise) whereas a private university hardly takes more than a month to do the same job done by the same teachers. Morover, it has become a trend in the Public University not to cover the whole syllabus or cut it short due to their inability to take sufficient classes. Another grave objection is that public universities are rewarding too high grade points to its' students presumably to allure students to get enrolled in there institution.

Moreover, teachers in the public universities seem to enjoy unofficial holidays caused due to campus violence rather than doing anything to stop these incidences sincerely. To add our suffering some (political!) teachers do politics not to solve any problems directly related to interest of the students but to please their political boss shamelessly. Unfortunately some student organization seem not to care about general students' long-suffered problems which they used to express hopelessly only among themselves. Actually students' heart are bleeding with rage against some so called intellectuals who says too much but do too little to regain the lost status of Public Universities(e.g. University of Dhaka, once Oxford of the East).This is the general feeling of the students who have come to get higher degree from renowned public universities but have been trying survive the harsh reality and unhealthy educational environment in their campuses. So, it has become now crucial to look into the long queued problems of public universities as well as the private universities to regain their accountability and sense of responsibility. It would be great service to this bleeding nation as well. ( by Arif Sadeq )

From http://www.bangladesh-web.com/ 08/29/2006


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Rupali Bank to Be Sold Out for $330m to Saudi Prince: Privatization Commission*s Decision

The Privatization Commission, at last, is poised to award the state-run Rupali Bank to a Saudi Prince for US$ 330 million, beyond the sell-off price it has expected, reports UNB.(Bangladesh Observer)Prince Bandar Bin Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Saud put the highest stake on the bank on sale while his nearest contestant, Domestic Investment Consortium, comprising some banks, stood far down in the bidding with a paltry amount US$ 100 million on their offer. Two other bidders〞Maa International Investment Ltd of Malaysia and JJ Finance Ltd of the UK〞were rejected citing their technical faults, according to sources in the Commission. ※The offer of the Saudi Prince is the highest and we will take our decision on Monday. The final decision will come from the Prime Minister*s Office,§ Commission Chairman Enam Ahmed Chowdhury told UNB Sunday, adding that they did not expect such a high amount from the sale of the bank. He said, ※At last we proved that we could generate a system in the country amid existing obstacles in the country. We generated a big boost in the country as well as in the economy#there lies our achievement and joy.§

The Commission opened the technical offers by the bidders on August 21 and, in association with Bangladesh Bank, assessed the bidders* efficiency, management and operations system and financial viability. On the other hand, after submission of tenders, JJ Finance, one of the bidders, alleged that the commission showed &favouritism* to a few bidders. Earlier, the commission had short-listed seven companies in the queue from home and abroad, including the Saudi Prince, as potential buyers. The government that owns 94 per cent of Rupali*s shares decided to sell 67 per cent of its stakes in order to appease the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, as the multilateral donor-duo conditioned loans from them with reforms in the banking sector. Rupali Bank is the smallest of the four nationalized commercial banks, having only 6.42 per cent private shares. It has 493 branches, over 2,525,000 deposit accounts and 5,731 staff. The bank*s total asset is estimated at Tk 59,488.4 million. Total assets of the Rupali Bank, as shown in December 2005, stood at $1.07 billion. The Supreme Court on August 22 suspended execution of the High Court*s stay on the process of selling off the state-run bank for a week.

The Appellate Division chamber bench of Justice Amirul Kabir Chowdhury issued the rule in response to an application filed by the Privatisation Commission. The court also asked the original petitioner, ABM Abu Taher, to file by this time a regular application for leave to appeal seeking to overturn the HC order. Attorney-General AJ Mohammad Ali moved for the government and barrister Ajmalul Hossain QC for the Privatisation Commission. Dr M Zahir stood for the Rupali Bank while Dr Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury appeared for the petitioner. Earlier on August 22, the HC in a ruling put a stop on the sell-off procedure for three months. It also issued a rule on the government, Privatisation Commission and Rupali Bank to explain why their activities to sell the bank &should not be declared illegal*. An HC division bench comprising Justice M Joynul Abedin and Justice Mushtaque Hossain Ahmed had issued the rule following a writ filed by Abu Taher, an employee-cum-shareholder of the bank. The share price of Rupali Bank on Dhaka Stock exchange today jumped to Tk 1640 at the close of trading where it started at Tk 1300. The highest price was Tk 1700. Some 22,790 shares worth Tk 35.33 million of the Rupali changed hands today in a brisk business, with the petrodollar being within sight of the stock traders.

From http://www.bangladeshobserveronline.com/ 08/28/2006


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INDIA: Public and Private Sector Need to Promote India as Healthcare Destination Worldwide

The Minister for Tourism & Culture, Smt. Ambika Soni emphasized that there is a need to promote India as the new emerging Medical Value Travel destination abroad. The private and public hospitals need to synergize their efforts and promote India as the Healthcare destination worldwide. Speaking at a function to release Incredible India brochure on Medical Tourism, here today, Smt. Soni said that there is also need to project India as the credible quality destination, where an international patient is assured that he is being given best quality treatment at competitive costs. The Healthcare Industry will also have to standardize their processes and make its functioning more transparent and accountable. She further said that India*s healthcare sector has emerged as the largest in the service sector. Indians now spend over Rs.1, 00,000 Crore a year on healthcare, and the sector contributes 6.2 percent to the GDP. Experts project that by 2012, it will contribute 8 percent to the GDP and employ 9 million people. But one of the many challenges it faces is to provide good quality, affordable healthcare to all. The National Health Policy, framed in 2002, has the stated objective of ※achieving acceptable standards of good health among general population§.

In order to achieve this, there is need to reduce inequalities, imbalances that exist between regions, cities and villages and different socio-economic groups. This opportunity that is presented by the Indian Tourism Industry now stands to be further augmented by the Medical Value Travel. India has also become the preferred destination for ※Medical Value Travel§. The Minister said that India has done exceptionally well in the last three years in the tourism sector, with overseas footfalls expanding at near 20% average every year. By January this year, 3.3 million travelers had already visited India, spending close to $ 5 billion. The domestic travel is also witnessing rapid growth. Some 368 million Indians are venturing out of their homes, based on rising incomes, lower aviation costs, and more leisure time. The World Travel and Tourism Council has forecast that tourism will grow at a rapid rate of 8.8% per year for the next ten years, the highest in the world. The Industry is projected to attract a capital investment of $21 billion by 2014, up from about $10.2 billion estimated in 2004, according to a WTTC survey. Equally significant is the impact this growth will have on employment.

The travel and tourism industry already accounts for one of every nine job opportunities created in India, currently aggregating over 20 million employees. It is estimated that this industry generates more jobs per unit investment than any other sector, she added. She urged stakeholders including the doctors, hospitals, medical professionals, travel industry and the Indian government to strive towards making the patient feel the Indian ethos of ※Atithi Devo Bhava§ more so when he comes to you in a position that requires sensitive personal care and handling. A patient should leave India more spiritually and physically rejuvenated. Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, Minister for Health and Family Welfare also addressed the gathering on the occasion. The Ministry of Tourism along with CII and Indian Healthcare Federation has developed the Incredible India brochure that talks about the Healthcare procedures and services offered in India.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 08/30/2006


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Private Sector Comes Forward to Support Girls* Education

Yemen*s national efforts for acceleration of girls education and reduction of the gender gap are getting a major boost with the launch of Business Partnership for Girls Education here on Saturday that marks the beginning of a novel tripartite coalition between government, private sector and UNICEF. The Business partnership for Girls Education is first major private sector initiative of its kind in the country and is spearheaded by three leading business houses of Arwa Group (Shamlan Water), Spacetel and Universal Group. The Partnership illustrates private sector*s affirmation and resolve to play their role in the promotion of girls* education that has emerged as a national challenge demanding collective social action. Business Partnership goes into action in different audiences from people all over Yemen to parents, teachers and children in 5 specific districts. five selected districts of Lawder ( Abyan Governorate), Toor Al-Baha (Lahij Governorate), Al-Azareq (Dhale Governorate) AL-Munera ( Hodaida Governorate) and Sanhan ( Sana*a Governorate) with the campaign whose chosen theme is ※ Let me learn§ capturing the spirit of the girl child that is keen to go to school in the wake of all odds. Through this theme the campaign is trying to motivate all members of the community to play their role in the response to the urgency to reduce gender gap and send girls to school to realize one of the their basic rights.

The partnership is devoted to build a national consensus and attitudinal change for making a positive contribution in cash and kind to help overcome the barriers that surround the girls* education. Yemen is facing a serious challenge to bridge the gender gap that at the national level shows that there are 63 girls per 100 boys in the Primary schools. Beyond the national average, urban/rural differences are marked and rise to a high gender gap of 55 points meaning that there are 45 girls are enrolled per 100 boys〞making the gender gap one of the highest in the region. The accelerated campaign is the forerunner and part of the national programme to increase September enrollment and counter the high levels of drop-out in girls education in Yemen. The launch is organized jointly by the Ministry of Education, Business Partnership and UNICEF to affirm their commitment for promotion of girls* education in a concerted manner to help achieve the national goal. The Business Partnership aims to mobilize a large and diverse group of private sector partners to create a sustainable private sector for education§ group to strengthen the social context for supporting access to basic education, especially for girls. In a practical demonstration of their support, private sector is distributing posters, flyers, stickers, notebooks, and assisting with production of radio and TV flashes for creating awareness on the importance of girls* education. More notable among the other partners is World Food Programme which is playing a key role in the distribution of educational material through their well-established distribution mechanism related to Food for Education.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 09/25/2006


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MALDIVES: President Advised to Privatise MIFCO Finance Minister

MALE, Aug 30 (HNS) - The Finance Minister, Gasim Ibrahim, said Tuesday that he has advised the President to sell all the assets of MIFCO under certain a policy and privatize the company. In an interview with Haveeru the Finance Minister said that he had done so in accordance with counsel given to him by the Economic Affairs Committee of the cabinet. Giving the opportunity of buying sand and exporting fish to private companies has brought remarkably good results and international economic entities have advised that the industry be completely opened to the private sector. These were the reasons, Gasim said, behind his decision to advise the president to privatize the state owned fisheries company. ※The amount of export has increased since the opportunity was given to private companies,§ Gasim said. ※Also the buying prices for fish have risen to levels that have never been reached before.§ He also said that the selling of the company would be governed by certain guidelines but didn*t go into details. Some time earlier the Fisheries Minister, in his 2004 Fishermen*s day supplement, had said that the government was working on the privatization of MIFCO. The Chairman of MIFCO responded that he was not aware of the counsel that the Finance Minister had given to the President but that MIFCO*s board of directors were discussing the privatization issue. The government recently issued licenses to four companies to allow them to buy and export fish. The companies are Jausa Fisheries Link, Island Enterprises, Horizon Fisheries and another company headed by Ahmed Thasmeen Ali. Finance Minister, Gasim, heads Island Enterprises. MIFCO officially commenced operations on the 1st of November 1993 as a state-run corporate enterprise for the processing and exportation of fisheries products.

From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 08/30/2006


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NEPAL: Private School Operators 'Surprised' by Announcement of Reservation

Private school operators have expressed "surprise" over what they term a sudden decision by the government asking them to set aside 10 percent reservation for scholarship to students from underprivileged groups. "This was unexpected news for us. In fact, we were working with the government to provide 2 percent reservation in scholarships to conflict-hit students and children of families of martyrs," said BN Sharma, vice president of Private and Boarding Schools Organization of Nepal (PABSON). Sharma added that even if this decision is 'imposed,' they cannot implement it now in the middle of the academic year. "We can implement new scholarship provision in the next academic year only and we are not in a position to provide 10 percent quota," he added. Likewise, Karna Bahadur Shahi, general secretary of National-PABSON, accused that the Ministry did not consult with them while announcing the percentage. "This is not practical.

Perhaps some schools have capacity to provide 10 percent quota but not all of them can do so," he argued. Baburam Pokharel, principal of VS Niketan College and advisor of PABSON, said that the government should not announce such mandatory quotas. "There are many schools that are not in a position to provide big chunk of scholarship due to their poor financial capacity," he said. He, however, conceded that the private schools, too, must demonstrate social responsibility and try to help the underprivileged students. Earlier, the cabinet approved the draft bill to amend the Education Act with provisions making it mandatory for private schools to set aside 10 percent of seats to underprivileged groups such as girls, Dalits and indigenous people. Government spokesperson and State Minister for Information Dilendra Prasad Badu said the cabinet has endorsed the bill, which would now be presented before the parliament for final approval. Government officials claim that the new provision would benefit backward section of society. There are around 800,000 students in over 10,000 private schools across the country at present. The new bill also proposes to set up criteria to select the students for scholarship under reserved quota.

From http://nepalnews.com 09/13/2006


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PAKISTAN: Lakhra Power Plant Privatisation Opposed

ISLAMABAD, Sept 2: Chairperson of the Pakistan People*s Party (PPP) Benazir Bhutto has expressed concern over the hasty and non-transparent privatization of Lakhra Power Plant at Jamshoro in Sindh and demanded that the plant workers be taken into confidence before going ahead with its privatization. ※Reports that the Lakhra Power Plant will soon be handed over to some private body has sent a wave of resentment among the workers who fear that they would be thrown out of their jobs. Concern has also been expressed over the non-transparent manner of its privatization,§ Ms Bhutto said in a statement issued here on Saturday. She said the workers of ※Asia*s biggest coal-based power plant stopped work and blocked the national highway in front of the plant protesting and raising slogans against its privatization§. The PPP chairperson said the privatization process under the present regime had been exposed for corruption and nepotism involved as in the case of Pakistan Steel Mills that was scrapped by the Supreme Court. Under the original policy the loss making units were to be privatized but the regime was selling the profit making units at throwaway prices to its cronies, she accused. Ms Bhutto said the power plant was providing low cost power and jobs to a large number of people but ※the present regime wanted to gift it to its cronies and favourites.§

She said workers of the plant must be taken into confidence before privatization and an agreement must be reached with them before it was handed over to the buyers. The PPP would keep a watch on the privatization process and agitate against corrupt practices, she said and added that the party was committed to fight for the rights of the working class. Staff Reporter adds: A People*s Party Parliamentarians (PPP) member of the Punjab Assembly on Saturday alleged that the fire in the Privatisation Commission office was ignited by the government itself to destroy the documents of privatised entities in which irregularities were committed. Speaking at a press conference here on Saturday, Farzana Raja further alleged that gross violations were committed in the privatisation process. State units were sold to favourites at throwaway prices. ※To conceal the facts, all the records were deliberately set on fire,§ she said. The privatisation documents of banks, PTCL, KESC and Pakistan Steel Mill were very important and a big asset, she said. The MPA recalled the Supreme Court decision which recently annulled the privatisation of the Steel Mill, adding that it had exposed the dishonesty of the authorities concerned. She demanded that the chief justice of Pakistan should take notice of the fire incident and order an inquiry to expose the truth.

About the overall situation in the country, she said Pakistan was passing through worst crises. Apart from the host of social issues, the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti has opened another Pandora*s box. Blunder after blunder is committed and now Gen Musharraf should read the writing on the wall, she said. She condemned the army operation and expressed full solidarity with the people of Balochistan. She said the most backward province had no proper representation in the centre. The handful of representatives are those aligned with the establishment. Probe: The Privatization Commission (PC) authorities have ordered an inquiry to ascertain the causes of fire that erupted on the PC premises reportedly due to short-circuit on Friday morning, reports APP news agency. A spokesman said a senior official appointed as inquiry officer had recorded the statements of those present during the incident. The fire erupted in the wooden photocopier cabin on the second floor of the building and damaged the adjacent two cabins housed by some lower staff and an officer. The fire also damaged two working and two condemned photocopy machines, three computers, two old windows, AC and one split unit along with the furniture and carpets.

From http://www.dawn.com/ 09/03/2006


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Institutional Mechanism to Identify and Implement Counter-terrorism Initiatives and Investigations Jointly by India and Pakistan

Institutional mechanism to identify and implement counter-terrorism initiatives and investigations jointly by India and Pakistan will allow Pakistan inform terrists of sensitive Indian anti-terror infrastructure. It is bad for India - bad for even common people of Pakistan. Pakistan media obviously ecstatic. This is much bigger than those F16s from America. Pakistani media in Islamabad today said the step would remove India's "posture of fear" of cross-border terror besides ensuring that both countries deal with the issue institutionally. According to emdia reports, alleging that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has "surrendered" national interests to Pakistan at Havana, Jammu and Kashmir BJP today claimed that the proposed joint mechanism to fight terror would only benefit the neighbouring country. "What made the Prime Minister to suspend the composite dialogue with Pakistan and postpone the Foreign Secretary-level talks which were to be held at Islamabad in the third week of July? Was it the July 11 Mumbai bombings? If it was not July 11, then what it was?," J-K BJP spokesman Hari Om told reporters here. "What is it that has made him change his whole approach to the peace process and once again engage Pakistan in the dialogue process," he asked. "Pakistan has forced India to change its conventional stand on Islamabad's unstinted support for cross-border terrorism and made India to endorse its dubious formulations that Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism," he alleged. "BJP believes that joint mechanism would only benefit Pakistan and enable it to carry on its anti-India activities with more ease." Hence the BJP has been left with no other option but to accuse the Prime Minister of misleading and letting down the nation and changing the country's foreign policy at the behest of Pakistan and its friends, Om added. (by Sonia Joshi )

From http://www.indiadaily.com 09/18/2006


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Poverty, Illiteracy Big Evils of South Asia: NGOs

Islamabad, Sept.18: Peace lovers from Pakistan and India have described weapons of mass destruction (WMD), poverty, illiteracy, intolerance and extremism as the root causes of economic instability in South Asia. Addressing a press conference at the Lahore Press Club under the auspices of the Institute of Peace and Secular Studies, Lahore, in collaboration with Action Aid-Pakistan, they said love was the most effective weapon. They said the diversion of national resources of the South Asian countries towards offensive purposes in the guise of defence expenditure has kept the counties (Pakistan and India) backward. Ms Shazia Shaheen, a women*s rights activist, criticised the politicians for their tactics to hinder the proposed legislation on the Hudood ordinance for their own vested interests. Ms Richa Singh, an Indian participant, highlighting the plight of the Indian women said that illiteracy, poverty, evil social norms and intolerance contributed to the poor social environment and biased attitude towards women in rural areas of India. Dr Uma, the head of the Pak Studies department of the Jawahar Lal Nehru University, stressed the need for annihilation of extremism on both sides of the border to make the Indo-Pak peace process successful.

"The people of South Asia should press their governments to resolve all the issues without the intervention of any super power," she said. She added that none of the countries in the region should enter into any defence or nuclear agreement with any super power, which might provoke the sentiments of hatred and fear in spite of peace and interreligious harmony among the people of this region. Col. (retd.) J.V. Chopra, who came to visit his birth place, Jhang, said that the people of the Indo-Pak region should dispel fear and pessimism from their personal and social lives as these sentiments propagated a sense of disparity in society. He said that he was aware of the catastrophic effects of war on civil society and cautioned that war and the border escalation should be avoided at all cost. "Peace, stability and security cannot be achieved through accumulation of missiles, tanks and submarines. Dialogue leads to the pragmatic solutions of all territorial issues all over the world and it would also be instrumental in resolving the issue of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Ms Nusrat Sheikh, an activist of Action Aid-Pakistan, said the participants had to undergo many hardships for getting their visas. She stressed visa-free entry to all the South Asian countries for the people of the region, as it would help accelerate and promote religious harmony in the region. The participants of the 2nd Visa-Free and Peaceful South Asia Convention hailed the leaders* decision to resume the peace talks between India and Pakistan at a meeting in Havana. Popular Indian ghazal singer Srinivas launched his music album Shanti Yatra and another Indian singer, Sima Ghazal presented Kalam-e-Faiz. The participants also staged a hunger strike in front of Lahore Press Club and demanded of both Pakistan and the Indian governments to relax the visa restrictions between Pakistan and India. "Nukes are nothing but weapons of destruction, relax visa restriction, abolish nukes from South Asia, and let the divided families unite again," a participant said.

From The Asian Age 09/19/2006


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IRAN: Expats* Capital Can Improve Privatization

Privatization drive will gain momentum once Iranian expatriates begin to invest in their motherland, said a lawmaker here on Friday. Hadi Haqshenas, a member of Majlis Plan, Budget and Audit Commission, told ISNA that Iranian nationals residing abroad hold significant assets, stressing that many invested their capital in other countries following the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein*s Iraq. ※Statistics at hand suggest that close to $10 billion (of goods) were re-exported into Iran last year,※ he said, adding that multinational companies, particularly Iranian firms, are involved in export of goods into the country from Dubai. ※So if Iranian companies based in other countries, particularly Dubai, are encouraged to move to (the southern Iran ports of) Bandar Abbas and Bandar Imam, then transportation costs will decline drastically and the national banking system will get a new lease on life,※ he explained.

The lawmaker said some 25 percent of goods re-exported into Iran via the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone in the United Arab Emirates belong to Iranian nationals. An economic expert also said last month that if Iranian expatriates are encouraged to buy shares of state companies, the eight-percent economic growth rate will certainly materialize. Mahmoud Jamsaz told ISNA that the *genuine* private sector cannot afford to purchase shares of state companies, stressing that the huge capital held by Iranian expatriates needs to be attracted and injected into the privatization drive. ※There are differing estimates of the expatriates* total capital, but what is clear is that it is so huge that it will be enough to buy shares of all state companies,※ he said, adding, however, that greater economic security must be established and economic rules have to become more transparent in order to attract expatriates* investments. The expert said only if 10 percent of this capital arrives, things will change drastically in Iran. According to the leader*s recent directive, some 80 percent shares of state companies should be transferred to private ownership.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 09/02/2006

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Private Banks Can Use Foreign Exchange Reserves

Private banks have reportedly been allowed to make use of the Foreign Exchange Reserve Account*s holdings under a recent decision by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI). Mostafa Karim, secretary of the Private Banks Association, told Mehr that private banks can also deal in foreign exchange-related affairs as per the law. ※Nowhere in the law on banks* foreign exchange operations has been mentioned the condition that such banks must necessarily be state-run,※ he said, adding that the CBI has conducted the required expert studies on private banks* use of foreign exchange reserves. He said the initiative will help private banks extend greater financial facilities to their clients and will boost investments in the manufacturing sector.

Some private banks and leasing firms have reportedly refused to extend financial facilities in recent weeks following the Money and Credit Council*s controversial decision to cut lending rates. CBI Governor Ebrahim Sheibani said late last month that punitive actions will be taken against banks which refuse to implement the key ratification to cut lending rates to 17 percent. He said the *punishments will be of diverse types* without going into the details or saying the extent of the penalties. ※Private banks will have to extend facilities in accordance with the ratification and if they are found to be violating the law, they will face penalties of different kinds,※ he said, adding that leasing firms should also follow the same procedures. ※These (leasing) firms are mostly affiliated to banks or carmakers,※ he said, adding that cutting leasing firms* lending rates from 25 to 17 percent was a logical decision.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 09/03/2006

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Gov*t to Restrict Involvement in Private Industrial Activities

Minister of Industries and Mines Alireza Tahmasbi said here on Sunday that the Ahmadinejad administration is seeking to restrict state companies* investments in private industrial activities. Addressing a group of industrialists from West Azarbaijan province, the minister said that under the 2025 Vision, the share of industries and mines in gross national product (GNP) will increase from the current 18 to 25 percent, adding that production of competitive goods is the main challenge facing the industrial sector at present. He said the Labor Law, customs duties and bank lending rates have to be amended if the objective of quality production at competitive prices is to be realized. He hoped that funds would be earmarked from the budget allocated for the president*s provincial trips for developing infrastructures and building roads to ease access to mines.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 09/04/2006

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AUSTRALIA: Private Sector Key to Solving City Thirst

SYDNEY need never be constrained by a lack of water, with any shortage fixable with political will, money and the introduction of competition from the private sector that would make new sources of the resource affordable. Infrastructure expert Rod Sims said there were at least three options to solve the city's water problems: piping it from rivers as far away as the Snowy and Murrumbidgee, recycling and desalination. The director of consulting firm Port Jackson Partners said the key to the solution was exposing Sydney Water to competition from the private sector, which would ensure the resource was delivered at a price consumers were willing to pay. "(It) is just inadequate management," Mr Sims said. "The problem is very solvable and there are at least three ways you can address it." Sydney has already reduced its water use from 625 billion litres in 2000-01 to 526 billion litres in 2004-05, largely by imposing restrictions. But it is clear this will not be enough, with levels in the city's main storage of Warragamba Dam at 40.4 per cent of capacity and falling. Mr Sims said recycled water for non-drinking purposes - gardens, toilets and showers - could be provided to houses in new developments and industry, something already happening on a limited scale.

Water diverted from the Snowy Hydro Scheme and irrigators on the Murrumbidgee could supplement water being taken from the Shoalhaven catchment, which serves the Illawarra, south of Sydney, "provided they don't take too much". "You could link the Shoalhaven to the Snowy and Murrumbidgee. That may be too expensive, but it is possible," he said. "The third option, which means all this is solvable, is desalination." Mr Sims acknowledged desalination used a large amount of energy, but said even with a carbon tax on electricity it would produce water at prices Sydney people could pay. And United Utilities managing director Graham Dooley said the amount of energy required for desalination was dropping year by year thanks to technological advances. Mr Sims argued the private sector should be allowed to compete with Sydney Water. "Then you would have a lot of people trying to solve the problem, rather than the Government feeling it has to solve it all," he said. Business Council of Australia director of policy Maria Tarrant said that because most water infrastructure was government-owned, there was a "real challenge for people to know whether we are getting the greatest efficiency out of that". United Utilities has just won a tender to take effluent from Cronulla sewage treatment plant in the city's south and process it for use at Caltex's oil refinery at nearby Kurnell.


From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/ 09/02/2006

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Corporate Australia Encouraged to Participate in Youth Development Program

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, Senator Sandy Macdonald will tonight encourage prominent Australian companies to become members of the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme*s Admiral 100 Club. ※Since 1988, the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme (YEYS) has offered a dynamic development program for nearly 500 young Australians every year aboard the tall ship 每 Young Endeavour, in partnership with the Royal Australian Navy, corporate and community organizations,§ Senator Macdonald said. ※Admiral 100 Club members sponsor a young Australian to be a youth crew member on an 11-day voyage which focuses on developing leadership, communication and teamwork skills. Crew learn to push personal boundaries in a uniquely challenging ocean setting.§ ※This is an opportunity for corporate Australia to offer a unique staff training and development program or a reward for a young person in the community.§ ※The Young Endeavour Youth Scheme embodies much of what the Government strives to build in the Australian community. ※ ※Essentially the program is about partnership and striving to work together to overcome adversity.

It also strengthens ties between the men and women of the Royal Australian Navy, youth, and the corporate and community supporters of the program.§ A majority of youth crew members are selected by a twice-yearly ballot process from Australian States and Territories, with YEYS also offering financial assistance to ensure the program is accessible to all young Australians. The Admiral 100 Club is another avenue for involving the Australian community in youth development. ※Over the course of an 11 day voyage, youth crew learn all aspects of sailing a tall ship on the open sea including climbing the 30m mast, setting sails, navigating, keeping watch and taking the helm. They live &between decks* in a close community with other youth crew from a diverse range of places and backgrounds.§ Senator Macdonald is speaking at the Admiral 100 Club Black Tie Dinner at Garden Island, Sydney as a guest of Chief of Navy.


From http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/ 09/07/2006

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FIJI: Fiji's Private Sector Awaits Commerce Commission Move on Electricity Charges

The private sector in Fiji is concerned about the impact of possible blackouts or power shortages on businesses if the Fiji Electricity Authority, the FEA, goes ahead with plans to ration power. The proposals come after the Commerce Commission agreed but then suspended a decision to allow the FEA to impose a 30 percent fuel surcharge. The vice-president of the Fiji Chamber of Commerce, Humphrey Chang, says businesses won't know what to do with employees if there are blackouts. The private sector is waiting to hear the outcome of the Commerce Commission decision over the surcharge this week but Mr Chang says businesses are expecting to face the extra costs, either through the blackouts or increased electricity charges. "Those industries which are export-oriented are going to be hit in such a way that they may not then be competitive with others in the same kind of industry. For the businesses that are local, I'm afraid they're just going to have to pass it down to the consumers."


From http://www.radionz.co.nz/ 09/18/2006

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NEW ZEALAND: Govt Wants More Women on Private Sector Boards

To mark Suffrage Day, Minister of Women*s Affairs Lianne Dalziel is highlighting three new initiatives by the private sector that aim to see women better represented at board level. ※While the state sector is well on its way to achieving the government*s target of equal representation on state sector boards, women*s representation on private sector boards is much lower, at around seven percent for the top 100 NZX listed companies, " Lianne Dalziel said. "It's great to see the private sector rising to the public sector challenge by taking steps to address the gender imbalance in New Zealand company boardrooms." Three new databases are being established to make it easier for private sector companies to find women with the skills and experience necessary for board roles. Professional director and businessman, Sandy Maier and Jens Mueller of Waikato University's Management School are building a web-based service for matching director candidates with organisations searching for new board talent. The Auckland Chamber of Commerce (Chief Executive Michael Barnett), in partnership with the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust (Executive Director, Philippa Reed), is developing a web-based brokerage service to connect suitably qualified women with small to medium enterprises seeking new board members.

A third internet-based initiative, Real Contacts for Directors, is being set up by Rosanne Hawarden, Managing Director of Computer Support Enzed Ltd and Syspro New Zealand Ltd. Lianne Dalziel said research showed that diversity in board membership and company management added value, so private sector efforts to put women onto boards would benefit everyone. The Ministry of Women's Affairs Nominations Service, which has played a key role in getting women onto public sector boards, will publicise the databases, referring women to them and establishing information links to the databases from the MWA website, Lianne Dalziel said. The Nominations Service will also be able to inform women on its database about private sector board opportunities. Lianne Dalziel said she had no doubt that private companies would benefit from the skills, knowledge and experience women could offer. ※I can think of no better way to celebrate the memory of the suffragists who fought to gain women the vote than to support those who seek to ensure women*s voices are heard in the boardroom as well as in the House.§ Suffrage Day, Tuesday 19 September 2006, is the 113th anniversary of New Zealand becoming the first country in the world to grant women the vote.


From http://www.scoop.co.nz/ 09/18/2006

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