February 2007, Issue 63
unpan-ap@sass.org.cn
 
 
  Ending Poverty in Asia Key Challenge: ADB Exec
Asia Pacific Water Forum Urges Regional Action
Final 6-Party Accord Dropped Abandonment of Nuke Arms from 1st Draft
 
  CHINA: Underline People-centered Policy,New Development Approach
Chinese Premier Wen Outlines Priorities of Gov't Work in 2007
HK to Adopt New Rule Against Money Laundering
China Regulates to Help Disabled Find Jobs
Chinese Gov't Approves Oil-refining Project
President Hu Stresses Need for Balance in Regional Development
Enterprises Violating Environmental Protection Rules Will Struggle to Get Bank Loans
China to Support Development of Ethic Areas
JAPAN: Abe Eyes New Assistance Measures
LDP Panel Calls for Major Revision of Conspiracy Bill
Ministry Set to Revise Broadcast Ownership Law
Japan Faces Dilemma as 6-Party Talks Shift Focus to Economic Aid
LDP to Submit Film Piracy Bill
Gov't Adopts Bills to Reform Statistics,Help Local Railways
Disparity Policy Drafted Hastily
Election Law Revision to Lift Leafleting Ban
Govt to Test New Terrorism Surveillance System
SOUTH KOREA: Premier Stresses Strategies Aimed at Social Depolarization and Economic Growth
Seoul Unveils Action Plan to Protect Human Rights in North Korea
Gov't out to Abolish Gender Discriminatory Laws
Justice Ministry Plans to Improve Foreigners' Rights
Medical Reform Bill Proposed
MONGOLIA: Anti-Corruption Law Amended
Law on Labor to Be Amended
 
  INDONESIA: Govt Lifts VAT from Primary Products
Govt Drafting Rules on TNI Businesses
Govt to Release Rp 3 Trillion for Flood Alleviation Works
MALAYSIA: Shahrizat: Policies on Women Will Be Updated
Sarawak Reviewing Land Policy on Premium Rates
SINGAPORE: Unveil Budget to Grow Economy,Help Low-Income Workers
THAILAND: 2008 Budget Set at 1.635 Trillion Baht
VIET NAM: Southern Province Plans for Faster Growth in'07
Forestry Development Strategy Approved
 
  BHUTAN: Draft Constitution: Final Version Ready
INDIA: Amend Matrimonial Cruelty Law: Seminar
Indian Government Says No to Euthanasia
Govt.Plans to Implement ICT Policy in Puducherry India
Gurung Calls to Formulate Election Laws Soon
NEPAL: Terai Turmoil: Begins Statute Amendment
Improving Livelihoods for Disadvantaged Groups in Nepal's Eastern Hills
PAKISTAN: Family Laws Bill Presented in NA
Pakistan Softening Visa Policy
Federal Cabinet Grants Legislation Regarding Human Organs Transplantation
Govt Taking Bold Steps to End Anti-women Laws: Musharraf
Prevention of Anti-women Practices Bill Moved in NA
Cabinet Okays More Funds for Education,Human Organs Law
India,Pakistan to Discuss Liberal Visa Policy Next Month
 
  AFGHANISTAN: Afghanistan to Begin Issuing Birth and Death Certificates
AZERBAIJAN: President Signed Decree on Scholarship Fund Raising
Azerbaijan Telecommunication Ministry Prepares Proposals on Tax and Custom Legislation
TURKMENISTAN: President Decrees Education Reform
UZBEKISTAN: Cabinet Approves Programme to Ensure Children Well Being
Uzbek Cabinet Adopts Decision on Socioeconomic Development
 
  AUSTRALIA: Bill Would Require Sex Offenders to Register Online Information
Govt Pursues National Identity Card
Pensioners Assisted by Changes to Exemption Rules on New Homes
$1.8m Funding Boost for Home and Community Care in the ACT
Government Acts to Improve Debt Agreements
Tourism Australia Legislation
Melbourne's Water Restrictions to Stay
New Protection for Independent Contractors and Workers
Government Amendments to the Trade Practices Act 1974 每 ACCC Representative Actions Under the Secondary Boycott Provisions
Govt Looks to Strengthen Trade Law
Boycotts Rule May Stifle Protests
Rudd Plans $1.5b Clean Coal Fund
FIJI: Govt to Fund EGM Redundant Workers Rehabilitation Scheme
Govt to Enact Employment Relations Bill
NEW ZEALAND: Infrastructure Bonds to Drive Transport Investment
Helping Households Towards Sustainability
Prime Minister's Statement 2007
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Ministry of Education Reviews Education Action Plans
 
  ADB Blacklists 37 Companies for Corruption
Top Ten E-government Countries 2007 Ranked by Wasada University
World Bank Steps Up Anti-Graft Drive; Blacklists 112 in 2 Years
ASEAN Launches 40th Anniversary Logo
OECD Secretary-General Stresses Governments' Role in Anti-corruption Drive
 
  CHINA: Train All County Officials for Building New Countryside
Crackdown on Fraudulent Ads Launched
China Builds Network to Offer Legal Aid to Migrant Rural Laborers
China Cracks Down on Corruption in Crisis-hit Medicine Industry
Subsidy to Cover More Aged Rural Parents
China Has Nearly 3 Mln Cadres from Ethnic Minorities
China to Tighten Supervision on Social Security Fund
JAPAN: NSC to Launch in April'08
Education Council Proposal Upsets Local Authorities
Foreign Ministry to Set Up Panel of Experts on ODA
Calls for Cabinet Reshuffle Continue
LDP Eyes Real Estate Fund Ban
SOUTH KOREA: Korea Times Editor Named Roh's Overseas Communications Secretary
Plans for Hanok Town in New Administrative City
Korea to Establish 25 New Diplomatic Missions by 2008
 
  INDONESIA: Govt,Regions Still at Odds on Autonomy
Govt to Build Houses for 1.5 Million People
Govt Plans Mosque-Based Empowerment Program
Govt Reviving Peatland Program
MALAYSIA: Government Will Set Up Police Commission,Says Mohd Johari
SINGAPORE: Govt to Form Ministerial Committee to Oversee Ageing Issues
Samy: PM Agrees Toll Concession Agreements Be Made Public
S'pore Appoints New Ambassadors to Austria,Czech Republic,Slovakia
THAILAND: Two Deputy Ministers Added to Government
Govt Plans to Clip Former PM's Wings
New Police Chief Appointed
Thai Government Replaces Police Chief in Aftermath of Bombings
Cabinet Appoints Two New Deputy Ministers
Thai Government Launches Publicity Centre
Officers Close to Govt Promoted
 
  BANGLADESH: ACC Chief,2 Commissioners Ready to Resign
Acting CEC Quits with Commissioners
Bangladesh Appoints New Poll Chief
INDIA: A Committee to Look into Affairs of Unauthorised Schools: High Court
NEPAL: Senior Minister Quits Over Terai Unrest
Terai Turmoil: Nepal Leaders Agree on Federal System
PAKISTAN: Mass Transit System to Be Launched in 8 Major Cities
MMA Council Decides Not to Resign from NA
 
  AFGHANISTAN: Government Representative Assassinated
AZERBAIJAN: Trial of Former Health Minister Opens
IRAN: President Appoints New Chief Aide
KYRGYZSTAN: New Political Party Formed
Kyrgyz Parliament Approves New Government Structure
KAZAKHSTAN: Officials Involved in Illegal Distribution of Apartments Dismissed
TAJIKISTAN: Interior Ministry Reorganized
TURKMENISTAN: President Appoints Officials
 
  AUSTRALIA: New Local Government Structure for NT
Opportunities,Threats and Sustainability: the Future for the Primary Sector as Seen by MAF Director-General
Security Planning on Track for APEC Meeting in Darwin
$13.3 Million Boost for Home and Community Care in SA
New Appointments to the Family Law Council
NEW ZEALAND: Acting Chief Executive and Government Statistician for Statistics
Resignation of Chief Executive of Department of Labour
SOLOMON ISLAND: PM to Face No-Confidence Vote
 
  Internet Governance Forum to Hold Stock-taking Session
Second SAARC Business Leaders Conclave
Waste Management Offers Asia Massive Business Opportunities
Republic of Korea Joins ITU to Strengthen ICT Capacity in Asia and Pacific
ADB Promoting Cooperation on Hazardous Waste Management in South Asia
EU Narrowing Innovation Gap with US,Japan
 
  CHINA: Inflation Will Not Spread,Says IMF
Hu Stresses Rejuvenation of Old Industrial Base in NE
China to Launch Clean Development Mechanism Fund
China Mulls New Measures in Environmental Protection
China Rebuilding Rural Cooperative Medicare System
New Poverty Alleviation Project Launched in Guizhou
China Outlines Civil Servants Training Plan
JAPAN: Testing Times for Education Reform Bills
Govt,Ministries Split over Amakudari Reforms
Abe Says Robust GDP Fruit of Structural Reforms
Govt Intends to Set Up System to Safeguard Secrets
SOUTH KOREA: Population Hits 49 Million,Set to Reach 50 Million in Five Years
 
  INDONESIA: Govt to Dramatically Reduce Number of State Firms,VP Says
MALAYSIA: Set Up Urban Governance Institute,Govt Urged
PHILIPPINES: National Integrity System Study Released
SINGAPORE: Special Schools Support Recommendations Under Masterplan for Disability Sector
29 Scout Leaders Receive Good Service Awards
VIET NAM: Oversight Committee Created for WTO Aid
 
  INDIA: India and China to Emerge as Leaders in Technology Innovation
IBM Expands Education & Innovation in India
Asia's Largest Slum Gets Its First Bank
 
  IRAN: ECO Planners in Session
KYRGYZSTAN: Innovative Project to Improve Livelihoods of Rural Women
Kazakhstan to Reform Military with Russian Help
TURKMENISTAN: Turkmenistan Holds Presidential Election
UZBEKISTAN: National Electronic Media Association Holds Media Forum
Seminar Discusses Implementation of Entrepreneurship Legislation
 
  AUSTRALIA: $500,000 for Learned Academies
Launch of Media Campaign to Keep Australian Welfare System Fair
Aussies Look to Finnish Innovation Model
Rating System Helps to Build a Greener Future
EMS Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture 每 on the Road to A Sustainable Future
Reforms to Extradition and Mutual Assistance Arrangements
Sustainable Village Launched in Qld
 
  IP Telephony Carrier Market Strong in Asia-Pacific Through 2011,Says Research Firm
ADB and Germany Launch Initiative to Address Asia's Urban Challenges
Asia-Pacific Firms Risk Losing Most Talented People: Survey
Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design
South Asia Falls Behind on Business Reforms
Mobile Phone Lifeline for World's Poor
Regional Issues Take Centre-Stage at World Mail & Express Logistics Conference
Asia Gets Environment Conscious
 
  CHINA: 4G Phones Go on Trial Run in District
China Deletes Harmful Online Information
China Soon to Be World's Biggest Internet User
Cyber Policemen Step Out in Shenzhen
Next Generation Internet Tops Scientific Events in 2006
'Salary Show' Hits the Net
China Opens Website for the Press Circle
China's Digital Cable TV Operators Required Providing 6 Analog Channels
China Provides Access to ID Database to Curb Fraud
China Pulls the Plug on Internet Pirates
Shanghai: Digital Map to Provide 3D View of Downtown
Beijing in Urgent Need of Digital Networks
China Registers Record-high Applications for Software Protection
Provincial Official Uses Internet to Send New Year's Greetings
China Battles Internet Gambling
SOUTH KOREA: To Create 90,000 Social Service Jobs
More Foreign Workers Needed
MONGOLIA: E-Governance to Be Supported
English Language Is Key of Development
 
  MALAYSIA: 10,000 Modern Farmers by 2012
ePerolehan Targets RM10b Volume by 2010
PHILIPPINES: Court Stops DFA's E-Passport Project with BSP
SINGAPORE: Govt to Introduce Medical Standards Enabling Info-Sharing of Patients' Records
Public Gives Budget Feedback at REACH Website
Small Online Businesses Get Boost with New Payment Scheme
S'pore Good Role Model in Managing Software Piracy Problem
THAILAND: Ministry Promotes Women in Politics
Govts to Share ID Data on Citizens
VIET NAM: HCM City Plans to Raise Quality of IT Sector
 
  BANGLADESH: Govt Builds Diesel Reserve for 30 Days in N Region
IT Sector Has Scope to Grow Further
Govt Puts Cap on New Vehicle Purchase Under Dev Projects
CG Chalks Out Massive Port Development Plans
INDIA: Coordination,Automation Needed for Solving Crimes: Sen
Delhi Govt Approaches Urban Development Min for MPD 2021
Economic Growth Must Be All-inclusive,Says Sonia
PM Urges Automotive Industry to Invest in Environment Friendly Technologies
E-Payment Solutions in Airports
E-Logistics,TCS,Indian Railways Plan to Develop Software to Track Trains Online
India Plans to E-Connect 20 African Countries
Govt Shoots Letter to Industry on Jobs for Minorities
PAKISTAN: PTA to Establish 400 Telecentres in Rural Areas
Free Electronic Media in Interest of Country,Democracy,Says Musharraf
More Money for Education in Pakistan
Industrialisation Key to Tackling Poverty,Says Musharraf
 
  IRAN: Cellphone Production Begins
Fixed Telephone SMS Service Planned
TAJIKISTAN: The Challenge of E-Government
UZBEKISTAN: Centre for Electronic Governance to be Created
Second Intl Mini-Technologies Fair to Be Held in Tashkent Early May
 
  AUSTRALIA: Minister Welcomes National 3G Network Investment
All States Now on Board to Help Young Disabled People in Aged Care Facilities
Record Numbers Commence University
Crucial ID Card Systems Lagging
Health Cost Rise Lowest for 6 Years
 
  Global FDI Inflows to Hit $1.5 trln in 2008 - S&P
ADB Launching Major Public Finance Knowledge Center in Manila
 
  CHINA: Banks to Assist Finance Science Projects
Banks Get Foothold in Financial Leasing Business
China's Banking Regulator Encourages Private,Overseas Capitals to Fund Rural Banking
Banks Clamp down on Misuse of Loans
Illegal Loans Totaling Billions of Yuan
Long-term Bank Loans Double for China's Real Estate Sector
Interest Rate Appropriate for Now,Says Official
NPLs Down at Domestic Commercial Banks
China's Tax Burden Still Low
Central Bank to Raise Deposit Reserve Ratio
JAPAN: Diet OK's Fiscal 2006 Extra Budget
Ministry Cuts Procurement Costs by 10%
SOUTH KOREA: To Spend 53.7 Tril.Won in Regional Construction Projects by 2010
Korean Won Hits New Nine-Year High Against Yen
Korea's Financial Watchdog Seeking Market Stability in 2007
Loans in Korea Surge 13.9% in 2006
Bank of Korea to Focus on Financial Stability This Year
MONGOLIA: General Government Budget in Statistics
 
  INDONESIA: BI Seeks Govt Incentives for Bank Mergers
WB Approves Loan Package to Help Farmers
Banks Demand 'Guarantees' for Long-Term Capital Works
PHILIPPINES: Treasury Sets Terms of P50-B Bond Swap
VIET NAM: State Bank Lifts Restrictions on US Dollar Deposit Rates
 
  BANGLADESH: Govt Decision on 26pc Rupali Bank Shares Next Week
Govt in Hunt for Tapping Quick Funds
Oriental Bank Management Cancels 'Benami' Shares Feited Shares
INDIA: Bank of India Launches Pensioner's Credit Card
Government Taking All Fiscal Steps to Check Inflation: Chidambaram
State Govt.to Invest INR 60 Million in E-Governance Project of WB,India
SRI LANKA: Int'l Donors Pledge $4.5 Bn
PAKISTAN: State Bank Sees 2006-07 Inflation Above Target
External Debt Fell to 111.7% from 300% This Fiscal: PM
Expanding Microfinance Outreach to the Poorest in Pakistan
 
  KAZAKHSTAN: Foreign Currency Exchange Rates Fixed by National Bank
TAJIKISTAN: Micro-Loan Schemes Need More Funding
UZBEKISTAN: Insurance Companies' Equity Capitals Continue to Grow
 
  AUSTRALIA: Banks Upgrade Web Security
Federal Funding Boost for Schools
New Voice in Call to Drop Four Pillars
NEW ZEALAND: Infrastructure Bonds
NZ Banks Improve Satisfaction Levels
 
   
 
  CHINA: Retail Sector Promising for Graduates
Chinese NGOs Increase to 346,000 Last Year
Private Firms "New Force" in Overseas Investment
China's Private Firm Owners "Not That Rich"
Private Business Owners Want Political Role
JAPAN: Osaka Pref.to Run Job Center with Private Firm
SOUTH KOREA: Gov't,Private Sectors Team Up to Spur Investment
 
  PHILIPPINES: Gov't Sees P2B from Sale of Bank,Airport
INDONESIA: The Problems of Higher Education Privatization
Privatization of Jakarta Water: How Far Can It Go?
Sale of State Assets Fetched P5.8B in 2006
SINGAPORE: Postal Sector to Fully Liberalise
 
  INDIA: Private Companies to Procure Electricity for Delhi
SRI LANKA: SLT to Invest USD100 Million in IP and International Projects
 
  IRAN: 2nd Major Privatization Undertaking in 2 Weeks
8 Private Firms Create Steel Consortium
 
  AUSTRALIA: Save Water by Charging More: CEDA
Small Business under Rising Wage Pressure
Rising Wages Fans Inflation Worries

Ending Poverty in Asia Key Challenge: ADB Exec

Despite Asia's splendid economic success stories,daunting challenges continue,not the least of which is poverty,Rajat Nag,new managing director general of the Asian Development Bank,said Wednesday in an interview with The Japan Times in Tokyo."My personal goal is only the same as the institution's goal,and the same as Asia's goal; that is to fight poverty," said Nag,who took over his post on Dec.12.According to Nag,Asia is home to two-thirds of the world's poor; 42 percent of Chinese citizens live on $ 2 a day.In India,the figure is 78 percent."The benefits of growth have to be more fairly shared," Nag said."Increasingly,one sees two faces of Asia -- the shining towers of prosperous Mumbai (Bombay) or Shanghai and the grinding poverty of many slums in urban Asia and in rural Asia," he said.Nag also stressed that economies in Asia should be more integrated to create "win-win" situations for all players."Our point is that we have to think about region integration as a way of reducing disparity between countries," Nag said.Touching on the possibility of a common currency in Asia,Nag said ADB officials have studied the proposed Asian Currency Unit,although only at the initial theoretical level.The ADB researchers now are looking at the ACU from an "analytical research work perspective,rather than policy perspective," he said."It is not something which is imminent." Nag is in Japan to meet with government officials and prepare for a general ADB meeting scheduled in Kyoto in May to mark the 40th anniversary of the international institution.Japan is the ADB's largest donor and,customarily,the post of president has been occupied by a Japanese.The current president is Haruhiko Kuroda.Nag said the ADB is now involved more in policy affairs.(by Reiji Yoshida)

From The Japan Times 02/07/2007


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Asia Pacific Water Forum Urges Regional Action

SINGAPORE (AFP) - A regional forum of international experts urged Asia-Pacific leaders Thursday to put better management of water resources and dealing with water-caused disasters on top of their national agendas.The low priority given to water issues had led to mismanagement,pollution and a lack of access to water for drinking,sanitation and other purposes,the governing council of the Asia Pacific Water Forum said after a two-day meeting here.It has also led to inadequate preparation in preventing disasters and dealing with the aftermath of calamities like recent deadly floods in Jakarta,the council said.

The forum,which includes experts from the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank (ADB),is preparing its position ahead of an inaugural Asia Pacific Water Summit in Japan in early December.Forty-nine national leaders have been invited to attend the December 3-4 summit to discuss water-related issues."We hope that one of the outcomes of the summit is that the leaders in their declaration will make a major commitment to making water a matter of great national priority in each of their countries," said Tommy Koh,chairman of the water forum's governing council.

The forum also hopes the leaders "will commit themselves to substantially increasing investments in the water sector," Koh told a news conference.K.E.Seetharam,a water and sanitation specialist at the ADB,said the Manila-based lender has doubled to two billion dollars its annual assistance to help countries improve the delivery of water services over the next five years.But he said the ADB "looks forward" to the support of government leaders and decision-makers to increase investments in water infrastructure.Indonesia's Erna Witoelar,a UN special ambassador to the Asia-Pacific region,said dealing with water-related disasters should also be a priority."The more we are aware of the increasing water-related disasters,the more we realise how little prepared we are ...not just to prevent water-related disasters,but also when it happens,how to go about it,and how to help handle the aftermath of those disasters," she said.In many Asia-Pacific countries there were four to five ministries handling water-related issues,in addition to local governments and other entities,she noted.

Witoelar and the other experts called for better coordination and governance of these various ministries and agencies.While Asia had 60 percent of the world's population,it had only about 36 percent of its water resources,said Ravi Narayanan,vice chairman of the forum's governing council.With regional economies growing rapidly,the demand for water was "insatiable," he said."The whole issue of the environmental aspect of water ...and issues of pollution ...are not issues for the future.They are with us and they are only going to get worse if we don't pay attention to that," he said.Hideaki Oda,of the Japan Water Forum,dismissed suggestions that future wars would be waged over water."If we live together,we can solve the problem of water," he said.

From http://news.yahoo.com/ 02/22/2007


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Final 6-Party Accord Dropped Abandonment of Nuke Arms from 1st Draft

(Kyodo) _ North Korea's abandonment of nuclear weapons was stated in a first draft of an agreement document for the six-party talks held earlier this month,but was dropped in a second draft drawn up by the United States after the North Korean side rejected it,negotiation sources said Sunday.Given that North Korea giving up nuclear development with highly enriched uranium was also reportedly removed from the document,experts said the focus of the six-party talks has apparently shifted from denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula to nonproliferation of nuclear materials led by those based on plutonium.The sources said China,Japan,South Korea,Russia and the United States -- five of the six parties to the talks -- got together Feb.11,the fourth day of the latest six-day round,and drew up the first draft document based on a preliminary paper presented by host China.The first draft included North Korea's abandonment of nuclear weapons and its production facilities as part of "initial" steps to be taken for Pyongyang to receive energy aid worth 300,000 tons of fuel oil.But North Korea rejected it,arguing the six parties need to discuss reduction of their nuclear weapons if they are to talk about its abandonment of nuclear weapons,the sources said.Against this backdrop,North Korea's abandonment of nuclear weapons was conditionally dropped in a second draft drawn up with the lead of the United States.The conditions included stating a reprocessing facility at the Yongbyon nuclear complex as those subject to shutting down and sealing,and discussing North Korea's nuclear development based on highly enriched uranium at a working group on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.Pyongyang has not admitted at the six-party talks to running a uranium enrichment program.The sources said Japan strongly insisted on keeping the weapons abandonment in the document but its voice "was limited" in influencing the talks because of its hard-line position over the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the past.Japan maintained it would not join energy aid unless progress is made in resolving the abduction issue.

In the end,the final document referred to North Korea's nuclear weapons just indirectly by stating the six parties "reiterated that they would earnestly fulfill their commitments in the joint statement" they adopted in September 2005.The joint statement commits Pyongyang to abandoning all its existing nuclear weapons and programs in exchange for economic and diplomatic benefits and security assurances.The latest document adopted Feb.13 is for implementing agreements in the joint statement,and highlights "initial" steps.In the initial phase within 60 days,North Korea "will shut down and seal for the eventual abandonment the Yongbyon nuclear facility,including the reprocessing facility and invite back IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications." In exchange,North Korea will receive energy aid worth 50,000 tons of fuel oil in the initial phase.Pyongyang will get assistance worth a total of 950,000 tons of fuel oil in the next phase,which includes North Korea completely declaring all nuclear programs and disabling all existing nuclear facilities,including weapons-grade graphite-moderated reactors and reprocessing plant,the document said.The six parties also agreed to set up five working groups to discuss specific issue -- denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,normalization of U.S.-North Korea ties,normalization of Japan-North Korea ties,economic and energy cooperation,and a Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism.The working groups will meet within 30 days and present reports at the six-party talks to be resumed March 19.


From http://asia.news.yahoo.com/ 02/25/2007


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CHINA: Underline People-centered Policy,New Development Approach

China will stick to its people-centered policy in its new approach to development,said Chinese State Councilor Hua Jianmin on Thursday.The Chinese government is currently focusing on four areas: promoting economic growth,conserving energy,tackling agricultural and rural problems and encouraging innovation,Hua told a session of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.China's economy grew 10.7 percent in 2006 with low inflation,he said,adding that the economy is expected to maintain an impressive growth in 2007.He said,however,the Chinese government will put efficiency before speed and seek "to build a resources-efficient and environment-friendly society." By 2010,China will cut energy consumption of per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by about 20 percent,reduce emissions of major pollutants by 10 percent and increase the recycle rate of industrial solid waste to 60 percent,he said.As the rural population accounts for over half of China's total population,he pledged the Chinese government "will continue to strive for coordinated development between rural and urban areas,and follow the principle of industry nurturing agriculture and cities supporting the countryside." To support agricultural development,promote rural prosperity and increase rural income are top priorities on China's modernization agenda,said Hua.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 01/26/2007


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Chinese Premier Wen Outlines Priorities of Gov't Work in 2007

China's Premier Wen Jiabao said on Friday that maintaining fast yet steady economic growth will be one of the major tasks of the government in 2007."Sharp fluctuations must be prevented," Wen said at a plenary meeting to discuss the drafting of a government work report to be delivered at the forthcoming fifth annual session of the Tenth National People's Congress.Efforts should also be made to restructure the economy and change the economic growth pattern,enhance energy efficiency and environmental protection,continue reform,opening up and innovation,boost social development and solve the problems concerning the people's daily lives,Wen said.Wen said the central government must "adopt a scientific approach to economic and social development".He emphasized the work at the start of the year,saying it was of "significant importance" to the work of the whole year,the last year of the current government's five-year term.Wen said the government should take measures to rationally control fixed assets investment,tighten the management of currency and credit,improve land control and management,and guard against excessive investment and loans.The premier also required government departments to work "vigorously" to enhance energy efficiency and reduce the discharge of industrial waste.

A preliminary estimate by the National Bureau of Statistics showed China's gross domestic product (GDP) reached 20.94 trillion yuan (2.7 trillion U.S.dollars) in 2006,up 10.7 percent year on year.China's fixed asset investment totaled 10.99 trillion yuan in 2006,up 24 percent year on year.Despite rigorous government controls,investment in property development still reached 1.94 trillion yuan,up 22 percent,or 0.9 percentage points higher than the previous year.Wen said that all government departments must seriously implement the policies that aim to support and benefit farmers and improve macro-control of the grain market to ensure a stable grain output.He required government departments to improve financial work by ensuring public funds are spent efficiently,practicing economy and opposing extravagance and waste.Wen said measures should be taken to ensure supplies of coal,electricity,oil and gas.Wen also urged government departments to be highly attentive to the problems concerning the people's daily lives.The government must improve social welfare work and ensure the basic necessities for people in poverty.He also stressed work safety,instructing government departments to take tough measures to prevent serious accidents and improve food and drug safety.

Wen said China had made significant social and economic achievements in 2006,which marked a good start to the country's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010).But he warned that the State Council should remain clear-headed,face problems and difficulties and be "frank" with the problems of the government in the work report.The government needed to improve administrative capability and firmly fight corruption."Those who get involved in collusion with business people or trade power for money must by severely punished." He also asked officials to work more efficiently and diligently,be down to earth and stand firmly against extravagance.After thorough discussion,participants to the plenary meeting agreed that the draft work report could be distributed to local governments,government departments and institutions for further discussion.Wen said the report should fully represent the interests,wishes and requests of the general public.He said the government should listen to opinions from different sectors,especially those from the non-Communist parties,the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce,people with no party affiliation,officials at grassroots level and the public.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 01/26/2007


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HK to Adopt New Rule Against Money Laundering

Hong Kong's Security Bureau said Thursday remittance agents and money changers must verify customers' identities and record transactions of 8,000 HK dollars (US$ 1,026) or more since Friday.They must also verify the identity of anyone who receives a remittance of 8,000 HK dollars or more,the bureau added.The requirements aim to meet the new international standard related to combating money laundering and terrorism financing.Customers must produce their Hong Kong identity cards - or certificate of identity,document of identity or travel document -for verification,and provide their addresses and telephone numbers.Agents and money changers must also record and retain the particulars of the sender and the instructor of any transaction if the two are not the same person.Commissioner for Narcotics Sally Wong urged them to include the sender's information in the transactions,to facilitate remittance to countries which demand such information.She said those who came across suspicious transactions should report to the joint financial intelligence unit,a team set up jointly by Police and Customs.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 01/26/2007


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China Regulates to Help Disabled Find Jobs

China's State Council,or the cabinet,Wednesday adopted a draft regulation to promote employment of the disabled people.Government departments at all levels are required to provide more training opportunities to the disabled and help them find jobs,according to the regulation,passed at an executive meeting of the State Council.The regulation also requires government departments to create more job opportunities to the disabled and better protect their legal rights.It says that all provinces and regions should include the employment of disabled people into their regional economic and social development plans and work out favorable and protective policies.Official figure shows that by April 1,2006,China has nearly 82.96 million disabled people,accounting for 6.34 percent of the country's 1.3 billion population.The regulation also encourages non-government organizations and individuals to offer assistance to the handicapped.The meeting also passed another two regulations,one on the setup of local governments and the other on the national fund for natural sciences.The three regulations will take effect after being issued by the State Council soon.The meeting was chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/14/2007


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Chinese Gov't Approves Oil-refining Project

A large oil-refining project with capacity of 10 million tons has just been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission.The project,located in Qinzhou of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region,becomes the first 10-million-ton project of oil refining in southwest China.A total of 15.2 billion yuan (1.9 billion U.S.dollars) will be invested in the project,which is to be constructed by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC),the country's largest oil and gas producer.The project,to be completed in 2008,will enhance competition between CNPC and its major domestic rival Sinopec Group in the market of southwest China.The project will mainly refine crude oil produced by CNPC outside China.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/16/2007


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President Hu Stresses Need for Balance in Regional Development

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Thursday stressed the need for a more balanced development of China's regions.At a study session of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee,which addressed the theme of coordinated regional development,Hu,who is general secretary of the Central Committee,said the Party must ensure the country's balanced development in order to achieve common prosperity and guarantee the benefits of China's economic reform are shared by all people.Three major development campaigns have been promoted by the government over the last five years - the "Western Development" drive focusing on the vast and poor western regions,the "Revive the old Northeastern industrial base" drive to boost the economy in three northeastern provinces and the "Central Rise" drive aimed at developing the landlocked central provinces.The campaigns are attempts at enabling these regions to catch up with the more prosperous eastern areas.Hu said the central government still encouraged the eastern regions to take the lead in development drives.But he stressed that the coastal regions should guide and help other parts of the country to develop and the state would increase its support for developing regions that lag behind overall national development.Hu called on the government to improve its financial,investment,industrial,land and population policies to promote balanced regional development.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/16/2007



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Enterprises Violating Environmental Protection Rules Will Struggle to Get Bank Loans

Chinese enterprises which violate environmental protection rules will find it hard to secure bank loans,according to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA).Zhang Lijun,vice director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA),said that SEPA would blacklist companies that violate environmental laws and include them on a database,which will be submitted to the People's Bank of China from April 1.Zhang said that he hoped the cooperation between SEPA and the People's Bank would force enterprises to be more self-disciplined in environmental protection and to control their pollutant discharge.The SEPA dispatched 1.67 million environmental protection supervisors to inspect more than 720,000 enterprises nationwide in 2006,identified 28,000 violations and shut down 3,176 enterprises.The findings have been included on the SEPA database.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/22/2007


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China to Support Development of Ethic Areas

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) plans to earmark 1 billion yuan (131.6 million U.S.dollars) to help build infrastructure in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities during China's 11th "Five-Year" Plan period.The Ministry of Finance will also allocate more than 1 billion yuan to improve the living conditions of ethnic groups and increase their incomes over the 2006-2010 period,according to the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC) on Friday.The commission allocated 200 million yuan (about 25.4 million dollars),while the ministry allocated 162 million yuan (21.3 million dollars) supporting ethnic areas in 2006,said a SEAC official.During the 10th "Five-Year" Plan (2001-2005) period,the NDRC invested 4.8 billion yuan (600 million US dollars) to help 1 million needy ethnic people move from remote and backward areas to new homes.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/23/2007


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JAPAN: Abe Eyes New Assistance Measures

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday instructed the Health,Labor and Welfare Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa to study new measures to assist war-displaced Japanese left behind in China in the final days of the war,following a ruling on a class-action lawsuit.The Tokyo District Court handed down the ruling Tuesday on the lawsuit filed by war-displaced Japanese who complained that the state assistance was insufficient for them to lead a decent life after their permanent return to Japan.Speaking to reporters at the Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday night,Abe said: "The government has provided for them in various ways,but these measures are still insufficient,including the way it supported them.So I asked the minister to thoroughly discuss with the ruling parties what the government can do to deal with this issue."


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 01/31/2007


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LDP Panel Calls for Major Revision of Conspiracy Bill

A Liberal Democratic Party panel studying a law to revise criminal laws in accordance with a U.N.treaty has drafted a proposal to significantly reduce the number of crimes to be covered by a bill that would make it illegal to conspire to commit certain crimes,party sources said Monday.The proposal was drawn up to revise a government bill that has been deliberated at previous Diet sessions,which would amend the Anti-organized Crime Law,with a view to recognizing the act of conspiring to commit certain crimes as illegal,even if no actual crime has been committed.The draft would limit the bill to five areas involving illegal acts: Terrorism; drugs; weapons; smuggling and human trafficking; and organized crime,the sources said.The draft sets out to drastically revise the government bill calling for a mandatory prison sentence of at least four years for more than 600 types of crimes,limiting the bill to certain types of crimes.The draft would significantly reduce the number of crimes covered by the bill,taking into consideration criticism by the Democratic Party of Japan and other political parties that too many crimes were targeted.The draft presented three proposals on the number of crimes that could be covered by the bill--listing 116,139 and 146 crimes,respectively,the sources said.The bill to recognize conspiracy to commit a crime as a crime in some instances is part of the government's efforts to make and revise a domestic law to ratify the U.N.Convention against Transnational Organized Crime adopted by U.N.General Assembly in 2000,which requires signatory countries to enact such a law to prevent organized crime,including terrorism and gang crimes.The government's call for a mandatory four-year sentence for those who conspire to commit certain crimes was based on the interpretation of the convention by the Foreign Ministry.Because the government's bill would punish those who violate the Public Offices Election,Forestry and Local Tax laws,among others,which are only loosely related to organized crime,there is concern that the police might abuse their power.As such,the LDP proposal departs from the former interpretation of the convention,choosing to punish instead only crimes related to organized crime.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 02/06/2007



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Ministry Set to Revise Broadcast Ownership Law

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has decided to allow domestic newspaper publishers or business corporations to hold more than 20 percent of the voting rights in a broadcast holding company,a ministry official said Friday.The ministry reported the decision to the Liberal Democratic Party's panel on upgrading communications and broadcasting industries the same day.In addition,the ministry is considering setting the maximum investment in a government-authorized broadcast holding company at 50 percent of the voting rights.The permissible range of investment ratios will be stipulated in a ministry ordinance,the official said.To implement the planned system for certified broadcast holding companies from fiscal 2008,the ministry plans to submit a bill to revise the Broadcast Law to the current Diet session,the official said.The envisioned broadcast holding company will be allowed to have key station and regional stations under its umbrella to achieve efficient management.It is legally possible to establish such a holding company even under the current system,but the system has not been utilized because the current law--aimed at eliminating a monopoly of mass media--does not allow a newspaper publisher or a business corporation to hold more than 20 percent equity in a broadcast station if it has more than 20 percent equity in another broadcast station.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/10/2007


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Japan Faces Dilemma as 6-Party Talks Shift Focus to Economic Aid

Japan is increasingly falling into a dilemma between diplomatic unity and domestic interests as the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program shift the focus on providing energy and other economic benefits to Pyongyang.At stake is how much Japan will commit itself in a joint aid package to encourage North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions,while clearing the big hurdles Tokyo has created with its stated policy of refusing to provide economic benefits unless it gets a clear guarantee of prospects for resolving the abduction issue.The dilemma is clear.In the worst case,Tokyo could either be left alone through being generally expected to play a major role as the world's second-largest economy in the six-party process ahead or suffer domestic setbacks by sidestepping the greatly emotional matter in Japan ahead of the unified local elections in April and the House of Councillors election in July.It remains unclear whether the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a magic stick to erase the hurdles although Foreign Minister Taro Aso recently hinted at Japan committing initially with "indirect cooperation" for energy aid."We can cooperate but will not provide money," Aso said in Tokyo,indicating Japan's willingness to join a multinational mission to look into North Korea's energy needs and food shortages over aid to be given in exchange for Pyongyang's initial steps for abandoning its nuclear programs.

In the absence of new bilateral initiatives,however,the key for Tokyo to join in full-fledged economic aid still remains on how North Korea will engage with Japan over the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the past,in the six-party framework which also involves China,South Korea,Russia and the United States."Japan plays an important role in (possible) energy aid (to North Korea).It is not us but North Korea that could get into trouble.If the current situation is unchanged,Japan has no intention even to provide 10 yen," a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.Abe,known as a hard-liner against North Korea,has repeatedly denied providing aid to North Korea in step with other potential donors,stressing the need to comprehensively resolve the abduction,nuclear and missile issues."It is clear that we cannot provide aid (to North Korea) unless there is progress on the abduction issue," Abe said Thursday.Analysts say Abe's position is understandable as the premier needs to keep a firm grip on the closely watched North Korea-linked problems prior to the key elections,but warn that it also possibly puts Japan's diplomatic reputation at risk.Japan's chief delegate Kenichiro Sasae conveyed the position to his six-party counterparts in the talks,but drew all but muted reactions from the other parties.

Abe took office last September,especially after winning public support for his work in trying to resolve the long-standing abduction issue.Japan and North Korea are deadlocked in a dispute over the whereabouts of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s.The two countries are divided over the number of kidnapped Japanese as well as over what happened to some of them.On top of that,Japan last year slapped a series of economic sanctions on North Korea following Pyongyang's ballistic missile test-launches in July and its first-ever nuclear test in October.The sanctions are still in place.But Abe's popularity rate has sunk since taking office in September,even below 40 percent in some recent polls,due mainly to failures to take a firm leadership dealing with various domestic problems."Mr.Abe apparently does not want to budge on North Korean issues.It is understandable," said Zhu Jianrong,a Chinese expert on international politics.But Zhu said Japan should shift its focus to how it can help make progress in the whole denuclearization process,instead of seeking a breakthrough to the abduction impasse within the six-party framework."It would be a disadvantage to Japan's diplomacy if Japan tries to deal with (possible) aid projects for North Korea distancing itself from the other four countries," said Zhu,a professor at Toyo Gakuen University in Japan.Don Oberdorfer,a U.S.expert on Korean issues,urged Japan to be careful "not to cause a big problem" by trying to press its case for settlement of the abduction issue in the six-party framework."Japan should be more vigorous" trying to advance the six-nation process for dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear programs,said Oberdorfer,chairman of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H.Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Noriyuki Shikata said,"I don't think it is objectively correct to characterize Japan's position as possibly leading to jeopardize the six-party talks." "Improvement of bilateral Japan-North Korea relations could be beneficial for North Korea,economically,in the area of energy assistance.Probably North Korea could take into account those kinds of elements," he said.


From http://asia.news.yahoo.com 02/12/2007


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LDP to Submit Film Piracy Bill

Liberal Democratic Party legislators plan to submit to the Diet in March a bill for a law that would ban the videotaping of movies at screenings for the production of pirated DVDs or for distribution on the Internet,The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.The law would penalize those who record such a movie without the copyright holder's permission with up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to 10 million yen.Under the current law,videotaping a movie as it is screened does not constitute a crime.However,there has been a recent rise in the number of pirated films being released on DVD or through the Internet immediately following their release,apparently due to the motion pictures being secretly filmed with a high-quality video camera in the theater.It is said that pirated DVDs of "The Da Vinci Code," which was released simultaneously across the world last May,were distributed on the day following the release.It is believed the movie was videotaped secretly at a preview in Japan,and then distributed via unauthorized channels.

The Copyright Law stipulates that those who make or sell pirated DVDs receive up to five years in prison or be fined a maximum of 5 million yen.But the law cannot prohibit the recording of films in theaters because,in principle,it is acceptable when it is done for personal use.At the nation's theaters,a short clip is shown before a movie starts asking moviegoers to refrain from recording the movie.The theaters also are producing manuals for their employees on how to act when they discover a person illicitly videotaping a movie.As of yet,however,these methods have not proven effective in combating the piracy.There is a law banning filming in the United States and Hong Kong and experts have called for a similar law to be enacted in Japan.LDP lawmakers likely will decide to submit the bill at a meeting scheduled for early this week,and ask New Komeito and the Democratic Party of Japan to join them in the backing of the bill.The pirated DVDs run about 1,000 yen each--less than the price of a movie ticket.The nation's film industry is estimated to have lost more than 80 billion yen in fiscal 2005 due to piracy.Hollywood has repeatedly demanded that Tokyo tighten the relevant regulations to suppress pirated DVDs in Japan.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/12/2007


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Gov't Adopts Bills to Reform Statistics,Help Local Railways

The Japanese government adopted bills Tuesday to reform statistics and national surveys,help local railways revitalize and support public servants' child care and overseas volunteer activities.The bills were adopted at a Cabinet meeting for submission to the ongoing ordinary Diet session.Under a bill to drastically amend the statistics law for the first time in 60 years,the government will set up a panel of 13 experts at the Cabinet Office to review the necessity of national surveys and statistics and draw up a basic plan that will set revision study themes every five years.The panel will integrate two separate related councils at the Cabinet Office and the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry,with the aim of crafting the first basic plan in fiscal 2008.The move comes amid a general redundancy of surveys and statistics,and a lack of those related to the service industry and other situational changes.Officially designated surveys and statistics cover 55 types handled by eight ministries and agencies,and most of them have continued since around 1950 after the law was enacted in 1947.The bill calls for penalizing fraudulent acts given a recent series of cases in which people pretending to be as census takers defraud respondents of survey sheets.

A set of bills related to national and local public servants will allow a leave of up to three years to support those wishing to take part in overseas volunteer activities promoted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and to attend overseas and domestic universities at their own expense.The government aims to implement the leave system in fiscal 2007,which begins April 1.The bills also include one to amend the child-care law for public servants to allow them to change their 40-hour workweek to 20-25 hours a week until their children enter elementary school.A bill to revitalize local public transport systems calls for providing subsidies to projects drawn up by prefectural governments to deal with money-losing local railways and to build a next-generation streetcar light rail system.The government will ease regulations and offer financial aid to transport projects if they are created by a consultative body of residents,municipal governments and service providers to improve user convenience.It requires the central government's scrutiny and approval.


From http://asia.news.yahoo.com 02/12/2007


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Disparity Policy Drafted Hastily

The Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy's strategy for raising the level of growth potential is seen as a government attempt to answer the opposition parties' criticism of the government's failure to properly address the widening income disparity in Japan.The basic concept of the strategy,which aims to improve living standards for people in the low-income bracket,including families on welfare,was approved by the council on Friday.Although Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized the strategy was a comprehensive policy aimed at enriching the lives of all working people,observers said it needed further deliberation."I'd like to increase opportunities for single mothers,women who have raised children,and handicapped people,so they can work with hope for the future," Abe said during the meeting."With this strategy,I hope I can show that my pro-growth policy is not the kind of growth that'll leave certain individuals behind." The strategy was originally set to be one of the main items included in the Basic Policy for Economic and Fiscal Management and Structural Reform,to be drafted in June for the fiscal 2008 budget.However,the schedule was brought forward after the opposition parties attacked the government over the social disparity issue during interpellation at the current Diet session,and Budget Committee discussions.Democratic Party of Japan Acting President Naoto Kan said,"The prime minister's attitude doesn't address the social disparity issue forthrightly enough." The DPJ's suggestion of an emergency measures bill to remedy social disparity raised concern in the ruling coalition.Abe was urged to offer practical measures to address the problem.However,the prime minister has avoided using the term "to remedy the social disparity" when giving policy speeches,and on other occasions.

The government has echoed former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Heizo Takenaka's remark that the problem is not related to rich people,as taking money from the rich does not make poor wealthy,and that measures to help low-income families should be emphasized.Kan says the gap between rich and poor is widening,and that this fact should be taken into account when discussing the issue--a view that fundamentally differs from that of the government's.Keen to show the public that the government's stance differs from that of the opposition parties',Abe told Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki on Jan.29 to bring forward the schedule for drawing up the strategy.Shiozaki and others completed the task within two weeks.However,as it was completed in haste,the strategy overlaps in several areas with another government policy,which aims to offer second chances to disadvantaged people and which is a main feature of the fiscal 2007 budget.A Cabinet Office official said,"If you were to ask me how the strategy differs from the second chance policy,I don't have an answer." The bill for the fiscal 2007 budget is under deliberation and cannot be altered,which means the fiscal 2008 budget will be the earliest possible opportunity to include expenses for the strategy.DPJ Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama said at a press conference Friday,"There's nothing that can promote a big hike in the level of growth potential [in the strategy] since a new budget can't be compiled now."

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 02/20/2007


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Election Law Revision to Lift Leafleting Ban

The Diet on Wednesday passed a bill to revise the Public Offices Election Law,a move that would allow gubernatorial and mayoral election candidates to distribute manifesto leaflets starting from April's unified local elections.The revised law will come into force on March 22 and reverses the ban on the practice currently in place.However,unlike in national elections,the distribution of books and pamphlets will not be permitted.Included in the revision are limits on the number of copies of leaflets that can be sent: between 100,000 and 300,000 for gubernatorial election candidates,70,000 for mayoral election candidates in ordinance-designated cities,16,000 for mayoral election candidates in other cities and 5,000 for mayoral elections in towns and villages.In addition,local regulations can be introduced that allow local governments to cover the costs of leaflets for gubernatorial and mayoral election candidates.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 02/22/2007


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Govt to Test New Terrorism Surveillance System

The Construction and Transportation Ministry is to experiment with a new surveillance system that uses security cameras to automatically warn of individuals acting suspiciously,or unidentified objects at railway facilities,it has been learned.The experiment is aimed at preventing terrorist attacks on railway stations and other related facilities--places that have been targeted for attack in other nations.The ministry will select several JR and private railway stations from across the country to test the effectiveness of the system from fiscal 2007.About 30,000 cameras are currently deployed at the nation's railway facilities.But because these require workers to monitor the images,only limited number of monitors can be checked at any given time.The ministry has decided to conduct a study to find a reliable computer-driven system for detecting potential danger.In the automatic surveillance system currently being considered,off-limit areas will be established at railway stations and railway yards,and computers will automatically flag individuals acting suspiciously,or objects,by analyzing images from security cameras.Normal conditions for a given area will be programmed into the computer system,which will then flag unidentified people or objects if they remain within the area over a certain length of time.Such a system has been already developed by manufacturers in Japan and other countries,and is currently used by schools and other facilities where people are not present at night.However,in the case of a terrorist attack on a railway,a suspect would likely place a bomb at a station by using members of the public as cover,or plant a device where there are normally no people.The ministry plans to examine whether the system can effectively recognize such actions.The ministry also is looking into a system using multiple cameras that can track a suspicious person after he or she has been identified.In the terrorist attacks in central London in July 2005,several explosive devices were detonated in subways and on buses,resulting in many deaths and injuries.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/25/2007


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SOUTH KOREA: Premier Stresses Strategies Aimed at Social Depolarization and Economic Growth

At a global forum on Korea's future-oriented growth strategies,Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook said that the Korean government has pushed to achieve a balance between growth and welfare through social investment in human resources.Such efforts will facilitate sustainable economic growth and social depolarization,she stressed.In her congratulatory address at the Feb.1 Vision 2030 Global Forum held in Seoul,Prime Minister Han noted that the Roh Moo-hyun government set up future-oriented visions at the time of its inception and has been working to attain them.Korea's first administration drawing keen,public interest in the "future," the Roh government has devised the "Vision 2030," a comprehensive package of long-term strategies for the nation's further advancement,she said.Prime Minister Han also said,"Korea is now standing at the center of a maelstrom of change.In this age of global digitalization and knowledge-based economies,innovation and new approaches are taking place in all facets of the economy,including production,logistics,consumption and investment." Amid such rapid changes,Korea,although about to earn an annual per capita income of $20 thousand,still lags behind advanced nations in welfare and social investment.Despite intense government efforts to narrow the socio-economic divide,it has yet to resolve many difficult issues such as job creation and income redistribution through investment in social welfare.Picking the low birthrate,rapid aging of society and the discrepancy between urban and rural areas as immediate challenges,Korea has to brace itself to successfully meet such challenges,she said.

Characterizing the Vision 2030 as a national strategy to wisely overcome future problems,"In the face of this shifting paradigm of the new era,we need a new national development strategy," she explained.Meanwhile,she emphasized the open market policy of the government,saying that Korea should open and preempt the market as well as making proactive investment with a view to developing new growth engines.She also called for a need to engage socially marginalized brackets in all such commitments.She stated that only long-term approaches can help Korea get to the bottom of the outstanding issues and devise countermeasures to fundamentally resolve them and meet potential challenges.Under the Vision 2030,Korea aims to become a stable country that posts fast economic growth and guarantees safety and equal opportunity to all its people.It also anticipates to earn $49 thousand in per-capita gross national product and increase its public social spending to 21 percent in 2030 from the current 8.6 percent.To this end,the state will revamp outdated,inefficient institutions,while introducing new,more advanced systems.As for financing the vision,she said the immediately needed funds will be raised through budget savings and restructuring as well as transparent taxation."The future government will seek national consensus on whether needed funds should be secured through taxes or treasury bonds for the later phases," she said.Since market opening is no longer an ideological issue,Korea can survive only when its people change their notion regarding it,she said.She added that the proposed free trade agreement with the United States constitutes part of the Roh government's strategies to sharpen the nation's competitive edge by opening its market.

From http://www.korea.net 02/03/2007


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Seoul Unveils Action Plan to Protect Human Rights in North Korea

South Korea on Tuesday (Feb.13) committed itself to improving human rights in North Korea amid criticism that Seoul has been lukewarm in dealing with human rights violations by Pyongyang in an apparent bid not to provoke the impoverished,isolated regime.In a draft of the National Action Plan (NAP),a set of guidelines for revising domestic laws,systems and practices on human rights,the Justice Ministry also pledged to support local non-governmental organizations working to improve human rights situations in the North.The draft was unveiled during the second public hearing at the Korea Chamber of Commerce to discuss details of the plan.Among other measures in the plan was a revision of the country's immigration law to obligate officials to get prior approval from the Justice Ministry if they need to keep an illegal immigrant in custody for more than six months before expulsion.The measure is aimed to prevent human rights abuses that might be caused by indiscriminately long-term custody of foreigners residing in the country illegally,the ministry said.The government,however,failed to provide a clear vision on the proposed abolition of the controversial death penalty and the anti-communist national security law.Seoul also refused to accept recommendations by the National Human Rights Commission to recognize the rights of primary and middle school teachers to participate in political activities.The government plans to finalize the action plan by early April for implementation over the next five years.In 1993,a U.N.human rights conference held in Vienna recommended that each state consider drawing up their own action plans identifying steps for improving the protection and promotion of human rights.


From http://www.korea.net/ 02/13/2007


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Gov't out to Abolish Gender Discriminatory Laws

Korea has long been considered a male-dominated country,but it has recently made efforts to counter the perception by for one,making the decision to scrap the patriarchal family registry system,which has long been blamed for discrimination against women.And the government continues to make further efforts.This time,the Ministry of Government Legislation (MOLEG) has decided to phase in the abolition of 360 laws considered discriminatory against women.For one,the ministry wants to change the law that says children should use their father's surname and legal domicile in principle.Ministry officials say it is against gender equality.The Ministry of Government Legislation has asked the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to go over the proposal by the end of this month.If the Ministry of Justice approves,parents will be free to choose which surname their children will adopt.Theoretically,a child could have a surname completely different from either parent's.The Ministry of Government Legislation is also out to change other gender discriminatory laws.To name a few,it will protect researchers or workers who might suffer disadvantages if forced to take time off for a pregnancy.And the law that prevents a remarried wife from collecting the pension of a deceased husband from an earlier marriage will be abolished.


From http://www.korea.net 02/22/2006


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Justice Ministry Plans to Improve Foreigners' Rights

The Justice Ministry plans to improve the nation's legal system for foreign residents to better protect their human rights and living conditions.Justice Minister Kim Sung-ho said yesterday the government should also seek ways to resolve the problems that foreign workers face."The government needs to set up a systematic and all-around system for the foreigners living in Korea with mid- to long-term plans," Justice Minister Kim Sung-ho said.The number of foreigners residing in the nation reached more than 1 million people as of last December.They include 93,782 foreign spouses who have married Koreans,267,436 ethnic Koreans with foreign citizenships and 211,988 foreigners who have illegal status,the ministry said.It said it will implement legal measures needed to bring in professional manpower into fields,such as information technology,and open more job opportunities for spouses of foreign migrant workers and foreigners who graduate local colleges.The ministry is also considering easing visa rules for families of a Korean who holds foreign citizenship."Also,the government plans to establish a network of foreign spouses in a bid to help them adjust to society better," the ministry's spokesman Kim Soo-nam said.There will also be guidebooks specially made in six different languages on how to go about any legal procedures.

From March 4,the government plans to begin granting H-2 visas,a new type of visa for ethnic Koreans holding foreign citizenship that would allow them to stay and work for up to five years in Korea.Anyone who is more than 25 years old can apply for the visa,which enables holders to stay in the country for as long as three years with one entry into Korea and up to five with multiple entries.The ministry said the new regulation is to help ethnic Koreans in obtaining advanced technology training in Korea and getting better salaries after returning to their countries.Also,the government plans to expand its usage of complaint departments at each immigration office across the country to resolve problems,such as unpaid wages from Korean employers,that foreigners face.The complaint department will be operated as a "one-stop" system that would cooperate with local governments,and public and civic groups to help foreigners."There is a need to promote their interests and protect human rights for those who are living in this country as minorities," spokesman Kim said.


From http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/ 02/23/2007


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Medical Reform Bill Proposed

The government yesterday pushed for the legislation of a series of medical reform bills despite fierce opposition from doctors.In an attempt to diminish conflicts with the medical sector,the government has changed several articles but made clear that the bill can no longer be delayed."Delaying the revision is out of the question," said Im Jong-gyu,head of the Health and Welfare Ministry medical policy bureau."We cannot hope to enhance the quality of the nation's medical services when the provision of health care is based on a law that is more than three decades old." The medical law was established in 1951 and underwent major reforms in 1962 and 1973.A succession of efforts to overhaul medical services has since failed due to the conflicting interests of different sectors in the health care community.The ministry has changed article 40 of the revision,which had been one of the main sources of dispute.The former bill had permitted nurses to make diagnoses,stirring opposition from doctors who insisted that the government was attempting to trespass into their territory.The ministry has now defined "diagnosis" in this context as "a temporal and preventative medical service by nurses that is separate from doctors' jobs." Article 6 of the revision,which stipulated a "standard medical treatment guide," has also been revised.By changing the term to a "clinical medical treatment guide," the bill clarifies that the guidelines are only advisory and not compulsory for doctors.

But the ministry rejected doctors' requests to include "prescription" in the legal definition of treatment by medical doctors,saying that this would confuse the role of pharmacists and doctors."To hear from the public and medical circles,we lengthened the period of legislation process to 30 days," the ministry said."If the public and medical circles give reasonable opinions,we are more than willing to accept them." The general legal process for enactment of a bill is 20 days.The ministry plans to hold a public hearing in March.The Korea Medical Association,a confederation of nationwide doctors' groups,has refused to support the government-led bill,vowing to escalate its protests.The group,in cooperation with dentists and nurses' aides,will block legislation of the bill using all possible means,the KMA said."The government says that there was enough discussion,but from what we see,it had its bill set up even before the discussions began last August," said Chang Dong-ik,head of the KMA."We will not agree to a bill that ignores public health and undermines our roles as medical experts." Since last month - when the government first disclosed its proposal to revise the medical law - doctors have been vehemently opposed to the bill,threatening to suspend all Western medical services.Protest rallies in 16 regions last month were the first major demonstration in the medical community since 2002 when physicians went on strike to oppose the separation of the roles of doctors and pharmacists in prescribing and dispensing medicine.Several civic groups have also protested against the bill,especially unhappy with a new article that allows doctors to advertise their clinics and reduce medical expenses to attract more patients.The bill will harm the quality of medical services by turning doctors into merchants,they say.The government has argued that the bill will actually improve the quality of services by generating competition between medical clinics.

From http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/ 02/23/2007


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MONGOLIA: Anti-Corruption Law Amended

Amendments to the anti-corruption law were approved Tuesday at a plenary meeting of the Parliamentary session.Under the law,adopted last year,high-ranking state officials are to deliver their income declarations to related institutions within February 15.This year,however,there is no possibility for doing so.For this reason,amendments were made in the law to have high-ranking state officials deliver income declarations within March 15 and inform the declarations by the third quarter.39 thousand state staffers must inform about their properties and incomes.About four thousand of them will report to the Corruption Combating Authority,and others--to the Cabinet Secretariat of the Government and to office services of the Khural (Assembly) of Citizens Representatives.

From http://www.montsame.mn/ 02/07/2007


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Law on Labor to Be Amended

Discussing amendments to the law on labor drawn up by MP G.Adya and others,the Government has decided to deliver concrete proposals to the initiators.In particular,the proposals have been put forward to co-ordinate the amendments with a draft law on labor safety operation and hygiene that is being drawn up by the Government,and amendments to the law on pensions,payments and allowances for occupational diseases,and to reflect provisions,defining duties and responsibilities of employers,to pay compensations as well as term of compensation payment in order to create a mechanism of the implementation of the law on labor.

From http://www.montsame.mn 02/16/2007


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INDONESIA: Govt Lifts VAT from Primary Products

In order to boost the farm sector,the government has lifted value-added tax (VAT) on a variety of goods and commodities,including agricultural machinery and primary agricultural products. Under a new government regulation,there are six categories of goods that will be exempted from VAT.These include capital goods,such as engines,factory machines and machine tools,both in knocked-down or built-up form,and feeds and feed ingredients for livestock,fowl and farmed fish.Also exempted from VAT are farm produce,seeds for agriculture and market gardening,fish and livestock seed,clean water distributed through pipes,and electricity,except for domestic use,where the power supply is higher than 6,600 watts.The new regulation provides that agricultural produce,including that produced by enterprises operating in the agricultural,market-gardening and forestry sectors,will also be exempted form VAT.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 02/06/2007


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Govt Drafting Rules on TNI Businesses

The government is currently drafting a regulation that will sanction the takeover by the civilian government of Indonesian Military (TNI)-run companies.Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi said Friday that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had ordered the Defense Ministry to rehash the draft of the regulation."The President wants the draft to be revised so that all relevant agencies are involved in it," Sudi told reporters.The government regulation is expected allow the establishment of a team that would handle the transfer of military-run companies to civilian management.The Defense Ministry,Justice and Human Rights Ministry,Finance Ministry,State Ministry for the State-owned Enterprises and the TNI have formed an agreement on the team,which will be chaired by Sudirman Said,currently the deputy spokesman of the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency for Aceh and Nias.The team will only start work after the regulation is issued.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 02/10/2007


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Govt to Release Rp 3 Trillion for Flood Alleviation Works

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Saturday that the central government would provide more money for Jakarta and West Java to prepare for floods.The Jakarta administration will get the lion's share of the funds,with Rp 2.7 trillion (US$300 million) earmarked for the construction of the East and West Flood Canals,while the West Java provincial administration will get Rp 250 million to improve rivers and 150 lakes in the province."In principle,the central government has agreed to disburse additional funds from the state budget to these provinces (as it is) needed to overcome flooding in the Greater Jakarta area," Kalla was quoted as saying by Antara news agency."The funds will be included in the revised state budget in July." Kalla was speaking after a meeting with several key ministers discussing the recent floods in the capital.Also present were Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiah,Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso and West Java Governor Danny Setiawan.Earlier in the morning,Kalla took a ride in a helicopter to have an aerial view of the affected area.Departing from the Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base,the itinerary included Puncak,Katulampa Dam and Depok in West Java province.He then flew along the Ciliwung River downstream to Jakarta before flying over Kebon Jeruk,Cilincing and Kelapa Gading.

The Vice President said Jakarta had to improve its drainage system as well as acquire more land for the construction of the East Flood Canal."If all the land needed for the canal could be acquired this year,the project could be done in the next two years," he said.Governor Danny said that his administration would revitalize the green areas and reservoirs but that it would take a long time to see the effects.However,Tangerang's municipal and regency administrations rejected the East Flood Canal plan,saying they feared it would only cause more flooding in Tangerang."I will reject the canal construction although the Banten provincial administration approved it," Tangerang Regent Ismet Iskandar told The Jakarta Post on Saturday."The government should first build a dam in the southern and northern parts of Tangerang and dredge the Cisadane River and all of its tributaries before building the canal." Tangerang Mayor Wahidin Halim also said he objected to the plan and that more accurate studies on its effects needed to be carried out.Both Ismet and Wahidin also attended the meeting with Kalla.The plan to build a 900-meter-long tunnel at the confluence of the Ciliwung and Cisadane rivers near the Katulampa dam in Bogor,West Java,is expected to automatically increase the water flowing in the Cisadane River."Before talking about the flood canal plan,the government must offer good models to conserve and normalize the Cisadane River's mud sedimentation," Wahidin said.

Governor Atut refused to comment on the flood canal construction plans.Residents affected by the floods have began clearing their neighborhoods of the mud and trash left behind.In Tomang subdistrict,West Jakarta,three fire trucks sprayed disinfectant to clean the muddy streets.The municipality's public health agency distributed packs of disinfectant to residents in an attempt to prevent the spread of the bacterial disease,leptospirosis,which is common after floods,and urged them to collect garbage from their neighborhoods before spraying the area with the disinfectant.Agency head Ariani said a mass cleanup had been carried out in other subdistricts,including Jatipulo and Cengkareng Timur,and would be continued in other areas.At the Manggarai sluice gate in South Jakarta,garbage was still piling up,although workers have been cleaning the area around the clock since last week.Gatekeeper Tumin said the garbage,mostly debris from flooded houses,kept coming through the Ciliwung River and getting stuck at the gate.The cleaning process ran slowly since only one of two heavy transportation vehicles was available to move the trash.Several thoroughfares were closed Saturday due to cleanup efforts,including Jl.Kalibata in South Jakarta and Jl.Jatinegara Barat in East Jakarta.As of Saturday,water still inundated Jl.Perintis Kemerdekaan in North Jakarta and the Coca Cola intersection in Central Jakarta,to depths of 60 and 25 centimeters,respectively.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 02/11/2007


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MALAYSIA: Shahrizat: Policies on Women Will Be Updated

The policy on women development will be updated to prepare them to face the challenges of the new millennium,said Women,Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil."We will promulgate a policy more attuned to the needs and challenges confronting women in the new millennium," she told reporters after closing a seminar on Happy Family here yesterday.She said the revised policy would be in line with the Islam Hadhari (Civilisational Islam) concept and be announced after the Cabinet had endorsed it.Shahrizat said the needs and challenges confronting women now were different from that faced before independence."Women of yesteryears stayed at home and did not work,but now about 50% of the workforce in the country is women.As such,the policy must change,especially on educational needs and other opportunities," she said.Shahrizat said the policy would ensure women would be equitable partners to men.On Kelantanese women,she said they were historically gifted with the ability to succeed in business when given the opportunities and equipped with the necessary skills.


From http://thestar.com.my 02/18/2007


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Sarawak Reviewing Land Policy on Premium Rates

The state government is reviewing its land policy to come up with premium rates acceptable to everyone.Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the government would find ways to make land premiums affordable for the urban poor."We know that there are Chinese people who are poor and living in the town areas.We will try to accommodate them so that they can pay affordable premium rates," he said.He added he would announce the policy later when the review was completed.Speaking at a Chinese New Year dinner organised by the United Chinese Association in Sibu on Tuesday night,Taib said the state's land policy had been misunderstood,particularly by the Chinese in urban areas."Actually it was never an issue,just misunderstanding.It is not the government's intention to oppress the people," he said.He pointed out that the state's current land premium for plantations,at RM250 per acre (0.4ha),was the lowest in the country.He said assessment rates in the state had not been reviewed in the past 30 years while other states reviewed their rates once every five years."The people must understand that the government needs money to implement major projects,such as flood mitigation for Sibu which has been estimated to cost over RM200mil," Taib added.

From http://thestar.com.my 02/21/2007


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SINGAPORE: Unveil Budget to Grow Economy,Help Low-Income Workers

The Singapore government unveiled a Budget on Thursday that is set to grow its economy and provide long term help to its lower income workers.Its Goods and Services Tax is going up to 7 percent from July this year.But to balance this,the government is introducing a $4 billion offset package to be given out over five years.To boost business,the corporate tax rate is also going to be cut from the current 20 percent to 18 percent.A 3 percent Goods and Services Tax was first introduced in Singapore in 1994.This went up to 5 percent in 2004 and will now go up to 7 percent from July this year.The hike will eventually add $1.5 billion to the government's kitty each year.To ease the pain of increased costs,cash offsets of up to $1000 will be given to all Singaporeans aged 21 and above over four years.The amount will depend on two factors - the person's income and home type.With an ageing population,its senior citizens aged 55 and above will also get an additional cash bonus - up to $1,000.Meanwhile,to help the middle class,employers will have to contribute 1.5 percentage points more to the Central Provident Fund,a national savings scheme.But this is only for those earning above $1,500.

While steering away from welfarism,this Budget is significant for introducing measures that will make help for lower income older workers,a more permanent feature.They will receive monetary help as long as they remain employed.The government is introducing a Workfare scheme for older low wage workers.This group will also contribute less to the Central Provident Fund or CPF.This means they will have more take-home pay and be more employable.The shortfall in CPF will then be balanced off by higher Workfare income supplements,put in by the government.Mr Tharman says: "Strengthening our social security system and providing for the needs of older Singaporeans will require the government to spend more in future.This means we will need additional revenues.We cannot raise direct taxes."Countries all over the world are reducing corporate and fiscal income taxes to continue to attract talent and investments and maintain strong incentives for the people to excel,we will in fact have to lower our direct taxes further over time.We will therefore raise additional revenues by extracting more income from our reserves and raising the GST." For businesses,the corporate tax will be cut to 18 percent,from the current 20 percent,by Year of Assessment 2008.This will bring it closer to Hong Kong's 17.5 percent rate.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com 02/15/2007


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THAILAND: 2008 Budget Set at 1.635 Trillion Baht

The Finance Ministry has approved setting the 2008 fiscal budget at 1.635 trillion baht.Deputy Finance Minister Sommai Phasee said net revenues in the fiscal year starting October were projected at 1.515 trillion baht,with a deficit of 120 billion,or 1.3% of gross domestic product.The current fiscal year deficit is projected at 1.7% of GDP.Investment spending would account for 25.5% of the budget,up from 24%.Debt servicing was set at 11% of total spending and current expenditure at 72.5%.He said 25.2% of spending will be through local administrations.It assumes economic growth of 5% in 2008,inflation of 3% and GDP at 9.078 trillion baht.


From http://www.bangkokpost.com 02/22/2007


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VIET NAM: Southern Province Plans for Faster Growth in'07

Officials in the southernmost province of Ca Mau plan to invest in tourism,transportation and telecommunications,among other fields,in an effort to speed up economic growth in 2007.The provincial People's Committee announced recently it would loosen economic controls in the hope of developing service industries; the province is targeting a 15 per cent increase in the value of the sector this year.Also this month,the province passed measures to boost production for the Lunar New Year.The province is also aiming to raise the profile of the trade,tourism,investment and export sectors through new marketing schemes.Officials also plan to launch a new fisheries development programme and are striving to reach US$650 million in seafood exports during 2007.Ca Mau also aims to develop its tourism industry and hopes to lure more than 500,000 visitors in 2007,an increase of 19 per cent over 2006.To reach the target,the province will continue to invest in infrastructure and tourism-related projects.The province will also encourage private investment in the sector,giving priority to projects in the Khai Long tourism district and Mui Ca Mau culture zone.Officials are also pledging to restore order and safety in the province's transport sector.Finally,they plan to create favourable conditions for enterprises in the post and telecommunications fields and aims to have 22.5 telephones per 100 households by the end of the year.


From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 02/07/2007


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Forestry Development Strategy Approved

The Prime Minister requires that forestry management encompass resource protection and appropriate usage of resources,forest planting,forest products processing,environmental services and eco-tourism.Forestry development plans must aim at contributing considerably to national economic growth,reducing poverty and eliminating hunger,and environmental protection.Under the strategy,47 per cent of the nation's land will be covered by forests and forestry products and will account for 2-3 per cent of national GDP by 2020.


From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 02/12/2007


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BHUTAN: Draft Constitution: Final Version Ready

31 January,2007 - The final draft version of the Constitution of Bhutan with changes incorporated in some of its provisions will be officially launched soon according to chairman of the drafting committee,Chief Justice Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye.A student takes part in the consultation meeting in Bumthang last year.The changes include the direct and indirect comments made by the people during the consultation meetings held in the 20 dzongkhags from October 2005 to May 2006.Comments were also received both from outside and within the country through various online forums and in writing.Based on the feedback from the consultation meetings one section has been incorporated in article 10 (Parliament) which states that "the concurrence of not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of each House respectively is required to remove the right of immunity of a member".This refers to the immunity granted to members of parliament or any committee from an inquiry,arrest,detention or prosecution on account of any opinion expressed in the course of the discharge of their functions and vote cast in parliament.The maximum number of seats in the National Assembly on Article 12 has been reduced from 75 to 55 members elected from the dzongkhags.

Most of the minor incorporations were in the Article 15 on Political Parties.The number of Articles has also increased from 34 to 35 with the incorporation of separate Article on the Election Commission.According to Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye the most common submission people raised was the removal of Section 6,Article 2,which requires the Druk Gyalpo to step down and hand over the Throne to his successor upon reaching the age of 65 years.This was followed by submissions to incorporate the wearing of the gho and kira as symbols of national identity.The Chief Justice said that minor changes are still being made and as soon as it is completed it will also be launched on the Internet and a website,maintained for the Constitution.The consultation meetings led by their Majesties the Kings,the Chief Justice said,had great impact as it helped sensitise and educate people who were confused by the ambiguity of the draft constitution.During the consultation meetings people asked questions that provided opportunity to explain the legal principles,background and objectives,the Chief Justice said.They also asked questions on words and terminologies that were not clear."Because of this we were able to say that it all helped to improve the terminologies so that misinterpretation would be avoided," said the Chief Justice.The drafting of the Constitution was commanded by His Majesty the Fourth King in 2001 to create a democratic political system best suited for Bhutan.The final draft constitution is expected to be adopted by the new parliament in 2008.After the adoption it will provide the legal framework for a democratic political system to establish a system of governance that will safeguard the security and sovereignty of the nation and ensure the well being of the Bhutanese people for all time to come.


From http://www.kuenselonline.com/ 01/31/2007


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INDIA: Amend Matrimonial Cruelty Law: Seminar

New Delhi,Jan 28 : The demand for scraping or amending a law on matrimonial cruelty has gathered steam with apprehensions being expressed about its misuse.At a seminar organised by the Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) here Sunday,"victims" of the law,lawyers,judges and people from a cross-section of society voiced apprehensions that Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Domestic Violence Act,have been grossly misused by women to extort money from their husbands.SIFF is an organisation of people who have been implicated in cases under Section 498A.SIFF chairman Pandurang Katti,who had been exonerated by the Supreme Court after his wife had implicated him under the act,stressed on the need to review the two laws.Katti,a software engineer from Bangalore,said that his organisation would continue its campaign to get the two laws amended to prevent gender bias.Offenders under Section 498A are liable for imprisonment and a fine.The offence is non-bailable,non-compoundable and cognizable on a complaint made to the police officer by a woman or certain designated relatives.Katti also rubbished statistics by the National Commission for Women (NCW) showing a large percentage of Indian women being subjected to domestic violence."When we asked them to show the basis on which these figures were arrived at,they had no answer," he said.Speaking on the occasion,retired Delhi High Court judge R.P.Gupta said laws are made to prevent mischief "but become a problem when they are not properly implemented".


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/28/2007


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Indian Government Says No to Euthanasia

New Delhi,Jan 31: The government Wednesday told the Supreme Court that there was no place for mercy killing in India and a law to permit euthanasia was liable to be misused.The government took the stand against mercy killing in response to a petition by a non-government organization Common Cause demanding enactment of a law for `right to die' as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the constitution.A bench of Justice B.N.Agrawal and Justice P.P.Naolekar,however,admitted the petition considering the importance of the issues involved in the petition.The government said that the progression of medical science to relieve pain,suffering,rehabilitation and treatment of the so-called incurable diseases would suffer a setback if mercy killing was allowed.It said that continuous advancement in medical science had made possible good pain management in patients of cancer and other terminal illnesses.Similarly,rehabilitation helped many patients with spinal injury to lead near-normal life and euthanasia might not be required.The government was not in favour of accepting the petitioner's plea,it said.The petitioner said that when a medical expert opined that the person afflicted with terminal disease had reached a point of no return,then he should be given the right to refuse life support system for him.The petitioner said "those at the end of their natural life span and likely to go into a state of terminal illness or permanent vegetative state,are deprived of their right to refuse cruel and unwanted medical treatment,like feeding through hydration tubes,being kept on ventilator and other life supporting machines in order to artificially prolong their natural life span." It said that the right to be free from unwanted life-sustaining medical treatment was a right protected by Article 21 of the constitution.


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/31/2007


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Govt.Plans to Implement ICT Policy in Puducherry India

The Puducherry (India) Government is planning to implement its information technology policy.Soon the government is planning to form a committee on e-Governance in the Union Territory.Recently,the government has launched an electronic tendering system in the Union Territory.The Governemnt is also planning to establish 1000 citizen information centers.These centers will provide the facility to pay all government bills and provide public information.


From The Business Line 02/08/2007


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Gurung Calls to Formulate Election Laws Soon

Election Commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung has said it would be impossible to hold constituent assembly (CA) polls by mid-June this year if election laws are not finalised immediately.Addressing a press meet in Kaski on Sunday,Gurung insisted that a consensus should be reached immediately among the political parties on the election system and process.Newspaper reports quoted Gurung as saying,"The Election Commission is all prepared to conduct the CA polls on time according to the commitment of the political parties." Gurung also urged parties to help the commission in the formulation of essential laws." Local organisations and the press should help for a free,impartial and fearless CA poll," Gurung said.He also informed that the voters' lists in 58 VDCs of the hilly districts will be collected from next month.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 02/05/2007


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NEPAL: Terai Turmoil: Begins Statute Amendment

Kathmandu,Feb.19 (PTI): The government has tabled a Bill for the amendment of the Constitution to address the demands of the people of the Terai bordering India for greater representation in Parliament.The resolution,which includes amendments relating to converting Nepal into a federal state,increasing seats for the Terai region in the forthcoming Parliamentary elections that would re-write the Constitution and giving the Madhesias greater representation in the state structure,was introduced yesterday and would be taken up for debate when the House meets on Wednesday.The Speaker,Subhash Chandra Nembang,informed the members that the bill has been registered with the Parliament Secretariat and the process for amendments to the interim Constitution has begun.The move was yesterday endorsed by Nepal's ruling Seven Party Alliance and the Maoists,who met at Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's official residence here.Later,a Cabinet meeting okayed the proposal before the matter was taken up in Parliament,Minister for Physical Planning and Works Gopalman Sherestha told PTI."The move is positive as it has paved the way for the Madhesias to fulfill their demands through participation in the Constituent Assembly polls," said Rajendra Mahato,general secretary of Nepal Sadbhavana Party,which supports the demands of the Terai people."Though the demands of Madhesias are not yet fulfilled,this is a step towards that direction," he said.

From http://www.hindu.com/ 02/19/2007


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Improving Livelihoods for Disadvantaged Groups in Nepal's Eastern Hills

MANILA,PHILIPPINES - A US$1 million grant from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR),financed by the Government of Japan,will help improve the livelihoods of poor farmers and disadvantaged groups in the Eastern Development Region of Nepal.In the region's rural areas,the poorest have limited access to resources,with many poor farmers having landholdings of a half a hectare or less.Women are mostly dependent on remittances,but irregular delivery often leaves them struggling for daily survival."The rural areas of Nepal's eastern hills face chronic poverty,with ethnic minorities,especially women,suffering among the worst," says Susanne Nebel,an ADB Rural Development Specialist."Enabling the deprived to access opportunities and benefits from development efforts in the country is essential." The project will cover Dhankuta,Morang,Saptari,and Sunsari districts.It will help 6,000 people engage in microenterprises,such as off-season farming and high-value crop production,production of packaging materials,semiprocessing of fruits and vegetables,adding value to farm products,fishpond culture,and livestock rearing.A $350,000 livelihood support fund will be set up during the first year to finance household,food,health and education needs to help the poorest access economic opportunities.

During the second year,$200,000 will be allotted for an income generation fund earmarked for graduates of the project's skills training program.During the third year,groups that have successfully set up microenterprises can access the commercial agriculture fund under an ADB-backed Commercial Agriculture Development Project.For established farmer groups,the project will help set up micro-irrigation facilities on a subsidy basis.It will also provide training on skills needed in the agriculture value chain to prepare them for job opportunities.It will also carry out a social mobilization program that will create 600 self-help groups,improve adult literacy for another 6,000 people,develop their leadership skills,and consequently,increase their confidence and self-esteem.The Government will contribute $314,000 equivalent toward the project's total estimated cost of $1.314 million.The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is the executing agency for the project.The JFPR was set up in 2000 with an initial contribution of $90 million,followed by additional contributions totaling $155 million in 2002,and annual contributions up to 2006 bringing the total amount to $360 million.

From http://www.adb.org/ 02/22/2007


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PAKISTAN: Family Laws Bill Presented in NA

ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Law Shahid Akram Bhinder tabled the Family Laws Amendment Act 2007 in the National Assembly on Wednesday.The act is the second part of the Women's Protection Bill.The bill was tabled unopposed and was sent to the standing committee concerned by the NA speaker.The bill is designed to provide speedy relief to women for the dissolution of marriage.The bill would also check the practice of exchange marriages.Science and Technology Minister Nouraiz Shakoor presented a standing committee report on the Pakistan Council for Research on Water Resources Bill 2005.


From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/08/2007


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Pakistan Softening Visa Policy

QUETTA: Tourism Minister Nilofar Bakhtiar said on Wednesday that Pakistan was softening its visa policy for 24 countries,including India,to attract more tourists in 2007 每 which has been declared &Visit Pakistan Year'.At a meeting in Sibi to review the arrangements made for the upcoming Sibi festival,Bakhtiar said Balochistan had tremendous potential to attract foreigners to its tourist destinations.She said the government was trying its best to promote tourism in Balochistan,and special financial assistance would be provided for this purpose.The minister said that a peaceful environment was necessary for a tourist-friendly atmosphere,therefore Balochistan should cooperate with the government in brining peace to the province."There are scores of beautiful and historical places in the country that can be of great interest to foreigners.Balochistan's geographical diversity and extremely rich culture makes it a unique and picturesque destination for foreigners," she added.Bakhtiar said the government would take special steps to promote the Sibi festival 每 Balochistan's largest traditional and cultural event.She said that diplomats from various countries and journalists would be invited to visit this year's festival."In addition to the Sibi festival,there is also a need to introduce the historical temple in Hangor and the beautiful costal areas of Mekran to the rest of the world." The tourism minister was briefed on the arrangements being made for the upcoming festival,to begin on February 23 and end on the 27th.She assured the Balochistan government of the federal government's cooperation in making this year's festival the most successful one.Bakhtiar said the development of Gwadar Port would help a great deal in promoting the tourism industry in Balochistan."She was satisfied with the steps being taken Tourism Ministry in the province," Ayub Baloch,Balochistan's tourism secretary,told Daily Times.

From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/08/2007


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Federal Cabinet Grants Legislation Regarding Human Organs Transplantation

ISLAMABAD: Federal Cabinet decided Wednesday the passage of legislation regarding new education policy and transplantation of human organs.The cabinet noted that if the prices of cement and mild steel bars were not brought down,the cement exports would be disallowed.Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz presided over the federal cabinet's meeting at PM Secretariat here,where 11-point agenda was highlighted.Talking to Geo News,cabinet sources said the cabinet directed that legal points of legislation regarding transplantation of human organs should be mulled over.The bill has restricted human organs transplantation to the blood relations and in-laws and imposed a complete ban human organs trade.Taking severe notice of latest raise in cement and mild steel prices,the cabinet directed the Monopoly Control Authority to reduce the prices forthwith; otherwise,the cement exports would be halted and its imports would be permitted,instead.The cabinet asserted that the government would not let the construction industry to be destroyed and stringent actions would be taken in this connection.


From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/14/2007


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Govt Taking Bold Steps to End Anti-women Laws: Musharraf

ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf has said the government is taking "bold steps" to remove laws that discriminate against women.He said this in a meeting with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain,Pakistan Muslim League president,and Mushahid Hussain Sayed,PML general secretary,at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Tuesday.The two PML leaders exchanged views with the president on the overall political situation of the country.Shujaat also informed the president about the bill he presented in the National Assembly on Tuesday to outlaw customs that are cruel to women.The president congratulated him for moving the bill.Gen Musharraf said that women had been neglected in every field in the past."Presently,they are playing a vital role in every walk of life.This is due to the policies being pursued by the government for the protection of the rights of women.These policies have led to the empowerment of women," he said.He said the government would continue to take such steps to protect women's rights.He urged the opposition to support the bill,like it some opposition parties supported the Women's Protection Bill.Shujaat told the president he was in contact with all opposition parties and was confident that no party would oppose the bill.


From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/14/2007


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Prevention of Anti-women Practices Bill Moved in NA

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain tabled the Prevention of Anti-women Practices Bill 2006 in the National Assembly on Tuesday.The bill would add a new chapter (XXA) to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).Section 498A of the new chapter says depriving a woman of her inheritance would be punishable with seven years imprisonment or with a fine or both.Section 498B would outlaw forced marriages and provide for three years in prison and a fine for the offence.Section 498C would disallow marriage with the Quran and provide for up to three years imprisonment with a fine.Under Section 498D,a woman can seek to end her marriage if her husband,knowing of a qazf complaint by his wife in a court,fails to undergo the procedure of lian by his absence or otherwise.The husband would also be punished for qazf.Under Section 498E,a woman who admits to zina in lian proceedings would be liable to prosecution for zina.The bill would also add a new section,402D,in the Criminal Procedures Code,restricting the provincial governments' authority to suspend or commute sentences under Section 376 of the PPC in rape cases.The bill also proposed to substitute Section 310A of the PPC with a new section to provide for three year imprisonment and/or fine for giving a female in marriage in badal-e-sulh,vanni or swara to settle a dispute.Mujeeb Pirzada and Khurshid Shah of the PPPP objected that the government should have moved the bill instead of tabling it as a private member's bill,terming Shujaat's initiative a "point-scoring move".The house agreed to send the bill to a select committee,whose make-up the speaker will decide after consulting parliamentary party leaders.


From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/14/2007


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Cabinet Okays More Funds for Education,Human Organs Law

* Sets target of 65% literacy for next year,85% in five years
* Decides to cut cement prices

ISLAMABAD: The cabinet has approved the Human Organs Transplantation and Tissues Law 2007 and an increase in the education budget to four percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for the next five years.The cabinet,meeting on Wednesday with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in the chair,was told that the government was taking steps to streamline the over 13,000 madrassas in Pakistan and to promote religious education at public schools.The cabinet endorsed the president's effort to start a new Middle East peace initiative with support from other Muslim countries.It also expressed concern over Israeli excavation work at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.The prime minister later told reporters that the cabinet had set a target of increasing the literacy rate to 85 percent over the next five years.The target for next year is 65 percent literacy.He said the government had improved the literacy rate from 40% in 1998 to 53 percent currently.Aziz said comprehensive reforms had been undertaken to improve the state of education in the country.The reforms include free education up to Matric,free textbooks,a uniform academic session from September 1,and teaching of English language as a compulsory subject from class I.

The minister for water and power briefed the cabinet about the World Bank neutral expert's recently delivered verdict on Baglihar Dam.Aziz said the decision was a great success for Pakistan as the expert had asked India to change the dam's design.The cabinet approved the ratification of a memorandum of understanding with Zimbabwe for cooperation between the two countries' armed forces; an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters between Pakistan and the UAE; ratification of an agreement with Egypt for the abolition of visas for diplomats; and a proposal to negotiate with Saudi Arabia on an agreement on the exchange of prisoners.Cement prices: The prime minister said that the cabinet had decided to take immediate measures to reduce cement prices,as the price of Rs 260 per bag was not realistic.The minister for industries was asked to formulate proposals 每 including possible cement imports and restrictions on exports - for further cuts in cement prices at the next meeting of the cabinet's Economic Coordination Committee.The cabinet asked the Monopoly Control Authority to investigate the rise in cement prices.( by Naveed Siddiqui )


From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/15/2007


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India,Pakistan to Discuss Liberal Visa Policy Next Month

New Delhi/Islamabad,Jan 29: India and Pakistan are likely to sign an agreement on reducing nuclear accidents risk and discuss relaxation of the visa regime during Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri's visit next month.Kasuri will be coming here to attend the India-Pakistan Joint Commission meeting that will discuss ways to expand cooperation in a host of areas,including IT,health and food,science and technology and education.He is expected to be in New Delhi Feb 21-22,Pakistan Foreign Office sources told Online news agency.A draft agreement on reducing risk from nuclear weapons accidents has been prepared by officials of both countries.The Indian cabinet has already approved it.During External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Islamabad early this month,the formalities regarding this agreement had been finalised.The two sides will undertake a comprehensive review of the visa policy.A proposal for tourist visas will be discussed,sources in Islamabad said.


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/29/2007


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AFGHANISTAN: Afghanistan to Begin Issuing Birth and Death Certificates

The Afghan Interior Ministry announced a plan on February 8 to introduce birth and death certificates in the country for the first time,Pajhwak Afghan News reported.Deputy Interior Minister Abdul Malik Sediqi said the initial preparations for the registration programs are in place and the practical phase of the plan is due to begin by April in six provinces: Balkh,Herat,Kabul,Kandahar,Konduz,and Nangarhar.The registration program is being implemented with help from a grant by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF),which estimates that only around 10 percent of Afghan babies are being registered.AT


From http://www.rferl.org/ 02/09/2007


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AZERBAIJAN: President Signed Decree on Scholarship Fund Raising

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan signed a decree on scholarship fund increase on average by 50% for post-graduates and students of higher institutions,secondary vocational schools and lyceums financed from State Budget.The President's Office press service reported the following monthly scholarship was established: AZN65 for post-graduates; AZN55 for master's degree holders getting excellent marks,AZN45 for those who get excellent and good marks,AZN30 for those who get good and satisfactory marks; AZN50 for bachelor's degree holders getting excellent marks,AZN40 for those who get excellent and good marks,AZN25 for those who get good and satisfactory marks; AZN25 secondary vocational schools' students with excellent marks,AZN20 for students with excellent and good marks,and AZN18 for those who get good and satisfactory marks; AZN18 for lyceum students.The Cabinet Ministers has been commissioned to solve the issues relating to the decree put into force on Feb.1 of the year.(by Sharg)


From http://www.bakutoday.net/ 02/02/2007


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Azerbaijan Telecommunication Ministry Prepares Proposals on Tax and Custom Legislation

Ali Abbasov,Azerbaijan Telecommunication and IT Minister,said during the meeting of the parties to the Caspian Integration Business Club that the Azerbaijan Telecommunication and IT Ministry is preparing proposals on alterations to be moved to the tax and customs legislation of the Country.According to him,the packages of proposals are being prepared within the project on the foundation of a regional innovation zone in Azerbaijan."Our objective is to achieve foreign investors to the implementation of the project,which might be implemented first of all with the introduction of customs and tax privileges," said the Minister.At the same time,a special working group is currently occupied with studying the international experience in founding such centers.The selection of the consulting company was also conducted.An American consulting company,Booz Allen Hamilton won the selection.

The project on foundation of a regional innovation zone envisages the installation of techno parks to develop small-scale and medium-sized innovation entrepreneurship,foundation of a regional base on production and export of electronic equipment and software,turning the country into an advantageous transit information centre (Data Centre),preparation and development of human resources for the forming information society,as well as introduction of ICT in other fields.If the project is implemented,Azerbaijan,including the whole Caspian Region will further the development of entrepreneurship.New jobs will become available.All that will bring economic growth.

From http://www.bakutoday.net/ 02/16/2007


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TURKMENISTAN: President Decrees Education Reform

Newly elected Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov issued a decree on February 15 rolling back his predecessor's curtailment of the country's educational system,turkmenistan.ru reported.The decree will increase grade-school education from nine to 10 years,and university education from two years of study and two years of work to five years of study.The decree sets up a task force with representatives from various ministries to draw up plans for the reform within three months.The reforms will go into effect for the school year starting in September.Education reform figured among Berdymukhammedov's presidential election-campaign promises (see "RFE/RL Newsline," January 5,2007).DK

From http://www.rferl.org/ 02/16/2007


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UZBEKISTAN: Cabinet Approves Programme to Ensure Children Well Being

The consistent and purposeful state policy to implement the Uzbek national model of development is being realized in the Republic of Uzbekistan since the country gained independence,a press release published on the website of Jahon news agency of the Uzbek Foreign Ministry says.This model has found its comprehensive development and support not only of the citizens of the country,but also the international community.One of its components is a strong social policy based on the protection of the most vulnerable strata of society,protection of motherhood and childhood,securing the prosperity and health of the people.The "Programme of measures to ensure the well being of children in Uzbekistan",which was approved on 15 January 2007 by the Social complex of the Cabinet of Ministries of the Republic of Uzbekistan is an evidence to the aforesaid.

The goals of the document,which meets the recommendations of the relevant committees and sessions of the UN General Assembly,are the following: To define the common aspirations,priority directions and expenses to secure their implementation at the national level; To form the system of multilateral cooperation to implement the national goals and improve the well being of children at the regional and local levels; To create the mechanism to assess and monitor the progress on improving the well being of children.The objectives were defined to implement the goals,as well as the progress and problems have been highlighted in this sphere.

The ways of improving the system to ensure the well being of the children in Uzbekistan are offered in the document,and particularly,the priority measures are put forward on the five main directions: 1.Strengthening the legal protection of children; 2.Supporting the families aimed at enhancing the quality of children's life; 3.Strengthening the protection of the health of mother and child; 4.Rising the quality of education,upbringing and development of children; 5.Supporting the children living in special conditions.The implementation of all provisions of the "Programme of measures to ensure the well being of children in Uzbekistan" allows qualitatively improve the situation in this sphere and will promote the implementation of the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan No.573 of 23 January 2007 "On the State programme "Year of Social Protection".

From http://news.uzreport.com/ 02/09/2007


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Uzbek Cabinet Adopts Decision on Socioeconomic Development

Uzbek state media published a decision of the session of Cabinet of Ministers from 12 February 2007.The decision outlined priorities of Uzbekistan in economy for 2007.The decision summed up results for 2006 and said GDP grew by 7.3%,the volume of industrial goods production 每 by 10.8%,the consumer goods 每 by 20.,6%,the production of agricultural goods 每 by 6.2%,the paid services 每 by 19.3%,and the contractual construction works 每 by 12.8%.The State budget has been executed with a surplus 0.5% towards the GDP.The inflation rate decreased to 6.8%.The investment climate has improved.At the same time,the scale of the direct foreign investments has also expanded.They have increased by 25.4%.As a result,68.3% of the total amount of investments has been channeled to the manufacturing sector.About 50% of all investments were directed to the renewal of the technological stock and procurement of the new equipment.

In our country the profound changes are taking place in agriculture.In particular,last year over 74,000 farming entities were established o-n the basis of 666 shirkat entities.More than half of the newly established farms are those,which base their operations o-n growing the fruits and vegetables.Besides,the new forms of establishments now appear in the countryside.Nearly 200 agricultural firms were founded in 2006,which are based o-n the production and thorough processing of the fruits and vegetable products and vine.The session has also underscored that the year 2006 saw the increase in the volume and amount of the foreign economic activity.The volume of exports of goods grew by 31.5%,while the positive balance of the foreign trade had accounted for about US$2 billion.As a result of the purposeful measures undertaken in the sphere of providing the population with jobs,about 570,000 jobs were created in the country,including over 60,000 jobs 每 created thanks to the cooperation of the home-based labor with the large industrial enterprises.

In this,the real wages of the population grew by 36% and the real income 每 on average by 22%.The following directions are defined as vitally important priorities of the economic program抆批 for 2007: First,to ensure the sustainable and balanced growth rates,structurization and modernization of economy,technical and technological re-equipment of its most important spheres,further liberalization of the tax policy; Second,to create the maximum favorable conditions for businesses,above all,the private business and gradual decrease of the state's presence in the economy; Third,to comprehensively strengthen the work on attracting the foreign investments,above all,the direct investments; Fourth,to ensure the gradual rise of remuneration of labor and the quality of the people's lives; Fifth,to comprehensively support the accelerated development of the small business and private entrepreneurship and o-n this basis to resolve the issues of employment and raising the well being of the people; Sixth,to further deepen and expand the scale of reforms in the banking and financial system; Seventh,to further deepen the economic reforms in the public utilities.

From http://news.uzreport.com/ 02/15/2007


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AUSTRALIA: Bill Would Require Sex Offenders to Register Online Information

Social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook would have access to a database of sex offenders for checking names and addresses against public profiles under a bill introduced Tuesday in Congress.The legislation,aimed at giving computer network operators the knowledge and ability to remove sexual predators from their sites,would require convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses and other online identifiers with federal authorities.The information would not be released to the public.Adults who misrepresent their age to a minor with the intent of sexually abusing a child could be prosecuted and sentenced to up to 20 years in prison."Lately,online predation is the method of choice for too many sexual predators," said Sen.Charles Schumer,D-N.Y."We have to plug the online loophole." The bill defines "social networking" sites in broad terms _ a website that allows users to create public profiles and communicate with other users _ and could include popular destinations like Amazon.com,which allows shoppers to make personal pages and discuss items for sale.News Corp.'s MySpace,one of the most popular social networking sites,is backing the measure."Our laws need to change with the times," said MySpace safety czar Hemanshu Nigam."We're committed to making our corner of the Internet a safer and better lit neighborhood so that all of our users can feel and actually be safer."

Earlier this month,four families sued News Corp.after their daughters were sexually abused by adults they met on the site,alleging negligence,recklessness,fraud and negligent misrepresentation by the companies.In December,MySpace announced a plan to develop technologies designed to help block convicted sex offenders by checking profiles against government registries.Requiring registrations of e-mail addresses would make matching easier.There are more than 550,000 registered sex offenders in the United States.They are already required to register their physical whereabouts with the federal government.The new law could be difficult to enforce _ convicted sex offenders could easily use a computer at an Internet cafe to create an anonymous e-mail account and use it to register on a social networking site,for example _ but the bill would make doing so a crime.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 01/31/2007

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Govt Pursues National Identity Card

The federal government is pushing ahead with its controversial national identity card,calling for tenders to manage the program.The card,due to be introduced next year,will replace the existing Medicare card,providing access to a range of social services including pensions and veterans' entitlements.The government has called for tenders for a prime contractor to implement the card and its management system.The successful bidder would also design,manufacture,initialise,personalise and distribute the access card,with a contract lasting more than three years.New Human Services Minister Ian Campbell said the access card was vital as it would replace 23-year-old technology and streamline access to government services.He also said it was an important step towards stopping welfare fraud."This is the single greatest initiative ever undertaken in Australia to combat welfare fraud," Senator Campbell said in a statement."According to the Australian Federal Police,the Medicare card is used in up to 50 per cent of all fraud cases." Senator Campbell denied the new access card would compromise the security of Australians."The Australian government has publicly stated its commitment to ensuring the personal information of Australians will be subject to the highest level of security," he said.That meant tenderers would be required to demonstrate how they would meet security and privacy requirements for the access card.The 814-page tender document can be obtained from the government's tenders website.Submissions must be received by March 14.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 01/31/2007


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Pensioners Assisted by Changes to Exemption Rules on New Homes

The Australian Government will extend the exemption period of principal home sale proceeds from 12 months to up to 24 months for affected pensioners from 1 July 2007.Subject to the passage of legislation,customers who have been forced from their home due to a disaster and have not been able to rebuild or repair their home within 12 months will also benefit from the changes.Under the current social security rules,if a pensioner sells their home,or if their home is destroyed,and they have not rebuilt or repaired their home,the proceeds and the unfinished home are exempt from the assets test for a period of 12 months."The Government has decided to extend the exemption period from 12 months to up to 24 months which will assist those who cannot complete the construction of their home due to factors beyond their control," Acting Families Minister John Cobb said."This new measure comes particularly as a result of monitoring of the recovery efforts from Cyclone Larry and recognises the difficulty some pensioners might experience where there are unavoidable construction delays." "This measure recognises that the intensity of rebuilding efforts for large scale natural disasters exacerbate demands on skilled labour and results in slow construction times."Rather than restrict the measure to disaster affected regions the extension of the exemption is a comprehensive approach that will assist pensioners throughout Australia who are having difficulty purchasing,constructing,or rebuilding their home."

"While the measure will start from July 1 2007,the Government understands that there will be a small group of people within the Cyclone Larry area who might need assistance after the expiration of the existing 12 month exemption period on the anniversary of Cyclone Larry in March 2007.As an interim measure,where and if required,provision for ex gratia payments will be made for affected pensioners."This is another example of the Howard Government supporting our senior Australians.This year the Australian Government expects to spend around $22 billion in Age Pension for around 1.9 million people - up from around $12 billion in 1995-96."The Howard Government has also increased incentives to save for retirement.Superannuation has been reformed and the pension assets test taper rate will be halved from 20 September 2007," Mr Cobb said


From http://www.facsia.gov.au/ 02/01/2007

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$1.8m Funding Boost for Home and Community Care in the ACT

The ACT's older people,people with a disability,and their carers,will benefit from the $1.8 million funding boost for Home and Community Care (HACC) services announced today by the Minister for Ageing,Senator Santo Santoro,and the ACT Minister for Health,Katy Gallagher MLA.HACC is a program jointly funded by both the Commonwealth and ACT Governments to assist those members of the community requiring home-based or community care,and their carers."Total HACC funding available in the ACT for 2006-07 will be $22.5 million,an increase of almost 8.5 per cent over funding in 2005-06," Senator Santoro said."The HACC program is a central element of the Commonwealth Government's aged care policy,for without services such as respite and domestic assistance,many people would have to move prematurely into residential care," he said.Ms Gallagher agreed,suggesting the importance of HACC funding could not be underestimated,given that it benefited not only older members of the community but also those younger people with disabilities,as well as carers."The ACT Government recognises the importance of the HACC program,for both those members of the community that rely on it,and the tireless efforts of family and friends that also care for them.I am delighted we could provide greater funding to the program this year," Ms Gallagher said.

Ms Gallagher said that in response to the Access Improvement Program: Improving the Older Patient's Journey,funding had been provided to Community Options ACT Inc to deliver up to eight weeks of support at home following hospitalisation."Additional levels of personal care,social support,home maintenance and domestic assistance will be provided to HACC clients living in the community," she said.Examples of the services which will benefit from the new funding include: HandyHelp ACT Inc will expand its home maintenance services and Home Help Service ACT Inc will provide additional domestic assistance and personal care.Northside Community Service Inc will expand its Choice Care program with additional domestic assistance and personal care and the Northside shopping bus program will also expand in response to demand.Belconnen Community Service Inc will expand its community transport social support program to assist clients with shopping and friendly visiting.Younger people with a disability will receive additional social support through Centacare and Community Programs Association Inc.Three pilot programs will now receive recurrent funding.These are: the Extended Home Visitors service provided by the Australian Red Cross ACT; the rural program supporting clients in Tharwa and surrounds coordinated by Woden Community Service; and the Dementia Links program at Alzheimers Australia ACT.Funding has also been provided to Woden Community Service ACT Inc to purchase a 12-seat community transport bus,and the Alzheimer's Australia ACT Friday Singing Group will receive additional social support.


From http://www.health.gov.au/ 02/14/2007


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Government Acts to Improve Debt Agreements

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today introduced legislation into Parliament to improve the operation of debt agreements.The Bankruptcy Legislation Amendment (Debt Agreements) Bill 2007 will ensure the continued viability of debt agreements as a means of avoiding bankruptcy."Debt agreements are now a significant feature of the personal insolvency system," Mr Ruddock said."During the 2005-06 year almost 5000 new debt agreements were made,with debtors paying back over $38m to their creditors." Debt agreements were introduced by the Australian Government in 1996 and are principally aimed at consumer debtors."Given the number of debt agreements made each year and the amount of money involved,it is appropriate that debt agreement administrators be properly regulated," Mr Ruddock said."From 1 July,there will be a formal registration system for administrators and they will be subject to ongoing regulation by the Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia." The Attorney-General said that while debt agreements had proven to be popular and could offer good returns to creditors,there was a concern about the high failure rates."The amendments will ensure debtors are fully informed about their options and can afford the promised payments," Mr Ruddock said."Creditors will be encouraged to focus on what the debtor can afford to pay,rather than on what creditors expect to receive." Mr Ruddock added that there would be financial incentives to administrators to ensure agreements are completed,by requiring fees to be paid proportionately over the life of the agreement rather than in priority to creditors."These amendments should give creditors greater confidence in the debt agreement system."

From http://www.ag.gov.au/ 02/15/2007


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Tourism Australia Legislation

Legislation was introduced to Federal Parliament this week to strengthen Tourism Australia's commercial focus and enhance its financial accountability.The legislation,introduced by Tourism Minister Fran Bailey,will boost the powers and responsibilities of the Board of Tourism Australia.It follows the Uhrig review of statutory authorities.Key changes include removing the Government member from the Tourism Australia Board,replacing the process of Ministerial approval of the corporate and operational plan with one of endorsement,and reducing the threshold for Ministerial approval of contracts from $5 million to $3 million."The legislation will put Tourism Australia on a stronger commercial footing,ready to chase the global consumer tourism dollar.It will give a much more strategic,commercial focus to the Board," Fran Bailey,said today."Over the past five years,the Howard Government has increased tourism funding by 60 per cent.The Tourism Australia Board will have to comply with increased financial accountability,which is appropriate given that 80 per cent of its funding is from Australian taxpayers." Fran Bailey said the tourism industry strongly supported the legislation."The tourism industry is 100 per cent behind this legislation,which is both necessary and follows industry consultation," Fran Bailey said.In accordance with the Uhrig Review,Fran Bailey also released the statement of expectations and statement of intent to clarify the purpose,functions and objectives of Tourism Australia.


From http://www.minister.industry.gov.au/02/15/2007


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Melbourne's Water Restrictions to Stay

Melbourne's tough Stage 3 water restrictions are here to stay for at least a year,Water Minister John Thwaites says.Mr Thwaites told Fairfax newspapers unless there was a significant increase in rainfall this year,there was no end in sight for water restrictions."It is likely we would be on restrictions at Christmas,but most probably it would be stage two or stage three ...you can't be more precise than that," Mr Thwaites said."It depends on how much water we save,how much water we get from the extra contingencies and the pattern of rainfall." As Melbourne faces tough Stage 4 restrictions,which includes banning the watering of gardens,the Bracks government has been warned not to make a rash decision."The smart thing to do would be not to jump into Stage 4 too early," said Tony Kelly,Yarra Valley Water's managing director."Even if it might look like we might be crossing the line before the winter,my recommendation to (the) government would be: don't jump into this,let's just hold off a month or so." Melbourne could face Stage 4 restrictions next year if drought conditions continue.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/18/2008


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New Protection for Independent Contractors and Workers

People who work as independent contractors will soon have greater flexibility in how they run their business under new laws which will take affect from next month.Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations,the Hon Joe Hockey MP,today announced that the Independent Contractors Act 2006 and the Independent Contractors Regulations 2007 will commence on 1 March 2007."Providing greater protection for the rights of independent contractors delivers on a key Coalition election commitment.These people are taking on the challenge of setting themselves up as a small business and this legislation gives them the flexibility and choice to run it as their business demands",Minister Hockey said.Under the legislation they will be able to conduct their businesses in accordance with the terms of their own commercial arrangements.There will also be a nationally consistent jurisdiction to deal with disputes about independent contracting arrangements which empowers federal courts to set aside or vary contracts if they are found to be unfair.Workers will also have stronger protection against employers who might try to change their working conditions by: misrepresenting an employment relationship as an independent contracting arrangement; dismissing,or threatening to dismiss,an individual so as to rehire him or her as an independent contractor to perform substantially the same work; and knowingly making a false statement to a current or former employee to persuade that person to become an independent contractor to perform substantially the same work.The Office of Workplace Services will investigate alleged breaches and seek penalties on behalf of employees,with employers found to be in breach liable for fines of up to $33,000.The Office of Workplace Services can be contacted on 1300 724 200.


From http://mediacentre.dewr.gov.au/ 02/21/2007


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Government Amendments to the Trade Practices Act 1974 每 ACCC Representative Actions Under the Secondary Boycott Provisions

The Government has announced that it will be introducing legislation to strengthen the secondary boycott provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (TPA).The legislation will amend section 87 of the TPA to enable the ACCC to bring representative actions on behalf of persons who have suffered,or are likely to suffer,loss or damage as a result of a breach of sections 45D and 45E of the TPA.Allowing the ACCC to take representative action in relation to the secondary boycott provisions will assist small businesses in recouping losses suffered as a result of illegal boycott conduct.The amendments will also place the secondary boycott provisions in the same position as other provisions in Parts IV,IVA,IVB V and VC of the TPA,for which the ACCC can bring representative actions.These amendments are part of the Government's TPA reform agenda,which began with the passage of the Trade Practices Legislation Amendment Act (No.1) 2006 (the Dawson Bill) in October 2006. The Dawson Bill introduced wide-ranging reforms to merger laws,a new collective bargaining regime for small business,and increased penalties for contraventions of the TPA.The Government has also been consulting on a separate Bill to strengthen the misuse of market power and unconscionable conduct provisions of the TPA. The Government will introduce these amendments into Parliament in the near future in a separate Bill.


From http://www.treasurer.gov.au/ 02/22/2007


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Govt Looks to Strengthen Trade Law

Taxpayers will fund court action by farmers and other small businesses against moves to wreck their trade,under a government plan to strengthen trade practices law.Treasurer Peter Costello said the move would protect farmers suffering under an attempted international boycott of Australian wool by a US-based animal rights group.The wool industry,which is suing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) over the boycott,welcomed the change as recognition of the impact of animal rights activities on farmers.But the Australian Greens lashed out at the change,saying it would hobble free speech and turn the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) into a "political attack dog".Mr Costello said the amendment to the Trade Practices Act (TPA) would allow the ACCC to bring representative actions for breaches of the act's secondary boycott provisions.He denied it would muzzle free speech,saying it would allow farmers to fight for compensation when they were hurt by actions like the PETA boycott."There is no law that is going to stop ignorant commentary but there will be a law that will allow the ACCC to stand up for Australian farmers when the suffer from a boycott," he said.The peak wool industry body,Australian Wool Innovation (AWI),is trying to use the secondary boycott provisions of the TPA to sue PETA in the Federal Court over its campaign.

PETA is urging international clothing retailers to stop stocking Australian wool products in a bid to end the practice of mulesing,where farmers cut skin folds from a sheep's backside to prevent flystrike.The group has enlisted a string of celebrities for the campaign,including tennis great Martina Navratilova and pop star Pink.AWI welcomed the proposed amendment,indicating the ACCC may take over its court action once the change came into force."In relation to the current Federal Court case it will,however,be business as usual until these amendments are passed through parliament," AWI's deputy chief executive Les Targ said.But Sydney law firm Gilbert and Tobin,which is acting for PETA,said it did not expect the change to have any affect on the case.Animal Liberation NSW,a joint defendant with PETA in the AWI case,said the change was outrageous and his group would seek legal advice about the move."It's an attempt to muzzle activists and stop them being proactive in their campaigning," Animal Liberation executive director Mark Pearson said."Rather than getting corporate farming industries to come in line with community expectations and the legislation about protecting animals from cruelty,they're actually shielding them further." Greens leader Bob Brown blasted the change,saying it could turn the ACCC into a "new McCarthy Committee".

"Today's announcement is a cynical exercise that seeks to turn a well respected watchdog into a political attack dog," Senator Brown said.The change would give the ACCC power to intervene on behalf of corporate Australia in disputes with community groups,he said.Senator Brown said the Greens would oppose the amendment in the Senate.Labor said it agreed with the principle of the change,but it was concerned about the potential impact on community groups."If this is a genuine attempt to help small businesses and farmers then we would look on it sympathetically,but we need to be convinced," Opposition assistant treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said."We need to see the impact on community groups."


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/22/2007


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Boycotts Rule May Stifle Protests

THE Federal Government has lodged a fresh assault on trade union power,giving Australia's consumer watchdog powers to crack down on union boycotts,and sparking concerns that community groups may also be under threat.Treasurer Peter Costello said the Government would legislate to strengthen the secondary boycott provisions of the Trade Practices Act,giving the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission unprecedented powers to stop boycott action by unions and other organisations,including community groups.Mr Costello's decision to press ahead with the legislation 〞 which the Coalition has failed to pass on five previous occasions 〞 is his latest hardline assault on union power.The Government first tried to introduce the changes in 1998 against the backdrop of a major waterfront dispute,and another four times after that,but each time it was blocked in the Senate.The Coalition now has the numbers to get the legislation through.It is not clear whether the regulator will use the increased powers to attack groups other than unions.ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel declined to comment yesterday.The Government says the aim is to help small businesses damaged by boycott conduct but lacking financial resources to initiative private litigation.

But Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said he would oppose changes that aimed to stifle free speech and turn the ACCC into a "political attack dog".Senator Brown said the ACCC would have the power to stop community groups from mounting boycotts in support of the environment,human rights and Aboriginal land rights.Previous campaigns that have led to consumers boycotting brands or products in support of causes include dolphin-safe tuna and the Nike anti-sweatshop campaigns."This is a further step down the McCarthyist road of silencing dissent in our free and open democracy," Senator Brown said.But Mr Costello denied it would impede free speech,saying the move would protect farmers suffering under an attempted international boycott of Australian wool.The wool industry is suing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for urging international clothing retailers to stop stocking Australian wool products.The group wants to end the practice of mulesing.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/23/2007


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Rudd Plans $1.5b Clean Coal Fund

Labor leader Kevin Rudd has proposed a $1.5 billion government/private fund to ensure clean coal is supplied to the national electricity grid by 2020.The plan would comprise $500 million from the Commonwealth,leveraging $1 billion from the private sector,to be up and running within eight years,to support three or four of the most viable clean coal technologies.The move has been met with scepticism by Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane,who says the Opposition is simply copying Government policies.Mr Macfarlane said the Government already had its Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund in place and had allocated $175 million to companies involved in low-emission coal."We've seen in return almost $1 billion invested by companies in that fund and that fund was announced in 2004 in the middle of June," he said.But Mr Rudd said the Labor plan would give certainty to the $24 billion annual coal export industry."We have an overwhelming national imperative at stake here - how do we place long-term coal exports on a secure long-term footing and the challenges which are emerging in terms of the climate change debate globally,and hostility around the world in terms of carbon emissions going forward," Mr Rudd told the Nine Network.

"The way we do it is to bring about a new national clean coal initiative."That's what I'm proposing today."What I'm proposing further is that we commit real money to this." Mr Rudd said the fund would be additional to the Coalition Government's $500 million Low Emission Technology Demonstration Fund which is open to all technologies for both coal and renewable energies."Mr Howard currently has a $500 million fund where clean coal competes with a whole range of other renewable energy projects," he said."Based on my advice,up until now,about $135 million of that has been committed to clean coal."I'm saying that's not enough."Clean coal must be part of the solution.Mr Howard's problem is that for so long he's been a climate change sceptic,how can he therefore put himself to the country as part of a climate change solution for the future." In a later statement,Mr Rudd said a Labor government would also increase funding for the CSIRO by $25 million over four years."This will strengthen its leadership role in the research and development of clean coal technologies," he said.He listed four clean coal technologies under consideration - coal gasification,carbon capture and storage,oxy-firing and post-combustion capture.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/25/2007


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FIJI: Govt to Fund EGM Redundant Workers Rehabilitation Scheme

Cabinet has approved that the Government allocate $600,000 to fund the rehabilitation programme for the redundant EGM mine workers at Vatukoula.The programme is to rehabilitate both groups of workers that were made redundant in 2006 and 1991.Cabinet based its decision on a submission by the Minister for Labour,Industrial Relations and Productivity,Tourism and Environment,Mrs Bernadette Rounds Ganilau.Mrs Ganilau said that the closure of the 72每year old gold mine has significant economic and social impacts to the nation,particularly the mine workers and their families.A total of 1,639 mine workers including management staff will be paid their redundancy packages and last pay from the EGM Company at the end of February 2007.Mrs Ganilau explained that the rehabilitation strategies are based on the results of a survey conducted by the Labour Ministry on Friday,29th December 2006."The survey,which covered a total of 190 redundant workers,out of the total 1,639 mine workers including management staff,comprised about 7.2% of the total which is a valid representative sample." Mrs Ganilau said that based on the survey,the Vatukoula Rehabilitation Programme will focus on Farming; Self- Employment,Small Business Development,Targeted Skills Training,Start-up Assistance and Repayment of Assistance.The implementation of the Vatukoula miners' rehabilitation programme will be the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour,Industrial Relations & Productivity.The Vatukoula Mine Workers Rehabilitation Programme will be implemented over a 12 months period.Quarterly progress reports will be presented to Cabinet through Government's EGM Closure Negotiating Committee.Site visits will be organised and conducted specifically for the Vatukoula Rehabilitation Programme.


From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 01/31/2007


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Govt to Enact Employment Relations Bill

The Employment Relations Bill is to be enacted.This is to be done through an advice to be tendered by the Prime Minister to His Excellency the President to assent to the Employment Relations Bill as the Employment Relations Act 2007.The Employment Relations Act is to come into force on the 1st of October,2007.This decision was taken by Cabinet following a submission by the Minister for Labour,Industrial Relations and Productivity,Bernadette Rounds Ganilau.Mrs Ganilau said that the Employment Relations Bill marks a new era in Fiji of a fundamental shift from confrontation to good faith bargaining and cooperation producing positive outcomes for everyone: Government,employers and workers and their families."A key feature of the Bill is paid maternity leave.The Bill requires that mothers be fully paid for the first three confinements (births) and thereafter,half payment for all other births." Mrs Ganilau said that the Bill aims to facilitate economic growth and social development by providing a framework that is conducive to investor confidence and employment generation as well as ensuring full and productive employment and decent work for all."It also facilitates trade and employment creation locally because of World Trade Organization (WTO) requirements for compliance with the core ILO standards as a precondition to international trade." Mrs Ganilau said that Fiji is one of the few small island states to adequately address its ILO obligations in the new legislation,recognition of Government's social responsibility commitment.She said that these labour reforms will alleviate poverty,improve living standards and create employment,priority initiatives of the present Government."To achieve this,it is imperative to reform outdated labour laws enacted in colonial times." Mrs Ganilau said that the enactment of the Employment Relations Bill will provide a progressive business environment that creates employment,stable employment relationships,promotes flexibility in wage fixing,improves terms and conditions of employment and good faith bargaining that will enhance productivity.


From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 02/14/2007


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NEW ZEALAND: Infrastructure Bonds to Drive Transport Investment

The government will shortly issue the first tranche of Infrastructure Bonds that will be used to help finance a multi-billion investment in land transport,Finance Minister Michael Cullen announced today.Treasury's Debt Management Office will hold a $200 million bond tender on 15 February,of which $50 million of the December 2017 maturity will be designated Infrastructure Bonds."The funds will be tagged for transport,helping finance the biggest road building programme this country has seen," said Dr Cullen."We are investing $13.4 billion over the next five years,$300 million more than we will receive by way of petrol excise duties,road user charges and motor vehicle registration fees."This underlines our commitment to build a world class transport network as a key part of the Labour-led government's strategy to transform this economy." As announced in Budget 2006,the government will make up to $1 billion in Infrastructure Bonds available over the next five years,of which $425 million is already committed between 2006/07 and 2010/11."The $425 million will be used to accelerate key State Highway projects including the Manukau Harbour Crossing,Kopu Bridge Replacement,four laning of Longswamp to Rangiriri in the Waikato,the Christchurch Southern Motorway,and the investigation and design of Transmission Gully," said Dr Cullen.From the bond investors' perspective,Infrastructure Bonds are identical to other government bonds.But from the public's perspective,Infrastructure Bonds are specifically linked to long-term investment in roading,to make the link clearer between revenue and investment."Issuing Infrastructure Bonds allows us to accelerate our efforts to make vital transport improvements for the long-term benefit of New Zealand," Dr Cullen concluded.


From http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ 02/01/2007


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Helping Households Towards Sustainability

The Labour-led government will help Kiwi households take practical steps to fight climate change,improve energy efficiency,save money,and reduce waste,Environment Minister David Benson-Pope said today.A household sustainability campaign was announced as part of the government's sustainability agenda by Prime Minister Helen Clark in her statement for the opening of Parliament."The campaign will focus on practical ways in which New Zealanders can act to make their households more sustainable," Mr Benson-Pope said."By making relatively small changes to the way we use energy we can all play a meaningful role in preserving our environment.The changes we make also have immediate health and financial benefits,as well as having longer-term benefits to our communities,our country and our planet."For example,New Zealanders are already using 1.5 million energy-saving bulbs in their homes,which has the same positive environmental impact of removing 18,000 cars from our roads."The campaign will build on and seek to integrate the practical advice and help already being given by government agencies,NGOs and the private sector.Local government in particular is active in community-based sustainability campaigns." "The Ministry for the Environment has already published three new booklets offering New Zealanders information about climate change and everyday tips on reducing greenhouse gas emissions."The household sustainability campaign will aim to raise awareness of both existing programmes and new initiatives and connect people to them," said Mr Benson-Pope."We know that New Zealanders care about their environment and are concerned about climate change."A recent survey showed 78 per cent of respondents believed they needed to make lifestyle changes to reduce global warming.This campaign will offer them the information and the tools they need to make a difference," David Benson-Pope said.


From http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ 02/13/2007


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Prime Minister's Statement 2007

The Prime Minister's statement at the opening of Parliament on 13 February 2007 outlined a number environmental initiatives that will accelerate New Zealand's sustainable development.These are: Towards zero waste A new drive to cut down on waste and make it easier to dispose of.New initiatives 每 to be formally worked through with local government and announced later in the year 每 include: A network of public recycling stations The creation of a waste levy to fund projects to encourage recycling and recovery.Regulation to allow for mandatory product stewardship,including recognition of existing industry sponsored schemes. Full details will be announced later in the year as well as in Budget 2007.Issues requiring legislation 每 including the creation of a waste levy 每 will be worked through in Parliament,including in the development of the Waste Minimisation (Solids) Bill currently before the Local Government and Environment Committee.

Business partnerships for sustainability Building on existing work,the Business Partnerships for Sustainability programme,will make it easier for New Zealand businesses to find out and implement sustainable business practices.It will include support for existing sustainability advisory services,the expansion to industry groups and certainty from the government on moves to a carbon-priced future.Full details will be announced later in the year and in Budget 2007.Government to buy eco-friendly goods,services The Government will use its purchasing power to grow the market for environmentally friendly products,including paper,cleaners,plastics and fuel efficient vehicles.Public service departments will be required to create more sustainable workplaces,including greater use of renewable energy and recycling.The Government intends to provide comprehensive information about which ecolabels and standards are good indicators of environmental sustainability.It will also increase the number of products that carry the governments own Environmental Choice NZ ecolabel to assist departments in implementing the new policy and encourage more suppliers to adopt sustainable practices.Full details will be announced later in the year and in Budget 2007.

Biofuel sales required The Government will require an increasing proportion of cleaner-burning biofuels to be sold to cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy security.The sales obligation,starting in April 2008,will require 3.4 percent of the total fuel sold by oil companies to be biofuel by 2012.The Ministry of Economic Development will be developing new legislation during 2007 that will implement the Biofuels Sales Obligation and provide for the regulation of biofuel quality.Helping households towards sustainability.The Government will develop a campaign to raise awareness of what households can due to fight climate change,improve energy efficiency,save money and reduce waste.The campaign will build on and seek to integrate the practical advice and help already being given by government agencies,NGOs and the private sector.Full details will be announced in Budget 2007.


From http://www.mfe.govt.nz/ 02/13/2007


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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Ministry of Education Reviews Education Action Plans

A national workshop to review various areas of strategic importance to the education sector in the country opened in Honiara today at the King Solomon Hotel.The workshop was attended by various departmental heads of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development,Donor representatives from NZAID,UNICEF,JICA,EU,ROC (Taiwan),Senior Government officials and other key stakeholders.In the course of the two-day workshop,participants will focus on the review of the Education Strategic Framework (2007-2015) and National Education Action Plan (2007-2009).In his opening remarks,Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development,Mr.Barnabas Anga revealed that a stock take analysis undertaken in 2006 on the state of progress of the 2004-2006 Education Strategic Plan (ESP) blamed the plan's lack of progress to the non-fulfilment of the milestones.


From http://www.pmc.gov.sb/ 02/15/2007


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ADB Blacklists 37 Companies for Corruption

Manila: Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced having blacklisted 37 companies from dealings with it for up to 10 years for violating the bank's anti-corruption code.The bank does not disclose the identities of those it debars.It banned 34 firms for one to seven years and three firms for 10 years from competing for ADB contracts.Fourteen individuals were banned indefinitely and 17 for periods ranging from one to seven years,while one person was reprimanded,the ADB said in a statement.ADB said its 'integrity oversight committee' had found that 37 firms and 32 individuals were in violation of its anti-corruption policy 2006.According to the annual report of its integrity division,it received 171 complaints in 2006,down from 199 in 2005.More than half of the cases opened in 2006 involved corrupt practices and 42 per cent fraud.Cases against seven staff to the bank's human resources division to consider disciplinary action.Misrepresentation and falsification of documents were the most common fraudulent practices investigated in 2006 and collusive practices accounted for 46 per cent of the corruption cases.


From http://www.domain-b.com/ 01/30/2007



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Top Ten E-government Countries 2007 Ranked by Wasada University

The Waseda University Institute of E-Government,which has been ranking development of E-Government in 32 selected countries for last three years (2005,2006,2007),has released its 2007 World E- Government Ranking.A unique feature of this ranking is that it is the only ranking worldwide which takes into account the status of the Chief Information Officer (CIO).A total of 26 indicators were used to evaluate six sectors that constitute an ideal E-Government.Top Ten E-government Countries 2007: 1.U.S.A.(67.18),2.Singapore (66.60),3.Canada (62.59),4.Japan (61.44),4.Korea (61.44),6.Australia(60.86),7.Finland (59.72),8.Taiwan (58.00),9.U.K.(56.85),and 10.Sweden (55.70).Note: Figures in parentheses denote standard score.


From http://www.obi.giti.waseda.ac.jp/ 01/29/2007

 


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World Bank Steps Up Anti-Graft Drive; Blacklists 112 in 2 Years

"The World Bank said it stopped doing business with 112 people and firms suspected of corruption over a two-year period as it stepped up a drive to combat graft.The number of people and firms barred from doing business with the Washington-based lender in the two years through last June 30 compares with 226 banned or reprimanded over the previous six years,according to a report released [by the World Bank Group's Institutional Integrity Department (INT) in Washington] Tuesday.World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has made promoting good governance a hallmark of his leadership since he took over in June 2005,saying too much money intended to aid the poor winds up in the pockets of corrupt contractors and politicians.# &When we find that scarce development dollars have been wrongly diverted from their intended purpose of benefiting the poor,we have a responsibility to take action,' Wolfowitz said in a statement.#" [Bloomberg]

Xinhua notes that "# [In the report the Bank said the INT] investigated and closed 441 external investigations into fraud and corruption in Bank financed projects,over the past two fiscal years.As a result of such investigations,the Bank debarred 58 firms and 54 individuals due to fraud and corruption over the period covered in the report,rendering them ineligible to participate in Bank-financed projects.Since 1999,the World Bank has sanctioned 338 firms and individuals,with all sanctions published on the Bank's website and publicly announced.The World Bank is the only multilateral development bank that has published the names of the firms it has sanctioned for corrupt practices - a major deterrent to wrongdoing,said the report." [Xinhua (China)/Factiva] Reuters reports that "# Suzanne Rich Folsom,director of the department,said more people and firms were reporting allegations of fraud and corruption in projects funded by the Bank,which involved kickbacks,bribes or overcharging for work.Still,it was unclear how widespread the problem of corruption was in Bank projects,she said.&We don't know,' Folsom said in an interview with Reuters.&Our investigations have shown that there are similar schemes that are being orchestrated around the world,' she said,adding that two investigations currently under way showed one cartel operating in two countries on different continents in the same sector.&We are seeing much more complex schemes that have no boundaries,' Folsom said.#AFP writes that "# [O]fficials recognized that the Bank's room for further action is limited,unless member governments agree to pursue charges against the wrongdoers.&What we'd like to do is work and partner with those member governments and authorities,as they may have needs for additional questions or documents,' said Glenn Ware,the World Bank's chief investigative advisor.&We will work with them if they decide to pursue enforcement action,' he said.

According to the report,about one-third of the cases are triggered by concerned World Bank staffers and consultants after they observe procurement fraud,collusion,kickbacks and bribes in projects.The INT also investigated 227 internal cases involving &staff misconduct' over the past two fiscal years.Allegations were substantiated in 77 of the cases involving 78 staffers,the report said.The World Bank fired,or barred from rehiring,22 employees and disciplined 11 others for fraud and corruption.#" [Agence France Presse/Factiva] [The report] said the largest number of new [fraud or corruption] cases were in East Asia and the Pacific,followed by South Asia,but Folsom cautioned that this did not reflect the extent of corruption but rather was an indication of where cases were reported.She said the department had introduced new tools to better gauge the scope and depth of corruption in Bank projects.One of these,the Voluntary Disclosure Program,encourages companies that have worked on Bank-funded projects to report or own up to corruption or fraud in return for keeping their identifies secret.&Through these diagnostic tools we think we will be able to have a greater development impact,' said Folsom." [Reuters/Factiva]


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 02/06/2007

 


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ASEAN Launches 40th Anniversary Logo

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has selected a logo for its 40th Anniversary.ASEAN will turn forty on 8 August 2007.The selection was done through a region-wide competition.National-level contests to design a 40th Anniversary logo for ASEAN (hereafter referred to as the ASEAN40 logo) were organised by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the ten ASEAN Member Countries and the national winners went on to compete at a regional final that took place at the end of January 2007.As explained by the designer,the number "40" incorporated into the logo design gives a clear representation of ASEAN's 40th Anniversary.The two sharp points of the "4" meet in a manner to symbolise ASEAN's harmonious and key role in the progress and development of a dynamic Asia.It also alludes to the "heart" of a resilient caring and sharing ASEAN Community.Through the use of the official ASEAN colours of blue (peace,stability),red (courage,dynamism),white (purity) and yellow (prosperity),and the ASEAN emblem,the 40th Anniversary logo reflects the goals and values that are fundamental to ASEAN and is an expression of ASEAN's ambition of becoming one community.The judging panel at the regional final included Tan Sri Ajit Singh and Mr.Rodolfo Severino,both former Secretaries-General of ASEAN,as well as Mr.Ong Keng Yong,the current Secretary-General.The judges took into consideration several factors,namely: the logo's visual impact; the logo's expression of the 40th Anniversary theme,One ASEAN at the Heart of Dynamic Asia; the aesthetics of the logo design; and the practicality and "functionality" of the logo (e.g.scalability).The ASEAN40 logo will be used to brand events and activities that are held to commemorate ASEAN's 40th Anniversary throughout 2007.Any party that is interested in using the ASEAN40 logo for this purpose would need to apply for permission from the appropriate authorities (please see the attached document "How to Seek Authorisation to Use ASEAN's 40th Anniversary Logo" or visit www.aseansec.org for more details).The Member Countries of ASEAN are Brunei Darussalam,Cambodia,Indonesia,Lao PDR,Malaysia,Myanmar,Philippines,Singapore,Thailand and Viet Nam.


From http://www.aseansec.org/ 02/15/2007



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OECD Secretary-General Stresses Governments' Role in Anti-corruption Drive

18/01/2007 - OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurr赤a stressed the important role of governments in preserving the credibility and integrity of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention,at the session of the OECD Working Group on Bribery held in Paris on 16-18 January 2007.The credibility of the Convention depends on its implementation and enforcement by the countries that are signatories to it,Mr.Gurr赤a made clear."The political will of our members,collectively and individually,is of very critical importance#I am gratified that the OECD provides a forum where we can have a full and frank exchange of views on these issues," he told delegates.In the context of its regular exchange of views on recent developments,the Working Group engaged in discussions regarding the recent discontinuation by the United Kingdom of a major foreign bribery investigation concerning BAE SYSTEMS plc and the Al Yamamah defence contract with the government of Saudi Arabia.The Working Group appreciates the efforts of the United Kingdom authorities to explain the decision to other members of the Convention.The Working Group has serious concerns as to whether the decision was consistent with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and will discuss further the issue in March 2007,in the context of the United Kingdom written report on its implementation of recommendations set out in the 2005 Phase 2 examination report on its enforcement and application in practice of the OECD Convention.The Working Group will then consider appropriate action.In the context of the discussion to be held in March,the Working Group would make reference to two particular recommendations in its 2005 report on the application of the Convention by the United Kingdom. These recommendations concern "the performance of the SFO and other relevant agencies with regard to foreign bribery allegations#including in particular with regard to decisions not to open or to discontinue an investigation" (paragraph 254 a.) and amendments that would "ensure that the investigation and prosecution of bribery of foreign public officials shall not be influenced by considerations of national economic interest,the potential effect upon relations with another state or the identity of the natural or legal persons involved" (paragraph 255 a.) as prescribed by Article 5 of the Convention.


From http://www.oecd.org/ 01/18/2007



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CHINA: Train All County Officials for Building New Countryside

China has wrapped up its massive program to train more than 5,000 county-level officials for the national campaign of building new countryside.On Sunday,some 180 county-level officials finished their training classes themed "building socialist new countryside" at the Party School of the Community Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in Beijing.Since last April,altogether 5,474 county magistrates or county Communist Party chiefs have participated in such seven-to-ten-day training classes in five official training schools.Fifty training classes were organized in the Party School of the CPC Central Committee,National School of Administration,and officials training institutes respectively in Pudong of Shanghai,Jinggangshan of Jiangxi Province and Yan'an of Shaanxi Province.It is rare in history that the CPC central committee organized such a unified and large-scale training with a specific topic,said an official with the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee."This shows the CPC Central Committee attaches great importance to building new socialist countryside and raising the competence of county officials in this sense," he stressed.

To ensure the quality of training,the Organization Department of CPC Central Committee required that the five schools use unified teaching plan and method.For most of the county heads and party chiefs,it was the first time for them to study in a state-level official training school.Ma Zhanwen,secretary of the Communist Party Fengyang county committee,in Anhui Province,said the training made him better understand why and how to build new countryside."The training plays an irreplaceable role in enhancing our understanding of the historical task," Ma said.Zeng Yesong,professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee,citied a Chinese proverb as saying "as long as the counties are ruled,the country is stable." The training program is closely tied with the country's new round of elections of county-level heads and party chiefs.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 01/29/2007



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Crackdown on Fraudulent Ads Launched

Eleven Chinese government departments have teamed up to crack down on fraudulent advertisements to protect the rights and interests of consumers.Great efforts will be made to supervise various advertisements and serious offenders will be prosecuted,according to a meeting attended Tuesday by 11 government departments including the State Administration for Industry and Commerce,Ministry of Public Security,Ministry of Information Industry,Ministry of Health and State Food and Drug Administration,among others.According to the meeting,the crackdown will mainly targets ads for medicines,medical services,foodstuff,cosmetics and beauty services.Chinese industrial and commercial authorities handled 61,800 illegal advertisements last year,including 16,600 fraudulent ones,which provide false information on related products or exaggerate their quality and functions.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 01/31/2007

 


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China Builds Network to Offer Legal Aid to Migrant Rural Laborers

Construction of a national network for providing free legal aid to migrant rural laborers,considered a disadvantaged group,was launched here on Saturday.The program,with an investment of 3.6 million yuan (about 460,000 U.S.dollars),was jointly launched by the UNDP China office and the All-China Lawyers' Association.It aims to train lawyers and help them set up local offices in more than 20 provinces in one year.The network will further expand to cover more areas of China in the future,said Yu Ning,head of the association.Yu said that before Saturday's launching ceremony,several offices for providing legal aid to migrant rural workers have already been established in Beijing,Hebei and Henan.The Beijing migrant rural worker legal assistance center,established in September 2005,has helped more than 40,000 workers solve labor disputes,involving more than 200 million yuan (25.6 million U.S.dollars).Statistics from the Legal Aid Center under the Ministry of Justice show various legal organizations provided legal assistance to more than 125,000 migrant rural workers in 2006,up 65 percent over 2005.The government has enhanced protection of rights and interests of migrant rural laborers,which number more than 200 million,in recent years to promote social harmony and maintain social stability.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/03/2007

 


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China Cracks Down on Corruption in Crisis-hit Medicine Industry

China has pledged to clamp down on its pharmaceutical industry as the top drug safety official is investigated for bribery and after a number of deaths and scandals linked to shoddy medicines.The State Food and Drug Administration vowed Friday to probe up to 170,000 medicines produced by manufacturers which allegedly bribed its sacked head Zheng Xiaoyu for production licences."We will bring order to the registration of pharmaceuticals ...and seriously strike at the behaviour of filing fake and bogus applications (for production certificates)," the administration said in a statement posted on its website."We will improve the administrative approval process and continue to improve the system of the use of administrative power to approve (drugs),while better supervising and restraining the administrative power of approval." The administration also said it would try to stamp out fake medicines at wholesale and retail markets and crack down on rampant commercial bribery in the industry.Zheng's case has come to light after a recent series of deaths and health scares linked to poor quality medicines,including an officially approved antibiotic that cost the lives of at least 10 people last year.

The antibiotic Xinfu has since been taken off the market after it reportedly was illegally approved by the the food and drug administration.China's pharmaceutical industry has become a target of rising public dissatisfaction,with fake and unsafe medicines widespread and hospitals increasingly selling unneeded drugs to pad their bottom lines.On Thursday,Vice Premier Wu Yi announced the probe into 170,000 medicines and also underscored the need for a greater reform of the industry."We must comprehensively bring order to the pharmaceutical market,and fully safeguard the public confidence in ...medicines," Wu said in comments also posted on the administration website.According to the China Daily,Zheng and his subordinates allegedly sold "Good Medicine Product" (GMP) certificates to the highest bidders when he served as the administration's head from 1998 to 2005.He resigned under pressure 19 months ago and was placed under investigation last month."It was an open secret that without money,getting a GMP approval or a national production license was impossible," the paper quoted an unnamed drug producer as saying.From 1999 to 2003,more than 2,000 drug producers had been given the certificates,compared to only 87 before 1999,the paper said.

Zheng's case has led to the arrests of a number of his subordinates,including an official in charge of licensing medical equipment who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in November,it said."Zheng's case involved serious dereliction of duty,abuse of power ...he accepted bribes,and allowed his relatives and people close to him to engage in unlawful activities," state press reported last month."The case has caused serious harm,threatened the health of the masses and hurt the image of the (Communist) party and government," it said.


From http://news.yahoo.com 02/09/2007



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Subsidy to Cover More Aged Rural Parents

China will expand the special subsidy program for rural parents aged 60 and above who have followed the nation's family planning policy after more than two years' trial,according to a report released by the National Population and Family Planning Commission.The special subsidy system grants rural parents aged 60 and older a government subsidy of at least 600 yuan (77 U.S.dollars) each year,if they have only one child,or have two daughters.More than 1.35 million aged rural parents have already benefited from the subsidy system which has been tried in more than 10 provinces since 2004,according to the report.The report suggested that the country should extend the subsidy system to the whole country to cover 650,000 more qualified parents,as a way to improve their living conditions,and also as an incentive for younger parents to exercise birth control.

"It's time the subsidy system covered the whole country," said the report,pointing out that the annual cost of the subsidy system -- 1.2 billion yuan -- is modest compared to the government's annual fiscal revenues of 3 trillion yuan.Average annual incomes in China's rural areas have grown at double-digit rates over the last three years but are still only about 3,300 yuan (about 425 U.S.dollars).Formulated in the early 1970s,China's family planning policy encourages late marriages and late childbearing,and limits most urban couples to one child and most rural couples to two.The policy has helped the country reduce its population by more than 400 million.But China now has a dramatically unbalanced sex ratio of 118 boys for 100 girls mainly due to Chinese people's traditional preference for boys,which reflects an inadequate social security network in rural areas.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/11/2007



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China Has Nearly 3 Mln Cadres from Ethnic Minorities

China currently has 2.915 million cadres from different ethic minorities,accounting for 7.4 percent of the country's total cadres,up 2.6 percent from 2000,according to the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (SEAC).An SEAC official said the governments of ethnic minority autonomous regions,autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties are all headed by citizens from local ethic minorities.Directors or vice directors of the Standing Committees of local legislatures in minority autonomous areas also have to be from ethnic minorities.The SEAC organized more than 170 training classes for officials from ethnic minorities during the 2001-2005 period,aiming to enhance their administrative capabilities.China has 56 ethnic groups.Han people account for 90 percent of its total population.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/24/2007

 


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China to Tighten Supervision on Social Security Fund

China will tighten the control of social security fund this year to ward off misappropriation,according to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.Sources with the ministry said it will draft new regulations on the management of social security fund,individual accounts for employees of enterprises and investment activities of pension funds in 2007.The ministry will also make public regular reports on the collection and utilization of the fund to subject themselves to the scrutiny of the general public.China is expected to rake in some 56.6 billion yuan in pension fund this year.Premium revenue from medical and jobless insurance will reach 183.5 and 35.3 billion yuan,respectively.China has carried out five nationwide audits of social security funds since 1998,revealing embezzlement in 16 of the 31 provinces in 2004 and 1.7 billion yuan misappropriated in 2005.The widespread of embezzlement has been attributed to inadequate laws,lack of transparency and inadequate public supervision.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/24/2007

 


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JAPAN: NSC to Launch in April'08

A council comprising the prime minister,chief cabinet secretary,foreign minister and defense minister will be set up within the year to formally launch Japan's version of the U.S.National Security Council next year,government officials said Thursday.A deputy chief cabinet secretary-level official also will be assigned as secretary general of the secretariat's office,to be launched in April 2008.A government panel to boost the Prime Minister's Office's functions concerning national security gave its consent to a final plan submitted by former Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobuo Ishihara,who heads the panel.A final report is to be made public on Feb.27.The government will submit related bills,including one to create the NSC-like body,to the current ordinary Diet session.The ministerial council will be created upon the passing of the bill into law.According to the final plan,the council headed by the prime minister will form the core of the Japanese NSC,a reorganized version of the Security Council of Japan.Though there were initially arguments over whether the finance minister should be on the council,it was ultimately decided he would not be included.Also,the post of special advisor to the prime minister in charge of national security will be made permanent,and the advisor will attend the core council's meetings.The special adviser can concurrently serve as chief of the secretariat only if he or she is not a Diet member.The ministers will discuss such issues as energy,environment and official development assistance,in addition to foreign and security policies.Related ministers will be asked to participate in the meetings as appropriate.The current agenda under deliberation by the Security Council of Japan will continue to be discussed by the prime minister and eight other ministers.Such topics include the National Defense Program Outline.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/08/2007

 


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Education Council Proposal Upsets Local Authorities

The Education Rebuilding Council's proposal to review the board of education system has caused a strong backlash from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and the National Governors' Association,which believe it goes against efforts to decentralize power.Ministry officials and the governors oppose the council's recently compiled idea as it suggests the authority of the education minister should be strengthened and that smaller boards of education be integrated.The government plans to submit a bill to revise the law concerning local education administration during the current Diet session.However,observers argue it will be difficult to coordinate opinions within the government.When heinous instances of bullying were discovered recently and many high schools were found to have failed to teach subjects,the boards of education were criticized for mismanagement and irresponsible behavior.However,the Education,Science and Technology Ministry is limited in such situations to giving "instructions,advice and support" to boards of education.In light of this,the council,chaired by Nobel laureate Ryoji Noyori,proposed clarifying the ministry's authority over education boards and introducing a system that allow third parties to evaluate the performance of each education board.According to a government source,the government wants a system that would let the ministry punish education boards if they "do not listen to the third party's advice when a problem occurs."

The council,led by the Prime Minister's Office,and the ministry agree on this point."As the Education,Science and Technology Ministry has no authority,the problem will not be solved if such a situation isn't completely fixed," Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hakubun Shimomura said at a council subcommittee meeting on Jan.15.However,the ministry and the National Governors' Association expressed strong opposition to such an idea."It isn't acceptable because it will strengthen the central government's control over the boards of education and it can take educational administration back to the one before the law was enforced," the National Governors' Association said in a statement issued Tuesday.The law virtually defined the relationship between the central and local governments as equal."To strengthen the ministry's authority is akin to letting the ministry treat the boards of education as branch offices," a senior Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry official said."The involvement of the local governments' chiefs [in educational administration] should be strengthened before the central government's." Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki has repeatedly said the ministry did not have such authority."It's a matter of who will have the final authority when a board of education fails to follow teaching guidelines or the education ministry's advice," Ibuki said."We aren't going to violate the decentralization principle." However,observers say the Central Council for Education and the ministries concerned will be divided over the issue.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 02/12/2007

 


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Foreign Ministry to Set Up Panel of Experts on ODA

Japan's Foreign Ministry plans to set up an expert panel in March to discuss how to promote the nation's international cooperation through development assistance,officials said Monday.The panel will consist of university professors,business leaders,representatives of nongovernmental organizations and other people familiar with aid to developing countries and will discuss ways of enhancing Japan's presence in the field despite its dwindling budget for official development assistance,they said.The panel will serve as an advisory body to Foreign Minister Taro Aso.Faced with fiscal woes,Japan will cut its ODA budget for fiscal 2007,beginning this April,for the eighth consecutive year.The level will become some 40 percent smaller than at its peak spending.But Japan wants to reinforce its presence in the field of international cooperation as assistance for developing countries is expected to be a focal issue at an annual summit meeting of major nations and an international conference on African development to be held in Japan in 2008.


From http://asia.news.yahoo.com/ 02/19/2007

 


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Calls for Cabinet Reshuffle Continue

As approval ratings for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet continue to fall,the ruling coalition is feeling mounting pressure as it approaches this summer's House of Councillors election.With some Cabinet ministers' embarrassing behavior--including a recent comment by Health,Labor and Welfare Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa comparing women to "birthing machines," and problems with the inflated accounting of office expenses by others--at the heart of the decline,senior Liberal Democratic Party members close to the prime minister are demanding the Cabinet Office show restraint.At the same time,talk of a Cabinet reshuffle ahead of the upper house poll continues--despite Abe's repeated denials."The government,ruling parties and Cabinet ministers must get behind the prime minister," Hidenao Nakagawa,secretary general of the LDP,stressed at a government-ruling coalition meeting at the Prime Minister's Office on Monday.The statement was a repeat of one made the previous day,in which Nakagawa said in a speech that the Cabinet members must "be loyal to and willing to sacrifice themselves for the prime minister." New Komeito Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa echoed the sentiment at a meeting the same day.During a visit to India,former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori could not hold back his distaste as he singled out unsupportive Cabinet members in a Feb.14 press conference."Be it Yuji Yamamoto,state minister in charge of financial policy,or Economy,Trade and Industry Minister Akira Amari,or even Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Yoshihide Suga,there are no young people giving their support," Mori said."Even those ministers who are older or have been elected more times,such as Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma,Foreign Minister Taro Aso or Finance Minister Koji Omi,don't seem to be working to support the prime minister." The criticism emanating from Abe's allies stems from the prime minister's fall in opinion surveys due to the behavior and missteps of the ministers acting as albatrosses around his neck.This blaming of the Cabinet,appears to be intended to protect the prime minister.

Move could be serious gamble :In October and November soon after taking office in September,Abe held one dinner party a month with ruling coalition lawmakers.This month,however,there already have been four.Despite this,calls from within the prime minister's own party for Cabinet reform continue.Yoichi Masuzoe,the LDP's upper house police board chairman,on Monday reiterated a call for a reshuffle,telling reporters: "In the current Cabinet,many of the ministers got their posts through the spoils system and lack the mindset that they are working for the people of Japan.They need to resolve themselves to a change of heart through a reshuffle." If such reform moves ahead,ministers such as Yanagisawa can be rotated out easily and replaced with capable people from within the party or private sector.If this happens,the argument goes,the Cabinet can clean house.There are some within the ruling coalition who have pointed out that a good first step would be the dismissal of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki,who has been criticized for his handling of the press and his inability to get on well with the party.However,there is no guarantee that such reform would boost Abe's numbers.In the 12 cabinet reshuffles undertaken since that by the administration of Noboru Takeshita in 1988,only half of the reshuffles have produced an immediate rise in the polls.Of these,reforms undertaken in January 1999 and in September 2003 resulted in dramatically improved figures.But these cases were not entirely because of the reshuffles,as that under the administration of Keizo Obuchi in 1999 was due to optimism over the merger of the LDP and Jiyuto (Liberal Party) in an effort to maintain power; while the popularity of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's selection of Abe as LDP secretary general played a role in the popularity boost in 2003.Not all reshuffles have proven effective.In 1997,under the second Cabinet of Ryutaro Hashimoto,the administration's approval ratings took a dive following the appointment of Koko Sato,a lawmaker who had been convicted in the Lockheed scandal,to the post of Management and Coordination Agency director general.Taking this experience into consideration,many around Abe are urging him to be wary,warning that simple reforms will only serve to damage his credibility.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 02/21/2007

 


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LDP Eyes Real Estate Fund Ban

The Liberal Democratic Party is considering introducing a ban on the acquisition of real estate by lawmakers' fund management organizations,according to sources.A party panel on compliance issues confirmed Wednesday that the ban was being considered.The news came after Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa released details of his fund organization's office expenses.The LDP is eying the ban as it considers the acquisition of expensive property by fund organizations as potentially problematic.But a number of party members are cautious about revising the Political Funds Control Law to introduce the ban.Discussions have yet to be held to determine whether the party would revise the law,or merely stipulate the ban in a bylaw.Members of the panel,which is a subcommittee of the party's headquarters for party reform,confirmed during the meeting that the real estate purchasing practice was not appropriate and should be prohibited.There has been criticism claiming that office expenses are only vaguely defined,thus making transparency difficult.The majority of panel members therefore agreed that mandatory annual political fund reports should contain more categories,and more detail.

However,opinion is divided over regulation,and there is no agreement as yet on whether to revise the law,use bylaws,or to settle the issue among the parties,the sources said.Taking into account the DPJ's calls for a revision of the law,many junior LDP members think the party might be viewed in a negative light by the public if it does not propose a revision.But one senior party member said,"It's unrealistic to ban the acquisition of property by numerous political organizations across the nation." "If fund management organizations alone [among political organizations] are to be regulated,there'll be a number of technical problems,such as how to set criteria to differentiate different types of organization.Setting bylaws likely will be a speedier and more realistic approach," the senior member added.New Komeito has called for a revision of the law aimed at making office expenses more transparent.Following Ozawa's release of expenditure detail,New Komeito Secretary General Kazuo Kitagawa said: "Regulations of some kind should be established [on real estate acquisition].We need to consider revising the law." Regarding Ozawa's call for all Cabinet members and senior officials from the ruling parties to release details of their office expenses,the government and the LDP have refused to respond saying,"[Responding would] hand Mr.Ozawa the [political] initiative." But some New Komeito members are concerned that the public will seek the release of such data and believe Cabinet members should release their respective fund organizations' reports.

Questionable expenses:Nobuteru Ishihara,the LDP's acting secretary general,criticized Ozawa's fund organization at the panel meeting,for having acquired real estate with office expenses."It's questionable why [he] had to acquire the property using political funds," Ishihara was quoted by sources as saying.Ishihara also reportedly said it was not clear where the funds came from,and added that the property should have been declared by Ozawa as personal income,in light of a relevant tax law.LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa said at a meeting in Tokyo,"Mr.Ozawa must fully explain why his own real estate acquisition doesn't violate the Political Funds Control Law,which regulates the operation of political funds." Meanwhile,the three opposition parties--the DPJ,the Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party--held a meeting of their Diet affairs committee chairmen and agreed to request that Cabinet members and senior ruling parties officials release breakdowns of their fund organizations' office expenses.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/23/2007

 


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SOUTH KOREA: Korea Times Editor Named Roh's Overseas Communications Secretary

President Roh Moo-hyun on Monday (Feb.12) designated Oh Young-jin,an economic editor at the English-language newspaper Korea Times,as his secretary for overseas communications,according to the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae.Oh,who jointed the KT in 1988,will succeed Sun Mira who resigned for personal reasons.


From http://www.korea.net/ 02/13/2007

 


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Plans for Hanok Town in New Administrative City

The government is planning to build a traditional Korean town within its new administrative city,currently being built in Chungcheongnam-do (South Chungcheong Province).The new multifunctional administrative city will have its own Hanok town composed of 100 Hanok houses.Similar Hanok designs will also be applied to nearby museums,art galleries and other cultural facilities.The new Hanok town will have a cultural education center where foreigners will learn history,language,food,music and other aspects of the country's culture.The Ministry of Construction and Transportation announced Thursday (Feb.15) that the Hanok plan is in line with the "well-being" (health) trend.The pilot project will later serve as a guideline to other city development plans when trying to adopt similar traditional designs.The construction ministry,together with the private builders of the new administrative city will form a committee to push ahead with the pilot project and review the introduction of Korean-style design at the early stage of construction.The committee will decide which buildings will be designed in a Hanok style and their locations thorough a review process and release the final result next year.


From http://www.korea.net 02/17/2007

 


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Korea to Establish 25 New Diplomatic Missions by 2008

Korea will establish as many as 25 new diplomatic missions abroad in the coming couple of years,the country's top diplomat said Wednesday (Feb.22).In the first phase,the government will set up 15 new missions by the end of the year,Foreign Minister Song Min-soon told a regular press briefing.Korea currently has 137 diplomatic missions,but only 98 of them are embassies,"which means the country only has an embassy in every one out of two countries in the world," Song said.The foreign minister did not give a list of countries where the new diplomatic missions would be opened,but said they would either be "newly emerging markets,frequently visited by Koreans or where energy diplomacy is needed." The plan is also in line with one of the ministry's main policy objectives for the year -- to improve its consular services to Korean citizens traveling abroad."One of the main issues the Foreign Ministry plans to focus on this year is to expand" a kind of consular service where people can feel a sense of "human touch," he said.


From http://www.korea.net 02/22/2007

 


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INDONESIA: Govt,Regions Still at Odds on Autonomy

Six years after the introduction of regional autonomy,the central government and many local leaders are still at odds on how to implement it.While the regions insist that they be given the authority to manage themselves,the central government maintains that many regions are not yet ready to implement the policy."I believe intervention from the central government continues to be needed in the implementation of regional autonomy because not all local administrations are competent," director of regional autonomy at the Home Ministry,I Made Suwandi,said Tuesday at a seminar reflecting on six years of regional autonomy,held by the Center for Local Government Innovation.The most recent central government intervention was the Grand Strategy,which,according to Suwandi,was formulated in order to provide better guidance for local administrations in implementing effective,efficient,cost-effective and accountable governance."If all local leaders were as good as Pak Ibnu and Pak Jusuf,then the central government would not need to provide this guidance.But we have to acknowledge that only about 25 percent of the local leaders here are as competent as they are," Suwandi added,referring to Ibnu Subiyanto,the regent of Sleman,Yogyakarta,and Jusuf Serang Kasim,the mayor of Tarakan in East Kalimantan.People usually refer to Ibnu and Jusuf in relation to best practices in the implementation of good local governance.Ibnu,who shared his experiences in disaster risk management at the seminar,said that the Grand Strategy of the central government was too much for local administrations."I don't think that we need a Grand Strategy.The principles of good corporate governance will be enough to guide local administrations in implementing regional autonomy," he said on the sidelines of the seminar.

"If there are too many indicators and regulations from the central government,then regional autonomy will not happen," said Ibnu,who established a special division for disaster risk management three years ago.Sleman is the only regency that has such a division.Erna Witoelar,the ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals for the Asia-Pacific,agreed that the central government should not interfere too much in the implementation of regional autonomy.She suggested that the government let local administrations decide their own guidelines and indicators at the implementation level."Take the Millennium Development Goals as an example.We only set out the general concept and let every country decide the targets and make their own strategies for technical implementation.The same thing should happen with regional autonomy," she said,adding that involving local communities would be pivotal in making the best decisions because the local administrations and the people would know best about their needs.Erna said that it would not be easy to introduce centralist guidance as the country had already started decentralization.She believed that the current trial-and-error efforts would help with the emergence of a concept that could be applied nation wide.She said further that capacity building was the most crucial element in the implementation of regional autonomy,thorough observation would needed before deciding on the next steps."We have to understand that every region has different weaknesses and we should not apply the same solutions.Instead,we need to apply different formulas to improve the capacity of each region," she added.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 01/31/2007


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Govt to Build Houses for 1.5 Million People

The government said Wednesday that it would build 600,000 houses for poor families over the next five years.The housing,in the form of low-cost apartments,would be enough to house 1.5 million people,President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said after a Cabinet meeting at the Public Housing Ministry as quoted by Antara.He said the government would provide subsidies so the houses would be affordable for the poor.Yudhoyono said the apartment projects would also help conserve land and prevent future flooding.Public Housing Minister M.Yusuf Asy'ari said the government would need Rp 50 trillion for the low-cost housing projects."The banking sector will provide 70 percent of the financing,while the private sector will contribute 30 percent," Yusuf said,adding that the state-owned BTN housing bank agreed to help foot the bill for the project.The construction of housing will start in March this year.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 02/08/2007


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Govt Plans Mosque-Based Empowerment Program

The government plans to introduce a mosque-based community empowerment program in 11 provinces this year to help in poverty alleviation and human resources development,while also revitalizing the national family planning program.Haryono Suyono,vice chairman of Jakarta-based Damandiri Foundation,on Wednesday announced details of the program in Bali.He said the program would be a joint effort between the National Family Planning Board,local governments and Damandiri,a center for national and international cooperation and training in social development.He said the first post had been opened in a mosque in Pemalang,Central Java,last Sunday by Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni,and that by the end of February a second post would be opened in a mosque in Bantul,Yogyakarta."By the end of this year,we hope to have some 50 to 100 of these mosque-based posts set up around 11 provinces," Haryono,who is also a former family planning board chairman,told journalists at the International Conference of Muslim Leaders to Support Population and Development to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Sanur,Bali.The mosque-based posts,called Posdaya,are seen as an improvement over their predecessors,the integrated health posts known as Posyandu that are found throughout the country.While the Posyandu focus on the health and welfare of mothers and children through family planning and vaccinations,these new posts are meant to empower all members of the family and all segments of society,including the handicapped and the elderly.These mosque-based posts will deal with healthcare,education,employment and business issues,and religion.Haryono said the Posdaya would,in short,help empower all of society."The versatility of this model is that it can be applied to all family and community activities,such as economic ventures,religious activities and even cultural rituals." One of the main goals of the new posts will be to ensure access to education for all children."Improving education will help us alleviate poverty," he said.

Haryono acknowledged the program could meet with some resistance in the beginning,particularly from the mosques' imams who will have to coordinate the day-to-day activities at the posts."There might be questions like,'This is a mosque.How can a mosque be turned into a kindergarten?' and 'Why is a mosque being used as business training ground?'",Haryono said."But an imam is not an expert on all matters,and they will receive assistance at the posts from professionals." But Haryono is optimistic the community empowerment program will be accepted."The difficult part will be in setting up the posts,but hopefully everything will run as expected," he said."The Posdaya are vital to efforts to reach the MDGs at the grass roots." He added that the program could eventually be expanded into other places of worship,such as churches and temples.Responding to the program Wednesday,M.Rozy Munir,the deputy chairman of the country's largest Muslim organization,Nahddlatul Ulama,suggested further study was necessary.He added that organizers should also take into account that many mosques are an integrated part of pesantren,or Islamic boarding schools,thus necessitating a different approach.He said that if a mosque is led by an imam,a pesantren is led by a kyai,who are influential within their respective communities."So the bottom line is,the idea is good but it needs more study," Rozy told The Jakarta Post.Catholic priest Mudji Sutrisno,who is attending the conference in Bali,praised the community empowerment posts,saying places of worship were ideal places for serving the needs of the community."But for this program there is one requirement,that religious figures unite with professionals who are experts in family planning issues," he said,adding that interfaith dialog would also be necessary to achieve the goals of the program."If we want to live together peacefully and in harmony,let's work together to empower a prosperous community."


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 02/15/2007


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Govt Reviving Peatland Program

The government plans to reclaim,for a second time,up to 500,000 hectares of peatland in Central Kalimantan for agricultural and plantation use as part of a nationwide effort to revitalize the agricultural sector.The land in question was part of a failed New Order-era project to turn one million hectares of peatland in the province into agricultural land,before being largely abandoned.Central Kalimantan Governor Teras Narang said the vast tracts of peatland -- which traverse the province's Barito Selatan,Kapuas and Pulang Pisau regencies,within easy reach of the province's capital,Palangkaraya -- will be planted with rice and other field crops.Some of the land will also be used for cattle raising and aquaculture.Another 600,000 hectares of peatland will be conserved to reduce damage to the ecosystem,the governor added."This marks the resurrection of the `one million hectares of peatland' program," he told reporters Wednesday after attending a Cabinet meeting at the State Palace.The governor was referring to the failed Soeharto-era peatland reclamation program."We hope that what is now a land of a million woes will be converted into a land of a million hopes again." Teras said that the central government had agreed to support a collaboration between local administrations and the private sector in the implementation and management of the program."We will be ready to go as soon as the official presidential instruction for the program to start has been issued," he said."How much development financing will be needed and the program's timeframe are still being assessed and discussed." Indonesia's boasts the fourth-largest area of peatland in the world at 17 million hectares,with 13 million hectares having the potential to be developed for agriculture.

Previous efforts to convert the peatlands into productive agricultural areas have,however,met with disastrous results.The 1.1 million hectares of peatland included in the new program are,in fact,part of the 1.4 million hectares that the Soeharto administration had planned to reclaim in 1995.Lack of proper planning resulted in the failure of the program after some Rp 1.2 trillion (US$133 million) had been wasted.The collapse of the project also stranded 64,000 transmigrants from Java on land they could not cultivate.The project resulted in an environmental disaster,with only 6,000 hectares being successfully reclaimed.The rest of the area turned into a barren wasteland.Last year,President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched a nationwide program to revitalize Indonesia's agricultural sector,aimed at increasing domestic rice production and utilizing idle land for biofuel plantations.As part of this revitalization program,13,000 hectares of peatland in Central Kalimantan have been reclaimed for agriculture,with the first harvest being brought in last September.The government wants to increase local rice production this year by two million tons to 32.9 million tons in order to secure supplies,which frequently have to be augmented through imports.The government also plans to develop biofuel plantations covering 6.5 million hectares,and has allocated some Rp 13 trillion for the purpose.This forms part of the effort to replace 10 percent of the country's fuel needs -- which amounted to 70 million kiloliters last year -- with biofuels by 2010.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 02/15/2007


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MALAYSIA: Government Will Set Up Police Commission,Says Mohd Johari

THE Government will set up an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) this year.Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum said in an exclusive interview with Sin Chew Daily that the report on the IPCMC has reached final stage.It would be submitted to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and approved by Cabinet immediately.It would then be debated by Parliament."Certainly the Government will set up IPCMC but the Attorney-General's Chambers must check the whole project to ensure that it is not against the Federal Constitution and other acts."I am not sure of the exact date for the setting up of the IPCMC but I believe that it will be set up this year," he said.He said the A-G's Chambers had considered the opinions from the public,MPs and police,non-governmental organisations when doing the study.Johari said the Government would set up the IPCMC to monitor and reform the police force to build up their image.Commenting on the police opposition to the IPCMC at first,he said: "The police did not oppose it.Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan acknowledged the commission.The police felt that it was unfair if the police were unable to appeal," he said.> China Press reported that many female teenagers in Singapore were posting pictures of them in sexy outfits on websites to get more online friends.A housewife known as Ho said she learned about this from her 16-year-old daughter.The daughter had also taken pictures of her wearing skimpy and cleavage-baring outfits before posting it online to lure more men friends.

From http://thestar.com.my 02/17/2007


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SINGAPORE: Govt to Form Ministerial Committee to Oversee Ageing Issues

A ministerial committee to oversee ageing issues is being formed.Minister Lim Boon Heng,who oversees ageing issues in the Prime Minister's Office,revealed this at a community event.By 2030,20 percent of Singapore's population will be 65 years and older.It is a demographic trend that the government has been taking steps to tackle.The ministerial committee will include officials from the Ministries of Transport,National Development,Manpower,Trade and Industry,as well as the Ministry of Community Development,Youth and Sports.The aim is to evolve a more coordinated response to the needs of an ageing population.Mr Lim said: "A fair amount of work has already been done by various ministries.For example,the Ministry of National Development has got the barrier-free programme to enable our seniors to move around much easier."But I think we need more than just the Ministry of National Development.We have to bring in Ministry of Transport because the interconnections with roads and so on are also important so we will form work groups to look into the issues on a holistic basis." The ministerial committee also plans to study how to mobilise the community to support active ageing so that costs can be reduced for everyone.Mr Lim added that employment for seniors is also one of the key issues the committee will be tackling.Statistics show that over 1993 to 2020,the number of working people to support one aged person will drop from eight to three.But if policies make employment of seniors more viable,this would lessen the stress on a young working population.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com 02/03/2007


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Samy: PM Agrees Toll Concession Agreements Be Made Public

The Prime Minister has approved in principle for the concession agreements for all highways to be made public,Works Minister Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu said."I had mentioned it in the Cabinet on Feb 7 and the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) asked me to submit the working paper."Now I have already got the approval (tomake the agreements public)," he told reporters at the MCA Chinese New Year Open House at Wisma MCA here on Sunday.Samy Vellu said he had consulted the attorney general on the matter and was now writing to the highway concession companies.This was because there was a clause stating that the consent of the concessionaires was required before publicising the doocuments."Once this is done and the Cabinet approves it,everybody can come and see it.I have the agreements in my office," Samy Vellu added.Asked when he expected the agreements could be made public,Samy Vellu said :"Wait for the Cabinet to approve it." It was recently reported that Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said that the Attorney-General's Chamber was studying mounting requests from the public to reveal the contents of highway concession agreements,classified as official secrets,in the wake of the recent steep toll hikes.Information from such agreements was already made available to investors and bond-holders and earlier four opposition officials had also been investigated under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) over the disclosure of a toll concession agreement.On the toll rates for Sungair Nyor toll plaza at the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR),Samy Vellu said the rates had yet to be discussed and decided. He said toll collection at the Sungai Nyior toll booth had been deferred indefinitely following strong public protests in the area while toll collections at two other toll plazas,Prai and Bagan Ajam,along the 12.1km highway would begin on Feb 20."There is a slight misunderstanding.The stretch (Sungai Nyior) was constructed about six years ago.It is part of the highway.The people were then allowed to use it and said that it's an old road." However,Samy Vellu said he would discuss the matter with the residents,concessionaires and the Penang state government.

From http://thestar.com.my 02/18/2007


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S'pore Appoints New Ambassadors to Austria,Czech Republic,Slovakia

The Singapore government has appointed its new ambassadors to Austria,the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.Their terms take effect from Thursday.Mr Soo Kok Leng,55,will be the next ambassador to the Republic of Austria.Currently the Chairman of JTC Corporation,he holds directorships in several companies,including Mount Faber Leisure Group and Singapore Technologies Electronics.Mr Soo is also on the board of organisations such as MediaCorp Pte Ltd,Tiger Airways and Sentosa Development Corporation.Mr Tan Soo Khoon,58,is the next ambassador to the Czech Republic.He has served seven terms as a Member of Parliament and was the Speaker of Parliament from 1989 till 2002.Ms Jennie Chua,63,is the next ambassador to the Slovak Republic.Currently the Chief Strategic Relations Officer of CapitaLand,she was President and Chief Executive Officer of Raffles Holdings till January this year.In 1991,she became the first Singaporean to be appointed as the General Manager of Raffles Hotel and held the position until 1999.The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the three ambassadors would reside in Singapore during their service and would receive their Letter of Credence from the President on Thursday.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 02/21/2007


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THAILAND: Two Deputy Ministers Added to Government

Two new deputy ministers were appointed Friday into the Thai government led by premier Surayud Chulanont.The government announced on Friday the addition of two deputy ministers to the Education and Commerce Ministries.The announcement came as the reshuffle got the royal approval from The King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej.The new deputy education minister is Warakorn Samkoset,a former rector of Turakit Bandit University and ex-deputy prime minister's secretary general of the Chuan government.Oranuch Osathanonda,a former director general of the Foreign Trade Department of the Commerce Ministry,becomes deputy commerce minister.

From http://english.people.com.cn 02/03/2007


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Govt Plans to Clip Former PM's Wings

The Council for National Security and the Surayud Chulanont government plan to take some"careful'' but firm steps to clip the wings of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra so that he does not go back on his word to step aside from politics.The former premier has continued to cause worries for the coup-makers and the interim government through his foreign media appearances and interviews,heaping criticism on the Surayud administration and the CNS.Mr Thaksin is still viewed as a threat to the state and its efforts to build political stability.It is feared that the efforts are being undermined by so-called political undercurrents and supporters of the deposed government."I don't know what to say.Perhaps we need to ask him what he's thinking,'' said CNS assistant secretary-general Anupong Paochinda.His comment follows Mr Thaksin's latest interview in the US-based Time Magazine in which he claims that he still has considerable support among the people.He has again tried in the article to clear himself of corruption allegations and blasted the CNS for overthrowing his administration.Gen Anupong,also assistant army chief,expects the CNS and the government would go into a special round of talks soon in a bid to put the brakes on Mr Thaksin.However,he said,any action against Mr Thaksin would have to be carefully planned and executed as the political situation was being closely monitored by the international community."It's a sensitive issue,'' he said.

If the government decides to limit Mr Thaksin's freedom,it could face criticism from other countries.But if it lets Mr Thaksin freely do what he wants,his actions could lead to chaos and conflicts in the country,Gen Anupong said.Late last month,Mr Thaksin criticised the economic policies of the Surayud government in a CNN interview during a controversial visit to Singapore.The interview was followed by articles in the Asian Wall Street Journal,The Economist,and Newsweek which compared the sufficiency economy with Mr Thaksin's"Thaksinomics.'' The reports said many countries had more confidence in Thaksinomics than the sufficiency economy,which promotes simple and moderate ways of living and working.Gen Surayud said yesterday he believed Thai people had good judgement and would not be misled by the reports.However,he has told the Foreign Ministry to clarify the government's stance to the international community.Foreign Ministry spokesman Kitti Wasinondh said his ministry is considering ways to discourage Mr Thaksin from giving interviews in the foreign media because some of his comments could mar the country's image and cause misunderstandings in other countries.However,Mr Thaksin's lawyer and legal adviser Noppadon Pattama defended Mr Thaksin,saying the former premier did not intend to attack the government.Mr Noppadon in recent months has served as his personal spokesman.Mr Thaksin,who plans to give more interviews,is currently on a vacation in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com/ 02/04/2007


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New Police Chief Appointed

Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont transferred national police chief Kowit Wattana to an inactive post yesterday and appointed Seripisuth Temiyavej as acting national police chief.Government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalap said the immediate transfer of Pol Gen Kowit to the Prime Minister's Office was a joint decision by the prime minister and Sonthi Boonyaratkalin,chairman of the Council for National Security (CNS).Mr Yongyuth rejected speculation that Pol Gen Kowit's transfer was a sign of a rift between the police and the military.He said the police and the armed forces were united in solving the country's problems together.A police source said the appointment of Pol Gen Seripisuth as acting police chief was not a surprise.Other qualified candidates were seen as cronies of deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra,while Pol Gen Seripisuth projected the image of an outspoken and incorruptible police officer who enjoys widespread recognition among the public.Among the candidates more senior than Pol Gen Seripisuth was deputy police chief Phatcharawat Wongsuwan.But he is seen to have been sidelined because of his connections with Mr Thaksin,a former police officer.Pol Gen Phatcharawat is a younger brother of Gen Prawit,a close aide of former army chief Gen Chettha Thanajaro,who is a former key member of the Thai Rak Thai party which Mr Thaksin set up.

Pol Gen Phatcharawat also headed the Special Branch police in 2001,during Mr Thaksin's first administration.A source in the CNS said Gen Surayud and Gen Sonthi decided to transfer Pol Gen Kowit during their Feb 1-4 official trip to the deep South.The decision followed strong rumours that Pol Gen Kowit would be sacked because the CNS was disappointed by the lack of progress in the police investigation into the New Year bombings in Bangkok and Nonthaburi province.Former police chief Pratin Santiprapop hailed the appointment of Pol Gen Seripisuth,saying his strong leadership and honesty would enhance the efficiency of the police force.Pol Gen Seripisuth said he was grateful to the prime minister for appointing him as acting police chief.He said nobody in the government had approached him before yesterday's appointment.But of all senior police officers holding positions equivalent to a deputy national police chief,he considered himself well qualified,with seniority,honour and reputation,and the trust of his supervisors.He said he will call a meeting of senior police officials today to set the priority of police missions.He had not decided whether to change the investigator in charge of solving the New Year bombings.He would first listen to relevant information about the case first."I want all police officers to understand that I will do my best in this position to serve the country,and want all policemen to be united.

Do not divide into different groups among ourselves,'' he said.Pol Gen Seripisuth also plans to consult the prime minister over police operations in the deep South.Gen Surayud wants operations in the region to be more pro-active,he said."As for police officers who haven't toed the line,they should beware [of possible disciplinary action].Policemen [in the South] who have't done their job should be prepared,I'll be there to check on them myself,'' he said.The police source said the anticipation that Pol Gen Kowit would be removed from the post of police commissioner-general had been in the air since Mr Thaksin was removed by the Sept 19 coup d'etat.That was because the police general was perceived as a friend of Mr Thaksin.Right after the coup,when Pol Gen Kowit was given the authority to appoint and transfer police personnel,he was criticised for promoting those with close connections to him and to Mr Thaksin to several significant posts.But he survived the moment and remained national police chief.That was until police investigators failed to come up with new evidence on the people behind the bombings at nine spots in Bangkok and Nonthaburi on Dec 31 and in the early hours of Jan 1.

From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com 02/06/2007


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Thai Government Replaces Police Chief in Aftermath of Bombings

Thailand's National Police Commissioner-General Pol.Gen.Kowit Wattana was dismissed on Monday and removed to an unaffective position in the aftermath of the New Year's Eve bombings.News network The Nation reported on Monday that Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont signed an order on the day to transfer Kowit to the Prime Minister's Office,a usual practice when the Thai premier sacks some senior official.The order also appointed Pol.Gen.Seripisut Temeeyaves,an adviser attached to the Royal Thai Police as acting police chief,the report said.The order took immediate effect.Since the New Year's Eve bombings in Bangkok and its suburb which killed three persons and injured some 40 others,Kowit has been under great pressure from the current Surayud-led government and its military backer the Council for National Security (CNS),whose members earlier were quoted by local media as implicating that Kowit,as police chief,should take responsibility if the police's investigation into the bombings produced no material results in time,as the situation has so far suggested.

The government has pointed the finger at ousted prime minister Thaskin Shinawatra's supporters and allies as being behind the New Year's Eve bombings,but by now no arrest of any culprit or perpetrator has been made.19 suspects,some from military,had been earlier detained but later released due to lack of evidence.The calls to sack Kowit were intensified following the latest bomb attacks at the Daily News newspaper headquarters building and the adjacent Rama Gardens Hotel's parking lot in Bangkok.The two small explosions on last Tuesday caused no injuries.No one had been arrested on the case.There have long been suspicions that Kowit,said to have close connection with former premier Thaksin,was not doing his utmost to solve the case,according to a website report on Bangkok Post.Kowit,who joined the military leaders to launch the Sept.19 coup last year to oust Thaksin,was announced as member of the Administrative Reform Council (ARC),which later transformed into the CNS and installed the interim government.However,speculations began to mount after that against him about a rift between him and the military leaders.

From http://english.people.com.cn 02/06/2007


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Cabinet Appoints Two New Deputy Ministers

Two deputy ministers have been appointed to lighten the workload of the education and commerce ministers.Oranuj Osathanonda,former director-general of the Foreign Trade Department,was named as deputy commerce minister,and Dhurakijpundit University rector Warakorn Samkoset was made deputy education minister.Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said the education and commerce ministers have been weighed down with a lot of responsibilities and needed a deputy each to help ease their workloads.The two deputy ministers were handpicked by the ministers themselves,Gen Surayud said,adding that a major change to the cabinet would not happen anytime soon."The two deputies will help improve the quality of work.I have nothing special to stress to them since both of them are experts in their fields,'' he said.Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister M.R.Pridiyathorn Devakula said the addition of the two deputy ministers was approved with the genuine intention of improving the government's performance.He said the two ministries have a great deal of work to do and the commerce minister,in particular,has been very busy travelling on trade missions.Education Minister Wijit Srisa-arn said he knows Mr Warakorn personally,but that he has never worked together with him before.He chose Mr Warakorn as his deputy because he is well-versed in the management of private education.Mr Wijit said private schools and private universities should be allowed to participate more in the management of national education going forwards.

Mrs Oranuj is a former Foreign Trade Department director-general with experience in textile sector negotiations.In 1995,when Banharn Silpa-archa was prime minister,Mrs Oranuj missed out on making history in becoming the country's first female permanent secretary when the then commerce minister Chucheep Harnsawat rejected her candidacy for the commerce ministry's top civil service post.She moved to the PM's Office and became an adviser to Mr Banharn.Mr Warakorn said he had been approached by the education minister and was happy to work for the good of the country.The newly-appointed deputy education minister said the education minister might give him the job of handling the issue of teacher debts.Mr Warakorn received Thammasat University scholarships to pursue a master's degree and a doctorate at the University of Kansas in the US for six years.Paitoon Sinlarat,vice-rector of Dhurakijpundit University,welcomed Mr Warakorn's appointment and praised him as a man with modern ideas who always kept in tune with the changing world.Besides,he is recognised for his management skills and working style which gives able people the opportunity to perform,Mr Paitoon added.

From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com 02/07/2007


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Thai Government Launches Publicity Centre

A Thai government publicity centre named Rakmuangthai -- We Love Thailand -- has been established to keep the public promptly and accurately informed of government affairs and its handling of varied situations and crises. Government spokesman Yongyuth Mayalarp said the Rakmuangthai centre will launch a proactive publicity campaign and invite citizens networks and popular organisations from all regions of the country to contribute to the distributing of accurate,updated information about the government's handling of both routine matters and emergency cases involving national security,the public interest and other matters. Mr.Yongyuth said the publicity centre will by no means turn out to be a propaganda campaign for the government but will help educate the people about political reforms,teach moral and ethical principles (among other interesting subjects),and uphold patriotism and the monarchy.The government centre will not only publicise information to citizens inside the country but also to overseas audiences. Activities of the Rakmuangthai Centre will be evaluated at two-month intervals,while citizens may apply to contribute to the government publicity centre via www.rakmuangthai.com. The Public Relations Department is yet to lay out detailed operations of the publicity centre,the government spokesman added.

From http://etna.mcot.net 02/09/2007


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Officers Close to Govt Promoted

The Police Commission yesterday approved a police reshuffle in which Metropolitan Police commissioner Viroj Chantarangsi is shifted to the provinces in the Lower North of the country as commissioner of Region 6 police.At the same time,high-ranking police officers with close connections to acting national police chief Seripisuth Temiyavej and the interim government have been promoted to significant posts,a Police Commission source said.Those in the circles of former police chief Kowit Wattana and deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra have been transferred to inactive posts,said the source.Replacing Pol Lt-Gen Viroj as the new Metropolitan Police chief is outgoing Region 6 police commissioner Pol Lt-Gen Adisorn Nonsi.Pol Lt-Gen Viroj was a classmate of Pol Gen Kowit,who was recently transferred to the secretariat of the Council for National Security (CNS) after he came under criticism for failing to make any progress in investigations into the New Year bombings in the capital.Pol Lt-Gen Adisorn,the new city police chief,previously served as a close aide of Pol Gen Seripisuth.He headed the Crime Suppression Division when Pol Gen Seripisuth was commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau,the source said.Pol Gen Seripisuth yesterday chaired the Police Commission meeting on behalf of Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.The police chief said he would send the reshuffle list approved by the Police Commission to the prime minister today.He could then make any changes to the list before giving his stamp of approval.

On the reshuffle list,Pol Gen Achirawit Suphanphesat,who earlier tendered his resignation from the post of deputy national police chief,has been replaced by assistant national police chief Pol Lt-Gen Charnwut Watchrapuk.Pol Lt-Gen Thawornsak Thepchatree,an elder brother of Pol Gen Seripisuth's wife,was appointed adviser to the national police office.Previously,it was widely anticipated that Pol Lt-Gen Thawornsak would succeed Pol Lt-Gen Viroj,who has been criticised by Pol Gen Seripisuth since he took office as acting police chief.Pol Lt-Gen Jettanakorn Napeetaphat,who is married to a sister of the prime minister's wife,was entrusted to tackle southern violence as the Region 9 commissioner.He replaces Pol Lt-Gen Adul Saengsingkaew who was earlier Region 9 commissioner and assistant police chief concurrently.Meanwhile,Pol Gen Seripisuth yesterday opened 77 complaint centres nationwide to deal with public grievances against police conduct.Senior police equivalent to at least police major-generals will supervise the complaint centres,located in every province.Complaints can be lodged by calling the hotline number 1194,02-251-2981,writing to PO Box 1234 Rong Muang,Bangkok 10000,or by posting them on the website www.jaray.police.go.th.

From http://www.bangkokpost.com 02/22/2007


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BANGLADESH: ACC Chief,2 Commissioners Ready to Resign

Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Justice Sultan Hossain Khan Sunday said he and two other Commissioners would resign without any hesitation if request is made by the President and the Chief Advisor for reconstituting the dormant watchdog body,reports UNB."If the President and the Chief Advisor request me and my two other colleagues to step down,thinking that we are the obstacles on the way to the reconstitution of the Commission,we will not take more than a second to do so," he told UNB at his office.His observations came when there has been an outcry against inaction of the ACC in the wake of an apprehensive spread of corruption and a plea loud and clear for revamping the commission.The ACC Chairman said the decision to resign would be a collective one.When reminded that constitutionally they could not be removed without forming Supreme Judicial Council,he said,"That is out of the question,as charges based on which Supreme Judicial Council can be referred to do not exist here." Furthermore,Justice Sultan said,"We do have self-esteem." In reply to a question,he said he is yet to be contacted by the government about the reconstitution of the Commission.

Asked to comment on the recent remarks of Communications Advisor and former director general of the now-defunct Bureau of Anti-Corruption Maj Gen (retd) MA Matin,who said the ACC should be made free from the"clowns",he said,"The remarks are unfortunate." Welcoming the initiatives of the caretaker government to make the ACC active,he said that should the government seek any cooperation in this regard,he would provide that.On Thursday (Jan 25),Communications Advisor Maj Gen (retd) Matin,who also worked with the ACC for some time after its inception on November 21,2004,blasted the ACC saying the hierarchies failed and everybody should resign.Referring to his previous bosses,he launched a scathing attack on them saying that the ACC should be freed from clowns."I would say the ACC should be made free from clowns#They will have to go#They have failed," he had told reporters at his office adding,"They are getting government money#But could not give anything to the nation."

Recalling his stay in the ACC for 15-20 days,Matin said,"I was there for 15-20 days#I have seen them very closely.'' Criticising the immediate-past government led by the four-party alliance,he said,"Dissolving the Bureau of Anti-Corruption,the then government intentionally established a crippled organisation.The Prime Minister's signature was required even for any inquiry,investigation,filing cases.'' About the black money holders and terrorists,"I would not say that thousands of black money holders or terrorists will have to be captured#Rather capture 20 to 40 individuals everything will be alright#It is no use to catch small fries#If you catch,catch Rui-Katla (big ones).'' Earlier,in his maiden address to the nation,Chief Advisor Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed pledged to restructure the ACC and related organisations.Subsequently,a seven-member committee headed by Law Advisor Barrister Mainul Hosein has been formed in this regard.Maj Gen (retd) Matin is also a member of this committee.


From http://www.newstoday-bd.com/ 01/29/2007


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Acting CEC Quits with Commissioners

The acting chief election commissioner (CEC) and four other commissioners finally resigned yesterday,following the footstep of Justice MA Aziz,and clearing the way for reconstitution of the Election Commission (EC).Former additional secretary to cabinet division,M Anisuzzaman Khan,is likely to be appointed as the new CEC while a former brigadier general and a former district judge are likely to be appointed as election commissioners,sources said.A few of the resigning election commissioners did not agree to admit their failure as election commissioners.They also refused to comment on their resignation,saying Bangabhaban will announce the EC overhaul in a statement.The president's office,however,did not officially disclose the news of the resignation as of 8:00pm yesterday.When contacted last evening,Law Adviser Mainul Hosein told The Daily Star that he heard of the election commissioners' resignation.The state-run news agency,BSS,also quoted a Bangabhaban official as saying the election commissioners met the president and submitted their resignation letters.

The caretaker government will now appoint a new CEC and two election commissioners to recast the EC,which will initiate steps including preparation of a voter list for holding the ninth parliamentary election."The interim government will immediately appoint three election commissioners,including a CEC,to form a new Election Commission," the law adviser said,adding that the names of the new commissioners have been finalised."The new Election Commission will take steps to bring changes to the electoral laws.The government wants an election free from black money and corruption," Mainul added.Responding to an invitation for a cup of tea,Acting CEC Justice Mahfuzur Rahman,election commissioners SM Zakaria,Mahmud Hasan Mansur,Modabbir Hossain Chowdhury and Saiful Alam met President Iajuddin Ahmed yesterday at about 1:00pm and tendered their resignation letters,sources said.Earlier on January 21,Justice MA Aziz resigned from the post of CEC.None of the resigning commissioners disclosed anything about the content of their discussion with the president at Bangabhaban."It was not a healthy discussion," an annoyed election commissioner told The Daily Star after tendering his resignation.

"All of us are not responsible for the prevailing situation in the Election Commission,but we became the victims of the situation," he added.Justice Mahfuz and Mansur returned to the EC from Bangabhaban but declined to make any comment about the resignation."Bangabhaban will tell everything by issuing a press release," Justice Mahfuz told reporters on the EC premises.Mansur said they went to Bangabhaban at the president's invitation for a cup of tea.Asked why he was leaving the office as early as 3:00pm,he told reporters,"Guess applying your common sense why I am leaving before the end of office hour." Three other election commissioners--Zakaria,Modabbir and Saiful--did not return to EC from Bangabhaban.President Iajuddin Ahmed had appointed all the election commissioners: Justice MA Aziz as CEC on May 23,2005,Zakaria and Mahfuz on January 16,2006,and Mansur on August 31 last year--all on advice of the then BNP-led government.He then suddenly appointed Modabbir and Saiful on November 27 last year,keeping in dark and annoying the then council of advisers.

With six election commissioners,the Aziz-led EC became the largest one ever in the history of Bangladesh,but it completely failed to build people's confidence in it for holding a free and fair election.It failed to conduct the ninth parliamentary elections scheduled for January 22 and formally cancelled the election in line with a decision of the present caretaker government.The council of advisers to the immediate past caretaker government headed by President Iajuddin Ahmed faced tremendous difficulties in reconstituting the EC as neither Aziz nor SM Zakaria agreed to resign.The BNP-led four-party alliance was also rigid against the resignation of the two commissioners appointed by the BNP government.Law Adviser Mainul Hosein yesterday said the resignation of the five commissioners will end all problems the EC recast has been facing.Meanwhile,BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan yesterday urged the government to appoint people with no records of playing controversial role in the past or at present as the CEC and commissioners.In a statement,Bhuiyan hoped that the government will prove the eligibility of the EC through reconstituting it with such persons who are absolutely non-partisan and have been competent in their careers."The government should be sincere so that nobody can raise questions about the acceptability of the members of reconstituted Election Commission," he said.


From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 02/01/2007


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Bangladesh Appoints New Poll Chief

DHAKA: Bangladesh appointed a new election chief Sunday nearly a month after national elections were cancelled following accusations of vote-rigging."Former top bureaucrat A.T.M Shamsul Huda has been appointed as the new chief election commissioner," the government said in a statement.The government also appointed a former top law ministry official,Sahul Hussain,as a new election commissioner,the government's press office said.


From http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/ 02/05/2007


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INDIA: A Committee to Look into Affairs of Unauthorised Schools: High Court

New Delhi,Jan 31: The Delhi High Court today appointed a three-member committee to conduct inspection of the conditions in which unauthorised and unrecognised schools are running in the national capital particularly those located at unsafe location."We direct that Director of Education of NCT government,Deputy Commissioner of DDA and the lawyer Ashok Agrawal shall inspect any of the ten unrecognised,unauthorised schools out of the 2,000 such schools operating in the capital," a division bench comprising Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice H R Malhotra said.The court asked the committee to examine the number of staff teachers,safety measures available in the building and environment in which these schools are running and submit its report by February,9.The court was taking a suo motu action on a news report alleging that school children narrowly escaped from the clutches of death after a factory operating in the adjacent building had caught fire.The bench also refuted the contention of these schools that they operating in such places due to lack of proper location and land.The bench was very critical of the policies of the government and observed "the situation has arisen because of the decision of the govenment.Had the government demolished even one unauthorised colony,no other such colonies would have come up.But the government instead regularised it,promoting more such colonies to come up." The Bench,however,was optimistic of sorting out the problem with proper management of affairs and said "who would have thought of going to Chandini Chawk by Metro."


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/31/2007


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NEPAL: Senior Minister Quits Over Terai Unrest

The continuing violence in Nepal's Terai plains on Monday dealt the government an additional blow with an influential minister quitting the cabinet and his party threatening to pull out of the seven-party ruling alliance.Hridayesh Tripathi,the powerful commerce,industry and supplies minister,on Monday sent in his resignation after the toll in the clashes rose to seven in the plains,most of them occurring due to police firing.Tripathi,who suffers from jaundice,sent his resignation from his sick bed while his Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi),a party of Madhesis,people of Indian origin living in the southern plains,has warned Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala that it would leave the seven-party alliance as well if their demands were not addressed.The resignation adds a new drama to the violence that has hit the Terai region from mid-January with a little known organisation,the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum,coming to limelight and leading the new agitation for the Madhesi diaspora.Upendra Yadav,president of the Forum,says his organisation wants an autonomous Madhes state with proportional representation in parliament and right to self-determination.Yadav has warned his outfit would not allow elections to be held in June if the constituencies are not revised according to population.

Madhesis,because of their dark skin and proximity to India,are excluded from government,judicial as well as military services.Though comprising nearly half of Nepal's population,over 40 percent of Madhesis still do not have citizenship or voting rights.Last month,Tripathi's party had called a closure in Nepalgunj town in the country's midwest to protest the continuing ignoring of the diaspora's grievances,even in the new constitution.The closure snowballed into a riot between the elite hill and plains communities with the administration turning a blind eye when Madhesi shops were looted and torched.There are also videotapes circulating in Nepal that show police helping the mobs vandalise Madhesi property.The incident deepened the already wide rift between the two communities and stoked a cry for an independent Madhesi liberation movement that has brought four key towns to a standstill for over a week now.Bara,where a second protester was killed in police firing Sunday,taking the roll to seven,Parsa and Rautahat districts remained under curfew on Monday.Four Madhes ministers from other leading parties along with 53 MPs Sunday urged Koirala to amend the new constitution and give proportional representation to the Madhes region.As Koirala,who suffered the bereavement of his sister-in-law,called a meeting of the ruling parties as well as the Maoists,Rajendra Mahato,senior leader of the NSP,warned if the demands were not met,his party would leave the alliance.Splinter parties and socio-political organisations from the plains have started showing solidarity with the Forum-led movement and pledged to continue the agitation till the demands were met.


From http://hindustantimes.com/ 01/29/2007


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Terai Turmoil: Nepal Leaders Agree on Federal System

Nepal's ruling seven parties and the Maoist rebels have agreed to create a federal government and make changes in the electoral system in a bid to stem the violence engulfing the southern plains where people of Indian origin live.The eight parties are expected to sign an agreement on Wednesday after which Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala will address the nation and disclose the changes agreed upon.After hectic consultations for two days,Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula said the government would incorporate changes in the constitution after the June elections to decentralise administration and create a federal system of government.The parties have also agreed to have a proportional electoral system in addition to a mixed one for the upcoming constituent assembly polls.Sitaula said 50 per cent of the over 400 seats in the coming elections would be chosen by the proportional representation system,as demanded by the Terai protesters.The leaders have also consented to take a fresh look at constituencies,demarcating them on the basis of geography as well as population.However,in return for the concessions,the eight parties have decided to crack down on violence and strictly control protesters trying to foment unrest.

The decisions come after the Madhes Janadhikar Forum,a socio-political organisation comprising Madhesis,people of Indian origin living in the Terai plains,began a series of shutdowns and blockades in the south from this month.The Forum says the new constitution,promulgated this month,fails to address the injustice suffered by the plains community and it will disrupt the June elections if the diaspora's plight is not heeded.The Forum is asking for an autonomous Madhes state in a federal government and a proportional electoral system.The unrest over the last two weeks,spiralling into arson and vandalism,has seen the death of nine people and widened the divide between Nepal's hill and plains communities.The demand for a Madhes state has snowballed with Madhesi MPs in the ruling parties supporting the movement.A senior minister from the plains,commerce,industry and supplies minister Hridayesh Tripathi quit the cabinet and his party warned the government it would leave the ruling coalition if the Terai grievances were not heeded.Two armed factions comprising former Maoist rebels have also started an armed movement in the plains in support of an autonomous state.To add to the chaos,Nepal's government says King Gyanendra is trying to instigate violence in the plains to sabotage the election that could abolish monarchy.Three former ministers during the king's regime have been arrested on the charge of conspiring to spread the unrest and other former royal appointees are said to be under watch.


From http://hindustantimes.com/ 01/31/2007


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PAKISTAN: Mass Transit System to Be Launched in 8 Major Cities

ISLAMABAD: The mass transit train system will be launched Wednesday in eight major cities of the country,Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said in a press conference.The decision was reached in line to help reduce pressure of vehicular traffic on the existing roads of the cities,offering convinces to the commuters besides overcoming the hazards of pollution caused due to heavy vehicular traffic,said Sheikh Rashid Ahmed after a meeting.The mass transit projects are planned to be launched in Rawalpindi-Islamabad,Lahore,Karachi,Peshawar,Quetta,Multan,Hyderabad,and Faisalabad,he announced.


From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/07/2007


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MMA Council Decides Not to Resign from NA

ISLAMABAD: Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) Central General Council,in its meeting on Tuesday,re-elected Qazi Hussain Ahmed for two years and decided not to resign from National Assembly.While giving briefing to media after the coalition meeting,MMA leader Liaquat Baloch said that the present national and international circumstances have necessitated the unity of the religious parties,as the sectarianism is being fanned across the country.Liaquat Baloch said MMA would keep on functioning at parliament to give their ideas more currency.Qazi Hussain Ahmed (president),Maulana Fazul Rehman (secretary general); while for four presidents Prof.Sajid Mir,Sahibzadah Anas Noorani,Sajid Naqvi and Pir Abdur Rahim Naqshbandi have been nominated,he added.


From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/13/2007


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AFGHANISTAN: Government Representative Assassinated

Mawlawi Islam Mohammadi,who represents Samangan Province in the Wolesi Jirga (People's Council) of Afghanistan's National Assembly,was gunned down by "enemies of Afghanistan" on January 26 in Kabul,a press release from Karzai's office reported on January 27.In the statement,Karzai "strongly condemned" the killing of Mohammadi,calling him a "prominent jihadi figure" who made "great sacrifices during the year of jihad against [the] Soviet invasion" of Afghanistan.Meanwhile,a website purporting to represent the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan -- the name of the country under the Taliban -- claimed on January 27 that mujahedin of the "Islamic Emirate" assassinated Mohammadi.Mohammadi,who was thought to be in his early 60s,once served as a provincial governor during the Taliban regime,the website said.However,the website claims that in 2001 he helped the U.S.-led coalition forces to close the main road between northern and southern Afghanistan to Taliban forces retreating southward.As a result,he was under surveillance by the mujahedin for assassination.Mohammadi served as governor of Bamiyan Province when the Taliban destroyed the colossal statues of Buddha located there (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 20,2005).AT


From http://www.rferl.org/ 01/29/2007


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AZERBAIJAN: Trial of Former Health Minister Opens

The trial of former Health Minister Ali Insanov and 10 other former ministry personnel opened in Baku on February 15 at the Court for Serious Crimes,day.az and zerkalo.az reported on February 15 and 16,respectively.They face charges,of which Insanov insists he is innocent,of large-scale misappropriation and embezzlement,abuse of his official position,and deliberately ignoring a court ruling.Insanov was dismissed in October 2005 and implicated in an abortive plot by self-exiled former parliament speaker Rasul Quliyev to return to Baku and overthrow the Azerbaijani leadership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 20 and 21,2005).Insanov said in court on February 15 he has been informed that he will face trial on separate charges related to that purported conspiracy only after Quliyev,who has permanent residence in the United States,is arrested and extradited to Azerbaijan,zerkalo.az reported.LF


From http://www.rferl.org/ 02/16/2007


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IRAN: President Appoints New Chief Aide

The governor of the southern Hormozegan Province,Abdulreza Sheikholeslami,has been appointed as President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's new chief secretary,taking over from Gholam Hussein Elham,who is now minister of justice (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 14,2007),Fars reported on February 14.The news agency added that Sheikholeslami was an adviser to and director-general of Ahmadinejad's office when the latter was mayor of Tehran before his presidential electoral victory in 2005.Fars confirmed separately that Judiciary chief Ayatollah Hashemi-Shahrudi "last week" appointed Alireza Jamshidi,the deputy head of the judiciary for legal affairs and judicial development,as the judiciary's new spokesman.Jamshidi will reportedly hold his first press conference as spokesman on February 20.VS


From http://www.rferl.org/ 02/16/2007


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KYRGYZSTAN: New Political Party Formed

Almazbek Syranov,the leader of a new political alliance of Kyrgyz cotton and tobacco producers,announced on January 26 in Bishkek the formation of a new political party,the Cotton and Tobacco Producers' Party,Kabar reported.According to Syranov,the new party was formed to represent the interests of cotton and tobacco producers because "the Kyrgyz authorities do not pay enough attention to the problems of farmers." The commodity-based party is centered in the southern Osh,Batken,and Jalal-Abad regions,three of the country's main cotton and tobacco growing areas.The party,which has a reported membership of about 2,500 farmers,advocates an increase in cotton and tobacco prices to "levels existing in neighboring countries" and seeks to "attract foreign investors" to "raise the quality of [Kyrgyz-grown] cotton and tobacco and to world standards." RG


From http://www.rferl.org/ 01/29/2007


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Kyrgyz Parliament Approves New Government Structure

Kyrgyz lawmakers approved a new government structure on February 6,RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.The approved plan includes a total of 14 ministries,including two new ones -- the Industry,Energy,and Fuel Resources Ministry,and the Economy and Trade Ministry.The plan also includes two deputy prime ministers,five state committees,including a National Security Committee,and 11 state agencies.Prime Minister Azim Isabekov wanted to have three deputy prime ministers and a Presidium,but deputies objected to both suggestions and they were removed from the proposal.Following the vote,Isabekov told lawmakers: "You gave me a lot of good proposals during our consultations and the debates of parliamentary committees.You were open and explicit during the debates.Now I would like to thank you for your support." The vote came after several days of discussions and follows the confirmation of Isabekov as prime minister on January 29.Isabekov withdrew the initial government restructuring proposal after objections from lawmakers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 2,2007).Isabekov is now expected to begin making nominations for ministerial positions in his government.PB


From http://www.rferl.org/ 02/06/2007


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KAZAKHSTAN: Officials Involved in Illegal Distribution of Apartments Dismissed

The President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered to dismiss the officials involved in illegal distribution of housing constructed within the state program at the Security Council session held today,the agency reports referring to the president's speech broadcast by Habar telechannel.The President heard the report of the General Public Prosecutor on occurring everywhere infringements in distribution of apartments constructed within the state program.N.Nazarbayev charged the State Office of Public Prosecutor to publish all revealed infringements."Let the country know its "heroes",the President said.According to the General Public Prosecutor Rashid Tusupbekov,rough infringements of the legislation at realization of the state program of development of housing construction have been revealed in Uralsk,Pavlodar,Almaty,Atyrau,Zhambyl and the Aktyubinsk oblasts.In Almaty 150 facts of illegal realization of hypothecary housing have been revealed,including 85 people who have received apartments by fictitious documents of workers of education,22 - workers of public health services,43 - as employees of others state organizations.


From http://eng.gazeta.kz/ 02/22/2007


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TAJIKISTAN: Interior Ministry Reorganized

Interior Minister Mahmadnazar Solehov announced in Dushanbe on February 7 a reorganization of the ministry,including the dismissal of several department heads,Asia-Plus reported.Solehov announced the creation of a new agency,the Migration Service,to oversee the country's visa system and to supervise the legal status of foreign workers.That new agency is to be headed by Deputy Interior Minister Ramazon Rahimov.Additional appointments include the promotion of the Interior Ministry Organizational and Supervisory Department's chief inspector,Rajabali Mahmadaliyev,to head the Department for Combating Organized Crime,replacing Rahmatullo Nazarov,who in turn replaced Jurakhon Zohirov as the head of the transport police department,and the appointment of Muhammadi Muhammadiyev as the new head of the Interior Ministry's investigation department.RG


From http://www.rferl.org/ 02/08/2007


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TURKMENISTAN: President Appoints Officials

Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov issued a number of decrees appointing officials on February 20,the official news service TDH reported.Esenmurat Orazgeldiev was appointed agriculture minister,Annamukhammet Mukhadov chairman of the state cotton concern,Muratgeldi Akmammedov water minister,and Khojamyrat Geldymyradov as economy and finance minister.All of the officials must serve a probationary period of six months.DK


From http://www.rferl.org/ 02/21/2007


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AUSTRALIA: New Local Government Structure for NT

A radical overhaul of local government in the Northern Territory will provide Aborigines living in the bush with the services enjoyed by most other Australians.NT Local Government Minister Elliot McAdam announced the sweeping reforms,saying the time had come for consistency in roads,water supplies,health standards,rubbish runs,employment,child care and housing."For too long small councils spread throughout the bush have carried a heavy administrative burden and a constant turnover of staff and a lack of expertise and resources," he said."The current system isn't working and change is needed." In March last year,a government commissioned report found that half of the 56 councils surveyed were dysfunctional.From May to October,seventeen councils required major intervention because of financial irregularities and 38 per cent of bush councils advertised for a new chief executive.Under the reforms,the territory's 63 existing councils will be merged into nine large regional bodies or shire councils.The territory's four municipal councils - Darwin,Alice Springs,Katherine and Palmerston - remain unchanged."It's by far and away one of the largest reforms,the biggest reforms to local government in the Northern Territory in the last 28 years," Mr McAdam said."It will allow people in those communities in the bush the same opportunities that you and I enjoy."

The new governance structure - designed to reduce administrative workloads,simplify procedure,streamline service delivery and create jobs for Aborigines - has the support of the federal government and will start in July 2008 for shire elections in October that year.Patrick Dodson,chair of the Local Government Advisory Board set up to implement the changes,said he expected the new tier of government to be met with some scepticism."Change is always difficult to manage,but I think ultimately the benefits will outweigh the fears and anxieties," he said."The intention here is to get quality and equity of services back into those communities that are not experiencing them at the moment." Mr McAdam said the overhaul would not wrest power from the territory's four main Land Councils,which represent traditional Aboriginal land owners.He also denied the changes would result in a loss of identity for remote communities or a loss of jobs."This is not about centralising into the major centres in the bush," he said.But plenty of people would take this view,said NT Local Government Association president Kerry Moir."I know there is going to be fire crackers going off all around the territory because change elicits all sorts of nervous responses," she said."(But) what people want is quality of life and what people are not getting out in remote Australia is the quality of life they want and deserve."


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 01/30/2007


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Opportunities,Threats and Sustainability: the Future for the Primary Sector as Seen by MAF Director-General

In his first public address of the year,Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Director-General Murray Sherwin has painted a challenging,but ultimately optimistic picture of the future for the country's primary sector.Speaking to delegates attending the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society's annual conference in Queenstown,Mr Sherwin outlined a successful future for farmers and growers,but not without overcoming some daunting challenges."The trick," Mr Sherwin said,"will be to pay real concern to a range of values that are becoming increasingly important to our customers and to meet those market demands more efficiently than our competitors." The challenges to primary producers he outlined as broadly coming in the areas of a rise in discerning global consumers; the emergence of new forms of trade protection; increasing competition from low cost producers; and growing pressure on New Zealand's natural resources.At the top end of the market,Mr Sherwin said consumers are looking for food products that are safe,trusted,and produced in a sustainable manner."Increasingly,though,our consumers will be seeking a more subliminal,even emotional sense that the product is &right' for them.This sense of being &right' might have a strong ethical dimension encompassing such matters as animal welfare,the impact of the production,processing and distribution processes on the environment,and even religious dimensions.Already we see these trends emerging in the food miles debate.Expect to see more of this in the future."

Mr Sherwin also speculated that New Zealand will increasingly encounter new forms of non-tariff protectionism as multilateral and bilateral agreements reduce the traditional barriers to trade."The prime candidates here are likely to be technical barriers to trade erected under the guise of protecting markets from pests and diseases," Mr Sherwin said.Growing competition from low cost international producers is another concern the Director-General sees Kiwi producers facing."In the past fifteen years,the rate of growth in exports of many dairy,meat,horticulture and forestry products from China has been double that of New Zealand's." Likewise Mr Sherwin pointed out a similar story comparing South American dairy,meat and forestry exports to that of New Zealand over the same period."While we can often claim quality advantage over our emerging competitors,it will require constant innovation and effort to maintain that gap." In the search for productivity growth and profitability,Mr Sherwin said our agricultural systems are becoming more intensive,and in doing so,their supporting ecosystems are being pushed harder.Concurrently,as already noted,our international consumers are looking for something extra in their purchases."They want an assurance that the products they purchase embody the values they regard as important 每 including high environmental standards." "Through smart positioning of innovative and high quality products,embodying high standards of environmental integrity,food safety and animal health and welfare,we should be able to maintain the quality gap and bank the profits," Mr Sherwin said."I'm optimistic about the future of New Zealand's agricultural sectors.They remain a core driver of New Zealanders' well being and national identity.Our focus in the past has been on driving production efficiency to sustain financial returns.It seems clear to me that the 21st century paradigm will be a broader set of interrelated concerns centred on sustainability 每 economic,environmental and social."


From http://www.maf.govt.nz/ 02/14/2007


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Security Planning on Track for APEC Meeting in Darwin

A counter-terrorism exercise in Darwin this week is an important part of preparations for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting to be held in May,Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today.As hosts of APEC 2007 Australia will facilitate over 100 days of meetings throughout the year,including the Energy Ministers Meeting in Darwin from 27-30 May.The Attorney-General said up to 20 Australian and Northern Territory government agencies,and the private sector,would be involved in the exercise,which is testing responses to a range of security and terrorist incidents at various Darwin locations.Participants are involved in a series of high-level discussions examining scenarios to respond to different terrorist incidents."We are working closely with all States and Territories and the private sector to ensure APEC events are as safe as possible," Mr Ruddock said.The exercise,called Ochre Luminary,takes into account a number of recommendations from the Wheeler Review of Airport Security and Policing.These include the Unified Policing Model at designated airports,which promote a more co-ordinated approach to airport policing.The Australian Government has allocated more than $166 million over six years to ensure the safety and security of all APEC events.It has also provided $195.5 million for new initiatives which tighten security and policing at Australia's major airports."Australia has an excellent reputation for hosting major events such as APEC,'' Mr Ruddock said."However,we know from the lessons learned from the London attacks in July 2005 that continuous testing of our arrangements is crucial to ensuring we can respond effectively should an attack occur in Australia.'' In addition to the significant resources set aside by all State and Territories for national exercises,the Commonwealth has committed $28.9 million since 2003-04 on the national counter-terrorism program.


From http://www.ag.gov.au/ 02/21/2007


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$13.3 Million Boost for Home and Community Care in SA

An injection of more than $13 million in additional funding would provide a boost to Home and Community Care services in South Australia,the Minister for Ageing,Senator Santo Santoro,and the South Australian Minister for Ageing,Jay Weatherill,said today.The new funding brings total HACC allocations for South Australia in 2006-07 to more than $128 million,with the Commonwealth Government contribution of $79 million supplemented by $49 million from the South Australian Government."Home and Community Care services are vital to the quality of life for many frail older people and younger people with a disability," Senator Santoro said."They provide basic support services that help people to maintain their independence and live with dignity in their own homes." The extra funding would assist older Australians,people with a disability and their carers to gain access to domestic assistance,personal care,home maintenance and modification services and respite care,he said."Without the Home and Community Care services,many of these people might have to move into aged care homes,rather than continuing to live independently." The $13.4 million of extra funding for South Australia includes $9.4 million in new recurrent funding and $4.0 million in one-off funding.Nationwide,around $1.5 billion is being provided under the HACC program,with the Australian Government contributing 60 per cent of the total,or more than $928 million.

Mr Weatherill,who is also Minister for Disability,said the additional funding would provide much-needed services in an area of large and growing demand.It would include provision for a 2.1 per cent increase in existing services."About $1.2 million in funding will be used to help Aboriginal people and frail older people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities," he said."The new funding also will help meet specific needs in rural and remote areas and help provide services that are responsive to the needs of individuals and local communities." "If people can get a little extra help to remain living in their own home,it means they can continue to be directly connected to their families,friends and the community.This enables them to not only maintain their independence but also their relationships and often,quality of life."


From http://www.health.gov.au/ 02/22/2007


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New Appointments to the Family Law Council

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has appointed Deputy Chief Justice John Faulks,Federal Magistrate Norah Hartnett and Federal Magistrate Robyn Sexton to the Family Law Council.Mr Kym Duggan has been reappointed to the Council.The function of the Family Law Council is to advise the Attorney-General on legislation relating to family law and any other matters relating to family law.Deputy Chief Justice Faulks has been a judge of the Family Court since 1994 and has been in his current position since 2004.He has previously been chairperson of the Family Law Council as well as President of the Law Council of Australia and President of the Australian Capital Territory Law Society.Federal Magistrate Norah Hartnett was appointed as Federal Magistrate in June 2000 and is the co-ordinating Federal Magistrate for Victoria.She also holds an appointment to the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Council.Federal Magistrate Robyn Sexton was appointed to her present position in June 2004. She has been a respected practitioner in family law,with a strong interest in children's issues.She has served on the panel of solicitors for Bidura Children's Court in Sydney and been a member of the NSW Medical Tribunal and Social Security Appeal Tribunal.She has also been the commissioner of the NSW Legal Aid Commission.Mr Kym Duggan has had a long association with the Family Law Council as the Assistant Secretary of the Family Law Branch of the Attorney-General's Department.The terms of all of the new appointees will expire in February 2010.Mr Ruddock said he hoped all would continue to make an important contribution to the development of family law.


From http://www.ag.gov.au/ 02/22/2007


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NEW ZEALAND: Acting Chief Executive and Government Statistician for Statistics

The State Services Commissioner,Mark Prebble,today announced that Dallas Welch has been asked to act as Chief Executive and Government Statistician for Statistics New Zealand.Mrs Welch is presently the Deputy Government Statistician,Industry and Labour Statistics,at the department.She has more than twenty years' experience with Statistics New Zealand including a range of senior management roles.The current Government Statistician,Brian Pink,will finish at the department on 2 March 2007 in order to take up his new role as the Australian Statistician.Mrs Welch will take up the acting position on his departure.The State Services Commission has the recruitment process for a permanent chief executive appointment underway.


From http://www.ssc.govt.nz/ 02/21/2007


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Resignation of Chief Executive of Department of Labour

The State Services Commissioner,Mark Prebble,announced today that Dr James Buwalda,Chief Executive of the Department of Labour has resigned.Mark Prebble said Dr Buwalda is a widely respected leader who has held Public Service chief executive roles for the past 11 years.He has been Chief Executive of the Department of Labour since July 2003,following a seven year term as Chief Executive of the Ministry of Research,Science and Technology."Dr Buwalda has indicated to me that he wishes to move on to new challenges in the next phase of his working,personal and family life."Whilst he is leaving before his term of appointment is due to expire in July 2008,Dr Buwalda believes this is the most suitable time for him to take this step."Under his leadership the department has made progress implementing a number of initiatives.He has led the department through a major change process,which has involved changes to its structure,strategy and focus.As Chief Executive,Dr Buwalda has had to manage a number of complex issues often in the glare of the media spotlight."I respect James for the difficult decision that he has taken to resign before the completion of his term of appointment so that a new chief executive can lead the next stage of implementation of the department's new business systems and strategy."I fully support this decision and hope that Dr Buwalda's skills will remain available to benefit the wider State Services."Dr Buwalda will leave the Department of Labour on 21 May 2007."I will immediately begin the recruitment process for a new chief executive," Mark Prebble said.


From http://www.ssc.govt.nz/ 02/23/2007


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SOLOMON ISLAND: PM to Face No-Confidence Vote

Controversial Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare faces a vote of no confidence this week.The no-confidence motion,filed by Opposition MP William Haomae,is likely to be moved in the nation's parliament this coming Friday.Sogavare comfortably survived a no-confidence vote in October,when a motion was put by Opposition Leader Fred Fono.Since his election last May,the prime minister has been embroiled in a series of diplomatic rows with Australia.He has made it clear he wants reduced Australian influence in the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI),which arrived in mid-2003 to restore law and order and good governance after years of ethnic unrest.This month,Sogavare's government easily defeated,27 votes to 19,a motion calling for the scrapping of his plan to re-arm Solomons police.The plan is opposed by RAMSI,by the parliamentary opposition and by women's,church and business groups in the Solomons.The premier of the nation's Western Province has even threatened to seek independence if the re-arming plan goes ahead.In past months,Sogavare has lost a number of senior MPs and party leaders from his government,including former prime ministers Bart Ulafa'alu and Francis Billy Hilly and prominent powerbroker Job Dudley Tausinga.Australian Prime Minister John Howard last week rebuffed a request from the Sogavare government for a face-to-face meeting of the two prime ministers to try to resolve differences.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/18/2007


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Internet Governance Forum to Hold Stock-taking Session

Geneva,Feb 08: Following the first-ever gathering of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF),held in Athens from 30 October to 2 November 2006,a special stock-taking session will take place next Tuesday,13 February,at Geneva's Palais des Nations where Forum participants will assess the achievements of the inaugural meeting and pave the way forward to the next phase of the Forum taking place in Rio de Janeiro,Brazil,from 12 to 15 November.Next week's meeting will be attended by a host of experts specializing in various aspects of Internet governance,such as freedom of expression on the Net,cybersecurity,multilingualism and connectivity in developing countries.Participants will evaluate the progress made at the opening meeting and make suggestions with regard to the preparation of the Rio meeting.The meeting will follow consultations by members of the Forum's Advisory Group,which will gather in Geneva on 12 February to assess their own functioning and to discuss how to move forward in the preparations of the second IGF meeting.The Advisory Group comprises 46 people,representing all regions and all stakeholder groups.Tuesday's meeting will be chaired by the Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Internet Governance,Nitin Desai,who served as his representative in Athens.The Executive Coordinator of the IGF Secretariat,Markus Kummer,will introduce a paper synthesizing all contributions received on the IGF Web site.


From http://www.digitalopportunity.org/ 02/08/2007


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Second SAARC Business Leaders Conclave

February 14,2007 -- SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) in collaboration with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) is organizing the 2nd SAARC Business Leaders Conclave from February 17-18,2007 at Mumbai,India.The World Bank is participating in the Conclave as the Knowledge Partner.The main objective of the second SAARC Business Leaders Conclave is to liberalize South Asian economies from rigid regulations in order to accelerate economic growth in the region.The conclave will address the following four broad themes: Regional Development by creating a Policy Environment; Regional Development through Infrastructure; Knowledge Economy as a Competitive Advantage,and,Regional Development for Economic Transformation.

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 02/14/2007


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Waste Management Offers Asia Massive Business Opportunities

MANILA,PHILIPPINES - Enormous business opportunities will be created in Asia once the region has in place better policies promoting resource conservation and management,a senior ADB official told the opening of a meeting.Decision makers have been reluctant to put in place measures to promote efficient use of resources because they believed it would hurt business or cause job losses,said Bindu Lohani,Director General of ADB's Regional and Sustainable Development Department."But the indications are that enormous business opportunities will be created once more effective policies are in place," Mr.Lohani said."More systematic attention to waste management and resource use efficiency translates into new jobs and new business opportunities."

Examples,he said,are environmental infrastructure construction such as wastewater treatment or solid waste management systems; industrial pollution recovery and control technologies; energy conservation and efficiency measures; environmental engineering; and monitoring and analysis.Such business opportunities globally are already estimated to be worth about US$600 billion per year,a figure that is projected to grow to about $800 billion over the next decade,Mr.Lohani said."The corresponding market in developing Asia and the Pacific now accounts for roughly $40 billion of this total," he said."But according to ADB's analysis,the market is expected to grow at an annual rate of between 10% and 12% 每 the fastest in the world."

Mr.Lohani made his remarks at the opening yesterday of the 3R Workshop on Effective Management and Resource Use Efficiency in East and Southeast Asia hosted at ADB's Manila Headquarters.The overall annual turnover in environmental goods and services in Asia's developing countries could triple to more than $100 billion by 2015,he said.And this figure excludes many types of environmental infrastructure investments.At the meeting,participants from governments and the private sector,international organizations,nongovernment organizations,and ADB were reviewing the key issues relating to resource efficient and effective waste management and identifying opportunities for investments.

Participants heard that Asia's cities alone are generating 760,000 tones of solid waste per day,a figure that is expected to increase to 1.8 million tons per day by 2025.Speakers emphasized the need for a change of mindset to view disposal costs as unnecessary,given the potential for "waste" to generate energy,as well as its potential for reuse or recycling."Finding ways to improve the resource efficiency of Asia's economies can help to perpetuate the enormously beneficial economic expansion of the region has enjoyed together with its poverty reduction benefits," Mr.Lohani said."We must all move quickly to deal with the waste management challenges facing our region,as the cost of inaction will be high."

The two-day event,organized jointly with the United Nations Environment Programme,United Nations Centre for Regional Development,and the Institute of Global Environment and Society,is the second in a series that began in Kathmandu last August.The workshops are part of an ADB review of issues connected with the "3Rs" 每 reduce,reuse,and recycle 每 in waste management.


From http://www.adb.org/ 02/16/2007


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Republic of Korea Joins ITU to Strengthen ICT Capacity in Asia and Pacific

Geneva,20 February 2007 〞 ITU and the Pusan National University,Republic of Korea,reached agreement on implementing the Technology Awareness Training Programme.As a partner of ITU's Centre of Excellence (CoE) Network in the Asia and Pacific region,Pusan University will take the lead in implementation in cooperation with ITU and other partners,in particular Japan,Thailand and Viet Nam.Pusan National University will provide the space,facilities and resources,including key experts,required for successfully taking the programme forward.Courses will be jointly developed with CoE partners,which will focus on broadband wireless,planning for next-generation networks,Internet Protocol and convergence.Awareness will contribute to making informed decisions on selecting the most appropriate technologies for deployment in the region as well as help in bridging the digital divide.ITU will provide seed funds for the hiring of experts and their travel for a period of 18 months and will monitor and evaluate the programme upon its completion.The agreement was signed on 15 February 2007 by the President of Pusan National University,Mr Kim Inn-Se,M.D.,Ph.D.and Mr Sami Al-Basheer Al-Morshid,Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau,in the presence of ITU Secretary-General,Dr Hamadoun I.Tour谷.The overall aim of the Asia and Pacific CoE project is to build a self-sufficient and sustainable mechanism in the Asia Pacific region to strengthen ICT capacity through Human Resources Development.Apart from Technology Awareness Training provided by this CoE,other programmes include Policy and Regulation,Business Management,Spectrum Management and Rural ICT Development.

From http://www.itu.int/ 02/20/2007


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ADB Promoting Cooperation on Hazardous Waste Management in South Asia

MANILA,PHILIPPINES - ADB will help four South Asian countries to improve their management of hazardous waste with a grant of US$400,000.Targeted at Bangladesh,Bhutan,India,and Nepal,the technical assistance (TA) project will help assess hazardous waste problems,draft policy rules to manage waste,and report on the potential for private sector involvement."The project will help strengthen cooperation between the four countries,through the sharing of knowledge and identifying ways to use common facilities for safely treating,transporting,and disposing of hazardous waste," says Dewi Utami,an ADB Senior Environment Specialist."Bhutan,Bangladesh,and Nepal will be benefit from India's experiences in regulating waste.Ultimately,the four countries should be able to come up with compatible rules on managing hazardous waste.It may also be one day feasible to have common treatment facilities." Problems associated with the management of hazardous waste vary in the four countries.In Bhutan,which still boasts a pristine environment such problems are only just starting to emerge.As the country lacks institutional and legal frameworks,a system is needed to maintain public health.Nepal has undertaken several studies and participated in workshops on the issue.The next step will be to develop policies under its Environmental Protection Act.In Bangladesh,industrial pollution is a major environmental concern.Although an Environment Act and Rules have been put in place,a clear strategy and policy have not yet been established.India,on the other hand,has a comprehensive regulatory and institutional framework,as well as technical guidelines to handle various types of hazardous waste.However,more appropriate and modern facilities are needed for disposal.The technical assistance project will review India's regulations and identify ways it can reuse and recycle waste.The project will also design training on preparing waste inventories and developing technical and procedural guidelines for waste treatment and storage,and disposal facilities.The cost of the program is estimated at $424,000,of which the participating governments will provide $24,000 in kind.The project is due for completion around January 2008.

From http://www.adb.org/ 02/21/2007


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EU Narrowing Innovation Gap with US,Japan

BRUSSELS (AFP) - The European Union is narrowing its innovation gap with the United States and Japan,although performances vary widely among the bloc's members,a study found Thursday."The US and Japan are still ahead of the EU-25 in terms of innovation performance,but the innovation gap between the EU-25 and Japan,and in particular with the US is decreasing," the study for the European Commission found.The European Union counted 25 members until January when Bulgaria and Romania joined the bloc.Denmark,Finland,Germany and Sweden won the highest marks for innovation in the latest annual scoreboard,prepared by the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology.The study ranks developed countries capacity to innovate according to a range of factors from education to spending on information and communication technologies,investment in research and development or number of patents.

The four countries were considered to be "innovation leaders" along with Switzerland and Japan.Austria,Belgium,Britain,France,Iceland,Ireland,Netherlands were lumped along with the United States in a second category of "innovation followers." Bulgaria,Cyprus,Czech Republic,Greece,Latvia,Lithuania,Poland,Portugal,Romania and Slovenia were deemed to be "catching-up" countries while Estonia,Hungary,Italy,Malta,Slovakia and Spain considered to be "trailing countries."

EU politicians have long fretted over Europe's weak performance in generating cutting edge technology,but most members have done little to meet a target of investing the equivalent of at least three percent of gross domestic product in research and innovation by 2010.In 2005 EU members states watered down an ambitious programme to boost the bloc's competitiveness after they consistently failed to meet the original targets when it was launched in 2000 in Lisbon with the aim to make the EU the most competitive economy in the world.The commission said that Europe was struggling to catch up with the United States because European innovators had more difficulty winning venture capital backing and because there were fewer people who had been to university and fewer patent applications.

From http://asia.news.yahoo.com/ 02/22/2007


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CHINA: Inflation Will Not Spread,Says IMF

The head of the International Monetary Fund has dismissed fears that a jump in China's inflation could portend higher prices on shop shelves worldwide.Annual consumer price inflation accelerated to 2.9 per cent in December from 1.8 per cent in November.The increase suggested that four consecutive years of double-digit growth were finally generating price pressures that Chinese exporters of everything from toys to televisions would pass on to their global customers.However,speaking in Beijing on Friday,Rodrigo de Rato,IMF managing director,said that the fund did not expect inflation to be a problem in 2007.He said: "We don't see a short-term risk to price stability in China." China's central bank,another fount of monetary orthodoxy,also played down December's figure.Yi Gang,an assistant governor,said that a low base of comparison with the year before had exaggerated the increase.Mr Yi stood by the central bank's forecast that consumer prices in 2007 would rise by no more than 3 per cent compared with an average of 1.5 per cent in 2006.The central bank is relaxed because December's jump was thanks largely to higher grain prices,which most economists expect to be a passing phenomenon that will not ripple through the economy.Core inflation over the past five years has remained extremely stable at less than 1 per cent,according to Jonathan Anderson,chief Asian economist at UBS,the Swiss investment bank.

Indeed,Chinese policymakers worry as much about deflation as they do about inflation.Companies in China are still on an investment binge,creating supply gluts in industries including steel,aluminium and cars.Stephen Green,of Standard Chartered Bank in Shanghai,said that talk of inflation was hype.He said: "Given that China exports manufactured goods,not food [with a few exceptions],and manufacturing exports are still overall in deflation,then the immediate consequences for central bankers around the world are limited." The risks of higher inflation spring mainly from two sources.Wages are rising sharply in the exporting boomtowns of southern China and,with higher prices of raw materials,are likely to pass gradually through into higher selling prices.With credit expanding fast,asset prices are also a concern.The Government is worried about a stock market bubble after Shanghai's 130 per cent rise last year.The authorities have responded by suspending the launch of new mutual funds,telling investors to beware and ordering banks to make sure that loans are not used for punting on stocks.Property prices are still rising fast,putting flats beyond the reach of many aspiring first-time buyers,so the Government has started to enforce a land appreciation tax and is considering introducing rates.


From http://business.timesonline.co.uk/ 01/29/2007


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Hu Stresses Rejuvenation of Old Industrial Base in NE

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Sunday stressed the rejuvenation of the old industrial base in northeast China during an inspection tour in Jilin Province.While visiting companies,research institutes and villages in Jilin and Changchun cities of the province,Hu urged local governments to seize the opportunity of rejuvenating the old industrial base and promote both social and economic development in this area.Hu visited Jilin Carbon Co.,Ltd.of Sinosteel Corporation,Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences,and Sino-Microelectronics.He required the local governments to fully display the role of talented people at universities and research institutes,and to blend scientific research with production to foster famous brands with self-innovative technology.Jilin is also China's key commodity grain base.While visiting villages and talking with farmers,Hu said the government will continue to implement preferential agricultural policies and speedup the modernization of the countryside.In a worker's family,he urged local officials to resolve problems that needy people face and organize trainings for the reemployment of laid-off workers.The president also called on officials to maintain a serious working and life style,and resist misconduct and malpractice.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 01/28/2007


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China to Launch Clean Development Mechanism Fund

China will launch a Clean Development Mechanism Fund (CDMF) in March to help finance climate change projects,according to sources with the Ministry of Finance.Ju Kuilin,a senior official with the Ministry of Finance,said the fund has been approved by the State Council,or China's cabinet.A group formed by seven authorities including the National Development and Reform Commission and ministries of finance,and science and technology will be responsible for managing the fund.The fund will collect some carbon credit transaction income,donations from international financial organizations and individuals as well as other sources approved by the State Council.According to Ju,the fund has got a 6.4-million-U.S.-dollar loan from the World Bank,and Europe will pour in loans worth a further 500 million euros.The Chinese government had approved nearly 300 CDM projects by the end of January this year,including wind power,hydropower and landfill gas power generation.With all these projects kicking off,the fund will absorb around two billion U.S.dollars.

Under the Kyoto Protocol that came into effect in 2005,38 industrialized countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below the 1990 levels,during the period 2008 to 2012.The CDM is a market-based mechanism that allows these countries to fulfill their emission reduction obligations at much lower cost,by investing in clean energy projects in developing countries such as China.China and the United Nations plan to set up a carbon trading exchange in Beijing,making the city an important center for multi-billion-dollar trade in global carbon credits.China now accounts for one third of the global carbon credits market,behind India.The UN predicts that China will become the largest carbon credits provider by 2012,covering 41 percent of the global market.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/10/2007


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China Mulls New Measures in Environmental Protection

The government will employ new measures to step up environmental protection this year,including the trade of pollutant discharge rights and raising taxes for pollutant discharge,according to sources with the Ministry of Finance.In 2007,the government will experiment with the trade of pollutant discharge rights in the power industry and in east China's Taihu Lake area.Meanwhile,the government will adjust taxation policies concerning coal resources to promote orderly exploitation and improve the rate of recovery.The government will also increase investment in ecological construction and environmental protection this year.New fiscal and taxation policies will be promulgated to encourage the recovery of waste and used materials and develop renewable energy,substitute energy and new energy.The level of charges for exploitation of mineral resources and the emission of pollutants will be raised to promote conservation and protect the environment,according to the ministry.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/21/2007


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China Rebuilding Rural Cooperative Medicare System

The old lady might still be hesitating if she should have her liver disease treated,if not for the cooperative medical care.Pang Chunxiang,61,from the Beizhai Village of northwest China's Shaanxi Province,was glad to receive more than 9,000 yuan reimbursement for her surgery that cost her 23,814 yuan (about 3,072 U.S.dollars),roughly tenfold of the poor farmer's annual earning.Pang is only among millions of beneficiaries of the rural cooperative medicare scheme,launched nationwide after the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003.Under the system,a farmer who is willing to take part in the program is to hand in 10 yuan a year out of his own pocket,while the state,provincial,municipal and county governments jointly put in another 40 yuan for the farmer.The participant could have part of his expense reimbursed in case he is hospitalized.The rate of reimbursement varies according to different kinds of illness and the actual cost of medical expenses incurred.In Shaanxi province,the average rate is 35 percent and the fund has reached 612 million yuan (about 78.6 million U.S.dollars) since 2003,covering more than 12 million farmers,or 44.5 percent of the rural population in the province.

The total reimbursement was 390 million yuan (about 50 million U.S.dollars) last year,almost seven times of the amount in 2005,said Li Hongguang,head of the Shaanxi Health Department.Cooperative medicare is not new in China.It was adopted by thegovernment as a national policy in 1956 and had helped built one of the best rural healthcare networks in developing countries over the past decades.A market-oriented reform since the 1980s,however,have led to the dismantling of the system.Without government support,rural hospitals and clinics had been left to struggle for survival.Man yof them were simply abandoned as doctors looked for greener pastures.Rocketing medical bills have pushed health service farther from farmers.A survey by the Ministry of Health showed one third of poor rural patients choose not to go to hospital,and 45 percent of farmers in hospital ask to be discharged before they have recovered."With the co-op medicare system,an illness does not mean a catastrophe anymore," said Lu Zhenshan,a farmer in his fifties who claimed 30 percent reimbursement after having a heart surgery.

So far,China's central and local governments have invested over 18.9 billion yuan (about 2.4 billion U.S.dollars) into the medicare scheme to provide 400 million times of reimbursements to the farmers.Nationwide,the system has covered 51 percent of the rural farmers,and will be extended to cover all the rural areas by 2008,according to Gao Qiang,the Minister of Health.The new system also brought changes to rural clinics.In the Niudong Clinic where Lu Zhenshan attended,the hospitalized patients totaled over 60 last year,quadrupling the number in years before the program was launched.Among the patients,one third had chronic diseases,for which they had been reluctant to go to hospital before."If not for the co-op system,our clinic would be bankrupt," said Li Xiangmin,head of the clinic,noting that their revenue was 286,000 yuan in 2006,a sharp increase from the less than 200,000 yuan before.He is thinking of purchasing some new medical equipments.But the national drive is also met with difficulties."Many counties and towns do not have enough financial power to supply their portion in the fund," said Li Ling,professor from the Chinese Economy Research Center in Beijing University.

In addition,many clinics are in shortage of eligible doctors and equipments.In over 1,600 clinics in east China's Anhui Province,there are only 723 college graduates,less than two percent of the total number of doctors.Half of the clinics are not equipped with stomach pump and 30 percent without electrocardiograph.Fund resources need to be expanded,and the funds from richer counties may need to be diverted to support the poor ones,Li Ling noted.More efforts are needed to lower the costs of medicine,and support under-funded and poorly equipped village clinics,she added.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/21/2007


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New Poverty Alleviation Project Launched in Guizhou

Southwest China's underdeveloped province of Guizhou has launched a US$115 million poverty alleviation project which will benefit 3.67 million poor farmers.The project was funded by loans from Japan Bank for International Cooperation totaling 674 million yuan (US$86 million),while another 224 million yuan would be funded by provincial and local governments,according to the Guizhou Poverty Alleviation Office.It is the biggest ever foreign-funded poverty relief project that the province has ever carried out.Some 890,000 rural households from 3,399 villages in Tongren Prefecture and Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture,in eastern Guizhou,will benefit from the five-year project,according to the office.The poverty relief program aims to improve education,health,water supply and waste treatment in those areas.Guizhou,one of China's most impoverished regions,still has 2.55 million rural people living in absolute poverty (annual per capita income less than US$85),accounting for 12 percent of the country's total.The number of the poor in China has fallen by more than 100 million to 23.65 million since the government launched its campaign against rural poverty in 1986.The Chinese government pledged to cut the number of people in absolute poverty in rural areas by three million this year,a senior national poverty relief official said.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/21/2007


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China Outlines Civil Servants Training Plan

China's Ministry of Personnel on Sunday published a training plan for the country's civil servants,aiming to improve their overall capability.The training focuses on "improving civil servants' governance ability and working efficiency" in order to build a capable government that can well serve the public.It covers subjects like public administration,science,culture,history,psychology,computer skills,putonghua,or standard Chinese,and foreign languages.More government workers will be selected to study overseas,it said.But the plan did not specify the amount of budget allocated to the training program.Statistics show China has about 6.5 million civil servants,and government posts have become a top choice for the country's job seekers in recent years.Earlier this month,Gan Yisheng,spokesman of the Communist Party of China's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection called for government employees to receive ethics education after a series of corruption cases were exposed.


From http://www.china.org.cn 02/26/2007


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JAPAN: Testing Times for Education Reform Bills

Discussion of three education reform-related bills,a highlight of the current Diet session,is to start in earnest Monday,though it seems likely reconciling proposals by the three groups working on the respective bills will prove difficult,sources said.The three groups--the Education Rebuilding Council,a panel led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; the Central Council for Education,an advisory body to the education,science and technology minister; and the Liberal Democratic Party's committee to study education reform--will proceed with their individual deliberations on the three bills,one of which calls for the establishment of a system in which teachers will have to periodically renew their licenses.Abe has been forthcoming about his willingness to pass the bills during the Diet session,saying he wants lawmakers to focus mainly on education reform.Because of this,the three bodies aim to finish the groundwork for their bills by the end of February,they said.The focus of the discussion will be how to reform the nation's boards of education,a move to be included in a bill to revise the law on regional education administration.The three bodies are of a similar mind on transferring the authority to appoint teachers from prefectural boards of education to those of municipalities.

However,they are likely to differ over the role of the central government.Boards of education have come under fire recently following the discovery that many schools had chosen not to teach the government-mandated curriculum and a recent spate of suicides linked to bullying.Such problems have led to mounting opinion that the education ministry's right to direct and oversee the boards be reinforced.The first report submitted by the Education Rebuilding Council in January contained a similar opinion,and the LDP committee is likely to go along with it,they said.However,as six members of the Central Council for Education represent local organizations,the council most likely will oppose the propping up of the ministry's involvement.This may cause the council difficulty during the deliberations.To make matters worse,if it ultimately disagrees with the decisions by the other two groups,it will result in a flare up of the fundamental problem alluded to in the report: Which group's opinion should be given priority? During a public speech Saturday in Ritto,Shiga Prefecture,Education,Science and Technology Minister Bunmei Ibuki told those gathered: "The ministry does not possess the right to control a board of education.I wonder if it would be appropriate.I look forward to widespread national debate on the issue."


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/05/2007


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Govt,Ministries Split over Amakudari Reforms

Government deliberations over how to regulate amakudari--the practice in which retiring bureaucrats take lucrative private sector jobs in industries they formerly oversaw--have already run into problems as the government looks to submit bills on reforming public servant legislation during the current Diet session.In his policy speech last month at the outset of the current ordinary Diet session,Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to eradicate the reemployment of civil servants in the private sector abetted by "intrusive mediation." The pledge came in the wake of a series of bid-rigging scandals involving public servants.However,senior ministry officials have voiced skepticism about the planned regulations,arguing the meaning of "intrusive intermediation" is ambiguous.The public servant system is one of three areas,along with education reform and reform of the Social Insurance Agency,which the government has said it is making a high priority of in the current Diet session.Abe himself is said to be especially keen to toughen regulations on retiring bureaucrats' taking lucrative jobs in the private sector.Though the mandatory retirement age for national public servants is 60,rapidly promoted bureaucrats,excluding potential administrative vice minister or bureau chiefs,are encouraged to resign when they reach their early 50s.These retirees are often hired by companies or public service corporations,with ministries and agencies in many cases taking active measures to secure private sector employment for former officials.

According to one former bureaucrat,some of the deals "are in exchange for favorable treatment in public works bids,or even to gain approval." Critics have thus pointed out that the system is a hotbed for bureaucrats involved in bid-rigging.With House of Councillors elections scheduled for the summer,Abe is planning to press the point that there should be no "bureaucrats' paradise," according to Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa.Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said Wednesday,"The prime minister firmly believes that [arranging reemployment for retiring bureaucrats] in an intrusive way,against the wishes of private firms or in exchange for preferential treatment,should be terminated." But on the actual definition of "intrusive," Shiozaki only said,"This needs to be discussed,and I asked Mr.[Yoshimi] Watanabe,who is the state minister for regulatory reform,to handle the issue." In December,a private sector member of the Council on Fiscal and Economic Policy proposed a total ban on ministries and agencies getting involved in the reemployment of retiring bureaucrats.But ministry and agency officials expressed strong opposition to any such move."As long as we're being urged to resign before the mandatory retirement age,a ban is unrealistic," said one official.Observers suggest that Abe's instruction to terminate arranging jobs through "intrusive intermediation" was an effort to find some sort of middle ground between calls for a total ban and those opposed to such a ban.Watanabe's idea is to prohibit only efforts by ministries and agencies to use budgetary and regulatory leverage to coerce private firms into employing outgoing bureaucrats.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/09/2007


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Abe Says Robust GDP Fruit of Structural Reforms

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday that an annualized real 4.8% growth in Japan's gross domestic product in the October-December period of 2006 from the previous three months is "the fruit of past structural reforms." He also said the government will strive to expand achievements of the reforms,so that more people will feel benefits of the country's economic recovery.


From http://www.japantoday.com/ 02/16/2007


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Govt Intends to Set Up System to Safeguard Secrets

In a bid to clarify which members of staff have access to classified information,the government intends to establish unified criteria on information security among the various ministries and agencies,Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki told The Yomiuri Shimbun in an interview Saturday.Shiozaki said that while in the United States there are controls to ensure only certain staff have access to classified information,in Japan there is no such system within the ministries and agencies.He said it was therefore necessary to establish clear rules on information security.The government plans to introduce a system in which only senior ministry and agency officials above a certain rank have access to secret information relating to the nation's diplomatic and security policies.A study group to be led by Shiozaki,aimed at strengthening information security,plans to include the policy in an interim report to be compiled at the end of this month.Shiozaki said: "It's extremely important to integrate information owned by each ministry separately.Not only the Defense Ministry,Foreign Ministry and Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office,but also the Japan Coast Guard and the Economy,Trade and Industry Ministry are collecting data on their own.The government's information integration function must be reconsidered." Economic strategy: As for the government's plan to boost economic growth,Shiozaki said the government intends to hold roundtable talks in March with an eye on productivity and wage increases,with participants drawn from government,industry and unions.Shiozaki said the government wants to hold the talks across the nation,and asked for the cooperation of prefectural governments and various industry bodies.Speaking about strategies espoused by the opposition parties to tackle the disparity issue,Shiozaki stressed: "The time when the government takes care of everything is over.We aren't seeking equality for all.The problem of disparity can't be solved without economic growth."


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/19/2007


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SOUTH KOREA: Population Hits 49 Million,Set to Reach 50 Million in Five Years

Korea's population has broken 49 million and is set to reach the milestone of 50 million in five years,government data showed Friday (Feb.9).The data from the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs also reflected the country's aging population with a sharp decrease in births over past decades.Korea's registered population as of 2006 totaled 49,024,737.Males accounted for 24,574,821,with females totaling with 24,449,916.Nearly half of the population,or 48.5 percent,live in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi-do (province),where the country's industrial,political and social facilities are concentrated.Seoul alone accounted for 20.78 percent of the population with 10.18 million.Areas with the lowest population densities mostly belonged to Gangwon-do near the demilitarized zone along the border with North Korea: Geunbuk-myeon,Cheorwon-gun (county),which had only 149 residents,and Jindong-myeon,Paju,Gangwon-do,with 142 people.Roughly 450,000 babies were born last year.That figure was up 2.23 percent from the previous year,but was a sharp drop from the 1980s,during which an average 750,000 babies were born annually.The number of deaths in 2006 was roughly 240,000,down 3.85 percent from the previous year.The number of births versus deaths suggested the country will have to wait five years to reach the population milestone of 50 million.As for the country's aging population,the number of people aged 65 and older was up 0.5 percent from 2005 with about 4.56 million,which made up 9.3 percent of the entire population.The province that suffered most from an aging population was Jeollanam-do (South Jeolla Province),in the country's southwest,where the elderly made up 16.3 percent of its demographic.The southeastern industrial city of Ulsan was the youngest,with the elderly accounting for only 5.6 percent.The statistics also illustrate the growing trend of single-person households.There were 5.55 million people living alone,up from 5.16 million from the previous year,accounting for 30.27 percent of all households.


From http://www.korea.net 02/10/2007


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INDONESIA: Govt to Dramatically Reduce Number of State Firms,VP Says

To help make state companies more efficient and competitive,the government plans to reduce the number of nationalized firms to 69 over three years from the current figure of 139.The plan will be implemented through various mechanisms,including merger and privatization."The target is to reduce the number of state firms to 69 through mergers,privatizations,liquidations and other mechanisms," Vice President Jusuf Kalla told reporters Monday after a limited ministerial coordinating meeting.The plan,Kalla said,was expected to bolster the performance of state firms amid increasing competition,both domestic and global.He insisted that signs of progress in the state sector were already becoming apparent,pointing out that this year the government was targeting 22.5 percent growth in state-firm profits from the Rp 72.44 trillion booked last year."We are targeting a minimum of 20 percent growth,but we have agreed on 22.5 percent on average.So,it's good.State-owned companies will now be required to fast-track all the programs in their pipelines," Kalla said."These companies have to increase their investment levels for the sake of the nation's development.There are high-performing companies and there are also weak ones," he said.State Minister for State Enterprises Sugiharto gave the following details of the resizing plan: reducing 139 companies to 102 in 2007,to 87 in 2008,to 69 in 2009,to 50 in the period between 2012 and 2015,and a further reduction to 25 after 2015.However,the plan would still have to await an agreement between the coordinating ministries,the Finance Ministry and other relevant ministries,as well as the approval of the House of Representatives.

"All the processes,such as mergers,ownership dilution,divestment,etc.,will need the support of all the stakeholders,including the legislators," Sugiharto explained.For the short term,he said,it was expected that at least 4 state firms -- oil and gas firm Pertamina,a proposed holding company for state mining firms,state gas company PT PGN,and a proposed holding company for state plantation firms -- would come close to completing fast-track restructuring in 2007 and 2008,and that these would serve as pioneers capable of competing globally.As for the state-bank sector,Sugiharto said that the issues involved were still being discussed internally and that consultations would soon be carried out with Bank Indonesia soon."I cannot say whether there will definitely be bank mergers.But the Vice President suggested the need to study the concept of a development bank,like those that exist in some overseas countries," he said.A development bank would be beneficial as it would provide long-term loans,unlike Indonesia's private banks,which tend to cater to short-term financing needs,Sugiharto explained.Under the 2007 national budget,the government is targeting a total of Rp 3.3 trillion in privatization proceeds,with Rp 1.300 trillion of this being injected as fresh capital for 8 state firms: PT KAI,Garuda,Kertas Leces,PIM,INKA,Perum SPU,BBI and PTPN XIV.Sugiharto said that he also expected total capital expenditure by state companies to increase this year by 62.78 percent to Rp 114.1 trillion from Rp 70.1 trillion in 2006.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 02/20/2007


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MALAYSIA: Set Up Urban Governance Institute,Govt Urged

A government-funded Institute of Urban Governance has to be set up to better serve cities and towns.Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye,who made the call,said the development and management of urban centres was among the major challenges faced by the Government due to rapid urbanisation.He said the concentration of development and human activities in cities and towns had exposed the population there to an environment that was "physically,psychologically and socially taxing",leading to a host of complex urban problems."It is time for the Government to set up an institute for urban governance,which can function as a national resources and training centre for urban governance and development," Lee said in a statement.Lee said such an institute could help facilitate research by providing support to academicians and individuals to undertake research,and also provide consultancy on urban issues.He suggested that academic experts,research organisations and government agencies conduct academic programmes in urban planning for local government officials and others to better manage towns and cities."Urbanisation should lead to community spirit-building.Where urban centres are built,pro-active efforts must be taken to build a sense of community and belonging among the multi-ethnic residents," he added.


From http://thestar.com.my 02/17/2007


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PHILIPPINES: National Integrity System Study Released

Transparency International (TI) and Transparency International Philippines (TI Philippines) today released a National Integrity System (NIS) Study finding that despite a flurry of anti-corruption efforts in the country,the problem of corruption remains prevalent in the Philippines.The NIS consists of the key institutions,laws and practices that contribute to integrity,transparency and accountability in a society.When it functions properly,the NIS combats corruption as part of the larger struggle against abuse of power,malfeasance,and misappropriation in all its forms.The NIS approach provides a framework with which to analyse both the extent and causes of corruption in a given national context,as well as the adequacy and effectiveness of national anti-corruption efforts.By diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of a particular integrity system,an evaluation based on the NIS can help inform anti-corruption advocacy and reform efforts.The NIS study of the Philippines found that although the government advocates zero-tolerance for corruption and follows best practice by adopting a three-pronged approach against it through promotion,prevention and enforcement,a lack of compliance and implementation on the side of the public and a lack of prosecutions,convictions and enforcement on the side of the authorities persists.It suggests that in a country with institutionalized corruption,integrity pillars themselves are compromised by systemic corruption compounded with difficulties to operate efficiently and effectively.Collusion,state capture,leadership incapable of crushing vested interests and a lack of a focal point are issues that still need to be addressed.

The study showed that a bifurcation remains between catching &small fry' and &big fish'; between rhetoric and reality,and promise and performance.Stakeholders pointed out the lack of will power to stamp out corruption,the nagging problem of morality in leadership and the absence of respect for the rule of law.The study suggests that these problems may be tackled by reviewing constitutional law,particularly in areas concerning appointments and the excessive power of the executive,strengthening institutional restraints against political interventions,building capacity within institutions,supporting demand for adherence to democratic principles in the public domain,ensuring independence and fiscal autonomy of accountability bodies and promoting moral standards and ethical values.Several priority recommendations are made in the study to this end: regulatory reform should decrease the use of regulatory powers to curb corruption and instead focus on increasing the use of incentives and opportunities to achieve zero tolerance for corruption; the political party system and campaign financing need strengthening; and independence of oversight bodies should be enhanced.As an immediate follow up measure to the study's release,Transparency International Philippines aims to conduct an assessment forum and bring together stakeholders interests in pursuing reasonable implementation of recommendations in the NIS Study Report.The NIS study of the Philippines is one of more than 55 country studies undertaken worldwide,and was completed in the framework of a regional project to analyse the NIS of 9 countries in East and Southeast Asia including Cambodia,China,Hong Kong,Japan,Korea,Singapore,Thailand and Vietnam.


From http://www.transparency.org/ 02/01/2007


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SINGAPORE: Special Schools Support Recommendations Under Masterplan for Disability Sector

Raising the age limit for special needs students by three years and introducing new curriculum units are among the recommendations under the five-year masterplan for the disability sector.If the government accepts recommendations to raise the age limit,intellectually disabled students may be able to spend more time in school - till they are 21.John Lee,Acting CEO,Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore,said,"The additional one,two or three years will enable us to reinforce in them the independent living skills that they're taught in school." Furthermore,as part of the recommendations,the Education Ministry may be setting up new Curriculum Units to determine what and how to teach special needs students.Mr Lee added,"These units have to collaborate closely with the special schools,employment service agencies and the employers in order to come up with an integrated framework of methodologies that will allow a seamless transition from the schools to the adult programmes to open employment." The school said a transition can be made easier only with vital support from the community and a change in mindsets.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com 02/19/2007


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29 Scout Leaders Receive Good Service Awards

Twenty-nine scout leaders were honoured with good service awards at the Istana on Thursday by none other than Singapore's Chief Scout,President S R Nathan.The recipients were not only from Singapore but neighbouring countries as well.Among them was Mr Promsawat Lertvitayavivat from a school in Hatyai,Thailand.The good service award is conferred by the Singapore Scouts Association to adult leaders for their continued support and dedication to educate the young,and for helping to encourage people to play a constructive role in nation building.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 02/22/2007


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VIET NAM: Oversight Committee Created for WTO Aid

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has decided to establish a steering committee to help the Government manage and utilise foreign technical assistance for implementing the Government's Action Programme on fulfilling Viet Nam's WTO commitments.The Government's Action Programme is aimed at promoting sustainable economic development,eradicating hunger,reducing poverty and solving socio-economic problems that may arise during the post WTO phase.The steering committee for the programme,also known as the "Beyond WTO Programme," will be a part of the Government Office.Deputy head of the Government Office Nguyen Quoc Huy will head the steering committee and Deputy Minister of Finance Tran Xuan Ha has been appointed the deputy.The committee will adopt and manage technical assistance programmes and credit funds from UK's and Australia's international development agencies and similar organisations.It will monitor technical assistance funds to State offices at both central and local levels,and social organisations to implement the Government's Action Programme,and to create and execute action programmes of ministries,sectors and localities on fulfilling WTO commitments.The steering committee will co-ordinate with ministries,Government offices,and people's committees at central,city and provincial levels to implement the action programmes,supervise and report on progresses achieved to the Prime Minister and responsible offices.It will also help to negotiate financial funding with sponsors.WTO commitments A new resolution issued by the Government calls for major changes to the State budget and a number of laws in an effort to fulfil the country's commitments to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Under Resolution 03/2007/ NQ-CP,the Government will also speed up the programme to re-structure State-owned companies.In 2007,the Government will equitise 550 SOEs,including corporations,State commercial banks,and State-owned businesses specialising in insurance,banking,and public utility services (water,environmental sanitation,flood prevention).The Government will encourage more equitised SOEs to list their shares on securities trading centres in Ha Noi and HCM City.Audits and inspections will be conducted at State-owned corporations,and more SOEs will be converted to one-member limited liability companies,a form that will permit more effective management.However,these companies cannot issue shares.Inefficient SOEs will be equitised,according to the resolution.The Government resolution also stresses the need to intensify efforts to fight smuggling,trade fraud,tax evasion and illegal State budget disbursements.In a move to implement WTO commitments,the Trade Ministry in the first three months of the year will perfect the legal framework to cope with anti-dumping lawsuits and anti-subsidy regulations.It will also create standards on food sanitation and safety and environmental sanitation.The ministry will also establish a code system for services in line with the WTO,and recognise agreements between Viet Nam and other WTO members to prevent trade protectionism in foreign markets while ensuring trade equality in domestic market.The resolution calls for the dismissal of irresponsible officials who intentionally obstruct or slow down administrative reforms or the granting of business registration licenses.


From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn 02/08/2007


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INDIA: India and China to Emerge as Leaders in Technology Innovation

New Delhi,Jan 29: The global leader in technology innovation -- the US could soon face a threat in this space from the world's fast emerging markets -- India and China."The US is leading the world in technology innovations because of market size and talent.But India and China are starting to match US's consumer and tech talent base," global technology research firm Forrester's Vice President Navi Radjou told PTI.This will lead to more tech innovations emanating from these two countries in the coming decades,he added.Both the Asian giants altogether boast nearly half billion strong middle class,he said."India alone is adding five million new cellphone subscribers each month and both the countries are together creating number of engineers and professionals,which is increasing their talent reservoir," Radjou said.Some Indian IT firms already have same level of technology enabled innovation to answer the global competition,he said.Radjou,who is coming to India next week to speak at Nasscom's India Leadership Forum 2007 summit in Mumbai,said that companies like Infosys has already made investments in knowledge management systems to promote knowledge reusability across its practise areas and client accounts on a worldwide basis.Wipro has also invested heavily in security technologies to protect intellectual property as part of its Research and Development service capabilities,he added.


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/29/2007


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IBM Expands Education & Innovation in India

Underscoring its commitment to enabling India to become an innovators nation and bridge the digital divide,IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it imparted training on open standards based technologies to more than 80,000 students in over 745 colleges in India during 2006.In addition,in 2006,IBM's Great Mind Challenge,designed to improve the software development skills of Indian students as they work to solve issues facing businesses today,saw participation from over 700 colleges involving 21,000 students and 3,900 faculty from 24 States in India.In keeping with IBM's commitment to bridge the digital divide in India,625 additional Young Explorer units are being deployed across Karnataka,Andhra Pradesh,Pondicherry,Chennai,Pune,Jaipur and Haryana.IBM's Young Explorer program looks at taking IT education to underprivileged schools.To date,over 1,200 Young Explorer units have been donated by IBM covering 500 teachers in 200 schools and 30,000 children across India.In partnership with Corporation of Chennai and State Governments of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh,IBM launched the Reinventing Education program in India in 2006.

This program,to be run over a two year period,involves more than 30 schools and reaches over 7,000 students in grades six to ten.IBM's Reinventing Education program is focused on improving the quality of teaching and learning in middle and secondary schools.The program helps with the development of new curriculum and teaching methodologies with a view to enhancing the transition from primary to high school and improving retention rates of students in secondary education.Reiterating IBM's commitment to India,Mr.Shanker Annaswamy,Regional General Manager,IBM India /South Asia said,"Our vision for IBM India is to be a trusted partner in India's growth,and our mission is to empower stakeholders 每 students,governments,our partners,and our customers with the technologies and skills that can help them innovate and drive India's success on the global stage.In 2006 we made several investments in skills and talent development in India through our education,government outreach,and research and development initiatives." IBM India's Research and Technology labs now houses over 3,200 talented professionals.

In keeping with IBM's focus on taking its innovation leadership to clients globally and domestically,in 2006 IBM India Software Lab participated in over 1,000 customer engagements across six continents.Over the last year the India Research Lab worked closely with other IBM divisions to develop many path breaking technologies including a National Health Data Network; Web-based,interactive language technology; Business finder technology and a Model-driven monitoring solution for large IT infrastructure projects.IBM India Research continues to be a strategic asset for the IBM Research Network worldwide,with the lab driving innovation around Blue Gene,Nanotechnology,Autonomic Computing or Services Innovations.Earlier this year IBM inaugurated its first Semiconductor Research and Development Enablement Center (SRDC) in India.This lab,the first of its kind outside of the U.S,will deliver high quality state of the art "compact models" and innovate to develop new modeling techniques to capture the new physics in nano-dimension semiconductor devices.


From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 02/06/2007


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Asia's Largest Slum Gets Its First Bank

Mumbai,Feb 20: Dharavi,Asia's largest slum colony and a hub of bustling industrial activities and housing for over one million people,has got its first full-fledged bank branch.Public sector Indian Bank yesterday opened its branch and automated teller machine (ATM) in Dharavi,which lies right in the heart of the financial capital.The branch,which has core banking solution that allows it to remain connected online with the bank's network all over the country,was inaugurated by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Deputy Governor Usha Thorat last evening."Our mission is to provide all financial products and services to the common man under one roof at affordable cost in a fair,transparent and equitable manner," Indian Bank Chairman and Managing Director K C Charkabarty said at the inaugural function.Dharavi,spread over 1.75 sq km is a hub of economic activities which include tanneries,plastics,ready-made garments,confectionery,soap and papad factories.Most of the slum residents are migrants,mostly from Tamil Nadu."The branch would help the people of Dharavi to channel their savings and also facilitate easy remittance of funds to the kith and kin of the migrants," Chakrabarty observed.People are engaged in producing goods worth nearly USD 665 million,he said,quoting from a survey undertaken by the bank before opening the branch."Dharavi is less a slum and more an unorganised,unregulated estate and a showcase of Indian entrepreneurship," Chakrabarty added.


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 02/20/2007


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IRAN: ECO Planners in Session

The three-day 17th Meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)'s Regional Planning Council opened in Tehran on Monday.Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said at the meeting that regional and international cooperation is the key to the success of efforts to bring about global convergence and avert the destructive impacts of wars."Our region enjoys huge advantages thanks to geopolitical factors and regional convergence will facilitate cooperation," he said,adding that the ECO has managed to expand its domain to Central Asia,Caucasus and Afghanistan in the past 15 years.The minister further noted that one of the organization's greatest achievements was to establish a special fund for helping rebuild Afghanistan,adding that it was initiated on Iran's proposal.He said that another major achievement was a 2003 agreement based on which tariffs were reduced to 15 percent for 80 percent of goods transacted among member-states.

Mottaki said that ECO was a successful organization over the past decade,adding,however,civil strife in Afghanistan and some other Central Asian member-states served as a blow to the organization.Economic Cooperation Organization is an intergovernmental regional organization established in 1985 by Iran,Pakistan and Turkey for the purpose of promoting economic,technical and cultural cooperation among the member states.ECO is the successor organization of Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) which remained in existence from 1964 to 1979.In 1992,the Organization was expanded to include seven new members,namely: Afghanistan,Azerbaijan,Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan,Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.The date of the Organization's expansion to its present strength,November 28,is observed as ECO Day.(by Farzaneh Shokri)


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 02/20/2007


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KYRGYZSTAN: Innovative Project to Improve Livelihoods of Rural Women

A US$2 million grant from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR),financed by the Government of Japan,will help develop the Kyrgyz Republic's handicraft industry improve the livelihoods of rural women.During the winter season,the wool-based cottage industry,which is run almost exclusively by women,is often the only means to earn income in remote rural areas.Handicrafts produced 每 mainly felt,fiber,textile,leather,fur,and wooden articles 每 have been identified by a technical assistance from the European Union to be marketable and exportable.The absence of appropriate equipment,however,is a major constraint,and there is considerable room for improving product quality.While some areas have handicraft centers for coordinating activities,the capacity of these is limited."This sector has significant potential to grow and,consequently,improve the lives of women and their families in rural areas," says Asel Chyngysheva,an ADB Project Implementation Officer.The grant project aims to improve the productivity,diversity,and quality of handicraft production,while establishing efficient marketing services and facilities.

The project will help organize the existing,mostly informal,handicrafts centers in rural areas.It will renovate and equip these centers; help establish a coordination and marketing center in Bishkek as well as a satellite center in the South; and build the centers' technical,management,and marketing capacities."By empowering the women to market their products without the help of big businesses,this will eliminate exploitation and reduce marketing costs," adds Ms.Chyngysheva.The project will undertake nine pilot subprojects in Issyk-Kul,Naryn,and Talas oblasts,as well as subprojects in Batken,Djalalabat,and Osh oblasts afterwards.The Government and beneficiaries will contribute US$209,000 equivalent to the project's total estimated cost of US$2.2 million.The Ministry of Industry,Trade,and Tourism is the executing agency for the project,which will be carried out over about three years.The JFPR was set up in 2000 with an initial contribution of US$90 million,followed by additional contributions totaling US$155 million in 2002,and annual contributions up to 2006 bringing the total amount to US$360 million.


From http://business.uzreport.com/ 02/09/2007


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Kazakhstan to Reform Military with Russian Help

Kazakh Defense Minister Daniyal Akhmetov announced on February 22 that Kazakhstan and Russia will jointly develop a plan to modernize Kazakhstan's armed forces,zonakz.net reported."In the near future,we will develop a joint program to reorganize the country's forces," Akhmetov said."This is a joint program with Russia.In about a month,the program will be developed,and it will allow us by 2015 to change significantly the image of Kazakhstan's armed forces." He added that "the transformation of the armed forces' structure and military culture will be connected with training and the purchase of needed equipement," according to ITAR-TASS.Akhmetov also noted that he met recently in Moscow with Sergei Chemezov,head of Russian arms export company Rosoboroneksport,to discuss related issues.DK


From http://www.rferl.org/ 02/23/2007


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TURKMENISTAN: Turkmenistan Holds Presidential Election

A total of 98.65 percent of registered voters took part in Turkmenistan's presidential election on February 11,according to data from the country's Central Election Commission,turkmenistan.ru reported.RFE/RL correspondents in Turkmenistan reported light turnout,however,in the capital of Ashgabat and in Lebap Province.Preliminary results are expected to be announced on February 13,AP reported.Six candidates took part in the election,with acting President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov widely expected to win.No foreign observers monitored the ballot.The OSCE sent an Election Support Team,rather than an observation mission,to Turkmenistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," February 2,2007).A spokesman for the CIS Executive Committee's election monitoring department told Interfax on February 9 that CIS observers were not invited to monitor the election.DK


From http://www.rferl.org/ 02/12/2007


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UZBEKISTAN: National Electronic Media Association Holds Media Forum

National Association of Electronic Mass Media (NAESMI) held a media forum in Tashkent to sum up the results of its activities in 2006 and discuss plans for 2007.Set up three years ago,the association provides technical and practical assistance to almost 40 non-state TV and radio stations,as well as cable TV stations across Uzbekistan,UzA reported.In 2006,NAESMI implemented more than 15 projects aimed at supporting media workers,providing equipment to TV and radio channels and journalist training.The association has set up a special information center,which gathers information from the stations all over Uzbekistan and further disseminates it to interested parties.The participants of the media forum in the capital approved the program of activities of NAESMI for 2007.


From http://news.uzreport.com/ 02/07/2007


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Seminar Discusses Implementation of Entrepreneurship Legislation

A seminar on the results of the monitoring of the implementation of the legislation on entrepreneurship by the law enforcement and controlling agencies was held at the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan.Representatives of the Senate and the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan,General Prosecutor's Office,State Customs Committee,Ministry of Internal Affairs,and other agencies and departments participated in the meeting.It was noted that under the direction of the President,large-scale reforms aimed at developing and supporting entrepreneurship were being taken in the country underpinning economic development,UzA reported.Consistent implementation of the entrepreneurship-related policy largely depends on the activity of law enforcement and controlling bodies,it was said.The results of the monitoring,which involved analysing the legislative framework for entrepreneurship,tracking the statistics and other information,surveying entrepreneurs and workers of law enforcement and controlling structures,and reviewing the results of these agencies' activity.

Decrees and resolutions,passed by the head of state for the purpose of supporting and protecting entrepreneurs,have opened a new page in the sphere's development.At this time,a new legal procedure for the application of measures of judicial supervision has been introduced,the accountability for economic violations has been liberalized,and the system of checks and inspections and reporting was brought to order.The influence of law enforcement and controlling structures on the enterprise entities has been minimized.All this allowed to create favourable conditions for the entrepreneurs.However,the facts of intrusion into the activity of enterprise entities and unfounded,illegal inspections still come to surface.In the identified cases,all indictments of controlling agencies against business entities are eliminated.Seminar participants discussed the measures that should be taken to eliminate the shortcomings identified though monitoring.Also,recommendations were made on the renewal and development of the legal base for entrepreneurship,and improvement of law enforcement practice in the sphere.


From http://business.uzreport.com/ 02/07/2007


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AUSTRALIA: $500,000 for Learned Academies

Research into the solar system,biofuels,nanotechnology,professional development for early-career researchers,humanities infrastructure,and creativity and innovation will each receive a funding boost under the Australian Research Council's (ARC) Linkage Learned Academies Special Projects (LASP) scheme,the Minister for Education,Science and Training,the Hon Julie Bishop,announced today."The Australian Government will support six LASP projects beginning in 2007 with funding of $502,000 over three years,averaging $83,667 a project," Minister Bishop said."LASP supports Australian Learned Academies to pursue important programs of research in the natural and applied sciences,technological development and applied technology,the social sciences and the humanities."In this round,LASP funding is being provided to four Academies to conduct projects that address the National Research Priority areas Frontier Technologies for Building and Transforming Australian Industries ($308,000) and An Environmentally Sustainable Australia ($194,000)." The ARC funding will support:

research into the full range of skills required by postdoctoral fellows and early-career researchers to make them highly effective professional researchers,including an understanding of how to protect intellectual property and commercialise research (Australian Academy of Science); development and implementation of the first decadal plan for Australian space science through the identification of goals and capabilities to understand our solar system and its effects on life on earth,thereby providing the scientific links from the earth's surface to the distant cosmos (Australian Academy of Science); senior energy specialists and nanotechnology researchers to shape the future path of energy research in Australia to,for example,ensure that our high use of fossil fuels for energy generation has a minimal impact on climate change,improve our quality of life and develop new knowledge-based industries to maintain economic growth (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering); senior bioenergy specialists and researchers to develop non-fossil fuel energy systems for transport fuels and strategically position Australia in the sustainable production of biofuels (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering); a definitive study of the current practices and future requirements,including infrastructure,of humanities researchers in Australia (The Australian Academy of the Humanities); and a multidisciplinary team of social science researchers to examine factors and conditions conducive to creativity (the generation of novel ideas) and innovation (the process of making ideas useful through application and implementation) in the Australian setting (Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia)


From http://www.dest.gov.au/ 01/29/2007


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Launch of Media Campaign to Keep Australian Welfare System Fair

The increased awareness of the Government's campaign to crack down on welfare cheats has resulted in a record number of tip-offs about alleged fraud,Minister for Workforce Participation Dr Sharman Stone said today.The Support the System that Supports You campaign has been in place for two years,and aims to stop people receiving more Centrelink payments than they're entitled to."In the 05/06 financial year,Centrelink received 118,491 tip-off allegations,an increase of 24 percent on the previous financial year.This resulted in taxpayer savings of $125.6 million from investigations," Minister Stone said."Over the 12 months to August last year,144,000 people contacted Centrelink to say they had received some income,or had re-partnered and were no longer sole parents in need of welfare."The 2007 Support the System that Supports You campaign will begin this weekend to reinforce the message that it is critically important not to cheat the system that is designed to help the neediest with taxpayer-funded support.The campaign will consist of TV,radio,print,magazine and outdoor advertisements.All Centrelink clients will also receive brochures."Australia has a very generous welfare system designed to help those who genuinely need support.This safety net helps those who are unable to find work,or have not got the means to support themselves or their family.Taxpayers expect their money to be spent wisely,and not paid to people who are cheating the system."Most people on welfare do the right thing and report any changes to their earnings to Centrelink.There are also people who forget to update their details or make genuine mistakes.The system does not intend to penalise these people,rather,people who do try to defraud the system and who don't think they will get caught out.People who cheat the system will have to pay back the overpayments they receive and could go to jail for fraud," Minister Stone said.Centrelink has a dedicated team of people who check over 10,000 payments a day to ensure they are accurate.People who have not reported their changes will be identified through this system.


From http://mediacentre.dewr.gov.au/ 02/02/2007


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Aussies Look to Finnish Innovation Model

Australian policy makers are looking to Finland for inspiration in their drive to bring the nation closer to the dream of thriving technological innovation.The country's president and other Finnish representatives are in Sydney to share with Australian researchers the strides the nation has made in the past three decades.Home of companies such as Nokia,the world's largest mobile phone manufacturer,Finland has captured the attention of governments looking to shift their economic base away from traditional industries towards a more innovative focus.Finnish President Tarja Halonen said a small nation like Finland needed to look beyond its basic primary industries to remain economically relevant."We can never compete with quantity so we decided to compete with quality," Ms Halonen said."Of course for this we need a better level of expertise." She said a history of clean government and a focus on ecological sustainability had been a drawcard for investors,especially those in the private sector."It has also been quite safe to put together both public and private activities," she said.Finland was recently mentioned in report to the prime minister's Science,Engineering and Innovation Council as a case for greater private-public investment in research and education.While Australia and Finland are almost poles apart geographically,both countries share a number of common traits,such as relatively small populations that inhabit large land masses that are rich in resources.

With only 5.2 million people,Finland's population density of 16 people per square kilometre makes it the third most sparsely populated country in Europe.Raimo Vayrynen heads the Academy of Finland,which provides funding for scientific research and advises the Finnish government on science and science policy."Finland is a country that shouldn't have developed," Mr Vayrynen said."But social development in Finland came ahead of economic development ...that is basic education started to develop in the late 19th century,earlier than most other parts of Europe."The early development of the social conditions of the country helped to make way for economic development as well." Ms Halonen also credited Finland's innovative achievements to its approach to education.Finland's research and development spend accounts for 3.5 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP),a higher percentage than that of most European Union nations.It intends to lift this percentage to four per cent by 2010.Australia's spending on research in comparison was 1.8 per cent of GDP in 2004/05,below the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 2.3 per cent.Jim Peacock,Australia's chief scientist,who provides advice on science,technology and innovation issues to the government,said the Australian private sector needed to take a greater interest in innovation."The Business Council of Australia pointed out last year our ability to innovate requires a national commitment to maximise our potential," Dr Peacock said. "We know we have a way to go."


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/16/2007


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Rating System Helps to Build a Greener Future

AUSTRALIA could be the first country to adopt a green building rating system specifically for the industrial property market,with guidelines developed by the Green Building Council of Australia.Council executive director said a green star industrial rating system was being developed.It was expected to be started as a pilot later this year and would be tested on six projects.Other countries including the US and Britain rate green industrial buildings,but it is believed the ratings are derived from a generic system that is used for other sectors,such as offices.Mr Craven said the proposed rating system was believed to be a world first."It will be developed specifically to rate the industrial categories of buildings that are out there," he said.Chief executive of the US Green Building Council,Rick Fedrizzi,who was in Australia recently,conceded the Australian GBC was ahead of the US on this issue.He said the US industrial sector used the equivalent of a green star rating system called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design),which is used for other types of buildings including offices,and adapted it to fit industrial buildings."They are getting some good success with it,but I think the fact the GBC Australia has got targets for that (industrial) is very smart," he said.

The Australian GBC operates an industry-standard green star rating system for office buildings.It also proposes to introduce green ratings for shopping centres and health-care services,which are being tested at the moment.A pilot for rating green educational buildings is also about to start,while another system for entertainment and public assembly venues is being developed.But it is the intensity with which the commercial office sector has embraced green buildings that has grabbed the attention of the property industry.Virtually all new office buildings proposed in Melbourne come with a green star rating.The industrial green rating tool,to be developed by a GBC working party,could assess the transportation of goods and people,biodiversity and stormwater run-off.The lifespan of industrial buildings,waste processes and pollution issues could also be examined.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/21/2007


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EMS Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture-on the Road to A Sustainable Future

Natural resource management is stepping up to the next level through a new programme promoting the use of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) to increase the implementation of sustainable agriculture practices throughout Australia.At the EMS Programme Annual Forum,Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture,Fisheries and Forestry,Sussan Ley,has announced a further $3.9 million funding to encourage the use of EMS in Australian agriculture,and to maintain and build on the successes of the Australian Government's EMS Pilots and Pathways to Industry EMS Programmes.EMS takes a voluntary,flexible &systems approach',encouraging sustainable environmental management,based on a &plan,do,check,review' cycle.The EMS National Pilots Programme involved the successful trialling of EMS approaches by 16 producer groups.Under the Pathways to Industry EMS Programme,19 groups developed industry based approaches to EMS to help them identify and better manage the effects of their activities on the environment."I'm very proud of the enormous achievements we have already made in developing and trialling EMS approaches,but more work needs to be done," Ms Ley said."The drought has highlighted the value of risk management and sound planning offered by EMS.

"This programme will involve Australia's regions and industry groups in more effective leadership roles promoting the wider use and support of existing EMS as well as encouraging implementation of new systems."This is crucial if our future generations are to inherit a valuable natural resource base that supports sustainable industry." The funding will come from the Natural Heritage Trust and is being provided under the new EMS Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture Programme,which encourages industries and regions to form partnerships to strengthen support for the increasing number of EMS users.The new Pathways programme has two streams of activity 每 Regional Leadership and Industry Leadership. The Programme will encourage cooperation between regional natural resource management bodies,industries and research organisations to develop their collective capacity to provide leadership and support for the growing use of EMS in agriculture.


From http://www.psmaff.gov.au/ 02/22/2007


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Reforms to Extradition and Mutual Assistance Arrangements

Australia's ability to combat domestic and transnational crime,including terrorism,people smuggling,trafficking in drugs and firearms,money laundering and corruption will be strengthened by reform of Australia's extradition and mutual assistance arrangements,the Minister for Justice and Customs,Senator Chris Ellison said today."Extradition and mutual assistance are critical tools in the fight against crime at home and overseas," Senator Ellison said."Our reforms will ensure that Australia does not become a safe haven for fugitive criminals or thwart the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes." The reforms involve substantial changes to the Extradition Act 1988 and the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987."Current extradition and mutual assistance arrangements are characterised by lengthy delays and limitations on the assistance Australia can provide to our foreign partners," Senator Ellison said.Extradition The new extradition system will ensure that people who have consented can be extradited sooner,while ensuring their rights are protected.It will allow for deferral and consolidation of court applications to allow for speedier resolution of cases whilst not removing any judicial review or statutory appeal rights.Senator Ellison said the amount of time it takes under the current system to finalise requests for extradition is not acceptable.

"Some cases have taken up to seven years to resolve.Even when a person consents to extradition,they can still spend a lengthy time in prison while the process runs its course."The best interests of the person facing extradition 每 who will often be held in custody throughout the process 每 and of the foreign country seeking the extradition are best served by a streamlined decision making process that retains appropriate safeguards," Senator Ellison said.Australia granted 11 extradition requests during 2005-06.Seven people surrendered consented to being returned to the requesting country.Mutual Assistance Amendments to the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 1987 will expand the range of law enforcement tools available to assist foreign countries in the investigation and prosecution of crimes."Transnational crime requires a transnational response," Senator Ellison said.In the past six years Australia has more than doubled the number of requests it makes to foreign countries,while the number of requests received by Australia has increased by over 30 per cent.228 new requests were made to Australia during 2005-06."Allowing foreign countries access to an expanded range of Australian law enforcement powers will help ensure that criminals cannot evade full and effective investigation when evidence,or the proceeds,of their crimes is to be found in Australia," Senator Ellison said.For example,where the Attorney-General or the Minister for Justice and Customs has agreed to provide assistance,Australian law enforcement agencies will be able to conduct forensic procedures,such as fingerprinting,on behalf of foreign countries in the same circumstances and under the same conditions they can do so for an Australian investigation.

"The use of any of these powers will remain subject to the safeguards contained in the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act," Senator Ellison said.Appropriate safeguards in the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act and other legislation will be retained to ensure that these tools are not abused."Assistance will only be made available in the same circumstances,and under the same conditions,as they would be available for an Australian domestic investigation," Senator Ellison said.Drafts of the amended extradition and mutual assistance legislation incorporating the reforms will be released for public comment later this year and will be introduced to Parliament following consideration of any comments.The reforms follow an extensive review of Australia's extradition and mutual assistance arrangements which involved extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders,including law enforcement agencies,states and territories,human rights groups,academics,prisoner groups and the general public.


From http://www.ag.gov.au/ 02/22/2007


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Sustainable Village Launched in Qld

A new sustainable village and eco-retreat has been unveiled on the Gold Coast.The Ridge on Binna Burra,located on the edge of Lamington National Park in the heart of the hinterland,will include 100 apartments,cabins and homes,permaculture food gardens and orchards.It will also have swimming pools,Japanese Onsen baths,a wellness centre and 11km of walking trails in a private 200 acre rainforest reserve.Minister for Education and Training Rod Welford planted the first trees in the orchard on Sunday morning,and said he hoped the retreat would set a benchmark for future developments."This centre has the potential of driving the State's sustainability agenda,by placing itself at the forefront of the move to healthier communities through ongoing life-long learning and personal growth," he said.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/25/2007


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IP Telephony Carrier Market Strong in Asia-Pacific Through 2011,Says Research Firm

The Asia-Pacific region will be the strongest regional performer in the IP telephony-carrier market through 2011,according to research firm Dell'Oro Group.The growth in Asia-Pacific will come in part from China and other developing countries in Asia-Pacific that continue to expand voice service availability,as well as from Japan and more advanced countries that are replacing their circuit infrastructure with next generation network (NGN) equipment in order to offer the latest subscriber services,noted the firm."Large enterprises have led the way in the deployment of IP telephony,and now we are seeing small and mid-sized business also realizing the benefits of VoIP," said Alan Weckel,Analyst of IP Telephony Enterprise Research at Dell'Oro Group."Large enterprises are now testing the waters with Unified Communications solutions that promise to provide users with a cohesive communications experience in which voice,instant messaging,video,and email are integrated together," Weckel added.The North American market is forecast to grow through 2011,albeit at a slower rate than Asia-Pacific."North American service providers,possessing mature voice networks,are currently investing in enhanced broadband services,such as IPTV,that enable them to better compete with cable operators," commented Steve Raab,Director of IP Telephony Carrier research at Dell'Oro Group."During the next five years,the replacement of circuit switch local exchanges in North America will be increasingly linked to the adoption of IP Multimedia Subsystem,or IMS.Service providers will use IMS as a common core to offer converged fixed,mobile,and multimedia services," said Raab.(by Eric Mah)


From http://www.digitimes.com/ 02/02/2007


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ADB and Germany Launch Initiative to Address Asia's Urban Challenges

MANILA,PHILIPPINES - ADB and the German Government today launched a joint initiative that will help improve the lives of up to 200 million people in Asia's growing cities.The new Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA),announced at the end of a conference on Investing in Asia's Urban Future,will support local governments in implementing their urban development efforts.Partnering ADB in holding the meeting was the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).At the conference,more than 100 representatives of municipal,local,provincial and national agencies dealing with cities joined donors in finding new ways to improve the living conditions of the 1.6 billion people in Asia's cities.Among the clear messages to donors was the need for more flexibility in their approach to assisting city development and tailoring their investments to the needs of local communities.

"Our goal is to bring about lasting improvements in the living conditions of the urban poor,to limit negative environmental consequences of urban growth,and to make use of cities' potential for national development," Karin Kortmann,Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and ADB Governor for Germany,told the conference.Hailing the move as an important step forward,ADB Vice-President Ursula Schaefer-Preuss said CDIA would prove an innovative way to build new investments of up to $10 billion in Asia's cities in sanitation,urban transport,waste management and other urban infrastructure."We believe that a well-coordinated,multi donor initiative can contribute significantly toward improving the living conditions of people in Asian cities," she said.

"The long-term outcomes for the CDIA will be improved incomes and a better quality of life for Asia's urban citizens.The CDIA will also reduce the impact of city growth on the global environment." CDIA will focus on supporting cities for better urban management through support of national urban strategies,fostering the role of cities in sustainable development,assist in the implementation of city development strategies,structuring and preparing investment projects and building local capacity for more effective implementation.The initiative will also cooperate with existing networks for sharing and adopting best practices.Klemens van de Sand,Commissioner for Asia at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development,summarized: "The idea of the initiative is broader than to facilitate investments: CDIA should develop into a center of excellence based on common goals and contributions by all actors involved."

From http://www.adb.org/ 02/06/2007


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Asia-Pacific Firms Risk Losing Most Talented People: Survey

Singapore,Feb 1 (DPA) Companies across the Asia-Pacific are at risk of losing their most talented people,a research firm's survey said Thursday.More than 3,000 employees in 120 companies were polled by Chicago-based ISR.The list was topped by Malaysia,where 47 percent of high-fliers queried were considering leaving their employer.The same answer came from 33 percent in Australia,32 percent in Thailand and 31 percent in China.Four in 10 Singapore respondents said they were thinking of leaving their current employer,with the bulk of this group saying they would leave once they had an acceptable job offer.The findings 'should act as a wake-up call' to Asia-Pacific companies,ISR director Yves Duhaldeborde said in a statement.'The risk of losing their most talented staff is serious and immediate and can only worsen as the economy grows,' he said.Employers considering leaving view the management style in their companies as reactive,risk-averse and directive,instead of participatory,ISR found.

From http://www.earthtimes.org/ 02/07/2007


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Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design

Since my first attempt in 1996,I have compiled many top-10 lists of the biggest mistakes in Web design.See links to all these lists at the bottom of this article.This article presents the highlights: the very worst mistakes of Web design.(Updated 2007)

1.Bad Search
Overly literal search engines reduce usability in that they're unable to handle typos,plurals,hyphens,and other variants of the query terms.Such search engines are particularly difficult for elderly users,but they hurt everybody.A related problem is when search engines prioritize results purely on the basis of how many query terms they contain,rather than on each document's importance.Much better if your search engine calls out "best bets" at the top of the list -- especially for important queries,such as the names of your products.Search is the user's lifeline when navigation fails.Even though advanced search can sometimes help,simple search usually works best,and search should be presented as a simple box,since that's what users are looking for.

2.PDF Files for Online Reading
Users hate coming across a PDF file while browsing,because it breaks their flow.Even simple things like printing or saving documents are difficult because standard browser commands don't work.Layouts are often optimized for a sheet of paper,which rarely matches the size of the user's browser window.Bye-bye smooth scrolling.Hello tiny fonts.Worst of all,PDF is an undifferentiated blob of content that's hard to navigate.PDF is great for printing and for distributing manuals and other big documents that need to be printed.Reserve it for this purpose and convert any information that needs to be browsed or read on the screen into real web pages.Detailed discussion of why PDF is bad for online reading.

3.Not Changing the Color of Visited Links
A good grasp of past navigation helps you understand your current location,since it's the culmination of your journey.Knowing your past and present locations in turn makes it easier to decide where to go next.Links are a key factor in this navigation process.Users can exclude links that proved fruitless in their earlier visits.Conversely,they might revisit links they found helpful in the past.Most important,knowing which pages they've already visited frees users from unintentionally revisiting the same pages over and over again.These benefits only accrue under one important assumption: that users can tell the difference between visited and unvisited links because the site shows them in different colors.When visited links don't change color,users exhibit more navigational disorientation in usability testing and unintentionally revisit the same pages repeatedly.Usability implications of changing link colors; Guidelines for showing links.

4.Non-Scannable Text
A wall of text is deadly for an interactive experience.Intimidating.Boring.Painful to read.Write for online,not print.To draw users into the text and support scannability,use well-documented tricks: Subheads; bulleted lists; highlighted keywords; short paragraphs; the inverted pyramid; a simple writing style,and; de-fluffed language devoid of marketese.Eyetracking of reading patterns.

5.Fixed Font Size CSS style sheets unfortunately give websites the power to disable a Web browser's "change font size" button and specify a fixed font size.About 95% of the time,this fixed size is tiny,reducing readability significantly for most people over the age of 40.Respect the user's preferences and let them resize text as needed.Also,specify font sizes in relative terms -- not as an absolute number of pixels.

6.Page Titles With Low Search Engine Visibility
Search is the most important way users discover websites.Search is also one of the most important ways users find their way around individual websites.The humble page title is your main tool to attract new visitors from search listings and to help your existing users to locate the specific pages that they need.The page title is contained within the HTML tag and is almost always used as the clickable headline for listings on search engine result pages (SERP).Search engines typically show the first 66 characters or so of the title,so it's truly microcontent.Page titles are also used as the default entry in the Favorites when users bookmark a site.For your homepage,begin the with the company name,followed by a brief description of the site.Don't start with words like "The" or "Welcome to" unless you want to be alphabetized under "T" or "W." For other pages than the homepage,start the title with a few of the most salient information-carrying words that describe the specifics of what users will find on that page.Since the page title is used as the window title in the browser,it's also used as the label for that window in the taskbar under Windows,meaning that advanced users will move between multiple windows under the guidance of the first one or two words of each page title.If all your page titles start with the same words,you have severely reduced usability for your multi-windowing users.Taglines on homepages are a related subject: they also need to be short and quickly communicate the purpose of the site.

7.Anything That Looks Like an Advertisement
Selective attention is very powerful,and Web users have learned to stop paying attention to any ads that get in the way of their goal-driven navigation.(The main exception being text-only search-engine ads.) Unfortunately,users also ignore legitimate design elements that look like prevalent forms of advertising.After all,when you ignore something,you don't study it in detail to find out what it is.Therefore,it is best to avoid any designs that look like advertisements.The exact implications of this guideline will vary with new forms of ads; currently follow these rules: banner blindness means that users never fixate their eyes on anything that looks like a banner ad due to shape or position on the page; animation avoidance makes users ignore areas with blinking or flashing text or other aggressive animations; pop-up purges mean that users close pop-up windoids before they have even fully rendered; sometimes with great viciousness (a sort of getting-back-at-GeoCities triumph).

8.Violating Design Conventions
Consistency is one of the most powerful usability principles: when things always behave the same,users don't have to worry about what will happen.Instead,they know what will happen based on earlier experience.Every time you release an apple over Sir Isaac Newton,it will drop on his head.That's good.The more users' expectations prove right,the more they will feel in control of the system and the more they will like it.And the more the system breaks users' expectations,the more they will feel insecure.Oops,maybe if I let go of this apple,it will turn into a tomato and jump a mile into the sky.Jakob's Law of the Web User Experience states that "users spend most of their time on other websites." This means that they form their expectations for your site based on what's commonly done on most other sites.If you deviate,your site will be harder to use and users will leave.

9.Opening New Browser Windows
Opening up new browser windows is like a vacuum cleaner sales person who starts a visit by emptying an ash tray on the customer's carpet.Don't pollute my screen with any more windows,thanks (particularly since current operating systems have miserable window management).Designers open new browser windows on the theory that it keeps users on their site.But even disregarding the user-hostile message implied in taking over the user's machine,the strategy is self-defeating since it disables the Back button which is the normal way users return to previous sites.Users often don't notice that a new window has opened,especially if they are using a small monitor where the windows are maximized to fill up the screen.So a user who tries to return to the origin will be confused by a grayed out Back button.Links that don't behave as expected undermine users' understanding of their own system.A link should be a simple hypertext reference that replaces the current page with new content.Users hate unwarranted pop-up windows.When they want the destination to appear in a new page,they can use their browser's "open in new window" command -- assuming,of course,that the link is not a piece of code that interferes with the browser's standard behavior.

10.Not Answering Users' Questions
Users are highly goal-driven on the Web.They visit sites because there's something they want to accomplish -- maybe even buy your product.The ultimate failure of a website is to fail to provide the information users are looking for.Sometimes the answer is simply not there and you lose the sale because users have to assume that your product or service doesn't meet their needs if you don't tell them the specifics.Other times the specifics are buried under a thick layer of marketese and bland slogans.Since users don't have time to read everything,such hidden info might almost as well not be there.The worst example of not answering users' questions is to avoid listing the price of products and services.No B2C ecommerce site would make this mistake,but it's rife in B2B,where most "enterprise solutions" are presented so that you can't tell whether they are suited for 100 people or 100,000 people.Price is the most specific piece of info customers use to understand the nature of an offering,and not providing it makes people feel lost and reduces their understanding of a product line.We have miles of videotape of users asking "Where's the price?" while tearing their hair out.Even B2C sites often make the associated mistake of forgetting prices in product lists,such as category pages or search results.Knowing the price is key in both situations; it lets users differentiate among products and click through to the most relevant ones.(by Jakob Nielsen)

From http://www.useit.com/ 02/12/2007


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South Asia Falls Behind on Business Reforms

"South Asia may be losing business and investment to other regions of the world because of cumbersome government regulations,the World Bank said in a new report.&South Asia as a region is lagging behind in terms of reforms,' said World Bank Private Sector Development Specialist,Sabine Hertveldt,# .&Other regions in the world are more aggressive in making reforms.' South Asia introduced the least number of business sector reforms in 2005-2006; according to the Washington-based development bank's &Doing Business in South Asia 2007' out Tuesday.India lags considerably behind its main Asian rival,China,which was one of the top 10 reformers last year and jumped up 15 places on the ranking,to 93rd. &When you look at the complexity of business regulations in India versus China,it shows that things are a lot more difficult in India.Not only that but China is reforming at a more rapid pace,' said [World Bank,Program Manager] Caralee McLiesh,[and co-author of the report].&India is also reforming,the direction is positive but at a somewhat slower pace.' India has attracted investors because of advantages such as its low labor costs and relatively educated population,but not because of its business regulations.&Our analysis suggests that India could be doing much better in terms of investment if it were to remove some of those obstacles,' McLiesh said." [Dow Jones/Factiva]

Meanwhile,Reuters reports that "# &If you make it easier for businesses to set up companies,to register property,to have access to credit and so on,you will attract to the formal sector more businesses who are in the informal sector,creating more jobs,' said Hertveldt #The study found that India was South Asia's leading reformer,having cut the time required to start a business to 35 days from 71,cut the corporate income tax rate to 33.66 percent from 36.59 percent and made it easier to get credit #Overall,however,&China has been improving its business regulations more rapidly with more impact,' said Hertveldt.#" [Reuters/Factiva] Agence France Presse writes that "# [O]verall,South Asia is home to some of the world's most unfriendly investment rules.# To register a property in Bangladesh takes well over a year (425 days).For most Indian companies,81 percent of all their profits go [to] tax while in Pakistan,just to comply with every tax regulation requires 560 hours a year. Faced with such a thicket of regulation,according to the study,it is no surprise that many people in South Asia end up working in the black economy. #

India has already enabled investors to start a business with an online registration.But the regulatory picture remains patchy in the world's largest democracy. India could jump 55 places in the global rankings by adopting Jaipur's regulations on starting a business,Bhubaneshwar's rules on contract enforcement and taxes,and Chennai's trade practices,the report said." [Agence France Presse/Factiva] The Financial Times notes that "# the report will provide investors with a timely reminder of the underlying difficulties that still face business in India,ranked a lowly 134th out of a total of 175 countries around the world# The World Bank survey assesses a country's business environment according to 10 indicators: ease of starting and closing a business,hiring and firing workers,enforcing contracts,getting credit,registering property,protecting investors,dealing with licenses,paying taxes and trading across borders." [The Financial Times (UK)/Factiva]

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 02/14/2007


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Mobile Phone Lifeline for World's Poor

A ground-breaking study led by an expert from the London Business School in 2005 concluded that an increase of 10 mobile phones per 100 people in African developing countries would increase GDP growth by 0.6 percent.# Beyond job creation,mobile phones transform lives for many by presenting a way to communicate regularly with family members for the first time.Almost 100 million Chinese migrant workers rely on mobile phones to talk to the families they have left behind in rural areas.They also enable people to save time and money by allowing them to make inquiries by phone instead of traveling long distances.Now new ways to improve lives are being considered by operators and international donors.It is thought that mobile phones could become virtual bank accounts,being used to send,receive and save money.M-banking,as it is known,might help to serve the three billion people who currently have no access to financial services,according to the World Bank.&Most of those three billion people don't have a safe place to save money.What ultimately gets people out poverty,and prevents them from being vulnerable to crises,is when they have a nest egg to fall back on',says Gautam Ivatury,head of technology at Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP),a division of the World Bank that is promoting m-banking service trials from Mongolia to Pakistan.CGAP is helping the development of services that will allow workers to send money to support their families in rural areas,by mobile phone.Payments,or remittances,are already widespread.But since few of those receiving them have bank accounts,they have to pay a sizeable proportion to money transfer companies to pick up the money.There are even problems when workers take the money directly to their families.Ivatury says many Zimbabweans working in South Africa lose as much as half the amount they take home to their families in bribes at security checkpoints.M-banking would allow them to send money safely from their mobile phones to those of their families,who would be able to redeem cash from mobile airtime sellers where they live.Already a Vodafone affiliate,mobile operator Safaricom,has tested a service called M-PESA in Kenya with various partners,including the UK's Department for International Development.India's largest mobile operator,Bharti Airtel,has also trialled a similar scheme in a Himalayan village,with the help of State Bank of India.However,access to such services will be limited as long as mobile networks fail to reach many rural areas - and as long as mobile phones and services are far too expensive for many in urban areas,as well as rural ones.#"

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 02/20/2007


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Regional Issues Take Centre-Stage at World Mail & Express Logistics Conference

Regional mail industry issues will be under the spotlight at the World Mail and Express Logistics Middle East,Africa & South Asia conference which will be held at Al Bustan Rotana,Dubai,from February 27 to 28.The major international event will be inaugurated by H.E.Sultan Saeed Al Mansouri,Minister for Public Sector Development and Chairman of Emirates Post,at Al Bustan Rotana Dubai on Tuesday,in the presence of Mr.Abdullah Al Daboos,Director of Emirates Post,and delegates from across the region and globe.The conference will open with Emirates Post,the host sponsor,making a presentation on 'How We Can Grow the Market in the Region' in which the corporation will present its roadmap for future growth.In the same session,Fadi Ghandour,President and CEO,Aramex International,will speak on the topic 'Where Good Things are Happenning',while Paul Jackson,Chairman,Triangle Management Services,will present the Middle East Logistics Report.Among the other prominent local and regional speakers will be Michael Proffitt,Chief Executive,Dubai Logistics City,Muhammad Saleh Benten,President,Saudi Post,Khalil Daoud,Chairman & Managing Director,LibanPost and Phil Couchman,Regional Director,DHL Middle East.'The regional speakers will be joined by CEOs and experts from leading global corporations in presenting a well-rounded picture of the changing world of logistics,' said Abdulla Al Daboos.'This is certainly a major platform for discussing critical issues that will shape world of mail and express logistics.' Lahcene Chouiter,Programme Manager Arab Region,UPU,will provide the regional UPU perspective,while Catina Aghayan,Head of Quality,Qatar Post,will present a case study on Improving Quality.The high-level conference will cover major issues for the mail and express logistics industries,such as trade barriers,cross-border operations,privatisation,security and business alliances.An industry exhibition is running alongside the main conference,featuring key international suppliers and operators exhibiting their latest products,technologies and services.

From http://www.ameinfo.com/ 02/25/2007


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Asia Gets Environment Conscious

WHILE Indonesia continues to grapple with the fallout of the 1997 economic crisis,the country is also in the throes of unprecedented change engendered by a broadening of democratic reforms.

Among the key signs of these changes is a reduction in the powers of the national government and greater autonomy for the country's vast provinces and regions.This has ramifications on many fronts including the evolving issues of financial controls and greater autonomy in the areas of resource development and environmental management.In its &country strategy' paper for Indonesia,the Asian Development Bank (ADB) refers to the decentralisation process of 1999 as &the rapid big-bang decentralisation' which,it said,was unprecedented in scope and scale.The ADB said that even though decentralisation was not preceded by a strengthening of institutional capacity at the local government level,the evidence to date does not suggest any deterioration in service delivery generally.

"Critical in meeting this challenge is the need to achieve greater functional and fiscal autonomy," the Manila-headquartered development bank said.Among the laws that had been enacted in 1999 was the Clean Environment Law,an area meant to be fraught with great danger as powers are devolved from the centre to periphery.Some would consider that the dangers of corruption and mismanagement had a greater potential when control is exercised by a central bureaucracy but this was arguably also offset by greater transparency.

However,early results of the devolution of powers as well as the determined efforts of Indonesia's first ever directly elected president,Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,is providing reason for cautious optimism.One of the spectacular developments that have taken place recently on the environmental front has been an announcement that Indonesia,Malaysia and Brunei have agreed to protect tropical forests in the &Heart of Borneo'.The forested area involved covers 220,000 square kilometres and makes up about a third of the island of Borneo.Its incredible scale can be better envisaged on the basis that this area is close to about half the equivalent land area of Papua New Guinea.According to news reports from Jakarta,70% of the protected forest area is in Kalimantan,or Indonesian Borneo,and the remainder in Malaysia and Brunei.The trilateral agreement is reportedly the result of the United Nations-sponsored Convention on Biodiversity that was concluded in March last year.

Forest fires from the island of Sumatra and from Kalimantan have created environmental problems of almost nightmarish proportions in neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.According to Harry Bhaskara of the Jakarta Post,these forest fires have made Indonesia the world's third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases with decades of forest fires having created a deadly haze that had cost lives and become a yearly nuisance to neighbouring countries.According to some data,PNG is also among the world's top 20 emitters of greenhouse gases from forest or bush fires caused by human activities.According to the Jakarta Post,Indonesia has lost about half its forest in Kalimantan following destruction at the rate of two million hectares annually since 1996,a major ecological disaster on a national and a global scale."For Malaysia and Brunei,their participation in the agreement is a testament to their magnanimity: even though they are victims of the haze,they are still willing to work with Indonesia," writes Mr Bhaskara.On a more somber note,he adds: "Although it is a good beginning,an agreement is nothing more than a piece of paper.What counts now is strict implementation."Should the agreement turn out to be meaningless,Indonesia's reputation will be harmed,as well as Asean's,because the Borneo tropical forest is the last great block of forest in the world,which the world community has committed to save.

"Our joint endeavour to be good stewards of the forests contributes to a healthy global climate.It is time to show the world that Indonesia is capable of producing good news."

As a result of greater regional autonomy,North Sulawesi governor Sinjo Harry Sarundajang,has been able to tell the Indonesian national parliament that he has rejected a controversial development proposal from a multinational gold company because he did not want "to watch the destruction of nature in our area".In another initiative on the forestry front,forestry minister M S Kaban had agreed to a swap with a number of forestry companies under which 52,000 hectares of forest would be converted into industrial forest in exchange for the inclusion of 60,000 hectares into the park on the island of Riau.The deal has the backing of the global conservation group,WWF,but is opposed by others,including Greenonomics Indonesia,which argues that it threatens the access of local people to forests that are rich in diversity.

eanwhile,the government has announced plans to reclaim vast areas of peatland in Central Kalimantan for development of agricultural land near the provincial capital,Palangkaraya.Up to 500,000 hectares will be planted with rice and other crops,as well as for cattle breeding and aquaculture under the plan.The project involves an area identified by the former Suharto government for similar development that had previously been abandoned.The decision to intensively farm the peatlands can be viewed negatively from an environmental perspective in view of the area's biodiversity and the vast amounts of carbon trapped within the peat,a very low ranked form of coal.

But Central Kalimantan governor Teras Narang was quick to simultaneously announce that an additional 600,000 hectares of peatland would be conserved to reduce damage to the ecosystem.

Apparently not one to mince words after getting cabinet approval,Governor Narang told reporters: "We hope that what is now a land of a million woes will be converted into a land of a million hopes again." Indonesia is said to host the world's fourth largest area of peat,covering some 17 million hectares of which 13 million could potentially be used for agricultural activities.The failure of a previous project costing US$133 million in the mid-1990s ended up an environmental disaster with much of the 1.1 million hectare area turning into what the Jakarta Post has described as "a barren wasteland".The current government has already reclaimed 13,000ha of peatland.The first rice crop was harvested in September last year as part of the government's aim to increase rice production by two million tonnes to 32.9 million tonnes annually.

From http://www.thenational.com.pg/ 02/26/2007


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CHINA: 4G Phones Go on Trial Run in District

Third-generation (3G) telephony is not available on the Chinese mainland yet but subscribers in one city district can now go beyond where no one has ever gone.The world's first fourth-generation (4G) mobile communication system was officially launched yesterday in Shanghai's Changning District after a field trial was conducted in October.The home-grown 4G system provides speeds of up to 100 mbps in wireless transmission of data and images many times faster than that of current mobile technology.The rollout of the trial,which has cost 150 million yuan ($19.2 million),is a milestone in the development of China's 4G technologies."It testifies that the technology we've developed is feasible and brings us one step closer to put it into commercial use," said You Xiaohu,a leading expert involved in the program.China initiated the B3G (Beyond 3G)/4G research project in 2001 under the label Future Technology for Universal Radio Environment,or FuTURE Project,which is included in the national high-tech development plan.The country has set a goal of conducting field tests of the 4G system and putting it into trial commercial use between 2006 and 2010,according to the FuTURE Project.

"The Shanghai system shows that we have entered the final phase of our project," said You,also the principal of the FuTURE Project's expert panel.The FuTURE Project involves about 10 leading domestic institutions.It has obtained more than 200 patents and some of its core technologies have been adopted by international standards organizations,positioning China as one of the world's front-runners in 4G technologies.4G mobile communication,which is expected to be used commercially by around 2010,will be able to transmit data as quickly as optical fiber,dramatically improving the streaming of high-quality images and data services through wireless transmission.China has yet to award domestic telecom operators licences to build 3G (third generation) mobile phone networks,but Wang Xudong,minister of information industry,told reporters at the ITU Telecom World 2006 last month that it could happen "very soon".


From http://www.chinaview.cn 01/29/2007


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China Deletes Harmful Online Information

In 2006 China's Internet watchdog got more than 140,000 complaints about harmful online information and ordered 2,745 items to be deleted,announced the China Internet Association Monday.The significant gap between the two figures was due to information overlap in many instances,the association's councilor,Hu Qiheng,told a symposium in Beijing."The prolonged disposal of the information owing to our limited capacity aggravated the overlap," explained the councilor.Harmful online information included junk e-mails,fake news or information,pornographic images and items carrying viruses,said the association.Since last April when Beijing-based www.qianlong.com initiated a campaign to clean-up the Internet over 160 websites across China have joined them.China's Internet environment was improving due to the self-discipline of websites,said Cai Mingzhao,deputy head of China's State Council Information Office.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 01/30/2007


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China Soon to Be World's Biggest Internet User

China could overtake the US as the country with the most internet users within two years,according to its government,which released figures showing that the nation's online population had increased to 137 million people in the last 12 months.Statistics from the China Internet Network Information Centre show that more than a 10th of the country's 1.3 billion people now use the internet,with the figure increasing by 23.4% last year."We believe it will take two years at most for China to overtake the United States," the official China Daily newspaper quoted a centre official,Wang Enhai,as saying.About 210 million out of 300 million Americans are online - a figure China will surpass in 24 months if it keeps up this pace."The growth is now gaining much momentum.We are expecting even faster growth in 2007 and 2008," the official was quoted as telling reporters.The China Daily admitted that the two-year estimate for overtaking the US was "bullish",citing a recent report by JP Morgan which forecast that China's internet population would reach 190 million by 2010.But there is little doubt that the country is experiencing a breathtaking rise in internet usage,despite Beijing's forceful censorship of web content.

The state often blocks foreign websites and closes down local news outlets with little notice.Dozens of people have been jailed for posting political essays online.Beijing is aware that the internet is a powerful tool in shaping public opinion and encourages web use for education and business,saying its aim is to only block material the authorities consider subversive or obscene.Last month Wikipedia,the popular online encyclopedia with content shaped by contributors,found itself at the centre of a war of words over Chairman Mao.Its English version says the Communist party leader was the founder of modern-day China but also a man whom many saw as "a mass murderer,holding his leadership accountable for the deaths of tens of millions of innocent Chinese".In the Chinese version there is no mention of Mao's Great Leap Forward,which historians say led to the world's worst famine,or the bloody purges of the Cultural Revolution.Both English and Chinese sites have been targeted by the censors.China's struggle to keep control of information has also seen the emergence of a bold online culture which many believe will be difficult to tame.There are now 20 million Chinese bloggers,and more than 3 million active writers.

When a 29-year-old news anchor blogged two weeks ago to say that having a Starbucks inside Beijing's hallowed Forbidden City,was an "erosion of Chinese culture" and that it should be removed there was outrage about the coffee shop's existence.The ensuing row highlighted the risks to foreign companies of offending Chinese nationalist sentiment.Some observers say Chinese political culture is slowly adapting.Defenders of the government point out that the editor of a prominent website,Freezing Point,was sacked not imprisoned,ostensibly for printing an article on Chinese history that challenged Communist party orthodoxy.Despite the curbs,foreign firms have flocked to Beijing,willing to set aside principles for profit.Human rights activists have been angered by the argument that moral compromise is the cost of doing big business.Many denounced Yahoo,Microsoft and others for online search services that exclude sensitive topics,such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.The issue is climbing the political agenda in Washington,where China's rise is often seen as a threat.Politicians in Congress last year attacked Google for accepting curbs on its search engine.

From http://www.guardian.co.uk/ 01/25/2007


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Cyber Policemen Step Out in Shenzhen

Net-savvy policemen stepped out in southern China's Shenzhen City on Friday,in a move to be an enormous hit on crimes committed on the Internet.The team,dubbed "Internet policemen" by netizens,is actually composed of some 150 computer professionals whose techniques are as smart as hackers.Formally set up in January of last year,the group is to oversee a new phase in Chinese Internet supervision.The high-tech policemen average less than 30 years of age,some of them just graduated from college last year.Before starting work,all of them will undergo a 3-month training program.Their major responsibility is to maintain smooth Internet operations and ensure the security of all online transactions.With their advanced computer knowledge,the Internet policemen will be able to easily handle attacks launched by hackers,and viruses.At the same time,those suspected of publishing false information,pornography,threats or gambling opportunities on the Internet will be traced out.Meanwhile,a police signal has also been installed on the Internet,in order to receive alerts from netizens.Experts predict that as Internet crimes grow more and more rampant,cyber police will play a greater role in maintaining stability and social order.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 01/28/2007


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Next Generation Internet Tops Scientific Events in 2006

China's top scientific development in 2006 has been the breakthrough in next generation Internet which can significantly reduce the nation's dependence on foreign hi-tech companies,according to Chinese academicians.The annual list of the "Top Ten Scientific Events" for 2006 was unveiled in Beijing on Sunday.Voting is by 565 scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering.Last September China announced its CERNET2 (China Education and Research Network 2) had linked 25 universities in 20 cities through the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).It can replace the widely-used Ipv4 network and offers unlimited Internet addresses,more advanced security and simpler administration,the experts said.They called it progress with strategic significance by ending reliance on foreign technologies in Internet development.The other events listed in the top-ten include the discovery of a large natural gas field in southwestern Sichuan,the development of a full superconducting experimental Tokamak fusion system,the observation of Feshbach Resonace in the F+H2->HF+H Reaction,the creation of forests in the Taklimakan desert,the return of the oceanic science exploration vessel "Dayang Yihao (Ocean No.1)",the research into a Hepatitis B vaccine,a breakthrough in the electron-positron accelerator,the realization of quantum teleportation of a two-particle composite system and the launch of a remote sensing satellite.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 01/22/2007


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'Salary Show' Hits the Net

Asking a person how much they earn is considered as rude as asking a woman her age.But not on the Internet! China's professionals are detailing their salaries under assumed names on the Net as the country's Spring Festival approaches.Most urban Chinese have now got their salaries and year-end bonuses and many of them are participating in the Net's 'Shaigongzi' or 'Salary Show' to let anyone interested know what their after-tax pay packets were.Google the key words 'gong zi tiao' -- Chinese for pay slip -- and you get 286,000 results in a twentieth of a second.Key them into Baidu,China's largest search engine,to get 1.12 million results in one-thousandth of a second.Reportedly started by a group of white collar workers the Net posting of salary details is a fast growing craze.Some post their earnings to share their excitement and others to vent their frustration! "I need a new job! My bills are piling up for rent,telephone,water and power," says a netizen named 'Alibaba',who works for an advertising agency in Shandong Province,and has an after-tax annual income of 20,000 yuan (US$2,564). But for 'Mr Song',an employee of a foreign enterprise in Shenzhen,his message is self congratulatory.

"With an annual income of at least 580,000 yuan (US$74,454),my wife and I are quite well off.My company pays for our accommodation and car so I can say I have nothing to worry about," he writes.'Sohu',a leading Chinese Internet portal,categorizes pay slips by occupation and civil servants,bank employees,foreign trade agents,securities analysts and executives of listed companies get the most clicks."Besides flaunting their income or complaining (about the lack of it),most people are eager to know what others in their profession get and if they can keep up with them," says Sun Yuxiao,a psychiatrist with Beijing Bo'ai Counseling and Psychotherapy Center.Since income is a sensitive subject the anonymous 'Salary Show' provides a convenient database that everyone can access,Sun says.Pay slips used to be transparent under the planned economy because salaries were paid according to technical rank with everyone earning a fixed sum.But with China's transformation into a market economy companies prefer to keep salaries and bonuses confidential and use them as an incentive.According to Sohu.com's Finance Channel the best paid jobs are in telecommunications and foreign enterprises in east China where monthly after-tax incomes are 7,000 to 10,000 yuan (US$897 to US$1,282 ).

Tax bureaus,banks,industrial and commercial firms,customs and financial institutions are the moderate payers at 2,000 to 3,000 yuan (US$256-385) a month.The lowest paid jobs are middle-school teachers and civil servants in western China with after-tax salaries being 800 to 1,000 yuan (US$103-128).Official figures show the average annual income of town and city residents last year hit US$1,740.Since Internet users in China tend to be young and well educated it's possible that their average salary exceeds the official figures,says Wu Xin,an IT firm employee in Beijing who earns 3,600 yuan (US$461) a month after tax.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 01/31/2007


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China Opens Website for the Press Circle

China opened a website,www.zgjx.cn,for its more than 700,000 journalists on Thursday.Also the official site of the All-China Journalists Association (ACJA),the website aims to promote exchanges among journalists and safeguard their rights and interests,said Zhai Huisheng,vice-chairman of the ACJA."We hope the new website can act as a channel for Chinese journalists to exchange information and achieve common progress," Zhai said at the opening ceremony.He said the website also serves as a channel for the public to comment on the contestants of major journalism awards.Representative works and background information of the contestants will all be posted on the website.Xinhuanet.com,the news website of Xinhua News Agency,has been entrusted by ACJA to build and operate the new website.Lu Wei,vice president of Xinhua News Agency,said Xinhua will work for the safe and smooth operation of the website.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/02/2007


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China's Digital Cable TV Operators Required Providing 6 Analog Channels

China's TV regulator the State Administration of Radio,Film and Television (SARFT) has required that all cable TV operators must provide at least six channels of analog programs for the public when they digitize their services.China is promoting digital cable Television in urban areas and 25 Chinese cities,including Qingdao,Hangzhou,Dalian,Shenzhen,Taiyuan,Nanjing and Nanning,have switched from analog cable TV to digital cable TV.Throughout the country digital cable TV subscribers have surpassed 12 million,according to SARFT.Recently,some cable TV users have complained that local cable TV operators had closed all the analog cable TV and that the charges for digital cable TV programs and the set-top box used to receive the digital cable TV signals are too high.In response to the complaints,the SARFT decided that all cable TV operators must have at least six analog channels available for users to choose,and the charges for digital TV must be cut for low-income families.China plans to replace the existing analog cable television with digital cable television in all the cities in its eastern and central regions and most of those in the western area by 2010,according to a national five-year (2006-2010) guideline on cultural development publicized on Sept.13,2006.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/04/2007


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China Provides Access to ID Database to Curb Fraud

Con artists and swindlers in China who try to use fake ID will have a tougher time trying to pass themselves off as someone else now that the public has access to the Ministry of Public Security's population database.Anyone can now send a text message or visit the country's population information center's website,to check if the name and the ID number of a person's identity card match.If they do match the ID cardholder's picture also appears,said the Ministry,adding that no other information is available to ensure a citizen's privacy is protected.Completed at the end of 2006,China's population information database,the world's largest,contains personal information on 1.3 billion citizens.Giving public accessing to the database is also designed to correct mistakes if an individual discovers that their name,number and picture don't match.Millions of dollars are lost each year by people who use false identities.According to the Ministry of Public Security,about 90 percent of people who commit crimes hold fake ID cards.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/09/2007


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China Pulls the Plug on Internet Pirates

China has closed 205 websites in a crackdown on video,music and software piracy,authorities said Thursday.Investigators checked out 436 reports of intellectual property theft between the end of September and January - including 130 complaints from overseas industry associations - and ordered 361 offenders to halt their activities.They also handed out fines totaling hundreds of thousands of yuan and confiscated servers and other equipment."Piracy of intellectual property on the Internet has seriously harmed the interests of copyright owners,leading to a large number of disputes and disrupting order on the Internet," Yan Xiaohong,deputy director of the National Copyright Administration,told a news conference in Beijing yesterday.Authorities imposed fines totaling 705,000 yuan (91,000 U.S.dollars),confiscated 71 servers and transferred six cases to prosecutors for court action,Yan said.One has already led to a conviction,he added.The overseas complaints came from the Motion Picture Association,the International Federation of Phonographic Industry and the Business Software Alliance,Yan said."China treats domestic and foreign copyright holders equally,without discrimination," Yan said."The administration will prosecute all proven cases of intellectual property infringement."

A Chinese regulation that bans uploading or downloading Internet material without the permission of the copyright holder went into effect last July.Prominent cases included sites that offered downloads of software,textbooks,music and television shows.In one case,all the Internet cafes in Changchun in northeast China's Jilin Province were found to be linked to a database of pirated films.One Website in southern China's Sichuan Province was found to have provided illegal downloads of 400 movies since it was set up in 2004.Authorities closed the site and fined its operator,Sichuan Telecom,10,000 yuan.Sichuan Telecom is a subsidiary of the state-run China Telecom Group."This latest action had a limited time frame and limited results," Yan acknowledged."It did not solve all the problems we are facing on the Internet." China is home to about 843,000 Websites and 140 million Internet users,making it the world's second-biggest Internet market.The Internet penetration rate in China has developed at lightning speed in recent years.The country's online population is expected to overtake the United States as the world's largest in about two years.About 210 million of the America's 300 million people are online,according to the US government.China currently has 137 million people online.Yan said there are 843,000 Chinese Websites at present.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/09/2007


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Shanghai: Digital Map to Provide 3D View of Downtown

By the time the World Expo opens in 2010,travelers will no longer have to visit Shanghai in person to enjoy a three-dimensional tour of its downtown core.They will only have to boot up their computers.The city plans to create a digital,three-dimensional map of Shanghai that can be easily searched online.The project will be similar to Google Earth,a site that lets you study satellite images of the planet,but will provide an even better look at the city's architecture,according to Shu Rong,a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics,which will provide airborne camera technology for use in the project.Users will be able to view the map using a PC or cell phone."The map will provide a vivid city tour," Shu said,noting it will include pictures of the sides of buildings,unlike the Google site which only provides a birds-eye view of cities.City officials expect the project will be complete in time for the World Expo,which is expected to attracted 70 million visitors to Shanghai.

Airplanes and helicopters equipped with several cameras mounted at different angles will take pictures across the downtown core - an area that covers about 600 square kilometers.The pictures will pick up objects as small as 15 centimeters.Shu said it will take more than two weeks to take the thousands of airborne pictures and an unspecified period to put the pictures together in a digital map.PC users will be able to point and zoom to any local area but cell phone owners may need additional hardware and mobile Internet access support to use the system."Similar to Google Earth,our atlas will also need very efficient and fast computer equipment," Shu said.He didn't say how much the map will cost to build,or if users will be charged for using it.Huang Guofu,a taxi driver with Shanghai Qiangsheng Taxi Service Company,said: "The atlas must be updated very frequently because many streets are changing."


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/10/2007


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Beijing in Urgent Need of Digital Networks

Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan said on Sunday that the development of digital networks to handle emergencies was an urgent requirement for Beijing to become a modern metropolis.Zeng made the call when visiting workers at the Urban Management Bureau of Beijing."The new project is not only in the interests of the 15 million Beijing residents,it will also aid the nation's overall urbanization process," Zeng said.According to a pilot scheme in use in Dongcheng District of Beijing,its 25.38-square-km territory was divided into 1,593 cellular units similar to the way in which mobile phone networks work.When an emergency concerning water,road or telecommunication equipment occurs,the "patrol police" made up of community volunteers can report to the system operator in real time,speeding up response times.Zeng said the system's high-efficiency operation model is just what China needs as cities become bigger and more crowded and render the traditional way of management as inefficient.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/18/2007


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China Registers Record-high Applications for Software Protection

The Copyright Protection Center of China registered 22,432 pieces of computer software for copyright protection in 2006,which was 26 percent more than the previous year,an official said Tuesday.The center rece ived a total of 23,095 applications for registration of computer software for copyright protection in 2006,a record high that also demonstrated the growing awareness of copyright protection among Chinese,especially those working for the IT industry,said the official.Most of the applicants were companies mainly based in fast-developing coastal cities and provinces such as Beijing,Guangdong,Shanghai,Zhejiang and Jiangsu.China began to build a legal system for intellectual property right protection in the 1990s.The Copyright Protection Center of China was established in 1998.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/20/2007


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Provincial Official Uses Internet to Send New Year's Greetings

In a rare show of official interaction with the ordinary people,Zhang Chunxian,secretary of Hunan Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China,posted New Year greetings on the Internet over the Spring Festival,drawing widespread attention from around the country."Happy new year to you all! Thank you for your support in the construction of Hunan province in 2006,and we will always appreciate your advice for Hunan's development," was the message Zhang wrote on the forum of provincial gateway rednet.cn.Over 83,000 netizens read his message,500 of them left messages,applauding his interaction with the common people and taking the opportunity to air their thoughts."I expect the government to speed up the construction of freeways so that we can have more convenient transport links," said one forum user.Another,named Xiaoge,suggested that more officials should reveal their identities on the Internet and speak with people directly over the Internet."It is beneficial to talk and receive feedback,which will help create a harmonious society," said Xiaoge.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/22/2007


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China Battles Internet Gambling

China on Sunday launched a three-month crackdown on Internet gambling,with the goal of making the cyber environment a cleaner and safer space."The prevalence of online gaming has ruined the online environment and damaged the development of the country's youth; it is in direct opposition to our policy of building a harmonious society," said a circular jointly issued by the Ministry of Public Security,the Ministry of Culture,the Ministry of Information Industry and the State Press and Publication Administration.Beijing,Shanghai,Guangdong and Zhejiang are the focus of supervision efforts,it said,adding that the government should clamp down on online games that involve gambling and online betting.Local government departments should ensure online game service providers are not exchanging "virtual money" with real currencies or properties,or using it to launder money.China's police busted a total of 347,000 gambling cases involving 1.099 million people last year and retrieved 3.56 billion yuan (US$445 million) in illegal revenue,according to official statistics.Gambling was outlawed on the Chinese mainland in 1949 when New China was founded.

From http://www.china.org.cn 02/26/2007


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SOUTH KOREA: To Create 90,000 Social Service Jobs

The Korean government said Thursday (Feb.22) it plans to create 90,000 new jobs in the social service sector this year as part of efforts to improve the welfare of those in need,such as elderly and disabled people.According to the Ministry of Planning and Budget,the government intends to spend a total of 2.27 trillion won ($2.41 billion) this year to maintain 110,000 state-funded jobs in the social service sector and create an additional 90,000 jobs.Social service jobs include a variety of positions aimed at helping out the needy such as disabled people,elderly citizens as well as hospital patients and children."From 2007 to 2010,the government intends to create a total of 800,000 jobs in the social service sector through private and state support," Chang Byong-wan,the Minister of Planning and Budget,said in a seminar in southern Seoul aimed at outlining such a plan.A total of 131,000 jobs that will be paid for with the state budget this year will be appropriate posts for female workers,while another 5,000 jobs will be suitable for the disabled and elderly workforce,it said.


From http://www.korea.net 02/23/2007


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More Foreign Workers Needed

The government will allow up to 109,600 foreign workers to be hired by domestic companies this year to aid labor-intensive industries suffering from manpower shortages due to low wages and harsh work conditions,officials said yesterday.This will be an increase of 4,600 from last year's 105,000 foreign workers.Of the total,60,000 will be ethnic Koreans living abroad,an official said.A total of 49,600 will be migrant workers from 15 different countries,including Bangladesh,Myanmar and East Timor,the official added.The migrant workers will be permitted to work in 16 different industries including construction and manufacturing,the official said,except for the ethnic Koreans,who will be able to work in 12 additional sectors,including wholesale trade for housewares and industrial laundries.Manufacturing and agricultural industries suffering from a lack of workers will be allowed to hire double the number of ethnic Koreans from abroad,more than their limit for hiring foreign workers.


From http://joongangdaily.joins.com 02/23/2007


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MONGOLIA: E-Governance to Be Supported

R.Gonchigdorj,Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Security and Foreign Policy,received Thursday Mr.James David,Director of International Republicans Institute (IRI).At the meeting,the two men exchanged views on the issues related to collaboration between the IRI,Parliament and its Standing Committees and on activities of the Parliament development program,which is jointly carried out by the two sides.They also raised questions on processes of approval of the regulations of Parliamentary Standing Committees and high-ranking state officials and organization of the public forum on draft laws,implemented in Parliamentary electoral constituencies.The above forum will be held shortly in the Parliamentary electoral constituencies of the lawmakers,elected from Arkhangai aimag.J.David expressed his willingness to develop the bilateral collaboration in the development of E-governance and in working out draft laws.


From http://www.montsame.mn 02/08/2007


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English Language Is Key of Development

An English language training program is being successfully carried out in Omnogobi Aimag.The program finance by a "Oyu tolgoi" project of the "Ivanhoe Mines" company is being implemented by the Mongolian-American joint "Santis" educational center.The main aim of the program is to promote the regional development in intellectual terms.More than 800 local will be involved in this two-year term program.In few days a third training will launch.


From http://www.montsame.mn 02/21/2007


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MALAYSIA: 10,000 Modern Farmers by 2012

Malaysia hopes to have at least 10,000 new modern farmers in the next five years."It is not a big figure but this gives farmers a chance to increase their income," said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.He said about RM265mil had been set aside in the Ninth Malaysia Plan to encourage youngsters to be modern farmers."A lot of our farmers are around 60 years old.That is why we have to concentrate on creating young entrepreneur farmers," he said,when closing a course for entrepreneur farmers here yesterday.Muhyiddin added that the move was part of the Government's objective of making the agriculture sector a major part of the nation's engine of growth."We're also hoping to change the mindset of people towards agriculture,as many still perceive it as not lucrative enough," he said.He added that there was a huge commercial potential in farming.


From http://thestar.com.my 02/17/2007


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ePerolehan Targets RM10b Volume by 2010

eGovernment flagship,the ePerolehan (eP) online procurement system,is targeting a procurement volume of RM10bil by 2010,said Commerce Dot Com Sdn.Bhd.executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Azizan Ayob.Commerce Dot Com is the developer of eP under the authority of the Ministry of Finance (MoF).The company also maintains the eP system. To date the eGovernment system has posted a 100% year-on-year increase in procurement volume to RM2bil for 2006.Total local purchase orders made by all 28 government ministries surged to 170,169 for 2006,compared to 107,033 the year before."We are thrilled to surpass the RM2bil mark.This sets a positive momentum ahead for ePerolehan as we strive towards achieving RM10bil in 2010," Azizan said in a statement on Wednesday.For 2007,procurement volume via eP is expected to hit RM3.5bil.Other than the core central contract and direct purchase modes of procurement,a substantial growth is expected from the procurement mode of goods and services via ministry tenders and quotations,ministry contracts as well as newly introduced procurement mode of eBidding,said a company statement.Moreover,the MoF is targeting to expand eP to another 555 government procurement offices nationwide,it said.Last year,the top five ministries transacted actively through eP were the Ministry of Internal Security,the Ministry of Health,Ministry of Home Affairs,Ministry of Finance and The Prime Minister's Office.Currently there are more than 78,000 active MoF registered suppliers who are linked to the electronic procurement system.Incorporated on June 21,2999,Commerce Dot Com is a joint venture company formed between Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd of Malaysia and NTT Data Corporation of Japan.The government of Malaysia owns one special share through the MoF.


From http://thestar.com.my 02/21/2007


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PHILIPPINES: Court Stops DFA's E-Passport Project with BSP

The electronic passport project of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) faces delay after a local court stops the DFA from awarding a new contract to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines).In a decision by Judge Franco Falcon of the Pasig regional trial court,a copy of which was obtained by INQUIRER.net,the judge ruled in favor of BCA International Corp.,whose build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement had been terminated by the DFA.After a temporary restraining order against the project's implementation,Falcon issued a preliminary injunction.The decision will effectively delay the implementation of the e-passport project,and make the Philippines the only country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations without a machine readable passport.It might also cause the country to miss the April 1,2010 deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organization for such a passport."Accordingly,upon posting a bond in the amount of P10 million,let a writ of preliminary injunction issue ordering respondents,their agents,representatives,awardees,suppliers,and assign to desist from awarding a new contract to implement the project or any similar electronic passport or visa project,or if such contract has been awarded,from implementing such project or similar projects," Falcon said.DFA Assistant Secretary Domingo Lucenario told INQUIRER.net the department would contest the ruling,but that the Office of the Solicitor General would decide on how to go about it.The BOT agreement,which was signed February 2001,was rescinded last December 2005.A Department of Justice opinion issued by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez upheld the termination of the agreement.In answer to the TRO,the DFA argued that the new agreement between DFA and BSP was different from the BOT between DFA and BCA International.But the court said that the similarity or difference between the two projects "appeared immaterial."

From http://archive.inquirer.net 02/19/2007


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SINGAPORE: Govt to Introduce Medical Standards Enabling Info-Sharing of Patients' Records

The Health Ministry is taking the next step in making sure that electronic medical records "talk" to each other.It will provide a national IT backbone for doctors from hospitals and GP clinics to tap into these records,and the aim is to improve long term care since a family doctor will now know exactly what a patient has gone through in hospital.The new system,still being developed,will give your family doctor access to your health screening results,medical treatments and the drugs you have been prescribed.This seamless care will become more critical with an ageing population,and with family doctors managing chronic diseases.Right now,electronic medical records are linked only at public hospitals."We need to build an IT infrastructure that enables electronic medical records to be shared.We don't need to share everything that a hospital may know about a patient because it might not be relevant,so it's about sharing what needs to be shared that's relevant to the patient's long term care," said Yong Ying-I,Permanent Secretary,Health Ministry.However,the Health Ministry's stand is that the system needs to make sense,so doctors will be roped intensively to develop it,to make sure it is usable.In fact there is no single vendor who can provide such an integrated system right now."The clinicians themselves must feel ownership for this; they must believe that this is something useful to them.IT is a supporting element; it is not the driving element.What the clinicians want to do,what the doctors want to do must be the main objective and we want to support that," said Chan Yeng Kit,CEO Infocomm Development Authority.Regarding privacy of medical records -- there will be authentication framework so that only those approved will be given access to the information.The system is part of the Health Ministry's vision of One Singaporean,One Family Physician,One Electronic Medical Record.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com 02/07/2006


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Public Gives Budget Feedback at REACH Website

Members of the public have been logging on to the REACH website to air their views on the Budget.Minister of State for Finance and Transport Lim Hwee Hua and Chairman of the REACH panel Dr Amy Khor were on hand to answer queries real-time online.It is the first time REACH has organised a townhall meeting online.But the response was quite muted,with only 11 registered users logging on to air their views and ask questions.Ms Lim Hwee Hua said: "To be fair,this is the first time we're doing it.It's an experience we have to learn from,whether it's in the area of publicising this to more people and to get more participation or whether it's the right time of the day,bearing in mind it's pretty close to Chinese New Year as well." Among the key points discussed were whether enough is being done for the middle income group and if the non-English speaking Singaporeans have avenues to air their views on the Budget.Dr Amy Khor said: "We are also using other means to reach out to the non-English speaking population,for instance through our ministerial dialogues that can be conducted in Mandarin." More of these interactive townhall meetings will be planned later in the year for upcoming issues of interest.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 02/16/2007


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Small Online Businesses Get Boost with New Payment Scheme

Small-time online sellers now have a new payment system that is affordable,fast and easy to use.Singapore's largest online payment gateway,eNETS,has tied up with online payment services provider Chainfusion to launch this service called BuyButtonz.It enables sellers to register themselves and conduct transactions through any website or email within 10 minutes.eNETS said the service creates new opportunities for small-time users,selling any number of items.At present,sellers need to be at least 18 years old and have a registered organisation to do business online.Since its introduction,more than 250 users have registered at http://www.buybuttonz.com Most of the transactions have an average selling price of between S$20 and S$60.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 02/21/2007


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S'pore Good Role Model in Managing Software Piracy Problem

Singapore can be a role model for the fight against software piracy in Asia Pacific.The Business Software Alliance (BSA) said this is due to the country's campaign against software piracy through awareness building and strong enforcement.As part of the move to protect intellectual property,Singapore criminalised software piracy in 2005.A year later,it successfully prosecuted an offender,PDM International,in court and is now taking another company to task for software infringements.Tarun Sawney,Director,Anti-Piracy,BSA,said: "We think that the action taken by the police and the steps taken by the Singapore government are having a very good effect in reaching out and changing mindsets over here that IP is crucial to Singapore and we should respect it." The BSA,which represents major software industry players,said the authority's action has successfully created greater awareness amongst companies to stay on the right side of the law."The nice thing about Singapore is that most companies are legal voluntarily.Occasionally,we do come across companies (that do not abide by the law),but once we bring the matter up to the attention of the management,most of them act very responsibly and expediently to get it legal," said Mr Sawney.Studies show that a 10 percentage point reduction in piracy rate can add US$770 million to Singapore's economy and help create about 3,700 new jobs.The BSA said it would continue with public education as a means to create greater awareness and drive piracy rates down.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com 02/21/2007


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THAILAND: Ministry Promotes Women in Politics

The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security has set aside five million baht for a campaign for greater gender equality in local and national politics.Suwit Kuntaroj,director of the ministry's Office of Women's Affairs and Family Development,said the first step of the campaign would be to increase the number of women in tambon administration organisations (TAOs).Elections for new TAO members are scheduled to take place later this year.''About 700 TAOs are going to complete their terms this year.We'll take this opportunity to support more women to run in the coming election,'' he said.At present,women make up only 2% of TAO members,Mr Suwit said.The campaign will aim to increase the proportion of women to 20%.The five million baht will be spent to help prepare female candidates for political participation.''The training will focus on improving women's capabilities and personalities he said.The target groups will be women who already have leadership roles at local and community levels.Mr Suwit said the agency was also planning to support more women to run in the next general election _ scheduled to take place later this year after the new constitution has been drafted.''Our job is to encourage more women to become involved in politics,'' he said.Apart from trying to encourage more women to run in local and national elections,the agency will also launch a campaign in government to push departments and agencies to consider promoting more female officials to high-level positions.''Even though at policy level we support gender equality in state organisations,on a practical level the number of women being promoted or seated at high-level positions is still relatively small.For example,only one out of 75 provinces has a female governor,'' Mr Suwit said.He said the campaign will comply with the UN Convention for Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,which Thailand has ratified.


From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com/ 02/04/2007


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Govts to Share ID Data on Citizens

Thailand and Malaysia have agreed to exchange personal information on citizens of both countries,which will include photographs and fingerprints,in an attempt to grapple with problems related to dual citizenship issues,government sources said.The sources said the issues were discussed in talks last week between Interior permanent secretary Pongpayom Wasaphuti and Malaysian secretary-general of the Home Affairs Ministry Aseh Che Mat.The two sides acknowledged the technical barriers posed by differences in database software of the Thai and Malaysian electronic ID cards,and agreed to tackle the problem so that checking dual nationalities could begin as quickly as possible,the sources said."Names,photos and fingerprints will be exchanged so that we can monitor developments along the border in a more organised manner," the sources said.The agreement was reached ahead of the upcoming visit of Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi who is scheduled to arrive in Bangkok on Feb 11.The government believes that militants are abusing dual citizenship to escape across the border after committing attacks.It has begun issuing fingerprint-embedded "smart" ID cards to 1.2 million residents of the Muslim-majority provinces in an effort to end the practice.

Malaysia was equally concerned that if easy crossing back and forth across the joint border remained unchecked,it would also cause trouble for the central government in the longer term,the sources said.Chulalongkorn University academic Panitan Wattanayakorn said the two nations needed to get a grip on the problem of illegal crossings across the border first.Once that issue was under control Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur could then proceed to tackle the issue of dual nationality and cooperate on sensitive issues like extraditing wanted people back to Thailand.He said the meeting next week between Mr Abdullah and Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont could lead to progress on Thai attempts to hold unofficial talks with certain insurgent groups."The Thai side might have to make clear which channels from now on will take care of the talks and the return of these groups of people if [Malaysia] sends them back," he said.The Joint Development Strategy between the two countries will also receive additional backing at next week's meeting in tandem with the interim government's plan to set up special economic zones in provinces along the Malaysian border.


From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com/ 02/05/2007


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VIET NAM: HCM City Plans to Raise Quality of IT Sector

The HCM City Department of Science and Technology aims to dramatically improve the quality of the city's technology and scientific research in 2007.At a meeting to review last year's progress,the department committed to focusing on four key sectors: engineering,new materials,biology and information technology."These sectors will play a very important role in ensuring sustainable development," said department director Dr Phan Minh Tan.Naptech 每 the department's new design centre for equipment production 每 will boost the manufacture of key products such as solar batteries,industrial robots,and nano-products.The department aims to find scientific solutions to problems such as traffic jams,floods and pollution,said Tan.The director also suggested that the department should improve scientific and technological consulting services to "bring new technologies into daily life".Around 40 per cent of the State's science budget will fund scientific research in 2007 and another 40 per cent will go towards manufacturing new technological products.The remaining 20 per cent will fund technology projects to help companies and businesses.In 2006,nearly VND43 billion (US$2.7 million) was spent on 350 scientific research projects.Researchers concluded one-third of the projects and 30 per cent of the studies yielded new products that have integrated into consumers' lives.The department counted its moves towards the proper application of information technology in the city as its most significant achievements last year.


From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 02/21/2007


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BANGLADESH: Govt Builds Diesel Reserve for 30 Days in N Region

RANGPUR,Jan 29: The government has built a two crore- litre reserve of diesel to meet one month''s requirement in eight districts of Rangpur agriculture zone,official sources told BSS today,reports BSS.The strategic reserve in depots in Parbatipur,is being augmented by 12 lakh litres of diesel daily on an average,Area Sales Manager of Meghna Petroleum Company Ismail Hossain said adding,"There is no crisis of diesel." The fuel,for the districts of Rangpur,Lalmonirhat,Nilfamari,Gaibandha,Dinajpur,Panchagar and Thakurgaon,is reaching the destinations by railway wagons,he said.Deputy Commissioner of Dinajpur S M Saiful Islam told a meeting at Birganj Upazila Parishad yesterday that there was no shortage of diesel in the greater Dinajpur and Rangpur districts.Chaired by Birganj Upazila UNO Tulshi Ranjan Saha the meeting was attended by officials of all concerned departments,local elite and chairmen of union parishads in the upazila.The DC said the government had taken steps to ensure smooth supply of chemical fertilizers and diesel to farmers in the area as well as elsewhere in the country to meet the requirement for the ongoing Boro season.No irregularity like hoarding would be tolerated,he added.

Authorised fuel dealers,he said,can build a maximum reserve of 2,000 litres of diesel in their outlets for consumers.Smuggling of petroleum products,including diesel,out of Bangladesh,the officials said,had almost come to an end in recent months,following enhanced vigilance by law enforcement agencies.Smuggling of various items,including diesel and hides and skin,out of Bangladesh to India,said Bangladesh Rifles [BDR] sources,had been stopped while the inflow of smuggled Indian goods,including phensidyl,reduced to a minimum.In the northern frontier belt of Bangladesh,petrol now sells at between Taka 56.25 and Taka 56.50 per litre,diesel between Taka 32.25 and Taka 32.50 while octane at between Taka 58.25 and Taka 58.50.But,on the other side of the border diesel officially fetches Indian rupees 35 per litre (equivalent to Taka 54.68) and petrol rupees 52 (Taka 81.25),they said.They said the BDR had strictly halted the smuggling of the imported items out of Bangladesh as price differences lure the traders to indulge in such informal trading.


From http://www.newstoday-bd.com/ 01/30/2007


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IT Sector Has Scope to Grow Further

IT business in Bangladesh and its export have not thrived despite having tremendous opportunities due to shortage of capital,infrastructural bottleneck,absence of appropriate official patronisation and lack of proper marketing strategy.Bangladesh having available manpower at low wages and enjoying energy at the lowest cost in the world can easily earn huge amounts of foreign currency through outsourcing of IT items,but absence of time-befitting marketing strategy is retarding the growth of service and depriving the country of the benefits of this unique advantage.Sources in the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information System (BASIS) said that in the fiscal year 2005-06 the country registered 113 per cent export growth of software and IT items fetching US$27.01 million and in 2006-07 the country has a target of fetching US$30.0 million.During the first six months of the current fiscal year this sector contributed nearly US$15 million and it will be able to achieve the target at the end of the fiscal year.

A BASIS official also said that in this age of globalisation economies of developed and developing countries are gradually becoming more dependent on technology and Bangladesh can significantly increase its income by exporting IT items where outsourcing might pave the way of earning huge amounts of foreign currency.Terming the shortage of capital and poor infrastructual situation the official said unless the private entrepreneurs come forward in line with government patronisation this particular sector cannot make its due contribution to the country's economy.Over the years the country's earnings from the IT sector has been registering significant growth fetching US$12.68 million in 2004-05 against US$7.19 million in 2003-04,US$4.2 million in 2002-03 and US$2.79 million in 2001-02.In case of export,outsourcing is a vital issue.Like Bangladesh,India,exports software but India is more advanced in data processing,which is used in call centre,said the BASIS official.

After the installation of the fibre optics network is complete the Bangladeshi entrepreneurs with its optimum utilisation may export data processing several times over thus earning more foreign currency and generate more employment,hoped the BASIS official.Currently Bangladesh exports graphics design,data processing and software on e-commerce,e-learning,data-warehouse,data security,billing inventory management and asset management to the international market.Due to low wages in Bangladesh customers from developed countries may opt for contract outsourcing but lack of proper marketing campaign that unique opportunity has not brought effective results,commented an entrepreneur.An IT expert said that apart from the telecommunication sector there is a market for IT products worth Tk11.0 billion every year,of which the market for software is Tk 1.7 billion.Using IT products in the country's garment sector and in different organisations the country can help flourish this particular sector and create employment opportunities,experts said.( by Bazlur Rahman )


From http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/ 01/29/2007


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Govt Puts Cap on New Vehicle Purchase Under Dev Projects

The government has decided to curtail the full freedom enjoyed by different ministries and divisions in the procurement of new cars and replacement of old cars under various development projects from the next financial year.The ministries and divisions will require prior approval from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for the procurement of new cars and replacement of the old cars with news ones,sources said."Without recommendation from the expenditure control wing,no allocation will be made for new cars and replacement of old cars," said the budget wing of the MoF in its guidelines for 2007-08 fiscal.The budget guidelines for the 2007-08 fiscal that were released on January 25 also asked the ministries/ divisions to attach priority to 'Value for Money',National Strategy for Accelerated Poverty Reduction and the income generating projects.In the past,ministries and divisions were not required to have recommendation from the MoF for the procurement of new cars and replacement of old cars under their development projects.

The ministries and divisions used to place proposals for the procurement of vehicles in the original project submitted to the Planning Commission (PC).According to an executive of a local leading car dealer,nearly 4000 imported new and assembled vehicles are sold annually in Bangladesh."Almost half of the vehicles worth not less than Tk 10 billion are purchased by the government under various development projects," he said."The government through the guidelines has imposed a sort of restriction on the procurement of luxury cars under various development projects," said a senior finance ministry official.Instances are galore that a large number of vehicles procured under the development projects are used by the ministers,state-ministers and top bureaucrats,in addition to cars allotted to them for official use.There were a number of media reports on the 'missing' vehicles of the development projects.Subsequent investigations revealed that the parent ministries had requisitioned those vehicles for personal use by the ministers and high officials.( by Shakhawat Hossain )

From http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/ 02/01/2007


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CG Chalks Out Massive Port Development Plans

Chief Adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed Saturday asked the authorities to take necessary steps to amply improve the commercial services at Chittagong port,the lifeline of country's economic activities,as the caretaker government undertook comprehensive plans for seaport development,reports UNB.He suggested the Chittagong Port Authority to place specific plans on short,mid and long-term bases at the next meeting of the Council of Advisors for making the seaport operations more "competitive,cost-effective and transparent".The head of interim government gave the directives at a meeting of the Council of Advisers that elaborately discussed present scenario and ways of removing hurdles to smooth functioning of the country's main seaport.The port-development move is apparently being geared up as businesspeople have long been complaining that the seaport is riddled with multifarious problems and falls far short of capacity and efficiency to handle growing volumes of export-import trade.At the very outset of today's special council meet,Chairman of the Chittagong Port Authority made presentation on the overall scenario of the port.Communications and Shipping Advisor Maj General (rtd) MA Matin,who has just visited the port for a spot inspection,also gave his views as to what is to be done.Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed-a former governor of Bangladesh Bank who had then overseen all problems and prospects of the national economy,trade and commerce〞stressed the need for a quick Solution of the various problems prevailing at different levels of the port."Normal flow of trade should go on to help run day-to-day economic activities of the country," he emphasized in spelling out the directives.Members of the Council of Advisers were present at the meeting that lasted about an hour and a half at the Chief Advisor's Office,with the CA presiding.


From http://www.newstoday-bd.com/ 02/11/2007


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INDIA: Coordination,Automation Needed for Solving Crimes: Sen

Kolkata,Jan 31: Better coordination between investigating agencies and implementation of the latest technologies are required for faster and quicker solution of criminal cases,the chief of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission said today."Lack of coordination between different agencies is one of the reasons for the delay in crime cases being resolved," Justice Shymal Kumar Sen told a function to mark the golden jubilee celebrations of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory here.There is also a need for a computerised crime monitoring system among different agencies.This could track and help boost the investigative process,he said.Sen lauded the CFSL for its efforts to solve crimes and emphasised the need for an investigative management system with modern infrastructure to keep pace with the latest developments.CFSL director M S Rao said a sudden spurt of anti- forensic tools had made job of investigators all the more difficult.CSFL presented mementos to its retired scientists to mark the ocassion.


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/31/2007


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Delhi Govt Approaches Urban Development Min for MPD 2021

New Delhi,Jan 29: Even as the Centre today asserted that the new Master Plan for Delhi will be notified by February seven,Delhi Government today decided to approach the Union Urban and Development Ministry seeking incorporation of its suggestions which were not mentioned in the MPD-2021.This was decided at a Cabinet meeting,today after Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit expressed her concern that the 33 suggestions offered by them were 'ignored' by the Centre."Scrapping of green belt and liberalisation of land use in A and B categories were the major areas of concern while the issue of regularisation of over 1500 unauthorised colonies have been left to the Centre," sources said.They said while Dikshit strongly objected to demolition of any structure to pave way for the green belt in the periphery of the city as proposed in the master plan,she also made it clear that the future of Delhi should not be jeopardised due to haphazard planning."Mapping and survey of the city to curb illegal constructions were high on Dikshit's agenda," said sources.Dikshit was also in the favour of special building bye-laws within next three years for the villages,unauthorised colonies and walled cities depending on their requirements,said sources.The Centre today said that commercial establishments running illegally in residential areas of the capital will not resume from February one.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/29/2007


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Economic Growth Must Be All-inclusive,Says Sonia

New Delhi,Jan 29: Essential to Mahatma Gandhi's passive resistance movement,'Satyagraha' was economic growth that would lead to "rise of all",Congress president Sonia Gandhi said Monday,emphasising that inequality was "very visible" despite India's spectacular gains.Inaugurating a two-day international conference to commemorate 100 years of Satyagraha,Gandhi said: "The relevance of Mahatma Gandhi is not the real issue.Our preparedness for him is." While making Mahatma Gandhi an icon would be easy,it would more infinitely be more exacting to make him the beacon,she said.In a hard-hitting speech,the United Progressive Alliance chairperson said economic growth could be sustainable only if it was all-inclusive and in harmony with nature and the earth's long-term future.In what is seen as a strong message to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government,which often gets criticised for its free-market economic policies,she said: "Our own country,for instance,has made spectacular gains over the past decades and is being rapidly transformed.But destitution,poverty,malnutrition and illiteracy are still widespread.Inequality is very visible."We live in an age of incredible scientific achievement and awesome technological advance.But are not the fruits of this achievement and advance still inequitably distributed?"

Gandhi asked a crowd including world leaders like former presidents Lech Walesa of Poland and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Nobel laureates like Bangladesh's Mohammed Yunus."Is it not the case that a few enjoy the gains,whole many bear the pains?" She said economic growth must be accelerated,but we should be mindful of possible adverse consequences of that progress and take steps to deal with them."Can we not satisfy material wants and aspirations without threatening ecological security and planetary survival?" "To be equitable,economic growth has to be sustainable.To be sustainable,economic growth has in turn to be all-inclusive.All-inclusive is no longer the greatest good of the greatest number.It is actually Sarvodaya or the rise of all.This Mahatma Gandhi saw as essential to Satyagraha itself," Gandhi said.Pointing out that India had stood for comprehensive universal nuclear disarmament,Gandhi said: "Yes,India has nuclear weapons.This became a strategic compulsion for us,born out of the failure to persuade the world to abolish nuclear weapons." She,however,added that India's commitment to nuclear disarmament remained.Leaders of the Left Front,including Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Prakash Karat,were at the function.The Left Front backs the Congress-led government but has been critical of its economic policies.External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee,Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma,Kaunda,Yunus,former Palestinian foreign minister Nasser Al Kidwa and Lech Walesa also addressed the inaugural session.


From IANS 01/29/2007


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PM Urges Automotive Industry to Invest in Environment Friendly Technologies

New Delhi,Jan 29: Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh today urged the automotive industry of the country to invest in energy efficient and environment friendly technologies.Releasing the Automotive Mission Plan 2006-2016 here today,Singh emphasised the need for such technologies in the light of growing global concern about climate change.He said that developed countries must accept their due burden in this regard for they have been the biggest polluters.Developing countries cannot be asked to take on the obligations of developed countries and must be helped in addressing the challenge of climate change,the Prime Minister said.Singh called upon the Indian companies to think ahead and adopt fuel-efficient technologies and expertise that reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels.Complimenting the automotive industry for the steps taken to improve the competitiveness of Indian brands,he said that the country would emerge as a major centre for the automotive industry.He complimented Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata and Brijmohan Lal Munjal of Hero Honda for their leadership in this regard,adding that the government would be a partner in the development of the Indian Automotive Industry.Prepared by the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in collaboration with the Indian Automotive Industry,the mission plan will be the blue print for the growth of the automotive industry.


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/29/2007


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E-Payment Solutions in Airports

Airport Authority of India (AAI) has declared 2007 as 'e-Administration year'.AAI will launch the e-Payment services at Bajpe Airport,Mangalore,India.According to Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of AAI,Durgashankar Mishra,the complete computerisation of bill payment,electronic data exchange will help both agencies and passengers to pay online.AAI has approved INR 147 million to deploy the e-Payment project in the airport.


From http://www.egovonline.net/ 02/05/2007


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E-Logistics,TCS,Indian Railways Plan to Develop Software to Track Trains Online

Chennai (India) based company; e-Logistics has joined with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS),IIT Kanpur and Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO),Lucknow to develop Satellite Imaging Software for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN).SIMRAN project will enable tracking trains on the Internet.The cost of the project is INR 24 million,which will involve global positioning system-based rail network mapping and train tracking and wireless connectivity.e-Logistics would be in the front end,TCS would provide the back end support.IIT-Kanpur has fully mapped the Indian Railways.Indian Railways has signed an agreement with e-Logistics in Lucknow. SIMRAN involves a simple implementation of the geo-positioning system,GSM and radio frequency-based instrumentation.Once the train passes through a station,the information is sent to GSM/GPRS network and later to the Internet through SIMRAN Web server.The system would monitor every train in a certain geographical boundary for its location,speed and the direction of movement.


From The Business Line 02/09/2007


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India Plans to E-Connect 20 African Countries

India is planning to make the Pan-African e-Network operational to provide several IT solutions like tele-education and tele-medicine in Africa.India is taking initiative with association of African countries.The President of India,A.P.J.Abdul Kalam has made an offer to set up a Pan-African e-Network,while addressing the inaugural session of the Pan-African Parliament in 2004.He told that e-Network would provide e-Connectivity to all the 53 countries of Africa and also connect all the heads of state of the Pan-African countries.This e-Network will enable India to assist these countries in the field of IT for providing at least one hub in each of the African countries through which various e-Services like tele-education,tele-medicine and e-Governance.Pan-African e-Network project brings together the terrestrial network between India and Africa through the international undersea fibre cable network and also the African satellite network services.The African universities and super specialty hospitals will also use this network to provide services and content.


From http://www.egovonline.net/ 02/09/2007


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Govt Shoots Letter to Industry on Jobs for Minorities

New Delhi,Feb 11: Close on the heels of the Centre reportedly asking all its departments to report the recruitment of minorities,the Ministry of Minority Affairs has shot off another letter to the private sector asking them to help in generating employment for them.In a letter to apex business chambers,the Ministry has asked for information relating to emerging jobs in the private sector so that specific schemes could be formulated to make the minorities employable in the fast-growing sectors of the economy."A list of such jobs,which have emerged/are emerging in the private sector after liberalisation of the economy may kindly be sent to this Ministry to enable us to formulate appropriate schemes for the welfare of minority communities," the letter said.It said the Ministry was in the process of formulating various schemes for the welfare of minorities.According to reports,the government has asked various departments,banks and public sector companies and autonomous bodies to scrupulously observe guidelines to make selection panel more representative.The report also asked that departments to submit half-yearly and annual reports giving details about the minorities hired as against the number of total vacancies.Commenting on these initiatives,industry body Assocham President Venugopal Dhoot said the Prime Minister should appoint a high level committee to examine feasibility of the reservation in the private sector based on the economic criteria.Meanwhile,according to sources,the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has sought opinion of the Law Ministry as to how reservation in the private sector can be made mandatory with an amendment in the Constitution.


From http://www.newkerala.com/ 02/11/2007


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PAKISTAN: PTA to Establish 400 Telecentres in Rural Areas

ISLAMABAD (February 03 2007): Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has launched a telecenter project to provide modern telecommunications and Internet facilities in rural and far-off areas.Under the project titled 'Rabta Ghar,' 400 telecenters would be established in the first phase for which the equipment worth Rs 50,000 each would be provided free of cost.Applications have been invited from eligible candidates.These telecenters will be provided to those individuals who are unemployed with at least intermediate qualification.They will arrange a shop or room of the size of 10x12 ft (minimum).Females of rural areas fulfilling the criteria may also apply.According to PTA here on Friday,individuals from those villages and union councils will be considered for "Rabta Ghar" where the population is 4,000 to 10,000 and no public telephone or net cafe facility in the radius of 5 km is available.In case of Balochistan,applications can also be forwarded at Tehsil level.If more than one application is received from an area,the most suitable applicant will be selected.In the first phase of the project,PTA with the support of telecom operators,will establish 400 "Rabta Ghar" all over the country.

Telecom operators have pledged their support to PTA for setting up these "Rabta Ghar" including PTCL (100),Mobilink (100),Ufone (50),Instaphone (15),Intel (10),Worldcall (Payphones in all Rabta Markaz) while PTA will be sponsoring 125 "Rabta Ghar" bringing the total to 400.PTA has also arranged free delivery,installation and training of the "Rabta Ghar" equipment on the premises/location of the selected individuals by Intel through its Genuine Intel Dealers (GIDs).PTA has prepared training CD/manual for the selected "Rabta Ghar" owners and the GIDs will provide the basic necessary training to them.Applications can be submitted on the prescribed application forms through mail before February 15 to Deputy Director (Rural Cell),PTA H/Qs Building,F-5/1,Islamabad.PTA's Zonal Offices will verify the details provided in the application forms and after proper verification the list of selected individuals will be displayed on PTA's website.In addition,PTA Zonal Office will notify the selected individuals.Further information can be obtained from Telephone Nos.PH: 051-9225329-31 Ext: 147 or email address: rabtaghar@pta.gov.pk.It may be added that a "Rabta Ghar" (Telecenter) is a small business set up that provides PCO,Internet,Fax,Printing and Scanning services to small communities.A "Rabta Ghar" owner can earn approximately Rs 5,000 per month.


From http://www.brecorder.com/ 02/03/2007


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Free Electronic Media in Interest of Country,Democracy,Says Musharraf

ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf said Tuesday that free electronic media is in the larger interest of country and democracy and national creditability has been given a boost through it.According to Pakistan Muslim League sources,a high-level meeting was held in President House here with President Musharraf in the chair,where important issues regarding PEMRA performance were discussed.Pakistan Muslim League President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain,Secretary General Mushahid Hussain Syed and Federal Information Minister Mohammed Ali Durrani attended the meeting.During the meeting,Chairman PEMRA Iftikhar Rasheed briefed the president about PEMRA performance,current television networks and the forthcoming channels.President Musharraf said that the electronic media has made long strides during the reign of the present government,making it possible for the people to gain access to information.President Musharraf said that he is in favour of free expression of opinion,adding that media serves as a check on public and private institutions,lending the government a chance to improve its performance.


From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/13/2007


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More Money for Education in Pakistan

The federal cabinet to increase public-private investment in the education sector from the current level of 2.6 per cent of GDP to four per cent is a good step.However,approval of this decision comes with several qualifiers.The first and most obvious one relates to the fact that improving the currently dismal quality of primary,secondary and higher education in the country's public sector is not only an issue of more funding but also of how the funds are used.In the past (and even now) one has heard of many instances of schools and colleges built in urban centres,small towns or rural areas but they fell into disuse,either because the teaching staff posted there would not show up or because a local feudal or influential would encroach on the premises and illegally appropriate it for personal use.Who can forget the so-called ghost teachers scandal,where a government survey (undertaken by the army) in 1997 discovered over 40,000 'ghost' teachers in Punjab alone -- i.e.teachers who were on the government payroll and regularly drew salaries but never showed up for their official teaching duty.In fact,the National Education Census (on which the cabinet was briefed in its Wednesday meeting by the education minister) itself reveals that 58.5 per cent of all educational institutions that were not functioning (7,442 out of a total of 12,737) were found in Sindh.

It also reveals that out of the 50,585 villages in the country that were included in the census,a total of 10,908 (over 21.5 per cent) did not have any educational institutions at all.In addition to this,56.4 per cent of all public-sector institutions had no electricity,40.5 per cent had no toilets,37.8 per cent had no boundary wall,32.3 per cent had no drinking water and 6.8 per cent had no building! And the problem is not just the dilapidated or non-existent infrastructure; the quality of teaching,the soundness of the curriculum and syllabuses and the general level of education being imparted to students is all well below par.Also,there is an ongoing debate that questions whether the focus of education reform should be primary or higher education.Here,while a pragmatic approach would be to spend the funding on all sectors,given the fundamental importance of primary schooling to any education system,the government needs to focus more on this level.Also,while increasing funding is welcome and in fact necessary for the country to achieve anywhere close to universal literacy,there has to be a concerted effort towards proper utilisation of money spent on education.This can only happen with more rigorous oversight of the education spending at the federal and provincial levels.

The prime minister,while announcing the cabinet decision to the press,also spoke of increasing the literacy rate from the current 53 per cent to 65 per cent by the next census.This too is a worthy objective,but the very figure of 53 per cent is hotly contested by independent education experts,the main focus of the scepticism being that the significant rise in the literacy rate to the current level of 53 per cent,given that no meaningful reform in the primary education sector has taken place since the last census.To be more precise,both male and female enrolment rates in primary education have remained stagnant for the past many years and the dropout rate (percentage of students who drop out after class V) has not fallen either.Of course,all this does not take away from another argument -- a strong one as well -- which advocates even larger education budget (as a percentage of GDP) for a country such as Pakistan.After all countries like South Korea,Taiwan,Singapore,Japan (ravaged by World War II) and Malaysia are where they are today in large part because of massive investment in education (as high as 10 per cent of GDP).


From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 02/16/2007


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Industrialisation Key to Tackling Poverty,Says Musharraf

* President inaugurates Sundar Industrial Estate

* Says Pakistan has become attractive destination for foreign investors

LAHORE: The government is making efforts to tackle unemployment and poverty by accelerating the process of industrialisation in Pakistan,President General Pervez Musharraf said on Friday."The public sector should formulate policies and facilitate the private sector in strengthening the industrial base," Musharraf said after inaugurating the Sundar Industrial Estate,developed over an area of 1,600 acres of land some 25 kilometres away from Lahore.Punjab Governor Lt Gen (r) Khalid Maqbool,Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Federal Industries Minister Jahangir Tareen were present on the occasion.The president said that the Sundar Industrial Estate (SIE) was a model of public-private partnership and other provinces should set up similar industrial estates.Musharraf said that Pakistan had become an attractive destination for foreign investment due to the government's incentives to investors,adding that cheap skilled labour was one of the major attractions for foreign investors.Stressing the need for diversifying Pakistan's industrial base,the president said that focus on textiles,which forms only six percent of the total world trade,would not help in improving the country's exports.

"We have to give attention to sectors like engineering that accounts for 61 percent of world trade," he added.He said that Pakistan had to compete in the world textile market with countries like Bangladesh which were enjoying concessions from the European Union.Musharraf said that Pakistan's agricultural sector should be developed through research and development and value-addition.He said that renowned dairy company,Nestle,was setting up the world's biggest milk plant in Kabirwala,Khanewal.The president said that promotion of livestock sector in Balochistan and Cholistan (Punjab) would not only improve meat and milk production in the country,but also help improve the life of the common man.He said that Pakistan was the world's fifth largest milk producing country and could earn huge foreign exchange by exploiting its potential effectively.Musharraf stressed the need for keeping Pakistan's current account positive,and hoped that remittances,which stood at $900 million in 1999-2000,would touch the mark of $5 billion in 2007.He said that exports of South East Asian countries were the same as Pakistan's in 1960s,but now the exports of these nations had reached up to $100 billion each.

The president said the government was pursuing a comprehensive plan to ensure sufficient electricity generation for the industrial sector.He said that the government was developing other energy sources including gas,adding that the sector offered great investment opportunities.He said that huge reserves of natural gas found at Gurguri recently would play an important role in increasing gas supply to the industrial sector.He underlined the need for using piped gas for industrial and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for domestic use.He said that Iran and Pakistan had agreed on the purchase price of the gas to be supplied by Iran.Musharraf said the government was setting up nine modern engineering and science and technology universities across the country with the help of foreign universities.He said that these universities would produce quality engineers who would then contribute to Pakistan's industrial sector.agencies


From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/17/2007


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IRAN: Cellphone Production Begins

The first cellphone handset production line in Iran was launched in Madiran Industrial Factory in Hashtgerd Industrial City near Tehran in a ceremony attended by Industries and Mines Minister Alireza Tahmasbi.The cellphone handset production line was inaugurated following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between South Korean firm LG Electronics and Madiran Company,IRNA said.The company will eventually have the capacity to manufacture a total of 1.5 million cellphone handsets.In the initial phase,the handsets will be produced from semi-knocked down (SKD) kits and in less than four months after installing advanced machinery,production will switch to completely knocked down (CKD) format.Only few international companies have access to mobile phone technology.LG Electronics ranks fifth by producing more than 66 million mobile phone handsets per year.

Earlier,Tahmasbi said that Iran cannot accept conditions set by major international mobile phone manufacturers for joint production in the country.He,however,stressed that talks are still underway with world's leading producers."Foreign firms demand certain privileges in return for entering Iran's markets,which is not acceptable to us," he said without elaborating.He said,adding that the government has levied a 25-percent surcharge on mobile phone production.The government favors the mobile phone industry to enter into partnership with major international producers,the minister said adding that the undertaking will begin with semi-knockdown (SKD) production."However,we are not going to continue SKD production for good," he said.The implementation of the much-publicized project to manufacture mobile phones in Iran has been postponed several times over the past months.The idea struck the officials' minds when mobile phone import tariffs were increased by 56 percent to reach 60 percent last year.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 02/18/2007


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Fixed Telephone SMS Service Planned

Managing director of the Iranian Telecommunications Company said that in case domestic companies become active in providing SMS service for fixed telephones,ITC is ready to hold tender bid for SMS service providers for fixed telephones.Saber Feizi told ILNA that all companies can provide SMS services for fixed telephones.He noted that SMS system for conventional telephones is presently provided only in Fars and Yazd provinces by Peik Asa Company.However,Feizi pointed out that the system will only be officially launched when the tariffs for such service are determined.Commenting on the ITC's proposed tariffs for fixed telephone SMS system,he noted that ITC plans to consider SMS tariffs at about one-third of the rate for SMS tariffs for mobile phone."There will be no problem in providing SMS service for fixed telephones given the availability of telecommunications equipment," Feizi added.He further noted that the only problem at present is determining tariffs and providing people with telephone sets that can work with such system.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 02/18/2007


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TAJIKISTAN: The Challenge of E-Government

Analysts say a new e-government programme will set higher standards for transparency and good governance than the authorities in Tajikistan have ever been subjected to.On January 28,Transport and Communications Minister Abdurahmon Ashurov announced that his department had finalised an e-government programme to allow a rapid information exchange among all official agencies,regional authorities and the public.The programme was approved by the government as long ago as 2004,and a pilot project involving 20 government agencies began in March last year.Zafar Saidov,director of the state news agency Khovar,said Ashurov's announcement indicated that the programme was about to be implemented in practice.He explained that e-government would entail setting up a government internet network,creating a government portal and individual websites for state institutions,and providing more public internet access points.Saidov estimates it will take 18 months to two years to complete all this work.

Muhammadi Ibodulloev,coordinator of the E-Community Project with the Civil Initiative for Internet Policy group,highlighted some of the practical difficulties that the scheme will come up against.For example,many state institutions have computers but these are not part of an integrated network.There is also a shortage of IT specialists to design websites and create databases.But he said,"The main problem is whether the government is ready to launch such a project.When we talk about e-government,we mean a government that is constantly online and ready to answer questions put by the public." Other commentators say the government itself will have to change before the new system's potential can be exploited.Political scientist Shokirjon Hakimov says that even if e-government comes into being,it will not by itself improve the dialogue between society and government."There won't be significant changes to the government's working methods and systems until it stops hiring personnel on the basis of local and regional allegiances,corruption and other negative phenomena,and starts employing new people who suit the needs of a modern society," he said.

From http://www.iwpr.net/ 02/02/2007


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UZBEKISTAN: Centre for Electronic Governance to be Created

Centre for Electronic Governance will be created in Uzbekistan under Association of enterprises and organizations of information technologies (IT Association).On Thursday,8 February,ten enterprises,which wished to become official partner of centre,signed a memorandum of understanding between partners of Centre for Electronic Governance under IT Association.APC (Kazakhstan),Baik Technologies; East Telecom; Micros,Microsoft (Kazakhstan),Nuron Savdo; Oracle (Kazakhstan),Sharifa-T and Unitech,as well as Uzbek Agency for Communication and Informatisation (UzACI) signed memorandum and became partners of newly created centre.The main aim of the centre is to organize regular demonstration area of new hardware and software in e-Governance.It is expected that the centre will present opportunity to its partners to promote their goods and services in e-Governance,carry out scientific research,and promote creation of information society.

The main task of the centre will be development of methodology on integrated information system and enforcement of concept on single architecture of e-Government,which envisages creation of united government resources,portals and information systems.The centre will position itself as single marketing,consulting,scientific and educational establishment,which directs its efforts to develop e-Governance in Uzbekistan and promote solutions of the project.The centre will also promote idea on Single National Information Space and introduction of single standards,which will allow to unite e-systems and simplify search and selection of corresponding solutions.

From http://business.uzreport.com/ 02/08/2007


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Second Intl Mini-Technologies Fair to Be Held in Tashkent Early May

Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations,Investments and Trade of Uzbekistan is planning to organise the second international specialised fair of mini-technologies and equipment for the Uzbek agriculture industry players "Agrominitech Expo-2007" in Tashkent early May.According to the administration of Uzexpocenter,the venue for the fair to take place,the participants of the forthcoming exhibition,as it has been the case last year will have the exhibition areas for free and other relevant services 每 for discounted prices,reported Pravda Vostoka,a local state-owned newspaper.The producers from many countries around the world have also expressed an interest to this prestige international event including Russia,the Ukraine,Germany,China,Israel,Hungary and Italy,the report concluded.

From http://business.uzreport.com/ 02/09/2007


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AUSTRALIA: Minister Welcomes National 3G Network Investment

The Minister for Communications,Information Technology and the Arts,Senator Helen Coonan,today welcomed the announcement by Optus that it would invest up to $800 million to boost the capabilities of its 3G mobile communications network."This is great news for Australian consumers 每 particularly those in rural,regional and remote areas 每 who will soon reap the benefits of a more competitive 3G market," Senator Coonan said."Next generation networks enable consumers to access advanced voice and data services that can support innovative applications such as wireless broadband and video phone services.Increasingly savvy consumers are demanding the always-on,anywhere freedom that next generation networks offer." Optus states the investment announced today will extend the coverage of its 3G network from 55 per cent of the population to 96 per cent with services expected to commence early next year."Coupled with Telstra's recently launched Next G network,Vodafone and Australian 3G pioneers &3',consumers will now have more choice of provider which leads to greater competition and ultimately lower prices for Australians," Senator Coonan said."I am particularly pleased that Optus has indicated it will give other competitors access to its 3G network which can only further boost competition for the benefit of consumers.

"Encouraging investment and competition is at the heart of the Government's approach to communications in Australia as it will deliver more choice and lower prices for consumers."And where the competitive market needs encouragement,the Government offers targeted assistance through the $1.1 billion Connect Australia package.Connect Australia is the single largest investment in telecommunications services in this country and will improve broadband speeds and rollout,deliver better mobile phone coverage and help connect our schools,hospitals and universities to the communications services they need."Over the coming months I will be considering applications for up to $600 million under the $878 million Broadband Connect element of Connect Australia."This is big picture thinking for broadband in this country which will as an incentive for large scale investment in much needed broadband infrastructure in rural,regional and remote Australia."The Government will continue to look after the communications needs of this country both now and into the future."


From http://www.minister.dcita.gov.au/ 01/30/2007


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All States Now on Board to Help Young Disabled People in Aged Care Facilities

All States and Territories have now signed bilateral agreements with the Australian Government to help young people with a disability move out of residential aged care facilities.Minister for Families,Community Services and Indigenous Affairs,Mal Brough,today welcomed the signing by Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory as the remaining two jurisdictions."I welcome the commitment by the governments of Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and look forward to working with them to see this plan become a reality," Mr Brough said."For too long the only long-term residential care available to young people with a disability has been in aged care facilities.Now young people across Australia will now see an improvement in the choices of care available to them."This program will reduce the number of younger people with a disability in residential aged care and will initially target those under 50 years of age."The program may also provide improved services to those who continue to stay in residential aged care and additional disability support services to assist those at risk of entering aged care." Agreements with the States follow on from a decision at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in February last year to fund and develop a $244 million program over the next five years."The responsibility for accommodation will rest with the States and Territories who will also manage the program on a day-to-day basis,subject to the signed agreements with the Australian Government," Mr Brough said.National Alliance of Young People In Nursing Homes head,Dr Bronwyn Morkham,welcomed the move by governments to work together to get young people out of aged care facilities."We need to get people back into the community and out of nursing homes where they do not belong," Dr Morkham said.

From http://www.facsia.gov.au/ 02/01/2007


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Record Numbers Commence University

The Minister for Education,Science and Training,the Hon Julie Bishop,MP,today released statistics announcing that a record number of students commenced university in the first half of 2006.The preliminary figures show that more than 287,000 people started university in the first half of 2006 - an increase of 2% from 2005.This figure includes 5,170 domestic students,an increase of nearly 2.5% from the first half of 2005."The biggest increase in commencements was in Victoria,where numbers grew by 2,250 compared to the same period in 2005," Minister Bishop said."There was strong growth in commencements nationally in health,including nursing (10%),architecture and building (9%),education,including teaching (5%) and creative arts (also 5%).There were small increases in natural and physical sciences and in engineering and related technologies." "The number of Indigenous students grew by 7% from 7,000 in the first half of 2005 to 7,500 in the first half of 2006.This reverses the drop of 6% across the full year data between 2004 and 2005." The Australian Government is funding more than 4,200 new commencing Commonwealth supported places this year,giving more young Australians the chance to go to university in 2007."New university places are part of the Australian Government's substantial investment in higher education.This year alone,the Government will provide more than $8.2 billion in funding to higher education 每 an increase of 26% compared to 1995," Minister Bishop said.Through Backing Australia's Future and other initiatives,the Australian Government will be providing around 50,000 new Commonwealth supported higher education places by 2011.


From http://www.dest.gov.au/ 02/14/2007


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Crucial ID Card Systems Lagging

NO decisions about which identity documents will meet the tough standards for an Access Card have been taken,and the Document Verification Service will not be operational until 2010.These revelations came as senior officials were forced into embarrassing admissions during Senate Estimates questioning last week.Attorney General's Department deputy secretary Miles Jordana said the $25 million DVS was on track for delivery in 2010,and there was "no expectation" that the full system would be available for initial access card enrolments.Under the Government's timeline,almost 17 million Australians will be registered between April 2008 and early 2010.After 2010,a card will be needed to access Medicare and other welfare benefits."There are other ways you can verify documents," Mr Jordana said."The certificate validation system,for example,links databases of births,deaths and marriages.There's also a national system that links up the state databases of driving licences." No system was capable of weeding out all fraud,he said.There was "consensus" on a proof of identity framework and acceptable documents,but there was as yet no "formalised agreement" on the matter,he said.Human Services Minister Ian Campbell created confusion by suggesting the access card could have prevented the "Cornelia Rau episode",in which a woman was wrongfully detained by immigration authorities for nearly a year.

But Immigration secretary Andrew Metcalfe said the access card would only help "if the person has it on them,and voluntarily provides it"."I don't think the access card would relieve us of the duty to properly and positively establish identity," he said."A negative presumption that a person's inability to prove who they are means they must be illegal is completely inappropriate," Mr Metcalfe said.Immigration officers would be unable to request the card as it was not an identity document,he said."However,if a person wished to show us the card of course we would look at it." Greens NSW Senator Kerry Nettle is seeking clarification over what access ASIO and Australian Federal Police will have to information held on the registration database."While it appears ASIO will have access,it's not clear under what circumstances," Senator Nettle said."We still don't know what information will be on the database.We're very concerned that this proposal is setting up infrastructure open to abuse by future governments,which may spy on the community." AFP commissioner Mick Keelty said false birth and marriage certificates,driver's licences and counterfeit credit cards had been a long-term problem.Some technical details have been revealed.The use of a proprietary system has not been ruled out,and contract specifications identify the features required without prescribing any particular system.Card readers will be available in agency offices so cardholders can check the details stored on the chip.


From http://australianit.news.com.au/ 02/20/2007


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Health Cost Rise Lowest for 6 Years

THE 9 million Australians with health cover have been urged to shop around for the best cover and force funds to compete for their business,after the sixth increase in health insurance premiums in as many years.Soaring doctors' fees and increases in claims for hospital treatment were blamed for an average increase in premiums of 4.52 per cent,which will make the average family about $104 poorer this year.It is the lowest increase in six years,following a rise of 5.68 per cent last year,which came after three years of rises in excess of 7 per cent.But it is still above headline inflation of 3.3 per cent,leading Labor and consumer advocates to question the Government's commitment to keeping premiums low.Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott said: "We are getting good value from private health insurance.And the fact that this is the lowest increase since 2001 suggests that the product is getting better all the time." The increases came as the Government locked itself into selling Australia's largest health fund,Medibank Private,if it wins the election.Finance Minister Nick Minchin said the Government was looking for managers for the sale,which would further increase competition and improve services to members.

But Labor branded the rise an "election-year increase".Labor health spokeswoman Nicola Roxon asked: "If we have 4.5 per cent this year,does it mean we're going to see double that or more next year?" Three major funds 〞 Medibank Private,MBF and NIB 〞 reduced their premium increases after their initial bids were queried by the health insurance regulator PHIAC.But its chief executive,Gayle Ginnane,denied it was linked to the election year,saying it was not unusual for funds to be asked to revise their requests.The lower increase mostly reflected the good profits made by funds in the past year,she said."They've just had the best investment returns ever." Labor warned that the increase would hit working families hard."It now brings the increases up to about 46 per cent since the Government promised that their reforms were actually going to keep premiums lower," Ms Roxon said.She warned that if the Government got its way,premium increases could go even higher because,under legislative changes as part of its private health insurance reforms,the Government wanted to scrap laws that require the PHIAC to keep premiums to a minimum.Choice policy manager Gordon Renouf said the increase meant more taxpayers' money would go to premiums through the Government's rebate.

From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/24/2007


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Global FDI Inflows to Hit $1.5 trln in 2008 - S&P

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global foreign direct investment inflows are poised to set a record high of $1.5 trillion in 2008,reflecting robust world growth,rising competition and related pressure for mergers and acquisitions,Standard & Poor's said on Thursday.FDI should keep rising to $1.7 trillion by the end of the decade,with most of the flows heading into developed economies,according to a report issued by the ratings agency."However,the rates of growth are unlikely to be as impressive as in the past three years (2004-06),which followed a severe three-year drop (2001-03) and reflected a particularly conducive global economic environment," S&P analyst Helena Hessel wrote in the report.The expected $1.5 trillion in 2008 would top the prior record in global foreign direct investment inflows of $1.4 trillion in 2000.In 2006,global foreign direct investment inflows were $1.23 trillion.Emerging markets economies are expected to attract less FDI inflows in percentage terms because the commodity boom that underpinned investments in such countries has hit a plateau,S&P said.It added that the nationalization of energy sectors by Russia,Bolivia,Venezuela and Ecuador will also hurt flows into those countries,starting this year."In addition,since the concentration of FDI into emerging market economies is relatively high,their absorptive capacity will diminish,reflecting the completion of large privatization programs,maturation of their economies,declining competitiveness,and various institutional and business constraints in Turkey and India," S&P said.Among emerging countries,China should continue to attract most of the FDI inflows in nominal terms until the end of the decade,as a result of "the size of its domestic market,its growth potential,and cost competitiveness." In Asia,China,Hong Kong,Singapore and India will remain the biggest beneficiaries of FDI inflows until 2010."FDI to India is likely to grow the fastest,given that its past FDI inflows were low compared to that in the other three countries.However,it will remain rather small relative to the potential of the Indian economy," the agency said.Among European emerging countries,Poland will likely lead FDI inflows,in nominal terms,during the 2007-10 period.Russia and Turkey,however,should hurt the region performance,with expected declining trends.(by Walter Brandimarte )


From http://in.news.yahoo.com/ 02/15/2007


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ADB Launching Major Public Finance Knowledge Center in Manila

MANILA,PHILIPPINES - ADB is supporting a regional knowledge center focused on public finance that opens today in Manila."This newly opened center aims to be at the forefront of knowledge on the subjects of public finance,fiscal policy,and regional economic cooperation," said Bindu N.Lohani,Director General and Chief Compliance Officer of ADB's Regional and Sustainable Development Department.The Robert F.De Ocampo Center for Public Finance and Regional Economic Cooperation operated in partnership with the Center for Research and Communication Foundation.Specific areas of activities planned for later this year include a study on improving internal business processes to strengthen governance in the public sector; an assessment of policies on local government finance and its impact on the readiness of local governments to access the capital markets.A public financial management conference will also be hosted by the center,and a website will be launched in 2008 to help disseminate its work.The new center is one of five ADB regional knowledge hubs.The others are in the following locations: TERI,India,which focuses on clean energy; Tsinghua University,China,which looks at climate change; the Asian Institute of Technology; UNESCAP; UNEP,Thailand,which focuses on reduce,reuse,and recycle; and a hub,which specializes in Private-Public Partnerships on Infrastructure in Singapore.Robert F.De Ocampo,the former Philippines Secretary of Finance,will serve as Chairman of the Board of Advisers for the new center.


From http://www.adb.org/ 02/19/2007


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CHINA: Banks to Assist Finance Science Projects

Recently China's banking regulator issued two documents ordering the banking sector to step up financial services to major science and technology projects and local high-tech enterprises.The move is aimed at creating a favorable financial environment to encourage innovation.It's also intended to support the government's National Guideline on Medium and Long-Term Programme for Science and Technology Development (2006-20),the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said yesterday.According to the documents commercial banks and other financial institutions should offer credit to the following types of high-tech enterprises: Those responsible for research and development in the key sectors laid out in the National Guideline for Science and Technology.Those engaged in national or provincial-level high-tech projects.Those providing high-tech content and additional value or are active in high-growth sectors like bio-engineering,new materials development,energy conservation and environmental protection.Those with leading technologies,sound credit histories and good economic and social benefits.

The document requires commercial banks to offer services that are suited to the needs of high-tech enterprises.It also highlights the need for financial support for export-oriented enterprises and small-scale technology businesses,the CBRC said.In the second document the CBRC ordered policy banks to set up special accounts for projects that support the country's key science and technology programs.The document outlines the principles,processes,supporting fields and risk control and prevention mechanisms for policy banks offering financial support to key science programs."The policy banks must undertake such policy-oriented financial services through public bidding," the document states.Under the National Guideline on Science and Technology,issued by the State Council a year ago,science and technology is expected to contribute at least 60 percent of the country's economic growth by 2020.It's currently 30 percent.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/01/2007


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Banks Get Foothold in Financial Leasing Business

China is now allowing both domestic and foreign commercial banks to establish financial leasing companies in the country,under a rule released by its regulator yesterday.The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) rule will permit locally as well as overseas-incorporated commercial banks to directly set up financial leasing companies in China from March 1.This is the first such move by the regulator since 1997 when commercial banks were required to withdraw from the sector.However,it is stipulated that a bank can invest in financial leasing companies only if its capital adequacy ratio stands at over 8 percent,has total assets of over 80 billion yuan per annum,and has been registering profits for two consecutive fiscal years.The rule also allows large-scale leasing companies,manufacturing enterprises and other financial institutions to invest in the business pending CBRC approval.The minimum registered capital for a financial leasing company is also lowered to 100 million yuan down from the previous 500 million yuan."The CBRC rule is aimed at rectifying the 12 financial leasing companies and canceling the franchise rights of financing and inter-bank borrowing and lending to make them return to the main business and financing and leasing sector," said an anonymous analyst with the Financial Leasing Professional Committee at the Society of Finance.

China currently has 12 licensed financial leasing companies but the new rule may well catapult commercial banks to the industry's new preferred choice for investors."There will be a big reshuffle among the financial leasing companies,and commercial banks will become almost the main investors in the industry," the analyst said.The rule is also seen as the implementation of one of China's banking commitments to the World Trade Organization.China opened up its banking industry at the end of 2006.Foreign-funded banks have been able to deal in the renminbi retail business across the country since December 11."The old financial leasing rule was no longer in line with the opening banking industry.The new circumstances prompted the CBRC to revise the rule and it got primary approval from the State Council," the regulator said in a statement on its website.The CBRC yesterday further released its revised rule on China's trust corporations,which aim to stimulate the industry and better protect investors' interests.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/02/2007


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China's Banking Regulator Encourages Private,Overseas Capitals to Fund Rural Banking

China's banking regulator has called for diversified funding channels for the country's underdeveloped rural banking sector.Tang Shuangning,vice chairman of China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC),said Tuesday that the banking regulator highly encourages private and overseas capitals to finance rural investment.Rural credit cooperatives should continue to act as the main sources to fund rural banking and to fully support the development of rural enterprises,he told a national banking regulatory conference held in Beijing Tuesday.He said rural banks should expand its business scope to finance infrastructure development and facilitate loans for farmers.China's fifth state-owned bank,the China Postal Savings Bank,which is due to open this year,is expected to focus on rural areas in credit services,Tang said.Now that China eased market entry policies for banking institutions in rural areas at the end of 2006,seven domestic commercial banks have applied to set up subsidiaries in rural areas.The CBRC has received applications from Minsheng Bank,Beijing Rural Commercial Bank,Tianjin Rural Cooperation Bank and four other domestic banks.Meanwhile foreign-funded banks such as the Standard Chartered and the HSBC have also expressed interest in setting up branches in rural areas.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/07/2007


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Banks Clamp down on Misuse of Loans

Domestic banks in China's major cities are tightening supervision on loans,particularly mortgages,to prevent money from being diverted to the bullish but possibly overvalued stock market.The country's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has skyrocketed 130 percent since early last year,enticing some market players and firms to misuse loans for equities trading,and potentially adding to the increasing number of non-performing loans.In Hangzhou,capital of east China's Zhejiang Province,a bank official estimated up to 70 percent of its customers used part of their mortgages for equity or fund purchases.The crackdown came after the country's banking regulator recently exposed the practice,threatening stricter checks later this month.The outstanding performance of China's stock market has seen massive withdrawals from banks recently Shanghai's benchmark indicator closed at 2,716 points yesterday.But many banks are facing an increasing rate of non-performing loans due to inappropriate use of funds.The Shanghai branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC),the nation's largest lender,said yesterday it had realized the potential risk and put forward policies requiring local outlets to strengthen monitoring.

"Before obtaining the loans,borrowers are required to prove how they will use the money and have their records checked for any violation," an ICBC official said yesterday.If any improper use of loans is found,the lender would terminate the loan immediately and the borrower would have to return the funds,he added.Other banks in Shanghai said they were cautious about the issue.To help companies and banks reduce risk,a high court in Shanghai threatened to draw up a blacklist of those with bad credit ratings who had ignored court orders for more than six months.Those blacklisted would be barred from buying new homes or obtaining loans.In Beijing,keeping close track of diverted loans is now policy at Bank of Communications.Financial intermediaries in Shenzhen,in south China's Guangdong Province,carry out checks to combat misuse,particularly for personal loans.Han Jianbo,deputy director of the wealth management center at China Merchants Bank's Hangzhou branch,said: "We will keep a close watch on how loans are used."


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/08/2007


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Illegal Loans Totaling Billions of Yuan

A recent investigation by the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has stunned the financial world as it revealed that major Chinese banks have been providing real estate developers with billions in illegal loans.According to a CBRC document,banks had issued several billion yuan in bogus mortgages by the end of June 2006 whilst being fully aware that the borrowers had lied about salient details,such as which homes they were buying and the size of registered capital.Cases were also found where more than one mortgage was issued for a single home.The regulator conducted nationwide checks on loans both for real estate development projects and for individual home buyers,which were extended by some branches of major commercial banks.It found that one unnamed state-owned commercial bank had issued 4,718 bogus mortgage loans,for a total of 1.31 billion yuan (US$169 million),forming a staggering 6 percent of all home buyer loans that were checked.Another state-owned commercial bank granted 3,716 loans,valued at 734 million yuan (US$94.7 million),for individual homebuyers,3.23 percent of the total credits investigated.

Sources with the CBRC revealed the true scale of the scandal,saying that close to 30 percent of all loans checked were being considered as suspect.An immediate order was placed for all state-owned and joint-stock banks to intensify their scrutiny of real estate projects and clamp down on illegal borrowing.Several bogus mortgage cases have been exposed in China over the past few years,including a 1-billion yuan (US$129 million) case at the China Construction Bank in Guangzhou and a 645-million yuan (US$83.2 million) case at the Bank of China in Beijing.But given CBRC's recent findings,these were only the tip of the iceberg.The document also banned any credit being given to real estate developers with inadequate capital and outright forbad any loans to be granted for property development purposes in the name of circulating funds.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/09/2007


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Long-term Bank Loans Double for China's Real Estate Sector

In the face of central government efforts to cool it down,China's real estate sector received the highest amount of medium and long-term loans of any industry in 2006,the People's Bank of China,the central bank,said on Tuesday.The top credit recipient borrowed 335.9 billion yuan (43.6 billlion U.S.dollars) from major banking institutions nationwide last year,a growth of 176.2 billion yuan (22.9 billion U.S.dollars) over a year ago,the sources said.The sector accounted for 18.3 percent of the total loans issued last year by major financial institutions,up five percent.At the end of 2006,loans outstanding for the real estate sector stood at 1.1 trillion yuan (146.2 billion U.S.dollars),up42 percent.The growth rate was 17 percent higher than the 2005 year-end level.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/13/2007


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Interest Rate Appropriate for Now,Says Official

A senior central bank official said yesterday that the current interest rate level is "appropriate," and the bank will make adjustments only when the situation requires."I think the interest rate (level) at this time is appropriate," Yi Gang,assistant governor of the People's Bank of China,China's central bank,said when answering questions from netizens in a live Internet conference."It is basically in line with macroeconomic and financial indicators," he added.In recent days,some economists have predicted that the central bank may soon raise the rate as China's consumer price index (CPI) growth picked up in December,when it rose by 2.8 percent year on year.Its annual growth was 1.5 percent in 2006.Yi added that even though price levels are rational at the moment,the central bank will continue to closely monitor the CPI and other economic indicators to see if the situation changes to a degree that makes it necessary to raise the rate.He said the rising CPI in the past three months was mostly a result of rising grain prices,but the trend might not continue."We do not worry the grain prices will continue to rise and their impact on the CPI may be only in the short term."

The National Bureau of Statistics is due to release the CPI figure for January today.The central bank aims to keep the CPI under 3 percent this year,which is attainable,according to Yi.Zhao Xijun,an economist with Renmin University of China,also told China Daily that the grain price rises were a pickup from previous months' lower levels and will not be sustained."If the rise is only temporary,it would be unnecessary for the central bank to take any action," he said.The assistant governor said that while the CPI is the most important index,the central bank will also monitor other indicators,such as the producer price index,the retail price index and export and import price indices,as well as investment."We will make adjustments on the basis of changes in those factors." Yi expressed the central bank's firm determination to curb excessive inflation."Once there emerges any sign of that,we will take timely measures." The People's Daily on Monday published an article by Wu Xiaoling,vice-governor of the central bank,who argued that raising interest rates would not resolve excess liquidity.

The article contradicts the central bank's latest quarterly monetary policy report's emphasis of the role of interest rates and has been widely interpreted as a shift in the central bank's stance on raising the rate.The central bank yesterday said on its website that the article was based on Wu's speech in late November and does not represent its stance on its current interest rate policy.Yi said that Wu's article was misinterpreted."Her major point was that the paramount task (for the central bank) is to mop up excessive liquidity," Yi said."The interest rate remains a primary tool of monetary policy," he added.Lehman Brothers said in its report released on Friday that rising production costs would lift China's CPI to about 2.3 percent in 2007 and it will not "get out of hand."


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/14/2007


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NPLs Down at Domestic Commercial Banks

China's commercial banks further reduced their non-performing loans (NPLs) last year,according to statistics from the China Banking Regulatory Commission.NPLs for all commercial banks in China stood at 1.25 trillion yuan by the end of 2006,60 billion yuan lower than a year ago.The bad loan ratio was 7.09 percent,compared with 8.61 percent at the end of 2005.The combined NPLs of the four State commercial banks were 1.05 trillion yuan,9.22 percent of their total lending,at the end of last year.The NPL ratio for the four banks was 10.49 percent a year ago.Twelve joint-stock commercial banks had total outstanding bad loans of 116.8 billion yuan,30.5 billion yuan lower than at the end of 2005.The NPL ratio of joint-stock banks fell 1.41 percentage points to 2.81 percent.Statistics from the banking regulator also showed that the assets and liabilities of the country's financial institutions rose rapidly last year.The total assets of financial institutions,including foreign ones operating in China,grew by 17.3 percent on a yearly basis to 43.9 trillion yuan at the end of 2006.Their total liabilities stood at 41.7 trillion yuan,up 16.5 percent on the previous year.The total assets of China's four State commercial banks rose by 14.7 percent on 2005 to 22.5 trillion yuan at the end of 2006,or 51.3 percent of all financial institutions' assets.Their total liabilities grew by 13.3 percent to 21.3 trillion yuan.The joint-stock banks had total assets of 7.1 trillion yuan,up 22.9 percent over the previous year,or 16.2 percent of all financial institutions' assets.Their total liabilities grew by 22.5 percent on the previous year to 6.9 trillion yuan at the end of 2006.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/14/2007


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China's Tax Burden Still Low

China's tax burden is still lower than that of most developing and developed countries despite the rapid growth in its tax revenue,an analyst has said.According to a latest report published by the State Administration of Tax (SAT),China's tax burden,measured by tax revenue divided by gross domestic product (GDP),stood at 18 percent last year,0.5 percent higher than 2005.However,the figure was still three percent lower compared with that of developing countries or 12 percent lower than industrialized countries,said Sun Gang,researcher with the Research Institute for Fiscal Science under the Ministry of Finance.Sun attributed the 0.5 percent rise to the growing number of tax payers.Excluding customs duties and agricultural tax,China posted a tax revenue of 3.76 trillion yuan (482.5 billion U.S.dollars) in 2006,an increase of 21.9 percent year-on-year.Meanwhile,preliminary estimations show its GDP totaled 20.94 trillion yuan last year,up 10.7 percent.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/16/2007


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Central Bank to Raise Deposit Reserve Ratio

The required reserve ratio for financial institutions engaging in deposit business will be raised 0.5 percentage points on February 25,bringing it to 10 percent,the second hike in two straight months,sources with China's central bank said yesterday.This moderate increase shows that the People's Bank of China (PBC) had shied away from using drastic moves to absorb liquidity as the country's consumer price index,the measure for inflation,grew by only 2.2 percent in January,down 0.6 percentage points from the previous month,observers said.The reserve ratio hike,the fifth of its kind since last July,is aimed at dealing with "dynamic currency liquidity changes and to consolidate macro-economic controls," said the central bank in its latest statement.The statement also said that unbalanced international payment generated by a mounting trade surplus had resulted in increasing currency liquidity and made another reserve ratio hike necessary.The central bank lifted the deposit reserve ratio by the same margin of 0.5 percentage points on January 15,which was estimated to take 150 billion yuan (US$19.3 billion) out of the banking pool.However,some economists argued that an interest rate hike was inevitable,as reserve ratio adjustments and open market operations had proved ineffective in curbing excess liquidity.Official data revealed that the newly added renminbi-denominated loans amounted to 567.6 billion yuan (US$73.2 billion) in January,approximately equivalent to last January but still twice as much as last year's monthly average.

The outstanding renminbi-dominated loans amounted to 23.1 trillion yuan (US$2.98 trillion) in January,up 16 percent year-on-year.The growth rate was 0.9 percentage points higher than the end of last year and up 2.2 percentage points from last January.Yin Zhongli,an expert with the Financial Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,called the move "an expected expedient." "This won't be the last reserve ratio hike of the year.Meanwhile,interest rate rises are far from the best tool to absorb liquidity," he said. Economist Han Zhiguo contended that an advisable way was to facilitate the development of the capital market and allow stock markets to play a bigger role.The central bank reiterated in its statement that it would "adopt a prudent monetary policy,tighten the management of bank liquidity and facilitate the rational growth in monetary credit."


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 02/17/2007


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JAPAN: Diet OK's Fiscal 2006 Extra Budget

The 3.77 trillion yen fiscal 2006 supplementary budget cleared the Diet on Tuesday,passed by Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito lawmakers without the presence of opposition parties at the House of Councillors plenary session.Members of the Democratic Party of Japan,Japanese Communist Party,Social Democratic Party and New People's Party on Tuesday continued their boycott of the deliberations that began last Wednesday.They have been demanding the resignation of Health,Labor and Welfare Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa who likened women to "birthing machines." It was the first time for a supplementary budget to pass the Diet without the presence of opposition parties since the extraordinary Diet session in 1966.The ruling camp aims to hold a meeting of the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Wednesday to start deliberations of a fiscal 2007 budget.Meanwhile,Diet business is expected to return to normal Wednesday as the LDP and DPJ agreed Tuesday night to have an intensive deliberation session at the lower house Budget Committee on Wednesday and Thursday.DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa,SDP leader Mizuho Fukushima and People's New Party head Tamisuke Watanuki met in the Diet building Tuesday night.Since the fiscal 2006 supplementary budget passed the Diet while the opposition parties were boycotting the deliberations,many in the opposition camp have voiced concern that they would not win the understanding of the public if they continued the boycott.As a condition for returning to the deliberations,the opposition parties will ask the ruling parties to agree to hold intensive discussions on measures to deal with the declining birthrate at both Diet houses.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/07/2007


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Ministry Cuts Procurement Costs by 10%

In a highly unusual move aimed at cutting government procurement contract prices,the Defense Ministry has reduced--by a uniform 10 percent--budgetary allocations per contract for projects undertaken by the Defense Facilities Administration Agency for fiscal 2007 compared to the previous year's figure,ministry officials said Tuesday.The decision on the cut comes in the wake of a spate of bid-rigging cases involving DFAA officials that came to light last year.In bidding sessions held after the bid-rigging scandals were uncovered in the spring of 2006,contracts were won at prices about 10 percent lower than the average figure for the previous five years.In light of the findings,the Finance Ministry asked the Defense Ministry to trim funding for the DFAA's contracts,pointing out that contract prices could be lowered substantially by eliminating dubious practices.The Defense Ministry accepted the Finance Ministry's suggestions.The decision is likely unprecedented,according to the Construction and Transport Ministry.Construction expenses for projects ordered by the DFAA were previously calculated by the Defense Ministry on the basis of "standard unit costs" according to the amount of construction work.

When the DFAA awards specific projects to contractors,however,it uses its own "reckoning table of unit costs" specifically geared to individual contracts.The maximum contract value for a project is decided--based on the reckoning table--before a bidding session is held,in which the bidder offering the lowest price below the set maximum wins the contract.In bids conducted by the DFAA after the crackdown in March 2006 on agency officials suspected of bid-rigging involvement,the percentage of winning bids compared to the agency-set maximum stood at an average 86.5,nearly 10 points lower than the corresponding figure of 95.9--the average figure for the previous five years.Thus after the disclosure of the bid-rigging scandals,contract prices shrank about 13 billion yen in March alone,compared with projected prices if the bid-rigging had not come to light.The value of contracts to be awarded by the DFAA in the next fiscal year will amount to 159.7 billion yen,according to the Finance Ministry.Some DFAA officials,however,are afraid that if maximum contract prices are lowered in accordance with the drops in the standard unit costs,contractors may shy away from taking part in bidding sessions.The officials also pointed out there may be cases in which all the prices tendered will exceed the maximum contract prices,meaning there would be no contractor to undertake DFAA-planned projects.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 02/21/2007


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SOUTH KOREA: To Spend 53.7 Tril.Won in Regional Construction Projects by 2010

President Roh Moo-hyun said Tuesday (Jan.30) that the Korean government is expected to spend about 53.7 trillion won ($56.5 billion) over the next four years to significantly expand social infrastructures outside the Seoul metropolitan area.In a meeting with senior journalists working for news organizations outside Seoul,the president said the massive investment in the local construction sector will create about 1.23 million jobs and 140 trillion won in production.Roh also forecast that the government's aggregate construction investment outside the capital by 2030 would total 116.4 trillion won,including the 53.7 trillion won to be spent by 2010."The government is now mapping out a policy package for the second phase of the nation's balanced regional development project.We'll push to complete the legislation of bills on the second-phase regional development project by the end of this year," Roh said at the luncheon meeting at his office,Cheong Wa Dae."Following the legislation,a wave of civil engineering works will be underway across the nation,and will continue throughout the tenure of the next president," he said.The president also vowed to help revitalize the dormant provincial economy through the massive construction investments.Since his inauguration in 2003,Roh has steadily called for balanced development between the Seoul metropolitan area and provincial areas,and implemented the construction of a new administrative capital near Daejeon,about 150 kilometers south of Seoul.Meanwhile,Roh noted that he is determined to formally propose a motion for constitutional revision to change the presidential term to the U.S.model,as soon as the National Assembly's special session ends in late February.


From http://www.korea.net 01/31/2007


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Korean Won Hits New Nine-Year High Against Yen

The Korean won rose to a nine-year high against the Japanese yen Monday (Feb.12) amid widespread speculation that the yen will continue to be weak,dealers said.The local currency ended at 769.0 won to 100 yen,the highest value since Oct.24,1997,when it ended at 762.6 won.The won closed at 937.6 won to the U.S.dollar,down 3.0 won from the previous day."As the yen escaped from being called on for more flexible exchange rates at the G7 gathering last week,investors now widely expect the yen's weakness will be prolonged,which further weakened the yen against the greenback" said Yi Hyo-keun,a dealer at Daewoo Securities.The Group of Seven (G7) finance ministers' meeting was held in Germany last weekend.Despite mounting concerns in Europe,finance ministers and central bankers from the U.S.,Japan,Germany,France,Italy,Britain and Canada picked the yuan instead of the yen as the problem to be controlled by the authorities.The Japanese currency fell against the greenback Monday.As the Bank of Japan (BOJ) has kept the yen the lowest-yielding currency among advanced nations,the yen has been a persistent victim of carry trades as investors borrow the low-yielding yen to buy currencies offering far better returns.The BOJ is expected to hold its key rate steady at 0.25 percent when its policymakers meet on Feb.21,as recent economic indicators show weak consumer spending and prices,dealers said.


From http://www.korea.net/ 02/12/2007


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Korea's Financial Watchdog Seeking Market Stability in 2007

Korea's top financial watchdog said Wednesday (Feb.22) that its top policy priority for this year is to stabilize the nation's financial markets by taking preemptive measures against risk factors.The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said in a report to the National Assembly that uncertainties at home and abroad,such as the nation's slowing growth rate,a volatile exchange rate and North Korea's nuclear program,could hamper stable management of the nation's economy.Despite overall stability in the financial market,herd behavior among investors may also cause insecurity in the market,the report showed."To cope with risks in the market,we will step up measures for preemptive monitoring and keep improving the existing system to supervise new types of financial transactions," the watchdog said in the report.The growth rate in Asia's third-largest economy is expected to slow to around 4.5 percent this year from a five-percent advance last year amid sluggish domestic spending and cooling exports.The local currency rose nearly 9 percent against the U.S.dollar last year,making it harder for local exporters to compete with rivals in foreign markets as it makes Korean goods more expensive than products from other nations.Soaring home prices have also emerged as a key concern for the government,which intends to keep its interest rate stable to maintain growth.

The FSC will keep a close eye on household loans including home-backed loans and cooperate with related organizations to minimize the possibility of defaults,the report said.To that end,the FSC will upgrade the credit assessment system of lenders to focus on the ability of borrowers to repay debt.It plans to introduce procedural details for extending loans based on best practices this month so that banks can begin enforcing them in March.It will also bolster protection for customers and better manage risks by taking measures such as improving the financial sector's ability to cope with losses and reducing the dominance of adjustable-rate mortgages in the market.The watchdog will enforce stricter regulations on foreign currency loans and better monitor foreign currency liquidity.It will keep monitoring overseas investment funds on a daily basis and step up measures to protect investors,the report showed.Meanwhile,the FSC also aims to enhance competitiveness of the financial industry,build infrastructure to upgrade the capital market and provide comprehensive service for customers,the report added.


From http://www.korea.net 02/12/2007


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Loans in Korea Surge 13.9% in 2006

Korean financial institutions' lending climbed 13.9 percent last year from the previous year mainly due to a hike in loans in Seoul and its vicinity in Gyeonggi-do (province),the central bank said Monday (Feb.12).Outstanding loans at the financial institutions including banks came to 916.7 trillion won ($981.2 billion) as of the end of 2006,up 112.2 trillion won from a year earlier,the Bank of Korea said.Loans in Seoul rose 13.2 percent on-year to an outstanding 352.4 trillion won,after advancing 9.2 percent in 2005 and 3.3 percent in 2004,the central bank said.Lending in provincial areas grew 14.4 percent on an annual basis to an outstanding 564.3 trillion won,accelerating from a 9.4 percent growth in 2005 and 8.3 percent growth in 2004.The increase was largely led by increased loans in Gyeonggi-do,which jumped 19.9 percent annually in 2006 to an outstanding 226.6 trillion won after gaining 12.0 percent in 2005 and 10.2 percent in 2004,the central bank said.


From http://www.korea.net 02/12/2007


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Bank of Korea to Focus on Financial Stability This Year

Korea's central bank said Thursday (Feb.22) its top priorities in this year's monetary policy will be to achieve financial stability,boost economic growth and curb inflation.In a report to the National Assembly,the Bank of Korea (BOK) said it will keep monitoring potential risk factors and quickly respond to any signs of unrest in the financial market."A recent surge in household debts,mainly home-backed loans,could pose a threat to the stability in the markets,so (the central bank) will step up monitoring activity," the report said.The report comes a day after the Financial Supervisory Commission,the nation's financial watchdog,told parliament that its top policy priority for the year is to stabilize financial markets by taking preemptive measures against risk factors.Household loans soared by 40.9 trillion won ($43.5 billion) last year,compared with a 29.4 trillion won rise in 2005,the central bank's earlier data showed.The average interest rate on household loans hit a three-year high of 6.18 percent in January,up 0.21 percentage point from a month ago,amid higher market rates,according to the data.The rate for home-backed loans rose by 0.27 percentage point on-month to 6.15 percent.Housing prices rose 11.6 percent on-year in 2006,the fastest clip in four years,according to Kookmin Bank.Experts warn that the sudden bursting of a price bubble would wreak havoc on households.The report also said the central bank will seek to diversify the nation's foreign reserves to boost investment returns.BOK Governor Lee Seong-tae said earlier this month that the bank is considering investing part of the country's foreign reserves in overseas blue-chip stocks.The central bank is widely expected to stand pat on a key interest rate for the seventh consecutive month in a monthly rate-setting session slated for March 8.It held the February target for the call rate steady at 4.5 percent,a five-year high,citing signs of a slowing economy and tame inflationary pressure.


From http://www.korea.net/ 02/23/2007


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MONGOLIA: General Government Budget in Statistics

In January of 2007,the total revenue and grants of general government budget amounted to 153.1 bln.togrogs and total expenditure and net lending 78.8 bln.togrogs.The general government budget overall balance was a surplus 74.3 bln.togrogs.Current revenue of General Government amounted to 152.9 bln.togrogs and current expenditure 76.6 bln.togrogs.The budget current balance was a surplus 76.4 bln.togrogs,which was increased by 15.7 times or 71.5 bln.togrogs compared with the same period of previous year.Compared to the same period of the previous year,tax revenue increased by 71.8 percent,taxes on foreign trade added by 60.5 percent,value added tax jumped up by 41.1 percent and excise tax increased by 9.3 percent,respectively.Non-tax revenue reached 70.2 bln.togrogs,which increased by 9.2 times compared to the same period of the previous year.The share of the current expenditure in the total expenditure and net lending amounted to 97.1 percent and added by 6.9 points compared with the same period of the previous year.But shares of capital expenditure and net lending in the total expenditure and net lending amounted to 0.7 percent and 2.2 percent,which decreased by 2.1 points and 4.8 points compared with the same period of previous year,respectively.


From http://www.montsame.mn 02/15/2007


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INDONESIA: BI Seeks Govt Incentives for Bank Mergers

Bank Indonesia is courting the government in the hope it will allow tax incentives for bank mergers to further encourage consolidation within the banking sector.Such incentives would release pressure from lenders often reluctant to undergo costly mergers,Bank Indonesia's deputy governor,Hartadi A.Sarwono,said."We see that tax incentives may affect (government) tax revenues in the short term,but for the medium and long term,when merged banks grow and improve their performance,tax revenues will increase," he said.The central bank also plans to streamline the number of banks in the country to between 70 and 80 by 2010,down from 130 at present.The plan forms part of its Indonesian Banking Architecture road map,which aims to see only three international banks with assets over Rp 50 trillion (US$5.49 billion),five national banks with assets between Rp 10 and 50 trillion,and an assortment of rural credit banks operating in the country's banking industry.BI plans to begin its industry consolidation this year.It will set requirements that all banks have minimum holdings of Rp 80 billion by 2007 and Rp 100 billion by 2010.Through its "single presence policy" it will limit banks to having a controlling share of one bank only.In October last year BI issued policy providing incentives to banks willing to undergo mergers.

It aimed at providing easier procedures in opening branch offices and establishing forex banks,lower minimum reserve requirements at the central bank,more time to resolve breaches of lending limits resulting from mergers,and partial financing for merger study costs.Bankers have welcomed the incentives,but said they needed further exemptions from merger fees.These include a 10 percent value-added tax (VAT) on asset transfers and a 5 percent duty tax on land and building transfers.The Finance Ministry continued to discuss the matter with BI and is concerned the incentives could result in lower tax revenues for the state.The government expects to raise Rp 509.4 trillion from tax revenues this year.A majority of this will come from the country's Rp 1,635 trillion asset banking industry.In 1999 the Finance Ministry issued tax incentives similar to those now proposed by BI during the merger of four private banks following the 1998 Asian financial crisis.The merger resulted in the creation of the state-owned Bank Mandiri.Hartadi said BI would continue pushing for bank mergers under current tax incentives,but hinted the bank would take on an enforcing attitude this year."If banks are still reluctant to merge,then we will assess whether they can fulfill the minimum capital requirements," he said.BI senior deputy governor Miranda S.Goeltom said previously the central bank would downgrade banks failing to fulfill the minimum capital requirement to a limited operational status.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com 01/29/2007


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WB Approves Loan Package to Help Farmers

The World Bank said Wednesday it had approved a combined US$92.8-million loan package to support a project to empower Indonesian farmers and help the government revitalize the country's agricultural sector.The total project will actually costs $123 million,with the government making up the rest.Set to start in May,2007,the project will target 400,000 farm households -- an estimated two million rural people in 71 districts -- to help them improve their productivity and incomes over the next five years."Improving agricultural productivity remains,perhaps,the best single measure to reduce poverty," World Bank country director Andrew Steer said in a statement.Citing a poverty assessment released by the Bank last year,titled Making the New Indonesia Work for the Poor,Steer said that almost two-thirds of the nation's poor were farmers.Improving rural infrastructure,the quality of seeds,extension and ICT services are some of the report's recommendations for improving farmers' productivity and lifting them out of poverty.The World Bank categorizes people living in poverty as those who earn less than $2 a day.Currently,nearly half of Indonesia's 220 million fall within that criterion.The statement added that the project,to be executed by the Agriculture Ministry,would develop a market-oriented agricultural services system based on partnerships among farmers' groups,public agencies and private-sector enterprises."Empowerment of farmers through improved information networks,enhanced linkages and extension will result in increased diversification,and higher farmer incomes and agricultural competitiveness," the Bank said.The bulk of the funds -- some $41 million -- would be used to strengthen agricultural extension services through capacity-building for farmer organizations and support for a farmer-managed grant program."The project will empower farmers' organizations so that they can improve their capacity to adopt new technologies in response to market demand," explained Shobha Shetty,the Bank's economist for rural development,natural resources and the environment in Indonesia.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 02/15/2007


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Banks Demand 'Guarantees' for Long-Term Capital Works

Given the risks involved in financing infrastructure projects,the country's banks want the government to at least provide assurances of project feasibility,and to put financing schemes in place that are compatible with banking practice,said Agus D.Martowardojo,chairman of the Association of State-Owned Banks (Himbara),on Thursday."Of course we want to support the government in developing the country's infrastructure,and we actually don't have any problems in providing the necessary funds," Agus said on the sidelines of a workshop on infrastructure financing."But we have also pointed out how infrastructure projects are usually long term in nature and entail greater risks.That's also why such projects are usually financed through their own equity-raising schemes,with bank loans being complementary." Agus,who is also the president of Bank Mandiri,pointed to what he called the "classic mismatch" in infrastructure projects -- the fact that they can take up to 10 years before return-on-investment,while the banks usually use short-term deposit funds maturing in only 3 years to finance lending."Banks also have to adhere to strict industry regulations on lending limits and collectibility.That's why we need some guarantees that projects will not go awry along the way." National Banks Association (Perbanas) chairman Sigit Pramono concurred,saying that local banks would have no problems in funding infrastructure projects as long as government guarantees were provided."But the fact that it is a government project backed by the state budget already implies a guarantee," said Sigit,who is also the president of Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI).

State Minister for National Development Planning Paskah Suzetta said earlier in the workshop that Indonesia's banking sector had the potential to contribute US$1 billion in funding for key infrastructure projects over the next two years.The projects included the $225-million construction of the Kuala Namu airport in Medan to replace Polonia airport,and a $816.8-million military reequipment program."This figure is based on our assessment of the capacity of local industry to carry out these projects and local banks to finance them," Paskah said,while stressing that in future the government planned to rely more on local resources so as to reduce the country's sovereign debt.Indonesia needs up to $65 billion for infrastructure development between 2005 and 2009,according to the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas),of which $14 billion (22 percent) is expected to be provided by the domestic financial sector.Agus acknowledged the important role to be played by the banking sector in funding infrastructure development and in participating in financing schemes that would address the problems facing the sector.Bappenas deputy chairman Lukito A.Tuwo said the government was planning two infrastructure financing schemes.Under the first one,the banking sector would directly finance a project with the government acting as guarantor,while under the second scheme,the banking sector would lend money to the government,which would then disburse it to the project promoters.He said the government had also designed a public-private partnership framework,and allocated Rp 4 trillion and Rp 600 billion from the budget for the financing respectively of an infrastructure fund and a revolving fund.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com 02/16/2007


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PHILIPPINES: Treasury Sets Terms of P50-B Bond Swap

The Bureau of the Treasury has announced the terms of its new P50-billion bond swap offer,with the three-year bonds priced at par with a coupon and yield of 5.50 percent,and the five-year bond offered at a discount with a coupon of 5.75 percent and a yield of 5.80 percent."We believe that these bonds will be well received by the market as they are attractively priced,and investors will benefit from the expected liquidity of the new bonds," National Treasurer Omar Cruz said in a statement.The Treasury is offering to exchange outstanding government securities maturing between March 1,2007 and Feb.21,2012 for new three-year and five-year bonds worth P30 billion and P20 billion,respectively.The bond swap is part of the debt consolidation program launched by the government last year.

From http://archive.inquirer.net 02/13/2007


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VIET NAM: State Bank Lifts Restrictions on US Dollar Deposit Rates

HA NOI 〞 Creditors are now allowed to freely determine interest rates on US dollar deposits held by companies and organisations following regulatory changes by the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV).Under the Tuesday decision by SBV Governor Le Duc Thuy,banks are allowed to set rates in line with capital demands and market trends.Previously,dollar deposits owned by companies and organisations were the only accounts the central bank imposed a rate ceiling at a mere 1.5 per cent.The restriction was used to control large capital flows at a time when the greenback was scarce in the financial system,say SBV officials.Market conditions,however,have changed,especially since late 2006.Dollar supply in the market currently exceeds demand.As a result the central bank removed the rate restriction.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn 02/08/2007


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BANGLADESH: Govt Decision on 26pc Rupali Bank Shares Next Week

The government decision will come next week whether it will sell the rest of its stake in Rupali Bank to Saudi Prince Bandar,a finance ministry official said Wednesday."A proposal on the government selling off its remaining 26 per cent shares of the bank will be discussed at next Monday's meeting of the advisory committee on economic affairs.The Rupali sale issue is already on the agenda",the official,who did not want to be named,told the news agency.The Saudi prince has offered $134 million for the remaining 26 per cent shares,owned by the government.

From http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/ 02/01/2007


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Govt in Hunt for Tapping Quick Funds

The government is taking initiatives for quick release of $340 million from the World Bank under the budgetary support programme,and $330 million from the sale of 67 percent shares of the Rupali Bank to Saudi prince.The government has also decided to sell out 26pc shares of the bank for $128 million against the backdrop of increased government borrowing from banks amid a fund crisis for Annual Development Programme (ADP) implementation.Sources said the government has already taken steps for some reforms,which are prerequisites for getting the World Bank fund,which is going to resume its mission's visit to Bangladesh soon.The visit has been suspended since November last year amid a volatile political situation,the sources added.A high official of the finance ministry said the government is hopeful of getting $200 million as the fourth instalment of the development support credit,$100 million as education sector support credit and another $40 million as railway sector policy support from the World Bank.Another official said the government had informal talks with the World Bank for release of the funds as a number of major conditions for the aid have already been fulfilled or under process.

Funds for the development support credit and railway reform policy might be released next month while there is a chance of getting the education sector support credit by the end of the current fiscal,the sources said."Privatisation of Rupali Bank is in the final stage and steps will be taken soon for corporatisation of four nationalised commercials banks," a finance ministry official said terming the moves as major conditions for the World Bank fund.He said the donors are also happy with the move to separate the judiciary from the executive branch of the government and about the move to revitalise the Anti-corruption Commission (ACC).About the sale of Rupali Bank,finance ministry sources said the government agreed to sell the bank's 67 percent share to the Saudi prince for $330 million.Later,the buyer offered the government to buy another 26 percent share for $128 million."The government is considering the proposal positively," an official said.He said a deal might be signed next month with the Saudi prince on selling Rupali Bank,if the government agrees with his proposal.The Bangladesh Bank's recently released economic policy statement also asked the government to take immediate steps to sell Rupali Bank.

The central bank sources said the government was compelled to borrow a large amount of money from the banking sector in recent times due to declining foreign aid and low revenue earning.The government's total borrowing from the banking sector was Tk 6,300 crore from July 1,2006 to January 9,2007,sources said adding that the bank borrowing limit was fixed at Tk 5,434 crore for the entire fiscal in the budget.About the ADP implementation,sources said only 20 percent of the ADP has been implemented in the first five months of the fiscal.A source however pointed out that government borrowing from banks increased despite low implementation of ADP.He said the GDP growth will also be affected with the slow pace of ADP implementation and for this the interim government has emphasised on increased ADP implementation during the remaining period of the fiscal,requiring more money.The chief adviser talked on the matter while addressing the secretaries on Tuesday where he said the government will not tolerate any dilly-dallying in ADP implementation.The finance ministry sources said the government is now contemplating to cut some less important projects of the current fiscal and to provide money for more important projects."The government will review the ADP next week to identify the most important projects," a source said.Finance Adviser Mirza Azizul Islam held separate meetings with the planning ministry and the External Relations Division (ERD) officials on Wednesday and discussed the progress of ADP implementation of the current fiscal.( by Rejaul Karim Byron )


From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 02/01/2007


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Oriental Bank Management Cancels 'Benami' Shares Feited Shares

Sources said the bank has already issued letters to the shareholders concerned informing them about its action.Meanwhile,the bank management requested all concerned to remain alert about transactions and mortgage of the forfeited shares.A total of seven individuals and six investment companies were holding such shares of the bank in violation of the Banking Companies Act,1991,sources in the central bank said.The shares of the bank which were found under 'benami' ownership in breach of the law concerned constitute 69.87 per cent of total issued shares of the bank.The BB has identified on the basis of its information collected and inspection report that certain shareholders were holding 'benami' shares in violation of the section 14A of the Banking Companies Act,1991,the sources added.Last Thursday,the government imposed a six-month moratorium on some banking activities of the bank to protect depositors' interest and facilitate restructuring of the bank.

The central bank took over the overall management of the bank and appointed an administrator on June 19 last to protect the depositors' interest.On August 06,the central bank ordered the removal of the managing director (MD) of the bank and superseded the board of directors for a period of one year.UNB adds: The High Court Wednesday issued a rule asking for explanation why the Anti-Corruption Commission action in suing Oriental Bank officials,including its former managing director CM Koyes Sami,should not be declared "illegal".Responding to a writ petition filed by the accused Sami,a division bench comprising Justice MA Wahhab Mian and Justice M Emdadul Huq issued the rule and fixed Thursday for hearing.Earlier on Sunday,the bench had issued similar rule upon the ACC following writ petitions filed by the four bankers charged with defalcation of the bank money."All the rules will come up for hearing tomorrow (Thursday)," a court source said.

From http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/ 02/01/2007


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INDIA: Bank of India Launches Pensioner's Credit Card

Mumbai,Jan 31: Bank of India today announced the launch of Pensioners' Credit Card and Pension Delivery at Doorsteps schemes here in collaboration with the postal department.The scheme would allow the pensioners to get their pensions at their doorstep without going through the ordeal of coming to the branch,Bank of India Chairman and Managing Director M Balachandran told reporters.The bank has tied up with the Post Office to deliver the pension at the doorsteps of the pensioner,he said adding the scheme has been launched on a pilot basis in Maharashtra.The credit card allows for a maximum credit limit of Rs 50,000 and the rate of interest charged is 12 per cent per annum.The bank has about 1.8 lakh pensioners as its customers in Maharashtra.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/31/2007


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Government Taking All Fiscal Steps to Check Inflation: Chidambaram

Mumbai,Feb 10: Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said that the Centre was taking all fiscal and monetary measures to contain inflation.Addressing the second annual convention of Association of National Stock Exchange Members of India (ANMI),Chidambaram said,"The government will take all necessary fiscal measures.Monetary steps are the domain of the Reserve Bank of India.We need to proceed with a great deal of caution"."We have to see that inflation is moderated,and growth is accelerated," he said.One step to moderate inflation is to increase the supply side,he said,adding that there was no short-term solution for increasing supplies.He expressed hope that wheat prices would moderate due to increasing supplies in the coming days.According to government data,inflation based on the wholesale price index accelerated at the fastest pace in more than two years to 6.58 percent for the week ended January 27 from 6.11 percent the previous week.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 02/10/2007


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State Govt.to Invest INR 60 Million in E-Governance Project of WB,India

The West Bengal (WB),(India) Government is planning to invest INR 60 million in its e-Governance project.Later on,government is planning to implement this project in panchayat level.This e-Governance project is aimed to provide better administration and improved services,requires an integrated approach between various departments of the state.The state government had formed a 16-member e-governance steering council to implement the statewide e-Governance project at the grassroots level.The role of the steering council would be to provide overall guidance for the project and ensure proper integration with the various ministers.

From http://www.egovonline.net/ 02/15/2007


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SRI LANKA: Int'l Donors Pledge $4.5 Bn

Even as they expressed deep concern over the continuing war in the island,international donors on Tuesday pledged $4.5 billion for Sri Lanka as development assistance for the period 2007-2009.Announcing this at the end of the two-day meeting of the Sri Lanka Development Forum in Galle,the Minister for Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Sarath Amunugama said that with an already existing commitment of $4.5 billion,Sri Lanka would be getting $9 billion in the coming three years.Amunugama said that there were no differences in perspective between the Sri Lanka government and the donors on the war against terrorism in the island."The government and development partners agreed that terrorism should be separated from finding a solution to the (ethnic) conflict and that a lasting solution should be found through a negotiated settlement," an official statement said."The government explained the role of the security forces in protecting civilians,public property and economic centres while safeguarding the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka," the statement added,justifying the on-going military campaigns against the LTTE.The government also pointed that the intransigence of the LTTE was hampering economic development in the Tamil-speaking northeast.Apparently satisfied,Praful Patel,Vice President South Asia in the World Bank said: "Sri Lanka has all the possibilities to reach its Millennium Development Goals by 2015."

From http://hindustantimes.com/ 01/30/2007


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PAKISTAN: State Bank Sees 2006-07 Inflation Above Target

GENEVA: Higher food prices will likely push Pakistan's inflation rate above the country's 6.5 percent target for the 2006-07 fiscal year,State Bank of Pakistan Governor Shamshad Akhtar told journalists on Thursday."We are doing pretty well on the core inflation given the monetary tightening we have had,but it is quite possible because of the food prices being somewhat on the uppish that the average inflation rate could be above the inflation target rate," she said before giving a lecture on banking reform at a Geneva university.In her speech,Akhtar said the increased presence of foreign banks in Pakistan and a recent spate in mergers were because of "high investor confidence and economic prospects"."The current merger and acquisition (wave) is also being triggered by the need for banks to meet higher capital requirements and also growing competition that will make (it) increasingly difficult for small banks to survive," read her speech text.

From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/02/2007


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External Debt Fell to 111.7% from 300% This Fiscal: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Friday that the external debt and liabilities as percentage of foreign exchange earnings have registered a sharp and remarkable decline from around 300 percent in 1999-2000 to 111.7 percent by the end of the first quarter of the current fiscal year (2006-07).The government believes in the freedom of expression and free press,with all respects for difference of opinion and constructive criticism."We are trying to work for a better Pakistan,and the world recognises that Pakistan has moved a long distance in the last several years," he said while speaking at the launching ceremony of a book titled "Pakistan-Sovereignty Lost" here at the PM House.The PM terming the book written by Shahid ur Rehman,a healthy activity,however maintained that it contains some inaccuracies and misinterpretations about the country's debt profile as well as its management.He said,the country's economic numbers are available at the concerned offices,as there is nothing secret unlike the past when there has been a black box approach.

Giving the highlights of the country's debt profile,the PM said that Pakistan's total foreign debt has declined in absolute and relative terms,with coming down to $37.3 billion by September 2006 from $38.9 billion in 1999.He further informed that Pakistan's external debt and liabilities as percentage of GDP have declined from 51.7 percent in 1999-2000 to 26.3 percent by end September 2006.The external debt and liabilities as percentage of foreign exchange earnings have registered a sharp and remarkable decline from around 300 percent in 1999-2000 to 111.7 percent by the end of first quarter of current fiscal year (2006-07),the PM added.Similarly,he said,the country's public debt which was over 100 percent of GDP in 1999 has declined to around 50 percent by September 2006.The PM said,these facts are also recognised,endorsed and monitored by the international financial institutions and multilateral agencies.He maintained that the publication of economic data by Pakistan was in line with the international practices,as "we deal in the international market and with multilateral agencies." The PM also referred to the enactment of a historic Debt Limitation and Fiscal Responsibility Law by the present government as well as getting rid of the IMF as remarkable achievements and said these were meant to strengthen the country's sovereignty and integrity.

"Debt must be within your capacity to pay",he said and added the new law would enable the country to remain within its fiscal limits and only the parliament has the authority to amend it.The PM,however,added when the economies grow their borrowing capacity also increases.He also clarified that any direct borrowing by provinces is done only after approval of the federal government.He said that owing to the government's reforms measures the country has achieved macro-economic stability during the last seven years,with all economic indicators moving towards positive direction.The PM said that Pakistan has become an investment-friendly destination,with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) pouring in from across the world including from US,EU,Middle East and Far East countries.The PM maintained that the country's sovereignty was very robust,with the government trying to build a better Pakistan,which is strong and stable with peace,progress and prosperity.Earlier,the writer of book,Shahid ur Rehman presented a copy of the book to the PM and in his remarks on the occasion thanked him for his gesture of presiding over the launching ceremony.Minister for Information & Broadcasting,Muhammad Ali Durrani and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister,Commander (Retd) Khalil-ur-Rehman were also present on the occasion.

From http://www.pakistanlink.com/ 02/04/2007


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Expanding Microfinance Outreach to the Poorest in Pakistan

MANILA,PHILIPPINES - A US$2 million grant from ADB's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR),financed by the Government of Japan,will test ways to expand microfinance outreach and services to the poorest in Pakistan.The project will develop innovative savings products,complete with policies and procedures that will be disseminated to all microfinance banks.The First Microfinance Bank (FMFB) will test the new products in Northern districts of the country,while the Kashf Foundation,after obtaining a license to be a microfinance bank,will test them in Lahore,benefiting around 2,000 clients."The poorest have fewer assets,fewer job opportunities,and greater vulnerability to economic shocks," says Sukanda Lewis,an ADB Financial Economist."They generally remain outside conventional microfinance programs.This project specifically targets that segment of the population." To lower transaction costs and improve the poor's access to financial services,mobile banking and mobile phone-based technology will be explored as delivery channels.FMFB will pilot these in the North-West Frontier Province,the Northern Areas,and the Lower Sindh,to reach about 15,000 people.

All microfinance banks are eligible to submit their proposals to develop such innovative delivery channels.Another microfinance institution will be selected to pilot a system for targeting the poorest,where safety nets are provided in the form of food stamps and skills training are provided,along with access to savings and credit.The project will also support financial literacy training for at least 1,000 people,with a special focus on women.It aims to increase the knowledge,skills,and attitudes necessary for the poor to manage their household finances.The poor need deposit services to better manage emergencies,smooth consumption,meet expected demands for large sums of cash,and take advantage of investment opportunities.The demand for savings products may even far outstrip the demand for loans among poorer households.The project complements the Improving Access to Financial Services Program,approved in December 2006 with a $320 million loan from ADB.The Government will contribute $100,000 equivalent toward the project's total estimated cost of $2.85 million,while $750,000 will be supported by grantees.The Ministry of Finance is the executing agency for the project,which will be carried out over about three years.The JFPR was set up in 2000 with an initial contribution of $90 million,followed by additional contributions totaling $155 million in 2002,and annual contributions up to 2006 bringing the total amount to $360 million.

From http://www.adb.org/ 02/06/2007


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KAZAKHSTAN: Foreign Currency Exchange Rates Fixed by National Bank

The National Bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan fixed the foreign currency exchange rates to the tenge for February 20: US dollar - 124.45 tenge,Euro - 163.49 tenge,Russian ruble - 4.75 tenge,United Kingdom Pound - 242.76 tenge,Swiss frank - 100.83 tenge,Chinese Yuan - 16.06 tenge,Turkish Lira - 89.92 tenge,10 Japanese Yen - 10.40 tenge,Kyrgyz Som - 3.23 tenge,Uzbek Som - 0.10 tenge,Ukrainian Hryvnia - 24.81 tenge,Belarusian ruble - 0.06 tenge.KZT-US rate - the average KZT-USD exchange,developed at morning (basic) session at the Kazakhstan stock exchange rate of KZT to other currencies is calculated through the cross-country-rates,developed as of 15.00 pm of Astana time


From http://eng.gazeta.kz/ 02/20/2007


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TAJIKISTAN: Micro-Loan Schemes Need More Funding

Microcredit schemes have proved a successful way of helping people out of poverty in Tajikistan,but they will require substantial additional funding if they are to help everyone in need of a small loan.On January 26,a round-table meeting in Dushanbe convened to discuss microfinance issues heard that things have improved in the last few years,from a position where new business development was constrained since few entrepreneurs had any chance of getting a loan.At that time,complex procedures made bank loans virtually impossible to obtain,while private lenders charged exorbitant interest rates.Thanks both to financial-sector reforms and the emergence of microcredit,Tajikistan now has around 100 banks,microcredit organisations and government agencies that grant small loans worth 25 million US dollars a year.

One of the most widespread schemes allows people to take out a loan ranging from 100 to 2,500 dollars to start a small business.There is no collateral,but a collective guarantee is given by a number of people.Experts say the demand for microcredit is much higher than current availability.Gulbahor Mahkamova,deputy director of the IMON microcredit fund,told NBCentralAsia that only seven per cent of the population 每 around half a million people 每 have taken out these small loans in Tajikistan,one of the world's 25 poorest countries.In neighbouring Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan the equivalent figure stands at 27 and 21 per cent,respectively.Mahkamova believes there is still considerable unsatisfied demand for loans,especially in the agricultural sector."We are unable to meet the rising demand for credit as we do not have sufficient funds," she said.

"Local banks have recognised that the microfinance market is both substantial and profitable and are trying to attract foreign investors,but the interest rates they [the banks] charge are too high." Nurinisso Rustamova,a member of the Association of Microfinance Companies,would like to see lending made accessible to as many people as possible."Both donor and government funding should be sought for a unified,powerful fund that would implement social programmes," she told NBCentralAsia.Economy professor Hojimahmad Umarov argues that microfinance companies should be allowed to raise capital in the open market."The main problem is that microfinance organisations have no legal right to accept deposits from members of the public,and that significantly reduces their [capital] resource base," he said.

From http://www.iwpr.net/ 02/07/2007


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UZBEKISTAN: Insurance Companies' Equity Capitals Continue to Grow

Aggregate equity capital of all insurance organisations operating on the territory of Uzbekistan comprised over 15.8 billion soums and over US$66.7 million at the end of 2006.Insurance companies' capital in national currency grew by 12%,and that in foreign currency 每 by 5.5% compared to 2005.Contributing to this growth were direct investments,while practically no merger or acquisition operations were observed in the insurance market of Uzbekistan in the reporting year.The capital concentration for the Uzbek insurance market was as follows: companies with over 1 billion soums in capital made up 44% of all companies; 26% have the capital ranging from 500 million soums to 1 billion soums; and 30% of companies have the capital under 500 million soums.In 2007 it is planned to raise the minimum level of equity capital for national insurers to the sum equivalent to US$500,000.Capital adequacy requirement is currently set at US$150,000.

From http://insurance.uzreport.com/ 02/09/2007


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AUSTRALIA: Banks Upgrade Web Security

It's a secret how much money is lost through online fraud but a simple device promises protection.Electronic "tokens" are a must-have gizmo for security conscious online banking customers and the Commonwealth Bank is now issuing these authentication devices to the most active users of its online retail banking service,NetBank.The bank will also provide the option of an SMS security code service to other users.The Commonwealth joins National Australia Bank,ANZ,Bendigo Bank and HSBC in giving its retail customers two-factor authentication,a level of security that goes beyond the standard requirement of a user name and password.The token,which is small enough to fit on a key ring,generates a single-use password at the press of a button.This code is entered along with the user's name and password at the start of an internet banking session.The code,which is valid for 30 seconds,is generated using a piece of software that runs an algorithm.The bank's database knows what number will be generated by a given token at any given time and only that customer's token will come up with that right number.A fraudster would need the token as well as the other log-on details before he could steal from a customer's online account.The action being taken by the banks is an acknowledgement that consumers need to take greater interest in the security of online and other electronic banking.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission administers a voluntary industry code of practice,called the EFT Code,that covers all forms of consumer electronic payments transactions.Under the terms of the code,a bank will cover its customer for any losses due to fraud as long as the electronic account is used according to the bank's terms and conditions.In January,ASIC called for submissions for a review of the EFT Code.One of the matters to be examined is the liability issue arising from the growth and growing sophistication of internet fraud.There have been suggestions,denied by the banks,that they will urge the watchdog to make consumers bear some of the cost of losses suffered as a result of fraud.Should this occur it would mark an important change in banking practice and would put more responsibility on consumers to look after their banking security.The Commonwealth says the new tokens are one of several measures it has taken over the past year to improve online security.Last year it introduced an electronic monitoring system called Hawkeye.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/07/2007


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Federal Funding Boost for Schools

The federal government is spending a further $127 million on public school facilities because of continued neglect by state Labor governments,Education Minister Julie Bishop says.Prime Minister John Howard today announced a $181 million pre-election boost to the Investing In Our Schools program,which gives schools small grants to build and repair infrastructure.Government schools have been allocated $127 million of the pie and non-government schools can apply for $54 million.Mr Howard said the final funding round for the program would bring the total spent to almost $1.2 billion.He said more than 6,000 government and 1,500 non-government schools had received funding for projects such as classroom upgrades,new toilet blocks,up-to-date computer labs and safe playgrounds."They're little projects that have somehow or other fallen through the cracks of the state education system," Mr Howard said."The overwhelming interest in this program,from government schools in particular,indicates that many small capital and infrastructure projects have not been receiving the support they need." Ms Bishop today said the program was established because parents of children in government schools were complaining the state government were not providing funding for basic equipment such as computers and heating.

"The program has highlighted in some cases gross neglect of state government schools by state governments," she said."We are extending the program because there is still such a demand by state government school communities for these basic educational items." The government has changed the application criteria so state schools which have previously received more than $100,000 under the program can not apply,and schools that have received no funding or smaller amounts will have priority.Ms Bishop said almost 90 per cent of state government schools had received money through the program,but many schools in rural and remote areas had missed out."We've found that a number of schools have either not got any funding or haven't applied,and many are in low socioeconomic areas," she said."They are schools that have been neglected by state governments and have funding needs but because they are in rural or remote areas they have not necessarily applied for funding." Ms Bishop's office said some rural and remote schools had missed out in the past because they did not have the resources to apply.The government would mount an intensive effort to encourage those schools to apply,the spokesman said.Opposition leader Kevin Rudd has today backed the funding boost,calling it a useful and practical program."Do I think that program solves all the problems of our schools across the country? Of course not," Mr Rudd told journalists in Adelaide."But do I think that it's a useful program worthy of bipartisan support? You bet." Mr Howard said the new funding was in addition to more than $9.3 billion the government was providing in 2006-07 for government and non-government schools.

From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/19/2007


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New Voice in Call to Drop Four Pillars

BANK of Queensland boss David Liddy wants the Federal Government to scrap the "four pillars" policy that keeps Australia's four largest banks from merging.Speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce,Mr Liddy said large banks should be able to merge to make them better able to compete internationally.He said small and regional banks would be happy to pick up domestic customers forgotten by large banks in their march offshore."Australian banking is the last great corporate competition law dinosaur," Mr Liddy said."It has weathered regulatory climate change and the extinction of protectionism in every other industry from cars and textiles to airlines and energy."It is the one true anachronism left in competition law in Australia 〞 the elephant in the room that neither Government nor Opposition want to talk about." Australia's largest banks are held separate by a policy enacted under Prime Minister Paul Keating.The four-pillars policy is a remnant of a "six-pillar" policy Mr Keating developed during "the recession we had to have"."Few in the finance sector,or I suspect in Canberra,still believe 'four pillars' is good public policy," Mr Liddy said.Mr Liddy's comments are some of the strongest on record from banks outside the big four 〞 ANZ,Commonwealth Bank,National Australia Bank and Westpac.Big Four executives trumpet the evils of four pillars at nearly every opportunity.A spokesman for Bendigo Bank,another of thesmaller banks,said government "needs to weigh up whether the market's changed to the point where artificial restrictions are still needed to protect consumer interests.It also needs to consider whether Australian banks have enough capacity in their current form to compete with large overseas players now entering the market."

From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/24/2007


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NEW ZEALAND: Infrastructure Bonds

On 19 December 2006,the NZDMO announced that it expected to issue up to $150 million of Infrastructure Bonds in the 2006/2007 fiscal year.The New Zealand Debt Management Office (NZDMO) today announced further details of the Infrastructure Bonds to be issued in bond tender 237,which is to be held on 15 February 2007.Two bonds will be offered at the tender,of which $100 million will be 15 December 2017 bonds.Of these 15 December 2017 bonds,$50 million will be designated as Infrastructure Bonds.Infrastructure Bonds will be issued on the same terms and conditions as other New Zealand Government Bonds.They will be fully fungible with existing government bonds of the same maturity dates.The tender process remains the same in that bidders will not be required to specify whether bids are for Infrastructure or other bonds.Infrastructure Bonds will,however,be identified as a separate line item in the Financial Statements of the Government and in the Treasury's annual report.A revised Investment Statement reflecting the introduction of Infrastructure Bonds will be made available before the tender.The overall composition of the tender will be announced a week prior to the tender as is normal practice.

From http://www.nzdmo.govt.nz/ 02/01/2007


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NZ Banks Improve Satisfaction Levels

New Zealand's five major banks are outpacing Australia's top four in customer satisfaction,a regular survey says.Research organisation Roy Morgan said that over the second half of last year,satisfaction with the five major banks was 78.4 per cent.This compared with the average 69.6 per cent rating achieved by the big four Australian banks - ANZ,Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA),National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac.Roy Morgan said the difference between satisfaction among bank customers in Australia and New Zealand was particularly stark when comparing the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (66.5 per cent) versus New Zealand's ASB Bank (83.4 per cent).The only bank which did not beat its Australian parent for satisfaction levels was the ANZ,which had a slightly lower rating in New Zealand (74.1 per cent) compared to ANZ in Australia (75.9 per cent).New Zealand's major banks are all Australian-owned.The ANZ and National Bank is owned by ANZ,ASB by CBA,BNZ owned by NAB,and Westpac in both countries.Among the New Zealand banks,ASB was the top-rated bank in New Zealand,with an 83.4 per cent satisfaction level.It was followed by the National Bank at 82.6 per cent,the BNZ at 80 per cent,the ANZ at 74.1 per cent,and Westpac at 72.3 per cent.

Over the past five years,Roy Morgan noted that National and ASB had been constantly vying for the top spot,while ASB marginally ahead.Westpac had replaced ANZ at the bottom of the ladder,although its ratings were up three per cent,and BNZ achieved the greatest improvement in satisfaction,up 3.9 per cent.National Bank had seen the greatest fall,down 2.3 per cent.Satisfaction among those earning more than $50,000,was low in Australia,on average 64.6 per cent.But two of New Zealand's five major banks - the ASB and National - achieved very high ratings of 86 per cent and 85 per cent among high earners.The average was 76.8 per cent."This analysis shows that in customer satisfaction,New Zealand banks are generally outscoring their Australian parent banks," Lesley Morton,a Roy Morgan New Zealand finance industry spokeswoman.

From http://www.nzdmo.govt.nz/ 02/01/2007


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CHINA: Retail Sector Promising for Graduates

China's growing retail sector could provide more jobs for the glut of college graduates as the industry is in dire need of better-educated managers,according to an industry report.More than 70 percent of multinational department stores,supermarkets and sales outlets,such as Prada and Gucci,are seeking shop managers and more than 60 percent almost always have openings for salespeople,says the report by the Commerce Economy Association of China.China's retail industry currently employs 80 million to 130 million people,association vice secretary-general Hong Tao told a forum on the development of retail sales.'The number varies because almost 20 percent of salespeople keep changing jobs,' he said.As a result,the majority of retail sales people lack the experience and expertise to qualify as managers,said Hong.Poor education is another obstacle for most salespeople for being promoted to management jobs because only three percent have a college education.

The dearth of qualified professionals threatens to hinder the development of domestic retail outlets as it tries to compete with international rivals,according to a study by China Chain Store and Franchise Association.Shanghai Bailian Group planned to open 1,000 new stores this year,but its management feared they would be unable to find enough good store managers.Almost five million college students will graduate this year and the ministry of labour and social security has warned that 1.4 million of them will be unable to find a job matching their qualifications.Many students have been forced to lower their job expectations and hundreds are taking temporary jobs during the winter vacation as babysitters or housekeepers - jobs that were commonly considered beneath college graduates.China's retail sales topped 7.5 trillion yuan ($960 billion) last year,up at least 10 percent from 2005.


From http://in.news.yahoo.com/ 01/28/2007


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Chinese NGOs Increase to 346,000 Last Year

China saw the number of non-governmental organizations (NGO) increase to 346,000 by the end of last year,8 percent more than the previous year,according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.Last year,civil affairs departments at various levels worked out a set of rules regulating NGOs according to local situations,the departments provided special guidance to NGOs that are dedicated to the development of particular industries,the rural economy and charity activities,said Zhang Weilin,an official with the ministry.Since September last year,NGOs had participated in 211 projects supporting the rural development,involving a total investment of 5.5 billion yuan (688 million U.S.dollars),Zhang said.Since 1978 when China initiated the policy of reform and opening-up,the country has witnessed a steady increase in the number of the NGOs,which are called "civilian organizations" in Chinese officials.Civilian organizations have served as "helpful assistants" to the government in many areas including poverty reduction,environmental protection,education,health and employment.Jiang Li,Vice Minister of Civil Affairs,said the ministry would strengthen supervision of NGOs and map out measures this year to clean up illicit fee collections,false reporting and corruption among them.Earlier reports said that the ministry has started to formulate methods of evaluating the structure,business,financial status and social influence of NGOs.Currently,most of China's NGOs are small and do not have a standard operation,which result in a limited role in social affairs and inadequate trust from the public.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/04/2007


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Private Firms "New Force" in Overseas Investment

Privately owned Chinese enterprises are set to become the new force among China's overseas investors.So said Hou Zhirui,an official from the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce,based on data from an eight-year period.The organization's statistics showed that the growth rate of private enterprises has seen more of them become large companies with sales volumes of 300 million yuan.And these firms will be ready to go abroad when they reach a certain level."It will not take a long time (for Chinese private enterprises to become a new force in overseas investment).Maybe only three to five years," he said.A large number of private Chinese firms have already increased their presence in overseas markets.Outbound investment includes overseas processing,technology and equipment exports,establishing sales channels,and mergers and acquisitions.But most of the firms still focus on small-scale projects.The federation's Zheng Yuewen said the Chinese government should remove restrictions on private enterprises "going out".He said the government should,for example,remove the approval process for outbound investment.The outbound investment of Chinese firms totaled 16.1 billion U.S.dollars last year,according to statistics from the commerce ministry.

China went from being the 17th largest investor in the world to the 13th in 2005.Although the figure reflects a 31 percent increase from a year earlier,it is still small compared with the 64.5 billion dollars of foreign investment China attracted last year.Chinese overseas investors are facing major obstacles such as a lack of core technologies,cultural differences and a lack of well-known brands,according to a report on Chinese transnational corporations by the Research Institute under China's commerce ministry."But enterprises cannot go out until everything is ready," said Wang Zhile,a researcher with the institute.The report suggested the Chinese government should offer more policy support to Chinese enterprises for their overseas investments,quoting the successful experience of South Korean companies."Only by cultivating a large number of Chinese transnational companies can the country concentrate its limited resources to lay a solid foundation for economic strength," the report said.Meanwhile,the report said Chinese enterprises must improve their abilities in overseas investment and management."Chinese investors must learn how to shun trade obstacles such as safeguards,tariff barriers and trade conflicts brought by foreign countries," it said.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/07/2007


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China's Private Firm Owners "Not That Rich"

Private entrepreneurs are not as rich as people think,a recent survey shows.However,this highly educated group of people want to play a bigger role in the country's social and political life.They support the leadership of the Party,because they believe they are the direct beneficiaries of its opening-up policy and stable social conditions,according to the survey.The survey was conducted by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in the first half of last year.It was the seventh national survey on private enterprises and received almost 4,000 responses.Compared with the results of the previous survey in 2004,the latest one found the number of private enterprises was increasing rapidly following the issue of 36 measures by the State Council in 2005 to support development of the private economy.In 18 months,the number of private enterprises increased by 1 million.

The number of self-employed individuals also reversed the dipping trend since 1999,reaching 25 million in 2006.Nearly 90 percent of the private entrepreneurs are aged between 33 and 57.The number of former government officials,managers and technicians is increasing among the group,accounting for two-thirds of the total.In 2004,these three categories of people accounted for only one-third of the total."It is a fundamental change and signals social progress.China lacks such highly educated entrepreneurs," said Bao Yujun,president of the All-China Society of Private Economic Research,at a news conference in Beijing on Friday to detail results of the survey.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 02/10/2007


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Private Business Owners Want Political Role

Nearly one in every three private entrepreneurs wants to play a political role as the private sector continues to fuel the country's economic growth,says a recent survey.The private sector accounts for 65 percent of China's GDP and contributes over 80 percent of its economic growth,says the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC).The study was a joint effort by the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China,the All-China Association for Private Business Studies,and the ACFIC.Though the survey shows that about 70.8 percent of the entrepreneurs consider business to be their top priority,there are those who hope to be elected deputies to the People's Congress or members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at various levels.The National People's Congress (NPC) is the highest legislature and the CPPCC,a political advisory body.Though the study reflects the rising desire of such people to engage in politics,their enthusiasm contrasts with the rank or post they can hold.In fact,they can only assume low-ranking posts in political or economic organizations,and their proportion at best can be fairly small.Moreover,such posts are concentrated in economic rather than political organizations.The study discovered that former government officials,managerial personnel of state-owned enterprises and technical professionals made up 67.4 percent of the private business owners,up from 33.8 percent in 2004.In contrast,the ratio of workers,farmers,and service-trade personnel turned entrepreneurs dropped from 57.9 percent to 26.7 percent.Party members comprised 32.2 percent of the private owners who registered their businesses after 2001.The majority of the private business owners with Party affiliations previously worked for the Party or government organizations at some point in time,with many of them serving as directors or managers of state-owned or collectively owned enterprises.The conclusion is that the make-up of private business ownership is becoming elite-oriented,says Bao Yujun,director of the All-China Association for Private Business Studies,which explains why the new generation of entrepreneurs yearn for recognition and understanding from society.


From http://www.china.org.cn 02/26/2007


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JAPAN: Osaka Pref.to Run Job Center with Private Firm

The Osaka prefectural government and Recruit Co.,a Tokyo-based information service company,will from April jointly run a center for young jobseekers,according to prefectural government officials.The prefectural government aims to utilize Recruit's ability to match young people with jobs,and hopes to help small and medium-sized enterprises find workers.According to the officials,the jointly run facility will be the first of its kind to be operated under a public and private partnership arrangement.In 2004,the prefectural government opened Job Cafe Osaka in a prefectural employment center in Chuo Ward,in the city,which provides employment services for youth.The prefectural government sought a joint private sector operator for the facility to make it more effective,and Recruit Co.responded to the offer.The prefectural government earmarked 125 million yen in the fiscal 2007 budget for the project.Employment services will be offered to people aged 15 to 34,including students and job-hopping part-time workers.Recruit will dispatch about 20 counselors to the center who will provide vocational aptitude tests and individual counseling.The prefectural government will charge companies to advertise positions vacant with the center.The center will provide the information to young jobseekers free of charge."Firsthand information on companies,provided by counselors,will provide thorough job descriptions to young clients," a Recruit spokesman said.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 02/15/2007


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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't,Private Sectors Team Up to Spur Investment

The government and the business community have agreed to work more closely to create more jobs,boost investment and spur economic growth.In a meeting held Tuesday,Commerce,Industry and Energy Minister Kim Young-ju and the leaders of Korea's five largest business groups agreed to boost cooperation in those three areas.As part of efforts to spur growth the government said it will provide more than W2 trillion (US$1=W933) for research and development this year.The nation's ten biggest businesses also plan to increase combined R&D investment by more than ten percent year-on-year.Minister Kim and business leaders also saw eye-to-eye on the importance of a free-trade pact between Korea and the U.S.and agreed to work toward closing the deal.


From http://english.chosun.com 02/07/2007


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PHILIPPINES: Gov't Sees P2B from Sale of Bank,Airport

The government hopes to sell this year an old airport in Iloilo province and the Al-Amanah Islamic Bank,and expects to get a total of up to P2 billion,a Department of Finance official said.The official said that based on market value reports,the 60-hectare airport could be sold for P500 million to P2 billion.Not much gain is expected from the sale of the Al-Amanah,because proceeds might be used only to pay for the bank's liabilities,the official added.Al-Amanah Islamic Bank was established in 1990 to serve the banking needs of Muslim Filipinos.It incurred large losses,which made the government decide to give up ownership.In Iloilo,a new airport is set to open this year.For the old airport property,the government has hired CB Richard Elis as real estate adviser.In all,the government aims to get P25.7 billion from privatization of assets this year.Also being sold is a 46-percent shareholding in Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corp.(PTIC),a holding company that owns 13.8 percent of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.A Singaporean company has offered P25.2 billion for the block,which the majority owner of PTIC,the Hong Kong-based conglomerate First Pacific Co.Ltd.,plans to match.The finance department official said other assets lined up for privatization had slim chances of being sold this year.These include shares in Manila Electric Co.and San Miguel Corp.,and the Philippine Postal Corp.,he said.A further P1 billion in privatization proceeds is expected this year from installment payments on assets from previously sold,the official said.

From http://archive.inquirer.net 02/02/2007


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INDONESIA: The Problems of Higher Education Privatization

The plan of the government to "privatize",an euphemism for running higher state institutions under a private model,reminds the writer of a touching short message service (SMS) from a nephew studying at Bandung's Padjadjaran University (UNPAD)."Mak Uo,thank you very much for the transfer.May God bless you and may your fortune accumulate ...," read the message to my wife.At a glance there was nothing unusual about the SMS.Indeed,there is something noteworthy if we go deeper into the message.The real,underlying value in the content of the pragmatic message is not that it is full of gratitude,but the significance of the small amount of money that we send monthly to the recipient to support his studies.For us,with the risk of sounding vain and haughty,the Rp 300,000 (US$33) is insignificant as it is just enough to pay for a family lunch or dinner at a restaurant.The nephew,who is quite smart as evidence by his ability to keep up with his studies in the popular department of international relations,is just one of thousands if not tens of thousands of university students in the country who urgently need financial support because their parents are not well-off.And state universities are the one hope for students from low income families to study due to the relatively low tuition fees.But under the draft law on educational institutions soon to be submitted by the government to the House of Representatives for deliberation,there is only a small chance for students from poor families to continue their studies.Why? The principle of autonomy and self-reliance in the law will force administrators of state universities to raise tuition fees.

"This is an agenda of neo liberalists,the government seems to want to shirk its responsibility of financing education," said education expert H.A.R.Tilaar as quoted by Tempo Interaktif.Media Indonesia,in a piercing editorial,viewed the draft education law -- proposed several years after the implementation of the government policy on the change of status of four national higher institutions,namely the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB),the University of Indonesia (UI),Gadjah Mada University (UGM) and the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB),from state colleges into state-owned legal entities -- as a death knell for higher education,especially for universities in the provinces,which rely heavily on government aid.Now the four universities have greater freedom to manage their own affairs,including in designing their curricula,but on the other hand they pay a high cost for the autonomy -- they scramble to find new financial resources to support their operations due to the substantial drop in government aid since the implementation of the policy.Presently,the government practically pays only the salaries of permanent lecturers and administrative staff.In generating much needed revenue,the four state universities initially adopted a uniform policy of accepting students from wealthy families who passed a specially designed entrance test,the standards of which,naturally,were lower than the normal rigorous entrance test held nationally.But these "special students" were required to pay an exorbitant entrance fee of between Rp 25 million ($2,700) and Rp 125 million -- an amount far beyond the means of many Indonesians whose income per capita is a mere $840.This pro-rich student policy proved controversial,not only because it was burdensome but also because it unfairly alienated bright students from poor families whose chances of studying at a state university of their choice got slimmer because universities had to allocate seats for the wealthy,less smart students.

In apparent respond to the public outcry,the University of Indonesia announced a policy change on the "special lane" for the rich or development fee in 2005.Under the new scheme,a student enrolled at the university must pay Rp 25 million regardless of whether he or she passes the rigorous SPMB entrance exam.Fully aware of the sensitivity of the issue,the head of the Research and Development Center of the Ministry of National Education,Mansyur Ramly,reiterated last week that the draft law on educational institutions was simply meant to make the management of state universities more transparent and accountable to their stakeholders,and had nothing to do with government aid.But close examination of the policy of UI,ITB,IPB and UGM after their "privatization" shows that the approach of the universities are now more pro rich people,who are willing and able to pay more for their studies.One unforeseen result of this will be a wider gap between the rich and the poor,with the treatment of education as a commodity like any other commercial goods.Indeed,the government has long shifted its responsibility to tax payers.In many areas of the country members of the public whose children study at primary and secondary state schools,for example,have to pay various kinds of payments even though this is a blatant violation of the spirit of the nine-year compulsory education scheme.The schools argued that they have no option but to collect fees to finance their operations as the government only pays salaries of permanent teachers and administrative staff.At some public schools,parents of students contribute more than 90 percent of the school's operational budget.

In order to minimize the impacts of the plan to run state universities and institutes as private entities,there are some aspects that should be duly considered by the government and the House in the deliberation of the law.First,are low and middle income groups -- who account for more than 85 percent of Indonesia's 225 million population -- able to pay more for education if the universities,which will be run like private entities,raise tuition fees? And second,does the government have a working and effective control mechanism to supervise the policies of state universities and institutes? If not,they may be forced to copy the policies of primary and secondary schools who seemingly "harass" or "extort" money from students' parents,school alumni and donors to finance ambitious programs like development and renovation of school buildings,to purchase teaching aids,furniture and even operational vehicles for the school.The most important issue is the need to clarify our policy on higher education.Is studying at university a privilege or a right? If it is a privilege,what will the state do to help students from low and middle income groups,who mostly go to state universities and institutes? Another issue that should be studied carefully is whether universities in provinces,whose circumstances are much different from UI,ITB,UGM and IPB who have big names,have a large number of alumni in high positions in government and the private sector and reputable research institutes are able to generate income? Not less important is the involvement of a large spectrum of the public in the deliberation of the new bill.The new bill is indeed a test case on the government's commitment to education.Thus the government,as suggested by a reader in a recent newspaper column,must think smartly and never ever evade responsibility to the people for short term economic interests.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com 01/31/2007


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Privatization of Jakarta Water: How Far Can It Go?

Both private firms in the Jakarta Water Services concession contract,TPJ and PALYJA,have failed to meet the investment levels required by their coverage ratio targets.The fact is not only that the targets has been missed in Jakarta,but also that a similar trend has occurred in other Indonesian cities where water is not privatized,such as Surabaya and Malang,the two biggest cities in East Java.Likewise,the examples of Brazil,Argentina and Bolivia show that in some cities private sector involvement has indeed increased coverage ratios.But at the same time,coverage ratios have also increased in Latin American cities without any private sector involvement.Developing-nation cities,such as in the Dolphin Coast and Nelspruit in South Africa,Kelantan State in Malaysia,and Manila in the Philippines,have also witnessed the failure of private companies to meet investment targets.Aguas,a SUEZ-led local firm in Buenos Aires,Argentina,has also been guilty of under-capitalization.Comparing customer growth before and after the privatization of Jakarta's water supplies also supports the argument that it has been a failure.Average annual customer growth before privatization (in the years 1988 to 1997) was 11.68 percent,or 31,246 customers.After privatization,growth in the years leading up to 2005 dropped to about 5.61 percent.Consequently,as of 2005,around 41.89 percent of Jakarta's population was without piped water.Scholars tend to pin privatization's failure on the inability of the government -- and its regulatory framework -- to provide sufficient incentives and to minimize the risks for private firms.Little attention has been devoted to providing a more balanced perspective by investigating the failures of private firms using behavioral analysis.In the case of Jakarta's water privatization,water charge mechanisms and price setting are the most important components of the existing regulatory framework.Both components provide sufficient incentives that should be able to stimulate firms to invest.

Although the real tariff did not always increase as scheduled,the cumulative (total) real tariff increase for the period between 1998 and 2005 was 154.95 percent.That was higher than the water charge target (125.75 percent),and higher than the scheduled tariff (138.54 percent).This reflects government commitment to providing an adequate tariff level for private firms.The rate-of-return regulation -- with a fixed 22 percent annual rate -- places the risks of macroeconomic fluctuations mostly on PAM Jaya and its customers through,respectively,increased shortfalls and price hikes.Local financial markets also provide secure and sufficient external financing sources,as witnessed by PALYJA's successful Rp 650 billion bond issue in 2005.Similarly,risk expropriation is less likely to occur given that,politically and legally,the Indonesian government introduced its water privatization agenda via the national law on water resources (Law No.7/2004).The national infrastructure development policy also includes options for private firms to finance water infrastructure development.Given that the Jakarta water firms face minimal risks,and have been provided with security and sufficient incentives,we have to ask why private firms keep underinvesting.Considering the nature their contracts,it is difficult for the contracting parties to specify every ex post facto contingency.Consequently,continuous negotiations on the making of adjustments following unexpected ex post facto events,and haggling over disagreements,leads to rampant uncertainty.This means that private firms eventually prefer to hold back investment until they see a potential gain,rather than complying with the requirement for greater investment contained in their coverage ratio targets.

The combination of incomplete contracts and asymmetric information provides the opportunity for private firms to bargain for more favorable regulations,for example,by threatening to pull out or reduce scheduled investments.Furthermore,the poorly defined right to determine tariffs has resulted in the parties who bear the costs (PALYJA and TPJ) not being the same parties as those who decide the real tariffs (the government and parliament).This situation has to potential to prolong a problematic situation.It means that investment decisions that depend heavily on market-based calculations and predictions are not supported by the tariff-setting mechanisms since these are mostly made outside the market.Eventually,underinvestment problems become inevitable.Unfortunately,due to the fact that water is a natural monopoly,it is clear that the right to set prices cannot be fully surrendered to private firms.Even in developed countries,such as the UK,there are price-cap regulations under which tariffs are determined by OFWAT (an independent regulatory body for the water industry).Economic crises affect not only private firms' service-provision capabilities (on the supply side),but also hit the affordability of water (on the demand side).However,after macroeconomic conditions stabilized in 2000,the private firms' investment has stayed under the target levels.Thus,the regulators must not only focus on providing incentives and minimizing risks,but must also be aware of private firms' investment behavior in terms of failing to fulfill contracts,costly transactions,influential macroeconomic circumstances and global trends in the water business.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com 02/05/2007


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Sale of State Assets Fetched P5.8B in 2006

The national government earned P5.815 billion from the sale of assets in last year,compared with only P500 million set as the official target in the 2006 fiscal program and P4.3 billion earlier estimated by the Department of Finance,according to data from the Bureau of the Treasury.It was the amount of biggest privatization revenue since 1998.In 1997,proceeds of privatization of assets amounted to P9.428 billion.Part of revenues is partial payment for assets that are remitted to the Bureau of the Treasury.Big-ticket assets sold last year included properties formerly occupied by the defunct Manila Gas Co.and by the International School of Manila,and real estate in Nampeidai in Japan.Also sold were shares in water concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc.and shares in PNOC Energy Development Corp.,which went public in late 2006.After six years of trying,the government sold the former International School campus,measuring 48,832 square meters,just off the Makati business district to real estate developer Century Properties Inc.for P1.432 billion.The Manila Gas property in Manila went to Robinsons Land for P574 million.The shares in Maynilad Water went for $57 million.A consortium formed by DMCI Holdings Inc.and Metro Pacific Holdings Corp.bought the shares and the right to operate the water concession for the western zone of Metro Manila.PNOC Energy Development,a unit of Philippine National Oil Co.,raised an estimated P19.12 billion from its initial public offering of stock.Half of the money was to be divided between PNOC-EDC and the government,and half was to be used to develop renewable energy resources.The 2006 revenue from privatization plus the Bureau of the Treasury's income totaled P119.35 billion.The amount helped to cut the budget deficit to P62.2 billion,compared with the target maximum of P1125 billion.The treasury bureau's income reached P73.9 billion (not P51.9 billion as earlier reported).

From http://archive.inquirer.net 02/03/2007


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SINGAPORE: Postal Sector to Fully Liberalise

Come 1 April 2007,Singapore's postal sector will be fully liberalised.The Government has decided to open the Basic Mail Services market,which includes the collection and delivery of letters and postcards,within,into and out of Singapore,after a 15-year monopoly by Singapore Post Ltd (SingPost)1.With this,new players will be allowed in both domestic and international mail services.This adds greater competition to Singapore's postal sector,which has seen the liberalisation of other segments such as Express Letter Services as early as 19952.The decision will further the Government's commitment towards building an open economy and strengthening Singapore's position as a regional business hub.Liberalisation is expected to generate cost savings of S$8 million to S$25 million per year over the next two to three years,to largely benefit businesses.Today,businesses account for almost 95 per cent of Singapore's total domestic mail.In 2004,Singapore's postal services sector generated an annual revenue of more than S$1 billion3. Total mail volume4 has also been growing since the 1990s,and most recently,at about two per cent per year.Liberalisation of the Basic Mail Services market will be the catalyst for greater sector growth.The newly liberalised segment presents a plethora of fresh business possibilities,including value-added services and tailored postal solutions such as letter mail tracking and staggered delivery of letters.The Government's decision to open the Basic Mail Services market follows a public consultation in August 2006 by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).Agreeing that liberalisation will be a catalyst for the postal sector's growth,the industry had expressed their support and provided inputs on the proposed liberalisation framework.Taking into account the feedback,IDA will effect key changes to promote competition,while ensuring continued provision of Basic Mail Services,public confidence in Singapore's postal system,and the protection of consumers' interests:

From http://www.ida.gov.sg 02/05/2007


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INDIA: Private Companies to Procure Electricity for Delhi

New Delhi,Jan 29: Private companies distributing power in the national capital will soon procure electricity for the city instead of the state-run Delhi Transco Ltd,it was decided Monday.The state government approved a proposal for constitution of Delhi Power Procurement Group,which would consist of all the five power distribution companies.The group would take up the task of procuring power from April 1,2007,Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said here.The Delhi Power Procurement Group will exist only as a temporary measure till the demand-supply gap is fully met by 2010-11,she added.Delhi has been facing a serious crunch of power especially during summer.Last summer,the capital faced a shortage of nearly 700 MW of power leading to power cuts up to eight hours in some parts of the city.Delhi procures power from several states like Haryana,Uttaranchal,Gujarat and Orissa.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 01/29/2007


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SRI LANKA: SLT to Invest USD100 Million in IP and International Projects

Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has announced plans to invest USD100 million this year as part of a medium-term strategy to pursue increased foreign revenues and to invest in IP-based services and migration to a packet-switched network.&We want to increase business from non-traditional business to 70% over ten years and become a global IP solutions provider,' SLT's newly appointed CEO,Shoji Takahashi told reporters.SLT is connected to the SEA-ME-WE cable systems of which it is a part owner,and has two private submarine cable ventures with BSNL of India and Dhiraagu Telecom of the Maldives.SLT has a point-of-presence (PoP) in Hong Kong where it is connected to NTT's global IP platform.&We want to increase our PoPs outside the country and increase global PoP revenue,' Takahashi declared.SLT's domestic fibre-optic ring rollout is set to be completed by the end of this year,although work on northern links has been stalled by the recent escalation in hostilities between government forces and the rebel Tamil Tigers.Between 2001 and 2005 SLT's revenues grew by 50% to LKR32 billion (USD295 million).In the first nine months of 2006 the group posted revenues of LKR29.8 billion and net profit of LKR3.8 billion.

From http://www.telegeography.com/ 01/26/2007


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IRAN: 2nd Major Privatization Undertaking in 2 Weeks

Iran's privatization chief said here on Wednesday that the shares of Isfahan's Mobarakeh Steel Mills will be offered on the stock market in the next two weeks.Mobarakeh is said to be the world's largest producer of sponge iron.Seven development projects are underway in the giant steel mills whose total production is expected to increase from 5.2 million tons to seven million tons a year in the near future.Gholamreza Heidari Kord-Zanganeh,who heads the State Privatization Organization,told ISNA that the people have warmly welcomed the privatization of large state companies,stressing that the initiative began with the transfer of shares of Iran Copper Industries Company."We will gradually offer the shares of large industrial firms on the stock market," he said,adding that such companies' shares could not be offered at once due to their huge capital and supply and demand considerations.He said that shares of banks and insurance firms will also be offered on the stock market,adding that 33 telecoms firms as well as 107 oil and gas companies will be privatized in the year to March 2008.

Earlier this month,a senior privatization official rejected allegations that the National Copper Industries Company's shares have been sold below their actual prices,stressing that the procedures of transferring the company's shares to private ownership were fully in compliance with the law.The entire three-percent share of the country's largest copper company had been sold on the stock market in a single trading session.Mehdi Aqdaei,deputy head of State Privatization Organization,told Fars that share prices are determined on the basis of supply and demand,adding that it was based on the provisions of the latest reading of Article 44 of the Constitution,which allows large-scale privatizations.The official said allegations that the copper shares were sold at low prices are baseless.The National Copper Industries Company is one of the country's profit-making state enterprises with its profit forecast for the fiscal year of March 2006-2007 at five trillion rials.The latest reading of Article 44 of the Constitution,announced by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei last year,allows large-scale privatizations in almost all industrial and economic areas.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 02/15/2007

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8 Private Firms Create Steel Consortium

Eight major private companies have established a giant consortium to produce 1.5 million tons of steel per annum,said the head of Iran Steel Producers' Association here on Sunday.Taqi Bahrami-Noshahr told IRNA that if other private steel firms are also willing to join the consortium,they could apply through the association."Initial capital of the consortium stands at more than three trillion rials," he said,adding that the Ministry of Industries and Mines had also approved the establishment of the consortium.He appreciated the ministry's decision to supply the consortium with raw materials,stressing that the private companies will also strive to improve production.Iran's steel production has increased significantly in recent years when higher oil revenues have given development projects a new lease on life.Minister of Industries and Mines Alireza Tahmasbi said earlier this month that state-owned Isfahan's Mobarakeh Steel Mills has turned into the world's largest producer of sponge iron.

The minister said at the opening ceremony of the giant steel complex's seven development projects that 'once these projects become operational,Mobarakeh Steel Mills' total production will increase from 5.2 million tons to seven million tons a year'.He said the national steel industry is seriously following up plans to increase overall production capacity to 29 million tons a year by end of the Fourth Plan (2005-2010),Tahmasbi further said that aluminum and copper production capacities are also expected to rise by 700,000 and 500,000 tons respectively a year by 2010.He said that iron ore extraction will rise to 50 million tons a year in the near future.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 02/19/2007

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AUSTRALIA: Save Water by Charging More: CEDA

BUSINESSES will pay more for water to encourage conservation,according to a new report from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.The report,Water That Works: Sustainable water management in the commercial sector,to be launched today in Sydney by the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources,Malcolm Turnbull,says "user-pays" pricing for water needs to be extended to all sectors of the economy.The Government would also need to look at a compensation scheme to ensure no group is disadvantaged.The paper also calls for a national water trading market that would enable water to be traded between regions and states.It also calls for water entitlements to be separated from land entitlements and for open earth channels to be replaced by piped distribution systems.However,the adoption of these technologies and practices would depend on pricing reform.The CEDA paper was the work of contributors from government,the private sector,academia and research organisations.CEDA's official water statement maintains there are no easy solutions to Australia's chronic water shortage."The adjustments that are needed to manage the demand and supply of water in a more economically efficient and sustainable way are difficult and complex.They require innovative but also painful measures,and positive and co-operative federal and state governmental intervention and vision."CEDA believes there are no alternative policy choices.The costs will be even higher in the future unless actions are taken now and with more urgency."


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/19/2007

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Small Business under Rising Wage Pressure

WAGES growth may not be great enough to spark another rate rise,but higher interest rates and the tight labour market saw small-business conditions ease in the December quarter.The St George Bank-Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Index of Small Business Conditions fell to 52.7 points in the December quarter from 54.7 in the previous three months.But the index remained above 50,indicating conditions would continue to improve.ACCI chief executive Peter Hendy said the survey of 1546 respondents found small businesses were facing pressure under rising wage costs.Wage and non-wage labour costs rose significantly over the December quarter,according to the survey index.Wage growth was 66.8 〞 in trend terms 〞 in the December quarter,up from 65.5 previously,while non-wage labour costs jumped to 66.4 in the December quarter from 64.9."The profit figures are poor," Mr Hendy said."Employment growth does,however,remain sound.The wage cost index for small business is at a record high # that's a real challenge for small business." Sales revenue fell to 56.1 in the December quarter from 58.1 in the previous three months,profit growth dropped to 47.1 from 48.6,while employment rose to 54.4 from 54.1.

The survey also examined constraints on investment for small businesses.Investment in plant and equipment growth dropped to 53.9 in the December quarter from 55.6.Investment in building and structures also fell to 49.4 from 51.1."With a state election coming up shortly in NSW,we see the number one constraint on small business investment plans is state government regulation," Mr Hendy said."Business taxes and charges are also very high on that list,as are skills shortages that are challenging small businesses across Australia." Steven Milch,head of economic research at St George,said the survey showed that the gap between conditions for small and large businesses was the widest it has been for years,as larger companies were more direct beneficiaries of the resources boom.But forward expectations in the survey showed small businesses expected conditions to improve over the first three months of this year."Small-business managers continue to display optimism regarding future conditions," Mr Milch said.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/21/2007

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Rising Wages Fans Inflation Worries

Signs of an acceleration in wages growth are fuelling the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) inflation worries,which may rule out an interest rate cut this year,economists say.Average weekly ordinary time earnings (AWOTE) for adult full-time employees rose 0.7 per cent in the three months to November and 3.2 per cent annually,up from the 2.9 per cent annual rate in August,the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.The data comes a day after RBA governor Glenn Stevens told a House of Representatives economics committee that,with the economy at full employment and inflation near the upper end of its permitted range,the next move in interest rates was more likely to be up than down."The recent (wages) acceleration reinforces the RBA's tightening bias and removes any possibility of a rate cut this year," JP Morgan economist Jarrod Kerr said."RBA governor Glenn Stevens was clear in his testimony yesterday saying that at this stage of the cycle,with core inflation still near the top of the target range and the economy fully employed,an easing in monetary policy any time soon looks extremely unlikely."

Private sector AWOTE was up 0.6 per cent in the November quarter for an annual rise of 3 per cent,while public sector wages were up 0.6 per cent for an annual rise of 3.8 per cent,the report said.The report illustrated how the resource boom in Western Australia has employers scrambling for workers.AWOTE in NSW rose 0.3 per cent,seasonally adjusted,and was unchanged in Victoria,while it climbed 0.7 per cent in Western Australian - and 3.5 per cent in Tasmania."In some states,there is clearly a lot of wage pressure," Grange Securities researcher Stephen Roberts said."These are very divergent readings." Even so,with (the) esults still well short of the RBA's limit of a four per cent annual wages growth,the RBA will,at the very least,keep rates on hold,CommSec economist Martin Arnold said."This is a benign result," Mr Arnold said."This is nothing for the RBA to be worried about."


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 02/22/2007

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