November 2006, Issue 60
gapw@apcity.org
 
 
  ASEAN-China Summit to Chart FTA Blueprint
Ministers Adopt Action Plan to Accelerate Regional Cooperation in Central Asia
New Communication Guidelines for Development Policy Unveiled
Hong Kong APEC Workshop on Effective Strategies for IP Public Education
Joint Press Statement of 10th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment
Effective Government Policies Termed Vital for Closing Digital Divide in Developing Countries
 
  CHINA: Encourage Farmers* Professional Cooperatives
Regulations Issued to Support Anti-money Laundering Law
State Council Approves Suggestions on Electricity Industry Reform
New Measure Launched to Protect Trademarks of Farm Products from Taiwan
China Issues Document on Clean Governance in Rural Areas
Gov't Plans Rules for Electronic Garbage
China Issues New Regulations on Foreign-funded Banks
Measures to Target Property Firms in Beijing
Cabinet Tightens Controls on Social Security Funds
China to Double Land Use Fees on Construction Sites
Hong Kong Drafts Law to Cut Smog-forming Pollutants
Laws on Pension Fund Management Being Drafted
JAPAN: Birthrate Data Suggest Further Pension Cuts
Japan Eyes Larger Civilian Presence in U.N. Peacekeeping Operations
Education Law Revision Bill Clears Lower House
'Patriotism' Bill Passes the First Test
Huge Tab Eyed to Close Public Pension Gap
Education Bill's Passage Smoothens
Anti-child Abuse Law Failing to Achieve Aims
SOUTH KOREA: Presidential Council Recommends Measures to Improve Korea's Quality of Life
Roh Vows to Continue Inter-Korean Cooperation and Dialogue
Budget Plan Focuses on Defense, Welfare, Education
Gov't Panel Endorses Draft of FY 2007 Budget Policy
Southwest Region Development Plan Unveiled
MONGOLIA: Anti-Corruption Law Comes into Force
Crime Victim Assistance Plan Approved
Law on Diplomatic Service to Be Amended
 
  INDONESIA: Govt to Evaluate Discriminatory Bylaws
Govt Plans New Legislation for Special Economic Zone
Govt Revising Law on Intellectual Property Rights
MALAYSIA: Govt Plans to Upgrade Malay Villages
PHILIPPINES: NTC Issues Draft Digital TV Regulations
SINGAPORE: Govt to Introduce Laws on 19 New Offences, Expand Scope of Existing Offences
Legislative Changes to Apply to Co-Ops to Ensure Better Governance
Singapore to Beef Up 3 Areas to Help Lower Income Groups
Singaporeans Say Government's Security Measures Sufficient
THAILAND: Up to 200 Laws May Change
VIET NAM: Legal Aid, Public Health Draw Eye of National Assembly
 
  BANGLADESH: Govt Urged to Amend Age-Old Insurance Act
Adult Literacy Must Top Dev Policy Agenda: Speakers Tell Seminar
BHUTAN: Labour Act - Changes for the Better
INDAI: Government Plans New Guidelines to Bring Unlisted Psus Under Corporate Governance Ambit
India's Domestic Violence Law Enters into Force
Amendment to Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 每 Setting Up of National Judicial Council Approved
Centre Proposes to Launch Comprehensive Modernisation of Land Records Scheme
India: First South Asian Nation with Community Radio Policy
Government Planning Comprehensive Legislation to Extend Social Security Cover to All, Says Labour Minister
SRI LANKA: Govt. Has Zero-Tolerance Policy on Child Recruitment
PAKISTAN: Plan to Set up Science Cities and Varsities
New Bill on Women*S Rights Submitted
Women Bill in Conformity with Islam: Durrani
India and Pakistan Set Up an Anti-Terror Forum
 
  AFGHANISTAN: President Lauds New Land-Mine Law
IRAQ: Government Renews Emergency Laws
IRAN: Gov*t Will Approve Additional Budget Note
KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament Passes New Constitution
Kyrgyz Parliament Adopts Freedom of Information Bill
KAZAKHSTAN: President Signs Changes in Law on Local State Management
Mazhilis Approved Draft Law on Informatization
UZBEKISTAN: Constitutional Court Rules out Arbitration for Foreign Investors
 
  AUSTRALIA: Polluters Get Cash Windfall from Howard
Medicare Changes 每 November 2006
Power, Fuel Bills to Jump in Greenhouse Remedies
Labor Poised to Set Long-Term Greenhouse Goals
Australia Takes New Kyoto to Nairobi UNFCCC
Pearce Announces Most Substantial Insolvency Reforms in Almost 20 Years
Pharmacy Scheme Shake-Up to Slash Cost of Medicines
Swarming and the Social Dynamics of Group Violence
$66,000 Fine to Protect Privacy
FIJI: Cabinet Endorses Waste Management Strategies
Cabinet Approves Amendments to Employment Relations Bill 2006
NEW ZEALAND: Government Braced for Claims After Equal Pay Review
Government Looking at Making It Illegal to Supply Liquor to Under 18s
Smacking Ban Looks Certain to Be Law
 
  Nearly 3/4 World's Countries Face Serious Perceived Levels of Corruption
Mideast, E Asian Countries Have Best Tax Systems - Report
Chinese Bird-Flu Expert Is Selected to Lead WHO
ITU Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General Elected by Plenipotentiary Conference
World Bank Advances on Governance and Anti-Corruption Work Plan
ADB Deemed Effective, But Could Do Better, Survey Finds
Asian Competitiveness Institute Set Up to Develop Competitiveness in ASEAN Region
 
  CHINA: Begin Trial Scheme to Charge for Coal Prospecting, Mining Rights
China Reduces Party Posts for Efficient Governance
China's Supreme Court Expands Death Penalty Review Team
China Extends Police Presence in Countryside
Mainland, HK, Macao Hold Joint Cross-border Emergency Exercise on Infectious Diseases
Gov't Demands Action on Work Safety
Info Security Certification Center Set up
SOUTH KOREA: Korea*s National Integrity System Still Under-Developed
Korean Example in E-Government
Government Set to Lower Economic Growth
Local Governments Striving to Attract Businesses
Public Service Fees to Rise
Former Chief Nuclear Envoy Named Foreign Minister
President Names 2 Ministers
Roh to Appoint Defense Minister, Intelligence Chief
Korea's Maritime Safety Administration Wins Global Recognition
Roh Names Vice Ministers
MONGOLIA: Parliament to Finally Solve Appointment Issue
 
  INDONESIA: Minister Sets Up New Unit to Speed Reforms
MALAYSIA: Helping Government Staff with Low Incomes
Thank Public Servants for Help
PHILIPPINES: Bonus Eyed for Government Workers
Government Mass Media Group Abolished
RP Group Wants to Push IT Governance in Public Sector
THAILAND: Health Dept Investigates Corruption
Pramoj Appointed PRD Chief
VIET NAM: Top Graduates Recruited to Work in City Government
 
  BANGLADESH: President Sworn in as Chief of Caretaker Govt
No Public Servant Above Criticism: Says Ex-Cabinet Secy
46 Top Officials Transferred
INDIA: President Launches Free Education Portal
The Chandigarh Administration Has Implemented an E-Governance Initiative Called Esampark
Reform Needed in India's Public Sector, Says Central Bank Official
Government to Bring Forward Public Services Bill: PM
Mandatory Registration for All Indian Health Facilities Soon
NEPAL: Pension Office to Be Established in Kohalpur
PAKISTAN: World Bank Board Approves Southern Pakistan Water Management Action Plan
Provincial Autonomy Proposals Received: Panel*s Report Before Poll: Minister
Cell to Prepare Report on Govt*S Performance
Education Reforms 2nd Phase Begins
Anti-Corruption Deptt Recovers Rs17.5M
3,488 Govt Employees Allotted Accommodation Out of Turn
 
  AFGHANISTAN: Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for Karzai
IRAN: Legislature Approves New Minister
Iranian President Appoints New Planning Chief
TAJIKISTAN: President Begins New Term
 
  AUSTRALIA: APRA Sets Out Basel II Approaches to Securitisation and Credit Derivatives
Australia Wins Landmark Labor Law Case
Closer Ties for Resources Industry & Researchers
Farmers to Be Protected from Changes to the &Effective Life* of Tractors and Harvesters
NEW ZEALAND: Government Review of Red Tape Fails to Address Concerns
 
  Kyoto Protocol Countries Launch New Move on Greenhouse Gases
Consultative Meeting on the Establishment of the Regional e-Governance Community of Expertise for the Asia and Pacific Region Under UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID)
India Proposes Innovation Fund in Asean Region
Taking the Pulse of Innovation Lessons Learned by Asian Entrepreneurs
ICT Training Program for Developing Countries Launched
 
  CHINA: Scholars Join in Social Innovation
China to Encourage Investment from Green Companies
China's High Earners to Report Income
Emergency Broadcasts to Help Public During Disasters
"Sunshine Program" Helps 7.2 Million Laborers in Rural China Find Jobs
China to Encourage Microcredit Development to Boost Employment
JAPAN: Hospital Data to Be Made Public
Tax Panel Begins Debate on Reform
Gov't to Compile Manual on Bird Flu
MONGOLIA: State-Owned Company to Be Established
 
  INDONESIA: Government to Fix Training Centers
PHILIPPINES: Congress Sets Public Discussion on Open Source Legislation
SINGAPORE: Finance Ministry to Lower Age Limit for Company Registration to Boost Entrepreneurship
Singapore to Establish Energy Studies Centre Next Year
Government to Study Need for More Eldercare Capacity
THAILAND: Expert Discusses Process of Learning and Innovation
VIET NAM: HCM City Opens Its Ears to Public Opinion
Vietnam to Expand Accounting-Auditing Services
 
  INDIA: A Pressing Need for Innovation
Harnessing Science for Poverty Removal
Innovations Bridge the Divide in Two India's
PAKISTAN: Enhancing of Regional Capacity-Building Stressed
 
  AFGHANISTAN: President Hosts Meeting on Drug Control
AZERBAIJAN: Innovation Fund Attracted Over 10 Bl Tenge of Private Investments
TURKEY: Women's Role in Development of OIC to Be Discussed in Istanbul
UZBEKISTAN: Legislative Chamber Discusses Iodine Deficiency Issues
Reforms in the System of Social Protection of Children
 
  AUSTRALIA: Grassroots Idea Grows into $90 Million Scheme
Libs Promise Parents Say on Teacher Pay
Big Savings with Nsw Company's Water Recycling Innovation
Minister Opens New Facility for Australian Apprentices in Regional New South Wales
Government Opens Up on Flexible Work Hours
Innovation Investment Fund Round 3 (Iif3) Now Open
National Recognition for ACT Innovation
Australia and the United States Take More Climate Change Action
FIJI: NGO Concerned with Water Reforms
NEW ZEALAND: Government Says Incentive Bringing DPB Fall
Science Summit Aims to Capitalise on Research
 
  Asia's 40-yr Dream of 'Iron Silk Road' Comes Closer to Reality
WIEF to Create Better Understanding Among Investors
New Training Programme in ICT Policy and Regulation for Developing Countries
Asian Economy Headed for Slowdown, APEC Fading in Importance
East Asia Posts Solid Growth While Bracing for A Global Downturn: 25 Million People Emerge from Severe Poverty in the Past Year
World Media Hails APEC Meeting
Action Needed Now to Reduce Shortfall in IT-Savvy Workforce
 
  CHINA: Launch Patented Cellphone TV Technology Standard
World Bank Says Hangzhou Best Investment Environment in China
Shanghai to Host Trial for 3G Telecommunications
Shenzhen's 1st Online Interview System in Service
China Expert Technology Signs $15m E-government Contract in China
Rural Markets Boost China Mobile's Base
China Launches New Interactive Broadband Network
CBRC Warns Against Information Technology Risks
JAPAN: Pension Payment Records to Be Sent to 35, 45 Year Olds
Japan Returns to Top 10 of Best Countries to Live
Expert Warns Income Disparity, Poverty Rate to Keep Getting Worse
9% of High School Seniors Missing Credits
SOUTH KOREA: Economy, Living Standards, Environment to Be Upgraded for Sustainable Growth
Korean Envoy to Lead APEC's Anti-terrorism Team
Private Equity Fund Investment in Korea Increases Sharply
Korea Ranks Poorly in Gender Equality
400 Billion Won Earmarked for Smaller IT Startups in 2007
 
  INDONESIA: Ownership of Air Monitoring Stations Goes to City Govt
E-Learning: Much More Than Distance Learning
Govt to Set Up 3 More Special Economic Zones
New IT Council Plans an Information-Based Society
Internet Security Committee to Start Work Next March
MALAYSIA: OCBC Top Online Bank for Second Year
PHILIPPINES: BIR, Local Governments to Link Databases
CICT to Complete Rationalization Within 2007
Government CIOs Slowly Disappearing
SINGAPORE: Share E-Government Solutions With Developing Countries
IE Singapore Launches BuySingapore Portal for Local SMEs
E-portal Is a Hit as Teenagers Find an Online 'Family'
VIET NAM: Airlines Plans E-Tickets This Month
Ha Noi Hosts International Software-Writing Contest
 
  BANGLADESH: Number of Poor Falls Sharply in Bangladesh
Corporate Governance Guidelines Issued by SEC and Its Implementation Practices in Bangladesh
District-wise Data Base of Bangladesh on Website
INDIA: Double-Digit Growth Possible But Poverty Will Stay
Development-India: Urban Renewal Plans Render Millions Jobless
Indian Cities Emerge as Best Offshoring Sites
IT Revolution in Rural India: Tamil Nadu Leads
Lifelines India to Empower Farmers with Information
Gender Equality: India Better Than Neighbours
M-Governance May See Light of Day Soon
Mumbai Tops Internet Users List
One Hundred Projects Approved Under JNNURM
PAKISTAN: Poverty Down to 24pc, Says Musharraf
 
  IRAN: IT Growth Low
KAZAKHSTAN: Defence Ministry Gets Electronic Digital Signature
UZBEKISTAN: Presentation of East-Linux Operating System Held in Tashkent
Uzbek Government Initiates Broad Review of Media Outlets
 
  AUSTRALIA: Watchdog Eyes Net Rules
Cityrail to Use One.Tel Remains
Brisbane Innovation to Make Sharing Data Online Safer
Australia Still in the Dark on Web Trends
ID Card to Offer Digital Wallet
More College Students Taking Web Courses
Jobless Rate as Low as It Will Go
Apprenticeship Launch to Boost ICT Opportunities in Queanbeyan and the ACT
ID Card to End Paper Chase
Australian Economy $15.2 Billion Larger Thanks to Telco Reforms
No Help in Switch to Digital
Ready, Set, Go to Digital 每 A Digital Action Plan for Australia
 
  Liquidity Lagging in Asian Bond Market Expansion, ADB Report Says
ADB Plans Carbon Fund to Finance Clean Energy Projects
BNP Paribas Helps Establish Asia's First Hedge Fund Center
Asian Bank Stocks May Join Global Market Rally as Earnings Rise
 
  CHINA: Maintain Prudent Monetary, Fiscal Policies in 2007
China's Social Security Fund Earns 60b Yuan from Banking Investments
China, UNDP Open First Annual Forum on Fiscal Reform
CBRC: Foreign Financial Institutions Encouraged to Join China's Commercial Banks
China to Open RMB Business for Foreign-funded Banks
China Gives Foreign Banks Five Years to Comply with Loan-deposit Ratio
Shanghai Plans to Build Int'l Financial Center
JAPAN: Gov't Eyes Y4 Trillion Extra Budget
SOUTH KOREA: Regulator Calls on Banks to Control Housing Loans
NORTH KOREA: 2007 Budget for N.Korea Projects Mostly Unchanged
 
  INDONESIA: Development Bank Offers RI $4 Billion in Loans and Grants
Govt Lifts Import Duty, Coal Export Tax
PHILIPPINES: Finance Chief Wants Tighter Monitoring of Gov*t Spending
SINGAPORE: GST to Be Raised to 7%
Amended Banking Bill Introduced to Protect Depositors
Government to Revise Net Investment Income to Include Capital Gains
 
  INDIA: IDBI Bank, Federal Bank and Fortis Sign Joint Venture Agreement to Establish a New Life Insurance Company in India
SRI LANKA: Holds Key Rate at Asia's Second Highest
MALDIVES: Cabinet Finalises 2007 Budget
NEPAL: Comprehensive Program to Expand Rural Finance in Nepal
PAKISTAN: Tax on Property Deals Proving Too Taxing
 
  IRAN: Legislature Approves Funds for Fuel Imports
Money Laundering Campaign a Blow to Black Economy
KAZAKHSTAN: Parliament Passes Law on National Budget 2007
TAJIKISTAN: Parliament Adopts Deficit State Budget
UZBEKISTAN: Trust Bank Announces New Emission of Shares
Uzbekistan Senate Approves 2007 State Budget
 
  AUSTRALIA: Future Fund Officially Launched
Rate Fears to Haunt Poll
NEW ZEALAND: Tax Cuts Mean Deferring Spending - Cullen
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Sig September 2006 Financial Report
 
   
 
  CHINA: Private Businesses Weak at Innovation, Management
Hong Kong Reports Less Grafts in Private Sector
Top Advisor Pledges Unswerving Support for Private Sector
Private Sci-tech Firms Play Larger Role in China
90% of Chinese Firms Adopt Shareholder Reform
JAPAN: Private-Sector R&D Should Lead Innovation
Gov't Panel's Private-Sector Members Seek 3% Cut in Public Works Spending
Private Sector to Take Over for Agency
 
  INDONESIA: Govt Guarantees 100 Percent Ownership for Private Sector
Govt Touts 'Win-Win' Approach at Summit
Public-Private Alliances to Expedite Projects
MALAYSIA: Government Should Continue Operating Ambulances
Malaysia Govt Targets 11 Pct Private-Sector Investment Growth Under 9MP
THAILAND: Private Sectors Confident the Economic Policy Declaration Today Assured Foreign Investors
 
  BANGLADESH: Power Sector White Paper Soon
INDIA: Pranab Calls for Greater Synergy Between Public Spending and Private Enterprises
Provinces Legislating to Regulate Private Sector Education, Supreme Court Told
Leveraging ICT Through Education: Private Sector Involvement in Education A Must
Bank of Rajasthan Plans Insurance Foray
SRI LANKA: Government Explores Guarantee Facility to Encourage Private Investment in the North and East
PAKISTAN: Moot on Corporate Governance on 30th
 
  AZERBAIJAN: Private Sector Projects Offered
IRAN: Bank Managers Resist Privatization
Private Sector Active in Cellphone Equipment Production
TAJIKISTAN: Privatisation Process Needs Review
 
  AUSTRALIA: Red Tape, Overlap Costs $9b, Report Says
Making Tax Compliance Easier for Small Business - the New Small Business Framework
Private Sector Drag Chain on Encryption Smarts
NEW ZEALAND: Hodgson Undermining Private Sector's Support of Public Sector
Small Businesses Face Barriers to E-Commerce

ASEAN-China Summit to Chart FTA Blueprint

NANNING -- Heads of China and ten ASEAN countries gathered in Nanning Monday for a summit marking the 15th anniversary of the China-ASEAN dialogue relations, charting blueprint for future cooperation and stepping up efforts to build a free trade area. "China-ASEAN relations have evolved from removal of misgivings, to commencement of dialogue, to enhancement of mutual trust, and to the final establishment of strategic partnership," said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in his remarks. China-ASEAN relations are a "fine example" of friendly exchanges and cooperation between countries in this region, and have brought real benefits to the peoples of China and the ASEAN countries, Wen said. The premier said he would work with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who holds the rotating presidency of ASEAN, to make the summit "a fruitful one". Arroyo said the summit is "a milestone" and "more important than ever", because open dialogue and trust between peoples and nations have never been more important than in today's world. The ASEAN would like to enhance cooperation in building a free trade area with China, as the FTA will help the economies grow and strengthen peace and security in the region, she said. The summit has attracted great attention from domestic and overseas media. "The China-ASEAN summit will reap great results, bringing their strategic partnership to a new development height, for benefits of all related parties," Vietnamese newspaper People's Army said in an editorial Monday. "In the context that ... ASEAN is looking forward to the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2020, the summit is suitable for the two sides' leaders to discuss the future of their strategic partnership, " said the editorial. China and ASEAN have agreed to build up a free trade area before 2010, which will realize free flow of goods, services and investment. The free trade area will boast 1.8 billion consumers and a combined gross domestic product of US$2 trillion when completed, making it world third largest FTA after the European Union and the North American free trade area. "Development of China-ASEAN bilateral trade is so fast that it already outpaced the growth of foreign trade in China," said Gao Hucheng, Vice Commerce Minister of China. More importantly, the traded products between China and ASEAN are changing from raw products to industrial products, especially mechanical, electrical or high-tech products, according to industry insiders.

From http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/ 10/30/2006


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Ministers Adopt Action Plan to Accelerate Regional Cooperation in Central Asia

URUMQI, PEOPLE*S REPUBLIC OF CHINA - Ministers from eight Central Asian and neighboring countries today adopted a Comprehensive Action Plan to strengthen the momentum and increase the benefits of regional cooperation. Applauding the growing momentum in regional cooperation and integration among countries participating in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program, Ministers noted the program plays an increasingly important role in accelerating the process of economic integration together with other regional organizations. ※The CAREC Comprehensive Action Plan we endorsed today will propel regional cooperation forward in new and inspiring ways, contributing to the realization of our long-term vision of &Good Neighbors, Good Partners, and Good Prospects*,§ said the Urumqi Declaration issued at the conclusion of the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation. The Ministerial Conference brought together ministers and senior officials from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, PRC, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; as well as senior representatives of CAREC*s six partner multilateral institutions (MIs), and bilateral and other regional organizations. Ministers welcomed the more than doubling in financial and technical support for the CAREC Program by the MI partners to about $2.3 billion for three years starting in 2006. The MIs include ADB, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Fund, Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and World Bank.

In a keynote address to the Ministerial Conference, ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda underlined the importance of maximizing clear results on the ground. ※This year*s conference is about putting the CAREC vision, which you have worked so hard to define, into action,§ he said. ※It is about launching a new era of cooperation among the countries of Central Asia and their neighbors.§ Mr. Kuroda pointed to a real and growing demand for improved connections between Europe and Asia with the rapid economic expansion of the PRC and Japan to the East, Russia to the North, and India and Pakistan to the South. ※The momentum provides the region with an unprecedented opportunity to emerge as a center for trade and commerce, to achieve higher levels of economic growth, and to lift the burden of poverty from the shoulders of its people,§ he said. Ministers agreed to broaden and deepen the CAREC Program by adding special initiatives in new sectors such as human development, environment, agriculture, and tourism to the current priority areas: transport, trade, and energy. The Program will take additional policy initiatives and approaches to regional cooperation such as capacity building, knowledge transfers, and the creation of economic corridors to integrate the region through not only networks of transport and other infrastructure but also networks of economic activities. Ministers called on the multilateral partners to coordinate their regional cooperation initiatives to be consistent with the Action Plan and in a manner that avoids duplication and maximizes efficient use of resources. The Urumqi Declaration also stated that CAREC countries will undertake to highlight regional cooperation initiatives in their respective development plans and public investment programs. The Action Plan provides a clear mission and concrete goals for CAREC participants* efforts in the coming years.

From http://www.adb.org/ 10/20/2006


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New Communication Guidelines for Development Policy Unveiled

ROME, Italy - The key message from participants to policymakers at the first World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD), which concluded today, was clear and simple: Go home and listen to your people. ※Communication is development§, they declared, hence their call for a massive increase in communications efforts based on the premise that development initiatives devoid of communication measures are essentially ineffective. ※We want to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), we want to eradicate poverty, not only economic, financial poverty, but we want the social rights of poor countries to be recognized and not forgotten. Communication is at the very heart of this social dimension of rights, and this is the reason why communication goes hand in hand with development§, said Patrizia Sentinelli, Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who delivered a speech at the WCCD Opening ceremony. The evidence to support the positive impact of communication in development projects is overwhelming. Over 700 selected participants from around the world congregated in Rome over the last three days and presented case studies and research papers.

Professionals from over 200 organizations engaged in creative workshops and seminars in order to share experiences, exchange ideas and debate the most efficient communications strategies. ※This Congress demonstrated that Communication for Development is an essential development tool and needs to be raised on the global agenda,§ said Paul Mitchell, Manager of the Development Communication Division at the World Bank. NGOs, multilateral development institutions, bilateral donors, development practitioners and academics extracted the most useful conclusions from the vast array of debates, discussions and exchanges which took place at the Congress and transformed them into a set of simple recommendations for policymakers on, for example, ways to improve how communication is used by governments and communities to produce more tangible results. A concrete set of recommendations was eventually agreed upon and will serve as an advocacy tool to reach policymakers. "Giving people a voice, helping them to make that voice heard, only then does development become sustainable," said Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO. "It also helps to be a good listener because there is much to be learned from the other side." Less propaganda, more outreach efforts. Fewer monologs, more two-way, participatory dialogues. In the end, this means increased transparency and improved governance, better access to health services and education, fairer treatment of minorities and gender equity, to name just a few improvements. ※It is time that leaders give higher priority to communication§, said Garth Japhet, Chair of the Communication Initiative Partnership. The Congress closed with the call to policymakers to listen to their people. However, it*s a call addressed to everybody involved in development. It*s development and it benefits the poor. It is now time to listen.


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 10/27/2006


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Hong Kong APEC Workshop on Effective Strategies for IP Public Education

Developing economies in the APEC Region are increasing their capacity to protect and enforce intellectual property rights at a workshop that began in Hong Kong today. Jointly hosted by IP Australia, the Intellectual Property Department of Hong Kong and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, the "APEC IPR Public Education and Awareness Platform - Workshop on Effective Strategies for IPR Public Education" is being held from November 8-10. Senior departmental officials from developing economies are attending the workshop to enhance skills to assist local entrepreneurs. Mr. Sivakant Tiwari, Chair of APEC Intellectual Property Rights Experts Group welcomed the initiative of Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore to strengthen IPR capacity in developing areas of the APEC Region. "This IP workshop will share the skills, tools and resources required to implement public education and awareness campaigns in their economies," Mr. Tiwari said to delegates at the workshop. "Well organized, transparent and properly enforced intellectual property regimes are essential for developing economies to be competitive in the global economy. "Delegates at this workshop will leave with increased skills to educate others in their economies and develop creative industries. "This includes the capacity to implement public awareness campaigns that ensure that business people are more aware of the IPR and avenues available to enforce these rights."

Topics to be covered during the three day workshop include:
·Planning and Implementation of Effective IP Public Education Campaigns
·Measuring the Effectiveness of Public Education Programs
·Regional Cooperation and Sharing of Resources
·The Critical Role of IP Public Education in a Knowledge-Based Economy
·Developing Strategies for IP Public Awareness Campaigns
Guest speakers from APEC's Intellectual Property Rights Experts' Group, government administrators and officials from the APEC member economies responsible for planning and implementing public education and awareness programs will lead discussion at the workshop.

From http://www.apecsec.org.sg/ 11/08/2006


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Joint Press Statement of 10th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment

Ministers responsible for environment from the ten ASEAN Member Countries held their formal 10th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment in Cebu, the Philippines on 10th November, 2006. The Ministers reviewed regional cooperation on a number of environmental activities in particular those related activities in the Vientiane Action Programme 2006-2010. The Ministers welcomed the sustainable development approach of the VAP which stresses that ASEAN*s social and environmental agenda is linked inextricably with the economic and security pillars of the ASEAN Community, and resolved to work towards an environmentally sustainable ASEAN Community. The Ministers adopted the Cebu Resolution on Sustainable Development. The Ministers launched the Third ASEAN State of the Environment Report 2006 which highlights the environmental conditions of the region, challenges faced and actions being taken to address them. The Ministers expressed the hope that the report would help all parties to better appreciate regional environmental issues and foster greater collaboration. In the light of the recent haze episode in the region, the Ministers discussed at length the transboundary haze pollution issue. The First Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution held on 9 November 2006 endorsed its Terms of Reference and Indonesia*s Plan of Action in Dealing with Transboundary Haze Pollution. Indonesia will chair the MSC for the first two (2) years. The MSC also agreed with Indonesia*s proposal that Member Countries of the MSC may, through the Central Government of Indonesia, wish to adopt one or more fire-prone districts/regencies for enhancing capacity to deal with land and forest fires. The MSC also recognised the urgency and importance of following up on the Regional Workshop in Jakarta on 2 November, 2006 by organising a high-level international conference in December 2006 in Indonesia to generate support and partnership for the implementation of the PoA. The Ministers expressed their full support and commitment to the effective operations of the recently established ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, hosted by the Philippines. The Ministers also agreed to expedite the signing of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on access to, and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of, biological and genetic resources, and to promote further listing of ASEAN Heritage Parks, in order to sustainably manage the rich biological resources of the region. The Ministers agreed to institute an ASEAN Environmentally Sustainable Cities Award to recognize exemplary national efforts in Member Countries and to promote further efforts towards environmental sustainability in ASEAN cities. The Ministers also recognized the importance of strengthening national efforts and regional cooperation for effective environmental law enforcement, to address issues such as illegal trade in wildlife. As for illegal logging, there is a need for effective enforcement of forestry law and other related laws, where appropriate.

From http://www.aseansec.org/ 11/10/2006


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Effective Government Policies Termed Vital for Closing Digital Divide in Developing Countries

Government policies that encourage competition and innovation can play a major part in helping developing and transition countries establish and expand information and communication technology (ICT) networks that in turn stimulate economic growth and help domestic businesses compete internationally, the Information Economy Report 2006 (1) says. Currently 44% of developing and transition countries have national plans for fostering their information societies, and 20% are developing such plans. However, the report says, few of the countries that have such plans scrutinize how effective they are. Policies that stifle competition are apt to result in limited ICT penetration, higher costs, and slower uptake of the latest and most effective technologies, the report says. It provides as examples a series of success stories. In Nepal, national policy was modified in 1999 to liberalize the telecom sector by encouraging the participation of private firms. That same year, telephone penetration grew by 22%. By 2004, the Nepalese telecommunication sector was fully open to private service providers and competition through open licensing and by restructuring of the State-owned operator. Among the results were that a mobile phone service launched in 1999 had achieved by January 2006 over 99,000 post-paid and 200,000 pre-paid mobile subscribers. The network is now fully digital and offers full national and international direct dialing services. Other payoffs of liberalization were a growth in the number of fixed phone lines from approximately 65,000 in 1992 to over 470,200 in January 2006.

The report also notes that Government ICT policies can be applied directly to the provision of more efficient and transparent Government services. South Africa∩s "Batho Pele Initiative" -- or "People First Initiative" -- provides a single on-line entry point for Government services and information. A user may register a birth, renew a driving license, apply for registration as a voter, apply for water and electricity, apply for VAT registration, register as a service provider/supplier for the Government, register a copyright, and apply for naturalization, for a study permit, or for a visa. In Chile, the ChileCompra centralized public-sector procurement system benefits both Government agencies and private companies by making procurement competitive and transparent -- by the end of 2004, 879 public agencies and municipalities and more than 100,000 providers were registered. The Information Economy Report devotes a chapter to Government ICT policies that may open up new opportunities and methods for poverty reduction. In some countries, mobile phones are facilitating businesses and are providing trade opportunities for poor men and women, the report notes, and the Internet is allowing migrants to keep in touch with their families and communities. New technologies are also bringing valuable environmental information to rural populations, including weather forecasts for agriculture and fisheries, and early warnings on natural disasters. The chapter emphasizes that ICT can most realistically play an enhancing rather than a primary role in poverty-reduction strategies. Developing countries not only should have national ICT plans but should review them thoroughly for effectiveness, the report recommends. It provides a model framework for such assessments, and it is foreseen that UNCTAD, in the near future, will help Governments to carry out reviews of ICT policies much as it now assists countries with Investment Policy Reviews. The UNCTAD ICT policy review framework is a generic model that can be used and adapted by developing countries, and has three main components: a review of the global ICT situation and an overview of a country∩s ICT status, focusing on the extent of use by different participants in the economy; an in-depth evaluation of the national ICT plan, including its components, priority actions, concerned sectors, targets and relevant projects; and an assessment of the effectiveness of the institutional framework and implementation mechanisms that back up the plan.

From UNCTAD/PRESS 11/16/2006


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CHINA: Encourage Farmers* Professional Cooperatives

The Law on Farmers* Professional Cooperatives was passed yesterday on the 24th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People*s Congress, to encourage farmers to get rid of poverty through cooperation, and the law will come into force on January 1, 2007.Farmers* professional cooperative organizations came into being in developed countries a long time ago, and in many places in China. Currently, there are no less than 100 thousand organizations of this kind in the country. They can enhance farmers* ability in dealing with challenges of the market economy by combining family agricultural economic entities, which will help the country to solve the ※three rural problems§ (rural economy, rural areas rural residents)※These organizations help farmers by bring agricultural products to the market through a faster channel, § said Zhang Yongjun, a deputy to the National People*s Congress, China*s top legislature.The legal persons of farmers* professional cooperatives will be protected by law, which is certainly good news.


From http://www.chinanews.cn 11/02/2006


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Regulations Issued to Support Anti-money Laundering Law

The People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, said on Wednesday it would draw up regulations to strictly enforce the country's anti-money laundering law "as soon as possible". The bank would soon issue a series of regulations to combat money laundering in securities, futures and insurance sectors, said Chen Xiaoyun, an official with the PBOC. The law would help China's accession to the world's money policing agency, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), said Liu Lianke, an official with the PBOC's anti-money laundering bureau, adding that China is likely to join the inter-governmental organization in June 2007.The law, approved on Tuesday by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, will come into effect on Jan. 1 next year. The PBOC launched its anti-money laundering campaign in 2003, and established an anti-money laundering bureau and a monitoring and analysis center. By the end of 2005, all the country's commercial banks, 90 percent of the urban credit cooperatives and foreign banks, and 50percent of the rural credit unions had access to the monitoring and analysis network. According to the China Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center, 683 suspicious cases had been reported to the police by the end of 2005, involving 137.8 billion yuan (17.2 billion U.S. dollars) and more than one billion U.S. dollars. The FATF was established at the G-7 Summit in Paris in 1989, in response to mounting concern over money laundering. It has 33 members and China became an observer in 2005.


From http://www.chinanews.cn 11/02/2006


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State Council Approves Suggestions on Electricity Industry Reform

An executive meeting of the State Council, China's cabinet, discussed and approved suggestions on deepening the reform of the electricity from 2006 to 2010.Councillors at the meeting, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, on Wednesday said the electricity industry was important for national economic and social development. The councillors urged the industry to step up system reform, improve structure, accelerate the construction of power grids and change growth patterns over the five-year period. Efforts should also focus on boosting efficiency, reducing costs and improving services to promote its development in a stable, healthy, coordinated and safe way. Councillors called for a "unified and open" electricity market, a price mechanism that complied with the market economy and a sound market supervision system. Electricity was directly related to the development of the economy, social stability and living standards, they said.


From: http://www.gov.cn 11/02/2006


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New Measure Launched to Protect Trademarks of Farm Products from Taiwan

The China State Administration for Industry and Commerce (CSAIC) issued a circular on Thursday ordering its local branches to strengthen protection of trademarks of farm products originating from Taiwan in an effort to promote cross-Straits cooperation in the agricultural sector. The circular asked its administrative branches to step up the protection of Taiwanese applicants' legal rights in trademark registration. It also told the branches to earnestly pursue their responsibility in market supervision and protect the intellectual property rights of agricultural products from Taiwan, especially in the fruit market. Fake trademarks, false advertising and infringement of registered trademarks will be seriously punished, it said. Statistics show that cross-Straits trade in agricultural products had totaled 421 million U.S. dollars by the end of 2004 and closer ties in the last three years have spurred an influx of Taiwanese produce into the mainland market. The mainland has granted market access to 22 categories of Taiwan fruit and removed tariffs on 15 of them. It has also removed tariffs from 11 categories of vegetables and eight kinds of aquatic products. "Mainland consumers have reported a robust demand for quality farm produce from Taiwan, including its tropical fruit, flowers, seeds and seedlings," said He Ziyang, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture, at a cross-Straits trade fair held last month in Xiamen.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/09/2006


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China Issues Document on Clean Governance in Rural Areas

A document on fighting corruption at grassroots level in the countryside has been jointly issued by the General Offices of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council. It advocates clean governance in rural areas and aims to improve the codes of conduct for Party members and officials at grassroots level. Everything, except state secrets, must be open to Party members and villagers, it says. It calls for full investigations to be carried out of Party members and officials who have violated Party disciplines and state law.(by Yangtze Yan)

From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/13/2006


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Gov't Plans Rules for Electronic Garbage

China is speeding up efforts to formulate regulations on the collection and disposal of electronic garbage, an official at the National Development and Reform Commission said yesterday. "The State Council has made the regulations a priority in its administrative legislation plan for 2006," said the official, who identified himself only as Guan. However, he added that it was still too early to say when the Regulation on Reclaiming and Disposing of Waste or Used Home Appliances and Electronic Products would be completed. "The regulation will improve the nation's system for reclaiming and disposing of electronic garbage, such as TV sets, refrigerators and computers," Guan said. "It will promote recycling of resources as well as protect the environment." The regulation is expected to encourage the development of enterprises specializing in the reclamation and disposal of electronic garbage. These enterprises will have to pass national qualification tests and obtain licenses. Under the soon-to-be formulated regulations, manufacturers and distributors of home appliances as well as after-service providers will be obliged to reclaim waste and used products and then sell them to licensed disposal enterprises. Consumers will have to turn over or sell electronic garbage to distributors or disposal enterprises.

The new regulations will ban unlicensed purchasing and selling of electronic garbage. Wang Yukui, secretary general of the China Home Appliances Maintenance Association, said professional disposal enterprises would play a pivotal role in solving the problem of electronic garbage. Wang said many professional disposal enterprises in China are currently facing an insufficient supply of goods due to competition from small operations. "Due to a lack of governmental supervision and relevant laws or regulations, a huge amount of electronic garbage has flowed into shabby private workshops, which make a poor use of the garbage and cause much pollution," Wang said. Statistics show that China discards about 5 million TV sets, 4 million refrigerators, 6 million washing machines, and 10 million mobile phones every year. The State Environmental Protection Administration recently admitted that electronic garbage from developed countries is still illegally entering some coastal provinces. China officially banned the import of electronic garbage in 2002. (by Yan Liang)


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/13/2006


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China Issues New Regulations on Foreign-funded Banks

China's State Council on Wednesday issued new regulations on foreign-funded banks which will take effect on December 11, the date China is expected to fully open its banking sector to foreign competition. The new regulations, signed by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, were approved at the 155th executive meeting of the State Council last Wednesday. The new regulations lift restrictions on Reminbi and foreign-currency transactions by solely foreign-funded banks and Sino-overseas joint venture banks. Chinese branches of foreign banks, however, are banned from engaging in Renminbi services with Chinese citizens unless an individual, having obtained the approval of the banking regulatory body, makes a fixed deposit of no less than one million yuan (127,000 U.S. dollars). Solely foreign-funded banks and joint venture banks must have a minimum registered capital of one billion yuan or the equivalent in hard foreign currencies.

Chinese branches of foreign banks must have a minimum operating fund of 200 million yuan or the equivalent in hard foreign currencies. Foreign financial institutions who apply to set up solely-owned banks in China must have had no less than 10 billion dollars in total assets at the end of the previous year. Foreign banks who apply to set up branches must have had no less than 20 billion dollars in total assets at the end of the previous year. The regulations also apply to financial institutions registered in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. (by Mu Xuequan)


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/15/2006


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Measures to Target Property Firms in Beijing

The central government's next steps to cool the nation's overheated property market will be targeted at real estate enterprises, according to local media. Investigations have been launched into more than 300 real estate projects in Beijing, China Business News quoted Li Wenjie, general manager of Beijing Centaline Real Estate Agency, as saying. Li said that the central government took the step after previous financial measures to rein in soaring housing prices had little impact. The investigation aims to crack down on malpractices by real estate enterprises, such as illegal acquisition of land and tax evasion. Several governmental departments, including the Ministry of Construction, the Ministry of Land and Resources, the Ministry of Finance and the China Banking Regulatory Commission, will carry out investigations, Li said. Beijing's municipal bureau of land and resources and bureau of construction did not confirm the news yesterday. Zhu Zhongyi, chairman of China Real Estate Association, said supervision of real estate enterprises has always been part of the nation's efforts to regulate the industry.

According to a notice released by the Ministry of Finance earlier this month, 39 real estate enterprises have been caught concealing their profits. The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Land and Resources announced on November 2 that it would investigate and punish at least 30 real estate projects that are suspected of illegally occupying land by the end of the year. "Real estate enterprises in Beijing are healthy as a whole," said Zhang Junyao, vice-chairman of the Beijing Real Estate Association. "They have made great contributions to the capital's economic development in recent years." "Real estate has become one of Beijing's pillar industries and will continue to grow together with our country's economy, "The municipal government has adopted measures to standardize the real estate market and some of them are quite successful," he said. Zhang admitted that the efforts to stabilize housing prices in Beijing have achieved little success, but "vigorous demand for houses in major cities is the most essential factor behind the rising prices," Zhang said. According to statistics jointly released by the National Development and Reform Commission and the National Bureau of Statistics, the average price of new houses in 70 major cities in October increased by 6.6 per cent over the same period in 2005.

In October, Beijing's average housing price increased by 10.7 per cent over the same period last year, the fastest growth rate in the country, followed by Xiamen (10.5 per cent) and Shenzhen (9.9 per cent). Since the beginning of this year, the Beijing municipal government has adopted a series of measures to cool down the market. "I believe the future trend is that the government will make policies to help large enterprises grow while small enterprises with inadequate assets and quality will gradually be ousted," Zhang said. "The real estate market will become more and more standardized."(by Guan Xiaofeng)


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/16/2006


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Cabinet Tightens Controls on Social Security Funds

China's cabinet moved to tighten controls on social security funds on Wednesday after hearing how parts of the country were plagued by embezzlement. Misappropriated funds must be paid back in full within strict time limits and the officials involved should be punished, the State Council agreed at a meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao. The misappropriation of social security funds was highlighted in September by the Shanghai scandal, involving 3.2 billion yuan of city funds, which brought down Chen Liangyu, secretary of local committee of Communist Party of China (CPC).The National Audit Office delivered a report to the council on the results of a nationwide audit of social security funds in the past two months. The funds were growing with the expansion of coverage expansion, but policies regarding management were not strictly implemented in some regions, the council heard.

It ordered the responsible departments to coordinate and ensure funds were kept in special accounts with separate management over collection and expenditure. The social security framework includes five main insurance programs: pensions, unemployment, medical, injuries at work, and pre-natal and post-natal care for women workers. By the end of 2005, China's social security funds totaled 1.84 trillion yuan (233.35 billion US dollars). Councilors called for enhanced transparency in fund management and public supervision. They ordered government bodies to draw up measures to improve fund investment returns. State councilors also discussed and approved in principle the draft of the law on urban and rural planning. (by Luan Shanglin)


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/22/2006



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China to Double Land Use Fees on Construction Sites

The Chinese government is to double the land use fees on new sites for construction from January 1, 2007.The Finance Ministry, the Ministry of Land and Resources and the People's Bank of China have issued a notice adjusting the land use fees. The notice requires 30 percent of the collected land use fees to be handed over to the central revenue, while 70 percent is to be retained by the provincial-level government. The notice said both are to be used specifically for the development of cultivated land. Pan Ming, of the Ministry of Land and Resources, said the new standards would have a positive impact on the protection and development of cultivated land. The country had made great efforts to stop excessive use of land for construction and industrial projects, checking violations of laws and regulations in land requisitions, and banning the illegal requisition of farmland. The current land use fees were set in 1999 and have 15 classes with the highest class at 70 yuan (8.75 U.S. dollars) per square meter and the lowest at five yuan. Pan said the current standards failed to match actual earnings on the land use and had failed to discourage the blind expansion of land use for construction. Collected land use fees in 2005 were only 21.45 billion yuan, compared with 76.3 billion yuan of net earnings on newly added land for construction. The notice said the supervision of the collection of land use fees would be strengthened.

From http://www.gov.cn 11/22/2006


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Hong Kong Drafts Law to Cut Smog-forming Pollutants

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) gazetted Friday a new legislation to control the emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a major category of pollutants responsible for smog that reduces Hong Kong's visibility. The new legislation, the Air Pollution Control (Volatile Organic Compounds) Regulation, bans the import and local manufacture of products whose VOC content exceeds the prescribed limits. Products that will come under the regulation include architectural paints, printing inks, and six types of consumer goods, namely, hairsprays, air fresheners, insecticides, insect repellents, floor wax strippers and multi-purpose lubricants. The regulation also requires emission reduction devices to be installed on certain printing machines. "VOCs play a significant role in the formation of ozone and respirable suspended particulates," said a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department of the HKSAR government. The HKSAR government and the Guangdong provincial government had a consensus to reduce VOCs by 55 percent by 2010, on the basis of the emissions in 1997, he said.

This new legislation is an essential step towards this goal, which will ultimately enable Hong Kong to meet its air quality objectives and help solve the smog problem, he said. The regulation is one of the initiatives pledged in the 2006 Policy Address by HKSAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang, he said. "We expect it can reduce about 8,000 tons of local VOC emissions. It will also bring Hong Kong to the forefront of VOC control in the world," the spokesman added. The scheme in the current regulation was worked out after months of close co-operation between the Administration and trade representatives. "This regulation is welcomed by many as creating a 'win-win' situation for both the environment and businesses. It shows that protecting the environment needs not be damaging to economic growth," the spokesman said. The regulation will be tabled on Wednesday at the Legislative Council for negative vetting, after which it will be implemented in phases starting from April 1, 2007.(by Yan Liang)


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/25/2006


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Laws on Pension Fund Management Being Drafted

China will issue two laws to regulate the management of its social security funds in the wake of a number of scandals in the sector, according to officials from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. Along with the Social Security Law, which is currently being drafted, the Social Security Fund Management Regulation will also be put on the legislative agenda, according to the officials. Although the two laws are expected to be released concurrently, their exact date of issue has yet to be set. Ministry officials said that the absence of such legislation was the major reason for the misappropriation of social security funds. Chen Lian, director of the ministry's supervision bureau, said that only the Labour Law currently regulates social security funds to any extent. "Some other relevant regulations only remain at ministry level, and are not strong enough to regulate all aspects of the management of the funds," said Chen. A National Audit Office report published on Thursday highlighted major problems in the running of social security funds, such as lax supervision, poor management and embezzlement.

According to the report, around 7.1 billion yuan (900 million U.S. dollars) of the country's 2 trillion yuan social security funds had been misappropriated. The country's top auditing body said that misappropriated funds would be traced and recovered, and called for the management of the funds to be more transparent. Consisting of pension, unemployment, health, and occupational injury insurance, the annual income of the social security fund increased 20 percent year-on-year to 696 billion yuan (87 dollars) in 2005. "Any way of managing those funds to add to their value should be cautious and based on the premise that they secure," said Tian Chengping, minister of labour and social security. In another move to protect the funds, the ministry has called on all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions to establish social security fund supervision commissions. In addition to beefed-up supervision of social security funds, China also plans to extend its social assistance system to cover all urban and rural residents by 2010.

The new system will mainly consist of financial subsidies to the nation's poorest families and childless elderly people in rural areas, as well as temporary assistance to areas hit by disasters or outbreaks of disease, Vice Premier Hui Liangyu told the 12th National Civil Affairs Conference on Thursday in Beijing. Investment in social assistance funds from both central and local treasuries reached 30 billion yuan (3.75 billion dollars) in 2005, covering about 100 million needy people, according to statistics from Ministry of Civil Affairs. (by Mo Honge)


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/25/2006


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JAPAN: Birthrate Data Suggest Further Pension Cuts

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa indicated Friday that it would be difficult for the government to meet its pledge that pension benefits would not fall below 50 percent of the take-home pay of the average male worker. Yanagisawa's view comes as ministry projections suggest that the country's contracting population will mean there are fewer workers than expected to prop up the pension system. The ministry is to release new population estimates around Dec. 20. The government and the ruling parties involved in reforming the pension system made the 50 percent pledge in 2004. But Yanagisawa was quoted by sources as telling the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy that, "It's highly likely that new population estimates will be tougher than those made in 2002." These earlier projections have provided the basis for pension reform efforts so far. According to sources, ministry officials have already advised senior members of the ruling parties that the new population estimates will be more pessimistic. Population estimates are made every five years based on data obtained from the national census. In the previous population estimate, it was predicted that the total fertility rate, which shows the average number of children a woman aged between 15 and 49 can expect to give birth to, would bottom out at 1.31 and that it would recover to 1.39 by 2050. Based on these demographic estimates, it was predicted that pension benefits would be lowered to 50.2 percent of the take-home pay of the average worker by 2023 and that the ratio would remain at that level after that. However, the birthrate in 2005 is expected to drop as low as 1.26.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/12/2006



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Japan Eyes Larger Civilian Presence in U.N. Peacekeeping Operations

The government plans to expand the currently limited participation of Japanese civilians in U.N. peacekeeping operations in the hope of enhancing the country's image as a contributor to the international community, government sources said Saturday. Also planned is an increase in the number of election monitors to be dispatched in line with the country's PKO cooperation law, the sources said. Officials plan to seek nearly 200 million yen in appropriations from next fiscal year's budget to fund training courses for people taking part in peacekeeping, they said. Japanese officials are hoping the plans for expanded civilian presence 〞 in addition to participation by Japanese Self-Defense Forces troops 〞 would help prepare the country for a more active role in the commission, they added.


From http://www.japantoday.com/ 11/12/2006


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Education Law Revision Bill Clears Lower House

A contentious government bill to revise for the first time Japan's post-World War II basic education law, aiming at instilling patriotism in classrooms, cleared the House of Representatives on Thursday in the absence of the opposition camp. The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito party aim to pass the bill through parliament with approval by the House of Councillors by the Dec 15 end of the current Diet session now that it has been endorsed in a lower house plenary session. A major item of business for the ongoing parliamentary session, the bill introduces the idea of respect for the public spirit in its preamble, and calls for developing "an attitude which respects tradition and culture and loves the nation and homeland that have fostered them" as a goal of education.


From http://www.japantoday.com/ 11/16/2006


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'Patriotism' Bill Passes the First Test

A contentious bill that aims to instill patriotism into the minds of children and which some say carries echoes of prewar militarism was rammed through the Lower House on Thursday. The move to ensure "love of one's country," among other changes, would be the first revision to the Fundamental Law of Education since it was enacted in 1947. The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito ignored pleas by the opposition camp to postpone the voting in a Lower House special committee. Because the topic is so important, they had called for more in-depth discussion to reflect the views across the political spectrum. The special committee approved the bills during a session Wednesday evening that the opposition camp boycotted. The opposition also boycotted Thursday's Lower House plenary session. The planned legislation now goes to the Upper House, where it appears almost certain to pass because of the ruling bloc's seat majority. The ruling coalition hopes to win approval before the current Diet session winds up on Dec. 15. Abe has ruled out extending the session although there are growing calls among ruling coalition lawmakers to do so.

The Cabinet now is preoccupied with compiling a national budget for fiscal 2007. To protest the railroading of the bill through the Lower House special committee, the four main opposition parties decided to boycott all Diet proceedings except for a few that involved testimony to be presented by unsworn witnesses. Yoshiaki Takaki, Diet affairs committee chairman for Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan), was joined by his counterparts in the three other opposition parties for a meeting Thursday morning with ruling coalition members. Taking note of Wednesday's vote by the ruling coalition in the special committee, Takaki said: "That was an outrageous act by taking advantage of the numbers enjoyed by the gigantic ruling coalition. There was insufficient debate on a defective revision of the Fundamental Law of Education that was built upon town meetings on education that were staged." His latter remark referred to recent revelations that so-called town meetings held nationwide to gather input for legislation to revise the Fundamental Law on Education involved paid questioners who had not only been selected beforehand, but were prepped on what to ask at the meetings.

The opposition's plea to cancel Thursday's Lower House plenary session and return the planned legislation to the special committee were studiously ignored by the ruling bloc. As a result, the opposition's strategy will be to use the strong-arm tactics taken by the ruling coalition as a weapon to round up support for their candidate in Sunday's Okinawa gubernatorial election. Some ruling coalition officials were concerned that steamrolling the education bills would have an adverse effect on the candidate backed by the ruling coalition. In the end, however, the importance placed by Abe on the proposed legislation won out over consideration for a local gubernatorial election. If, as expected, the bill passes the Upper House to become law, the nature of the Fundamental Law of Education will be radically affected. The emphasis would shift from the individual to a stress on the public sphere. The bill calls for education that encourages individuals to participate in society and to contribute to its development. The most controversial provision involves the call to teach patriotism in the classroom by fostering a love for Japan and its land by respecting its tradition and culture. There are also questions about how the revised law would affect relations between government officials and teachers in the classroom, an area that is already causing strains because of opposition to edicts for students and teachers to stand while the "Kimigayo" national anthem is played or when the Hinomaru national flag is hoisted at graduation and other ceremonies.


From http://www.asahi.com/english/ 11/17/2006


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Huge Tab Eyed to Close Public Pension Gap

The National Personnel Authority (NPA), in a report that surely will not find favor with taxpayers, is recommending that public funds be used to meet a disparity in allowances and pension payouts for retiring bureaucrats versus corporate sector employees. The final tab would likely be in the tens of billions of yen annually after 2010. Its report submitted to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki on Thursday was meant to serve as a basis for a unified public pension system that does not distinguish between corporate employees and those who spent their careers as public servants. The report followed a fact-finding survey that compared pension benefits and retirement entitlements for civil servants employed by the national government and those for corporate workers. According to the NPA, government workers on average were paid a total of 29.6 million yen, in a combination of retirement benefits and the much-criticized publicly funded "extra benefits." The total actually fell short by 200,000 yen compared to benefits--a combination of corporate pension and retirement allowances--given to employees in the corporate sector.

As the extra benefits for civil servants are scheduled to be abolished in 2010, the NPA estimates the difference between what employees in the public and private sectors get will eventually amount to 2.42 million yen per head. In its report, the NPA recommended that public funds be used to redress the disparity--indicating an additional burden of billions of yen in annual taxpayers' money to bolster the already much-criticized pension system for civil servants.Given the current trend to streamline government expenses and general belt-tightening among the public, the findings will likely trigger much resentment. While the government and ruling coalition parties plan to submit a bill to integrate the pension programs at next year's regular Diet session, one senior official of the ruling party acknowledged: "We dare not come out and say we'll cover the difference with taxpayers' money. We have to think of the Upper House election next year." For this reason, the coalition may have to think twice about submitting the bill, analysts said. As it is, the Cabinet has already endorsed moves to abolish the "special benefits" for civil servants in 2010 in an effort to integrate varying premiums paid into programs for salaried employees and bureaucrats in central and local governments.

Under the government blueprint, public-sector workers after 2010 will receive part of their retirement allowances as monthly payouts, similar to private pension benefits under company-operated programs. For its survey, the NPA contacted 6,232 companies with 50 or more employees. It said 3,850 companies responded with information on pensions for fiscal 2005. Total lifetime benefits for a corporate employee of 20 or more years standing came to an average 29.8 million yen, after adjustments were made for current money values. The figure combines both corporate pension and retirement benefits. The average retirement benefits for civil servants amounted to 27.38 million yen. When the extra benefits for government workers were factored in, the total came to 29.6 million yen. But when tax-funded extra benefits disappear in four years' time, the disparity will amount to 2.41 million yen, the NPA estimates. A simple calculation shows that 60 billion yen will be needed annually to fill that gap, which means taxpayers will be forced to shoulder an even greater burden for those extra benefits than they do now. Not only that, local government officials are to be treated to similar guidelines as national government employees, which will place a further tax burden on taxpayers. In its report, the NPA noted that public servants in the United States and many European countries generally receive more lucrative retirement benefits than private-sector employees. It also took note of the fact that government employees are obliged to work by stricter rules, which includes a ban on moonlighting and not disclosing confidential information. Thus, it reasoned, they are entitled to better treatment.


From http://www.asahi.com 11/18/2006


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Education Bill's Passage Smoothens

A bill to revise the Fundamental Law of Education, the highest-priority item for the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has a high possibility of passing into law during the current Diet session that will end on Dec. 15. Diet affairs committee chairmen from both ruling and opposition parties intermittently discussed the Diet proceedings Tuesday. As a result, opposition parties, which have boycotted all the Diet deliberations in protest against the adoption of the bill by the ruling parties at the House of Representatives, agreed to return to deliberations from Wednesday. The special committee on the law of the House of Councillors will start discussing the bill Wednesday. On the other hand, related bills to upgrade the Defense Agency to a ministry likely will be passed into the lower house within November. The ruling parties intend to pass both bills by the end of the current Diet session, but will also consider discussing the possibility of extending the session slightly, according to sources. At a meeting of Diet affairs committee chairmen Tuesday, they agreed to hold a special committee meeting on the law at the lower house, at which Abe will be present, and give opposition parties three hours for questions. In response, opposition parties promised to join the Diet deliberations. As a result, Diet proceedings will be normalized after an interval of seven days.

At the board of directors meeting for the upper house's special committee on the law on Tuesday evening, it was decided to hold a committee meeting Wednesday for an explanation of reasons for the submission of the revised bill and a question and answer session. The ruling parties intend to speed up deliberations at the special committee to pass the revised bill into law at the current Diet session. Toranosuke Katayama, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party caucus in the upper house, said at a press conference Tuesday: "It's a fact that we have to face a tightrope schedule. We'll try to get through the schedule most carefully." Opposition parties, including the Democratic Party of Japan, judged that they would not obtain public understanding if they continue to protest by boycotting the deliberations, the sources said. The bill, which aims to revise the Fundamental Law of Education established in 1947, was carried over from the previous ordinary Diet session, but as there is the prospect of it being passed into law during the current session, the Abe administration would be able to overcome the hurdle of the Diet proceedings, according to the sources. Meanwhile, the DPJ intends to return to the deliberations for the related bills to upgrade the Defense Agency to a ministry. The Security Committee of the lower house started discussing the bills on Nov. 9, but opposition parties refused to join the deliberations, claiming that the bid-rigging case of the Defense Facilities Administration Agency had not been fully resolved. The lower house's security committee meeting will likely be held Friday at the earliest and the ruling parties intend to pass the bills within November, the sources said.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/22/2006


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Anti-child Abuse Law Failing to Achieve Aims

The recent series of child abuse cases resulting in death has shown no signs of stopping, though six years have passed since the Child Abuse Prevention Law came into force to reinforce rescue efforts by children consultation centers. In recent fatal cases, such as the boy who starved to death in Nagaokakyo, Kyoto Prefecture, and another boy fatally abused in Daisen, Akita Prefecture, local children's consultation centers were unable to save their lives, despite having received information that the children might have been abused. Though the centers claimed they made efforts to find out about possible child abuse cases more quickly since the law was enacted, the recent cases reveal very little evidence of any drastic changes. In the Daisen case, in which 4-year-old Ryosuke Shindo was found dead in October, the prefectural central children's consultation center was first told of abuse by his mother, Mika Shindo, in July 2004. She has been arrested on suspicion of murder. In that month, the 31-year-old woman sought help at the prefecture's central social welfare center to escape from her husband's violence. During her stay at the shelter, she attempted to give a sleeping pill to the boy and then beat him. However, officials of the children's consultation center did not contact her after receiving a report in June 2005 from the welfare center that the relationship between the mother and the son had stabilized.

The recent series of child abuse cases resulting in death has shown no signs of stopping, though six years have passed since the Child Abuse Prevention Law came into force to reinforce rescue efforts by children consultation centers. In recent fatal cases, such as the boy who starved to death in Nagaokakyo, Kyoto Prefecture, and another boy fatally abused in Daisen, Akita Prefecture, local children's consultation centers were unable to save their lives, despite having received information that the children might have been abused. Though the centers claimed they made efforts to find out about possible child abuse cases more quickly since the law was enacted, the recent cases reveal very little evidence of any drastic changes. In the Daisen case, in which 4-year-old Ryosuke Shindo was found dead in October, the prefectural central children's consultation center was first told of abuse by his mother, Mika Shindo, in July 2004. She has been arrested on suspicion of murder. In that month, the 31-year-old woman sought help at the prefecture's central social welfare center to escape from her husband's violence. During her stay at the shelter, she attempted to give a sleeping pill to the boy and then beat him. However, officials of the children's consultation center did not contact her after receiving a report in June 2005 from the welfare center that the relationship between the mother and the son had stabilized.

The reports said the boy was once left alone at night in the house with the lights switched off, and on another occasion, the boy escaped from home and insisted he did not want to go back. But officials in the children's consultation center did not meet the boy and only contacted his father, Takamasa Sasaki, over the telephone. The father, 28, has been indicted on suspicion of neglecting parental duties resulting in death. An official of the children's consultation center said, "We'd put priority on letting his sister return home." Another official said, "We'd considered the relationship between the father and his common-law wife." In May in Izumizakimura, Fukushima Prefecture, a 3-year-old boy also starved to death as his parents refused to feed him. A local children's consultation center did not monitor the situation despite having known that his elder sister and brother also had been abused. Masamitsu Kogota, head of the prefectural government's office for children and family affairs, said, "Our officials in charge of the issue might have felt the tragic incidents in other prefectures were other people's business because they hadn't handled such serious abuse cases." "Though it's too late for our prefecture's case, the incident has rapidly changed administrative officials' awareness," he said. An official in charge of child abuse affairs at the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said that to eliminate deaths caused by child abuse, "The best way for preventing similar cases is that concerned people reexamine cases which they have handled."

The ministry set up an expert panel in 2004 to reexamine all previous fatal cases of child abuse. In the case of Nagaokakyo, the ministry dispatched a member of the panel to the city to join a meeting of the prefectural government's committee to reexamine the incident. Results of the reexamination will be reflected in future reviews of management of children's consultation centers. However, not all prefectural governments have systems to reexamine child abuse cases. In 53 fatal child abuse cases in 2004 that the ministry panel reexamined, 24 were reexamined by prefectural governments on their own. Only five were examined with the participation of third-party persons. And it depends on the working-level officials whether results of the reexaminations can be utilized. One report of a reexamination contained similarities to the case in Nagaokakyo. The report pointed out that proper action was not taken despite repeated reports from case workers that a child had not been seen for long time. Keiko Kimura, deputy counselor in charge of work reforms at the Tokyo Metropolitan Child Guidance Center & Offices, lamented, "All of the reexamination results were things that have been pointed out since long ago, such as problems in evaluating danger and poor coordination among concerned authorities." "Children have died because administrative officials have not reacted to the problems properly," she said.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/23/2006


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SOUTH KOREA: Presidential Council Recommends Measures to Improve Korea's Quality of Life

A presidential council on science and technology on Wednesday (Nov. 1) recommended a series of policy measures to improve the quality of life for Koreans by 2030. The Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology made the recommendation at a meeting chaired by President Roh Moo-hyun. The plan calls for comprehensive action that will establish legal and administrative backing so that the country's living standard will be on par with its economic size. As of 2005, Korea ranked 12th in terms of its economic size with a gross domestic product reaching $787.7 billion. Its quality of life standing, however, stood at 41st in the same year as measured by the Swiss-based International Institute for Management and Development (IMD). The country also ranked 24th among the 30 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members in terms of its living standard. "The aim of the plan is to push up Korea's quality of life in the IMD scale so the country will rank in the top 20 by 2030," said Chung Sung-chul, head of the Science and Technology Policy Institute. The expert from the state-supported institute also called on the government to build up the necessary infrastructure aimed at raising the quality of life. To make improvements, the advisory group called for a national endeavor to consolidate policies on health, safety, senior citizens and the physically handicapped. Government agencies are currently devising their own ways of tackling these issues. This tends to result in policies that overlap. The advisory group said there is a need to raise the quality of life through technological development and consumption, adding that legal and administrative action should be taken to facilitate this tie-up.


From http://www.korea.net 11/01/2006


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Roh Vows to Continue Inter-Korean Cooperation and Dialogue

President Roh Moo-hyun said Monday (Nov. 6) that the South Korean government will keep alive its tourist and industrial investment projects in North Korea despite the communist North's nuclear test last month. In his budget speech to the National Assembly, the president said inter-Korean tourist and industrial projects in the North's east coast resort of Mount Geumgang and its border city of Gaeseong are symbols of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. "The Mount Geumgang and Gaeseong projects will be continued but carried out in a way that conforms to the spirit and purport of the U.N. sanctions resolution against North Korea," the President said in a speech read by Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook. "Under any circumstances, inter-Korean dialogue must be sustained and the government will stick to the basic policy for peace and prosperity." The President went on to denounce North Korea's nuclear test as an "intolerable provocation," urging the communist state to immediately abolish its nuclear program. "The scrapping of North Korea's nuclear program is the sole and fundamental solution to the North Korean nuclear problems," Roh said. "This issue should be resolved by peaceful means and peace is the supreme value. Speculation of a war raised by some is really irresponsible and dangerous." Referring to the North's recent decision to rejoin the six-party talks on its nuclear problem, the president said the outlook for the talks is not bright and it would take a long time to completely resolve the North Korean nuclear problems. Regarding military and economic relations with the U.S., the president said the Seoul-Washington alliance is solid now and will continue to be so in the years to come. "The Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is a strategic choice for the Korea of the 21st century to join the ranks of advanced countries.

The FTA with the U.S. will help Korea gain stable access to the world's largest market and upgrade its economic structure by sharpening the competitive edge of the service industry," Roh said. "The government will do its best to bring the FTA to conclusion at an early date by all means. However, under no circumstances will we make concessions on important matters just to meet the target date." He also said that in accordance with its elevated international status, Korea will faithfully carry out its role as a responsible member of the international community, including the expansion of its official development assistance for the eradiation of poverty in developing countries. Touching on domestic issues, the president said his government will concentrate all of its policy capabilities on taming real estate speculation and rising property prices. "Stability of the real estate market is essential to the recovery of public livelihood and corporate competitiveness. For that purpose, the government is pushing for full disclosure of apartment construction costs," said the president.

From http://www.korea.net/ 11/06/2006


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Budget Plan Focuses on Defense, Welfare, Education

National defense, welfare and education will be key sectors in government financing for a few years to come, while industry and social overhead capital (SOC) projects will have to depend on private capital. The budget for national defense, welfare and education will increase around 8 percent to 9 percent yearly on average, the Ministry of Planning and Budget said on Wednesday (Nov. 8) after handing in its National Finance Management Plan for 2006 through 2010 to the National Assembly. The budget for the industry and SOC sectors, however, will see only 0.7 percent annual increase on average. In national defense, which will see around an 8.4-percent budget increase each year, priority is on strengthening the military. A total of 41.3 trillion won will be spent until the year 2010, to develop or acquire key weapons, the ministry said. The ministry will allocate 17.7 percent more budget there each year on average. Conscript soldiers, who get 65,000 won salary each month on average, will get 80,000 won from the next year, and over 100,000 won from the year 2010. There will be changes in the budget allocated for reunification, however, as the present allocation of 13.5 percent more money each year for humanitarian support to North Korea was set up before the nuclear test. The budget for social welfare, one of the government's top priorities, will increase 9.1 percent on average each year. Most of the increased budget will be allocated to finance free education and allowances for handicapped citizens, on top of pensions. The education sector will see an 8.1-percent budget increase each year, mostly to improve public education so that the prevailing private education will be curtailed.


From http://www.korea.net/ 11/08/2006


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Gov't Panel Endorses Draft of FY 2007 Budget Policy

The government's key economic policy panel approved on Friday a draft of the budget policy for fiscal 2007 aimed at trimming the new issuance of government bonds from 29.97 trillion yen in the initial budget for fiscal 2006. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy that the government should mention a policy of "drastically" cutting the new government bond issuance in the budget policy, economic and fiscal policy Minister Hiroko Ota said at a news conference after the meeting.


From http://www.japantoday.com 11/25/2006


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Southwest Region Development Plan Unveiled

The government unveiled a long-term project to develop the nation's southwest region, including Mokpo, Muan and Sinan, in a report to President Roh Moo-hyun on Friday (Nov. 24). Related ministries, in consultation with the provincial government in South Jeolla Province, plan to invest 22 trillion won ($25 billion) by 2020 in the region to develop infrastructure. Former President Kim Dae-jung set up a long-term project to develop the region during his tenure between 1998 and 2003, but there has been little progress over the past few years. In its report to the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae, the Presidential Committee on Balanced National Development said the roadmap would create 220,000 new jobs there by fostering industries such as tourism and energy production from recycled materials. Currently, only 76,000 people of the regional population of 340,000 are employed in the manufacturing or service sectors. The committee seeks to increase annual manufacturing production to 16 trillion won from the current 650 billion won and increase the population to 570,000 from 340,000. To accomplish these goals, the government will propose a bill to promote the development of the region to the National Assembly during the first half of 2007.


From http://www.korea.net 11/25/2006


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MONGOLIA: Anti-Corruption Law Comes into Force

Today, the anti-corruption law came into force adopted by the Mongolian Parliament last spring. Activities will be determined to combat corruption, and a legal base of the institution to combat a corruption will be defined under the law. As the states, the institution will be a special state service with a right to perform independent activities. Its structure, organization and posts are to be approved by the Parliament. Head of the organization will also be appointed by the Parliament under a proposal by the President. B. Bolortuya

From http://www.montsame.mn 11/01/2006


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Crime Victim Assistance Plan Approved

The government Tuesday approved a white paper outlining a four-step plan to support crime victims, ranging from immediate help to long-term care for posttraumatic stress disorder.The report, published on the basis of the basic law on crime victims that took effect in April 2005, summarizes undertakings by the central and local governments, including innovative support programs offered by communities.The outline divides 258 support measures approved at a Cabinet meeting last December into four categories -- from those requiring immediate action to those to be implemented within three years.The government plans to put about 80 percent of the measures into practice immediately and the rest, including improvement in the care of serious PTSD cases, by December 2008.Crime victims "lack thorough support, are forced into social isolation and often suffer from a secondary trauma in addition to the immediate damage from crimes," the report says.Among innovative cases, the report mentions Suginami Ward, Tokyo, which passed an ordinance allowing crime victims to get home helpers and special loans, and the Akita Prefectural Government, which has set up a support program to collect telephone cards, stamps and other items from residents to finance victim support groups.The report cites the department set up by Tokyo Medical and Dental University Hospital where experts specifically treat serious PTSD cases -- a first by a medical institution in Japan.The hospital's therapeutic program is based on methods recommended by academic societies in the United States and Britain and is aimed at relieving victims' fear and anxiety to improve their quality of life.

From The Japan Times 11/22/2006


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Law on Diplomatic Service to Be Amended

Some basic functions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs such as providing the state administrative institutions with real time information and diplomatic positions are not reflected, and some articles, parts and provisions are not appropriately formulated in the law of Mongolia on diplomatic service, which was approved in 2000. The law thus requires an amendment. A draft on amending the law was submitted on Wednesday to the Parliament Speaker by Minister of Foreign Affairs, N.Enkhbold. In case of approval of the draft, worked out in order to refine the legal environment of diplomatic service in accordance with the international standards, the functions of the central institution of state administration responsible for foreign affairs issues, will be legalized completely. Diplomatic positions will be confirmed to be observed in the diplomatic representative boards of Mongolia in foreign countries as well. B. Bolortuya

From http://www.montsame.mn 11/22/2006


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INDONESIA: Govt to Evaluate Discriminatory Bylaws

Breaking a long silence on the issue, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry promised Wednesday to review regional bylaws accused of discriminating against minority groups. Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin said he would coordinate with the Home Affairs Ministry, which has repeatedly promised to look over the bylaws. "We will go over the legal construction, the design and the format of these ordinances, so that there will be no bylaws in conflict with the Constitution," he told reporters. Minority groups have demanded that the government revoke sharia-inspired ordinances already adopted in more than a dozen regencies and mayoralties. Critics have warned that the ordinances endanger the integrity of multicultural and multireligious Indonesia. An anti-prostitution bylaw enacted by Tangerang regency in 2005 sparked protest after a woman was labeled a prostitute for being out on the street alone at night. Regions such as South Sulawesi and Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam have adopted bylaws requiring state officials to be able to read Arabic. Activists from Arus Pelangi, a non-governmental organization that promotes the rights of homosexuals and transvestites, protested at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry in September. They claimed their members had been discriminated against and harassed under the local laws. The group listed at least 28 bylaws it deemed discriminatory, one of which specifically outlawed gays and lesbians. The anti-prostitution bylaw issued by the Palembang mayoralty in 2004 defined prostitution to include homosexuality, lesbianism, sodomy, sexual harassment and "other pornographic acts." Hamid said his ministry would set a human rights standard for regional ordinances in line with the 2004 law on regional bylaws. "We will evaluate the enacted bylaws to see if their substance is against human rights," he said. The review, he added, would be carried by officials at the provincial legal and human rights offices. He said the officials would be more proactive in supervising the deliberation of regional ordinances.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/02/2006


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Govt Plans New Legislation for Special Economic Zone

The government will issue a new regulation providing the legal basis needed for the special economic zone (SEZ) in Batam it is jointly developing with Singapore, ironing out as well several pending problems in business license administration, immigration procedures and labor skills. The Office of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy is currently preparing the government regulation in lieu of law for SEZs, which is expected to come into effect "as soon as possible", said State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra after a meeting Saturday between President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong on the sidelines of the APEC Summit here in Hanoi. The government has decided not to embed the policies of SEZs in its revision of the country's Investment Law, which the House of Representatives is currently deliberating, as "there were too many SEZ-specific issues to be implemented (under one legislation)," Yusril said. It may also be a faster and more effective way for the government to set up more investment-boosting SEZs throughout Indonesia. "We'll talk with the House so that the new government regulation will not face too many challenges when the House deliberates on it," he said, without elaborating on the contents of the new regulation. The government may initiate the issuance and imposing of a government regulation in lieu of law, with the House having to deliberate and approve or reject it within six months.

Investors have indeed been calling for the government to issue specific laws on SEZs, to provide the certainty of a legal basis for their investments. The government may issue one regulation for each SEZ. The government will soon revise a 2000 government regulation providing incentives of reduced income tax for investments into 15 industry sectors and nine other region-based investment sectors. Batam island, along with Riau Islands province's Bintan and Karimun, have since June been declared an SEZ, due to their strategic location near Singapore, with industries there now in need of space to expand. Potential investments in the Batam, Bintan and Karimun SEZ include the shipyard and electronics industries. The government plans to set up 14 SEZs throughout Indonesia. Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono said Friday's meeting was a follow-up briefing of a recent third round of talks of a joint steering committee established between Indonesia and Singapore for the SEZs. The government will continue to improve the processing time for business licenses in Batam through the newly established one-stop investment center, Boediono said, and the setting up of an investor relation unit to handle any requirements and complaints from investors. Immigration procedures for businesspeople from Indonesia and Singapore who frequent the SEZs will also be simplified and improved, using a so-called electronic card identity system for faster processing. "We will also work together with Singapore in training related administrative officers, as well as skilled labor the industries will need at Batam Polytechnic," he said.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 11/19/2006


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Govt Revising Law on Intellectual Property Rights

The government is revising a 2002 law aimed at protecting the intellectual property rights of artists from rampant piracy, a senior official said Tuesday. Ansori Sinungan, the intellectual property rights director-general at the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, said a draft law is being prepared to revise the current regulation. It will include an additional chapter establishing a collective management society to protect art, he said. "The collective management society will include artists, publishers and producers to collect royalties from users of registered artworks and distribute them to intellectual property rights owners," Ansori said at a seminar on intellectual property in Jakarta. He added that the government would function as a facilitator and regulator. Actors, singers, recording firms and law practitioners at the event supported the moves. The seminar on intellectual property rights also featured Robert Strang, an official from the U.S. Justice Department. Strang said his country had a collective management society to protect artists at home and overseas. "Even now, the U.S. Justice Department and FBI have set up a special investigative team to handle computer and internet piracies and brought such cases to court," Strang said. Arts workers said the anti-piracy operations launched by police were ineffective. They said this was partly due to vagueness in the existing law. They complained piracy and the duplication of their works took place under the noses of law enforcers. "Piracy and the copying our works has gone out of control in connection with the rapid development of information technology," composer Otto Hasibuan told the seminar. "In the past, someone needed at least one hour to record 12 songs from a cassette. Now he/she can do hundreds of songs in MP3 or on compact discs simultaneously in minutes," composer Otto Hasibuan told the seminar.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 11/23/2006


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MALAYSIA: Govt Plans to Upgrade Malay Villages

The Government will embark on a programme to upgrade infrastructure facilities in all Malay villages in Penang. Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman said the programme, mooted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was to help improve the community*s economic status. ※We have set up a special Rural Development Committee to oversee this programme. ※I have visited many villages in Penang since August to find out the facilities needed,'' he said at his Hari Raya open house here yesterday. Zainal, who is also Nibong Tebal MP, said among the facilities that would be upgraded were roads, streetlighting, bridges, community halls and recreation centres. ※We will initially use the ministry*s 2007 budget allocation to carry out this programme. ※If the need arises, we will seek more funds from the Implementation and Coordi-nation Unit (ICU),'' he said. He said villages that were located near towns would also be included in the programme. ※We do not want to see Malay areas in Penang being left out from the mainstream of development. ※We want the residents to feel proud and happy to live in rural areas. Hopefully, Penang can become a model state for sustainable rural living,§ he said.


From http://thestar.com.my/ 10/26/2006


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PHILIPPINES: NTC Issues Draft Digital TV Regulations

THE NATIONAL Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has posted on its website its first draft regulations on digital terrestrial television (DTT), paving the way for the implementation of high definition video broadcast services in the Philippines. The NTC stated in its draft that the sole standard in delivering DTT in the Philippines is digital video broadcast-terrestrial (DVB-T), which uses the MPEG-2 compression standard. Likewise, the NTC stated in its draft that current analog television broadcast stations will be allowed to apply for authorization to provide DTT services and will have the option of adopting either the higher-quality high-definition TV (HDTV) or standard definition TV (SDTV) standard. DTT providers may opt for a pay-per-view business model provided they obtain permission from the NTC. To qualify for a national authorization to provide DTT, applicants with 15 or more television stations must have at least P1 billion in paid-up capital, the draft regulations state. Analog TV providers with fewer than 15 stations are required to have at least P1.2 billion in paid up capital, and startup companies that do not have any TV stations are required to have at least P1.5 billion in paid-up capital. All applicants must also hold an existing nationwide congressional broadcast franchise. Applications for local DTT services must have at least P60 million in paid-up capital and have at least a local congressional broadcast franchise. The draft regulations also state that the NTC will require all analog TV providers to convert to digital transmission by the end of the last day of December 2015. However, the NTC will continue accepting license applications for analog TV until December 31, 2008. Digital TV provides higher video quality than traditional analog video and makes it possible for stations to provide viewers with interactive services.

From http://archive.inquirer.net 11/06/2006


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SINGAPORE: Govt to Introduce Laws on 19 New Offences, Expand Scope of Existing Offences

The Home Affairs Ministry is planning to introduce legislation on 19 new offences and expand the scope of 19 existing offences in the Penal Code. Some of these changes are to keep abreast of technological changes which have taken place in the last two decades, such as the internet and mobile phones. And with these technological changes, there had been new issues and offences by those who abused or used them to commit crimes. Currently these acts are not covered or prosecuted under related provisions in the Penal Code which do not specifically address these offences. The last major review of the Penal Code - Singapore's primary criminal legislation - was made in 1984 when mandatory minimum sentences were imposed for offences such as robbery and rape. Since then, times have changed and some are making use of electronic medium like the internet and mobile phones to commit crimes. And several of the proposed new laws will aim to help police tackle crimes like credit-card fraud more effectively. The Ministry proposes to introduce a new law - Section 473B - to prosecute fraudsters who make or possess equipment used to forge credit cards. The new laws will also help police deal with internet or mobile phone scams which target Singaporeans, even if the scams are executed outside of Singapore. Following the case of racist bloggers who were charged under the Sedition Act, the Ministry is now proposing to expand a law under the Penal Code.

Currently, under Section 298, it is an offence to say words meant to wound religious feelings. The Ministry recommends this to be expanded to cover wounding of racial feelings as well. This way, prosecutors will have the option of charging offenders under the Penal Code or the Sedition Act. There are also plans to enact a new offence which covers an action that is likely to cause racial or religious disharmony, or promote enmity on grounds of race or religion. The law on 'unlawful assembly' will also be clarified. The Ministry is proposing that if five or more people gather with a common intention to commit a crime, they can be charged with 'unlawful assembly' even if the gathering does not disturb public tranquility. "The whole idea is to be able to intervene earlier rather than wait for the crime to take place. What this unlawful assembly is dealing with is large numbers. There's always a sense that more people are more dangerous. And if you have many people, five or more, gathered together with the common objective of committing some crime, the police can take action sooner rather than later," says Associate Professor Kumaralingam Amirthalingam from the Faculty of Law at NUS. On cheating, it is proposed that the law be expanded to make a culprit liable even if he does not carry out the act himself and appoints an agent to do it for him.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/08/2006


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Legislative Changes to Apply to Co-Ops to Ensure Better Governance

Laws on corporate governance will soon apply to co-operatives to ensure greater accountability and transparency. Co-operatives were established in Singapore some 80 years ago and today some of them like NTUC Fairprice have grown to become household names. There are some 100 co-operatives here and what differentiates them from businesses are their social objectives of benefiting members through cost-effective products and services. And it is because of this social orientation, coupled with higher public expectations of governance, that a new set of laws will soon apply to them. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Community Development, Youth & Sports Minister, says: "The overall approach has been a risk-based approach meaning that more attention will be focused on more risky aspects or co-ops whose businesses expose them to greater risk. So it is not a blunderbuss approach where we are going to go through a fine tooth comb, everybody big and small, in a kind of almost blind-folded manner." Under the new laws, some existing regulations such as those on investment restrictions and statutory fund requirements for non-credit co-ops will be relaxed. While others, such as financial reporting standards, membership and services of credit co-ops, will be tightened. The legislative changes will be drafted by an inter-agency committee, including the Ministry of Finance, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Attorney-General Chambers and NTUC. Since this will change the way cooperatives are run, public consultation will take place before the new laws are implemented in the later half of next year. Even before the new laws kick in, the Singapore National Co-operative Federation has introduced a non-mandatory Code of Governance for the industry. The Code is modelled after the Code of Corporate Governance for companies and Guide to Best Practices for Institutions of Public Character. Seah Kian Peng, Chairman of Singapore National Co-operative Federation, says the guidelines include internal controls, financial reporting, board governance and board independence. The bar of these guidelines has been set high as these are best practices that everyone should aim high and strive for. Many co-ops say they welcome the guidelines and look forward to details of legislation, as they believe it will boost public confidence.


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


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Singapore to Beef Up 3 Areas to Help Lower Income Groups

Singapore is committed to helping the lower income groups here by pumping in more resources in three areas - education, home ownership and workfare for low-wage workers. Prime Minister Lee outlined the government's vision to help the lower income keep up with economic developments in the long term. Mr Lee noted that providing education to all Singaporeans will help ensure the next generation has the opportunity to do well and break out of the poverty cycle. He suggested transferring unused funds from the Baby Bonus into the Post-Secondary Education Accounts, with additional top-ups. This will allow the child to use the money to pay for school fees at the tertiary level. Another area is to help the low income build up their assets through HDB home ownership by giving them higher subsidies. "Over time, we will see how the grant works out and we'll increase the grant so as to continue to do more for the lower income Singaporeans. We want the lower income to own a property which is valuable, to have something to live in and also to have something to retire on and this is a good way to do it," said Mr Lee. On encouraging low-wage workers to stay employed, Mr Lee said next May, more of these workers will benefit from the Workfare Bonus.

The first batch of 330,000 low-wage workers have already received a total of $150m in May this year, and the government will implement more workfare schemes in future. "It's essential for us to tilt the balance in favour of lower income Singaporeans because globalisation is going to strain our social compact. That's why we're doing all this. But I'd like to caution members that we should proceed with care," said Mr Lee. Mr Lee also explained why Singapore cannot follow the Scandanavian model of 'welfarism'. Examples include Scadanavians not depending on MNC investments and implementing high taxes. If Singapore follows their model, Mr Lee said the country would lose talents and businesses would leave. "So we have to be very, very careful. Experiment, learn, modify as we go along. Don't go overboard with excessive welfare for the lower income, don't go overboard encouraging families to break up and to abandon their old folks. Don't over extend subsidies to people who are not poor. Once we've made a mistake, unwinding is impossible, because once people have been given welfare benefits, it becomes an entitlement, it's permanant, there'll be budget deficits, taxes will have to keep on going up and we'll be in a Scandanavian situation," said Mr Lee.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/13/2006


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Singaporeans Say Government's Security Measures Sufficient

More Singaporeans feel the government's security measures are sufficient to prevent a terrorist attack in Singapore. The Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, or MICA, on Monday released part of its findings from a survey of 525 Singaporeans. Deputy Prime Minister Professor S Jayakumar, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security, said that despite the confidence, Singaporeans must still guard against complacency. He said Singapore had to raise the baseline of the country's national security, including beefing up security resources in many areas, including maritime, aviation and other key installations. Singapore's security framework was reorganised, with the National Security Coordination Secretariat (NSCS) set up to handle the country's security policies. The NSCS is under the Prime Minister's office. Another key aspect was reaching out to Singaporeans to understand the issues at stake, because keeping the country safe needed a "whole-of-nation" approach. Professor Jayakumar said he was 'cheered' by the MICA survey results. 82 percent of Singaporeans said they felt that the government's security measures were sufficient to prevent the threat of terrorist attacks. 90 percent were confident the government was capable of making sure there would be a quick recovery after an attack, and 87 percent believed Singaporeans would stand united when attacked by terrorists. Professor Jayakumar said one major concern was fatigue and complacency could set in because Singapore had been secure for so long. If a terrorist attack did occur, the psychological impact could be very damaging. "Lives can be healed, property repaired and our economy re-built, but our gravest concern is that a successful attack can tear apart in an instant our racial and religious harmony and our multi-cultural society that we have worked so hard to build up over the decades," he said. Professor Jayakumar said that was why large scale drills like Exercise Northstar V was crucial in preparing everyone in an emergency.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/13/2006


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THAILAND: Up to 200 Laws May Change

The interim government aims to amend between 150 and 200 laws that pose obstacles to economic development within its one-year tenure year of administration, business leaders said. Khunying Jada Wattanasiritham, president of the Thai Bankers' Association, said that Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont has stressed that amending laws is an urgent task for the government. ''There were about 500 laws that needed improvement. However, the interim government aims to complete the amendment of about 150 to 200 laws,'' she said. Khunying Jada, together with Thai Chamber of Commerce head Pramon Suthiwong and Federation of Thai Industries chief Santi Vilassakdanont, met yesterday with the prime minister. Revising laws related to business is a key concern of the private sector. ''The amendment would restore confidence among domestic and foreign investors,'' she said. Mr Santi, the FTI chairman, said that business laws needing changes include the investment promotion law and the alien business law as they both lack clarity. The laws should be revised to encourage foreign investment, he said. The leaders also urged the government to implement policies for alternative energy and logistics, and boost international trade by supporting bilateral and multilateral trade talks. TCC chairman Pramon Suthiwong said that some Thai and foreign investors remain worried about the sufficiency economy policy and the political situation. ''The committee understood that Prime Minister Surayud's announcement adopting the sufficiency economy rationale does not mean that the country will shut its doors to foreign investment, but instead, it will continue to implement liberal economic policies in a 'slow but sure' manner,'' he said. A forum that teaches investors about sufficiency economy should be organised soon, he said. The private sector also agreed that public hearings should be held on FTA negotiations, he added.


From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com/ 11/08/2006


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VIET NAM: Legal Aid, Public Health Draw Eye of National Assembly

Regulations on legal aid for civilians, criminals, extradition and transfer of prisoners received the approval of National Assembly deputies at their session, which discussed the two draft laws on legal aid and communicable diseases, yesterday. According to the Law on Legal Aid, the Ministry of Justice is in charge of giving legal aid to civilians, the People*s Supreme Procuracy to criminals and the Ministry of Public Security will decide on transferring prisoners. Under the draft law, the provincial/city people*s courts are authorised to take decisions on extradition and the Ministry of Public Security on implementing the decision. However, Le Manh Hung from Ha Tinh Province wanted extradition to be dealt with by the Chief Judge of the provincial People*s Court. Le Thi Nga from Thanh Hoa Province requested the drafting committee to have stricter rules for extradition to avoid risks to the implementing agency. Nguyen Dinh Loc from Ho Chi Minh City and others proposed to hand over the issue to the National Assembly Standing Committee. On the question of transferring prisoners, Pham Quy T? from Ha Noi said the decision should follow the two important conditions of providing better conditions for prisoners to serve their remaining sentence and receiving consent from prisoners or their representatives. "We must not confuse regulations for extradition and transferring prisoners who are serving sentences," T? said. T? also asked the drafting committee to clarify criminal cases referred to foreign courts or under going trials abroad. "Will a representative from the Institute of Inspectorate represent the country in a foreign court? And will they be allowed to make an appeal if the verdict is wrong?" T? wondered.


From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn 11/11/2006


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BANGLADESH: Govt Urged to Amend Age-Old Insurance Act

Eastland Insurance Company chief has urged the government to accelerate the process to amend the age-old Insurance Act 1938 to meet today's market challenges. Eastland Insurance Company Chairman Mahbubur Rahman also called for bringing the insurance industry under finance ministry. He was addressing the 20th founding anniversary of Eastland Insurance Company, a first generation non-banking financial institution, at Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre Saturday. "The government of late, has initiated a process to legislate three separate laws--Independent Insurance Regulatory Authority 2005, the Insurance Act 2005 and Takaful Act for Islamic insurance companies," said Rahman, also president of International Chamber of Commerce-Bangladesh (ICC-B). But some provisions of these drafts are not above debate, he added. However, he said despite having various problems of general insurance companies including severe human resource problems, the sector has been registering more than 12 percent growth annually for last four years. He also told the gathering that some 60 private insurance companies, including 43 general insurance firms, are doing business in Bangladesh and the number is relatively higher considering the size of the market than that of India, Pakistan and some other neighbouring countries. Directors, Managing Director M Azmal Haque and other senior officials of the company were also present.


From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 11/06/2006


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Adult Literacy Must Top Dev Policy Agenda: Speakers Tell Seminar

Adult literacy programme for the poor and illiterate must be placed at the top of the development policy agenda in Bangladesh, eminent academicians at a seminar observed yesterday. "Since the adult people are already there in the development process, they should be educated first," said Dr Harbans Singh Bhola, professor emeritus at Indiana University, USA. "I do not suggest that all the primary schools should be shut down. Rather, adult education is necessary to complement the primary education," he added. The Friends in Village Development Bangladesh (FIVDB) in association with Unesco, the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and the Brac Institute of Educational Development (BUIED) organised the seminar as part of a literacy week being observed in the city from November 10 to 16. Dr Harbans presented the keynote paper titled 'Adult literacy development in Bangladesh: Unlocking the people's potential' at the seminar on 'Role of adult literacy in poverty alleviation and Bangladesh policy perspective' held at the Spectra Convention Centre. Sharing his experience in the field of education in the country, Dr James Jennings, an educationist, said that until now what has been formulated as policies remained as rhetoric and recently disinterest and antagonism have been witnessed in this sector. He called for commitment of all the sectors to effective primary education and adult literacy programmes.

Wolfgang Vollmann of Unesco stressed the need for comprehensive research on adult literacy that remains outside the mainstream development. If the literate adults are involved in the economic development, they would contribute a lot to poverty alleviation, he observed. Tahsinah Ahmed of SDC presented a number of recommendations, including formulating a diversified policy to promote adult literacy. Claude Bobillier of BUIED suggested adopting good policies to implement the programmes at the national level, as bureaucratic tangle time and again stands in the way of implementation. Tahera Yasmin Haque, an educationist, said education is necessary even to achieve success in micro-finance for development. She also underscored the need for massive campaign backed by strong systems and structure. Prof Zillur Rahman Siddiqui, who was present as the chief guest, insisted on building a multi-tier system in imparting adult education that would start from the village level. Dr Manzoor Ahmed, director of BUIED, said the community learning centres could be the nucleus of adult literacy movement, which should begin right now. In his concluding speech, Dr Harbans said campaign is an effective tool to raise awareness among the people. He also launched recently published books on adult literacy at the seminar. Hasan A Keynan, Unesco programme specialist (education), Probak Karim of Plan Bangladesh and ANS Habibur Rahman, an educationist, also spoke while Zahin Ahmed, executive director of FIVDB, delivered the welcome speech.


From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 11/16/2006


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BHUTAN: Labour Act - Changes for the Better

22 November, 2006 - The way Bhutanese work and get paid, particularly in the corporate and private sector, could be on the threshold of major changes. And it will come through the Labour and Employment Act which is to be submitted to the 86th session of the National Assembly this December as announced by the prime minister, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, during the November 11 celebrations in Paro. The draft legislation, which has taken several years in the making, looks into issues such as minimum wage, leave, minimum working hours, safe working environment and collective bargaining. It also prohibits child labour and forced or compulsory labour.

According to the draft Act employees could sue their employers if the legislation is violated. The draft Act also allows formation of workers* associations, which empowers workers to refute ※unilateral§ decisions made by employers, and creation of labour inspectors to check, among others, wage records, and minimum working hours and working conditions. It also looks at overtime payment. The draft legislation says that an employee below supervisory level should be paid an overtime equal to the minimum of the employee*s normal rate of pay. In other words, if an employee earning Nu. 6,000 works overtime he should be paid Nu. 25 for every hour of overtime.

The draft Act says that if an employee is required to work at night, between 10:00 pm and 08:00 am for more than six days a month, the employee should be paid 1.5 times the equivalent of the hourly rate. Meaning that an employee earning Nu. 5,000 a month would receive about Nu. 31 for every hour of work between the time frame. According to officials of labour and employment ministry, the Act would bring about a positive change in the employer-employee welfare. ※While the Act looks into the interest of both employers and employees, it is to create an enabling working environment in the private sector,§ said the ministry*s policy and planning head, Tashi Wangmo. ※The legislation would make the private and corporate sector attractive for job seekers.§

But even as labour and employment officials fine tune the draft Act, there is a growing apprehension among private sector people that the legislation may ※kill the private sector§.※Can the Act be implemented in a developing private sector like ours?§ said a managing director of a Thimphu based firm. ※When government regulates payment in private sector, there is a danger that it might lay off people instead of creating employment,§ he reasoned. ※Firms would go for other cheaper alternatives or switch to capital intensive options, thus reducing employment.§ (by Ugyen Penjore)


From http://www.kuenselonline.com/ 11/22/2006


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INDAI: Government Plans New Guidelines to Bring Unlisted Psus Under Corporate Governance Ambit

The Government of India is preparing new guidelines for corporate governance of unlisted public sector undertakings (PSUs) to bring in more accountability and professionalism in public sector enterprises. As of Oct 2006, only listed PSUs are mandated to adhere to the corporate governance guidelines of the Securities & Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Of the total 242 PSUs functional in 2004-2005, about 200 are unlisted, implying that a majority of the PSUs are out of the ambit of SEBI's guidelines. The Department of Public Enterprises, in consultation with the Standing Committee of Public Enterprises, is now working on the guidelines for unlisted PSUs.


From India Business Insight 10/27/2006


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India's Domestic Violence Law Enters into Force

NEW DELHI: The much-awaited law against domestic violence comes into force tomorrow. Touted as a ※landmark§ pro-women legislation, the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, 2005 seeks to address issues linked to status of women within their homes that often gets pushed under the carpet. Under this Act, domestic violence assumes a broader meaning ranging from ※verbal abuse to taunts for not bearing a male child or bringing dowry, not been allowed to work or study to marital rape§. The Act, it is hoped, would empower women to report acts of violence suffered at the hands of family members. According to the United Nations Development Programme, nearly 70 per cent married women in the age group of 15 to 49 years in India face ※rape, beating and verbal abuse§. Under the new Act, the men booked under the law would face a minimum one-year jail term or a fine of Rs 20,000. However, he could be booked under different sections of CrPC for different acts of violence. The law focuses on married women or those who are in a live-in relationship, but also gives similar protection to sisters, mothers and even daughters within a family. Learning from the experience of other social legislations like Dowry Prohibition Act, the Act specifies that a full-time ※protection officer§ would book cases. In earlier legislations, district-level government authorities were given extra charge as enforcement officers, leading to delayed disposal of cases. To make the law user-friendly, the rules notified recently have it that the complainant would be asked to fill in a formatted complaint in front of the protection officer. Even relatives, friends and NGOs can file complaints on behalf of the women. Another highlight of new law is the appointment of ※counsellors§ to help the litigating parties. The women have the option of lodging an FIR and not pursuing it after counseling. There are also options like compulsory medical attention, right to stay in the home where she faced abuse, protection, temporary shelter etc. However, some sections have criticised the Act for ※treating married and live-in couples§ at par.

From Indian Express 10/26/2006


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Amendment to Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968 每 Setting Up of National Judicial Council Approved

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for introduction of the Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2006 in Parliament for giving effect to some Recommendations of the Law Commission contained in its 195th Report. The National Judicial Council shall consist of the Chief Justice of India, two senior most Judges of the Supreme Court to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India, two Chief Justices of the High Courts to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India irrespective of their seniority. However, in case of a complaint / reference against a Judge of the Supreme Court, the Council shall consist of the Chief Justice of India and the four senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court to be nominated by the Chief Justice of India. The introduction of the Bill will bring transparency in the functioning of the judiciary and also enhance its prestige.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 11/09/2006


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Centre Proposes to Launch Comprehensive Modernisation of Land Records Scheme

The Ministry of Rural Development proposes to launch a Comprehensive Modernisation of Land Records (CMLR) scheme for computerisation and updating of land records. This was stated by the Minister for Rural Development, Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh while addressing the meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry here today. He said that CMLR would also include survey/re-survey using modern technology, computerisation of the registration of immovable property transactions, automatic initiation of the mutation process with the goal of moving to Conclusive Title System. He said the scheme formulated after wider consultations will replace the two ongoing centrally sponsored schemes of Computerisation of Land Records (CLR) and Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records. Dr. Singh said that to facilitate integration of registration process with land record management, the subject of registration has already been transferred to Department of Land Reforms (DLR) under his Ministry at the Central level. The Minister said that it is proposed to implement CMLR scheme on 100 per cent funding basis by the Central Government, except for the registration component which is proposed to be shared on 75:25 basis between the Central and the State Governments. He said a model law will be drafted for adoption by the States to support various features of CMLR. Referring to the existing scheme of computerisation of land records, he said that Karnataka, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat are totally relying on computerised system and have stopped manual distribution of Records of Rights (RoRs). He said that some states have also placed land records data on the internet websites for easy access and dissemination of this information. Dr. Singh said that out of 3527 Taluks/Tehsils and Blocks, 3324 Tehsils, Taluks and Blocks have set up computer centres and in 2877 Tehsils, Taluks & Blocks computerised copies of RoRs are being issued to land owners on demand. Dr. Singh said that so far Rs. 445.38 crore have been released to States and Union Territories out of which Rs. 292.52 crore constituting 66 per cent have been utilised. He said that Rs. 100 crore have been allocated in the current budget for the cent per cent centrally sponsored scheme of CLR.

The meeting was informed that 68.61 lakh acres of land have been declared surplus under land reforms till June this year out of which 60.15 lakh acres have been taken possession of. 49.88 lakh acres have been distributed to 53.98 lakh beneficiaries of whom 55 per cent belong to SC/STs. 8.65 lakh hectare of surplus land is involved in litigation and the Minister said that the Rural Development Ministry is looking into the issue. It was also stated that according to information received from States 148.55 lakh acres of wasteland have been distributed so far. In addition, out of 21.59 lakh acres of Bhoodan land (donated land), 16.57 lakh acres have been distributed. The States have been told to distribute the remaining 5.02 lakh acres of Bhoodan land to eligible rural poor. With regard to tenancy reforms, the meeting was told that 125.85 lakh tenants have got their rights protected over an area of 167.157 lakh acres. It was also stated that 3.76 lakh acres of alienated land were restored to tribals. The meeting was informed that consolidation of fragmented agricultural land holdings is an integral part of the land reforms policy. So far, 1739.01 lakh acres have been consolidated. The Members of Parliament welcomed the new scheme of CMLR. They said that centre should ensure that all states implement the scheme properly. MPs wanted that consolidation of holdings should be promoted. They said that tribals should be given land and panchayat rights. They said that while computerising land records, it should be ensured that data being entered is correct. The Members said that the computerisation of the land records would greatly help SCs/STs and other weaker sections as it would eliminate frauds in land records. The Members of Parliament who participated are: Sh. Aruna Kumar Vundavalli, Dr. Ram Lakhan singh, Sh. Bhupendrasinh Solanki, Sh. Sukhdev Singh Libra, Sh. Raghunath Jha, Sh. Shailendra Kumar, Sh. Thupstan Chhewang, Smt. Joytirmoyee Sikdar, Sh. P.S. Gandhavi, Sh. E. Ponnuswamy, Sh. Pyarelal Khandelwal, Sh. Indramoni Bora, Sh. Penumalli Madhu and Sh. Jainarayan Prasad Nishad. The Minister of State for Rural Development, Shri Chandra Sekhar Sahu, Secretary, Rural Development, Dr. Renuka Viswanathan and other senior officials of the Ministry were present during the meeting.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 11/15/2006


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India: First South Asian Nation with Community Radio Policy

New Delhi: The decision by the Indian government to allow civil society organisations and community groups to own and operate radio stations will give an additional tool to the civil society to empower people it works with. The Indian Cabinet on Thursday approved a long-standing demand of civil society organisations to allow non profit organisations and educational institutions to initiate Community Radio broadcasting. The policy says that the license will be given only to a 'non-profit' organization with at least three years social service to local communities and the Community Radio Station should serve specific local community. Educational institutions are already covered under the existing policy, in force since December 2002, in the Community Radio Guidelines. This had allowed Indian civil society enough leeway to join hands with university broadcasters and start producing programmes. A press release by the government says: "The Community Radio Station (CRS) should be designed to serve a specific well-defined local community and the programmes for broadcast should be relevant to the educational, developmental, social and cultural needs of the community."

The policy also defines the ownership of the radio station as: "It should have an ownership and management structure and is reflective of the community it seeks to serve and it must be registered under the registration of Societies Act or any other such act relevant to the purpose." Stalin K, spokesperson for the Community Radio Forum - an association of community radio broadcasters, activists and academics - has welcomed the policy and said: "India will become the first country in South Asia to have a separate policy for community radio. We look forward to a genuine democratization of the country's airwaves when this policy comes into force." Radio broadcaster Sajan Venniyoor said: "This policy has been cleared by the government 80 years after broadcasting started in India, 60 years after independence of the country and 11 years after the landmark Supreme Court judgment in 1995 which said that airwaves are public property and should be used for public good." Though civil society organisations are satisfied with the policy, there have been some dissenting voices as well.

Dr Arun Mehta, who runs ICT company Telephony said: "News and current affairs is not part of this policy. What will people air 每 entertainment? The New Delhi based university Jamia Milia Islamia's community radio station has a surfeit of Urdu poetry, because without news and current affairs, they don't have much else." Mehta adds that even the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had recommended news and current affairs for community radio stations. "But we have to wait for the fine print as we do not as yet know what other surprises might be in store. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry still has to frame complete guidelines." Venniyoor disagrees: "The government has not allowed political and electoral news but besides that community radio stations can cover everything else. Moreover the focus is on community and local information, which has been allowed. An important point is that it is up to the people to decide what they want to air." The decision to allow five minutes of advertisements every hour has gone down well with community radio advocates.

The Community Radio Forum said: "The new policy will not only open up community radio to NGOs, self-help groups and other community-based organizations, but will also allow them to become self-supporting through limited ad-revenue. Experts are divided on the benefits that community radio can bring to people. Venniyoor says: "It depends on the imagination and the genius of NGOs and communities as to how they use it. Some may want to play local or folk music, others may want health or agricultural programmes. But we cannot be prescriptive on such issues." Mehta agrees: "Radio is like a newspaper for non-literate people. Therefore much depends upon people running and managing the radio stations as to where do their interests lie and what do they want out of the radio service." Project Manager at OneWorld TN Anuradha says: "If community radio does not take the voice of the people to policy makers, it might end up losing its shine. On the other hand rural communities can benefit immensely by airing behaviour change programmes and discussing local issues in their languages and dialects." ( by Rahul Kumar )


From OneWorld South Asia 11/17/2006


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Government Planning Comprehensive Legislation to Extend Social Security Cover to All, Says Labour Minister

The Government is planning a comprehensive legislation to extend social security cover to all workers. This was stated by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment (Independent Charge) Shri Oscar Fernandes while inaugurating the 14th Regional Conference of International Social Security Association (ISSA) for Asia & Pacific Region here today. He said, ※our focus is on informal sector as today, for every ten jobs, seven jobs are created in the informal sector.§ Referring to the organised sector, Shri Fernandes said that Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) provides medical care to 35 million beneficiaries with no upper cap on cost irrespective of the quantum of contribution paid by a member. He said, ※even one days insurable employment ensures coverage to the worker and his family.§ The Minister said that the fundamental duty of the civil society is to ensure a universal, non-discriminatory, equitable and reliable health care system. He said, ※the challenge, however, is how to ensure easy accessibility to quality medical care, both in terms of costs and geographical distance.§ The Minister said the deliberations of the conference will help in evolving various financial alternatives to ensure long-term sustainability of any health care system. Shri Fernandes said that management of social security funds to maximize returns is equally challenging. Calling for skillful handling of these funds, the Minister said that they could be gainfully employed by the state for economic growth. He said, ※it could be a win-win situation for all as the state would get the required financial resources, while social security organisations would get safety of their investments.§ The Minister said that Employees provident Fund Organisation provides social security cover to 40 million workers across the country. Earlier, the ISSA President Ms. Corazon De La Paz said that the agenda of the Conference reflects the urgency of addressing various issues concerning social security. She said an overriding concern in health care system is increase in expenditure while contributions remain static. The ISSA President said the investment of pension reserve funds has a direct bearing on financial sustainability of social security programme and potential benefit levels of its members. On providing social security to migrant workers, she said, the issue is of great concern to various countries including India and the Phillipines to which she belongs. She said that 20 million workers from India and 10 million workers from Phillipines are working away from their countries. The Special Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Shri J.P. Singh said that scarce resources and ever increasing demand is worrying us. He expressed hope that the Conference will help member countries in evolving options for optimal use of scarce resources while improving efficiency of delivery systems.

From http://pib.nic.in/release/ 11/21/2006


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SRI LANKA: Govt. Has Zero-Tolerance Policy on Child Recruitment

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday told Ambassador Rock that if there was credible evidence of such incidents of certain elements in the security forces recruiting children as combatants, he would have them investigated. In a communiqu谷 the Presidential Secretariat today regretted distorted media reports regarding certain conclusions made public by Ambassador Rock. Notes the Government*s long standing zero-tolerance policy on the recruitment of children as combatants.


From http://www.priu.gov.lk/ 11/14/2006


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PAKISTAN: Plan to Set up Science Cities and Varsities

MULTAN: The government is planning to establish science varsities and science cities in the country to promote education. Hamid Yar Hiraj, state minister for commerce, said while addressing the concluding session of a two-day conference on life science on Tuesday. The Bahauddin Zakariya University, the National Core Group and the Higher Education Commission had organized the conference. He said that the government had launched several programs to secure the ※enlightened Pakistan§ that included the National Education Policy 1998 to 2010, Education Sector Reforms 2002 to 2006, Quality Assurance Program, Education for All, National Plan of Action 2001 to 2015, Perspective Plan 2001 to 2011, Public Private Partnership in the Education Sector and Millennium Development Goals. Mr Hiraj said the government had improved the standard of higher education by establishing the Higher Education Commission (HEC) which had provided scholars with the latest research facilities by setting up a digital library, arranging doctorial studies for local students in foreign universities and providing indigenous scholarships to a large number of students. He said the government was committed to improving the quality of education because the government considered education vital for a developed, moderate, democratic and progressive nation.

Mr Hiraj praised the Bahauddin Zakariya University, saying that it had been ranked among the leading varsities of the country within a short span of time. He said that the university had developed a culture of good quality research and its graduates were contributing significantly to the country by serving in several private and public organizations. He said the establishment of new faculties and departments, such as the Seraiki Department and Veterinary Sciences Faculty revealed the continuous development of the university. Speaking on the occasion, Professor Dr Hayat Muhammad Awan, BZU acting vice chancellor, said that university had emphasized the need to improve research facilities for science students. He said the recent measures for the promotion of education by the university included the establishment of Institute of Biotechnology; establishment of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences; upgrading laboratories; sharing lab facilities with other universities and institutions; hiring foreign faculty for research supervision, adopting the HEC criterion for quality assurance and organizing national and international conferences. Justifying the measures, he said that science education was high in demand in national and international job markets. He added that according to an HEC report, the university stood fifth in the country in context of quality of education and stood first among the universities established since 1970.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 11/15/2006


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New Bill on Women*S Rights Submitted

ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday kept up the momentum of legislation against anti-women laws by submitting a draft bill to the National Assembly seeking an end to practices like marriage of girls with the Quran or to settle long-running tribal feuds. The first hint of such legislation came in a Wednesday night speech by President Gen Pervez Musharraf in which he congratulated parliament on adopting a bill seeking to amend the heavily criticised Hudood ordinances. He added that the National Assembly would do away with ※evil customs like vani, swara and honour-killings§ in the remainder of its tenure. Pakistan Muslim League president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain submitted the draft bill to National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain on Thursday. ※This is a follow-up move on the Women Protection Rights Bill which was passed by the National Assembly on Wednesday. The bill seeks to not only empower women but also give them their due rights,§ he told the news agency APP. ※The bill that we passed on Wednesday is the first step of our government towards protection of women's rights and the new bill is part of our agenda to ensure that their full rights are given to them,§ Chaudhry Hussain said. The federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Sher Afgan Khan Niazi, said the bill submitted by Chaudhry Shujaat, who was accompanied by PML secretary-general Mushahid Hussain, sought to put an end to six anti-women practices. ※One, it seeks action against those who deprive women of their inheritance or property rights. Two, it legislates against vani or the custom of giving the hand of women, mostly under-age girls, to settle murder disputes. Third, it criminalises forced marriages. Fourth, it proposes legal action against those who issue three divorces to their wives in one sitting. Fifth, it makes women*s marriage with the Quran a crime. Sixth, it puts an end to the custom of watta-satta,§ he explained, adding that the bill incorporated the views of religious scholars. He said the bill would be taken up by the National Assembly on a private member*s day during the next session. He added that while the next session had not been scheduled, it would be held some time in December. The federal minister for parliamentary affairs said most religious scholars felt the need for legislation against such anti-women practices. ※And since these are non-controversial issues, I am convinced that the bill will be adopted by the National Assembly without the kind of wrangling that characterised the passage of the Women Protection Rights Bill,§ he said.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 11/17/2006


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Women Bill in Conformity with Islam: Durrani

ISLAMABAD: Information and Broadcasting Minister Senator Muhammad Ali Durrani on Tuesday said the Women's Protection Bill (WPB) was in complete conformity with the injunctions of Quran and Sunnah for enhancing the status of women in society. "The entire nation has welcomed the bill which would provide honour and dignity to women who constitute half of the population," he said, while talking to journalists after attending a seminar titled 'Women Protection Bill, a step towards true Islamic society.' The minister brushed aside Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal's (MMA) allegations that the bill contravenes the Qur'an and Sunnah, saying there is nothing in the bill which is against the Islamic injunctions. "Under the Constitution of Pakistan, no legislation can be made against Islamic teachings and courts are there to keep vigil over the legislative work in the parliament," he added. "If the MMA followed parliamentary norms it would come up with its recommendations on the bill, but it resorted to score a point for political gains," he said. He said the federal government had moved the Supreme Court against the Hasba bill and the MMA also has a choice to raise its voice in the court.

Answering a question, Durrani said the government would remove MMA's concerns on the Bill and urged the six-party alliance to leave undemocratic attitude and accept dialogue offer by PML President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to its leadership. On MMA's statement regarding resignation of its members from the parliament, he said it is a political stunt and an effort to de-stabilise democratic government. However, he said in case of resignations, the law will take its course and every move would be in accordance with the Constitution. He said the Senate would also pass the bill which would come into force after a final approval from the President. The minister said the people especially the women fully understand that the MMA was making hue and cry just to misguide them on important national issues, hoping they would reject the MMA in the next general elections. Answering a question, Durrani said Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) had supported the government on the Bill just to maintain its vote bank.


From http://www.brecorder.com/ 11/22/2006


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India and Pakistan Set Up an Anti-Terror Forum

India and Pakistan on Wednesday set up a joint anti-terror forum and agreed on a plan to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear conflict in south Asia at the first peace talks since bombs ripped through Mumbai and killed more than 200 people in July. But Shiv Shankar Menon, India*s foreign secretary, said they remained ※a long way§ from enjoying neighbourly relations and were far apart on key issues, including the demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier. In the latest verbal sparring over the explosions, Riaz Mohammad Khan, Pakistan*s top diplomat, said India had still not provided evidence to substantiate repeated claims of Pakistani involvement in the blasts on commuter trains. Talks between the two have been stalled since July, when AN?Roy, Mumbai police chief, said his investigation had found the attacks had been ※sponsored§ by Pakistan*s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency and ※executed by [the Pakistan-based] Lashkar-e-Tayyaba operatives with help from the Students* Islamic Movement of India§, a banned jihadi group founded in Uttar Pradesh. Mr Menon declined to say that Pakistani state actors had been involved in the recent attacks but left room for that possibility. ※What we say is that there are elements in Pakistan 每 we don*t qualify that 每 there are elements in Pakistan which have been involved. Now who controls or how much control there is it*s very difficult to make categorical statements,§ he said. Mr Menon said India had provided Pakistan with evidence relating to recent incidents of cross-border terrorism, but could not do so on the Mumbai blasts as charges had not yet been filed in court. The next round of the talks will be in February in Islamabad. During Wednesday*s meeting, the countries agreed on an ※early signing§ of an accord to cut the risks of nuclear accidents. (by Jo Johnson)


From http://www.ft.com/ 11/16/2006


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AFGHANISTAN: President Lauds New Land-Mine Law

Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed his support for the implementation of a new international law requiring the destruction of land mines and unexploded ordnance to avoid postconflict casualties, Karzai's office announced on November 14. "The government of Afghanistan fully backs the international convention against land mines and unexploded ordinances," the presidential announcement said, adding that the law is crucial to ensuring the security and safety of the Afghan people. The Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War -- a protocol to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons -- took effect on November 12. The agreement is the first of its kind requiring "parties to an armed conflict to clear all unexploded munitions that threaten civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarian workers once the fighting is over." CJ


From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/15/2006


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IRAQ: Government Renews Emergency Laws

Iraq's parliament voted on November 8 to extend the national state of emergency for a further 30 days, international media reported on November 9. Lawmakers met during a closed-door session with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and voted unanimously to extend the emergency laws. The law allows for nighttime curfews and gives the government broad powers to make arrests without warrants. The state of emergency has been renewed every month since it was first authorized in November 2004. SS


From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/10/2006


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IRAN: Gov*t Will Approve Additional Budget Note

Management and Planning Organization (MPO) has announced that the additional note to this year*s Budget Law is expected to be approved by the cabinet in the next few days--most likely by Sunday. According to the Persian daily *Iran*, the government had stipulated over 184 trillion rials for development projects in the original version of the budget bill submitted to the parliament last winter, of which the lawmakers ratified almost 150 trillion rials. Following the initiative, MPO authorities quoted a number of lawmakers as saying that if the government manages to channel the entire development funds into projects by December, the Majlis will ratify the additional note to the budget. Official estimates by MPO suggest that the government would require over 1,030 trillion rials to complete 6,500 development budgets. MPO Chief Farhad Rahbar told *Iran* that the organization is confident that the government would have spent the 100 percent of its development funds by December.

He further said that the additional note is in the final stages of ratification by the cabinet and is expected to receive the administration*s approval by Sunday. It was announced last month that there are some 9,500 incomplete projects nationwide. Some $200 billion has so far been spent on these projects. Hamid Reza Hajbabaei, a member of the Majlis Presiding Board, has said an additional $100 billion is needed to complete the projects. Experts say the bill will seek parliamentary authorization for 30 trillion rials. Rahbar has said the Ninth Government is determined to finish incomplete projects by March 2007. The government*s budget for March 2006-2007 has undergone one of the highest rises and is one of the most oil-based in recent years.

From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 11/09/2006


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KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament Passes New Constitution

Kyrgyz lawmakers adopted a new constitution on November 8 that will significantly curtail the president's powers to the benefit of the legislature, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. The curbs on presidential powers will take effect after current President Kurmanbek Bakiev's current term ends in 2010, according to RFE/RL. The lawmakers passed the document in two swift readings in an apparent end to months of intense political fighting between Bakiev and his opponents. The new constitution garnered 67 votes in the first reading and 65 in the second, akipress.org reported. There have been large demonstrations in Bishkek in recent days, but opposition leaders have vowed to send their supporters home as soon as the new fundamental law is adopted. Under the new constitution, the National Security Service will be under government, not presidential, control, and parliament will be expanded from 75 to 90 deputies. DK

From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/09/2006


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Kyrgyz Parliament Adopts Freedom of Information Bill

Kyrgyz lawmakers on November 14 adopted a bill initiated by President Kurmanbek Bakiev that lays out broad access for citizens and residents to information that is not deemed to be commercial or state secrets, AKIpress reported the same day. The legislation also requires state officials to respond to inquiries directly or via the media, and includes a clause allowing the public to attend government sessions and making them a matter of public record. The law must still be signed by Bakiev before it can go into effect. AN

From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/15/2006


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KAZAKHSTAN: President Signs Changes in Law on Local State Management

Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, signed a law "On changes and amendments in the law 'On Local State Management in the Republic of Kazakhstan" Saturday, November 4, the presidential press service reports. The law regulates creation of deputy factions in the maslikhats - local representative authorities.

From http://eng.gazeta.kz/ 11/06/2006


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Mazhilis Approved Draft Law on Informatization

Mazhilis (lower chamber of Kazakh Parliament) has approved a draft law On Informatization in the first and second readings. Draft law On Informatization as of May 8, 2003 not meets with formed socioeconomic requirements and regulation processes of informatization in Kazakhstan. The main purpose of this project is to develop Kazakhstan*s information infrastructure including formation of e-Government, e-Akimat and construction of clear delimited chain of management in informatization field, Current Chairman of Kazakhstan Agency on Informatization and Communication Kuanyshbek Yesekeyev underlined. Mazhilis deputies have entered about 150 amendments to the draft law. In particular, competence of government, authorized agency, central and local executive powers and power of national operator in informatization field are being considered in terms of the session. Rights of natural and legal persons on access to electronic information resources are also discussing in the mazhilis. Mazhilis considered and approved ancillary draft law on amendments to the current legislation in the first and second readings. (by Muratbek Makulbekov)

From Kazinform 11/08/2006


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UZBEKISTAN: Constitutional Court Rules out Arbitration for Foreign Investors

Uzbekistan's Constitutional Court ruled on November 20 that foreign investors cannot take property disputes in Uzbekistan to international arbitration, press-uz.info reported the next day. The court found that Uzbek law does not presume consent to international arbitration. In commentary on uzmetronom.com, independent journalist Sergei Yezhkov noted that a number of large international investors are preparing to take disputes in Uzbekistan to international arbitration. Foreign companies that have encountered difficulties in Uzbekistan include Newmont Mining and Oxus Gold (see "RFE/RL Newsline," October 3 and 27, 2006). DK

From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/22/2006


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AUSTRALIA: Polluters Get Cash Windfall from Howard

ACTIVITIES that encourage increased greenhouse gas emissions will receive 28 times the amount of Federal Government funding this financial year than programs to reduce emissions. Analysis of this year's federal budget papers reveal that programs for activities that increase greenhouse gas emissions will attract total funding of about $8 billion in the 2006-07 financial year. Yet over the same period the Howard Government will spend only $280 million on activities to directly reduce emissions. The Government will spend $1.2 billion on drought assistance this year, plus $250 million in aid to the victims of Cyclone Larry but, according to Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry, Prime Minister John Howard needs to have a rethink. "Government spending reflects Government priorities," Mr Henry told The Sunday Age. "These figures show the Government has its priorities wrong," he said. "Australians increasingly want urgent action to avoid dangerous climate change. Government needs to send the right financial signals and ensure its spending has the effect of decreasing, not increasing, greenhouse gas emissions. "We have all witnessed a big shift in rhetoric from the federal front bench in the last few weeks. We hope the talk translates into a big shift towards funding for clean, renewable energy in the very near future."

Funding for subsidies and incentives for road users adds up to about $5 billion. This includes the energy grants credits scheme, which provides subsidies for the use of diesel or alternative fuels, and the excise exemption, for fuels such as LPG and biodiesel. Other big budget items that receive massive Government sponsorship include the "formula method" for calculating fringe benefits tax on employer-provided cars, with concessions worth nearly $1.2 billion to be claimed this year. The formula assumes that the greater the distance travelled by a car, the lower the proportion of private use and hence the lower the fringe benefit to the employee, thus acting as a clear incentive to drive further and consume more fuel. This method for calculating FBT accounts for more than 90 per cent of total FBT paid on motor vehicles. Direct assistance to Australia's car makers is another expensive item for taxpayers, with about $570 million going into their coffers this year. Other funding includes electricity subsidies paid to the aluminium smelting industry 〞 which alone accounts for 15 per cent of all electricity consumed in Australia and about 5.9 per cent of Australia's total greenhouse gas emissions. Airlines also get lower excise rates for fuel compared to motorists' fuel.

But federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who shares responsibility for managing a reduction in Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, blasted the comparison. "What are we saying, that we want to remove all of these subsidies and other industry assistance measures?" he said. "That is an outrageous suggestion that would put thousands of people out of work, would lead to dramatically increased taxes and is, quite frankly, an irrational approach." Mr Macfarlane strongly defended the Federal Government's record on reducing emissions. "The green movement give us no credit for the fact that we are one of only three or four countries in the world 〞 and the only non-nuclear country 〞 that will reach its Kyoto target," Mr Macfarlane said. "They just sit there and say we should close Australian industry send jobs offshore."


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 10/29/2006

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Medicare Changes 每 November 2006

Changes to Medicare to better treat mental illness and prevent chronic disease will commence on 1 November 2006. Australians will have access to better, more affordable mental health care through new Medicare mental health items and support services costing $538 million over five years. The new MBS items for mental health will make Medicare rebates available for GPs who provide early intervention, assessment and management of patients with mental disorders as part of a GP Mental Health Care Plan. Also coming into effect are a GP Mental Health Care Consultation item for GPs to provide continuing management of patients with mental disorders, items to support psychiatrists to see more new patients and items to provide rebates for psychological assessment and therapy services provided by clinical psychologists and other allied mental health professionals. There will be a new Medicare rebate for GPs to provide a preventative health check to people aged between 45 and 49 years who are at risk of developing a chronic disease. This health check will help people to make necessary changes to prevent or delay the onset of chronic disease. This new item is in addition to health checks currently provided under Medicare for indigenous people and people aged over 75 years.

The rebate for Pap smears undertaken by practice nurses on behalf of a GP will be extended to urban areas. Practice nurses will be able to take Pap smears and provide other preventive checks on behalf of GPs in all areas of Australia and the patient will be able to claim a Medicare rebate for the service. This extension will also give women in urban areas the choice to use a female health professional for these important checks. There will be a new Medicare rebate for antenatal care delivered by midwives, nurses and registered Aboriginal health workers on behalf of a GP or specialist. These antenatal services will be performed under the supervision of a medical practitioner, who will remain responsible for the patient*s health, safety and clinical outcomes. The item will not include delivery or the management of labour and is not intended to replace antenatal care that is more appropriately provided by a medical practitioner. Together, these non-mental health items are expected to cost about $60 million over 4 years.


From http://www.health.gov.au/ 11/01/2006


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Power, Fuel Bills to Jump in Greenhouse Remedies

Consumers need to brace themselves for increases of 30 to 40 per cent in their electricity bills and higher petrol prices if they want governments to solve climate change and business to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said yesterday higher energy prices were inevitable, even if Australia took the less dramatic step of investing in clean coal technologies. "People need to understand that lowering carbon in Australia (would cost) billions and billions of dollars: to use the Stern report figure, it's spending $10 billion per annum," he said. "If you bolt on the technology that's available at the cost predictions they are making, then the cost of electricity will go up 30 to 40 per cent. It's going to cost serious money. "It will be a long-term economic contribution that has to be made, and that will be made by the consumers of energy. It's not just electricity, it's petrol. "People are going to have to face the reality of higher energy prices but also higher costs on goods that use energy in their manufacture." Energy prices have risen in such countries as Germany, which introduced a carbon tax in 1999. Reflecting divisions between senior ministers about how to deal with the political challenges of climate change, Mr Macfarlane dismissed Environment Minister Ian Campbell's suggestion that Australia consider a regional emissions trading system.

Mr Macfarlane said a regional system between the AP6 partnership of nations - Australia, the United States, China, India, Japan and South Korea - would have the same "flaws" as the Kyoto protocol. The Age has been told that China has resisted the idea of emissions trading in preliminary talks with other AP6 members. It is believed Japan floated the idea of emissions trading in a meeting of AP6 members earlier this year, but China flatly rejected the idea. The Federal Government has been struggling this week to redefine and defend its stance on climate change following the release in Britain of the Stern report, which warned of dire economic consequences if the world failed to cut carbon emissions. Prime Minister John Howard yesterday repeated his emphasis on "practical" steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions, which will focus on investment in technology to clean up "dirty" emissions from coal. Despite a focused attack from Labor and the Greens and evidence of significant community concern about the issue, Mr Howard said the Government would not be "panicked" into adopting policies harmful to Australian industry. A Morgan Poll released yesterday found 22 per cent of respondents rated protecting the environment the most important priority for world leaders in 2007.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 11/03/2006

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Labor Poised to Set Long-Term Greenhouse Goals

VICTORIA would have laws to slash greenhouse gas emissions under a re-elected Labor Government, with plans to be announced as early as next week. The Age believes that after months of internal debate, Labor will promise to introduce a legally binding greenhouse reduction target of 60 per cent by 2050, which would require major changes to the state's energy-intensive economy. But it is not yet clear whether Labor will also commit to shorter-term targets within the next 15 to 20 years, which environment groups argue are essential to ensure Victoria starts reducing its heavy rate of greenhouse emissions. A spokeswoman for Premier Steve Bracks yesterday confirmed that Labor had more announcements on climate change on the way, but would not comment on whether an emissions target was among them. Mr Bracks flagged the likely announcement in last Friday's televised election debate, saying that "global warming is one of the biggest issues # facing our state. We have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." When asked why his Government had not set a target to cut emissions, Mr Bracks replied: "We have a target in 2050". Earlier this year, Labor members voted to support a 60 per cent emissions cut by 2050 at the party's state conference, but so far the Government has refused to say whether it would adopt that as official policy.

The overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that a minimum cut of 60 per cent in global greenhouse emissions over the next 50 years is needed to start stabilising the earth's atmosphere and avoid the extreme effects of climate change. The Victorian Labor Party's likely announcement comes as NSW Premier Morris Iemma yesterday pledged to cut greenhouse emissions over the next 45 years if re-elected, starting by bringing them back to 2000 levels by 2025. South Australia has committed to even deeper cuts, promising to cut emissions by 60 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. At last count in 2004, Victoria produced 123 million tonnes of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. If Victoria followed South Australia's lead, it would mean those emissions would have to fall to just 43 million tonnes in 2050. Victorians have one of the highest per capita rates of greenhouse gas production in the world, mainly due to the state's booming brown coal power sector, which produces the cheapest but most greenhouse gas intensive electricity in the country. Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman Chris James said industry would need to be reassured about the financial impact of any emissions targets. "There's nothing wrong with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and setting targets to do so, but (the Labor Party) needs to explain how they're going to get to that target without damaging the economy," Mr James said. Environment Victoria executive director Marcus Godinho said he welcomed moves to cut emissions, but also called for interim targets to make sure the state met any 2050 commitment. "Scientists have warned us that Victoria is facing a hotter, drier future because of climate change, which will only make water shortages we're facing today even worse," he said. "That's why the number one ask in this election from Victorian environment groups is for all political parties to support a 20 per cent cut in greenhouse pollution levels by 2020, based on a 1990 baseline. We can't just afford to wait until 2050 to act."


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 11/10/2006


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Australia Takes New Kyoto to Nairobi UNFCCC

Australia will push for a New Kyoto involving all the world*s major emitters at the annual United Nations climate change conference in Kenya, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said today. ※The future of the global environment and economy demands strong and effective global action on climate change,§ Senator Campbell said. Senator Campbell will lead the Australian delegation at the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. ※In Nairobi I will continue Australia*s push for the world to develop a new global agreement that involves all major emitters, that will deliver real benefits for the environment, and that fits the national circumstances and economic aspirations of all countries. ※This week I have already spoken to my counterparts in a number of countries about how we can move towards what the Prime Minister has referred to as the New Kyoto. ※We will be continuing these discussions in Nairobi because it is clear from every analysis of climate change, including the comprehensive economic analysis from Sir Nicholas Stern, that we need a concerted global approach that involves the world*s largest greenhouse emitters including the United States and China.

※According to the World Energy Outlook released this week by the International Energy Agency, China will emit more greenhouse gas than any other country, including the United States, by 2010 and India is currently the sixth largest emitter in the world. ※The world is waking up to the reality that all major emitters must be a part of any effective solution to cut global emissions. ※The problem with the old Kyoto Protocol is that it does not require fast-growing developing nations such as China and India to do a single thing to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In fact under the old Kyoto global greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 40%. ※This is exactly why Australia is pushing hard for an effective international response to climate change. ※We have already sought to provide leadership in a number of areas. ※We played a key role in establishing the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate 每 a partnership which includes countries such as China, the United States and India and epresents about half of the world*s emissions, energy use, GDP and population. ※At next week's UN meeting, Australia will also be chairing discussions on the long-term future ction on climate change 每 a key forum for discussing what comes after the old Kyoto.

※Australia is also the permanent chair of the negotiating group of non-European industrialised ountries, including the United States, Japan, Canada, New Zealand and Russia. ※Australia also recently led a successful international push for changes to the international agreement known as the London Protocol which will enable carbon to be stored under the ocean floor in a safe, responsible and environmentally effective way, while potentially making a substantial contribution to educing global greenhouse gas emissions. ※Australia is also working with 21 countries and the European Commission through the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum on the development of improved cost-effective technologies for arbon capture and storage. ※While in Nairobi, Senator Campbell will also look to extend Australia*s programme of practical international action on climate change and will hold a number of bilateral meetings with Ministers rom key countries. ※Slogans are simple, but Australia is interested in real solutions that will make a real difference 每 the lobal environment and economy demands nothing less.§

From http://www.deh.gov.au/ 11/12/2006


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Pearce Announces Most Substantial Insolvency Reforms in Almost 20 Years

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Chris Pearce, today released the draft Corporations Amendment (Insolvency) Bill 2007 for public comment. The draft Bill details an integrated package of reforms to improve the operation of Australia*s laws and is the first comprehensive package of insolvency law reform since the Harmer Review in 1988. &Insolvency law underpins the system of financial and contractual relationships that enable trade and commerce to take place. A modern credit based economy requires predictable, transparent and affordable means for enforcing unsecured and secured credit claims. A well designed insolvency system helps business obtain financing more easily and at a lower cost. The proposed reforms will continue our leadership role in this area, delivering important economic benefits to Australia. &In developing this draft Bill, the Government has taken a system-wide approach to improving outcomes for creditors and deterring misconduct. The Bill proposes the introduction of important disclosure requirements, an improved registration regime, reforms to support the $23 million assetless administration fund that I announced last year, and enhancements to the insolvency processes themselves,* Mr Pearce said.

The Bill aims to reduce the cost of insolvency proceedings for the benefit of creditors generally, for example by rationalising advertising and meeting requirements and by allowing for greater use of modern technology throughout proceedings. A key new innovation is a proposed statutory pooling process, which will allow for savings and improved returns to creditors through the consolidation of multiple insolvency proceedings for related companies. &These measures are consistent with the new approach to regulation that I outlined in the Corporations and Financial Services Review. I am continuing to work to achieve A Simpler Regulatory System that not only tackles complexity by reducing and simplifying our laws, but also tries to make sense of complex systems. &Australia*s insolvency regime has long been regarded as world-best, with jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand adopting the voluntary administration procedure that has been developed in Australia. The Bill will make a number of minor adjustments to develop this procedure further, in light of experience since its introduction,* Mr Pearce said. The Bill includes measures to improve protections for employee entitlements by according the Superannuation Guarantee charge the same priority as other employee entitlements, and by preventing administrators reducing the priority of employee entitlements without the agreement of employees.

&These measures demonstrate the Government*s commitment to ensure that employee entitlements are appropriately protected. They supplement the $62 million extension to the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme announced last year as part of this package,* Mr Pearce said. The Bill also includes measures to inform creditors better about key issues that arise in insolvency processes. There will be a new requirement for information to be provided to creditors to allow them to make an informed judgment about remuneration proposals. Administrators will also be required to make a statement of independence to creditors prior to their appointment. &The development of this draft Bill has been greatly assisted by the efforts of the Insolvency Law Advisory Group,* Mr Pearce said. &I would like to recognise the members of the Advisory Group publicly for their significant contribution to the law design process,* Mr Pearce said. A list of the members of the Insolvency Law Advisory Group is attached to this press release. &I invite all those with an interest in corporate insolvency to examine the draft Bill and provide their comments by 23 February 2007,* Mr Pearce said. Amendments to implement the Government*s decision to adopt the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency will be enacted as a separate Bill. The Model Law has been exposed for comments previously and received broad support. Any further comments on this aspect of the reform package would also be welcome.


From http://parlsec.treasurer.gov.au/ 11/13/2006


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Pharmacy Scheme Shake-Up to Slash Cost of Medicines

THE price of hundreds of drugs will fall and taxpayers will save $3 billion over the next decade as part of a massive shake-up of Australia's $6 billion pharmaceutical benefits scheme. The Government yesterday said the changes would allow it to pay for new life-saving treatments, such as Herceptin for breast cancer sufferers. But critics said they could lead to Australia paying too much for new drugs with few extra health benefits that were designed by pharmaceutical companies to exploit the changes. There are three main parts to the changes, which will be introduced between mid-2007 and 2012. First, the price of generic or copycat medicines will be slashed by up to 25 per cent. The Government will get most of the savings from this because it buys PBS medicines on behalf of consumers, but the public will also enjoy cheaper drugs. At present, people pay $29.50, or $4.70 for concession card holders, for PBS drugs. Under the changes, the cost of about 427 drugs will be reduced by between 20 cents and $4.65, according to Pharmacy Guild of Australia president Kos Sclavos. The cuts will be to generic medicines, including drugs for asthma, high blood pressure and ulcers. Second, the reforms will allow the Government to pay even less for some drugs by forcing manufacturers to reveal the backdoor price at which they sell them to pharmacists. The Government will then lower the amount it gives pharmacists to buy the drugs.

But pharmacists will be compensated. The will get 40 cents every time they use the Government's online prescription checking program, a higher dispensing fee and $1.50 every time they dispense a drug that costs no more than the standard PBS price of $29.50. The last plank of the reforms will change the way the government pays for drugs. Instead of paying the same for drugs that do broadly the same thing, such as lower cholesterol, it will pay more for those that do not have a substitute. Drugs that cannot be swapped for another without side-effects will be protected from mandatory price cuts. Health Minister Tony Abbott said the reforms would "lower prices for old drugs, so we're capable of paying higher prices for new drugs" such as Herceptin. He said the savings would put the Government in a stronger position to list expensive patented drugs, such as the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, on the PBS. The savings are estimated at $580 million over the next four years, but Mr Abbott said they would rise to a net $3 billion over the next decade as the patents expired on more than 100 high-cost medicines, allowing for new generic competition. But the Government has been accused of bowing to the powerful pharmacy lobby by agreeing to pay compensation of $1.1 billion in the form of the new payments. Choice health policy officer Viola Korczak said the Government should have reduced the patient co-payment.

"The real winners from these changes are the pharmacists. Their pockets will be further lined with a very generous Federal Government compensation package." Mr Abbott said the payments to pharmacists would compensate them in the short-term, but over the longer term they would start to see significant cuts to their income. University of Newcastle pharmacologist David Henry welcomed the price cuts for consumers, saying anything that made medicines more affordable was a "good thing". But he said separating drugs based on whether they could be substituted risked directing the efforts of drug companies to showing their medicines could not be swapped, rather than discovering new drugs. "It could lead to pharmaceutical companies employing armies of staff, looking for what are really quite trivial differences when the clinical perf. But Mr Abbott said the PBS would continue to pay for medicines based on whether they offered a health benefit and whether the price they offered for that benefit was worth it.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 11/17/2006


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Swarming and the Social Dynamics of Group Violence

Dr Toni Makkai, Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), today released the paper Swarming and the social dynamics of group violence, the most recent publication in the AIC Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice series. The paper provides a broad overview of different kinds of mass groupings, with 'swarming' defined as the unexpected gathering of large numbers of people in particular public locales. 'Riots such as the Cronulla and Macquarie Fields occurrences and media reports of 'schoolies' week and large numbers of individuals gatecrashing parties raise community concern about the prevalence and causes of group violence.* Dr Makkai said, &Greater understanding of the dynamics of large groups and the factors that make violence more likely will assist in the development of effective responses to prevent or reduce the escalation of group violence'. The paper describes different kinds of group formations: raves and flash mobs, which are for fun and generally do not involve violence youth gangs, which are implicated in violence almost by definition riots, their formation and the break out of violence seem to be spontaneous but may be triggered by a specific event and are purposeful mobs, appear similar to riots but violence occurs without any purpose or intent, possibly triggered by excessive alcohol consumption gatecrashers, which may become violent if the crowd dynamics spark it.

Although the paper stresses the need to consider different forms of swarming, there are commonalities identified across events and groups: the use of new communication technologies such as mobile phones access to motor vehicles an emphasis on excitement, thrill-seeking and taking collective control over particular public areas defiance and resistance in relation to authority figures such as the police the potential role of the media in exacerbating the occurrence of violent behaviour by publicising its possibility before the event occurs. The paper concludes with a summary of measures that have been adopted to help reduce violence and public disorder during &schoolies* week under three key headings: promoting community safety emphasis on safe fun explicit rules and behaviour boundaries.


From http://www.aic.gov.au/ 11/20/2006


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$66,000 Fine to Protect Privacy

AFTER three years of delays, a massive database containing personal information on every Australian with a phone number could soon be protected. A Bill before federal Parliament includes fines up to $66,000 or two years imprisonment for anyone misusing personal information in the Telstra-managed phone directory. It is three years since the Australian Communications and Media Authority raised concerns about misuse of data in the Integrated Public Number Database, a complete and always up-to-date electronic directory of all listed and unlisted phone numbers and contact details. It is used by emergency services, telcos and producers of public number databases, but only emergency services are authorised to access silent lines. Some marketing and directory companies use the information to wash their data and to reverse-search for names and numbers. An industry standard to restrict business use of the database was due to be in force by the second half of 2004, but it has been delayed several times. Now the Howard Government has introduced legislation to do the job instead. Criminal offences will be introduced for disclosing or misusing data under the Telecommunications Amendment Bill 2006, quietly introduced to Parliament in October. The Bill would "address a problem on increasing misuse of IPND data" Communications Minister Helen Coonan said. It will, however, allow researchers greater access to some information. The Bill clarifies access arrangements for the IPND by preventing access to the database for commercial telemarketing databases or for compiling personal profiles without consent. It shifts responsibility from Telstra to ACMA for decisions on access to IPND information.

Telstra will only be allowed to disclose IPND information to people authorised by the authority. As is the case now, only emergency services organisations will be given access to silent-number information, and researchers will not have access to such information. If passed in its current form, the legislation would extend access to IPND information for some public-interest social research in areas such as health and education. ACMA will have to establish a scheme for authorising access to the database. "These measures will make it very difficult to access IPND data for unauthorised purposes - something that has occurred in the past." The database, which contains details of about eight million fixed-line phone customers alone, helps fire and ambulance services respond to emergencies and helps police investigate serious crime. At present, it also helps direct marketers and companies that want to ensure they have correct information on their databases. Companies licensed as directory providers have used the database to clean data for third parties, provide them with previously unknown phone numbers and addresses, and upgrade demographic profile data. In 2003, the then Australian Communications Authority raised concerns about such practices when it announced it was investigating a company for misuse, saying self-regulation was not working. The authority announced it would develop an industry standard to prevent misuse.


From http://australianit.news.com.au/ 11/21/2006


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FIJI: Cabinet Endorses Waste Management Strategies

Cabinet has endorsed the National Solid Waste Management Strategy, and the National Liquid Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan. Cabinet based its decision on submissions by the Minister for Environment, Mr Poseci Bune. Mr Bune said that waste management is the single most important environment issue that needs immediate action. ※Fiji currently does not have any cohesive waste management strategy. ※Waste at the moment is being either thrown in the open dumpsites, illegally discharged in the sea or onto unused land, in the streets or being burnt in piles in the backyards. ※While there are legislations under different Government Departments and Ministries which address solid waste, these need to be harmonised to increase their effectiveness.§ Mr Bune said that the National Solid Waste Management Strategy sets out a medium to long-term programme for addressing waste management issues in Fiji, so as to avoid adverse effects. ※The strategy details the current waste management practices and outlines the inadequacies that exist in the system at the moment. ※

The seven components of the Strategy include: legislation, regulation and institution; information, education, awareness and community programmes; research and development; waste minimisation and recycling; improving final disposal, monitoring and litter control; efficient pricing and economic instruments; infrastructure, services and collection systems. Mr Bune said that these are intended to assist Fiji in moving towards the development of effective waste management systems within the country, and in accordance with our specific needs. He said that the programmes of the Strategy are to be implemented over the next 5 years and will be reviewed at the end of the fifth year. He added that the whole strategy and the progress of the action plans will be monitored by the National Solid Waste Management Strategy Implementing Committee or NSWM 每 IC within a specified time frame to ensure that the strategy lives up to its dynamic nature.

Mr Bune further informed Cabinet that disposal of wastewater and the sanitary conditions in many areas in Fiji are becoming a threat to public health, natural resources and our tourism industry in particular. Currently there is no policy in place to effectively manage the liquid waste in Fiji. The main components of the National Liquid Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan cover domestic waste such as sewage and greywater which is collected by sewerage systems or goes into septic tanks; commercial and industrial wastewater including that from the tourism industry; animal waste; marine shipping; urban stormwater; leachate from landfills/dumps; and sludge (septic tanks, industries and sewerage treatment plants). The key objectives of the National Liquid Waste Management Strategy are to: reduce the amount of wastewater produced in Fiji; improve and upgrade waste management and disposal systems to improve wastewater quality; improve coordination of departments/stakeholders involved in regulating and managing liquid waste; and improve awareness and practices of public in relation to sanitation/wastewater management.


From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 10/27/2006


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Cabinet Approves Amendments to Employment Relations Bill 2006

Cabinet has approved amendments to the Employment Relations Bill No. 8 of 2006. These amendments relate to maternity leave and the list of essential services. Cabinet based its decision on a submission by the Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations, Krishna Datt. Mr Datt explained that after considering views expressed on maternity leave status, Government*s policy for employers to pay maternity leave for all births as reflected under Part 11 of the Bill will be amended, to cushion the financial impacts on the employers who may not be able to absorb these costs. ※The amendment will have maternity leave payment for all births, but with a graduated scale. ※Only the first three births will be fully paid, with half payment for all births thereafter.* Mr Datt said that this amendment is compatible with international obligations such as CEDAW and ILO Conventions towards achieving Fiji*s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), while giving effect to the equality provisions of the Constitution such as non-discrimination against women in employment. He further said that whilst the list of essential services had been reduced, back-up provisions has been included in the amendment to the Bill in order to provide the Government, whenever justified, to add to the list any economic activity deemed essential in the interest of national security, public safety, public order or protecting the national economy.


From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 11/07/2006


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NEW ZEALAND: Government Braced for Claims After Equal Pay Review

The Government could be addressing its first pay-equity claims by the middle of next year, with the Cabinet agreeing terms of reference for pay and employment equity reviews. The public service, health and education sectors will all be subject to a review designed to ensure occupations that are dominated by women see those workers earn fair pay and have equal employment opportunities. Despite equal pay law being on the books since 1972, in March 2005 women's average hourly earnings were 86.4 per cent of men's. "The aim is to have a process and remedy which is sustainable, so that in a decade we could say we don't have a pay and employment equity gap in New Zealand," Labour Minister Ruth Dyson said yesterday. "Whether that's delivered or not is yet to be seen. It's a new process." Before a pay equity or equal employment opportunity claim is lodged, a template which tests each occupation's job size and remuneration against a comparable occupation must be completed. A review will then be carried out before a claim is lodged. Depending on the review's findings, workers such as teachers, secretaries, librarians, dental therapists and nurses may find their wages boosted.

"I don't imagine the pay gap is going to be huge in a number of occupations," Ms Dyson said. "I do think the employment equity issues are ones we have to get our heads around better and which employers will have to work hard to deliver on. "You can fix a pay gap with a one-off wage increase, but that doesn't mean it's going to be sustained. If you change the workplace so that female staff are better valued for their contribution, then it will be sustainable." Ms Dyson expected to see some definite claims on the table by the middle or third quarter of next year. She said there had been "huge understanding and support" from the relevant government departments and agencies, from the State Services Commission, District Health Boards, and school trustees. Council of Trade Unions vice-president Helen Kelly said with pay equity claims resolved women would look at the state as a preferred employer, boosting the need for private sector to move in step.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 11/07/2006


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Government Looking at Making It Illegal to Supply Liquor to Under 18s

The Government is ready to consider making it illegal to supply alcohol to people under 18. A review of liquor access regulations to find out how under-18s obtain and use it was triggered by the defeat in Parliament yesterday of a bill that would have raised the drinking age to 20. Ministers said serious questions had been raised by MPs about binge drinking by young people and its disastrous effects. Today Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor said the review would look at making the supply of liquor to under-18s illegal. "All the law is focused around purchase. I think we have to focus the law around supply and in that way reduce some of the harm," he said. The Justice Ministry will lead the review with input from the Health Ministry but as yet there is no timeframe for it. "I don't want to have some ad hoc rushed review," Mr O'Connor said. Supporters of raising the drinking age were disappointed by the bill's defeat but said today the announcement of a review was positive news. "It gives us a broader and better opportunity to really address the issue of alcohol abuse in our society," said Alcohol Advisory Council chief executive Mike MacAvoy. "It is a very complex issue -- who can provide alcohol, and under what circumstances, and at what point does the providing of alcohol breach some sort of code or law." Green Party MP Metiria Turei, one of those who voted against raising the age, also welcomed the review. "The legal purchasing age has never been the real issue," she said. "It is unrestricted advertising, wide access to alcohol, unrestricted supply of alcohol to very young people and the widely accepted culture of binge drinking that need to be addressed."


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 11/09/2006


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Smacking Ban Looks Certain to Be Law

The anti-smacking bill looks certain to be passed by Parliament in a slightly weakened form. The Herald has confirmed claims by the bill's sponsor, Green MP Sue Bradford, that she has enough votes to ensure it will become law. The bill will change the Crimes Act to remove the defence of "reasonable force" that parents can invoke if charged with assaulting a child. But the select committee that approved the bill yesterday has forced a compromise which will permit parents to use reasonable force to exercise necessary parental control. This would include restraining a child to prevent it from harm, or from causing others harm, or to prevent it engaging in disruptive behaviour. This may include, for example, stopping a child from running across the road, or forcibly removing one from a supermarket. But the law will say that such force cannot be used for "corrective" purposes. Ms Bradford said yesterday that she was disappointed at having to compromise and was worried that disputes over the interpretation of the "reasonable force" provision could create "a fiesta for lawyers". But she added: "I understand political compromise, and I think this bill is 100 per cent better than what we have at the moment." The Greens, Labour and the Maori Party yesterday said all their MPs would vote for the bill, as will several New Zealand First MPs.

Ms Bradford said she hoped United Future leader Peter Dunne, National MP Katherine Rich and possibly other National MPs would also vote in favour. Ms Rich said yesterday National MPs would be required to vote against the bill for the second reading, but would be allowed a conscience vote for the third reading, when she would support it. Fellow MP Simon Power said he had an open mind, but "was not a fan of the status quo". The amended bill's second reading is not expected until February. Justice and electoral select committee chairwoman Lynne Pillay said the bill wasn't designed to criminalise parents but to prevent children being thrashed. The committee had been given strong assurances by the police that "frivolous cases", where a parent administered a light smack, would not be prosecuted. The committee rejected a proposal by National MP Chester Borrows for a different compromise which would have defined, and allowed parents to use, limited reasonable force. It would have allowed light smacking that did no more than cause "transitory and trifling discomfort" and did not cause bruises, welts, skin cuts or broken bones. Mr Borrows will try to re-introduce the amendment when the bill comes back before the House. Child advocacy groups welcomed the committee report yesterday, although they were concerned about the compromise clause. Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro said she was glad the committee agreed the law had been used "to justify child abuse, with cases of parents or caregivers using riding crops or implements to punish children".

But she had serious concerns about replacing that section of the Crimes Act with the parental control clause. "We need to repeal it, full stop," Dr Kiro said. "We don't need to substitute it with another section that still allows reasonable force under a list of still unclear circumstances that are open to interpretation." Although the new clause banned use of force for disciplinary purposes, she believed the definition would lead to confusion and argument about what was reasonable, and this issue needed further debate. Every Child Counts spokeswoman Deborah Morris-Travers raised similar concerns but "welcomed the efforts of MPs to reach a compromise", and Barnardos said it had supported a full repeal. But Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said the bill should "cause parents to shiver in their boots". "We have just heard about the right of a teenager to effectively 'divorce' their parent because they don't like the family rules, a 12-year-old being sneaked off to get contraceptives by their school and now this bill. "Parents should be horrified by the way their authority and responsibilities are being undermined."


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 11/21/2006


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Nearly 3/4 World's Countries Face Serious Perceived Levels of Corruption

※Nearly three-quarters of 163 countries ranked in a new survey suffer from a perception of serious corruption, while in nearly half it is seen as rampant, a watchdog group reported Monday. According to Transparency International's (TI) 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index, there is a strong correlation between corruption and poverty, with a concentration of impoverished countries at the bottom of the ranking. &Corruption traps millions in poverty,* the agency's International Chairman Huguette Labelle said in a statement. &Despite a decade of progress in establishing anti-corruption laws and regulations, today's results indicate that much remains to be done.* The agency's scale is based on the perceptions of the degree of corruption by businesspeople and country analysts. Countries are ranked out of 10, and anything below five indicates &serious* perceived levels of corruption, and anything below 3 &rampant,* the agency said.§

※The worst levels of corruption were seen in Haiti, which scored just 1.8, followed by Myanmar, Iraq and Guinea, which tied at 1.9. Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan and Equatorial Guinea rounded out the bottom 10 countries. Wealthy democracies topped the list, confirming the link between anti-sleaze efforts and prosperity. Finland, Iceland and New Zealand scored a near-perfect 9.6, followed by Denmark (9.5), Singapore (9.4), Sweden (9.2) and Switzerland (9.1). Norway, Australia and the Netherlands also made the top 10. TI noted that while industrialized nations scored high on this year's index, corruption scandals continued to rock many of them.§ ※TI said several countries had a significant worsening of their ratings, including Brazil, Cuba, Israel, Jordan, Laos, Seychelles, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and the US. Countries which saw a major improvement included Algeria, the Czech Republic, India, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritius, Paraguay, Slovenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uruguay.§ ※TI did not rank countries for which not enough data was available, including Afghanistan, Somalia and North Korea.§


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 11/06/2006



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Mideast, E Asian Countries Have Best Tax Systems - Report

※Tax systems in the Middle East and small east Asian countries have the lowest compliance costs, while those in Latin America and Africa have the highest, according to a report Tuesday from the World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). According to the &Paying Taxes 每 the Global Picture* report, which looked at different countries' corporate tax burdens as well as ease of payment and compliance, Ireland, Switzerland and New Zealand operate the most attractive systems among developed nations. The report, which assessed the likely tax payments and processes for a typical mid-sized company across 175 countries, also found that countries with low tax burdens and compliance costs were often still able to fund public services and infrastructure to a high level. &Straightforward tax administration and a simpler tax collection process are fundamental to an effective tax system,* said Caralee McLiesh World Bank economist and one of the report*s authors. &There are benefits both for governments, by increasing tax revenues, and for business, by making it easier to comply.*§ ※McLiesh said that complex rules made it easier for companies to avoid paying taxes, either accidentally or on purpose. &It is much harder to avoid tax when you have a flat tax as opposed to when you have more than 5,000 pages of tax law,* she said. The report said measures of business taxes included payroll taxes, stamp duties, local taxes and environmental levies as well as corporate income taxes, which only accounted for a third of the overall bill. It then rated the number of payments that companies had to make each year and the time it took for businesses to process their tax forms.§ ※The aim is to encourage faster administration, leading to more profitable business activities and hence economic growth. Reduced paperwork and lower taxes are the hallmark of wealthier nations, the World Bank notes. McLiesh points out that most people have a false impression of the way tax affects business. &People think of business tax in terms of a corporate income tax,* she told BBC News, &but there are a whole range of labor tariffs and municipal rates that add to the bill.* The report is not anti-taxation, its authors point out. &Of course there is a need for taxes,* says McLiesh, &but they should not deter businesses from paying and complying because of too much complexity.*

One of the report's observations is that businesses are more willing to pay taxes if they see the money raised being used to improve public services. However, the developing world has a bad habit of raising taxes without producing a corresponding improvement in business infrastructure. Corrupt practices are most likely to be found in the highest taxing nations, as entrepreneurs find themselves forced to bribe officials in order to cut through red tape or just to operate outside of the official economy altogether.§ ※Almost all Latin America's larger economies rank in the lower half of the list, according to the report, which examined the total corporate tax rate as a percentage of corporate profits, the number of hours required on average to prepare tax returns and the number of different taxes that must be paid each year. Chile was one of the best performers among the larger Latin American economies, coming in 37th place on the list. The country requires just 10 payments per year, taking 432 hours to prepare, and with a total tax rate of 26.3 percent. Mexico ranked 126th, with a total tax rate of 37.1 percent and 552 hours required to prepare tax paperwork.§ ※The total tax burden on Indian companies is one of the highest in the world and in fact more than that of businesses in major economies like the US, UK, China and Japan, the study revealed. Companies in India have to shell out as much as 81 percent of their commercial profits as taxes, which includes corporate income tax, labor tax and other taxes. The report also showed that it takes a company in India 264 hours a year to comply with tax legislation, which is, however, less than 325 hours in the US. Taxes are higher than India only at 12 other places, which include Argentina (116.8 percent), Burundi (286.7 percent) and Belarus (186.1 percent). Taxes are higher at nine other places as well -- namely Central African republic (209.5 percent), Colombia (82.8 percent), Congo Democratic Republic (235.4 percent), Eritrea (86.3 percent), Gambia (291.4 percent), Mauritania (104.3 percent), Sierra Leone (277 percent), Tajikistan (87 percent) and Uzbekistan (122.3 percent), while companies in countries like Maldives pay as low as 9.3 percent.§


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 11/08/2006

 


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Chinese Bird-Flu Expert Is Selected to Lead WHO

※The World Health Organization (WHO) nominated Chinese infectious-disease expert Margaret Chan to lead the United Nations health agency, underscoring the increasing importance countries throughout the world are putting on halting the spread of pandemic flu and other deadly viruses. Yesterday's selection of the 59-year-old Chan by WHO's Executive Board also confirms China's growing clout in global politics and health, as well as a desire to prod the country to be more forthcoming with health information. China has been criticized for failing to disclose cases of avian flu and severe acute respiratory syndrome to WHO until those diseases had spread to Hong Kong and beyond Chinese borders. While WHO officials say their recent pressure on China to track and report infectious-disease cases more openly has been effective, Chan's nomination suggests that many countries want the agency to be even more aggressive. § ※ Chan was the one left standing following the fourth round of voting by the 34-member Executive Council of the UN agency. The last vote was 24-10 in favor of Chan, one source on the council said. Previous rounds of voting eliminated successively Kuwait's Kazem Behbehani, Spanish Health Minister Elena Salgado and Japan's Shigeru Omi.§ ※Chan on Wednesday became the first Chinese national to run a leading UN agency. It ends a period of uncertainty after the sudden death in May of South Korea*s Lee Jong-wook, the previous Director General. The appointment is also expected to deepen Beijing*s engagement in global health policy, with Gao Qiang, China*s health minister, on Wednesday pledging closer cooperation with WHO. §

※The decision-making body of the 193- nation organization, the World Health Assembly, will be asked to approve the nomination by its board at a special session Thursday. The assembly has never rejected a candidate nominated by the board. # Chan stepped aside from her job as the WHO's Assistant Director General for Communicable Diseases to run for the top job in global health. The profile of the WHO, which has a two-year budget of $3.3 billion, has risen dramatically with the emergence of global health emergencies like AIDS and threats from new diseases like bird flu. § ※Chan [has] championed health for developing countries in her campaign for the top post. Chan paid tribute to the late Director General, Lee and his partly unsuccessful but continuing initiative to deliver life-saving drugs to three million people struggling with HIV/AIDS in poor countries by 2005. &He will always be remembered for the Three-by-Five Initiative, that was all about preventing untimely deaths on the grandest scale possible,* Chan said. Chan gained initial praise as Hong Kong's health chief from 1994. However, she later faced a barrage of criticism of her handling of the SARS crisis. She first drew international attention with her swift action in ordering the cull of 1.4 million local poultry that halted an initial outbreak of H5N1 bird flu in the then British colony. The global health chief needs a blend of managerial skills, medical knowledge and political judgment to navigate between the differing priorities of developing countries and those of wealthy nations, headed by the US, that dominate the agency's funding. With the advent of widespread travel, Chan must marshal governments so that they react swiftly in unison to cross-border health threats. The new UN health chief will also deal with an expanding number of private actors in global health, including the pharmaceutical industry and its pricing and research priorities. §


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 11/09/2006

 


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ITU Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General Elected by Plenipotentiary Conference

Antalya, Turkey 〞 Member States of the International Telecommunication Union elected Mr Hamadoun I. Tour谷 of Mali as Secretary-General of ITU for a four-year term. The election took place in Antalya, Turkey during the 17th ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. Mr Tour谷 won the position with 95 votes with 155 countries present and voting, and thus the required majority for election was 78 votes. The majority emerged in the third round of voting, with Mr Mathias Kurth of Germany receiving 60 votes. Addressing the Conference after the results of the vote, Mr Tour谷 told the 1500 delegates from around the world that he would work with transparency, objectivity and vigour to realize the two main objectives that were central to his campaign: to eliminate the digital divide and to ensure that cyberspace would become more secure. He said, "The Millennium Development Goals that were endorsed by all the world*s leaders as well as the WSIS resolutions are the ingredients we need to get down to work." Mr Hamadoun Tour谷 holds a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technical Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications of Leningrad and Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) from the University of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics of Moscow. After six years at the Office des Postes et T谷l谷communications du Mali (OPT) Mali, he joined Intelsat as Group Director & Regional Director in 1985 until he became Director-General, Africa, of ICO Global Communications in 1996. Elected Director of ITU*s Telecommunication Development Bureau in 1998, he was elected for a second term in 2002.

In the afternoon*s election, Houlin Zhao of China was elected Deputy Secretary-General in the first round with 93 votes. Carlos S芍nchez of Spain obtained 34 votes while T. Ayhan Beydo?an of Turkey received 28. John Ray Kwabena Tandoh of Ghana had announced the withdrawal of his candidature prior to the start of the election. Thanking the members and, in particular, the People's Republic of China, for placing their confidence in him, Houlin Zhao remarked that the post of Deputy Secretary-General holds a strategic importance in the Union. He said that he would do his best to assist the Secretary-General elect and the three Directors as well as the membership to make ITU a more dynamic organization that would contribute to the emerging global Information Society. As outgoing Director of TSB, he said he was confident that "ITU-T will meet the future challenges of ICT standardization this century." Graduated from Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, China in 1975, Mr Zhao received a Master degree of Science in telematics, University of Essex (United Kingdom) in 1985. From 1975 to 1986, he held various engineering positions at Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, China. In 1986, he joined ITU as a staff member of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) until his election as Director of the TSB in 1998. He was re-elected in his position at the 2002 Marrakesh Plenipotentiary Conference.

Outgoing Secretary-General Yoshio Utsumi leaves behind him a more efficient and effective organization, offering a wider portfolio of more relevant services that led to a 19 per cent increase in private sector membership and a recommitment of the private sector to the work of ITU. His tenure was characterized by efficiency measures that led to savings equivalent to CHF 75 million out of a total budget of CHF 335 million on average per biennium as well as the introduction of operational planning, results-based budgeting and time-tracking across the organization, resulting in a substantial overhaul of the organization. Along with cost recovery, these measures created new sources of revenue that led to a reduction in the contributions to be paid by members, despite growing demands and cost increases. From a strategic perspective, Mr Utsumi successfully refocused ITU as a policy-oriented organization by introducing new issues to ensure its continuing relevance, with the successful organization of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) which provides a common understanding and vision as well as a clear roadmap to building the Information Society by 2015. He also strengthened the role of ITU in the coordination of policy issues among Member States. Through this process, ITU has asserted its leading role in the broader domain of the Information Society.


From http://www.itu.int/ 11/10/2006



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World Bank Advances on Governance and Anti-Corruption Work Plan

WASHINGTON〞The World Bank is launching the next phase of external consultations on its approach to strengthening its governance and anti-corruption work, which was discussed by the Development Committee 每 the Bank*s policy-setting panel 每 at the recent Annual Meetings in Singapore. A draft work plan on governance and anti-corruption was drawn up by a core steering committee headed by Managing Director Juan Jos谷 Daboub and made up of representatives from across the Bank. The work plan was discussed with Executive Directors at an informal meeting on Oct. 24 and endorsed by them on Nov. 9. The consultations, based on the Development Committee paper and a new work plan, will take place over the coming months, and the findings will be reflected in a progress report to be sent to the Bank*s Board before the Spring Meetings in 2007. Key stakeholders〞among them government, the private sector, and civil society organizations〞will be asked to review and provide feedback on the Development Committee paper. Feedback from the consultations will lead to revised guidelines for World Bank staff.

The Bank*s senior management is meeting with each of the regional and network management teams to discuss the new strategy and promote full understanding of the governance and anticorruption work plan, to ensure that subsequent consultations with external groups are well-informed and effective. The consultations will help guide the Bank in implementing the new governance and anticorruption approach, which is centered on a greater awareness of these issues in the Bank*s lending and advisory work with member countries. The Bank has already produced a number of Country Assistance Strategies that have focused on governance and anticorruption issues and such an approach is expected to be applied in more CASs, where appropriate, under the new plan. Innovative approaches that have proved to be successful in some countries will help guide country teams as they help countries to develop capable and accountable states that deliver services to the poor, promote growth led by the private sector, and tackles corruption effectively. This period of consultations is expected to continue into 2007, and the Bank will seek guidance and opinion from key external stakeholders throughout the process of refining the implementation of the governance and anticorruption plan.


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 11/10/2006



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ADB Deemed Effective, But Could Do Better, Survey Finds

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB is viewed as effective and largely successful in its work, but there is room for improvement, according to the first ever independent ADB perceptions survey, conducted of more than 700 opinion leaders in 30 member countries. In the survey 每 carried out earlier this year 每 the Manila-based multilateral development bank is acknowledged for its contribution to the development progress of the Asia and Pacific region. Many opinion leaders interviewed noted ADB*s operational excellence particularly in infrastructure and regional cooperation and integration initiatives. On its core mission of poverty reduction, ADB is viewed as doing at least an average job and often good or excellent in its work. ADB's financial assets and knowledge-related services are two of its main strengths, according to respondents. ADB receives good marks for its financial resources 每 loans and grants and other assistance 每 as well professional knowledge and expertise of staff. Across ADB member countries, opinion leaders generally believe that ADB has had a positive impact in its countries of operation and that it strives to meet national development goals and objectives. The survey indicates that ADB clients 每 opinion leaders with involvement in ADB programs or other work over the last three years 每 are particularly positive about its impact and helpfulness. However, opinion leaders also found that ADB lacked capacity or is spread too thinly. Other weaknesses identified were its procedures, which some opinion leaders characterize as too bureaucratic. ※We will use the survey findings to help us identify how we can make further improvements,§ says ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda. ADB commissioned a professional polling firm to conduct the survey to assess the views of critically important audiences toward international development in Asia and ADB's performance in fighting poverty. The sample included randomly chosen opinion leaders in government, media, civil society, academia, the private sector, and development partners in donor countries and ADB's five operational regions. Mandatory for participation in the poll was a basic knowledge of ADB.


From http://www.adb.org/ 11/14/2006



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Asian Competitiveness Institute Set Up to Develop Competitiveness in ASEAN Region

SINGAPORE: An Asian Competitiveness Institute will be launched on Tuesday at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. It aims to work with businesses and policy makers around the region to strengthen competitiveness. The Institute will address questions like how countries in ASEAN stay ahead as competition in Asia heats up, and what are some of the industries that specific Asian countries will have a competitive advantage in. "The early stages of economic development are relatively easy - you have low wage advantage, you get the basics right, you can move ahead but as you climb up the ladder of economic competition, it is going to be harder, and therefore having a more sophisticated understanding of the concepts of economic competitiveness will I think, prove to be an asset for Asian countries," said Prof Kishore Mahbuban, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. The institute will be working with the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at the Harvard Business School. Professor Michael Porter, a leading global business expert from Harvard, will chair the ACI's International Advisory Panel and provide guidance to the Institute on its research agenda and strategic development.

The Institute is the first of its kind in the world that focuses on developing countries. As a start, it will work with ASEAN member countries because a lot of research work is currently being done on China and India, but less on ASEAN. The Institute believes that a vibrant Southeast Asian region will also translate into better economic opportunities for Singapore. "Part of ACI's role is to create a forum whereby both the business and private sector can interact with the government officials, the public sector, to discuss issues, surface solutions, and hopefully come to a consensus of some ideas and policies that will be beneficial to their home countries. There is a lack of that kind of forum in many of our Asian countries today," said Prof Neo Boon Siong, Director, Asia Competitiveness Institute, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. The Institute is already studying the development of competitive economic clusters in Indonesia's Special Economic Zones, and it will undertake 2 to 3 similar projects every year. (by Pearl Forss)


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/27/2006



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CHINA: Begin Trial Scheme to Charge for Coal Prospecting, Mining Rights

Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)Beijing, 2 November: The Chinese government has begun a trial scheme to charge for coal prospecting and mining rights. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said new prospecting and mining rights should be acquired by bidding, auction and listing rather than unpaid transfer, which was usual practice. The pilot reform started in the country's eight major coal-producing regions of Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Anhui, Shandong, Heilongjiang, Henan, Guizhou and Shaanxi. The NDRC said enterprises could pay for the rights on instalment. The central government will get 20 per cent of the revenue which would be used as prospecting funds while 80 per cent would go to local governments and for use in local state owned coal enterprises. A mine environmental management and ecological restoration accountability system would also be established with a tax levied from the enterprise's sales revenue.


From http://www.nexis.com 11/02/2006



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China Reduces Party Posts for Efficient Governance

Election results from provincial-level party congresses confirm that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is eliminating a certain number of deputy party chief posts in a continuing effort to streamline governance. An average of three such posts have been cut in China's Liaoning, Henan, Anhui, Shanxi provinces, and in Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions. There will now be only two deputy party head posts in these provinces, one of whom will be the provincial governor. The other deputy party head post will be responsible for party affairs or discipline supervision. Officials serving as party secretaries will no longer occupy posts in fields like the economy, health or education, because these posts overlapped with vice-governor duties. "It's hard for me to decide who to listen to when there are two leaders," said Wu Xuguang, a construction official in Xiuning County of Anhui Province, in an interview with a Beijing-based newspaper. The thinning of party secretaries will streamline decision-making procedures and enhance governance efficiency, said Wu Zhongmin, a sociology director with the Party School of CPC Central Committee.

Prior to the downsizing, secretaries occupy many posts in the local party standing committee, which is the provincial policy-making body. In the new set-up, secretary posts will be cut and more non-secretary officials brought in to the standing committee. "This will curb the dominance of secretaries in the committee -- it is another step taken by the party to realize group governance and democracy," said Liu Suhua, a scholar with the Party School. Even before the provincial-level reshuffling, reelections at lower levels had already eliminated thousands of party posts. In central China's Hunan Province alone, over 5,600 deputy party chief posts at the township level were slashed, an average of 2.6 fewer such posts per town, local government sources said. Nationwide, an average of 200 county level and 40 city level party posts have been eliminated, according to a report in the latest issue of Southern Weekly. With China determined to deepen political reforms in the first phase of the 11th five-year plan period (2006-2010), the latest provincial party congresses have witnessed a wave of personnel changes nationwide. The People's Daily has hailed the ongoing party leadership downsizing as a "significant reform", and warned that in the reform, numerous party cadres "will be transferred from important posts or be demoted". The reform will make it much harder for profiteers to capture a government position and help curb corruption, said Wang Guixiu, a scholar with the Party School.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/03/2006


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China's Supreme Court Expands Death Penalty Review Team

China's highest court is expanding its death penalty review team following a modification of Chinese statutes requiring it to approve all executions from next year. The Supreme People's Court (SPC) has added three criminal tribunals to the previous two and expanded the death penalty review team from 50 to 100 judges. Many of the judges were recruited from local courts and have finished their three-month training at the highest court. They will be on probation for a year before officially assuming office. The number of judges exercising death penalty review rights is expected to rise as the SPC is working on a plan to recruit experienced lawyers and law school teachers as senior judges. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, or top legislature, adopted an amendment to the organic law on the people's court, ending the practice of allowing executions on the order of lower-level courts. The legal change will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2007. Until 1983, the SPC was responsible for reviewing all death penalty cases.

Then, as part of a major crackdown on crime, provincial courts were given authority to issue final verdicts on death sentences for crimes that seriously endangered public security and social order, such as homicide, rape, robbery and the criminal use of explosives. But the practice of provincial courts handling both death sentence appeals and conducting final reviews has drawn sharp criticism in recent years in the wake of some highly-publicized miscarriages of justice. Since 2005, China's media have exposed a series of errors in death sentence cases and criticized courts for their lack of caution in meting out capital punishment. To prepare for the changes, the SPC decided to set up three new criminal tribunals to review death sentences handed out by provincial courts. In China, capital punishment falls into two categories -- a death penalty in which the criminal is executed immediately after sentencing, and death with a two-year reprieve.


From http://www.chinanews.cn 11/03/2006

 


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China Extends Police Presence in Countryside

China is deploying more police in its rural regions following a government call to build a peaceful countryside, a senior police officer said here Monday. More than 30,000 police stations have been built in rural regions as the government reorganizes larger police stations and redeploys police officers to "frontier grass roots" rural regions, said Vice Minister of Public Security Liu Jinguo. Police have been researching the public security situation in villages, safeguarding social order and taking preventive measures against possible security incidents, he said at a meeting of the Central Committee for Comprehensive Management of Public Security. The move comes as Chinese leaders insist on the need to build a harmonious society that will transform its vast rural regions, home to 900 million farmers, into a new socialist countryside where public order is guaranteed. "Overall, the public safety situation in rural regions across the country is stable," said Liu. The Ministry of Public Security said that 17,900 mass participation incidents were handled nationwide in the first nine months of the year, down 22.1 percent on the same period last year.

The number of criminal cases investigated by the police nationwide also fell in the first nine months of the year by 1.2 percent to 3.34 million. But Liu warned that China's fast urbanization poses public security concerns in areas bordering urban regions and in relatively developed parts of the countryside. "The basis for stability is not solid," he said. During the first nine months this year, 385,000 farmers were involved in "mass incidents" and 8,031 murders reported in rural regions. The official ordered local police forces to conduct research on factors affecting stability in the countryside, and take appropriate measures to prevent violent crimes and mass incidents. Mass incidents should be properly handled to guard against intensifying social contradictions, he said. Luo Gan, secretary of the committee and member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee demanded that rural police pay special attention to the threat posed by "mafia-like evil forces" in cracking down on rural crimes.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/07/2006



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Mainland, HK, Macao Hold Joint Cross-border Emergency Exercise on Infectious Diseases

The Chinese Mainland, Hong Kong and Macao health authorities organized on Monday a joint exercise on emergency response for a major infectious disease. Code-named Great Wall, the exercise aimed to test the emergency response and notification mechanism of the three regions in handling cross-border public health emergencies. The exercise was conducted simultaneously on the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao Monday morning and about 40 public health professionals participated in the desktop communication exercise through channels such as telephone, facsimile and email. About 10 participants from Hong Kong Health, Welfare and Food Bureau, Department of Health and Hospital Authority took part in the drill. The exercise depicted a scenario whereby a suspected human case of avian influenza was detected in the mainland. The mainland's Ministry of Health immediately notified the health authorities in Hong Kong and Macao of the case. As the patient had traveled to Hong Kong and Macao before the onset of illness, the Center for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health and the Health Bureau in Macao immediately started epidemiological investigations and implemented emergency response measures.

The two authorities also notified the Ministry of Health of their investigation results. The exercise ended when the Hong Kong and Macao authorities received notification from the mainland that the patient was recovered and discharged from hospital. The Hong Kong Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow paid a visit to the CHP's Emergency Response Center to observe the conduct of the exercise. "The three places signed the Cooperation Agreement on Response Mechanism for Public Health Emergencies in October last year to enhance collaboration in handling major infectious diseases and agreed to conduct a joint exercise," he said. "Exercise Great Wall further strengthens the communication and collaboration among the three places in emergency preparedness and response for public health crisis. It also highlighted the importance of timely notification and collaboration for the prevention of avian influenza and pandemic influenza," he added.

According to the Cooperation Agreement, should cross-border public health emergencies occur among the three or any two places, the concerned health authorities would immediately notify the others, activate the emergency response mechanism, and form a joint public health emergency response team to coordinate the response measures. Director of Health of Hong Kong P.Y. Lam said that the three places had convened a tele-conference this morning, and that such mode of communication could further enhance the communication and emergency response capabilities of the three places.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/13/2006



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Gov't Demands Action on Work Safety

The work safety committee under the State Council, China's cabinet, on Thursday urged relevant authorities to take urgent actions to curb the spate of accidents that have rocked China in recent weeks. The committee said in a circular that thorough investigations must be carried out to find the causes of the accidents. It said that those people guilty of corruption and neglect of duty must beheld to account. Investigations must be finished into at least some of the major accidents and the results must be made public, the circular says. China has seen a spate of major accidents in the last few weeks. On October 28, 13 workers were killed in northwest China's Xinjiang region when the oil tank they were painting exploded. On Nov. 5, a gas explosion in the Jiaojiazhai colliery in Datong city of north China's Shanxi Province killed 47 miners. On Nov. 12, 34 miners were killed in Nanshan colliery of Lingshi County, also in Shanxi, when a fire broke out in the pit. Figures from the State Administration of Work Safety show that China recorded 532,101 accidents between January and October, killing 92,437 people. The committee called for solid measures to be taken to improve safety measures in vulnerable industries. It said, with immediate effect, that authorities must stop approving new collieries with a capacity of less than 300,000 tons a year. (by Mu Xuequan)


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/16/2006

 


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Info Security Certification Center Set up

China launched an information security certification center in Beijing on Friday. "A national standard on security products will take effect following the establishment of the center and some products will be subject to compulsory certification," said Qu Weizhi, deputy director of the Information Office under the State Council. Information security has become a serious problem in China with the rapid growth of the information industry. Crimes through the Internet, computer viruses and junk mail has threatened security. "Some departments have set up systems on evaluation, licensing or purchase of security products but a unified national system is required to avoid repetition," said Qu. Apart from certification of security products, the center would also conduct talents training and technology research and development on information security. China boasts the world second largest population of netizens behind the United States, exceeding 123 million last July.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 11/18/2006

 


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SOUTH KOREA: Korea*s National Integrity System Still Under-Developed

Berlin and Seoul, 26 October 2006. This morning, Transparency International (TI), which headquarters in Berlin, Germany, and Transparency International 每 Korea (TI-K), its Korean national chapter, released ※National Integrity System Korea 2006§ simultaneously in both Berlin and Seoul. Today*s release is the first release of the 10 studies that are now being conducted throughout Asia in 10 countries as TI*s National Integrity System Country Studies, or NIS.


From http://www.transparency.org 10/26/2006

 


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Korean Example in E-Government

A senior U.N. official said Korea's advanced electronic government system should be an example for underdeveloped countries as it improves government services while narrowing the information gap. Haiyan Qian, chief of the knowledge management branch at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs praised Seoul's significant contribution to the world body's efforts at spreading an e-governance infrastructure worldwide, especially in poor countries. "Korea's e-government should be replicated in other countries as it also responds to the U.N.'s millennium development goals in terms of engaging citizens in the decision making process and promoting government operations to its people," Qian said in an interview with The Korea Herald. Qian was visiting Seoul to give a lecture during a training session for 21 government officials from Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mongolia and Cambodia. The workshop, organized by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, addresses e-government and telecommunication issues for developing countries. The five-day forum will end tomorrow. The U.N. millennium development goals were set up during the September 2000 summit in New York to celebrate the U.N.'s 55th anniversary. During the summit, heads of states came up with eight common goals worldwide for the next 20 years. Korea's e-governance program has been chosen as the model to bridge the rich-poor gap.

Qian noted that many countries are still facing difficulties due to a digital divide and this is where Korea's information and telecommunication technologies can help. "Korea's free training programs for developing countries show that Korea is willing to generously assist countries in need. With limited resources, this kind of country-level assistance is very much needed and appreciated by the U.N.," Qian said. "It is much more efficient to work on both the international and national level to help what we call the least developed countries.§Next year, Korea will hold three joint workshops with the U.N. to help underdeveloped countries tackle the digital divide issue, Qian added. For the workshops which will be held in February, June and September, Korea will be sharing its experience in e-governance and effective management of information for regional coverage with countries including Brazil, Canada, Indonesia and Venezuela.Seoul has been pushing its e-governance initiative since 2002 with the goal of narrowing the information gap between cities and regional villages, and improving communications between the metropolitan administration, citizens and businesses.Currently, 305 e-government sites operate in the internet, which can be accessible at www.invil.org. The ministry plans to increase the number to over 800 by 2007.Last week, Korea received the top award for electronic governance system at the seventh international E-government Forum held in France in which 45 countries participated.

Qian added that the most impressive component of Korea's e-government policy is its political will and vision to be a leader in the field, as well as a strong partnership between all circles. "The fact that the president has the will and vision to promote the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) tools to be efficiently used for overall development of the country, and to have even high level ministers be directly involved in the program is very impressive," she said. "I think it is crucial for the top leader to have such a vision to provide sustainable support for the implementation level." "Also, Korea appears to always make sure that all circles including government officials, academic representatives and civil society get involved. So it's not just one actor but multi-actors working together, each one complementing a certain part so there is no problem up to the ultimate use of the program. "While complimenting Korea's online citizens' complaints portal, Qian said that she was planning to use the case as an example during a U.N. meeting scheduled for Nov. 1."I have never seen such a country level success and was very much impressed that all the processes were transparent, with each case being answered within a week. This is a perfect example for other countries to learn for promoting the engagement of citizens."


From The Korea Herald 10/26/2006

 


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Government Set to Lower Economic Growth

It has been confirmed that the government plans to lower its economic growth outlook for next year from 4.6 percent to the low 4 percent range. Should this be carried out, the already appropriated budgets for next year, which are pending at the National Assembly, will be expanded or additional budgets will be generated in an aggressive attempt to boost the economy. A Ministry of Finance and Economy official said Thursday that the government will likely lower its 2007 economic growth target, since its predicted domestic consumption is expected to drop from this year*s 4.3 percent to the high 3 percent level next year. Export growth is expected to fall to a single-digit figure. In an economic outlook presented to the National Assembly last month, the government indicated private spending and exports would grow at the rate of 4.2 percent and 10 percent respectively next year. The official said that the economic growth rate could drop to the high 3 percent level in the first quarter of next year and hover at around 4 percent in the second quarter. The government is concerned that a slowdown in the creation of jobs will discourage private spending. Despite the relatively high economic growth of 5 percent, only 298,000 people found work during the first ten months of the year, far below the predicted 350,000 jobs. In light of the reduced tally, the ministry expects that around 250,000-270,000 new jobs will be created next year, if the economy grows at the low 4 percent level. The government will announce an economic outlook for 2007 next month after taking into consideration the recent unfavorable economic conditions. Major economic agencies predict that Korea will record an economic growth of 4.3 percent next year, including the International Monetary Fund, the Korean Development Institute and Samsung Economic Research Institute. LG Economic Research Institute and Hyundai Research Institute put forward an economic growth prediction of 4 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.


From http://english.chosun.com/ 11/17/2006

 


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Local Governments Striving to Attract Businesses

Now is the era of regional shopping? People are moving to other regions to seek good jobs, good schools and colleges and parks with convenient facilities. The same is true for profit-oriented businesses. Businesses are relocating production lines and even move their head offices to regions where they can cut costs and increase profits. If businesses depart a certain region, people follow suit. On the other hand, if corporations come in, people move in. This will lead to growth of revenue for provincial governments and liveliness in the region. Gumi, an industrial city in North Gyeongsang Province, is a model for realigning the processing of civil complaints and petitions for the convenience of businesses. Previously, to start a business, the entrepreneur had to deal with 21 kinds of documentation and visit seven public bodies including the Korea Water Resources Corp., Korea Telecom (KT), Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO), as well as the municipal office. Applicants had to visit twice or more often if the documents were incomplete, needing at least 30 days to get the approval. As a result, several startups failed to move into Gumi's new Industrial Complex No. 4, and the municipal government lost credibility.

To solve the problem, the municipal government started handling the civil complaints by businesses. All relevant complaints are to be handled by City Hall's investor attraction team; a new venture is only asked to submit only basic document. All the relevant bodies discuss and settle issues and then ask the corporation to submit formal applications. When the documents arrive, the team distributes them to relevant bodies for final settlement within seven days or less. The startup is able to cut the costs needed to visit each body and does not need to meet officials in charge of the affairs. Businesses have responded positively to the change. ※Eight companies are building factories as the municipal authorities have improved the environment for foreign investors,§ a Gumi city official said. The Daegu municipal government has taken a similar action for industrial investors. It has set up a ※hanaro§ supporting center which collects information from 190 local and central organizations for investors. ※The supportive service will be on a sound footing to produce competitive regional enterprises,§ a Daegu official said. Ulju County in North Gyeongsang Province has introduced a one-stop service system through which eight companies have registered to set up their factories, and two startups have already been approved to locate their factories there.


From http://www.korea.net/ 10/31/2006

 


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Public Service Fees to Rise

The government is considering raising charges for public services such as railroad fares and postal services. Korea Railroad said it would raise railroad fares an average of 9.3 percent beginning Nov. 1. The fare has been frozen since 2003, but high costs and rising power rates have pushed up the price. The fare for Korea Train Express (KTX) from Seoul to Busan, for example, will rise to 48,100 won from the current 44,800 won, and the ticket price for the second-class Mugunghwa train from Yongsan Station in Seoul to Gwangju will be 21,800 won, rising from the current 20,000 won. Korea Railroad said that it raised the fares less than the maximum set up by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation this time but that it will rationalize the fares step-by-step until next year. Postal fees for sending standard mail weighing 5 grams or less to local destinations will rise 16 percent, to 220 won from the current 190 won, next month. Water supply and drainage fees will also become more expensive, as the Ministry of Environment and local governments decided to raise fees. Yongin City in Gyeonggi Province, for example, plans to raise water supply fees 22.4 percent in February, and Ulsan City will raise drainage fees 31.1 percent next year. A number of local authorities also plan to raise transportation fees, citing oil price hikes and an insufficient number of bus companies as reasons. Some car insurance companies will also raise premiums by about 1 percent to 2 percent next month, and the international price hike of major crops are expected to push up wheat and corn prices as well as the price of food items using these ingredients.


From http://www.korea.net 10/30/2006

 


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Former Chief Nuclear Envoy Named Foreign Minister

Song Min-soon, newly-nominated foreign minister of South Korea, has served as President Roh Moo-hyun's chief security advisor for about 10 months. Song, the chief presidential secretary for security, replaces Ban Ki-moon, who has a new job at the United Nations as its secretary-general. He is a veteran diplomat with more than 30 years of service. Song worked as the country's lead delegate to the six-way talks on the North Korean nuclear program for a year before taking the post at the presidential office. He was credited with having played a key role in producing the Sept. 19 joint statement in the Beijing-based nuclear talks last year, in which North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program in return for security guarantees and economic assistance. He also led successful negotiations on the extension of South Korea's military missile range limit from 180 km to 300 km in 2000 when he was director-general of the Foreign Ministry's North American affairs bureau. His U.S. counterpart at the negotiation nicknamed him "Colonel Song" in recognition of Song's military-style defense of Seoul's position. Song is said to be like-minded with President Roh in terms of advocating Seoul's move away from Washington's influence. He is also known for using metaphorical rhetoric in explaining the development of a situation to reporters. Former U.S. Ambassador to Seoul James Lily said Song is very "logical and witty." The 57-year-old diplomat served as South Korea's ambassador to Poland for two years from 2001. Song majored in German literature at Seoul National University and joined the country's diplomatic service in 1975.


From http://www.korea.net/ 11/01/2006

 


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President Names 2 Ministers

President Roh Moo-hyun on Thursday (Nov. 23) nominated Lee Yong-sup, 55, the minister of government administration and home affairs, as minister of construction and transportation, Cheong Wa Dae said. Roh also promoted Park Myung-jae, 59, currently the head of the Central Officials Training Institute, to become minister of government administration and home affairs, Senior Presidential Secretary for Personnel Affairs Park Nam-choon said in a press briefing. ※Lee is expected to stabilize the real estate market and deal with a lot of other pending issues of the Ministry of Construction and Transportation based on his wide experience and knowledge in the areas,§ Park said. Lee, a former commissioner general of the National Tax Service, replaces Choo Byung-jik who resigned last week. Cheong Wa Dae, however, said Roh has not yet made his final decisions on other key posts in the presidential office such as presidential advisor for economy and senior presidential secretary for public information, who also quit along with Choo.


From http://www.korea.net/ 11/23/2006

 


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Roh to Appoint Defense Minister, Intelligence Chief

President Roh Moo-hyun is to appoint Kim Jang-soo as Defense Minister and Kim Man-bok as the head of the National Intelligence Service on Thursday. However, Roh is expected to delay the formal appointment of his choice for unification minister, Lee Jae-joung, and foreign minister-candidate Song Min-soon. Cheong Wa Dae says the unification and foreign ministers will be appointed once the National Assembly reports on their turbulent confirmation hearings.


From http://english.chosun.com 11/24/2006

 


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Korea's Maritime Safety Administration Wins Global Recognition

Recognized for its excellent maritime safety administrative system by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, an international quality-validating agency in England, Korea garnered an ISO 9001 (International Organization for Standardization) Certificate for Quality Management Systems, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said on Nov. 24. The first-ever winning of the certificate by one of Korea's central government bodies carries immense significance in that even an internationally prestigious private-sector agency has highly regarded Korea's innovative commitments in the maritime-safety field. Bracing for the International Maritime Organization (IMO)'s evaluation, the ministry formed last March a taskforce in charge of completing ISO standard documents, including a quality management manual for maritime-safety administration, 13 processes and 15 guidebooks on various procedures, and a self-appraisal ahead of the IMO's probe. The certification acknowledges Korea's overall marine-safety administration, e.g. the prevention of maritime accidents and pollution, seamanship licensing, maritime controlling, investigations into maritime accidents and regional maritime agencies' safety systems. With its system's efficiency, transparency and fairness recognized by the ISO, Korea is expected to pass the IMO's scheduled inspection of its members' maritime-safety administrative systems easily in April of next year. In the ministry's conference hall on Nov. 24, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service agent Choi Choon-sung awarded the certificate to Chun Byung-jo, the ministry's maritime safety management officer. The United Kingdom Accreditation Service acts as English proxy for the ISO, the 1947-inaugurated, Geneva-based federation of standardization agencies from 147 countries.


From http://www.korea.net/ 11/28/2006

 


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Roh Names Vice Ministers

President Roh Moo-hyun on Monday (Nov. 27) named Kim Young-lyong, 56, chief of the Defense Ministry's Headquarters for Innovation and Planning, as the vice defense minister, Cheong Wa Dae announced. Roh also nominated Lee Choon-hee, 51, as the vice minister of construction and transportation. Lee currently serves as administrator of the Multifunctional Administrative City Construction. ※In a follow-up to the latest Cabinet reshuffle, he named several vice minister-level officials in the government and appointed the three deputy directors at the National Intelligence Service (NIS),§ Roh's spokesman Yoon Tai-young said. Kim, a non-military public servant specializing in economic affairs and government innovation, has been working for the Defense Ministry since 2004, while Lee is an expert on housing policies who has served at the ministry for over 20 years. Roh picked Nam In-hee, 54, director general of the infrastructure bureau at the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, as Lee's successor to oversee the Multifunctional Administrative City Construction. Vice Minister of Construction and Transportation Kim Yong-duk, 56, was appointed as the presidential adviser for economic affairs, according to the spokesman. For the state spy agency, Roh selected Ambassador to Germany Lee Soo-hyuck as the first deputy director for foreign intelligence; Han Jin-ho, chief superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, as the second deputy director for domestic intelligence; and Suh Hoon, a director at the NIS, as the third deputy director for North Korean intelligence. Several high-profile positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including vice ministers and ambassadors, and the chief presidential secretary on security affairs are also likely to be named later this week, according to Yoon.


From http://www.korea.net/ 11/28/2006

 


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MONGOLIA: Parliament to Finally Solve Appointment Issue

An issue on the candidate for the President of Mongolbank was discussed on Tuesday at the meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economy. For this reason, the Speaker Ts.Nyamdorj introduced A.Batsukh, who is being nominated to this post. A voting was arranged after the introduction. Six members of the Mongolian People s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) in the Parliament voted for A.Batsukh, whereas six member of the Council of Democratic Party in the Parliament votes against. The appointment of the Mongolbank president will be solved at a plenary meeting of the Parliamentary session.


From http://www.montsame.mn 11/01/2006

 


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INDONESIA: Minister Sets Up New Unit to Speed Reforms

Though probably not as politically controversial, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati has followed in the footsteps of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in setting up her own special task force to help carry out policy reform within her ministry. The new unit will help reform process, which was often resisted by senior officials within the ministry. "This is a new unit and it will act as my right hand, and the secretary-general's most trusted arm," Sri Mulyani said during the appointment of 49 new directors at the Finance Ministry on Friday. "I expect every official in the ministry to support the unit in the performance of its duties." To be known as the Policy Analysis and Harmonization Center (Pushaka), the unit will be directly subordinate to the secretary-general, but will report to the finance minister. It will be headed by Agus Suprijanto, who will also continue to serve as the director for foreign loans and grants, a post to which he was appointed in February. Agus's directorate is one of two directorates -- the other being the directorate for public service agencies -- that President Yudhoyono directly monitors himself due to their strategic importance. Mulyani said the new unit would help her coordinate all of the tasks that are the responsibilities of the Finance Ministry's directors general, and ensure that they proceeded with their individual reform programs in line with the public's expectations of improved efficiency, transparency, and accountability within the ministry.

"The idea (of establishing the unit) has been in my head ever since my first day in office given the vast number of policy changes and reforms that each director general must make," said Mulyani, whom President Yudhoyono appointed as Finance Minister last December. She previously served as state minister for national development planning. With regard to the secretary-general, Mulyani said that he already had his hands full trying to reform the ministry's entire bureaucracy so that it was essential that a special team be established to support her in her capacity as minister. Agus, meanwhile, said the unit was intended to assist the finance minister by ensuring that the duties and policies of each of the ministry's directorates did not overlap one with the other. This was essential in order to ensure greater efficacy and efficiency. The Finance Ministry is one of the largest ministries, with the minister faced with duties that Mulyani herself had previously described as "Herculean" -- spanning the framing and implementing of the budget and fiscal policy, managing the treasury, and overseeing the work of the tax, and customs and excise services. Coming from an academic background, some had expressed doubts that Mulyani would be able to put her stamp on the bureaucracy, which is renowned for its red-tape and corruption. However, the former University of Indonesia economist has consistently displayed an iron fist, and has successfully managed to revamp the tax, and customs and excise offices, and to restructure the directorates general into more streamlined organizations.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com 11/11/2006


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MALAYSIA: Helping Government Staff with Low Incomes

The Government is looking at ways to increase the income of lower-ranking civil servants, many of whom live in poverty upon retirement. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was sensitive to the plight of these civil servants who received a pension of RM1,000 and below when they retired. ※One way to help them increase their income is to provide training or business opportunities for them. ※Civil servants living in the city or big towns and earning RM1,000 and below will find it hard to sustain their lives. We don*t want them to end up living below the poverty line,§ he said when launching the Umno Federal Territory convention yesterday. Najib, who is Umno deputy president, also said the development of Kampung Baru must be a main agenda for the Malays. ※We do not want Malays in Kampung Baru to be deemed as Malays living in a slum in the middle of a developed cosmopolitan city,§ he said. Federal Territories Minister Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique would be coming up with a model for the development of Kampung Baru that could be accepted by everyone, he said. Later, Najib opened the World Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (Figo 2006), which was attended by 8,000 participants from 130 countries at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. He said a new vaccine that had been shown to prevent cervical cancer would be presented at the congress, while the World Report on Women's Health would be tabled today. Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, was one of three people who received a special award from the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetric at the opening yesterday. The congress is held every three years.


From http://thestar.com.my/ 11/06/2006


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Thank Public Servants for Help

MORE Malaysians are forgetting to say ※thank you§, Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman said. §Many people have stopped saying &thank you* for the recommendations I made for them to get scholarships and jobs. ※Many who came to pick up the letters just walked away without even thanking me. ※I find this trend quite worrying,§ he said after presenting Hari Raya kuih to representatives from the south Seberang Prai (SPS) district police, PLUS Expressways Bhd, Sungai Bakap Hospital and Nibong Tebal Fire and Rescue Department recently. ※Many people also think they need not thank the police, firemen, paramedical and medical personnel for helping them because it was their duty to do so. ※People take these people and others in the public service for granted.§ Also present were Seberang Prai Selatan OCPD Supt Khaw Koh Chin, Nibong Tebal Fire Bri-gade chief Abd Kadir Awang, Hospital Sungai Bakap representative Abd Rahman Daud and Jawi toll plaza PLUS Ex-pressways Bhd supervisor Julaiha Aziz.


From http://thestar.com.my/ 10/28/2006


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PHILIPPINES: Bonus Eyed for Government Workers

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is planning to authorize a cash gift of at least 5,000 pesos each this Christmas for government employees in keeping with the state*s practice of augmenting the income of workers in the bureaucracy during Yuletide. This was announced by Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Saturday, who added that the President had instructed him to draft an executive order for the release of the cash gift. Andaya said the President would make a final decision on how much the cash gift this year would be after she gets a review on the status of government*s finances. ※But it*s safe to say it won*t go below that,§ said Andaya when asked whether it would be near the average 5,000-peso cash gift given in previous years. Andaya said the President had also agreed to speed up the release of the second installment of the 13th-month pay for government workers. The government released the first half in May. There are about 1.07 million permanent national government employees, 90,000 workers in government-owned and-controlled corporations and 350,000 employees serving in local government units.


From http://archive.inquirer.net/ 11/06/2006


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Government Mass Media Group Abolished

MALACA?ANG has abolished the government mass media group (GMMG) and transferred the ※control and supervision§ of state media agencies to the director general of the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). Executive Order (EO) 576 signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on November 7 effectively gives current PIA director general Conrado Limcaoco control over the Philippine News Agency, Bureau of Broadcast Service, Bureau of Communication Services, National Broadcasting Network, Inc. (NBN 4), Radio Philippines Network, Inc. (RPN 9), and International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC 13). The GMMG*s staff, properties and resources, on the other hand, will be transferred to the Office of the Press Secretary. The National Printing Office and the APO Production Unit shall also be attached to the Office of the Press Secretary. Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye refused to explain the new set-up when asked. Under the EO, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may appoint the chairman, president, and general manager of NBN 4 and ※express her desire§ as to who she wants elected as directors of RPN 9 and IBC 13.

From http://archive.inquirer.net/ 11/08/2006


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RP Group Wants to Push IT Governance in Public Sector

A GROUP of information and communications technology (ICT) auditors wants to embark in an advocacy to increase awareness in ICT governance in the local public sector, its Manila chapter president told INQ7.net. Gina Santos, president of ISACA Manila chapter, said that while the value of ICT within organizations is already evident, awareness on IT governance remains low in both private and public sectors. "IT governance requires a lot of resources, so adoption is not too high," Santos said, adding that ICT governance involves delivering the value of ICT to stakeholders within organizations. ISACA is a global organization now pushing the idea of IT governance in both the private and public sectors. The organization has been in existence for the past 12 years in the Philippines. Members come from a variety of ICT professionals, including chief information officers, information system auditors, consultants, educators, and internal auditors. In most cases, multi-national companies, banks and financial institutions lead the adoption of such a complex system of processes, management practices, and ICT services. The ISACA Manila chapter has been holding regular executive briefings to convince top level executives in private and government organizations to consider the idea IT governance. Through these briefings, Santos said, the group shares information and best practices, including a roadmap that will allow local organizations determine the level of adoption of IT governance. The group has worked with the Commission on Information and Communications Technology and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on improving the procurement processes in government. "IT governance is a fairly new concept. But what it says is that ICT is an enabler, a strategic resource," added Santos. Santos said that her company Aboitiz Transport System Corp. is embarking on a major IT governance project this year.

From http://archive.inquirer.net 11/17/2006


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THAILAND: Health Dept Investigates Corruption

The Public Health Ministry yesterday set up a disciplinary panel to look into corruption allegations against senior health officials involved in the ministry's computer and ambulance procurement schemes worth over a billion baht.

From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com/ 11/04/2006


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Pramoj Appointed PRD Chief

The cabinet yesterday appointed PM's Office inspector-general Pramoj Rathavinij as the new Government Public Relations Department (PRD) chief in a job swap with Dussadee Sinchermsiri. Mr Pramoj _ the most senior PRD deputy chief who has spent 30 years of his career in journalism _ was removed in 2004 under the previous administration, allegedly due to his close ties with the Democrats. He is said to have forged a friendly relationship with Khunying Supatra Masdit, who was the PM's Office Minister during the Democrat-led administration from 1992-1995. Mr Pramoj, 56, was quoted as saying that PM's Office Minister Thirapat Serirangsan, who oversees the department, was behind his comeback and had ''returned justice'' to him. He said his first task would be to help flood victims who were left unaided and keep the public updated on the flood situation through the PRD's network. Next in his to-do list is to prepare the people for next year's general elections by fostering democratic principles and promoting popular participation, he said. The PRD has a pool of 3,000 personnel nationwide and operates 12 television stations, 40 transmission stations, 115 radio stations and 76 provincial public relations offices. Mr Pramoj's position will take effect after his move receives royal endorsement. The cabinet also approved a shake-up in the Transport Ministry yesterday. Rural Roads Department chief Surachai Tarnsitthipong and Land Transport Department chief Piyapan Champasut were made deputy permanent secretaries. Mr Surachai was succeeded by ministerial inspector-general Rapin Jarudulob and Mr Piyapan by ministerial inspector-general Silapachai Charukasemrattana.

From http://archives.mybangkokpost.com/ 11/08/2006


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VIET NAM: Top Graduates Recruited to Work in City Government

The Ha Noi People*s Committee on Friday hired twenty of the city*s top university graduates to work in the city*s administrative agencies and State-owned enterprises. "Ha Noi always focuses on recruiting top graduates to work in the city*s offices and businesses with an aim of increasing the quality and quantity of scientific and technical cadres in the capital city," said municipal People*s Committee vice chairwoman Ngo Thi Thanh Hang. "Working for city offices and businesses, the top graduates will have opportunities to develop their skills and contribute to the city*s development," she added. Among the 20 newly-hired employees, seven will work in education and training, three in the Department of Culture and Information, and three others at the Department of Planning and Investment. According to Ha Noi Department of Internal Affairs deputy director Nguyen Thi Vinh, the city received applications from 32 top graduates after holding a ceremony to commend top graduates in August. The People*s Committee agreed to increase recruitment quotas by 5 per cent in order to hire additional graduates, Vinh said.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 11/06/2006


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BANGLADESH: President Sworn in as Chief of Caretaker Govt

President Iajuddin Ahmed last night assumed the office of chief adviser to the non-party caretaker government in addition to his presidential responsibilities as "major political parties failed to reach a consensus on an acceptable person for the post". The Awami League-led 14-party alliance that vehemently opposed the president's proposal on Saturday for assuming the post himself neither accepted nor rejected the new caretaker chief. An emergency meeting of the 14-party last night observed that Iajuddin's activities will decide whether they will contest the next polls or not. Before assuming the office of the caretaker government chief, the president expressed his "deep concern" over the political violence centring changeover of power. "The country is in grave crisis," the president said and sought cooperation of all political parties for the restoration of law and order and continuation of the constitutional process, state-run news agency BSS reported last evening quoting a Bangabhaban spokesman. The president, elected by the BNP-led alliance in the recently dissolved eighth parliament, was sworn in as the chief adviser by Chief Justice Syed JR Mudassir Husain at a ceremony at Bangabhaban Darbar Hall at 8:00pm. In his instant reaction, President Iajuddin Ahmed said, "Pray for me so that I can work for the country." He hoped that the current political crisis will be resolved soon. Asked when the ten other advisers of his caretaker government will be appointed, the president told reporters, "You will be informed later.§ Soon after taking over the new office, he asked the chief election commissioner to take necessary measures to hold the next general elections in a free and fair manner. He also issued orders for the civil administration and law enforcement agencies to protect public life and property from violence.

The AL-led 14-party alliance did not attend Iajuddin's oath-taking ceremony. Sheikh Hasina however received the invitation just five minutes before 8:00pm. Political parties, except the BNP-led alliance partners and Jatiya Party (Ershad), were also not seen at the ceremony. Reserved seats for the former caretaker government advisers were also seen empty. Former chief adviser to caretaker government Justice Habibur Rahman, however, attended the function, but he declined to make any comment. BNP Chairperson and immediate past prime minister Khaleda Zia also declined to make any instant comment over transferring power to a caretaker government. "We will keep meeting each other from now," she told the reporters. UNB, however, reported that Khaleda expressed her satisfaction over the power handover. "I am very happy about transferring the power democratically and peacefully," UNB quoted Khaleda. The immediate past PM made a courtesy call on the president soon after he was sworn in as the chief adviser to the caretaker government. AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil also made a courtesy call on the newly sworn-in caretaker government chief and discussed holding of a free and fair election.

BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan also declined to make any comment. Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad said the president had no alternative but to assume the office himself. He said his party will participate in the next parliamentary elections, no matter which political party contests or not. Replying to a question, Jamaat-e-Islami Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Muzahid said it does not matter whether any political party accepts the president's assumption of the post of chief adviser. US Ambassador Patricia E Butenis, who attended the oath-taking ceremony along with other diplomats, declined to make any comment. Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen Moin U Ahmed in his instant reaction told reporters at Bangabhaban that they are happy.

Daylong talks
The president assumed the office of the chief adviser to the caretaker government last night following daylong talks with the four major political parties, BNP, AL, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Party, to resolve the ongoing stalemate. After the talks, the Bangabhaban spokesman told the media yesterday afternoon that the president would give his decision as "other options for appointing the caretaker government chief from retired judges of the Supreme Court had been exhausted". In the talks however, BNP, Jamaat and Jatiya Party informed the president that they have objection to Justice Mahmudul Amin Chowdhury as the chief adviser, and Bangabhaban claimed that Justice Hamidul Haque had declined to assume the post of the chief adviser. Justice Hamidul Haque yesterday noon however told reporters that he had not declined to assume the office of the chief adviser. The JP delegation after holding talks with the president told reporters that the president informed them that Justice Mahmudul Amin had agreed to accept the post if it would be offered to him, but BNP and Jamaat had reservation about him. On receiving the letter from former chief justice KM Hasan declining the job offer on Friday night, the president held a meeting with BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil on Saturday afternoon and he offered himself as the chief adviser. AL-led 14-party coalition rejected the president's proposal outright. The president then again sat with BNP, AL, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Party yesterday. AL in the talks submitted a written statement to the president opposing his intention of assuming the office of the interim government chief and urged him to follow the constitution while the other three political parties apparently gave consent to the president's proposal. Finally, the president last night assumed the office of the chief adviser to the caretaker government that is supposed to provide all out cooperation to the Election Commission to hold the next parliamentary election scheduled for next January. (by Shakhawat Liton)


From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 10/30/2006


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No Public Servant Above Criticism: Says Ex-Cabinet Secy

Former cabinet secretary M Mujibul Haque yesterday said no public servant is above public criticism as the people pay them for their service. His comment followed President and Chief Adviser (CA) of the caretaker government Iajuddin Ahmed's remarks that criticism by certain quarters about his office staff are unwarranted and tantamount to interference in the affairs of the State. Iajuddin said yesterday, "I have appointed officials at the president's office in accordance with my choice and they are discharging their functions with sincerity." Mujibul Haque told BBC Bangla Service that as the role of the president and the CA has now merged, Iajuddin can direct any of his staffs -- press secretary, secretary or assistant secretary -- to work for him, and the staffs are bound to do that. "They are all public servants. People have the right to make any comments on them as they make money out of their jobs. If any staffs draw salary (from public funds), he or she is not above criticism by the people. The comments however should be modest," he said. Meanwhile, different quarters criticised the president's press secretary Mokhlesur Rahman's activities, including his attending meetings of the council of advisers and reportedly trying to influence them in administrative decisions.


From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 11/10/2006


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46 Top Officials Transferred

As part of the ongoing reshuffle in the administration, the caretaker government yesterday transferred five secretaries, six additional secretaries and 35 joint secretaries. According to a circular issued by the establishment ministry, AKM Samsuddin, secretary of the women and children affairs ministry, has been transferred to the primary and mass education ministry, while Mohammad Abdul Haque, secretary of the primary and mass education ministry, to the women and children affairs ministry. Md Azizul Islam, member, Privatisation Commission, has been transferred as member of the planning ministry, Sayed Ataur Rahman, director general, BCS Administration Academy, as member of Privatisation Commission and Bhupendra Chandra Debnath, member, Planning Commission, as director general of BCS Administration Academy. UNB adds: Of the six additional secretaries, Sheikh Altaf Ali of Cooperatives Department has been transferred to information ministry, while Major M Masud of information made DG of Niport. M Shafiqul Islam of the establishment ministry has been made DG of the Planning and Development Academy, ASM Rashidul Hai of Fisheries Development Corporation made Chairman of BCIC, M Hahibullah Majumder of Land Reform Board made chairman of REB and Dr M Golam Mostafa Talukder of Planning and Development Academy made chairman of BADC.

Of the joint secretaries, 25 were transferred on deputation, according to a notification of the establishment ministry. M Mushfiqur Rahman, civil aviation and tourism ministry, has been transferred to ERD, M Nurunnabi Talukdar of establishment to home affairs, Akhter Ahmed of home affairs to housing and public works, M Nazrul Islam Khan of establishment to education, MA Akmal Hossain Azad of establishment to rural development and cooperatives department, Mohammad Iqbal of establishment to housing and public works, M Ibadat Ali of Administrative Appellate Tribunal to defence ministry, M Shamsul Alam Khan of housing and public works to science and ICT, Mesbahul Alam of science and ICT to civil aviation and tourism and M Humayun Khaled of BPC to education ministry. The joint secretaries, who were transferred on deputation: Mridula Bhattacharjee of the establishment ministry has been made DG of the Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB), AKM Jahangir of Finance Division made DG of Relief and Rehabilitation Department, Bhuiyan Safiqul Islam of the establishment ministry made DG of Jute Department and Fakhrul Islam of establishment made director of Bangladesh Tourism Corporation. M Abdul Bari, divisional commissioner of Dhaka, has been made executive director of the National Nutrition Programme (NNP), while Ahmed Hossain Khan of the establishment ministry transferred as Refugee Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner in Cox's Bazar. Mezbah Uddin of the establishment ministry has been made Registrar of Patent, Design and Trademarks Department, while Muhammad Nazrul Islam, DG of Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (Bard) in Comilla, made DG of Youth Development Department. M Quamrul Islam, project director of Palli Progati Project, has been made DG of Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development (Bard) in Comilla.

Ranjit Kumar Chakraborty of the establishment ministry has been transferred as director of BIWTC. Ayesha Begum of the same ministry has been made director of BIWTC. M Ahmed Hossain of the establishment ministry has been transferred as member of Administrative Appeal Tribunal. Mobasshera Begum of the establishment ministry has been Transferred as director of Privatisation Commission, while M Shamsul Huda of the same ministry as director of Privatization Commission. M Rafiqul Islam, former deputy commissioner of Patuakhali district, has been made member of Bangladesh Tariff Commission. M Abdul Quddus of the establishment ministry has been made member of BCSIR. Sunil Kanti Bose, member of BIWTA, has been elevated to chairman of BIWTA, M Moinul Huq, ex-DC of Kushtia, made member of BIWTA, MM Iftekhar-e-Alam, DG of Jute Department, made chairman of BRTC, M Abidur Rahman of establishment made registrar of Cooperatives Department, Sharif Tayebur Rahman of establishment made member of Land Reform Board, Qamrul Hasan of Rural Development and Cooperatives Department made DG of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Shah M Monsurul Huq of establishment made member of Bangladesh Land Port Authority, M Enamul Huq of SPARSO made Project Director of Palli Pragaoti Prakalpo and Monwara Begum of establishment made director of Bangladesh Tourism Corporation.


From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 11/09/2006


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INDIA: President Launches Free Education Portal

A pilot scheme to boost education through a 'one stop education portal' Sakshat, was launched by President APJ Abdul Kalam in New Delhi. Observing that nearly 10 million youth were injected into the employment market every year, Kalam said the country also needed a large number of talented youth with education for the task of knowledge acquisition, knowledge imparting, knowledge creation and knowledge sharing in the 21st century. "A National Policy for creating a Global Human Development Cadre for India has to emerge," he said at a function to launch the HRD ministry's initiative. Sakshat programme should think of extending the system for providing world class vocational skills to youth for making them internationally competitive, Kalam told the gathering of academics and students. "We have to start right now to realise this goal since the overall time available for such an educational growth is short," he added. Terming Sakshat an impressive engine, the President said, this was of a scale not witnessed so far in India's internet evolution and for this to succeed, the people should get free bandwidth. "What we are starting today by the HRD Ministry is an impressive engine with great potential to change the country and change the way education is imparted," he said, adding it was a mission worthy of India and Indian capabilities and prowess in information and communication technology. Kalam said the university education system in the country produces three million graduates and post graduates every year and the students seeking employment after completion of tenth class and 10 plus two were around seven million a year. Keeping this demand in mind, he said the education system should create two cadres of skills〞a global cadre of skilled youth with specific knowledge of special skills and another global cadre of youth with higher education. To a question on poor, rural and intelligent wanting to become President, Kalam said "fix an aim and work hard...do not allow the problem to become your master. You become the master of the problem and succeed." Singh said the portal would be one of the important pillars of the National Mission on Education during the 11th Five Year plan. Lauding the project, Singh reiterated UPA government's commitment to ensure that no person was deprived of education on economic or social reasons. (by Nilay Ranjan)


From The Hindustan Times 10/31/2006


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The Chandigarh Administration Has Implemented an E-Governance Initiative Called Esampark

The Chandigarh administration has implemented eSampark, an e-governance initiative to improve the quality of services that it provides to its citizens. The project brings all departments of the Chandigarh administration together to offer multiple-services to citizens through a single window. Now, 8 eSampark centres in the city of Chandigarh provide 16 services of 11 departments through 32 counters. The transactions at the e-Sampark centres have increased from 10,000 2 years ago to 1.25 lakh per month now. In 2005, the Chandigarh administration introduced mobile Sampark (mSampark), which citizens can use to send an SMS to 8888 and get information about the status of their transactions. The centres are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on all working days and Saturdays. Even private service providers Spice and Connect are using eSampark for bill collection.


From India Business Insight 11/10/2006


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Reform Needed in India's Public Sector, Says Central Bank Official

(SINGAPORE) Economic reforms may have turned India into a powerhouse, but the country's ossified public sector still needs to be reformed, said Rakesh Mohan, deputy governor Reserve Bank of India, speaking at a Singapore lecture yesterday. Reforms over the past 25 years have freed up the private sector, brought down taxes, and reduced red tape so much that India has become a powerhouse seen in the same league as China, Dr Mohan said. 'Even the US talks about us as a threat, (but) we're not a threat to anyone,' said Dr Mohan in a frank and hard-hitting lecture punctuated with humour on the challenges ahead after 25 years of economic reform. Since 1980, India's economy has grown an average of 6 per cent a year, a figure which has accelerated to 8 per cent in the last three years. But 'in almost every sphere the government is involved, whether its ports, airports, railways, health, education, we're clearly far behind,' Dr Mohan said. Literacy rates are still low at 60-something per cent, the health sector and infrastructure have not developed to keep pace with the growth of the nation. 'We've empowered the private sector, we now need to empower the public sector to do what we have got to do to provide public services. It's not about expanding the public sector.' Dr Mohan listed four priority areas the government has to tackle - education, agriculture, urbanisation and public sector management. 'The public education system is not functioning. Teachers don't go to school, the children do,'' he said.

Even poor farmers are shifting their children to private schools because the teachers are there but this means they forgo spending on something else just as important, he said. India is known for high quality graduates, who come from a few universities - but the rest of the country's universities and colleges produce low quality graduates, 'although I shouldn't say this internationally', said Dr Mohan. Agricultural reform is needed, as the state has so far concentrated on production of wheat, grains such as rice, pulses and edible oil, he said. But people's diet has become more varied as the economy has improved, and for farmers to supply the cities adequately, there have to be developments in areas such as storage facilities, transport ation, marketing and financing. Urbanisation is facing major public system failure leading to surprisingly slower urban growth, he said. 'India's cities have not changed much since the 1940s,' he said. Some 50 to 60 per cent of urban households do not have drinking water at home, and a quarter of those do not have access to latrines. Earlier in the day, Dr Mohan called on Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong. They discussed India's economic reforms and relations with China, the Prime Minister's Office said. SM Goh and Dr Mohan also exchanged views on deepening people-to people relations between India and Singapore.


From The Business Times Singapore 11/11/2006


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Government to Bring Forward Public Services Bill: PM

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has announced that the Government proposes to bring forward a Public Services Bill before Parliament, which will define a public services code of ethics and management. It will also protect whistleblowers and have the overall objective of developing public services as a professional, politically neutral, merit based, and accountable instrument for promoting good governance and better delivery of services to all our citizens. In his Key Note address to the Conference of CBI and State Anti-Corruption Bureaus, here today, Dr. Singh called for a ※comprehensive§ strategy to reduce the scope for corruption. In this context, he stressed the need for an integrated approach, elimination of discretionary controls, reform of tax system, modernization of justice delivery system. In addition, he underlined the need for reform of public procurement systems, effective utilization of the Right to Information Act, decentralization of administration and the delivery of justice and Public Services Users Associations in ensuring delivery of services without corruption. The Prime Minister stressed the role of an alert civil society which can mobilize people against corruption. He presented the President*s Police Medals for Distinguished Service on the occasion. The Minister of State for Personnel, National Security Advisor, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister, Cabinet Secretary, Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Secretary, Department of Personnel, Director, CBI, and other dignitaries were present.


From http://pib.nic.in/ 11/17/2006


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Mandatory Registration for All Indian Health Facilities Soon

All private hospitals, nursing homes and diagnostic centres in India will have to be registered with the government, the country*s health minister Anbumani Ramadoss has said. The minister added that the Union Cabinet was also considering a draft bill that seeks to increase the number of public-private partnerships, to augment the provision of healthcare in the country. ※The Clinical Establishment Act was sent for Cabinet approval last week. We expect it to get passed in the budget session of Parliament next year. The Act will come into force by the middle of next year and will register all healthcare institutes, infrastructure and human resource in the field,§ Ramadoss said on November 20. ※We will give two years (from the time the law comes into force) to these health centres to apply for mandatory registration.§ After that, the nodal registering body will make the Act mandatory for all health facilities. The Act will be implemented through a three-tier structure, with officers at the district, state and central level, Ramadoss said. The legislation will also set standards for the operating of all medical facilities available, in government as well as private hospitals. ※The parameters will apply to a hospital which has 500 or 5,000 beds.

It will also apply to diagnostic centres. Right now, a person gets two different reports if they go to two centres for a blood test. We have to standardise this.§ ※We are also planning to set up a medical park that will enable us to manufacture medical equipment for the country. Currently, 90% of the medical equipment used in the country are imported. The new initiative, in collaboration with the commerce ministry, will cut down costs in a major way,§ Ramadoss said. For instance, an MRI scanner, which costs over Rs 90 million, can be manufactured in India for less than Rs 20 million, the minister said. Ramadoss also said that the health ministry was currently working out the right model for public-private partnerships in healthcare, a subject Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also expressed concern over. ※Health spending is on the increase. There is no universal insurance scheme in the country. There are no providers. But this is one area that is expected to grow in another four to five year*s time. This sector has to play a vital role in the future for improving healthcare in the country,§ he said. Ramadoss said only 2-3% of India*s population was insured, despite increasing health spending. ※We have to involve the private sector in our initiatives so that they share more responsibility. We have to sit and work out some model and focus on some key areas,§ he said.


From Info Change 11/23/2006


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NEPAL: Pension Office to Be Established in Kohalpur

KOHALPUR (Bake): An approval is given to establish a pension office at Kohalpur of Banke district for the distribution of pension and to redress the pension related problems of the retired Indian armies. The demand of establishing the District Soldier Board made for the past 13 years to Indian Embassy and to the Government of Nepal was finally accepted on November 1. According to General Secretary of Ex-servicemen Development Committee Banke, Captain Gumansingh Gurung, physical infrastructures for the office costing more than ten million will be built in a bigha of land which was bought six years ago.


From http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/ 11/20/2006


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PAKISTAN: World Bank Board Approves Southern Pakistan Water Management Action Plan

WASHINGTON, DC 每 Improving the livelihoods of thousands of poor families who have suffered adverse impacts at the very tail end of the Indus River system in southern Pakistan is at the core of a new water management Action Plan, announced by the World Bank. The independent Inspection Panel investigation of the Pakistan National Drainage Program (NDP) determined shortcomings in both this and an earlier project, the Left Bank Outfall Drain Project (LBOD), the Bank*s Board of Executive Directors heard yesterday. They also heard details of Bank management*s Action Plan to address extreme poverty, impacts on the affected population and environment and help manage the severe flooding risks in the lower Indus Basin of Sindh Province, particularly in Badin and Thatta districts along the coastal zone. The Action Plan comes in response to the Panel*s investigation requested by residents of Badin. The requesters, on behalf of local communities, claimed they were adversely affected by the Bank*s failure to comply with certain operational policies in connection with the Bank-financed NDP Project and earlier LBOD project. ※While these older Bank-supported projects did succeed in creating opportunities for poor people in Sindh by expanding agriculture dramatically, the Inspection Panel has shown that the World Bank 岸 and everyone involved in the projects 岸 could have done a better job of mitigating the risks and impact of natural disasters on the poor within and outside the project areas,§ said World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. ※The Inspection Panel has recognized the importance of the Bank remaining committed to helping Pakistan improve its water resource management; and our future work will be strengthened by the lessons learned from the LBOD and NDP projects.§ In its investigation, the Panel found that the design of the LBOD project underestimated prevailing conditions and the risk of extreme meteorological events. According to the Panel, this contributed to the breakdown of the LBOD outfall system and the suffering of local people in lower Badin district, and to significant adverse impacts to important fisheries and wetland habitats known as the ※dhands§. The Panel found instances of non-compliance with provisions of several Bank policies, including environmental assessment, natural habitats, indigenous peoples and cultural property. The Panel also found non-compliance in the area of Bank supervision, determining that it had been less than adequate in respect to the LBOD system, and that people in southern Badin ※fell outside the field of vision of those who designed and appraised the project§, to quote the Panel report.

The Chairperson of the Inspection Panel, Edith Brown Weiss, said: ※The Panel has heard the voices of poor people suffering at the tail end of the drainage system in southern Sindh, and seen the coastal environment*s degradation. We appreciate the importance of Bank involvement in the water sector in Pakistan. Our Report, however, highlights the need to take a holistic view of water and drainage systems to ensure risks are identified and assessed and harm to people and the natural environment minimized. We trust that the Bank*s Action Plan will be implemented in close consultation with affected people.§ The Bank*s Action Plan is designed to address with urgency the plight of the poorest people of the lower Badin and Thatta districts and help them deal with the risks inherent in living on this exposed and low-lying plain. The Bank-supported Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, which works according to development choices made by the affected communities themselves, is already at work in the area with US$18 million for community projects to build livelihoods and small scale infrastructure. The program will focus special attention on those people close to LBOD for whom the IP found that the LBOD was a contributing factor to flood damage. In addition, a flood response plan will be worked out with local officials to ensure better management of this risk including early warning, evacuation plans and flood refuge structures. The Bank will report on progress before the next monsoon season in June 2007. In the medium and longer term, coastal zone and Indus River management will be a priority focus.


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 11/01/2006


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Provincial Autonomy Proposals Received: Panel*s Report Before Poll: Minister

ISLAMABAD: The parliamentary sub-committee on Balochistan held its long overdue meeting on Saturday, but the opposition and the Baloch nationalist parties boycotted the proceedings. The sub-committee, headed by Senator Wasim Sajjad, decided to continue deliberations to finalise its recommendations for transfer of powers to provinces. The sub-committee resolved that efforts would continue for bringing the opposition back to the negotiating table to develop a consensus formula on the precincts of provincial autonomy. Inter-provincial Coordination Minister Salim Saifullah Khan said after the meeting that the government was left with a short period of time and ※our effort would be to finalise and hand over our recommendations for legislation before the next year*s elections§. Talking to Dawn, he said that a variety of recommendations had been made by political parties with some suggesting that the concurrent list be abolished and others favouring handing over 27 of its 47 items to provinces. One view is that some of the federal powers should also be transferred to the provinces, he added. Talking to reporters, chairman Wasim Sajjad said the meeting had decided that technical aspects of provincial autonomy would be discussed extensively whether the opposition members took part in it or not. He said the formula for provincial autonomy would be worked out keeping in view similarities in other countries, including India, Canada, etc. He said that not only the sub-committee would take into consideration the People*s Party Parliamentarians* bill on provincial autonomy -- which has been referred to the house standing committee -- but it would also discuss proposals submitted by opposition and nationalist members for incorporation in the final recommendations. Mr Sajjad rejected a suggestion that the country*s solidarity was at stake, saying that whatever differences or misunderstanding persisted they were within the family which would be resolved through engagement. Senator S. M. Zafar, a member of the sub-committee, said there was a general consensus that maximum financial, taxation and administrative powers should be transferred to provinces. (by Ahmed Hassan)


From http://www.dawn.com/ 11/12/2006


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Cell to Prepare Report on Govt*S Performance

LAHORE: Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi would soon set up a cell which would compile a report on the performance of the government, Food Minister Chaudhry Muhammad Iqbal says. He said in a statement here on Monday that the ruling party would proudly present its performance report to the voters at the time of election. The minister was sure that no opposition legislator would resign from the assembly as everyone was aware that the government was ready to hold by-election on a vacant seat. About PTI chairman Imran Khan*s announcement that he would single handedly launch a movement against the government, Mr Iqbal claimed that the cricketer-turned-politician had no political base. He said although the opposition said on various occasions that it would launch a movement, it was not in a position to do so. He said Gen Musharraf had done so much for the country that no campaign could be launched against him. He said people*s representatives could never be uncivilised and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sher Afgan Niazi had been misquoted on the subject.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 11/14/2006


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Education Reforms 2nd Phase Begins

LAHORE: Punjab chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi on Monday said that the second phase of the Punjab Education Sector Reforms Programme (PESRP) had been started with an amount of Rs6 billion. Presiding over a meeting to review the pace of the programme, the chief minister said the money would be spent on the provision of missing facilities in all colleges of the province. The second phase is aimed at provision of infrastructure and competent teachers to the colleges. He said the government had decided to transfer all administrative and financial powers to the college administration. It would improve the performance of colleges as well as betterment of staff. At least 4,000 new teachers would also be recruited by June 2007. The chief minister said the process of provision of missing facilities to 64,000 schools in the province was continuing under the first phase. A project management unit set up for the monitoring of the project would be made responsible for the implementation of college reforms programme. This programme, he said, would be given practical shape under the direct monitoring of the Chief Minister*s Secretariat. The college sector was being strengthened for providing better educational facilities to hundreds and thousands of new students who had enrolled in schools as a result of the CM education reform programme.

The promotion of education was of key importance for the socio-economic development of the country. Therefore, he said the scope of education sector reform programme had been extended to 10 years. He said that a monthly stipend of Rs200 was being given to girl students in the backward districts due to which there had been a revolutionary change in the attitude towards education of female students. Besides educational facilities, the chief minister said that free textbooks were also being provided to the girl and male students. He said the success of PESRP had been acknowledged at the world level and international organisations had also appreciated proper utilisation of funds in Punjab. He said that thousands of teachers had been imparted modern training in the province under the teachers training programme for improving standard of education. He said that all schools in the province would be upgraded to high school level under a phased programme. The meeting also reviewed performance of all districts with regard to educational plan in the light of reports compiled by the Chief Minister*s Inspection Team. The chief minister directed district nazims, DCOs, EDOs (education) and DMOs to make education reforms programme more effective.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 11/14/2006


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Anti-Corruption Deptt Recovers Rs17.5M

RAWALPINDI: The anti-corruption department, Rawalpindi Region, collected Rs17.5 million from different provincial departments during the last nine months. Sources said the anti-corruption department had received 692 complaints, adding that it probed into 325 complaints after preliminary scrutiny. Some of the complaints were sent back to the respective departments for further action, while few cases were resolved following reconciliation between the parties. Forty-five cases were registered against the accused in different courts, out of which 30 are under trial. During inquiries, the anti-corruption department recovered Rs17.5 million from officials and employees of different provincial departments. The sources said the anti-corruption department had launched a crackdown against the corrupt people, and the drive would continue until corruption was eliminated from the government departments. The sources said the crackdown had initially been started at the grass-roots level that would gradually be extended to catch the big fish.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 11/16/2006


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3,488 Govt Employees Allotted Accommodation Out of Turn

ISLAMABAD: Housing Minister Syed Safwanullah has issued 3,488 out-of-turn allotments of quarters to federal government employees despite the fact that the General Waiting List (GWL) of such employees seeking accommodation has swelled over 35,000. The minister informed the National Assembly on Wednesday that he had issued allotment letters for 3,488 out-of-turn allotment cases, of which 1,430 employees had obtained government accommodation and the rest would be facilitated as occupied quarters are vacated. Meanwhile, those who are on the GWL have demanded of the government to construct more houses in order to resolve their problem as over 35,000 employees working with different departments of the federal government were facing severe residential problems due to lack of government accommodation in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. An employee, Mohammad Sharif, said the Estate Office (EO) was not following the principles of merit and seniority and its officials did not entertain their cases without bribe. ※We do not want to give bribe to the EO officials but we are forced to do it,§ the affected employee said. Some other employee demanded of the housing ministry to mend the ways of the EO and direct its officials not to be rude with the applicants. According to the EO*s record, a total of 125,000 employees are working with different departments of the federal government. However, only 25,000 government houses are available in the capital. The record said more than 20,000 employees are residing in hired houses and more than 58,000 are living in rented houses. Government employees told Dawn that they have to pay a minimum amount of Rs50,000 as bribe for allotment of even a small quarter. An official of the housing ministry said in view of accommodation problems of the federal government employees, a housing project was launched in sector G-11/4 by the government at an estimated cost of Rs132 million. He said a proposal to construct about 5,000 new houses was under consideration.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 11/16/2006


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AFGHANISTAN: Indira Gandhi Peace Prize for Karzai

President Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam presented Indira Gandhi Peace Prize to Afghanistan President Mr. Hamid Karzai at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. The award is given for his role in peace, disarmament and development by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. After presenting the award President Dr.Kalam appreciated the spirit of courage shown by Mr. Karzai for development and establishing democracy in Afghanistan. Recalling the non-violent fight against British imperialism launched by Mahatma Gandhi and Badshah Khan, Karzai said the people should "challenge the continuation of violence ... And let the voice of peace, prosperity and harmony resonate in the region again". Karzai was speaking after he was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2005 by President A P J Abdul Kalam at a funtion in Rashtrapati Bhawan where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi were also present. Violence, extremism and terrorism have been wrecking the lives and livelihood of the people of his country, he said. Afghanistan has during the past five years "emerged from the dark era" and begun moving towards the path of prosperity, Karzai pointed out. The Prime Minister assured Karzai that India and his country would "walk hand in hand to make a new Afghanistan -- an Afghanistan of peace, an Afghanistan of prosperity and an Afghanistan of plurality". Singh said Afghanistan faced major developmental challenges, both in terms of physical and human resources, and needed to be rebuilt. He reiterated India's promise to support Afghanistan in proceeding on the path of prosperity and development.


From India.gov 11/20/2006


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IRAN: Legislature Approves New Minister

Mohammad Abbasi won parliamentary approval as the new cooperatives minister on November 5, news agencies reported. Officially, 245 of the 251 legislators at the session voted; there were 155 votes in Abbasi's favor, 70 against him, and 20 abstentions. President Mahmud Ahmadinejad nominated Abbasi, a parliamentarian, on October 29. BS


From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/06/2006


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Iranian President Appoints New Planning Chief

Mahmud Ahmadinejad has appointed Amir Mansur Borqei as the new head of the Management and Planning Organization, the state economic planning and budgeting body, ISNA reported on November 15. Borqei has the rank of a vice president and replaces Farhad Rahbar, who recently protested the merging of provincial planning and budgeting offices under his authority with provincial governorates. This has effectively transferred their powers to the Interior Ministry in a move some Iranian observers have said is effectively a termination of the Management and Planning Organization as the paramount national economic planning body. Borqei is 49 years old, a graduate of the Science and Industry (Elm va Sanaat) University in Tehran, and previously was deputy energy minister for planning and economic affairs. He oversaw large projects like dam and airport constructions from 1991 to 2006, ISNA reported, though it was not clear if Borqei was a deputy minister at the time. VS


From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/16/2006


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TAJIKISTAN: President Begins New Term

Recently reelected President Imomali Rakhmonov delivered his inauguration address to a joint session of Tajikistan's parliament on November 18, Tajik television's First Channel reported. Rakhmonov pledged to make Tajikistan one of the "key exporters of electricity in Asia, cooperation with developed countries and major international financial institutions will be stepped up, and a series of small and big hydroelectric power stations and high-voltage lines for transmitting power abroad will be built." Rakhmonov said that in foreign policy "we will continue beneficial cooperation contacts with the Russian Federation within the framework of our strategic partnership" while developing relations with China and expanding cooperation with the United States. DK


From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/20/2006


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AUSTRALIA: APRA Sets Out Basel II Approaches to Securitisation and Credit Derivatives

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) today released a discussion paper and accompanying draft prudential standard and prudential practice guide on securitisation. Since the release of the 1988 Basel Capital Accord, securitisation markets 每 globally and in Australia - and the participation of financial institutions in these markets have grown significantly and individual regulators, including APRA, have developed their own prudential framework for such activities. The Basel II capital adequacy regime, known as the Basel II Framework, now includes internationally agreed guidance on securitisation. APRA is proposing to amend its securitisation framework to reflect this guidance and to take account of market developments. In April 2005, APRA released its draft proposals for the standardised approach to credit risk. At that time, APS 112 Capital Adequacy: Standardised Approach to Credit Risk did not include capital adequacy requirements for credit derivatives in the banking book. In view of the use of credit derivatives in synthetic securitisations, APRA is also releasing proposed requirements for credit derivatives with the draft prudential standard on securitisation. The proposals form part of the Basel II capital adequacy regime for authorised deposit-taking institutions that will come into force on 1 January 2008.

The full suite of Basel II prudential standards is expected to be finalised in late 2007 after a further round of consultation in the first half of 2007. Comments on the discussion paper and draft Prudential Standard APS 120 Securitisation (APS 120), Prudential Practice Guide APG 120 Securitisation and the proposals for the standardised approach to credit derivatives are invited by 19 January 2007 and can be emailed to basel2@apra.gov.au. The documents are available on APRA*s web site http://www.apra.gov.au at http://www.apra.gov.au/ADI/Basel-II-implementation-in-Australia.cfm. The requirements for funds management included in the current funds management and securitisation prudential standard are not included in the draft APS 120. These requirements will be included in a separate funds management prudential standard that will be released for consultation at a future date.


From http://www.apra.gov.au/ 11/13/2006


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Australia Wins Landmark Labor Law Case

CANBERRA Australia: Australia's highest court on Tuesday dismissed a challenge to Prime Minister John Howard's contentious labor laws, in a judgment experts and critics said marks a historic power shift from state to federal authorities. In a split decision, the High Court upheld the industrial relations laws as constitutionally valid, including the use of a special "corporations power" clause allowing the federal government to override states' workplace regulation systems. Analysts said the ruling opens the way for the federal government to use the clause to take over other responsibilities, including health and education, held by state governments since Britain's separate colonies in Australia were federated into a nation in 1901. "The states are looking more and more like municipal governments than state governments," said Don McCallum, an industrial relations laws specialist at Sydney University, who said Tuesday's judgment is one of several that have recently shifted power to Canberra. He said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio the ruling was a comprehensive victory for Howard's government, and could emerge as a landmark in Australian legal history. Howard welcomed the ruling as delivering a long overdue national system of labor laws, but vowed not to launch a grab for other state-held powers.

"It's not the intention of the government to interpret this decision as some kind of carte blanche for some massive expansion of Commonwealth power," Howard told reporters, using a formal reference to the federal government. All of Australia's six states and two territories funded or backed the challenge, along with labor unions, who argued that the laws give employers much greater powers to fire workers unfairly and reduce benefits. The court's majority ruling rejected the states' arguments that the corporations power couldn't apply to industrial relations. Two of the five judges dissented. The dissenting judges said the laws exceeded the powers the writers of Australia's constitution had intended for federal parliament. "The act in its present form is well beyond, and in contradiction of, what was intended and expressed in the constitution by the founders," said Justice Ian Callinan. The laws set up a national industrial relations system covering about 85 percent of Australia's 10 million workers, and include controversial provisions including making firms employing fewer than 100 workers exempt from unfair dismissal laws. "For companies seeking to invest in Australia this will be a very welcome signal because they will have a known system of workplace regulation across borders," said Heather Ridout, the head of the Australian Industry Group. Unions said the ruling underscored the shattering of worker's rights contained in the new laws, which came into effect in March. Workers "have lost their right to be protected from being unfairly sacked ... they've lost the protection of a decent safety net," said Greg Combet, head of the peak union body, known as the ACTU.


From http://www.iht.com/ 11/13/2006


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Closer Ties for Resources Industry & Researchers

After more than 50 years at Cottlesloe, the West Australian laboratory of the National Measurement Institute (NMI) has moved to new facilities which will be officially opened by Bob Baldwin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources. "The opening of the National Measurement Institute facility in the Australian Resources Research Centre (ARRC) reflects the Australian Government*s commitment to the infrastructure that supports Western Australia*s resources industry," Mr Baldwin said. "For half a century, NMI has been an important link in Western Australia's resources and commodities export chain 每 by co-locating here at Kensington that tradition will continue." NMI's move to the ARRC will allow for greater collaboration between the NMI and other researchers located at the Park, and a further aligning of NMI's work with companies and researchers in Western Australia, such as fellow ARRC tenants including BHP Billiton, CSIRO Exploration & Mining, CSIRO Petroleum Resources and Curtin University of Technology. "The re-location to ARRC provides NMI with the opportunity to build on its relationships with the key players in the resources industry and help facilitate innovation as a means of keeping the West Australian resources industry internationally competitive," Mr Baldwin added.

Western Australia is the leading export state in Australia, accounting for more than 25 per cent of Australia*s total exports. Resources and commodities are major components of the exports with petroleum and petroleum products, gold, natural gas, iron ore, nickel, grain and wine making up a large proportion. Competitiveness of these export industries is vital to Australia*s economic health. "To put it simply, the competitiveness of the West Australian resources industry has been, and will continue to be, facilitated by the excellent work of NMI," Mr Baldwin said. NMI is a division of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources with responsibility for Australia's national infrastructure in physical, chemical, biological and legal measurements. NMI is responsible for coordinating Australia*s national measurement system and for establishing, maintaining and realising Australia*s units and standards of measurement, allowing Australian industry to operate competitively in a global environment.


From http://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ 11/13/2006


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Farmers to Be Protected from Changes to the &Effective Life* of Tractors and Harvesters

Farmers will be given a helping hand with a cap on the &effective life* of tractors and harvesters for income tax purposes, Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Peter Dutton, announced today. ※The strong economic management of the Howard Government over the last decade has put us in the perfect position to help Australian farmers.§ ※With the drought affecting farmers and their families across Australia, the last thing they need is to be faced with a change in the tax treatment of their valuable farm equipment,§ Mr Dutton said. The current &effective life* used to calculate income tax write-offs for harvesters and tractors is 6? years. As part of the on-going process to update its &effective life* schedules, the Australian Tax Office would be required to release a discussion paper suggesting the levels be increased to 12 years for new tractors and 10 to 12 years for larger, new harvesters. This would effectively reduce the deductions farmers receive for the depreciation of their equipment, spreading them over almost twice the number of years. ※The Government believes farmers should have certainty with regard to the depreciation life of tractors and harvesters. Farmers shouldn*t have to bear any additional tax changes as they struggle to run their farms.§ ※That*s why the Government will act to implement a statutory cap to preserve the current 6? year period over which farmers can depreciate tractors and harvesters.§ ※This will mean no change to the income tax treatment on harvesters and tractors,§ Mr Dutton said. ※The Howard Government is committed to helping Australian farmers struggling under this drought. Protecting farmers with this tax decision is another way of giving them the support they need,§ Mr Dutton said.


From http://assistant.treasurer.gov.au/ 11/16/2006


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NEW ZEALAND: Government Review of Red Tape Fails to Address Concerns

A major Government review of red tape has found that many of the issues irking businesses relate to the Beehive's underlying policies - which are outside the review's scope. Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel announced the review "with teeth" in May, and she took the first progress report to the Cabinet this week. The report shows that while some problems affecting businesses can be quickly fixed, many are tougher and others simply cannot be addressed. "Many of the issues raised by business thus far have been outside the scope of the review as they relate to underlying policy," the report states. Many businesses said the Employment Relations Act was "stacked against the employer", particularly in relation to dismissing staff. Interviews also highlighted that the hospitality and wine sectors in particular had found the transition to the pay rates required under the Holidays Act 2003 difficult. National's economic development spokeswoman, Katherine Rich, argued that the report showed how impotent the review was. "Most damning of all, the report says businesses have identified real concerns with areas like labour laws, the RMA [Resource Management Act] and ACC - areas Labour has declared off-limits," she said. When the review was announced, Ms Dalziel made it clear that policy changes were unlikely to result.

She noted that the Government was elected on its policies, and the review was not questioning the actual policies, but whether the structure or frameworks around them were right. She said this week that the progress report showed the Government was taking the concerns of business seriously. "Tangible" improvements were likely, particularly where different regulatory frameworks overlapped, or where more than one regulator had jurisdiction, she said. Among the complaints that did fall within the review's scope were: * Tourism businesses questioning the need to complete surveys. * Co-ordinating health and safety and hazardous substance inspections. * Aligning dates for paying excise duties on alcohol products and alcohol advisory council levies. Ms Dalziel said that while these might seem minor, they were significant in minimising the impact of regulation on business. The review is due to be finished next July.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 11/03/2006


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Kyoto Protocol Countries Launch New Move on Greenhouse Gases

※Countries that have ratified the UN's Kyoto Protocol launched a new incentive on Thursday to help tackle greenhouse gas emissions by former Soviet bloc economies. The final decisions completing the Joint Implementation (JI) initiative were made in Bonn by a supervisory committee under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Kyoto's parent treaty. The Kyoto Protocol provides for three mechanisms which are designed to provide incentives for reaching this target, which has a deadline of 2012. One is a market in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal greenhouse gas. The other two mechanisms are the JI and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The JI is smaller in scale than the CDM but will operate in a similar vein. It applies not to developing countries but to other developed countries, with an eye particularly on the industrialized economies of Central and Eastern Europe, where energy inefficiency and CO2 pollution are chronic problems. The first JI projects, ranging from wind farms to forestry projects, are expected to begin scrutiny by the mechanism's oversight panel in the coming weeks. § ※The initiative should yield cuts in carbon dioxide emissions of several hundred million tons, the UN climate body said. The trade will allow countries so far busting their emissions caps under the Kyoto Protocol like Japan, Spain and Italy to fund cuts in countries well within their limits, like most former communist states, and count these cuts as their own.§ ※James Grabert, team leader of the JI section at the UN, said the body is currently working on the assumption that 25 of these JI projects will be approved by the end of 2006, with a further 100 projects likely to be approved by the end of 2007. After 2008, carbon credits generated from JI projects can also be used in the EU emissions trading scheme. The EU currently has a system whereby governments set limits on the amount of carbon that may be emitted by industry. Companies that stay within their limits can sell any emissions rights to those that have exceeded their quotas. And companies that have exceeded their quotas will also be able to use JI credits in order to comply with these government limits. Each JI carbon credit is worth the equivalent of 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide.§

In related news, ※The global market for trading carbon emissions is set for a massive boost with a UK government report on Monday proposing a huge expansion of trading and Morgan Stanley, the investment bank, yesterday unveiling plans to invest $3 billion in carbon credits. Meanwhile, in the US, politicians are warming to the use of the carbon market to address climate change. The Stern Review of the economics of climate change, commissioned by the UK government, will say that the cost of rising concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere far outweighs the cost - for developing and developed countries alike - of acting now to slow global warming. The review is expected to propose a massive increase in carbon trading as a flexible way to slow the growth of carbon emissions in both the developed world and rapidly developing countries such as China.§ According to an article published in the UK*s The Independent, the report argues that lack of action by the world over climate change could cost countries up to a fifth of their gross domestic product and would cost the world one percent of its annual GDP. Doing nothing, however, would cost between five and 20 times that amount.§


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 10/27/2006


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Consultative Meeting on the Establishment of the Regional e-Governance Community of Expertise for the Asia and Pacific Region Under UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID)

The first Consultative Meeting on the Establishment of the Regional e-Governance Community of Expertise for the Asia and Pacific region under the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development (GAID) took place in Shanghai, People*s Republic of China, on 19 October 2006 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. This meeting was a follow-up to the Inaugural meeting of the Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Development, which took place on 19-20 June 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting in Malaysia set the tone for the meeting in Shanghai by identifying the priority areas that are considered most impactful, namely: e-Education, e-Health, e- Entrepreneurship, and e-Governance (participation in policy debate and decisionmaking). The meeting was convened by UNDESA, opened and chaired by Mr. Guido Bertucci, Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management. Mr. Bertucci welcomed the participants to the first Asia-Pacific regional meeting on the Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID). He noted that this meeting was a direct result of the World Summit for Information Society, which took place in Geneva and Tunis. At these meetings, development partners stressed the need for a comprehensive and integrated approach to use ICT to support development.

Mr. Bertucci gave the floor to Mr. Sarbuland Khan, Executive Coordinator, Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) to introduce GAID and outline the strategic vision and objectives of GAID. Mr. Khan stressed that GAID is a network of networks and thus needs to be built up to create regional networks of stakeholders throughout the world. He noted that ICT should be used as a strategic instrument to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals and to implement the WSIS Plan of Action. GAID is open to participation of all stakeholders who can contribute to advocacy and policy debate on information society issues. Mr. Khan mentioned that the activities of GAID could be placed into two broad topics: creating a venue for policy dialogue to share experience, and to create partnership to roll out concrete programmes and projects. On the first topic, he mentioned the upcoming GAID Global Forum to be held in Cairo from 28 每 29 May 2007 on the theme of ※Youth§. On the second topic, he mentioned two projects that have already been supported, namely the introduction of broadband in Africa with support of the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the E-Africa Union and Telecentre II, which are comprehensive community centres tackling the four pillars of GAID (e-education, ehealth, e-enterprise and e-governance). He concurred with Mr. Bertucci that the major outcome from this regional meeting would be to create a partnership in the Asia-Pacific region that would support GAID in achieving its goals, and opened the floor to discussions.

From http://www.unpan.org/index.asp 11/07/2006


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India Proposes Innovation Fund in Asean Region

Statesman News Service NEW DELHI: India today proposed setting up of an innovation fund for the south and south east Asian region for promoting research and development aimed at solving the problems of the people. India and Asean face common challenges. Poverty and unemployment are two problems endemic to the south and south-east Asian region, the minister of science and technology, Mr Kapil Sibal, said at the 12th Technology Summit and Technology Platform organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the department of science and technology here. Stating that there was a need to foster partnerships, he said, We need an Asean innovation fund to foster collaboration in the region that will help address the problems common to the region. The national innovation systems of India and Asean countries must gear up to push research and development, the minister said. Each country has its own strengths that makes collaboration between them critical. We have to innovate and create intellectual property for generating wealth and resolving local issues. We need local technical solutions that are affordable, accessible, indigenous and collaborative. These have to be ideal solutions for real life problems, he said. Mr Sibal said in todays globally competitive environment, no firm, large or small, could survive without innovating. However, innovation cannot flourish without cooperation. Sometimes, even between competing firms, innovation no longer depends only on how firms, universities, research institutes and other regulators perform, but on how do they work together and on cross-border cooperation and partnerships as well. Stressing the need for collaboration between India and Asean, the secretary general of Asean, Ong Keng Yong, said India could have a role in helping Aseans newly developing countries with its technology.

From The Statesman (India) 11/07/2006


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Taking the Pulse of Innovation Lessons Learned by Asian Entrepreneurs

Asia has become a hotbed of entrepreneurship. The emergence of new enterprises in the region has led to the birth of many successful products and services. These new entrepreneurs, however, face a myriad of challenges. The success and survival of their companies in a rapidly changing world depend, more than ever before, on innovation and enterprise. To better understand the needs of Asian entrepreneurs, Credit Suisse has sponsored a unique, pan-Asian annual research programme called "Growth Challenges for Asian Entrepreneurs". This initiative, the first of its kind in Asia, reflects the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, values that Credit Suisse has encouraged within its organisation. The research programme was launched in May 2005 in partnership with InnovAsia, a major initiative from INSEAD that provides independent intelligence and research on innovation across Asia. Since then, the programme has given rise to a vibrant community aiming to bring Asian entrepreneurs' exciting stories and ideas to potential partners, customers and investors. Catalysing growth through value innovation that creates new choices for customers, the platforms established by this programme have provided an innovative forum for networking and continuous learning among entrepreneurs.

The programme's research focus to date has been on four significant growth challenges faced by Asian entrepreneurs:
-- Fund-raising: financing profitable growth in Asia;
-- Internationalisation: translating growth abroad;
-- Critical external relationships: tracing how Asian relationships matter;
-- Management team development: building a management team worth millions.
The programme's research findings are being presented through the Asia Focus pages in the Bangkok Post, showcasing Asian entrepreneurs and examining their challenges and lessons learned.

This is the second group of publications in the series. It presents ideas, opinions and practical recommendations obtained from research, analysis and on-the-ground interviews conducted with dozens of successful entrepreneurs and innovators in businesses across Asia. The research effort was undertaken by a team of regional and country analysts at INSEAD InnovAsia under the guidance of Philip Anderson, the INSEAD Alumni Fund Chaired Professor of Entrepreneurship, Director of 3i Venturelab and Director of the Rudolf and Valeria Maag International Centre for Entrepreneurship. The recommendations that have grown out of the survey aim to provide a tool for entrepreneurs navigating internationalisation within or beyond Asia.


From Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News 11/11/2006


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ICT Training Program for Developing Countries Launched

DEVELOPING countries can now benefit from a new information and communications technology (ICT) program launched at the plenipotentiary conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Antalya, Turkey. The program was done in collaboration with the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore, which agreed to develop an executive training program in ICT policy and regulation, the ITU said on its website. The Singapore IDA is extending its e-Government Leadership Center to developing countries, mainly those based in the Asia Pacific region. It will also share its experiences in e-governance and deploying ICT in the private and public sectors, the ITU said. "It is the aim of the program to reach out to developing countries which, like Singapore, are keen to use ICT to further their social and economic growth," it added. The program aims to train at least 30 to 40 participants over the next three years. Training professionals will come from the IDA and partners, including the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Institute of Systems Science in Singapore. Experts from ITU and the industry will be invited as guest resource speakers, ITU said. This recent program is part of the Asia-Pacific Regional Initiative on Telecommunication/ICT Policy and Regulatory Cooperation. It was proposed earlier by the ITU members of the Asia-Pacific region, and adopted in 2006. (by Erwin Oliva)


From http://archive.inquirer.net/ 11/14/2006


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CHINA: Scholars Join in Social Innovation

When it comes to solving China's problems, the old ways simply need to step aside, say a group of Chinese and British scholars. And the new answers, they add, are not the unique property of any one facet of society. "Government innovation alone cannot solve social problems. We also need innovation from civil society," said Yu Keping, who is a Peking University professor and director of the China Centre for Comparative Politics and Economics, an influential government think tank. The Young Foundation (a research and advocacy centre in the United Kingdom), the British Council, and the China Centre co-hosted a conference last month in Beijing that signalled China's increasing departure from top-down policymaking. Entitled "Accelerating Social Innovation in China and the UK," the event brought together an international group of academics, business people and non-governmental organization (NGO) researchers to "share learning between the UK and China and how to advance social innovation to address pressing social challenges in fields such as health, education and ageing." "This conference will contribute to the harmonious development of China," Yu said at the start of the conference, referring to China's recent commitment to achieving a balance between economic growth and social welfare. His centre was founded in 1998 as a branch of the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau. For years, the Translation Bureau had been producing Chinese versions of important foreign literary and academic texts.

Recent examples are works by late Harvard political philosopher John Rawls as well as a series on deliberative democracy. But, as Yu explained, the manifold changes across Chinese society in the past 25 years made it clear to the country's leadership that serious comparative study was critical. So, the Translation Bureau underwent a "functional change" to include the centre's research. "China needs to make social and cultural reforms, and we need comparative studies to make these reforms," Yu said. During their studies, Yu and his colleagues found that to address many of the challenges facing China, the central government would need help from society. In 2000, the centre launched The Awards and Research Programme of Innovations and Excellence in Chinese Local Governance. Every two years since then, the centre has awarded 10 prizes of 50,000 yuan (US$6,250) each to provincial, city and township governments that demonstrate successful and innovative solutions to a local problem. "Innovation is different from reform in that innovation is creative reform," Yu said. International networking In 2004, Yu Keping met Geoff Mulgan, who at the time was the director of the UK Government's Strategy Unit and head of policy for Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mulgan had been coming to China to talk to policy-makers as part of the regular meetings between Tony Blair and Wen Jiabao. They would discuss such issues as building up high technology industries, coping with declining old industries, and pollution and climate change. As the talks progressed, Mulgan met members of China's State Council, the National Development and Reform Commission and universities and research centres, including the China Centre.

A year and a half ago, Mulgan left government and became the director of the Young Foundation. The foundation defines social innovation as "activities and services that are motivated by the goal of meeting a social need and that are predominantly developed and diffused through organizations whose primary purposes are social." "Not one country has a serious strategy for social innovation that is remotely comparable to the strategies for innovation in business and technology," a report by the foundation states. "We see the development of social innovation as an urgent task - one of the most urgent there is." Social innovation, Mulgan explained, must result from the combined efforts of government, business and NGOs/civil society. "The most exciting creativity and innovation happen in the space between these three sectors," he said. "In quite a few countries across the world at exactly the same moment, governments are realizing it's not enough to have innovation in hardware or physical things. If you don't also have innovations in how services are organized and delivered, you probably won't get growth, and you certainly won't get social development. "What's very striking is how similar the challenges China is facing are to other countries'," Mulgan said, pointing to ageing populations, climate change and the polarization of wealth. "The (China Centre) seemed to be thinking on very similar lines to us about how to promote new ideas on the boundary between national government, local government, business and NGOs." Mulgan said China was ahead of most of the world in embracing innovative solutions to social problems. With that in mind, he and Yu began to plan a conference. "The language of the current Five-Year Plan committing China to becoming an innovative society made the timing perfect for this," Mulgan said. Birth of a conference The Young Foundation and the China Centre found an ally in the British Council. Putting together an international conference on social innovation immediately resonated with Gary Hallsworth, first cultural secretary and director of Governance and Development at the Council's Beijing office.


From Chinadaily.com.cn 11/04/2006


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China to Encourage Investment from Green Companies

The Chinese government is to encourage more foreign investment in energy-saving and environmentally-friendly industries, Vice Minister of Commerce Ma Xiuhong has said. The government would also make more efforts to optimize the industrial structure of foreign investment, said Ma. Foreign investors had invested 665 billion U.S. dollars in China in the past 27 years, Ma said. By the end of last September, China had recorded capital from over 200 countries and regions and more than 800 research centers have been established by foreign companies. Foreign investment played an important role in China's economy, with taxes from foreign firms contributing 634.9 billion yuan (80.36 billion U.S. dollars) last year, 21 percent of the country's total tax revenue. By the end of last year, foreign-invested companies were employing more than 25 million people, accounting for 11 percent of China's total jobs. Foreign companies were also encouraged to set up regional headquarters, as well as purchase, logistics and training centers in China. (by Yan Liang)


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/05/2006


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China's High Earners to Report Income

Employees earning more than 120,000yuan (about 15,000 U.S. dollars) annually must file individual income declarations to tax authorities starting next year, according to a newly released regulation from the State Administration of Taxation. The regulation issued on Wednesday said that anyone working in China, including foreigners, who meet any of the following criteria -- people with a yearly income of more than 120,000 yuan, people with income from more than one organization, those with income from overseas, those whose employer does not deduct tax, or those in other particular situations defined by the State Council -- must report their income to the taxation authorities. Contributions to insurance, medical insurance, unemployment insurance and housing accumulation fund paid by companies or individuals are not counted as yearly income. An official with the State Administration of Taxation said many high income earners in China have multiple sources of income which are declared making it difficult to collect taxes.

This is the first time that the State Administration of Taxation has required high-income earners to report their earnings. However, their taxes will continue to be deducted at source by employers. High income earners will be subject to fines ranging from 2,000to 10,000 yuan if they fail to report their income from the previous year by the 31 March deadline, and those who file false reports will face fines of up to 50,000 yuan. The new regulation will improve tax collection among high income individuals and help narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, the official said. A study shows China's Gini Coefficient, a measure of income inequality, has reached 0.46, reflecting a large and expanding wealth gap. In another move to reduce the country's widening income gap, China's legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), doubled the personal income tax exemption threshold in late 2005 to 1,600 yuan a month. This halved the number of people required to pay tax. Raising the threshold is expected to reduce tax revenues by more than 28 billion yuan, according to calculations made by the Ministry of Finance.

While strengthening tax collection from high-income group could help increase tax revenue and make up for the losses caused by the threshold increase. China's current personal income tax law, first implemented in 1994, includes tax rates ranging from 5 percent for low-income earners to 45 percent for the country's richest. An Tifu, a professor with the Financial Institute under People's University of China, said the tax authorities still lack effective measures to force high income earners to declare all their income. The authorities should improve the system as soon as possible and close loopholes, she said.(by Luan Shanglin)


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/09/2006


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Emergency Broadcasts to Help Public During Disasters

The public needs to be warned about extreme weather and dangerous conditions and be advised of how to reduce damage caused by disasters, according to the health ministry. The Ministry of Health (MOH) and China Meteorological Administration (CMA) plan to jointly make special broadcast reports providing information about extreme heat, carbon monoxide levels and epidemics, according to an agreement signed recently by the two agencies. The expert advisory information will focus on helping people cope and protect themselves during bad weather and public health emergencies, according to the MOH. The MOH and the CMA will jointly conduct research on how the weather influences people's health and will set up a mechanism for monitoring, forecasting and emergency warning.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/11/2006


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"Sunshine Program" Helps 7.2 Million Laborers in Rural China Find Jobs

A government-sponsored training project named "Sunshine Program" has helped 7.2 million Chinese rural laborers find jobs in non-farming sectors since 2004, said Vice Minister of Agriculture Wei Chao'an on Tuesday. By the end of October this year, 8.3 million rural laborers had taken training courses on work skills in such industries as manufacturing, construction and service, with 86.7 percent of them finding new jobs, said Wei at a symposium in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province. In 2004, six ministries, including ministries of agriculture, finance and education, launched the Sunshine Program to offer professional training to rural laborers and teach them how to lead urban life and protect their basic rights. Under the program, each trainee gets a subsidy for training expenses, which stood at 100 yuan (12.5 U.S. dollars) per person in 2004 and rose to 171 yuan this year. Most of the trained laborers secured job contracts with a term of one year or longer as well as an average monthly payment of 833yuan. The salary is 200 yuan more than that of untrained rural workers and 400 yuan above that of farmers, according to statistics of 50 counties in 2005. Over the past three years, the program has received allowances of 1.25 billion yuan from the central government and more than 1.5billion yuan from governments at the provincial level. China has 490 million rural laborers, only 13 percent of whom receive education at or above the level of senior middle school.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/16/2006


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China to Encourage Microcredit Development to Boost Employment

China's central bank is to encourage the development of microcredit in a bid to boost employment, said a deputy governor of the People's Bank of China on Wednesday. Wu Xiaoling said at a meeting that the bank would establish a long-term re-employment system through facilitating microcredit. Wu said: "The PBOC always attaches great importance to boosting employment, and it will continue to make efforts to provide the people in need with more support. "In a meeting previously with Dr. Muhammad Yunus, who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for first developing microcredit, Wu admitted that there were many challenges for microcredit in China. "Serious financial risks in rural areas had led the regulator to stop issuing banking licenses in recent years, for example" she said. Statistics shows that only 27.3 percent of China's rural households have benefited from microcredit provided by rural credit cooperatives. "A lack of funding and the unclear legal status of microcredit institutions have caused a terrible bottleneck in microcredit operations," said Du Xiaoshan, an expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Microcredit is loans generally provided to low-income people. In China it is provided by commercial banks, city and rural credit unions. By the end of September, China's financial institutions had distributed 7.45 billion yuan in microcredit, which helped many laid-off people find new work.


From http://www.gov.cn 11/23/2006


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JAPAN: Hospital Data to Be Made Public

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry have outlined a new system to publicize information about the specific medical functions of individual hospitals in an attempt to help patients choose the facility best suited to their particular needs. The springtime revision of the Medical Care Law stipulates the new system will be enacted in April next year. The ministry's panel drafted an outline on Oct. 31 covering implementation of the new system and the kind of information to be included. Based on the outline, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies are obliged to provide the ministry with detailed information on their internal workings. Prefectural governments are to organize and publish the information on the Internet in a way the public can easily understand. In the case of hospitals, basic information is required on 56 subjects, such as reservations for treatment, charges for hospitalization, the number of specialist doctors and the hospital's system for cooperating with other medical institutions in respective local communities. One of the reasons behind the ministry's new project is certain dissatisfaction among the public with the scant information on offer to help them choose the most suitable medical institution. According to a ministry survey of patients, the main reasons cited when choosing where they were to be hospitalized were, "I have been seeing the same doctors for a long time," and "The doctor treating me at the time introduced me to the hospital." These kinds of responses easily outweighed answers such as "The hospitals were highly specialized," or "I found it on the Internet."

The results indicate that patients find it difficult to source suitable hospitals without advice from doctors whom they have known for a long time. The system will be central to the ministry's new medical care plan due to start in fiscal 2008. The plan details medical services for local communities and was drastically reworked last spring. Under the new plan, emphasis will be given to interhospital coordination in specific fields, such as the treatment of strokes and emergency services. Prof. Hiroya Ogata of Kyushu University graduate school's Faculty of Medical Sciences said: "The information system will encourage patients to look for more suitable hospitals, thus medical institutions will take on more specialized and specific functions. As a result, medical care systems will be more efficient, and coordination among hospitals will be smoother." Free Internet search services to help locate medical facilities have already been implemented by Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka and some other prefectural governments and public organizations, such as the Welfare and Medical Service Agency. Himawari, the Tokyo metropolitan government's Web service, can search using various conditions, such as the proximity of hospitals and whether there are female doctors in attendance. A total of 1.3 million people use the Himawari service annually. However, similar services offered by many other local governments only cover night-time services and emergency aid, and do not list all the medical institutions: In Tokyo, the service only lists 16,000 hospitals and clinics--two-thirds of the capital's total.

Therefore, it is significant that the new system will oblige all medical institutions to submit detailed information. Though the new system will be a major step forward in prioritizing patients' medical interests, some issues still need to be addressed, such as whether the information provided by medical institutions is trustworthy. Prefectural governments will publicize the information they receive from hospitals, without running checks on the veracity of the reports. If information is found to be untrue, the prefectural government will demand the hospital resubmit their report. But it is impossible for the governments to run detailed checks on all the information, as medical institutions can number thousands, even in a midsize prefecture. Thus, at a ministry panel meeting, prefectural government officials heading the initiative voiced concern. One of them said, "Though it is the responsibility of prefectural governments to verify the trustworthiness of the information, we are anxious as to whether we can really be responsible for such a huge workload." Much of the information to be submitted by medical institutions will overlap with data that the institutions already report to prefectural social insurance offices. The new system will theoretically utilize the local social insurance offices' information to reduce the burden on prefectural governments. Further efforts to improve the system are essential so that patients can access they information they seek. Though the new system's data will include the number of operations each hospital has conducted--already publicized in books that rank hospitals--information relating to death rates and the rate of rehospitalization among patients, need not be included, even though they are key indicators of medical care levels, in which patients are most interested.

At the moment there is no established method to turn these indicators into objective data, as adjustments to numerical figures would be dependent on the relative seriousness of a patient's condition. The ministry needs to establish a proper method to evaluate such data and add them to the information covered in the new system as soon as possible. Additionally, not all members of the public can benefit from the Internet--especially elderly people who have been weakened by illness. It is necessary to prevent the digital divide from affecting those who do not use the Internet. The new system will offer only basic information when it starts in April, only getting fully up to speed in or after fiscal 2008. Prefectural governments should endeavor to create easy-to-understand Web sites for the system, in line with the circumstances of each locality, and ensure that their subsystems can provide all the necessary information as soon as possible.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 11/08/2006


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Tax Panel Begins Debate on Reform

The government's tax panel kicked off debate Tuesday on tax reform proposals for fiscal 2007 under its new chairman, with easing tax burdens on companies and abolishing tax breaks for capital gains expected to be main agenda items. The Tax Commission, an advisory panel to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, formally elected Osaka University Professor Masaaki Homma as its new chairman at the meeting. At the outset of the meeting, Abe said it is necessary to review the taxation system both in terms of macroeconomic and microeconomic perspectives. "We need to analyze how the taxation will affect the country's economic and fiscal condition as well as companies and households," Abe said.


From http://www.japantoday.com/ 11/08/2006


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Gov't to Compile Manual on Bird Flu

The government plans to compile a manual by the end of the year to address a possible outbreak of a new type of bird flu-mutated human influenza, and will include measures for the dispatch of a medical team abroad to protect nationals in the event they cannot flee an affected area, officials said Wednesday. The Japanese Foreign Ministry, which plans to report on the idea to an upcoming ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, will set up a panel of medical experts later this month to draw up details, the officials said.


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


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MONGOLIA: State-Owned Company to Be Established

The Issues were discussed on Thursday at a regular Cabinet meeting to establish a state-owned company with a focuse on offering advice in selling shares of the state-owned companies. The latter hold special licenses to exploit strategically significant and other deposits, resources of which were determined through geological explorations at the state budget fund. The meeting appreciated letting state-owned legal parties hold the special licenses of the above deposits provided that incomes from minerals will be devoted to the development of Mongolia under the state regulation. The new company will carry out activities for the attraction of foreign and domestic investments, for evaluation of resources of minerals deposits and for establishment of joint industries under traditional forms.B. Bolortuya


From http://www.montsame.mn 11/17/2006


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INDONESIA: Government to Fix Training Centers

Concerned by the high unemployment rate among people aged between 15 and 24, the government has announced it will revitalize its 162 vocational training centers across the country. Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno says that 90 percent of the training centers are in a state of neglect, with local administrations unable to maintain and operate them. "Very few of the training centers are operational," Suparno said when visiting a training center in Bone, South Sulawesi, on Sunday. The government will make available Rp 628 billion (about US$92 million) next year to revitalize the centers. So far the government has spent about Rp 250 billion a year on the facilities. "The revitalization program will include refurbishment, new equipment, instructor recruitment and improvements to the curricula and management," Antara quoted Suparno as saying. "A training center's curriculum should accommodate local conditions, whether the community in a particular region is an agricultural, industrial or fishing one." Erman said that regencies and cities would ideally have their own vocational training centers, noting that high unemployment rate among school-aged youths was related to the low quality of education in the country and the lack of labor training centers.

A recent survey conducted by the National Labor Training Institute showed that 68 percent of the 11.8 million unemployed in Indonesia were between the ages of 15 and 24. They are frequently unable to enter the local or foreign labor markets because they do not possess the necessary skills. "Education and training are key to solving the unemployment problem and both must labor market-oriented otherwise the country will face an unemployment explosion among the youth and the quality of our workers will remain low for the next 15 years," Erman at a graduation ceremony at the Sorowako Technology Academy (ATS), also in South Sulawesi on Sunday. The minister advised local governments to cooperate with companies in the area in running their vocational training centers. He said South Sulawesi's East Luwu regency, which is rich in nickel, has joined with PT Inco, a Canada-based nickel producer, to set up a training center. Qualified trainees were then recruited to work with the company. "The regions should no longer `export' their unskilled workers to big cities like Jakarta where jobs are hard to get. The regions should try to create jobs for locals," he said.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/08/2006


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PHILIPPINES: Congress Sets Public Discussion on Open Source Legislation

THE HOUSE of Representatives committee on information and communications technology will discuss a proposed legislation mandating government to use open source software. The committee invited all stakeholders to attend a joint meeting with the committee on trade and industry on House Bill number 5769 filed by Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casi?o. The public hearing is scheduled on November 15, 2006, at 9:30 a.m.at the House of Representatives in Quezon City. The proposed measure mandates government entities to use open source software, a copy of the bill showed. "The Government shall use only information and communications technology goods and services that comply with open standards," the bill said. Government is only exempted from using open source software under "extraordinary circumstances." The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) chairman Ramon Sales has earlier expressed reservation on creating legislations related to the choice of software use in government. The CICT official stressed free/open source software (FOSS) is now an established choice. Casi?o's bill aims to help develop the local software industry, which is increasingly using open source platforms to develop solutions for enterprises and government.

The bill also mandates universities and training institutions to shift to FOSS. A certain provision also makes it unlawful for these institutions to only limit certification and training courses to proprietary software. Under the bill, the CICT will be tasked to audit all government systems, and find out how much is being spent on software. This will help government gauge how much it can save when it goes open source. Countries like Brazil, China, Vietnam, and Malaysia have legislated FOSS laws. The bill also requires government research and development policy to support FOSS. It is also promoting the development of FOSS skills through educational institutions with the help of several agencies. The bill also creates the Office of FOSS Migration, which will be attached to the CICT, and headed by a known FOSS advocate with at least 10 years. This office will help government in the transition and migration to FOSS. Within three years, the bill expects 90 percent of government IT professionals, and 65 percent of the country's IT professionals to be proficient in the implementation of FOSS systems. Meanwhile, in five years, at least 75 percent of all existing government systems shall use open standards. Also in five years, at least 75 percent of all existing government systems shall employ FOSS, the bill said.


From http://archive.inquirer.net/ 11/10/2006


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SINGAPORE: Finance Ministry to Lower Age Limit for Company Registration to Boost Entrepreneurship

Enterprising teenagers no longer have to use Dad's name to register their own companies. Instead of waiting until they turn 21, they can soon legally undertake business transactions, enter partnerships and become directors at the age of 18, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced Monday. "The Government will foster a business-friendly pro-enterprise environment to support our companies and entrepreneurs in three key areas - the tax framework, the regulatory regime and enabling infrastructure," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is also Finance Minister, said in MOF's addendum to the President's Address. The reduction in the contractual age - in line with countries such as the United States and Hong Kong - is aimed at further emboldening young Singaporeans to pursue commercial ventures. Already, they are receiving much encouragement from schools, as well as advice and even seed money from the business community. Currently, those below 21 cannot independently set up businesses; some have resorted to registering their companies in their parent's name, but will not have been able to install themselves as directors. The changes will take effect after the legislation is amended. This relaxation of regulations comes after a study by the MOF in which the merits of the move to parties who forge a commercial relationship with young directors and owners were weighed against the possible risks they would face.

Welcoming the move was Mr Lawrence Leow, who had proposed the change in Parliament earlier this year in his capacity as Nominated Member of Parliament. He said youth today are "more discerning and better informed" about the registration of their own businesses, inventions and patents. However, these young entrepreneurs must also be well educated on their fiduciary duties, said Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen of the National University of Singapore's Accounting faculty. "As directors, they are governed by the Companies Act, and they have duties and liabilities. It's not just a matter of being a manager," he told TODAY. Prof Mak added that the responsibility becomes heavier should the young person join the board of a publicly-listed company. "In those situations, there are wider shareholder interests and I am concerned about whether 18-year-olds fully understand their responsibilities," he said. Meanwhile, besides encouraging entrepreneurship, the MOF is also looking to keep costs low for businesses by shortening the time period companies need to keep transaction records to five years, from the current seven years. This will cut the cost of storing physical documents, which can cost as much as thousands of dollars per month, said MP Lee Bee Wah, a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance, and Trade and Industry.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com 11/07/2006


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Singapore to Establish Energy Studies Centre Next Year

Singapore is setting up an Energy Studies Centre next year. Deputy Prime Minister S Jayakumar says understanding how competition for energy sources is influencing policies and strategies of major energy suppliers and consumers will be useful. As an energy importer, Professor Jayakumar says that Singapore is acutely aware of the challenges posed by energy supply and security. And for the government, energy issues cut across different ministries and agencies. Five key action areas have been identified, and Singapore will first diversify its energy sources. "Today, about 80% of Singapore's electricity is generated by gas imported from Indonesia and Malaysia. To ensure that we are not over-reliant on piped natural gas for our energy needs, we will pursue the import of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to meet future demand for energy. The establishment of an LNG terminal will allow us to obtain gas supplies from more sources in the region and beyond," says Deputy PM and Law Minister S Jayakumar. Next is the long term development of new energy sources. Singapore will keep a close eye on developments and encourage the testing of new technologies in these areas. Other plans include improving the efficiency in how energy is used, translating that into tangible cost savings, expanding industry development and enhancing international cooperation on energy issues.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/08/2006


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Government to Study Need for More Eldercare Capacity

The Government will be studying the need for more eldercare capacity in the next five to ten years. Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said apart from building new nursing homes, the more important aspect is manpower training to ensure there will be enough physiotherapists and social workers to cater to a rapidly ageing population. And while the Government looks at the 'hardware' side of the ageing issue, the community must come up with 'software' like getting more volunteers to promote active ageing. Mr Khaw said with an ageing and growing population, Singapore's healthcare spending is bound to exceed the current 4 percent of its GDP. But he reassured that healthcare costs will be kept at a rate people could afford individually, and as a society. And subsidised patients will not have to pay more, even when the Goods and Services Tax is raised to 7 percent. "For healthcare for the last 2 rounds, we fully absorbed for the subsidised patients, so really for those in B2, C, in polyclinics, it makes no difference to them. We will be able to fully offset the increase. I think that will be the approach that we will take or we will see whether we can improve on it," Mr Khaw said.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/19/2006


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THAILAND: Expert Discusses Process of Learning and Innovation

Section: General News - By Asst Prof Dr Arnat Leemakdej, director of the Master in Finance programme (MIF), Faculty of Commerce and Accountancy, Thammasat University. - Bangkok Post - Last week I had a chance to teach the web application framework Ruby on Rails (RoR) to a group of students, the Bangkok Post reports. It turned out to be a horrible experience; the class was full of conflicts and frustration. All the students went wild. At the end of Day 1 had managed to teach only five command lines. (The good news? Another language would take 200 lines to do the same thing.) The main reason for the frustration was that people expect something traditional. Few programmers use model-view-controller and object relational mapping. Most computer languages consider these features to be advanced while RoR treats them right from Day 1. My question, is why would a person be glad to type in 200 lines of cryptic code rather than type five lines of simple and plain code that do the same thing? Then I remember the first time when I went to the United States many years ago and talked to a four-year-old who'd been born there. I found that he could speak English much better than I could, even though I'd studied the language for 20 years. How is that possible? Come to think of it, he also had a handicap. When he was born, he didn't know any human language at all. I already know Thai language and should be able to relate many Thai words to English so I should have a head start, right? How could a child learn new things so effectively? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe the fact that I already know one language slows down my learning rather than speeding up the process. Because I have some presumptions about things, instead of paying attention to how a word is pronounces, I neglect to observe the sound, the hiss, the vibration in the throat and assume that it should sound like a Thai word, which is a major misunderstanding.

Even if I know all this I just can't observe the details with the same enthusiasm that a child does. These details add up and perfect the learning process finally. This is what happened to me in the classroom. Grown-up people already have some expectations, so some frustrations and conflict are bound to arise when they encounter something that contradicts the expectation. Another thing is the fear of making mistakes. When a child is three years old, his speech is terrible, all the grammar is wrong, words are mispronounced. An adult who spoke this way would feel deeply embarrassed. Children don't care. They just keep talking until they get it right, without shyness or fear. Lack of fear also means that children ask big questions. Some show considerable imagination and are based on things learned earlier, expressed in a way an adult wouldn't have considered. It speeds up the learning process. At any rate, as Thomas Edison said, he didn't waste time on failed attempts, he merely learned one more way that didn't work. Of course, children make other kinds of mistakes - such as breaking dishes or making a mess - that have different consequences. So we are therefore limiting our childlike approach to the learning process only. Another thing is the approach. A child starts from listening, then tries to speak, then reads how the word is spelled, then tries writing it when he gets older. In Thai school, we start out learning how to spell; in elementary school we even write some short essays, then we learn reading. Later we might attend a sound lab to practise listening, and most of us never get a chance to learn how to speak. For an American child, the sequence is listening, speaking, reading and writing, while for a typical Thai it is writing, reading, listening and speaking. At the end we are very good at spelling and terrible at speaking. That also explains why word processors have spell-checkers; many Americans have trouble writing because it's the last thing they learn.


From Thai Press 11/10/2006


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VIET NAM: HCM City Opens Its Ears to Public Opinion

The city plans to consult residents of HCM City about decisions in urban planning, Nguyen Trong Hoa, director of the city*s Department of Planning and Architecture, has said. Speaking on a weekly TV programme on HCM City Television, Hoa said opinions from the public would be welcome on proposed downtown planning. He said the agreement of the public would ensure the interests of both the government and the people are served. The planning department is collecting public opinion on the planning of Ma Lang residential area in Nguyen Cu Trinh Ward, District 1, an area known for its slums. The city plans to renovate the 8.2ha residential project to raise residents* living standards, and if the project is successful, it will be replicated in other slum areas in District 1 and other districts. Hoa said the city would put out bids for urban design and planning of the three wards in downtown: Ben Nghe, Ben Thanh and Nguyen Thai Binh wards of District 1. The seven remaining wards of the district will receive approval for planning projects sometime this month. District 1 has an area of 771ha with a population of 200,000 living in 10 wards. The city government envisions turning the district*s three central wards into a major centre for financial services and commerce.

Hoa said the planning needed to preserve the urban architectural style, preserve the beauty of the city and its green spaces, and earmark land for transport facilities. He noted that the city*s commercial and service sectors would develop rapidly and that more investment in roads, bridges, water and electricity supply would be needed. Permanent Deputy Secretary of the city*s Party Committee, Nguyen Van Dua, said the city would try to relocate people who must move because of infrastructure projects. Chairman of the District 1 People*s Committee Le Minh Tri noted that many foreign investors wanted to invest in District 1 and proposed that the city increase the number of floors for some high-rise buildings, depending on the street. A housing project on Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street has been approved for more floors to enable investors to recover capital and pay site clearance compensation. However, chairwoman of the city*s People*s Council, Pham Phuong Thao, said that high-rises should not overshadow historic architectural buildings. Thao also asked the city to publicise the plans and organise more discussions with citizens.


From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 11/08/2006


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Vietnam to Expand Accounting-Auditing Services

Experts said that accounting and auditing services, which have played a critical role in increasing transparency of the national economy, should be expanded to many areas in a bid to ensure sustainability of Vietnam's financial market as the country has joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Statistics released by the Ministry of Finance showed that a total of 120 companies with more than 1,000 certified public auditors are now providing accounting and auditing services in Vietnam. However, these services have just focused on auditing insurance businesses, credit institutions, state-owned enterprises under ownership transition, consultancy on business and investment risks, and overseas investment. To make the national economy more transparent, the Finance Ministry will expand accounting and auditing services to other socio-economic fields by transferring instructions on the implementation of financial, taxation, accounting and auditing policies from State agencies to auditing service suppliers. The ministry has also worked with foreign partners from the UK, Singapore and Australia to provide training and grant international certificates to qualified auditors.


From http://asia.news.yahoo.com 11/23/2006


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INDIA: A Pressing Need for Innovation

Charles W Wessner, Director, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, The US National Academies (UNA) is an internationally renowned expert on early stage financing for new firms, leveraging PPPs for growth, university-industry clusters, regional development and science & innovation-based growth. He spoke to Taneesha Kulshrestha on the sidelines of a summit that announced the setting up of a US-India Innovation Forum between the UNA and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) to share best practices in innovation between the government, academia and private companies of the two countries. In the context of India, how critical is the need for innovation? We live in a world that is getting increasingly globalised. The US needs to find ways of doing things more efficiently in a cost effective manner to be able to compete in a global arena. In the Indian context, the need for innovation is even more critical with its problems of illiteracy, healthcare, poverty among others. India has a pressing need to do things in a better and cheaper manner. For India, the challenge is to provide cheaper and better performing products and services for the bottom of the pyramid. What do you think promotes an innovation ecosystem in the US and how could India go about doing the same?

The US business ecosystem provides the impetus to innovate by incentivising the process. The legal and social systems are geared towards recognising and promoting innovation as well. Innovation leads to wealth and we in America think that getting wealthy is a good thing. For instance, when a professor leaves a US university to start a company, he is praised widely unlike in countries like Finland where a professor leaving the Helsinki Institute of Technology is seen as stepping down from a position of prestige, even if he has started asuccessful company. In the US, when the same individual comes back to the university after putting in 10 years in corporate life, he becomes even more valuable to the university. It is this churn of high value individuals that has bettered the university industry relationship in the US that has then enriched the innovation culture. Also, the US has a well-established culture of venture and angel entrepreneurs apart from government agencies that are willing to fund enterprises at the time they start up. To establish a culture of innovation India could also look at reward systems that promote innovation. The government would have to play an important part in the same, especially for small business innovation programmes where funding is a major constraint.

It needs a clear science and technology policy with a stronger intellectual property regime besides clearer laws in areas like bankruptcy such that an entrepreneur does not feel that once he has failed, he does not know where to go and feels pressured by debt. What has been the US experience when it comes to funding innovation? Recent research in early stage technology funding shows that most early stage funding comes from corporations, federal government and angel investors and not venture capitalists who form a small part (between 2.3-8%). Federal technology development funds complement private funds and are more important than we initially thought. You favour awards over prizes and tax credits to foster innovation. Would you recommend the same for India? Prizes are restrictive. Only one or two people can get a prize while more people can be given an award. Innovation needs to be broad-based and prizes make the selection of ideas narrow. As for tax credits, their cost on the economy goes deeper than a reward and they prove to be more high cost. Their effect is more diffused. Moreover, small-time innovators or startup have no revenues to speak of on which they can demand tax credits. Thus, the purpose of the tax credit is defeated. US universities are key innovation drivers. Do you think that Indian universities could do the same? Universities in America have a substantial funding for research with both the federal and private funds chipping in. The universities earn license fees for patents licensed out for commercial use. This availability of funds enables universities to undertake and support research and innovation. Indian universities would need the same to become centers of innovation.


From Financial Express 11/05/2006


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Harnessing Science for Poverty Removal

We are now living in a world in which advances in science and technology have made it possible as never before in human history that chronic poverty does not have to be the inevitable fate of the majority of humankind. Poverty removal in our lifetime is a feasible societal goal. We must harness the enormous potential of modern science and technology to deal with vital societal concerns such as food security, education and health for all and energy & environment security. Science and modern technology must become an active instrument of social and economic transformation. There is today widespread recognition of the fact that leadership in the modern age rests on the way we harness science for the development of the economy. Even newly industrializing nations like China and South Korea have leap-frogged ahead of us by their mastery of science and technology. In recent months I have encountered growing concern among our scientists that China has over-taken us in the field of science. If this is true, then we must ask ourselves why is it so and what can we do about it?

Declining Standards
India has to remain in the forefront of scientific research if it is to achieve its development ambitions. How can we achieve that goal if we do not perform well in the field of basic sciences? There is widespread concern about the decline in the standards of our research work in Universities and even in the IITs. A more fundamental challenge is to attract more and better students, both boys and girls, to the sciences at the school and college levels. Teaching of science and mathematics in our schools and colleges ought to be made sufficiently interesting for the pupils. I make a specific reference to girl students because they are performing very well in the sciences at the 10+2 stage. Our challenge is to encourage girl students to pursue a career in science teaching and research. Overall, the economic incentives and rewards have to be so oriented that more and more of our bright students opt for a career in science.

Quantum Jump
For a hundred years we had only one advanced institute of research in the sciences. In the last six months our Government has launched three such new institutions. I am confident that this quantum leap in high quality science education will herald a new era in the development of modern science in India. I hope the new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research will emerge as world-class institutions with an intellectually alive atmosphere for research. We are also committed to increase the annual expenditure on science and technology from less than 1% of our GDP to 2% of GDP in the next five years.

Multinational Corporations
Multinational corporations are playing an increasingly important role in the generation of new knowledge in areas such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, information technology and energy. The challenge before us is to find new pathways to sustain adequate incentives for the generation of new knowledge and simultaneously to make the fruits of this knowledge available at affordable prices to the poorer countries in the world

Reverse Brain Drain
In the past few decades some of our brightest students have gone abroad and have done well in advanced fields of research. I am aware of the fact that many of them have been returning home, for varying periods of time, as visiting faculty at institutions in India. Many are taking up work assignments in private sector research institutions and in research-based companies. This ※reverse brain drain§ must be encouraged.

Knowledge Economy
Our visa regime, our employment regulations and rules, especially in universities and in government institutions, and related issues must respond to this new phenomenon. Our Government will address these issues so that our knowledge economy can benefit from a &reverse brain drain*. Our country is on the threshold of exciting new opportunities. We have to mobilize all the potential for exercise of intellectual creativity, spirit of education and enterprise that exist among our people. We are going to make the future happen. All stake holders must willingly accept the challenge of working in concert to make India a major growth pole of the evolving global economy. (Selections and adaptation from Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh*s address at the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of the National Academy of Sciences)


From http://pib.nic.in/ 11/16/2006


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Innovations Bridge the Divide in Two India's

Rural India is a phrase which is essentially synonymous with extreme poverty. In the era of globalization we hear more and more about the urban IT boom, world class infrastructure in India, but, by and large, the ideas about what's happening outside of the big cities seems pretty frozen in time. To discuss the two worlds in the same country Tehelka organized a summit of the powerless for building bridges between these two worlds. Through over one lakh farmers have committed suicide in the last ten years; there are many inspiring success stories that show the alternatives possible. The Green Revolution, the White Revolution, the creation of the Jal Biradri is just a few names in the list. Sharing the success stories of people who have led the rural transformation through their own innovation, speakers at the session provided a direction and motivation to many who intend to bring about social change. Speaking on the occasion, Ashish kothari of kalp-. Vriksh said ※The inequality on the basis of caste, gender and class is prevalent in the society. The violence against the powerless is prevalent for a long time but at present state is also become violent in case of protest. He said that today there is a crisis in environment today.

The life support systems i.e. forest, water, land and air is neglected in all the planning and its lead to bleak future for our livelihood.§ According to Prakash Amte of Lok Biradari Prakalpa, the rural transformation is a way for providing sustainable development. He said that Lok Biradari Prakalpa (LBP) was set up in December, 1973 by a band of young men lead by Baba Amte at Hemalkasa in the Tahsil Bhamragad. The place is about 7 k.m. away from Taluka Place Bhamragad. The area is inhabited by the Madia Gond tribals. At the time LBP was formed, illiteracy in the area was almost total, medical care was unheard of. Shifting cultivation was the only kind of agriculture the tribal knew. Getting enough food was a constant struggle. Malaria (and lethal "cerebral malaria") was a constant scourge, as was wild animal attacks. Their sole contact with the outside world was through forest contractors and forest guards who spared no opportunity to exploit them. The last 25 years has seen significant changes in the area, in most part driven by the efforts of LBP and its volunteers. LBP runs a hospital that caters to 40,000 patients a year from 1,000 villages in a radius of 150 kms. Another important welfare project is a residential school for tribal children, more about which is discussed below.

Settled agriculture has now been adopted by the tribals, vegetable growing has become common (traditionally they grew only millets and rice), and watershed management projects are in place. Shri Rajendra Singh, water man of India and founder of Tarun Bharat Sangh said that with a view to fulfill the needs of the villagers, he started rural development and employment generation in 1985 at Gopalpura village by Water Conservation. He played a catalyzing role in the building of 8600 johads (water harvesting structures) in 1058 villages spread over 6500 sq.km. Out of these 3500 were built by TBS and as an after effect of these the community was motivated to build the remaining 5100 structures. For these 5100 structures only technical help was provided. The area covers parts of the contiguous districts of Alwar, Dausa, Sawai Madhopur, Karoli and Jaipur districts. Johads and the other appropriate water structures have also been built in the districts of Jaisalmer, Ajmer Udaipur and Bharatpur. As a result of these efforts five seasonal rivers in the northeastern Rajasthan area, that had nearly dried up have now become perennial.. After the regeneration of these rivers, the Govt. of Rajasthan gave contracts for fishing in certain stretches of Arvari River .

To oppose this policy and to protect fish, a three-month long Satyagraha was organized for not allowing any fishing. This Satyagraha resulted in reversal of govt. policy. To sustain this unity and the river in future a decentralized power model has been structured among the 70 villages of Arvari River. He also mentioned that the efforts towards water conservation have had numerous positive impacts on the communities inhabiting the area. Employment opportunities have increased and migration has reduced substantially. Manoj kumar of Nandi foundation said that about a third of India's billion-plus people, ie, over 350 million, are extremely poor - living on less than a dollar a day. And the numbers are only growing. Alleviating poverty from their lives can be possible only through a concerted effort and holistic approach. Nandi is making these efforts by working directly with the communities at the grassroots - creating and providing the underprivileged access to opportunities in Education, Health and Livelihood - the three main factors that cause poverty when not accessible. In this process, Nandi carries along the state and the civil society as partners. Nandi's programs in Education, Health and Livelihood are guided by a team of eminent highly qualified experts from various fields. He also said that the concept of powerful and powerless is comparative. Nobody is powerful in all aspect at the same time nobody is powerless in all aspects. The poor people are more powerful in terms of managing with nature and adjusting with ecology. ( by Nilay Ranjan )


From OneWorld South Asia 11/20/2006


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PAKISTAN: Enhancing of Regional Capacity-Building Stressed

ISLAMABAD: Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Salman Shah has stressed for enhancing regional capacity building, exchange of information sharing and partnership in all customs fields in view of the importance of Asia Pacific region in the global economy. He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of Administrative National Meeting of contact points of world customs organizations in Islamabad today. He said the regional Intelligence Liaison Office activities need to foster network within and beyond the region for providing advanced communication tools to custom authorities. It will enhance capacity of custom administration of all member countries to facilitate investigation and check crimes. He said the members should develop close cooperation including the exchange of information and experts to lean from each others experience. Mr. Salman Shah said they should stand united against terrorism and to promote the world customs organist ion*s framework of standards to secure and facilitate global trade and to deter cross border crimes. The DG Custom Intelligence said the regional intelligence liaison offices through a mechanism of quick and timely exchange of information keep the customs administration alert to check frauds and smugglings. Head of regional intelligence liaison office Asia Pacific Region Zhao Jie said the meeting will help promoting cooperation and exchange of information to check cross border crimes and smuggling. Mr. Kazunair Igarashi of World Customs Organization stressed the need to learn from each others experience to develop capacity and expertise to face challenges emanating from a fast changing world. The three day meeting is being attended by thirty six delegates from Asia Pacific region. It aims to accelerate regional cooperation in the context of information sharing to meet the new challenges and check cross border crimes and illicit trade.


From Balochistan Times 10/30/2006


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AFGHANISTAN: President Hosts Meeting on Drug Control

The Drug Control National Strategy Committee met at the Afghan Presidential Palace on November 14, according to a release from President Karzai's office the following day. Present at the meeting were the interior, rural development, agriculture, and counternarcotics ministers, as well as officials from the U.S. and British embassies. Afghan Counternarcotics Minister Habibullah Qaderi reported on the strategy to counter drug production and trafficking, and said, "The United States has pledged $140 million and the United Kingdom has pledged 50 million pounds [$94.3 million] for implementation of the development and alternative livelihood projects next year." These projects aim to provide other means for farmers to make money besides growing poppies. Karzai said the implementation of such projects is crucial to reducing poppy production, and added, "The government is firmly committed to the fight against narcotics and, with the help of the people of Afghanistan, we are trying to bring all drug traffickers to justice." CJ


From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 11/16/2006


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AZERBAIJAN: Innovation Fund Attracted Over 10 Bl Tenge of Private Investments

JSC National Innovation Fund (NIF, organized within the Sustainable Development Fund Kazyna) attracted over 10 bl tenge of private investments for innovation projects of Kazakhstan (current FOREX rate is 127.85/$1), said the chairman of Kazyna's managing board Kairat Kelimbetov at a meeting in the government on Tuesday. According to him, NIF assumed obligations with respect to 55 projects to a total amount of 80.2 bl tenge. As at November 1 the amount of funds actually used to support the projects came to 13.3 bl tenge. Thus, the Fund assumed obligations to sponsor 32 research and development projects to a total amount of 335.4 ml tenge, NIF's participation is 240.3 ml tenge. The Fund sponsors research and development projects in the following areas: biotechnology and pharmaceutics (9 projects to 170 ml tenge), information and communication technologies (6 projects to 43.6 ml tenge), chemistry (5 projects to 37.2 ml tenge), machine building (5 projects to 33.5 ml tenge), hydrocarbon technologies (3 projects to 21.4 ml tenge), alternative power engineering (2 projects to 14.3 ml tenge). Kelimbetov informed that in order to further stimulate the innovation activities a number of measures need to be taken, for instance, further development of the innovation and financial infrastructures and investments in the venture funds. "Our main goal at the moment is to workload the technological parks," he said. (Alatau in Almaty; Algorithm in Uralsk, an administrative center of the West-Kazakhstan Region; UniScienTech in Karaganda, an administrative center of the Karaganda Region - Interfax- Kazakhstan). According to Kelimbetov feasibilities studies are currently under way to organize 4 regional technological parks in Astana, South- Kazakhstan, East-Kazakhstan and North-Kazakhstan Oblasts).

"A financial structure of innovation activities was established through the organizing of venture funds. Besides, we are represented on the world's technological markets by these funds. Thus, we plan to use the databases of foreign venture funds, their capabilities to assess projects, when purchasing shares from foreign high-technology companies," he remarked. Besides, continued Kelimbetov, we plan to use the direct financing method towards perspective innovation projects, for instance, purchase of high-technology companies. There are also plans to support creation of joint ventures. According to Kelimbetov the overall portfolio of innovation projects of NIF, including the world brands, contains 18 projects to over $200 mln. NIF was organized by a resolution of Kazakhstan Government in May 2003 and is today part of the State Fund Kazyna which was organized in March 2006 as a managing company aimed to diversify Kazakhstan's economy by coordinating the activities carried out by the national institutes of development and implementing investment projects in the non-primary sector of the economy. The Fund currently includes seven institutes of development in Kazakhstan: the state bank of development, the investment and innovation funds, the state corporation for insurance of export loans and investments, the fund for development of small-sized entrepreneurship, the center of marketing and analytical research and Kazinvest company.


From Kazakhstan General Newswire 11/04/2006


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TURKEY: Women's Role in Development of OIC to Be Discussed in Istanbul

Women`s role in the development of the OIC-member countries will be discussed for the first time during a Ministerial Meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference(OIC), to be held on November 20th and 21st in Istanbul. Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, State Minister Nimet Cubukcu and OIC Secretary General Prof. Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu will deliver speeches in opening session of the OIC meeting to be held on Monday. The meeting will focus on issues including ``preventing poverty and strategies and national policies to boost women employment``, ``women in decision mechanisms``, ``creating the future by enabling women to participate in education`` and ``eliminating all kinds of violence against women``.


From http://www.turkishpress.com/ 11/19/2006


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UZBEKISTAN: Legislative Chamber Discusses Iodine Deficiency Issues

The Legislative Chamber [lower house] of Oliy Majlis [parliament] of the Republic of Uzbekistan held a roundtable conversation dedicated to iodine deficiency issue and its solution. The event, organized by the committee of the Legislative Chamber for labour and social issues was attended by deputies of the Legislative Chamber, representatives of fractions, corresponding ministries and departments, organizations, scientists and specialists and also correspondents. The session, conducted by the chairman of this committee, I. Nasriyev, noted that our country had developed and is consistently taking necessary measures to resolve iodine deficiency problems. In particular, the resolution by the president of the country, Islam Karimov and the state programme, dedicated to the problems of preventive treatment of iodine deficiency, especially emphasized that this most important issue should be resolved on the legal basis.

The session examined a draft law, developed on the initiative of the country's president, "On the preventive treatment of iodine deficiency diseases", which has been submitted to the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis for consideration. In the course of the examination of the draft law, submitted for consideration in the second reading, it was emphasized that the obligation of the iodination of salt, produced in the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan should be consolidated by law. Likewise, the meeting made the whole series of proposals and opinions regarding the inclusion of articles, aimed at improving legal bases of the preventive treatment of iodine deficiency diseases, determining liability measures of corresponding state agencies for the violation of the requirements of law on the production of iodinated salt and iodinated foodstuffs, their packaging, packing and marking, storage and realization.


From http://news.uzreport.com/ 11/22/2006


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Reforms in the System of Social Protection of Children

The international forum ※Reforms in the system of social protection of children§ held within the framework of the program ※Year of charity and medical personnel§ concluded in Tashkent. The Republican public children*s fund ※Sen yolg*iz emassan§ (&You are not alone*) and Republican center for social adaptation of children along with the support of ministries of health, public education, labor and social protection of population, the khokimiyat (&mayor*s office) of Tashkent, UNICEF office in Uzbekistan, as well as the National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan on UNESCO organized the forum. The pedagogues, doctors, lawyers, mahalla neighborhood community and women*s committee activists, representatives of international organizations, experts from near and far abroad participated in it. The delegates to the forum spoke about and discussed several topics such as the national and international experience in the system of social protection of children, existing legislations, state and prospects of educational institutions for the socially vulnerable children, and the extra-judicial mechanism of children*s protection.

The participants of the conference noted that since Uzbekistan gained independence the issues of support of the socially vulnerable children 每 orphans, disabled, children left without parental care and guidance, or those from the less fortunate families - have been receiving a profound attention. For over the past five years the child disability is observed to be on the decrease in the country. The special educational program has been elaborated for the handicapped children. Within the framework of such program the differentiated approach to them is now under war with taking into account the peculiarities of their development. The forum resulted in formulation of practical recommendations, which cover such topics as improvement of national legislation in the field of social protection of children, juvenile jurisprudence, further development of an inclusive education, and strengthening of cooperation of the relevant organizations, as much as coordination of their activity. In particular, one of such recommendations is an introduction of the draft Law ※On guarantees of the child rights§ with Oliy Majlis. Besides, the recommendations envisage the joint participation of both the state and public organizations in social protection of children. The Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan R. Kasymov participated at the international forum.


From http://www.uza.uz/ 11/24/2006


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AUSTRALIA: Grassroots Idea Grows into $90 Million Scheme

JOHN Howard's $90 million initiative for a chaplain for every school germinated at a grassroots level on the Mornington Peninsula. It was the treasurer of the local chaplaincies committee, financial planner and religious education teacher Peter Rawlings who thought up the scheme, which he then told his local federal MP Greg Hunt. The Liberal MP for Flinders encouraged him to write to the Prime Minister, who agreed it was an idea worthy of a multi-million-dollar budget. "I feel enormously privileged to have written a submission to the Prime Minister that, less than six months later, is a national program with $90 million attached to it," Mr Rawlings said yesterday. "But most of all I'm very passionate about the chaplains - I have seen the results in young families and families that work - the potential for that to be replicated around this nation." Mr Rawlings is no stranger to Canberra - he attended a budget night business dinner on May 9 and was even photographed with the Prime Minister. And he personally lobbied Treasurer Peter Costello as well as having a formal meeting with Education Minister Julie Bishop and with Mr Hunt and other parliamentarians pushing the program.

Rawlings co-founded the chaplaincies committee 16 years ago and by enlisting the financial support of local churches, schools, service clubs and the council, has seen the funding of three full-time chaplains in high schools and one part-timer working for two primary schools. He estimates the total annual cost at $200,000. Although community reaction to the initiative was mixed yesterday, the biggest parent group in the country endorsed it. Australian Council of State School Organisations president Jennifer Branch supported the initiative despite doubts about whether the offer of $20,000 per school to help provide a chaplain was enough. "It will not go very far: you are probably only going to get someone for eight hours a week out of $20,000, with on-costs included." She attempted to hose down concerns over any religious agenda. "Let's not make this a religious debate," she said. "It's not about teaching religion in schools. It is a pastoral care issue and providing our students with another means of support." Mr Rawlings told The Australian he had seen a need for chaplaincy when he was in schools providing religious education lessons. He has been asked many times about the qualitative difference between chaplains and secular counsellors and is hard put to describe it, but says there is no conflict between the roles in his area.


From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/ 10/31/2006


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Libs Promise Parents Say on Teacher Pay

MOTHERS and fathers would be punished with fines and community service when their children misbehaved at school under a Victorian Liberal plan that would also give parents a say in which teachers got annual performance bonuses. Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu pledged to give 2000 public school teachers deemed "high-performing" a 5 per cent annual bonus in a policy that also promises a review of the curriculum in line with national benchmarks. Mr Baillieu, who will need a 7.5 per cent swing to wrest power from Premier Steve Bracks at the November 25 election, said a Liberal government would not dictate the criteria for an annual bonus - as is the case under federal Labor's plan for performance-based pay - but would leave it up to school councils to recommend a teacher. "We want parents to be able to make judgments ... about teachers who are performing well," Mr Baillieu said. "I would say that at most schools, everybody knows the teachers who put in, everybody knows the teachers who do it well." The policy was panned by education unions from both government and non-government sectors yesterday, with independent schools particularly bitter at being "ignored" by the Liberal Party. "Funding for needy non-government schools is among the lowest in any state and territory in Victoria," said Victorian Independent Education Union president Deb James.

"This policy pretty much ignores the non-government sector and I think it's very disappointing. We are well over a third of Victoria's children." Buried in the detail of yesterday's announcement was what appeared to be a reincarnation of former federal Labor leader Mark Latham's controversial parental responsibility contracts. Under the Liberal policy, the parent-school contracts would not be compulsory, but schools would be allowed by the government to enter into them. The contracts were designed to "define and enforce the obligations of parents and schools in relation to the behaviour of children". "Consequences for a breach may include fines, community service within the school by the student and parent, restrictions on inclusion in school activities or any other action the school considers appropriate and fair and agreed to under the contract," the policy said. Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy yesterday labelled the idea absurd. "How can this sort of thing be enforced?" Ms McHardy said. "Are they going to call in the Victoria Police? "Parents keep getting mixed messages. They want to work in partnership with us on the one hand, and they want to be punitive on the other hand."

Mr Baillieu said the proposed performance bonuses would not necessarily be linked to students' results, but would rely on the judgment of school councils, at which parents dominate the votes. "It would be up to the school councils to make judgments about who they think are performing well," Mr Baillieu said. Any move to let parents assess teachers and have a hand in their pay would be resisted, unions promised yesterday. "I have problems with non- teachers assessing teachers' work," said the Australian Education Union's Victoria branch president Mary Bluett. "Really they make judgments more on how much time that teacher spends with their child. "Would you have surgeons being assessed by people in the street or even by the parents of their patients?"


From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/ 11/03/2006


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Big Savings with Nsw Company's Water Recycling Innovation

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane today announced a Sydney company would receive $64,000 to commercialise an innovative high-volume waste-water treatment system for commercial projects. AquaReuse is one of 14 New South Wales companies sharing in more than $7 million through the latest rounds of the Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) and Commercial Ready programs. Mr Macfarlane said the inventive system can be easily installed to address the need for onsite water recycling for commercial enterprises. "This is exactly the type of innovative thinking we need during these times of severe water shortages, particularly in Sydney," Mr Macfarlane said. "AquaReuse has developed a set of smart technologies, to provide a low energy demand, high throughput solution to assist commercial water-waste processing." [Contact: AquaReuse (Aust) Ltd, Nick Try 07 5541 0133] Other NSW companies awarded funding include: Ozwall Manufacturing Pty Ltd, of Sydney - $542,400 to develop machines able to manufacture plaster hollow, pre-cast walls and partitions for houses and apartments. The innovative lightweight walls will be cheaper and faster to manufacture than current systems, and quicker to install. [Contact: Mr G Wyett 02 9907 8639] Technology Enterprises Pty Ltd, of Sydney - $1.8 million Commercial Ready grant to develop a unified product suite for feature lighting exteriors of prominent buildings. It will have an integrated emergency response system and allow clients Internet control of buildings. [Contact: Mr M Pepperall 02 9658 1000] Swan International Services Pty Ltd, of Windsor Downs - $64,000 COMET grant to commercialise Avlas, a laser-based airborne windshear detection system for aircrafts. Windshear in the aircraft flight path can cause a dangerous change to the performance of the aircraft. [Contact: Brian McGuire 02 9791 0072]


From http://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ 11/06/2006


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Minister Opens New Facility for Australian Apprentices in Regional New South Wales

The Australian Minister for Vocational and Technical Education, the Hon Gary Hardgrave MP, today opened a facility which will provide streamlined training and recruitment services to Australian Apprentices and employers in the Orange region. Central West Community College, the district*s provider of the Australian Government*s Australian Apprenticeships Support Services and Australian Apprenticeships Access Programme, has relocated its services at the new purpose-built facility in William Street, Orange. The new learning centre includes four training rooms, including two computer training rooms fitted with wireless technology, ceiling-mounted data projectors, DVD and VCR players, digital TV and internet access. Central West Community College has been successful in securing Australian Government contracts worth $11.3 million to deliver Australian Apprenticeships Support Services through eight full-time and six part-time sites in the Hunter North Coast and Western NSW regions. The College is an independent, not-for-profit organisation which has been providing a range of integrated training, recruitment and community services since 1983 and employs 130 staff and more than 300 trainers and assessors.

※Central West Community College*s investment in such a significant training facility is an investment in the future of the region,§ Mr Hardgrave said. ※This new building will be a central focus for employers and Australian Apprentices and allow the College to continue delivering first-class services to people in regional Australia.§ Although Central West Community College*s services cover a wide area of central NSW, Orange was chosen as the site for the new building because of its strategic geographical position and the location of 50% of the organisation*s staff in the town. The facility will also serve as a community resource available for use by corporate and community groups. ※The construction of this facility shows Central West Community College*s commitment to the people of the Orange district and to the active promotion of vocational and technical education,§ Mr Hardgrave said. The College also serves the community through the delivery of the Australian Apprenticeships Access Programme which aims to help disadvantaged job seekers obtain and maintain an Australian Apprenticeship or, alternately, full or part-time employment, or further education and training. The Australian Government is delivering a range of initiatives between 2006 and 2009 as part of its $11.3 billion investment in Australia*s future 每 the largest commitment to vocational and technical education by any government in Australia*s history. It includes:

$781 million over 5 years from the Skills For The Future package which is 93% of the total funding; $5 billion over the life of the current Commonwealth-State Skilling Australia*s Workforce Agreement for the provision of training including through Registered Training Providers across all States and Territories; Establishing 25 Australian Technical Colleges across 24 regions to promote pride and excellence in the teaching and acquiring of trade skills at secondary school level at a cost of $343.6 million; Helping to ease the early financial burden on apprentices by providing apprentices starting an eligible apprenticeship with a tool kit worth up to $800; A $1000 Commonwealth Trade Learning Scholarship with $500 paid at the successful completion of each of the first and second years of their apprenticeship in an eligible trade with a small or medium size business; Extending the Living Away From Home Allowance to third-year apprentices who have moved away from home to take up or remain in an apprenticeship; and $10.6 million over four years to extend incentives for employers of higher level apprentices in key growth areas.


From http://www.dest.gov.au/ 11/06/2006


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Government Opens Up on Flexible Work Hours

New Zealand workers seem set to be able to negotiate greater flexibility in their work hours and conditions with their employers. The Government yesterday released a discussion paper on flexible work in which Labour Minister Ruth Dyson says there is "no debate at all" about the need for quality flexible work in New Zealand. Meanwhile, a coalition of business, union and women's groups is being launched in Parliament to back Green MP Sue Kedgley's private member's bill aimed at introducing legislation on flexible working hours. The coalition and the discussion paper are the result of a consultation period the Transport and Industrial Relations select committee asked for last year after considering Ms Kedgley's bill. The bill originally proposed allowing employees with children aged under 5 or disabled children aged under 18 the right to request more flexible working hours, but the committee asked the Department of Labour to carry out further study on the issue. The resulting discussion paper explores allowing all employees the right to ask for flexible hours, an amplification of Ms Kedgley's proposal. The MP has herself since moved in that direction and yesterday said the Coalition for Quality Flexible Work would campaign for everyone to be able to benefit from less rigid work hours.

"I think this broad-based coalition is testimony to the strong support in the community for more flexible working hours." Coalition members include the Parents Centre, the Council of Trade Unions, the Federation of Business and Professional Women, the Wellington Women Lawyers Association and the YWCA. Parents Centre chief executive Viv Gurrey said there had been a rapid rise in the number of New Zealand families where both parents worked. It would be worthwhile for businesses to provide flexible work conditions so those people were able to stay in the workforce. "My message to employers is don't be afraid of adopting flexible working strategies. Embrace them. It may well be an opportunity for a point of difference ... Talented and skilled people will trade remuneration for flexibility in the work force. "When we leave our working environment ... we come home to a full-time job, the most important job any of us will ever actually do, parenting, for our children and for society. We need to affirm and validate parenting as employers." Ruth Dyson said the Government's moves towards improving flexible work hours were not promoted by Ms Kedgley's bill, but were about finding a solution which found favour with workers and employers. "It's not just about work-life balance being good for employees, it's about quality flexible work being good for employers because if they have the best workplace they will be able to attract and retain staff. That is the biggest challenge for New Zealand employers." Ms Kedgley's bill is likely to be considered by Parliament early next year.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 11/07/2006


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Innovation Investment Fund Round 3 (Iif3) Now Open

The venture capital industry received a boost today with the announcement by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane of the opening of the third round of the Australian Government*s Innovation Investment Fund (IIF). The scheme provides venture capital to help companies in their seed, start-up or early expansion stage and assists to develop new fund managers in early-stage venture capital investing. The Government is inviting applications for licences under the program which received a further $200 million in the 2006 Federal Budget. Mr Macfarlane said each successful applicant will receive a licence of up to $20 million to establish a fund, to be matched by a minimum, dollar-for-dollar investment by the private sector. "We*re expecting two new licences every year for five consecutive years to maintain the impetus in developing companies by addressing capital and management constraints, with the first two to be announced in 2007," Mr Macfarlane said. The Innovation Investment Fund is designed to promote the commercialisation of Australian research and development, through the injection of venture capital into companies at the seed, start-up or early expansion stage. "It will also increase the number of fund managers with experience and expertise in the early-stage venture capital sector, and thereby assist to develop a self-sustaining, early-stage venture capital industry. "The third round of IIF demonstrates the importance the Australian Government sees in a vibrant and successful early-stage venture capital industry as it will be a key driver of future economic success. "By developing high-growth companies in Australia we are developing new opportunities, new jobs and new global businesses that are so critical to Australia's economic future." Round 3 applications will close on 2 January 2007.


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


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National Recognition for ACT Innovation

Canberra took home four national builders awards last night. Former Master Builders Association ACT president John Haskins was also announced as the first life member of the association for the territory during the awards ceremony at Parliament House. A Campbell home, and the ANU's John Curtin School of Medical Research took out the key national building awards at the annual Master Builder National Building and Construction Awards. The Campbell home in Jacka Crescent was named the National Project (Contract) Home $500,000-$1million for its innovative and modern features. Owners David and Marilyn Howarth were part of the local company - Blackett Homes - which built the house, earning the firm the National Residential Builder of the Year award. The John Curtin School of Medical Research earned the President's Award for Hindmarsh Constructions for its innovative design involving sustainable principles. Hindmarsh construction builders Peter Apps and Mark Cusack earned the National Alterations/Additions/ Renovations Awards $100,000-$200,000 for the ANU project. The ACT executive director of the Master Builders Association, David Dawes, said Canberra punched above its weight in terms of winning national awards. ''These awards show we can compete on the national stage against the best of the best of our country,'' he said. ''If you take the size of our local industry and divide it by the number of firms that are represented, then it is no question that the ACT has the best per capita record of any state or territory.'' Mr Haskins became the 29th person to be given life membership in the association's 116-year history. He was the ACT president for six years, and president of the national movement from 2001-03. Mr Dawes said he was thrilled Mr Haskins received the award in the ACT. ''He brought about great change for the association,'' he said.


From Canberra Times/ 11/11/2006


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Australia and the United States Take More Climate Change Action

Australia and the United States will work together on five new projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, accelerate the development of carbon storage technologies, and help Pacific Island countries adapt to climate change, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today. Announcing the projects in Nairobi with United States Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, Senator Campbell said the projects would build on the extensive range of actions already being undertaken as part of the Australia-U.S. Climate Action Partnership (CAP). ※Three of these new projects will make a big difference to Pacific Island Countries* ability to deal with climate change,§ Senator Campbell said. ※For example, one project will develop a tropical cyclone database and improve understanding of the impact of climate change on extreme weather events in the South Pacific, South Indian, and Australian regions. ※Another of the new projects will help Australia and the United States reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve farm productivity by increasing the carbon stored in agricultural soils. ※The projects demonstrate that Australia and the U.S. are responding very practically to the challenge of climate change and are also providing support to developing countries in our region.§

The Climate Action Partnership was first established in 2002 and now includes 32 projects and activities. These projects relate to measuring and accounting for emissions, improving scientific understanding, supporting low-emission technology, engaging business, and improving forestry and agriculture practices. Senator Campbell said the projects would extend Australia*s programme of practical action, which runs side-by-side with its involvement in the United Nations Climate Change Convention. ※At the same time as we push for a truly global response through the UN Framework, Australia is demonstrating international and regional leadership by taking practical actions. As well as taking action through bilateral partnerships such as the CAP, we have already contributed $60 million to more than 40 projects under the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate that will help develop the low-emission technologies the world needs. ※The Australian Government is more interested in taking real action than in simple slogans. Climate change is a serious problem that requires a &multi-track* approach and we will continue to take action through a range of international forums.§


From http://www.deh.gov.au/ 11/16/2006


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FIJI: NGO Concerned with Water Reforms

Non government organisation, ECREA has called on the government to postpone any further moves to proceed with the water "reforms" until the citizens of Fiji have been properly educated about the reforms. This comes after the government's introduction of the Fiji Water Authority reform which will involve a Public Private Partnership with the private sector. ECREA Coordinator for Social Empowerment, Chantelle Khan is worried that this could result in the privatization of water and ultimately increases in water rates for the low income earners of Fiji. According to Khan, the government had gazette the water and sewerage reform on the 21st of October and plans to establish the Fiji Water Authority by the end of November this year.


From http://www.fijivillage.com/ 11/15/2006


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NEW ZEALAND: Government Says Incentive Bringing DPB Fall

The number of people on domestic purposes benefits is creeping down and the Government is crediting its in-work incentive payment. September benefit figures show DPB figures fell last month by 265. The figures are due for release on Monday but were obtained yesterday from the National Party. Social Development and Employment Minister David Benson-Pope told Radio New Zealand on Thursday: "DPB is coming down, probably - not quite sure yet, but probably - because of the in-work payment that's part of the Working for Families." He told Mary Wilson on Checkpoint that numbers on the benefit "came down 10,000 in the last month" but his press secretary yesterday acknowledged this was not right. "Quite simply, the minister made a mistake," said Julia Craven. The in-work payment, which came into force on April 1, pays families with children an extra $60 a week provided that sole parents work at least 20 hours a week or couples work at least 30 hours between them. The payment gives a big incentive to work longer hours for sole parents who were previously working fewer than 20 hours a week to avoid having their benefits cut.

And this is showing up in a drop in the total of working-age parents on the DPB from 103,362 in March to 100,579 last month. The total looks poised to drop below 100,000 soon for the first time since 1994. DPB numbers had been dropping slightly even before April 1 because of the buoyant job market, which has seen unemployment numbers plunge by almost 75 per cent in the past six years. But from March to September last year, when unemployment beneficiaries dropped by 3305, those on the DPB still rose by 10. In the same period this year those on the dole dropped by only 1432 while DPB numbers fell by 2783. Over the next year the Government plans to push more sole parents into work through developing plans to get back to work, undertaking "a work-related activity or programme" if required by the plan, and other activities if required "to improve his or her work-readiness and prospects for employment". However, it has stopped short of threatening to cut benefits for sole parents who don't comply with their plans. Benefit cuts will be imposed as penalties only for people on sickness and invalid benefits and on couples with children, as well as on single people and others who face such penalties already.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/28/2006


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Science Summit Aims to Capitalise on Research

The Government begins a science summit today in a bid to improve the commercialisation of research. The Capitalising on Research conference, today and tomorrow at the SkyCity convention centre, will cost the Government $250,000 and has attracted about 200 people from the business, research and government sectors. The keynote speaker will be Michael Davies, a US-based Kiwi who works with top management of leading technology businesses on strategy and technology.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/31/2006


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Asia's 40-yr Dream of 'Iron Silk Road' Comes Closer to Reality

Asian transport ministers meeting in South Korea this week will take a major step towards making a decades-old dream a reality -- integrating the entire continent into a single rail network. Transport ministers and officials from 43 countries will gather in the port city of Busan from Monday for this year's ministerial conference on transport organised by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap). Highlight of the six-day conference will be Friday's signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) -- more poetically known as the "Iron Silk Road." The 81,000-kilometer (50,200-mile) network, first mooted by the UN back in 1960, would link capitals, ports and industrial hubs across 28 Asian countries all the way to Europe. Asian states, with the signing, will "demonstrate their commitment to working together" on the mammoth project, Barry Cable, director of Unescap 's Transport and Tourism Division, told AFP. "We expect this will trigger new development in the railway sector both in terms of increasing capacity and in terms of increasing connectivity," he said. Cable said such an international commitment would make it easier for countries to attract finance for railways from international banks. "The agreement lays a framework for coordinated development of internationally important rail routes," Unescap chief Kim Hak-Su said in a statement. Tardy progress over the past five decades indicates the challenges ahead despite Friday's scheduled signing. The Cold War, a major obstacle, is over but Asia has its fair share of civil conflicts and tensions.

From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 11/06/2006


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WIEF to Create Better Understanding Among Investors

ISLAMABAD: The ongoing World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) would provide excellent opportunities to investors from across the globe especially from Islamic world to enhance mutual understanding with Pakistan and among other countries. Pak-Arab Refinery Managing Director, Muhammad Rasheed Jung on Monday told PTV that such type of gatherings enhance investor's confidence and play significant role in increasing investments. He said the cost of doing business in Pakistan was comparatively low in the region. The country was expecting more investment of around $4 billion in the coming years. It has become possible due to consistent policies and level playing field offered by the government, he added. Abu Dhabi has made elaborated investment in the country in the last couple of years. The country has also returned excellently to foreign investors as their $500 million investment in Parco has now swelled to $100 billion in last 25 years due to level playing field and equal opportunities. With the inauguration of Gwadar port investment and economic activities in the country would be enhanced further that would certainly provide opportunities to oil industry to increase their business.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 11/07/2006


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New Training Programme in ICT Policy and Regulation for Developing Countries

Antalya, Turkey 〞 The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and the International Telecommunication Union have agreed today to collaborate in developing a new executive training programme in information and communication technology (ICT) policy and regulation. A Letter of Intent was inked today, following a call for such a collaboration in a speech made earlier this week by Dr Lee Boon Yang, Singapore*s Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya (Turkey), currently in session 6-24 November 2006. It is intended to provide this executive programme through Singapore*s e-Government Leadership Centre (eGL). "This programme is expected to enable Singapore to share our experience in deploying ICT for the public, private and people sectors," said Dr Lee. "We are very happy to collaborate with ITU to help developing countries catalyze their ICT developments to bridge the Digital Divide". He added that Singapore, with 25 years of experience in developing ICT, is fully aware of the benefits it can bring to social and economic development. "The e-Government Leadership Centre provides a collaborative learning experience. Participants would have the opportunity to study and analyse the Singapore model and to derive relevant strategies for their own country*s ICT development," Dr Lee said.

The "Enabling Frameworks for ICT Development, The Singapore Experience", would be conducted by practitioners from the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and its partners at the e-Government Leadership Centre, namely, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Institute of Systems Science in Singapore. Experts from ITU and industry would also be invited as guest speakers. It is the aim of the programme to reach out to developing countries which, like Singapore, are keen to use ICT to further their social and economic growth. The programme is targeting the training of at least thirty to forty participants over the next three years. "The idea is to provide a programme suited for senior ICT policy-makers and telecoms regulators who are keen to develop their own ICT framework to enable fair, effective and sustainable competition in a multi-operator, multi-network environment," said Dr Kim Eun-Ju, Head of the Asia-Pacific Regional Office. "The programme would cover areas like ICT development policies, regulating a competitive ICT sector, licensing frameworks, dispute resolution procedures, and interconnection." Singapore is spearheading this initiative as it realizes that ICT development in this fast-changing digital age can pose a formidable challenge for developing states. While the proposed learning model will be based on Singapore*s own Infocomm experience 〞 the issues, the challenges and the successes, the intention is not to promote a single model of ICT development. Rather, the purpose would be to help participants better appreciate the complexities and challenges all countries face in drawing up their own ICT masterplan.

From http://www.itu.int/ 11/10/2006


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Asian Economy Headed for Slowdown, APEC Fading in Importance

Asia's regional economy should post slower growth next year because of higher oil prices, U.S. economic woes and volatile financial markets, said a think tank survey released Monday. The report by the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council also said a 21-member economic cooperation grouping, which begins meeting this week in Hanoi, Vietnam, is fading in importance in the minds of regional opinion leaders. The council said that its survey which included 370 business leaders, academics and senior officials from 21 economies should be taken seriously by the leaders attending the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or APEC meeting on Nov. 18-19. "APEC is in danger of becoming irrelevant to the needs of the region," said Charles Morrison, PECC international chair. Only 42 percent of the opinion leaders surveyed agreed with the statement that "APEC is as important today as it was in 1989" when its member economies first met, the "State of the Region" report said. The report also forecast that Asia's regional economy would grow 4.3 percent in 2007 compared to an estimated 5 percent this year. The growth would be slowed by the United States, which would be hurt by high oil prices and rising interest rates, the council said. Other factors that might drag down short-term growth included volatile financial markets and terrorist acts, the council said. As the U.S. economy slows down, China will step in and be an alternate source of demand, the report said. The Chinese economy should continue recording double-digit growth in 2006 and next year, it said. Japan's economy will also continue powering forward, growing 2.2 percent in 2007, boosted by robust private consumption, reports AP. One issue that APEC might want to seriously consider is allowing India to join the 21-member club, Morrison said. He said 62 percent of the survey respondents believed the emerging South Asian giant should become an APEC member when the group's 10-year moratorium on membership expires next year. India has been knocking on APEC's door since early 1990s and was turned down at least three times, most recently in 1997.

From http://english.pravda.ru/ 11/13/2006


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East Asia Posts Solid Growth While Bracing for A Global Downturn: 25 Million People Emerge from Severe Poverty in the Past Year

Washington, DC〞 East Asian economies are expected to register their fifth consecutive year of strong growth in 2006, backed up by a substantial decline in poverty, according to the World Bank's latest East Asia Update launched today. But on the horizon, growth rates in Transition Economies and Newly Industrialized Economies are expected to slow, reflecting a likely weakening in US growth in 2007 and a consequent drop in exports from East Asia.

Growth and Poverty Reduction.
The Update shows that growth in the countries of Emerging East Asia* is likely to reach around 8 percent in 2006, the second strongest pace in the five-year long economic expansion underway in the region. Current estimates also suggest that the number of people in East Asia living on or below $2 a day will fall to around 550 million (or 29.3 percent of the population) in 2006. This 1.5 percentage point drop in the past year means that around 25 million people in the region have emerged from severe poverty since 2005. A growth rate in China of more than 10 percent is underpinning the region's overall GDP growth. Strong export growth has been a common feature sustaining activity throughout the region. Domestic consumption and investment performance has been much more varied, reflecting the impact of higher oil prices and higher domestic interest rates in the first half of 2006, among other factors. Improved public finances and lower public debt also provides the fiscal space for higher public spending, if required, especially in infrastructure and social services. "We may have seen the peak in oil prices and interest rates in the region," says Homi Kharas, the World Bank Chief Economist for East Asia and Pacific. "So the prospects are good for domestic demand to strengthen and to offset weaker exports".

China and Intra-Regional Trade.
The Update finds that intra-regional trade is still growing more strongly, but much of this is still in parts and components. "Over the past decade, China has overtaken the US and Japan as a destination of East Asian exports," said Update author Milan Brahmbatt. "However, two-thirds of these exports are processed and re-exported to developed countries so it is premature to claim that China is more important for the region than global markets." The Update also finds that foreign exchange reserves in Emerging East Asia continue to accumulate, rising to over 2 trillion dollars at present with China holding half of these reserves. The region's rising current account surplus - up to over $300 billion in the year to the second quarter of 2006 - continues to finance the lion's share of reserves growth. Net foreign direct investment inflows remain strong, totaling $101 billion in the year to the second quarter of 2006. On the other hand there have been net outflows of portfolio and other financial capital flows from the region over recent quarters reflecting interest rates in the region that are now lower than in the US and growing acquisition of foreign assets by East Asian residents.

Longer Term Trends.
The report notes that East Asia is increasingly a middle-income region. Once Vietnam reaches middle income country levels, possibly as early as 2010, more than nine out of ten East Asians will live in a middle-income country. But as the report warns, this poses new challenges - especially in how this new wealth is managed. Inequality in much of developing East Asia has risen, not just in income levels, but also in schooling and access to basic services. Despite successful global integration and increasing regional integration, many East Asian countries are falling behind in domestic integration. Addressing this challenge will also require attention to the problems of rapid urbanization, service delivery, social cohesion and corruption.

Investing in the Young.
The report also has a special focus on the 450 million youth in the region and discusses the challenge of how to prepare this group to become the drivers of future growth. It notes the high and rising return to higher skills and the importance of connecting school and work. The report noted that failure to seize this opportunity to train them more effectively for the workplace, and to be active citizens, could lead to widespread disillusionment and social tensions.

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 11/13/2006


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World Media Hails APEC Meeting

HA NOI 〞 The results achieved at the 14th APEC Economic Leaders* Meeting (APEC-14) in Ha Noi has taken Asia-Pacific co-operation to a higher and new phase of development, China*s Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. The APEC-14 focused on building a more dynamic and harmonious Asia-Pacific community, the agency said, adding that the meeting took practical measures in accelerating the stalled Doha round of World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations, pushing economic and technological cooperation, maintaining sustainable development and reforms. The results of the APEC-14 meeting once again proved that APEC was approaching the goal of building a strong, dynamic and harmonious APEC community. The Nation of Thailand on November 20 reported that leaders from 21 APEC economies discussed trade and ways to promote economic cooperation and reduce tariffs while at the same time found ways to promote peace and stability. "As host this year, Viet Nam has effectively used this meeting to showcase its rapid economic development and the constructive role the Communist Party has played in bringing new prosperity," the paper said. By becoming the newest member of the WTO, the country had also confirmed its new economic strength and potential, it added. According to the paper, the delay of the US Congress in approving the Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status for Viet Nam last week would not have any impact on investment environment in Viet Nam.

In Laos, major dailies ran illustrated articles on the closing session of the APEC-14 meeting in Viet Nam, published excerpts of the Ha Noi Declaration and praised the meeting*s success. Passason, the organ of the Lao People*s Revolutionary Party, noted that the APEC-14 meeting had concluded successfully. The paper emphasised APEC*s achievements over the past 17 years, the results of the APEC-14 meeting, and the bilateral and multilateral agreements signed on the sidelines of the meeting. Besides, the Lao National Television gave full coverage of the event on all days with updated footage and news. Meanwhile, Japan*s media on November 20 covered APEC*s closing session with footage of leaders wearing traditional Vietnamese dresses and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet reading out the Ha Noi Declaration. The British Broadcasting Corporation covered APEC*s efforts to restart the Doha trade talks. According to the BBC, the declaration of the APEC-14 meeting, which gathered world leaders from the largest economies such as the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, and Russia, gives new hope to the future of the stalled Doha negotiation round.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 11/21/2006


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Action Needed Now to Reduce Shortfall in IT-Savvy Workforce

According to recent research by International Data Corp (IDC), the 12-economy Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, will face a combined shortage of 396,000 people with IT networking skills by 2009, up from 210,000 this year, with China and India having the largest shortfalls of 192,300 and 137,200 people respectively.

Thailand's projected shortfall of networking-skilled manpower for 2009 is 6,600 people, up from 4,000 this year, which will place it in eighth place among the 12 countries in the survey. Singapore is expected to rank first with the smallest estimated shortfall of 1,500 IT personnel, followed by Australia (7,100), Hong Kong (2,800), the Philippines (2,400), Vietnam (1,900), Korea (20,600) and Indonesia (6,300). Taiwan (9,300), Malaysia (8,100), India and China will occupy the ninth to 12th places respectively. The rankings are indicative of the personnel shortage faced by each country as a proportion of total demand, as well as other factors such as the relative sizes of their respective technology markets.

Thailand has been grouped along with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam based on an average annual GDP growth of 5 per cent over the 2006-07 timeframe. This sub-grouping is projected to see IT expenditure grow by 11-14 per cent per annum during 2005-09. According to the IDC, more young people in the region need to be encouraged to consider IT and networking as a long-term career choice, while existing professionals in information and communications technology (ICT) need to be aware of the career potential in IT networking. In addition, organisations should support more staff training in this field so that their personnel are up to date with the latest technology.

Its study also shows that the demand for networking security skills is increasing, largely because of the increased value of the networks, as is the demand for wireless-technology, data-centre and cross-technology skills. The increasing shortage of skilled IT personnel needs to be addressed if the robust economic growth in the region is to be maintained in coming years. Governments should position information technology as an attractive career option for students entering university and increase places and facilities for IT-related education. In addition they should provide more incentives to the private sector to invest in skills development and retraining. According to IDC, the widening skills shortage in the region is a consequence of the bursting of the dotcom bubble in the late 1990s, when the attractiveness of IT and related careers and corporate spending in this field were reduced. With supply lagging behind faster-growing demand, the region's employers face the prospect of having to pay higher salaries to attract qualified staff, while some companies may miss the opportunity to gain from new technologies due to the lack of qualified staff.

In addition, developing countries could face a "brain drain" of qualified personnel as these people move to other countries to benefit from higher salaries and better career prospects. The skill shortage could also have negative implications for the Asia-Pacific countries' competitiveness in the global market, since the region will be hindered in adopting new technologies that would increase efficiency. In addition, the combination of skills required by organisations in the region is shifting due to the convergence of networking with other IT technologies. It has become increasingly difficult for an application-developer, for instance, to work without any knowledge of the network or and to be unaware of how his or her work will affect the network or be affected by it. As a result, the demand for people with cross-technology skills and the competence to best use ICT to facilitate business objectives, strategies and processes has been rising significantly. Given the current situation and future prospects, college students in Thailand and other countries in the region should opt for courses in IT networking in their third or final year so as to make the most of the strong demand in the labour market. (by Nophakhun Limsamarnphun)

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 11/26/2006


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CHINA: Launch Patented Cellphone TV Technology Standard

China's broadcasting industry regulator has announced it will require all mobile phone service providers in China to use a China-developed technology standard for broadcasting television signals to mobile phones. The State Administration of Radio, Film and TV (SARFT) announced the new standard, STiMi, earlier this week in advance of an international forum on standards for mobile phone television. STiMi, short for Satellite Terrestrial Interactive Multi-service Infrastructure, was developed by the SARFT-affiliated Academy of Broadcast Science and will be applied across the country beginning next month, said a researcher who declined to be named. "The introduction of STiMi, which is China's independent intellectual property right, demonstrates that China has world leading technology in the field, and will not have to submit to the standards of other countries," he said. Compared to mobile phone TV standards in other countries, the STiMi is better as it will use satellites to operate in China, he said. Major mobile service providers, such as China Mobile and China Unicom, have already set up mobile TV systems of their own, and their mobile phone TV service already has more than 1.5 million subscribers.

Asked if the new standard will conflict with standards already in use in China, a SARFT official would only say there are no conflicts of interest between Chinese mobile service providers and SARFT. "The real fight is between the domestic industry and foreign standard makers," he added. Yet a source with a Chinese mobile service provider said it will be difficult to promote the new standard. "It will take a while before the cell phone TV service with the new standard can penetrate the market," he said. "Few people are willing to invest in the new-born standard." China now has 420 million mobile phone subscribers and the number of subscribers increased by more than 30 million from January to June this year.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 10/27/2006


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World Bank Says Hangzhou Best Investment Environment in China

Text of report in English by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency)Hangzhou, 11 November: The World Bank says China's eastern city of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, has the best investment environment in the country. Five other eastern cities of Qingdao, Shaoxing, Suzhou, Xiamen and Yantai ranked from second to sixth, said a World Bank report released on Saturday [11 November] at the Fourth China Investment Environment Forum in Hangzhou. The report was jointly prepared by the World Bank and China's State Information Centre after surveying 12,400 companies in 120 Chinese cities. The companies were asked to rate the investment environment, government efficiency and achievements in building a harmonious society. Apart from the six "gold medal cities", 13 others including Beijing, Dalian, Guangzhou and Shanghai were judged "silver medal cities", said David Dollar, World Bank's Country Director for China and Mongolia. Calculating all the indices of the cities, the World Bank pointed out in its report that east China's Jiangsu Province is the most desirable place for investors in China.

It was followed by Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong, all of which are on the country's southeast coast.The official said the World Bank's evaluation indices included a city's balance of macro economic management and political stability, consistent tax policies, foreign trade and investment levels, government administrative efficiency, quality of infrastructure and financial services and the city's efforts in building a harmonious, well-off society. The World Bank published a similar report three years ago and Hangzhou also topped the list.

From http://www.nexis.com 11/06/2006


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Shanghai to Host Trial for 3G Telecommunications

China's home-grown 3G telecom service will hit Shanghai next week - though on a small scale - after the country launched trial networks in four other cities on Monday. The test TD-SCDMA (time division-synchronous code division multiple access) service will be available in Shanghai on Wednesday for select telecommunications carrier staffs and government officials, an employee of a local carrier said yesterday, declining to be identified. China earlier launched TD-SCDMA services in Beijing, Qingdao, Xiamen and Baoding for 20,000 users, according to media reports. TD-SCDMA handsets allow users to enjoy high-speed third-generation services such as video conference and film downloads. "China will launch its homegrown 3G license first to test market response, because the other two technologies have already been tested in other countries," said Norson Telecom, a Beijing-based information technology consulting firm.

China will probably release three 3G licenses next year based on the three different technologies: TD-SCDMA, US-developed CDMA2000 and Europe-developed WCDMA (wideband CDMA). Meanwhile, telecom carriers are upgrading networks to prepare for the advent of 3G, which is expected to create a multi-billion-dollar market for equipment makers, telecom carriers and service providers. Alcatel Shanghai Bell said yesterday it has won contracts from China Mobile and China Unicom for network upgrades valued at a combined 88 million yuan (US$11.18 million). China Mobile upgraded networks in Shanghai and Chongqing, and the provinces of Gansu, Guizhou, Liaoning, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. China Unicom will use the ASB solution to expand the capacity of mobile networks in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

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


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Shenzhen's 1st Online Interview System in Service

One hundred and fifty Guizhou workers were recruited Tuesday by local manufacturers - they need not to step foot outside the city - thanks to Shenzhen's first online interview system. Factories, which used to hold job fairs to recruit workers in inland areas, can now save time and expense through the newly launched platform. Developed by the municipal labor and social security bureau, the system provides free online instant video communication for local companies and workers living in impoverished inland areas, most of which are listed on the city's assistance list. In an interview Tuesday, He Jun, a human resources manager from Shenzhen Kaifa Technology Co. Ltd., recruited 30 assembly line workers from Guizhou. "The system enables us to examine candidates' eyesight and numeracy skills, which are basic requirements for assembly-line staff," he said. Deng Zhizhi, a 16-year-old graduate from a vocational school in Qinnan in Guizhou, finished her first interview with the company in just 10 minutes.

Without the need to travel to Shenzhen for the screening, she said the interview was reliable and could help prevent people from falling into traps. Li Zhuo, director of the Shenzhen municipal labor bureau's employment management department, said the online interview platform is now operating in Guiyang, Bijie and Qinnan in Guizhou Province. "We are now planning to set up the system in another 20 needy areas including Heyuan and Meizhou in Guangdong and Chongqing Municipality." He said the system would be installed around the Pearl River Delta region in the future, to broaden local companies' choice in selecting qualified staff. Employers can also hold online examinations for candidates, publish vacancies and browse applicants' resumes. Shenzhen manufacturers wishing to recruit workers from rural areas in Guiyang, Bijie, Qinnan, Chongqing and Wushan can now register with the municipal labor and social security bureau. Publication of vacancies and the online interview service are free. "Interviews will be arranged once local labor bureaus find appropriate candidates," Li said.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/09/2006


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China Expert Technology Signs $15m E-government Contract in China

China Expert Technology, a player in providing large scale network infrastructure construction mainly for e-government projects for communities and municipal governments in China, has been awarded a contract worth $15m to construct an e-government system for the Cangshan District of Fuzhou City located in the Fujian Province. The e-government project is aimed at establishing a national electronic government system, in which existing and expected government networks and applied systems can be combined to form united technology standards and regulations and consequently a united national government service platform. Under the terms of the contract, China Expert Technology will be responsible for design and implementation of hardware platform integration, security platform, application platform, portal, unified administration approval system, coordinated office system, calling centre, geographical information system, emergency commanding system and auxiliary decision system. Construction will begin in July 2007 and is expected to be completed by June 2009.


From Digital Media Asia 11/15/2006


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Rural Markets Boost China Mobile's Base

China Mobile made its mark bringing wireless phone services to China's big cities and urbanized seacoast. Now, it's harvesting cell phone users in China's hinterland. In the first half of 2006, China Mobile (NYSE:CHL - News) added nearly 26 million customers, more than half from rural areas. In China's big cities, most consumers who can afford cell phones have them. Subscriber growth there in coming years will be limited, analysts say. Many of China Mobile's new customers will come from rural markets. "It's definitely a key factor in China Mobile's growth," said Ted Dean, managing director of consulting firm BDA China. "They've done a lot of work building up marketing and distribution in rural areas. They advertise on village TV stations. "China Mobile is on track to have 300 million subscribers by year's end, up 22% from the 246.6 million it had as of Jan. 1. That's a far faster growth rate than the overall industry. U.S. leader Cingular had 12% subscriber growth as of Sept. 30 vs. a year earlier. China Mobile has about two-thirds of the country's cell phone users. China's rural market is much different from its Westernized big cities. Families in China's farming villages might share one phone. A farmer might rent his phone to neighbors to check crop prices.

Anything that boosts cell phone usage is a plus for China Mobile, analysts say. Rural customers on average spend less than cell phone users in big cities, but "China Mobile has proven it can profitably serve rural subscribers," Dean said. China Mobile's net profit rose 25% in the first nine months of 2006 to $5.8 billion. Shares in China Mobile have soared on Hong Kong's stock market. NYSE-listed American Depositary Receipts trade near 44 and have jumped more than 80% in 2006.Profit, meanwhile, has been falling at China Unicom (NYSE:CHU - News), the nation's No. 2 wireless firm. "China Mobile has been adding new customers at a faster rate than Unicom due to its wider choice of (phones) and better network coverage," said Sandy Shen, an analyst in the Shanghai office of U.S.-based research firm Gartner. Merrill Lynch analyst Wendy Liu says China Mobile has been out-gaining Unicom by a wide margin in rural areas. South Korea's SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM - News), often considered one of the world's most innovative wireless firms, acquired a stake in Unicom in June. That relationship could help Unicom develop better products, analysts say. China Mobile has two main growth engines, analysts say. It's adding more rural subscribers and it's getting more revenue from wireless data services.

China Mobile garners almost 20% of total revenue from text messages, ring tone downloads and other data products. In rural areas, some China Mobile farming customers use cell phones to check weather forecasts, a data service, says Lehman Bros. analyst Paul Wuh. China's government is expected to issue airwave licenses for next-generation 3G services in early 2007. China Mobile could benefit by selling pricier data services such as music downloads and even mobile TV, analysts say. On the other hand, new players could enter China's wireless market by acquiring 3G licenses, analysts say. Merrill Lynch, though, expects the government to issue only three national 3G licenses, limiting competition. And China Mobile has eyed expanding into other markets. Its $4billion deal to purchase Millicom International, which has wireless customers in 16 countries, fell through in July. China Mobile's chief executive has said the company is still looking for acquisitions internationally, mainly in Asia or other emerging markets. China Mobile Communications, the state-owned parent of China Mobile, has the financial tools to make such acquisitions, says Jane Wang, an analyst at research firm IDC China. (by Reinhardt Krause)

From http://www.nexis.com 11/18/2006


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China Launches New Interactive Broadband Network

A new broadband information network, 3TNet, integrating telecom, Internet, radio and TV, and capable of offering state-of-the-art video on demand services, has been introduced in many regions in China. After being tested in the Yangtze River Delta, 3TNet is now in operation in many regions, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). The project will enable Chinese netizens to enjoy interactive broadband and rich media services at speeds of 41 Mbps. For most Chinese families that have access to broadband, average speeds are currently less than 10 Mbps, according to MOST. The new interactive network gives users much more control and versatility in terms of the services they receive. Users can order up films and other programs using video on demand (VoD) as well as a range of interactive digital programs and services such as tele-medical and tele-education services, according to an official from MOST. The network also boasts an interactive video telephone facility. The official said China supports the integration of telecom, Internet and television networks in order to minimize information technology costs.

The 3TNet project was developed as part of the "863" national high-tech research program and was listed by MOST as a key project from 2001 to 2005. More than 30 top Chinese firms, universities and scientific research institutes -- including China Telecom, Shanghai Media Group and the Institute of Acoustics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences -- took part in developing the network. Experts have long heralded the full integration of telecom, Internet, radio and TV services. According to the official, 3Tnet is a landmark development that will spur the network market in China. China had 123 million netizens in June this year -- including 77 million netizens, ranking second in the world after the United States.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/20/2006


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CBRC Warns Against Information Technology Risks

China's Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) intends to hold a bank's board of directors, supervisory committee and top management responsible for any breakdowns in its trading and payment system. CBRC Chairman Liu Mingkang has urged indigenous banks to "attach great importance" to IT risks as the security, reliability and efficiency of information technology have a direct bearing on the stability of the financial industry. He said early this month that in April, the inter-bank trading system of China Unionpay, the country's only national electronic payment network operator, broke down for six hours, paralyzing most of the country's automatic teller machines and Point of Sales equipment in shops. About 2.46 million trades involving an aggregate turnover of 128.77 billion yuan were blocked.

Describing the losses as "huge," Liu said bank management must be fully aware that warding off trading and payment system risks was not the concern of only one bank. "Given the omnipresence of information technology, a breakdown in one area could lead to a domino effect across the entire sector," he warned. The chairman ordered that a special unit be set up to evaluate risk, and upgrade and maintain information technology facilities. Boards of directors and supervisory committees must preach the strategic importance of limiting information technology risks and prod bank management to establish a sound risk prevention and management mechanism, he said. In an effort to distinguish information technology risks from traditional credit and market risks, the commission has threatened to punish the boards of directors and supervisory committees.


From http://www.gov.cn 11/25/2006


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JAPAN: Pension Payment Records to Be Sent to 35, 45 Year Olds

The Social Insurance Agency will send records detailing pension payments paid by those aged 35 and 45 starting next year so the records can be scrutinized, government sources said Sunday. The subscription histories will be sent to people who contribute to national and employee pension schemes, they said. Currently, records are sent to pension fund contributors when they reach 58 years of age, just before they are to receive pension payments, but the new system is intended to allow younger people to spot possible errors in their subscription histories more easily and at an earlier stage, according to the sources. In so doing, the government aims to improve trust in the pension system. Information sent to the pension subscribers will detail job histories such as "Was a student for 2 years (did not subscribe)," "Worked at A Co. for eight years (employees pension)," or "Moved to B Co. and worked for four years (same)." Subscribers can check the records for mistakes in their payment histories. If they find errors, they can ask the social insurance office in charge of their files to correct their histories, the sources explained. The agency is planning to send the histories to people aged 35 in March and to 45 year olds in December. However, as the government intends to scrap a bill to reform the agency that was debated in the current Diet session and instead submit a new version of the bill to the ordinary Diet session in 2007, the agency will make a final decision on when to send notifications of pension information after taking into consideration deliberations on the bill. The agency on Aug. 21 started a service for pension fund subscribers that allows them to request their subscription histories to check them. As of the end of September, the agency had found discrepancies between the agency's records and those of pension subscribers in nearly 30,000 cases, or about 20 percent, of about 150,000 requests made.


From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp 11/06/2006


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Japan Returns to Top 10 of Best Countries to Live

Japan is the seventh best place to live on the planet, according to the U.N. Development Program. Japan moved up four spots in the 2006 standard of living survey, released Tuesday, from its position at No. 11 last year, when it fell out of the top 10 for the first time since the survey began in 1990. The upward move appears to be due to the country's recent economic recovery. Norway topped the list for the sixth consecutive year. Iceland came in second place, followed by Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Japan, the United States, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The survey covers 177 countries and regions, measuring average life expectancy, education, literacy, the gross domestic product per capita and other factors, to calculate the Human Development Index. Japan's highest position was in 1999, when it was fourth. However, in terms of women's advancement, Japan ranked 42nd, with the percentage of female lawmakers at only 10.7 percent. It is the lowest figure of the top 10 countries. Japan was in 43rd place last year, with 9.3 percent female lawmakers.

From The Japan Times 11/11/2006


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Expert Warns Income Disparity, Poverty Rate to Keep Getting Worse

Contrary to government assertions, income disparities are rising -- as is the relative poverty rate -- because the number of nonregular workers with low wages has increased since the prolonged slump in the 1990s, according to an expert on income. "It's very obvious that the number of poor people is growing," Toshiaki Tachibanaki, a professor at Kyoto University's Graduate School of Economics and former president of the Japanese Economic Association, said in a recent presentation to the Foreign Press Center Japan in Tokyo. The Cabinet Office earlier this year denied there has been a substantial increase in the income gap. The office said there has been little change in "middle-class" awareness among people in the past 10 years and the number who view themselves as being in the middle class are proportionately higher than people in the West. But according to surveys conducted by Tachibanaki in 1996, the absolute poverty rate, which compares rates between areas within a nation rather than with other countries, is rising in Japan's metropolitan areas. In 1996, the rate was 11.2 percent, rising to 13.4 percent in 1999 and 15.7 percent in 2002.Meanwhile, government figures show that the number of households on welfare rose by 1.6 times to 1.05 million in 2005 from 600,000 in 1995, he said. As of 2004, an "average" family -- a 33-year-old husband, a 29-year-old wife and one 4-year-old child -- that had an income of 162,170 yen per month and was living in a major metropolitan area was eligible for social welfare.

Tachibanaki said that besides the recession, changes in family structure and a weak social security system have contributed to the widening income gap. An increase in the number of working single mothers has added to the rise in impoverished families, he said. Many such women end up getting low-wage jobs because their child-rearing duties put a crimp in what hours they can work. Tachibanaki said the current social welfare system is another cause. Under the system, companies are required to shoulder half of the social insurance costs for their regular workers. During economic slowdowns, many firms hire part-time, contract or temporary employees because companies do not have to pay such fees for these workers, he said. The resulting increase in low-wage, part-time workers adds to the income gap, he said. Meanwhile, the OECD said in July that Japan ranked second worst among advanced economies in 2000 in terms of the relative poverty rate. According to the OECD survey of the Japanese economy, the proportion of people living in relative poverty, defined as less than one-half of the median household disposable income, came to 13.5 percent in 2000. Only the 13.7 percent in the U.S. was worse. Citing numerous statistics showing a trend toward a wider income gap, Tachibanaki estimates that the relative poverty rate for 2005 was about 14 percent to 15 percent. He said the trend is likely to continue for some time. He said that even though the economy has improved recently, he doubts the labor situation for nonregular workers will improve because companies prefer to hire fresh graduates for their permanent positions. "As a result, people who have been working as nonregular workers for a long time are likely to remain so for the rest of their lives," Tachibanaki said.


From http://search.japantimes.co.jp 11/23/2006


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9% of High School Seniors Missing Credits

The education ministry announced Wednesday that about 9% of high school seniors nationwide, or 104,202 students, have not been provided with all compulsory subjects in their schools. Education Minister Bummei Ibuki also said: "As of Nov 1, the number of national, public and private high schools with students missing credits was 540, but when we asked prefectural education boards and others once again, it increased by 123 to 663." A number of high schools nationwide have been found turning in false reports to education boards saying their students had met all the curriculum requirements. The schools have reportedly claimed they omitted some items they deemed unnecessary to focus on subjects required for college entrance examinations.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 11/23/2006


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SOUTH KOREA: Economy, Living Standards, Environment to Be Upgraded for Sustainable Growth

As part of its effort to secure sustainable development, the Korean government has drawn up strategies aimed at integrated management of its economy, living standards and environment. The government expects that if everything goes as planned, Korea will likely see its OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) rankings elevated in the three fields: 10th in economic size among the 30 OECD members, up from the current 12th; 24th in environment from the present 29th; and 20th in living standards from the 24th. The Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development unveiled its ※Strategies for sustainable national development and their implementation plans 2006-2010§ at the Oct. 31 Cabinet meeting chaired by President Roh Moo-hyun. Twenty-two government agencies, including the environment, construction-transportation and commerce-industry-energy ministries, took part in formulating this first-ever initiative where their respective economic, societal and environmental policies are integrated with a view to steering the nation toward sustainable growth. Made up of 48 implementation projects embracing a total 223 specific tasks in five major areas, the plan will be re-established every five years, with revisions and supplementations.

Total 223 tasks to be implemented until 2010: The 48 implementation projects break down into 17 projects aimed at sustainable management of natural resources, 10 projects to promote social integration and public health, 13 projects for sustainable economic growth, five projects to counter climatic changes and conserve the natural environment, and three projects to strengthen the base for the implementation of the aforementioned projects. The plan calls for advancing the national economy by putting in place environment-friendly productive and consumptive systems and fostering an economic environment where resources are recycled. To this end, the state will curtail the amount of energy used, while pulling up energy efficiency by 18 percent by 2012. It will also seek market expansion of environment-friendly goods to 16 trillion won from the current 3.2 trillion won. Particularly, chemical substances now classified and managed by eight different government agencies, will be managed in a unified and internationally standardized manner. For social integration and the promotion of public health, the government will strive to expand the social safety net for marginalized brackets such as women, and the urban poor. It will also make efforts to protect the public from health-threatening factors like environmental pollution.

Free childcare to be offered to 80 percent of children under five: The average wage ratio of female workers to male workers will be raised to 0.53 by 2010 from 0.48 in 2005. Eighty percent of children under five will be eligible for free childcare by then, an increase from 31 percent in 2005. While establishing and/or enhancing elder-care guarantees and life-long healthcare systems, Korea will oversee reductions in the number of people exposed to air-pollution hazards to 176 thousand from the current 351 thousand. As for the environment, the natural-environment protection zone currently accounting for 9.6 percent of the nation*s total territory will stand at 11%, while per capita park area will increase to 9.8 square meters from the present 8.2 square meters. Other state measures aimed at better protection of the natural environment will include a strategic-environment appraisal system, regulations on the total amount of greenery, and the prevention of potential damage to natural coasts and habitats. To better conserve the environment, the government will seek international cooperation, while faithfully carrying out its responsibilities as a signatory to international agreements on climatic changes. The ratio of carbon dioxide emitted to Korea*s gross domestic product will be reduced to 0.77t from 0.88t. New and recycled energy will account for five percent of the total energy supplied, up from the current 2.3 percent. The production and importation of chloro fluoro carbon (CFC), the key culprit for ozone depletion, will be fully banned by 2010. The ratio of official development assistance to the gross national income, which hovers around 0.095 percent, will edge up to 0.25 percent by 2015. As part of its effort to achieve such goals, the government will enact the tentatively-named ※Basic Act on Sustainable Development,§ with 100 local governments, a whopping increase from the current three, issuing related regional ordinances. Meanwhile, the state will help the 16 provincial and municipal governments set up strategies of their own.


From http://www.korea.net/ 11/03/2006


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Korean Envoy to Lead APEC's Anti-terrorism Team

A Korean envoy has been appointed to lead the anti-terrorism organization under the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC), the country's foreign ministry said Thursday (Nov. 16). "Park Sang-ki, Ambassador for Counter Terrorism at the foreign ministry, was named as head of the Counter Terrorism Task Force (CTTF) at the APEC's ministerial meeting on Nov. 16 in Hanoi, Vietnam," the ministry said in a press release. Korea has become the third country to provide the leader of the organization following Indonesia and the Philippines, it added. Park is to take office next January for a two-year term. He will be in charge of implementing the group's projects as well as promoting the organization's cooperation with other international organizations such as the United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency, and the ASEAN Regional Forum. The CTTF's major projects include the curbing of cargo carrying radioactive and other dangerous materials and the interception of terrorism-related funds.

From http://www.korea.net/ 11/17/2006


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Private Equity Fund Investment in Korea Increases Sharply

Investment by private equity funds in Korea increased sharply so far this year, and is expected to shoot up further due to ample buyout targets, the nation's top financial watchdog said Tuesday (Nov. 21). Local private equity funds invested 999 billion won ($1 billion) in 27 companies as of the end of October, up from 268 billion won spent on nine companies at the end of last year, according to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS). "Since the second half of this year, the funds' investment has increased sharply as some of them with experienced personnel were able to manage their trusted money properly," the regulator said. Potential buyout targets, such as Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., Daewoo Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. and Dong Ah Construction Industrial Co., could boost investment opportunities for the equity funds, the FSS said. As of the end of October, there were 20 private equity funds seeking to draw 4.7 trillion won from investors, up from 15 funds that aimed to attract 2.9 trillion won as of the end of last year. Macquarie Korea Opportunities Fund, a fund under Australia's biggest investment bank Macquarie Bank, invested the largest portion with 343.9 billion won used to buy a 49 percent stake in Korea's gas distribution company SK E&S in mid-2006.

From http://www.korea.net/ 11/22/2006


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Korea Ranks Poorly in Gender Equality

Korea brought up the rear in 92nd place in the Global Gender Gap Report 2006, an index that measures the equality or lack thereof between men and women in 115 countries. The report, the second by the World Economic Forum, looked at four main factors: women*s economic participation, educational attainment, political empowerment and health and survival, and then ranked nations from 0 to 1 with zero being completely skewed and 1 absolutely equal. Northern Europe showed as usual strong in the survey, with Sweden (0.8133), Norway (0.7994) and Finland (0.7958) in the top three spots. The EU was also strong all around, with 10 member countries making it into the top 20. But Korea managed a ranking of only 0.616. Only the Philippines among Asian countries were within the top 10, and even the U.S. hung around at 22nd. Yemen was at the very bottom. Still, Korea managed good marks in some categories. In education, access to basic education ranked first; in health, healthy life expectancy topped the list. However, the country failed in the rest of categories, standing at 110th in sex ratio at birth (female/male), 105th in wage equality for similar work, 98th for the ratio of women legislators, senior officials, and managers, 71st for women professional and technical workers, and 99th for the number of women in parliament.


From http://english.chosun.com 11/23/2006


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400 Billion Won Earmarked for Smaller IT Startups in 2007

The government has set aside 401.5 billion won for smaller information technology (IT) startups next year, the Ministry of Information and Communication reported Wednesday (Nov. 22). Of the fund, 211.5 billion won will provided to eligible firms in the form of loans with preferential interest rates and 26 billion won will be available for research and development projects of smaller ventures, including startups' R&D. The government has also allocated 3.7 billion won for IT consultation, 1.4 billion won for joint procurement and 22.8 billion won for IT manpower training in a move to create a better environment for IT ventures and help improve management conditions. The ministry said that the nation's smaller IT ventures produced 69.2 trillion won worth of goods during the past three years of President Roh Moo-hyun administration, with an annual growth rate of 20.5 percent. ※The government will draw up market-oriented supporting measures for IT sectors,§ a ministry official said.


From http://www.korea.net 11/14/2006


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INDONESIA: Ownership of Air Monitoring Stations Goes to City Govt

After years of dispute, the State Ministry for the Environment has decided to transfer the ownership of air monitoring devices in the capital to the Jakarta administration next year. This will allow the administration to propose higher operational and maintenance budgets to improve the accuracy of readings. "We will repair any damage before handing the ownership over to the Jakarta administration," Ridwan Tamin, deputy assistant for the ministry's air pollution control unit, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. Ridwan said the ministry unit would seek extra budgetary funding for the renovation of all stations next year, before the handover ceremony. The statement came after the city administration threatened to relocate the stations, reasoning they were collecting inaccurate measurements due to the tall trees and human activity in their vicinities. Jakarta, the first city in the country to have enacted a law on air pollution control, has five monitoring stations that belong to the ministry. They are located in Senayan and Kemayoran, both in Central Jakarta; Pondok Indah in South Jakarta, and in the government offices of the East and West Jakarta municipalities. The city administration previously said only the station in Senayan was in good condition. The stations keep track of the pollution situation by measuring five pollutants that are known, or suspected, to cause serious health problems. They are particulate matter with a diameter of less than 10 microns, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and ozone.

The data is transmitted to five screens at prominent locations in the city to communicate the current air quality data to the public. As of August, the city was reported to have had 37 days of clean air, up from 28 days in the 12 months of last year. The ministry and the Jakarta administration signed a memorandum of understanding on the plan to transfer the station's ownership a year after the Swedish government donated the stations in 2000. The administration has repeatedly asked the ministry to abide by the mou, which would enable it to renovate the stations. Budirama Natakusumah, the head of the city environmental management board, said the administration could not seek budgetary increases to repair assets that belonged to the government. The city allocated Rp 775 million for maintenance this year, far lower than last year's Rp 1.5 billion. The administration said it needed Rp 2 billion a year to keep the stations in good order. Ridwan also said the ministry planned to hand over the ownership of 25 other air monitoring devices installed in 10 cities to improve their maintenance. "We hope to have finalized things before the Better Air Quality (BAQ) workshop in Yogyakarta in December," he said. The BAQ workshop, to be held from Dec. 13 to 15, will be attended by 750 foreign experts, including air quality policymakers and scientists.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/03/2006


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E-Learning: Much More Than Distance Learning

Even though education was one of the first fields to which the Internet was applied, the evolution of e-learning still lags far behind others of the new technologies, such as e-commerce or audiovisual production. The lack of a specific methodology, well-prepared professionals and false expectations of personalized training are a few of the reasons that have prevented or at least delayed e-learning from taking off. The methodology and management of new information technologies applied to a particular project objective offer optimization of technology resources. Email allowed for immediate written communication; video streaming gives users the opportunity to receive video files in seconds from any place in the world; and thanks to blogs, we can easily manage web pages, with multiple users and global visibility. All these are technological solutions when they are applied and used to make a big difference. For example, with a forum, a web, an email program and a back office to manage the system, we can create a platform for an e-shop, an e-bank or for e-learning. But that is not enough. The first steps in e-learning were taken in order to improve services provided by university or educational organizations on their distance-learning programs. New information technologies permitted these institutions to increase their offer to an increasing number of students. That is what we call online long-distance training.

Communication has improved thanks to email. Before this, it was more expensive and scarce because telephone calls or tutorials were the only means. Moreover, sending study materials through email or downloading it from a website has replaced the more costly and time-consuming postal -- or snail -- mail. We still find some limitations in online distance training. Time dedicated by the teacher continues to be limited, but the amount of consultations and questions have multiplied due to the access that email grants every student. And most of the time, it is not the teacher himself but a tutor who answers students' questions. A third obstacle is that the online classes continue to be as static as they have always been, with downloaded texts and final examinations too similar to those that must be passed in conventional classrooms. We have to add up the expectations raised around this kind of learning -- often sold as a personalized classroom, with access to experts and quality material -- that, in general, are not met. These are the main reasons that have led to the so-called "deception" of online students, the large rate of desertion and thus the discredit that follows. E-learning is based on a methodology that takes advantage of the new information technologies and offers a more complete learning experience, providing the student with tools and resources to which they could not resort until recently. When we talk about e-learning, we are not talking about a form of distance training with added digital services; we are talking about something that is totally new.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/05/2006


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Govt to Set Up 3 More Special Economic Zones

Following the success of the newly established special economic zone (SEZ) covering Batam, Bintan and Karimun islands in Riau Island province, the government will develop similar SEZs in another three regions, a senior official has said. The three regions are in North Sumatra, South Sulawesi and Bojonegara in Banten. Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) head Muhammad Luthfi said Friday that at least 14 regions, including Bali, Makassar, East Java, and North Sulawesi's Bitung island, had been proposed as SEZ, but only Batam, Bintan and Karimun met the minimum standards. Bojonegara, located on the western tip of Java, is the location with most potential for investment as the government plans to build an international port worth Rp 7 trillion (US$768 million), he said. With regards to North Sulawesi, he said the province already had the biggest port in Sulawesi and was the center of prime export commodities, including fish, shrimp, cocoa and nutmeg. Luthfi said that North Sumatra had the same potential as its neighboring Penang, an economic zone in Malaysia, that has begun to lose its allure. Luthfi refused to specify which parts of North Sumatra and South Sulawesi would be turned in SEZs, saying the official announcement of the new SEZs would be made after Nov. 6, when the Coordinating Minister for the Economy will hold a meeting to discuss the draft law to support the operation of SEZs in the country.

Indonesia launched its first SEZ in June after signing a framework agreement on economic cooperation with Singapore to transform Batam, Bintan and Karimun into SEZs in a bid to draw investment from the neighboring country, which is running out of space for its industries. The two countries have set up a joint steering committee for policy-making and oversight, whose members include ministries and high-ranked officials from both countries. On Saturday, the two governments discussed the minimum wage rate that would be imposed in the zone. According to Singaporean officials, the wages should be regulated so that investing in the three islands will be more competitive with popular investment destinations such as China and Vietnam. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono said setting the minimum wage would be one of the main issues to be discussed with Singapore, the main sponsor of the special economic zone. The minimum rate in Batam is about Rp 800,000 (about US$85) per month at present. Also present at the meeting were Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno and Singaporean Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Khiang, who led the Singaporean delegation. The SEZ is a government-designated area in which companies enjoy various duty-free imports of raw materials and relaxed taxation. Batam, Bintan and Karimun islands also provide a one-stop investment program offering an integrated service for business permits, immigration issues and tax payments. Investors can have their business permits in less than 14 working days, compared to the current 30 to 60 days, and bypass all licensing laws laid down by the local administrations.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/06/2006


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New IT Council Plans an Information-Based Society

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched the National Information and Communication Technology Council on Monday in an ambitious bid to turn Indonesia into an information-based society by 2025. The council, directly under the President, will draw up a blueprint for the development of information technology (IT), eying a communications network connecting key cities as its top priority. The council, Yudhoyono said, was essential in order to coordinate activities by stakeholders, given the country's limited resources both in terms of financing and human skills. "The rapid development of IT will benefit our performance, as it is widely used in many sectors and is borderless," he said at the launch ceremony at the Bogor State Palace, where he will receive U.S. President George W. Bush on Nov. 20. "It will be a shame if IT is developed with no synchronization, or if it does not give its optimum contribution." The council's daily operations will be run by the communication minister with several other ministers as members. Its advisors are experts from the University of Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University, Bandung Institute of Technology and Surabaya Institute of Technology. The council will team up with IT associations, IT vendors and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce. Apart from drawing up a plan, identifying solutions to IT problems and evaluating the efficiency of projects, the council is also authorized to approve or disapprove an inter-departmental IT program.

"The bid to create an information-based society will be a long haul since we first must establish networks for 43,000 villages, 31,173 schools and 2,428 universities, 28,504 community health centers, and governmental agencies," said Yudhoyono. More important, he added, would be enhancing the public's ability to use sophisticated IT in their work. Several programs targeted for implementation between 2006 and 2009 are the Palapa Ring Project, e-procurement, a so-called National Single Window, and the promotion of legal software. The Palapa Ring Project, which was offered to investors at last week's Infrastructure Summit, aims to build a 36,000-kilometer fiber optic network connecting some 400 major spots in the country. It is expected to create a wireless network for telephone and broadband Internet. E-procurement will provide an online system of administrative services, such as paying one's taxes and electricity or telephone bill. It will also offer a more efficient and transparent system for government procurement. The National Single Window would create an integrated online location for all inter-departmental services. To accelerate investment, export and import tools would be in one place, including customs and excise, shipping, bank transfers, insurance and licensing. The government will work to provide open source software to governmental agencies in order to fight Indonesia's status as the world's third-highest user of pirated software.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com 11/14/2006


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Internet Security Committee to Start Work Next March

After less than six months' preparation, the government-backed internet security committee will officially start work in March next year to protect the country's Internet infrastructure from cyber crime. The committee, which was established in September and is officially called the "Indonesian Information Infrastructure Security Incident Response Committee" (Id Sirtii), will be responsible for monitoring and recording all internet-based communications and transactions as part of the effort to curb cyber crime in Indonesia, which has one of the highest incidences in the world for this sort of crime. Director General of Posts and Telecommunications Basuki Yusuf Iskandar said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the committee's work would not interfere with the privacy of Internet users as monitoring would only be conducted in respect of internet protocol (IP) transactions, rather than content. "Even though the committee is sponsored by the government, it will work as an independent body and its members include IT experts, academics and professionals," Basuki said. The committee will monitor all internet protocol transactions in log files, comprising IP addresses, protocol identities, source and destination ports, and time stamps. "This information can be used as evidence to support the efforts of our law enforcement agencies in combating cyber crime, not to mention piracy," Basuki said.

Based on the ministerial decree establishing the committee, the National Police and the Attorney General's Office will also have representatives on the committee and will launch investigations should the information obtained by the committee indicate the commission of a crime. Meanwhile, Heru Nugroho, the secretary of the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association, lauded the establishment of the committee, saying that Indonesia badly needed to improve its image among global Internet-based vendors. "I recall that my friend's credit card was rejected by Amazon. This means that Indonesia is being excluded by the international community. We receive a lot of reports saying that people have been unable to conduct online transactions as their credit cards were refused." Heru said. The latest figures from the Asia-Pacific Network Information Center show that Indonesia has the highest level of cyber crime in the Asia-Pacific region, including carding, hacking, phishing (the practice of using e-mails to trick consumers into handing over personal information), and money laundering. As a result, Indonesia has been sidelined by global internet vendors. An estimated US$50 billion in goods and services are sold over the Internet every year. In order to restore international trust in Indonesia, the government has called upon all telecommunications operators, and network access and internet service providers to support the committee in its work.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/23/2006


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MALAYSIA: OCBC Top Online Bank for Second Year

OCBC Bank (M) Bhd has been named Malaysia*s best corporate Internet bank by leading US-based magazine Global Finance for the second consecutive year. This is barely three years after the bank rolled out its corporate online service, Velocity@ocbc. Head of group transaction banking Lok Ching Khee attributed the bank*s success to its ※effectiveness across the entire range of the evaluation criteria§. ※This includes our strategy for attracting and servicing online customers, success in getting clients to use our web offerings, growth in online customer base, breadth of products, evidence of tangible benefits gained from the bank*s internet initiatives, and website design and functionality,§ he told StarBiz. Velocity@ocbc is the bank*s 24-hour online service that enables businesses to conduct banking enquiries and perform transactions worldwide via the Internet. Lok said the volume of transaction for the bank*s Internet banking service had grown 10-fold as at the end of last year compared with the previous year. Among the products accessible through the online channel are current accounts, fixed deposit accounts, cashiers' orders, demand drafts, local and foreign telegraphic transfers, letters of credit, bank guarantees, stand-by letters of credit and treasury offerings. Online customers could also access cash management products such as bulk collection, electronic payment and salary crediting services, he added. Lok said the number of customers using the bank*s products online was also on the uptrend. In 2004, the average usage per customer of its products stood at three and this grew to more than four last year, driven mainly by the GIRO Interbank Payroll Service launched in March last year, he said. On OCBC*s success in migrating businesses to Velocity@ocbc, Lok said this was due to its ※customer care model,§ developed during the early stages of implementation, which called for a high degree of the human touch at all points of a customer*s experience with Internet banking. Velocity@ocbc, he said, was also designed to provide customised solutions to meet the needs of specific target markets. ※OCBC Bank*s online corporate Internet banking services are backed by a team of cash specialists and call centre agents, who provide end-to-end support to instil trust and confidence in clients, helping them learn and embrace the changes brought about through the availability of the channel,§ he added. Lok added that the corporate Internet banking service had brought about cost efficiencies, productivity gains, and improved customer satisfaction, and better customer retention for the bank.

From http://biz.thestar.com.my 11/10/2006


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PHILIPPINES: BIR, Local Governments to Link Databases

THE Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) will link its database electronically with those of the local government units (LGUs) to enhance its ability to detect and run after businesses that evade paying national taxes, BIR Assistant Commissioner Pio de Rada said. The linkup with LGUs is part of the BIR*s effort to tap information from several government entities that could help enhance its tax audit capability, De Rada told reporters. He said the first linkup would be with the government of Quezon City, which he said would be done on Monday. The BIR intends to tap also the assistance of ※barangay§ [village or neighborhood district] council heads in running after tax cheats among their constituents. The bureau recently launched a program called Tax Enhancement Vehicle for Economic Stability (TEVES), which calls for cooperation with LGUs to boost tax collection. Under the National Internal Revenue Code, 40 percent of the national government*s annual revenue collection should be set aside for LGUs and 20 percent of the annual increase in value-added tax collection by a BIR*s revenue region should go to the LGU in that area.

From http://archive.inquirer.net/ 11/04/2006


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CICT to Complete Rationalization Within 2007

THE Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) is set reduce its manpower from 5,000 to just a little over 1,000 by the end of 2007 in accordance with Executive Order 366, which mandates all government agencies to reorganize their manpower infrastructure. CICT Commissioner Timoteo Diaz de Rivera told INQ7.NET that the organization will have to complete the reduction by next year for it to pursue bigger programs, most of which are related to e-government. Diaz de Rivera explained that nearly 4,500 of the 5,000 CICT employees are from the Telecommunications Office (TELOF), a public telecommunications and telegram agency, which was absorbed by the CICT from the Department of Transportation and Communications. The remaining 500 employees are from the National Computer Center, which is also headed by Diaz de Rivera as its Director-General, and the National Computer Institute. However, Diaz de Rivera said that the manpower reduction will not mean that the TELOF will be abolished since some of the agency*s provincial offices will be converted into regional CICT facilities. Diaz de Rivera admitted that during the CICT*s budget hearing last Tuesday, Senate President and Chair of the Senate finance committee questioned the 800 million-peso annual appropriation by the CICT to its personal services. Meanwhile, only 100 million pesos are appropriated to operational expenses. CICT is requesting about 1.2 billion pesos for its 2007 operations. ※The Commission is really intent in completing its rationalization program under EO 366 so that we can reduce the cost in paying manpower and increase the budget for agency operations,§ Diaz de Rivera said. The CICT also receives an annual e-Government Fund amounting to an average of 1 billion pesos. This amount is allocated by the CICT to various IT projects in the government. The e-Government Fund has so far resulted in the implementation of more than two dozen IT projects in different government agencies.


From http://archive.inquirer.net/ 11/10/2006


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Government CIOs Slowly Disappearing

Government offices may find themselves incapable of implementing ICT-related programs when they continue to lose their chief information officers and technical workers to private practice. Lawyer Ivan Anthony Uy, president of the CIO Forum, pointed blamed lack of incentives and low budget for continuing education for the departure of CIOs from their jobs in government agencies. He said many of the CIOs are hired by larger multinational firms looking for technical managers and provide far more financial gains for employees. CIOs and former technical workers in government offices are also going to other countries such as Malaysia, Canada, Australia and the United States. For CIOs and technical personnel who do get training, some of them leave after the expiration of the required one- or two-year lock-out period to work with the government expires. Government administrators who experience this trend are also forced to stop providing training to the newer batch of IT workers to prevent further departures. But consider the amount a government CIO earns, which is between 20,000 pesos and 40,000 pesos a month.

Compare that to 200,000 pesos they could earn from private practice,?Uy said. In fact, the exodus of technical people from government is so bad that even CIO Forum members themselves are leaving the organization for greener pastures. CIO Forum is a collective membership of IT experts and managers in government offices and has about 200 members. One of the problems is complaints from lower-ranking officers who argue that it is cheaper to train 10 clerks than give IT certification to one technical personnel. It may be true, but the technical guy can retool the government office so that it could streamline operations and lessen operating costs overtime, Uy said. Uy said the government should step up more stringent laws to prevent CIOs from leaving. But most importantly, government should also provide additional budget to training and giving better financial benefits to CIOs. They very important in ensuring that an offices IT infrastructure is completely operational, Uy said.


From http://archive.inquirer.net/ 11/19/2006


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SINGAPORE: Share E-Government Solutions With Developing Countries

Singapore has set up the Singapore e-Government Leadership Centre. Information, Communications and the Arts Minister Lee Boon Yang said this was to facilitate the sharing of its brand of e-government solutions with developing countries. The centre will train policy makers and telecoms regulators involved in information and communications technology. The leadership training centre will also offer programmes in the area of e-government strategy, policies and implementation. Dr Lee made the announcement at the International Telecommunication Union(ITU) Plenipotentiary Conference held in Ankara, Turkey. He also said that Singapore was willing to extend its training to ITU members and was holding discussions with Turkey's Bureau for Telecommunication Development.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/08/2006


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IE Singapore Launches BuySingapore Portal for Local SMEs

IE Singapore has launched an online business matching and trading portal to showcase the products of 100,000 local small and medium enterprises. Called BuySingapore, it is intended to help pair SMEs with overseas buyers and suppliers. An estimated S$10 million will be invested in the initiative, by IE Singapore and local IT provider Abecha, over the next five years. According to a 2006 SME Development Survey by the DP Information Group, local companies ranked expansion into new overseas markets as their most important business strategy for the next one to two years, after raising productivity. But for smaller firms, this is easier said than done. Challenges faced include a lack of manpower, overseas knowledge, and overseas business contacts. This is where the e-portal, with its matchmaking facilities, comes in.

Thian Tai Chew, Director - Enterprise Group, IE Singapore, said: "We will actively acquire foreign leads through our presence in over 35 locations worldwide. We will engage overseas marketing agents and partner our overseas trade counterparts to ensure that BuySingapore will provide plenty of opportunities for Singapore-based enterprises to connect with international markets. Our target is to disseminate at least 30,000 foreign leads through BuySingapore annually." Local companies can create company profiles, trade leads and product catalogues online. The portal then matches them to interested overseas buyers and suppliers, allowing local and foreign businesses to make those first connections with each other. Mr Thian said: "Behind the portal front, there is an active foreign marketing and leads acquisition plan championed by IE. As a start, IE will be promoting BuySingapore actively in key overseas trade shows and missions.

I was told there are about 200 overseas trade shows and missions planned a year, either to be led by IE or trade associations, and we will tap on each of these events in overseas markets to promote BuySingapore and acquire business leads." IE Singapore hopes to acquire up to 20,000 local subscribers within the next two to three years. Some of the key industries they will be promoting will be lifestyle, food, electronics, construction and services. Key overseas markets IE Singapore is targeting, include ASEAN, Japan, Europe and the United States.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/13/2006


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E-portal Is a Hit as Teenagers Find an Online 'Family'

It may seem a bit "Big Brother", but a youth portal that has counsellors keeping a watchful eye on online activities is proving a hit among teenagers. Since it was started two years ago, the portal eGen (www.egen.org.sg) - short for "electronic generation" - has grown from 1,500 users last year to 3,450 now. Set up by a youth centre under Fei Yue Community Services, the portal offers users, aged between 13 and 25 years old, an online platform where they can talk, vent and rant. Said 15-year-old Joanna Soon: "When you get into the family of eGen, you get to know the regular bloggers, and although you don't know them personally, they help you with your problems, not like those on other chat boards, who can be perverts." She first started using eGen last year after hearing about it in a school assembly session. Initially she joined in on general topics, such as what she did during the holidays and to ask for shopping tips. Once the trust is established, she moved on to bigger problems, like boy-girl relationships - a topic she is reluctant to share with her parents or teachers. "Parents might not really understand you, even though they have gone through all of that," she said, adding that a teacher once told her mother about her problems with a boy after she had confided in her. "I didn't trust her after that."

Within eGen - one of SingTel's Touching Lives Fund beneficiaries this year - she finds a protective environment where moderators can step in if there is abuse. "You get solutions and you can choose from there what you think will help. On the other blogging sites, a lot of people can spam you. But it's more controlled and safer on eGen," she said. According to Ms Joyz Tan, social worker and publicity coordinator with eGen, the portal runs about 15 counselling sessions a week on average. "Online counselling is an alternative resource to face-to-face counselling for Internet-savvy youth and young adults who may be embarrassed to seek counselling face-to-face," she said. To donate to SingTel Touching Lives Fund, send a crossed cheque to SingTel, Corporate Communities Division, Comcentre #28-00, 31 Exeter Road, S(239732). SingTel will also hold a charity carnival on Dec 2 to raise funds.


From http://www.channelnewsasia.com 11/20/2006


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VIET NAM: Airlines Plans E-Tickets This Month

Vietnam Airlines plans to trial e-tickets for the first time later this month following endorsement by the General Department of Taxation (GDT). Vietnam Airlines, which has been working on its e-ticketing programme since last year, said it would initially trial e-tickets for its Ha Noi - HCM City route. During the trial, the airline will sell e-tickets via its sales agents only. Following this trial period, the length of which has not yet been decided, the airline will move to selling e-tickets online or via other airlines, who have already inked ticket issuance contracts with the national flag carrier. Along with the e-tickets, Vietnam Airlines and its sales agents would be required to issue receipts to ensure that customers can seek travel reimbursements from their work, according to the department. The e-tickets and receipts, following GDT guidelines, would also fulfil the requirements of tax declarations and deductions. Agents will be responsible for issuing receipts to passengers, and for online transactions, customers will use credit cards to buy e-tickets. Vietnam Airlines said it would issue receipts to customers properly. With online bookings at www.vietnamairlines.com, clients will be provided with their flight information. They will then be able to check-in using this information, along with their identity papers. The new e-tickets will follow a format provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. In another move aimed at saving passengers* time, the Viet Nam Administration of Civil Aviation has decided to allow for passengers to pay airport charges when buying their tickets, rather than paying at the airport during the check-in procedure. This new regulation will take effect from today. Ticket prices of domestic flights departing from Noi Bai (Ha Noi), Tan Son Nhat (HCM City) and Da Nang terminals will have the airport fee of VND30,000 (US$1.9) added to them. The fee for domestic flights departing from Phu Bai (Hue), Cat Bi (Hai Phong), and Cam Ranh (Khanh Hoa) terminals, is VND25,000 ($1.5) per ticket, and it is VND20,000 ($1.25) at other airports nation-wide. For international flights, each ticket price will have a fee of $14 added if departing from Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat, and $8 from other airports in the country.


From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn 11/01/2006


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Ha Noi Hosts International Software-Writing Contest

HA NOI 〞 Seventy teams have so far registered for the regional 2006 Asia-Pacific International Computer Programme contest to be held at Ha Noi National University from November 24-25, according to Viet Nam Informatics Association. Out of the 70 teams, 15 are from Chinese Taipei University, Seoul National University, Chinese Shanghai Transportation University and Chinese Hong Kong University. According to the organisation board, 12 leading teams will share the championship trophy, three gold medals, four silver and four bronze medals. The team winning the championship trophy will join the final competition set to begin in Japan on March, 2007. In 2005, for the first time, the team representing HCM City*s Technology University was listed among the 80 leading teams from 1,717 universities that took part in the final competition.


From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 11/13/2006


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BANGLADESH: Number of Poor Falls Sharply in Bangladesh

※The number of poor people in Bangladesh fell to 40 percent from 49 percent in the last five years, beating the rate of poverty decline in neighboring India and Pakistan, a joint study by the Bangladesh government and the World Bank said Thursday. During the period &the proportion of those classed as very poor, measured by household income and expenditure, fell to 25 percent compared to 34 percent in 2000,* the study added, according to a World Bank statement. &The decline in poverty by around two percentage points a year was much faster than in India and Pakistan during the period,* it said. It gave no comparison figures for India and Pakistan. To calculate poverty, the researchers compared household income against the cost of buying a basket of foods that would give 2,122 calories a day. Bangladesh with a population of 144 million is one of the world's poorest nations but has witnessed impressive economic growth in the last 15 years. The economy has grown by over five percent annually since the early 1990s and in the last three years, average growth was over six percent. According to the study, most of the poor live in rural areas, home to more than 70 percent of the population. During the last five years, rural poverty fell from 53 percent to 44 percent, while urban poverty decreased from 37 percent to 29 percent.§


From http://web.worldbank.org/ 11/10/2006


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Corporate Governance Guidelines Issued by SEC and Its Implementation Practices in Bangladesh

As we are aware of the fact that the corporate governance (CG) guidelines are issued by SEC in its notification on February 20, 2006 and are made mandatory on the listed companies in Bangladesh either to "comply or explain" basis for the greater interest of the company and its stakeholders, especially minority shareholders. The CG guidelines prescribe conditions imposed on matters relating to (i) Board-Size, No. of Independent Directors and their appointment, Chairman and CEO being different individuals, Containment of certain disclosures in the Directors' report to shareholders; (ii) Appointment of CFO, Head of Internal Audit, and Company Secretary, Attendance of Board Meeting by CFO and Company Secretary; (iii) Audit Committee -- Its constitution, appointment, defined qualification for being the Chairman of Audit Committee and reporting of the Audit Committee to Board of Directors/ Commission and to the shareholders; and (iv) Engagement of External/ Statutory Auditors not for things such as - appraisal/valuation services, FIS design and implementation, broker-dealer services, Internal audit services etc. All listed companies in Bangladesh irrespective of size-big or small are required to follow these prescribed conditions in the guidelines. They have to provide reporting the status of compliance on CG in Director's report. In compliance reporting, the condition (on CG) is complied with or not; has to be marked and in case of non-compliance, the explanation for non-compliance has to be given.

The paper aims at addressing issues and concerns of Corporate Governance Guidelines issued by Securities and Exchange Commission in Bangladesh and extent of compliances with the conditions imposed by SEC in its CG guidelines. In doing so, the paper has attempted to count the number of companies and to investigate their characteristics across industrial sectors, who could comply with which condition and who could not. The author also highlights the summary of reasons for failure of the companies across industry to comply with the condition in the CG guidelines. This will certainly reveal some of the problems or difficulties-both legal and operational, faced by the listed companies across industry. The paper is based on secondary data published in the Annual Report. The methodology adopted in this paper is to compile the information disclosed in the director's report on the reporting of compliance status on corporate governance. The sample of this paper includes those listed companies whose AGM were held after the notification of SEC on CG guidelines. The sample covers 111 listed companies encompassing eleven industrial sectors. The statistics on the extent of compliance on CG across industry have been prepared and explanations for non compliances have been summarized in a tabular form. This is intended to identify the problems/difficulties encountered by the listed companies while implementing CG guidelines issued by SEC in their respective companies. The findings of the paper will enable us to raise the issues and concerns for the implementation of CG guidelines before the panelists for prescribing better solutions or incorporating any more relevant missing issues to be considered. Out of one hundred eleven companies that held AGM after the notification of CG guidelines in 11 industrial sectors, the majority seventy (63%) companies have furnished compliance reporting in the Director's report in Annual Report. Forty-one companies (37%) did not provide any reporting on the status of compliance on CG.(by Mahmood Osman Imam)


From http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/ 11/15/2006


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District-wise Data Base of Bangladesh on Website

Golden Bangladesh, an NGO and a non-political and social organisation has launched a website providing the global people with correct district-wise information about Bangladesh. It has been striving to project data and information about history, culture, literary genius, education, sports, economics and politics of each and every district of Bangladesh. Special features of the website are: details of each elite along with photograph, name and addresses of different govt & non-govt enterprises and personalities and businessmen with their telephone numbers, personal problem may be shared with the people of one's own district, name of interested person may be included in the website from any part of the world, historical, natural, cultural, political scenario of any district of Bangladesh and important telephone number of different govt, semi-govt and other important organisations. People of the world including the Bangladeshis may click for website visit to www.goldenbangladesh.com or www. (mention the name of your district). goldenbangladesh.com.

From http://www.financialexpress-bd.com/ 11/15/2006


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INDIA: Double-Digit Growth Possible But Poverty Will Stay

presiding over a meeting of India's Planning Commission, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said 10 percent economic growth "is an ambitious target, but I do believe it is a feasible one". His remarks came just after the commission approved the "approach paper" to India's Eleventh Five-Year Plan that starts Apr. 11 next year. India is one of several countries that follow planned national development plans set for five-year periods. The document states that India would aim for an annual growth rate of 9 percent over the 2007-12 period, with the economic growth rate touching the 10 percent mark in the last two years of the plan period. If these targets are met, India's growth rate would become comparable to that of its bigger neighbour China, the only country that has in recent times been able to grow at 10 percent or more on a sustained basis for over a decade. Singh, a former World Bank economist regarded as the architect of India's liberalisation, predicted that India "would be finally emerging into the front ranks of fast growing developing countries". Every five-year plan that the Indian government had formulated in the past had set growth targets that were never achieved. But independent economists believe that the new growth targets would not only be achieved but also perhaps exceeded, provided the government substantially improves the working of the country's inadequate and notoriously-inefficient social and physical infrastructure. "Given the fact that for the first time in the nearly six-decade long history of (post-colonial) India, the country's economy has grown by eight percent three years in a row and is almost certain to grow at a similar pace during the current financial year (ending Mar. 31, 2007), I think we can confidently aim for a 10 percent annual growth target," says D. K. Joshi, principal economist with Credit Rating and Investment Services of India Ltd., now controlled by Standard and Poor's, the reputed United States credit rating firm.

Joshi told IPS that the eight percent average rate of growth that has been achieved in real terms over more than three years is especially significant because this has occurred despite crippling power shortages (of at least 10 percent of total demand, often more) and spiralling prices of petroleum products that have fuelled inflationary pressures. India currently imports three-fourths of its requirements of crude oil. The inflation rate in the country is at present in the region of 5-6 percent. "A real rate of GDP growth of 10 percent is not just possible; this figure could go up to 12 percent," says Manoj Pant, professor of economics at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University. "The issue is not really one of the growth rate but whether the pattern of growth is inclusive so that a dent is made on poverty, unemployment, inequality and rural development," he said in an IPS interview. Pant points out that in India as well as in other countries, rapid growth of GDP has taken place without a significant fall in levels of poverty. Currently, at least one out of four persons in a country of 1.1 billion, lives below the internationally-defined poverty line of one US dollar a day. "Whereas it is possible to grow at 10 percent and not make a dent on poverty, the reverse is not true -- it would not be possible to significantly reduce poverty if the economy does not grow at 10 percent," says Pant. Whereas India's manufacturing industry as well as its burgeoning services sector -- including the much talked-about computer software and information technology enabled services businesses -- have been growing at over 10 percent a year, the agricultural sector has lagged at a niggardly two percent annually. The share of the farm sector in the country's GDP has come down from 40 percent to 20 percent over the past decade or so, but the share of the population dependent on agriculture has hardly reduced -- from roughly 70 percent to around 60 percent -- over this period. Singh himself acknowledged that "there is a crisis in agriculture in many parts of our country". The day he approved the approach paper to the Plan, he told a conference: "The more I travel to interior areas and meet farmers, I get the feeling that in many parts agriculture is being carried out in adverse conditions. The problems may be attributable to a wide range of causes but the end result is that there are large tracts where farmers seem to be in acute distress."

In recent months, Singh has travelled to different parts of the country such as the Vidharba region in the western Maharashtra state where thousands of farmers have committed suicide for failing to repay loans obtained from local moneylenders at usurious rates of interest. Federal Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who comes from the same province, admitted in Parliament that at least 100,000 indebted farmers have killed themselves in various parts of India between 1993 and 2003. The Prime Minister said that farmers would have to be paid remunerative prices even if this meant hardship for others who have to pay more for food. "This may hurt some sections of the middle class to a small extent, but it benefits the farmers who are the backbone of our economy," Singh observed. "We need a balanced approach where we provide for food security for the poorest sections without compromising the returns to farmers 角our strategy must be based on improving the real incomes and the quality of life of our farmers," he added. The approach paper to the Eleventh Plan has set a 4 percent target for the growth of the farm sector. It talks of doubling the country's per capita income by 2017 and the creation of 70 million new jobs over the next five years that would, in turn, reduce the proportion of the educated unemployed in the total workforce to less than 5 percent. The paper sets 2009 as the target year by when clean drinking water would be provided to all Indian citizens. As far as the social sector is concerned, the approach paper states that the Indian government intends reducing the drop-out rate of children in primary schools from 52 percent at present -- the highest in Asia -- to 20 percent by 2012. By then, the literacy rate is slated to rise to 85 percent from around two-thirds of the population at present. By the end of the Eleventh Plan, New Delhi hopes to bring down the infant mortality rate to 28 per 1,000 births and the maternal mortality rate to one for every 1,000 births. India's sex ratio is also expected to improve from 935 by 2011-12 to 950 five years later. On physical infrastructure, the Indian government states that there would be electricity in each of the country's 600,000 villages by 2009, a telephone line by November 2007 and broadband connectivity by 2011-12. By 2009, the government is hopeful that there would be proper road connections to every village with a population of 1,000 or more. The approach paper states that there would be considerable improvement in the country's environment by 2011-12. Green cover would be 5 percent of the total land area, all urban waste water would be treated before being discharged into rivers and the air quality in major cities would be on par with standards laid down by the World Health Organisation.


From IPS News 10/23/2006


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Development-India: Urban Renewal Plans Render Millions Jobless

All businesses stayed shut for three days in a strike action called by traders' organisations in protest against the sealing and razing of shops and encroachments under a court order. On Friday, the state government told the Supreme Court that it could not resume the clean up because of public ire. Disaffection has been growing in Delhi since the large-scale closure or shifting of industries and removal of slum settlements to outlying parts of Delhi, far away from jobs, schools and essential services. There are continuing threats to livelihoods, for instance a ban on cycle rickshaws (pedicabs) on main roads and the eviction of hawkers from the city's pavements. "Nearly half the workforce is threatened by loss or serious erosion of livelihoods," said Dunu Roy, who leads a joint forum of organisations working on poverty and livelihood issues in the Indian capital. "The future is grim," he warned. At a recent public hearing for re-located slum dwellers, many complained that their net income has declined to less than half as they have to spend a lot of time and money travelling to their places of employment. Keeping in view these factors it is a fair estimate that over the last 15 years almost half of Delhi's population, that now stands at around 15 million people, has been seriously inconvenienced, faced a serious threat of loss or erosion of livelihood. On Sep. 20 public anger over loss of livelihoods spilled on to the streets of Delhi. There were violent confrontations with the police. Four persons were killed and nearly 100 were injured in police firing and beatings. Many policemen were also hurt. In the last week of September the Supreme Court announced partial relief for small shops which provide goods and service of daily use in residential areas. But despite this many other sources of threatened loss of livelihoods still remain.

The Economic Survey of Delhi in 2001-2002 identified 230,000 retail shops with 540,000 employees. A very significant number of these are in residential areas. Pravin Khandelwal, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders Association has said that the livelihoods of several hundred thousand traders (and their workers) are threatened. In the last week of August Hirendra Rathore, a spokesperson for Delhi Trade Forum said that as most shops in Delhi are in residential areas, the sealing drive has spread tension among traders and daily trade has suffered a decline of 5 billion rupees (roughly 500 million dollars). On Sep. 6, the Delhi High Court ordered all cycle rickshaws to remain off the main roads of the capital. The court ordered the Delhi traffic police to impound any rickshaws violating the order. Rickshaw pullers are nearly always the poorest of poor migrant labour from eastern India. The livelihoods and homes of many people have also been threatened by displacement caused by traffic flyovers, the Delhi metro rail and other major infrastructure projects, due for completion before 2010 when the city will host the Commonwealth Games. A large number of houses in the Nangloi area of west Delhi is threatened by the extension of the metro. "People shifted here when the area was a wilderness. They have toiled 35 years to create this busy colony. This is all they have. If this is demolished, there is no hope," said Usman, a lawyer and social worker in the area. When Hussain Ahmed heard that his house has been marked for demolition, to pave the way for the extension of the metro, he went into a state of shock and died a few hours later. &'Papa was so upset that he couldn't say anything and passed away," said his distressed daughter Rahshana. Gulshan, a small-scale entrepreneur had invested all his family's resources including his wife's jewellery to set up a steel-polishing business in Khyala (West Delhi). When he heard about the government's new order to shift the industry to a recognised industrial area, he became increasingly distressed and tense. He just couldn't afford the additional investment. Some days later he committed suicide. The unit shut down and all the workers lost their jobs. Raj Kumar a small-scale industrialist said: "If I have to move out to a government allocated site, this will cost me at least 1 million rupees even for a small plot and I can't afford this sum. "For two years since the government order, my work has remained almost entirely closed. I would have faced total ruin but for my ability to survive by selling some ancestral property," he added.

Now tens of thousands of small shopkeepers face a similar predicament, as they cannot afford to shift their shops into commercial areas. Sanjay Gupta is the owner of a shop that provides photocopy, lamination and related services. He employs 24 persons. "Even taking the conservative average of 4 persons in a household, 100 persons are being supported by this shop. If this shop is shut, 100 people will be on the street," he calculated. For slum dwellers who were forced to relocate to barren lands far away from their earlier jobs in the heart of the city, the demolitions have been devastating. According to Sapna, a social activist working in a resettlement colony Bawana, 40 km from the centre of Delhi, "People had many sources of living when they lived close the heart of the city. Now they face both serious social crisis and financial ruin. Families that lived next to each other for decades have been scattered. Neither are there jobs for everyone in the new settlements. Commuting to their previous jobs is both time consuming and uneconomical." In the Bakkarwal resettlement site where people shifted from Raghubir Nagar in central Delhi, families who were earlier able to afford a comfortable life are now on the verge of starvation. Once again the weakest have paid a price for Delhi's urban renewal plans.


From IPS News 11/06/2006


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Indian Cities Emerge as Best Offshoring Sites

Seven Indian cities have emerged as the most favored outsourcing destinations globally, beating out rivals such as Manila, Shanghai and Moscow, according to a report by a US-based consultancy. And India looks set to remain the outsourcing leader in the long term, according to the consultancy neoIT, which advises global companies on offshore operations. New Delhi headed the seven Indian cities that topped the list of 24 from around the world vying for the tag of favorite offshore sites, said neoIT in a report. "A lot has been said about India's eroding cost advantage and supply constraints," senior neoIT consultant Sabyasachi Satyaprasad said Saturday. "But the fact remains that in terms of talent supply and cost arbitrage, India is still the leader," said Satyaprasad, whose company is headquartered in San Ramon, California, with offices in India and the Philippines. Industry analysts closely watch profit-margin trends of Indian outsourcing companies for signs their competitive edge is eroding. New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata were the seven most favoured sites worldwide to locate offshore, said the report assembled from feedback from over 60 clients.

From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 11/06/2006


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IT Revolution in Rural India: Tamil Nadu Leads

Tiruvellore: Twenty-eight-year-old Meera lives in a remote village in Tiruvellore district. However, she is not just another village girl. Meera has become the face of the IT revolution here. Meera learnt computers and soon put together an Internet kiosk. Now she coaches villagers on how to use the computer and the Internet, earning Rs 6,000 a month. "If ten people like me start off on something like this, then our villages will become like our cities," says she. In another neighboring village, 21-year-old Balakumaran who has a diploma in electronics wants to start his own three computer BPO. He hopes to do the basic data entry work along with projects on Computer aided design. "There are B.Techs and Diploma holders in our own village. If we just give them basic training, they can learn a lot," says he. What's fueled their dreams is an experiment that was put together nearly a decade ago by an informal group of professors and alumni at IIT Madras - called Tel Net. Tel Net indigenously created technology, which enabled wireless Internet connectivity. Tel Net hubs transmit data to Internet kiosks with receivers in villages putting them on the information highway. While getting the Internet to villages is now technologically possible and feasible, making rural India a part of the IT boom has another challenge - and that is to ensure little kiosks in villages become successful business models. Says CEO, N Logue communications Pvt Ltd, Sharad Brahmane, "We need to ensure that we provide services to these village kiosks that can help people earn that minimum amount to keep the business going. Only then will this business model be sustainable." Taking IT to rural areas is an endeavour that is still in its nascent stage, but it has the power to change the face of the Indian village.


From ibnlive.com 11/09/2006


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Lifelines India to Empower Farmers with Information

BT, Cisco and OneWorld announced the launch of Lifelines India, a phone-based information service, which provides vital information to rural communities in India. The collaboration between BT, Cisco, and OneWorld charity is in support of the UN Millennium Development Goal on digital inclusion. Until recent ICT initiatives like Lifelines, the only source of veterinary and agricultural information available to farmers in rural India is through community meetings and agriculture extension workers. As part of the Lifelines initiative, BT, Cisco and OneWorld are enabling the rural population to access accurate and up-to-date information via a new telephone system. Farmers can now get information by telephone 365 days a year. BT supports the project with executive leadership and funding, and has also provided commercial and technical expertise critical to making the project a success. This includes support from TechMahindra, a joint venture company in which BT has a 38 per cent holding. Arun Seth, chairman, BT India, said: ※We are absolutely delighted to be involved with the Lifelines project. Lifelines helps India*s farming communities by providing vital knowledge to those who need it the most.

Lifelines is one of the most creative ways I have seen of using ICT technology to bring life-enhancing expertise to remote communities in a way that they can readily access.§ With the new system, farmers dial the Lifelines number, 022-39116000, and record their question on an automated voicemail system. This message is then picked up by a dedicated knowledge worker from OneWorld who sources the necessary information from a panel of agricultural and veterinary experts linked behind the scenes by sophisticated ICT technology. The knowledge worker then leaves the answer to the question as a recording on the phone, which the farmers can pick up 24 hours later. Peter Armstrong, director OneWorld International Foundation, said: ※There is a huge gap in rural India when it comes to gaining timely and relevant knowledge. Farmers account for 65 per cent of the workforce and many find it very difficult to get access to the information they need. By bringing technology, such as the phone which is the most easily accessible communication tool into rural India, Lifelines is connecting communities and empowering people which brings a new dimension to information exchange.§

A strong believer in the effectiveness of partnerships in sustainable development, Cisco contributed staff, equipment, donations and funding to the project. Cisco employees from multiple business units and geographical locations came together to design, build and support the infrastructure that will enable the service, and some employees also participated in capacity building workshops held in India. The company allocated senior staff to the executive steering committee and encouraged its ecosystem partners, including WIPRO, to donate pro-bono work in support of this project. Sudhir Narang, senior vice president Service Provider and Government at Cisco India, added: ※We are very excited to be involved in this partnership with BT and OneWorld. By utilizing all of the assets of our corporation, together we are making an impact to make relevant knowledge more accessible to the remotest communities in India.§ Lifelines is one of several community initiatives that BT is involved with in India.

In 2001, BT began working with Delhi-based charity, Katha, to establish the Katha Information Technology and E-commerce School (KITES) in the heart of Govindpuri, Delhi*s largest impoverished area. St Crispin*s IT Training Centre in Pune is another initiative to which BT has pledged its commitment. In April this year, BT opened the IT Training Centre which provides underprivileged children with IT skills and vocational training. BT and St. Crispin*s are aiming to teach 1,400 children from the marginalised communities in Pune over the next three years. Arun Seth, added: ※Following in the footsteps of KITES and St. Crispin*s IT Training Centre, Lifelines is part of our long-term commitment to corporate and social responsibility in the communities in which we operate. Using our expertise in technology and communications, BT is dedicated to making a difference in India.§


From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 11/10/2006


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Gender Equality: India Better Than Neighbours

NEW DELHI: Women don't seem to be doing too badly in India, when we consider just South Asia. India's gender-related development index (GDI) rank is 96 out of 177 countries, one of the best in the region if we do not count Sri Lanka, way ahead at rank 68. But, as always, the ranking hides more than it reveals about gender equality. While Sri Lanka soars ahead on most counts, when it comes to women's political participation, it is behind most countries in the region and so is India. Pakistan leads the way with 20.4%, highest percentage of women in Parliament. In Sri Lanka, the figure is 4.9% and in India 9.2%. Bangladesh too, is better off with 14.8% of seats in Parliament held by women. If female life expectancy in India is 65.3, Bangladesh is not too far behind at 64.2 years. Sri Lanka is way ahead with a female life expectancy of 71.3 and its adult female literacy rate is almost double the Indian figure of 47.8%. India's only comfort is that it has better literacy rates than Pakistan and Nepal. In gross school enrolment of women too, India's percentage is just 58, same as Bangladesh. On most counts, including the GDI ranking China (rank 64) is far ahead of all the countries in South Asia. The estimated earned income of women in India, $1,471 per capita in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, might be high in the region, but again Sri Lankan women earn almost twice as much and Chinese women three times the amount.

Yet again, Bangladesh is close behind India with it's women earning $1,170, while in Pakistan and Nepal, they earn less than $1,000 per capita. Interestingly, when it comes to the proportion of females involved in economic activity, Sri Lanka and India are almost equally badly off - India's rate is 34% and Sri Lanka's is 35%. Here, Bangladesh does a lot better with 52.9% and Nepal with 49.7%. What is really revealing in terms of gender disparity is a comparison of the time spent by men and women on market-oriented activity as opposed to non-market activities, which would mean work that is not paid for. Women in India spend 35% of their time on market activity and the rest on non-market activity. This figure in itself is not too shocking because there is a similar divide, and sometimes a sharper one, even in the developed countries, between time spent by women on market and non-market activities. However, when we look at the corresponding figure for men in India, it shows that they spend only 8% of their time on non-market activities. Such a sharp contrast between the way men and women allocate their time is not matched by any other country.


From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 11/10/2006


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M-Governance May See Light of Day Soon

Want to know the latest weather report or vegetable prices, or book a railway ticket? Well, all you may need to do is send an SMS. With over 130 million mobile subscribers in the country, governance initiatives through mobiles 〞 M-governance, which is already practised in many countries 〞 may soon see the light of day in India. ※Farmers can send an SMS to the tehsil and get agriculture-related information like prices of crops, fertilisers and weather reports,§ a Trai official said. He said though the services would have to be commercially viable for service providers, the government could encourage them by giving them subsidies. Some SMS-based governance applications already practised in foreign countries include payment of parking fines or checking of CPF accounts, sending of reminders to citizens on court summons, informing parents of their children*s academic performance and on payment of fees and delivering of news in times of emergency. With the coming of the third-generation mobile services and WIMAX, which will allow fast internet and data services and wireless broadband internet, the platform is set for web-based governance applications through mobile phones. An instance of mobile governance was seen during the recent dengue outbreak in the capital. The department of telecom (DoT), on a request from the health ministry, disseminated awareness information to mobile subscribers. ※We requested service operators to spread information regarding the epidemic,§ a DoT official said.

Industry is also trying to promote the initiative. Vikram Tiwathia, chief information officer of CII, said, ※CII is actively taking up the use of mobile communications to provide e-governance applications for the benefit of all users, particularly in rural areas.§ Railway officials said they were looking at ticket bookings through SMS. Vishal Bajaj, CEO of Value First that has ventured into the governance sector, said, ※Since India is a mobile-centric country, users can register with a service centre and get district-specific weather reports or keep themselves updated on market prices through SMS.§ For the Kumbh Mela, the company is working on disaster management initiatives with Microsoft for emergency alerts, accidents, and change in plans. The company has also been exploring various e-governance initiatives with state governments and the National Bureau of Crime Reports and Registrar of Companies. In Singapore, citizens can pay parking fines or check CPF accounts through mobiles, while the Australian government has been running a pilot programme to remind people through SMS of court summons. South African schools send text messages to parents for outstanding fees, while New Zealand is taking a trial on messaging parents for payment of child support. The French embassy in Lebanon sent SMSes to all its citizens three or four times a day to keep them updated during their evacuation on account of Israeli operations. (by Khomba Singh)


From http://www.business-standard.com/ 11/13/2006


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Mumbai Tops Internet Users List

Mumbai tops eight internet using metros with 3.26 million total users and 2.6 active users, Delhi is second with 2.66 total users and 1.80 million active users, while in the least is Ahmedabad. This was revealed by the Internet in India (I-Cube) study jointly undertaken by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International. The study also found that the difference between total users and active users was the lowest in Pune with a 90 per cent conversion rate, and highest in Delhi with a poor 67 per cent conversion rate. Interestingly, Kolkata, with 1.34 million total and 1.05 million active users is ahead of IT centres such as Bangalore (1.31 and 0.97 million) and Hyderabad (1.29 and 0.95 million). Ahmedabad has the lowest number of users among the top eight metros, a release IAMAI said.


From National Portal 11/20/2006


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One Hundred Projects Approved Under JNNURM

One Hundred projects have been approved by the Ministry of Urban Development under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission since its inception. This was stated by the Union Urban Development Minister Shri Jaipal Reddy in Rajya Sabha today. These projects included 12 mission works costing more than Rs.100 crore and less than Rs.500 crore. The Ministry has received city development plans from 56 cities out of which 40 have been appraised and 16 are under appraisal. Shri Reddy said that his Ministry has signed Memoranda of Agreement with 22 cities for the implementation of reform agenda. It has also received 283 detailed project reports from 17 states covering 35 cities. The Minister said that government has committed the central assistance to the extent of Rs.2289.91 crore, out of which Rs.551.52 crore have been approved for release in respect of 88 projects. Another 12 projects costing Rs. 2960.11 crore have been recommended by the Urban Development Ministry and forwarded to Finance Ministry for approval.


From http://pib.nic.in/ 11/23/2006


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PAKISTAN: Poverty Down to 24pc, Says Musharraf

ISLAMABAD: President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Saturday underlined the need for facilitating the common man*s access to resources by expanding economic opportunities. During presentations made by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (Ppaf), he said financial assistance should be provided to poor segments of society to eradicate poverty from the country. The president said the government had brought down the poverty ratio from 34 per cent to 24 per cent, adding that efforts should be made for more reduction of poverty in coming years. He said people*s living standard was being improved through creation of jobs in cities and development of agriculture sector in rural areas. He asked Ppaf to extend its activities to remote areas, particularly Balochistan. He said focus should be on provision of safe drinking water to people and canal water for agriculture. The president appreciated Ppaf for launching projects in 2,000 villages. The meeting was informed that Ppaf had joined the government efforts in reconstruction of quake-hit areas and built 115,000 houses and rehabilitated 1,000 infrastructure projects.


From http://www.dawn.com/ 10/29/2006


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IRAN: IT Growth Low

According to the latest statistics, Iran will need some 300,000 IT specialists by 2008, ISNA reported Wednesday. The visiting representative of NUST (National University of Science and Technology) Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) Professor Ram said at the opening ceremony of the NIIT center in the holy city of Mashhad that the technology worldwide has undergone some unexpected developments, regretting that while Information Technology (IT) and other relevant technologies are dominant paradigm of global economic development, the industry has not made a remarkable growth in Iran. Listing the young Iranian population, underground resources, inexpensive laboratorial conditions and industrial companies as the factors for the development of IT in the country, he urged relevant officials to seize these opportunities to achieve the said target.

Ram described IT as a fertile ground for the growth of different industries, stressing that officials should concentrate on the achievements of IT in numerous fields, including the production of software and communication services and thus accelerate the development of the IT industry. ※Providing the required facilities, establishing communicative infrastructures and planning approved education systems are among the factors contributing to the IT development,※ he said, stressing that efforts should be made to create an acceptable international system in Iran. NUST Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) was launched on self-finance basis in Islamabad, Pakistan in April 1999 as a constituent college of NUST. The institute has achieved groundbreaking success and received enthusiastic response from the student community. The number of students registered with NIIT so far is above 500. NIIT, since its very inception, has made a mark in the IT industry.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 11/09/2006


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KAZAKHSTAN: Defence Ministry Gets Electronic Digital Signature

A meeting organised by the Agency for Computerisation and Communication took place on 10 November, 2006, in he Ministry of Defence of Kazakhstan, at which issues related with the introduction of a common system of the electronic documentary turnover between the state authorities with electronic signatures were addressed, the Agency for Computerisation and Communication told Kazakhstan Today. 10 containers with electronic digital signatures were passed at the meeting to the heads of the Defence Ministry: the Minister of Defence Mukhtar Altynbayev and the Vice Ministers Nikolai Pospelov and Bulat Darbekov. Thus the Defence Ministry now is capable of sending documents signed by the electronic digital signatures to other state authorities. After a training course the Defence Ministry will join 39 state authorities of Kazakhstan that exchange electronic documents.


From http://eng.gazeta.kz/ 11/13/2006


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UZBEKISTAN: Presentation of East-Linux Operating System Held in Tashkent

UzA, H.Salimov - Presentation of " East-Linux " operating system, which is localized in Uzbek language by Paradox-Neo Company, was held on 16 November at the Uzbek Agency of Communication and Information (UzACI). Experts of corresponding ministries, companies and organizations participated in the presentation. Deputy Director of Paradox-Neo Company A.Fadeev provided information on creation of East-Linux operating system, operating procedure, technical opportunities. East-Linux快 operating system gives an opportunity for every person to enter the project, to localize on desirable language of used system and to receive the necessary information.

From http://www.uza.uz/ 11/17/2006


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Uzbek Government Initiates Broad Review of Media Outlets

The deputy director of the Uzbek State Press and Information Agency, Utkir Juraev, announced on November 21 that Uzbekistan has initiated a broad review of all media outlets, warning that those outlets with registration details and statutes found to be not fully complying with existing legislation will have to re-register with the Uzbek authorities, according to the vesti.uz website and RFE/RL. Juraev denied charges that the measure is intended to strengthen the government's control of the country's media. RG

From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 11/27/2006


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AUSTRALIA: Watchdog Eyes Net Rules

ANY attempt by internet service providers to favour some online services or restrict others will be examined by the competition regulator, which is looking at the thorny issue of net neutrality. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Graeme Samuel said his organisation had begun looking at the issue, but would not necessarily take the same approach as US authorities, which had made it a political hot potato. "That debate has been occurring in the US Congress, and is not necessarily aligned with a regulatory debate we might have," he said. US online content heavyweights such as Google and Microsoft, have lobbied in Washington to ensure that internet service providers can't charge them to provide guaranteed access to their networks, or a guaranteed quality of service. Service providers in the US argued that they should be able to decide how their networks were used, with no neutrality of access obligation, and reserving the right to offer high-speed or private channels to those willing to pay. The issue looms as an important one in Australia, where consumers lack access to high-capacity connections available overseas and telcos are increasingly positioning themselves as media players.

For example, Apple is understood to have held back its Australian launch of television and movie video services available on iTunes in the US because of concerns that our infrastructure would not provide an acceptable user experience. The ACCC considered the market capable of dealing with the issue of neutral access for consumers, Mr Samuel said. "We are taking that view, and I emphasise at this stage that there is a fair degree of competition out there among ISPs and network operators," he said. If, for example, a network decided to ban internet telephony service Skype from its network or restrict its operation, consumers could switch to another service provider that didn't have such restrictions, Mr Samuel said. Some Australian ISPs practise a form of service differentiation, "deprioritising" or "shaping" traffic generated from peer-to-peer file sharing services such as BitTorrent, that allow users to download huge amounts of data, including full-length DVD-quality movies - often illegally. Earlier this month, ISP Exetel said it would cut the download speed on peer-to-peer services to ease network congestion and to save on interconnect charges.

Similarly, it was revealed last week that iBurst reseller Chilli Internet planned to temporarily cut off users using peer-to-peer services once they had exceeded their monthly data allowance. However, the number of legitimate sources of rich online content is growing rapidly. YouTube claims more than 100 million views daily. While much of its content is amateur, professionals are increasingly looking to the web as a delivery stream. For example, Skype's founders last week told a Danish newspaper they were planning an advertising-supported online video service that could mirror commercial television. In Australia, Telstra paid more than $80 million for the online and mobile phone rights to AFL and V8 Supercar motor racing. With much of the video content being US-based, heavy downloads by Australian users were expensive for local ISPs, said Phil Sweeney, administrator of broadband user forum Whirlpool. The debate on net neutrality in Australia had focussed on end-user access, to date, he said. However, even if a service provider began to shape or filter traffic to screen out services such as peer-to-peer downloads, it was relatively easy for users to switch providers to another provider.

"The users may expect ISPs to do things like introduce charges, or change the parameters of the plan, but they don't expect them to start playing with the actual internet connection," he said. Service providers based their plans on the assumption that users would not use most of their monthly data allowance, he said. Heavy users that took up most or all of their cap were unprofitable, so service providers would be happy to see them move to another provider, he said. "There is always going to be another service provider that will take them, and new ones keep popping up all the time." The problem mainly affected small providers, which did not have the scale to absorb the impact of bandwidth-hungry users, he said. "The ISPs that we have seen do it so far have not been the premium ones. They have been the ones that operate cheap plans and are probably operating on small margins."


From http://australianit.news.com.au/ 10/31/2006


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Cityrail to Use One.Tel Remains

The NSW government today announced plans to spend $200 million on a digital train radio system using the abandoned OneTel network. RailCorp has reached an agreement with the receiver of telecommunications company OneTel to buy necessary digital bandwidth to provide coverage of the state's train network, Minister for Transport John Watkins said. The new system would meet the Waterfall Special Commission of Inquiry recommendation that "all train drivers, signallers and supervisors of trackside work gangs in NSW be able to communicate using the same technology", he said. The digital technology would allow CityRail to monitor a train's location and automatically activate its brakes in an emergency. Mr Watkins said the government had worked closely with the Australian Railway Association and other states to ensure national consistency. Tenders for the design of the new system will be called early next year, he said.

From http://australianit.news.com.au/ 11/01/2006


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Brisbane Innovation to Make Sharing Data Online Safer

The world just got smaller for software engineers thanks to an innovative Brisbane project which will see teams able to share information safely and securely online, wherever they are in the world. Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane today announced that CVSDude.com, of Brisbane, will receive a $64,000 Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) grant, one of three Queensland companies sharing in over $1.2 million through the latest round of funding. Mr Macfarlane said CVSDude.com provides software development teams with a secure place to store their source code, the ability to maintain version control, and the capacity to manage globally distributed software development. ※Version control is where someone developing software wishes to keep a history of changes and also go back to older versions of their software,§ Mr Macfarlane said. ※It's an effective way of sharing or collaborating with developers world-wide, as each developer can access their source code repository and immediately see or be notified of each other*s changes to that code.§ Mr Macfarlane said some open-source version control products are often difficult to install, maintain and manage but, with CVSDude.com, customers can be up and running in minutes.


From http://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ 11/06/2006


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Australia Still in the Dark on Web Trends

There is a lack of knowledge about the adoption and use of the web in Australia, says a Queensland-based researcher. Professor Amanda Spink, of the Queensland University of Technology, who recently returned to Australia after 20 years working in the US, says she was shocked by the difference between the countries. "Apart from some data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, we have limited large-scale, ongoing collection of the data on the business and social web trends in Australia," she says. "For example, we have limited data on what web search engines Australians use, how they use them, what they search for, and the impact of the web on teenagers, elderly, children, businesses etc. This data is crucial for policy makers, businesses and citizens in understanding how the web is impacting Australian society." Other countries are much more advanced, she says. Governments and private groups in the UK, Singapore and the US do large-scale data collection, and detailed examination of the data. Even China, with its tiny percentage of internet users, has assigned its Academy of Social Sciences to track the growth of the web in that country. Professor Spink held up the privately funded Pew Internet & American Life Project, based in Washington DC, as an example of how such research can benefit the country. Pew's latest report, published last week, found that 80 per cent of American internet users - 113 million people - get health and medical information online.

Most of those users start from a general search engine when researching their ailments, and only a quarter of them check the source and date of the information they find. This means 85 million Americans are getting health advice online without regard for its quality. They could be relying on outdated or even dangerous advice, the report found. Professor Spink says Australia needs to know whether its citizens are making the same mistake - and similar information could be sought on the spread of pornography and online gambling. "This kind of information should have an impact on policy makers," Professor Spink says. "In this country we are focused on developing systems without understanding how they are changing Australian society." Many international web study centres are privately funded, she says, but in Australia it would probably have to be done from an academic base. Professor Spink is using data from US search engines to look at religious searches online, examining how and where internet users look for spiritual guidance on the internet. She is also researching the growth of the online travel industry, asking how and where web users find travel-related information.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 11/07/2006


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ID Card to Offer Digital Wallet

AUSTRALIANS will have the option of storing any personal information they want on the federal Government's proposed human services smartcard under plans detailed by Human Services Minister Joe Hockey today. Mr Hockey said that up to one-third of the storage space on the access card would be available to card holders, who could use it to store information such as medical requirements or shopping lists. "We are creating a customer controlled area in the chip where individuals can store the information they want. In simple terms it makes the access card similar to a mini-iPod, where you can download minimum amounts of information onto the microchip and carry it around in your wallet or purse," Mr Hockey said. "We're using two-thirds of the capacity on the chip. The other one-third is in the hands of the individual." Mr Hockey said in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra that the head of the federal Government's Access Card Consumer and Privacy Taskforce, Professor Allan Fels would accept submissions from the public concerning the proposal over the next month. He said that interest in using the card for the provision of services, in addition to welfare transactions, was already high and that the private sector could play a role in storing information that Australians may choose to link to their access card. "This is not the sort of information the government wants to hold," he said in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra. However, Mr Hockey stressed that the organisations such as banks and police forces would not have powers to demand the card as a form of identification. People could, however, use the card to identify themselves, if they chose.

"Our proposed legislation will prevent the card being required by a bank or other organisation as the only allowable form of identification. People may, however, choose to use the access card to assist in proof of identity at those locations," said Mr Hockey. The federal Government plans to commence the roll out of more than 16.7 million smartcard human services access cards from early 2008. Mr Hockey said the federal Government would issue around 32,000 cards, between 2008 and 2010. Hardware, software and services for the roll-out will be procured in four tranches. Industry will be briefed on the procurement process by the end of the year. "We will seek tenders to enable us to establish a panel of card suppliers. One of these suppliers will also provide card management software for the more than 16.7 million cards," Mr Hockey said. "A systems integrator will be sought to provide and install hardware and proven software that delivers the card customer system and the card operation system. "The tender process for the systems integrator is also likely to include the supply of several thousand digital cameras, printers and scanners and potentially more than 500 booths for card registration." Other tranches include a request for tender (RFT) for 15,000 smartcard terminals for Commonwealth agencies. A list of accredited transaction services providers will also be established. Mr Hockey said the government would seek off-the-shelf technology for the smartcard infrastructure. Potential services providers flying their flags at the National Press Club included IBM, Telstra and the National Australia Bank.

From http://australianit.news.com.au/11/08/2006


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More College Students Taking Web Courses

Roughly one in six students enroled in higher education _ about 3.2 million people _ took at least one online course last fall, a sharp increase defying predictions that online learning growth is leveling off. A new report scheduled for released Thursday by The Sloan Consortium, a group of colleges pursuing online programs, estimates that 850,000 more students took online courses in the fall of 2005 than the year before, an increase of nearly 40 percent. Last year, the group had reported slowing growth, prompting speculation the trend had hit a ceiling. "The growth was phenomenal," said Jeff Seaman, Sloan's CIO and survey director, who also serves as co-director of the Babson College survey research group. "It's higher in absolute numbers and higher in percentages than anything we've measured before. And it's across the board," at schools ranging from doctoral institutions to those offering associate's degrees to for-profit colleges. Some online programs have flopped, and several for-profit universities have seen their share prices slump in the last two years amid concern over online's growth prospects. Shares of Apollo Group, which owns the giant for-profit University of Phoenix and is now embroiled in a stock-option scandal, are more than half off their 52-week high. Still, many universities are investing heavily in online learning, hoping the model will prove more economical than traditional classes, thus expanding their reach. A recent survey by Eduventures, a consulting and research firm, found 50 percent of consumers who expected to enrol in a higher education program said they would prefer to get at least some of their instruction online.

About 80 percent of online students are undergraduates, and they are generally older and more likely to be working and have families. But only about half are pursuing online degrees, according to Eduventures. The rest are taking individual online courses or _ increasingly _ mixing online courses with more traditional campus-based classes. One reason online enrolment may be growing is that the difference between traditional and online classes is blurring. It's not unusual now for traditional classes to post syllibi and homework assignments online or to have class discussions in group forums. Some classes take place more than 80 percent online, which makes them count as online courses for the Sloan survey. "That's bumping up enrolment," said Eduventures senior analyst Richard Garrett. The Sloan survey results also suggest academic officials are becoming more comfortable with online learning. About 62 percent of chief academic officers said they felt students learned as well or better from online courses as they did in face-to-face ones. However, that left about 38 percent who found online courses degraded the educational experience. And almost all said they aren't certain online learning will be more widely adopted. Among the obstacles: online courses take more time and effort to prepare, students need more self-discipline, and faculty often aren't convinced online learning is worthwhile. Officials at the schools surveyed "all acknowledge that there are significant barriers," Seaman said. "The question is going to be when do those barriers kick in and how do they cope with them."

From http://www.theage.com.au/ 11/09/2006


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Jobless Rate as Low as It Will Go

THE number of people out of work has dropped below 500,000 for the first time since 1990 - bringing the unemployment rate down to 4.6 per cent - but this may be as good as it gets. Fewer new jobs are being created and, one day after the Reserve Bank raised rates, some economists are starting to question whether interest rates have been pushed too high. The National Australia Bank yesterday became the first of the major banks to push the Reserve Bank increase on to its borrowers, raising its standard home loan rate to 8.07 per cent. The fall in the number of people officially registered as unemployed in October did not result from more people getting jobs, but from people giving up the search. To be counted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an unemployed person must be actively seeking a job and available to accept any that is offered. For the first time in 12 months, there was a fall in the number of employed people, with the total dipping by 32,700. "These monthly figures will bounce around a bit for statistical reasons," Treasurer Peter Costello said yesterday. "When you take the year together - 245,000 new jobs - this is exceptionally strong job creation over the year." Economists said the fall in the number of jobs recorded by the bureau last month defied belief and raised questions about some of the recent jobs growth. "There have been suspicions for some time that the employment reports have been overstating the strength of the labour market. Today's news affirmed those suspicions," BT Financial Group chief economist Chris Caton said.

In his first speech as governor of the Reserve Bank in September, Glenn Stevens said there was a conflict between the rapid growth in employment and the official GDP figures, showing the economy expanding by less than 2 per cent. The bank's decision to raise interest rates this week was based on a belief that it was the GDP figures that were wrong. Macquarie Bank senior economist Brian Redican said it was too early to conclude that the growth in employment really had been reversed. "But if employment does continue to weaken in coming months, then one of the main foundations of the RBA's argument for keeping monetary policy restrictive would have collapsed," he said, adding interest rates might start to be cut sooner than financial markets expected. Not everyone shares that analysis: Westpac yesterday became the first of the major banks to forecast yet another 0.25 per cent interest rate increase in February. The bank believes inflation is still rising and will push the Reserve Bank's preferred measure of cost increases up by 3.2 per cent in the December quarter. Westpac says its own calculations on employment designed to overcome volatility in the official numbers show jobs growth is still accelerating. Some economists believe the fall in unemployment will increase Reserve Bank concern about skill shortages. Leading jobs market indicators suggest employment is levelling off, but not that it is falling. UBS economist Adam Carr said the jobs market should be expected to respond to the three interest rate increases this year. "Monetary policy works, so I'd be very surprised if we didn't see some moderation in jobs growth," he said.

From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/ 11/10/2006


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Apprenticeship Launch to Boost ICT Opportunities in Queanbeyan and the ACT

The Special Minister of State, The Hon Gary Nairn MP has launched a new $4 million ICT apprenticeship program in the Australian Capital Territory to address current and projected shortfalls in ICT skills identified in the Management Advisory Committee Report, Managing and Sustaining the APS Workforce (2005). Mr Nairn said the Health Industry Group Training Company (HIGTC) has been chosen as the provider, working in conjunction with the Sydney Institute of TAFE and the Canberra Institute of Technology to implement the pilot program. ※The Pilot Program will see between 40 and 60 apprentices offered opportunities in up to 16 Australian Government agencies in the ACT. The apprentices will receive both qualifications to provide the foundations to an APS career, and valuable &on-site* experience with various APS agencies 每 invaluable experience that complements their studies§, Mr Nairn said. Mr Nairn said apprentices would be sought from a number of high schools, including the Queanbeyan High School and Karabar High School, in his electorate of Eden-Monaro. HIGTC will market the program, as well as recruit, employ and place the apprentices with the APS department or agency and the Sydney Institute of TAFE will award Certificate IV qualifications in Information Technology to successful graduates. The Canberra Institute of Technology in conjunction with the Sydney Institute of TAFE and HIGTC will provide the accredited training and ongoing support to the apprentices and their host agency supervisors, with placement to commence in February 2007. ※We*ll be watching to see what lessons can be learnt from this Pilot. If there*s momentum for expansion of the APS ICT apprenticeship program in the future 每 there*ll be scope to look at that§, Mr Nairn said.

From ttp://www.smos.gov.au/ 11/13/2006


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ID Card to End Paper Chase

MILLIONS of health and welfare records held on paper by Centrelink and Medicare Australia are likely to be digitised as the federal government rolls out its $1.1 billion Department of Human Services Access Card. The records include copies of birth certificates, driver's licences and telephone and electricity bills used by Australians to prove their identity to government services agencies. Human Services Minister Joe Hockey last week said his department would look at destroying 275km of paper records held by Centrelink and three square kilometres of Medicare records as part of the access card project. However, the government also indicated that it could store electronic copies of all of those records depending on the requirements of the Archives Act, which governs storage of federal records. "Common practice would suggest that agencies would keep an electronic copy," a spokesman for Mr Hockey said when asked if paper records held by Centrelink and Medicare would be digitised. "We are exploring the extent to which records can be digitised or destroyed." Any move to scan and store electronic copies of paper records held by Centrelink, Medicare and other Human Services agencies such as the Child Support Agency would require well over 100 terabytes of storage capacity. The Department of Human Services is also expected to invest heavily in electronic storage technology to store digital photographs of every Australian resident who applies for an Access Card.

EMC Australia product and marketing director Clive Gold said a similar project undertaken by the Public Records Office of Victoria used 11TB of storage to store electronic copies of 44km worth of paper records. That means Centrelink alone would require at least 69TB to store all of its paper-based records. Mr Gold declined to comment on the cost of scanning and storing the millions of paper records held by Centrelink and Medicare. The Department of Human Services is tight-lipped on many specifications for the Access Card project, including how it will register an estimated 32,000 people daily for the card between 2008 and 2010. The government has not left much time for the tender process given the card's rollout schedule, which on a project of this scale is likely to take six to nine months. The government is yet to commit to a timetable for issuing procurement tenders for the Access Card or tabling legislation that will govern every aspect of the card from privacy protection through to uses, allowed and disallowed. Access Card chief technology officer Marie Johnson said the department would issue tenders after a planned industry briefing in December, but the department could not say if the tender documents would be released this year or early in 2007. Mr Hockey last week said tenders would be issued in four tranches, covering smartcard suppliers, a major systems integrator, a smartcard terminal supplier and transaction services providers. "We will seek tenders to enable us to establish a panel of card suppliers, Mr Hockey said. "One of these suppliers will also provide card management software for the more than 16.7 million cards. "A systems integrator will be sought to provide and install hardware and proven software that delivers the card customer and card operation systems. "The tender process for the systems integrator is likely to include the supply of several thousand digital cameras, printers and scanners and more than 500 booths for card registration."

From http://australianit.news.com.au/ 11/14/2006


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Australian Economy $15.2 Billion Larger Thanks to Telco Reforms

The Australian economy is $15.2 billion larger due to Australian Government reforms to liberalise the telecommunications industry, according to an Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report presented to Parliament today. ※Since the Howard Government deregulated the telecommunications market in 1997, the Australian economy has grown by $15.2 billion, with flow-on effects worth $1.9 billion in terms of household consumption in 2005-06 alone,§ Senator Coonan said. ※More than 17,550 jobs in the telecommunications sector were created in the last financial year alone and new investment of $660 million was also generated. The strong and sustainable economic benefits of telecommunications reform are clear but they are only one part of the communications story in Australia.§ More than 80 per cent of consumers have a mobile phone and there are now 19.7 million mobile phones in Australia. There are more than 5.9 million Internet subscribers and the number of broadband services increased by 82 per cent in 2005每06. Some 85 per cent of households now have access to all free-to-air terrestrial digital television services in their area and digital television receivers are in around 20 per cent of residences.

The number of mobile services grew by 1.3 million in 2005每06, and ACMA recorded a 30 per cent increase in mobile call minutes for the year while the average call costs for mobile phones decreased by 13 per cent. The number of fixed-line services in Australia declined by 1.8 per cent, with 50 per cent of adults aged between 25-35 years reporting that they use their mobile more often than their home phone. 3G mobiles are now used by eight per cent of Australian consumers. ※Broadband take-up continues to boom, with a third of all households now connected to fast Internet. Data downloads increased by 99 per cent during the year, with the average ADSL user downloading more than 18 gigabytes of data in 2005每06,§ Senator Coonan said. In the broadcasting sector, television advertising revenue grew by 2.4 per cent to$3.4 billion, while radio advertising revenue increased by 6.6 per cent to $897 million. The report also notes that the Government*s introduction of the Spam Act 2003 and successful prosecutions by ACMA have seen Australia drop from 10th to 25th in the ranking of source countries for Internet spam. ※I am extremely pleased by the outcomes contained in this report, many of which are the direct result of work by the Government to liberalise the telecommunications sector and encourage enterprise, investment, competition and innovation,§ Senator Coonan said.

※The increasing use of advanced digital technologies, mobile and broadband services in particular, shows that Australians are not about to be left behind by the communications revolution. ※The figures contained in this latest report put paid to Labor Party claims that a move towards a deregulated market would bring negative outcomes for Australians. ※Clearly deregulation of the market and a steadfast commitment to competition in the telecommunications sector has delivered results. ※For this prosperity to continue, further targeted Government investment can and will be made through the $1.1 billion Connect Australia package and the $2 billion Communications Fund to ensure all Australians get access to faster broadband and better mobile phone services and high speed networks are delivered for our schools , hospitals and universities. ※Under Labor, the $2 billion Communications Fund would be drained of all its money and the $878 million Broadband Connect program abandoned to build an uncosted and untested network. ※Labor should abandon its ludicrous stab in the dark communications policy and back the Government*s moves to deliver improved telecommunications services for all Australians both now and into the future.§

From http://www.minister.dcita.gov.au/ 11/20/2006


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No Help in Switch to Digital

CONSUMERS' reluctance to embrace digital television has failed to secure a promise of subsidies for low-income families in a digital action plan to be unveiled today. Viewers without a digital TV could be left in the dark by 2012 as the government phases out the old analog system and forces TV stations to broadcast a digital signal. There are also concerns about potential digital blackspots. Although the Howard Government has not ruled out offering subsidies to encourage viewers to make the switch in the lead-up to the 2007 election, the new blueprint does not consider subsidies. Communications Minister Helen Coonan will unveil the digital action plan today at the Australian Communications and Media Authority conference. Media understands a new body will be established to oversee the switchover to digital, which will be called Digital Australia and will be backed by more than $20 million to help drive a faster digital switchover. The report says the Government does not want any community or household to be left without access to the benefits of digital TV. "We recognise that some Australians may find it difficult to make the switch to digital due to personal circumstances or geographical location," it states. However, there is no promise of immediate sweeteners in the report. Digital Australia will be charged with the task of co-ordinating the efforts of industry, the government, the regulator, manufacturers and consumers.

Under the cross and foreign media reforms that secured Senate support earlier this year, the Government announced new services designed to increase diversity and encourage the drive to digital. However, the Government is yet to reveal the proclamation date for the new laws, ensuring that intense activity in the media industry and the stock market in recent weeks has been conducted under the old laws in preparation for the new regime. The Government believes the new digital offerings will encourage families to independently make the switch. Two new licences will be allocated, including a mobile TV licence that is expected to spark strong interest when the auction commences next year. Broadcasters will also be permitted to add digital multichannels from next year. According to Digital Broadcasting Australia, the estimated home take-up or penetration of free-to-view digital television has reached 1.8 million, or about 23 per cent of homes. In comparison with Britain, where up to 70 per cent of households have access to digital TV, Australia's take-up rate remains low. Acting Opposition communications spokesman Lindsay Tanner said yesterday Australia lags well behind. "This Government has held back the take-up of digital television for nearly decade," he said. "This plan will do little to drive digital take-up. There is no money for the creation of new digital content to encourage consumers to invest in the equipment and there is no money to ensure that the poor and disadvantaged won't be left staring at blank screens when analog TV is switched off."

From http://australianit.news.com.au/ 11/23/2006


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Ready, Set, Go to Digital 每 A Digital Action Plan for Australia

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan, today released a $20 million Digital Action Plan to help guide Australia*s transition to digital television. Ready, Get Set, Go Digital 每 A Digital Action Plan for Australia outlines key steps the Government will take on the road to digital switchover and includes the creation of a dedicated switchover body 每 Digital Australia 每 which will be tasked with coordinating the efforts of Government, industry, manufacturers, the regulator and consumers in the lead-up to switchover. ※As technology evolves, consumers are demanding always-on, anywhere access to their favourite content 每 whether it is on the television, their mobile phone or their computer,§ Senator Coonan said. ※It is this passion for new services and improved technology that is driving the international switch to digital. Digital television is more efficient, more interactive, offers better picture and sound quality and delivers innovative new services to consumers. Across the globe Governments are considering how best to help their countries make the digital switch. For its part, the Government wants to work towards a Digital Australia for the many benefits it brings.

※Australian consumers will see the emergence of a range of new digital only services to help make the digital experience more attractive. New digital channels will emerge and current free-to-air broadcasters will be able to boost their range of services with additional digital channels. ※In addition to improved picture and sound quality and new services for Australian consumers, the switch to digital will also deliver a digital dividend to all Australians by bringing to an end the costly simulcast period and freeing up valuable spectrum for better and more efficient use. ※Over the next few years Australians will hear more and more about digital 每 its benefits, new channels that will be on offer and information about Australia*s transition to digital switchover which will commence in 2010-2012. During the transition to digital television the Government*s priority is consumers - we want to ensure Australians are not left behind in the switch to digital television. ※The Government will work closely with the broadcasting industry to ensure the transition to digital switchover is as smooth as possible and keep consumers informed every step of the way. This is an exciting moment for Australian television - the journey to a Digital Australia has begun.

From http://www.minister.dcita.gov.au/ 11/23/2006


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Government to Revise Net Investment Income to Include Capital Gains

Businesses and shoppers will soon have to pay a higher goods and services tax of 7 percent, but they can look forward to lower corporate and income taxes. The government is planning to change the Constitution to redefine Net Investment Income (NII) to include realised capital gains. Currently, NII only recognises dividends and interest. Effectively, this means the government will be able to tap on a larger amount of funds to help the lower income. More details will be provided in next year's Budget, which is expected on February 15. The increase in the goods and services tax was first suggested as far back as two years ago, and the government has decided now is a good time. The higher consumption tax may be offset by lower direct income taxes. The government is considering cutting corporate and personal income tax rates to help Singapore compete for jobs and investments. It is also proposing an amendment to the constitution to allow it to tap capital gains on the country's national reserves. It can currently only draw on dividend and interest income. "This is not quite right because a significant part of the returns on our reserves are capital gains. We should look at total returns on the reserves, as the basis for deciding how much it has grown," said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. As such, the definition of net investment income may be extended to include realised capital gains. The government can use up to 50 percent of net investment income earned within its five-year term. The rest is locked away as long-term reserves.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/13/2006


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Liquidity Lagging in Asian Bond Market Expansion, ADB Report Says

SINGAPORE - Emerging East Asian bond markets have expanded rapidly since the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis, spurred by an increased issuance of government debt, a report issued by ADB says. But the increase in outstanding debt has not led to a corresponding rise in market liquidity. Development of legal and regulatory infrastructure, deeper market structures, growth of derivatives market, greater investor diversity and stronger regional cooperation are needed to boost liquidity in emerging East Asian local currency bond markets, according to the November edition of Asia Bond Monitor (ABM). ※Stronger regional cooperation will help to overcome the small and fragmented nature of local currency bond markets, improve liquidity, and deepen capital markets in the region,§ says Masahiro Kawai, Head of ADB*s Office of Regional Economic Integration (OREI) and Special Advisor to the ADB President. ABM examines local currency bond market developments in Emerging East Asia, defined as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries, plus the People*s Republic of China (PRC); Hong Kong, China; and Republic of Korea. It highlights that the regional bond market expanded in absolute size and, importantly, as a percentage of GDP in 2006, with volume of outstanding local currency bonds reaching $2.4 trillion as of 30 June 2006, up from $2 trillion at the end of 2005. Aggregate local currency bonds outstanding rose in US dollar terms in PRC (21%), Thailand (19%), Viet Nam (18%), Republic of Korea (13%), Singapore (9%) and Indonesia (10%). Malaysia and Hong Kong, China reported growth rates of above 5%, while in the Philippines, local currency bonds outstanding fell by 5%. ABM says that the size and growth of bond markets in the region compare favorably worldwide with bond markets in economies with similar per capita income, but liquidity lags behind those of developed economies. The study used statistical models and a survey of market makers* views to identify the determinants of bond market liquidity. The results show that liquidity in emerging East Asian bond markets as measured by indicators such as turnover ratios, bid-ask spread, and bond yield volatility remains low. The study finds that large market size, robust legal and regulatory framework, and access to hedging instruments promote liquidity, while exchange rate volatility impedes it.

The survey of 45 market makers conducted by AsianBondsOnline, an ASEAN+3 initiative supported by ADB and funded by the Government of Japan, shows that market makers are concerned about the narrow investor base in the region. More than 75% of the respondents feel corporate bond markets are particularly illiquid, with buy-to-hold investors dominating the underwriting process, leading to bonds being rapidly absorbed into portfolios without secondary market turnover. Developing robust derivatives and repurchase markets also ranked high in the survey as a factor in increasing liquidity in both government and corporate bond markets. The study notes that to encourage private and quasi-public corporations to issue local currency bonds and wean them away from reliance on bank finance, governments need to remove discriminatory taxes and reform regulatory infrastructure. ※Emerging East Asia*s corporate bond market can deepen through further policy actions like the Asian Bond Markets Initiative [ABMI], the Asian Bond Funds [ABFs], and Pan Asian Index Fund,§ says Mr. Kawai. ※These are leading to convergence in market structures and harmonization of regulatory and institutional framework like clearing and settlement.§


From http://www.adb.org/ 11/14/2006


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ADB Plans Carbon Fund to Finance Clean Energy Projects

New Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is planning to set up a carbon market trust fund to boost the number of clean energy projects in the Asia and Pacific region. The ADB board of directors has approved the creation of 'the Asia Pacific Carbon Fund (APCF), part of ADB's broader Carbon Market Initiative (CMI) under development', a statement from Manila-based multilateral body said Wednesday. To be fully launched early next year, the CMI will involve two components besides the fund. One will be a technical support facility (TSF) for capacity building, due diligence, documentation and implementation support. The other will be a credit marketing facility (CMF) to assist sponsors in marketing the additional carbon credits generated, beyond those that have been sold upfront to the APCF.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries can meet their obligations to reduce carbon emissions by buying Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), or 'carbon credits', from developing countries. Up till now, payments for CERs have been made predominantly 'on delivery', helping only those projects that have sufficient capital to move forward on their own. The new fund joins several other initiatives by global bodies to promote energy efficient and environment friendly technologies to help reduce carbon emission leading to global warming and climate change. The target fund size is $150 million. It will be combined with ADB's public and private sector financial services to provide upfront capital and enable clean energy projects - addressing renewable energy and energy efficiency - to move forward. 'The fund will provide an additional source of finance at the early stage of project formulation by providing payments for CERs that are expected to be generated later,' the ADB has stated. The upfront payments from the APCF will cover up to one half of the CERs expected up to the end of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period. The remaining CERs can later be sold freely by project sponsors. The overall value of the global carbon market was estimated at more than $10 billion in 2005, with the value of carbon market transactions reaching $7.5 billion in the first quarter of 2006 alone. (by IANS )

From http://in.news.yahoo.com/ 11/22/2006


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BNP Paribas Helps Establish Asia's First Hedge Fund Center

French banking group BNP Paribas and the Singapore Management University have joined forces to set up the first hedge fund center in Asia, working closely with the London Business School. The SGD1.4 million establishment aims to undertake high-quality academic research in the hedge fund area, educate finance practitioners and the investing public about hedge funds, and raise the profile of the hedge fund industry in Asia and Singapore. AdvertisementStrategically located in Singapore, the BNP Paribas Hedge Fund Centre at the Singapore Management University (SMU) will play a vital role to its counterpart in Europe, by driving research by SMU finance faculty and generating insights and analysis with a special emphasis on hedge fund development in Asian markets. It is hoped that the center will become the focal point for academics, practitioners and the investment community to meet and exchange ideas. "BNP Paribas intends to be at the forefront of the hedge fund industry. The new center is established at SMU with the objective to become the leading academic authority in Asia for hedge fund education and research," said Jean-Pierre Bernard, CEO for Singapore and regional head for South-East Asia and India at BNP Paribas. "We are excited as this is the first time BNP Paribas is funding a major initiative at SMU. This new partnership will establish the first of many close relationships between BNP Paribas, a leading global bank, and a leading management university in Asia," he continued. (by Julia Chan)


From http://www.banking-business-review.com/ 11/23/2006


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Asian Bank Stocks May Join Global Market Rally as Earnings Rise

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Asian bank stocks, laggards in a global rally since U.S. interest rates stopped rising in August, are getting cheaper just as analysts forecast a rise in profits. Shares in Morgan Stanley Capital International's Asia Pacific Finance Index trade at 16.5 times profit, below their average price-earnings ratio of 28.3 since 2001, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Last week, the gauge rose 0.5 percent, beating the MSCI Asia Pacific Index's 0.4 percent gain. ``Asian financials look very appealing, very undervalued and amazingly ignored,'' said Sean Darby, a strategist at Nomura International (Hong Kong) Ltd., in Hong Kong. ``A lot of the pessimism has been factored in to share prices but the potential for loan growth has not.'' Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., Japan's biggest bank, raised its earnings forecast last week. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the nation's largest, climbed after People's Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said pressure to raise interest rates in the world's fastest-growing economy has ``eased.'' Lending in Japan, home to nine of the region's 10 worst- performing banking stocks this half, is set to become more profitable as the Bank of Japan raises its key interest rate from 0.25 percent. Demand for loans is strengthening elsewhere in the region as economies improve. The MSCI Asia Pacific Finance Index, which includes 79 Asian commercial banks, has gained 3.3 percent since the U.S. Federal Reserve ended two years of raising its target for overnight loans between banks in August. MSCI's global measure of financial stocks has risen 9.2 percent and its benchmark for Asia-Pacific stocks is up 5.1 percent.

`Positive News' Japan's Topix Banks index has dropped 11 percent since then as speculation the Bank of Japan would quickly follow up its July rate rise, the nation's first in six years, lessened. The index ended last week at a 13-month low. The gauge's 14-day relative strength index, a ratio of the changes in the benchmark, reached 28.8 on Nov. 21. A score below 30 indicates to some investors that Japanese banks are likely to gain. The index is priced at 14.3 times earnings, compared with this year's average of 18.4 times. ``Right now bank shares are not expensive, so once investors have a better outlook for future growth, the stocks should recover,'' said Yoji Takeda, who helps manage $900 million in Asian stocks at RBC Investment (Asia) Ltd. in Hong Kong.

Improve Margins Higher interest rates would allow Japanese banks to charge more for loans, boosting earnings. Lending in Japan started rising in February after a decade of shrinking. The Bank of Japan last week reiterated plans to raise rates ``gradually,'' minutes of a policy board meeting last month show. Of 16 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, 10 said rates will rise in the first quarter of 2007. Four said an increase could come at the next two-day policy meeting ending on Dec. 19. ``The move to raise rates has been long awaited,'' said Monika Yang, who manages the $116 million Pacific Stars Fund at HSBC Asset Management (Taiwan) Ltd. in Taipei. ``The day is likely to come in the next policy meeting, which will be very positive news for Japanese lenders.'' Mitsubishi UFJ raised its full-year profit forecast by 16 percent on Nov. 20.

`Outstanding Opportunity' The outlook for steady or declining interest rates in other Asian nations is encouraging companies and consumers to borrow. Strategists at Nomura, Macquarie Securities Ltd., Citigroup Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Deutsche all recommend investors buy Asian lenders to benefit from this. ``Asian banks are an outstanding opportunity at the moment,'' said Tim Rocks, a Hong Kong-based strategist at Macquarie. He predicts banks in Asia outside of Japan will beat the consensus forecast for 10.4 percent profit growth in 2007. Still, continued weakness for Japanese banks may hold Asian financial stocks back. ``Higher interest rates would help Japanese banks, however, it will also cause their loan growth rate to slow,'' said Hiromichi Tsuyukubo, who helps manage about $800 million as chief executive officer at Myojo Asset Management Japan Co. in Tokyo. ``They are going to have a very tough time.'' Accelerating wage growth around the world may also make central bankers less willing to cut interest rates. At their October meeting, Fed policy makers saw a risk that a sustained increase in wages could push up inflation, according to minutes released Nov. 15.

Top Picks For now, markets are still betting on lower U.S. rates. Based on trading in interest-rate futures, investors see about a 70 percent chance the U.S. central bank will cut its target rate a quarter percentage point, to 5 percent, by the end of May. Rocks said bank shares in Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines may rise 20 percent next year. His top picks include Hang Seng Bank Ltd., Hong Kong's third-largest lender by assets, as well as DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and United Overseas Bank Ltd., Singapore's two biggest banks. Hong Kong's local-currency bank loans rose 9.5 percent from a year earlier in September, the fastest pace in four months, and economic growth accelerated to a year-high of 6.8 percent in the third quarter. Singapore's bank loans rose 7.5 percent, the fastest rate in more than two years. Chinese banks, among the best performers this half, may rise more as slowing industrial expansion gives policy makers room to refrain from imposing more curbs on loans. Shanghai-listed shares of China Merchants Bank Co., the country's most profitable lender, have jumped 69 percent since June 30, while Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co., the Chinese partner of Citigroup Inc., gained 64 percent. ICBC has surged 26 percent since listing on Oct. 27 in the world's biggest initial public offering.

Gains Justified Those gains are justified given estimated earnings per share growth of 23 percent through 2008, the fastest in Asia, Minyan Liu, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a Nov. 21 research note. Mark Jolley, a strategist at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong, recommends buying banks in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines as central banks in Asia and the U.S. hold off from raising rates. ``There's a pretty good chance financials will outperform from here,'' Jolley said in an interview. ``Banks often rally in late stages of the interest-rate cycle.'' (by Stuart Kelly)


From http://www.bloomberg.com/ 11/27/2006


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CHINA: Maintain Prudent Monetary, Fiscal Policies in 2007

China will maintain its prudent monetary and fiscal policies next year in face of anticipated heated investment, excessive bank loans and an expanding trade surplus. Two senior officials disclosed the trends of China's macro-economic policies next year at the 2007 China Industrial Development Forum at the weekend. China would continue its prudent fiscal policy and reduce its deficits slightly next year, said Vice Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei, adding the reduction would small as more money would go to education, health and rural development. The monetary policy would also be prudent in a bid to maintain the continuity and stability of the macro-control policies, said Su Ning, vice governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC). China's gross domestic product grew by 10.7 percent in the first nine months this year. Fixed asset investment was up 27.3 percent, 1.2 percentage points higher than the rise at the same time last year. New bank loans totaled 2.76 trillion yuan (349 billion U.S. dollars) in the first nine months, overshooting the planned annual quota of 2.5 trillion yuan (316 billion U.S. dollars). Meanwhile, the trade surplus reached 109.85 billion U.S. dollars, compared with 101.88 billion dollars for 2005. "High bank savings and low consumption have become one of the main problems for China's economy, directly causing fixed asset investment to race ahead," said Su, adding that the proportion of consumption to the national economy had dropped 10 percentage points in the past decade while that of savings had been climbing.

Su said the government deposits in the central bank had reached a record high and about 500 billion yuan (62.5 billion dollars) would be withdrawn by the end of the year. Its entry into the market would increase the money supply and lead to a rise in bank loans. The PBOC would take measures to control possible loan increase, said Su. China tightened fiscal policy two years ago in the hope of capping the galloping fixed asset investment and preventing possible overheating of the economy. As investment kept soaring in the first three quarters, some analysts held that China should tighten money supply to help strengthen macro-economic control. "What we should do now is to strictly carry out the macro-economic control policies and keep them stable," said Zhu Zhixin, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, who also appealed for increasing domestic demand. Next year, Zhu said, the government would continue its macro-economic control measures to prevent it a rebound while encouraging investment in education, science and rural development. More capital would be channeled to environmentally friendly construction to facilitate economic restructuring, said Zhu.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/13/2006


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China's Social Security Fund Earns 60b Yuan from Banking Investments

China's Social Security fund has earned 60 billion yuan (7.5 billion U.S. dollars) from its investments in the Bank of Communication, the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. "The Social Security Fund is one of the most important institutional investors in the Chinese capital market and has a number of advantages over ordinary institutional investors", said Xiang Huaicheng, chairman of the National Social Security Fund Council on Monday, Xiang said that, as a pension fund, the Social Security Fund must secure itself against losses and avoid risky high-return investments. The fund earned 12.14 billion yuan (1.52 billion U.S. dollars) from its investments in the first nine months of the year, at a yield of 6.01 percent, said Xiang. The fund's total assets reached 255.4 billion yuan at the end of September. Statistics show that the fund achieved an aggregated yield of 11.82 percent from 2000 to 2004, outperforming the inflation rate for the same period but still short of the 13.66-percent interest rate of five-year treasury bonds. The Social Security Fund was established in 2000 as part of China's effort to build up a national social security network to cope with the growing needs of its aging population.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/06/2006


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China, UNDP Open First Annual Forum on Fiscal Reform

The first annual forum on China's fiscal reform opened in Beijing on Tuesday, aiming to address the ways in which the reforms can be made most beneficial to the poor. "China has made enormous progress in economic and social development in recent decades," said Khalid Malik, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in China. "However, the depth and coverage of China's fiscal reform progress have been uneven, and there is scope for strengthening the links between fiscal reforms and poverty reduction goals," said Malik. "From growth-orientation to promoting greater equity, fiscal policy must play a central role in this shift," he stressed. As the country registered robust economic growth of 10.7 percent in the first three quarters, the Chinese central government will adopt a more prudent fiscal policy to restrain government expenditure, control deficits and increase revenue, according to the Ministry of Finance.

"Taxation, as an important instrument of macro-economic management, should and will play a more active role in balancing urban and rural development, regional equalization, reducing unemployment and environmental protection," said Wang Li, deputy director of the State Administration of Texation (SAT). China has set aside 14.2 billion yuan in subsidies to arable farmers this year, with 14.18 billion yuan already allocated by October 20, according to official data. Another 23.5 billion yuan was used to subsidize county and township governments in an effort to improve their financial capability. The forum was set up as part of a 10.3-million-U.S.dollar project, established by the Chinese government and the UNDP, with the aim of implementing national fiscal policies more effectively at local levels.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/14/2006


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CBRC: Foreign Financial Institutions Encouraged to Join China's Commercial Banks

Foreign financial institutions with good credit are encouraged to join China's commercial banks by share purchasing and equity participation, said Wang Zhaoxing, assistant chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC). Wang said at the press conference held here Thursday that the introduction of foreign strategic partners into Chinese banks has played a positive role in improving their risk management and financial innovation and in enhancing their competitiveness. There are 25 foreign financial institutions taking shares in 20large, medium and small sized commercial banks in China. "The opening of China's banking sector is comprehensive and all directional," said Wang. Wang said China will make dynamic and continuous evaluations on the investment of the foreign banks in Chinese banks. The rules stipulate that an individual foreign financial institution can hold no more than 20 percent of shares in Chinese financial institutions and the ceiling for all foreign financial institutions is 25 percent.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/16/2006


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China to Open RMB Business for Foreign-funded Banks

China will allow foreign-funded banks to conduct Renminbi business for Chinese citizens before Dec. 11 in line with its commitments to the World Trade Organization, said Song Dahan, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Office of China's State Council, on Thursday. The government would also remove regional restrictions and other limits on foreign-funded banks, giving them the same treatment as Chinese banks, said Song at a press conference on China's new regulations on foreign-funded banks. According to the regulations issued Wednesday, Chinese branches of foreign banks remain banned from engaging in Renminbi services with Chinese citizens unless an individual, with the approval of the banking regulatory body, makes a fixed deposit of a minimum one million yuan (127,000 U.S. dollars). The government will encourage and guide foreign banks to transform their branches into or set up incorporated banks registered in China, which will enjoy the benefits of the country's banking sector, said Song.

He said that the banks would be supervised by the Chinese banking authorities to minimize risks and ensure domestic financial stability. Foreign banks with Chinese corporate status can issue Renminbi credit cards, said Wang Zhaoxing, assistant chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC). He also encouraged foreign financial institutions with good credit to buy shares of Chinese commercial banks. "The opening of China's banking sector is comprehensive and all directional," said Wang. Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, the country has seen the number of foreign-funded banks growing and their business scope expanding, said Song. China has fully opened its foreign exchange business to foreign-funded banks and allowed 111 foreign financial institutions to offer Renminbi services for Chinese and foreign enterprises in 25 cities. The CBRC data show the assets of foreign-funded banks in China totaled 105.1 billion U.S. dollars in September, accounting for 1.9 percent of all banking institutions in the country.

Since 2001, China has taken a series of measures to gradually open its financial markets, including the introduction of the QFII (qualified foreign institutional investors) scheme in 2003 to allow foreign institutional investors such as UBS, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup Global Markets Limited to engage in the securities sector on the Chinese mainland. In order to cope with competition from foreign banks, the country has initiated reforms of its state-owned banks which had high non-performing loan ratios. Three of its four largest state-owned commercial banks are now listed on the stock market.

From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/16/2006


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China Gives Foreign Banks Five Years to Comply with Loan-deposit Ratio

China will give locally incorporated foreign banks five years to abide by a rule requiring them to keep loans in the local currency below 75 percent of deposits. The rule, which has been sent out to foreign lenders for comment, is likely to be officially released by the end of November, the China Daily reported, citing unnamed sources. China announced last week new regulations governing foreign banks' operations in the country, as part of its World Trade Organization commitments to open up the banking sector to global competition. The rules, which will take effect on December 11 -- the fifth anniversary of China's entry into the WTO -- place some tough restrictions on the banks as they seek to tap more than two trillion dollars in household deposits. The proposed amendment to the published regulations comes after criticism from foreign banks saying the loan-to-deposit ratio could "greatly disrupt" their business, according to the paper.

"The criteria could be a tough request for foreign lenders if the regulator does not give them a five-year grace period," an unidentified banking executive told the paper. While foreign banks expanded their lending business in the local currency, especially with multinational clients, restricted branch networks have limited their ability to collect deposits. It cited statistics showing foreign financial institutions in China had collected 114 billion yuan (14.3 billion dollars) in deposits by the end of August, while 161 billion yuan was paid out in loans. Currently, foreign lenders are only allowed to carry out yuan-dominated business with Chinese companies, not individuals, and only in 25 cities. Banks can also offer foreign currency loans. The amended rules also give a three-year grace period before foreign banks are prevented from lending over 10 percent of their capital to a single client, according to the paper. "The money a locally incorporated foreign bank lends to a single client cannot exceed 10 percent of its overall capital after December 1, 2009," the new rule said. "Before that, foreign banks cannot lend over 25 per cent of their capital to a single client," it said.


From http://news.yahoo.com/ 11/23/2006


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Shanghai Plans to Build Int'l Financial Center

Shanghai expects its financial institutions to double their deposit and loan balances by 2010, as part of Shanghai's plan to be an international financial center. Shanghai today issued the scenario for building the framework for an international financial center during the 11th Five-Year-Plan period, which will end in 2010. The city plans locally-based financial institutions will have 4.5 trillion yuan (573 billion U.S. dollars) deposit balance in 2010. The figure was 2.3 trillion yuan by the end of last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Loan balance will reach 3.2 trillion yuan in 2010, jumping from last year's more than 1.6 trillion yuan in the city. According to the scenario, the fundraising volume in Shanghai's financial market, including stock, government bond and corporate bond markets, will account for 25 percent of the country's total in 2010. Trading volume in the city's financial market will total 80 trillion yuan in 2010, up from 35 trillion yuan in 2005.

The combined assets of the city's financial institutions will be 10 percent of that of the country. The scenario expects Shanghai to be the country's hub of money by the end of 2010, with an annual trading volume of 40 trillion yuan in the currency market. The city also expects its future bourse to be the world's top 10 exchanges by 2010, having more say in commodity pricing. And the market value of Shanghai's stock market is expected to grow to 7 trillion yuan by then, becoming one of the biggest stock markets in the Asia and Pacific region. Besides, Shanghai will step up efforts to develop online banking, securities and insurance services to boost its financial informatization. Also in 2010, more than 70 percent of stores in the city will be able to handle banking card consumption, up from about 50 percent last year. Banking card consumption will account for more than 40 percent of the total retail sales in 2010, while it was 32 percent in 2005.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/27/2006


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JAPAN: Gov't Eyes Y4 Trillion Extra Budget

The government is considering compiling a 4 trillion yen supplementary budget for the current fiscal year to next March, backed by an expected sharp rise in tax revenues, government and ruling party officials told Kyodo News on Monday. Tax revenues for fiscal 2006 are expected to exceed their initial projection by 3-4 trillion yen from the originally projected 45.88 trillion yen, due largely to the nation's economic rebound.


From http://www.japantoday.com 11/21/2006


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SOUTH KOREA: Regulator Calls on Banks to Control Housing Loans

The nation's financial regulator confirmed on Friday (Nov. 17) that it has called on leading commercial banks to cooperate and slow down the steep growth of housing loans. ※We met heads of the five commercial banks which have led the recent housing loan growth on Wednesday and Thursday and asked them to regulate the speed of loan growth for their financial health,§ Kim Jung-hoe, the deputy governor of the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said. The five commercial banks were Kookmin, Woori, Shinhan, Hana, and the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, which took on about 90 percent of the new housing loans in October.


From http://www.korea.net/news/ 11/17/2006


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NORTH KOREA: 2007 Budget for N.Korea Projects Mostly Unchanged

The government and ruling party have decided to set aside a similar portion of the budget for aid to North Korea and inter-Korean economic cooperation as this year, despite North Korea*s nuclear test in October. In a meeting on Tuesday, the government and Uri Party reduced the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund by a mere 3.5 percent from W1.22 trillion (US$1=W937) this year to W1.18 trillion next year. The government will pay W650 billion into the fund next year, the same amount it bore this year, reaffirming it will largely continue its engagement with Pyongyang. As part of the Unification Ministry*s budget, the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund finances humanitarian aid and personnel and economic cooperation projects with the North. In humanitarian aid, the government plans to send 500,000 tons of food and 350,000 tons of fertilizer to the North next year, the same as this year. It hugely increased financial support for the joint-Korean industrial complex in the North Korean city of Kaesong, more than doubling support to W212.5 billion -- W132.8 billion for building infrastructure in the industrial park and W18.2 billion for building dorms for North Koreans working there.

Next year's budget related to Mt. Kumgang is of similar size to this year's. The government plan includes money for a reunion center for separated families there, a project North Korea has suspended. Additionally, some W80 billion is to be appropriated for helping North Korea reinvigorate its light industry, and some W15 billion was set aside for a feasibility study for a power supply project to North Korea that would cost several trillion won predicated on the North giving up its nuclear program. In reality, not all the appropriated budget is likely to be spent on inter-Korean projects. This year some W480 billion was set aside for rice and fertilizer aid and support of North Korea*s light industry, but most of it was frozen after Pyongyang*s missile and nuclear tests. A government official said, ※We don*t exactly know how much money will be spent on aid to North Korea and inter-Korean economic cooperation next year amid the North Korean nuclear crisis. But we need to secure a budget in advance on the premise that the inter-Korean relationship improves next year.§


From http://english.chosun.com 11/15/2006


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INDONESIA: Development Bank Offers RI $4 Billion in Loans and Grants

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has unveiled a four-year lending plan called the Indonesia Country Strategy and Program (CSP), with US$4 billion in loans and grants being set aside for the 2006-2009 period to help the country achieve sustainable growth and enhance social development. "The government is on the right track with its reform program and the ADB stands ready to offer its full support," ADB vice president C. Lawrence Greenwood Jr. told reporters Tuesday. The plan includes $3.82 billion in loans and $47.6 million in grants that will focus on infrastructure development, improving the financial sector, supporting decentralization, and accelerating efforts related to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and environmental protection. The ADB's assessment identified a number of constraints on development in Indonesia that the CSP aims to help the government address. These constraints included the absence of stable and consistent legal and regulatory environments, the proliferation of local taxes and ordinances, low infrastructure provision, relatively small capital markets and non-bank financial institutions, uncertainty regarding the administrative hierarchy, and weak capacities at the local level.

"Non-banking sectors such as insurance and pension funds are important for a country like Indonesia as they provide long-term savings that are required for infrastructure investment," Greenwood said of the role that could be played by the country's non-bank financial sector as a source of financing. On Nov. 1-3, the government will hold the Infrastructure Conference and Exhibition 2006 with the aim of attracting investors to put their money into its infrastructure projects. Assuming that the government succeeds in attracting investors, ADB principal economist Ramesh Subramaniam said that Indonesia's economic growth could average 7 percent between 2006-2009. "This is an exciting time for us because the government has decided to increase development spending. Of the $4 billion in loans, around $1 billion would be allocated to support the government's infrastructure program," Greenwood said. An ADB report shows that its active Indonesia portfolio in 2006 saw total new loans of $2.7 billion for 37 projects. This compared with over $1.6 billion for 32 projects that failed to be disbursed between 2003 and 2005. "The situation regarding undisbursed loans has actually improved dramatically in the last four to five years here in Indonesia in terms of ADB involvement," Greenwood said. "The $1.6 billion, I don't think it's a bad number. Keep in mind that as we approve loans, the projects usually take 6 to 7 years to actually accomplish." When asked about the growing skepticism in some quarters on the efficiency of international financial institutions, such as the ADB, Greenwood said the ADB was not concerned about improving its image, but rather would focus on delivering more effective programs.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com 11/01/2006


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Govt Lifts Import Duty, Coal Export Tax

To attract investors to put their money in the country's vast energy resources, the Finance Ministry has lifted import duties on goods and equipment for oil and gas exploration and production as well as export tax on coal products. The import duty exemption for equipment and goods used in the oil and gas upstream sector is given to oil and gas companies that operate under production sharing contracts with BP Migas, the regulatory body for oil and gas exploration and production, the Finance Ministry announced last week. The equipment and products exempted from import duties include those used for drilling and production, transportation, power generation as well as workshop equipment, electrical tools, valves and fitting tools, building materials, metal, hardware and packing equipment, paints, oils, chemicals and laboratory equipment, medical equipment and supplies, household and office appliances. The exemption came into effect on Oct. 16, 2006 and will be valid until July 15, 2007. Related companies wishing to take the advantage of the import tax exemption should report their import plans for at least for a year to the office of the director general of excise and customs. In addition to the abolition of the import duty, the Finance Ministry also removed the 5 percent tax imposed on coal exports which was introduced several years ago to protect the coal supply at home.

The new policy came into affect on Sept. 13. Separately, a business watchdog has urged the Trade Ministry to also lift a policy prohibiting state-owned fertilizer companies from exporting their products because the ban will only cause great losses to the state. "We have an over supply of fertilizer in storage. The domestic demand is only 400,000 tons, whereas our current fertilizer stocks have reached 800,000 tons," State-owned companies (BUMN) watchdog head Naldy Nazar was quoted by Antara news agency as saying. Due to a slowdown in farming activities in the country, Naldy said the demand for fertilizers was declining, with warehouses overflowing with fertilizer. He reiterated that the only way out was by lifting the export ban. With the current oversupply, Naldy said that the ban was not relevant anymore as its purpose was to protect the country from a fertilizer shortage. The Agriculture Ministry has forecast annual national production of fertilizer at about 7 million tons, which is more than enough to meet the domestic fertilizer demand of 4.5 million tons a year.


From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/20/2006


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PHILIPPINES: Finance Chief Wants Tighter Monitoring of Gov*t Spending

THE Department of Finance will coordinate closely with the Department of Budget and Management to monitor government expenditures, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves said Friday, amid fears of overspending during the election campaign next year. The two departments will conduct regular assessments, possibly on a weekly basis, Teves told reporters. ※It is important that we stick to the expenditure program and meet our fiscal targets,§ he said. ※We need to ensure the quality of spending.§ The spending should not go beyond what is programmed in the 2007 national budget and should be focused on providing quality healthcare and education, and infrastructure projects, Teves said. The government has proposed a P1.136-trillion budget for next year, with a target limit of P63 billion for the budget deficit as against a target of P125 billion this year. The objective is a balanced budget in 2008. The investment bank UBS has expressed doubt that the national government will cut its budget deficit next year to P63 billion. Expenditure is coming from extremely low levels this year, levels that we believe are unsustainable," it said in its latest assessment of the Philippine economy. The national government has controlled spending so far this year in the absence of a new budget from Congress, and has operated on a rolled-over 2005 budget that is about P100 billion less than it had proposed for 2006. From January to September, it spent P766.298 billion, recording a budget deficit P50.41 billion as against a target ceiling of P121.99 billion that was set before reenactment of the 2005 budget for 2006. Last month, Congress approved a P46.9-billion supplemental budget for this year. Increased spending is expected in the current quarter. Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said he would ensure that expenditures and the budget deficit would stay within the levels programmed for next year. ※There will be no pre-election uptick on spending,§ he said. ※We will not exceed the parameters of our budget authority. We will not deviate from the program.§ Andaya said election laws constrict spending, citing a ban on public works construction and on hiring additional personnel during campaign periods. Andaya said next year*s budget might provide for an increase in salaries of government employees, which he said had long been in the works and was not related to the midterm elections scheduled for May.

From http://archive.inquirer.net 11/04/2006


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SINGAPORE: GST to Be Raised to 7%

The Goods and Services Tax will be increased to 7 percent from 5 percent presently. This was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Parliament on Monday. However, when the rise will be implemented, will be decided later. Speaking in Malay, Mandarin and English, Mr Lee explained that the hike was necessary to finance the enhanced social safety nets, needed to help the lower income group and he emphasised that the offset package would more than counter the rise in GST. While Singapore's current model to tackle the widening income gap is sound, Mr Lee said the government would take on two approaches to deal with the new environment - to strengthen the safety nets and tilt the balance in favour of the lower-income groups who do not benefit from the fruits of economic growth. To do this, government spending will have to go up. The government now spends some 15 percent of its GDP - one of the lowest in the world. "This is inevitable over the next 5 to 10 years. Infrastructure investments will cost money - R&D is to cost $5b over the next 5 years; as medical technology improves, people age and more will go to hospitals to get more treatment, so spending is bound to go up. As we tilt the playing field across the board, the lower income will be getting another boost, not just once in a while. Therefore its better to start building resources now so that when we spend more, we have the means to do so," said Mr Lee. To finance this, indirect taxes or the Goods & Services Tax will have to go up.

"It will give us precious extra resources to implement social programmes like Workfare later on. Our aim is to help the lower income groups and the elderly, not to increase their burdens. When we implement the GST increase, it's not just the GST increase, it's the package which will fully offset the impact of the GST increase and begin to strengthen the social safety nets and tilt the balance in favour of the low income groups - we will not just raise the GST but we will have a comprehensive offset package," said Mr Lee. This package will be weighted more to the middle and the low income groups, especially the elderly, and it will more than offset the GST increase. "It is not just an offset package to deal with the GST. It is a whole set of measures which we are taking in order to tilt the playing field in favour of the lower income group, which is what we have to add and tally in the balance, and my purpose is to help the lower income group. For the middle income, it will be generally about ok; for the higher income, I think the higher income should end up paying more overall. It's part of being one society. I'm not going to tax 15% on income tax, I'm not going to tax 25% from GST the way the Scandanavians do, but I have to make the adjustments of 2% which I think is fair and I think Singaporeans will support," added Mr Lee.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/13/2006


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Amended Banking Bill Introduced to Protect Depositors

The Banking (Amendment) Bill has been introduced in Parliament on Wednesday. The Bill is intended to strengthen prudential safeguards to protect depositors and give the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) more power to deal with a distressed or insolvent bank. It will also provide banks with greater operational flexibility as they will no longer be required to maintain a statutory reserve fund. The Trade Marks (Amendment) Bill was also introduced to bring Singapore in line with the Treaty on the Law of Trade Marks. The changes will also help to simplify the registration of trademarks in Singapore. The Property Tax Surcharge (Abolition) Bill was also moved to repeal the Property Tax (Surcharge) Act as it is no longer necessary to impose a surcharge on the property tax of properties held by foreigners.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/08/2006


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INDIA: IDBI Bank, Federal Bank and Fortis Sign Joint Venture Agreement to Establish a New Life Insurance Company in India

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 11/23/06 -- IDBI Bank, Federal Bank and Fortis announced today that they have signed a Joint Venture Agreement to establish a new life insurance company, which will offer a full range of life insurance and long-term savings products to the Indian market. Under the Agreement, IDBI Bank will own 48% equity, while Fortis Insurance International and Federal Bank will each own 26%, which is the maximum allowable shareholding for a foreign insurer under India's Foreign Direct Investments regulations. The Joint Venture Agreement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on 11 July 2006. Subject to regulatory approval, the three partners expect the new company to be operational by mid-2007. It will promote a full range of life insurance and long-term savings products, including traditional and unit-linked savings plans, and health and disability cover. These will be available on an individual and group basis. The joint venture will build a multi-channel distribution platform including bancassurance, agency and direct sales. In view of Fortis's global experience in bancassurance and the strengths of the bank partners, the company will use bancassurance as a key distribution strategy.

Peer van Harten, CEO of Fortis Insurance, comments: "We are very excited about this partnership and about the fact that this creates the opportunity to work together with two highly successful banks in India. Fortis has had a long-standing record of successful bancassurance partnerships in Asia, as we have established leadership positions with our Asian joint ventures. Gaining entry to the Indian life market is fully in line with our strategy to build a significant presence in Asia, especially in a market that has such huge potential. I believe the three partners' expertise and distribution capabilities combined with the high level of joint ambition and professionalism represents a winning proposition for all parties involved. Fortis looks forward to working with its new partners in India." Shri V.P. Shetty, Chairman and Managing Director of IDBI says: "We see life insurance as a high-growth business in India and we are excited about creating value for customers by leveraging our brand value, capital strength and the track record of innovation in retail banking. The IDBI name stands for trust and solidity and we are confident that the insurance products offered by the joint venture will gain customer acceptance and confidence. The global expertise of Fortis and the substantial regional franchise of Federal Bank add great strength to the partnership and we are very pleased to have been able to build a fruitful relationship with them." Sri M. Venugopalan, Chairman of Federal Bank adds: "We are delighted to join hands with Industrial Development Bank of India and Fortis Insurance International to start a new life insurance company in India. We consider this as a landmark event in our efforts to diversify into complementary areas. The new vehicle will be able to leverage the product and distribution capability that the three partners bring to the table. We at Federal Bank look forward to working with Fortis and Industrial Development Bank of India to enhance our presence in the financial space through this new vehicle and the new products that we will offer to our existing and prospective customers."

Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) is a scheduled bank incorporated and registered under the Companies Act, 1956, having its registered office at Mumbai, India. IDBI enjoys the status of a public financial institution. IDBI is also categorised under a new sub-group 'Other Public Sector Banks'. The government of India holds 52.68% of the issued capital of IDBI. IDBI was originally established in 1964 as a wholly owned subsidiary of RBI to provide credit and other facilities for the development of industry. In 1976, the ownership of IDBI was transferred from RBI to the Central Government and IDBI was entrusted with the additional responsibility of acting as the principal development financial institution responsible for coordinating the activities of institutions engaged in the financing, promotion or development of industry. IDBI has a long-standing business relationship with more than 3,000 corporate clients and over five million retail investors. Currently, IDBI has a network of 181 branches, four extension counters and 396 ATMs in 103 centres. IDBI provides a wide range of products and services in the financial sector to both retail and corporate clientele. The range of diversified services includes project financing, term lending, working capital facilities, lease finance, venture capital, loan syndication, corporate advisory services and legal and technical advisory services to its corporate clients as well as mortgages and personal loans to its retail clients. As part of IDBI's development activities, the bank has been instrumental in sponsoring and supporting the development of key institutions involved in India's financial sector. In this mode, IDBI has played a key role in the formation of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). IDBI has also sponsored the National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSEIL), which first introduced electronic trading in securities in India. IDBI maintains an arm's-length business relationship with its subsidiaries and affiliates. More detailed information on IDBI is available on www.idbi.com.

Federal Bank is incorporated and registered under the Travancore Companies Act, 1931 and licensed under the Banking Companies Act, 1959. In 1970, Federal Bank became a scheduled commercial bank under the RBI Act, 1934, with its registered office at Alwaye in the Indian state of Kerala. It has no dominant promoter group and its shares are traded extensively on the National Stock Exchange, the Mumbai Stock Exchange and the Cochin Stock Exchange. Federal Bank also has a GDR issue listed on the London Stock Exchange. The bank has 472 branches, 329 own ATMs, four million retail customers and over 6,300 employees. It provides a wide variety of financial products and was one of the first traditional banks in India to have its entire branch network automated and interconnected, and to offer inter-branch banking facilities. It was also the first traditional bank in India to offer internet banking through Fednet and is the only one to have introduced an e-payment gateway and mobile banking and alert system. These technological innovations have won the bank many awards and recommendations. Federal Bank is considered one of the top Indian banks servicing the large non-resident Indian population and the bank's relationship with non-resident Indians goes back a long way. As of 31 March 2006, Federal bank had a total deposit base of INR 179 billion, net worth of INR 12.38 billion and net profit of INR 2.25 billion. More information is available on www.federalbank.co.in. (by Marketwire)

From http://www.sys-con.com/ 11/23/2006


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SRI LANKA: Holds Key Rate at Asia's Second Highest

(Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka's central bank held its benchmark interest rate at the second-highest in Asia before President Mahinda Rajapaksa presents the nation's annual budget. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka kept the repurchase rate at 9.625 percent, a 3-1/2 year high, the Colombo-based bank said today. Analysts expected a quarter percentage point increase. Rajapaksa may have to increase taxes in his budget speech on Nov. 16 as a debt moratorium for Sri Lanka following the December 2004 tsunami ends and deteriorating security curbs overseas aid. Three interest rate increases in a year have added almost 2 percentage points to the government's borrowing costs. ``The government may be considering other options to curb demand in the economy such as taxes and levies,'' said Vajira Premawardhana, director of research at Lanka Orix Securities Pvt. in Colombo. ``Should they raise taxes in the budget to damp seasonal demand during Christmas for imported goods, that'd help combat inflation as well.'' In his first budget last year, Rajapaksa raised the corporate tax rate to 35 percent and increased the value-added tax on financial services to 20 percent from 15 percent. Consumer prices in Colombo rose 17.2 percent in October from a year earlier, after increasing 15.4 percent in September, the Department of Census and Statistics said on Oct. 31. Inflation touched a record 17.7 percent in June.

Support Target The Sri Lankan rupee was at 108.25 to the dollar at 9:35 a.m. in Colombo after ending yesterday at 107.8, according to Hatton National Bank Ltd. There were no trades on the local bond market. The benchmark Colombo All-Share Index rose 5.98 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,568.04. Central bank governor Nivard Cabraal had pledged to support the government's target for 7 percent growth, the fastest pace in 30 years, helping curb the budget deficit. Still, monetary authorities today warned banks to curb excessive lending, signalling Cabraal may have to resume raising rates. ``Looking at all the fundamentals in the economy, they should be raising interest rates - if not now, later,'' said Dudeepa Ratwatte, head of global markets at Commecial Bank of Ceylon Ltd. in Colombo. ``They have been flagging a lot of concerns, especially on the lending side by commercial banks. The only way they can curb this by raising rates.' The yield on the 364-day treasury bill may rise by as much as 8 basis points at the next scheduled auction tomorrow, said Ratwatte. The government sold the bills at an average yield of 12.15 percent on Nov. 8. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point. ``We can see yields rising at the treasury bill auctions as the market starts factoring in more negative signals,'' said Ratwatte.

Slowing Inflation Sri Lanka's policies should focus on slowing inflation, and higher interest rates may be needed to curb lending, the International Monetary Fund said in a report yesterday. Rising interest costs may also render the $24-billion economy vulnerable to external shocks, and the government should enhance revenue collection to check a widening budget deficit, it said. Cabraal froze borrowing costs last month after an unscheduled increase on Sept. 28 to support Asia's worst- performing currency. Sri Lanka's key interest rate is the highest in Asia after Indonesia's. The central bank today kept the reverse repurchase rate, the cost for lenders when they borrow from the central bank, at 11.125 percent after three increases this year. This year's rate increases may not be enough to curb loan growth after inflation accelerated to a fourth-month high, Gihan Hemachandra, an analyst at Capital Alliance Ltd. in Colombo, said before today's announcement. He predicted a quarter percentage point rise. ``The Monetary Board has observed with concern, the current demand pressure in the economy, higher inflation and the regular use of Reverse repo facilities by some banks leading to high credit expansion,'' the central bank said in its statement. Excessive use of the reverse-repurchase facility ``contributes to high credit and monetary expansion.'' (by Anusha Ondaatjie and Sam Nagarajan)


From http://www.bloomberg.com/ 11/14/2006


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MALDIVES: Cabinet Finalises 2007 Budget

The Cabinet finalised the estimated government budget for 2007 on Sunday. The budget is to be submitted to the People*s Majlis. The budget was examined by two specific Cabinet committees in light of initial recommendations by the Cabinet. Discussions were held on the suggestions made by these committees, and the finalised budget was reached through these discussions. Cabinet members discussed the policy areas and other arrangements required to implement the activities stated in the budget, which were aimed at achieving important national development goals set by the members of the Cabinet.

From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 11/20/2006


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NEPAL: Comprehensive Program to Expand Rural Finance in Nepal

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A loan and grant package totaling as much as $100 million will support a comprehensive reform program to improve the access of rural households in Nepal to financial services. While rural poverty in Nepal has been declining, mainly due to large remittance inflows, still about 95% of the country*s poor live in rural areas. Access to reliable and affordable financial services is crucial for them to capture the opportunities of the reviving economy. Yet access to institutional financial services in Nepal is severely limited, reaching only 28% of the population. This can be solved by revitalizing the network of rural finance institutions. However, a high-risk profile, restrictive policies, and security concerns, along with difficult terrain, inhibit the growth of private institutional rural finance services. ※Wider sector reform is needed to address bottlenecks to the growth and development of efficient rural finance services for the poor,§ says Mayumi Ozaki, an ADB Finance Specialist. The Rural Finance Sector Development Cluster Program comprises two subprograms, the first of which aims to consolidate the fragmented rural finance regulatory framework, begin to commercialize rural finance institutions, and strengthen the capabilities of rural finance service providers.

This subprogram, backed by a $56 million loan from ADB*s concessional Asian Development Fund (ADF), should create an environment that stimulates the growth of rural finance through policy, legal, regulatory, and institutional reforms. The loan carries a 24-year term, including an 8-year grace period, and an annual interest charge of 1% during the grace period and 1.5% afterwards. A second loan, which could total as much as $35 million, will be prepared in 2009. Funds from this first loan will be used to recapitalize the Agricultural Development Bank Limited (ADBL), the third largest bank in the country that, despite its institutional weaknesses, remains the single most important institution in the rural sector. An $8.7 million grant, also from the ADF, complements the reform efforts by supporting the restructuring of ADBL and the Small Farmers Development Bank, an institution catering to cooperatives of small farmers. It will also establish a training institute in banking and finance, and support product and process innovations. The second subprogram, after satisfactory completion of the first in 2008, will continue to promote reforms, expand the reach of commercial-based rural finance services, and support the privatization of important rural finance institutions, including ADBL. In addition, a $500,000 technical assistance grant from the Japan Special Fund, from the Government of Japan, will ensure quality inputs from experts on ADBL restructuring in line with international best practices. The Ministry of Finance is the executing agency for the entire program, which will be carried out until 2011.

From http://www.adb.org/ 10/30/2006


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PAKISTAN: Tax on Property Deals Proving Too Taxing

ISLAMABAD: The two per cent Capital Value Tax (CVT) being collected indiscriminately by the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) on mortgaging of property and granting of power of attorney is causing distress all around, particularly to senior citizens and widows. Victims of the arbitrary policy point out that in no way a power of attorney involves financial transaction as it does not transfer propriety rights or change the title of property. It only facilitates handling of property. Such an ill-advised policy only adds to the burdens of the already hard pressed common people, the victims say. Though the government*s objective in levying tax on land would have been to generate revenue and to plug the loopholes big land investors benefit from, they argue that ※the policy would also discourage the youth to fulfil their socio-religious- cultural obligations towards their old parents and those who cannot manage intricate property matters by themselves§. A range of people interviewed by Dawn revealed that the two per cent CVT is being charged regardless of actual financial transaction taking place or not in land deals.

Then the tax is unjustifiably charged twice. First the provincial revenue officials charge the two per cent CVT on all power of attorneys whether given to any blood relative or others, and the same is again charged at the time of sale or transaction of the property, those interviewed said. They proposed that government should exempt the power of attorney from CVT affected by spouses, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aged widows, uneducated womenfolk or others unable to manage their property matters in courts, or are prevented by social customs to do that. People executing mortgages too are made to pay the same levy twice - first on relinquishing their propriety rights to obtain a loan and again at the time of clearing that loan to regain their mortgaged property. It was proposed that the power of attorney awarded for obtaining a loan by mortgaging a property be exempted from the CVT, and also in cases where it was awarded for surrendering property to institutions cantonment/tehsil for public welfare, such as building schools, colleges, dispensaries, roads etc. An aggrieved person narrated to Dawn his woes after his aged father gave him the task of looking after his land and other property matters. ※When I presented my power of attorney to the revenue authorities, they instructed me to pay approximately Rs170,000 per kanal as CVT charges,§ he said, requesting anonymity. He wondered if ※the financial wizards who proposed this levy ever reflected on the socio-religious obligations of a citizen in an Islamic Welfare State which the country is claimed to be?§

Other anomalies pointed out in the CBR*s policy related to extending the definition of urban areas up to 10 kilometres from the outer limits of municipal bodies and cantonment boards. Municipal bodies exist no longer and the definition would make villagers liable to pay CVT, without distinguishing between towns and villages. It was observed that CVT on exchange of property is being charged in spite of the fact that difference of cost of land assessed by revenue authorities was already being collected as tax.

From http://www.dawn.com/ 11/03/2006


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IRAN: Legislature Approves Funds for Fuel Imports

The parliament on November 1 approved a draft proposal for the provision of $2.2 billion for imported gasoline, Fars News Agency reported. Fuel rationing may be necessary, and it could impose political costs on the government, something it has tried to avoid. It had requested $3.5 billion, which would have ruled out rationing. Legislator Kamal Daneshyar said the choice is between rationing and increasing the price per liter of gasoline, which currently costs about $0.09/liter due to government subsidies. Reza Talai-Nik, a legislator from Bahar and Kabudarahang, said the subsidy is unfair because it benefits wealthy city-dwellers who own several cars, whereas villagers cannot use subsidized gasoline because so many of them do not own cars. Legislators advocated spending money on improving public transportation and national infrastructure, which would reduce fuel consumption. BS


From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/02/2006


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Money Laundering Campaign a Blow to Black Economy

Once the bill on money laundering becomes a law, the ground will be prepared for the destructive, underground economic activities to be brought under control, observed a financial expert. Houshang Khostouei, a member of the High Council of Iran*s Chartered Accountants Association, told ILNA that transparency in deals and clarity on sources of money have turned into a necessity in the Third Millennium. The expert further said that in many other countries, particularly Europe, sources of money have to be clearly identified, adding that in such countries all financial transactions are handled through the banking system, whereas in Iran, most transactions are done out of this system. He said the campaign against money laundering will largely benefit the society, stressing that the would-be law will help reduce financial offenses, as it will expose money earned through embezzlement, drug trafficking and any other offences.

He noted that electronic money has to replace banknotes in order to better keep track of sources of money, adding that those who benefit from a nontransparent economy will try to prevent the implementation of any anti-money laundering law. Experts say that when the money-laundering bill becomes a law, it will help bring transparency to capital and monetary markets and regulate the capital accumulation systems. Alireza Vakilinia, who heads Association of Iranian Economics Graduates, believed that those monetary systems which lack transparency and effective control mechanisms are the hotbed of money laundering. ※In countries where the anti-money laundering law is strictly enforced, every one will need to prove the soundness of the source of money deposited in the bank,※ he said. The expert pointed out the bill on fighting money laundering was due to become a law 3-4 years ago, adding that it is still in limbo due to mounting pressures from certain groups. ※Those whose financial interests are threatened by this law will never let legal controls be exercised over their activities,※ he said.

From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 11/16/2006


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KAZAKHSTAN: Parliament Passes Law on National Budget 2007

The draft law "On National Budget 2007" in the second reading has been considered and approved at a joint meeting of the Parliament Houses today, November 13, Kazakhstan Today correspondent reports. The volume of the incomes in the national budget 2007 is determined in the amount of 1 trillion 982 billion KZT or 16.7% of the GNP; the expenditures will amount to 2 trillion 17 billion, the national budget deficit had been determined in the amount of 133.1 billion KZT, or 1.1% of the GNP. However today, during the consideration of the draft budget in the second reading the deficit was increased to 1.2% of the GNP. The GNP is planned to amount to 11 trillion 880 billion KZT. The draft law has been submitted to the President for signing.

From http://eng.gazeta.kz/ 11/13/2006


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TAJIKISTAN: Parliament Adopts Deficit State Budget

Tajik legislators unanimously adopted the state budget for 2007 on November 22 that identifies the fight against poverty and expanding the tax base as priorities, AKIpress reported. Tajik Finance Minister Safarali Nadzhmuddinov said the state budget includes a projected increase in state revenues to 3.195 billion somonis ($926 million) and an increase in expenditures to 3.290 billion somonis. The budget further projects a 7.5 percent increase in GDP, to some 9.55 billion somonis, and inflation of 7 percent. Some 40 percent of budgetary expenditures, or about 1.3 billion somonis, are earmarked for spending in the energy, transport, and agricultural sectors. The budget also increases spending on education and health care, and provides a 71 million somoni ($21 million) increase in defense and law-enforcement spending, Asia-Plus reported. RG

From http://www.rferl.org/ 11/27/2006


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UZBEKISTAN: Trust Bank Announces New Emission of Shares

Trust Bank private joint stock exchange bank announced floatation of 12th emission of ordinary shares. The bank said it will float 500,000 shares with par value of 1,000 soums each. Total volume of emission comprises 500 million soums. The bank said shareholders will have right to receive part of income as dividends, participate in general shareholders meeting with right to vote. The shares will be subscribed within a year from the date of registration of emission at the Centre for Securities Market. The emission registered on 26 October 2006.

FFrom http://finance.uzreport.com/ 11/21/2006


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Uzbekistan Senate Approves 2007 State Budget

Uzbekistan Senate*s Committee for Budget and Economic Reforms held a session on 24 November to discuss the main macroeconomic indicators and parameters of the state budget for 2007, the Senate press service said. First deputy finance minister B.Ashrafkhanov made a report on the issue, in which he explained the main parameters of the budget and directions of the country*s tax and budget policies. The budget for the coming fiscal year is even more socially oriented, and there are tendencies of reduction of the tax burden on the economy and the people*s incomes. After the discussion, the senators approved the State Budget of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2007. A round table on deepening budget and tax reforms was organized by the Senate committee together with the Finance Ministry and the State Tax Committee on the same day. The heads of the named structures and large companies informed the session participants of the reforms in their respective spheres, as well the the reforms* influence on the various economic sectors. The forum participants voiced the need to improve the tax legislation. They said the new draft Tax Code had been developed in order to create favorable tax conditions for entrepreneurs and optimize the taxation system. Reduction of a number of taxes and abolition of economic tax in 2006 allowed the local companies to save significant funds, it was said. The tax policy for 2007 envisages further reduction of the tax burden.

From http://www.uza.uz/ 11/24/2006


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AUSTRALIA: Future Fund Officially Launched

A major element of the Government*s plan to secure Australia*s financial future was officially launched today by Treasurer Peter Costello and the Minister for Finance and Administration, Senator Nick Minchin. Speaking at the launch of the Future Fund in Melbourne, Senator Minchin (who has portfolio responsibility for the Fund) said the Fund would enable the Government to lock in the long-term sustainability of its finances by ensuring that public sector superannuation liabilities were not passed on to future generations. "During the 2004 federal election, we promised to further strengthen the nation*s financial position by establishing a financial asset fund to offset unfunded superannuation liabilities,§ he said. "The creation of the Future Fund fulfils this promise. By accumulating financial assets to meet unfunded superannuation liabilities that will become payable just when spending pressures linked to an ageing population are likely to hit, the Fund will reduce the call on the budget in future years. "It is estimated that the Future Fund will &free-up* in the order of $7 billion in annual budget payments by 2020, allowing future governments to focus on other budget priorities.§ The Government issued its Investment Mandate to the Board in early May 2006 and subsequently transferred $18 billion in seed capital to the Fund on 5 May 2006.

The Government has also announced its intention to transfer $13.368 billion from the 2005-06 Budget surplus to the Fund during 2006-07, as well as proceeds from the public Telstra 3 Share Offer and its remaining Telstra shareholding 每 meaning the Future Fund*s assets are expected to be around $50 billion by next year. The former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Mr David Murray, is the Chair of the Board, with Mr Jeffrey Browne, Ms Susan Doyle, Dr John Mulcahy, Mr Trevor Rowe AM, Mr Brain Watson and Mr Robert Elstone appointed to the Board in March 2006 (Mr Elstone subsequently resigned following his appointment as CEO of the merged ASX Limited and the Sydney Future Exchange (SFE) Corporation, creating a vacancy on the Board). Mr Paul Costello, former CEO of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, commences his appointment as General Manager of the Agency today. All Australian States, as well as a number of other national governments, have taken steps to fund their superannuation liabilities, and the assets of the Future Fund and its earnings will be quarantined for the purposes of meeting the Government*s superannuation obligations. "Meanwhile, Labor have once again shown their myopic and opportunistic approach to Australia*s finances by making it clear that they will raid the Future Fund and funnel its earnings to a Labor slush fund,§ Senator Minchin said.


From http://www.financeminister.gov.au/ 11/13/2006


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Rate Fears to Haunt Poll

THE Coalition will not be able to relax about interest rates in the run-up to next year's federal election, with the Reserve Bank warning the threat of inflation will remain high until 2008. The Reserve Bank's quarterly review of the economy says there are signs that the rapid growth in borrowing by home buyers and businesses is easing after the interest rate increases in May and August. It says that beyond 2008, prospects for lower inflation had been improved by the bank's succession of interest rate increases, which included last week's 25 basis point rise to 6.25 per cent. However, the bank expects to be faced with a decision much sooner about whether further rate rises will be required as the level of inflation tests its comfort zone. "The board will continue, over the months ahead, to assess whether these actions will be sufficient to achieve the (inflation) objective of 2 to 3 per cent over time," it says. The Reserve Bank wants growth in borrowing to slow down from its current pace of 14 per cent a year, and would also be reassured by several months of slower growth in employment. It believes that after 16 years of sustained economic growth, the economy has run out of spare capacity and cannot meet demand from both consumers and business. "Spending has been supported by the strong labour market and the tax cuts that took effect in July 2006," it says. The bank believes the only chance that inflation will ease more rapidly will be if the world economy unexpectedly slows.

It says the lack of spare capacity in the Australian economy continues to pose a risk that inflation will rise above its 3 per cent upper limit. A normal banana crop and lower petrol prices will bring a sharp fall in the headline rate of inflation from its present peak of 4 per cent. However, the Reserve Bank is more worried by the price trends when such temporary influences are excluded. The Australian Bureau of Statistics measures changes to the price of 90 different goods and services. The bank says 60 per cent of them are now rising by 2.5 per cent a year or more, compared with only 40 per cent a year ago. One of the reasons for Australia's good inflation performance over the past four years has been a rapid fall in the price of goods that are subject to international competition. The flood of cheap Chinese imports meant the average price of traded goods actually fell between 2003 and 2004. But this has now been reversed, possibly marking a change in global inflation trends. The Reserve Bank expects the economy to maintain reasonable growth over the next two years, after allowing for the drought, which it says will slice 0.75 percentage points from GDP growth in 2007. GDP growth will be below 3 per cent next year, but will recover to 3.25 per cent in 2008. The Reserve Bank expects consumer spending to keep growing, despite the interest rate increases. Business investment, however, will slow from its recent breakneck pace. Financial markets expect the latest interest rate hike will be enough to produce the slowdown in borrowing that the Reserve Bank is seeking. The last time the Reserve Bank raised its cash rate to its current level of 6.25 per cent was in 2001. That level was held for only five months and almost pushed the economy into recession. Rates were then cut to 5 per cent within four months. Commonwealth Bank senior economist Michael Workman said financial markets believed there was only a 20 per cent chance of another rate rise. However, Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk said a rise in inflation to 3.3 per cent next year would force the Reserve Bank's hand.

From http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/ 11/14/2006


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NEW ZEALAND: Tax Cuts Mean Deferring Spending - Cullen

Tax cuts in next year's budget will mean deferring some of the Government's other spending priorities, Finance Minister Michael Cullen says. Dr Cullen today said stronger than expected tax revenues, if they arrived, could pay for business tax cuts and possible changes to personal tax. But revenue was only one of the factors the Government had to consider. Avoiding a blowout in inflation was also important and meant the Government might have to defer other spending to allow room for tax cuts. "Maintaining a prudent fiscal policy is critical to prevent injecting further stimulus into the economy -- which would only result in increasing these pressures, higher inflation and higher interest rates," Dr Cullen was due to say to a business audience in Auckland. "This means that we will need to make room for tax reforms within existing fiscal policy." Dr Cullen said the Government's tight fiscal stance had been a key factor in avoiding further Reserve Bank interest rate hikes and a downgrading of New Zealand's credit rating in the face of a huge balance of payments deficit.

Dr Cullen said work was continuing on the options contained in the Government's business tax review. "The business tax review is likely to produce an attractive mix of a lower corporate tax rate and tax credits, particularly helping those businesses focused on lifting their performance, expanding and tackling overseas markets," he said. "I also recognise that changes to company tax have implications for personal taxation and these will be considered at the same time as the changes to business taxation." Officials were currently looking at the detail of business tax credit schemes to look at how accurately the activities the Government hoped to encourage -- such as exporting and research and development -- could be defined. "We are working on these definitions to get a better idea of how the tax credits might work, to help inform the decision whether to pursue them." Business tax changes will be announced in next year's budget and implemented in 2008. It is expected that any changes to personal tax rates or thresholds will also be included in the Government's 2007 budget.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/31/2006


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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Sig September 2006 Financial Report

The Ministry of Finance today released September 2006 year to date (YTD) financial results. September year to date (YTD) reported revenue exceeding expenditure by $27.9 million against an estimated budget deficit of $88.9 million. This outcome reflected: Revenue in excess of the Budget YTD by $14.2 million? YTD? expenditure being lower than the pro rata estimate by $103.5 million While currently there is excess revenue over expenditure, this may not be reflective of the full year position. The full year expenditure budget is apportioned evenly each month over the year and expenditure patterns do not necessarily represent this pro rata basis. Likewise the revenue for other Ministries is also evenly apportioned over the full year. Inland Revenue and Customs collections are based upon monthly targets but there is no certainty that the revenue will be collected in line with these targets.

Revenue The higher than expected YTD revenue collections result from: ? Customs collections of $179.2 million against a projected target of $169.5 million, $9.7 million above target. This is mainly in export duty on timber and round logs. The new government policy of eliminating duty exemption on round logs export is also contributing to an increase in export duties. ? Inland Revenue collections of $297.0 million against a target of $277.3million, $19.7 million above target. Main YTD above budget collections were in Company Taxation ($9.9 million), Goods Tax ($2.4million) and Withholding Tax ($4.5million). YTD above budget collections were also reported in Personal Taxation and Stamp Duty. ? Revenue for other ministries is also above estimate by $10.7 million. YTD collection was $59.2 million against an estimate of $48.4 million. Fisheries Licenses was the big revenue earner with YTD collection of $34.6 million. There has also been significant improvement in collection in other ministries with collections reasonably close to, or inline with, estimates and, in some cases, exceeding YTD estimate. ? NZ Aid Budget support of $20 million against a pro rata estimate of $40.9 million ($20.9 million below estimate). The timing of NZ Aid support is determined by the Ministry of Education in consultation with NZ Aid but tends to be quarterly.

Expenditure Lower than budgeted expenditure occurred in the following areas: ? Development Expenditure - $26.1 million under expenditure. Activity in this area is expected to increase following the approval of a number of project work plans. Spending had only occurred in the five of the eight ministries namely; Agriculture ($2.5 million),Finance ($1.0 million) Foreign Affairs Commerce and Tourism ($3.1 million), Police ($0.1 million) and Provincial Government ($0.3 million) ? NZ Aid Budget Support for Education - $17.2 million under expenditure. This figure is up to August as September figures are not available. Expenditure is driven by the Ministry of Education*s approved action plan. ? Other Expenditure - $62.6 million under expenditure reflecting lower level of activity than expected. Expenditure is however expected to increase as the end of the year of approaches. Major under spending against budget is occurring in the ministries of: Finance $6.2 million; Education $12.7 million; Health and Medical Services $6.8 million; Police, National Security and Justice $10.8 million; Provincial Government $3.4 million. National Debt Servicing is also under spent by $18.9 million. The 2006 National Debt Servicing budget was developed on the basis of external creditors accepting certain debt restructuring proposals. Negotiations are still continuing.

? YTD budget over-spending occurred in Ministry of Agriculture ($0.7million), Infrastructure Development ($2.7million) and National Parliament ($0.5million) ? There was also YTD budget overspending of $3.3 million in payroll. This was the impact of the recent pay rise award by the government across the public service. Not yet reflected in the YTD budget comparison is the extra funding of $23.5m approved by the Parliament in its recent sitting to cover the pay rise. Up to August additional budgetary funding was authorised through Contingencies Warrants of $6.86 million. This was for: the Department of National Planning - $4.0 million to meet cost of hosting the Regional Forum Economic Ministers Meeting; Ministry of Foreign Affairs - $0.309 million for Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting; National Parliament - $1 million for accommodation costs; Home Affairs - $0.600 million for National Disaster Council; and Department of Mines and Energy -$0.951million for hosting of the SOPAC meeting in September (now partly reimbursed by ROC Taiwan). The Contingencies Warrants have now been approved by Parliament through a Supplementary Appropriation Act in the recent sitting of Parliament. Budget comparisons for September includes the contingency warrants but not the new expenditure pressures approved in the Supplementary Appropriation as it was passed in October.

From http://www.pmc.gov.sb/ 10/30/2006


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CHINA: Private Businesses Weak at Innovation, Management

The fourth Chinese Private Enterprise Summit, the largest of its kind in China, opened Saturday [4 November] in east China's Zhejiang Province. More than 3,000 private entrepreneurs both at home and abroad attended the two-day summit held in Hangzhou, the provincial capital. With the theme of "Innovation, Credibility and Harmony", the summit had a series of forums on innovation, real estate development and Chinese private entrepreneurs." Weakness in innovation and enterprise management now hinder the development of private enterprises in China," said Jiang Zhenghua, vice-chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislature, at the opening ceremony. Chinese private enterprises should make use of the opportunities in globalization and nurture their own brands on the basis of good management, he said. The summit was sponsored by the Private Economic Studies Centre under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zhejiang Provincial Administration for Industry and Commerce, and Zhejiang Private (Non-Governmental) Enterprises' Association. A key sector in the province's economy, private enterprises hold 90 per cent of jobs and 70 per cent of the gross domestic product in Zhejiang.


From Xinhua news agency 11/04/2006


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Hong Kong Reports Less Grafts in Private Sector

The number of corruption reports concerning the private sector from January to September fell nine percent from a year earlier to 1,463, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the powerful anti-graft body in Hong Kong said here Saturday. Among the entire reports, 40 percent was related to building management sectors and other graft reports came from industries of finance and insurance, catering and entertainment, construction and transport, according to the latest issue of ICAC Post on the commission's website. ICAC Director of Investigation Francis Lee said globalization and rapid advances in information technology have made private sector cases increasingly sophisticated as the number of corruption reports involving the private sector accounted for 59 percent of the 2,461 cases received in the first nine months of 2006. "To enhance our investigative edge, we have further strengthened the capability of our Financial Investigation and Computer Forensics Sections in handling complex cases," Lee said.

The commission probed 7,789 financial transactions involving 5.1 billion HK dollars (655 million U.S. dollars) from January to September, and conducted 237 computer data analyses. In recent years, corruption reports concerning the private sector have recorded a 6-percent drop, from 2,403 in 2002 to 2,247 last year. Hong Kong is one of the world's least corrupt places due to the efficient and transparent efforts by the ICAC, which strives to maintain a level playing field for businesses through a double-barrel strategy in vigorously fighting corruption in both the public and private sectors.


From http://www.chinaview.cn 11/04/2006


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Top Advisor Pledges Unswerving Support for Private Sector

Senior Chinese leader Jia Qinglin has urged Communist Party and government officials at all levels to give their unswerving support to the development of the private sector.J ia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks at a forum on the development of the private sector that opened in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, on Friday. Jia is also a member of the powerful Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The forum was jointly hosted by the CPPCC economic committee, the State Development and Reform Commission and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, a federation of private businesses. "Under the correct leadership of and with great support from the Party, the private sector in China has been growing steadily and has made a positive contribution to the building of an affluent society and the advancement of socialist modernization," Jia said.

Statistics released in September by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce show that China's private sector accounts for 65 percent of GDP (gross domestic product), and the figure is expected to reach three quarters in just five years. "In an era full of opportunities and challenges, private businesses must grasp these opportunities and integrate their own development with that of the nation, balance the pursuit of private wealth with the welfare of the common people and link the observation of market forces with that of socialistic morals," he said. Jia urged private businesses to be both big and strong, to give priority to innovation and intellectual property rights, to build their own brands and explore the international market with greater courage. He also called on private businesses to protect the legal rights of their employees, improve their working conditions and take a more active role in charity work.


From http://www.gov.cn 11/18/2006


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Private Sci-tech Firms Play Larger Role in China

Privately-owned science and technology companies are playing a larger role in China's technological innovation drive with heavy input in research and development, an official said Saturday. In 2005, China's 140,000 private sci-tech companies spent 123 billion yuan (US$15.4 billion) in research and development, at least 2 percent of their gross income, said Shang Yong, vice minister of science and technology. These companies reported a combined gross income of 6,100 billion yuan (US$762.5 billion) and a total asset of 6,000 billion yuan (US$750 billion) last year, Shang told a forum on "the sound development of the non-public sector" in Nanjing, capital of the eastern Jiangsu Province. Together they employed 12 million people, at least 30 percent of whom were senior professionals, he added.

Of all the sci-tech companies stationed in China's 53 national level high-tech parks, Shang said more than 90 percent were privately owned. High-tech parks are government-sponsored areas that encourage investment from technology-intensive industries and businesses, often with preferential policies including tax reduction. Many of these parks are represented by emerging small and medium-sized companies, which own 65 percent of China's high-tech patents and 80 percent of the new products, according to the ministry of science and technology.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 11/20/2006


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90% of Chinese Firms Adopt Shareholder Reform

Ninety percent of Chinese firms have complied with orders to reform their share structure by selling previously non-tradable shares, said Qi Bin, director of the Research Center of the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission, in Beijing on Friday. The proportion represents 1,161 of the firms that were ordered to complete the reform by the end of this year. Their aggregated market value took up nearly 96 percent of the total of the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets. The reform has yet to be carried out by another 130 firms. Many of them have serious problems such as huge losses or non-tradable equity that has been used as collateral or frozen by the courts or banks. Securities regulators have encouraged those in difficulty to facilitate reform by inviting mergers and acquisitions. As the reform enters its final phase, regulators face more challenges in relation to the improvement of stock issuance, trading and regulating systems, the attraction of more qualified investors and the protection of minority investors, Qi said. The reforms, also known as split share structure reform, are among measures the government has taken over the past year -- along with legislative reforms for listed firms and corporate governance reforms -- to revive the capital market and improve its financial security. The split share structure refers to the existence of both tradable shares and non-tradable shares owned by the state. Listed companies have to offer additional shares or funds to private investors as compensation for potential losses in the value of their portfolios when the state-owned shares hit the market.


From http://www.gov.cn 11/24/2006


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JAPAN: Private-Sector R&D Should Lead Innovation

A newly created government advisory panel started work Oct. 26 mapping out a long-term strategy for promoting technological innovation, a key item on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic agenda. Nobody can deny that innovation is crucial for economic growth, especially for an industrial country with an aging and shrinking population like Japan. This basic premise was recognized by the government even before Abe took office in late September. A new five-year plan to promote science and technology, which came into effect at the beginning of the current fiscal year, places great emphasis on innovation, while the Cabinet Office's Council for Science and Technology Policy announced in June a "comprehensive strategy" for stimulating innovation. The mission of the new panel is not clearly defined, but Abe has pledged to develop and execute long-term strategic principles for spurring innovation in priority areas like medicine, engineering and information technology. It would be a waste of time, however, if the new panel tackles issues that have already been debated at length, such as the basic approach to supporting research and development. Rather, the panel should focus its deliberations on issues related to creating an environment that fosters innovation. Technological innovation is unpredictable by its very nature, with new ideas and technologies emerging suddenly to shake up the status quo.

Sticking to fixed long-term strategies for nurturing specific technologies could even be counterproductive. The dynamics of innovation require flexibility in any long-term strategy promoting it. This policy challenge also demands efforts to develop an overall environment that strongly supports innovation. Efforts must be made to nurture a culture that values innovative ideas and revolutionary thinking, and foster challenge-loving, entrepreneurial talent. The government also needs to support cooperation between academia and industry in the creation of new businesses, relax stifling regulations and modify taxation to encourage investment in technology. Innovative technology, however, produces little value unless turned into profitable products. The role of business is vital in this sense. The long-term strategy should place top priority on encouraging companies to enhance their R&D work and reducing the risks involved in building businesses based on new ideas and technologies. The government's strategic focus should be on providing businesses with strong incentives to innovate.


From The Nikkei Weekly 10/30/2006


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Gov't Panel's Private-Sector Members Seek 3% Cut in Public Works Spending

The four private-sector members of the government's key economic panel on Friday proposed an annual 3 percent cut in public works spending every year for five years from fiscal 2007.The four members made the proposal when they discussed reforms on social security and public works outlays with key Cabinet members and other participants at the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy. The government's 2006 economic policy guideline calls for trimming public works outlays by 1 to 3 percent a year for a five-year period. The proposal asks the government to cut the outlay by the highest rate of the target range. Meanwhile, the four members, including Japan Business Federation Chairman Fujio Mitarai, supported a government proposal to review the use of tax revenues from road-related projects with a view to lumping them with general revenues. Behind move is the idea of using road-tax revenues for general purposes and not only for road-related projects. The four members said the current rates of road-related taxes can be maintained. As for social security reform, the four members proposed that the government draw up a so-called "high-cost structure correction program" by the end of the current fiscal year, which will cover concrete measures to reduce costs each year in the medical and nursing care services areas over the next five years. The private-sector members also called on the government to curb social security costs by 220 billion yen in fiscal 2007 starting next April without fail so that the government will be able to achieve its reform policy to reduce these costs by 1.1 trillion yen over the next five years on a general-account basis.


From Japan Economic Newswire 11/10/2006


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Private Sector to Take Over for Agency

The government plans to split the Social Insurance Agency into three parts, transfer most of its functions to the private sector, and eradicate an entity that has long been a source of embarrassment. Under the new plan compiled by officials of the government and ruling coalition, about the only function to remain under the domain of the central government would be forcible collection of delinquent pension premium payments. The government has already submitted legislation to the Diet to create a new organization to handle pensions. Workers in that new entity would keep their status as civil servants. However, a recent series of scandals involving the Social Insurance Agency forced government officials to come up with a new proposal for bigger changes. The legislation now before the Diet is expected to die with the end of the session next month. The new proposal will be submitted to the ordinary Diet session scheduled for next year. An agreement has already been reached within the ruling coalition to transfer health insurance programs handled by the Social Insurance Agency to a new public entity. Coalition officials also agreed that another public entity consisting of workers who are not civil servants would be set up to handle pension programs. The only question remaining was who should handle the forcible collection of delinquent pension premiums--the new pension program entity or the central government. On Wednesday, government and ruling coalition officials agreed to keep that function in the hands of the central government.

The reasoning was that it would be inappropriate for non-civil servants to handle a function that requires government authority, sources said. There is still no agreement on which agency would take over the forcible collection function from the Social Insurance Agency. The function could be transferred to the National Tax Agency or to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, which would also handle planning and proposals for the pension system, the sources said. The new public entity with non-civil servants would likely only handle storage of records of pension premium payments. All other functions of the Social Insurance Agency, from regular premium collection to consultation and pension payments, would be moved to the private sector. Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Hidenao Nakagawa said Wednesday that efforts should be made to move as many of the agency's functions as possible to the private sector. The Social Insurance Agency is currently conducting market tests to determine if the private sector is capable of taking over the collection of national pension premiums, measures to encourage workers to join employee pension insurance programs, and other functions. Results released Wednesday showed that private-sector efforts for premium collection between October 2005 and September 2006 were more successful than what the Social Insurance Agency had accomplished the previous year. Transferring more functions to the private sector would also mean a further reduction in the number of civil servants in efforts to create a smaller government.


From http://www.asahi.com 11/24/2006


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INDONESIA: Govt Guarantees 100 Percent Ownership for Private Sector

Transportation Minister Hatta Rajasa assured investors Wednesday that private firms -- both local and foreign -- would still be allowed to own up to 100 percent of infrastructure projects despite the upcoming amendment of the existing transportation legislation. "I can assure you that there will be no change to the 100 percent private-sector ownership principle in transportation-sector projects," Hatta told the press after addressing a discussion held in conjunction with the "Indonesia Infrastructure Conference and Exhibition 2006". The current laws governing the transportation sector -- the 1992 Railways Law, 1992 Land Transportation Law, 1992 Sea Transportation Law, and 1992 Air Transportation Law -- provide that any local or foreign-based company can build, own and operate a transportation facility through a wholly owned subsidiaries. Amendments to these laws have been drawn up, however, and are currently being deliberated by the House. While the original idea was to allow more scope for private-sector participation in transportation projects, concerns have also been expressed that the amended laws might no longer permit 100 percent ownership of infrastructure projects by private firms. "The amended laws will end the government's monopoly in the infrastructure sector. Private firms will be given 100 percent free rein to build and operate them without the obligation to enter into joint ventures with state enterprises," he said. According to Hatta, the railways amendment bill would be passed into law later this year, the sea transportation amendment bill early next year, and the land transportation and air transportation amendment bills in June of next year.

He said the new laws were part of the government's efforts to encourage foreign investors to participate in developing Indonesia's woefully inadequate infrastructure. Analysts have long decried the abysmal state of the country's physical infrastructure as being a major factor that discouraged investment. Currently, Hatta said, the government had 17 projects to offer in the transportation sector. Most of the projects involved seaports and airports in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, with the rest consisting of a rail line linking Manggarai in South Jakarta to Soekarno Hatta Airport in the western part of Greater Jakarta, and the double-tracking of rail lines in Greater Jakarta. Last year, the government offered 10 projects in the transportation sector, which mostly consisted of seaports and airports. According to Hatta, Indonesia needed investment worth US$7.2 billion to generate annual economic growth of about 7.3 percent in the transportation sector. While Hatta said that the government would provide guarantees for investors, he added, "But certainly, we'll not be giving blanket guarantees. We'll give guarantees on a case-by-case basis." On concerns that investors might run up against problems with regional administrations, Hatta said that all the infrastructure projects being offered were public-private partnerships, so that investors would only have to deal with the central government. Since the rolling out of local autonomy in 2001, many regions have issued local ordinances that conflict with national legislation.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/02/2006


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Govt Touts 'Win-Win' Approach at Summit

"Partnership" has become the government's mantra in its efforts to lure investors into the much-needed development of Indonesia's infrastructure. Raising the curtain Wednesday on the three-day Indonesia Infrastructure Conference and Exhibition, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told private investors that the government is committed to cooperating with them to develop the country's infrastructure in a "win-win solution". The government has been working on several regulatory and policy reforms over the past year to achieve that goal, including changes to the framework for public-private partnerships, and risk-sharing and guarantee schemes for infrastructure projects. "Our infrastructure problem is quite simple: there has not been enough of it," the President said. "During the crisis years, we simply stopped putting money into building infrastructure, a trend which we must now reverse." Yudhoyono said Indonesia would need to pour US$22 billion each year into the effort. Improved infrastructure is expected to spur growth and ultimately reduce poverty and unemployment. The government can only provide part of the money. The rest is expected to come from private investments, particularly in commercially-viable projects. The recently issued presidential regulation reforming public-private partnerships emphasizes transparency, fairness, a level playing field and mutual benefit. "We know full well that a top consideration for the private sector when investing is profitability," the President said. "This regulation reflects our commitment to offer projects that adhere to international best practices and good governance." Yudhoyono added that public-private partnerships had also been strengthened under a risk-sharing framework.

"We all know that infrastructure projects have a long-term payback period. So to provide you with greater security, the government is perfectly willing to enter into a reasonable degree of risk-sharing," he said. The government's latest commitment to improving infrastructure investment through policy reforms may indicate that it is learning from the mistakes of last year's investment forum, which produced lackluster results. Of the 91 projects worth US$22.5 billion offered then, only a handful with a total value of $6 billion were secured. Most of the projects had been hastily offered and the government had not laid out any concrete policies to improve the investment climate. Some 101 projects worth US$19.1 billion in toll roads, power plants, seaports, water distribution systems and telecommunications will be on offer at this year's summit. They include 10 "model projects" worth US$4.5 billion that follow the new public-private partnership format. This year's investment forum was rescheduled twice, from November of last year to February, and then finally to this month, due to the lack of supporting policy reforms. Unfavorable macroeconomic conditions, such as high inflation and interest rates due to last year's fuel price hikes, also affected investor interest. Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono highlighted what he called recent improvements in Indonesia's macroeconomic conditions. He said economic growth was on a steady and gradual upward trend, reaching 5.6 percent this year, and expected to hit 6 to 7 percent in the next three years. Inflation, meanwhile, is projected at less than 7 percent this year, later falling to between 3 and 4 percent. Indonesia is also improving its country risk, considered important for investment. The government's external debt has fallen to below 40 percent of the country's gross domestic product, from more than 100 percent in 1999.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/02/2006


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Public-Private Alliances to Expedite Projects

The building of public works using private funds is not new. In ancient times, many public projects were conceded to the private sector to build and operate. There were even formal concession laws dating back to AD 530, before the Roman times. During the 16th and 17th centuries, many European sovereigns conceded public works to private investors. These works included canal constructions (Oxford canal concessions of 1791), road paving, waste collection, public lighting, mail distribution and public transportation. The use of PPP ( Public-Private Partnership) for public works became popular in the post Margaret Thatcher era. When Margaret Thatcher came into power in 1979, she initiated labor market reforms by promoting wider share ownership and increasing efficiency through the effective use of privatization. Many government-owned entities were floated on the London Stock Exchange and the shares sold to a wider public. These market reforms coincided with an increase in North Sea oil revenues and a move to lower taxation in the UK. Public sector borrowings (PSBR) were used as a policy tool. As a result, the UK's public investment as a percentage of gross domestic product saw a decline from a high of some 9 percent to a low of 2 percent in the early 1990s. By contrast, Indonesian infrastructure expenses to total GDP dropped from 5.34 percent in 1994 to 2.33 percent by 2002. When Tony Blair came into power in 1997, he initiated the use of a fast-track PPP program to attract private finance as means of catching up in the backlogs of infrastructure development and maintenance.

Today, the UK government funds more than 12 percent of its total investment in public services through PPP. This amounts to about $7 billion annually. Today, more than 150 countries have used PPP, many for differing reasons. One of the common reasons is that it allows a country to engage in parallel development of its infrastructure. In other words, the country does not have to wait for its national treasury to be filled up with reserves before it embarks on its development program. Many countries saw PPP as a way of accelerating their infrastructure development programs by bringing in private-sector funds. More infrastructure development means more money for the government in taxes, and more economic activities for the people, and more employment. Many other countries have also used PPP to bridge the government funding gaps for projects. Australian state governments started on their individual State PPP programs in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Singapore uses PPP to benchmark the performances of its public sector and to test if the private sector could do a better job in delivery of services over a long period of time. PPP have been used on many types of projects including military operational headquarters, maritime surveillance, traffic control center, police firearms training center and cancer hospital. Based on studies on successful PPP programs round the world, there are many fundamental principles that a country could incorporate into its PPP program to ensure success.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com 11/02/2006


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MALAYSIA: Government Should Continue Operating Ambulances

TAMIL NESAN has welcomed a decision by the Health Ministry to drop its plan to privatise ambulance services. Commenting on the announcement by the ministry*s parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon, the daily said privatisation of ambulance services would cause charges to go up and affect low wage earners. Lee had said that the service would not be privatised but the maintenance of ambulances would be given out to private companies. There are currently about 1,000 ambulances at government hospitals. The daily, in its editorial, also called on the Government to look into improving its ambulance services, reduce delays and replace old vehicles with new ones. It also hoped the standard of the country*s ambulance services would be at par with those in developed countries. In a report in Makkal Osai, the Government was urged to consider changing the status of Tamil schools into fully aided schools. It said enrolment had increased and some schools not only lacked classrooms but also did not have basic facilities. The report added that Tamil schools were mostly built on private land or estates by European planters in the past and, as such, were not eligible for full government aid. In another report, the daily quoted Nesa Cooperative Society chief Datuk S. Subramaniam as saying that Indian children could learn more about their culture and customs at temples. Speaking at a Deepavali get-together in Lunas, Kedah, on Thursday, Subramaniam said it was important for the community and the temple committee to work together. In another report, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Tajul Rosli said the practice of holding open house to celebrate various festivals had helped to create better understanding and foster closer relations among the races. He was speaking at the state*s Deepavali open house at the Ipoh Municipal Council on Thursday.

From http://thestar.com.my 11/11/2006


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Malaysia Govt Targets 11 Pct Private-Sector Investment Growth Under 9MP

KUALA LUMPUR (XFN-ASIA) - The government is targetting private-sector investment growth of 11 pct under the Ninth Malaysia Malaysia Plan (9MP), Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Effendi Norwawi said. He said the economy would be in ''real trouble'' if private-sector investment did not grow under the 9MP. He pointed out that under the previous plan, private investment shrank by 0.2 pct. ''It's critical that private investment grows, if not the economy will be in real trouble,'' he said, adding that the country's economic growth must be led by the private sector. Effendi said the government is targetting up to 250 bln rgt worth of private investments under the 9MP.

From AFX News 11/13/2006


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THAILAND: Private Sectors Confident the Economic Policy Declaration Today Assured Foreign Investors

Section: General News - The Chairman of Phatra Securities Public Company Limited, Mr. Banyong Pongpanit, said the addresses made by the five ministers in the economic field today are clear, and the interim government is still opened for more foreign investments. Moreover, the government has accepted the past mistakes, and this acceptance has pleased the investors. Even though the stock holdings of foreign investors' issue have not yet been clearly practical but this issue should provide no hindrances to the foreign investments in the future.

The Government Pension Fund Secretary, Mr. Wisit Tantisunthorn, said the foreign investors were still baffled with several points that the government did not provided clear answers, especially the nominee issue that needed conclusion as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Bank of Ayutthaya Public Company Limited Senior Assistant Managing Director Chalot Tonawanic are confident that more foreign investments will happen after the economic policy declaration today. Although some issues could not be concluded in one day, but the government has recognized them and are preparing for the operational plan in the future.

From Thai Press 11/13/2006


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BANGLADESH: Power Sector White Paper Soon

Power and Energy Adviser Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury yesterday said he would publish a white paper on last few years' expenditures in the power sector to unearth why power generation has not been increased. The white paper would help identify the reasons behind the failure to increase power generation in the country despite huge expenses in the sector. It would also help point out the obstacles and pin down the persons responsible for the failures, said the adviser while replying to a question from reporters about the recent comment of former state minister for power Anwarul Kabir Talukder. Talukder, who resigned from BNP and joined the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) at the very end of the last elected government's tenure, on Tuesday said he would publish a white paper on corruption of the BNP-Jamaat-led coalition in power sector. "I will give a close look into the white paper, if he (Talukder) publishes it," Chowdhury said. He said his main focus is to keep a stable situation of power distribution and at the same time take steps to increase power generation. The adviser said he would initiate talk with donors for funds to increase power generation by 2000 MW on urgent basis. Replying to another question, the adviser said, "I will invite Prof Muzaffer Ahmed of the Transparency International, Bangladesh to get his suggestions on curbing corruption."

From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 11/09/2006


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INDIA: Pranab Calls for Greater Synergy Between Public Spending and Private Enterprises

The External Affairs Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has called for greater synergies between public spending and private enterprises with regard to defence production. Inaugurating a three-day International Seminar on Defence Finance and Economics here today, he said there are spin-offs from such synergies that could bring immense benefit to the social sector and reduce the cost of defence through such policy initiatives as making off-sets integral to defence purchases. Shri Mukerjee said It is the host of measures like these that will make Defence expenditure most sustainable, affordable and accountable apart from creating economic growth spirals. The External Affairs Minister was of the opinion that techniques like Outcome Budgeting, Accrual Accounting, the Concurrent Audit etc., need to be applied vigorously in planning and managing the brugeoning Defence expenditure. Referring to the common refrain of affordability, sustainability and accountability, the External Affairs Minister said Defence Finance & Economics cannot remain pre-occupied with the first two; accountability will need to be built into the entire process of strategic thinking, analysis, assessment and execution of plans. Shri Mukherjee said new paradigms in accounting and budgeting will have to be evolved to meet the newer challenges of not just providing a format for defence outlays but bringing about greater transparency in defence expenditure. Shri Mukherjee said zero-based budgeting, Outcome budgeting and Accrual Accounting will need to be applied more vigorously in planning and managing defence expenditure, than has been the case so far. As the defence expenditure involves huge outlays, there is a need for robust audit systems not just to keep the system on track but to provide useful insights into more efficient ways of achieving the defined objectives, the Minister added.

Addressing the seminar the Union Finance Minister, Shri P. Chidambaram said that Defence PSUs needs to improve their comptitiveness by reducing costs and enhancing productivity. He said, "The argument that the Government in all circumstances must support loss making undertakings or inefficient ordnance factories because of their strategic importance or surge capacities is difficult to sustain in an increasingly globalised world with many more efficient alternatives. Efficiency, productivity and true competitiveness have to be the underpinning of a strong and vibrant Defence Industrial Base." Shri Chidambaram said that optimal allocation and utilisation of resources is the challenge before Defence Finance & Economics. Referring to the many positive aspects of India's economic growth in the last few years, he stated that policy changes are already in place to allow private sector participation in the Defence sector with up to 100% equity ownership. Shri Chidambaram said the partnership has to be further strengthened and taken to higher levels with greater outsourcing by Defence PSUs, Ordnance Factories, R&D Labs etc. The Minister said Defence Accounts Department must constantly review their systems and procedures for faster service delivery. Shri Chidambaram was of the opinion that Cash Management Systems, Management Information Systems, Migration to International Accounting Standards are some of the important aspects in this context. Speaking on the occasion the Minister of States for Defence, Shri M.M. Pallam Raju referred to the role played by Information Technology in Defence Finance & Economics. He complimented Shri Vinod Mishra, Secretary(Defence Finance) for having launched Mission Excel IT in Defence Finance which has become a role model of e-governance in India. Addressing the gathering, the Defence Secretary Shri Shekhar Dutt stated that military power has rapidly moved into high technology and high cost arenas, demanding careful planning and resource investment. He said as defence spending takes away resources from alternative uses and channels them into the development of military capability, it is evident that economic analysis and reasoning can be applied, in multiple dimensions, to such expenditure. The seminar has been organised by the Finance wing of the Ministry of Defence in cooperation with Ministry of Finance besides CII, ASSOCHAM and FICCI and is being attended by delegates from 26 countries.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 11/13/2006


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Provinces Legislating to Regulate Private Sector Education, Supreme Court Told

The provinces of Punjab, NWFP and Balochistan informed the Supreme Court on Monday that they were legislating to devise a mechanism to strengthen, streamline and regulate smooth functioning of private sector educational institutions in a transparent, credible and just manner. The apex court had called for a report from the provinces on a suo motu notice as to what steps the provincial governments were taking to ensure quality education and reasonable fee structure of the private educational institutions. In its report, the Punjab government said the provincial assembly has formed a 12-member parliamentary committee to bring about vital changes in the private sector education in consultation with all the stakeholders, namely parents, educationalists, representatives of the private schools associations, etc. The focal points of the policy under consideration for legislation include: (i) Promotion of quality education through private sector in a healthy and congenial environment, (ii) Quality of the Management and the Staff, (iii) Physical facilities as per minimum criteria of the government, (iv) Reasonable Fee Structure as per teachers qualification and facilities, and (v) Periodical inspections, etc. The report said that promotion of quality education without any discrimination and more opportunities for those belonging to under-privileged areas are the main priority of the government. The government has taken several initiatives and measures to enhance literacy rate, provide better facilities in schools and decrease the gender gap in enrolment by extending incentives to the girls which include education for all, free education up to high school level, introduction of IT in schools, regular teachers training, monetary incentives, minimising dropout rate, promotion of primary education for girls, free distribution of textbooks up to high school level and new recruitment of teachers.

The report said the Punjab government also intends to bring about progressive and constructive changes in the existing Punjab Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Regulation) Ordinance, 1984, to encourage the private sector to invest in the education sector, promote the educational and economic interests of backward areas, remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education, make technical and professional education generally available and higher education equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. The counsel for NWFP and Balochistan also assured the apex court that the two provincial governments were taking legislative measures on priority basis to regulate the working of the educational institutions in the private sector in the public interest. The Sindh government had already informed the apex court about its legislative measures to regulate and promote education in the private sector. After Monday statements by the provinces, the court disposed of the notice as no further action was required by the court in matter.

From Business Recorder 11/14/2006


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Leveraging ICT Through Education: Private Sector Involvement in Education A Must

Leading speakers attending the Global Information Infrastructure Commission said that private sector involvement in education was a must to keep pace with ICT sector. Private sector involvement in education to keep pace with industry requirements should be top priority for Information & Communication Technology (ICT) sector. This was opinion arrived at conference of Global Information Infrastructure Commission held on Monday on &New Talent for New Times,* by leading speakers on competencies required to thrive in a changing global economy. GIIC South Asia Regional Director Gopal Rajagopalan said, ※the penetration of tertiary education in India is 7 per cent, while globally it is 25 per cent. We need to use technology for education to bridge this gap.§

Obsolete education Talking on leveraging ICT through education Fujistu Chairman & GIIC Chairman Naoyuki Akikusa said, ※ICT practice in education and classroom learning can help the growth in education and business capability.§ Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani in his address said ※one must invest in talent as IT is a human capital business. We need to gear up people for market change.§ Besides obsolete education system and talent crunch, the roles of the national government and private sector investments in preparing societies to grapple with the challenges of the global economy were also discussed at the conference.

Four conflicts ※India now faces four types of conflicts which is the intra-government conflict, centre state conflict, rural-urban divide and conflict in PPPs. Technology can improve or mediate these conflicts and can bring the economy together, in turn facilitating growth,§ said Rajiv B Lall, MD and CEO of IDFC. The Global Information Infrastructure Commission(GIIC) is a confederation dedicated to fulfil the essential role that must be played by the private sector to foster development of an information society. GIIC comprises of chief executives and other officers of business firms engaged in the development, manufacture, deployment,operation, modernisation, financing, and use of services and products based upon information and communications technologies.

From http://www.deccanherald.com/ 11/20/2006


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Bank of Rajasthan Plans Insurance Foray

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Private sector Bank of Rajasthan plans to get into life and general insurance businesses, after shoring up its net worth to 10 billion rupees in 18 months, Director Pravin Kumar Tayal said on Monday. The bank, he said, would set up separate subsidiaries for the new ventures, joining many other banks vying for India's fast growing but underserved life insurance market. "We want to consolidate further before getting into new business," Tayal told Reuters. Bank of Rajasthan now has a net worth of 4.5 billion rupees. Rising disposable income and awareness are boosting demand for insurance in Asia's fourth largest economy, with Standard & Poor's forecasting the country's life insurance market to expand by a fifth in 2006. The rating agency has said life insurance penetration rate is 2.35 percent of the gross domestic product, among the lowest in Asia, offering scope for faster growth when a limit on foreign direct investment in the sector is increased to 49 percent from the present 26. Shares in the bank were half a percent up at 38.15 rupees in the Mumbai market.

From http://in.news.yahoo.com/ 11/272006


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SRI LANKA: Government Explores Guarantee Facility to Encourage Private Investment in the North and East

Consistent with the Government's increasing emphasis on the development of the North and the East, and facilitating the distribution of resulting benefits to the people of these Provinces, and the raising of their living standards, the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) jointly with the Board of Investment (BOI) convened a series of meetings to devise a strategy to ascertain the demand among investors for a proposed investment guarantee facility which will cover private investments in the conflict affected areas of Sri Lanka.

From http://www.priu.gov.lk/ 11/17/2006


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PAKISTAN: Moot on Corporate Governance on 30th

The Pakistan Institute of Corporate Governance along with Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) is organizing a daylong seminar on (Corporate Governance Beyond Listed Companies on November 30, 2006 at 10am in a local hotel of Karachi. Federal Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Salman Shah and Chairman SECP Razi-ur-Rehman are expected to attend the seminar. CIPOE has invited Chris Pierce, CEO of Global Governance Services Ltd. of UK for leading the seminar. Mr. Pierce is specialist in Global Governance leadership programs, an Executive Fellow of the Henley Management College and Director on a number of boards in UK and overseas. Corporate governance of a non listed companies a large number of which are family owned and managed can be improved with a view to enhance their competitiveness, thereby improving their value for stakeholders as well as their contribution to country's economic development. The purpose behind the seminar is to bring together business leaders, providers of capitals; practitioners, accountants, auditors and other stakeholders to better understand challenges for non-listed companies. Family or founder owned unlisted companies are very common in Pakistan. Such companies are those in which founder or the founder's family has either complete ownership or effective control of the companies and usually a significant role in the company's management. The complete interaction of the family and the company it controls creates several difficult governance issue, including succession planning for the family management, family vs non family employment and promotion, equitable treatment of non family shareholders and role of family meetings vis a vis Board meetings and shareholders meetings. The seminar will also focus on the family company paradigm in unlisted family companies.

From The Pakistan Newswire 11/14/2006


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India and Pakistan Set Up an Anti-Terror Forum

India and Pakistan on Wednesday set up a joint anti-terror forum and agreed on a plan to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear conflict in south Asia at the first peace talks since bombs ripped through Mumbai and killed more than 200 people in July. But Shiv Shankar Menon, India*s foreign secretary, said they remained ※a long way§ from enjoying neighbourly relations and were far apart on key issues, including the demilitarisation of the Siachen glacier. In the latest verbal sparring over the explosions, Riaz Mohammad Khan, Pakistan*s top diplomat, said India had still not provided evidence to substantiate repeated claims of Pakistani involvement in the blasts on commuter trains. Talks between the two have been stalled since July, when AN?Roy, Mumbai police chief, said his investigation had found the attacks had been ※sponsored§ by Pakistan*s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency and ※executed by [the Pakistan-based] Lashkar-e-Tayyaba operatives with help from the Students* Islamic Movement of India§, a banned jihadi group founded in Uttar Pradesh. Mr Menon declined to say that Pakistani state actors had been involved in the recent attacks but left room for that possibility. ※What we say is that there are elements in Pakistan 每 we don*t qualify that 每 there are elements in Pakistan which have been involved. Now who controls or how much control there is it*s very difficult to make categorical statements,§ he said. Mr Menon said India had provided Pakistan with evidence relating to recent incidents of cross-border terrorism, but could not do so on the Mumbai blasts as charges had not yet been filed in court. The next round of the talks will be in February in Islamabad. During Wednesday*s meeting, the countries agreed on an ※early signing§ of an accord to cut the risks of nuclear accidents. (by Jo Johnson)

From http://www.ft.com/ 11/16/2006


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AZERBAIJAN: Private Sector Projects Offered

Baku: Investors from Islamic countries have been offered 34 private sector projects worth $453 million in Azerbaijan. The biggest investment opportunity is a $100-million mixed-use development that will have a luxury hotel and two residential buildings in the capital Baku. Most projects have been proposed on a joint ownership basis in a range of sectors, including consumer goods manufacturing, construction, retail, tourism, logistics and healthcare. Heydar Ibrahimov, chairman of Sharia-compliant Kauthar Bank and the project's promoter, told Gulf News he was looking for participation from foreign investors in the project to be developed on a 16,000-square-metre site in the city. Ibrahimov said he is also looking for investors for one resort hotel and a city hotel development. Azerbaijan has been receiving heavy foreign direct investment in its energy sector. The influx is slowly turning the capital city of Baku into a boomtown. Hakan Ozalpay, a Turkish businessman with diversified business interests in Azerbaijan, believes, "this is the right time to invest" in the country. "Big energy projects have stimulated others sectors of the economy. If you are not here soon, lucrative opportunities will be gone later," he said. About 100 business people from Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) countries are in Baku attending a conference organised by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB). The projects range in value from $50 million to $1 million, according to a list published by the IDB. Yesterday they discussed dozens of business plans with their counterparts from Azerbaijan.


From Gulf News 11/10/2006

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IRAN: Bank Managers Resist Privatization

A senior economic expert said here on Saturday that the bank management networks are the main obstacles on the road to privatizing the country*s banking system. Bijan Bidabad, an instructor at the Central Bank of Iran*s Monetary and Banking Research Center, told Mehr that despite the high significance of the leader*s recent privatization directive, efforts to implement the new privatization policies are not seen to be equally significant. The expert also expressed regret that state and quasi-state networks, which have found their way into the country*s bureaucratic systems, do not allow the implementation of the privatization policies. ※As per the (latest) reading of Article 44 of the Constitution (which allows large-scale privatizations) banks have to be privatized in order to enhance the efficiency of the economic system,※ he said, adding that some banks, including Bank Melli and Bank Sepah, have not been privatized as they handle salary payment to 1.5 million employees. ※These banks handle a great deal of money and have been designated for privatization, whereas no practical step has so far been taken in this direction,※ he said. Bidabad said the bank management networks are unwilling to cede their posts to private sector managers, stressing that the bank privatization objectives are unlikely to materialize under the circumstances.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 11/12/2006

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Private Sector Active in Cellphone Equipment Production

Private sector has a bigger share than the state sector in a newly created consortium to manufacture equipment for six million mobile telephone lines. Expressing this, Deputy Minister of Industries and Mines Mohsen Shaterzadeh told ISNA that the private sector constitutes a major portion of the consortium, adding that since these projects are to the benefit of the public, state funds should be channeled to such schemes to enable their implementation. He cautioned that the telecom industry is on the verge of insolvency as investments so far in the industry have failed to produce the desired results due to excessive imports. Earlier, Mohammad Ebrahim Mottaleh, managing director of Iran Telecoms Factories Company told ISNA that the Micro Moj Co., Telecommunication Industries of Iran are private companies participating in the consortium, adding that last year 35 percent of his company*s stake was transferred to the Privatization Organization, which intends to cede them to the public under the Justice Shares scheme.

Private companies hold a 70-percent stake in the consortium, while the rest is held by state-run companies, including the Iranian Communication Industries and Shiraz Company. This is while Ramezan Ali Sadeqzadeh, a member of the Majlis Mining and Industries Commission had lamented that state-run companies participated in the consortium while no tender was held, arguing that the contract is contrary to the objectives of the Fourth Plan (2005-2010) and Article 44 of the Constitution which allows large-scale privatization.


From http://www.iran-daily.com/ 11/14/2006

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TAJIKISTAN: Privatisation Process Needs Reviewn

Tajikistan*s privatisation process must change so that it is managed through tenders rather than auctions to prevent asset-stripping, NBCentralAsia analysts say. The country*s industrial sector remains in dire need of investment, and that is only likely to come through privatisation. According to the national statistics agency, a third of around 700 major industrial enterprises are not functioning at all, while the rest are working at 20 or 25 per cent of capacity. Economists say the main reasons for this are that these firms lack liquid capital, they do not use modern technology, what equipment they do have is worn out, they have no markets to sell their products, and the terms on which they were privatised were poorly conceived. In 1993, Tajikistan promised the World Bank that virtually all state-owned industrial enterprises would be privatised by 2007, while 37 large state monopolies would be restructured by 2015.

This pledge has been fulfilled almost in full. However, NBCentralAsia analysts say the privatisation process has not lived up to the hopes that were attached to it. Many new owners have halted production at their new acquisition, and sold off land and plant equipment. An industry ministry analyst noted that there have also been cases where the sole reason for acquiring a denationalised concern was to wait until the price rose and then sell it on. NBCentralAsia*s informants say one way to break this cycle would be conduct privatisations by tender rather than auction. In a tender, prospective buyers have to comply with State Property Committee requirements, for example by investing in the enterprise, modernising equipment and creating new jobs; in the auction system, no such rules apply. In addition, the analysts recommend setting up joint ventures on the basis of existing firms.

This would ensure that investment took place, but would mean potential investors would have to be offered enticements such as guarantees that their capital would be protected. The government is currently engaged in an attempt to re-nationalise a number of major industrial assets that it privatised in the mid-Nineties. NBCentralAsia*s commentators believe it will succeed in doing so with the help of a new provision in the tax code that requires even non-functioning enterprises to pay taxes, and allows the state to claim possession of them if they fail to do so. So far, no major companies have actually been re-nationalised, but the State Property Committee says several cases are being reviewed in government. For example, the owners of a Dushanbe refrigerator plant and another factory that makes steel for reinforced concrete have been given two years to resume production or face re-nationalisation.


From http://www.iwpr.net/ 11/23/2006

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AUSTRALIA: Red Tape, Overlap Costs $9b, Report Says

The CEOs of Australia's 100 leading companies are calling for an urgent summit on federal-state relations to reduce the red tape and overlap costing taxpayers $9 billion a year. The Business Council of Australia (BCA), which represents the nation's top 100 executives, has released a report into the state of federalism in Australia. Access Economics figures, done for the report, put the cost of inefficiencies and duplication between state and federal governments at $9 billion - $450 a year for every Australian. Education, health, infrastructure and taxation were the areas of highest cost, the study found. The true figure, taking in the private costs of overlap and excessive regulation for businesses and families, was likely to be closer to $20 billion. BCA president Michael Chaney said dysfunctional federalism, unchecked, could hold back Australia's living standards and prosperity. "The costs to the economy as a whole in terms of business costs and future opportunity costs are likely to be significantly higher," Mr Chaney said.

"This is a problem that will only get worse if do not act now to fix it." Governments had recently shown a commitment to cooperate nationally on mental health, skills shortages and health and regulation, the study found. However, history showed much rhetoric on cooperation failed to be realised, such as the National Water Initiative, which was originally agreed to in 1994, some 10 years before any action was taken. "Since COAG was established in 1992 it has met on average only once a year and for a few hours each time," Mr Chaney said. "This is not enough to achieve the reforms Australia needs to meet domestic requirements, let alone to be competitive in the global economy." The BCA has issued a 12-point action plan to clarify the roles and responsibilities at state and federal levels and increase accountability through the drafting of performance criteria for governments. It calls for a federal convention to be held immediately to draw up a framework of responsibilities and canvas the pros and cons of the Commonwealth taking over the regulation and management of key national markets such as water and electricity or road and rail transport.

The convention should report its findings publicly and to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) who should agree on priority areas for service rationalisation, with a deadline of the end of 2007. COAG should be strengthened by meeting twice yearly and appointing an independent secretariat, while Ministerial Councils should also be bolstered by a requirement to report half yearly to COAG on a series of key performance indicators, the BCA said.


From http://www.theage.com.au/ 10/09/2006

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Making Tax Compliance Easier for Small Business - the New Small Business Framework

The Treasurer and Minister for Small Business today announced that the Government will introduce legislation to standardise the eligibility criteria for small business tax concessions from 1 July 2007. Separate eligibility tests currently exist for GST, the Simplified Tax System, capital gains tax (CGT), fringe benefits tax (FBT) and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) small business concessions. As a result of today*s announcement, any business with annual turnover of less than $2 million will be able to access any of these concessions. Small businesses will only have to apply one eligibility test to access a range of small business concessions. This demonstrates again the Government*s commitment to reducing red tape and compliance costs for small businesses. This proposal incorporates and goes beyond the package of measures to assist small businesses announced in this year*s Budget. Small businesses meeting the $2 million annual turnover test will not need to make any further decisions to enter into the new arrangements, nor will they be obliged to adopt any concessions not suited to their requirements. Any business meeting the new small business definition will be able to choose those concessions that meet its business needs. A single definition of small business will result in reduced compliance costs for some 2 million Australian small businesses, or 96 per cent of all Australian businesses. Businesses with existing access to CGT, FBT or PAYG small business concessions will not lose out under the new arrangements. Those benefits will apply to businesses that meet the new small business definition or that meet other existing eligibility criteria. The measure will apply from 1 July 2007. The Government will be consulting publicly on the draft legislation in early 2007. Today*s announcement represents further cuts in tax of $150 million to small business, bringing the total cost of aligning the definition of small business in tax laws to $277 million.


From http://www.minister.industry.gov.au/ 11/13/2006

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Private Sector Drag Chain on Encryption Smarts

THE private sector has been tagged as a weak link in the chain of security measures around the federal government's planned human services smartcard. Companies have been urged to step up their use of encryption ahead of the launch of the Access Card in 2008. Plans released last week will allow non-government organisations to store data linked to the card. RSA Security Australia and New Zealand manager Mark Pullen said the government was taking access card security "very seriously" but the private sector had work to do to meet the high encryption standards to protect the Access Card. "The commercial world here doesn't really have a grasp on encryption yet, and that's broadly across every commercial organisation that we speak to," he said. "They haven't got a grasp on how to manage cryptography keys, how to implement them quickly, cost-effectively and securely, and I think that's an area that will emerge over the next 36 months." Chris Fendley, general manager of Smartvisit Solutions and former head of the ANZ Bank and Telstra smartcard joint venture, ECard, agreed data would be most at risk during transmission or when stored on corporate or government systems. The encryption levels expected to be applied to the Access Card would make it hard to crack, Mr Fendley said. "You can always break something it's just a matter of how much money you're going to throw at the problem," he said.

Electronic Data Systems global government industry executive Paul Hogie said there was general acceptance that smartcards could protect consumer data. He also backed the private sector's ability to securely store and transmit data. "From the industry point of view there's a high degree of acceptability both from consumers and the industry that the security of the data in the card environment is quite good and very high," Mr Hogie said. Mr Fendley said the durability of smartcards was likely to be a bigger issue than whether or not they could adequately protect sensitive cardholder information. "A smartcard is a computer chip on a bit of plastic in a wallet. If people get it scratched or bent or put it in the washing machine, you're going to be replacing it," he said. Opposition Human Services spokesman Kelvin Thomson last week said the Government expected to replace cards in seven to 10 years. The Department of Human Services is yet to confirm the card's expected lifecycle. Mr Fendley said European institutions that had issued smartcards were replacing them every two to three years.


From http://australianit.news.com.au/ 11/14/2006

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NEW ZEALAND: Hodgson Undermining Private Sector's Support of Public Sector

Wellington, Oct 25 NZPA - The Minister of Health is putting more pressure on public waiting lists with a proposed rollout of private pathology charges, National's associate health spokeswoman Jackie Blue has claimed. Yesterday Pete Hodgson said moves by Wellington district health boards (DHBs) to make patients pay for laboratory tests ordered by private specialists would free up to $7 million a year for other patient care. He said chief executives from DHBs around the country would discuss the issue at a meeting in November, and he hinted he wanted them to adopt the move, saying he wanted consistency in policy to ensure fairness. Dr Blue said a significant proportion of New Zealand women diagnosed with breast cancer each year elected to be seen in the private sector in preference to the uncertainty of a public hospital waiting list. ``From my own experience working as a breast physician in the private sector, there are many women who do not have health insurance but are prepared to pay, from their own pocket, the $500 for specialist assessment to find out if they have breast cancer.'' Those women would now be asked to find an extra $250 for additional pathology charges, and even more if they ended up being treated for cancer, Dr Blue said. ``For some this will undoubtedly become the financial tipping point and they will be forced to try their luck on the DHB waiting list.'' A similar situation existed for prostate cancer sufferers who would also face several hundred dollars of extra charges, she said. ``It was clear from Pete Hodgson's statement in Parliament yesterday that he has failed to understand that prostate cancer patients will have to fork out for special tissue and diagnostic tests along with regular three-monthly blood tests. ``Where will this all end? ``Will patients who are treated privately end up having to pay for their own medication?'' Mr Hodgson seemed intent on severely undermining the private health sector's ability to support the public sector by reducing its burden as well as keeping our specialists working in New Zealand, Dr Blue said.


From New Zealand Press Association/ 10/25/2006

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Small Businesses Face Barriers to E-Commerce

Small businesses are facing several barriers to developing e-commerce and broadband internet, a new report shows. Small Business Minister Lianne Dalziel, who today released the report, said learning how to grow small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was a key priority for the Government. "E-commerce is a medium that, once established, gives SMEs a low-cost means of entering world-wide markets." The Central Online Management and Export Trade (Comet) Accelerator Action Research Project report found key barriers to e-commerce activity were: * Cost; * Access to suitable on-line banking facilities; * Difficulty penetrating global markets; * Access to information on customs and other regulations; and * Motivation levels. Twenty-nine small firms took part on the project, which provided them subsidised e-commerce services and mentoring. Ms Dalziel said Comet's goals were identifying barriers and critical success factors to help small businesses thrive.


From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 11/20/2006

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