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June 2010, Issue 103
unpan-ap@sass.org.cn
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ˇˇ 18th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting Concludes
ASEAN, GCC Ministers Adopt Action Plan to Enhance Ties
APEC Trade Ministers to Review Progress on Free Trade
New World Bank Access to Information Policy Takes Effect July 1
G20 Countries Largely Withstand Protectionist Pressures: Report
APEC Agrees to Promote Renewable Energy
Corporate Chief Executives Endorse UN-Led Gender Equality Initiative
Delegates Meet to Discuss Better Implementation of UN Ocean Treaty
ADB Hosts Conference to Boost Region's Clean Energy Policy and Governance
Ban Urges Corporations to Enhance Partnership with UN for Social Development
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ˇˇ CHINA: Regional Plan for Yangtze River Delta Approved
China Accelerates South-north Water Project
Law Lists Specifics of Sexual Harassment
Chinese President Calls for Universal Basic Health Care
New Rules on Confession to Limit Death Sentences
Macao to Revise Press, Broadcasting Laws
China Issues Revised Regulations on PLA's Internal Management
New Rule to Manage E-waste
China's Central Bank Restates Relatively Easy Monetary Policy Based on New Changes
Gov'ts Urged to Implement Unified Old-age Allowance Policy
China Approves Guidelines to Enhance Forest Protection
China's Pilot Program for Convergence of Three Networks Approved
China's State Council Information Office Publishes Internet White Paper
China Approves Plan to Develop Varied Regions
CPC Politburo Approves Education Reform Plan
China Mulls Law to Increases Protection of Informants
JAPAN: Diet Enacts Law to Preserve Its EEZ
Lower House Passes Bill to Revise Broadcasting Law
Diet Enacts Special Law on Foot-and-mouth Disease
Bill to Tighten Regulations on Sexual Imagery in Comics Likely to Be Rejected
Gov't Paper Calls for Raising Tokyo Area's Global Competitiveness
White Paper Calls for Promotion of Renewable Energy
DPJ to Revise Policy Pledges Ahead of Upper House Election
Japan's New Lending Rules to Hurt Spending, Economy
SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Expand Support for Single-Parent Households
Adopt Balanced Policy in Second Half of 2010
Ministry Won't Ease Housing Loan Rules
S. Korea to 'Normalize' Policy as Economy Strengthens
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ˇˇ LAOS: Govt Focuses on Poverty Reduction
MALAYSIA: Subsidy Cuts Planned to Avert Debt Crisis
Malaysia Urged to Tap EU Demand for Green Products
Thailand Calls for Contributions to the Prosperity and Stability of the Mekong Subregion
VIETNAM: National Assembly Considers Inflation and Social Welfare
Gov't Seeks Environmental Taxes
NA Deputies Agree to Build Express Railway, Survey
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: Food Security Policy to Be Showcased in G8
INDIA: Cabinet Approves Amendments to the Central Edu Institutions Act
SRI LANKA: Outlines Spending Plans for 2010
NEPAL: Labour Ministry Mulling Social Security Plan
Amendment of Insurance Act on Anvil
PAKISTAN: SBP Launches Agriculture Produce Storage Financing Scheme
FBR to Present ST Amendment Bills to Parliament: Reformed GST from October 1
PTA Issued Policy Guidelines to Monitor Web-Sites
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ˇˇ ARMENIA: Investment Policy to Allow Creating 750 Job Opportunities
Daniel Wartonick - Armenia Capable to Carry Out Pension Reform
AZERBAIJAN: Adopt Strategy on Gender Equality
KAZAKHSTAN: President Signed Amendments to Legislation Concerning National Security and Law on Culture
Agro-Industrial Complex Development Program for 2010-2014 Defines Final Production Indicators
Draft Program of Healthcare Development for 2011-2015 Presented in Government
Kazakhstan Government to Introduce Amendments to Tax Code to Reduce 3G Price
State Regulation of Labor Market Program to Be Created in Kazakhstan
TURKMENISTAN: International Treaty Law Enacted
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Foreign Policy Receives Mixed Score
Australian Government Considers Tailoring Mining Tax
Australia's Income Management Laws Extend to Welfare Recipients
Australian Parliament Passes 18 Weeks Paid Parental Leave
Four-Hour Emergency Treatment Goal Stays
FIJI: To Ratify Social Justice Declaration
NEW ZEALAND: New Law Simplifies Compliance for Financial Advisers
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Delegate Says Trust UN Climate Process
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ˇˇ World Economic Forum on East Asia to Focus on Asian Leadership
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Celebrates Ninth Anniversary at Shanghai Expo
Governments Must Take Account of Increase in Weather-Related Flooding, UN Says
APEC Energy Ministers Give Instructions on Energy Security and Efficiency
UN Chief Urges G20 Leaders to Focus on Development, Green Growth
United Nations Presents 23 Institutions with Awards at Public Service Day Ceremony in Barcelona
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ˇˇ CHINA: Economic System Reforms in 2010
China Audits Rural Cooperative Medical Care System
Central Government Urges Government Organs to Conserve Energy, Resources
HKSAR Accepts New Voting System
HR Development Program Launches
JAPAN: New PM Takes Power
Japan PM Unveils New Cabinet
SOUTH KOREA: Foreign Ministry to Reform Diplomat Recruitment Process
Prosecution System to Reform for Enhanced Transparency
Anti-corruption Panel, Educators Sign Integrity Education Pact
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: New Bribery Case Involving BI Officials - KPK
Govt Bloc Agrees to Disburse Rp 15 Billion for Each Legislator
LAOS: 10th Party CC Plenary Prepares for 9th Party Congress
Civil Servants Upgraded on Administration Capacity
Salary Payment Through Banking System Evaluated
THAILAND: Formation of Two National Reform Committees
Ministries to Upgrade Procedures
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ˇˇ INDIA: Bureaucracy Most Inefficient in Asia
Cabinet Approves Setting Up of Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research
Indian Public Services Data to Be Available Online
Govt to Set Up Monitoring Panel for CWG
PAKISTAN: SBP Governor Saleem Raza Resigns
Independent Panel Completes Compliance Report on Pakistan Irrigation Project
Govt Taking All Institutions on Board, Says Gilani
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ˇˇ AFGHANISTAN: Officials' Assets Disclosed
ARMENIA: CBA, Police to Exchange Data on Vehicle Insurance Issues
Azerbaijan: Information Center Established for Improvement of Import-export Operations
Azerbaijan's to Create Coordinating Council to Build E-government
Names of Candidates for Judges in Azerbaijani Supreme Court Published
Presidential Administration Department Head: Azerbaijani Civil Servants Must Have Analytical Skills
Azerbaijani Official: Interest in Public Service Increased in Country
GEORGIA: Saakashvili's Party Headed for Comfortable Election Win
IRAQ: UN Envoy Sees Broad Coalition as Best Option for Government
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Government Slips in Opinion Poll
Australia Has First Woman PM as Gillard Replaces Rudd
Australia's Finance Minister Quits Politics
COOK ISLANDS: Wigmore Takes Over as Demos Vote for Change
FIJI: Minister for Communication Appointed as Vice Chairman for ITU Body
NAURU: No Clear Majority in Election
NEW ZEALAND: Commission Needs More Time for AMP Ruling
New Zealander Takes Key Climate Post
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Politician Quits over Environmental Policy
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Nomination for Election Opens Today
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ˇˇ Second ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting Concludes
S'pore Top Country for Business, Barriers in Rest of ASEAN: Study
E-9 "A Singular Example of South-South Cooperation", Says UNESCO Director-General
Recruit Ambitious Youth Eager to Work for Common Good, Urges Secretary-General, In Message for United Nations Public Service Day
Ban Unveils 'Collection of Superheroes' to Help Eradicate Poverty
UN Invites 'Citizen Ambassadors' to Film Anti-Poverty Goals in Action
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ˇˇ CHINA: Begins Inspection to Ensure Cleaner Production
China to Establish Innovative Workforce
Third Party Payments Regulated
Gov't Aims to Strengthen Administration by Law
JAPAN: Child Allowance Payments Start in 3 Prefectures
Improve Support for Women to Help Boost Workforce: White Paper
SOUTH KOREA: Job Training Offered to Foreign Workers
Vocational Training Available to Foreign Workers
Korea Founds Green Growth Research Institute
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: Govt Launches Migrant Worker Empowerment Program
LAOS: 10 Central and Southern Provinces Learn Rural Development
THAILAND: Poverty Situation Has Improved
VIETNAM: How to Accelerate ODA Disbursement
Tax System Still Headache for Business
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ˇˇ INDIA: Now a Destination to Learn Management and Strategy
INDIA: Govt Upgrades Micro Irrigation Scheme to Save Water
Govt Takes Measures to Promote Groundwater Conservation
NEPAL: Training Program on Information Security for Business
Modernisation of Industrial Sector: Sialkot Needs Special Incentives
PAKISTAN: IMF Programme Helped Avert Bankruptcy
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ˇˇ AZERBAIJAN: OSCE Office in Baku Organizes Conference to Promote Women in Local Governance
International Training on the Role of Youth in Maintaining Peace and Conflict Management Started in Baku
Winners of Republican Contest 'E-education' Announced
Azerbaijani Government Set to Take Steps to Improve Material and Technical Base of Media
KAZAKHSTAN: Implementation of Business Road Map 2020 Discussed in Ukimet Uyi
TAJIKISTAN: Introduce Tough Control over Effective Use of Budget Funds in Governmental Structures
UZBEKISTAN: Training Course on Public Diplomacy for Diplomatic Cadres
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Unions Seek Better Pay for Women
COOK ISLANDS: Emergency Response Workshop in Raro
FIJI: PM Raises Concern at Accountants Congress
Government Is Serious About Employment
NEW ZEALAND: Government Backs Farm Recycling Scheme
NZ Strikes Deal to Give Maori Coastal Property Rights
ˇˇ High Level Task Force on ASEAN Connectivity Continues Its Work
Seamless Transport Could Increase Trade by Billions
APEC Helps Business Take Advantage of FTAs
Web Users to Learn More about ASEAN-US Relations
ASEAN Prepares for Flooding from Extreme Weather Events
ADB Calls for More Social Protection in Wake of Global Economic Crisis
ADB Holds Forum to Advance Use of Clean Energy Technology in Region
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ˇˇ CHINA: Implement Real-name Registration for Internet Stores
China Has 45,000 Gov't Internet Portals
Internet Accessible to 45% of Population in 5 Years
US$630 bln Invested in Internet Infrastructure Construction
China's Social Security Network Continues to Expand
Chinese State-owned Company Enters Internet Video Industry Sector
More Computers for Rural West
Internet of Things Zone in City
18 Domestic Firms Get Nod for Net Mapping
JAPAN: Ministry Plans Data Centers for Cloud Computing
Top Portals Unveil Mobile Websites
Record 1.27 Mil Households on Welfare Per Month in FY 2009
NORTH KOREA: May Be Getting an Internet Connection
SOUTH KOREA: Most Avid Readers of Online News
Online Ad Market Expands Despite Overall Slowdown
South Korea Aims to Make Online Games Key Driver for Economy
Firms Anticipate E-book Boom in Korea
KT to Develop 3-D Mapping Service
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ˇˇ LAOS: Regional Economic Integration Disseminated
Better Flood Warning System Benefits 60 Million Mekong Basin People
WB and EU Give Over USD 14.7 Million to Laos
MALAYSIA: Most Malaysian More Environmental-conscious than Perceived, Says Poll
Talent Corp to Attract 700,000 Skilled Malaysians
M'sians Expect Pay Rise Despite Financial Crunch
PHILIPPINES: BSP - RP Economy Doing Well
Infra Projects Stimulate Regional Banking - CL Bankers
THAILAND: Weaknesses and Constraints Causing Obstacles to the Development of Creative Economy
VIETNAM: 22 Countries Recognize Its Market Economy
Nation Attracts $7.5bil FDI
Twin Economic Threats Are Starting to Diminish
Vietnam Aims for 7.5 Percent GDP Growth in 2011
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ˇˇ INDIA: E-Governance Services of Chennai Corporation a Hit
Effective Execution of E-Governance Project in UP
Mission Mode Project Approved Under E-Governance
Infrastructure, Labour Laws, Technology and Credit Retarding MSME Growth
SRI LANKA: Rapid Reconstruction, Inclusive Growth, Key to Sri Lanka's Post-War Development - ADB President
Sri Lanka Central Bank Releases Latest Economic, Social Statistics
PAKISTAN: Promotion of IT Is Need of the Hour: Chief Minister Punjab
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ˇˇ ARMENIA: CIS Representatives Discuss Outlooks of Innovative Cooperation in Yerevan
Armenian Assembly of America Launches Mobile Web Application
ArmenTel Increases Mobile Internet Availability
Educational Internet Platform to Be Created in Armenia
AZERBAIJAN: Adopts State Standards and Program on General Education Levels
Award of Further Two 3G Licences Imminent
ISRAEL: Communications Ministry Issues First MVNO Licence
UZBEKISTAN: UNICEF Helps Accelerate National Nutrition Investment Strategy
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: RBA Deputy Says Mining Growth an Economic Challenge
COOK ISLANDS: Who Calls to Protect Women from Tobacco
FIJI: Bid to Cut Internet Prices
FIJI: Bank South Pacific Launches Mobile Banking
Business Conditions in Fiji Not Easy: RBF Governor Reddy
Progress on Millennium Development Goals Uneven: UNDP Head
Health Insurance and Tax Under the Spotlight
Ministry Orders Investigation into Leak to RNZ
Recovery Expected to Strengthen - Survey
Skilled Immigrants Needed, Says Business NZ
Employment Confidence Rises - Survey
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Child Health Care Lacking - Zibe
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ˇˇ ADB Prices $3 Billion Three-Year Global Bond Issue
Asia Moves to Contain Property Bubbles
Japan Funds Low-Carbon Model Town Project in APEC
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ˇˇ CHINA: Cut Taxes on Rural Financing
China's Financial Leasing Sector Issues First Financial Bonds
China to Launch US$4.1 Bln 3-year Treasury Bonds
Securities Regulator OKs ABC's IPO Plan
CSRC Allows 5 More Brokers in Program
China Regulates Local Gov't Financing Companies
China to Further Reform RMB Regime
Banks Asked to Set Up System to Oversee Foreign Loans
Local Govts' 3 Trln Yuan in Debt
JAPAN: BOJ Looks to Extend Trillions to Lenders
Japan: Calls for Fiscal Reform Likely Next Finmin
Japan Central Bank to Launch $33B Credit Program
BOJ Unveils New Loan Scheme
Gov't to Cut Corporate Tax, Create 5 Million Jobs in Decade
SOUTH KOREA: BOK Proposes Permanent Foreign Currency Swaps
Ministry to Reduce BOK Rate Meeting Role
BOK Pledges to Maintain Market Stability
Ministry to Withdraw SME Loan Relief
Merger Plans Brewing Among Major Banks
BOK to Ban Foreign Currency Loans for Domestic Investment
Kan Targets Tax Reform to Repair Economy
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: Budget Deliberation at Risk of Deadlock - Golkar
House Demands Rp 3.3 Trillion in Spending
LAOS: Draft Budgetary Plan for Next Five Years Discussed
PRF Invests 2.8 Billion Kip in Soukhouma and Bachieng Chaleunsouk
Laos Needs 32% of GDP for Development in 2011-2015 Term
MALAYSIA: 10MP - Govt to Allocate Between RM90bil and RM91bil for 2011-2012
THAILAND: Parliament Approves 2011 Budget Bill
Reduction of Social Disparity: An Objective of the 2011 National Budget
National Budget for 2011 to Facilitate Its Reconciliation Process
VIETNAM: NA Calls for Tighter Controls on State Budget Spending
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: Govt Mulls Tax on Share Market Profit
Budget Proposes Hike in VAT, ATV Rates
SRI LANKA: Must Reduce Deficits, Debt; Contain Inflation: World Bank
Sri Lanka Budget Gap Narrows in 1Q 2010
NEPAL: Govt Giving Final Shape to New Budget
ADB Extends Over $72 Million to Help Nepal Expand Credit Access to Rural Poor
Govt May Incorporate Merger Policy in New Budget
PAKISTAN: Development Budget 2010-11: Rs 663 Billion Outlay Approved by NEC
Budget Deficit Shoots Up to Rs 625.960bn in July-March
Budget Includes Steps for Widening Tax Net, Increasing Revenue
Govt Unveils Rs 3.259 Trillion Budget for 2010-11
New Budget Highlights Pakistan's 'Survival Mode'
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ˇˇ ARMENIA: Public Financial Management Reforms Should Be Implemented within 10 Years
AZERBAIJAN: Discuss Project on Bank for Technical Assistance for Institutional Development with WB
KYRGYZSTAN: Authorities to Nationalize Major Bank
KAZAKHSTAN: Use $25 Billion for Industrialization Development of the Country Until 2014
TAJIKISTAN: Introduce Royalty Fees for Use of Natural Resources
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Mining Slowdown Tipped to Impact Budget Forecast
GUAM: Budget Shortfall Threatens Bus Service
NEW ZEALAND: Deficit Drops to 20-Year Low but Likely to Rise Again
Capital Markets Overhaul Could Be a Long Haul
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Cut Spending on Public Service
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ˇˇ Businesses Have 5 Recommendations for APEC Trade Ministers
Stimulating Employment by SMEs
Public and Private Sector Meet to Promote Food Security in Southeast Asia
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ˇˇ CHINA: Vow Equal Treatment for Private Sector Talents
Private Sector Provides 90% of New Jobs in China
JAPAN: Lower House Passes Bill to Scale Back Postal Privatization
Bank of Japan Hoping to Boost Economy by Encouraging Investment in Private Businesses
SOUTH KOREA: Private Sector Growth to Gather Pace
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ˇˇ LAOS: Businessmen Concern over Appreciated Kip Currency
PHILIPPINES: Manufacturing Sector, Not Poll Spending, Key Contributor to 7.3% Q1 GDP Growth - NEDA
Agri Stakeholders Cite Gains in FIELDS Program
More Sales Planned to Aid Small Retailers
OTOP Producers with Good Potential for Development as SME Operators
Public and Private Sectors Adjusting to the Creative Economy
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: New Policy to Bring Major Change to Education Sector
INDIA: SBI to Expand Reach to 50,000 Unbanked Villages
India Can Create a Niche in Food Processing Sector
PAKISTAN: Cement, Other Sectors: Inland Freight Subsidy May Continue in Fiscal Year 2011
Annual Plan 2010-11: Railways to Be Converted into a Corporation
Pakistan and US Agree on Water Sector Partnership
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ˇˇ ARMENIA: Government Approves Program on Gyumri Industrial Park Activity in 2010
KAZAKHSTAN: Encourage Foreign Investors Developing New Technologies in Its Economy
101 Projects with Budget of KZT 6.7 Trln Selected Within Industrialization Map for 2010-2014
Contracts Signed in Almaty Symbolize New Stage in Industrialization Program's Realization
Kazakhstan to Develop Actively Stock Market in 2010-2011 - Premier
Government to Approve Programs on Development of Six Industrial Sectors by Mid July
UZBEKISTAN: Tariffs Up for Telecommunication Services
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Government Strikes Multi-Billion Broadband Deal
IMF Backs Australian Mining Tax
Tips for Pacific Micro-Finance

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18th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting Concludes

"The 18th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting wrapped up yesterday in Madrid, and agreed upon a new indicative list of activities for 2011-2012 to further implement the Phnom Penh Agenda, an action programme for closer ties between ASEAN and the EU which was agreed at last year's meeting.

The meeting, themed "Partners in Regional Integration", was co-chaired by H.E. Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of Spain; Lady Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission; and His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam. The Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, expressed satisfaction on the renewed commitment from both ASEAN and the EU to intensify their relations. Dr Surin hoped that while ASEAN will internally determine how best to coordinate and enhance its collective representation to the EU, the latter would subsequently extend its support.

With more than 30 years of mutually beneficial cooperation, ASEAN and the European Union have reached a new stage in its relations, a much more matured and higher level of cooperation after the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter and the Lisbon Treaty. This new institutional change in the EU, and also in ASEAN, is expected to lead the way to regular and effective consultations between both parties. The two-day meeting also exchanged views on issues of mutual interest and concern, from regional and international issues, non-traditional and traditional security challenges, climate change and environment to the economic crisis and its aftermath. The 19th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting will take place in Brunei Darussalam in 2012.

From http://www.aseansec.org/ 05/27/2010

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ASEAN, GCC Ministers Adopt Action Plan to Enhance Ties

SINGAPORE: Foreign Ministers from ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council have adopted a two-year action plan to enhance relations. The plan spells out concrete measures to bring about partnerships in the areas of economy, education and culture. The agreement comes at the end of a ministerial meeting in Singapore. This is just the second ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council Meeting and already there is chemistry among the foreign ministers. Their retreat in Singapore was described as fruitful and productive. There was also a sense of urgency in getting things moving. Relations between Southeast Asia and the Middle East are still in a nascent stage, with potential still largely untapped. The 2-year Plan Of Action outlines measures to be undertaken to unlock this potential by 2012.

Sheikh Dr Mohammed Al-Sabah Al-Salim Al Sabah, Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, said: "We have to know each other and this knowledge is a fundamental requirement for a prosperous, long-term and solid economic cooperation." Cooperation in trade and investment will include discussions over a possible ASEAN-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA). A roundtable involving officials from both sides will be formed to look into what this entails.

ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said: "The foreign ministers have expressed their political will, but the private sector and the various other officials in other areas will have to be brought together... "Eventually, we are aiming for an FTA, but at this point we cannot specify the date. We need to explore what needs to be improved and what needs to be fulfilled on both sides for us to have the FTA."

One of the immediate tasks would be to get the private sector involved in the formation of a GCC-ASEAN Business Forum and an Investment Conference. Trade between both regions has gone up considerably over the past six to seven years - from just US$20 billion to about US$100 billion. Beyond economics, there will be partnerships in education - for example, in developing university curricula and student exchanges. To enhance cultural understanding, GCC Day and ASEAN Day festivities have been mooted for members. As part of their visit, the ministers also called on Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana. The next ASEAN-GCC meeting will be held in Abu Dhabi next year. But the first progress report on the action plan is expected to be presented on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly in September.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 06/01/2010

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APEC Trade Ministers to Review Progress on Free Trade

Sapporo, Japan - APEC Trade Ministers are set to review members' progress in achieving regional free trade goals; and will receive an update on global trade negotiations from the World Trade Organisation's Director-General, Mr Pascal Lamy. The meeting of Asia-Pacific Trade Ministers will be held in Sapporo, Japan on 5-6 June and will conclude with a press conference on 6 June. In 1994 APEC set the 'Bogor Goals' of free and open trade and investment by 2010 for industrialised members and by 2020 for developing members. Trade Ministers will now discuss members' progress based on an interim assessment report which combines input from: member economies, the APEC Business Advisory Council and relevant international organisations.

Existing figures show that substantial progress has already been made. Average tariffs in APEC member economies are now more than 60 percent lower than when APEC was established in 1989. APEC has also been making it easier and cheaper to do business through its trade and investment facilitation action plans. A five percent reduction in business transaction costs was achieved between 2002 and 2006, and APEC is on track to achieve a further five percent reduction by the end of this year. Mr Lamy will brief Trade Ministers on progress in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations and on the WTO's efforts to monitor and counter protectionism. APEC Trade Ministers will then discuss how to give impetus to the DDA and maintain APEC's standstill against protectionism.

Trade Ministers will also focus on APEC's key agenda items for 2010. They will consider ways to accelerate regional economic integration, including possible pathways to a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific. In addition, the Ministers will review APEC's work to formulate a new Growth Strategy for the region that achieves more balanced growth, attains greater inclusiveness in societies, better sustains the environment, and raises growth potential through innovation. The meeting of Trade Ministers will be preceded by meetings of APEC Senior Officials and working level groups from May 24 to June 4.

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/03/2010

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New World Bank Access to Information Policy Takes Effect July 1

WASHINGTON - The World Bank said today that it is on track to begin to implement the first phase of its new policy on Access to Information on July 1, one of several major reforms the Bank has undertaken to increase its effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability. The new policy positions the Bank as a transparency leader among multilateral organizations. It moves the Bank from an approach that spelled out what information would be made publicly available under the current disclosure policy, to one that enables public availability of all information in the Bank's possession that is not on a clear list of exceptions, such as staff personal information and deliberative documents. The new policy provides for much greater access to information about projects under implementation to enable the public to track a project through the course of the project lifecycle.

"The new Access to Information Policy is much more than a simple policy change. It is an enormous cultural shift for the institution, both in terms of how we engage with the outside world and how we view and handle information," said Jeff Gutman, Vice President, Operations Policy and Country Services. The Bank will make much more information available on key decisions made during project development and implementation to enable greater awareness of Bank-supported operations and better development results. New information that will be available includes decisions of Project Concept Review meetings, project supervision missions, and mid-term project reviews. Examples of newly available information after July 1 include:

• Minutes of Board Committee meetings
• Chairman's summaries of Board meetings and Committee of the Whole meetings
• Summaries of Discussion
• Annual Reports of Board Committees
• Implementation Status and Results Reports (portions)
• Audited annual financial statements of borrowers for projects (for which the invitation to negotiate is issued after July 1, 2010)
• Country Portfolio Performance Reviews
• Concept notes and consultation plans for policy reviews that are subject to external consultations

"Experiences of other institutions and countries that have adopted disclosure policies of this magnitude clearly demonstrate that we have a steep learning curve ahead of us, but the Bank is committed to the principle that is the foundation of this new policy - maximizing access to information to improve the quality of the development process," said Peter Stephens, Chair of the Access to Information Working Group and Director, External Affairs. In particular, a big challenge for the Bank will be to track down all the historical information that is eligible for disclosure as of July 1, and to handle the anticipated surge in volume of requests until all new systems are completely in place and staff are trained and familiar with how the policy will work in practice. The Bank will continue beyond July 1 to train staff, complete systems upgrades, declassify eligible historical documents and refine workflow processes.

Preparations have been underway since November 2009 - when the Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved the new policy - to put in place the systems and processes needed for implementation. These include:

• upgrading, enhancing, or creating new information technology systems and improving database usability and user interface for information seekers;
• designing and automating work-flow processes to facilitate the proactive disclosure on the Bank's external website;
• preparing thousands of historical documents eligible for public disclosure as of July 1, 2010;
• developing a training program and implementation support resources for 10,000+ staff;
• defining a strategy for upgrading and reengineering the public information function and approach to public information provision through in-country public information centers;
• aligning the Bank's translation framework with the new policy; and
• revising our information classification definitions.

"We have been working with several civil society organizations as we prepare for the policy shift and seeking their input on the complex issue of 'access' for different stakeholder groups, particularly those outside capital cities in developing countries, as well as on translations and ways they can help us test the new system and identify any possible unforeseen bottlenecks," said Marwan Muasher, Senior Vice President, External Affairs. The new policy, which draws on India's Right to Information law and the US Freedom of Information Law, also includes a provision that will allow for the declassification of certain types of restricted information over time - after 5, 10, or 20 years - recognizing that sensitivity of the information declines over time. It also introduces the right to appeal.

"A requester can appeal if he or she believes that the Bank has improperly or unreasonably denied access to information that should be publicly available according to the new policy, or when a requester wishes to make a public interest case for disclosure of information that is restricted under the policy," said Anne-Marie Leroy, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, World Bank Group.

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 06/03/2010

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G20 Countries Largely Withstand Protectionist Pressures: Report

"Despite the global financial crisis, the G20 governments have largely resisted pressures to impose investment restrictions, according to a report released here on Monday. ˇ­ The report, reviewing G20 investment and investment-related measures taken between November and May, was the third of a series prepared at the request of G20 leaders to be submitted to the G20 Summit to be held in Toronto on June 26-27. According to the document, managing the investment impacts of emergency measures taken in response to the crisis still constitutes a great challenge for G20 governments. ˇ­" [Xinhua/Factiva] Dow Jones reports that "ˇ­ 'G20 leaders are to be commended for resisting protectionist pressures, thereby contributing to a return to growth and boosting investor confidence,' the OECD and UNCTAD said. While G20 nations did introduce a number of measures designed to support their financial, automotive and other sectors, the OECD and the UN said they weren't 'on the whole, discriminatory toward foreign investors.'

However, the two agencies warned that those measures do pose 'serious threats' to free and open competition, and should be withdrawn 'as quickly as economic conditions permit.' In particular, the two agencies urged governments to sell the equity stakes in banks and other companies they accumulated during the crisis as soon as possible. ˇ­" [Dow Jones/Factiva] Reuters adds that "ˇ­OECD Senior Economist Kathryn Gordon said emergency bailouts in G20 states had led governments in the reporting period into one-on-one relationships with hundreds of financial firms and some 20,000 non-financial firms - the 'ultimate discrimination' against those without such ties. ˇ­

UNCTAD and the OECD said bailouts and government support had a tendency to become entrenched, skewing investment flows. 'Such schemes should be scaled back as quickly as economic conditions permit so as to send a strong message to domestic and foreign investors that they henceforth are expected to operate without state aid on a commercial basis in the market place,' the report said. The UNCTAD/OECD study, the third such review, was commissioned by the G20 group of rich and emerging nations for their summit in Toronto at the end of the month. ˇ­" [Reuters/Factiva]

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 06/15/2010

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APEC Agrees to Promote Renewable Energy

TOKYO: Asia-Pacific ministers and officials agreed on Saturday to promote renewable sources and nuclear power in a bid to maintain energy security and cut greenhouse gas emissions in the region. Japan hosted the one-day energy meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), in Fukui, ahead of a summit scheduled for November in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo. In a statement adopted at the meeting, the forum agreed that the deployment of renewable energy, nuclear energy and power generation involving carbon capture and storage technology should be promoted, Kyodo News reported. As for new nuclear power plant construction, the statement said "solid financial frameworks as well as cooperation among member economies and with relevant multilateral organisations" could be of help, Kyodo said.

It was the first time APEC had clearly stipulated the promotion of building new nuclear power plants, Kyodo said, quoting Japanese government officials. Japan has been eager to promote nuclear power as a largely carbon-free energy source, although it has often been plagued by safety concerns and problems related to radioactive waste disposal. During the meeting, US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman said he wanted to share the experience of the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with other APEC members to prevent a recurrence, news reports said.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 06/19/2010

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Corporate Chief Executives Endorse UN-Led Gender Equality Initiative

Nearly 40 chief executive officers representing companies from across the world today became the first group of business leaders to endorse a United Nations-led initiative to empower women by promoting gender equality in corporate workplaces, markets and communities. The initiative, dubbed the CEO Statement of Support for the Women's Empowerment Principles - Equality Means Business, and supported by the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the UN Global Compact, encourages business leaders to use female empowerment principles to guide actions that advance their welfare. Those signing the principles acknowledge that the equal treatment of women and men is not only the right thing to do, but it is also good for business.

"These initial signers of the CEO Statement are practicing the very first Women's Empowerment Principle that leadership promotes gender equality. These executives are affirming the high-level support necessary for the Women's Empowerment Principles to gain traction in individual companies and their cultures," said In¨¦s Alberdi, UNIFEM's Executive Director. Women continue to be vastly under-represented in top corporate positions and in management boards, according to UNIFEM. The partnership initiative of UNIFEM and the UN Global Compact, a mechanism designed to foster responsible business practices, also offers corporations a new tool to work with the UN to advance the social development and poverty alleviation targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly the goal related to gender equality and empowerment of women.

A high-level private sector forum will be held in New York to coincide with the UN's 2010 September Summit on the MDGs. Today's leading signatories, who represent firms ranging from manufacturing companies to consulting and investment multinationals, urged other leaders across the global business community to join them. Their call will be repeated at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit on Thursday and Friday, when more than 1,000 CEOs, government ministers, heads of civil society and the UN will meet in New York to discuss how to build a new era of environmental sustainability - a time when environmental, social and governance issues will be deeply integrated into business based on both material and ethical rationales.

From http://www.un.org/ 06/21/2010

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Delegates Meet to Discuss Better Implementation of UN Ocean Treaty

Delegates gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York today to explore ways of improving the implementation of a global treaty aimed at protecting oceans and the resources they hold from a range of threats, including pollution, climate change, illegal fishing and crimes. Experts attending the five-day meeting of the UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea will assess the needs for national and regional capacity-building as they seek to come up with the appropriate knowledge to help States protect Oceans in accordance with the provisions of the UN Law of the Sea Convention. In his report to the General Assembly on oceans and the law of the sea, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon points out that because seas are interconnected, assistance intended to strengthen capacities to manage ocean-related activities can ultimately benefit all States.

He notes that effective protection of oceans continued to be hampered by capacity limitations, especially in developing countries. "These limitations and challenges may constrain the potential for States, in particular developing countries, especially the least developed among them and the small island developing States, to benefit from oceans and seas and their resources pursuant to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea," the Secretary-General said in his report.

From http://www.un.org/ 06/21/2010

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ADB Hosts Conference to Boost Region's Clean Energy Policy and Governance

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - More than 100 energy regulators from around the world attended a conference at the Asian Development Bank (ADB) today aimed at strengthening regulatory frameworks to help countries in the Asia and Pacific region boost energy efficiency and develop renewable energy resources. In his opening remarks to the Asia-Pacific Dialogue on Clean Energy Governance and Regulation, ADB Vice-President Bindu Lohani said the twin challenges posed by climate change and growing energy demand require the urgent leadership of governments and their development partners across the region. "Asian countries need to think hard about low-carbon development, and a full armory of technological, financial, policy and regulatory tools will be necessary to help drive the region toward a clean energy future," Mr. Lohani said. "Improving governance and regulation - the reason we are all here today - will ensure that vital investments in clean energy actually deliver improved access to energy for all."

The conference is part of ADB's week-long Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF), an annual event that focuses on boosting investments and technologies to advance clean energy solutions. ADB is co-hosting the conference with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with assistance from the International Energy Agency, the World Resources Institute and the Regulatory Assistance Project. "Investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency needs to ramp up exponentially," said Olivier Carduner, Mission Director for USAID's Regional Development Mission for Asia. "But this depends, in large measure, on creating the right policy and regulatory environment. We need to make sure we are not putting unnecessary roadblocks in the way of investors, innovators and entrepreneurs."

From http://www.adb.org/ 06/22/2010

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Ban Urges Corporations to Enhance Partnership with UN for Social Development

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tonight urged corporate executives to strengthen their engagement with the United Nations in its efforts help countries achieve the internationally-agree social development and poverty alleviation goals before their target date of 2015. "Let us recognize that investments in the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] are investments in sustainable economic growth. Business will flourish only if people do," Mr. Ban said as he welcomed heads of corporations and government officials gathered in New York for a summit of the Global Compact, a UN initiative that seeks to foster socially responsible business practices. Mr. Ban said the UN, governments and businesses should agree on what he called a "Development Compact," in which companies work even more actively with the UN to scale up measures and projects that improve people's lives.

"This is a moment of transition and uncertainty. The private sector knows this as well as anyone. Your businesses are on the front lines. From Wall Street to Main Street, from boardroom tables to kitchen tables, from national capitals to capital markets, people look for sustainable growth and sustainable development. "With your engagement, with your recommitment here at this summit, we can build a new era of sustainability," the Secretary-General added. The number of companies participating in the Global Compact has risen from 40 initially to more than 8,000, Mr. Ban observed, saying that it was an indication that more business leaders accepted the idea that principles and profits complement each other. However, the vast majority of companies around the world had not committed themselves to the tenets of corporate responsibility, he stressed.

"The global economy raises further concerns. Many countries have shown great resilience and remain engines of tremendous dynamism. Yet there is also great pain. People everywhere are losing jobs and livelihoods. None of us can say whether we are fully on the road to recovery or still in the eye of the storm. Meanwhile, new threats loomˇ­ climate change, conflict over increasingly scarce resources, environmental catastrophe. "We will take stock of where we stand and chart a way forward, building on what works, challenging ourselves to do more, wanting global integration work for business and people alike," Mr. Ban said. The Secretary-General will chair the two-day summit, which gets under way on Thursday, to discuss how to build a new era of sustainability - a time when environmental, social and governance issues will be deeply integrated into business based on both material and ethical rationales.

More than 1,000 corporate chief executives, government ministers, heads of civil society and the UN are attending the gathering.

From http://www.un.org/ 06/23/2010

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CHINA: Regional Plan for Yangtze River Delta Approved

The Regional Plan for the Yangtze River Delta has been approved by China's State Council, or cabinet, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner, said Monday. According to the plan, the Yangtze River Delta will be developed into a key international gateway for the Asia-Pacific region, an important global center for the modern service industry and advanced manufacturing industry, as well as a world-class cluster of cities. It is expected that the area will lead the way in realizing modernization on the whole by 2020. The Yangtze River Delta is made up of Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, covering an area of 210,700 square kilometers. The Yangtze River Delta possesses an advantageous location, excellent natural resources, solid economic foundations, and has become one of the country's most economically competitive regions, the NDRC said.

From Xinhua News Agency 05/25/2010

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China Accelerates South-north Water Project

China is accelerating the construction of a massive project aimed at diverting water to meet growing demand in the parched north, project authorities said. The south-to-north water diversion project will divert water from the Yangtze River to the dry north via three routes: eastern, middle and western. "The construction of the south-to-north water project is going according to plan and being accelerated," according to a statement from the Office of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project Commission of the State Council (SNWDPC) on Thursday. A number of construction projects have been completed or are near completion. By the end of March, 40.896 billion yuan (5.99 billion U.S. dollars) had been spent in constructing the middle and central routes, from the earmarked total of 90.6 billion yuan. A tunnel on the eastern route, 70 meters below the northern section of the Yellow River, was dug through on March 25 in Shandong Province, so that water from the Yangtze River could pass under the Yellow River. Another tunnel for the middle route will be completed in June, said Du Bingzhao, a spokesman for the SNWDPC. The dam of Danjiangkou Reservoir which forms the border between central Hubei and Henan provinces, from which the water is channeled to the north in the middle route, has been heightened from 162 meters to 176.6 meters, increasing the water volume from 17.45 billion to 29.05 billion cubic meters, the statement said.

The old part of the dam, which was finished in 1973 after 15 years of construction, has been reinforced to cope with the increased water volume, said Tang Yuanchang, deputy general manager of a South-to-north Water Divert Project Middle Route Water Source Corporation. According to project plans, about 180,000 people in Hubei and 150,000 people in Henan are to be relocated before the middle route is completed and water diverted to northern China in 2014. On Tuesday, northern Hebei Province began diverting 200 million cubic meters of water from three reservoirs to Beijing via a canal that will eventually form part of the middle route of the project. The water is expected to arrive in Tuancheng Lake in Beijing early next month. It will take about six months for all 200 million cubic meters of water to reach Beijing. Du Bingzhao said Hebei itself is one of China's driest provinces. The province's per capita water consumption is one seventh of the national average. "Even so, the province still has to provide water to Beijing to ease its water shortage, which showed how urgent the parched northern China is in need of water for its social and economic development. And it is also why we picked up the pace in building the south-to-north water diversion project," Du said.

From Xinhua News Agency 05/28/2010

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Law Lists Specifics of Sexual Harassment

Sending lewd photographs or suggestive text messages to women will be considered sexual harassment according to a new regulation that will take effect next Tuesday in this capital city of South China's Guangdong province. The city with a population of 9.94 million is the latest in China to create a specific definition of sexual harassment, which is not included in superior State law protecting women's rights and interests. "Sexual harassment of women through language, words, physical contacts, graphics or electronic information is forbidden," reads the new amendment to the city's current 13-year-old regulation. The amendment to the Regulation on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women in 2005 added that women could file civil lawsuits against anyone who is sexually harassing them. However, the definition of what constitutes the unwelcome conduct is absent. To fill in the blanks and create a functioning law, local legislatures in many provinces and municipalities, such as Shanghai, Chongqing, and Liaoning, have passed similar bills in recent years to be more specific about the meaning of sexual harassment. The city's amended regulation on the protection of women's interests and rights requires employers to take concrete steps to protect employees who are suffering from sexual harassment.

For example, an employer will be required to change an office's wooden door to a transparent glass door, if any of its staffers report to have been sexually harassed in that office. It will also be required that victims of sexual harassment be moved from the department that the suspect heads, said Li Jianlan, president of the Guangzhou municipal women's federation. "Although it is difficult to get evidence of sexual harassment, when we receive a complaint from a female worker, whether it is true or not, we can require the employer to take measures to stop it and prevent it," Li told the media on Wednesday. The company involved in such a case, upon receiving a letter from the federation on safeguarding women's rights, must reply in a timely manner and take action, she said. Such a practice will be unprecedented in the country, she said. It stipulates that employees have the right to require the employer to prevent and stop sexual harassment as a part of the collective labor contract. A woman being harassed at the workplace may appeal to her employer or the trade union for help. If she is harassed in a public space, she can complain to the property management of the venue or the police. Victims should try to get evidence so that the offenders are duly punished, said Lin Qiugui, a law professor at Sun Yat-sen University. Those rules should have been put into place earlier but it is foolish to think that a glass door can solve a problem, said Sanzo Lau, a white-collar worker. A staff member with the Rights Protection Department of the All-China Women's Federation, surnamed Liu, said, "Although the practice in Guangzhou is progressive, it is not feasible for it to be expanded across China."

She said that many provinces and cities had created definitions of sexual harassment since the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women was adopted. Women's federations at all levels have also been working together with local governments to create provisions suited to their own region. "Since Guangzhou has more female migrant workers, it will probably need stricter regulations, as will other regions with similar conditions," Liu said. However, officials said such local additions to carry out the law serve no more than "deterrence". Shi Qiuqin, vice-president of the Shanghai Women's Federation, told China Daily that "its importance is to warn people to think before they harass and to lay the legal ground to protect women." Since the new Shanghai regulation came into effect in April 2007, not one woman has made a single complaint to the local federation until last year - despite the fact that the regulation clearly points out where they can seek help, according to Shi. "After all, it's all about losing face. Reputation and family harmony make them keep the embarrassing experience a secret. Chinese culture does not encourage us to accuse others publicly over a humiliating experience."

From China Daily 05/28/2010

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Chinese President Calls for Universal Basic Health Care

Chinese President Hu Jintao has asked governments at different levels to endeavor to ensure all urban and rural residents to be covered by basic health care service, a key livelihood issue in the country. Hu, also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the call at a group study of the members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Friday afternoon, said a statement issued on Saturday. The political bureau members held discussions with two research fellows - Rao Keqin from the Ministry of Health and Ge Yanfeng from the State Council's Development Research Center - who made speeches on the issues of China's heath care reform and global health care development. Hu said the reform must realize the goal of basic health care for everyone and it was a major task to speed up the building of a basic health care system that covers both rural and urban residents. China launched its massive health care reform last year, which seeks to provide adequate and affordable health care services to all. The State Council, or Cabinet, issued a circular last month detailing specific goals and steps for future reforms. Hu pledged more government involvement in and funding for health care services, which he said must be public-oriented. He said ensuring people's rights to health must be a top priority for governments and CPC committees of all levels and urged them to resolutely work to achieve the reform's success. In his speech, Hu also called for more efforts to establish a national system of essential medicines, enhance health care service at grassroots level, and advance the pilot reform of state-owned hospitals.

From English.news.cn/ 05/29/2010

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New Rules on Confession to Limit Death Sentences

Evidence obtained illegally - such as through torture during interrogation - cannot be used in testimony, particularly in cases involving the death penalty, according to two regulations issued on Sunday. A death sentence should be pronounced only with sufficient evidence acquired through legal means, stipulate the two regulations: One on evidence review in death sentence cases, and the other on excluding illegal evidence in criminal cases. Jointly issued by the top court, the top procuratorate, the ministries of public security, state security and justice, they are the first specific rules on collection of evidence and review in criminal cases. The first regulation sets out principles and rules for scrutinizing and gauging evidence in cases involving the death penalty, and the other sets out detailed procedure for examining evidence and for excluding evidence obtained illegally. They are expected to cut down on death sentences and reduce forced confessions, experts said. The regulations make it clear that evidence with unclear origin, confessions obtained through torture, or testimony obtained through violence and intimidation are invalid, particularly in death sentences. "Not a single mistake is allowed in fact finding and collection of evidence in cases involving the death sentence," said a written Q&A released by the five central departments on Sunday. The new regulations define illegal evidence and include specific procedures on how to exclude such evidence. Lu Guanglun, a senior judge at the Supreme People's Court, said such details do not exist in the Criminal Procedure Law and its judicial interpretations.

"This is the first time that a systematic and clear regulation tells law enforcers that evidence obtained through illegal means is not only illegal but also useless," said Zhao Bingzhi, dean of the law school at Beijing Normal University. "Previously we could only infer from abstract laws that illegal evidence is not allowed. But in reality, in many cases, such evidence was considered valid," he said. "This is big progress, both for the legal system and for better protection of human rights," he said. "It will help reduce the number of executions". Zhao said the new rules will also help change the mindset of law enforcers and reduce torture in interrogation, one of the causes of wrongful sentences. Ever since the top court started reviewing all death sentences in 2007, the overall quality of handling criminal cases has improved, but a lot of problems still remain, the joint Q&A said. In 2008, the top court announced that about 15 percent of death sentence verdicts by lower courts in 2007 were found to have faults. On May 20, Zhou Yongkang, secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Political and Legislative Committee, said at a meeting that "the criminal legal system should be perfected and law enforcers should improve their capability to ensure that every case handled can stand the test of law and time". Lu at the top court said the new rules will help prevent wrongful convictions like the one in which an innocent villager in Henan province was wrongly prosecuted. The case of Zhao Zuohai, who stayed behind bars for 11 years until the man he allegedly murdered turned up alive on April 30, has attracted national attention and triggered public criticism of judicial officers after Zhao said he was tortured by local police to confess. Three former police officers have been arrested for allegedly torturing Zhao. "Such cases seriously undermine the image of China's justice system and people's trust in the government," said Bian Jianlin, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law.

From China Daily 05/31/2010

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Macao to Revise Press, Broadcasting Laws

The government of Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) Wednesday said it will revise the SAR's press and broadcasting laws in two to three years. These two laws have been in place for 20 years, but the relevant press and radio and TV broadcasting committees still have not been established, and the status of local media has undergone great changes due to the development and the popularization of Internet, said Chan Chi Ping, director of the SAR's Information Bureau. The Bureau held a meeting on Wednesday, which was attended by the heads of local media. During the meeting Chan shared the information concerning the revising of the two laws with the media chiefs. Chan said that the revision of the two laws will be based on the principles of freedom of speech. The Bureau will start researching the legal matter and launching surveys by cooperating with local academic and research institutions before drafting the laws, according to Chan. He also said that there was no set timetable for the revision work, and the process of revising the laws will start only when the society and the media industry reach a common consensus over the matter.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/03/2010

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China Issues Revised Regulations on PLA's Internal Management

Revised regulations on internal management, discipline and formation regulation of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) are issued Thursday to further advance the army's development and modernization. Chinese President Hu Jintao, also Chairman of China's Central Military Commission, recently signed an order to promulgate and enforce the three regulations. Unlike the previous version, the revised regulation on internal management adopted provisions on psychological counselling to armymen and provisions on their use of mobile phones and the Internet. It also modified a wide range of provisions covering oath, dress and bearings, as well as confidentiality rules, security systems and financial management. The three revised regulations are to come into force from June 15 this year.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/04/2010

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New Rule to Manage E-waste

Under a new regulation set to take effect in January, old refrigerators, washing machines and other unwanted electronic devices must be sent to a government-authorized facility for processing before they are recycled. The regulation was developed to help reduce waste and curb environmental pollution. The government will establish a licensing system for the disposal and recycling of e-wastes, under which only enterprises with a proper license are eligible for e-waste disposal. Furthermore, a centralized system to deal with e-waste will be established after manufacturers, flea markets, appliance repair networks or individual vendors collect them. The centralized treatment plants must have adequate facilities for treating pollutants based on standards and requirements of pollution control and environmental protection. Unlicensed scrap metal facilities will be shut down and face fines of up to 500,000 yuan (73,209 U. S. dollars) for violations. Zhang Lijun, vice-minister of environmental protection, said China produces more than 10 million pieces of such waste a year. Government data indicates that nearly 25 million TV sets, 5.4 million refrigerators, 10 million washing machines, 1 million air conditioners, 12 million computers, 6 million printers and 40 million mobile phones were thrown out in 2009.

The regulation anticipates the cooperation of everyone including governments, companies and individuals to help reduce e-waste, authorities said at a ceremony to mark World Environment Day Saturday. "Due to the pursuit of economic interests, a large number of workshops in China use some backward methods to deal with e-waste including burning them outdoors or acid soaking, which will cause serious damage to our environment and people's health," Zhang said. The regulation is expected to recover valuables such as copper, iron and aluminum, and curb the pollution caused by uncontrolled handling. The regulation also targets e-waste that ends up in China from Western countries, which has been on the rise in years. A report from the Basel Action Network and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition estimated that 80 percent of the world's high-tech trash is exported to Asia, and 90 percent of that flows into China. The regulation said all imported electrical products should meet the requirements for pollution control and enterprises should adopt the design conducive to innocuous treatment and recycling. In January of this year, two people suspected of smuggling more than 10 tons of e-wastes from Western countries to Chongqing were arrested. "Discarded home appliances contain reclaimable metals and other materials whose recycling value cannot be underestimated if properly treated," Zhang said.

From Global Times 06/07/2010

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China's Central Bank Restates Relatively Easy Monetary Policy Based on New Changes

China's central bank reiterated on Tuesday it would continue to implement the relatively easy monetary policy according to changing situations in a bid to facilitate the ongoing development mode transformation, as well as reinforce the country's sound and relatively fast economic growth. The national economy is set to remain stable while seeing a relatively quick expansion this year, in general. However, the foundation of the recovery is not solid, the People's Bank of China said in a report focusing on China's regional financial operation. Further, the report stated that China still needed to improve its ability to be innovative while also continuing to stimulate consumer spending as well as optimizing the country's economic structure amid tough emission cutting targets. Additionally, the report noted that the potential fiscal risk should not be overlooked. Many uncertainties, including the expanding European sovereign debt crisis, trade frictions, and the stimulus exit, would have a significant impact on China's economy. The central bank also encouraged the nation's financial institutions to lend to companies in the new energy sector, small enterprises and job-promotion businesses, while asking them to avoid industries with high energy consumption and emissions as well as those with overcapacity.

From English.news.cn 06/08/2010

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Gov'ts Urged to Implement Unified Old-age Allowance Policy

China's Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) soon will issue a document aimed at urging provincial governments to dispense old-age allowances on a monthly basis and establish an even system of distributions throughout the country, China Economic Weekly reports. Currently, many regions do not follow the standards designed by Ministry of Civil Affairs to roll out unified regulations to guarantee monthly allowances for residents 80 years of age or older. It is said that only seven provinces have established a unified allowance system for the elderly, six of which have extended the monthly allowances. These include the municipalities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin and the provinces of Heilongjiang and Yunnan and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, according to Wang Zhengyao, Director of the Social Welfare and Charity Promotion Department under the Ministry of Civil Affairs. As many as 21 cities in provinces that lack a unified system have set up their own systems to distribute old-age allowances, Wang said. Some developing regions such as Ningxia and Yunnan have been able to extend the compensation in a unified way, while many developed costal regions have not followed the requirement. When local governments in some areas distribute old-age allowances on a yearly basis, they find that seniors over the age of 80 have already passed away. The ministry hopes that the document summarizing the experiences in some regions such as Beijing where old-age allowances have already been unified, will help promote the establishment of the system nationwide. Wang said the announcement was expected to affect the developed regions and called on them to pay more attention to their elderly population. He also pointed out that the idea of turning the old-age allowances into subsistence allowances in some regions needed to be changed, the report said.

From CRI 06/08/2010

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China Approves Guidelines to Enhance Forest Protection

The State Council, China's cabinet, approved guidelines Wednesday that protect, restore and ensure the sustainable use of forests for the 2010-2020 period. Participants at the State Council meeting, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao, reviewed and approved the guidelines for forest protection and utilization for the 10-year period. The guidelines say China will lift its forest coverage to 223 million hectares by the end of 2020, or 23 percent of the national area. In China, forest are woods covering an area of more than 1 mu (0.667 hectares) and having a crown density - a measure of skylight blocked by plant material - at or above 20 percent, according to the State Forestry Administration (SFA). The guidelines set a goal of increasing the nation's woods-covered areas to 312 million hectares, or more than 32.5 percent of the national area, by the end of 2020. Great importance must be attached to forest protection, especially shrublands in ecologically-vulnerable regions, to ensure the area of forests occupied and requisitioned is equal to the area of afforestation, the guidelines say. The guidelines urged more efforts on afforestation and rehabilitation of degraded forest lands. China pledged in 2007 to lift its forest coverage to 20 percent by the end of 2010. Its forest coverage stood at 20.36 percent at the end of 2008, two years early. China will also endeavor to deepen reforms of collective forest rights and state-owned forest farms, the guidelines said.

From English.news.cn 06/09/2010

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China's Pilot Program for Convergence of Three Networks Approved

According to reports in local media, following the rejection of five drafts, the sixth draft of the pilot program for the convergence of three networks in China has been approved by the government's leadership team. The program will reportedly start to collect implementation plans from pilot cities before June 15, 2010, and plans to enforce the move by June 28, 2010. The pilot program is said to be beneficial for the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television of China and it clarifies that the administration will be responsible for the construction and management of the IPTV integrated broadcasting and control platform, including EPG billing management, Internet access via cable network, data transmission, and IP telephone businesses in China. The convergence of three networks will cover many sectors, including renovation of cable and telecom networks; manufacturing of highly-integrated chips; content creation; billing and network maintenance software; and telecom equipment. Upstream industries such as the electronic component industry and the optical fiber and cable companies will benefit from the large-scale upgrade and renovation of networks; while equipment makers, including mobile phone makers and Internet TV makers, will all gain profits from the program. However, neither China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology nor the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has revealed the details for the pilot program, even though it is planning to go into effect very soon.

From http://www.chinatechnews.com/ 06/09/2010

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China's State Council Information Office Publishes Internet White Paper

China's State Council Information Office has published a white paper outlining China's Internet status. The white paper states that the Chinese government is fully aware of the irreplaceable role of the Internet in accelerating the development of national economy, advancing technology, and promoting the process of information to citizens. It states the national government pays great attention to and actively promotes the development and application of the Internet. The white paper introduces the basic situation of the development of the Internet in China and it explains the Chinese government's basic policies about the Internet as well as its views about related issues, to help the public and the international society to fully understand the true conditions of the development and management of the Internet in China. The white paper has a total of about 13,000 words, including a preface; promotion of Internet development and its popularization; promotion of Internet applications; protection of citizens' freedom of expression on the Internet; basic principals and practices for Internet management; protection of Internet security; active implementation of international communication and cooperation; and a conclusion. The white paper states that the Chinese government will continue to improve its Internet development and management policies to make them better meet the internal laws and objective needs for the development and management of Chinese society. In practice, the Chinese government will refer to useful experiences of various countries and the government hopes to contribute to the sustainability of the Internet with other countries.

From http://www.chinatechnews.com/ 06/09/2010

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China Approves Plan to Develop Varied Regions

China's State Council, or Cabinet, approved a program on Saturday to map out specific development strategies for different regions in a bid to boost economic development and, at the same time, ensure the protection of the environment. According to a statement released after a regular meeting of the State Council, the country's various regions should have their own development focus and priority according to their environmental features, natural resources, current development stage and development potential. The Cabinet noted that detailed plans and policies should be made for these "development priority zones" in terms of population distribution, economic layout, land utilization and the level of urbanization. "To map out and implement the plan, a new development concept must be set up in order to promote basic principles such as improving people's living standard and the capacity for sustainable development," said the statement. Under the plan, the country's regions are to be categorized into four types: optimized development; major development; restricted development; not for development. The plan calls for regions of optimized development to speed up procedures for the transformation of their economic growth methods and boost their economic efficiencies by promoting independent innovation and participating in the global market competition. Those regions targeted for major development are directed to quicken the process of urbanization and develop more hi-tech, low-cost industries for economic development. The southwestern Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, the northwestern Loess Plateau, the northeastern forest areas, the southern highland and major rivers and lakes are categorized as regions for restricted development. These regions "affect the national ecological safety" and should focus on environmental protection and rehabilitation in order to build places where "humans and nature live in harmony," noted the statement. In addition, more than 1,300 national natural reserves, national forest parks, landscape sites and other key natural locations are to be designated as forbidden areas for economic development and should be placed under "compulsory protection," the statement directed. The program also specified the scale, goals, direction and principles for the development of different zones. In addition, a draft law on protecting the country' intangible cultural heritage was discussed and approved at the meeting. The law specifies the definition of intangible cultural heritage and set down the procedures for investigating and certifying an intangible cultural heritage item. The meeting was presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/13/2010

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CPC Politburo Approves Education Reform Plan

The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Monday approved an education reform plan for the next decade, which aims for greater education investment and fairer distribution of resources. Presided over by the CPC Central Committee General Secretary Hu Jintao,a meeting of the Politburo approved the final version of the Medium- and Long-term National Educational Reform and Development Plan (2010-2020). The Politburo, the CPC's top decision-making body, said in a statement that education was the fundamental cause for the revitalization of China and social progress in the future. China had established the largest education system in the world since the founding of the People's Republic, which ensured education rights for millions of people, the statement said. The government promote educational fairness as a basic policy and increase education investment in rural, remote and ethnic minority areas, the Politburo agreed. According to the plan, government investment will increase steadily to support the education sector, with the ratio of education expenditure in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) to be 4 percent by 2012. In 2008, the ratio stood at 3.48 percent, compared with the average international level of 4.5 percent. The plan, released at the end of February for public scrutiny, was seen as setting the tone for the development of the education sector in China, which has long suffered from funding shortages and unbalanced development in rural and urban areas. The plan said giving students fairer access to quality education would be a "fundamental policy," with more public education resources for rural, impoverished and ethnic areas. The reforms would also encourage private organizations and individuals to play a greater role in the education system, said the statement. The plan took one year and nine months to draw up, during which public submissions were invited on two separate occasions.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/21/2010

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China Mulls Law to Increases Protection of Informants

The draft amendment to China's Administrative Supervision Law, submitted to China's legislature for its second reading Tuesday, strengthens protection of informants. The draft amendment said those who reveal an informant's personal information or issues he or she reports would be punished according to law. Some lawmakers and experts said occasionally those reported on would take revenge against those who had revealed the information. Therefore, increased protection of informants was needed. The draft amendment said supervision authorities should accept, investigate and handle an informant's reports according to law. "For tip-offs which informants give their own real names, supervision authorities should tell the informant the results of the investigation," said the draft amendment. Supervision authorities should keep secret the informant's personal information, issues reported and how they were handled, so as to protect the informant's legitimate rights, according to the draft amendment. The Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress, or China's legislature, started its bimonthly session Tuesday.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/22/2010

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JAPAN: Diet Enacts Law to Preserve Its EEZ

A bill for port improvements by the state instead of local authorities on Japan's key outliers such as the southernmost and easternmost islands became law Wednesday to help preserve Japan's exclusive economic zone. Slated to take effect within three months after promulgation, the new law is aimed at protecting Japan's interests in the EEZ at a time when China and other parties interested in the area claim that Okinotori Island is nothing but a rock. The legislation, which passed the day's plenary session of the upper house of the Diet, stipulates that the state should build and manage ports on specific outliers that serve as base points for the nation's EEZ, while such works are usually undertaken by local governments. Okinotori and Minamitori islands, both under the jurisdiction of the Tokyo metropolitan government, are expected to be designated such islands by a government ordinance.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 05/27/2010

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Lower House Passes Bill to Revise Broadcasting Law

The House of Representatives passed a bill at its plenary session Thursday to drastically change broadcasting and telecommunications legislation for the first time in 60 years. The legislation enables a broadcaster to be separated into a company with broadcasting facilities and one to produce broadcasting content. It also includes an easing of restrictions on the ownership of broadcasters so as to facilitate television networks' support for regional broadcasters.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 05/28/2010

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Diet Enacts Special Law on Foot-and-mouth Disease

The Diet on Friday enacted a special law to allow the central government to forcibly slaughter livestock to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, as the House of Councillors unanimously approved the proposed legislation at its plenary session. The new law on measures against foot-and-mouth disease is expected to be promulgated next week and take effect immediately in the face of the rapid spread of the contagious ailment among livestock in Miyazaki Prefecture, southwestern Japan. The House of Representatives approved the bill Thursday. Meanwhile, Miyazaki Gov Hideo Higashikokubaru said Friday two of the 49 stud bulls, which the prefectural government had asked the state to exempt from slaughter, have begun to show symptoms of the disease such as excessive salivation and fever. All 49 stud bulls will be slaughtered soon, Higashikokubaru said at a meeting of the Miyazaki prefectural assembly.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 05/29/2010

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Bill to Tighten Regulations on Sexual Imagery in Comics Likely to Be Rejected

A bill on tightening regulations on sexual imagery of minors in comics and animations will likely be rejected in the current session of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly from Tuesday as the largest assembly group has decided to vote it down, assembly sources said. The Democratic Party of Japan, together with several minor groups, are threatening to vote down the bill on June 14 unless the Tokyo metropolitan government retracts it, but Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara said the government can come up with a fresh bill if this one is voted down. With the move, the bill, which places various bans on comics and animations that depicts sexual acts involving ''nonexistent minors,'' a definition of characters that readers or viewers would most likely assume to be under 18, will likely face further debate from this fall. The bill urges the animation and comic industry to impose voluntary restrictions on the sale to minors of works that depict sexual situations involving ''nonexistent minors.'' It also designates some of those publications that deal with materials such as rape as ''harmful materials'' and bans minors' access to them. Although it was submitted to the assembly session in February, voting was shelved due to protests from comic writers and publishers who claimed it to be an ''infringement on freedom of expression,'' leading the Tokyo government to come up with specific examples to show them and ask them for their understanding. But Ishihara himself mentioned the need to amend the bill, saying the term ''nonexistent minors'' sounds like jargon. It prompted the DPJ to demand the Tokyo government retract the bill as ''the very people who proposed the bill have admitted to its faults.''

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/02/2010

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Gov't Paper Calls for Raising Tokyo Area's Global Competitiveness

The government on Friday called for a state strategy to boost the global competitiveness of the Tokyo metropolitan area. The fiscal 2009 white paper on the metropolis comprising Tokyo and seven surrounding prefectures, approved by the cabinet on Friday, recommends gathering human and financial resources in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures. The paper warned that the global position of the immediate Tokyo area - Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures - would decline if the government continues its policy to control excessive concentration in population and businesses in the central areas. The paper said a state strategy is necessary to cope with issues such as obsolete infrastructure built during Japan's period of rapid economic growth and environmental problems such as global warming.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/12/2010

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White Paper Calls for Promotion of Renewable Energy

Japan needs to promote the use of renewable energy including wind and solar power to secure a stable energy supply amid a rise in global energy demand due to rapid growth in China and other emerging economies, a government white paper said Tuesday. In the fiscal 2009 energy white paper, the government said Japan's ratio of renewable energy to overall energy supply is comparable to the ratios for Germany and Spain, which are promoting the use of renewable energy. To ensure the spread of renewable energy, however, Japan should fully introduce feed-in tariffs - a premium rate paid for renewable energy-generated electricity and fed back into the electricity grid - and ease conditions for power generation facilities, the annual report said. It also pointed out the need to establish the network of the next-generation smart grid based on information technology, to make energy use more effective.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/15/2010

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DPJ to Revise Policy Pledges Ahead of Upper House Election

The Democratic Party of Japan will revise its policy pledges ahead of an upper house election next month, one of its senior lawmakers said Tuesday, while the ruling party also faces trouble funding some of its key policies. ''It is important to flexibly review the manifesto,'' with which the DPJ fought last year's general election, Koichiro Gemba, state minister for civil service reform who doubles as DPJ policy chief, said at a Diet session. ''We will fight in the (upcoming) House of Councillors' election with a revised manifesto.'' The upper house election is expected on July 11. The DPJ, headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan, has apparently abandoned one of its key pledges in the lower house election of providing 26,000 yen in monthly allowances for each child of junior high school age or younger starting in fiscal 2011, due to tight budgetary conditions, deciding instead to keep allowances at the current 13,000 yen.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/16/2010

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Japan's New Lending Rules to Hurt Spending, Economy

Gakuto Ogata, 32, who has been dumped by a few girlfriends because of his penchant for debt, is one of an estimated 9.6 million Japanese who may face trouble getting loans due to new lending regulations. But it's not only spendthrifts who will feel the pain. Smaller businesses and sole proprietorships, whose owners take out personal loans to finance their businesses, could also be badly hurt, further depressing an already weak economy. The new regulations, which include limiting the amount individuals can borrow to a third of annual income, kicked in on Friday. Ogata, already $45,000 in debt, is crying foul. "What if I become absolutely desperate for more money for whatever reasons? These restrictions could become a drag on me," said Ogata, who first dug himself into a hole after his investments in stocks went sour and he couldn't give up a free spending lifestyle. "Borrowing is not something the government should be ruling. We all have different reasons for money." Research firm Teikoku Databank warns that the tighter lending environment would make financing difficult for small businesses which are already facing record bankruptcy rates. Ahead of a full implementation of the regulations on Friday, the bigger consumer lenders - Acom Co, Promise Co, Takefuji Corp and Aiful Corp - had tightened lending limits and reduced total loans by 40 percent in the last five years to 3.9 trillion yen by March this year.

The move put many Japanese consumers in a financial bind and helped to raise small companies' bankruptcies to 5,739 cases in 2009, or a record-high 50.7 percent of total corporate failure in the country. Masaru Takagi, political and economics professor at Meiji University, said the new rules were against financial deregulation and the lending limit would be "significantly minus" for Japan's economy. "It would depend on the economic conditions but 10-20 percent of solo proprietor and small companies who are using such (consumer) lenders are at risk of bankruptcies in the next three years," he said. Japan's economy grew 1.2 percent in January-March, outpacing growth in the United States and Europe, thanks to brisk exports to fast-growing Asian economies and government stimulus spending. But analysts say growth is likely to slow later this year as gains in consumer spending, which accounts for about 60 percent of Japan's GDP, could moderate due to a lacklustre jobs market, while the impact of government stimulus spending is also expected to wear off. Many shoppers are set to tighten their belts as about 9.6 million, or 42 percent of total borrowers that use consumer lenders, are already at or above their lending limit and unable to seek new loans, according to the Financial Services Agency.

Of those turned down by consumer lenders in the past 12 months, about 45 percent responding to a survey by the Japan Financial Services Association said they had given up loan financing and cut their spending to zero. "People would likely to stop spending on luxury products. Leisure and service providers such as pachinko business might get hit and some may also stop sending their children to private schools," Promise's president Ken Kubo told Reuters this week. Negative signs are already seen in Japan's pachinko and other gambling businesses where, according to the FSA report, consumer loan users often spend their money. An executive from a major pachinko hall operator said the company had an internal meeting in January to brace for a possible negative impact from the new regulations. Their calculations showed that the lending squeeze may weigh on pachinko sales by about 10 percent, he said. Waseda University professor Tomoaki Sakano expects the regulations, originally aimed to restrict loansharks and multiple borrowings by consumers, could weigh on Japan's GDP by 0.395 percent or 2.29 trillion yen if consumer lenders halve their loans amount. "The size of impact from the lending restrictions is still unpredictable. But they would likely to deliver a negative impact to the economy and it's highly possible that such impact turns out to be much bigger than anyone had imagined," Sakano said. The tighter regulations may ironically drive borrowers into the arms of loansharks, the exact opposite of the laws' intention, many economists warned. Marital hopeful Ogata, while bemoaning the lack of easier access to funds, said the new rules could encourage heavy and multiple borrowers to end their endless debt cycle and file for bankruptcy.

From http://in.reuters.com/ 06/18/2010

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Expand Support for Single-Parent Households

The Ministry of Gender Equality & Family on Wednesday announced a plan to devise a comprehensive support scheme for single-parent households that are currently ineligible for various welfare programs. A senior ministry official said, "From next year we will expand the eligibility for access to childcare support for single-parents household from those with children aged 12 or under to those with children 15 or under. We are also considering doubling the amount of monthly support from W50,000 to W100,000." The official added, "We are looking at a variety of new welfare options as the number of single-parent households is on the rise and existing welfare policies are not enough."

From http://english.chosun.com/ 05/27/2010

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Adopt Balanced Policy in Second Half of 2010

South Korea will require balanced economic policies in the second half of this year so as to sustain economic growth and contain inflation, Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun reportedly said Monday. The temporary stimulus measures will be normalized without putting pressure on the economy, Yoon said. The government is set to release its revised economic forecast and policies for the second half of 2010 on June 24. The Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Korea, the Financial Services Commission and the Financial Supervisory Service said in a joint statement on Sunday that the government will reinforce macro-prudential measures to reduce volatility in capital flows within the current framework of the open and liberalized economy. The government does not intend to control capital flows such as levying financial transaction taxes or requiring variable deposit requirement. However, there are plans to introduce ceilings on FX derivatives position of banks, reinforce the regulations on the use of foreign currency bank loans and improve FX soundness of financial institutions. The measures are to be implemented from mid-July 2010.

From http://www.rttnews.com/ 06/14/2010

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Ministry Won't Ease Housing Loan Rules

Korea has no plans to soften housing loan regulations as the real estate market is believed to remain in stable condition, a senior financial policymaker said Wednesday. "We are now paying close attention to property market conditions but we have no plan to raise the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) and the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio at this point," Vince Finance Minister Yim Jong-ryong said. The LTV ratio measures a homeowner's outstanding debt on a property to the market value of that property, while the DTI ratio refers to the percentage of monthly gross income that goes toward paying debts. The two ratios are key tools to control housing loans that could also be used for speculative investment in properties. Korea keeps the LTV at 40 percent in some highly speculative regions in Seoul and puts the DTI ratio at 40-50 percent in those areas. Yim's remarks come as the property market might be going into a slump with frozen transactions witnessed in some regions of the nation, raising fears that it could undercut the economic recovery. "The government's assessment at this point is that the real estate market remains in a stable status. We are not preparing any additional transaction-boosting measures," Yim said.

Household loans extended by Korean financial firms grew at a slower pace in April than in March amid home-backed lending controls and a sluggish property market, the central bank said. Total household lending by local banks and nonbank financial institutions amounted to an outstanding 557.7 trillion won as of the end of April, up 3.5 trillion won from the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). The April figures slightly slowed from a 3.7 trillion won expansion in March. "The growth of home loans in April was not brisk, compared with previous years' monthly averages as continued home-backed loan controls brought about lackluster transactions in property markets," a BOK official said. Low borrowing costs and expectations for rising house prices have prompted more people to take out mortgage loans, leading the financial watchdog to put regulatory loan controls in place last year. Local banks' household loans, including mortgage lending, expanded by 1.8 trillion won to 412 trillion won, the BOK said. Bank mortgage loans, which account for a majority of household borrowing, grew 1.8 trillion won on-month to 269 trillion in April.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 06/16/2010

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S. Korea to 'Normalize' Policy as Economy Strengthens

South Korea will "normalize" its accommodative policies and take pre-emptive steps against inflation as the economy is set to grow faster than previously forecast amid a global rebound, the Finance Ministry said. The ministry raised its economic growth forecast for this year to 5.8 percent from the 5 percent projected in December, saying the faster-than-expected global recovery has spurred exports and domestic demand. Local consumption and corporate investment will expand 4.6 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively, and exports will grow 25 percent, it said. "The economy may be able to achieve better than" the government's growth projection this year, Finance Minister Yoon Jeung Hyun told reporters in Gwacheon today, responding to a question on whether it was being too optimistic. The figure will be achieved "unless unexpected variables come out," he said. The country's economic revival and accelerating inflation are putting pressure on the Bank of Korea to join Malaysia and India in boosting borrowing costs and raise its benchmark interest rate from a record-low 2 percent. Government officials have signaled a shift in their stance in recent days after being outspoken this year in stating it was too early to raise rates. Investors boosted their bets for a rate increase as early as July. The one-year treasury bond yield jumped 26 basis points since June 9 to 3.3 percent yesterday, the highest close since March 3, before retreating 1 basis point today, according to data compiled by the Korea Financial Investment Association.

The Bank of Korea reduced the funds it makes available for loans to smaller companies for the first time in three years, as it moves to drain excess liquidity supplied during the global financial crisis. Governor Kim Choong Soo and his board cut the ceiling on special loans to commercial banks by 1.5 trillion won ($1.27 billion) to 8.5 trillion won starting July, the central bank said today in a statement. "The cut heralds the full start of the exit in the monetary policy area," said Park Sang Hyun, an economist at HI Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul. "Interest rates may rise sooner than expected as the government admits they cannot keep rates well below inflation for so long and with such a strong economic outlook." Macroeconomic policy, both for fiscal and monetary policy, should be normalized in such a "gradual manner" so as not to damp the recent economic recovery trend, Yoon Jong Won, director general of the economic policy bureau at the Finance Ministry, told reporters in Gwacheon in an embargoed briefing yesterday. The government's recent shift in policy about exit strategies and recent calls by many economists to increase borrowing costs reflect South Korea's resilience so far to Europe's sovereign-debt crisis, which has raised concerns that spending cuts by countries seeking to reduce their budget deficits would hurt the region's demand for Asian exports. South Korea's exports surged a revised 40.5 percent last month as the global economic recovery boosted demand for Korean made-products like Samsung Electronics Co.'s semiconductors and Hyundai Motor Co.'s cars. The economic rebound pulled unemployment down to a 19-month low in May.

Gross domestic product grew 2.1 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months, a June 4 report showed, compared with an April estimate of 1.8 percent. "Our economic growth outlook is rather conservative," Yoon Jong Won said yesterday. "We have to take pre-emptive steps to prevent inflation pressures from building up. Otherwise, it could be a problem for the economy." Governor Kim said June 10 policy makers will focus more on "price stability" after keeping rates unchanged at 2 percent for a 16th month. Increasing borrowing costs early could help anchor inflation expectations, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report last week. Consumer prices rose 2.7 percent in May, accelerating from a 2.6 percent gain a month earlier, as the cost of food and oil increased. The central bank is targeting an inflation rate of between 2 percent and 4 percent on average for the three years to 2012. The Finance Ministry projects a 2.9 percent increase in consumer prices for 2010 and said inflation may accelerate to above 3.5 percent by October, exceeding the central bank's target of 3 percent. The ministry said that the economy will be able to add 300,000 jobs this year, more than its previous projection of 250,000 jobs, after shedding 72,000 last year. The annual jobless rate will be 3.7 percent, it said. The reading dropped to 3.2 percent in May, the lowest level since October 2008.

From http://www.businessweek.com/ 06/24/2010

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LAOS: Govt Focuses on Poverty Reduction

(KPL) Lao government will spend 47.51 billion kip borrowing from foreign countries on the implementation of the poverty reduction programme in rural and remote area in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. This was a proposal of Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh at the ongoing 9th Ordinary Session of National Assembly's sixth legislature. He said that Laos will attempt to reduce the poverty rate to 24 percent in this year from 27.6 percent, and pay attention to improve living conditions of people in 21 poorest districts in Luang Namtha, Houaphanh, Savannakhet, Saravane, Phongsaly, Xiengkhouang, Champassak and Sekong provinces. All sectors should follow and pay attention to promote people and children in rural and remote areas access to basic education, PM Bouasone advised. The implementation of poverty reduction programme and the eradication of slash-and-burn cultivation should be moved together. To fulfill the alleviation of slash-and-burn cultivation, the Government will set up a community development project in rural areas by focusing on the constructions of roads, electricity, water supply, school and health care service, club and allocation of agricultural production areas.

Between 5 and 10 per cent of villages of all rural districts will be developed as the development village cluster that will establish in every two small districts and large scale district. The small factories, markets, agricultural technique service centres, credit services and village development funds will be built in the districts. However, the government will further provide agricultural techniques and train vocational skills for farmers, especially the technique of rice plantation and animal rising. He expected the production of agriculture will increase by 3.5 per cent next year. The Lao government will actively further carry out an investment promotion policy to ensure the volume of domestic investment in this year which will reach more than 10 trillion kip or US$1 billion In order to magnetize more overseas investors, Laos will improve the investment promotion policy, which focuses on providing more conveniences to investors, said PM Bouasone. The promotion of domestic investment in market-oriented production through the banking system should be also conducted.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 06/17/2010

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MALAYSIA: Subsidy Cuts Planned to Avert Debt Crisis

Eileen Ng, Associated Press, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Thu, 05/27/2010 4:08 PM | Business

Malaysia may begin cutting fuel and other subsidies under a proposed five-year plan that could save the government 103 billion ringgit ($31 billion) and help avoid a debt crisis, a Cabinet minister said Thursday. Idris Jala, a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said Malaysia's subsidy bill was unsustainable at a whopping 74 billion ringgit ($22 billion) last year, or 12,900 ringgit ($3,890) per household. This comprised 15 percent of the 2009 national budget, which pushed the deficit to a 20-year high of seven percent of gross domestic product. At a roadshow to gauge public opinion on the proposed subsidy cuts, Jala warned that Malaysia's debt of 362 billion ringgit ($109 billion), or 54 percent of the economy, could nearly double to 100 percent by 2019 if the cuts are not carried out. "We don't want to end up like Greece," he said. "We desperately need an exit strategy for subsidies as they are unsustainable ... otherwise, we have a time bomb on our hands."

The subsidies have resulted in Malaysia having the lowest food prices in the region, and its fuel prices are among the cheapest in the world. Under the proposal drawn up by a government think-tank headed by Jala, the government will gradually cut subsidies for fuel, gas, electricity and highway tolls but keep its spending on education, agriculture, fisheries, and health care to help the poor. Fuel and infrastructure account for about 38 percent of the total subsidy bill. The plan has not been approved by Prime Minister Najib Razak's government, which fears a voter backlash ahead of general elections due in 2013. It calls for petrol prices to be raised this year by 15 sen (5 cents) from 1.80 ringgit (54 cents) a liter currently.

That would be followed by a gradual 10 sen (3 cents) increase a liter every six months until 2012. The price increase would slow after that until it reaches 2.60 ringgit (78 cents) a liter by the end of 2015. "We cannot give subsidies forever," Jala said. Jala said some 97 percent of Malaysian subsidies were dispensed on a blanket basis without taking into account income levels. He said 71 percent of petrol subsidies went to mid- to high-income groups while 70 percent of liquid petroleum gas subsidies were channeled to businesses instead of households.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 05/27/2010

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Malaysia Urged to Tap EU Demand for Green Products

KUCHING: Malaysian exporters of environment friendly and renewable products should take advantage of the strong demand in European Union (EU) markets, said Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) trade commissioner in France Nurdiana Abdullah. She said green products commanded a niche market despite the austerity drive by most EU nations to cut their spendings due to the financial crisis. Nurdiana was responding to a question on whether it was the right time to do business in France in the light of the Euro zone crisis during a "Business opportunities in France" seminar yesterday. She said the export of food products to the EU would not be affected as long as exporters complied with its requirements. "There is a huge potential for halal food as there are about six million Muslims in France," Nurdiana said during her presentation at the seminar. She said there was strong demand for rubber products like medical, household and industrial gloves in France. Malaysia's main exports to France are electronic and electrical products (printed circuits and semiconductors), rubber products, machinery, appliances, pumps, comnpressors and parts, wood products and crude rubber. Nurdiana said Matrade Paris could arrange business meetings for Malaysian exporters and businesses and also provide them with market intelligence reports.

From http://biz.thestar.com.my/ 06/09/2010

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Thailand Calls for Contributions to the Prosperity and Stability of the Mekong Subregion

Thailand has called on entrepreneurs to take part in the development of the Mekong subregion and contribute to the prosperity and stability of the subregion. The call was made by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva in his remarks on the topic "Making the Mekong: Regional Growth and Leadership" at the 19th World Economic Forum on East Asia in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, on June 6. The Mekong subregion comprises Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, and Yunnan province of China. Except China, the five countries along the Mekong River are members of ASEAN, the region that is moving toward a single market of over 600 million people by 2015. Prime Minister Abhisit said that, over the past five years, Thailand has contributed 370 million US dollars to the funds for developing the subregion. He identified four areas as the main objectives in terms of development of this subregion.

First, he believed that the Mekong subregion could contribute much to the issue of food and energy security, not only at the subregional level but also the regional level and even at the global level. The determination for all the Mekong nations is that they would be able to make good use of the rich endowment of natural and human resources, home-grown technology, and wisdom, so that they could link the Mekong subregion farmers to the global supply chain. The second objective is very much in line with the issue of connectivity at regional and subregional levels. Countries along the Mekong wanted to make sure that there is a logistics network that links them up. And in Thailand's case, the Prime Minister stated that it was moving ahead on this agenda very rapidly. Recently, the Thai government had approved the fourth bridge across the Mekong River, which will link Chiang Khong district of Chiang Rai in Thailand with Huasai and Bo Kaew in Laos. It is, in fact, the last missing link as far as the North-South Economic Corridor is concerned. Thailand has set aside a fund to invest in creating this logistics network. It has the Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency, which provides soft loans for neighboring countries, so that they can have additional financial sources to build necessary infrastructure.

The third objective involves investment in human resources. Thailand has a number of universities, as well as the Thailand International Cooperation Agency, the Mekong Institute, and other ministries' agencies that are now heavily involved in providing training, so that it could convert these networks of transport corridors into true economic corridors. The final objective, which is important for the longer-term future, involves efforts to maintain environmental sustainability. The theme of development in this subregion is "meeting the needs while keeping the balance." Prime Minister Abhisit also made two more points; one calls for a special development fund to help small and local enterprises that rely on local wisdom, and the other calls for the participation of all stakeholders in this development process.

From http://thailand.prd.go.th/ 06/09/2010
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VIETNAM: National Assembly Considers Inflation and Social Welfare

VietNamNet Bridge - Controlling inflation and ensuring social welfare were top issues in focus in a group discussion at the ongoing seventh session of the 12th National Assembly in Hanoi on May 22. NA deputies discussed an appraisal report on socio-economic tasks and the State budget in 2009; plans for socio-economic development and the State budget in the first quarter of this year; and the final accounts for the 2008 budget. Thanks to joint efforts by the Party, State and people under NA supervision, Vietnam has overcome challenges to halt the economic slowdown, curb inflation, ensure social welfare, and maintain a relatively high economic growth rate. The economic growth rate reached 5.32 percent in 2009, higher than the NA target of 5.2 percent. Vietnam's economy has seen positive changes in the past few months with an economic growth rate of 5.83 percent, nearly double the rate recorded in the first quarter of last year.

The above mentioned growth figures demonstrate the efforts made by the entire political system to cope with challenges and create confidence for people throughout the country. However, NA deputies expressed concern over the threat of high inflation, which will affect the macro economy and sustainable development, especially when the competitiveness of the national economy remains weak. NA deputy Nguyen Van Nhuong from Quang Binh shared his views that top priority should be given to major solutions for stabilizing the macro economy and controlling inflation to help the national economy rebound. Mr Nhuong noticed with deep concern that State budget overspending in 2009 was nearly VND116,000 billion, accounting for 6.9 percent of GDP, and the trade deficit was high, equivalent to 21.6 percent of export turnover. Mr Nhuong said that the Government should pinpoint the cause of this high trade deficit to reduce budget overspending to 6 percent this year. In addition, the Government needs to introduce sanctions on limited imports of foreign electronic components and imported cars. NA deputy Nguyen Thi Bach Mai from Tay Ninh said that the NA should work out effective solutions to adjust consumer price index to a lower level to ensure people's livelihoods.

A Government report submitted to the NA indicated that eight targets have not been reached, focusing on social affairs and the environment. It is worth noting that the number of operational industrial parks and export processing zones that have standard waste water treatment systems is only 50 percent, lower than the 2008 figure of 60 percent. A NA representative from Dak Nong, Bui Thi Hoa, said it is important to ensure the living environment for the people. However, the loose management of waste treatment in foreign companies and enterprises has caused huge losses of natural resources and human lives. The Government should clarify the responsibility of environmental management agencies to deal with environment-related issues properly. NA Deputy Nguyen Thi Bach Mai asked the NA to review some social targets such as job creation and reducing the number of poor households and malnourished children.

NA Deputy Ngo Van Minh from Quang Nam said the Government should review the implementation of key national programmes for poverty reduction and tackle difficulties in this issue in the near future.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 05/23/2010

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Gov't Seeks Environmental Taxes

VietNamNet Bridge - The Government had nominated five types of goods for its proposed environmental protection tax, Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh told the National Assembly yesterday, May 31. These were oil and gas, coal, hydro-chloro-fluoro-carbons, or HCFCs, plastic bags and restricted pesticides. The assembly's Finance and Budget Committee estimates yearly revenue from the tax at between VND14.3 trillion (US$752 million) and VND57 trillion ($3 billion). Economic growth, industrialisation and urban development had adversely effected the environment, said the finance minister when explaining the need for the new tax. The assembly was assessing a Finance and Budget Committee report which argues that all products and goods that adversely effect the environment should be taxed. But an initial selection had been to ensure domestic goods remained competitive.

While discussing the content of the draft law on the environment protection tax, most deputies said that the decision to tax only five groups of goods was insufficient. Deputy Nguyen Thi Nguyet Huong from Ha Noi said that there were many other goods that badly affected both the public and the environment that should be included on the list to ensure fairness. Deputy Tran Dinh Long from Dak Lak Province, Deputy Tran Ba Thieu from Hai Phong City and Deputy Vu Thi Thu Ha from Hung Yen Province agreed, saying that the Government needed to further research and examine the list of goods to be taxed in relevant domestic and international legal documents on environment protection. Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Pham Khoi Nguyen said that the Government and the NA had taken measures to tackle the problem of pollution such as increasing fines for violations, organising communication campaigns and stricter supervision. He added that the law was not designed to generate revenue but, instead, to deter environmental violations. Deputy Tran Tien Dung from Ha Tinh Province said that current regulations were not strict enough to prevent acts of violation, adding that high taxes should be applied to products that were harmful to the environment which would encourage the use of environmentally friendly products.

Many deputies disagreed with the clause to exclude export products from the list because they were not consumed in the country. They said that this was irrational because the law also needed to take into account our responsibility to protect the environment not only in Viet Nam but also across the world. Deputy Tran Ba Thieu from Hai Phong City emphasised that all kinds of goods must bear a tax if they caused pollution. Deputy Nguyen Dinh Quyen from Ha Noi said that more work needed to be carried out to avoid the overlapping of environment fees and taxes stated in different legal documents. Deputy Ngo Van Minh from Quang Nam was concerned about the taxation of oil and gas products, saying these were ultimately necessary goods and a tax would not stop people from using them. Deputy Le Van Hung from Hung Yen Province agreed, adding that this might have an adverse impact on poor people. Finance and Budget Committee Chairman Phung Ngoc Hien said the draft law included many new regulations that would govern activities that affect the environment. But the impact of the legislation on production and trade, together with its relationship to other laws, would have to be assessed.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 06/01/2010

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NA Deputies Agree to Build Express Railway, Survey

VietNamNet Bridge - National Assembly deputies agreed to implement this project, but it may not start in 2014 and the construction of Hanoi-Vinh and HCM City-Nha Trang may not begin at the time proposed by the Government. The National Assembly will vote on the investment policy for this $56 billion project on June 19. On June 16 the National Assembly Standing Committee made statistics of its survey over deputies about this project before they vote on it. The survey offered two questions. 1/ do you approve the investment policy for this project? If yes, which plan is approved? The one suggested by the Government or another one? According to the proposal, experts will make a feasibility project for the entire route from Hanoi to HCM City. Two sections will be built first beginning in 2014, Hanoi-Vinh (282km) and HCM City-Nha Trang (382km), to be put into operation in 2025. The Vinh-Da Nang section will be done in 2030 and the whole route in 2035.
 
The other plan is that construction will be postponed. The Government will conduct feasibility research for one of the two sections, Hanoi-Vinh or HCM City-Nha Trang, to submit to the National Assembly for approval. One will be built before 2020. According to the survey results, 474 deputies responded. Of them, 271 deputies agreed that the NA should issue a resolution on the investment policy for this project at this session. Some 148 deputies agreed with the government's proposal. Therefore, over half of the deputies (57 percent) agreed to approve the investment policy for the express railway project now, but only 30 percent supported the government's plan. Even when the National Assembly approves this policy on June 19, the north-south express railway project may be not implemented in 2014, but in some years before 2020. The two sections Hanoi-Vinh and HCM City-Nha Trang may also not be built at the same time.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 06/17/2010

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BANGLADESH: Food Security Policy to Be Showcased in G8

For its sustained food security policy and practices, Bangladesh will be showcased in the upcoming G8 summit and Asia Food Security Investment Forum in the Philippines as a model among developing countries. However, nearly 50 million Bangladeshis still live in extreme poverty. Dr Shenggen Fan, Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) disclosed this to The Daily Star in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the two-day 'Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum' rounded off in Dhaka on Thursday. Bangladesh has made impressive economic and social progress towards achieving many of the MDGs/ Photo credit:The Daily Star "The reasons why Bangladesh's case will be projected as a model are: 1) its achievement in the past in augmenting food production; 2) Bangladesh government's strong commitment to ensure food security; and 3) its advancement in drafting a national food policy plan of action," explained the chief of the Washington-based food policy think-tank IFPRI. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the forum, hosted by the Bangladesh government with cooperation from the United States Agency for International Development, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, IFPRI and Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, and other national and international development partners. "Bangladesh will be showcased at Asia Food Security Investment Forum and also at G8 summit so that other nations get inspired in pursuing food security," said Shenggen Fan. Asia Food Security Investment Forum is scheduled to be held in the Philippines from July 7 to 9 while G8, an economic and political forum for the leaders of eight of the world's most industrialised nations, will hold its next summit in Canada on June 25-26.

The G8 includes United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. "In the past decade especially, Bangladesh has made impressive economic and social progress towards achieving many of the Millennium Development Goals. Poverty, for example, has fallen from 57 % of the population in 1990 to 40 % in 2005 despite repeated natural disasters and external shocks, and economic growth during the last decade has averaged an impressive annual growth rate of 6 %" said Fan. The number of people in the world suffering from hunger and poverty has risen to more than one billion, and Bangladesh is not immune to this reality, he said. "Overcoming challenges to food security has played and continues to play a significant role in the development agenda of Bangladesh. According to IFPRI's 2009 Global Hunger Index, food security has improved in Bangladesh since 1990, with the country moving from an extremely alarming to an alarming level of hunger," said Fan. The proportion of undernourished in Bangladesh fell from 36 % of the population to 26 % in 2006, he added. Shenggen Fan, who did Ph D in applied economics from the University of Minnesota, noted that with population continuing to rise, arable land getting scarcer and climate change forcing the weather pattern to become erratic, Bangladesh is bound to face more challenges in the future than in the past in sustaining food security. "There will be frequencies of cyclones, droughts and rains in years to come. Global food market is unlikely to be stable anytime soon and food prices will remain volatile," predicted the IFPRI chief. Bangladesh should build up an 'optimum stock' of food grains, and diversify its food trade partners instead of relying on neighbouring India only, he suggested.

"Despite tremendous accomplishments in the past, an IFPRI literature notes, 50 million people in Bangladesh still live in extreme poverty, and 36 million are chronically hungry or malnourished" Given both the current state of food insecurity in Bangladesh and the challenges it will face in the future, Fan said a comprehensive policy framework is needed that places focus on investment strategies in three major areas. These are agricultural research and extension; improved access of farmers to well-functioning markets; and improved insurance and targeted social safety net programmes for vulnerable groups, specially undernourished women and children. He stressed that across these three areas, attention needs to be focused on capacity building and good governance. Despite tremendous accomplishments in the past, an IFPRI literature notes, 50 million people in Bangladesh still live in extreme poverty, and 36 million are chronically hungry or malnourished. Over 40 % of Bangladeshi children lack the nutrition they need for healthy lives. Shenggen Fan pointed out that public investment is one of the most direct and effective instruments that governments can use to promote growth and food security, and for poverty and hunger reduction. For making correct investment decisions, Fan said, a government needs good analysis and also needs to strengthen its research capacity. "Good people (capable of doing research) are out there (in Bangladesh), what they require are proper incentives and right environment."

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 05/31/2010

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INDIA: Cabinet Approves Amendments to the Central Edu Institutions Act

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet today approved certain amendments to the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006, aimed at safeguarding the interests of tribal population in far flung and remote areas of the North Eastern States by providing a balance between the local policy at the State level and the national policy on reservation. The proposed amendments relate to Sections 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Act. Briefing newspersons on the outcome of the Cabinet decisions, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) (Amendment) Bill, 2010, will be introduced in the coming session of Parliament. "The Amendments would ensure equity and inclusiveness and meet the regional aspirations," Ms Soni said. Ms Soni said The Central Educational Institutions (CEIs) are facing certain "practical difficulties" in implementing the provisions of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act 2006. These difficulties emanate from the fact that their Statutes already provide for reservation of higher percentage than 15 per cent of the seats for SCs or 7.5 per cent of the seats for STs, owing to the composition of population served by it. In some cases the CEIs which were State Universities earlier, have adopted the norms followed by the respective State Governments which require them to reserve more than 7.5 per cent of seats for STs. In order to address these problems, the Government has now proposed to amend certain provisions of the Act. These proposed amendments envisaged are as follows: State seats (namely, The seats earmarked to be filled from among the eligible students of State in which the Central Educational Institution is situated), if any, in a CEI situated in the tribal areas referred to in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution shall be governed by the reservation policy of the concerned State Government in the matter of admissions of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes to that CEI. If the seats reserved for Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes or both taken together in a CEI exceed 50 per cent of the annual permitted strength, that CEI shall be exempt from making any reservation for the other Backward Classes. Besides, if such a CEI is situated in the North-Eastern States, including Sikkim but excluding the non-tribal areas of Assam, the percentage of seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes will not be reduced from the level obtaining on the date immediately preceding the date of the commencement of the Act; while in case of CEI situated in other areas the percentage of seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in that CEI will stand reduced to 50 per cent.

If the seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes or both taken together in a CEI fall short of 50 per cent of the annual permitted strength, the percentage of seats reserved for the Other Backward Classes shall be restricted to such shortfall, The period for giving effect to the provisions of sections 3,4 and 5 of the Act will be enhanced to six years from three years, as some of the CEIs are finding it difficult to adhere to this time limit for creation of the requisite physical and academic infrastructure due to a variety of reasons beyond their control and have been requesting for the increase in the time limit. The number of seats in a branch of study or faculty in a CEI will be increased with reference to the number of seats in that branch of study or faculty available for the academic session immediately preceding the date of the coming into force of this Act or with reference to the number of seats actually filled in that session, whichever be less, mainly with a view to avoiding wastage of resources. Ms Soni said all the Central Educational Institutions ( other than those exempted under section 4 of the Act, ) are, at present required to reserve 27 per cent seats for the OBCs (excluding 'creamy layer'), in addition to 15 per cent seats for the SCs and 7.5 per cent seats for the STs as also to expand their capacity, over a maximum period of three years, from the academic session 2008-09. She said difficulties experienced by some of the CEIs, particularly those situated in the North-Eastern States inhabited significantly, in some cases predominantly, by tribal population, and Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow, which has been reserving 50 per cent seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in keeping with the objectives specified in their respective Acts have led to the amendments.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 06/17/2010

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SRI LANKA: Outlines Spending Plans for 2010

(LBO) - Sri Lanka will spend at least 202 billion rupees on defence, 87.8 billion rupees on roads, 53 billion rupees on health, 26.2 billion rupees on ports and 25.1 billion rupees on water supply this year, a bill submitted to parliament said. In 2009 Sri Lanka spent 188.6 billion rupees, according to budget out-turn numbers released by the Central Bank. Sri Lanka submits an 'appropriation bill' ahead of the presentation of the annual budget, setting out planned expenditures under various ministries, and a ceiling on borrowing. The budget, which is usually presented in November of a given year, has been delayed to the end of June this year on account of elections in the first half of the year spurning the practice of going for 'election budgets' with vote-buying gimmicks. The appropriation bill said the government planned to spend 974.7 billion rupees in 2010 and borrow 980 billion rupees. Revised numbers released by the finance ministry showed that last year the government spent 1,201.9 billion rupees, up from a planned 1,091.5 billion as the deficit expanded above a revised budget prepared in May. The 'appropriation bill' is considered the 'first reading' of the budget under the country's lawmaking process, but direct comparisons of numbers between the bill and the budget which is considered the 'second reading' is not possible due to a difference in accounting.

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/ 06/08/2010

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NEPAL: Labour Ministry Mulling Social Security Plan

Minister for Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) has proposed the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to incorporate a social security plan for workers in the budget 2010-11. According to Minister for MoLTM Mohammed Aftab Alam, his ministry has planned to set up a Social Security Fund (SSF) to ensure better lives for workers. The fund may cover unemployment allowance, medical expenses, and education expenses to workers based on their contribution. The ministry is planning social security schemes by keeping in view the local workers in the organised sector. The government has been collecting one percent social security tax from industries and business enterprises from the current fiscal year.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 06/21/2010

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Amendment of Insurance Act on Anvil

National Insurance Board (NIB) has said that the insurance act is on the verge of getting amended in order to widen the coverage of the insurance in the country. Dr Fatte Bahadur KC, president, NIB said the act will be amended and implemented at the soonest possible. Notwithstanding its immense prospects for further growth and expansion, Nepali insurance market is still stunted by several factors. Experts choose to attribute the inhibited state of the market to lack of adequate public awareness and, competent human resources, poor economy and weak insurance act et al. As per the latest statistic provided by National Insurance Board, only 6 percent (1.6 million) of the total population of the country are covered by insurance. Even though the coverage of insurance is relatively broader than banking networks, the pace of the insurance market is far from satisfactory. "The government has failed to come up with a planned and focused approach to bolster the insurance market as priority sector," accused Deep Prakash Pandey, President, Nepal Insurance Association. He also believed that the provisions of tax and VAT imposed on the insurance business should be scrapped to increase the number of those buying life insurance policy.

Currently, there are in total 25 private and state-run insurance companies operating in the country. Of the total insurance companies, 16 are non-life insurance companies and the rest 9 are acting as life insurance companies. The total investment made so far in both non-life and life insurance companies stands at Rs 36 billion. The government is annually collecting some Rs 1.50 billion as revenue from the insurance companies. Sometime back, the government implemented the scheme of the third party insurance. As per the scheme, all vehicles need to purchase third party insurance. In case of accidents, the vehicle owners do not need to pay the compensation themselves, rather the insurance company pays the compensation to the road accident victims. Under the scheme, the family of any person killed in road accidents gets Rs 500,000 compensation. Besides, the vehicle owner pays Rs 25,000 to the victims family at the accident site for final rites. The vehicle owner then takes initiatives to provide the Rs 500,000 compensation through the district administration office concerned within 21 days. As per the guidelines, those injured in accidents can get up to Rs 200,000 and those who lose any organ in such accidents get up to Rs 500,000 compensation. Earlier, the victim's family used to get only up to Rs 75,000. Dr K.C claimed that the implementation of the third party insurance has somehow helped the size of the insurance market to grow.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 06/23/2010

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PAKISTAN: SBP Launches Agriculture Produce Storage Financing Scheme

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan on Friday launched a new Financing Facility for Storage of Agricultural Produce (FFSAP) to encourage private sector to establish silos, warehouses and cold storages with a view to reducing the post-harvest losses of agriculture produce through enhancing quality of storage capacity of food grains, fruits and vegetables, fish and fish products, etc. The financing under FFSAP scheme shall be available through banks/DFIs at mark-up rates of 8 to 10 percent for a maximum period of 7 years. New imported and locally manufactured plant and machinery, equipments and accessories thereof, to be used in steel/metal/concrete silos, warehouses and cold storages, generators and civil works (up to 65 percent) are eligible for financing. Under the scheme, which will be valid up to December 31, 2012, banks/DFIs can provide financing up to Rs 500 million for a single project. However, they may provide financing facilities over and above the said maximum limit from their own sources, keeping in view their internal policies. Financing under the scheme shall be subject to compliance with all rules and regulations including Prudential Regulations as prescribed by the State Bank from time to time. It may be pointed out that Pakistan's agriculture sector faces shortage of modern infrastructure and market structure. On the infrastructure side, there is lack of proper warehousing and storage facilities, whereas on the market side, there is lack of grading and testing, collateral management, commodity financing and trading facilities. In order to introduce modern storage, marketing and post-harvest financing facilities for the agricultural commodities in Pakistan, SBP along with other key stakeholders is working towards an initiative which will ultimately evolve proper storage, fair and transparent price mechanism and post-harvest financing system for agri commodities in Pakistan. As part of this overall initiative, introduction of FFSAP is a first step in this direction. The State Bank of Pakistan on Friday issued a detailed circular to all banks/DFIs containing salient features of FFSAP scheme.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 06/05/2010

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FBR to Present ST Amendment Bills to Parliament: Reformed GST from October 1

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue has to present the Sales Tax Amendment Bills (2010) to the Parliament for implementation of the reformed general sales tax (GST) from October 1, 2010. However, the collection of sales tax on services would remain a major issue even under the reformed GST. Sources told Business Recorder on Saturday the reformed GST cannot be implemented through Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs). The Sales Tax Amendment Bills (2010) have to be timely tabled in the Parliament for introducing reformed GST. The issue of sales tax on services has to be resolved before implementing reformed GST, otherwise, similar situation would arise as happened in case of Federal and Provincial VAT Bills 2010. The issue of input tax credit and tax adjustment would also be raised in the reformed GST unless the issue of sales tax on services is not resolved by the provinces. Under the Sales Tax Amendment Bills (2010), the FBR would be required to abolish exemptions in the Sixth Schedule of the Sales Tax Act, 1990 and zero-rating granted to different sectors. However, reformed GST requires major changes in the Sales Tax Act, 1990. If all exemptions of the sales tax would be withdrawn under the reformed GST, there would be no difference between the VAT and the reformed GST. In this way, the FBR will be able to generate more revenue through reformed GST instead of the VAT. In such a situation, the VAT implementation would not have any significance in reforming the GST regime. Presently, the FBR is legally empowered to increase or decrease tax rates through SROs under the powers of the Sales Tax Act. The FBR has to surrender this power to the Parliament under the reformed GST as proposed in the Federal VAT Act.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 06/12/2010

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PTA Issued Policy Guidelines to Monitor Web-Sites

LAHORE: Ministry of information Technology here Tuesday informed the Lahore High Court (LHC) that it had issued policy guidelines to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for effective monitoring and to restrict any offensive or blasphemous content on the internet in Pakistan. As per these policy guidelines, PTA should establish a complaint cell to avoid access of offensive information from public domain and take preventive measures to block the same. Any web-site at URL or IP level would be blocked after proper investigation by inter-ministerial committee for the valuation of web-sites at the receipt of information or complaint from any source, as soon as information is received by the IT ministry. The committee will evaluate reported content provided through Internet with the view to determine its suitability for display or hosting it on Pakistani portal. On the recommendation of the committee, federal government should issue directive to PTA for blocking web-sites which contained material like information pertaining to any objectionable content that undermine Islam or ridicule, disparage or attack any religion, ethnic group, region, or any group's reverend practices. Sites that would bring contempt to the country or its people so as to undermine integrity and solidarity of the state, violate any provision of the constitution or law of the land, promotes or support sedition, terrorism, anarchy or violence in the country or bring contempt to the defence forces, police, air force or other institution of government or to divulge any secret information relating to defence and other services. Sites that contain propaganda in favour of any foreign state or against any friendly foreign state, or hurt national sentiments. In case of any information received by complaint cell about said materials, would be blocked as soon as possible but not later than 24 hours subject to approval of evaluation committee.

The committee will refer all objectionable web-sites to PTA for blockage of such web-sites through its telecom licensees as the case maybe. In case of any criminal proceedings, the committee will forward the cases to FIA to take action under relevant law. However, PTA will provide information through its licensees to FIA in such cases. Meanwhile, PTA also told the court that under Pakistan telecommunication (re-organisation) Act 1996, it had not been given mandate to regulate contents transmitted through Internet. All policy directives on the matters related to telecommunication were issued by federal government, and PTA only implemented the same. Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Naveed Inayat Malik told the court that civil lines police had registered a case against owners of the Facebook web-site but it was sealed. He informed that a letter had been written to permanent ambassador of Pakistan in United Nations to raise the issue in UNO. He also submitted copy of foreign minister of state Nawabzada Mlaik Amad Khan's statement and resolution passed in council of foreign ministers held in Tajikistan from May 18-20. DAG said the issue would also be taken up in OIC meeting on "Combating Defamation of Religions". Muhammad Azhar Siddique advocate told the court that issue has not been taken so far in United Nations. Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry is hearing a writ petition filed by Islamic Lawyers' Movement after the site held a competition featuring blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The LHC had ordered to block access to web-site but later lifted the ban.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 06/16/2010

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ARMENIA: Investment Policy to Allow Creating 750 Job Opportunities

Armenia's government has applied a range of mechanisms to tackle the global financial crisis and overcome its consequences. These included introduction of amendments to the RA Law on Value-Added Tax, under which those companies, which invest AMD 300mln or more, are provided with the opportunity to prolong VAT payment for three years. Armenian Deputy Minister of Economy Ara Petrosyan said that eight companies used this privilege: Natfood, Shamb Business, U!Com, Arax poultry, Estate and Administration Company, Golden Grape Armas, Biga and Saranist. According to him, these companies applied to the RA government and passed relevant procedures to gain the required points to obtain the approval for usage of these privileges. "As a result, the amount of these companies' investments will total around $51.5mln and some 750 new job opportunities will be created by the end of the first stage," Petrosyan said. He added that the investment programs of these companies were aimed at increasing production capacities, introduction of new equipment and modern technologies. According to Petrosyan, the Armenian Ministry of Economy will be monitoring implementation of the investment programs approved by the government, what will provide with the opportunity to secure their effectiveness and expediency.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 06/08/2010

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Daniel Wartonick - Armenia Capable to Carry Out Pension Reform

Armenia is capable to carry out pension reform within terms set by the government, according to Daniel Wartonick, Chief of Party of USAID Armenia Pension and Labor Market Reform Project (PALM). "The government has set reasonable terms. Moreover, the reform will help the republic's economic growth," he told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter on the sidelines of a seminar organized in Tsaghkadzor by the USAID PALM, RA government's working group on implementation of pension reform public awareness program and European Union Advisory Group to the RA. "Pension reform is a complicated process and public awareness and approval is an essential part of it. The USAID will render the essential technical assistance to the Armenian government," he said. "As to capital outflow, it's an urgent problem for a large number of countries and to control it, the government should collaborate with the assets managers, employers. Besides, raising of public awareness and cooperating with financial negotiators would be very useful," Mr. Wartonick said.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 06/21/2010

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AZERBAIJAN: Adopt Strategy on Gender Equality

It is reasonable for Azerbaijan to adopt a strategy to promote gender equality for 2010-2015, chairman of the Committee on Human Rights of the Azerbaijani Parliament Rabiyyat Aslanova said during VII Conference of Ministers of the Council of Europe "Gender equality: equality de jure and de facto" in Baku. Baku hosts a conference on gender equality on May 24-25, organized with the support of the government of Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe. The first conference on this topic took place 25 years ago. The participants of the conference also include Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe Maud de Boer-Buquicchio and UN Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro. "The strategy can serve as a requirement of ensuring the implementation of state policy, monitoring of the state and society in this direction", Aslanova said. She said that an important issue today is the practical organizing of the mechanism for women's preparation for political activity through the formation of women's leadership schools. Spheres, changed in favor of gender equality, are NGOs and institutions of legal protection, Committee Chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliament said.

From http://www.today.az/ 05/25/2010

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KAZAKHSTAN: President Signed Amendments to Legislation Concerning National Security and Law on Culture

The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed the amendments to the legislation concerning national security and Law on Culture, the agency reports citing the president's press service. According to the press service, the head of state signed the law on the amendments and additions to the acts of Kazakhstan concerning national security directed at bringing some acts in conformity with the newly accepted Secret Service Law. According to the press service, the head of state signed the law on the amendments and additions to the Law on Culture directed at support and development of domestic cinema, library science, formation and preservation of cultural values.

From http://www.kt.kz/ 05/27/2010

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Agro-Industrial Complex Development Program for 2010-2014 Defines Final Production Indicators

"An efficient instrument in provision of food security is development of stable functioning food belts around big cities, in particular, Astana and Almaty", Kazakh Minister of Agriculture Akhylbek Kurishbayev has said today at the special session in Almaty." The Kazakh President in his Address to the Nation outlined three large-scale tasks of the agro-industrial complex development. These tasks formed the basis for the Program of the Agro-Industrial Complex Development for 2010-2014 worked out by the Agriculture Ministry. The innovative approach to its development is, firstly, an emphasis on production of goods on demand of both the domestic and foreign markets, secondly, maximum use of support measures for stimulation of introduction of advanced technologies in the production. Thirdly, it is development of master-plans on eight most perspective dimensions of the development of the agro-industrial complex aimed at specification of implemented measures", the Minister said. According to A. Kurishbayev, unlike the earlier adopted programs this document precisely defines final production indicators in dynamics for every district, rural area and enterprise.

From http://www.inform.kz/ 05/29/2010

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Draft Program of Healthcare Development for 2011-2015 Presented in Government

Enlarged session of the Government on discussion of the draft Program of Healthcare Development for 2011-2015 with participation of Prime Minister Karim Massimov has been held today. Minister of Healthcare Zhaksylyk Doskaliyev presented the draft of the Program and said that discussed at different levels in all regions of the country. The main purpose of the Program is improvement of health of the people and formation of competitive healthcare system for provision of stable social and demographic development. The Program suppose increase of efficiency of intersectoral and interdepartmental cooperation on the issues of people's health protection, intensification of preventive measures, screening assays, modernization of diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation of the main socially significant diseases, modernization of the sanitary and epidemiological service. Z.Doskaliyev gave explanations to the participants of the session on the mentioned directions. Totally KZT 552.3 bln is planned to be allocated for the Program's realization in 2011-2015. Heads of interested state bodies, regions of the country, regional healthcare departments and representatives of NGO take part in the working session.

From http://www.inform.kz/ 05/31/2010

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Kazakhstan Government to Introduce Amendments to Tax Code to Reduce 3G Price

The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Karim Masimov, informed during the 23rd session of the Council of Foreign Investors under the President of Kazakhstan, it is necessary to introduce amendments to the Tax Code to reduce 3G prices, the agency reports. "We have introduced some amendments to the Parliament to change the article of the Tax Code so that we could solve this problem. There is no problem with the license or frequencies, which have been allocated. The issue is in the price - if the operators are ready to pay it," K. Masimov said. According to the Prime Minister, "in the beginning of 2010, the government made a decision to allocate a part of frequencies from the military sector for 3G." "The government has made the decision to allocate three licenses to three operators on equal basis, but all three operators said that such a price, according to the Tax Code, will not allow them to conduct commercial operations." "The government cannot reduce this price for 3G licenses. The amendments have to be made to the Tax Code of Kazakhstan."

From http://www.kt.kz/ 06/04/2010

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State Regulation of Labor Market Program to Be Created in Kazakhstan

The program of state regulation of labor market will be created in Kazakhstan. The Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Kazakhstan, Gulshara Abdykalikova, informed during the work of the international conference 'Social Security during World Crisis: National Responses and Challenges of Today', the agency reports. "The project of the program of state regulation of labor market has been already developed," G. Abdykalikova informed. She informed that improvement of monitoring and forecasting of labor market, labor demand, establishment of communications with the educational institutions and manufacture, growth of quality of human resources, and assistance to flexible and effective employment will be the main directions of the program."

From http://www.kt.kz/ 06/08/2010

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TURKMENISTAN: International Treaty Law Enacted

An international treaty law entered into force this week in Turkmenistan. The law aims to define procedures for signing, executing and terminating international treaties. The law states that international treaties are contracts signed between Turkmenistan and foreign countries and international organizations concerning issues of mutual and international relations, and establish the international rights and obligations of its participants. The Turkmen parliament ratifies international treaties. Based on the law, international treaties subject to ratification include: a) Treaties on fundamental rights and freedoms; b) Treaties on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance; c) Treaties on the mutual renunciation to use force or threat of force; d) Peace treaties; e) Treaties on Turkmenistan's borders with other states; f) Treaties providing the need to adopt, amend or repeal Turkmen laws; g) Treaties on defense and national security; r) Multilateral or long-term contracts of an economic nature; s) Treaties on interstate unions and other entities. Parliament will also decide on the termination and suspension of international agreements and treaties ratified by Turkmenistan.

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/17/2010

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AUSTRALIA: Foreign Policy Receives Mixed Score

Australia's Lowy Institute for international policy has released results from its sixth annual national survey of one-thousand adult Australians. Asked to score the federal government's record on a range of foreign policy issues, people who were surveyed gave it failing grades on asylum seekers and whaling, and a pass for relations with China. The poll, conducted in March, found nearly three quarters of Australians agreed China's growth has been good for Australia - but more than two thirds also agreed that China's aim is to dominate Asia.

Presenter: Sen Lam
Speakers: Dr Michael Wesley, Executive Director, Lowy Institute


WESLEY: Yes I think what we're seeing is that Australians at the same time see China's economic growth as good for Australia's economic fortunes, but are becoming a little bit more nervous about what China is going to do with this power. And so for example when we asked them whether they thought China's aim was eventually to dominate Asia, we found that 69 per cent of respondents agreed with that. And that's up from 60 per cent who agreed with that in 2008.

LAM: How well informed do you think the respondents are?
WESLEY: Look I think people generally get their views about foreign policy from a variety of sources, but in answer to that question I wonder if I can quote another finding, we asked people which country was the world's leading economic power, and what we found was that 55 per cent of respondents said China was, while only 32 per cent said the United States. That's despite the fact that China's economy is only about half the size of Americas'. So you can see that people and their impressions can sometimes be mistaken about these things.

LAM: And the Australian government's highest grade I understand was for maintaining a strong alliance with the United States?
WESLEY: That's correct and it got seven out of ten for that particular question, and I think that these things are not necessarily unconnected, I think we've seen over time levels of concern about China's rise on the rise, and at the same time we've got high levels of support for the US alliance. So the more worried people get about China the more they tend to see the importance of our alliance with the United States.

LAM: Do you think this might have more to do with President Obama than Prime Minister Kevin Rudd?
WESLEY: It could be a little bit about that, I think Australians probably have listened on a few occasions when Barack Obama has said nice things about Australia and about Kevin Rudd, and also I think Australians have taken notice of the effort that the Prime Minister has put in to building a good relationship with Obama.

LAM: Your poll also asked a question about the perceived threat from our giant neighbour Indonesia, were you surprised that one out of three said that the country was more a threat now compared to 15 years ago?
WESLEY: Look it's a really strange result, we asked people first of all whether they'd registered that Indonesia had become a democracy and a reasonably strong number said that they'd registered that, but they don't seem to correlate that with an increase in trust or a decrease in distrust of Indonesia. The numbers on Indonesia really haven't changed very much at all over time, and I actually think that that's an issue that the government should be taking a lot of notice of.

LAM: Why do you think Australians are more wary now?
WESLEY: Look I think they continue to have about the same levels of wariness and I think a lot of is rooted really in ignorance. I don't think there's a great deal of understanding about what Indonesia is and what happens there. For instance I think there's probably a great deal more understanding of the bigger countries further north, such as China and Japan. I think people just look at Indonesia on the map, they register that it's a large country of over 200-million people, and they associate it with everything from bombings to people smuggling to all sorts of transnational and other threats, and the threat perception remains fairly high on that.

LAM: And from the results of the survey did you get the impression that Australians feel they fit more in Asia or the Pacific or both?
WESLEY: Well that was an interesting one, we asked people what region they thought that Australia was part of. Thirty-two per cent said Asia, 31 per cent said the Pacific, and a really surprisingly high 31 per cent said Australia is not really part of any region. And that was one of the big surprises for me from this poll.

From http://www.abc.net.au/ 05/31/2010

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Australian Government Considers Tailoring Mining Tax

The Australian Government has indicated it will consider modifying its mining profits tax to suit different sectors of the industry. The Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says the government's negotiating with three distinct groups - the petroleum sector, the quarries sector and the minerals sector. "They are each arguing, indicating that there is no one-size-fits-all model," he said. He insists all will be subjected to a 40 per cent tax on super profits, but there could be different transitional arrangements for different sectors. The Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the government should have thought about that before announcing the tax. "This is a government that decides first and thinks later," he said. He says whatever the government does, it will damage the industry.

From http://www.abc.net.au/ra/news/ 06/16/2010

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Australia's Income Management Laws Extend to Welfare Recipients

Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended plans to extend income management laws in the Northern Territory, to non-indigenous welfare recipients. The minority opposition Greens party says the quarantining of welfare payments for some indigenous people in the Northern Territory hasn't worked, and the laws should be scrapped. Laws extending income management is expected to pass the Senate by the end of next week. Mr Rudd says there are good reasons to have the laws apply across the community. "They will extend the benefits of income management to indigenous and non indigenous people in need of financial structure and support they will also ensure that more welfare is spent on life's essentials like food clothes and rent and less goes to alcohol and they will support and encourage families to make positive decisions about the critical things for their families."

From http://www.abc.net.au/ 06/16/2010

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Australian Parliament Passes 18 Weeks Paid Parental Leave

Australian Government has welcomed the parliament's approval of its paid parental leave scheme, but the Opposition and Greens are warning it doesn't go far enough. The Families Minister Jenny Macklin says the scheme of 18 weeks leave paid at the federal minimum wage has finally passed parliament. "This really is an historic day for Australian families." But the Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young says it's only a first step. "At the very least superannuation should have been included in this scheme." The Opposition spokeswoman Sharman Stone is concerned about the impact administering the new arrangements will have on small businesses. "This reinstates or if you like puts into place an additional potential discrimination against women." The scheme comes into effect at the start of next year.

From http://www.abc.net.au/ 06/17/2010

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Four-Hour Emergency Treatment Goal Stays

THE federal government will stick with its target of a maximum four hours for patients to be transferred, referred for treatment or discharged from public hospital emergency departments, despite the British government's abandonment of the same benchmark and the reservations of doctors' groups. The four-hour limit could pressure doctors to move patients who were too unwell for transfer, especially if the target was linked to funding, said John Dwyer, the co-chairman of the NSW Medical Staff Council. "Patients should leave the emergency department only when the work-up [tests] is completed and it's safe to transfer them to the ward," said the emeritus professor of medicine at the University of NSW. "The four-hour target doesn't make any clinical sense." Professor Dwyer said he had calculated $650 million would be needed for 300 to 400 new beds across NSW for extra patients under the four-hour plan.

Less than half that had been promised by the federal government under health reform deal reached with most states in April and in the NSW budget. "There's no question we need more hospital beds," Professor Dwyer said. "The four-hour target suggests [delay] has got something to do with what happens in [emergency], when it's really that there's no room at the inn." Britain's new Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, said last week he would abandon the target, after an inquiry into high death rates at hospitals in Staffordshire found managers' emphasis on it had undermined some patients' care. The Australian plan, which would phase in the four-hour standard between 2011 and 2015, is a cornerstone of the health reforms of the Prime minister, Kevin Rudd. Yesterday it was revealed there would be no independent agency to manage partial Commonwealth funding of local hospital networks, which instead will be administered by the states.

The president of the Australian Medical Association, Andrew Pesce, said targets could foster "timely, quality care" but unstable patients could often be cared for better in emergency departments, with more senior doctors and access to tests and resuscitation. Dr Pesce said the government should examine Britain's experience. "It needs to learn from that and ask, 'Why did they have that change of mind?" Penalties or bonuses tied to the four-hour target could prompt hospitals to "descend to the lowest common denominator to meet them", he said. The president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Sally McCarthy, said Australia had fewer in-patient beds per person than Britain, making the target harder to achieve here. Dr McCarthy said additional performance measures concerning the condition of the patient - such as promptness of antibiotic treatment or pain relief - should accompany time targets. But more than a third of emergency doctors' time was spent on patients who should be transferred, she said. The Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, said the four-hour target would apply only when "clinically appropriate".

From http://www.smh.com.au/ 06/18/2010

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FIJI: To Ratify Social Justice Declaration

Fiji will ratify the 2008 ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization because Government strongly supports fair globalisation standards. Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, Filipe Bole made these statements while addressing the 99th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva this week. "We are implementing recovery plans that support decent work, help preserve employment, and prioritize job growth. "In addition, we will continue to provide income, social protection, and training support for the unemployed and those most at risk of unemployment. "We agree that the current challenges do not provide an excuse to disregard or weaken internationally recognized labour standards," he said.

The Minister also spearheaded the Pacific region's campaign for bigger nations to assist smaller nations in recovering from natural disasters and the global economic crisis, in order to lessen the impact on the island economies. "Fiji and other small island states, appeal to international financial institutions to facilitate our recovery efforts without imposing unnecessary Conditions. "This is cognizant of the fact that the global financial and economic crisis was unfairly imposed on us, in addition to the recent cyclones, Tsunami's and floods," he said. He also acknowledged the efforts of international donors that have responded positively during these trying times. "The Fiji Government wishes to specially thank the European Union, the Peoples Republic of China, Australia and New Zealand for their financial and technical assistance to Fiji to facilitate our recovery efforts.

From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 06/18/2010

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NEW ZEALAND: New Law Simplifies Compliance for Financial Advisers

A bill aimed at simplifying compliance for financial advisers was passed unanimously by Parliament on Wednesday. It follows the introduction of new regulations for financial advisers in two 2008 acts of Parliament. Under the new law, all financial advisers have to be registered and be members of an approved resolution dispute service by December. But they have until July next year to complete any required training and to have their applications processed by the Securities Commission. Commerce Minister Simon Power says the changes will greatly simplify compliance while providing a high level of consumer protection.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz/ 06/23/2010

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Delegate Says Trust UN Climate Process

Several delegates attending the latest UN Climate Change Forum talks in Germany have conceded there is little chance of getting a draft agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions finalised ahead of the next major talks in December. There is just one full day of negotiations left in Bonn, where delegates were hoping to resolve outstanding issues from last year's talks in Copenhagen. Earlier this week, UN chief negotiator Yvo de Boer said he did not think meeting the deadline was achieveable. His sentiments have been echoed by several national delegates. But speaking to reporters in Germany, the permanent representative to the UN from Solomon Islands, Colin Beck, said it's too early to give up. "When we speak of trust and confidence, let us have trust and confidence within the process. Let us give a chance to what we are doing now. Real negotiation, negotiation when we see the text. This is where we are always worried, when we start to lower things before we start," he said.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/11/2010

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World Economic Forum on East Asia to Focus on Asian Leadership

HANOI (Xinhua) - The upcoming 19th World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia will be under the theme "Rethinking Asia' s Leadership Role," organizers said here at a press conference on Thursday. The conference, running from June 6 to 7 in Vietnam's southern Ho Chi Minh City, will attract more than 400 leaders from politics, business, academia and civil society from over 50 countries and regions, according to the press conference jointly held by WEF and Vietnamese Foreign Ministry. Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony. The ceremony will witness the presence of foreign leaders including Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Myanmar Prime Minister, U Thein Sein and Vice Chairwoman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Wang Zhizhen.

The opening ceremony will be chaired by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum. "The East Asia conference is a regional event of WEF except annual Davos," said Susant Palakurthi Rao, Head of Asia for World Economic Forum at the press conference. "Asia is rebounding very quickly from the financial crisis and undoubtedly has a head-start on the global economy recovery. By holding the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Vietnam, we will be in a country that exemplifies the dynamism of this region," said Rao. "This is an important opportunity to explore Asia's leadership agenda and form a regional response to global challenges," said Rao. Doan Xuan Hung, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam said diverse discussion model of WEF on East Asia will be an ideal platform for Vietnam and other countries to share with participants the practices and development orientation in the recovery process of regional and world economy.

The WEF on East Asia this time will focus on a number of interesting topics during the two-day conference, said the organizers. Participants will discuss in a session of "countdown to regional integration". The ten-member group Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has five years to go in realizing the target of economic integration. The unified ASEAN may have potential to rival the BRICs in terms of economic competitiveness thanks to its market of 580 million people and a GDP of over 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars. The WEF on East Asia will also include a session on climate change and food security in Southeast Asian region, whose rice and wheat production are forecast to fall by more than 40 percent by 2050 due to climate change, according to WEF figures.

Financial cooperation in Asia will be also high on the 19th WEF on East Asia's agenda. Asia's lowly leveraged banks have proven far more resilient than their western counterparts in the aftermath of the global economic crisis. How is coordinated monetary policy such as the Chiang Mai Initiatives strengthening Asia's global financial leadership? Megacities - the making of sustainable marketplaces of the future will be a focus of the conference. Southeast Asia has one of the world's fastest urbanization rates at 3.1 percent annually. Eleven of the world's 19 magacities are in Asia.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/04/2010

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Shanghai Cooperation Organization Celebrates Ninth Anniversary at Shanghai Expo

SHANGHAI (Xinhua) - The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) celebrated its Honor Day at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 on Tuesday, which was also the ninth anniversary of the organization' s founding. Addressing a ceremony at the World Expo park, Muratbek Sansyzbayevich Imanaliev, Secretary-General of the SCO, said the SCO has had a glorious history in the past nine years and at the 10th annual summit of the organization, which concluded on Friday, leaders of the member states issued a declaration and signed important documents pointing towards the direction of the SCO's future development. Leaders of the SCO member states met in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last week to discuss key regional and global issues. They pledged, in a declaration issued after the summit, to build an effective and open multilateral organization dedicated to regional peace, stability and prosperity.

Also at the summit, the SCO also approved regulations for admitting new members to the organization, thus laying the foundation for its future expansion.The SCO currently has six member states including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In recent years, the organization admitted India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan as observer states along with Belarus and Sri Lanka as dialogue partners. The organization's member states encompass a territory of more than 30 million square kilometers, almost three-fifths of the Eurasian continent, with a population of 1.5 billion, about one-quarter of the planet's total. Viewing the World Expo as a great stage for the entire human race to carry out exchanges, Imanaliev said the SCO hoped to take advantage of this stage to showcase the achievements of the SCO and its outlook for future developments and expand the organization's influence in the world.

"With the theme of 'World Harmony Begins in the Neighborhood' at the SCO Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, we are aiming at building a harmonious region, and promoting the region's collective development, thus, realizing our aim to make the world more harmonious," said Imanaliev. Imanaliev called for more people to visit the SCO Pavilion, which would help them better understand the organization. Speaking at the ceremony, Zhou Xiaopei, deputy representative of the Chinese government, said the World Expo provided a great opportunity for the human race to promote exchanges and self-understanding and face up to its history and future. Zhou said the SCO was born in Shanghai and its main goal is shared by the World Expo, through the platform of the World Expo, the SCO and its cause could still be better understood by the world.

The SCO is a permanent intergovernmental international organization founded on June 15, 2001 in Shanghai with the aim to strengthen member states' cooperation in politics, economics, security and culture.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/16/2010

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Governments Must Take Account of Increase in Weather-Related Flooding, UN Says

After a week of massive flooding in Myanmar, China and south-eastern France, the United Nations agency promoting disaster reduction activities has called on governments to take account of flood risk in their urban planning efforts and urged citizens to avoid building their homes in high-risk areas. "As many countries and cities are at risk from more frequent and severe weather-related hazards, governments must take increasing measures to reduce the risk for thousands of people living in harm's way," said Margareta Wahlström, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction. "Every citizen should also know that they are at risk if they build their homes in a flood zone area."

According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), floods accounted for half of all disasters between 1990 and 2007. Of all natural hazards worldwide, they have the greatest damage potential and affect the greatest number of people - especially the poor in developing countries. They were responsible for 84 per cent of disaster deaths, as well as $50 billion in economic losses each year, the report states. To reduce the impact, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) has urged governments to avoid building on flood-prone areas in the first place. While pointing out that "poor people are among the groups most vulnerable to floods," Ms. Wahlström noted that "rich countries are not immune either." This week's flooding, which left hundreds dead and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes, followed severe flooding earlier in the year in Poland, Portugal, India, Bangladesh and the United States.

"Due to economic constraints, they [the poor] often live in high-risk areas such as flood plains, ravines and on slopes, as well as in densely populated urban centres," said Ms. Wahlström. But rich countries, too, "need to reconsider their urban planning, as too many houses and critical infrastructures have often been built in dangerous flooding zones." To strengthen a city's readiness against floods and other natural hazards, UNISDR has launched the Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready campaign to raise awareness and urge mayors and local governments to invest more in disaster risk reduction. This includes improving urban planning, infrastructure and building safety; reinforcing drainage systems to reduce flood and storm threats; installing early warning systems; conducting public preparedness drills; and relocating slum areas and making safe lands affordable to low-income groups.

To date, 50 cities and local governments have joined the UNISDR campaign and signed up to take more measures to protect their cities and citizens against disasters.

From http://www.un.org/ 06/18/2010

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APEC Energy Ministers Give Instructions on Energy Security and Efficiency

Fukui, Japan - In a Declaration issued today, APEC's Energy Ministers have set down directions to advance energy security, improve energy efficiency and increase the clean energy supply in the APEC region. New initiatives prescribed by the Energy Ministers include:
- a Collaborative Assessment of Standards and Testing (CAST) scheme to boost trade and investment in energy efficient appliances;
- a Nuclear Power Emissions Reduction Potential Study to assess the potential for nuclear power to reduce carbon emissions in interested APEC economies;
- an APEC Smart Grid Initiative to evaluate the potential of smart grids to support the integration of intermittent renewable energies and energy management approaches in buildings and industry; and
- the Low Carbon Model Town Project aimed at developing best practices to achieve low-emissions urban communities.

Additional tasks have been assigned to APEC's Energy Working Group (EWG) including: to work with the International Energy Agency to improve the region's oil and gas energy emergency response capacity; to contribute to initiatives that reduce energy commodity market volatility; to evaluate the potential of unconventional sources of natural gas and biofuels; and to promote the development and take-up of low-emission power sources (renewable, nuclear and fossil-fuels with carbon capture and sequestration). Ministers have further instructed the EWG to recommend a larger energy intensity reduction target for the APEC region, given that the goal set in 2007 of a 25 percent reduction by 2030 is likely to be far surpassed. The Declaration also reiterates APEC's commitment to rationalising and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption.

The full text of the Fukui Declaration on Low Carbon Paths to Energy Security: Cooperative Energy Solutions for a Sustainable APEC issued at the conclusion of the Ninth Meeting of APEC Energy Ministers may be accessed at:
www.apec.org/apec/ministerial_statements/sectoral_ministerial/energy/2010_energy.html

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/19/2010

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UN Chief Urges G20 Leaders to Focus on Development, Green Growth

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) to focus their incoming summit on development and green growth in promoting global economic recovery. "Based on our collective experience, the best way to enhance the framework for strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth is to put development front and centre, and to invest in a green economic recovery for all," Ban said in an open letter to the leaders. [Xinhua] "Economic recovery will be more sustainable if it is embedded in a global green new deal," The UN chief asked world leaders to undertake international initiatives that supported national investment plans, women's economic empowerment and measures to expand access to credit and savings for the poor.

"We must also build further momentum on education for all with a special focus on girls' education," he said, while also underlining the need to conclude an international trade deal that "takes into account the needs of the poorest nations by enhancing their market access. [Press Trust of India] Ban Ki-moon also asked investments in global health and health systems, such as the Joint Action Plan for Women's and Children's Health, and fully funding programmes like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Sanitation and Water for All Initiative. The Global Fund requires USD 17 billion over the next three years to meet current and projected needs. The UN chief also called on nations to deliver on $30 billion in fast-start funding for developing countries dealing with climate change over the next three years and ensuring that the climate finance pledged in Copenhagen is delivered.

"The G20 showed leadership in calling for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies and I encourage all to work individually and collectively to do so as soon as possible," he said. [The Hindu]

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 06/14/2010

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United Nations Presents 23 Institutions with Awards at Public Service Day Ceremony in Barcelona

On Public Service Day, 23 June, the United Nations will present awards to 23 public institutions from around the world in recognition of their excellence in public service, as well as their creative achievements in developing more effective and responsive public administrations. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his message for the Day, stated that "through this year's United Nations Public Service Awards competition, we can see that innovation is thriving throughout the world". Among the winners are an Indian initiative allowing citizens to air their grievances directly to the Chief Minister and to get timely answers regarding the provision of public services at the state level, and a programme enabling Italian secondary students and their teachers to be actively involved in the law and decision-making processes in the local assembly.

This year, for the first time, the United Nations Public Service Day and Awards Ceremony will be held away from United Nations Headquarters, in Barcelona, Spain, co-organized by the government of Catalonia. The Directorate General for Civic Participation of the government of Catalonia, Spain, won the United Nations Public Service Award in 2008. The Awards are to be presented at the end of a three-day international meeting on the role of public service in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The meeting, which will be followed by a ministerial round table, is expected to make recommendations on how to promote innovation in government. Participants will also share best practices, including how technologies and innovations are being applied around the world to help meet internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

In total 23 winners - from Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Republic of Korea, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania and Tunisia - will receive a Public Service Award. They are distinguished by their creativity and innovation in improving delivery, transparency, accountability and responsiveness in public service and for advancing citizens' participation in policymaking decisions. They are also being honoured for knowledge management in government. "The winners have shown great dedication to upholding the values and virtues of excellent public service," said Sha Zukang, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs. "They have provided examples of efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability."

Special Awards for e-Government
In addition to the Public Service Awards, United Nations e-Government Special Awards will be bestowed on the Governments of the Republic of Korea, United States and Canada. These are the three top countries that, according to the biennial United Nations e‑Government Survey, have ensured the continued availability of robust telecommunications infrastructure, excellent human capital capacity, e‑services and e‑content. Also honoured by the e-Government Special Awards are 3 of the top 20 countries that have made significant progress in improving their e-service delivery and strengthening their citizens engagement through e-participation. The three countries are Singapore, Spain and Bahrain. The e-Government Special Awards will recognize the success of each world region by distinguishing the top-ranked countries from Africa (Tunisia), the Americas (United States), Asia (Republic of Korea), Europe (United Kingdom) and Oceania (Australia).

The United Nations e-Government Survey presents rankings on a national and regional basis in two major categories: e-readiness - provision of government services and products online, combined with the extent of telecommunications infrastructure and public education in the country - and e-participation, or the degree to which government opens itself to interaction with its citizens through the Internet.

From http://www.un.org/ 06/22/2010

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CHINA: Economic System Reforms in 2010

China's State Council, or the Cabinet, said Monday it will "gradually push forward" property tax reform as part of this year's economic reforms. The government will deepen fiscal and taxation system reforms by gradually advancing property tax reform, reforming resource and environment taxes, researching and implementing the personal income tax reforms, and improving consumption tax systems, the statement posted online said. But the statement did not detail the property tax reform plan. The circular also listed other economic reform goals, including requiring governments at all levels to deepen reform of state-owned enterprises and further encourage the development of the private sector. Other aims include raising people's income to reduce obstacles to the transformation of the nation's economic growth mode. Broadcasting and telecom operators are also urged to accelerate pilot programs aimed at converging telecoms networks, broadcasting and the Internet and break down regulatory barriers between the industries. The government should reduce hurdles curbing private investments and open more sectors to private companies, the statement said.

From English.news.cn 05/31/2010

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China Audits Rural Cooperative Medical Care System

China's National Audit Office (NAO) is carrying out a nationwide audit of the new rural cooperative medical care system and its accounts, the NAO said on Sunday. The three-month audit started in May, with auditors going to township clinics in nine provinces of Anhui, Hubei, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Hunan, Sichuan, Fujian, Henan and Heilongjiang, the office told Xinhua. The audit by mid-May showed that the system had helped improve the quality of medical services in Chinese rural areas and eased financial burdens on rural families, said the office. About 94.44 billion yuan went into the fund in 2009, with the central government, local governments and affiliate organizations chipping in 26.96 billion yuan, 47.2 billion yuan, and 19.42 billion yuan respectively, according to the Ministry of Health. Official figures revealed that around 833 million Chinese farmers, 94 percent of the total rural population, had joined the rural cooperative medical care system by the end of last year. The Chinese government in April 2009 unveiled a three-year plan for the nation's health care reform - involving an investment of at least 850 billion yuan (124.5 billion U.S. dollars).

From Xinhua News Agency 06/06/2010

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Central Government Urges Government Organs to Conserve Energy, Resources

The Government Offices Administration of the State Council, China's cabinet, called on government organs Thursday to ensure enhanced energy conservation efforts. Central government organs should save more electricity, petroleum and water to help the country meet its emission targets, a statement issued after an energy-saving conference held by the Government Offices Administration said. China has vowed to reduce national energy intensity by 20 percent and major emissions by 10 percent between 2006 and 2010. Departments or individuals found wasting energy will be "strictly punished," the statement reads. The administration's figures show central government organs have achieved declines of 17.03 percent and 39.78 percent in per capita electricity consumption and water use, respectively, since 2006. Consumption of petroleum declined 26.67 percent in the two years of 2008 and 2009 compared with previous years. The administration, however, warned that the energy-saving task is still tough as the first quarter of the year saw increased energy consumption by central government departments. In the first three months of the year, central government organs' consumption of electricity and petroleum increased 9.56 percent and 4.9 percent, respectively, according to the administration. The administration asked government departments to send specially-assigned personnel to patrol offices and check on wasteful behavior like leaving air-conditioners on while working with the windows open, having lights on during the day and leaving taps running, the statement said.

From English.news.cn 06/10/2010

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HKSAR Accepts New Voting System

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has accepted the Democratic Party's proposal to choose the five new Legislative Council functional constituency seats in 2012 by one-man-two-votes. As planned, the government will move the motions on the election methods of the chief executive and the legislative on Wednesday. If the motions are carried, the legislative process of local laws governing the elections will begin in October. The government accepted the proposal after securing the Democratic Party's guarantee that all their nine votes will support the government package. The party held an extraordinary general meeting on Monday night to decide if the caucus should support the electoral reform. The central government's Liaison Office in Hong Kong said the one-man-two-votes system increases the democratic element of the 2012 reform package. Given the implementation can be dealt with by local legislation, it does not infringe on the decision by the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) and the Liaison Office is happy to see the passage of the reform package. In Beijing, Rita Fan, a NPCSC member, said the consensus is the hard work of tripartite talks between the central government, Hong Kong SAR Government and the Democratic Party. She also said the negotiation made her feel that it is easier to reach consensus through frank discussions. In the opinion of city university political scientist James Sung, the central government feared that the rejection of the Democratic Party's proposal would give rise to radical democratic force.

If the electoral reform is vetoed again, the society will further exhaust itself and the SAR Government will face a crisis. As for the internal rift in the Democratic Party, he believed the wound could heal and party will not break up. After a special executive council meeting, Chief Executive Donald Tsang on Monday announced that the government has accepted the Democratic Party's proposal. "This once again demonstrated our resolve and commitment to promoting democratic development in Hong Kong," he said. The proposal complies with the Basic Law and the NPCSC decision of December 2007. It will also help forge community consensus towards universal suffrage, Tsang said. The government's original electoral reform package was only a few votes short of the requisite two-thirds (40 votes) to get adopted, he said. But the government has not given up and continues to communicate with various political parties and to secure people's support through various channels. "I am very happy that we have made a major breakthrough," Tsang said. When asked why the central government accepts a proposal it once rejected, he said the DP initially insisted that all three of its demands be met. It later focused on the latest proposal by setting aside other issues, while continuing to pursue dual universal suffrage and the abolition of the functional constituency. As to the nomination threshold, he said it would not be higher than 20 so that the election will be fair, competitive and all political parties can participate. Secretary for Justice Wong Yan-lung said the NPCSC decisions stated that the ratio of geographical and functional constituency LegCo members in 2012 will remain 50-50.

Talking about the revised package, a candidate must be an elected district council member and he/she can only run in the election after securing nominations by district council elected members. In addition, candidates will be elected by those who have no voting right in other functional constituencies by one-man-one-vote. "The new district council functional constituency election is not a direct election," said Wong. "The candidates are limited to elected district council members nominated by elected district council members. It is also because not all the 3.43 million registered voters in the geographical constituency electorate are entitled to vote, meaning that the electorate is about 3.2 million after excluding the 230,000 functional constituency electorate," he explained. The existing functional constituency seat for the district council constituency will continue to be returned among the elected members of district councils.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/22/2010

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HR Development Program Launches

The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) and the Beijing Education Examinations Authority (BEEA) launched a self-study program on June 23 to assist human resource management majors in certifying in the International Professional Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA HR). Neil Reichenberg, executive director of (IPMA HR), congratulated SAFEA and BEEA for providing this enhanced program that will aid college students as well as workers across a range of fields. He added that the program will help develop the next generation of human resource professionals in China. IPMA HR touts itself as the leading public sector human resource organization in the world and has existed for 104 years. The self-study program will merge the modern systems of international human resources of the IPMA HR with domestic educational resources, and meld academic study with practical training. Participants will be able to attain a degree and certification simultaneously. Officials and organizers hope the program reinvigorates China's human resource sector and leads to long-term gains for individuals and businesses. More than 70 representatives from 20 colleges attended the ceremony, such as SAFEA's vice director, Lu Ming, and vice dean of BEEA, Xu Baoli.

From China.org.cn 06/24/2010

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JAPAN: New PM Takes Power

Former finance minister Naoto Kan became Japan's new leader Friday, pledging economic recovery and close ties with Washington after his predecessor quit over a festering dispute about a US air base. A parliamentary vote confirmed Kan as the successor to Yukio Hatoyama, who tearfully resigned as prime minister Wednesday, citing the row over the base on Japan's Okinawa island and money scandals that sullied his government. Kan, a former leftist activist, is Japan's fifth premier in four years, and the first in over a decade who does not hail from a political dynasty. The 63-year-old previously also served as deputy premier in Hatoyama's centre-left government, which came to power last year in a landslide election, ending more than half a century of almost non-stop conservative rule. "My first job is to rebuild the country, and to create a party in which all members can stand up together and say with confidence, 'we can do it!'" a smiling Kan said after his party earlier installed him as its new leader. Kan vowed to revitalise Asia's biggest economy, which has been in the doldrums since an investment bubble collapsed in the early 1990s. "For the past 20 years, the Japanese economy has been at a standstill," said Kan. "Growth has stopped. Young people can't find jobs. This is not a natural phenomenon. It resulted from policy mistakes. "I believe we can achieve a strong economy, strong finances and strong social welfare all at the same time," he said, pledging to reduce Japan's huge public debt which is nearing 200 percent of gross domestic product.

Signalling closer engagement with East Asia, he said later: "Japan is located in a very good region geopolitically. Asia has seen great development. "Japan is part of it, potentially in a position to have a complementary relationship with developing China, India and Vietnam." On foreign policy, Kan also pointed at the threat posed by communist North Korea, the isolated and nuclear-armed regime that has been blamed for the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March. "Japan has a lot of problems, including the North Korean issue," said Kan, stressing that US-Japanese ties remain the "cornerstone" of foreign policy after Hatoyama badly strained relations with Washington over the base issue. Hatoyama's support plummeted after he backtracked on an election promise to move the unpopular US base off the island of Okinawa, enraging locals as well as the pacifist Social Democrats, who quit the ruling coalition. Kan said he would honour an agreement reconfirmed last week to relocate the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa. "The Japan-US accord was reached between a government and a government, between a country and a country," he said. "Since the accord was reached under the Hatoyama administration, it is our duty to acknowledge it firmly. The accord also calls for a reduction in Okinawa's burden. Firm action is needed." He also said he would maintain Japan's goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, one of the most ambitious targets of any country, and to seek an EU-style Asian community in future.

It was not immediately clear whether Kan would stick with the expected July 11 date of upper house elections or delay the vote, in which his coalition will fight to keep its wafer-thin majority to avoid policy gridlock. Kan faces an uphill battle to win back voters after the government's approval ratings under Hatoyama slumped below 20 percent this week. He said he would select ministers in discussions over the weekend ahead of launching his cabinet Tuesday. Kan, the son of a factory manager and a graduate of applied sciences from a top university in Tokyo, campaigned in the 1970s for pacifist and environmental causes and entered parliament with a leftist party in 1980. He achieved popularity in the mid-1990s when as health minister he admitted government culpability in a scandal over HIV-tainted blood products. When the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) took power last September he headed a new National Strategy Bureau, tasked with wresting power from Japan's entrenched and secretive state bureaucracy. In January Kan, although not a trained economist, took over as finance minister. In that post, he advocated a weaker yen and badgered the central bank to do more to help Japan recover from its worst post-war recession.

From http://news.yahoo.com/ 06/04/2010

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Japan PM Unveils New Cabinet

Japan's new centre-left Prime Minister Naoto Kan unveiled his cabinet Tuesday and vowed to create a "vigorous country", restore its public finances and mend strained US relations. Kan, a one-time left-wing activist who takes over as Japan's fifth premier in four years, was later sworn in by Emperor Akihito in a palace ceremony along with his cabinet, which he dubbed his "people's militia". The new leader signalled he wants to rebuild ties with Washington damaged by a row over an American airbase that led to the tearful resignation of his predecessor Yukio Hatoyama last week after less than nine months in office. The post-World War II Japan-US security alliance is "the cornerstone" of Tokyo's diplomacy, Kan, 63, said days after speaking with President Barack Obama. Hatoyama stepped down after reneging on an election pledge to move the unpopular Futenma airbase off Okinawa island, giving in to Washington's demands but enraging locals and splitting his ruling coalition.

From http://newsonjapan.com/ 06/08/2010

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SOUTH KOREA: Foreign Ministry to Reform Diplomat Recruitment Process

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced on Tuesday it will recruit 50 new diplomats per year through a one-year, non-degree program at a diplomatic academy from 2013. The current exam for recruiting diplomats will be abolished. A ministry official said, "From 2012 we will admit 60 students through resume screening, a written exam, and two rounds of interviews. After a year of training at the diplomatic academy, 50 will be hired as diplomats." Until now the selection process has been primarily focused on the results of the written exam, but under the new system greater weight will be placed on the qualities needed to be a diplomat, the official added. The admission process will have two tracks. General admission will be open to anyone with at least a university degree, while special admission will accept those fluent in English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, French or German, or those with expertise in specific regions or fields such as trade, energy, and disarmament. There will be no age limit or academic restrictions in the special admission track.

From http://english.chosun.com/ 05/27/2010

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Prosecution System to Reform for Enhanced Transparency

State prosecutors plan to adopt a U.S.-style grand jury system that will hand over prosecutors' exclusive indictment rights to a panel of citizens. Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu also said Friday that independent special prosecutors will now be in charge of cases involving prosecutors, and designated citizens will serve as jurors making legally binding decisions. The moves are part of the prosecution's self-reform efforts in light of public criticism that prosecutors who were involved in a bribery scandal that came to light in April were eventually let off the hook with light punishments.

From http://english.chosun.com/ 06/14/2010

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Anti-corruption Panel, Educators Sign Integrity Education Pact

The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, and school associations agreed to cooperate to promote integrity education for young students. ACRC Chairman Lee Jae-oh met Monday with heads of the Korea Kindergarten Association and the Korean Association of Private Secondary School Principals to conclude a memorandum of understanding on integrity education, said officials. The MOU mainly involves the development and effective use of educational data on moral integrity for kindergartens, middle and high school students. Parents and teachers are also to receive organized education on integrity, according to the MOU. The agreement will enable kindergartens, middle and high schools nationwide to establish a network to promote and teach a sense of moral integrity to young students, said officials. The ACRC is to assist school associations by providing basic educational data and holding seminars on the issue on a regular basis. The commission has so far operated 36 model integrity schools and supported regional education offices in promoting the importance of integrity in local schools. Such educational campaigns, upon the MOU, will now be expanded to all member schools of the involved associations, officials said.

The MOU came as part of the ACRC's long-term project to realize a clean, moral world, according to officials. Last May, in an ACRC survey on 1,328 teenage students, 76.8 percent said that they found the Korean society seriously corrupt. More than 51 percent of the respondents would freely jaywalk if nobody was watching and 40 percent would raise no objection, should they be given extra money back from a cashier. In the survey, 11.8 percent answered that there is no need to abide by the law if they could get away with it. Also, 51.7 percent thought that the corruption would ever increase in years to come, hinting at a general distrust of the younger generation on the government's anti-corruption campaigns. "Punishment of corrupt acts may be easy but is not the fundamental cure to the rampant corruption in our society," said ACRC head Lee last November in a lecture for school principals. "Now has come a time when the inner values of a society, such as integrity, are the true power in the international community." Korea was last year ranked 22nd among 30 OECD states in the integrity category, according to Transparency International, he said.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 06/21/2010

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INDONESIA: New Bribery Case Involving BI Officials - KPK

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said Friday it had received a further report on the alleged bribes given to two Bank Indonesia senior officials from Reserve Bank of Australia firms to win a contract to print banknotes in 1999. KPK deputy chairman M. Jasin told kompas.com that the antigraft body officially accepted the report on the case on May 25. Jasin refused to name the identity of the reporter. The case surfaced following a report in the Australian daily newspaper The Age about allegedly illegal payments worth US$1.3 million to BI officials, identified by their initials as S and M, to help Reserve Bank of Australia firms secure the money printing contract worth more than $50 million. Previously, a former BI governor, three former deputy governors and several other senior officials at the central bank were convicted of misusing Rp 100 billion in BI funds.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 05/28/2010

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Govt Bloc Agrees to Disburse Rp 15 Billion for Each Legislator

The joint administration of the pro-government parties has agreed on the disbursement of the so-called "aspiration fund" worth Rp 15 billion (US$1.63 million) for each legislator at the House of Representatives. The administration consists of the Democratic Party, the Golkar Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the United Development Party (PPP), and the National Awakening Party (PKB). Golkar has been appointed as the leader of the administration. "We had a meeting last night and the result was an agreement on the idea [about the fund disbursement]," Golkar Party faction chairman at the House Setya Novanto told reporters by phone in Jakarta on Friday. The plan for disbursing Rp 15 billion for each legislator has been driving criticism from various experts and activists. They deem that there is a great chance for the fund to be misused. There are now 560 legislators at the House. PPP faction chairman at the House, Hasrul Azwar, told The Jakarta Post that there was no need for the public to worry that the fund would be misused by the legislators. "We will not have any direct authority on the money," he said.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 06/04/2010

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LAOS: 10th Party CC Plenary Prepares for 9th Party Congress

(KPL) The 10th plenary meeting of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee, 8th Congress, opened on 17-22 May has ended with a consideration of a number of important documents prepared for the 9th Party Congress and the social-economic development plan for 2010-2011 period. The meeting agreed that the documents including the political report for the 9th Party Congress, and the draft seventh five year social-economic plan are accordance with the current condition and situation of the country and are the reference to further improving the direction of the Party for collection the ideas and comments from the party member and whole society for developmental field in the future.

The meeting also estimated that although the situation in the world and in the region are still complicated change but the country still has security and development, the national economic has continued to stimulate growth and the expected number of macro economic growth for 2009-2010 fiscal year has reached its target plan. The meeting has urged entire party and people to strengthen the achieved results and concentrate all great efforts and contribution to implement all tasks in the final year for the 8th Party Congress resolution implementing, to encourage the trade production, continue to build the grassroots level, village and village development cluster in order to reduce the poverty for people as the target plan.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 05/25/2010

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Civil Servants Upgraded on Administration Capacity

(KPL) The Public Administration and Civil Service Authority in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning and Investment held a training course on administration capacity for civil servants.

The training took place in Vientiane Capital between June 7 and 11 and was conducted by experts from the Civil Service College (CSC) of Singapore. This training course is supported by the Japanese government through the Asia Development Bank, said Deputy Head of the Public Administration and Civil Service Authority, Mr. Siphouk Vongphakdy. Present at the opening ceremony of the training course were Deputy Head of the Public Administration and Civil Service Authority, Mr. Siphouk Vongphakdy, Counselor to the Japanese Embassy in Laos, Mr. Shigeki KOBAYASHI, civil servants and administrators from relevant ministries.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 06/10/2010

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Salary Payment Through Banking System Evaluated

(KPL) The Ministry of Finance held a meeting to assess the implementation of the salary payment of civil savants through banking system. The meeting took place in Vientiane Capital on June 17. The event was chaired by Deputy Minister of Finance, Ms. Viengthong Siphandone. As of March 30 this year over 48,500 civil savants in Vientiane and provinces have been paid salaries through banking system, said Deputy Head of the Ministry of Finance Office, Mr. Sanya Praseuth. Thirty four ministries and government organizations are paid salaries through banking system. In Vientiane capital, 213.4 billion kip of salaries have been paid so far.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 06/18/2010

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THAILAND: Formation of Two National Reform Committees

Continued progress has been made on efforts to reform Thailand. Former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun and prominent social critic Professor Dr. Prawase Wasi have accepted to chair two national reform committees, which will be formed by the end of June. They were named by civil society to lead the reform efforts, and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva invited them to head the two committees, as suggested by civil society. The first committee, led by Mr. Anand, will focus on strategies and priorities for reform to be proposed to the Government. It will also look at short-term policies and measures that can be implemented immediately and long-term policies that require approval from Parliament. The first set of proposals could be made within six months. The second committee, led by Professor Dr. Prawase, will work on a national reform assembly, which will serve as a channel for all sectors of society to put forward their views and proposals, and synthesize these with academic works in order to formulate proposals for the Government.

Mr. Anand said that new mechanisms to be set up as part of the reform process must be independent and free from government control and interference. He said that the missions of the two committees are not involved with reconciliation. Professor Dr. Prawase said that the two committees are not the matter of the Government but that of society, the people, and the academic sector. He stressed the importance of social and wisdom power to push for reforming Thailand, which is a matter of the future. This means that people of all groups come together to introduce new things for a better future. He said that reconciliation involves the past, but the reform process is a matter of the future. If the reform efforts are successful in ensuring social justice, people will turn toward one another to unite, and social disparity in various areas will decline. Prime Minister Abhisit said that the two respected persons were aware of the necessity to participate in solving the country's problems, so they had agreed to work on the panels. As many groups as possible will be encouraged to join the process, which should be able to continue beyond the term of this administration.

The Prime Minister also heard the results of a brainstorming session, held on June 17 and attended by 500 participants from civil society organizations, the private sector, local administrative bodies, educational institutions, and government agencies. Their discussions included many issues, such as economic, social, and educational disparities, national resources management, corruption, and public participation in political reform, as well as media reform. According to the Prime Minister, the views gathered during this public forum reflect visions for both the Thai people and society and were in line with those of the Government. These would, among others, enable the Thai people to enjoy a better quality of life and human dignity, to live a secure life amidst changes and volatility of globalization with basic rights provided, to have opportunities for advancement in terms of livelihood, work and education, and to ensure that Thailand is a democratic and just society with rules whereby people can live together in harmony and respect differences and diversities.

From http://thailand.prd.go.th/ 06/22/2010

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Ministries to Upgrade Procedures

VietNamNet Bridge - Ministries and Government agencies have met the Government's deadlines to submit their reports on assessing their administrative procedures, Government Office Chief Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said. At a meeting yesterday, June 17, assessing the Government's administrative procedure simplification project, known as Project 30, Phuc said, however, " A number of proposals to reform administrative procedures are very general and unpersuasive. Some ministries and agencies even proposed cutting existing administrative procedures but failed to provide any reasons." Under Project 30, in the first six months of this year, ministries and Government agencies will be required to review all of their administrative procedures and give proposals to reduce red tape. "There are ministries that have made their proposals look good by estimating an unrealistic cost reduction due to proposed cuts of administrative procedures. Others failed to provide calculations and said they did not have enough data," said Ngo Hai Phan, deputy director general of the PM's Administrative Procedures Reform Task Force.

Ministries and Government agencies reported to have reviewed 5,500 administrative procedures, and proposed to eliminate 453, replace 288 and amend 3,749 in order to make things easier for citizens and businesses. In their estimation, most ministries and agencies had met the PM's requirements to cut down 30 per cent of the costs of administrative procedures, which equalled VND30 trillion (US$1.58 billion) per year. In order to conduct the above reports, each ministry and agency set up a group to specifically work on administrative reforms. "Many of these groups, however, have not shown their independent opinions and have not fulfilled their tasks," said Phan. According to Nguyen Trong Phat, head of the Ministry of Information and Communications' Office, members of those groups were mostly officials and staff members from different departments under the ministry. "When it comes to simplifying administrative procedures in their own departments, which relates directly to their benefits, it is very hard for them to decide," he said.

Nguyen Xuan Binh, head of the administrative procedure reform group of the Home Affairs Ministry, said that besides affecting people's benefits, reducing administrative procedure also meant that the department officials had to spend a lot of time doing extra work to review procedures under their authorities. "Many departments do not want to bother with that, and they told us that all of their procedures were fine and did not need to be simplified," he said. Binh said the group had to submit two proposals to the minister, one as it suggested and one as the departments under the ministries suggested. "The role of the minister is therefore very important. Ministries that have enthusiastic ministers are more likely to fulfil their tasks of simplifying administrative reform." Among 24 ministers and Government agencies who have submitted their reports, Phuc said the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Viet Nam Bank for Social Policies had seen poor quality in assessing their administrative procedures.

Phuc urged ministers and heads of Government agencies to be more proactive in Project 30. "Each ministry and agency has to be aware that this project is very important and it will not only bring us great benefits financially, but more importantly, it will create trust among people and businesses in the Government," he said. Earlier this month, the Prime Minister approved 258 administrative procedures that had been prioritised to be simplified. Those procedures would help save about VND5.7 trillion ($300 million) each year in administrative fees. Ministries and Government agencies are required to submit to the Prime Minister a final report on administrative procedure reform by July 31. The Government expects that by December 31, a new set of reformed administrative procedures will be released.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 06/18/2010

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INDIA: Bureaucracy Most Inefficient in Asia

Singapore: India has the most inefficient bureaucracy in Asia and red-tape is much worse than in China, says a survey. In the ranking of 12 countries, India has been named as having the most inefficient bureaucracy followed by Indonesia and the Philippines, according to the survey of expatriate business executives conducted by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC). Quoting the consultancy, news agency AFP has reported that bureaucratic red-tape is a serious problem in India and China but "the differences in the political systems of these two countries have made inertia much worse in India than in China".The ranking is based on a scale from one to 10 and a score of 10 indicates the worst possible scenario. India scored 9.41, followed by Indonesia (8.59), the Philippines (8.37), Vietnam (8.13) and China (7.93).

From http://www.siliconindia.com/ 06/02/2010

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Cabinet Approves Setting Up of Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved a proposal of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for setting up of an Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR) as an institution for imparting instruction and awarding degrees in frontier areas of science and technology. The Bill to set up the academy will be introduced during monsoon session of Parliament. The academy will primarily focus on research and imparting training in such areas that are not ordinarily provided by existing universities in India. The curricula, pedagogy and evaluation will be innovative and directed towards creating the highest quality personnel in cross-disciplinary areas. The academy will operate on the hub and spokes model with campuses spread across the country, in the 37 CSIR laboratories linked through National Knowledge Network already approved by the Cabinet. While utilising existing resources and facilities of CSIR, the academy will operate on a self-sustaining mode. The recurring expenses will be Rs.19.10 crore in the 11th Plan and Rs.61.79 crore in the 12th Plan. There will be no requirement for capital expenditure.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 06/17/2010

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Indian Public Services Data to Be Available Online

The Information Technology Department is looking to roll out an e-District project in four-five months. All of India's 626 districts will have to automate 6-10 services, such as pensions, ration cards, filing of cases in revenue courts, issuance of caste, marriage, income and employment certificates, etc. under the scheme. Past records and certificates will be fed into a common data repository that can be accessed online. District administrations will have an 18-month deadline to complete the digitization. The department will spend 75% of the project cost, expected to be at least Rs2,500 crore, while states will shell out the rest. e-District is one of the 27 mission mode projects being executed as part of India's push towards e-governance. While all the other digitization projects currently underway in the country reach out to only a certain section of the citizens, e-district is the only project after the unique identification (UID) project that will touch the lives of almost all Indians in some way or the other.

From http://www.egovonline.net/ 06/18/2010

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Govt to Set Up Monitoring Panel for CWG

New Delhi: With just three months left for the Commonwealth Games (CWG), the union government has set up a monitoring panel to look after the progress of preparations made by the organizing committee (OC). In a move that insiders claim is aimed at ensuring greater participation of both ministry of sports and the Delhi government, the group of ministers (GoM) - set up for the Games - has come up with a monitoring committee to oversee the preparations. Interestingly, the committee that comprises 12 members, has not only the top brass of the OC, including chairperson Suresh Kalmadi, but also the chief secretary of the Delhi government, Rakesh Mehta, as well as secretary, sports ministry, Sindhushree Khullar. The mandate of the committee is to aim for smoother implementation of the decisions of the GoM, as well as to look into the nitty-gritties of preparations for the Games. "There have been reports of preparations being behind schedule. At times, the OC has even complained that since much of the work is with government departments, there has been lack of communication. This committee will ensure that doesn't happen," a senior government official said. In fact, the presence of Mehta as well as the secretary (sports) will ensure that OC cannot claim the lack of cooperation by government agencies for delays. One of the reasons for the delay has been the late handover of venues by the construction agencies. "From now on, many inter-departmental issues will come up (for the preparations). We should all be on the same page. This is why the committee has been set up," Mehta said.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 06/19/2010

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PAKISTAN: SBP Governor Saleem Raza Resigns

KARACHI/LAHORE: The government on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Salim Raza from his position as the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan. SBP Deputy Governor Yaseen Anwar has been appointed as the acting governor. According to sources, a few days ago Raza had expressed his desire to leave his position before he hit the retirement age. Private TV channels have reported that President Asif Ali Zardari has accepted the resignation of the SBP governor. They reported that Raza had resigned due "personal reasons". Saleem Raza had joined the central bank in January 2009 after Shamshad Akhtar completed her first and only term in office. The sources said acting governor Anwar and Tameer Microfinance Bank CEO Nadeem Hussain were under consideration for the position. Anwar was appointed deputy governor in March 2007. He was reappointed for another two years a few weeks ago. Sources in the central bank said Raza used to take very little interest in the affairs of the central bank, leaving most jobs to his subordinates unlike Shamshad Akhtar who used to micromanage everything. mushfiq ahmad/daily times monitor.

From http://pakistanlink.org/ 06/03/2010

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Independent Panel Completes Compliance Report on Pakistan Irrigation Project

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has addressed a range of challenging issues involved in an ADB-funded irrigation project in Pakistan, and compliance requirements have now been met, the independent Compliance Review Panel (CRP) says. In a report submitted to the ADB's Board of Directors, the CRP said that "considerable progress" has been made by ADB to comply with all its safeguard policies for the Chashma Right Bank Irrigation Project. After five years of monitoring, the CRP concluded that ADB complied with 24 of the original 29 recommendations and partially complied with four other recommendations. One recommendation, the report said, "had already been superseded by events." This is the first time, under ADB's Accountability Mechanism, that CRP has completed a full five-year monitoring period. The Mechanism, which was established in 2003, aims to provide a forum for people adversely affected by the ADB-financed projects to raise their problems to ADB. The CRP is an independent body appointed by the ADB's Board of Directors to carry out compliance review. It also monitors the implementation of remedial actions on compliance review cases approved by the Board. The CRP consists of 3 members - a full-time Chair and two part-time members. "The panel is pleased to be able to report to the Board that ADB, with cooperation from the Government of Pakistan and executing agencies, has been able to bring the compliance process to a satisfactory conclusion," said Rusdian Lubis, the CRP Chair. The Chashma project was approved in December 1991. In 2002, various issues were raised regarding the project's induced flooding and involuntary resettlement; inadequate compensation for loss of land and livelihoods; adverse impact on traditional farmers; design-related social and environmental problems; and insufficient consultation and participation of affected people. The CRP, working with ADB, identified a number of lessons learned during the monitoring phase. Among them, the CRP suggested that ADB must address the implementation of its environmental and social safeguards at the earliest stages of project approval and implementation. It also recognized that, to be effective, the CRP should give project-specific recommendations that are directly related to policy compliance and essential to project administration. The CRP also emphasized the importance of continued support from ADB's operations staff, borrowers, and project executing agencies, to ensure successful outcomes. "This was a challenging case, with a very good result. It is also timely, as the lessons from this case can be used during the current review of the Accountability Mechanism," Mr. Lubis said. The review will cover the operation of the Mechanism and related operating and administrative procedures.

From http://www.adb.org/ 06/21/2010

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Govt Taking All Institutions on Board, Says Gilani

* PM says PPP has traditionally been opposed to the establishment
* Pakistan has to follow any sanctions imposed on Iran
* Urges political forces to adopt policy of reconciliation, consensus and friendship to face challenges

GARHI KHUDA BUX/ISLAMABAD: It is the government's policy to take all institutions together for moving ahead and making progress despite the fact that the Pakistan People's Party has traditionally been opposed to the establishment, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Monday. Gilani was talking to reporters after visiting Benazir Bhutto's mausoleum. To a question if there was any pressure on Pakistan regarding the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, he said Pakistan, under international obligations, would adhere to any restrictions imposed against the country. "Pakistan as a member of the international community has to follow any sanctions imposed," he said. To a question about the Kalabagh Dam, Gilani said the matter had been politicised in 1985 when former governor Fazal-e-Haq said it would be constructed over his dead body. He said in the recent debate in the National Assembly, some members of the former ruling party declared that they could have built the dam while they were in power. Reconciliation: Gilani said his government, following Benazir Bhutto's vision, believed in a policy of consensus and wanted resolution of all such matters through reconciliation. He recalled that in his address in Multan, he had stated that three provinces have passed resolutions against the construction of the dam. "If there is a consensus, we will have no objection," he added. He said Benazir had a vision to strengthen democracy, the constitution and the media and gave a call for a long march for the restoration of the judiciary. To a question about the progress in a probe to investigate Benazir's death, the PM said her assassins will never escape, adding the government was moving ahead in the investigation in light of the UN probe. He said Benazir was a symbol of the federation and it was in her recognition that a monument was being constructed in Islamabad. Gilani, when asked about Pakistan's ties with India, said it was vital that the two countries move together towards resolving core issues, adding that wars were no solution. He said he had received a letter from the Indian prime minister detailing the schedule of meetings at different levels between the two sides and hoped it would lead to a wider dialogue between the two countries. On the National Finance Commission Award, he said it was a consensus decision and would go a long way in empowering the provinces. Challenges: Meanwhile, speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Benazir Monument at Shakarparian, Gilani said, "On this occasion, I extend a hand of friendship towards all political forces. Let's stand together and adopt a policy of reconciliation, consensus and friendship to face all challenges." He cautioned that the country may face stronger challenges in the future, but the nation would have to face them with more determination. He said politics of confrontation had damaged the country and derailed the democratic system several times in the past. He said the government has introduced numerous policies for the uplift of the masses and empowerment of the people keeping in view Benazir's vision. He also mentioned the 18th Amendment, Gilgit-Baltistan empowerment ordinance and other measures that have put the country on the path to progress.

From http://pakistanlink.org/ 06/22/2010

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AFGHANISTAN: Officials' Assets Disclosed

Afghanistan's anticorruption authorities plan to release the assets of government officials. Mohammad Yasin Usmani, head of the government-appointed High Office of Oversight, said his agency on June 19 will begin releasing the asset-disclosure forms filed by 2,000 officials. President Hamid Karzai pledged to crack down on graft following foreign criticism of widespread corruption in Afghanistan after his reelection in a vote marred by fraud last year. Western nations describe corruption as a challenge to stabilizing the country.

From http://www.rferl.org/ 06/17/2010

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ARMENIA: CBA, Police to Exchange Data on Vehicle Insurance Issues

Armenian government has approved the concept of cooperation between the Central Bank of Armenia and Police envisaging database exchange. Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan hailed the measures aimed to raise public awareness on the new law on vehicle insurance taking effect January 1, 2011. CBA President Arthur Javadyan said for his part that the bank has already developed a program including workshops and video materials to present the law to the public.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 06/03/2010

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Azerbaijan: Information Center Established for Improvement of Import-export Operations

State Committee for Standardization, Metrology and Patents of Azerbaijan establishes Information Center for the improvement of import-export operations, the State Committee said today. Also database is being created to increase the positive impact of state standards on trade relations, exchange of regulatory documents, said in the report. The reports says that establishment of the Information Centre in Azerbaijan in the sphere of standardization is an important step within entry into the World Trade Organization \(WTO\). The Centre will be put into operation in the next few days, after which an official notification will be sent to the WTO Secretariat, the committee said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 05/25/2010

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Azerbaijan's to Create Coordinating Council to Build E-government

Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan has decided to form a coordinating council comprised of representatives of public agencies in order to implement action plan for the formation of E-Government in Azerbaijan in 2010-2011, the ministry said. The decision was made during the first meeting on the execution of action plan. Upon the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, program coordinator is the Ministry of Communications.

From http://www.today.az/ 06/05/2010

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Names of Candidates for Judges in Azerbaijani Supreme Court Published

The names of candidates for vacant positions of judges of the Azerbaijani Supreme Court in connection with the expiration of the tenure of their predecessors have been published. The judicial and legal council proposed the candidatures for judges of the Shirvan Court of Appeal Hajigaibov Imran, Farhad Kerimov; judges of the Baku Court of Appeal Ilgar Dadashov Saadat Bektashi, Mehpara Akhmedova, chairman of the Sabail District Court Gulzar Rzayeva and judges of the Supreme Court of Nakhchivan Hafiz Babayev to the Azerbaijani Supreme Court, according to the Azerbaijani Supreme Court. Judicial powers of the judges of the Supreme Court Hajibala Sadigov, Muzaffar Aghazadeh, Nariman Huseynov, Ogtay Magsudov and Vidadi Gashimov expire in connection with retirement age. They were appointed judges to the Supreme Court in July 2000. The ten-year term of office ends in July this year. During the meeting the council reviewed and evaluated the work of judges in higher and other courts, whose term expired. The panel of judges of higher courts of appeal and vacant positions were considered. The proposals on appointment of judges in these courts were made.

According to data presented at the official websites of the Supreme Court and appellate court, there are 7 judges who have reached retirement age at the Azerbaijani Supreme Court and the Baku Court of Appeal. Five of them are in the Supreme Court, two - in the Baku Court of Appeal. According to the Article 96 of the law "Courts and Judges", a term of the first appointment as a judge is five years. The judge's activity is estimated at the end of this period. The age limit of powers is extended to 65 years on the proposal of the Judicial-Legal Council in case of no deficiencies in the work. In the case of high level of professionalism on the proposal of the Judicial-Legal Council, the term may be extended to 70 years. If the term of judges' office ends while considering the case, their authority is extended until the end of the judicial process. The item of the 96-th article of the Law "Courts and Judges" does not apply to judges appointed to the position prior to January 1, 2005, and they continue fulfilling thier powers.

From http://www.today.az/ 06/16/2010

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Presidential Administration Department Head: Azerbaijani Civil Servants Must Have Analytical Skills

Azerbaijani civil servants must have analytical skills, ability to generalize, draw conclusions and make specific suggestions and recommendations, head of the department of the Presidential Administration Suleyman Ismayilov said in an interview with Xalq gazeti. "The benefits from work of civil servants without these skills will be insignificant. They will face difficulties in making objective decisions", he said. June 23 is declared a professional holiday of civil servants upon the decree of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev dated May 25, 2006. Ismayilov said that over 28,000 people work in the state bodies of the country. This figure is 3,000 more than in 2005. Most of them work in administrative positions on the fifth-ninth categories, he added. "Public servants of these categories play a major role in state bodies, actively participate in the preparation of various materials, including drafting memos, tests, reports and briefs relating to specific issues," Ismayilov said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/22/2010

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Azerbaijani Official: Interest in Public Service Increased in Country

Interest in public service increased in Azerbaijan compared to previous years, Chairman of the Public Service Commission under the Azerbaijani President Bahram Khalilov told Trend. If earlier citizens appealed to the public service organs to get job here and searched for all sorts of ways for this end, today the only way to receive job in the public service is a transparent and objective centralized competition, Khalilov said. According to Khalilov, the public service had always been an attractive field of activity in Azerbaijan. "Compared to the private sector, people working in the public service are more protected from the social point of view. Persistence of the public service and pension insurance of civil servants are attractive factors. In addition, we have excellent legislation aimed at social welfare of the civil servants. As a result, the number of applicants for the job in the public service doubled," Khalilov said.

There were made some changes to the system because of the slight interest to the vacant posts in the public service in the country's regions in recent years, he added. Thus, innovations in the rules of the competition create a fertile ground for occupying the vacant posts in the districts. "Our commission holds reception for the posts of the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth classifications. There is a huge difference in the positions, requirements for specialized knowledge, the conditions of service, salary, responsibility, importance and complexity of work between the sixth and ninth classification. Before the introduction of innovations, the pass limit for all classifications was 80 points and that was the reason why the most of the posts in the eighth and ninth classifications remained vacant. Under the new rules pass mark for these classifications was decreased to 70 points. In addition, if the candidate applying for the post-sixth classification will not be able to get 80, but more than 70 points, then the candidate will be able to take part in the competition for the ninth position classification," Khalilov said.

He said in the last competition candidates, who appealed for the sixth classification, scored not 80, but 70 points, applied for the post ninth classification. "90 percent of candidates, who passed the sixth classification and scored 70 points, applied for the post ninth classification. Thus, we will achieve occupation of the majority of vacant posts," Khalilov said. Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev declared June 23 - the Professional Holiday of Civil Servants upon his order dated May 25, 2006.

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/23/2010

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GEORGIA: Saakashvili's Party Headed for Comfortable Election Win

Georgia's May 30 local elections - the first since its defeat in the 2008 war with Russia - have ended with an apparent victory for President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement. But persistent concerns about abuse of public resources - and an underwhelming turnout in Tbilisi - have cast a pall on the ruling party's win. Fatigue with Georgia's many-headed opposition appeared to outweigh lingering anger about Georgia's humiliating loss in its August 2008 war with Russia and chronic high unemployment. Preliminary results showed that the UNM had won 61.43 percent of the vote for counted ballots from 1,249 polling stations out of a total of 3,694. Only two opposition groups - the Alliance for Georgia headed by former United Nations ambassador Irakli Alasania and the Christian-Democrats-Unity headed by former Imedi TV news anchor Giorgi Targamadze - received over 10 percent of the vote. Alasania's Alliance so far has 12-percent of the vote, while Targamadze's movement is posting an 11.62-percent finish. The most contested battle took place in Tbilisi, which held its first mayoral elections along with the city council (sakrebulo) vote. The current appointed mayor, Gigi Ugulava, a Saakashvili proteg¨¦, garnered slightly more than 55 percent of the vote, according to early results. Ugulava's strongest competitor, Alasania, a distant second with just over 19 percent of the ballots counted by mid- afternoon on May 31. Only one other of the eight opposition candidates received more than 10 percent of the vote - the Christian Democrats' Giorgi Chanturia, a former head of the Georgian International Oil Corporation, who had promised sharp cuts in utility fees - although Tbilisi utilities are privately managed - if elected.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) reported that less than half of Tbilisi's 981,505 registered voters - 46.64 percent - decided to take part in the capital city's first direct mayoral election. National turnout was put at 49 percent. Ugulava's victory had been predicted weeks before the Tbilisi election; a prediction that prompted some Tbilisi voters to say that they had not bothered to vote because they believed their vote would make little difference. A complete set of preliminary results for the mayoral election are expected by midnight on May 31; national results for town councils should be known by June 2, the CEC said. Official results are not due until June 23. Political scientist Gia Nodia, a onetime minister of education under Saakashvili, called the lopsided preliminary results a "negative" for the country overall because they demonstrate that the opposition is still unable to compete against the ruling party. "The negative part is that it showed that [the] elections were not very competitive, which is a problem," Nodia said. "On the positive side, there is more or less an assessment that the quality of [the] elections were [sic] higher than before and also, on the opposition side, that radicalism was not rewarded," he continued. In Georgian political parlance, "radicalism" signifies street protests with calls for the government's resignation.

Some political scientists, like Giorgi Khutsishvili, believe there is scant chance that any opposition group will protest the election results. Only if opposition parties believe that voting errors have denied them seats in Tbilisi's city council would they head to the streets, he predicted. "The thing that causes the temperatures to rise is not the issues, but some arrogant attitude of the authorities toward the opposition," Khutsishvili said. While noting that the May 30 vote showed "clear improvements and efforts by the authorities to address problems" during the election campaign, the head of the OSCE's election observation mission, Ambassador Audrey Glover, told a May 31 press conference that "[o]ne in five counts were assessed as bad or very bad and significant procedural problems were reported from over a quarter of the counts observed." Despite a small but substantial stream of complaints and allegations of misconduct from polling stations around the country, local observers like the International Society for Fair Election and Democracy have also praised the authorities for improved management of election day.

Complaints have largely focused on "procedural violations" - a catch-all phrase for problems ranging from minor violations in election protocol to allegations of tampered ballot boxes. Before the election, complaints zeroed in on instances of alleged government pressure on candidates and abuse of administrative resources. Media reports about regional voter confusion - some voters reportedly believing that the election was a presidential election or a national election for Ugulava - reinforced allegations that Saakashvili's National Movement was using its position to blindside the opposition's limited campaigning. Campaign posters featuring Saakashvili with Ugulava's campaign motto ("There is still much to do") were observed outside polling stations in the regions. A monitoring report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights noted that two of the country's national TV stations - Rustavi-2 and Imedi - focused heavily on Ugulava. Other monitoring reports cited more balanced TV coverage. The government refuted allegations that it misused resources or abused election laws to favor of Ugulava, however. Nonetheless, Ugulava's slogan has become a staple of comedy shows and, in one case, a beer commercial. A local brewery has started airing ads that play off the ruling party's promise, urging consumers to buy more beer because "There is still much left to drink."

From http://www.eurasianet.org/ 05/31/2010

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IRAQ: UN Envoy Sees Broad Coalition as Best Option for Government

A broad-based coalition government in Iraq is a better alternative for the people of that country who are eager to see a stable administration, the United Nations top envoy to Iraq told the UN Security Council Tuesday, adding that the political leadership also recognizes the need for constitutional transition following elections in March, Xinhua reported. "At this juncture, Iraq would probably be better served by a broadly inclusive government as a radical alternative to exclusion and disenfranchisement that many communities have experienced in the past," Ad Melkert, the special representative of the UN secretary-general for Iraq, told the 15-nation Council. He said the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was constantly encouraging parties that won seats in parliament in the March 7 elections to come to an agreement on the formation of a government guided by three principles - a governing coalition inclusive of all major winning parties; a government based on power-sharing; and a government formation process within an agreed timeframe.

Iraq's political blocs are still discussing the formation of a new government. Melkert described the elections as a turning point for Iraq, but drew the Council's attention to the fact that violent incidents in the country had left 2,000 Iraqis dead and 5,000 others injured so far this year. "It is imperative that the international community condemns and isolates the perpetrators," he said. "This would be to the benefit of an orderly transit towards a new Government as a critical moment for creating a political environment conducive to meaningful dialogue and power-sharing." Just on Monday, a newly-elected member of Parliament, Bashar Al- Ouqeidi, was gunned down in the volatile northern city of Mosul. Melkert condemned the assassination in the strongest terms and urged Iraq authorities to pursue and bring to justice the perpetrators of what he described as a "despicable act." The special representative said the Iraqi government faces the challenge of responding to the people's high expectations that political and security progress will translate into economic growth, the creation of jobs and lead to an improvement in living conditions.

"Failure by the next government to address the needs and aspirations of the population will predictably be a source of increasing instability and undermine the gains of the democratic process so far," Melkert said. He said that UNAMI's impartial outreach to try to foster reconciliation between different Iraqi communities and interests in Ninewa province had generated positive results. The province has a history of disputes and political divisions between its Arab and Kurdish inhabitants. Turning to the regional dimension of situation in Iraq, Melkert urged neighboring countries to capitalize on the region's strengths to boost security and economic growth. "Constructive engagement, rather than interference, would be of great benefit to all," Melkert said.

In remarks to the media following the session on the situation in Iraq, the Lebanese UN ambassador, Nawaf Salam, who holds the rotating Security Council presidency for May, said the Council had commended Iraq's electoral commission on the successful manual recount of ballots and the announcement of the outcome in the Baghdad governorate, and looked forward to the ratification of overall election results by the federal Supreme Court. The Council also called for the quick formation of an inclusive government that reflected the will of the Iraqi people and condemned all acts of violence, Salam said. Addressing the Council, the Iraqi permanent representative to the United Nations, Hamid al-Bayati, repeated his government's demand that sanctions imposed on Iraq in respect of weapons of mass destruction be lifted, saying that the director-general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had written to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stating that the agency was receiving "excellent cooperation" from Iraq in the implementation of the comprehensive nuclear safeguards agreement.

From http://en.trend.az/ 05/26/2010

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AUSTRALIA: Government Slips in Opinion Poll

A new opinion poll in Australia shows the opposition has an election-winning lead over the government. The Coalition leads Labor 53 per cent to 47 per cent after preferences, in the Neilsen poll in Fairfax newspapers. On primary votes, the Coalition is ahead 43 to 33 per cent - with the Greens polling 15 per cent. The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd's approval rating has fallen again to 41 per cent - the same as opposition leader Tony Abbott's rating. Both men have disapproval figures above 50 per cent. Mr Rudd will have a week of negotiations with the mining industry in Perth over the proposed resources super profits tax. A Newspoll, commissioned by the mining industry and published in The Australian newspaper, shows a majority of people surveyed say the government should change its plan.

From http://www.abc.net.au/ 06/07/2010

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Australia Has First Woman PM as Gillard Replaces Rudd

Julia Gillard has been sworn in as Australia's first female prime minister after a surprise leadership vote in the ruling Labor Party ousted Kevin Rudd. Mr Rudd chose not to take part in the ballot knowing he would suffer an embarrassing defeat to his deputy. Ms Gillard said she believed "a good government was losing its way" and vowed to revive Labor ahead of a general election expected in October. The party has suffered a sharp drop in support in opinion polls this year. A turn-around on a carbon trading scheme and a wrangle over a controversial mining tax led to a sharp slide in approval ratings for Mr Rudd's government. Ms Gillard, who was deputy prime minister before the surprise Wednesday night challenge to Mr Rudd, stood unopposed at a vote of the Labor Party's 112 members of parliament at a meeting on Thursday morning. Treasurer Wayne Swan was elected the new deputy leader, also unopposed. Ms Gillard was born in Barry Island in south Wales, moving to Australia with her family at the age of four.

Emotional
Emerging victorious from the party vote at Parliament House in Canberra, Ms Gillard told reporters: "I came to the view that a good government was losing its way. I believe too I have a responsibility to make sure at the next election that Labor is there at its strongest." On the issue of a planned "super tax" on mining, which had dogged Mr Rudd, she said she wanted a consensus. "We need to do more than consult, we need to negotiate... we need to end this uncertainty," she said. "Today, I am throwing open the government's door to the mining industry and in return I ask the mining industry to open its mind." On Mr Rudd, she said: "He was the leader who saw us through the global financial crisis. He came within a breath of brokering an international agreement on climate change." Mr Rudd, 52, repeatedly choked back tears as he and his family appeared before the media in Canberra.

"I have given it my absolute all and in that spirit I am proud of the achievements we have delivered to make this country fairer," he said. Mr Rudd said he would devote himself to helping Labor get re-elected, adding that they were "a good team led by a good prime minister". "I'm proud of the fact that we kept Australia out of the global financial crisis," he said. "I'm proud of the fact that had we not done so, we would had had half a million Australians out there out of work." Opposition Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott dismissed the change of leadership, saying Ms Gillard was committed to the "same dud policies" of her predecessor. "They've changed the salesman but they haven't changed the product," he told reporters.

Fall from grace
Mr Rudd had called a late-night news conference on Wednesday to announce the ballot after Ms Gillard said she would challenge him for the party leadership. Kevin Rudd: "We have thrown our absolute all at this" Mr Rudd, who led Labor to a landslide election victory against the Liberal government in 2007, blamed "a number of factional leaders" within the party for plotting against him. Mr Rudd had initially insisted he would stand in the leadership ballot, but the BBC's Nick Bryant in Australia said that by Thursday morning Mr Rudd could not even muster enough support to contend the ballot. Mr Rudd started this year as the most popular Australian prime minister in three decades and was widely expected to win the federal election expected in October with ease. But his popularity plummeted following a number of policy setbacks, our correspondent adds. He shelved the centrepiece of his environmental strategy, an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), which led to accusations of political cowardice. Mr Rudd then entered into an advertising war with the country's powerful mining sector over his plans for a super tax on their "super profits".

From http://news.bbc.co.uk/ 06/24/2010

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Australia's Finance Minister Quits Politics

Australia's Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner has announced he won't be contesting his seat of Melbourne at the next federal election. Mr Tanner says he first informed the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of his intention to quit a few weeks ago, and was set to confirm his decision this morning. He says he informed the new Prime Minister Julia Gillard of his decision today. Mr Tanner says his decision has nothing to do with today's leadership change. "There are frankly two little girls and indeed two older kids who need me more than the country needs me and when I married my wife Andrea nine years ago, I said in the speech at the celebration that every day that we were apart was painful, I'm afraid that that is still true."

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/24/2010

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COOK ISLANDS: Wigmore Takes Over as Demos Vote for Change

Robert Wigmore is the new leader of the Democratic Party and will lead the party into the next election. If they win, he will be the Cook Islands' new prime minister. But change did not stop there at yesterday's much anticipated party conference. Sean Willis was elected the party's new president, pushing out Makuiti Tongia, and Angeline Tuara defeated John Tangi for the role of secretary general. Wilkie Rasmussen was once again elected Deputy Leader the position he vacated when he was 'sacked' from the role in April. The puna spoke with their ballot papers at the party conference and told the executive faction, headed by Sir Terepai Maoate, Tongia and Tangi, there is no longer room in the party for them and they are left without party positions.

Sir Terepai spoke with anger when he told the conference that he was annoyed that his group had not been acknowledged for conceding to attend the conference. He also issued a threat to the party, saying that if he did not get what he wanted out of the conference, the party could expect to hear from him and his nine MPs. Speculation is now rife about what the threat could mean further legal action should not be ruled out, nor should the possibility that Maoate and his supporters will cross the floor and stand for the opposition. PM Jim Marurai has agreed to meet with the ex-leader, possibly today. Contrary to the claims for the party executive faction that the conference did not have majority puna support, two representatives from each of the puna turned up for conference to vote for change and breathe new life into the party.

From http://www.cinews.co.ck/ 06/03/2010

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FIJI: Minister for Communication Appointed as Vice Chairman for ITU Body

The Attorney-General and Minister for Communications has been appointed as a Vice Chairman for the Telecommunications Development Advisory Group (TDAG) in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). This appointment was confirmed at the final plenary session of the World Trade Development Conference 2010 which concluded at Hyderabad, India on Friday 4 June 2010. There are only twelve people selected globally from the six regions and Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is one of them. The six regions are Africa, Europe, Middle East, Americas, Russian Federation and the Asia-Pacific. Fiji and Korea will represent the Asia-Pacific region in TDAG.

This appointment is a first for Fiji and Pacific Island Countries. It further cements Government's intention of becoming a more active regional and international player in the global telecommunications sector. TDAG is an advisory body to the ITU Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D) of the ITU and performs tasks such as approval of operational plans for the work undertaken by the ITU-D and examination of specific matters relating to universal telecommunication development. As such TDAG's mandate revolves around ITU-D's aim of achieving the Sector's objectives based on every person's right to communicate through access to infrastructure and information and communication services.

From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 06/18/2010

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NAURU: No Clear Majority in Election

Nauru's weekend election has delivered one new member of parliament but no clear majority for either side. The election was called with a week's notice and under a state of emergency by president Marcus Stephen. Milton Dube has entered parliament for the first time and holds the balance of power. He could support the government and give it a majority, or the opposition, but that would prolong a deadlock that has already existed since the last election in April. Pro-government MP Dr Kieran Keke says he will hold talks with Mr Dube this week.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/20/2010

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NEW ZEALAND: Commission Needs More Time for AMP Ruling

The Commerce Commission will take two weeks longer to decide whether AMP's proposed acquisition of AXA Asia Pacific Holding's New Zealand assets passes its hurdles. A decision by the commission has been postponed for two weeks until June 25, according to the regulator's website. AMP's proposal is part of a wider A$12.85 billion ($15.9 billion) bid for AXA APH that was later trumped by National Australia Bank's A$13.29 billion offer. The Sydney-based wealth manager and insurer has yet to decide whether to submit a higher offer. AMP's clearance application, submitted in early May, argued the acquisition would not substantially lessen competition due to a large number of independent competitors remaining in the market and a continued competitive threat from their expansion ambitions.

Vertical integration was also unlikely to be a hurdle because the New Zealand funds management businesses of both AMP and AXA APH were already vertically integrated in that they provide both wholesale and retail funds, AMP said. A large number of other retail and wholesale fund managers exist as well as two other significant retail wrap platform providers, AMP added. A wrap platform is an administrative structure for investments which provides a hub for a range of services such as product menus, client details and reporting. NAB's attempts to win approval for its bid from Australia's competition regulator continue with talks surrounding NAB and AXA APH's wrap platforms, distribution businesses and adviser networks.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 06/14/2010

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New Zealander Takes Key Climate Post

Wellington has welcomed the appointment of a New Zealander to a key international climate change post. The Stuff NZ website reports the country's climate change ambassador, Adrian Macey, has been awarded the post of vice-chairman for the Kyoto Protocol negotiations. His appointment has been welcomed by New Zealand's International Climate Change Negotiations Minister, Tim Groser, and the international conservation group Greenpeace. The appointment follows two weeks of talks on global warming in the German city of Bonn, seeking to finalise a replacement deal for Kyoto, which expires next year. The talks were held to iron out disputed issues left over from the United Nations' last climate change summit, held in Denmark last year. There's been international criticism of the slow progress made in Germany. The next talks will be in Mexico in December.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/14/2010

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Politician Quits over Environmental Policy

A member of Papua New Guinea's parliament has quit the government over opposition to controversial environment legislation. Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather ran a newspaper advertisement attacking recent amendments to the Environment Act on Wednesday. He says the changes were bulldozed through parliament, they are dictatorial and "against every principle a democracy stands for". Today, local reports say Mr Fairweather has now resigned from the ruling coalition and would be moving to parliament's middle benches. He has been unavailable for comment. The amendments effectively mean environmental permits granted for resource projects cannot be challenged in court. Others have criticised them for robbing traditional landowners of their rights to protect their land.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/17/2010

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Nomination for Election Opens Today

Nomination for the Solomon Islands General election candidates opens today after Governor General Sir Frank Kabui proclaimed 04 August as polling day. Eligible voters will now go to the more than 800 polling stations throughout the country on 04 August to cast their votes. The proclamation made yesterday has opened the floor for campaigning to start as the 42-day count down towards the Election Day commences today. Nomination of candidates starts today and closes on 07 July. Chairman of the Electoral Commission Sir Peter Kenilorea after the proclamation said the commission deliberately decided on August 4 because while it is within the four-month period of the dissolution of parliament, it also falls on Wednesday. "We want it in the middle of the week so that the counting process can continue during the following working days," Sir Peter said. He again reminded voters of the consequences of committing offences such as bribery and voting twice.

"We have reviewed and improved penalties for the offences so the public need to take note of that," Sir Peter said. "And we want candidates to play clean because if they commit an offence and are petitioned when they win, they will lose their opportunity." Sir Peter appeals to registered voters to make all efforts to vote in the upcoming election. "This day is very important in the cycle of parliament and for the country so registered voters must take part," he said. He said the National General Election message is "one vote + one place = National election". Meanwhile Chief Electoral Officer Polycarp Haununu said 50 returning officers for all the 50 constituencies have already been trained. Mr Haununu said 10 electoral managers for the 10 provinces are now being trained in preparation for the 04 August election.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 06/23/2010

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Second ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting Concludes

The Foreign Ministers of the Member States of ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) convened their second meeting from 31 May to 1 June 2010 in Singapore. The meeting was also attended by high-level representatives of the Member States and Secretaries-General of both regional organizations. This 2nd ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting was built upon the successful outcome of the 1st ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting held on 29-30 June 2009 in Manama, Bahrain. The 1st Ministerial Meeting adopted an ASEAN-GCC Joint Vision; welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the ASEAN Secretariat and the GCC Secretariat General; and tasked the two Secretariats to develop a two-year Work Plan to ensure effective cooperation and tangible outcomes. Accordingly, the second meeting adopted the ASEAN-GCC Two-Year Action Plan (2010-2012), which identifies activities and measures for closer collaboration and cooperation to be jointly undertaken for the next two years, encompassing the areas of trade and investment; economic development and cooperation; and education, culture and information. The Action Plan also indicates actions and timeframes of implementation under respective area of cooperation.

Furthermore, the Ministers also discussed the issues of mutual interests. They issued a Joint Press Statement, which reflects the enhanced relations mapping out the future direction of cooperation between the two organisations for the coming year. The Ministers also tasked the two Secretariats and relevant officials to materialise the Action Plan and to prepare regular progress report to the Ministers. The Ministers further welcomed the ongoing accreditation process of the Ambassadors of the respective GCC Member States to ASEAN in Jakarta and looked forward to the accreditation of Ambassadors from all the GCC Member States to ASEAN and ASEAN Ambassadors to the GCC in Riyadh to enhance the partnership. "The cultural and trade links between the two regions dates back centuries ago. Today, the potentials and economic complementarities between ASEAN and the GCC are enormous and awaiting to be tapped, namely in the areas of energy, investment, tourism, trade and investment, among others. The chemistry of the productive discussion by the Ministers today has given further impetus to intensifying the partnership and the two Secretariats of ASEAN and the GCC will further work closely together to facilitate and realise these potentials," said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, at the conclusion of the meeting.

Earlier, on 31 May 2010, Dr Surin had a bilateral meeting with his GCC counterpart, H.E. Abdulrahman bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Secretary-General of the GCC. The two Secretaries-General had productive talks and agreed to coordinate actively and contribute to enhancing cooperation and partnership between the two regional organisations. They also exchanged views to find ways and means, resources and modality to concretise the joint Action Plan in the near future.To maintain the momentum of the intensifying relationship between the two regional groupings, the Ministers agreed to regularise their meeting on an annual basis, alternately in a Member State of an ASEAN and the GCC. They also agreed to convene their next meeting in 2011 in the United Arab Emirates.The Ministers also issued a Joint Statement condemning the recent attacks by Israeli authorities against personnel aboard the humanitarian vessel, Mavi Marmara.

From http://www.aseansec.org/ 06/01/2010

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S'pore Top Country for Business, Barriers in Rest of ASEAN: Study

HANOI: Singapore has been ranked the best place to do business in the world, but barriers remain for the rest of ASEAN, a study released in Vietnam on Thursday said. The World Economic Forum index ranked 125 countries based on their performance in four main areas: market access, border administration, transport and communications infrastructure and general business environment. Singapore kept the top rank it held in last year's study, but five other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) fell. Vietnam improved from 89th to 71st largely because of its accession to the World Trade Organization three years ago, Thierry Geiger, a co-author of the study, told a news conference. But he said barriers to trade in ASEAN "remain many and significant", primarily in border administration and transport infrastructure.

The study said Malaysia "stands out positively" at 30th position, compared with 28th last time, while Thailand is at 60, down from 50 a year ago, and Indonesia ranked 68th, from 62nd. The Philippines sunk to 92 from 82, and Cambodia hit a "very low" 102, down from 92, the study said. Data from ASEAN's other members, Laos, Brunei and Myanmar, was not included in the study. ASEAN is working towards establishing by 2015 a single market and manufacturing base of about 600 million people. The World Economic Forum, a Geneva-based independent organisation, released the study ahead of its World Economic Forum on East Asia in Ho Chi Minh City from Sunday.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 06/03/2010

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E-9 "A Singular Example of South-South Cooperation", Says UNESCO Director-General

The nine most highly-populated countries of the South represent "a singular example of South-South cooperation", said Irina Bokova, UNESCO's Director-General, opening the Eighth E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting on Education for All in Abuja, Nigeria on 21 June. "Your collective clout - that can be counted in billions of people - has the potential to make literacy a real driver of development" said Ms Bokova. She also warned that "the Education for All goals will not be achieved globally if they are not reached in the E-9 countries." Between them they represent more than 60 per cent of the world's population, over two-thirds of the world's illiterate adults and over half of the world's out-of-school children. The nine most highly-populated countries of the South are meeting in Abuja, Nigeria (21 - 24 June) to tackle the theme of "Literacy for Development" with a special focus on girls and women.

Jointly organized by UNESCO and the Nigerian Government, the Eighth E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting was opened by Nigeria's Education Minister and President as well as UNESCO's Director-General and HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, UNESCO's Special Envoy on Literacy for Development. Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan are the nine most highly-populated countries of the South.

From http://www.unesco.org/ 06/14/2010

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Recruit Ambitious Youth Eager to Work for Common Good, Urges Secretary-General, In Message for United Nations Public Service Day

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message for United Nations Public Service Day, to be observed 23 June: On the annual observance of Public Service Day, we pay tribute to public servants everywhere who have improved the lives of others in their communities. Public service is not always an easy career choice to make, but it can be immensely rewarding for the opportunity it offers to get involved in addressing the challenges of our times. In an era of increasingly complex challenges, from climate change to food insecurity and the financial and economic crisis, the world needs its public servants to be more creative and talented than ever. Through this year's United Nations Public Service Awards competition, we can see that innovation is thriving throughout the world.

At the commemoration of Public Service Day in Barcelona, the United Nations will award 23 public institutions for their achievements. In some cases, these institutions have used technology to increase the transparency and accountability of Government services. Others have created social programmes that educate and empower marginalized groups. All the winners and finalists have powerful and inspiring stories to tell and best practices to share. I congratulate them on their original ideas, their industriousness and their dedication to excellent public service delivery. I hope these winners will generate other local, regional and national initiatives, and inspire young people to explore careers in public service. If we are to defeat poverty, disease, illiteracy and gender inequality and achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, we need to recruit into the public service an ever-increasing tide of ambitious youth who want to use their technological and scientific skills for the common good.

On this Public Service Day, I thank all people who currently work in service of their town, city or country, and I encourage young citizens everywhere to explore the dynamic and diverse careers that exist today in public service.

From http://www.un.org/ 06/22/2010

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Ban Unveils 'Collection of Superheroes' to Help Eradicate Poverty

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced today that he is establishing an advocacy group of eminent persons to try to galvanize support worldwide towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by their target date of 2015. Mr. Ban said "a real collection of superheroes in defeating poverty" has been chosen to serve on the MDG Advocacy Group, which will be co-chaired by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Spanish Prime Minister Jos¨¦ Luis Rodr¨Şguez Zapatero. The group is tasked with helping Mr. Ban to build political will and mobilize global action on the eight Goals ahead of the high-level summit on the issue that will take place at United Nations Headquarters in New York in September. Mr. Zapatero will host the first meeting of the advocacy group next month in Madrid.

"We need to emerge from the September Millennium Development Goals summit with concrete national action plans for realizing the Goals. These advocates can help us get there," Mr. Ban stressed. Each of the group's members have been asked to focus their advocacy efforts on specific Goals. The members include two Nobel Peace Prize laureates - the Bangladeshi pioneer of microcredit Muhammad Yunus and the Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai - and the former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. The businessmen and philanthropists Bill Gates and Ted Turner are participating, as are Jeffrey Sachs, the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the MDGs, and Ray Chambers, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Malaria. Qatar's First Lady, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser, and the former Mozambican First Lady Graça Machel have also been named as advocates, along with former General Assembly president Jan Eliasson and Philippe Douste-Blazy, the UN Special Adviser on innovative financing for development.

The other members are: Stine Bosse, the chief executive of TrygVesta Group and the chairman of Børnefonden (the Children's Fund); Dho Young-Shin, the chairman of the UN World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO) Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty Foundation; Julio Frenk, the former Mexican health minister and the Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health; Akin Adesina, the Vice-President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa; and Hiromasa Yonekura, the chairman of the Japan Business Federation.
Mr. Ban said distinguished personalities from China, India and the United Kingdom will also join the group soon. Speaking to the UN News Centre, Mr. Chambers said that "it's a privilege to join such an accomplished group of leaders who have the experience and ambition to ensure that all MDGs remain on track at this critical juncture."

He added that "from our experience with malaria, we know that achieving the MDGs is within sight, and by coordinating our efforts and sharing best practices, we will maximize the likelihood that all eight Goals will be met by 2015." The MDGs, which include targets for slashing poverty, boosting school enrolment rates, improving maternal health and increasing access to clean water and decent sanitation, were devised at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000. Today Mr. Ban issued the latest UN assessment report on efforts to reach the Goals, which shows that there has been mixed progress in the developing world. Extreme poverty is falling rapidly but maternal health and sanitation are lagging and there are still large gaps between rich and poor, men and women, and urban and rural communities.

From http://www.un.org/ 06/23/2010

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UN Invites 'Citizen Ambassadors' to Film Anti-Poverty Goals in Action

The United Nations launched today a video contest inviting people from around the world, particularly youth, to tell leaders what the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mean to them by uploading short films on the UN YouTube channel. "Use your voice as a global citizen to tell world leaders in a short video what you think needs to be done to make this world a better and safer place," the contest website reads, featuring messages from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassadors Angelique Kidjo and Youssou N'Dour. Additional videos featuring UN Messengers of Peace Stevie Wonder and Princess Haya of Jordan, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Lionel Messi and Jackie Chan, and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador Maria Sharapova, will be posted throughout the contest.

Starting today and until 23 August, people will be able to upload short videos answering questions such as "What is your community, city or country doing to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?" or "How can the international community better work together to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?" The six winners will be announced during the high-level MDG summit in New York hosted by the Secretary-General on 23 September, and will meet with him on UN Day 2010 on 24 October. The campaign - organized by the Department of Public Information (DPI) in partnership with YouTube, UNDP, the UN Foundation (UNF), French broadcaster TV5Monde and with support from Flip Video - is part of a UN initiative to utilize the Internet and social media "to engage a new generation of world citizens in the importance of international diplomacy."

In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched today the annual MDG assessment report. It showed that while countries continue to make advances despite the global economic downturn, the rate of improvement remains too slow and countries must step up their efforts if the MDGs are to be achieved by their target date of 2015. The MDGs will be discussed at the G-20 meeting in Toronto, Canada, this weekend, and at a special high-level summit at the UN Headquarters in New York.

From http://www.un.org/ 06/23/2010

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CHINA: Begins Inspection to Ensure Cleaner Production

China on Wednesday launched an inspection of how local authorities are promoting cleaner production. During the one-month inspection, supervision teams - acting directly under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) - will be sent to Heilongjiang, Shandong, Hunan and Shaanxi to inspect the work of local governments in promoting cleaner production and to what extent key industries are following the Cleaner Production Promotion Law. Meanwhile, standing committees of provincial-level people's congresses in 11 other provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities will conduct inspections in their own regions. "The inspection on the enforcement of Cleaner Production Promotion Law is a key part of the work for the NPC this year," top legislator Wu Bangguo stated in an official letter today. Wu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, hoped that the inspection would make government organizations and companies focus on increasing cleaner production and use the measure to promote the transformation of the economic growth pattern. The Law, enacted in 2002, aims to promote cleaner production, increase the efficiency of the utilization of energy resources, and reduce pollutants.


From English.news.cn 05/26/2010

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China to Establish Innovative Workforce

President Hu Jintao has called for the creation of a more competitive and innovative workforce in the country, with the focus on training more top-notch specialists. At a central work conference on human resources in Beijing from Tuesday to Wednesday, President Hu Jintao said human resources were essential to the development of the Party and the state, and the quality of China's workforce was still poor compared to that of developed countries. China would enhance its workforce's strength, and the fostering of high-caliber professionals would be a priority, Hu said in a statement released after the meeting. He said China would work to have a large high-quality workforce and to be a strong world power in terms of human resources by 2020. Party committees and governments at all levels must create an environment where talent can emerge and be put to use, he said. He also said innovation would be fully encouraged and supported by the government, and it was a strategic task to foster young talents. At the conference, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged more support to high-caliber creative specialists that are urgently needed in China. The government would encourage and help them and overseas Chinese students find employment or start up businesses in China, he said. Wen said China would increase its funding for the training and education of high-caliber specialists, with investments coming from the government, individuals, enterprises and social organizations. Vice-President Xi Jinping said the government would promptly introduce major human resource programs to help realize the national goal. All members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee attended the conference.

From Xinhua News Agency 05/27/2010

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Third Party Payments Regulated

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) on Monday said that non-bank payment service providers would need a license to conduct third party payment transactions in the nation. Under the new rules, the companies will have to report to the central bank the commission rates it charges for third party transactions. The companies would also be subject to periodic checks by the PBOC. According to the central bank, the companies will have to apply for a license within one year after the policy comes into effect from Sept 1 onwards. Analysts said the new rules will help regulate the online payment market, which reached 555 billion yuan ($81.4 billion) last year, up 135.6 percent from 2008. Non-bank payment service providers will need to have a registered capital of at least 100 million yuan for a nationwide business license, and should have been making profits for two successive years, the central bank said. "The policy will help in the healthy development of the online payment industry," said Cao Fei, an analyst with domestic research firm Analysys International. The nation's online payment market has been growing at more than 100 percent annually in the past five years.

It has also been attracting more and more players. According to industry experts, there are more than 100 online payment companies in China at present. But at the same time, there are also problems due to lack of regulation. Some online payment companies have been accused recently of making money through illegal activities. Online payment company 99Bill Corp allegedly helped a gambling company to collect funds of over 3 billion yuan, and one of its senior officials was detained. "The license rule is fair for all online payment companies," said Wang Ziling, who looks after public relations at Alipay.com Co Ltd, the largest online payment company in China. Alipay had a 52 percent share of the online payment market in 2009, followed by Tenpay, an online payment unit of Tencent, with 24.7 percent. Since companies have to be profitable for at least two successive years, analysts said the policy will restrict entry of newcomers in the market. As for foreign funded companies, the central bank will issue separate rules. Cao from Analysys International said the new rules are likely to mean stricter requirements for foreign funded online payment companies.

From China Daily 06/22/2010

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Gov't Aims to Strengthen Administration by Law

China's government is to step up efforts to strengthen administration by law and to raise its executive ability and credibility, said a government statement Wednesday. Some local governments and departments had prominent problems of defying the law in administration and greater efforts must be paid to build government by law, said the statement released after an executive meeting of China's State Council, or Cabinet, which was chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday. The making of major policies must be subject to procedures such as soliciting of public opinions, consultations with experts, risk analysis, legality assessment and group decision-making, it said. The government must optimize the system of public opinion solicitation in drafting administrative laws and regulations, and enforce the law in a strict, just way, it said. The statement said public supervision of the government must be strengthened by making government affairs more transparent and ensuring the rights of the public and the media to report wrongdoing. The government must fully implement of the policy of holding officials accountable for any malpractice or dereliction of duty, it said. The government must also play a greater role mediating disputes and actively guide the public to appeal and settle disputes in accordance with the law.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/24/2010

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JAPAN: Child Allowance Payments Start in 3 Prefectures

The distribution of child-rearing allowances, one of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's key campaign promises for last year's general election, started Tuesday in seven small municipalities in three prefectures. According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the town of Asahi in Toyama Prefecture, the village of Awashimaura in Niigata Prefecture and five towns in Hokkaido became the first Japanese municipalities to make the monthly 13,000 yen payment per child aged 15 and younger, as the payment day varies among local governments. In June, the municipalities will pay for the April and May benefits. Most local governments are believed to use bank transfers for the payment, but in the Asahi town office, which has decided to directly hand out the allowances, the eligible parents collected the cash in person. About half the municipalities across the country plan to make the payment on June 10 and a majority will complete their first payment by June 20, the ministry said. Under the law enacted in late March, the government will provide 13,000 yen a month or 156,000 yen a year per child in fiscal 2010 through March 31, 2011, until the child graduates from junior high school, with no limit being set for household income. Health minister Akira Nagatsuma told a press conference Tuesday that the government aims to stem the trend of low birthrates through the allowance program, coupled with day-care services and the promotion of a lifestyle that balances work with family life.

The allowance is ''a significant step forward for Japan's child support policies,'' Nagatsuma said. The DPJ aims to provide 26,000 yen a month or 312,000 yen a year in fiscal 2011 and beyond as promised during the election campaign, but has yet to secure sufficient financial resources to pay for the allowances, which are expected to total about 5.4 trillion yen in annual costs. The government and the DPJ decided to provide the first payment this month apparently in the hope of creating some positive momentum for the party for the upcoming House of Councillors election, which is expected to take place in July. The party has yet to decide whether the payment should be doubled next year and beyond, as it has been preoccupied trying to tackle other pressing issues including the relocation of a U.S. military base in Okinawa Prefecture and the outbreak of foot-and-mouth diseases among livestock in Miyazaki Prefecture. Regarding the size of payments from the next fiscal year, Nagatsuma said the ministry's top officials are studying if an additional 13,000 yen should be paid in cash or through the improvement of child service facilities. The number of eligible children covered by the allowance program is 17.35 million. The next payment, covering the allowances for four months between June and September, is due in October.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/01/2010

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Improve Support for Women to Help Boost Workforce: White Paper

Japan's workforce will increase by up to nearly 4.5 million with the creation of working environments in which women would not have to quit their jobs because of marriage or childbirth, the government white paper on equal opportunities for men and women said Tuesday. The document says there is a significant drop in the labor force rate for women in their 30s compared with women in their 20s and 40s, pointing out that correcting the gap alone will likely boost the country's workforce by 1.31 million. On top of that, Japan's workforce will increase by 4.45 million in total, or 6.7% of its domestic workforce, which stood at 66 million in 2009, if job opportunities are provided to women intent on returning to work, the white paper said. The government issued the annual document after analyzing women's roles in vitalizing the country's economy at a time when Japan's population is rapidly graying.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/15/2010

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SOUTH KOREA: Job Training Offered to Foreign Workers

The government will offer job training to foreign workers here to help them have professional expertise, officials said Tuesday. According to the Human Resource Development Service of Korea, a total of 5,000 applicants who hold E-9 work visas will be selected for the programs to be conducted between June and November. Several studies by the Ministry of Labor and related institutes have found that migrant workers show lower productivity than their Korean counterparts when they work for the same amount of time. Nearly 160,000 foreign workers are estimated to be currently employed, the ministry said. Considering their cultural backgrounds and lifestyles, 67 institutions will offer training programs ranging from simpler jobs such as manufacturing, construction and farming to professional ones including computer repair, auto maintenance and welding. Because all the programs are free of charge, workers and employers are not required to pay any additional fees. Applicants work during the weekdays and use four to six hours over the weekends for three months.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 06/01/2010

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Vocational Training Available to Foreign Workers

The Human Resources Development Service of Korea, led by its president Yu Jae-Soub, has taken an active step to provide foreign workers with vocational training. The HRD Korea announced that it would train 5,000 foreign workers with E-9 visa from June to November, focusing on skills for specific jobs that are needed in industrial fields. The Ministry of Labor and research institutes conducted a series of studies, which has pointed out that the productivity of foreign workers is relatively lower than that of Korean counterparts while they work the similar hours. The number of foreign employees reaches nearly 160,000. Taking into account lifestyle and culture of their home countries, the training is divided into basic and professional courses in 67 training centers with expertise and field experience. The curriculum of the basic training course, which is designed for workers in manufacturing, construction, farming and fishery industries will focus on practical vocational skills and safety management. The professional training course will include programs aimed at enhancing trainees' professional skills such as fixing computers or cars and welding. The training is complimentary, so that foreign workers and employers do not need to pay for their courses. Foreign workers can choose a training course of their need, apply to 67 training centers that are commissioned for the application process and receive vocational training for a scheduled period. Since most trainees are considered to be busy working during the weekdays, the course will stretch for 3 months to enable them to receive training for 4~6 hours at the weekends. At the moment, trainees are being recruited. The vocational training for foreign workers are expected to kill two birds with one stone, through which enterprises can boost productivity and maintain employment conditions while foreign workers can be more satisfied with their job and enhance vocational capacity. For more information, please call 02-3271-9443, the vocational training team in the Human Resources Development of Korea.

From http://www.korea.net/ 06/11/2010

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Korea Founds Green Growth Research Institute

Korea has established the Global Green Growth Institute, an international research body that aims to develop and model theories of green growth and disseminate them worldwide, President Lee Myung-bak said Wednesday. Lee was speaking at the East Asia Climate Forum in Seoul. Seoul is to contribute US$10 million a year for the next three years to the GGGI. Non-governmental foundation ClimateWorks and the George Soros-funded NGO Climate Policy Initiative agreed to donate $1 million each, according to Cheong Wa Dae. The government plans to open GGGI regional offices in five countries including China and Brazil, and make it an international organization by 2012. The research body's first project is signing a memorandum of understanding in support of green growth plans in Brazil, Ethiopia and Indonesia. The GGGI will be headed by former Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, and the board member includes Nicholas Stern, a professor at the London School of Economics, and Thomas Heller, professor at Stanford University. The head of research will be recruited from overseas.

From http://english.chosun.com/ 06/17/2010

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INDONESIA: Govt Launches Migrant Worker Empowerment Program

The National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) launched Thursday a program to empower former and would-be female migrant workers in three provinces across Java. Targeting about 5,000 of such workers in 90 subdistricts in Indramayu (West Java), Sragen (Central Java) and Banyuwangi (East Java), the "Empowerment Program for Female Migrant Workers and Their Families" was sponsored by the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) and fully supported by the World Bank. A similar program, with funding from Ausaid, has been in place since last year in West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara, the country's other two migrant worker supplying provinces. "Core issues the participants will learn from the program are access to finance, access to information, and setup mechanisms at local level," BNP2TKI chairman Jumhur Hidayat told The Jakarta Post Thursday after the launch.

World Bank Social Development gender specialist Dewayani, who is responsible for monitoring the bank's technical assistance for the program, said the program could help participants understand how to access loans to finance their departure abroad and how to benefit from their remittance funds, among others. Jumhur said female migrant workers became the target of the program since they constitute the majority of Indonesian workers overseas, at more than 70 percent. "And more than 95 percent of Indonesian migrant workers currently in trouble are women. This is related to the fact that while male workers usually work in the formal sector, female workers are employed in the informal sector, mostly by becoming domestic helpers," he said.

Problems commonly facing troubled workers, numbering over 1,000 people according to BNP2TKI records, are unpaid salaries, abuse and unilateral lay-offs, Jumhur said. The World Bank and BNP2TKI said in their joint press statement regarding the program that the program was aimed at ensuring recruitment of migrant workers through an official procedure, improving the workers' access to financial services and improving supporting mechanism for secure migration. The program is due to last until March 2012.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 05/27/2010

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LAOS: 10 Central and Southern Provinces Learn Rural Development

(KPL) The Steering Committee for National Rural Development and Poverty Reduction in cooperation with the Rural Development Office of Savannakhet province and the World Vision Laos held a training course on rural development. The training was held at the provincial administration office of Savannakhet province on June 2-4. Present at the opening ceremony of the training were Vice-President of the Steering Committee for National Rural Development and Poverty Reduction, Mr. Mek Phanlack, and more than 100 trainees from the provincial and district rural development offices from 10 central and southern provinces. Vice-Governor of Savannakhet province, Dr. Souphanh Keomisay, said that Savannakhet province had invested in grassroots political building technically and financially and in rural development as well as in the development of economic and development model villages. The trainees learned the government's policy on rural development and poverty reduction, the management, monitoring and assessment of state investment projects and projects that are funded by foreign assistance and NGOs. They also learned about proposal writing and the analysis of community potentials for development projects and prioritise development projects in line with the National Socio-Economic Development Plan.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 06/07/2010

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THAILAND: Poverty Situation Has Improved

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has stressed that Thailand was not facing failure to reduce poverty, saying that the country's major figures, compiled by the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board, indicate that the poverty situation has improved. He referred to the statement made by Mrs. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), during her interview with AFP on June 16 that Thailand's progress in tackling poverty was being hindered by political tensions, and that what was needed would be a "national dialogue on how to move to elections which are seen as free and fair and people will accept the result." The Prime Minister admitted that the political problem still caused obstacles and conflicts came from both the system and politicians. However, the Government is trying to cope with the obstacles and constraints to enable the country to move forward. He said that low-income people under the poverty line in Thailand had been adversely affected by the 1997 economic crisis. As for the crisis in 2008, the situation was better than that in 1997, as the Government has a policy of stimulating the economy, with an emphasis on helping the underprivileged.

Regarding the interview with the UNDP Administrator referring to the political situation in Thailand, Mr. Biravij Suwanpradhes, Acting Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, said that the view of the UNDP Administrator was expressed in the context of efforts towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whereby she referred to the progress made by Southeast Asian countries in eradicating extreme poverty and obstacles thereto, without specifically focusing on Thailand. Indeed, Thailand has achieved most of the MDGs, such as halving the proportion of the poor and that of people who suffer from hunger, eliminating gender inequality in primary and secondary education, halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS and the incidence of malaria, and halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. He pointed out that Thailand is fully committed to achieving all the goals by the target date of 2015. He also added that Mrs. Clark's view was consistent with the efforts by the Thai government in pressing ahead with its reconciliation plan, which includes a participatory national reform process that addresses economic and social disparity and poverty, as well as a political reform and constitutional amendment process to work on relevant rules so that they would be accepted by all sides.

Given the empirical evidence on the income gap between the rural and urban areas in Thailand, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya highlighted the need to set the target date on poverty alleviation among the poor Thais, as it will advance and strengthen long-term stability in the country. He touched on the issue of poverty eradication when Mr. Hiroyuki Konuma, Assistant Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, paid a courtesy call on him on June 16. Mr. Konuma emphasized FAO's work in the northern, northeastern, and southern Thailand. Foreign Minister Kasit believed that FAO cooperation would greatly complement the Thai government's strategies to boost national growth and eradicate poverty, especially in rural areas.

From http://thailand.prd.go.th/ 06/22/2010

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VIETNAM: How to Accelerate ODA Disbursement

VietNamNet Bridge - There remain a number of snags in the disbursement of official development assistance (ODA), said delegates at the first forum to review the efficiency of ODA for Vietnam in 2010 held in Hanoi on June 3. On addressing the forum, the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Nguyen Van Trung highlighted the efficiency of ODA, which has greatly contributed to Vietnam's socio-economic development, poverty reduction and the country's 10-year strategy for socio-economic development (2011-2020). While Vietnam is going to become a middle-income country and face global challenges, the government and development partners agreed to transform the partnership group on the efficiency of ODA into the forum on ODA efficiency to make more effective use of ODA.

The forum aimed to enhance relations between the Vietnamese Government and its development partners to build a new partnership and attract more ODA funding through more effective coordination between Vietnamese agencies and donors. The delegates focused their discussions on the use of ODA over the 2006-2010 period and increasing the efficiency of ODA in several areas, including coping with climate change. The disbursement of ODA from 2006-2009 accounted for 12-13 percent of the total investment capital sourced the State budget. In 2009 alone, the total value of ODA hit more than US$6.1 billion, up 41 percent over 2008 and the total disbursed capital reached more than US$4 billion, double the Government's set target.

However, many delegates said that there remain snags in the disbursement of ODA, especially in investment and construction, the capacity of contractors, poor consultancies which failed to meet projects' requirements and low-quality human resources. Concerning a report on the efficiency of ODA and plans to attract and effectively use funds in 2011-2015, representatives from the World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UN agencies in Vietnam underlined the need to enhance the capacity of those ODA recipients which are committed to implementing projects properly. The forum was held on the eve of the Donors' Consultative Group (CG) Meeting, which will be held from June 9-10 in the southern province of Kien Giang.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 06/04/2010

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Tax System Still Headache for Business

VietNamNet Bridge - Lack of consistency in taxation and customs policies and procedures still causes headaches for enterprises despite the introduction of reforms. In fact, this was the major tax concern of enterprises in talks between 600 northern Vietnamese enterprises and Ministry of Finance representatives in Ha Noi last Thursday. In 2006-07, a year before the reforms were officially introduced, the tax policy for trucks of between 25 tonnes and 45 tonnes varied at different border gates for the tax year 2006-07, according to Nguyen Canh Tuan, director of Hoang Tra Limited Co, a truck importer. In particular, the tax rate at Quang Ninh border gate was 10 per cent while at the Lang Son gate for the same kinds of truck, it was 20 per cent. After receiving complaints from enterprises, the ministry adjusted the tax rate to 10 per cent in March 2008. Consequently, a number of enterprises, which had paid tax at higher rate, were eligible for reimbursement.

However, up until now, many companies still have not received refunds, including the Hoang Tra Co. "Our estimated loss of VND20 billion (US$1 million) hasn't been refunded," Tuan said.

In response, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Do Hoang Anh Tuan, said the tax refund process was complicated when batches of trucks imported before 2006 were included. "When calculating the value of the tax refund, many factors have to be taken into consideration. There hasn't been a final calculation yet." In regards to the value added tax (VAT), representatives from Thanh Hoa Commerce and Mountainous Development Investment Co said the VAT policy for companies buying agricultural produces directly from farmers was not practical as it didn't encourage purchases in remote areas. Representatives from Tien Giang Food Co suggested the ministry review a provision requiring enterprises to use bank slips for transactions worth more than VND20 million ($1,000).

This should be increased to VND150-200 million ($7,500-10,000) for agricultural products.
"The nature of the business is that purchase activities happen at weekends when banks are closed, so the provision hinders our transactions to a great extent." The ministry said solving the problem was beyond its jurisdiction. Deputy Minister Tuan admitted there was a gap between policies and practice. However, this was partly due to a lack of input from enterprises during the establishment of new policies. He said that although the ministry had opened several online forums for regular discussions between the ministry and enterprises, each month an average of only two messages was posted. Tuan said in the first phase of implementing the Government's administrative reform proposal at the Ministry of Finance, the ministry wanted to simplify 100 per cent of tax procedures and 95 per cent of custom procedures. He emphasised tax and customs reforms still topped the working agenda of the ministry this year.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 06/17/2010

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INDIA: Now a Destination to Learn Management and Strategy

Bangalore: Till recently India was absorbing business models, technology and management systems from foreign corporations and institutions. Now India is no longer a destination for manufacturing, services and research, it is becoming a source of best practices in management and strategy. Over 2004 and 2005, Pune-based Bharat Forge, one of the India's largest producers and exporters of automobile components, acquired companies in such bastions of sophisticated engineering as Germany, Sweden, and the United States. It might have been expected that the Indian unit would draw on manufacturing know-how from the overseas companies it acquired and not vice versa. In Bharat Forge's case, however, it was a maintenance management practice developed in India that was implemented in its overseas units. Like Bharat Forge, other Indian companies acquiring corporations overseas have opted for distinctive organisational structures that enable them to maximise global competitiveness. Multinational companies are also increasingly looking at India as a means of drawing lessons on resource maximization. For instance, Renault-Nissan's first green-field plant in Chennai spread over 760 acres and with an eventual annual capacity of 400,000 cars was completed in 21 months against an average time of 36 months for plants of comparable capacity. "The market in India is very fast-moving and not particularly stable; so you need a fast and flexible approach to management, and Indians are used to dealing with ambiguities," said Arindam Bhattacharya, Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and co-author of the book Globality: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything. As globalization raises the stakes in staying competitive, the country is set to emerge as the source of useful next practice.

From http://www.siliconindia.com/ 06/08/2010

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INDIA: Govt Upgrades Micro Irrigation Scheme to Save Water

New Delhi: With a year and half left in the 11th Plan(2007-12), the government today pitched its micro irrigation scheme to a national mission with an outlay of Rs 8,032.90 crore to save water. Micro Irrigation Scheme (MIS), launched in 1987, will now be implemented as a National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI) during the 11th Plan period, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) decided at its meeting held here today. Briefing the media, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said the mission will bring 2.85 million hectares of area under micro irrigation, saving water, fertiliser and electricity and increasing crop productivity. Of the total outlay, Rs 3,409.26 crore will be contributed by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC ) as Central share comprising 40 per cent subsidy for general farmers and 50 per cent subsidy for small and marginal farmers, he said. Since the inception of the scheme, an area of 17.92 lakh hectare has been brought under micro irrigation in 18 states by utilising Rs 2,013.39 crore as the Central share. MIS comprises 40 per cent as Central share, 10 per cent as State share and 50 per cent as the beneficiary's share.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 06/10/2010

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Govt Takes Measures to Promote Groundwater Conservation

New Delhi: To address the issue of depletion of groundwater, the Central government today took host of measures to promote water conservation and recharge, including rainwater harvesting, restoration of water bodies and making rooftop water harvesting mandatory. The statewide analysis of data collected by Central Ground Water Board (CWGB) revealed that ground water levels have declined in some parts of the country. Water levels in the observation wells of 23 States and three Union Territories during May 2006 and May 2009 had a drastic decline of 57 per cent in groundwater table. The government has launched a host of awareness programmes to promote water use efficiency, including launch of a web-enabled groundwater information system and circulation of Model Bill to the States and Union Territories to facilitate regulation of groundwater through recycling and reuse of water, a Water Resources Ministry release said. The Central Ground Water Authority has been urged to issue directions to the states to promote artificial recharge of groundwater through rainwater harvesting as well as restoration of water bodies and also to include provision for making construction of rooftop rainwater harvesting structures mandatory under the building bylaws, a Water Resources Ministry release said. To encourage NGOs, gram panchayats and other local bodies and increase people's participation in adopting innovative practices for augmentation of groundwater, the Ministry of Water Resources has instituted Ground Water Augmentation Awards and National Water Award.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 06/18/2010

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NEPAL: Training Program on Information Security for Business

Sambad Technologies Private Limited (STPL) has scheduled to organise a training program on Information Security for Business for public and private sector organisations from 10 to 12 August 2010 at Bangkok in Thailand. The training program aims to discuss on the confidentially, integrity and availability of information security which are essential to maintain business sectors. The training will also discuss the current problems and in-depth technical aspects of information, said the organiser. It also aims to train to develop skills to utilise new opportunities created by information and communication technologies and address the danger generated. This training will also help in capacity building to come up with the security challenges generated by globalisation and competition in the business, said the organiser. The organisers also hope that the training would help to enable sustainable economic growth to public and private sectors. According to the organiser, representatives from governments, banks, NGOs and other business sectors from Asia and the Pacific including from Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan will be participating in the program.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 06/13/2010

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Modernisation of Industrial Sector: Sialkot Needs Special Incentives

SIALKOT: Sialkot is a total export-oriented city of Pakistan and possesses century-old industrial heritage. It has developed a remarkable export culture over this period and it is unique for Sialkot that everything produced in the city is exported. By virtue of this the city is contributing more than $1billion to the national exchequer annually. Still the exporters' community is trying its utmost for doubling the export volume, despite tough competition in the world market, to fetch more of valuable foreign exchange for the country. The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are playing a significant role not only in strengthening the national exchequer but also providing employment to thousands of workers in Sialkot. The century-old history of sports goods and surgical instruments industry have seen the industry develop to the highest international standards mainly due to business acumen and sense of the entrepreneurship towards exports. In order to develop true and secure 'small and medium culture' of Sialkot, the government should formulate a special package of incentives and concessions for SMEs of the area for increasing the export volume manifold and to solve their problems. The development of cottage industries in Sialkot has assumed a model status for the developing world. The city is has thousands of small and medium enterprises, which are engaged in honouring their global commitments for export of value-added quality goods such as sports goods, surgical instruments, leather goods, gloves, badges, musical instruments, etc. The city has developed industrial edge over other cities of the country especially in sports goods and surgical instruments.

Over 0.1.2 million industrial workers are engaged in these two industries and are earning their livelihood in a respectable way. The soccer ball industry has totally been purged from the menace of child labour, and Sialkot has become a role model for others to follow for the elimination of child labour. The business community here has managed to develop the culture of 'do it yourself' under which the business community has been playing a pivotal role for the development of the city and welfare of the people. The business community of Sialkot is playing a tremendous role not only in bringing boom in exports but also fulfilling the social responsibilities and the uplift of the city on voluntarily basis. For construction of city roads and drainage system, Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) initiated Sialkot City Package in collaboration with other trade bodies in the city. Under the programme, exporters are voluntarily contributing 0.25 percent against their export invoices, as a result of which many city roads and drains have been constructed. The mega project of Sialkot international airport has become operational which has been constructed by the local business community on the basis of 'Build, Operate and Own' (BOO) basis costing over Rs 3 billion. Pakistan International Airline is now operating successful flights for Muscat, Sharjha, Jeddah, London and Karachi. Despite extraordinary contribution of the local exporters, the city is being ignored in many respects while it deserved a very special status. Keeping in view the importance and contribution of Sialkot, the city should be treated as city of cottage industry and both federal and Punjab governments should announce special concessions and incentives for this export-oriented city in larger interests of the SMEs.

Over 85 percent of total production of soccer balls of the world comes from Sialkot while all international brands are sourcing their supply of footballs from this city. Most of the developed countries are importing surgical instruments from Sialkot for re-export purpose, under their brand names. The success story of Sialkot-based industries could be attributed to unmatched skill of local workers and their craftsmanship. Sialkot has become a 'role model' for the country by constructing the international airport and Sialkot dry port, and face-lifting of the city under city package programme. Under City Package programme the local exporters have voluntarily contributing 0.25 percent against their export invoices for the completion of city roads, and remodelling the sewerage system. The success story of Sialkot-based industries can be attributed to unmatched skill of local workers, craftsmanship and commitment business community. Despite lack of facilities the exporters have been doing their best for competing with international market, but they have been unable to upgrade their workplaces without the financial support of the government. The government should announce special incentives and grant for the modernisation of industrial units of Sialkot.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 05/29/2010

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PAKISTAN: IMF Programme Helped Avert Bankruptcy

ISLAMABAD: Finance Advisor Dr. Hafeez Shaikh Saturday said that Pakistan managed to avert bankruptcy by obtaining IMF assistance. Delivering the budget speech at the Special Budget Session of the National Assembly, Dr. Shaikh said Pakistan's economic recovery has begun. "Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves have surged to 16 billion dollars," he said, adding, 52 billion dollars are expected to be received under Kerry-Lugar Bill. He said the process of budget making was completed in a transparent manner, terming it a first post-NFC Award budget. "People are at the heart and center of this budget," the Finance Advisor claimed. Inflation is a monetary phenomenon the main reason responsible for it is government borrowing which is made from both internal and external sources. He stressed upon self-reliance and resource mobilization. The debt to GDP ratio has climbed to 55 percent and 'we must protect the poor'. Talking about unemployment, he said jobs are created when the whole economy grows. He held flawed policies and influence of some government departments responsible for energy shortage in the country where people are willing to pay for the utility but cannot get it due to unavailability. "We have to make our policies right and rise above the petty issues," he stressed. He said 30 million energy savors will be provided in a bid to conserve electricity.

From http://pakistanlink.org/ 06/05/2010

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AZERBAIJAN: OSCE Office in Baku Organizes Conference to Promote Women in Local Governance

The OSCE Office in Baku, together with local NGOs, have organized a conference to discuss women`s increasing participation in political life. Women are increasingly taking an active role in the political life of Azerbaijan. In the last municipal election, held in December 2009, women were elected to 26 percent of the seats on municipal councils, an increase from 4 percent in the previous election, held in December 2005. Head of the OSCE Office in Baku Ali Bilge Cankorel expressed hope that this six-fold increase was the beginning of a new era for women in Azerbaijan's political life. "I hope women will actively participate in the November 2010 parliamentary elections." The conference also featured a panel discussion on ways to increase women`s involvement in political decision-making. The OSCE Office in Baku plans a series of countrywide training sessions for women on leadership and advocacy skills before the parliamentary elections.

From http://www.today.az/ 06/05/2010

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International Training on the Role of Youth in Maintaining Peace and Conflict Management Started in Baku

An international training on the role of youth in maintaining peace and conflict management started in Baku. The event was organized by Irali Public Union, Council of Europe Directorate for Youth and Sports and Azerbaijan's Ministry of Youth and Sports. The event brought together young experts from Italy, Germany, UK, Turkey, Poland, Georgia, Serbia, Czech, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Macedonia. Chairman of Irali Public Union Mr. Ceyhun Osmanli said aim of the training is to teach the young people how to peacefully resolve the conflicts. Chief of executive power of Oguz region Aydin Alihuseynov stressed the importance of the event and briefed on hard consequences of Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Two international experts of the Council of Europe Directorate for Youth and Sports Russian Yekaterina Sherer and Albanian Ana Dervishi hold training.

From http://www.today.az/ 06/08/2010

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Winners of Republican Contest 'E-education' Announced

The winners of the republican contest "E-education" were announced, the Office of Information Systems of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Education said. The competition was conducted in two directions - "Internet Technologies in Education" and "E-learning resources in the modern school." Winners in 'E-learning resources in the modern school' were announced on the nominations: "The best technique to use IT in teaching subjects", "The best technique for application of IT in primary education"," Best Model of the educational process, created with the use of electronic educational resources". Winners were announced on the following categories: Internet Resources in Education and Blogs of teachers. By direction of the "Internet Technology in Education" Two-stage voting was taken by the jury formed by the Ministry of Education. About 810 projects were presented at the contest. About 89 were chosen.

The winners of each of the five nominations received laptops and other special awards. The winners in the nomination "The best technique for the application of ICT in the teaching of subjects" were two pupils of the education complex named after Heydar Aliyev, schoolchildren from the school named after Jabrail Gurbani and professional lyceum No3 in Sumgait city. The winners in the nomination "The best technique for the application of ICT in primary education" were pupils of school No23, Gusar boarding school, Baku European Lyceum and education complex named after Heydar Aliyev. Winners in the category "Best Model of the educational process, created with the use of electronic educational resources" were pupils of Gusar boarding school, school No 204, school No 2 in Ujar and school No102. The winners in the category "Blogs of teachers" were the representatives of the school No 4 of the settlement Arkivan in Masalli, Baku computer college and Zagatala institute of teachers.

Five contestants were winners in the category "Internet technologies in education". The contest, which is one of the main areas of the "Year of the ICT in Education" declared by the Ministry in 2010, was held within the state program on informatization of the education system in 2008-2012 with the support of Microsoft Azerbaijan, Intel, AZEDUNET, Ultra, Azerfon-Vodafone, HP and organization "Madad". The main purpose of the contest is to promote the use of electronic educational resources and Internet technologies in the educational process, inform the public in this field, identify new forms of Internet for educational purposes as well as encourage teachers to actively use information technologies in education.

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/21/2010

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Azerbaijani Government Set to Take Steps to Improve Material and Technical Base of Media

The Azerbaijani government plans a phased implementation of necessary measures to improve material and technical base of the press, social maintenance of media staff, the Presidential Administration socio-political department head Ali Hasanov said. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on celebration of the 135-th anniversary of the national press. According to the decree, the presidential administration, together with the State Media Support Fund under the Azerbaijani President and the Press Council are instructed to conduct commemorative activities in Baku and regions of the country. The presidential administration was instructed to submit proposals to the President during a month in connection with the awarding of journalists who have special merits in the national press, based on the recommendations of journalistic organizations and editorial boards. Ali Hasanov said that the president ordered about the widespread holding of the 135-th anniversary of the national press. The relevant organizations got necessary orders. "After this order signed by the head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, the program of events was approved and accepted. Specific instructions were given to central and local executive authorities to implement the orders emanating from this order," Ali Hasanov said. He said that the events will be taken within the anniversary celebration. "On the one hand, it will attract people's attention to the press. On the other hand, it will serve as an impetus to the study of traditional media that existed in Azerbaijan in recent years, the application of international practices in the field of press in Azerbaijan", Ali Hasanov said.

From http://www.today.az/ 06/23/2010

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KAZAKHSTAN: Implementation of Business Road Map 2020 Discussed in Ukimet Uyi

On June 22 Prime Minister Karim Massimov held a conference with the Single Coordination Council for Entrepreneurship. The meeting focused on the course of implementation of Business Road Map 2020 programs, Kazinform has learnt from the Prime Minister's press service. First Deputy Prime Minister Umirzak Shukeyev, Deputy Prime Minister Yerbol Orynbayev, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Zhanar Aitzhanova and Minister of Finances Bolat Zhamishev, Majilis deputy Gulzhan Karagussova, Chairman of Atameken Union National Economic Chamber Azat Peruashev, Chairman of Board of Kazakhstan Financiers Association Serik Akhanov, President of Kazakhstan Entrepreneurs Forum Raimbek Batalov, Director of Rakurs Economic Analysis Center Oraz Zhandosov, entrepreneur Nurlan Smagulov, as well as the representatives of a number of second tier banks and industrial business community took part in the meeting. According to Minister of Economic Development and Trade Zhanar Aitzhanova, the second-tier banks of the country are considering 452 claims from the businessmen for subsidizing the credits amounting to KZT 194 bln in total including support of new business initiatives (37 claims worth KZT 22.6 bln), recovery of entrepreneurship (402 claims worth KZT 151.2 bln) and for support of export-oriented productions (13 claims to the amount of KZT 20.3 bln). The experts of the Ministry, Damu Fund and the regional coordination councils hold meetings with the population to clarify the provisions of the state program on business support. Whole range of issues regarding the Business Road Map 2020 was discussed at the meetings with the entrepreneurs and second-tier banks representatives.

From http://www.inform.kz/ 06/23/2010

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TAJIKISTAN: Introduce Tough Control over Effective Use of Budget Funds in Governmental Structures

In the course of a regular meeting of the first session of the lower chamber of Tajikistan's parliament of the fourth convocation deputies of the Majlisi Namoyandagon of the Majlisi Oli of Tajikistan have approved the draft law "On financial management and internal control in governmental sector" proposed by the government of the republic. This is the first-ever law in the history of finance structures of the country which ensures tough control over the target use of budget funds in governmental structures, Deputy Minister of Finance Jamshed Norinov spoke as presenting the draft law. "The law specifies functions, tasks and responsibilities of heads of governmental structures in the field of target use of budget funds and, we are sure, will play positive role in reduction of corruption in these structures," he said. "The proposed draft law will not duplicate the functions of the State Financial Control and Counter-Corruption Agency." According to Deputy Finance Minister, internal audit departments are set up only in structures with annual budget that exceeds 52mln Somoni and with no less than 800 staff members. "Such internal audit departments were set up in five pilot ministries. Each department consist of four specialists. These departments have already justified the need in internal audits," he added. Speaker of the lower chamber of Tajikistan's parliament Shukurjon Zuhurov, on his turn, noted that internal audit is included into the list of requirements of many international organizations which can invest funds into the development of Tajikistan's governmental sector. "For example, I'm aware that European Union is planning to allocate 18mln Euro to support Tajikistan's budget in 2010 but requires a series of mechanisms to control the distribution and expenditure of funds by means of internal audit," he said. The draft law was approved by the majority of voices.

From http://www.asiaplus.tj/ 06/02/2010

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UZBEKISTAN: Training Course on Public Diplomacy for Diplomatic Cadres

Training course for the diplomatic cadres of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Public Diplomacy was held in the premises of the University of World Economy and Diplomacy (UWED) on 24-28 May. The training was organized within the framework of the UNDP project "Enhancing the Capacity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Better Respond to the Emerging Issues of the New Millennium". About 30 entry-level specialists of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Academy of State and Public Construction, Center for Political Studies and Master's students of the UWED attended the course.

The training module included theoretical and practical sessions on the basics of public diplomacy, techniques of conducting the elements of global communication, soft power concepts, advanced methods of development and planning of effective public diplomacy strategy, outreach efforts to foreign public, press visits, digital news monitoring tools, print media as well as contemporary challenges of nation branding and favorable image projection of a state in the international arena. The training highlighted that new information technologies triggered fundamental changes in the nature of power in world politics. IT revolution for the past decade introduced the new mediums of communicating the messages beyond the countries' realms, power is transferred overwhelmingly to non-state actors multiplying the ways in which governments and people interact. In this multifaceted environment managing national reputation and ability to impact on others' behavior to get the expected results is a huge task and requires out-of-box thinking approaches and a long-term vision.

The feedback from the participants showed that they welcomed the training course and emphasized that its content was rich with a lot of interesting and thought-provoking examples on the role of mass media in public diplomacy. Case illustrations and role-playing exercises exposed the attendees to the complex nature of real world problems and policy choices that contemporary diplomats routinely encounter. Railya Bekbaeva, UWED Master of International Affairs Candidate commented that "especially group presentations and hands-on exercises enabled them to strengthen their basic knowledge on techniques of negotiations with the national and foreign media, the ways of promoting a positive image of a nation abroad and proactive ways of news trend management in a global information space". The training sessions have been conducted with the participation of international consultant on communications and public relations Ms. Ehtel Halliste.

While expressing a great pleasure with this young and enthusiastic audience she has opined that "in our globalized and highly competitive world, where every country has to outstand and differ from others, it is hard to overestimate the importance of public diplomacy. Public diplomacy is rapidly developing and very creative area that at the same time needs a lot of practical knowledge. You can read all the books and study many cases, but in the end - you have to find out what works for you and your country through practical experience". One of the components of the joint UNDP-MFA project aims to develop public diplomacy capacities among career diplomats to effectively implement the country's foreign policy. Training of civil servants contributes to human resource development for efficient governance and raises awareness among a new generation of civil servants on the contemporary analytical tools of public diplomacy and global communications.

From http://news.uzreport.com/ 06/01/2010

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AUSTRALIA: Unions Seek Better Pay for Women

Rallies have been held across Australia as unions ramp up their campaign to close the pay gap between men and women. More than 20 unions have thrown their support behind the nation-wide campaign. They say it is unacceptable that, on average, women earn 18 per cent less than men. Sally McManus, from the Australian Services Union, says the biggest pay gap is in the community services sector. "Because those occupations that are dominated by women are undervalued." The union has lodged a test case with Fair Work Australia in the hope of boosting wages for women doing community work. It says the Australian Federation of Employers and Industries is opposing the move.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/10/2010

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COOK ISLANDS: Emergency Response Workshop in Raro

A three-day workshop on contingency planning for emergency response will be held in the Cook Islands from tomorrow until Thursday. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) on behalf of the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UN RC) for Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau and in partnership with Emergency Management Cook Islands (EMCI) is conducting the workshop. The workshop offers a unique opportunity to enhance coordination and cooperation between the UN, national and regional humanitarian organisations, the Red Cross movement and government agencies specialised in emergency response. The workshop will produce action plans to enable a coordinated and effective response to a range of natural disasters in the Cook Islands. "The Pacific has been severely affected by disasters lately such as Cyclone Pat in Cook Islands, flooding in Fiji and the tsunami in Samoa", Dr Baoping Yang, UN Resident Coordinator for the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tokelau and Niue, said.

"Our region is one of complexity when it comes to disaster response and humanitarian assistance, due to the scattered populations across small islands separated by vast areas of ocean. "Therefore careful planning, coordination and preparation are required so that we can respond appropriately during emergencies." Around 30 participants including representatives from seven humanitarian organisations, together with government representatives from the Cook Islands and the Pacific will participate in the workshop which will build on lessons learned from Cyclone Pat, which devastated Aitutaki in February. Participants will explore how the Cook Islands disaster management structure can work with the international humanitarian system following significant disasters. Through a simulation exercise, participants will be familiarised with basic contingency planning principles to which they will develop a response plan. Contingency planning exercises have already been conducted in Vanuatu, Samoa and the Solomon Islands - OCHA will be continuing the preparedness programme with workshops planned for Tonga and North Pacific in late 2010.

From http://www.cinews.co.ck/ 06/01/2010

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FIJI: PM Raises Concern at Accountants Congress

Accountants in public practice whether calculatingly or otherwise have escaped the ire of the public says Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama. Speaking at the Fiji Institute of Accountants congress meeting, Commodore Bainimarama raised cases of the FNPF and NBF to drive his concerns on professional misconduct which if left unchecked could be detrimental to the economy. "After all, is it only the fault of the then directors and management of FNPF Board that FNPF has had to write off in excess of three hundred million dollars from its books? When the excesses pertaining to Natadola and Momi were taking place, weren't accountants involved? Didn't they have responsibility to bring it to the public's attention, for example, that some parties were paid monies which were not commensurate with the services and expertise that were allegedly provided? "Would the debacle of NBF have been picked up earlier if the auditors and accountants rather simply highlighting matters, brought it to the fore? Brought it into the public domain?

"Professional privilege is always cited as a reason for silence. But surely when the then FNPF Board and Management continued to misrepresent its books to the people of Fiji, didn't the auditors rather than simply drawing it to the attention of their clients have at the very least a moral obligation to disclose such matters to the media, public officials and the public? After all FNPF represents our largest domestic holder of our national savings and our future. But he said some accounting firms while claiming to the stick to the rules such as professional privilege have breached your very own code of ethics. "Your manual on code of ethics states that firms should not audit companies in which the firm's employees or partners have relatives employed. Yet this has happened in the recent past by supposedly reputable firms. Furthermore there was no disciplinary action taken by the Fiji Institute of Accountants. Perhaps such lapses demonstrate that there may be a need to set up an independent disciplinary body. "You need to ask yourselves, should I continue to overlook certain irregularities by my clients and/or fellow practitioners? - irregularities, perhaps not illegal but which constitute dubious actions, gross negligence, and misrepresentation to the public.

"These questions become even more pronounced and pertinent when your clients are public companies and institutions such as NLTB. Commodore Bainimarama asked why the profession continued to overlook inherently flawed internal systems and procedures. "Because you don't want to upset the status quo and possibly risk losing your client? - your income? "Surely the moral and ethical considerations must in such instances take precedence. Commodore Bainimarama said a classical example was the ENRONs saga. "The adherence to form over substance and neglect of the moral and the ethical has led to the ENRONs. "I believe if we were critical enough we have, in a similar vein, a number of mini ENRONs. "We cannot continue with such a situation, such a reality. If you all, if we all, are genuine about 'getting together and moving ahead' then we have to address and face these very fundamental issues," he said. The annual Fiji Institute of Accountants Congress meeting is being held at the Shangri-La Fijian Resort and ends tomorrow.

From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 06/11/2010

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Government Is Serious About Employment

The Government of Fiji is serious about its employment issues, our Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment, Filipe Bole told the 99th Session of the International Labour Conference yesterday. "The Report on Recovery and Growth with Decent Work is a judgment call to us all. It challenges the policy options we take, and the Fiji Government has placed employment at the heart of its economic and social policies to empower our people out of poverty. "This is our key commitment under the Global Jobs Pact to significantly improve our basic social protection and decent work opportunities," he said. The Minister also said the Fiji Government fully supports the theme of the Global Report under the 1998 Declaration on the urgent need to accelerate action against child labour. "Fiji's ILO Child Labour Project is progressing very well and our social partners are redoubling their efforts in this journey. "We want to see all our children at school and not working, but we want to see their parents at work to support their children," he said.

Mr Bole said to support this vision, the Ministry of Education has maintained fee-free education in the first 13 years of primary and secondary education; abolished external examinations in primary and lower secondary schools to reduce dropouts from the school system; provided free transport to all students in primary and secondary schools who qualify under a means test; and continues to work closely with non-Government school authorities for continuing provisions of education facilities for greater inflow of children students into the school system. "The Fiji Government wishes to thank the ILO and the tripartite constituents in the Pacific for adopting the Port Villa Statement and the Pacific Decent Work Action Plan on 9th February this year. "Under this regional commitment, Fiji's tripartite partners have renewed their efforts to further reduce our decent work deficit under Fiji's Decent Work Country Programme and help us achieve our Millennium Development Goals," he said.

From http://www.fiji.gov.fj/ 06/17/2010

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NEW ZEALAND: Government Backs Farm Recycling Scheme

Farmers are being encouraged to recycle and reuse rather than burn or bury thousands of tonnes plastic waste under a new scheme launched by the Government today. "It is neither clean nor green that over 7,000 tonnes of plastic farm waste, mainly used bale wrap, is currently burnt, buried or left to litter the countryside. We want to work with farmers and their supply industries to develop a nationwide recycling scheme that will enable this waste to be collected, reused and recycled", Dr Smith announced at the National Agriculture Fieldays in Hamilton. "We have accredited Plasback as one of the first product stewardship schemes under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. We are today announcing a $130,000 grant from the Government's Waste Minimisation Fund to support a nationwide campaign to encourage farms to become part of this nationwide recycling scheme."

"Plasback is an innovative scheme that enables the collection of bale wrap, agrichemical containers and other packaging waste from farms and enables it to be recycled into new products such as piping and bins at a plant in Christchurch. This funding will help provide an information campaign to farms so the scheme can grow rapidly, with the aim of recycling over 2400 tonnes of waste plastic per year by June 2011." "Many farms are frustrated by the lack of options for dealing with plastic farm waste and know that burning or burying waste is not a sustainable solution. Burning is particularly damaging because of the toxic chemicals it releases into the atmosphere. This voluntary scheme is about getting alongside farms and providing an environmentally friendly alternative." This grant is the very first made under the new Act and Waste Minimisation Fund. Further consideration is being given to the other 163 applications with announcements due in coming months.

From http://www.beehive.govt.nz/ 06/16/2010

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NZ Strikes Deal to Give Maori Coastal Property Rights

New Zealand Maori have hailed a deal with the government which paves the way for them to claim customary title of foreshore and seabed areas, if they have exclusively occupied an area since 1840. Under the deal, the Crown will still regulate foreshore and seabed areas but will not automatically own them. While Maori will be able to seek property rights to seabed and foreshore areas, they won't be able to sell any coastal areas that they're granted. Pita Sharples, Co-Leader of the Maori Party which was established to change the law, says the deal represents a major breakthrough in what has been a long and contentious issue. "We came into parliament saying we would seek repeal of the foreshore and seabed act we have done that now we've also repealed section 13 Crown ownership, restored the position to go to court if tribes want to do that."

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/16/2010

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High Level Task Force on ASEAN Connectivity Continues Its Work

In the ongoing efforts to develop a Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which is to be submitted to the 17th ASEAN Summit in October 2010, the 2nd High Level Task Force Meeting on ASEAN Connectivity was convened at the ASEAN Secretariat from 25 to 27 May 2010. The meeting, chaired by Viet Nam's Vice Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Nguyen The Phuong, was attended by delegates from ASEAN Member States, representatives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Economic Research Institution for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) and the World Bank (WB). The meeting focused on the following issues: (1) physical connectivity, namely transport, ICT and energy; (2) institutional connectivity, which encompasses trade liberalisation and facilitation, investment and services liberalisation and facilitation, mutual recognition agreements/arrangements, regional transport agreements, and capacity building programmes; and (3) people-to-people connectivity, including tourism, education and culture.

The ASEAN Leaders, in 2009, agreed to establish the Task Force to develop an ASEAN Master Plan on regional connectivity, that include, among others, innovative infrastructure financing mechanisms, taking into account the work done and planned to ensure optimum synergy rather than duplication of work. As ASEAN is located at the crossroads of an economically vibrant and growing region, it has the potential to physically anchor itself as the transportation, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and tourism hub of the region. Enhancing intra-regional connectivity within ASEAN and its sub-regional grouping would thus benefit all ASEAN Member States. The Task Force was also mandated to identify specific measures with clear targets and timelines and to develop viable infrastructure financing mechanisms for the implementation of the Master Plan. The Task Force first met in Ha Noi in March and is scheduled to hold their third meeting in Bangkok in July.

From http://www.aseansec.org/ 06/01/2010

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Seamless Transport Could Increase Trade by Billions

Sapporo, Japan, 3 June 2010 - Improving overall multimodal performance would increase intra- and extra-regional trade up to $500bn annually, says a report* exploring the potential impact of enhanced multimodal connectivity in APEC. The report comes in the run-up to a meeting of APEC Trade Ministers this weekend and draws from analysis of air, land, and maritime transport, as well as logistics performance, to capture an economy's ability to manage complex multimodal linkages. According to the report, while individual transport modes are important, making them work together through an efficient logistics system is even more important. Moreover, while the benefits of transport efficiency would be most visible in consumer goods, every sector performs better in direct relation to transport connectivity and efficiency.

The report therefore recommends that:
ˇ¤ Investment in trade- and transport-related infrastructure development and maintenance should remain a priority for APEC member economies. Regional or sub-regional collaboration may be appropriate.
ˇ¤ Regulatory reform based on cost-benefit analysis can help increase connectivity and improve the quality of service provision in vital areas, such as transport logistics.
ˇ¤ The private sector should be engaged as a partner in infrastructure development and regulatory reform. Development of private sector competence in areas such as logistics should remain a key priority for member economies.

According to Dr. Ben Shepherd, lead author of the report, these observations are particularly important for developing member economies. Achieving the right balance between infrastructure investment, maintenance, and private logistics sector development remains crucial to enhancing overall competitiveness and boosting trade performance. Moving forward on all fronts simultaneously is likely to bring the greatest rewards. The study was commissioned by APEC's Committee on Trade and Investment which is tackling chokepoints in the regional supply chain. It was undertaken by the APEC Policy Support Unit which conducts research and analysis to better inform policy-makers.

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/03/2010

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APEC Helps Business Take Advantage of FTAs

Sapporo - APEC has today launched a new gateway to tariff and rules of origin information to help alleviate the 'noodle bowl' effect created by free trade agreements. APEC's 21 members account for around 44 percent of world trade, and have concluded over 40 intra-APEC free trade agreements (FTAs); however businesses often don't take full advantage of these special trading arrangements because information on preferential tariffs and rules of origin (ROO) can be difficult to find. "Business has told us that a lack of customs transparency is a major impediment to trade. APEC's new web-based gateway helps lift this barrier by providing businesses with the information they need to better leverage the trade opportunities that exist in the region", says Dr. Akihiko Tamura, Convenor of APEC's Market Access Group.

The information now available includes current MFN tariff rates, preferential tariff rates and preferential ROOs in APEC member economies' FTAs and regional trade agreements. Says Dr. Tamura, "This initiative is an example of how information sharing in APEC and being responsive to the practical needs of business can help grow trade and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific". Since APEC was established, member economies' total trade has increased six-fold, from US$3 trillion in 1989 to US$17 trillion in 2008.

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/06/2010

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Web Users to Learn More about ASEAN-US Relations

A "simple, readable, yet impressive" website and brochure showing key quantitative and qualitative data on ASEAN's importance to the United States and the United States' importance to ASEAN are now available online and on print.

The user-friendly and visually-appealing interactive website www.aseanmattersforamerica.org and its complementary brochure are part of the "ASEAN Matters for America / America Matters for ASEAN" project, a joint collaboration between the East-West Center in Washington and the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS). The project explores the important connections between the ten Member States of ASEAN and the US and presents the underlying opportunities for both sides in enhancing their engagement.

The project was introduced today at the ASEAN Secretariat by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, and the Director of the East-West Center in Washington, Dr Satu P. Limaye, to the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN (CPR), the representatives of ASEAN's Dialogue Partners, the media and the staff of the Secretariat.

"Evidently, there is willingness by the US to re-engage ASEAN, which serves as a solid foundation of cooperation between us," said Dr Surin in his welcome remarks. "I hope this renewed engagement will attest to every subsequent administration."

"This project is another sign of such interest," Dr Surin added, "and I am pleased to note that the project is one that can directly benefit and reach the grass-roots level - the people. They will, after all, be the new players, the ones keeping the ASEAN-US relations warm and strong."

Speaking on the project, Dr Limaye said that it is "a valuable contribution to the expanding ASEAN-US conversation. It backs up with hard statistics an assumption we know instinctively, which is that there is a great confluence of interests between the US and the countries of Southeast Asia."

"We want this to be breathing, living effort and continuously grab the attention of the people," he also said. "I hope our peoples look at the project, learn from it and contribute their own ideas to its expansion." He added that the project has been familiarised to the government officers, business community and students across the US. It has also reached audiences in ASEAN Member States.

The project was previously launched in April in Washington and in Singapore, home of ISEAS. It will also be introduced to the ASEAN Ambassadors in the US on 22 June. A parent initiative called "Asia Matters for America" is also available online and in hardcopy.

From http://www.aseansec.org/ 06/10/2010

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ASEAN Prepares for Flooding from Extreme Weather Events

As the impacts of climate change are increasingly felt throughout the region, ASEAN is actively seeking to protect its citizens from its adverse effects, including through improved water management and flood risk mitigation. Over 50 water management professionals from ASEAN Member States and partner agencies came together at an ASEAN workshop on flood management and generated initiatives to better protect the region from floods. During the workshop held in Bali, Indonesia from 9-10 June 2010, the participants shared flood management assessments and best practices and identified preparedness gaps and constraints. They also came up with possible solutions for risk mitigation and adaptation measures. As the number and severity of extreme weather events increases, the Southeast Asian region, with its islands, coastal mega cities, shared water basins and low elevations, is "very much at risk from severe flood events and particularly vulnerable to their impact," said Dr Lam Hung Son, Flood Management and Mitigation Programme Coordinator at the Mekong River Commission.

"The workshop was an important opportunity for ASEAN Member States to share their experiences of extreme flood events and flood management initiatives," added Dr Lam. He also said that the region needed to develop early warning systems and strategies to deal with the devastating effects of floods and other related events. "The workshop boosted my knowledge of flood management in ASEAN Member States," said Khun Supapap Patsinghasanee, a civil engineer at Thailand's Water Crisis Prevention Center in the Department of Water Resources. "There was a very interesting focus on technical and financial gaps and the participation of all stakeholders." The workshop was jointly organised by the Ministry of Public Works of Indonesia, the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training Facility. Additional support was provided by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund.

From http://www.aseansec.org/ 06/16/2010

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ADB Calls for More Social Protection in Wake of Global Economic Crisis

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The global economic crisis highlights the urgent need for stronger social protection programs in Asia and the Pacific, and policy makers must use the current rebound as an opportunity to make the region's future growth more inclusive, according to a book launched here Thursday. "Economic shocks such as those that we have witnessed over the past two to three years not only have a negative impact on people's livelihoods and financial resources, but also on human development, including health conditions and educational achievements," said ADB Vice-President Ursula Schaefer-Preuss. "Economic growth alone is insufficient to reduce poverty. We must not lose the opportunity presented by the crisis to adopt measures that will soften the human impacts of future shocks, and lay the groundwork for more inclusive, sustainable growth in the region."

Ms. Schaefer-Preuss spoke at the launch of "Poverty and Sustainable Development in Asia: Impact and Responses to the Global Economic Crisis", a collection of studies assessing the impact of the crisis on a range of areas, including health, gender, migration, remittances, and education. Edited by ADB economists Armin Bauer and Myo Thant, and including contributions from key experts in think tanks and development partners from the Asia and Pacific region, the book urges policy makers to invest in social protection and broaden health insurance, build up pension funds, and provide targeted social assistance programs, including conditional cash transfers and employment guarantee schemes. "Crises are not exceptions, but accrue in cycles," Ms. Schaefer-Preuss said. "It's critical that we understand that major downturns will inevitably occur in the future, and plan accordingly to ensure that the most vulnerable sectors of society are better protected the next time around."

The book is a joint work of ADB, the ADB Institute (ADBI), the German Development Cooperation (BMZ/GTZ/KfW), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank, and the Governments of the People's Republic of China and Viet Nam. The original conference proceedings are available and the book can be downloaded at: www.adb.org/documents/books/poverty-sustainable-development/

From http://www.adb.org/ 06/17/2010

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ADB Holds Forum to Advance Use of Clean Energy Technology in Region

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (21 June 2010) - Hundreds of policymakers, energy experts, project developers and investors from around the world will gather in the Philippines this week to discuss boosting investments and technologies to advance clean energy solutions in the Asia and Pacific region. Hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) is held annually to discuss technology transfer and finance in a range of areas, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, access to energy for the poor, and climate change. The forum is now in its fifth year. "Building on our substantial response to climate change, we are committed to sharpening our focus on technology to meet the new needs of our developing member countries," said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda. "ADB's position in the region gives us a strategic advantage in speeding up the adoption and deployment of clean energy across Asia and the Pacific."

The 21-25 June ACEF is organized by ADB and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), with assistance from the World Resources Institute (WRI), and sponsorship from the governments of Australia, Japan, Norway, Spain and Sweden. "The Asia-Pacific region has tremendous potential for deployment of clean energy as well as a critical need to transition to cleaner sources of power," said Olivier Carduner, Mission Director for USAID's Regional Development Mission for Asia. "ACEF is an excellent venue to create the new partnerships that will help make this transition possible." According to WRI's Executive Vice President and Managing Director Manish Bapna, "The simple reality we face is this: As we move toward a zero-carbon economy, Asia must lead the way. And that will only happen if governments understand it serves their goal of inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The forum is one step toward that goal."

ADB has announced a range of initiatives to bring down barriers - such as price and policy issues - that prevent the wide-scale adoption of low-carbon and clean-energy technologies in the Asian and Pacific region. These include ADB's Asia Solar Energy Initiative (ASEI) that aims to identify and develop large-capacity solar projects that will generate 3,000 MW of solar power by 2012. ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members - 48 from the region. In 2009, it approved a total of $16.1 billion in financing operations through loans, grants, guarantees, a trade finance facilitation program, equity investments, and technical assistance projects. ADB also mobilized cofinancing amounting to $3.2 billion.

From http://www.adb.org/ 06/21/2010

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CHINA: Implement Real-name Registration for Internet Stores

The State Administration for Industry & Commerce of China has formally published the "Interim Measures for Management of Network Commodity Trade and Related Services", effective from July 1, 2010. According to the measures, individual online sellers in China who wish to sell goods via the Internet should submit applications to the operators of e-commerce platforms with their true identity information, including names and addresses. By doing this, anonymous sellers of goods will hopefully be eradicated. Considering the nuances of various online shopping websites, SAIC will establish a unified nationwide supervision and management platform in three years after this initial test phase. The measures state that for registered enterprises and small private businesses who want to open online stores, they should provide their business licenses and related information; while for individuals who wish to do the same, they should provide their true identity information, including names and addresses, for verification, then the related websites will issue certifications to them, mark on their web pages, and establish registration files for regular checks and updates.

This will affect sites like Taobao.com, which encourage users to create their own online retails stores. The measures also asked Internet platform providers to enhance management of online stores in various ways. Apart from the examination of main bodies, websites and their online stores should not infringe registered trademarks or company names. If the legal rights' owners can prove the infringement of online stores, the related websites should take necessary measures, including passing the information of the websites to local authorities and shutting down the e-commerce stores. In addition, websites and online stores should sign contracts or agreements, clarifying their rights and obligations in quality of products and services, and protection of consumer rights. Websites should set up a system to check and monitor product information of online stores. Once irregular activities are found, the websites should report to the local industry and commerce departments and can stop providing services to these online stores.

From http://www.chinatechnews.com/ 06/03/2010

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China Has 45,000 Gov't Internet Portals

China had established more than 45,000 government Internet portals by the end of 2009 to publicize government information, said a white paper issued by the Information Office of the State Council Tuesday. According to the paper, titled "The Internet in China", 75 central and state organs, 32 provincial governments and 333 prefectural governments and over 80 percent county-level governments had set up their websites, providing various online services to facilitate people's work and life. "The building of e-government has substantially improved the work efficiency and transparency of government information," the paper said. Governments at all levels are making every effort to improve the government spokesman system. By promptly releasing authoritative information through all kinds of media including the Internet, government spokesmen brief the public on the implementation of related policies, and on responses to natural disasters, and public health and social emergencies. "The role of the Internet in satisfying people's right to know has become increasingly prominent," it said. Furthermore, the Internet has become an indispensable tool in people's every-day life, the paper said. Citing a sample survey, the paper said that in 2009 alone, about 230 million people in China gathered information using search engines, 240 million communicated through real-time telecommunications devices, 46 million received education with the help of the Internet, 35 million conducted securities trading on the Internet, 15 million sought jobs through the Internet, and 14 million arranged trips via the Internet. "In China, more and more people are collecting information, enriching their knowledge, establishing businesses and realizing their aspirations, and communicating to know each other better through the Internet." the paper said.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/08/2010

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Internet Accessible to 45% of Population in 5 Years

The Chinese government will try to raise the Internet accessibility to 45 percent of the population in the coming five years, said a white paper issued by the Information Office of the State Council Tuesday. According to the paper, titled "The Internet in China", the government will further promote Internet development and application, so that more people can benefit from the Internet. By the end of 2009, the Internet had reached 28.9 percent of the total population, higher than the world average. The number of Chinese netizens had reached 384 million, 618 times that of 1997 with an annual increase of 31.95 million users. At the same time, there were 3.23 million websites running in China, 2,152 times that of 1997. The number of IPv4 addresses approached 230 million, making China the second-largest owner in the world. Of all the netizens, 346 million used broadband and 233 million used mobile phones to access the Internet, according to the paper. "These statistics make China among the top of the developing countries in developing and popularizing the Internet," it said. The paper admitted that Internet development and application in China is imbalanced regionally, and between urban and rural areas. "Hindered by different levels of economic development, education and informationization progress, the Internet has been developing more rapidly in the eastern than in the western parts of the country, and has a higher popularization rate in cities than in the countryside," it said. By the end of 2009, the Internet had reached 40 percent of the population in eastern China but only 21.5 percent in western China. Meanwhile, urban Internet users made up 72.2 percent of the national total, leaving the other 27.8 percent in rural areas. "China still needs to make arduous efforts to bridge the 'digital gap' between different regions and between the urban and rural areas," the paper said.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/08/2010

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US$630 bln Invested in Internet Infrastructure Construction

China invested a total of 4.3 trillion yuan (630 billion U.S. dollars) in Internet infrastructure construction from 1997 to 2009, said a white paper issued by the Information Office of the State Council Tuesday. According to the paper, titled "The Internet in China", China built a nationwide optical communication network with a total length of 8.267 million kilometers, 840,000 kilometers of which were long-distance optical cables, it said. By the end of 2009, Chinese basic telecom companies had 136 million broadband Internet access ports, and international outlet bandwidth was 866,367 Gbps, with seven land-submarine cables and 20 land cables, boasting a combined capacity of 1,600 Gb, the paper said. The infrastructure development ensured Internet access to 99.3 percent of towns and 91.5 percent of villages, and broadband to 96 percent of the towns, it said. The Chinese government began to issue third-generation (3G) licenses to mobile service suppliers in January 2009. At present, 3G network covers almost the whole country. "Along with the swift expansion of the mobile Internet, more people will benefit from this technical advance," the paper said.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/08/2010

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China's Social Security Network Continues to Expand

The world's most populous country is expanding its social security net as China's major social insurance program reached a new high for the number of people covered, official figures show. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said on Thursday that the nation's urban pension insurance covered 235.5 million people by the end of 2009, an increase of 16.6 million over the beginning of that same year. In addition, 26.47 million migrant workers were also included, which was 2.31 million more migrants than at the start of 2009. Officials note that pension fund revenues topped 1.15 trillion yuan by the end of last year, up 18 percent year on year. This followed the government raising the monthly pension income for business retirees for the fifth time between 2005 and 2009 to 1,225 yuan (180 U.S. dollars) a person. Also, the country's basic urban medical insurance covered 401 million people in 2009, of which 219 million were urban dwellers and 43.35 million were rural migrant workers. Additional figures showed that unemployment insurance covered 127 million people while those carrying work injury insurance reached 149 million. Lastly, maternity insurance covered 109 million women.

From English.news.cn 06/11/2010

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Chinese State-owned Company Enters Internet Video Industry Sector

A representative from China Hualu Group has revealed that the video website Hualu5.com developed by its subsidiary Hualu Culture Industry Company is expected to be launched in a month. As one of the biggest Chinese state-owned enterprises that focuses on the audio and video industry, Hualu Group's new video website will adopt a business model which combines videos with e-commerce, including broadcasting of popular TV series, interactive advertising, and sales of Blu-Ray discs. The company goes head-to-head now with a multitude of privately-funded Chinese online video ventures such as Tudou.com and Youku.com. Hualu has reportedly inked agreements with Internet shopping websites such as Amazon.cn and Dangdang.com to allow consumers to buy TV and movie products produced by Hualu on these websites. The company has also formed partnerships with Chinese social networking sites such as the micro-blog zone of Sina.com and Kaixin001.com to allow users of these websites to interact with performers appearing in programs made by Hualu. With the entry of Hualu, which owns a large number of copyrights and media industry resources, the competition in the Chinese Internet video market will become more fierce as privately-owned companies try to fight a losing battle against companies backed with Chinese government resources.

From http://www.chinatechnews.com/ 06/18/2010

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More Computers for Rural West

The Chinese government is to continue a project - sending computers to the country's western rural areas in a bid to close the digital divide. According to a circular jointly released Thursday by five Party and government agencies, these computers will be specially for students, rural residents and officials at the grassroots. The central government will invite public bids from computer manufacturers. The circular did not specify how many computers the government planned to purchase for the project. However, in 2009 the project sent 53,000 computers to 12 western provinces and regions including Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Guangxi and Sichuan. All bidders must first guarantee to pre-install filter software on the computers, the circular said. The activity was jointly launched by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the civilization office of the CPC Central Committee, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Culture.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/18/2010

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Internet of Things Zone in City

Shanghai plans to establish an Internet of Things industry zone in Pudong New Area and develop it along with strong local industries including telecommunications, software and integrated circuits, industry officials told a forum yesterday in Shanghai. The technology, which integrates people and devices through various networks, chips and sensors, sits on the list of developments regulators pledged to support in the government's next five-year plan. The forum, called the Internet of Things Conference of China 2010, was the first industry summit held in the city after the country announced it would develop the sector, which is expected to revolutionize business and daily life. From 2010 to 2012, Shanghai Zhangjiang industry zone plans to establish an Internet of Things industry zone with an annual revenue of 100 billion yuan (US$14.7 billion), according to Cui Hong, an official at Zhangjiang. "We have strong related industries in the zone such as software, sensor and semiconductor companies, as well as leading firms like IBM," Cui told Shanghai Daily during a sideline interview at the forum. "The Internet of Things develops with many existing technologies and we have an advantage."

Zhangjiang High-Tech Industrial Park, often regarded as the city's Silicon Valley, is the national industry base for software and semiconductors. By 2020, the world is expected to have 50 billion Internet of Things units and it's a new "trillion-dollar" market, experts told the forum. "The combination of developing the Internet of Things and telecommunications industries is a natural choice (because the big handset makers have already developed wireless applications)," said Zhang Feng, a senior official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. By the end of April, China's mobile phone user base had reached 786.5 million, adding 39 million in the first four months, according to the ministry. China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom all displayed Internet of Things applications during the forum. China Mobile displayed mobile wallet applications, which allow people to take Metro lines and buy products with their cell phone.

From China Daily 06/23/2010

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18 Domestic Firms Get Nod for Net Mapping

Authorities have approved 18 domestic companies to provide Internet mapping services in the country, with a number of applications from foreign vendors still being considered. The domestic companies were selected out of about 30 applicants and the list of approved providers is expected to be announced soon, the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) told China Daily. The move is expected to pose challenges for the operation of foreign Internet companies such as Google in China. "According to China's Surveying and Mapping Law, foreign firms are not allowed to provide surveying and mapping services. Their activities in China must be under joint ventures or in partnership with domestic firms," the SBSM said. The regulator said it has received a few applications from eligible foreign firms and is "still examining" them. To avoid state secrets being disclosed and uncertified maps published online, the SBSM launched a regulation last month requiring all companies providing online map and location services in China to apply for approval. The regulation, which took effect this month, gives the authorities the right to shut down providers that fail to get a license by the end of this year. A Wall Street Journal report said last week that Google has applied for such a license, citing anonymous official sources.

Nokia China is also seeking a license for its Ovi Map service in China, the company confirmed with China Daily on Wednesday. Microsoft, which runs its Bing Maps service through a domestic joint venture in China, did not want to comment. "Among all the foreign vendors, Google may have some trouble getting a license because currently all its servers that provide map services are outside China," said Ren Yanghui, an analyst of research firm Analysys International. According to the latest regulation, qualified online map service providers are required to keep servers storing map data inside the country and must have no record of information leakage in any form in the past three years. Although Google moved its Chinese online search services to Hong Kong in March, the US-based search engine is still providing its Google Maps service on the Chinese mainland via Google.cn, a domestic website run by Google's domestic joint venture. In the past few weeks, authorities in Germany, Canada and New Zealand have started investigations over Google's Street View service, which is an option on Google Maps that allows panoramic views of streets worldwide.

The countries cited privacy concerns for their probe of the Internet giant's service. Multiple US states are also expected to launch inquiries into the collection of data from unsecured wireless networks. Google China did not want to comment on Wednesday. Guan Dai, a senior analyst at research firm In-Stat China, said Google may still have a good chance of getting its map services approved, as its decision to move its search services to Hong Kong has raised concern from the foreign business community. The total revenue of China's online map market rose from 245 million yuan ($36 million) in 2008 to 330 million yuan last year, figures from Analysys International showed. Baidu, DDMap and Google are the major online map providers in China, which altogether account for more than half of the market share. Baidu said on Wednesday the SBSM has yet to approve its Internet map service.

From China Daily 06/24/2010

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JAPAN: Ministry Plans Data Centers for Cloud Computing

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry plans to invite companies from at home and abroad to set up large-scale data centers in the nation in expectation of the spread of cloud computing. Cloud computing allows data and information to be stored off-line in interconnected databases. Customers using cloud computing receive such services as e-mail, document management and electronic commerce by accessing data centers established by information technology-related bodies without the need to install software on their computers. Cloud computing data centers house thousands of networked computers. The ministry aims to approach companies that plan to set up or expand data centers, such as the U.S. search giant Google Inc., the U.S.-based e-commerce company Amazon.com and Nihon Unisys Ltd. METI expects cloud computing-related investment in the nation to increase by 30 percent to 1.7 trillion yen in five years. The ministry believes the nation's high standard of public security and many areas with cool weather, which makes it easy to maintain and control computers, make Japan attractive for cloud computing data centers. The ministry aims to invite companies to areas with nuclear power plants, which would be able to supply large amounts of electricity to the data centers. Local governments that host nuclear power stations receive grants and subsidies from the central government. The funds are used to give discounts in electricity fees and financial assistance for capital investment for companies in their respective areas. The government plans to ask such local governments to use some of these incentives to encourage companies to set up data centers in their jurisdictions. Regarding facilities to house computer servers, the ministry will consider establishing a special district where screening to meet the requirements of the Building Standards Law would be simplified. The ministry plans to incorporate the plan in the new strategy of innovation for an information economy that METI plans to announce Tuesday.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 05/31/2010

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Top Portals Unveil Mobile Websites

Three major Web portals are engaging in a heated competition over mobile Internet with the rising popularity of smartphones. Naver, Daum and Nate have recently released mobile Websites in a bid to grab the smartphone users' attention by offering a full one-stop service. Naver, which has a market share of some 60 percent involving search engines, has unveiled its mobile Website as well as mobile applications such as Naver webtoons, map, newscast, blog and address book for free. The country's top portal has incorporated many of its services into separate mobile Apps, permitting users to instantly get the service they need with a push of few buttons. "As we have made the mobile Web into the form of an icon, the page loading time will be shortened and there will be less data traffic so that the users could save money on data usage," said an official at Naver. Daum, the nation's No. 2 search engine, joined the move by launching its content-oriented Website and smartphone applications - Daum maps, tvPot 2, mypeople, caf¨¦ and yozm - in hopes of getting ahead of Naver in the mobile service sector. Instead of separating its services into different icons, it made an effort to create a similar mobile Web environment from its original PC version to give more comfort to users. Daum is now offering a total of 23 major services on mobile phones. It also plans to introduce a voice search system sometime this month. Nate, operated by SK Communications, was the last one in providing the mobile Web service among the top three. However, it unveiled a differentiated version by enabling semantic search which seeks to improve search accuracy as to understanding the searcher's intent and the contextual meaning of the input terms. SK Communications' long-popular service such as Nate On messenger and Cyworld are also in service. Following market leader Naver, Daum and Nate currently have a market share of some 20 percent and 10 percent in the search engine sector, respectively. "We are planning to offer the best-suited mobile Internet service by making use of our main assets for the mobile portal market is deemed to become a huge opportunity for us," said Choi Kil-sung, chief convergence officer at SK Communications.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 06/03/2010

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Record 1.27 Mil Households on Welfare Per Month in FY 2009

The average monthly number of households on welfare in Japan was an estimated 1.27 million in fiscal 2009, an all-time high and up 120,000 from the previous year for the 17th straight year of growth, according to data released by the welfare ministry Wednesday. In March or the last month of the fiscal year, 1,343,944 households received public livelihood assistance, an increase of around 15,000 from the previous month, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said in a preliminary report. The monthly average began its rising streak in fiscal 1992 when it came to 586,000 amid the bursting of the economic bubble, and topped 1 million in fiscal 2005. Receivers of welfare benefits have kept growing in number due to an increase in low-income pensioners as well as wage cuts and joblessness hitting more people in the workforce because of a recession, analysts said.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/10/2010

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NORTH KOREA: May Be Getting an Internet Connection

North Korea may be taking steps to set up Internet servers within its borders for the first time. According to a well done article by Computer World: In the past few months, a block of 1,024 Internet addresses, reserved for many years for North Korea but never touched, has been registered to a company with links to the government in Pyongyang. The company referred to is out of Thailand, and previously helped North Korea set up its first cellular network. To date, there are no known servers that connect to the outside world (i.e. the Internet) in North Korea. The country does have an Intranet that uses email and other Web technologies but that network does not connect outside of the country. A number of North Korean officials do have access to the Internet through satellite services and a hardline from China, but the number is probably only in the thousands and is almost certainly only given to those with the equivalent of top secret status security access. If "the North" does set up servers within the country, it is completely unclear what they would do with them (the few official websites of the country are hosted outside as well). Whatever they use it for, we're guessing they're not going to use the connection to start tweeting or posting pics to Facebook. There is basically no chance whatsoever that the Internet will be offered to the public, as it would be a Pandora's Box for the government - and they know it. However, any step to connecting the North to the rest of the world should probably be considered a positive at this point, although only time will tell on that.

From http://thenextweb.com/ 06/11/2010

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SOUTH KOREA: Most Avid Readers of Online News

South Korea ranked first in the online news reference rate with 77 percent, according to the OECD communication committee report Tuesday. Northern European states such as Norway and Iceland were next with 73 percent and 69 percent respectively, followed by Mexico (61 percent), the U.S. (57 percent), Finland (57 percent) and Denmark (52 percent). The rates in most of the advanced Western European countries, however, were lower than 50 percent, showed the report. The U.K. took the lead in the region with 37 percent, whereas the figures in France and Germany stood at 22 percent and 21 percent, respectively. Italy and Ireland went online for the news the least, both showing a usage rate of 17 percent. Japan was excluded from this year's report but it had exceeded 50 percent in 2005, reflecting an active online news culture. Korea's lead may be partly attributed to its well-established Internet network. Korea's Internet usage rate ranked sixth worldwide, according to the European Commission report last year. "The Internet is rapidly replacing the conventional news media," stated the report. "In Korea, it has long overpowered all other forms of communication, especially the offline newspaper." The Internet newspaper, which at first was used as a supplement to the offline paper, has now become a totally new substitute, the report also said. The rise of the Internet newspaper has thus led to the fall of the traditional newspaper market. The global newspaper market, which showed yearly growth of 3.6 percent on average in 2004-2007, took a negative turn in 2008, according to the report. Also, in most OECD states, the number of newspaper subscribers last year fell to the 2004 level. Many newspaper companies have thus restructured themselves in recent years to compete in the Internet news market.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 05/25/2010

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Online Ad Market Expands Despite Overall Slowdown

Advertisement revenue for Internet media increased 4.5 percent last year, threatening broadcasters and newspapers, industry data showed Sunday. The Korea Press Foundation said the overall revenue for media advertisement in 2009 stood at 7.26 trillion won ($60.5 billion), down 7 percent from the previous year, affected by the economic slowdown. But the figure for Internet-based media increased from 1.19 trillion won to 1.24 trillion won. The online ad market expanded by eight times since 2001, the data showed. The growth chipped away at revenues for traditional media. TV and newspapers held the top two positions for most advertisements, but TV ads shrank 12 percent from 1.9 trillion won to 1.67 trillion won. Likewise, newspaper ads declined 9.5 percent from 1.66 trillion won to 1.5 trillion won during the same period. Cable TVs also saw their ad revenue cut 9.3 percent to 779 billion won despite an increase in the number of subscribers. The four largest media - TVs, newspapers, online outlets and cable TVs - accounted for 71.5 percent of the overall market. Digital mobile broadcasting sold 54.3 percent advertisement to record 17.6 billion won. Revenue for radio and satellite TVs remained unchanged at 2.77 trillion won and 9.5 billion won.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 05/30/2010

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South Korea Aims to Make Online Games Key Driver for Economy

With more than nine in 10 homes enjoying broadband access, South Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world. This provides not only convenience, but cultivate one of the country's fastest growing industry. Online game is more than child's play in South Korea. It is a national sport. Tournaments are held in lavish, high-tech stadiums, with every move and explosion broadcast nationally on dedicated TV channels. Top players are equivalent to American basketball stars in terms of pay and fame. All that is not surprising because gaming is a mega business in South Korea, valued at billions of US dollars. Kim Cheol Hak, Planning Department General Manager of Korea e-Sports Association, said: "The reason behind Korea's strength in online game is that IT is advanced and there's foundation and network of PC Bangs. Also Korea has a high-speed internet environment. Since client server technology is important for online games, I believe good infrastructure is Korea's biggest strength." PC Bangs, also known as internet cafes in Korean, is a key player behind the country's online game boom. Most PC Bangs are equipped with fast computers and connections, and yet they charge only a dollar an hour, attracting more than a million people daily.

There are nearly 30,000 internet cafes in South Korea. And it is believed 30 million Koreans play regularly. That's about two-thirds of the country's total population, making online game one of the fastest growing industry. PC Bangs are profitable business, estimated to generate six billion dollars in revenue a year. For game developers, fierce domestic competition has prompted them to expand overseas - further spreading the wings of Korean gaming. C.S. PARK, Dragonfly President, said: "Our target is the entire global market. Asian online game market is developing fast and we also think it's an important market. We are cooperating with partner companies in China and Japan, and Singapore will be our hub." South Korea is already a major exporter of online games, seizing a quarter of the global online game market. And exports this year are expected to double to two billion dollars. Even the government has high hopes for the business. It is investing hundreds of millions of dollars a year, hoping to make the industry a key driver for the Korean economy.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 06/02/2010

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Firms Anticipate E-book Boom in Korea

Electronics makers and content providers are gearing up for a robust growth in demand for e-books. Experts expect the industry to expand especially with the upcoming launch of Apple's tablet PC iPad, which would pose tougher competition to Samsung and LG, and other local electronics firms. "The local e-book market has not seen a big leap but I expect it to soon become an opportunity for development," said Lee Sung-eung, an analyst at Eugene Securities Co. "It may take some time but I have no doubt about the rosy market for the industry." KT Corp., the country's largest fixed-line service provider, launched a digital contents providing service system called "QOOK Book Caf¨¦" in late April, recording up to 20,000 registered users as of last month. Enabling services in multiple electronic devices, 400 e-books per day have been provided through the new system, including both free and paid for books. The figure of daily visitors to the online book caf¨¦ has reached about 3,000 on average, its official said, adding that the open market is to fully launch to all users in August. "We will offer differentiated services by working together with other professionals in the field and enhance the portability of purchased contents by allowing users to share them in their multi devices," said a KT official. The devices include e-book readers, PCs and smartphones such as Apple's iPhone to Internet protocol TVs and Internet based fixed-line phones.

The telecom giant, the exclusive provider of iPhones in Korea, plans to provide up to 100,000 e-book material to users through the system. Other online and offline large book store chains such as Kyobo, Interpark, Booxen and Bandi & Luni's have all recently set their focus on the growing digital book market by supplying a greater number of digital books and providing smartphone Apps for mobile contents. LG Display and iRiver also signed an agreement on Monday to establish a joint venture named "L&I Electronic Technology Limited" in China to reinforce their presence in the fast-growing e-book industry. Globally, top global search giant Google expects to service its own digital book store called "Google Editions" this year, possibly in late June or July. "Google Editions is a new way for publishers to sell their books online by allowing users to purchase online access to an in-copyright book," an official at Google Korea said on behalf of the company. "We want to build and support a digital book ecosystem to allow our partner publishers to make their books available for purchase from any Web-enabled device. Google has more than 30,000 publisher partners worldwide and we would like to make these tools as widely available as possible." In a related effort, the Ministry of Culture also announced earlier in April that it would invest 60 billion won over a five-year period to nurture the local e-book industry.

It pledged to work on increasing the ground which the industry could bloom on, standardize e-book publishing technologies and spread digital reading habits. The plan also includes supporting small and mid-sized publishing firms that have financial difficulties, and will nurture 1,000 people who are needed on-site by 2014. The ministry said it would assist the production process of 10,000 well-recognized e-book contents every year and look for talented writers through giving out awards to them. A total of 240,000 e-books are to be made available for borrowing from public libraries by the government in 2014. Observers, however, caution that it is not the number of digital books which matter for further blooming of the industry but the type of differentiated service providers can offer compared to the printed versions. "The contents of the digital material have to be appealing to the public," said Lee of Eugene Securities. "It should go over the basic digitalization of the books and add value to the already-existing contents. That's what is selling hot on devices like iPads overseas."

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 06/15/2010

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KT to Develop 3-D Mapping Service

KT Corp. plans to develop three-dimensional mapping services for the Internet and smartphones by the year's end. The country's biggest fixed-line service provider is expected to invest about 20 billion won ($16.87 million) in establishing an integrated database and software based on the geographic information system technologies in cooperation with 15 small- and mid-sized companies, sources said. Pioneered by Google Earth, the market is increasingly crowded as Internet portals such as Naver and Daum are enhancing mapping services to meet growing user demand. Industry watchers raised concerns about excessive competition in the market. "It is yet premature to specify the launch date of the service for ordinary customers," said a KT official. The GIS technology allows users to view and visualize data in ways that reveal relationships, patterns and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports and charts.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 06/23/2010

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LAOS: Regional Economic Integration Disseminated

(KPL) Laos is preparing possible measures for integrating its economy into the regional economy after the building of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. The plan was discussed at a meeting held in Khammouane province on 20 May, under the chairmanship of Vice-Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mme Khemmany Pholsena. The meeting was held under the title Chances and Challenges for ASEAN Economic Integration and access to the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, aiming at disseminating the regional economic cooperation and current international integration of Laos to Lao officials. Vice-Minister Khemmany highlighted the regional integration and the establishment of the AEC posing challenges and impacts to Laos. She added that Lao officials and business people in five central provinces as well as throughout the country now should deeply understand the current situation of the regional cooperation and international economic integration, especially the establishment plan of the AEC and Laos's membership in the WTO.

However, for Laos the information on the Party and Government's policy and guideline on regional cooperation and international economic integration is very important, she went on. The regional link needs to be supported with external assistance as a crucial factor for us, particularly the assistance of body building concerned and human resource development, she said. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce is responsible for international economic integration of Laos and attempts to disseminate data and information on the AEC to people across the country to understand, especially the measures to support Lao economy's integration to the regional one. The campaign on AEC will be launched in every province countrywide.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 05/24/2010

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Better Flood Warning System Benefits 60 Million Mekong Basin People

(KPL) Communities who live in the Mekong River Basin would significantly benefit from the improvement in flood forecasting and guidance that had been developed by the Flood Management and Mitigation Programme, said the Mekong River Commission or MRC. Most of the 60 million people of the basin who were farmers and fishers and who were poor were highly vulnerable to floods. Floods endangered their lives, destroyed their livelihoods and crops and exacerbated their living conditions, said Jeremy Bird, CEO of MRC Secretariat at an annual regional forum in Vientiane on 25 May of government agencies, researchers, NGOs and other interested groups working on Mekong Basin flooding. The MRC said considerable experience of working on flooding in its four member countries had demonstrated that a community-based approach to flood risk management and mitigation could help to fill the gap of the developed systems. Since 2005, the MRC said its flood programme had engaged 11 most flooded provinces in the lower Mekong Basin, to bring about improvement in the capacity of authorities to develop and implant flood preparedness programmes, community early warnings and energy responses, all of which contributed to the overall flood risk reduction efforts by the national governments.

There was also a need for better coordination and this was in response to the recent disaster, Typhoon Ketsana, said Hatda An Pich, Operations Manager of MRCs Regional Flood Management Centre (RFMMC) based in Phnom Penh, which was responsible for forecasting flooding on the mainstream of the Mekong and for a new flash flood guidance system in the river basin to be tested this year. He added that for the long-term involvement to persist and to be assured then there is a need for the activities to be deeply entrenched in government development plans and to get communities to be involved so that they felt that they owned the system. A MRC regional initiative to get people involved was to provide cell phones to villagers in flood prone areas, flood information billboards and to report localized floods to national forecasting agencies. The recorded data would then be sent back to the villagers who then publicise it on billboards at central locations in the floodplains and advertise any imminent flood via loudspeakers.

Floodplain villagers in the provinces now get up to two-day notice of any impending flood. This was to enable them to prepare for imminent flooding and evacuation as well as to take measures to protect cattle and other livestock, as well as their properties. How did MRC s work out at the ground or grassroots level and Ponporn Deetes of Save the Mekong Coalition commented on it early last month. She said that while the countries in the lower basin suffered from lack of water, the MRC failed to warn local communities in northern Thailand and Laos about possible flooding in 2008. She said this during a one-day powwow of non-governmental bodies, river lobbyists and media in Bangkok on 1 April. Pongphon Samsamak of the Thai English daily, The Nation, quoted her, There was a systemic lack of accountability to the public within the MRC, as it should monitor data more efficiently and formulate precautionary actions.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 05/31/2010

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WB and EU Give Over USD 14.7 Million to Laos

(KPL) The World Bank (WB) and the European Union (EU) have given USD 14.7 million to the Lao government for food security improvement and running a public survey on the seventh national socio-economic development plan. An agreement on the grant assistance was signed at the Ministry of Finance on June 4, between Deputy Minister of Finance, Mme Viengthong Siphandone, and WB Country Director for South East Asia, Ms Annette Dixon, at the witness of Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and relevant officials of parties concerned. The grant finance includes USD 4.6 million from the EU and the rest from the World Bank. About US$14.6 million of the grant will be used in food security improvement and the rest in public opinion survey, said Mme Viengthong. The grant will help Laos improve the food security of upland households by demonstrating and practising better rice-based farming systems. It will also address the recovery needs of households in Ketsana-affected provinces, according to a WB press release. The project will be carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in partnership with the Poverty Reduction Fund, and will run in Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha, Xiengkhouang, Houaphanh, Sekong, Savannakhet, Champassak, Saravane and Attapeu provinces. The project aims to further enhance rural productivity in Laos by strengthening the capacity of farmer groups and villagers, said WB Country Manager for Laos, Patchamuthu Illangovan.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 06/07/2010

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MALAYSIA: Most Malaysian More Environmental-conscious than Perceived, Says Poll

KUALA LUMPUR: Most Malaysians are more environmentally-conscious than perceived, according to an online poll by iProperty.com Malaysia. In a statement here on Monday, iProperty said the poll, conducted from March 25 to May 24, 2010, saw 277 respondents participating. "The findings showed that almost half (48 per cent) of the respondents have taken steps to 'live green' and 42 per cent wanted and were unsure how. "The remaining 10 per cent have not taken any steps to adopt a green lifestyle due to their lack of knowledge," it said. iProperty said the results were somewhat surprising. "Malaysians are known to be a rather complacent lot. Unless fined and prodded by the government like in Singapore, this attitude is expected to change only gradually," it said. It said the poll came about following initiatives by state governments such as Selangor and Penang to promote green living with measures such as "No Plastic Bags Day". "However, despite these initiatives, many Malaysians remain apathetic and are unsure of what to do," it said. iProperty.com Malaysia, country manager, Ken Tsurumaru said it was encouraging to know that the poll showed a majority of the people already incorporating steps to 'live green' into their daily lives.

From http://biz.thestar.com.my/ 06/14/2010

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Talent Corp to Attract 700,000 Skilled Malaysians

PETALING JAYA: Talent Corp, to be established next year under the Prime Minister's Department, will spearhead initiatives to attract the estimated 700,000 skilled Malaysians currently working abroad. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the entity, apart from its main objective to identify the nation's skill shortages in key sectors and to attract and retain required talents, could also help Malaysia become a developed country by 2020. "It will be a very holistic corporation under the Prime Minister's Department and it will look across agencies nationwide to identify the talents and, at the same time, supplying them to the sectors in need," he told a press conference yesterday. "It will also become a one-stop centre to coordinate with the relevant government agencies, including on immigration matters for the entry of skilled workers into the country," he said. Nor Mohamed said that while some foreign investors were happy with the country's environment and infrastructure, others were looking for more skilled workers. He said the vocational stream, currently treated as second class, would play a key role in driving Malaysia to become a developed country within next few years. "It is interesting to know that 60% of the skilled workers in Germany, who receive very high salaries, come from the vocational stream, and that is exactly what we are going to do," he said.

From http://biz.thestar.com.my/ 06/16/2010

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M'sians Expect Pay Rise Despite Financial Crunch

KUALA LUMPUR: About 47 per cent of Malaysian employees expect a pay increase of between 5 and 10 per cent this year despite the financial crunch, the 2010 World of Work Report (WoWR) said. The annual survey conducted by Randstad, the world's second largest recruitment and human resources service organisation, said high employee expectations for pay packages and financial rewards were the challenges faced by employers. It said in a statement today that 92 per cent of Malaysians and 83 per cent of Singaporeans expected bonuses this year while about 70 per cent of those surveyed in Malaysia feared they would lose staff to other markets as job prospects overseas improved. General Manager and Director of Agensi Pekerjaan Randstad Sdn Bhd, Sahun Nadarajah said: "Branding is a powerful tool for shaping the workforce of every organisation. "If the actual experience of being at work matches up with the company's values and projected employer brand, employees will be more motivated, more productive and more loyal," he added. The survey also revealed that 29 per cent of Malaysian employees were motivated by a strong understanding of how their role contributed to achieving goals. The survey, conducted in February, polled more than 3,000 human resource professionals, business managers and chief executive officers across the Asia Pacific Region.

From http://biz.thestar.com.my/ 06/18/2010

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PHILIPPINES: BSP - RP Economy Doing Well

While the rest of the world continues to reel from the effects of the global financial crisis, the Philippines, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, is doing relatively well, as shown by the 7.3 percent growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter. In a retrospective forum at the inauguration of the newly constructed BSP building here Thursday morning, BSP governor Amando Tetangco, Jr. said the country's resilience was brought about by the "pursuit of sustained economic reforms under the leadership of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. "Ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to report that our country, as a whole, is doing relatively well. While the world economy remains in distress following the worst global financial crisis in decades, the Philippine economy continued to move forward, culminating in the 7.3 percent GDP in the first quarter this year," he said.

Tetangco pointed out that under the administration of President Arroyo, average annual inflation was kept at single digits, dropping to 2.8 percent in 2007, the lowest annual average in 21 years. "This year, the average inflation for the year is at 4.3 percent, well within the government's target of 3.5 to 5.5 percent for 2010," Tetangco said. Finance Secretary Margarito Teves attributed the strong showing of the country's economy to the increase in investment and consumption. "Right now there has been a shift of investments from developed countries specifically from troubled European countries to Asia and they see that the Philippines has been undertaking a number of reforms (EVAT and banking reforms as well our manageable deficit or debt to GDP ratio) in the past," Teves said. "So they look to the Philippines as a stable and profitable area to invest in," he said. Tetangco said "the resiliency of our economy was not lost to global analysts and investors." "One of the world's biggest investment banks said the Philippines surpassed expectations, displaying remarkable resilience and an impressive rebound," Tetangco said. "The pursuit of sustained economic reforms under the Administration of President Arroyo made this possible," he said. He said the rise in the remittances of Filipino workers overseas' "to historic high levels" was also instrumental to the improved fiscal stability of the country.

In return, the BSP is working to lower remittance charges and conducting financial education on investment opportunities and investor protection programs so that OFW families will receive the complete remittance from their loved ones. He said that since the mandate of the BSP is maintaining financial stability, his office will "continue to make good progress in integrating our countrymen into the net of the formal financial system through a program to provide financial services to the underserved as well as the unserved and unbanked." "In particular, we have made inroads in improving lives through microfinance with an impressive rise in the number of clients served, in loans granted and in savings generated. In fact, the country has been recognized as one of the best in the world of microfinance by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Philippines is also in a leadership position for mobile money transfers," Tetangco said. "This, we shall continue to do as we pursue our mandate to ensure stable prices through monetary policies; a sound and stable banking system through appropriate policies and programs; as well as a safe and reliable payments system that inspires confidence in our financial system," he said.

From http://balita.ph/ 06/17/2010

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Infra Projects Stimulate Regional Banking - CL Bankers

Rural bankers and representatives of commercial banks in Central Luzon on Thursday said that aside from sound monetary policies of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the resiliency of the financial system, banking operations in the region continue to be stimulated by big-ticket infrastructure projects . President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's civil works projects drew Thursday praises from Central Luzon bankers, who attended the inauguration of the new Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) regional office here. Remedios Miranda, head of the Metro Angeles Bankers Association, said the 10-point program of the Arroyo administration, particularly transportation and digital infrastructure and the development of Subic and Clark, have had positive effects on the economy of the region. "Businesses are sprouting and growing and, wherever businesses abound, so do banks which are always there to service the financial needs and to partner with businesses," Miranda said. "It is also to the credit of the BSP's sound banking policies that local banks have weathered the global financial and economic slowdown and have retained their financial strength and stability," Miranda said.

Virgilio Garcia, president of the Olongapo Subic Rural Bankers Association, thanked the President for vital road infrastructures like the Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), the Hanjin Shipyard, and the ongoing Olongapo-Gapan Road, without which, he said, the banking industry in the area could not expand because the traveling time was too long. Garcia also said that with all the vital road links, businesses have boomed in the region, including Olongapo, Bataan and growth is being felt by the ordinary people. Garcia's reference to the TPLEX or the Tarlac, Pangasinan, Laguna Expressway, which will make interregional travel easier and faster to Batangas, Quezon and further south, elicited a smile from the President since this is her first time to hear that some people have heard of this new expressway project. With these infrastructures, the banking system boomed since farms and industries became closer to their intended markets and investors saw a bright opportunity to set up shop in the countryside, local bankers and traders said.

From http://balita.ph/ 06/17/2010

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THAILAND: Weaknesses and Constraints Causing Obstacles to the Development of Creative Economy

Although Thailand has high possibilities of developing itself into a regional hub of the creative economy, the country has to cope with weaknesses and constraints that raise obstacles to the development of the creative economy. According to an analysis conducted by the Office of Knowledge Management and Development, a number of business operators believe that a creative business operation requires high innovation and huge investment in research and development. The mistaken belief in these constraints would discourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to turn to the creative business. In other weaknesses, certain groups of consumers are of the opinion that creative products are too expensive, and this has an impact on the expansion of the creative business, if consumers are not aware of the value of creative goods in other dimensions, such as beauty and creativity, apart from price and utilitarianism.

Thailand needs to strengthen the management of intellectual property in order to push further for creative economy development and encourage people to produce creative work. The lack of personnel with creative ideas both in terms of quality and quantity, especially among operators, is another weakness. Education in this field should be provided more widely to produce personnel for the creative business. When we look at coordination between the public and private sectors, integration on a full-cycle basis, ranging from upstream to downstream, as well as the supply chain, is needed. All network clusters should cooperate, as the creative economy requires linkages and close cooperation. In addition, the country still needs more facilities to support the development of the creative economy, such as scientific laboratories to check and certify the standards of certain commodities, such as food and cosmetics. The facilities will create confidence among consumers. Financial measures should also be worked out to create more investment channels for creative business operators.

Political instability has been cited as a constraint that has a powerful impact on creative economy development. Continuous support from the Government is required, together with various measures, laws, and regulations favorable to the creative economy. Touching on the issue of the creative economy, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that because of greater competition, the Thai economy could no longer be managed in the old pattern. Thailand needs to make use of its strengths to add value to its products and services, with no excessive use of natural resources. Cultural capital should not be ignored, while the people should look at the global economic trends in setting directions for the future.

From http://thailand.prd.go.th/ 06/17/2010

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VIETNAM: 22 Countries Recognize Its Market Economy

VietNamNet Bridge - Twenty-two countries around the world have to date recognized the market economy in Vietnam, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Cam Tu (photo) reported to the 20th plenary session of the National Assembly's Committee on External Relations on May 26. Vietnam and Japan also set up a dialogue forum on the issue, Deputy Minister Tu said, adding that a number of other countries and Vietnam are conducting technical reviews for early recognition of the market economy in the Southeast Asian nation. In his report, Deputy Minister Tu, who is also General Secretary of the National Committee for International Economic Cooperation, said in 2009 Vietnam signed five bilateral agreements and protocols, and 15 multilateral agreements and protocols within the WTO, ASEAN and ASEAN+ frameworks, and 32 cooperation deals.

Regarding implementation of commitments within the WTO, ASEAN, APEC and ASEM frameworks as well as international trade agreements and deals under negotiations, Deputy Minister Tu asked to accelerate the making of laws regulating international economic integration. He also said state management agencies should improve their capacity in dealing with relevant issues such as competition governance, fighting subsidy and dumping trade and solving trade disputes.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 05/28/2010

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Nation Attracts $7.5bil FDI

VietNamNet Bridge - Foreign direct investments (FDI) into the country in the first five months of the year reached US$7.5 billion, of which $4.5 billion were disbursed, according to a report from the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Foreign Investment Agency. The report said that the country in May licensed 97 FDI projects worth $1.5 billion in registered capital, lifting total FDI projects in the country in the first five months to 360 foreign projects worth $7.1 billion in registered capital, up 40 per cent over the same period last year. During the first five months, the agency also approved to raise the registered capital for 107 existing projects with an extra $403 million. Processing and manufacturing were the most attractive industries to foreign investors in the first five months with 127 projects totalling $2.55 billion, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the country's total FDI in the period.

Production and distribution of electricity, gas and water ranked second with $2.2 billion or 28.6 per cent of the country's total FDI capital during the period. Foreign investors in the first five months also pledged to invest more than $1.28 billion in the real estate sector. Among the newly-licensed projects during the period, prominent ones included AES TKV Mong Duong Power Co Ltd, worth $2.1 billion in northern Quang Ninh Province, Kobelco Viet Nam worth $1 billion in central Nghe An Province, Skybridge Dragon Sea Co Ltd of $902.5 million in southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province and Posco SS-Vina Co Ltd of $602 million also in Ba Ria-Vung Tau. Among 36 countries and territories investing in Viet Nam from January-May, the Netherlands remained the largest investor, with a total registered capital of $2.2 billion, making up 29.4 per cent of the country's total FDI attraction. However, South Korea surpassed Japan and the US to become the second biggest investor in Viet Nam, with a registered capital of $1.1 billion, representing 15.3 per cent of the country's total FDI. With an attraction of $2.16 billion in FDI, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province was the most attractive investment destination in the country in the first five months. Quang Ninh followed with $2.14 billion. Nghe An and HCM City also attracted $567 million and $340 million, respectively.

Surge in exports
The Foreign Investment Agency also reported that exports by foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) in the first five months also surged rapidly thanks to the economic recovery. Production by FIEs also showed a very impressive surge, especially in the processing and manufacturing industries. The boosting of production helped FIEs hit an export turnover of $13.8 billion in the first five months, a year-on-year rise of 25.9 per cent and accounted for more than 50 per cent of the country's total $25.8 billion in export earnings. Excluding crude oil, export turnover for FIEs was $11.7 billion, up 39.1 per cent. Import spending of FIEs was $13 billion during the first five months, a 50.5 per cent rise over the same period last year. FIE imports made up 42 per cent of the country's total import value of $31.2 billion in the January-May period, the report said.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 05/28/2010

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Twin Economic Threats Are Starting to Diminish

The economy remains on a stable trajectory with inflation and trade deficit threats diminishing. According to a Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) report released last week, Vietnam's industrial value in May grew 13.8 per cent year-on-year. The highest increase was seen in construction materials and electrical products like air conditioners and refrigerators. The total retail turnover rose 2 per cent against April, or up 27.1 per cent year-on-year. The industrial and service sectors' stable outlook since early this year implies the national economy's strong recovery amid the globe's rising input materials and high lending interest rates in Vietnam, said the report. Nguyen Thanh Hoa, vice head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Planning Department, said the rising demand in Vietnam and global economic recovery had supported the two sectors. "Manufacturers and consumers seem more optimistic about the economy and they are expanding production and consumption now," said Hoa.

At the same time, the consumer price index (CPI) slightly increased and the trade deficit cooled. General Statistics Office figures show the trade deficit in May was $5.37 billion or 20.8 per cent of total export turnover, down from 25 and 23.1 per cent in March and April respectively. The CPI in May rised 0.27 per cent against April or 4.55 per cent against last December. The month-on-month CPI rises in February, March and April were 1.96 per cent, 0.75 per cent and 0.14 per cent respectively. MPI Vice Minister Cao Viet Sinh said the low CPI and trade deficit slowdown meant policies were hitting the spot. However, rising input material prices and lending interest rates remained obstacles to the local business community. "These factors could bring high inflation back to Vietnam," said Bui Ha, director of MPI's Department of National Economic Issues. The government recently announced curbing inflation and stablilising the macro-economy as its top priority this year.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 06/05/2010

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Vietnam Aims for 7.5 Percent GDP Growth in 2011

VietNamNet Bridge - The Government observed that the economy can regain strong growth, with the GDP rising 7-7.5 percent in 2011. The goal set by the Government is part of instructions on the social-economic development plan and budget estimation for 2011. Budget estimates for 2011 must ensure that revenue will reach over 23 percent of GDP, including those from taxes and fees equivalent to over 21 percent of GDP. The Government anticipates that budget revenue from domestic sources, not including crude oil and land use fees, will rise by 17-19 percent compared to 2010, while export revenue will grow by 7-9 percent. The Government told ministries and central agencies to review, adjust and abolish ineffective and outdated policies, while suggesting new and necessary policies for the 2011-2015 period as a basis for restructuring and improving effectiveness in budget spending in their fields of operation. The Ministry of Planning and Investment and Ministry of Finance has been assigned to submit the 2011 social-economic development plan and budget estimates this September. The Government cited three breakthrough measures to fulfill its goals: finalizing socialist-oriented market economic institutions, developing human resources and building synchronous infrastructure with modern and large-scale works. This year Vietnam aims to obtain 6.5 percent GDP growth.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 06/16/2010

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INDIA: E-Governance Services of Chennai Corporation a Hit

The e-Governance initiatives of the Chennai Corporation to provide a hassle-free system for public welfare services are a hit. Almost 6.48 lakh people visited the local body's website in the last 18 months, with a majority of them accessing the birth/death events in the online database. The civic body has made a formal request to the union and state government departments, including the passport offices and schools, besides embassies of various countries to approve the online certification, a valid legal paper documented by the municipal body, with the available hospital records. About 56 lakh births and 22 lakh deaths have been uplinked till date and the numbers are likely to go up in the coming months. The local bodies of Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad and Bangalore have approached Chennai Corporation for advice on implementing a similar facility. The online certification also help non-resident Indians to get the certificates from corporation offices.

From http://www.egovonline.net/ 05/31/2010

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Effective Execution of E-Governance Project in UP

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has directed the officials to effectively implement e-Governance programme for faster delivery of welfare schemes to the people. The e-District scheme, being implemented in six districts on pilot basis, should be implemented in the remaining 65 districts of the state. At present the scheme is being implemented in Gorakhpur, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Ghaziabad, Sultanpur, Sitapur and Rae Bareli under National e-Governance Programme (NeGP) of the central government. The working of the Jan Suvidha Kendras (JSK) set up in rural areas should be made more effective and transparent so that people were not required to run unnecessarily for obtaining various certificates.

From http://www.egovonline.net/ 06/10/2010

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Mission Mode Project Approved Under E-Governance

The focus of the project is to improve the efficiency and transparency of the financial administration of the State Governments. The Union Cabinet approved the Mission Mode Project (MMP) for computerisation of State Treasuries. This scheme, at an overall cost of Rs.626 crore aims at supporting the State Governments to computerise their treasury functions and provide the required interface for data sharing among treasuries, State finance departments, Accountant General Offices, Reserve Bank of India, Agency Banks and Central Plan Schemes Monitoring System of Controller General of Accounts.

From http://www.egovonline.net/ 06/14/2010

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Infrastructure, Labour Laws, Technology and Credit Retarding MSME Growth

New Delhi: The CII MSME survey released here today ranks lack of infrastructure development, cumbersome labour laws and problems relating to adoption of innovative and cutting edge technologies as the key factors inhibiting the growth of this sector. Problems relating to infrastructure development include bottlenecks entailing setting up of industrial estates and facilities like power and road. As many as 81 per cent of the respondents ranked problems of infrastructure development as the most crucial factor inhibiting the development of this sector. A high 75 per cent of the MSME respondents spoke about the need to simplify labour laws and 58 per cent stated the need for promotion of innovation and cutting edge technologies as the main retarders. The other factors, which are coming in the way of the growth of this sector, are high cost of credit, procurement of raw materials at a competitive cost and delayed payments in decreasing order of importance. As regards the approved components of the 'National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programme (NMCP)' scheme, nearly 70 per cent of the respondents stated that they were aware of these schemes. However, 60 to 70 per cent of MSME respondents said they were not availing these benefits. According to the survey, as many as 47 per cent of MSME respondents said they were registered under MSMED Act 2006, 30 per cent reported that they have not registered their enterprise under the Act. Nine per cent of MSMEs surveyed said they were not aware of the Act, while 14 per cent felt that registration under the MSMED Act, 2006, were not required for their enterprise. The principal findings of the survey are based on responses from a broad spectrum of industry groups and activities of the Micro, Small and Medium industry members of CII, from all over the country.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 06/20/2010

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SRI LANKA: Rapid Reconstruction, Inclusive Growth, Key to Sri Lanka's Post-War Development - ADB President

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA - One year after a decades-old civil conflict ended in Sri Lanka, Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda said that a top priority of Sri Lanka's post-war development is to make sure that rapid reconstruction continues in the conflict-affected areas and the benefits of development reach everyone in the country. Addressing a press conference Friday at the end of a three-day visit to the country, Mr. Kuroda said that ADB will continue to support Sri Lanka as it rebuilds its economy, and seeks accelerated development. "Along with rapid reconstruction to enable people in conflict-affected areas to return to normal lives as soon as possible, post-war development should also focus on more inclusive and equitable growth," said Mr. Kuroda, who held discussions with Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa and senior government leaders during his visit. Reconstruction of basic infrastructure and restoration of essential services such as water and sanitation, roads, hospitals and schools in the war-affected Northern and Eastern provinces will remain a priority area of ADB's assistance, Mr. Kuroda said. With the end of the conflict, and based on ADB's forecast of 6% economic growth for Sri Lanka this year and at least 7% in 2011, Mr. Kuroda said that he was optimistic that the people of Sri Lanka can look forward to a more promising and secure future. Sri Lanka's civil conflict ended in May 2009. Mr. Kuroda stressed that for peace to be sustainable, challenges need to be addressed.

On the economy, inclusive growth and sustainable development need to be underpinned by sound macroeconomic fundamentals, firm efforts to keep the fiscal deficit under control, a strengthening of the financial sector and greater participation in the economy by the private sector. Mr. Kuroda also expressed his deepest sympathy to the people and Government of Sri Lanka for the loss of lives, damage to homes and properties, and suffering caused by the recent floods in the country. Mr. Kuroda visited various ADB-assisted projects in the North, including the launching ceremonies of the Dry Zone Urban Water and Sanitation project in Mannar and the Kilinochchi-Jaffna power transmission line. He visited the Mannar General Hospital and Kilinochchi Hospital where ADB supports reconstruction and upgrading of medical facilities. He also visited two flagship projects supported by ADB, the Colombo Port Expansion Project and the Southern Transport Development Project, Sri Lanka's first major expressway to be built since independence in 1948. Earlier this year, ADB approved $150 million in emergency assistance loan to Sri Lanka for reconstruction of urgently needed infrastructure and restoration of essential services in war-affected regions. Another $50 million loan was also extended this year to support the Government's efforts to undertake public finance management reforms aimed at promoting increased investment in underdeveloped areas, including in areas severely affected by conflict. ADB is one of the leading development partners in the country. ADB has approved over $212 million in loans to Sri Lanka so far this year.

From http://www.adb.org/ 05/28/2010

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Sri Lanka Central Bank Releases Latest Economic, Social Statistics

(LBO) - The Central Bank of Sri Lanka said it has just released its annual publication 'Economic and Social Statistics of Sri Lanka 2010' with data on a wide range of economic and social developments. "The vast amount of data included in this publication will be of use for analysing trends in the economy, and will be of use for entrepreneurs, policy makers, researchers, teachers, students and the general public," a statement said. The publication has around 200 data tables with information on climate, population and labour force, national accounts, agriculture, industry, prices and wages, trade and finance, capital markets, government finance, banking and financial institutions, and transportation. It also includes information on living conditions in Sri Lanka from the Consumer Finances and Socio-Economic Survey 2003/04 conducted by the Central Bank. Information at the provincial level on key economic variables, including socio economic conditions, GDP in current terms, agriculture and livestock statistics, water consumption, foreign employment and plantation sector manpower and production are also included. The publication can be bought from the sales counter of the Central Bank at its Centre for Banking Studies in Rajagiriya, provincial offices of the Central Bank in Matara, Matale and Anuradhapura and bookshops.

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/ 06/04/2010

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PAKISTAN: Promotion of IT Is Need of the Hour: Chief Minister Punjab

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that promotion of information technology is the need of the hour for speedy development of the province. He said that use of information technology could help in capacity-building and improving the performance of government departments for providing better facilities to the people. He issued instructions for setting up a special committee headed by Chief Secretary to review and submit recommendations regarding implementation of the road map presented for the establishment of e-government in the province. The committee will submit its report within a month. He was presiding over a meeting of Information Technology Board here today. Provincial Minister for Agriculture Malik Ahmed Ali Aulakh, Member Provincial Assembly Syed Zaeem Qadri, Chief Secretary, Inspector General Police, Chairman Planning and Development, Secretaries of Home, Finance, Education, Livestock, Agriculture, Excise departments and other officers concerned were present. The Chief Minister said that the Punjab government is implementing a comprehensive strategy for the promotion of information technology in the province and an Information Technology Board consisting of experts has been set up in this regard. He said that information technology can help in rapid progress, therefore, the government has signed an agreement with a leading international company Microsoft. The Chief Minister appreciated the roadmap presented by Chairman Information Technology Board for the promotion of information technology and establishment of e-government and said that it could help achieve positive results.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 06/15/2010

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ARMENIA: CIS Representatives Discuss Outlooks of Innovative Cooperation in Yerevan

Yerevan hosted a meeting of the working group on developing a project of the Interstate Target Program on Innovative Cooperation among the CIS member states. The meeting brought together representatives of Armenia, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. "Priorities of cooperation among the CIS countries in the field of innovations have been numerously discussed by the states' heads. First of all, they include those fields, which may have a breakthrough effect due to unification of the entire potential of the CIS: airplane and ship construction, energy, etc," Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for the CIS Affairs Igor Morozov told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. In his turn, Head of the Department of High and Information Technologies of the Armenian Ministry of Economy Vache Kirakosyan said that the rehabilitation of former ties and establishment of new ones will play an important role in Armenia's development. "This is a regular discussion, during which we will summarize the results of previous meetings and will plan our further steps," he said. In December 2010, the results of the working group's operation will be submitted to presidents of the CIS countries. Meanwhile, the projects are scheduled to be implemented from January 2011 to 2020. "The global economic crisis made us understand that there are not bounds for modern economy," said Morozov. He added that there is a framework program in the EU, which is based on innovative cooperation among the EU countries. "We want to establish an analogue of this program for the CIS countries, as well as to create technological corridors between these programs to expand the Eurasian innovative space, so that we present interest for each other and integrate into the world system of economy," said Morozov. According to Morozov, Armenia has intellectual and industrial potential, which can be used for the CIS interest that, in its turn, will create new jobs and will secure budgetary receipts for Armenia.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 05/25/2010

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Armenian Assembly of America Launches Mobile Web Application

The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) announced the launch of its iPhone app, iAssembly, now available free for download on iTunes. iAssembly is the first ever mobile web application where Armenian Americans on-the-go are offered the ability to have their voice heard on Capitol Hill, any time of the day, right from a mobile phone. Users can contact their key Government Representatives about the Armenian Genocide Resolution, funding to Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, and other important legislative initiatives just by entering a zip code into the pre-made fields. iAssembly provides users with up-to-date information about critical developments as it relates to Armenian American issues. Specially equipped with "push" notifications, iAssembly instantly notifies users about Assembly press releases, Action Alerts, and other important announcements. In addition, iAssembly offers users the opportunity to support our efforts by making a contribution to the Assembly through the "donate" section of the application. "We're bringing grassroots activism right to your phone," said Assembly Grassroots Director Taniel Koushakjian. "iAssembly offers a direct way for activists to connect with their Member of Congress and stay on top of the latest Assembly news," Koushakjian added. The iAssembly App is compatible on any iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later versions.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 05/27/2010

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ArmenTel Increases Mobile Internet Availability

On June 16, ArmenTel CJSC announced introduction of an action to provide users of Beeline mobile Internet with the opportunity to purchase 3G-modems by installments. The action will be effective through August 7, 2010, the company's press service reported. ArmenTel CEO Igor Klimko noted that the action will allow the company to remove barriers for Internet access through mobile technologies, as well as increases the availability of telecommunications products for representatives of various social strata.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 06/16/2010

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Educational Internet Platform to Be Created in Armenia

New educational internet platform will be created in Armenia within 3 years, RA Education and Science Minister Armen Ashotyan stated. As he said at June 18 news conference in Yerevan, RA government will soon announce platform developers competition, with World Bank allocating USD 50 thousand crediting in the initial stage of the project. "Educational platform to be developed will allow teachers create their own educational material (for example video lessons) and put it on the internet, thus taking Armenian-language education to a new level," the Minister emphasized.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 06/18/2010

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AZERBAIJAN: Adopts State Standards and Program on General Education Levels

The Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers approved state standards and program (curriculum) on levels of general education June 3. The standards define the content, management, training and logistics, infrastructure of general education, teacher quality indicators, knowledge, abilities and skills of students, the Cabinet reported. The program reflects issues such as the maximum number of hours of classroom and extracurricular activities of educational level, the principles of organization of the pedagogical process in general education, monitoring and evaluation of learning outcomes. In connection with the adoption of state standards and levels of general education programs the following Acts of the Cabinet of Ministers repealed: Resolution 72 dated April 26 , 1999 "On approval of state standards of general secondary education in the Republic of Azerbaijan; resolution 150 dated Aug.4, 2005" On Amendments to the Cabinet of Ministers' decree "On approval of the state standards for general secondary education in the Republic of Azerbaijan" dated April 26, 1999; Resolution 233 dated Oct.30, 2006 "On approval of the concept of (national curriculum), General Education in the Republic of Azerbaijan."

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/07/2010

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Award of Further Two 3G Licences Imminent

Azerbaijan's Minister of Communications and Information Technologies, Ali Abbasov, has said that the ministry is currently considering applications for third-generation licences from mobile operators Azercell and Bakcell, Trend Capital reports. Abbasov added that if there are no problems with the companies' applications, they will receive the concessions 'in the nearest future' for the official licence fee of AZN11,000 (USD13,679). According to TeleGeography's GlobalComms Database, Azerfon is the only cellco in Azerbaijan to have been awarded a licence from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to provide 3G services. Shortly after receiving its concession in December 2009, Azerfon launched its 3G network in Baku, Sumgait, Ganja, Shirvan, Nakhchivan, Mingachevir, Tovuz and Shamkir, as well as in the Absheron Peninsula. Meanwhile, the country's two other GSM operators, Azercell and Bakcell, did not receive licences as they had not submitted the relevant documents required by law detailing 3G network rollout progress and planned coverage. Earlier this year the MCIT began reviewing an appeal by the pair over the award of 3G licences.

From http://www.telegeography.com/ 06/18/2010

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ISRAEL: Communications Ministry Issues First MVNO Licence

The Israeli Ministry of Communications (MoC) has awarded the country's first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licence, Reuters reports. Telecom 365, which is a subsidiary of the Hamashbir retail group, was named as the recipient of the concession, and under existing regulations the company now has six months in which to agree fees with one of the country's mobile network operators; if after that time no agreement has been reached the MoC will step in to help finalise a deal. Once Telecom 365 has been able to agree financial terms with one of the wireless sector's current players it will then have a further six months to prepare its network for commercial operations. Telecom 365 said it intends to move forward quickly, with Oded Birger, the would-be virtual operator's CEO, noting: 'We will work vigorously to set up the network and estimate we will be able to supply customers, especially members of our Club 365, with quality communications services towards the end of 2011.' The development follows years of haggling over the introduction of MVNOs to the Israeli wireless sector. According to TeleGeography's GlobalComms Database, in August 2008 the MoC announced that it would implement the recommendations made by the Gronau Committee five months earlier, but it was not until November 2009 that it published its final regulations governing the introduction of MVNOs. The regulator at that date revealed that it would forbid existing wireless carriers from becoming MVNOs, either directly or via associated companies, although it said it will allow companies connected to the wireless carriers, such as NetVision, to acquire MVNO licences on the proviso that they can demonstrate that their business has declined substantially and only entering the wireless sector can improve their fortunes.

From http://www.telegeography.com/ 06/17/2010

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UZBEKISTAN: UNICEF Helps Accelerate National Nutrition Investment Strategy

Representatives of the Government, specialized health institutions, development agencies, food manufacturers and other stakeholders met in Tashkent on 2 June to review progress in the implementation of the National Nutrition Investment Strategy and discuss the way forward. The meeting was convened by the Ministry of Health with UNICEF support. The national Nutrition Investment Strategy (NIS) was developed by the Government, Ministries and other state agencies of Uzbekistan jointly with UNICEF, the World Bank and other national and international stakeholders in February 2009. The strategy promotes an integrated, comprehensive and high-impact package that addresses micronutrient deficiencies mitigation among the population, especially children and women. Proper nutrition is crucial for a healthy development of children and beneficial to their mothers, families and society. Yet, in Uzbekistan, micronutrient deficiencies of iodine, iron, vitamin A, folic acid and other micronutrients are common and cause various disorders. A low level of exclusive breastfeeding and improper practices in the nutrition of children and pregnant women result in high levels of microelement deficiency affecting early childhood development negatively. In the long run, lack of microelements impacts the population's health, life expectancy and quality of life. UNICEF has been working with the Ministry of Health and other relevant partners to improve the nutritional value of food and ensure proper practices for children's feeding. Support is provided to law and policy development on nutrition and food security.

In recent years, UNICEF supported program interventions on infant and young child feeding, micronutrients supplementation, such as Vitamin A and supports flour fortification, universal salt iodization, and exclusive breastfeeding promotion. High level international consultants are engaged to support the Nutrition Strategy through research, policy review and gap analysis, and provision of comprehensive recommendations on accelerating implementation of NIS. According to MICS 2006, only 53% of the households consume iodized salt, close to 60% of 1st grade flour manufactured in Uzbekistan is fortified (Uzdonmakhsulot). The law of universal salt iodization was enacted in 2007 and another law on micronutrient deficiencies is awaiting Senate's approval. However, much remains to be done in the country for sustainable elimination of micronutrient deficiencies. There is a need to improve coordination of all stakeholders with varied interests and integrate the National Nutrition Investment Strategy into broader Government programs to leverage resources. Strengthening advocacy with policy and law makers on the cost-effectiveness of micronutrient supplementation and increasing public awareness on the importance of balanced nutrition remains another challenge. "With this strategy in place, effective, evidence based interventions addressing the immediate causes of under nutrition are ready to be scaled up. But we may, all together recognise the challenge that is the operationalization of this document into concrete actions so that the population benefit from the key interventions outlined," said Jean Michel Delmotte, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan.

"Let me take some critical examples: full coverage of exclusive breast feeding would have the biggest impact, reducing child mortality by 9%. Universal coverage of iodization of household salt would result in annual economic gains of 9 billion soums. Addressing the chronic malnutrition by quality complementary feeding, timely treatment of diarrhoea and zinc supplementation would produce annual gains of 61 billion soums. These are simple low cost high impact interventions which families need to be aware and practice." UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Health and other partners to promote exclusive breast feeding, quality complementary feeding and universal iodization of salt but multipronged approaches and several years of commitment are required to scale up the nationwide coverage. It is expected that this stakeholder meeting will help reinforce commitments of the involved parties and map out an action plan on the accelerated implementation of the National Nutrition Investment Strategy.

From http://news.uzreport.com/ 06/03/2010

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AUSTRALIA: RBA Deputy Says Mining Growth an Economic Challenge

Australia's Reserve Bank's deputy governor has suggested he would welcome an easing in the mining boom. Ric Battellino said it will be a challenge for Australia to accommodate the investment surge generated by the mining sector. He says while the economy broadly benefits, some sectors are hurt and disciplined economic policy is needed to manage the boom and contain inflation. He also says a more moderate growth rate in China would impact on Australia, but he's suggested it would make the RBA's job easier and make life easier in Australia.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/16/2010

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COOK ISLANDS: Who Calls to Protect Women from Tobacco

Dr Chen Ken, World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the South Pacific, is calling on the Cook Islands and other Pacific island countries to protect women and girls from efforts by the tobacco industry to induce them to start smoking. He made the call in the lead up to World No Tobacco Day 2010 on Monday, May 31. The theme of this year's World No Tobacco Day is gender and tobacco, with emphasis on marketing to women. Women who smoke are more likely to experience infertility and delays in conceiving, maternal smoking during pregnancy also increases risk of premature delivery, stillbirth and newborn death and may cause a reduction in breast milk, the WHO says. Smoking also increases women's risks for many cancers, including cancers of the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus, larynx, bladder, pancreas and cancer. Having a tobacco-free environment is also woman's right.

"Tobacco use is the second cause of death globally, after hypertension, and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide. This year we want to draw particular attention to the harmful effects of tobacco marketing and smoke on women and girls," Dr Ken said: "Tobacco use is the number one preventable epidemic that the health community faces and we want to encourage everyone to reduce tobacco use in Fiji and other Pacific island countries and areas." Dr Ken also called on policy makers, nongovernmental organisations and the public to work together to protect women from tobacco marketing and smoke.

From http://www.cinews.co.ck/ 05/27/2010

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FIJI: Bid to Cut Internet Prices

The Fijian Commerce Commission says it will regulate the price of bandwidth sourced from Fiji International Telecommunications Limited. Commission chairman Dr Mahendra Reddy has told the Fijilive website that once wholesale prices are regulated, the commission expects retail prices to follow automatically. Dr Reddy says this might bring prices down by an average of 34 per cent for end users. He says the commission will take action against internet service providers in Fiji who do not pass on savings to customers.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/08/2010

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FIJI: Bank South Pacific Launches Mobile Banking

Mobile phone users in Fiji will benefit from SMS banking service launched by Bank South Pacific (BSP) in Suva yesterday. "We are proud to be the first to offer this exciting banking service in Fiji," chief executive, Ian Clyne said. "This has been a promise to the people of Fiji when we launched our brand in the country." He said BSP was a young, bright, modern and an energetic bank, different from others. It focused on serving the people in a greater way. "This is good for people in the remote places too, because anyone with a mobile phone can benefit from this service." He boasted that SMS banking was a popular service, providing great convenience to 50,000 users in Papua New Guinea daily. "SMS banking gives our customers easy and convenient access to their account information. Our customers can perform day-to-day banking anywhere, anytime, just by sending an SMS message." He said there was no need for customers to visit the bank or the ATM with the SMS service. "It is important to point out that this is not a mobile wallet. This is a mean of accessing your existing bank account." This service can be accessed by Vodafone and Digicel mobile users.

From FIJI SUN 06/24/2010

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Business Conditions in Fiji Not Easy: RBF Governor Reddy

Business conditions in Fiji may not be easy, says the Reserve Bank of Fiji (RBF) Governor Sada Reddy. Mr Reddy made these comments at the Fiji Indigenous Business Council forum today adding tight monetary policies mean loans will be more expensive. "Businesses should embrace themselves to survive against these challenges," he stated. Mr Reddy suggested businesses to consider adjustments such as product diversification and staff capacity. "The structural reforms planned by Government are expected to provide a more positive business environment in future," he said. "Reduced Government expenditure is expected to provide space for private investment to take place and business conditions are expected to improve." Mr Reddy also stressed Fiji's balance of payment remains vulnerable due to poor performance in exports sector producing a widening trade and current account deficit.

"As long as we have a current account deficit, it will continue to put pressure on Fiji's foreign reserves," he said. "The challenge remains in raising exports and minimizing imports to help reduce these imbalances and ease pressure on foreign reserves." Mr Reddy established the need for microeconomic policies to remain tight if the current account deficit remains. Meanwhile, a total of $20 million has been made available by the Reserve Bank of Fiji for new and existing local businesses engaged in commercial agriculture. This is part of RBF's recent initiative to help cushion economic deficiencies in the country. "RBF has introduced the Import Substitution Facility to try and assist large scale commercial agricultural businesses to obtain credit at concessional rates of interest." Mr Reddy said. He said the facility is available for a maximum loan term of 5 years and is available through the commercial banks, licensed credit institutions and the Fiji Development Bank. He believes the rising balance of payments deficit calls for concerted and decisive efforts by all stakeholders.

"In April 2009, we made some institutional reforms within the Reserve Bank which resulted in the establishment of a group called Financial Systems Development and Compliance Group." According to Mr Reddy, the group is formed to ensure the development and provision of microfinance services to the greater Fijian community. RBF has also set up a National Inclusion Taskforce responsible for driving and promoting microfinance and greater financial inclusion initiatives in Fiji. "The establishment of the taskforce will provide a platform for stakeholders to encourage and foster sustained and coordinated development of financial services to the poor and rural communities", he said. Mr Reddy highlighted RBF has worked with the Government on various reform initiatives mainly in the export sector, import substitution and fiscal consolidation.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 06/24/2010

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Progress on Millennium Development Goals Uneven: UNDP Head

The head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) says progress towards the Millennium Development Goals has been uneven. Former NZ prime minister and UNDP chief, Helen Clark has told a Lowy Institute conference in Sydney via satellite more needs to be done if people are going to benefit from the goals, which aim to reduce poverty in a number of areas by 2015. The global financial crisis has been blamed for slowing down progress towards the targets. Ms Clark says there must be "real action" from a meeting of world leaders in New York in September, aimed at accelerating progress towards the goals. "We've seen many countries make progress in reducing gender disparities in education, containing the spread of HIV aids, and expanding access to safe drinking water," she said. "However the story of the Millennium Development Goals is one of uneven progress towards the targets within regions and within countries."

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/17/2010

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Health Insurance and Tax Under the Spotlight

Health insurance and tax under the spotlight Improved defences cut online fraud More Henderson receiverships Asia-Pacific property on top of world Gotta be in to win ASB breaks ranks to put up interest rates Taking a NAP wake-up call for more debt-laden Kiwis Kiwis ready for 'some compulsion' in savings ASB hikes mortgage rates Investment scheme trial a step closer. United Future leader Peter Dunne has called for a "fresh look" at making health insurance premiums tax deductible after a leading health insurer said private sector costs were driving premiums up. The cost of claims has jumped 10 percent for the year ending December 2009. This follows an 8 percent rise the previous year. Southern Cross chief executive Dr Ian McPherson said the relentless demand coupled with higher healthcare costs was putting enormous pressure on premiums. "Southern Cross is paying 96 cents in claims to members for every dollar they pay in premiums. With healthy reserves we are able to absorb this cost and budget for a deficit in the current financial year."

Dr McPherson said this kind of deficit was not sustainable. Southern Cross was looking at ways to address the problem, including strengthening its affiliated provider networks. Some high-volume procedures, such as colonoscopies and cataract extractions, may be moved to be covered by an affiliated provider only. Dr Ian McPherson said alternatives were to reduce access to these services or put premiums up. Mr Dunne said the public health system could not provide timely care for all New Zealanders. He wanted to see United Future's policy of tax concessions for those who pay for private health insurance enacted. The policy would ensure that "some of the pressure on our public system is relieved with patients able to access the private healthcare system".

From http://www.stuff.co.nz/ 06/21/2010

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Ministry Orders Investigation into Leak to RNZ

The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs has launched an investigation into the source of a leak of budget information to Radio New Zealand. The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs has launched an investigation into the source of a leak of budget information to Radio New Zealand. The briefing paper related to the awarding of a $4.8 million contract to little known organisation Pacific Economic Development Agency (PEDA), to improve the economic well-being of Pacific people. The organisation won the contract without tender despite the ministry's advice, outlined in the paper, which said the agency was untested and unproven with a significant risk of failure. The ministry's chief executive, Colin Tukuitonga, says he will appoint an independent investigator to find out how Radio New Zealand obtained the briefing and ensure staff acted appropriately.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz/ 06/22/2010

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Recovery Expected to Strengthen - Survey

The latest survey of economists is picking the recovery to strengthen over the next few years, as improving global activity, particularly from Asia, boosts exports. The Institute of Economic Research's quarterly consensus forecasts the economy will shrink by 0.4% in the year to March before rebounding to grow by 3.2% next year, and 3.3% the year after. The growth predictions for coming years are slightly better than previously forecast. NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub says there's broad agreement that the economy is rebalancing from consumption and housing, to exports. But he says there's very divergent views between economists on the strength of the building sector's recovery, the exchange rate, and the current account deficit.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz/ 06/22/2010

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Skilled Immigrants Needed, Says Business NZ

A business group says New Zealand needs to do more to attract skilled immigrants at a time when the economy needs them most. Statistics New Zealand figures show migration is the lowest it has been since the recession first started to bite in November 2008. In the last year, 15,200 more people departed permanently for Australia than arrived, Statistics New Zealand figures show. Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O'Reilly says many sectors rely on skilled workers from overseas, but New Zealand is competing with Australia and other countries for skilled migrants and needs to offer better jobs and higher wages.

The architect of website move2nz.com, Mike Bell, says there's no shortage of would-be immigrants, but there is a lack of clarity about where the skill shortages are. He says, for instance, it's increasingly difficult to get work permits for skilled chefs despite the fact restaurants can't find New Zealanders to apply. Mr Bell also says Immigration New Zealand has cut the number of applications it accepts by 30% this year, which he presumes is a reaction to unemployment numbers in this country.

From Radio New Zealand 06/22/2010

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Employment Confidence Rises - Survey

Employment confidence has risen to its highest level in almost two years. The latest Westpac McDermott Miller employment confidence index for the three months to June has risen four and a half points to 108.2. An figure above 100 indicates there are more optimists than pessimists. There had been a small decline the previous quarter. The only part of the survey to record a decline was people's earnings expectations. Fewer people expect to be earning more in a year's time, which Westpac senior economist Donna Purdue says could be due to the tax changes announced in the Budget.

From Radio New Zealand 06/23/2010

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Child Health Care Lacking - Zibe

Access to proper maternal and child health care services is still lacking in hospitals nationwide, including the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH). "It is a problem that cannot be resolved overnight," PNG Health Minister Sasa Zibe said in response to Anglimp-South Waghi Open MP Jamie Maxtone-Graham's question in Parliament yesterday. Maxtone-Graham asked Zibe what steps had the health department taken to restore the poor health services in PMGH's maternity ward as reported by the media recently. "There was a report of a shortage of IV baby needles in PMGH which could put lives of babies at risk. This is a very big concern and can the minister tell us what is being done to address this problem. Can the minister also admit that the hospital is facing financial problems?" Maxtone-Graham asked.

Mr Zibe said funds and drugs were not a problem but the administrative matters relating to the procurement and delivery system was failing the people, especially mothers at maternity wards that depended on services. "This is not a new thing. Other hospitals in the country and in the 89 districts are experiencing the same thing. I have always stressed that PNG has the lowest health indicator in the Western Pacific region. Of course I admit, but this is a problem we cannot address overnight," Mr Zibe said. He said the issues would be addressed under the new national health plan.

From THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS 06/24/2010

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ADB Prices $3 Billion Three-Year Global Bond Issue

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) returned to the US dollar bond market on Wednesday with the pricing of a $3 billion three-year global benchmark bond issue, proceeds of which will be part of the bank's ordinary capital resources and used in its non-concessional operations. The bonds, with a coupon rate of 1.625% per annum payable semiannually and a maturity date of 15 July 2013, were priced at 99.626% to yield 46 basis points over the 1.375% US Treasury notes due May 2013. The transaction was lead-managed by Daiwa Capital Markets, Goldman Sachs International, Morgan Stanley and UBS Investment Bank. A syndicate group was also formed consisting of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, HSBC, JP Morgan, Nomura, RBC Capital Markets, and TD Securities.

The deal marks ADB's second issue in the US dollar global bond market in 2010, having issued bonds with a five-year maturity in February this year. "We are very pleased with the transaction. The robust sponsorship from investors globally resulted in an oversubscribed book of around $3.3 billion," said ADB Treasurer Mikio Kashiwagi. As with previous ADB benchmark transactions, the issue achieved broad primary market distribution with 46% of the bonds placed in the Americas, 32% in Asia and 22% with investors in Europe, Middle East and Africa. By investor type, 63% of the bonds went to central bank and government institutions, 17% to banks, 14% to fund managers and 6% to other types of investors.ADB plans to raise around $15 billion from the international capital markets in 2010.

From http://www.adb.org/ 05/27/2010

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Asia Moves to Contain Property Bubbles

From Shanghai to Singapore, policy makers are struggling in their efforts to curb property bubbles that threaten to derail the world's fastest growing region. In China, home prices are surging at a record pace even after authorities set price ceilings, demanded higher deposits, and limited second-home purchases. In Hong Kong, where the government has pledged to release more land to cool prices, a site auctioned on June 8 fetched the most since the market peak of 1997. It's a similar story in Singapore and Taiwan as prices defy cooling measures." Governments allow the property bubble to get so big and then try to use administrative measures to keep out speculators," said Andy Xie, former Morgan Stanley chief economist for Asia-Pacific and now a private economist based in Shanghai. It creates the risk of a very hard landing. The right thing to do is raise interest rates."

The International Monetary Fund has cautioned that Asia's booming home prices "pose risks to financial stability." Governments in the region are turning to market curbs rather than raising interest rates - at 20-year lows in some places - in an effort to avert a US-style property crash. While real estate prices have yet to respond, equity investors have: a Bloomberg index of 192 Asia-Pacific real estate stocks has lost 15 per cent in 2010 versus a 1.5 per cent gain for its US peer. "The property bubbles in Asia right now are reminiscent of the US before the subprime crisis because they are both fuelled by debt when interest rates are too low," Xie said. Hong Kong had its first signal this week of a possible turn in the market, when billionaire Lee Shau-kee's Henderson Land Development Co. announced that sales of 20 luxury apartments had been canceled, including a unit that would have set a world record price of $HK88,000 ($13,100) per square foot.

Lending Binge
China, while keeping interest rates steady, has restricted pre-sales by developers, curbed loans for third-home purchases, raised minimum mortgage rates, and tightened down-payment requirements for second-home purchases. The government is trying to peel back the effects of a $US586 billion stimulus plan and $US1.4 trillion lending binge that revived economic growth and sparked record property price increases. China's banking regulator this week said it sees growing credit risks in the nation's real-estate industry and warned of increasing pressure from non-performing loans. Risks associated with home mortgages are growing and a "chain effect" may reappear in real-estate development loans, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said in its annual report published on its website June 15.While prices have yet to drop, sales volumes have. Property sales in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen fell as much as 70 per cent in May. China Vanke Co., the nation's biggest publicly traded property developer, said its sales fell 20 per cent in May from a year earlier. Guangzhou R&F Properties Co.'s contracted sales last month shrank 48 per cent.

Cut Estimates
Property prices rose 12.4 per cent in May, compared with a record 12.8 per cent increase in April, from a year earlier, indicating price declines are not keeping pace with the drop in transactions. The value of sales last month slid 25 per cent from April. The data series, covering 70 cities, began in 2005. JPMorgan Chase analysts on June 8 cut their profit estimates for China's developers by an average 9 per cent in 2010 and 11 per cent in 2011 on a "sUSantial slowdown" in sales. China Se Shang's Property Index has tumbled 28 per cent this year, with 32 of 34 members declining, led by Shanghai New Huangpu Real Estate Co. and Poly Real Estate Group Co. Hong Kong may increase sales taxes on some properties, is accelerating land auctions, and is scrutinizing developers' sales techniqUS Singapore plans to increase the supply of land for housing, has barred interest-only mortgages for uncompleted homes, and levied a seller's stamp duty on some properties.

'Regulatory Measures'
Taiwan's financial regulator asked the bankers' association to tighten lending procedures, while two state-owned lenders have raised mortgage rates and cut the amount of loans for buyers of luxury homes and property investors. Interest rates on the island have been at a record low since February 2009. "The regulatory measures are not aiming to crash the whole property market, they are aiming to cool the speculative end," said Khiem Do, Hong Kong-based head of multi-asset strategy at Baring Asset Management (Asia), which oversees $US11 billion. Do is underweight Asian property in his funds and is looking to buy back into the worst hit Chinese property stocks.

Home prices in Hong Kong have risen almost 40 per cent from the beginning of 2009, driven by interest rates at 20-year lows, lagging supply growth and buying from rich mainland Chinese. The risk of a property bubble remained in the city amid liquidity and low interest rates, Norman Chan, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, said May 20. Potential home purchasers should consider their ability to pay before taking out mortgages, Financial Secretary John Tsang said June 9, a day after a residential site sold at a public auction for $HK10.9 billion, beating estimates. In Taipei, home prices climbed 3.4 per cent in May from April, Sinyi Realty Co., the biggest housing broker in Taiwan, said May 31. They have risen 29 per cent to a record since September 2008 when the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. deepened the global credit crisis.

Singapore Sales
Private residential sales in Singapore rose to a nine-month high of 2,208 in April, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said, the highest since July 2009, showing the "resilience" of demand for new homes even after the government curbs, Li Hiaw Ho, executive director of CB Richard Ellis Research, said then. Sales dropped to 1,078 units in May. There continUSto be concerns over "excessive" asset- price inflation in emerging Asia, the Singapore government said May 20. If asset prices correct too sharply in China, it could have "negative spillover" effects on regional economies, Ravi Menon, permanent secretary at the Singapore trade ministry, told reporters the same day. The failure to raise rates may allow the bubble to keep swelling, said Stephen Halmarick, Sydney-based head of investment-markets research at Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which manages about $US135 billion. "The lesson of subprime is that, if you let asset prices go too far for too long, the correction can be very damaging," he said.

From http://www.theage.com.au/ 06/17/2010

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Japan Funds Low-Carbon Model Town Project in APEC

Fukui, Japan, 19 June 2010 - Japan has donated JPY360,000,000 (approximately USD3.9 million) to promote energy efficiency activities and low-carbon measures in APEC. In particular the funds will be used to support a low-emission urban development initiative approved by APEC Energy Ministers at their meeting in Fukui today. "The Low-Carbon Model Town Project aims to introduce low-carbon technology at the level of society and not that of individual products. Over the next three years, APEC will select between 10 to 20 locations and conduct feasibility study projects to transform these cities into low-carbon cities," said the Chair of the meeting, Japan's Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, Mr Masayuki Naoshima.

The fund will also complement APEC's existing capacity building activities on energy efficiency, the development and implementation of alternative energy sources, and the promotion of trade and investment in environmental goods and services. "I hope that this fund will accelerate the low-carbon transformation and contribute to energy security in the region," explains Minister Naoshima. APEC Executive Director, Ambassador Muhamad Noor welcomed the contribution saying, "APEC's objective is to build prosperous regional economies. Activities supported by the fund will help APEC members achieve economic growth that is environmentally sustainable and create new opportunities for 'green' industries."

Japan's contribution will be distributed through APEC's Sub-Fund on Energy Efficiency which was established in 2009 when Japan made an initial donation of JPY 120,000,000. Chinese Taipei and the United States have also contributed to the sub-fund. The donation was made under a Memorandum of Understanding signed today by Minister Naoshima and Ambassador Muhamad Noor at the close of the 9th APEC Energy Ministers' Meeting.

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/19/2010

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CHINA: Cut Taxes on Rural Financing

The Chinese government has cut taxes on rural financing to back development of rural finance and lending to farmers, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Thursday. The government has canceled the sales tax on interest income from small loans to rural households and axed the amount of rural financial businesses' interest income that is subject to tax by 10 percent, according to a circular issued by the MOF on its website. The measure is back dated to Jan. 1, 2009 and would last to Dec. 31, 2013, the circular said. The government also cut the sales tax on insurance premium income for rural financial institutions, including rural credit cooperatives and village banks among others, to 3 percent, said the circular, without providing previous rate. The policy is back dated to Jan. 1, 2009 and willl last to Dec. 31, 2011. The small loans under the new tax policy refer to the amount no more than 50,000 yuan (7318.0 U.S. dollars) that a rural household borrows from financial institutions at one time. Total outstanding loans for the household should not exceed 50,000 yuan.

From Xinhua News Agency 05/28/2010

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China's Financial Leasing Sector Issues First Financial Bonds

China Huarong Financial Leasing Co., Ltd issued 1 billion yuan (147 million U.S. dollars) in bonds Thursday, according to a statement posted on the company's website. Huarong Financial Leasing became the first of its kind to issue bonds as China opened issuance to leasing firms to diversify its bond market, said Hu Jiliang, president of the firm. With a domestic agency rating of AA+, Huarong Financial Leasing's bonds comprise three-year and five-year tenors with interest accrual rate of 3.86 percent and 4.6 percent respectively, Hu said.P The move aims to keep the company's asset and liability stable as a whole, according to the statement. China Huarong Financial Leasing is a subsidiary of China Huarong Asset Management Corporation, one of four state-owned asset management firms.

From Xinhua News Agency 05/28/2010

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China to Launch US$4.1 Bln 3-year Treasury Bonds

China's Ministry of Finance (MOF) Wednesday announced it would float a batch of three-year book-entry treasury bonds Thursday, with a total par value of 28 billion yuan (4.1 billion U.S. dollars). The bonds will have a fixed interest rate of 2.33 percent, to be paid annually every June 3 until 2013, said a statement on the ministry website. The bonds, the 16th batch of their kind launched this year, would be sold over five days till June 7, and would become tradeable from June 9, the statement said. Book-entry bonds are bonds recorded in the investors' securities accounts, which can be traded on the open market, and their market prices can deviate from par value.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/02/2010

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Securities Regulator OKs ABC's IPO Plan

China's securities regulators Wednesday approved the Agricultural Bank of China's (ABC) initial public offering application as the lender finalized preparations for its dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong. The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) Public Offering Review Committee made the announcement Wednesday afternoon after it reviewed the bank's application Wednesday morning. The bank is yet to decide its share price range. Analysts believe it will be in the 2.5 yuan to 2.6 yuan range for A-shares because of recent market volatility. According to the preliminary prospectus submitted to the CSRC, the ABC plans to sell up to 22.24 billion A-shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and up to 25.41 billion shares in Hong Kong, excluding an over-allotment option. "The performance of the financial sector will not be influenced much by a single bank's IPO plan. Instead, it is affected by the overall development of the economy," said Zhao Xijun, deputy dean of the School of Finance, Renmin University of China. "Setting a reasonable price for the ABC's share is fairly important for the healthy development of the stock market. In the long run, the way ABC manages the challenges of its businesses related to agriculture will be looked at closely by the market," said Zhang Jing, an analyst with China Minzu Securities. "The central government has been promoting rural development and is sparing no effort in lifting farmers' income. By providing preferential tax and other policies, the ABC has great potential to further develop its businesses in rural areas," said Guo Tianyong, professor with the School of Finance of the Central University of Finance and Economics. The ABC, China's main rural lender, is the last of China's "big four" state-owned lenders to go public.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/09/2010

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CSRC Allows 5 More Brokers in Program

China's securities regulator approved a second batch of five brokerages to deal in margin trading and short selling, and also lowered the threshold in a bid to attract more firms to participate in the pilot program. The China Securities Regulatory Commission approved the applications of China Galaxy Securities Co, Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Co, Orient Securities, China Merchants Securities Co and Huatai Securities Co, Xinhua news agency said. The CSRC also lowered the brokers' net capital requirement from 5 billion yuan (US$730 million) to 3 billion yuan in the past six months in a bid to attract them to take part in the program. A total of 15 brokerages qualified under the new standard, including Essence Securities, China Securities, Ping An Securities, China International Capital Co Ltd and Guoyuan Securities. Margin trading lets brokers fund stock purchases by individual investors. Short-selling allows retail investors to sell borrowed securities with an aim to buy them back later at lower prices to profit from the difference. The margin trading and short selling pilot program is initially limited to six brokerages - CITIC Securities, Guotai Jun'an Securities, Haitong Securities, Guosen Securities, Everbright Securities and GF Securities. The new derivatives generated a trading value of 3.05 billion yuan by May 31 since its debut on March 31, with 2.8 billion yuan for margin trading and 222 million yuan for short selling. The CSRC is also tightening rules to forbid fund managers from trading in stock index futures to prevent manipulation of the stock market, according to Xinhua news agency.

From Shanghai Daily 06/10/2010

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China Regulates Local Gov't Financing Companies

China released rules on Sunday to regulate financing vehicles used by local governments to fund infrastructure projects, in a bid to prevent fiscal and financial risks amid ballooning debt. The State Council, or the Cabinet, said in a directive on its website that local governments must implement a comprehensive clearing-up of financing companies. The main problem was that the scale of financing on debt had expanded rapidly, and local governments had provided guarantees illegally which increased risks of loan defaults, it said. The directive demanded a halt on lending to financing vehicles which mainly rely on fiscal revenue for debt repayment on public projects. Local governments must "properly dispose of these companies" after their debts were repaid, it said. The central government asked banks to step up risk management and stop lending to financing units which had no stable cash flow for debt repayment. It also forbad local governments from using fiscal revenue or state-owned assets from providing guarantees for funding through financing vehicles. According to the China Banking Regulatory Commission, outstanding loans to local government financing units surged 70.4 percent year on year to 7.38 trillion yuan (1.08 trillion U.S. dollars) by the end of last year.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/14/2010

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China to Further Reform RMB Regime

The People's Bank of China, China's central bank, has decided to proceed further with the reform of the Renminbi exchange rate regime to enhance the RMB exchange rate flexibility, a spokesperson of the central bank said Saturday. The decision was made in view of the recent economic situation and financial market developments at home and abroad, and the balance of payments (BOP) situation in China, the spokesperson said in a statement. In further proceeding with the reform, continued emphasis would be placed to reflecting market supply and demand with reference to a basket of currencies. The exchange rate floating bands will remain the same as previously announced in the inter-bank foreign exchange market, the spokesman said. The spokesperson said China's external trade is becoming more balanced. The ratio of current account surplus to GDP, after a notable reduction in 2009, has been declining since the beginning of 2010. "With the BOP account moving closer to equilibrium, the basis for large-scale appreciation of the RMB exchange rate does not exist," the spokesperson said. The PBOC will further enable market to play a fundamental role in resource allocation, promote a more balanced BOP account, maintain the RMB exchange rate basically stable at an adaptive and equilibrium level, and achieve the macroeconomic and financial stability in China, the spokesperson said.

China has moved into a managed floating exchange rate regime based on market supply and demand with reference of a basket of currencies since July 1, 2005. The spokesperson said the reform of the RMB exchange rate regime has been making steady progress since 2005, producing the anticipated results and playing a positive role. With the current round of international financial crisis was at its worst, the exchange rate of a number of sovereign currencies to the U.S. dollar depreciated by varying margins. "The stability of the RMB exchange rate has played an important role in mitigating the crisis' impact, contributing significantly to Asian and global recovery, and demonstrating China's efforts in promoting global rebalancing," the spokesperson said. The gradual recovery of the global economy and upturn of the Chinese economy has become more solid with enhanced economic stability. It is desirable to proceed further with reform of the RMB exchange rate regime and increase the RMB exchange rate flexibility, said the spokesperson.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/19/2010

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Banks Asked to Set Up System to Oversee Foreign Loans

Chinese banks should set up an independent risk management system in line with its strategic expansion plan as part of efforts to ward off financial risks, China's banking regulator said Wednesday. The breakout of the global financial crisis highlighted the necessity of increasing management of differentiated sovereign risks, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said in a guideline published on its website. Just as Chinese banks were expanding throughout the world, the overseas risks they were facing were on the rise, the guideline noted. Sovereign risks refer to ones that banks are exposed to when overseas borrowers or debtors are unable to repay debt because of their countries' economic, political and social changes. Chinese lenders were required to differentiate risks according to the countries involved and make policies on the minimum potential loan loss provisions ranging from 0.5 percent to 50 percent, according to the guideline. The banks must meet the requirements under the guideline by June 1, 2011.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/24/2010

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Local Govts' 3 Trln Yuan in Debt

China's top auditor said Wednesday that the country's local governments had run up bank loans totaling almost 3 trillion yuan by the end of last year, most of it to fund infrastructure construction. Liu Jiayi, head of the National Audit Office (NAO), said that 18 provincial, 16 city and 36 county-level governments audited had accumulated debts of 2.79 trillion yuan (410.3 billion U.S. dollars). Loans totaling 1.04 trillion yuan were secured from banks and financing platform companies last year, and the other 1.75 trillion yuan dated from previous loans, said Liu in his report to the 15th session of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature. According to China's law on government spending, it is illegal for local governments at all levels to have deficit accounts, and local governments should clear their loans within the fiscal year. It is the first time China's central authorities have released details of local government debts since potential risks from the chaotic local government financing activities become a serious concern. The report said only 8.92 percent of new debts in 2009 were invested in the central government's 4-trillion-yuan stimulus package projects. A considerable proportion of last year's loans were used to finance transport and other infrastructure facilities that were started before 2008, it said. The NAO report gives the public a glimpse into local governments that have constantly violated state law with legal and illegal financing channels to pay for booming urbanization.

The central government allows local governments to establish financing platform companies with their fiscal fund, land and other assets to supplement capital revenues for economic and social development. However, local governments are prohibited from using their revenues and government assets to guarantee loans from banks and other finance institutions. The State Council, China's Cabinet, ordered local governments earlier this month to halt all forms of fiscal revenue guarantees for debts. According to the NAO report, auditors found 307 financing platform companies established by the local governments they audited. Loans from those companies totaled 1.45 trillion yuan, accounting for more than half of their total deficit. Chinese economists have repeatly expressed concerns about local government loans, warning that some local governments may go bankrupt unless the central government issues stricter regulations. Among the surveyed local governments, the debts of seven provincial, 10 city and 14 county governments exceeded their spendable incomes last year. One local government's debt was triple its spendable income in 2009, according to the report. "Some local governments have heavy burdens to repay their loans which brings certain debt risks to the government," Liu told more than 170 members of the NPC's Standing Committee on Wednesday. Gao Qiang, vice chairman of the NPC's Financial and Economic Committee, said in his report to the Standing Committee that local governments should seek the authority of local people's congresses before applying for loans. A mechanism to publish government debt information and other regulatory policies should be established for government loans, Gao said.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/24/2010

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JAPAN: BOJ Looks to Extend Trillions to Lenders

The Bank of Japan may extend several trillion yen in loans to financial institutions in July as part of a new program to combat deflation and bring about a sustainable economic recovery, sources said. The scope and other details of the lending program are to be hammered out when the BOJ Policy Board meets from June 14 to 15, the sources said. The BOJ wants the measure to supplement the government's long-term growth strategy through 2020. The strategy is to be compiled by the end of the month. At the previous Policy Board meeting in May, BOJ Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa and other policymakers decided to extend loans to commercial banks for basically one year at an interest rate of around 0.1 percent - the same as the BOJ's key policy rate - to encourage banks to lend more funds to businesses in growth areas. This is intended to strengthen the foundation for economic growth because it deems bold funding efforts in such growth industries as alternative energy and environmental conservation as essential for the economy to achieve a full recovery. The BOJ is expected to limit the window for accepting loan applications to about a year, and is likely to allow the loans to be rolled over, the sources said. Shirakawa has said the temporary nature of the loan program is intended to encourage financial institutions to use the program "as intensively as possible while it is in place."

As for selecting the industries eligible for the loans, the central bank said it plans to respect private-sector banks' approach to lending while emphasizing industries that the government and business federations regard as promising, the sources said. As part of its growth strategy, the government is expected to aim for creating a new market covering not only energy and the environment, but also medical treatment, nursing care and robots as well as other areas involving advanced technology. It will also call for increased cooperation between the public and private sectors in achieving the target. The basic policy of the growth strategy, announced late last year, shoots for annual real economic growth of 2 percent on average and the creation of 4.76 million jobs. The National Policy Unit, a new body set up after the Democratic Party of Japan took power last year, has been working to cooperate with other ministries on specific measures to bring about more growth. The BOJ has been concerned that the medium- to long-term potential growth rate of the economy is set to fall due partly to the shrinking population and sluggish productivity. The new funding measure is intended to help cultivate new demand and to solidify the base for national economic growth.

From http://search.japantimes.co.jp/ 06/04/2010

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Japan: Calls for Fiscal Reform Likely Next Finmin

Japan's leading contender for new finance minister, Yoshihiko Noda, said on Monday he wants to set a path for fiscal reform, a sign he shares Prime Minister-elect Naoto Kan's zeal to fix the country's tattered finances. Kan, a fiscal conservative with an image as a challenger to the status quo, was elected as Japan's next premier on Friday and Japanese media say he will choose Noda as finance minister when he forms a cabinet on Tuesday. Succeeding unpopular Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama who quit last week ahead of an upper house election expected in July, Kan and his new finance minister will be under market scrutiny over how serious they are on reining in public debt, now about twice the size of the economy. "As finance minister (Kan) is set to become prime minister, we want to set a path for fiscal reform," Noda, who is deputy finance minister, said in brief comments to Reuters. Financial markets don't expect any major shift in economic policy as Kan hands over the finance ministry baton. The looming election could also keep Kan from promising bold reforms due to opposition from many in his party against any talk of tax hikes or big spending cuts, some analysts say. But markets hope that under Kan, who has a better grip on economic affairs than Hatoyama, the government will get more serious about taking bolder steps to rein in public debt. Its first task will be to come up with a long-term fiscal reform plan by June as scheduled. "Kan will probably seek a balanced fiscal reform, one that doesn't end up hurting the economy.

He understands the lessons Japan learned in the past, when the drive for fiscal discipline came at a bad time and pushed the economy in a deep downturn," said Naoki Iizuka, senior economist at Mizuho Securities. "Markets so far aren't moving much on news of Japan's new premier. But Kan's policies are quite stock-market friendly. He'll seek an end to deflation, want a weak yen and will wait for the right timing in restoring Japan's fiscal health." The currency market is also keen to see if Kan's government will take a tougher stance on yen strength, but asked about renewed euro selling against the yen, Noda told Reuters: "I won't comment on currency levels." The euro fell to its lowest in more than four years against the dollar and hit an 8-1/2-year low against the yen on Monday as short-term players sold it on increasing worries about the euro zone's debt crisis. Credit rating agencies have threatened to cut Japan's sovereign debt rating unless it comes up with a credible plan to rein in its public debt, which is the biggest among major industrialized nations. Noda, 53, has echoed Kan's calls for new bond issuance for the fiscal year from next April to be capped at the record 44.3 trillion yen ($482 billion) earmarked for this year. Well-versed in fiscal policy and respected as a steady hand, Noda's appointment would come as little surprise, although analysts question how much he could achieve ahead of the upper house election. Aside from mapping out the long-term fiscal reform plan, Noda will also have to steer debate on the contentious issue of whether and when Japan should raise the sales tax from the current 5 percent. Kan has called for the need to debate a sales tax hike, contrary to Hatoyama, who said he would not raise the tax rate until the next lower house election that must be held by 2013.

From http://news.yahoo.com/ 06/07/2010

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Japan Central Bank to Launch $33B Credit Program

Japan's central bank on Tuesday unveiled details of a new $33 billion low-interest lending scheme intended to fuel economic growth and fight deflation. The plan accompanied the Bank of Japan's decision to keep its key interest rate near zero. It cited robust overseas demand for helping the world's second biggest economy continue a moderate recovery. Exports and production are up, and corporate capital investment is climbing. Government stimulus measures are also driving consumer demand at home. The jobs and wages situation "remained severe, but the degree of severity has ease somewhat," the central bank said. It pledged to keep monetary policy "extremely accommodative" to fight deflation and foster sustainable growth in the country. As part of those efforts, the Bank of Japan's new funding program is designed to encourage private banks to lend money to businesses in growth sectors such as environment, energy, elderly care and tourism. "The most critical challenge the Japanese economy is currently facing is to raise the potential economic growth rate and productivity," the Bank of Japan said in its statement. Through the lending facility, commercial banks will have access to a total 3 trillion yen ($32.8 billion). Approved banks will be able to borrow up to 150 billion yen each for up to four years at an annual interest rate of 0.1 percent. The central bank aims to start the program by the end of August.

From http://www.forbes.com/ 06/15/2010

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BOJ Unveils New Loan Scheme

The Bank of Japan said Tuesday it plans to introduce at the end of August a new funding measure aimed at prodding banks to boost lending to industries with growth potential, such as the environment, while deciding to keep its key interest rate unchanged at a razor-thin 0.1% to help ensure the nation's economic recovery. Under the new lending program, the BOJ will offer a total of 3 trillion yen in loans to private banks that will fund projects in industries with growth potential for one year at an interest rate of 0.1% a year, the BOJ said after concluding a two-day policy meeting. Together with the growth strategy the government has been working to compile by the end of this month, the central bank is hoping its new funding program will help ensure that the nation's economy achieves a full-blown recovery and defeats deflation.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/16/2010

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Gov't to Cut Corporate Tax, Create 5 Million Jobs in Decade

The government on Friday unveiled a growth strategy for the next decade featuring plans to cut corporate tax to the level of other major nations, while creating a total of 123 trillion yen in demand and 5 million jobs in such sectors as health care and clean energy. The government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan hopes that the plans will yield an average 2% real economic growth over the 10 years, but stopped short of presenting how to secure funds to implement them. The strategy calls on the Bank of Japan to make ''utmost efforts'' to help the government end price falls possibly by March 2012, while stating that ''excessive appreciation of the yen'' should be averted through efforts to ensure stable inflation. The mapping-out of the strategy was the first major task for Kan, who has been in office for only 10 days, and will be followed by mid- and long-term fiscal reform policies to be unveiled next week ahead of his trip to Canada to attend a set of summit meetings later this month and the July 11 upper house election. Even before assuming the premiership, former Finance Minister Kan had pressed for greater fiscal discipline amid a ballooning state debt and suggested that the 5% sales tax be raised to 10%, while also calling for continued efforts to stimulate the economy, which has been emerging from its deepest postwar slump.

To boost Japanese companies' international competitiveness, the government says it will gradually reduce the corporate tax rate from some 40% to the average level among other major economies, which is around 25%, although it did not specifying a time frame. Japan will promote the export of its infrastructure technologies such as nuclear power generation and high-speed railways to mainly emerging Asian countries together with private-sector firms to help grow the market to 19.7 trillion yen, while aiming to create a free trade zone in the Asia-Pacific region. It plans to expand combined research and development investment in the public and private sectors to 4% or more of gross domestic product through regulatory reforms and tax breaks. Capitalizing on the popularity of Japanese animation, fashion and culture, it plans to earn 1 trillion yen through related output. The government, led by the Democratic Party of Japan, seeks to create a 50 trillion yen market and 1.4 million jobs in the green energy sector and establish a market worth 10 trillion yen for renewable energies by nurturing venture firms. It also promises to spur demand totaling 50 trillion yen and 2.84 million jobs in the area of health care and advanced medicine by selling Japan's related technology in the Asian market and luring patients from overseas.

The government aims to invite 30 million foreign visitors a year compared with 6.8 million in fiscal 2009 through the facilitation of visas for Chinese tourists to Japan, who are recently on the increase. It predicts that such efforts will help expand the economy by 10 trillion yen and create about 560,000 fresh jobs. Japan is looking to enable people to take holidays at different times of the year depending on where they live, an effort it claims would rein in crowds at public spots, and thus create fresh demand worth 1 trillion yen, with an eye toward implementing it as early as the fiscal year ending March 2013. The government also aims to accept 300,000 foreign students a year and send the same number of Japanese students abroad. Kan, the DPJ's head, has often complained that the country's decades-long economic stagnation resulted from the lack of an effective growth strategy during the previous Liberal Democratic Party-led governments. The 63-year-old premier is expected to attend a Group of Eight summit to be held in Huntsville, Canada, on June 25-27, and the Group of 20 meeting in Toronto on June 26-27.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/18/2010

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SOUTH KOREA: BOK Proposes Permanent Foreign Currency Swaps

Korea proposed a permanent arrangement for central banks to swap foreign currencies to help address the type of funding shortages that emerged during the global financial crisis. The "broadening and institutionalization" of the measures could help establish "a global financial safety net," Bank of Korea Governor Kim Choong-soo said in the text of a speech to be delivered today in Seoul at a conference of central bankers. Kim's proposal comes five days before Group of 20 finance chiefs gather to discuss strengthening efforts to prevent financial crises. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who's among officials due to speak to the Korean forum, has opposed swaps as a "permanent service," seeking instead to pressure banks into better managing their funding needs across different currencies. Korea's Kim said his proposal could cut the need for emerging economies to hold large quantities of foreign-exchange reserves as insurance at a "substantial" economic cost. His comments were for a two-day forum, hosted by his bank, on "The Changing Role of Central Banks." A reemergence of financing strains, sparked by the European debt crisis, spurred the Fed to resuscitate currency-swap arrangements with the central banks of the euro region, U.K., Switzerland, Canada and Japan this month. The step came just three months after the Fed had closed its swap lines from the crisis sparked by the collapse in U.S. mortgage securities.

The rate banks pay for three-month loans in dollars rose to the highest level since July 2009 last week as the European Union's near-$1 trillion support plan in the wake of Greece's budget crisis failed to encourage banks to step up lending. The London interbank offered rate, or Libor, for such loans increased to 0.538 percent on May 27. Bernanke said last week in Japan that while swap lines played an important role in establishing stability during the global financial crisis, "we don't necessarily want to be providing a permanent service for financial markets." "There's a good case that we should put pressure, or at least try to influence, banks to better manage these currency mismatches, or if not currency mismatches the fact that they are relying on dollar funding and there are difficulties in achieving the funding that they need," the Fed chief said. In October 2008, the Fed added Korea, Brazil, Mexico and Singapore to its swaps. Korea also had arrangements with the central banks of China and Japan. In the swaps, central banks exchange foreign currency with an agreement to reverse the transaction at a later date. The central banks will then lend the money at fixed rates to firms in their countries. Kim said that while his nation had benefited greatly from the arrangements, they had shortcomings including their ad-hoc nature and "the high selectivity of the counterparties involved." He cited East Asia's so-called Chiang Mai Initiative, a currency swap arrangement between Korea, Japan, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as "significant regional progress." The forum in Seoul is also to be addressed by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, who, like Bernanke, is to speak via video.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 05/30/2010

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Ministry to Reduce BOK Rate Meeting Role

Korea's government plans to reduce its role in central bank policy meetings after the presence of a representative at the gathering spurred concern about the bank's independence. The vice finance minister who attends the sessions will leave during the Bank of Korea's vote on interest rates, Yoon Jong-won, director general of the Finance Ministry's economic policy division, said Monday. "We've agreed to change the procedures from the June policy meeting," said Yoon. "The current arrangement can give a wrong and unnecessary impression that the government is putting pressure on rate policy by the vice finance minister" sitting in during the vote, Yoon said. The decision is a victory for the central bank after some board members pressed for the vice minister to leave the room during the vote. President Lee Myung-bak's administration started dispatching its representative to the gatherings in January, a month after Kim's predecessor said the bank shouldn't be too slow to increase borrowing costs. "The change will definitely help ensure the central bank's independent decision making," said Choi Seok-won, an analyst at Samsung Securities Co. in Seoul. "But I believe the government has agreed to the change on expectation that the new central bank governor will fully appreciate the government's position and make decisions on rates not far from it." President Lee, who predicts growth of more than 5 percent this year, has made the economy and jobs his top priority before provincial elections this week.

Governor Kim Choong-soo is a former economic adviser to the president and the government has repeatedly said that it's too soon to raise rates from a record- low 2 percent as it seeks to stoke growth. "Central bankers, unlike politicians who are destined for a short-time horizon, must be far sighted," said Korean Prime Minister Chung Un Chan, who spoke at a central bank conference luncheon in Seoul on Monday. "That should be respected and preserved all the more" given the global financial crisis. The economy expanded 1.8 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months. In April, exports climbed 30 percent from a year earlier, the sixth straight gain, as the global recovery spurred demand for Korean-made products like Samsung Electronics Co.'s semiconductors and Hyundai Motor Co.'s cars. Consumer prices rose 2.6 percent in April from a year earlier, quickening from 2.3 percent in March, while remaining within the central bank's target range of between 2 percent and 4 percent, on average, for the three years to 2012. Pressure on Governor Kim to join Asian counterparts from India to China in tightening monetary policy has eased as policy makers gauge the fallout from Europe's debt crisis and escalating military tension with North Korea. Samsung's Choi said that while the central bank may have to keep rates on hold at its June 10 meeting due to the volatile financial markets, it needs to raise them soon in order to prevent further problems.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 06/01/2010

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BOK Pledges to Maintain Market Stability

The Bank of Korea will use its open market operations to prevent renewed volatility amid Europe's debt crisis and escalating military tensions with North Korea, Governor Kim Choong-soo said. The central bank plans to manage its monetary policy by closely watching potential imbalances stemming from long-standing low rates, he added in a prepared speech for the bank's 60th anniversary. "We must closely analyze the possibility of risk spreading and if necessary act energetically," said Kim. The central bank should enhance its communication with the market as uncertainties surrounding the domestic and global economy make investors sensitive to even mild shocks, he said. Many people now believe that it's better to take pre-emptive action to avert asset bubbles as it's difficult and costly to react with monetary policy after a crisis, the governor said. The Bank of Korea on Thursday froze its key interest rate at a record low 2 percent for the 16th straight month, saying Europe's debt crisis is causing considerable uncertainty. It also signaled a greater emphasis on inflation as the economy accelerates. Kim said the bank will pay special attention to the impact of domestic and external risks to the economic recovery when deciding on interest-rate moves. "Monetary policy will be operated by taking into account prices, economic activity and financial market conditions," said Kim. "Particular attention also needs to be paid to the impacts of internal and external risk factors on the trend of economic recovery, as well as to the possibility of imbalances arising from our continued easing stance." The BOK said in a statement on Thursday that it will manage its monetary policy in a way that the economy can keep its solid growth on the basis of price stability, hinting that the central bank is more tilted toward a potential rate increase from the previous month.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 06/11/2010

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Ministry to Withdraw SME Loan Relief

The government Sunday decided to stop providing emergency liquidity to small and medium-sized enterprises at the end of the month as planned. The provisions were the last of the measures brought about in response to the global financial crisis but, according to the Bank of Korea, Financial Services Commission and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, economic conditions no longer warrant them. "t is true that anxiety about the economy is spreading due to the southern Europe's fiscal crisis and the Cheonan incident, but analyses have shown that such conditions are not serious enough for extending emergency measures," a government official has been quoted as saying by the local media. With the economy showing signs of improving, the government has been rolling back emergency measures since the second half of last year. Even with such measures being scaled down, the Korean economy appears to be fairing well, with the country managing to record 2.1 percent quarter-on-quarter growth during the first quarter of the year. In May unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 percent, the lowest since October 2008, while exports surged by 41.9 percent. As conditions improve, the Bank of Korea also appears to be preparing for a return to pre-crisis conditions. On Thursday the central bank froze the benchmark interest rate for another month but hinted that it was moving closer to a hike in order to rein in inflation. "We're keeping a close tab (on prices,) as upward inflationary pressure is expected to grow in the second half of this year," BOK Governor Kim Choong-soo told reporters after a monetary policy board meeting.

In May, consumer prices rose 2.7 percent, gaining pace from the 2.6 percent increase seen in April, fueled by increases in food and oil prices. While some analysts have predicted that the hike will could come as late as the final quarter of the year, the consensus among securities firms' analysts seems to be that rates will begin to be raised toward the end of the third quarter. Taurus Investment and Securities put the date at September, and projected that the rates would be raised by about 0.75 percentage points before the end of the year citing that inflationary pressure is likely to begin to be exerted during the third quarter. While predicting slower increase rates, Korea Investment and Securities, Hanwha Securities and Meritz Securities are also projecting that rates will begin to rise in the third quarter. Up until the global financial crisis, Korea's benchmark interest rate stood at 5.25 percent. The potential rates hike is considered likely to be preceded by the Bank of Korea winding down the aggregate credit ceiling loans back down to pre-crisis levels. The aggregate credit ceiling loans are loans extended to commercial banks at low rates depending on the amount of loans the commercial banks give to SMEs. At present the ceiling for the loans stands at 10 trillion won ($8.03 billion). In comparison, the "normal" ceiling is 6.5 trillion won.

From http://www.koreaherald.com/ 06/13/2010

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Merger Plans Brewing Among Major Banks

Consolidation in the banking sector is expected to pick up steam with KB Financial Group's board having nominated Euh Yoon-dae as its new chairman on Thursday. Before being tapped to lead the parent company of Kookmin Bank, the country's largest lender, Euh said the Korean banking industry needs a "mega bank" with bigger global influence. Analysts predict his nomination will speed up the group's push to become bigger by merging with other banks. KB Financial Group is widely expected to emerge as a key consolidator, taking over Woori Finance Holdings, Korea Development Bank or Korea Exchange Bank. At the moment, the most likely targets are Woori and KDB as Euh is said to have little interest in acquiring KEB. Woori has a strong presence in the non-banking side of the business which KB hopes to venture into. The government, which owns a 57-percent stake in Woori, will announce sales plans for the lender in the coming weeks, while state-run KDB Financial is planning an initial share sale next year. U.S. private equity fund Lone Star is also selling its controlling stake in KEB. A merger of KB Financial Group and Woori would create the biggest financial group by far in Korea and a global top 50 financial firm.

From http://english.chosun.com/ 06/18/2010

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BOK to Ban Foreign Currency Loans for Domestic Investment

The Bank of Korea plans to ban foreign currency loans by banks and financial institutions extended for the purpose of domestic investment. Starting July 1, financial bodies in Korea will only be able to get foreign currency loans for overseas use with the exception of investing in the nation's small and medium-sized manufacturers, which usually have difficulties in raising funds from abroad. The move is part of measures aimed at reducing excessive cross-border capital flow announced earlier this month amid increasing foreign currency loans due to the recovering global economy and the strengthening Korean won. The BOK says the regulation is expected to prevent a surge in foreign debt and potential uncertainties in the nation's financial market.

From http://english.chosun.com/ 06/24/2010

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Kan Targets Tax Reform to Repair Economy

Stressing the need for tax reform to restore the country's battered finances, Prime Minister Naoto Kan vowed Friday in his first policy speech to the Diet that he will exert strong leadership to overcome Japan's economic struggles. Specifically, Kan called on opposition parties to jointly launch a panel to discuss ways to restore the fiscal balance. Kan did not specifically touch on the consumption tax, although he has indicated raising the unpopular levy will be inevitable to overcome the country's snowballing public debt and ballooning social security costs. "As we can see in the confusion of the euro zone that was triggered by Greece, government finances could collapse if we leave the increasing public debt untouched and lose the trust of (the Japanese government bond) market," he said. "We need national discussion on this issue, which will determine the future of our country, by overcoming the barrier between ruling and opposition parties," Kan said. Kan, who took over from Yukio Hatoyama as prime minister on Tuesday after replacing him last week as Democratic Party of Japan president, criticized the lack of leadership by his predecessors, saying it ultimately resulted in the economy's downward spiral and stagnation. "In order for the public to regain hope for the future, I will conduct a comprehensive reconstruction of Japan's economy, finances and social welfare," Kan told the Diet, which will likely end its session next week. Kan, the finance minister in Hatoyama's administration, focused much of his speech on the deteriorating fiscal balance and his ideas for fixing it. Japan "has a huge outstanding debt and it won't be cured in a short span of time," he acknowledged. But he assured that his approach to overcome the difficult task will be multidimensional, including creating jobs related to environmental protection and the aging society, as well as exporting Japan's technologies and experience to Asia's growing economies. The government must rid itself of policies that depend on public works to stimulate the economy and also end its reliance on government bonds to make ends meet, he added. He meanwhile pledged to continue some of Hatoyama's policies, including reviewing wasteful spending by the government and taking the policy initiative away from bureaucrats. "We are still only halfway there," Kan said. On opening up the government to the public, Kan spoke of his experience in 1996 as health minister, when he revealed secret documents regarding HIV-tainted blood products that had been hidden by ministry officials.

Referring to the disclosure of documents earlier this year regarding secret nuclear pacts between Tokyo and Washington, he said his new administration will continue to do away with politics behind closed doors and truly allow the public to take part in the nation's democracy. On foreign affairs, Kan said his team will work to establish stronger ties with both Washington and Asian neighbors, saying his Cabinet will formulate responsible diplomatic policies with the rest of the world. "The U.S.-Japan alliance is the basis of diplomacy" for Japan, Kan said, explaining that the bilateral relationship not only provides security for the country but supports the peace and prosperity of the whole Asia-Pacific region. Regarding U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Kan said he will abide by the agreement reached last month to relocate its operations within the prefecture. But he added that measures to alleviate Okinawa's hardships will be thoroughly studied. During the speech, Kan revealed he will visit Okinawa on June 23 and attend a ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Okinawa. Continuing Hatoyama's diplomatic proposals, Kan said he will seek to create an East Asian community, as suggested by his predecessor, and vowed to create a strategic partnership with China and fortify ties with South Korea. But Kan also highlighted his differences from Hatoyama and recent Liberal Democratic Party chiefs who come from hereditary backgrounds. A former social activist who began politics at the grassroots level, Kan said he gained interest in politics after watching his father struggle financially as a white-collar worker. His goal as a politician is to create a government that allows the wider public to truly get involved in politics and running the country, he said.

From http://search.japantimes.co.jp/ 06/12/2010

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INDONESIA: Budget Deliberation at Risk of Deadlock - Golkar

The Golkar Party warned on Saturday the upcoming deliberation of the 2011 draft state budget at the House of Representatives would face a deadlock if the government refused to approve the party's demand for Rp 8.4 trillion (US$916 million) in aspiration fund. Golkar politician Harry Azhar Azis, who chairs the House's budget committee, said the party would insist that the next state budget allocate the fund as part of development spending as Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo had never rejected the initiative. "The finance minister said the proposal could be discussed together," Harry said as quoted by kompas.com. Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa had previously said the aspiration fund was unnecessary. Earlier Agus said the allocation of aspiration fund for House lawmakers would violate several regulations. According to the proposal each of the 560 House lawmakers would receive Rp 15 billion to help develop their respective electoral districts as part of their accountability for their constituents. The initiative is supported by Golkar and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, the country's two largest parties. "If the rejection represents the government's official stance, the budget deliberation will face a deadlock," Harry said. The House and the government are slated to start deliberating the draft budget on Tuesday.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 06/05/2010

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House Demands Rp 3.3 Trillion in Spending

The House of Representatives approved its draft expenditure for 2011 on Thursday, which amounts to Rp 3.3 trillion (US$356 million). In a plenary session presided over by Deputy House Speaker Pramono Anung, the lawmakers unanimously endorsed the spending which was proposed by the House's Household Committee. The government had previously set the House expenditure at Rp 2.7 trillion. "The margin, worth Rp 514 billion, will be negotiated in the state budget deliberations," Pius Lustrilanang, deputy chairman of the Household Committee, told the plenary session. Capacity building tops the House's spending with Rp 1.2 trillion, followed by legislation programs with Rp 422 billion and supervisory functions with Rp 242.6 billion. The House secretariat will receive Rp 1.4 trillion from the budget, with nearly Rp 1.28 trillion for improvement of facilities and infrastructure.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 06/17/2010

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LAOS: Draft Budgetary Plan for Next Five Years Discussed

(KPL) More than 170 financial officials from six northern provinces have gathered in Park-lai district, Sayaboury province, to discuss a new draft budgetary plan for the 2011-2015 period and an annual budget plan for 2010-2011.The seminar held early last week have also discussed on the budgetary division between central authorities and provinces. A two-day meeting drew Mr. Khamsouk Thor, Sayaboury Deputy Governor, Mme. Viengthong Siphandone, Vice-Minister of Finance, high-ranking officials from theFinance Department and provincial services from six northern provinces of Phongsaly, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Oudomsay, Luang Prabang and Sayaboury. The seminar has passed a draft budget plan for 2010-2011 and a draft budget plan for the next five years and even the budgetary division between central and provincial authorities. The implementation of the budget plan for the past five years 2006-2010 was briefed at the meeting.

The state revenue collection from 2006 to 2010 were also summarised at the meeting as follows: in 2006 the state revenue collection reached 5,107 billion kip, exceeding the target by about 10.17 per cent, in 2007 at 6,134 billion kip, above the target by about 10.90 per cent, in 2008 at 7,312 billion kip, above the target by about 10.18 percent, in 2009 at 8,365 billion kip, exceeding the target by 0.29%, and in 2010, the state revenue collection amounted to 10,666 billion kip, over the target by 0,12 %. For the next five-year plan of socio-economic development, efforts will be made to strive for the GDP growth by 8 per cent and the control of inflation under one digit annually. The budget revenue in the next five years is estimated to 18-19% of the GDP growth each year, an average growth of 0.20 and 0.25% of the GDP.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 05/21/2010

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PRF Invests 2.8 Billion Kip in Soukhouma and Bachieng Chaleunsouk

(KPL) So far this year, the Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF) has invested 2.8 billion kip in 44 projects of developing basic infrastructure in Soukhouma and Bachieng districts, Champassak province. Both districts have 101 villages, housing 99,202 people. There are 11 development village clusters in the two districts. Besides the investment in basic infrastructure development, the PRF also invested 570 million kip in 21 vocational training projects in the two districts. These include 11 projects in Soukhouma and 10 in Bachieng Chaleunsouk. The fund said that it has completed 11 projects of basic infrastructure development in Soukhouma.

These projects are the road construction in the villages of Donghoua and Moun for 440 million kip, in the village of Mak Ngo for 266 million kip, in the village of Thatsampang for 244 million kip, in the village of Bok for 182 million kip, the school construction projects in Khoksavang village for 313 million kip and Phaktop village for 313 million kip. There are also artesian well project in Non Pho village for 13 million kip, the low voltage power grid installation project in Khok Ngoua village for 287 million kip and the provision of educational equipment to Pakoi village for 89 million kip. Meanwhile it has completed only three out of 10 projects of basic infrastructure development in Bachieng Chaleunsouk, the installation of power grid in Ladbok village for 263 million kip and Nonsay village for 512 million kip, and the school construction in Kachith village for 334 million kip. The PRF said that it had fulfilled 90 per cent of its vocational training plan in both districts and aimed to complete it by the end of this month or early June at the latest.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 05/26/2010

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Laos Needs 32% of GDP for Development in 2011-2015 Term

(KPL) The government needs 32 per cent or about 127 trillion kip of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) to fulfill the national socio-economic development plan in the next five years. However, Standing Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad, said it was uncertain for the government to achieve in the implementation of its seventh socio-economic plan while facing limited budget. Our budget is relatively limited meanwhile there are shortcomings in our attraction of foreign fund. The said figure is really challenging to us and we are not sure whether we can achieve in the implementation of the next five-year plan or not, said Mr. Somsavat. The cabinet, Vientiane Mayor, and provincial governors and representatives of provincial Planning and Investment Services met here on Monday to discuss the investment in the implementation of the seventh five-year National Socio-economic Development Plan (2011-2015). Among the objectives of the meeting is to shortlist development projects before proposing them to the National Assembly to consider at its coming 9th ordinary session on June 14-July 1, 2010. According to the meeting, which was presided over by Standing Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad, 127 trillion kip is needed to ensure the country's annual economic growth rate of eight per cent.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 06/03/2010

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MALAYSIA: 10MP - Govt to Allocate Between RM90bil and RM91bil for 2011-2012

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will allocate between RM90 billion and RM91 billion for expenditure in the first two years of the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP), says the Director-General of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Noriyah Ahmad. "What we announced earlier for the 10MP was more on policy and strategic direction. We are now doing the budgeting and are targeting between RM90-RM91 billion for 2011-2012," she said. Under the RM230 billion 10MP, she said the budgeting and planning would be more current and relevant through a two-year rolling plan. All ministries will receive their allocation once in two years. This is a departure from previous practices where the ministries received a lump sum allocation for five years. "We need a new strategy for economic recovery. The economic condition now is not the same as in 2005, where it was better. "For the 10MP, we have changed strategy, with a two-year rolling plan and we will only allocate resources for this period. Why? Because we see that our projects can be completed within 18-24 months," she told a press conference after officiating, the National Conference: The New Economic Model, Globalisation and the Malaysian Consumer, here on Friday.

Noriyah also disclosed that an allocation would only be given for projects that are ready to take off. "In the 10MP, we will no longer focus on building construction. What we want is more soft infrastructure, such as funds and research and development. "For example, to enhance human capital, rather than build training centres which will take a long time, it is better to send the workforce to be trained at the available public and private institutions. "In another sense, it will help to generate business for the private sector," she said. "As such, we do not need to hire more teachers and trainers and it will also give the private sector an opportunity to expand," she explained. Earlier, in her speech, Noriyah said among the key challenges of the 10MP is to stimulate private sector investments to grow at 12.8 per cent annually or RM115 billion. It was reported that the country may not be able to achieve the six per cent gross domestic product (GDP)growth target if the 12.8 per cent growth is not achieved within five years.

From http://biz.thestar.com.my/ 06/18/2010

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THAILAND: Parliament Approves 2011 Budget Bill

The members of parliament late last night voted 250 to 172 to approved the first reading of the 2.07 trillion baht 2011 draft fiscal budget bill, reports said. The parliamentary meeting also agreed to set up a 63-member panel to consider details of the draft budget bill and submit to the House meeting for the second reading within 30 days.

From http://www.bangkokpost.com/ 05/28/2010

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Reduction of Social Disparity: An Objective of the 2011 National Budget

The Government has set the national budget for 2011 at 2.07 trillion baht, with an emphasis on reducing social disparity, a problem that has been accumulated for a long period in Thai society. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said that apart from laying down foundations for Thailand's economy and security, while reducing social disparity, another objective of the 2011 national budget was to sustain the country's economic growth. He cited the spending of the national budget as a mechanism to implement the Government's policies. Other mechanisms have also been used to support the policies. For instance, in order to ensure social justice, the Government has entrusted state financial institutions with providing opportunities for low-income earners to have greater access to financial sources. It has also launched several projects to ease people's debt burden and suspend debts for small farmers and the poor.

According to the Prime Minister, the Government has been trying to push for the passage of various bills to reduce social disparity and income gaps. Among them is a bill concerning the establishment of the National Savings Fund to provide an opportunity for 24 million Thais outside the social security system to receive financial support from the fund for the rest of their lives after their retirement. Another draft bill calls for the introduction of land and building taxes to help in the distribution of land for those in need and to narrow the income gap between the rich and the poor in the country. Prime Minister Abhisit pointed out that over the past 17 months in office, the Government had tried every possible way to revive the Thai economy, which experienced a contraction of 7.1 percent and in the first quarter of 2009 and turned to enjoy a growth rate 12 percent in the first quarter of this year. Regarding income gaps, Thailand has made great progress in reducing the number of people below the poverty line from 45 percent of the population 25 years ago to just below 9 percent today. However, at that time the top 20 percent earners earned 12.8 times the bottom 20 percent in 1986 and 12.7 times today.

In the face of this problem, the Government has attached great importance to the tackling of income gaps among the people and ensuring social justice through the development of quality of life, increasing their income, and reducing their expenditure. Moreover, the Government has offered monthly allowances for older persons and the disabled and provided the people with equal educational opportunities. It has also improved the living conditions of people engaged in agriculture through income guarantees and investment in water source development under the "Thailand: Investing from Strength to Strength" program. All these efforts, the Prime Minister said, aim to provide the maximum benefit for the people and develop Thailand into a society of harmonization and sufficiency.

From http://thailand.prd.go.th/ 05/31/2010
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National Budget for 2011 to Facilitate Its Reconciliation Process

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva believes that the national budget for 2011 will be able to accommodate the implementation of the reconciliation process to reform Thailand and pull the country out of the political crisis. The House of Representatives passed the draft bill on the national budget in its first reading on May 27 and agreed to set up a 63-member panel to consider the bill before it is submitted to the House in the second and third readings.The 2011 national budget has been set at 2.07 trillion baht, representing an increase of 21.8 percent, or 370 billion baht, over that of the 2010 budget. The Government has set a deficit of 420 billion baht in this national budget, which will be implemented from 1 October 2010 to 30 September 2011.

Speaking at the conclusion of the two-day debate on the national budget bill, Prime Minister Abhisit pointed out that the national budget for 2011 would lead to the reduction of social inequality, as it would support the Government's policies of creating the welfare system and ensuring social security for all groups of people, ranging from children to older persons. In his view, this national budget will be suitable for the present situation in Thailand and, at the same time, it will also respond to the country's future budget structure. Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij stressed that the deficit budget would not affect the country's economic stability. The Government is expected to earn 1.65 trillion baht in net revenue in the 2011 fiscal year. He said that farmers would certainly benefit from the budget, since an increase of 40 percent had been earmarked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, when compared to its budget allocation in 2010. More funds will also be allocated to farmers through other channels, such as the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, which will receive an allocation of 40 billion baht.

Out of the national budget of 2.07 trillion baht, 1.6 trillion baht will be set aside for regular spending, 344.5 billion baht for investment, and 32.5 billion baht for debt repayment. The Ministry of Education will get the lion's share, followed by the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Public Health. The Government has set eight strategies for budget allocation in 2011. The first strategy, involving a fund of 161.9 billion baht, seeks to stimulate confidence in Thailand. The second strategy, with a fund of 186.4 billion baht, seeks to maintain national security, while the third strategy, involving 624.4 billion baht, calls for social development, the improvement of quality of life, and the reduction of social disparity. The fourth strategy involves a fund of 219.8 billion baht and it seeks to manage the Thai economy effectively, so that it will grow on the basis of stability and sustainability.The fifth strategy, for natural resource and environmental management to cope with global climate changes, involves a fund of 36.9 billion baht. In the sixth strategy, with 18.5 billion baht, emphasis will be placed on science, technology, and innovation development. The seventh strategy, with a fund of about 8.2 billion baht, involves foreign affairs and international economy, while the eighth strategy, good governance, involves a budget of 304 billion baht.

From http://thailand.prd.go.th/ 06/01/2010

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VIETNAM: NA Calls for Tighter Controls on State Budget Spending

VietNamNet Bridge - National Assembly deputies yesterday, May 28, expressed concern about inefficient management of State budget revenue and spending. Their concern arose at a meeting to discuss a report on the State budget balance in 2008. Deputy Nguyen Minh Thuyet from Lang Son Province said improper management of revenue, overspending and loose spending were long-standing and serious problems. "Ineffective spending has not been addressed well, it even gets worse," he said. Thuyet cited as an example the waste of State budget money in spending for festivals and projects. "While people in Dak Nong don't have a bridge to cross the river, the Government decided to rebuild pavements which are already okay," he said. Thuyet added that if the problem of ineffective spending was not tackled, the economy would have difficulty developing.

Deputy Pham Thi Loan from Ha Noi said the country's finances needed to be restructured. She said it had invested a considerable amount in projects abroad, while there was still a lack of foreign currency internally. Many corporations carrying out important projects on social security and for the development of the country's economy lacked capital. Meanwhile, she said huge amounts of money were being invested in unnecessary projects. Loan said the NA should avoid paying in advance from the State Budget, adding that in most other countries, any spending must be approved first by the legislature. She suggested unnecessary projects be stopped and investment for huge projects mobilised from loans and assistance to ease the burden on the State budget.

Deputy Tran Du Lich from HCM City expressed concern about how to give the NA the right to decide on State budget matters. He said that under the current mechanism, the NA could not actually control the budget. "The NA should decide each single spending article, and only those approved should be given money," he said. The report of the NA Standing Committee said that revenue and spending exceeding the planned figure because forecasting was inaccurate and did not cover all revenue sources. Minister of Finance Vu Van Ninh admitted the weakness in forecasting work. He added that the increase in revenue was because of the increase in oil prices and the Government had asked for the permission of the NA. NA Vice Chairman Nguyen Duc Kien ordered relevant bodies to provide more reports to further clarify problems raised by deputies at the meeting so that the NA could approve the State budget balance for 2008.

From http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ 05/29/2010

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BANGLADESH: Govt Mulls Tax on Share Market Profit

Rejaul Karim Byron For meeting its ambitious revenue target, the government is planning to introduce some new types of taxes in the next fiscal year including inheritance tax, and a tax on share market profit of institutions. Although response to the provision for whitening undisclosed money has not been much this fiscal year, the National Board of Revenue might still continue to allow the scope on a limited scale in exchange for investments in some specified sectors. Finance ministry sources said the government high ups already discussed among themselves the possible introduction of new taxes. Finance Minister AMA Muhith exchanged views with share market regulators on possible adverse impacts on share trade if a tax is imposed on profit derived from the bourses. The next national budget is scheduled to be placed in Jatiya Sangsad on June 10. The sources said two different options for imposing tax on share market profit were discussed - one of which was for 2 to 3 percent tax on yearly profit of Tk 7 lakh to Tk 10 lakh, for all investors. The other was for a tax on share market profit of institutions like banks, insurance companies, leasing companies, and brokerage houses. The sources said the government might finally resolve to impose the tax on institutions only. The market that was seeing daily average transaction of about Tk 1,000 crore last year, is now averaging Tk 2,000 crore. The annual fee for beneficiary owners' (BO) accounts is also being considered for a hike. The fee is now Tk 300 which might increase by Tk 50 to Tk 200, the sources said. NBR is also mulling a tax on inherited property. A general property tax on lands and apartments is being considered as well, the sources added. If the property tax is introduced, it will primarily be imposed in metropolitan cities only. Many countries including India have property tax. The scope for whitening money is being given in the current fiscal year in exchange for 10 percent interest payment on black money, with the caveat that the whitened amount will be invested in industries, government infrastructure, share market, and apartment purchase. The opportunity ends on the 30th of this month. NBR sources said response to the money whitening opportunity has been meagre this year, and most of the investments have been in the share market, and real estate. No final decision has yet been taken regarding the opportunity's continuation next fiscal year, they said adding, in cases of investments in the power sector the opportunity might still be available. NBR plans to increase its revenue earning by 19 percent next fiscal year, to Tk 73,000 crore. For efficient collection it will conduct special drives throughout the country, in addition to shortening the tax exemption list.

From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 06/05/2010

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Budget Proposes Hike in VAT, ATV Rates

The government has proposed to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) on both retail and wholesale level sales to 3.0 per cent from the existing 1.5 per cent in its new budget. The budget for the fiscal year of 2010-2011 has also proposed an increase in advanced trade VAT (ATV) on all imported items to 3.0 per cent from 2.25 per cent. The proposed rise in ATV would help the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to earn an additional revenue of Tk 3.0 billion. The amount of package VAT will also be increased significantly, which was not revised since 2004. All types of shops in Dhaka and Chittagong city corporations might have to pay minimum VAT Tk 6,000 instead of Tk 4200 while those in other city corporations Tk 4800, in pouroshavas Tk 3600 and in upazilas (sub-district) and rural areas Tk 1800 instead of Tk 3600, Tk 2400 and Tk 1200 respectively. VAT on air-conditioned hotels and restaurants is likely to be increased to 15 per cent from 9.0 per cent, while VAT for non-AC restaurants reduced to 6.0 per cent. The finance minister has also proposed to impose supplementary duty (SD) on mineral bottled water at 5.0 per cent, soft drink 15 per cent, juice 10 per cent, paints 5.0 per cent, aluminum fabrications 5.0 per cent, jorda-gul (chewing tobacco) 20 per cent. Truncated based VAT also raised on tailoring services, dockyard, auditing and accounting firms to 15 per cent in the budget unveiled last Thursday. Ceiling for turnover tax for small and medium enterprises (SME's) has been raised to Tk 6.0 million from Tk 4.0 million. Handmade biscuits also brought under tax net with imposition of 15 per cent VAT in the new fiscal year. The government also proposed to allow Bidi factories to sell 20 sticks in packet with filter. The exiting rate of 25 stick bidi is Tk 1.20.

From http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/ 06/13/2010

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SRI LANKA: Must Reduce Deficits, Debt; Contain Inflation: World Bank

LBO) - South Asian countries like Sri Lanka must reduce high budget deficits and public debt to gain from the global economic recovery that is underway, the World Bank said in a report. The region weathered global recession much better than any other, showing remarkable resilience and is the second-fastest growing area after East Asia, it said. But South Asia's fiscal deficit is the highest of all regions and public debt at 60 percent of Gross Domestic Product might prompt investors to penalize the region like they did to European countries like Greece. As the global recovery gathers momentum, governments in South Asia need to focus on exiting the stimulus programmes they introduced. "Central banks need to knock off excess liquidity so it does not cause inflation," said Ernesto May, a bank official handling poverty reduction and private sector development in South Asia. "Fiscal authorities need to start correcting fiscal imbalances with sustainable fiscal policies," he told a news conference. "One of the most challenging aspects is the need to create fiscal space and allow the private sector to start taking out some of that space and they need to continue to contain inflation which is now in the higher range." Explaining the benefits of fiscal consolidation, May said that a 2.5 percent of GDP adjustment could lead to an increase of 1.5 percent in per capita income growth. The World Bank's South Asia economic update report said Sri Lanka's recovery is "broad based, supported largely by domestic demand." But the World Bank also warned that there were indications inflation was raising its head again. "Inflationary pressures are mounting, with rising food prices and a build-up of demand pressure," the report said. Headline inflation reached an 11 month peak of 6.9 percent in February 2010 with two-thirds of the increase attributable to food prices. May also warned that countries with heavy borrowings need to reduce high levels of debt in order to win the confidence of markets. "South Asia has very high levels of public debt - over 60 percent of GDP for the region. As seen in Europe with markets focusing on highly indebted countries, markets will start penalizing those with high debt."

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/ 06/08/2010

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Sri Lanka Budget Gap Narrows in 1Q 2010

(LBO) - Sri Lanka's budget gap has narrowed in the first quarter of 2010, with revenues picking up and the government also keeping a lid on current expenses from a year earlier, official data show. Total revenues were up 26.3 percent to 182.7 billion rupees in the three months to March and current expenses were up only 1.6 percent to 247.5 billion rupees.

The government resisted a temptation to go for an 'election budget' in November 2009 and has so far held back a public sector salary hike which is the largest expenditure and cashflow item in the budget. Last year 58 percent of taxes extracted from the people was given as salaries and pensions to state workers. Instead of simply raising salaries, which is needed, the state in recent years has also expanded an already bloated public sector. Last year Sri Lanka's budget deficit hit 9.8 percent without grants and 10.2 percent including grant funding. The high spending Sri Lanka state has been identified as the major reason for economic instability, inflation and low growth in the island which creates poverty among ordinary people outside the state. The current account or revenue deficit of the budget, which is the gap between total revenue and current expenses, was 64.8 billion rupees, down from 99.1 billion rupees in 2009, one of the worst years for fiscal management in Sri Lanka. The revenue deficit is estimated at 1.1 percent of projected gross domestic product for 2010, and is lower than last year's 2.05 percent of GDP gap for the first quarter. Sri Lanka has run a current account deficit in the budget from 1987. However in a pro-forma budget released to the public earlier in the year the finance ministry expected only a revenue deficit of 1.9 percent for the full year. A formal budget is due to be presented to parliament later this month. Capital expenditure was maintained at 58.1 billion rupees in the quarter around the same level as the 58.4 billion rupees in 2009. The overall budget deficit without counting grant financing came at 121.7 billion rupees or 2.2 percent of GDP for the quarter, an improvement from last year's first quarter gap of 2.8 percent of GDP. The deficit with grant financing was only marginally higher at 122.9 billion rupees, also down from 157.5 billion rupees a year earlier.

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/ 06/14/2010

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NEPAL: Govt Giving Final Shape to New Budget

The government is all geared up to come up with the budget for the fiscal year 2067/068 within a couple of weeks, according to reports. According to the Finance Ministry, the preparations works have almost reached final stage and the draft of the new budget is ready. The new budget is said to be focused on generating employment opportunities, physical and social infrastructure development and development of the agriculture. The government had set an upper ceiling of Rs 335 billion for the next year's budget and around Rs 225 billion revenue mobilisation. In a linear fashion, the budget will accord topmost priority to a new land use policy, planned settlements and cooperatives farming for bolstering the agricultural development of the country. Recently, the National Development Council (NDC) set a framework for the budget for the next three years under its Three Year Interim Plan and the National Planning Commission (NPC) also introduced the Proposed Three Year Interim Plan (TYIP) for the fiscal year 2010/011 to 2013/014. The Finance Ministry will follow the framework prepared by the NPC in the TYIP. Creating respectable and rewarding employment to achieve the millennium development goals (MDGs), reducing economic gap, maintaining regional balance and eliminating social marginalisation through sustainable economic growth are other major highlights of the upcoming budget. The new budget is claimed to have been conceptualised with the prospect to achieve desired economic growth by maintaining the sustainable and equitable development of the country. The new budget would also stress on the commercialisation of agriculture and developing special pocket areas for promoting particular agriculture products suitable in such climate.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 05/29/2010

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ADB Extends Over $72 Million to Help Nepal Expand Credit Access to Rural Poor

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide $72 million in further assistance to Nepal for an ongoing program aimed at helping poor and isolated rural communities access credit and financial services. The ADB Board of Directors today approved a loan of $60.4 million equivalent, and a grant of $12.1 million, both from its concessional Asian Development Fund, for the second phase of the Rural Finance Sector Development Cluster Program, and for a related sector project. Nepal is emerging from a decade-long period of conflict into a new phase of reconciliation and rebuilding, and has made substantial headway in reducing poverty. But in the countryside, including remote hill communities, poverty rates remain high. A lack of access to affordable credit is a key factor holding back development, as rural households are unable to access funds from the formal sector, forcing them to tap informal sources such as money lenders who typically charge high interest rates. The cluster program aims to remove obstacles to credit access in rural communities by carrying out institutional and policy changes designed to make rural financial institutions more willing and able to provide credit and services to those in need. Under the second phase of the program, reforms in the Agricultural Development Bank Ltd ¨D the country's largest commercial lender ¨D will be completed, including a capital restructuring which will involve the entry of a private strategic investor, marking the first major financial privatization in Nepal. This will be complemented by reforms at the Small Farmers Development Bank with the goal of increasing credit access to 20,000 more marginal farmers in remote mountainous areas by 2012. Support will be given to develop and expand credit information services for microfinance institutions and savings and credit cooperatives, and to provide specialist skills training for financial institutions. "The policy and institutional reforms under this phase of the program will transform key rural financial institutions into viable finance intermediaries with a strong client orientation and pro-poor focus, while improving the efficiency and outreach of semiformal institutions," said Mayumi Ozaki, Finance Specialist, Rural and Microfinance, in ADB's South Asia Department. The cluster program is targeting an increase in credit access to the rural poor from 1 million accounts in 2008, to 1.17 million by 2012, and an increase in women's access to finance from 200,000 accounts to 283,000 over the same period. ADB's loan ¨D which will help cover adjustment costs related to the restructure of key rural finance institutions ¨D has a 24-year term, including a grace period of 8-years, with interest charged at 1% per annum during the grace period and 1.5% for the balance of the term. The grant will help fund a sector project to develop a legal framework and regulatory authority to supervise and develop capacity at rural finance institutions. An additional grant of $200,000 from ADB's Technical Assistance Special Fund will provide capacity support to assist Agricultural Development Bank's transformation. The Ministry of Finance is the executing agency for the program, which is due for completion around June 2012.

From http://www.adb.org/ 06/18/2010

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Govt May Incorporate Merger Policy in New Budget

The government is mulling to incorporate a policy in the new budget to facilitate mergers of banks and financial institutions. Finance Secretary Rameshwor Khanal made the remark to this effect while speaking at an interactive session on Appreciating Mergers & Acquisitions organised by National Banking Training Institute (NBTI) and Nepal Economic Forum (NEF) in the capital. Khanal said the issue of tax rebate as demanded by Nepal Bankers' Association (NBA) to expedite mergers is being discussed by the government. "Domestic banks should merge and have bigger capital base to increase their competitiveness," he said adding that after January, Nepal is open to international banks for wholesale banking. With the growing number of commercial banks in the country, the issue of mergers is being increasingly discussed by the banking fraternity to ward off a possible banking crisis. Nepal Rastra Bank has been asking banks and financial institutions to go for mergers but hasn't enforced the rule yet. Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, Sujeet Mundul said that the success rate of mergers in the last seven years is only 15 percent. Sujeev Shakya, president of NEF, urged the government to bring some policies like tax rebate and golden hand-shake to facilitate the mergers, as it is the need of the hour.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 06/23/2010

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PAKISTAN: Development Budget 2010-11: Rs 663 Billion Outlay Approved by NEC

ISLAMABAD: The National Economic Council (NEC) on Friday approved total development budget outlay of Rs 663 billion-38 percent increase compared to ongoing financial year's development budget, with Gross Domestic Products (GDP) target of 4.5 percent for the upcoming financial year 2010-11. The inflationary target has also been fixed at 9.5 percent. The NEC, which met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the chair, approved Rs 280 billion federal share with foreign exchange component of Rs 50 billion-Rs 373 billion provincial share and Rs 10 billion for Erra under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2010-11. The NEC approved 4.1 percent GDP rate for the ongoing financial year (2009-10). The sector-wise allocation includes Rs 136 billion for infrastructure, Rs 134 billion for social sector and Rs 10 billion for production. Water sector will receive Rs 35.4 billion, energy Rs 30 billion and Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) will generate Rs 105 billion from its own resources for the power projects. An amount of Rs 70 billion has been earmarked for transport sector, Rs 6 billion for agriculture sector, Rs 21 billion for education sector with Rs 15.2 billion for Higher Education Commission (HEC). Addressing a joint press conference with Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Dr Nadeem-ul-Haque, Finance Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said that due to new NFC award and 18th Amendment, the provincial share in development programme had been increased. NEC has also been reconstituted after 18th amendment. The NEC noted that economic recovery and stability would be preserved by keeping monetary policy in line with fiscal discipline. "NEC has approved 4.1 percent GDP rate for the ongoing financial year and 4.5 percent GDP target for the upcoming financial year 2010-11," Hafeez said, adding that the current financial year PSDP was targeted Rs 604 billion of which actual realisation had been projected at Rs 480 billion. He said that federal share in PSDP for ongoing fiscal year was Rs 300 billion while actual materialisation would be Rs 235 billion. "NEC has approved Rs 280 billion federal share (25 percent more than ongoing financial year PSDP), and Rs 373 billion provincial share - 52 percent higher than ongoing financial share in PSDP," he said, adding that the amount of Rs 10 billion has been earmarked for Erra. Advisor on Finance said that budgeted provincial share for ongoing fiscal year was Rs 294 billion but the actual realisation had been estimated at Rs 245 billion.

He said that NEC had also decided to prioritise the projects, and emphasis would be laid on the projects near to completion. "We have decided to make plan according to available resources," he said, adding that portfolio of the projects would be rationalised to achieve results. He added that NEC had also decided to make automatic quarterly releases of funds to end reliance on Finance Ministry. He further noted that NEC would hold quarterly meetings to review the progress on the projects. "In review meeting, more projects may be added in the development programme," he said, and added that ministries and departments may be able to get more funds also for fast track projects in addition to allocated amount. "Operational and implementation mechanism will be formed within the next two to eight week to evaluate the progress on the projects," he added. "Regarding the projects, regional disparities on federal as well provincial levels will be narrowed to launch projects in backward areas," he said, adding that there would no cut on funds allocation under PSDP for the next financial year. He said that the government would reduce reliance on domestic borrowing to avoid its effects on inflation. "We will make effort to balance the legitimate credit," he added. The Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission said that NEC had directed to avoid throw-forward programme in future and, as the resources were being shifted to provinces after new NFC award and 18th amendment, the government would complete the process soon to hand over the ongoing projects to the provinces. "The rate of inflation has been fixed at 9.5 percent; manufacturing at 5.2 to 5.6 percent, services sector at 4.7 percent and agriculture sector at 3.8 percent," he said. He added that for the first time there was no operational shortfall in ongoing financial year's PSDP as it was based on realistic grounds. Kaira said that new team had started process after new NFC award, and the upcoming budget would be the first one after new NFC award and 18th amendment. He said that provinces were going to receive more resources, which would reflect in the budget.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 05/29/2010

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Budget Deficit Shoots Up to Rs 625.960bn in July-March

* Revenue amounts to Rs 1.401 trillion, expenditure Rs 2.027 trillion
* Yearly deficit likely to surpass IMF-approved target

ISLAMABAD: Consolidated budget deficit of the federal and provincial governments during the first nine months (July-March) of the ongoing fiscal year 2009-10 has shot up to Rs 625.960 billion, 4.2 percent of the GDP. Total revenue in the period amounted to Rs 1.401 trillion, while the expenditure was Rs 2.027 trillion, according to the Fiscal Operations Report for the July-March period released by the Ministry of Finance on Monday. Target: Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) allowed the country to exceed its yearly budget deficit target of 4.9 percent of the GDP to 5.1 percent, the government expects a deficit figure much higher than that agreed with the IMF. The federal government had projected to keep the overall budget deficit at 4.9 percent of the GDP, including a budget deficit of 4.5 percent of the GDP for 2009-10, and a 0.3 percent additional deficit due to expenditures on the Internally Displaced Persons. However, the deficit in the July-March period showed that the country face a much higher deficit figure by June 30. Total revenue amounted to Rs 1.401 trillion or 9.3 percent of the GDP in the said period. Federal tax revenue contributed Rs 979.188 billion, while the provincial governments contributed with Rs 35. 414 billion. The Centre generated an additional Rs 68.061 billion through the petroleum levy in the same period. The government's non-tax revenue amounted to Rs 378.234 billion, including Rs 348.674 billion from federal non-tax revenue and Rs 38.560 billion from the provincial non-tax revenue. Non-tax revenues also included Rs 14.850 billion through the development surcharge on gas, Rs 6.408 billion through the discount retained on crude oil and Rs 26.284 billion from royalties on oil and gas. Expenditure for the period remained Rs 2.023 trillion or 13.5 percent of the GDP, including Rs 1.659 trillion on non-development projects. Details of non-development expenditure revealed that the government spent Rs 473.516 billion or 3.1 percent of the GDP on debt servicing, and Rs 269.843 billion or 1.8 percent of the GDP on defence expenditure. Development expenditure and net lending amounted to Rs 364 billion, federal development expenditure was Rs 169.320 billion, provincial development expenditure was Rs 117.175 billion. The federal government spent Rs 428.511 billion on servicing of domestic debt and Rs 45.005 billion on servicing of external debt. The financing of the Rs 625.960 billion budget deficit was arranged through local and external borrowing, including Rs 92.646 billion external borrowing and Rs 533.314 billion local borrowing. Local borrowing included Rs 322 billion from non-bank sources and Rs 210.832 billion borrowing from banks.

From http://pakistanlink.org/ 06/01/2010

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Budget Includes Steps for Widening Tax Net, Increasing Revenue

ISLAMABAD: The government is set to announce IMF-dictated federal budget for 2010-11 today, according to which four new measures - enhancement of excise tax on a number of services (eg banking and insurance etc), increase in withholding tax on imports, increase in excise tax on cigarettes and introduction of capital value-tax (CVT) on real estate - will be taken to enhance revenue collection, sources in Finance Ministry told Business Recorder. A 5.3 magnitude earthquake in the federal capital on Friday passed by without a murmur, as people gathered in the streets to discuss the fallout of the budget's feared fiscal measures that would further erode the value of each rupee earned. These measures are expected to fuel inflation further up, which would hit the low-income groups, who are already in troubled waters. The Finance Bill 2010-11 would reveal new taxation measures, including imposition of capital gains tax (CGT) on stock exchanges, reduction of capital value tax (CVT) from 4 percent to 2 percent on immovable property, increase in sales tax rate from 16 percent to 17 percent, reduction in withholding tax (WHT) on electricity bill of commercial/industrial consumers from 10 percent to 5 percent and enhancement in exemption limit from Rs 2,00,000 to Rs 3,00,000. Finance Bill 2010-11 would amend Income Tax Ordinance 2001 to introduce three categories of holding period for imposition of the CGT on stock exchanges. The government would levy 10 percent CGT on stocks, shares and securities with holding period less than 6 months; 6-12 months holding period 7.5 percent CGT and no CGT would be applicable on shares and securities having holding period of above 12 months. Sources said that the government is likely to reduce withholding tax (WHT) on electricity bill received by commercial and industrial consumers from 10 to 5 percent to provide relief to the corporate sector in the coming budget for 2010-11.

The government would reduce CVT on immovable property from 4 to 2 percent. This minimum amount would be levied across the board without any exemption on any size of immovable property. The CVT on immovable property would be used for documentation of property transactions instead of revenue generation measure. It has also been proposed to provide substantial enhancement of exemption limit from Rs 2,00,000 to Rs 3,00,000 to provide relief to salaried persons in the coming budget. The proposal is to raise the basic exemption threshold for salaried individuals. Another major change in the slabs structure would be that overall number of slabs would be reduced to minimise tax burden on low income groups. It is expected that the dates for payment of advance tax on quarterly basis might be changed and a new simplified procedure would be issued in this regard. Finance Bill 2010 would introduce amendment in section 147 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 to revise payment of advance tax on quarterly basis. The government would take a number of budgetary measures on the sales tax and federal excise duty side for increasing revenue collection. It is expected that the assessable value of sugar for sales tax purpose may be declared as the market value and notified import value of sugar may be withdrawn. Through amendments in the Sales Tax Act and Federal Excise Duty, sales tax and excise duty rates would be revised on certain items consumed by the rich. Other taxation measures would include a rise in existing rate of sales tax from 16 to 17 percent, 10 percent federal excise duty on air-conditioners/deep freezers and withdrawal of federal excise duty on POL products including lubricants/lubricating oils, solvent oil, mineral greases, base lube oil and transformer oil. One percent special excise at the import and local manufacturing stage would be withdrawn when 15 percent VAT would be enforced. Around 10 percent federal excise duty would be imposed on manufacturing and import of air conditioners and deep freezers.

Federal excise is expected to be abolished on POL products including lubricants, grease, solvent oil and waste oil whereas, excise duty on cigarettes would be enhanced to generate additional revenue. The 100 percept adjustment of FED would be allowed to beverage concentrate. The rate of federal excise duty on natural gas would be increased to Rs 10/MMBTu to generate additional revenue of nearly Rs 6 billion in 2010-11. On the customs side, focus would be on tariff rationalisation for reducing customs duty on some items, but revenue would be generated by checking smuggling and accurate valuation of imported goods. It is expected that the regulatory duty on a number of items would be abolished in the coming budget. Phasing out of exemptions to broaden the tax base and ensure horizontal equity in the tax system, broadening of tax base to include services sector and completion of tax administration reforms are also among the measures to be taken to enhance revenue as per the government commitment with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The measures, according to Finance Ministry sources, are estimated to increase tax revenue by 0.2 percent of GDP (at market prices) for 2010/11. With the introduction of these measures, federal tax collection is estimated to reach Rs 1.711 trillion in 2010-11, against a possible budgeted target of Rs 1.380 trillion; and a revised target of Rs 1.396 trillion during the current fiscal year. Based on these estimates, the tax-to-GDP ratio would increase to 10.3 percent in 2010-11, as compared to the budget target of 9.3 percent during the current fiscal year, sources said. With regard to petroleum levy and gas surcharge, sources said that consumption of petroleum products would gradually increase and that would result in increased revenue. During 2010-11, the government is expecting revenue of Rs 135 billion, against the possible budgeted target of Rs 134 billion, and a revised target of Rs 133 billion during the current fiscal year.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 06/05/2010

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Govt Unveils Rs 3.259 Trillion Budget for 2010-11

ISLAMABAD: The government on Saturday announced budget for 2010-11 with a total outlay of Rs 3.259 trillion offering score of incentives to the working class besides tax exemptions on food items and relief in health and education sectors. A sizeable 50 percent adhoc increase in salaries and 15% to 20% in pension of government employees has been announced. The budget also envisages employment opportunities for youth, income generating measures for labourers, workers and poor segments. Presenting national budget for 2010-11 in the National Assembly, Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said the global recession, the situation in the neighbouring countries and past policies adversely affected Pakistan's economy. He said in the next financial year total budget deficit has been estimated at Rs 685 billion that will be met through internal and external resources. While announcing relief to salaried class, the Finance Minister assured that the recommendations given by the Pay and Pension Commission would be implemented during the next three years. He said the incentives given this time include, a reasonable increase in medical and conveyance allowance. In tax sector, keeping in view the general consensus, the government decided to defer Value Added Tax (VAT) till October 1, 2010, he added. The Minister said that it has been proposed that the rate of general sales tax would be increased from 16 percent to 17 percent for the same period. In order to minimize and discourage the use of electricity, he said, it has been decided to impose ten percent excise duty on air-conditioners and deep- freezers - mostly used by the upper class. afeez Sheikh further said that one rupee excise duty has been proposed on one filtered cigarette. As a major step forward to reduce tax burden on salaried class, it has been proposed to enhance tax exemption slab from Rs 200,000 to Rs 300,000, whereas for the non-salaried class the exemption will be from Rs 100,000 to Rs 300,000. In order to extend relief in the prices of essential food items, it has been decided to reduce import duty on palm oil to Rs 9,000 per ton, he said. The Finance Minister also announced an allocation of Rs 442 billion for defence sector. Where as the government has allocated Rs 680 billion for re- payment of loans and interests, he added. He said that despite severe financial constraints, weak and poor segments of the society were not forgotten as they have been provided cover under Benazir Income Support Programme, which provides financial assistance to 3.5 million households with Rs. 1000 on monthly basis to each. Hafeez Sheikh said that according to the 7th NFC Award, the provinces would be paid their due share on quarterly basis, which would be released by the center automatically as per schedule. "No big wig will have to visit finance department for the release of provincial share as now it will be released automatically," he said. While announcing government determination and resolve, the Minister said, maximum austerity measures would be adopted in all the government departments and ministries, reducing non-development sector expenditures.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 06/05/2010

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New Budget Highlights Pakistan's 'Survival Mode'

ISLAMABAD: Wedged in by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demands for fiscal austerity, the government has presented a budget that may fail to please both voters hit by tax hikes and investors wary about its optimistic economic forecasts. Saturday's budget underscores how hard it will be for the government to appease frustrated Pakistanis hit by food inflation, unemployment and tax hikes seen as helping fuel an insurgency and discrediting civilian authorities. The government's predictions for a lower budget deficit of four percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) may also be simply too ambitious, putting off hard decisions on spending and revenues for later, as well as almost guaranteeing a continued unpopular IMF bailout. Survival mode: "To be honest, I think this government is surviving not so much because of its popularity but more so by default," said Rashed Rahman, editor of the Daily Times. "The government's hands are tied and one must not forget, given the fact that we're in the IMF programme, that there is little fiscal space for the government to manoeuvre. It's in survival mode," he said. On the brink of default, Pakistan turned to the IMF in November 2008 for a $10.66 billion loan package to help put its economy back on track. It received the fifth tranche of $1.13 billion last month. The budget raised taxes on sectors such as capital gains, increased sales tax and slashed some subsidies on energy and food, while trying to provide some social relief for the roughly third of the 170 million population. "The government now has very few levers to provide relief," said Asad Sayeed, the director of Collective for Social Science Research. The key to meeting IMF conditions is cutting the deficit, targeted at 5.1 percent this year and seen as posing a serious inflation risk and hurting the economy just as it tentatively recovers from its lowest growth rate in decades.

"The tax collection target is grossly over-ambitious," said Ashfaque Hasan Khan, dean of Islamabad's NUST Business School. The tax-to-GDP ratio, which is around 9.5 percent, is one of the lowest in the world. "A country like Pakistan, where fiscal indiscipline is all around, then it should be in an IMF programme to learn discipline," Khan said, adding that the government would have to go back to the IMF for more money this year. But continued IMF assistance could become politically unpopular if it is associated with austerity and may fuel further resentment in Pakistan against perceived Western meddling. "People here sometimes portray the IMF as if its holding a baseball bat and making the country do whatever it wants," Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh told reporters. The country's main stock exchange was unfazed by the budget as analysts said all the measures had been priced in and there were no surprises and the uncertainty was over. The KSE-index rose 1.6 percent on Monday, even as most other Asian markets fell. The government has targeted 1.778 billion rupees in tax revenue, which is almost 21 percent higher than the current fiscal year's target, one that is likely to be unmet as well. Pakistan collected 1.026 billion rupees in the first ten months of the 2009-10 fiscal year. The inflation target of 9.5 percent for the 2010-11 fiscal year was unlikely to be met if there were slippages in the fiscal target, analysts said. "Considering we will probably not meet the tax collection target for the current fiscal year, we will definitely see fiscal slippages in the next fiscal year," said Asif Qureshi, the director of the Invisor Securities Ltd.

From http://pakistanlink.org/ 06/08/2010

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ARMENIA: Public Financial Management Reforms Should Be Implemented within 10 Years

Yerevan hosted the workshop: "Armenian Public Financial Management Reforms." It focuses on public financial management reform agenda and various reform priorities. Among those is Public Internal Financial Control (PIFC), which is an integral part of the European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan concluded between the Republic of Armenia and the European Commission in 2006. In his opening remarks, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said that the program of reforms should be implemented in Armenia within 10 years. "We summarized the results of the first stage of reforms during the previous meeting. Today we should define the second stage of reforms, as well as our strategy and basic tasks," the Prime Minister said. For his part, Head of the European Commission Delegation to Armenia Raul de Luzenberger said that reasonable public financial management will reduce corruption and increase the efficiency of funds distribution.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 06/16/2010

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AZERBAIJAN: Discuss Project on Bank for Technical Assistance for Institutional Development with WB

Azerbaijani Accounting Chamber Chairman Heydar Asadov and Senior Country Economist at World Bank (WB) Christos Kostopulos discussed the results of the second project on technical assistance for institutional development (IBTA-II), the chamber reported. The sides exchanged views on the preparation of a report on the completion of the IBTA-II project, as well as on updating data on the components of the project. The meeting also discussed issues of compliance with the laws "On budget system" and the "On public procurements" while conducting oversight activities by the chamber, audit coverage of investment costs and the medium-term forecasting of the state budget. The IBTA-II project cost 7.47 million SDR ($10.6 million). The IBTA-II project was approved in 2002. It covered all four components of the previously specified 10 - strengthening governance, control over the state financial expenditure, reforming the social costs and project management.

From http://www.today.az/ 06/08/2010

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KYRGYZSTAN: Authorities to Nationalize Major Bank

The head of Kyrgyzstan's interim government, Roza Otunbaeva, signed a decree today to nationalize one of the country's largest banks, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.. AsiaUniversalBank used to be controlled by businessman Mikhail Nadel and Maksim Bakiev, one of ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev's two adult sons from his first marriage. The interim government said it was acting to ensure the stability of the country's banking and payment systems and to prevent the deterioration of the bank's financial condition. Azimbek Beknazarov, deputy head of the Kyrgyz interim government for judicial reform and law enforcement, told a news conference in Bishkek today that "Nadel is a fugitive from justice now. His whereabouts are unknown. He is wanted by the National Security Service and the prosecutor's office. He owns 66 percent of the stock. Before he transfers his stock to some frontman, we're going to nationalize the bank." The decree obliges Kyrgyzstan's National Bank and Finance Ministry to submit to the interim government within one week their plan for the bank's nationalization, taking into account the rights and interests of the bank's clients. The interim government came to power on April 7 in the wake of mass antigovernment protests that toppled Bakiev.

From http://www.rferl.org/ 06/07/2010

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KAZAKHSTAN: Use $25 Billion for Industrialization Development of the Country Until 2014

Kazakhstan until 2014 will use $25 billion for industrialization development of the country. The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said today during the meeting with the employees of the gold extracting factory of the Vasilkovsky Mining and Processing Complex JSC, the agency reports. "We will use $25 billion within the limits of the forced industrially-innovative development program and construct large quantity of enterprises," N. Nazarbayev said. "This will create more than 20 thousand additional work places."

From http://www.kt.kz/ 05/28/2010

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TAJIKISTAN: Introduce Royalty Fees for Use of Natural Resources

Today, June 2, after long debates deputies of the Majlisi Namoyandagon of the Majlisi Oli of Tajikistan have approved introduction of new amendments into the Tax Code of the country proposed by the government. Presenting the amendments and changes to the Tajik Tax Code, Chairman of the Tajik Tax Committee under the government of Tajikistan Nusratullo Davlatov noted that the amendments will let Tajikistan introduce solid royalty fees for the use of natural resources. "Currently, we charge royalty fees for the use of natural resources at minimum or maximum rate and this takes us and our taxpayers too much time," he said. "Furthermore, introduction of solid royalty fees will let the country's budget receive additional 8-10mln Somoni a year." Leader of the Islamic Renaissance party of Tajikistan Muhiddin Kabiri noted that no foreign investments were observed in processing industry in the first quarter this year. "Approval of the amendments into Tax Code may cause barriers in the given direction and, therefore, I suggest to send the draft law for further consideration," Kabiri has said. Leader of the Communist party of Tajikistan, deputy Shodi Shabdolov agreed with Kabiri and expressed bewilderment over such low royalty fees for production of metals and precious stones. Asking questions of deputies top Tajik tax official said that Tajikistan is behind other countries of region and Russia in terms of royalty fees. "In addition, in the frameworks of EurAsEC we are obliged to charge the same royalty fees for the use of natural resources as other member states are charging," he said.

From http://www.asiaplus.tj/ 06/03/2010

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AUSTRALIA: Mining Slowdown Tipped to Impact Budget Forecast

A forecasting group says a temporary slowdown in mining construction in Australia will have an impact on the government's budget predictions. BIS Shrapnel says mining and heavy industry construction is set to fall by three per cent next financial year as many big projects around the nation are completed. Spokesman Adrian Hart says mining construction will pick up slowly from 2012 as more big projects come on line, but Treasury's forecast of a budget suplus in three years is looking optimistic. "They're basically assuming 20 per cent per annum growth over the next two years in new engineering construction, and that contrasts pretty much against our forecast of maybe even a slight decline in overall engineering construction next year and then a pick up," he said. BIS Shrapnel says the slowdown has nothing to do with the government's proposed resources super profits tax.

'Charade' consultation
Meanwhile, Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest has labelled consultation over the proposed resources super profit tax as a "charade". He made the comment ahead of a one-on-one meeting with the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Mr Rudd says he's in the Western Australian city of Perth to listen to the industry, but he has shown no signs of a compromise on the tax. Andrew Forrest says Government officials told him previously that the tax will only change if the government changes, and Mr Rudd is treating the industry with contempt. "It is a charade - the consultation is there I feel in lip service only," he said. "We're not seeing the Government move an inch on this, I would love to participate in genuine reform but we have seen nothing of that from this government."

From http://www.abc.net.au/ 06/10/2010

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GUAM: Budget Shortfall Threatens Bus Service

The Guam Regional Transit Authority will shut down public transport operations if it doesn't receive a supplemental budget before the end of August, according to Sen. Tom Ada, who introduced a bill appropriating US$420,000 for the remaining fiscal year to cover the transit authority's shortfall. Bill 427 would allow the transfer of US$420,000 from the Guam Highway Fund to the transit authority so that the agency can keep operations running. "This is really not the first time that this has happened. This is an annual reoccurrence. They somehow run out of money for that final month of the fiscal year," he said, noting that the agency depends on a monthly contract service with private bus provider Kloppenburg Inc. "As a result, it's costing them to run the buses in this type of arrangement," he said. "By the end of August, they would have depleted all their funds and will then have to shut down operations in September unless they are provided this supplemental funding of US$420,000 that will then allow them to continue their operations through September, the final fiscal year."

Ada met with budget director Bertha Duenas to find out if there is still money in the Guam Highway Fund. "She indicated that there is money. The audited balance sheet showed an unreserved balance so she confirmed to me that yes there is money that has not yet been tapped," he said. Ada believes the funding problem began when the mass transit authority was converted into an autonomous agency. "The law provided them to transition from being a small office under the Department of Administration to an autonomous entity in six months," Ada said, noting that the transition was chaotic and resulted in unpredictable revenue production. "I guess they could have seen this back in December or November that they're going to run of money, I don't know. It was just recently that this was brought to my attention and they asked that we introduce legislation to appropriate that money," he said. "From our standpoint here, it's an important issue because many people are dependent on public transportation to get to and from work and to get to and from one point to another so it's important that we address that issue and so far it's an issue of working out the challenge of getting into a 12-month contract," Ada said. "That's really an operational matter that they can best answer. It's not because some legislation prevents them from doing so, they just have their challenges." He's hopeful the bill will get on the floor. "We probably won't be able to do this by next week's session, but hopefully we'll be able to have a session in July to be able to act on it," Ada said.

From http://pidp.eastwestcenter.org/ 06/23/2010

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NEW ZEALAND: Deficit Drops to 20-Year Low but Likely to Rise Again

The country's current account deficit has fallen to its lowest in more than 20 years, mainly because of higher commodity prices and a drop in investment income. But it's not expected to stay there. ANZ economist Khoon Goh says the turnaround in the deficit is coming to an end, and Finance Minister Bill English told Parliament on Wednesday that he expected it to worsen in coming months. The deficit - a measure of payments to foreigners minus earnings paid from overseas to New Zealanders - was $4.46 billion for the year to March, or 2.4% percent of gross domestic product (GDP). That's better than the market was expecting: the consensus among economists had been that the deficit would come down to just over $5 billion. Statistics New Zealand says the lower deficit - $5.3 billion less than in the previous quarter - is attributable to a slump in imports and a drop in the profits paid to overseas owners of local companies. Earnings from sales overseas also picked up in the March quarter: for the first time in more than a year, returns from exports rose, largely because of higher commodity prices.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz/ 06/23/2010

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Capital Markets Overhaul Could Be a Long Haul

A securities lawyer says the overhaul of the rules governing capital markets could take some time, following the release of a Government discussion document on the relevant legislation. Commerce Minister Simon Power wants to restore confidence in New Zealand's financial markets in the wake of finance firm collapses, aiming to better protect investors while also making it easier for firms to raise money. The country's securities laws are more than 30 years old, and Chapman Tripp partner Roger Wallis says that while the proposed changes are heading in the right direction, they won't be easy to implement quickly.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz/ 06/23/2010

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Cut Spending on Public Service

The Solomon Islands government is reportedly slashing public service spending by as much as 35 per cent. The Solomon Star says the cuts will apply to rental assistance, electricity and water charges, and thousands of public servants will be affected. The cuts take effect from today and are aimed at freeing up funds for the government as it heads towards a national general election, in early August. The report says the cuts are likely to anger public servants, who have recently threatened wide spread strike action, over pay and conditions. Meanwhile, Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui, is expected to formally announce the Solomon Islands election date, this Friday.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/02/2010

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Businesses Have 5 Recommendations for APEC Trade Ministers

Sapporo, Japan - As Trade Ministers from across APEC prepare for their annual meeting later this week, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) has delivered a set of five recommendations, with the intent that they be taken to APEC Leaders. These are:

Recommendation 1: ABAC recommends that Leaders should re-commit to achieving free and open trade within the APEC region. Taking account of the fundamental changes in APEC's economic and social structures over the last sixteen years, and the fact that we are now in the era of the post-industrialized knowledge-based economy, ABAC recommends that a new vision is needed, building on the Bogor Goals to reflect the changing nature of modern Asia Pacific regional supply chains and value chains. This vision should seek to liberalize flows of goods, services, investment, technology, e-commerce and people; and have a strong emphasis on balanced and inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Recommendation 2: ABAC recommends that Leaders agree that a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) is an aspirational but achievable vehicle for delivering free and open trade and investment within the region. ABAC is seeking from Ministers greater detail on the modalities and processes towards an FTAAP to enable active involvement by the business community.

Recommendation 3: ABAC recommends that Leaders recognize the importance of existing and progressing regional trade arrangements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, ASEAN+6 and CEPEA as potential pathways to delivering an FTAAP. As these existing arrangements evolve, they should draw on previously developed APEC model FTA chapters covering goods, services and investment and other new business requirements to guide their progress. ABAC further requests that Leaders of economies engaged in evolving regional arrangements direct their officials to share knowledge and substance about their respective negotiations in a timely and transparent fashion, while respecting the negotiating sensitivity of some issues.

Recommendation 4: ABAC recommends that as a new vision for APEC is developed, the business community is closely engaged so that policy makers draw on business leaders' expertise in identifying practical initiatives and proposing workable solutions. ABAC recommends that the links between the APEC Senior Officials' Meeting and ABAC processes be better defined and integrated.

Recommendation 5: ABAC recommends that as part of achieving the Bogor Goals or a new vision, Leaders direct the APEC Secretariat to develop an annual set of 'Regional Integration Metrics' to monitor each economy's progress towards greater regional economic integration and inclusive growth. Such indicators are essential for benchmarking performance and creating accountability from Leaders. ABAC recommends the creation of a one page "Regional Integration Dashboard" for each economy showing the level and change in various indicators of liberalization, including but not limited to, the flows of goods, services, investment, technology and people.

In fact, a key component of ABAC's 2010 agenda is an assessment of APEC members' achievement of the Bogor Goals* from the business perspective. Last week, in a letter to Trade Ministers, ABAC members explained that: "ABAC's own review clearly identifies that many member economies have become considerably more open since 1994. Industrialized economies have made significant steps towards becoming more free and open, a trend apparent among developing economies as well." While the global economy has evolved considerably since 1994, ABAC cites a need to increase efforts toward deeper regional economic integration... "More needs to be done to achieve the goal of free and open trade and investment in the APEC region. This needs to encompass trade in goods, services, investment, ideas and the movement of people.... Trade and investment facilitation are also essential tools to enhance economic growth."

ABAC includes representatives from the business communities in each of APEC's 21 member economies. These representatives are appointed by APEC Leaders as a source of insight to the priorities and concerns of the business sector. APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) are to meet in Sapporo, Japan, 5 - 6 June.

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/01/2010

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Stimulating Employment by SMEs

Hong Kong, China - Making it easier for SMEs to hire workers is key to regional economic development. This was the rationale for the "Employing Workers Seminar" held by APEC's Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group (SMEWG) in Hong Kong, China this week. As SMEs are important drivers of regional growth, "There is a need to strike a balance between ensuring that SME employers are not overburdened by regulations, and ensuring that employees are protected", says Barry Jones, seminar organiser and Head of Division at Australia's Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. The event, targeted at the region's policy-makers, is the seventh in a series of capacity building seminars aimed at helping APEC economies improve their competitiveness based on the World Bank's 'Ease of Doing Business' indicators.

Peru was presented as a case study for other APEC members to consider as its ranking under the 'employing workers' indicator has climbed 49 places between 2009 and 2010. In recent years Peru has undertaken labour reforms including modifying taxation and superannuation arrangements to reduce the cost of doing business and the cost and complexity of employing workers. Progress in these areas has in turn contributed to improvements in economic performance. Since 2007, Peru experienced an average growth rate of nine percent, the highest of any Latin American economy. "To achieve such improvements, APEC economies need to learn from each other's experiences and to find out which approaches work and which don't, and to keep on striving towards best practice," says Jones. Jones believes APEC is particularly suited for this task because it provides the platform for a wide range of economies with different circumstances and stages of development to come together to share lessons learnt.

In APEC, SMEs account for around 90 percent of all business and employ as much as 60 percent of the region's work force. The SMEWG continues to encourage the development of SMEs and to build their capacity to engage in international trade.

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/11/2010

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Public and Private Sector Meet to Promote Food Security in Southeast Asia

Increasing food production and improving food safety - these are some of the key areas in which both the public and private sector can collaborate to promote food security in the region. This outcome was a result of the recent ASEAN Conference on Food Security: The Role of the Private Sector, held from 16 to 18 June in Singapore. The Conference further highlighted that collaboration was also needed in the areas of facilitating trade in food commodities and developing more effective food markets. The Conference brought together ASEAN policy makers responsible for food security; representatives of international organisations; and regional agricultural and food processing companies to discuss key food security issues in the region. Ways to improve the economic environment to support investment in agriculture and food processing, collaboration on food safety and how companies can factor the effects of climate change into their business plans were also discussed. The outcomes of the Conference will now be shared with ASEAN's senior officials and Ministers responsible for agriculture and forestry.

The Conference also sought views from private sector on the implementation of the ASEAN Statement on Food Security and the ASEAN Integrated Food Security (AIFS) Framework and the ASEAN Multisectoral Framework on Climate Change: Agriculture and Forestry towards Food Security (AFCC) for the improvement of regional food security. "The private sector is the engine of growth for the agriculture sector," said the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, S. Pushpanathan, opening the Conference. "They have the knowledge, capacity and resources along with the whole food supply/value chain to support the development of sustainable and long-term food security," he continued. The Conference was organised by the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training Facility and the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore.

From http://www.aseansec.org/ 06/21/2010

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CHINA: Vow Equal Treatment for Private Sector Talents

China's central authorities have promised to treat talents in private companies and social organizations the same as their counterparts in the public sector to facilitate personnel mobility and sustainable development in the private sector. According to the newly unveiled National Medium- and Long-term Talent Development Plan (2010-2020), non-public economic groups and social organizations can enjoy equal treatment in government policy on the training, attracting, appraisal, and use of talents. Specialists in the private sector should be incorporated into talent development projects of various governments, the document said. They can have "equal access to public resources including funds, projects and information for supporting innovation and starting businesses," the document also said. The national plan, a blueprint for creating a highly skilled national work force over the next decade, aims to transform the country from being "labor-rich to talent-intensive." Zhang Lihua, professor with the Labor and Human Resources School at the Beijing-based Renmin University of China, said, "The non state-owned economic institutions and new social organizations are playing a more important role in China's economic and social development." "It's becoming more important for talents in these sectors to compete equally with others in the public sector," she said.

At present, more than 70 percent of China's companies are privately-owned and generate more than 60 percent of the country's GDP. China has more than 400,000 "new social organizations," including social groups, foundations, and other non-profit and non-governmental organizations, according to figures from the Ministry of Civil Affairs. There are still many obstacles to personnel movement in government departments, government-sponsored institutions, state-owned enterprises and private companies in China. For example, a person who works in a private company cannot usually land a job easily in a government department or a state-owned company. "This is why many college graduates prefer to work for government departments and state-owned companies right after their graduation," Zhang said. "If the new policies of equal treatment are carried out, they can remove the obstacles, help with the free flow and allocation of resources and high-calibre talents," she said. "It will support economic development in the private sector and promote technological innovation and the diffusion of knowledge." Xiao Mingzheng, director of the Human Resource Development and Management Research Center at Peking University, said, "Demand for talents has increased greatly as China witnesses a boom in non-public economic and social organizations." "To create a more open and equal environment for personnel employment, the policies will certainly help the non-public sector attract and train various kinds of talents," he said.

From English.news.cn 06/08/2010

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Private Sector Provides 90% of New Jobs in China

Robust growth of the private sector has made it China's major new jobs provider, contributing 90 percent of new positions, Minister of State Administration for Industry and Commerce Zhou Bohua said Thursday. At the end of the first quarter, private firms employed more than 152 million people, Zhou said in Qingdao, a seaside resort in east China's Shandong Province, at a forum to boost development in the private sector. Zhou said more than 700,000 laid-off workers found jobs again last year in the private sector. Vice Minister Zhong Youping said the country had 7.55 million private companies at the end of March, up almost 14 percent year on year, with total registered capital exceeding 15 trillion yuan (2.2 trillion U.S. dollars), up 26.9 percent. The private companies employed 86.98 million people at the same period, up 11.19 percent year on year. Zhong said individually-run businesses rose by 9.56 percent to 32.29 million by the end of March, employing 65.36 million people, up 12.51 percent. Zhong urged local industry and commerce bureaus to continue their support for the private sector, following the central government's support plan unveiled in May to boost development in the private sector. This included improving financing services, easier market access to more industries currently mainly state-controlled, and simplifying administrative procedures. Zhong said local bureaus should carry out these policies and encourage private companies to have more involvement in high-tech industries, infrastructure building, environmental protection.

From Xinhua News Agency 06/10/2010

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JAPAN: Lower House Passes Bill to Scale Back Postal Privatization

The lower house passed a key government bill late Monday to scale back the privatization of the postal system effected following the 2005 election, amid increasing political speculation in the run-up to an upper house election expected in July. The bill cleared the House of Representatives in a plenary session that ran into the night with support from the ruling coalition after it killed opposition motions against the farm minister and a committee chairman. The government aims to enact it through the House of Councillors by the June 16 end of the current Diet session. The motion against farm minister Hirotaka Akamatsu was submitted by four opposition parties for what they say was the government's slow response to the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in southwestern Japan, coalition lawmakers said.

From http://www.japantoday.com/ 06/01/2010

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Bank of Japan Hoping to Boost Economy by Encouraging Investment in Private Businesses

Despite recent figures indicating that the Japanese economy is performing well, weak domestic consumption has left growth dependent upon unstable demand from Asian countries for high-tech and automotive goods. As a result, the Bank of Japan has announced plans to lend JPY3 trillion to commercial banks to invest in private businesses in a bid to stimulate the economy on a more long-term scale. If Japan is to finance its substantial debt, which currently stands at 230% of its GDP, the country must establish a sustainable system of growth. In a bid to achieve this goal, commencing in August, the Japanese central bank will allow approved banks to borrow up to JPY150 billion each for up to four years, at an interest rate of 0.1%. The total JPY3 trillion (GBP22 billion) sum represents an attempt to drive sustainable economic growth through investment in companies operating in the energy, environmental and tourism industries. Recent growth in Japan has been reliant almost exclusively upon foreign exports, which increased 6.9% in the first quarter of 2010. However, the country's present reliance upon demand from its main trading partners for high-tech goods and cars is perhaps unwise. For example, in China, there is significant inflation, which may herald an overheating of the economy.

The danger of relying upon foreign demand is emphasized by the fact that the number of Chinese consumers intending to increase or maintain their spend on car purchases in the next six months decreased from 35.3% to 30.5% between January and April 2010, while for electronic gadgets this figure fell from 57.6% to 52.2%. The Bank of Japan's plan is also intended to prevent a reliance on domestic consumers. Worryingly, domestic demand makes up more than half of the Japanese economy, but remains low, increasing by only 0.4% in the first quarter of 2010. The 'lost decade' of under performance has created a generation with deeply ingrained recessionary shopping habits which cannot easily be reversed, as well as a deeply embedded culture of savings. Furthermore deflation at an annual rate of 1.5% has eroded consumer confidence. The fact that, in 2010, only 7.4% of Japanese consumers agreed with the statement "prices on goods and services have never been so low and I am taking advantage of the low price", emphasizes consumers' inability to drive the economic growth necessary for recovery. Thus, the Japanese central bank's new strategy to invest in private business, while criticized by some economists as not effectively addressing the weak demand for credit, must be viewed with its domestic and export context in mind. The lending scheme represents an attempt by the bank to boost Japan's potential growth rate and ensure its economic recovery following the lost decade without relying on exports or increased demand from domestic consumers.

From http://www.istockanalyst.com/ 06/18/2010

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SOUTH KOREA: Private Sector Growth to Gather Pace

The recovery in private sector economic activity will continue to gather pace in the second half of the year despite the waning effects of fiscal stimulus, a senior finance ministry official said on Monday. Yoon Jong-won, the ministry's head of economic policy bureau, also said during a radio programme Asia's fourth-largest economy would probably grow faster than the ministry's 5 percent target this year, but did not provide a new figure. "It all depends on how much the domestic and external situations will impact," he said. "Nevertheless, I think the private sector's recovery will gradually strengthen." Both South Korea's government and the central have said that private sector upturn was essential for recovery to become self-sustained and allow the authorities to start unwinding stimulus deployed during the global financial crisis. Yoon also told private YTN radio channel that concerns about the euro zone's debt crisis and a possible rise in commodity prices posed the main risks to economic growth for the rest of the year. Yoon said the ministry was working on revised economic forecasts for announcement later this month, but refused to say if the 5 percent growth target would definitely be raised. South Korea's central bank and international institutions such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have recently upgraded their 2010 growth forecasts to more than 5 percent. Yoon declined to comment on interest rate policy by repeating the official stance that it was the central bank's prerogative. The Bank of Korea holds its regular review on Thursday. Its governor started priming markets for a start of a rate tightening cycle sometime in the next quarter, but bond investors have pared their bets on rate rises after Europe's debt problems revived doubts about the strength of the global economic recovery.

From http://ca.reuters.com/ 06/06/2010

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LAOS: Businessmen Concern over Appreciated Kip Currency

(KPL) The business people have called on Lao government to urgently resolve the appreciation of Lao kip currency and high inflation rate that will impact their business and export. Some economists said that the Lao economy is under the control. According to Asian Development Bank, the Lao kip is strong a consequence of the increase of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Laos and weakening US dollar. Lao kip has been constantly strong if compared to the greenback earlier January this year. Deputy Head of Lao National Economic Research Institute, Dr Lyber Libuapao said that the strength of Lao kip does not mean the negative way. The weak greenback will be a good for imported country like Laos and will make the cost of import cheaper if it accounts on the US dollar. However, the export of companies is also directly affected by the appreciation of kip currency and staff salary and management have to be spent on Lao kip.

Even though the Lao kip is appreciated, it is still weak if compared to other trade partners currencies Thailand (Thai baht), he added. So Laos still has the positive point for the export because Thai baht is stronger than Lao kip, he said. However, the Lao Central Bank has determined a ceiling on the appreciation of kip currency to stay at 5 per cent. It means that kip currency has been capped on and it would not impact to the value of production, he said. The current economic environment has stability and exchange rate has a little bit change if compared to last year, he said. National economy was moving upward, The ADB has forecasted that this year the inflation rate would stay at 5.6 per cent and 6 per cent next year. The this year inflation is higher last year due to the increase of petroleum price, world foodstuff, the increase of credit for business sector and the implementation of VAT early this year. However, the ADB and Lao Central Bank believed that the Lao economy will grow this year. They have stressed that the inflation rate will be appreciated again compared to the recent years that it needs the government to cope with the appreciation of kip currency.

From http://www.kplnet.net/ 05/31/2010

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PHILIPPINES: Manufacturing Sector, Not Poll Spending, Key Contributor to 7.3% Q1 GDP Growth - NEDA

MANILA - The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) cited on Wednesday the job-rich manufacturing industry as one of the key contributors to the phenomenal 7.3 percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth during the first quarter of this year "Makikita natin na ang isang nagpakita ng growth ay industry, specifically manufacturingˇ­ isa sa mga tumulong para tumaas and ating growth sa first quarter (We can see that one sector that posted growth and helped us in the first quarter was manufacturing)," said NEDA director for development information Victoria Quiambao in a media briefing in Malacanang. In the same press conference, Presidential Management Staff (PMS) head Elena Bautista-Horn sought to dispel outside claims that the bulk of the 7.3 percent growth was driven mainly by pre-election spending leading to the May 10 polls. Quiambao said the manufacturing industry grew by 20 percent during the first quarter after experiencing contraction in the previous quarters. She said the 20 percent gain contributed to the generation of 1.7 million jobs

According to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), the substantial rebound of the manufacturing sector contributed to the country's sustained economic growth. The industry sector grew by 3.8 percent during the quarter. Horn said, "Kung talagang election spending yan, yung nakadeklarang gastos sa BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) ay dapat katumbas sa halaga (If those were election spending, the expenses declared to BIR would have matched.)" Horn also credited overseas remittances for fueling GDP's domestic consumption. "We need to marry figures and the sectors that really helped the 7.3 (percent growth)," she added. Because of the strong first-quarter growth, the government upgraded the 2010 economic growth target to a range of 5 percent to 6 percent from the previous 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent. Horn said international financial institutions also increased their expectations on the country's GDP expansion, citing JP Morgan Chase, which adjusted its initial forecast on the country's GDP growth form 4.5 percent to 6.8 percent Horn said that foreign firms and the private sector in general are affirming the government's explanation.

From http://balita.ph/ 06/16/2010

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Agri Stakeholders Cite Gains in FIELDS Program

MANILA - Various stakeholders of the agriculture sector today expressed their gratitude to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the vigorous implementation of the FIELDS program, saying it has significantly increased agricultural production and raised their income. FIELDS stands for the six areas of agriculture which the President has focused on to ensure national food sufficiency - Fertilizer, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure, Extension and education services for farmers, Loans, Dryers and other post-harvest facilities, and Seeds. In the Retrospective Forum attended by President Arroyo with Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla, farmer Ronelio Barsatan of the CBCP-NASSA-National Farm Center in General Natividad, Nueva Ecija said the creation of national and diocesan farm centers across the country promoted organic farming that cut down the cost of fertilizer.

The Agriculture department provided 1,380 technology packages on community-based composting facilities which resulted in a net income of P5,761 for Compost Tea (Foliar Fertilizer), P154,448 for Trichoderma-based compost and P229,349 for vermi-compost per 100-hectare cluster model. It also granted 68 Bio-N mixing plants to farmers, farmer cooperatives, private sector, and LGUs. Five packets of Bio-N, an organic fertilizer, per hectare proved to be a good replacement for two bags of Urea, giving the farmers big savings of P2,100 per hectare. On irrigation and infrastructure component, about P79.7 billion has been released for the restoration of national and communal irrigation systems nationwide, generating 140,042 hectares of new areas. A total of 1,480,826 hectares located in the four super regions were also restored and rehabilitated. The government also constructed since 2001 a total of 18,929 kilometers of farm-to-market roads worth P26.77 billion, and established 50 mariculture parks covering a total of 49,073 hectares. These improvements resulted in an increased rice yield averaging 3.53 metric tons per hectare for the period 2001-2009, as compared to an average of 2.86 metric tons per hectare in 1990-2000.

On extension and education, DA provided a total of 22, 941 various agricultural technology trainings and orientations that benefited some 977,713 farmers, agricultural extension workers (AEWs), and farmer entrepreneurs. Efraim Acacio of Sta. Ana Cagayan said the free technical assistance provided by the government - from selecting the right seeds to harvesting palay - had helped him in increasing his income. "I am proud to say that our dream will soon be fulfilled. We will soon complete the construction of a small concrete house for our family beside our farms," he said. For the dryers and other postharvest facilities component, the DA distributed 2,016 units of flat bed dryers in various provinces. Through the mechanical drying system, an estimated 25,724 MT of palay valued at P437 million was saved in 2008.

DA also constructed 13 tramlines - 7 in Benguet, 3 in Mt. Province, 2 in Nueva Ecija, and 1 in Dalaguet, Cebu - to transport commodities from highlands to the market. On seeds, DA provided some 1.68 million bags of hybrid and 12.5 million bags of certified palay seeds. It also developed and distributed climate-ready seeds which are drought and submergence - tolerant to help farmers cope with the adverse effects of climate change. After the forum, the President led the formal launching of DA's coffee table book chronicling the major achievements of her administration in its centerpiece agenda of food security and sufficiency. Titled "Fields of Glory," the book illustrates how President Arroyo has delivered on her commitments to the agricultural and fisheries sector by way of her flagship project FIELDS, according to Fondevilla.

From http://balita.ph/ 06/18/2010

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More Sales Planned to Aid Small Retailers

The Mall Group and Century The Movie Plaza are among the businesses taking further steps to help small retailers affected by recent unrest and also maintain their own sales this year. A recent 14-day campaign staged at The Emporium Stadium was very successful with 50-60 million baht in turnover, said Supaluck Umpujh, the vice-chairman of The Mall Group, which operates The Emporium and several other large shopping centres. However, she said, many suppliers still wanted an opportunity to sell their inventory, so the company would hold a new campaign at the Bangkok International Trade and Exhibition Center (Bitec) in Bang Na from June 2-6. She said the event would feature more than one million items and 5,000 brands from all departments of The Mall Department Store including beauty products, shoes, bags, electrical and electronic goods and furniture items at discount prices. The sale will cover 20,000 square metres, with an additional 10,000 sq m reserved for 500 booths for small retailers whose businesses were affected by the recent riots. The group expects 100 million baht in sales during the five-day event.

The Mall Group is currently is in talks with Chulalongkorn University, the Ratchaprasong Square Trade Association (RSTA) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to encourage affected small retailers to take part. If demand exceeds the capacity available at Bitec, the company said it would hold a second round of sales at The Mall's Bang Kapi, Ngam Wong Warn and Bang Khae branches from June 9-13. Each would have 200 booths. Sales of The Mall Group in the second quarter are expected to be 5-10% lower than in the same period last year because of the seven-week closure of Siam Paragon. But the group has maintained its 2010 sales target at 40 billion baht, on par with last year. "It will take about three months to draw back tourists to our country. We have done surveys of some tourists and they told us they would come back because Thailand did not just mean Bangkok but also Phuket, Samui or other places," Ms Supaluck said.

Meanwhile, Century The Movie Plaza located near Victory Monument has arranged space on its third floor and basement parking area for 100 to 120 booths for small retailers whose shops were burnt down at Center One to sell products without charge for three months. The company will adjust vacant space to accommodate 40 shops and offer special rents to riot-hit tenants. The cinema was not affected by the riots and still expects sales this year of 200 million baht, about 12% higher than last year.

From http://www.bangkokpost.com/ 05/28/2010

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OTOP Producers with Good Potential for Development as SME Operators

Successful "One Tambon, One Product," or "OTOP," producers will be developed as small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) operators. Permanent Secretary for Industry Witoon Simachokedee said that the development project would enable OTOP entrepreneurs to enhance their efficiency and competitiveness. The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion under the Ministry of Industry has been entrusted with coordinating with various agencies in carrying out this project, which is linked with local wisdom and culture. Under the project, two OTOP producers from each of the 75 provinces nationwide will be selected to join the SME development process. Mr. Witoon said that emphasis would be placed on custom-made development in accordance with local social and cultural aspects, without changing the lifestyle of the communities.

The Office of the Permanent Secretary for Commerce, the Department of Agricultural Extension, and the Department of Industrial Promotion will offer a helping hand in product development, management, and marketing promotion, while the Community Development Department will provide relevant information. The OTOP program was launched in 2001 as a self-help mechanism for each and every community, with emphasis on rural areas, to draw upon local knowledge and ingenuity. It is based on three major principles. The first principle, called "Local Yet Global," seeks to develop local products to international standards on a continual basis in line with local culture. The second principle, known as "Self-Reliance and Creativity," seeks to develop local products, taking into consideration the revival of local culture and traditions to bring out the uniqueness of each village. The third principle, called "Human Resource Development," involves a move to build up members of the community who are knowledgeable and capable and have broad vision.

In order to stimulate the manufacture of local products using home-grown expertise and skills, the Government provides villagers with technical assistance and advice to enable them to produce their goods efficiently and at high standards. As a key incentive, the Government assists in the marketing of these goods, in cooperation with the private business sector. The OTOP initiative has generated employment and income in the respective localities, helping communities reduce emigration in search of jobs elsewhere. It will also ensure that wealth circulates within the communities, thereby increasing the purchasing power in rural areas. The development of OTOP producers as SME operators is expected to help strengthen and reinforce the grassroots sector.

From http://thailand.prd.go.th/ 05/31/2010

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Public and Private Sectors Adjusting to the Creative Economy

An analysis conducted by the Office of Knowledge Management and Development indicates that the public and private sectors in Thailand have adjusted well to the mobilization of the creative economy. When we look at the public sector, the Government has set up several public organizations, to enhance the capacity of the private sector. Among these organizations are the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand, the SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Center of Thailand, the Software Industry Promotion Agency, and the Thailand Creative Design Center. At the same time, the Government has restructured the duties of relevant government agencies, such as the Office of Products and Value Development under the Department of Export Promotion and the Department of Intellectual Property. It has also launched many activities and programs, such as the development of One Tambon, One Product, or OTOP, products and exhibitions on creative products. The issue of the creative economy is also incorporated in the 11th National and Economic and Social Development Plan, to be implemented from 2012 to 2016.

Educational institutions in Thailand have opened fields of study to produce and develop personnel who are able to accommodate the creative economy. For instance, Bangkok University focuses on its selling point as a "Creative University." Thammasat University has an innovation college to teach service innovation and cultural and technological management. As for the private sector, great importance is placed on innovation development and on designs that satisfy consumers, as well as on business operations that take into account local social demands and the global mainstream. For example, the concepts of corporate social responsibility (CSP), "Stop Global Warming," and human rights, as well as nano products and goods for niche markets, have been increasingly recognized, as well as packaging design and brand creation to attract consumers. The private sector has become stronger in many fields and is likely to expand at a satisfactory level.

Taking into consideration the organizational level, many business sectors in Thailand have been successful in operating creative businesses, the products of which are recognized worldwide and remain competitive in the international market. The creative economy concept was defined generally as the combining of talent, knowledge and new technologies with cultural resources to generate value-added products and services. Much greater importance is now attached to the creative economy, as the Government believes that the creative economy policy will contribute to GDP growth. The Government also wants this policy to be translated into action by both public and private sectors as a way of moving Thailand forward. Another goal of the creative economy effort is to increase the country's overall competitiveness.

From http://thailand.prd.go.th/ 06/02/2010

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BANGLADESH: New Policy to Bring Major Change to Education Sector

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid on Thursday said the government would implement the draft education policy for bringing a major change to the education sector. He said the government would go ahead with the visionary education policy prepared by a competent committee with leading educationists for initiating major change in the sector. He said, "We are lagging behind in different fields mainly due to the absence of an appropriate education policy that could not be prepared even in 40 years since the liberation." Nahid was addressing a rally at Mirganj Bazar of Golapganj upazila. Upazila Chairman Iqbal Ahmed Chowdhury and Upazila Vice Chairmen Humayun Islam Kamal and Nazia Begum Shila also spoke at the rally. He said the reasons behind the dropout of 42 percent children before completion of their secondary education and non-enrolment nine percent children in school were mentioned in the draft education policy. To achieve the goal in minimum time, implementation of the draft education policy is needed, he added. He said the government had successfully distributed textbooks among the students free of cost up to class ten at the beginning of the year, a challenge for the government. The minister said they had to face difficulties in printing 19 crore books in phases but succeeded. The government exchanged views with noted educationists and other concerned on the draft education policy, Nahid said.

From http://www.thedailystar.net/ 05/29/2010

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INDIA: SBI to Expand Reach to 50,000 Unbanked Villages

State Bank of India (SBI), plans to cover 50,000 unbanked villages during 2010-11 as part of financial inclusion drive. The bank plans to hire 15,000 business correspondents, who will help people in the rural areas to open bank accounts. It is not possible for banks to open branches in every village, so a business correspondent and business facilitator model would help in taking banking facilities to every part of the country. Business correspondents are persons who, besides helping rural people to open bank accounts, would facilitate in banking transactions. Their key role is to accept deposits and remit money.

From http://www.egovonline.net/ 05/25/2010

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India Can Create a Niche in Food Processing Sector

Ahmedabad: Food Processing Industries Minister Subodh Kant Sahai Friday said India can take to large scale development of the food processing industries to create a niche for itself in the world. Terming food processing a promising sector, Sahai said it has enormous opportunity for growth. The minister was addressing an investors' meet and a training-cum-awareness programme on prospects of food processing industry in Gujarat, organised by the Ahmedabad-based Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI). The minister said the food processing sector has "umpteen investment opportunities", which include those in cold chain projects, value added centres for agricultural products, fresh produce exports by air and sea, marine export, farm implements and seeds, organic farming and so on. Maintaining that there are many other unexploited areas in the food processing sector, he said there is also need for more trained and competent entrepreneurs who can set up their own businesses and look beyond the existing processes and take innovative ideas and challenges ahead in the sector.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 06/18/2010

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PAKISTAN: Cement, Other Sectors: Inland Freight Subsidy May Continue in Fiscal Year 2011

KARACHI: The federal government is likely to continue 35-50 percent inland freight subsidy for the cement and other sectors in the next fiscal year 2010-11. Sources told Business Recorder on Friday that extra cost on inland transportation was hurting the country's exports of development products, making them more competitive in the world market. Therefore, as compensation, the federal government, during the current fiscal year, had announced inland freight subsidy to exporters of cement, light engineering, leather garments, furniture, soda ash, hydrogen peroxide, caustic soda and sanitary wares. As per the announcement, exports subject to some terms & conditions, routed through sea would be eligible for the facility, which is being expired next month. While, as per the government announcement, cement sector would get 35 percent of inland cost whereas all other sectors would be subsidised 50 percent. "Inland freight subsidy would end as on June 30, 2010, however several sectors including cement are seeking extension in the subsidy," they added. Sources said some sectors have already approached the federal government for the extension, while others including cement sector would send its recommendations after the budget, as the subsidy was announced in Trade Policy. "The government is also likely to extend the subsidy with same percentage for the next fiscal year 2010-11, as the country's exports are still facing high competitiveness in the world market," sources added. At present authorised dealers are receiving claims of inland freight subsidy and sending to the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) for scrutiny and approval and without the TDAP approval subsidy would not be disbursed. After scrutiny and approval, the TDAP will forward the claims eligible for payments to SBP-BSC (Bank) Head Office, Karachi against the Finance Ministry's proper allocation.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 05/29/2010

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Annual Plan 2010-11: Railways to Be Converted into a Corporation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways would be eventually converted into a corporation, while railway network would remain under public ownership, according to the Annual Plan 2010-11. A major step under the National Tariff Commission (NTC) initiative is the restructuring of Pakistan Railways on commercial lines. The Pakistan Railways (PR) Corporatisation would aim to run railways, as a state owned corporation on commercial basis and fully meet its statutory commitment. The government has allocated Rs 50 billion for PR as Non-Development Budget 2010-11, whereas, an amount of Rs 13.4 billion has been approved as Development Budget under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) that is 4 percent less then 2008-09 non-developmental budget. Finance division has projected 27 percent less allocation to PR against the demand of Rs 50 billion in development budget for fiscal year (FY) 2010-11. No new schemes have been introduced in PSDP 2010-11 due to high deficit in PR. According to Annual Plan 2010-11 corporatisation would allow PR to implement organisational and financial restructuring. It would be run by professionals, and have a restructured Board and Public Private Partnership (PPP) that would bring both efficiency and investment. Freight Business Units (FBU) already established would be made more autonomous eventually leading to formation of a freight company. The government has made an allocation of Rs 61.14 billion for the development programme of transport and communications sector for the upcoming financial year 2010-11. This includes Rs 16.54 billion for the budgetary programme and Rs 44.6 billion for the budgetary corporations programme (NHA), compared to 62.3 billion for 2009-10. Works on track rehabilitation of PR network, procurement/ manufacture of 114 DE locomotives, procurement/manufacture of 625 passenger coaches, procurement/manufacture of 2130 bogie high capacity wagons, 202 passenger coaches, rehabilitation of 450 passenger coaches, doubling of track on Lodhran - Raiwind sections, damages to railway assets during riots in December 2007, replacement of old and obsolete signalling system on Lodhran -Khanewal to Shahdara section with modern state-of-the-art system and other on-going projects would continue. The construction of railway line and container terminal at Gwadar to provide up-country linkages, would be initiated. To facilitate transportation of cargo through rail, work on Dry Port at Prem Nagar, reached to an advance stage. Under the new projects work on upgradation and improvement of existing track between Khanpur and Lodhran (Phase-II) and Shahdara - Lalamusa (Phase-III), fresh feasibility study for electrification vs dieselisation for ascertaining viability of electrification on Lahore - Karachi double line section, upgradation of track between Quetta - Taftan section would be taken up besides establishment of an Inland Container Terminal (ICT) /Dry Port Near Shershah Railway Station, Multan on public-private partnership basis. Work on feasibility study for provision of new rail link from Gwadar to Mastung to facilitate functioning of the Gwadar Deep Sea Water Port would likely to be initiated. With the provision of new rail link, Gwadar will be linked with the Central Asian countries. Preparatory work on Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) under BOT would also be taken up.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 06/13/2010

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Pakistan and US Agree on Water Sector Partnership

* Meeting agrees on need of setting up water regulatory authority
* Kerry-Lugar assistance to be utilised in 11 development sectors

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and US officials on Thursday agreed to strengthen ties in the water sector, and stressed the need for setting up a new regulatory authority to deal with the issue of water shortage. The visiting US delegation met Pakistani officials to discuss the management of Pakistan's water resources. The US delegation was led by Maria Otero, the undersecretary for Democracy and Global Affairs at the US State Department, and David Lipton, the special assistant to the US president. The Pakistani side was led by Federal Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. The US officials agreed with the Water and Power Ministry that Pakistan needed a water regulatory authority to deal with rising water insecurity in the region. The authority will implement the justified usage of water across the country. The officials stressed that the new water regulatory authority should consist of federal and provincial government officials and should ensure that equal amount of water is used in all areas of the country. The Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) has forwarded eleven proposals to the visiting US delegation for water conservation and enhancement of water resources in the country. Meanwhile, official sources said on Thursday that the ongoing talks between Pakistani and US officials on 11 key sectors of the Pakistani economy would form the basis of utilising aid provided under the Kerry-Lugar Act.

From http://pakistanlink.org/ 06/18/2010

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ARMENIA: Government Approves Program on Gyumri Industrial Park Activity in 2010

On May 27, the Armenian government approved a program on Gyumri industrial park activity in 2010. Armenian Deputy Minister of Economy Ara Petrosyan said that that program includes three basic components: introduction of innovations and modern technologies, the industrial park's management by the economic development fund of Gyumri, as well as establishment of educational, scientific and research laboratory in mechanics and electronics jointly with local and international companies. Besides, the program foresees development of a business model for creation of a free trade zone at the industrial park's territory. According to preliminary calculations, investments at the amount of AMD 200mln will be required for the program implementation. Meanwhile, the program will be financed through both budgetary and other funds permitted by the RA legislation.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 05/27/2010

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KAZAKHSTAN: Encourage Foreign Investors Developing New Technologies in Its Economy

Kazakhstan will encourage those foreign investors who will be developing new technologies in the national economy of Kazakhstan. The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said at the fourth Kazakhstan Investment Summit in Almaty, the agency reports. The President informed that 20 thousand enterprises with participation of foreign capital work in Kazakhstan. "Their successful activity is a real indicator of the long-term, steady, and stable development of Kazakhstan." "We suggest foreign investors to expand their presence in our country through participation in the projects of the industrially-innovative development program. Thus, we will encourage those investors who will be investing not only in creation of the new manufactures, but who will also introduce new technologies and train Kazakhstan specialists for some new innovative professions," the head of state stated.

From http://www.kt.kz/ 06/03/2010

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101 Projects with Budget of KZT 6.7 Trln Selected Within Industrialization Map for 2010-2014

101 projects at the national level to the amount of KZT 6.7 trillion were selected within the Kazakhstan Industrialization Map for 2010-2014. The report on execution of protocol decisions of the 22nd sitting of the Foreign Investors' Council, presented by Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev today at the 23rd session of the Council, reads.

The initial portfolio of investment projects within the regional industrialization maps includes 136 investment projects worth KZT 491 bln in total. A. Issekeshev noted that the Republican Control Center on the forced industrial-innovative development in Kazakhstan had been established for coordinating the realization of the investment projects. This year 144 projects are to be realized within the program, including 42 at the republican level and 102 at the regional level.

From http://www.inform.kz/ 06/04/2010

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Contracts Signed in Almaty Symbolize New Stage in Industrialization Program's Realization

Nine contracts and memos on cooperation with leading world companies were signed in Almaty during the IV Kazakhstan Investment Summit. The documents were signed in the presence of Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov and Vice Prime Minister - Minister of Industry and New Technologies Asset Issekeshev. "These contracts symbolize a new stage in realization of the Forced Industrial-Innovative Development Program of Kazakhstan. They prove the great interest of world investors in the Kazakh investment potential", Chairman of the Board of "Samruk Kazyna" National Welfare Fund Kairat Kelimbetov said upon signing the documents. K. Kelimbetov and Thomas Mirow, the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) signed contract on cooperation between the EBRD and "Kazyna Capital Management" Company. Memo on cooperation in the field of renewable energy was signed between the Kazakh Ministry of Industry and New Technologies and Korea Electric Power Corporation and Samsung C&T Corporation. Memo on mutual understanding in joint realization of strategic initiatives in the field of railway transport was signed between "Kazakhstan Temir Zholy" Company and EBRD.

From http://www.inform.kz/ 06/04/2010

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Kazakhstan to Develop Actively Stock Market in 2010-2011 - Premier

Kazakhstan is ready to actively develop the stock market in 2010-2011. Economic resilience always combined with a stick market development. Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov has made it public at the IV Kazakhstan Investment Summit. The Premier noted that a stock exchange is not enough developed in Kazakhstan, in spite of great reforms in the economy, in particular, in the financial sphere. K.Massimov noted that Kazakhstan twice came to deep development of the stock market, but the first obstacle was the Asian crisis, and then - the current world financial crisis. According to the Prime Minister, overcoming the crisis, there are set plans on stock markets development. They will touch upon some companies which enter into the public ownership, in particular, into the structure of SamrukKazyna National Welfare Fund.

From http://www.inform.kz/ 06/04/2010

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Government to Approve Programs on Development of Six Industrial Sectors by Mid July

By mid July the Government of Kazakhstan will approve the programs on development of six industrial sectors, Kazinform has learnt from Vice Minister of Industry and New Technologies Nurmukhambet Abdibekov. The Ministry of Industry and New Technologies elaborates now six programs directed on development mining-metallurgical, light, chemical, pharmaceutical industries, engineering and construction sectors, he said. According to him, the projects are being coordinated with state bodies at present. "In accordance with the schedule they are expected to be approved by the Cabinet till July 15, 2010", the Vice Minister highlighted. N. Abdibekov noted that the goals of these programs met those ones set within the forced industrialization program.

From http://www.inform.kz/ 06/17/2010

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UZBEKISTAN: Tariffs Up for Telecommunication Services

Uzbekistan increased the monthly fee for using a home phone number in the city with time-based payment system from June 1 by 8.3 percent - from the previous 1,200 soums up to 1,300 soums, in rural areas - by 10 percent - from 500 usums up to 550 sum, the Uzbek Communication and Information Agency reported. This amount provides or a limit of 180 minutes per month, the cost of each minute in excess of the limit is increased by 11.1 per cent - from 3.6 soums up to 4. Tariffs on fixed telephone calls for the city organizations financed from the budget, increased by 5.7 percent - from 1,750 soums up to 1,850 and for rural - by6.8 percent - from 580 suums up to 620. Tariffs for commercial organizations working in cities will remain the same - 3,035 soums, tariffs in rural areas increased by 6.9 percent - from 1,450 soums s up to 1,550. The cost of each full or part-minute limit is reached in the amount of 180 minutes that is included in the monthly fee has been increased for all categories of users from 3.6 soums to 4.

Tariffs for connection to the telephone network for people and organizations remain the same. In Tashkent and regional centers, they make up for budget organizations - 32,600 soums, non-budgetary organizations - 39,900 soums and the population - 20,700 soums. The tariffs for the connection in the cities of regional subordination and regional centers mount to 21,200 soums, 25, 700 soums and 13,900 soums, respectively, in other localities - 10,600 soums, 12,100 soums and 5,200 s0ums, respectively. The tariffs on long distance and international telephone communications also remained the same. They vary from 40 to 100 soums per minute depending on distance and availability of automated telephone calls inside the country.

Minute of conversation with the countries of Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan) is 400 soums, the Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia) - 500 soums, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova - 440 soums, European countries - 1,140 soums Bahrain, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Turkey - 1,275 soums, other Asian countries - 1,520 soums, Africa and the Americas - 1,265 soums and Australia - 1,725 soums. Payment for the word ordinary telegrams for the population will be 18 soums and and for businesses- 42 soum Since June 1. Word of the urgent telegram will cost 86 soums compared to 77 earlier. Telegraphic fee for all types and categories of cables increased from 77 to 86 soums. The last time prices for fixed telephone and sending telegrams in the country was increased in August,2009.

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/01/2010

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AUSTRALIA: Government Strikes Multi-Billion Broadband Deal

The Australian government has struck a deal worth $A11 billion with the country's main telecommunications firm, Telstra, for a national broadband network. Under the deal, the government will pay for access to Telstra's infrastructure and to help set up a new company to meet Telstra's universal service obligation. The deal needs the approval of the competition regulator and Telstra shareholders. But the prime minister, Kevin Rudd, says the agreement with Telstra will help the government provide a new superfast internet system.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/20/2010

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IMF Backs Australian Mining Tax

The International Monetary Fund has given its support to the Australian Government's planned Resource Super Profits Tax. The deputy head of tax policy at the IMF Philip Daniel has told a tax conference in Sydney the proposal is a worthwhile reform. He says there are a number of benefits in the RSPT which could also be adopted in other countries. "IMF staff welcome the RSPT proposal in principle. It shifts the whole Australian resource tax system strongly in the direction of neutrality," he said. "It offers strengthening of Australian public finances over the long term, reduces risk of absolute loss for investors, while leaving a substantial share of resource profits in private hands." The IMF also says there is no indication that the government's proposed RSPT would hurt Australia's economic prospects. Mr Daniel says the argument that the tax would hurt Australia's competitiveness is overstated.

"The tax proposal doesn't show adverse effects on Australia's economic prospects either," he added. "Consensus forecasts offer evidence that the outlook for business investment has in fact strengthened for Australia in recent months." He says not enough focus has been given to the benefits the mining industry should gain through the government's assumption of some of the project risk. "The argument on tax competitiveness too tends to ignore the fact that the new proposals incorporate large risk bearing by Government - to the extent of 40 per cent of losses and more in the case of exploration," he explained. "Few other jurisdictions seeking petroleum and mining investment are able to offer that."

However, a resources economist says the super profits tax proposal may not raise as much money as the Federal Government predicts. Ben Smith is a visiting fellow at the Australian National University and says the retrospective application of existing projects would guarantee solid revenues, but only in the short-term. "In the long run, the government is going to earn 40 per cent on the average rate of return of mining and in the long run that's not guaranteed to be particularly high," he said. "It could even be negative - that's unlikely but, you know, there are risks associated with it and the Government really needs to spend the revenue taking account of those long run factors."

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/23/2010

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Tips for Pacific Micro-Finance

One of the world's leading micro-finance experts says Pacific micro-finance organisations could serve their clients better if they offered insurance and remittance transfers. Micro-finance - small-scale loans and credit - can contribute to the start-up or growth of tiny businesses operated by people with low incomes. Some Pacific microfinance organisations have struggled to stay afloat because of the high costs they face in servicing small numbers of clients. Vijay Mahajan, founder and chairman of BASIX ,a micro-finance organisation that has successfully lent more than $US500 million, says the path to sustainability lies in offering a wider range of services. Mr Mahajan says micro-finance organisations can offer life insurance for the family breadwinner; health insurance; crop and livestock insurance;and for craftspeople, asset insurance. In the Pacific, he says, micro-finance organisations should also play a key role in getting remittances to people more cheaply than banks can.

From http://www.radioaustralianews.net.au/ 06/22/2010

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