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September
2012, Issue 130
unpan-ap@sass.org.cn
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ˇˇ Government Action to Stop Companies Bribing Abroad
ITU Ill-Suited to Regulate Cybersecurity
Declaration of Internet Freedom
The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) Project
Growth Will Remain a Top Priority at ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Siem Reap
Clinton on Final Push for US' Asia Strategy
APEC Summit Issues Declaration on Regional Development
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ˇˇ CHINA: To Check Implementation of Agriculture Law
China Amends Laws on Agro-Technical Popularization
China Drafts Safety Law for Special Equipment
Chinese Lawmakers Review Draft Laws
Law Amendment to Prevent Malicious Prosecution
Chinese Official Calls for Asia's Own Facebook, Twitter
Mainland Visitor Plan Shelved: HK Chief Executive
China to Enhance Gov't Inspections of Schools
Smoking Rule Has Little Effect
JAPAN: APEC Ministers Agree to Avoid Harsh Export Rules
Japan, Russia Promote 'Judo Diplomacy'
Govt Adopts Strategy of Zero N-energy Reliance
Ministry to Analyze All Substances Found in Cigarettes
SOUTH KOREA: Naturalization Rules Will Be Strengthened
Gov't to Step Up Fight on Infectious Diseases
Jeju Declaration Adopted to Promote Green Growth
Lee Calls for Spirit of Taking on Challenges to Open 'Korea Route'
Gov't Discusses Electricity Supply Measures for Winter Season
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: Jakarta to Improve Spatial Planning Guide
MALAYSIA: Launching New Blueprint for Excellence in Education
Malaysia Embarks on Pollution-Mapping Project
Malaysia Launches Blueprint for Education System ICT Reform
SINGAPORE: Passing Bill to Abolish Pensions for Office Holders, Members of Parliament
SE Asia Health Ministers Agree Better Policies on the Elderly
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: Govt Taking Action Against Hallmark for Swindling: Muhith
Bangladesh Plans New Investments in National E-Governance Framework
INDIA: Govt Drafts Geographical Indication Act
Govt Starts Process to Frame Foreign Aid Policy
e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project Formulated Under NeGP
Four Govt. Schemes to Be Linked to UID in Karnataka
PM to Lay Foundation Stone for Kochi Metro Rail Project
Indian NGO to Push Sanitation Goals in Developing Nations
Madhya Pradesh's e-Governance Initiatives Are Worthy of Being Replicated in Other States: Rajiv Gauba
National IT Policy 2012 Approved by the Cabinet
PAKISTAN: SC Orders Action Against Illegal Arms, Vehicles
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ˇˇ ARMENIA: Prosperous Armenia Wants Chance to Pursue Own Policy - Spokesman
AZERBAIJAN: Int'l Organizations' Opinions Considered While Preparing National Action Plans
UZBEKISTAN: Senate Approves Law on Foreign Policy Concept
Uzbekistan Joins Agreement on Long-Term Cooperation with SCO Countries
Judicial Legislation Amended in Uzbekistan
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Gillard Delivers School Funding Plan
Aus Futuregov Summit Showcases ICT Reforms
FIJI: Govt Will Not Make Constitution Submission - AG
NEW ZEALAND: Call on Nations to Lower Subsidies
Key: Surplus Goal Can Be Revised
Govt Introduces New Welfare Bill
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Committed to APEC Objectives, Says PM
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ˇˇ Digital Democracy - How Technology Helps Governments and Citizens to Open Up Politics and Public Administration
Up to 16 Million to Benefit from Improved Public Services in Rio de Janeiro State
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ˇˇ CHINA: Wang Lijun Faces Four Charges
Courts Told to Manage Civilian-Government Cases Well
Citizens Pay Less Proportion of Health Expenditure
China Announces Appointments, Dismissals of Officials
JAPAN: Ministry to Establish Cyberdefense Unit
Govt to Consider New Agency for Child Care
Noda Reelected as DPJ Leader / Wins by Big Margin Over 3 Challengers, Will Stay on as Prime Minister
Yamaguchi Gets Nod for 3rd Term as Komeito's Chief Representative
SOUTH KOREA: Government Begins Moving into Sejong City
Public Officials to Get 2.8% Raise Next Year
President Accepts Special Probe
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: 46 Political Parties Register for Indonesia's 2014 Polls
Small Party's Win in Capital Governor Poll Marks New Era in Indonesian Politics
CAMBODIA: Launching Telecoms Regulatory Body
MYANMAR: President Reshuffles Cabinet in Bid to Speed Up Reform Process
Myanmar President Calls for Materializing Good Governance, Clean Gov't
Myanmar Gov't Reforms Provisional Press Council to Handle Media Affairs
PHILIPPINES: President Gets High Public Approval: Pulse Survey
SINGAPORE: Teachers, Education Support Staff Get Pay Rise
Singapore Opens Business Analytics Centre
VIETNAM: Government to Continue Anti-Corruption Crackdown
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: Govt Urged to Raise FFs Children's Age Limit for Public Service Entry
PM Reshuffles Cabinet; Distributes Portfolios Among New Ministers
Tackling Corruption in Bangladesh
INDIA: Ghana to Begin Pilot e-Procurement System Implementations
Abdush Shahid Remembered, Govt Yet to Fulfil Commitment
Govt to Reduce Size of Sonali Bank Board
PAKISTAN: Govt to Set Up Control Room to Monitor Web
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ˇˇ ARMENIA: Education Minister - Corruption Risks Major Problem for System
AZERBAIJAN: To Open New Taxpayer Service Centers by Late 2012
IRAN: Executive Bodies Obliged to Set Up Cyber Rescue Units
Kazakhstan, UNDP Discuss Effectiveness Increase of Government Institutions
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Labor Sticks to Its Surplus Commitment
FIJI: Constitution Process Hailed Good for Economy
NEW ZEALAND: PM Must Make Most of His Opening Act
Govt to Review Earthquake Commission
Reforms to Help Beneficiaries Out of 'Trap'
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Former PM Eager to Fight Corruption in Province
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Parliament Opens Its Doors to the Public for a Week in October
UNDP Offers Six-Point Plan to Fast-Track Women in Politics in Asia-Pacific
Good Governance and Leadership Is Our Issue Too
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ˇˇ Transparency International Urges Fair and Accountable Management of Green Climate Fund
IDC Study Shows Increased Awareness and Adoption of Storage Efficiency Technologies
Global Internet Capacity Reaches 77Tbps Despite Slowdown
Innovation: Economic Crisis and Weak Outlook Hit R&D, Says OECD
'Urgent Action' Needed on Clean Development Mechanism
ADB, P&G to Pilot Transforming Waste to Energy in the Philippines
APEC: Innovation, Growth on Agenda for Vladivostok
Microsoft's $300,000 Grants Kicks Off ICT Training for 20,000 Young Entrepreneurs in ASEAN Countries
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ˇˇ CHINA: Gov't Micro Blogs Accounts Up to 50,000
China Improves Monitoring Over Far-Sea Territory
China Continues to Probe Alleged GM Rice Testing
China to Tighten Internet Management
Innovation, Consumption Key to Boosting Future Economic Growth in China: Expert
China Hails Social Assistance Achievements
JAPAN: Ministry OK's Yahoo Ads / Controversial Program Doesn't Violate User Privacy
SOUTH KOREA: 'Innovation School' Opens in Seoul
Seoul to Improve Jongno Area for the Elderly
Korea's First Envoy to ASEAN Vows to Deepen Cooperation
Lee, IWA Chief Agree to Work Together to Spread Water Management know-How
NPS Ranks 4th in World
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: Taking Steps to Tackle Infrastructure Woes
MYANMAR: Pledging to Work for Effective Promotion of Human Rights
MALAYSIA: 5 States Unveil Affordable Broadband Packages
PHILIPPINES: To Improve Fiscal Transparency in Supreme Court
Philippines Goes Hi-Tech for Disaster Response Plan
Good Governance Leads to Philippine Economic Gains
Philippine Region to Use GIS to Monitor Social Devt Projects
SINGAPORE: Launching 'Super Wi-fi' Internet Trials
S'pore Conversation: Key Challenge Is Managing Expectations
MOH to Develop Continuing Education Framework for TCM Practitioners
THAILAND: PM Satisfied with Flood Plan
VIETNAM: Launching Construction of National Satellite Center
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: Computer Training for Disabled Begin
INDIA: "Govt. Is Working with Social Media to Prevent Misuse of Technology", Says Sibal
Workshop Held on Urban Governance
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ˇˇ AZERBAIJAN: Management Strategy of Illegal Buildings Developed with WB Assistance
KAZAKHSTAN: Ready to Embrace Estonian Experience in 'Green Economy'
Kazakh Delegation Attends International Conference on Health and Safety
TAJIKISTAN: OSCE Holds Workshop for Customs Agencies on Trusted Trader Programmes
TURKMENISTAN: Preparing to Move to 11-Year Education
Turkmenistan to Put Forward a Number of Specific Initiatives at the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly
UZBEKISTAN: Government Tightens Internet Censorship
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Queensland State Govt Boosts Funding for Healthcare
ASPI Calls for Boost in Oceans Aid Focus
FIJI: Build First Women Resource Centre
ADB Report Rates Fiji Ports Highly
NEW ZEALAND: New Miss Samoa to Promote Gender Equality and Environment
Govt 'Command and Control' in Christchurch Criticised
Pacific's First Female Market Manager
Pacific to Develop a Roadmap for Regional Strategy Integrating Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change
ˇˇ The Next Battle for Internet Freedom Could Be Over 3D Printing
UN Launches Network for Sustainable Development
ICT in an Ageing Society
ICT Useful in Creating Sustainable Cities - Worldwatch Institute
ASEAN Nations Can Help Prevent Global Rice Price Rise
APEC Economic Leaders' Week: Reinvigorating Growth and Prosperity
Asia 'Will Be Hit Hard by Drought in 2020s'
Joint Statement: APEC Is Foundation for Global Recovery
APEC Region Trade Still Outperforms World
Asia IT Leaders More Certain of Cloud Needs
Asia-Pacific to Boost Integration of Education, Science
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ˇˇ CHINA: Shanghai Revs Up Broadband Speed to 16Mbps
China to Digitalize Civil Air Defense Management by 2020
China to Upgrade Maritime Satellite Network by 2020
1.3 Million Rural Vendors Own Online Stores
Cloud Computing Gives Baidu Mobile Edge
Lenovo Eyes 'Public Cloud' for Consumers
JAPAN: Govt to Expand Network for Wind Power
Investment Trust Net Assets Up for 3rd month
Falls in Land Prices Slow / Low Interest Rates, Tax Breaks Help Reduce Declines from Disaster
Court Website Restored After Cyber-attack
Imports, Exports Both Fall as 754 Bil. Yen Trade Deficit Logged in August
SOUTH KOREA: Elderly Support to Fall Heavily on Younger Generations in Coming Decades
Gov't, Ruling Party to Give Child Rearing Allowances to All Babies Under 2
Foreign Doctors May Consult Patients in Korea
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: Must Deal with Severe Effects of Global Warming
CAMBODIA: PM - Poverty Reduction Target May Hit 2 Years Earlier
PHILIPPINES: To Improve Poverty Database
The Philippines Leverages Twitter to Repair Damaged Roads
Philippine Gov't Concerned on Rising Underemployment
Philippine Gov't Alarmed Over Increasing Number of Teenage Mothers
SINGAPORE: Secure Storage Now Accessible Via IOS App
Singapore Rolls Out 120,000 Devices to Schools
Economic Growth Important in Building Inclusive Society: Singapore President Tony Tan
E-govt Services Put Singapore at No. 1
Singapore's Survival Depends on Nation Living the Global-Asia Story: PM Lee
THAILAND: Pilots a Smart CTV Project
Thai Hospital Revamps Patient Operation
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: Create More Jobs to Spur Growth: Entrepreneur
Boost Internal Resources, Cut Foreign Aid Dependence: President, PM
INDIA: HC Asks Govt Not to Bar Fakhrul from Foreign Tour
e-Governance Implimented in Gaya
Electronic Payment of Customs Duty Is Now Mandatory in India
TRAI Directs Service Providers to Give Information to Broadband Consumers
Government Aiming at 85 Thousand MW of Power During 12th Plan
Planning Commission Endorses 8.2 Percent Growth in 2012-17
SRI LANKA: Development Not at Cost of Environment - President
PAKISTAN: Karachi DHA to Improve Living Environment
POL Price Hike, Worsening Law and Order
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ˇˇ AFGHANISTAN: Roshan Secures 3G License
AZERBAIJAN: Mobile Operator Develops Strategy for LTE Network Introduction
Azerbaijan's ICT Development Fund to Start Backing Projects in 2013
Teliasonera Intends Cooperating with Azerbaijan in Broadband Services Development
Azerbaijan's Economic Situation Draws Cyber Attacks
Azerbaijan Transfers Information Base on Real Estate in E-format
Distance Education Used in Azerbaijan for First Time
KYRGYZSTAN: Net Freedom Under Fire
KAZAKHSTAN: E-Government Will Favour Development of Networks of New Generation
TAJIKISTAN: Opportunities of Development of the Economy to Be Discussed in Dushanbe Tomorrow
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Gov Seeks EOI for "Smart Transport" System
Aus Govt Agency Wins Mobile Health Apps Award
Economists Back Rates Slash to Prevent Recession
NEW ZEALAND: Move 70 Percent of Govt Transactions Online by 2017
NZ Gov Paves Way for G-Cloud
NZ Tops OECD List for Education Spend
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Govt Supports Tourism for Human Resource Development
Equality for Women Slowly Gaining Momentum in Pacific
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ˇˇ Rethink Role of State in Finance, Says World Bank
Asia as World Growth Engine Challenged: IMF
Banks May Retreat from Asia Swap Markets as Regulation Bites
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ˇˇ CHINA: Hearing Likely Rise in Revenue Sounds Good
Chinese Lost US$46 Billion to Cybercrime Last Year: Norton Report
China Financial Reform Urged to Offset Risks
China Willing to Promote Trade Calculation Reforms
JAPAN: Govts to Get 284 bil. Yen in Rebuilding Subsidies
Economic Recovery on Hold / Govt Lowers Outlook on Weak Production, Personal Spending
BOJ Declares Additional Easing Moves
CURRENCIES & BONDS / Dollar Soars Above 79 Yen in Tokyo on BOJ's Unexpected Policy Decision
Foreign JGB Holdings Hit Record 8.7%
SOUTH KOREA: Analysis - Recovered Fast from Global Financial Crisis
S. Korean Stocks Most Popular in Asia in Sept.
Gov't Boosts Budget to Draw Foreign Investment
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: Police Criticised Over Budget Spending
THAILAND: BOT Watches Personal Lending, Property
VIETNAM: MoT Spends $209m to Upgrade National Highway 20
Viet Nam: Banks Develop More Services for Mobile Market
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ˇˇ PAKISTAN: Govt Releases Rs 7.54bn Funds to Opp in Punjab
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ˇˇ AZERBAIJAN: Atrabank Prepares for Major Recapitalisation
Over $54 Million Issued for Mortgage Lending in Azerbaijan in 2012
Azerbaijani Business Masters Over 78 Percent of Concessional Financing
KYRGYZSTAN: Needs Finances for Political Stability
Kyrgyzstan to Allocate over $252 Mln for Foreign Debt Service
WB to Allocate $30 Mln for Kyrgyz Budget Support
KAZAKHSTAN: Reserves of the National Fund Amount to $85 Billion
Kazakhstan, ADB Develop New Partnership Strategy
TAJIKISTAN: To Sign 12 Financial Agreements
TURKMENISTAN: IMF - Direct Economic Spillovers from Euro Area Crisis Likely to Remain Limited
UZBEKISTAN: Development Forecast of Uzbek Banking System Remains Stable
Uzbek Central Bank, WB Implements Financial Reporting and Audit Improvement in Banks' Project
WB to Provide Uzbekistan with $40 Mln Loan to Support Agricultural Enterprises
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Scrapping Carbon Floor Raises Budget Uncertainty
NEW ZEALAND: Labour's $19m Vow to Feed Children
Govt Depts Clock Up $1bn in Consultant Fees
Govt Austerity Slows Growth, Keeps Rates Low - RBNZ
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Millions Spent on SOEs for Nothing - ABE
SOLOMON ISLANDS: PMO to Request for More Money
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Public Accounts Concludes Hearing
2012 Budget Under Pressure
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ˇˇ Agriculture: Support to Agriculture at Historic Lows, Says OECD
Affinity Tests Appetite for Asia Private Equity with $3.5 Billion Fund
Asia's Top 500 Retailers Clocked US$959 Billion in Sales in 2011
Asia Pacific Companies Prioritise CRM
Hong Kong Start-ups Lift Asia Hedge Fund Industry - Survey
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ˇˇ CHINA: Alibaba Ramps Up Support for Small Businesses
Tencent Fund to Help Data Security
Huawei Leads Chinese Firms in 4G Tech
China Unicom Wrests 3G Market Share
JAPAN: TEPCO to Set Up Panel to Reduce Procurement Costs
SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Limit Aid for Biz Entry in Overcrowded Sectors
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ˇˇ SINGAPORE: Smaller Companies Urged to Adapt to "Megatrends"
Singapore: UOB, SMU Set Up Institute to Help SMEs
THAILAND: Banks to Focus More on Small Business Loans
VIETNAM: Digital Information Accounts For 45% of Enterprise Value
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ˇˇ INDIA: 'Priority Sector' Light Engineering Fails to Flourish
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ˇˇ AZERBAIJAN: Ultra Company to Be Engaged in Systems Formation of Global Level
Azerbaijani Private Sector Provides More Than 70 Per Cent of Tax Revenues
Privatisation Approaches and State Property Management to Be Changed in Azerbaijan
Investments in Azerbaijan's Non-oil Sector Up by Over a Third
IRAN: Steel Output Surpasses 7.3 Million Tons
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ˇˇ NEW ZEALAND: Business Slow on Cloud Uptake

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Government Action to Stop Companies Bribing Abroad

Efforts to punish corporate crime by countries around the world will be evaluated in a new report to be published by anti-corruption group Transparency International on 6 September 2012, at 03.00 AM GMT. Transparency International's annual report on enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, "Exporting Corruption? Country Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Progress Report 2012", grades 37 countries according to the number of cases against companies for bribing foreign officials that have been investigated and prosecuted. Factsheets assessing the enforcement action of a dozen OECD countries, including the US, UK, France, Canada, Spain, Greece and Brazil, will also be made available on 6 September. Interviews may be arranged with both global and regional experts.

From http://www.transparency.org/ 08/30/2012

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ITU Ill-Suited to Regulate Cybersecurity

The issue of cybersecurity perfectly illustrates why the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) should not be given expanded regulatory authority to include matters of Internet governance. The UN body is meeting this December as Member States renegotiate its core telecommunications treaty, and CDT and others have been warning of the risks to online freedom and innovation. In a paper issued today, we examine in detail some of the proposals pending before the ITU relating to cybercrime and cybersecurity. On the one hand, cybersecurity is undeniably a critical issue for the future of telecommunications and indeed for global commerce, development, and human rights. On the other hand, it is ill-suited to the kind of centralized, government-dominated policymaking that the ITU represents. Cybersecurity requires agility: Given the pace of technological change, governmental bodies are not likely to be the source of effective technical solutions. Instead, those solutions will emerge from multi-stakeholder efforts, involving ICT companies, technologists, academics, and civil society advocates, as well as governments. Moreover, the cybersecurity issue inevitably leads straight into questions of human rights and governmental power: surveillance, privacy, and free expression. None of these are issues the ITU has any expertise in or any ability to assess and balance. Rather than adopting vague wording that could be used by governments as justification for repressive measures, the ITU should endorse existing standards initiaitves such as those underway at the IETF and continue to serve as one forum among many for the development of consensus based, private sector-led efforts.

From https://www.cdt.org/ 09/08/2012

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Declaration of Internet Freedom

"The Internet," says the GOP platform, "has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human history. Its independence is its power." The Democratic platform states: "President [Barack] Obama is strongly committed to protecting an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, creativity, consumer choice and free speech, unfettered by censorship or undue violations or privacy." These party platform documents are not without their differences. Open, inclusive and robust debate is a good thing. But when it comes to Internet freedom, there is far more that unites us than separates us. That is the reason we have both signed the Declaration of Internet Freedom - a landmark document drafted by Internet advocates of all political persuasions who have come together in support of five principles that transcend partisan politics.

The declaration reads: We stand for a free and open Internet. We support transparent and participatory processes for making Internet policy and the establishment of five basic principles:
• Expression: Don't censor the Internet.
• Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
• Openness: Keep the Internet an open network in which everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create and innovate.
• Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don't block new technologies, and don't punish innovators for their users' actions.
• Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone's ability to control how their data and devices are used.

More than 50,000 people and some 2,000 organizations - representing millions of people around the world - have already signed this declaration. It has been translated into more than 70 languages, so that as many people as possible can read the text and participate in the debate. The Internet may well prove to be our most fundamental technological achievement. Because of it, people around the world have instant access to vital information, can hold their governments accountable and create better lives for themselves and their families. Democrats and Republicans, despite continuing political debate and differences, can join together to protect an open Internet that strengthens our economy and our democracy.

From http://www.politico.com/ 09/17/2012

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The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) Project

The Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) project reports aggregate and individual governance indicators for 215 economies over the period 1996 - 2011, for six dimensions of governance:
•Voice and Accountability
•Political Stability and Absence of Violence
•Government Effectiveness
•Regulatory Quality
•Rule of Law
•Control of Corruption

These aggregate indicators combine the views of a large number of enterprise, citizen and expert survey respondents in industrial and developing countries. They are based on 30 individual data sources produced by a variety of survey institutes, think tanks, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, and private sector firms.
•Interactive data access
•Description of methodology
•Download full dataset (excel)
•Download full dataset (stata)

From http://info.worldbank.org/ 09/19/2012

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Growth Will Remain a Top Priority at ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Siem Reap

Siem Reap, 27 August, 2012 Siem Reap is home to the world's biggest Hindu temple complex - the Angkor Wat - which sits proudly in the centre of the Cambodian flag. This week, the city will take a little break from history, as Cambodia host the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting. "If you look at the partners attending the AEM, you will realize that some of the most important economic powers are here. ASEAN is already a collection of 10 robust, promising economies. Together with China, India, the United States, Russia, South Korea, Japan, etc, you have the world's biggest consumer markets, the world's leading R & D bases, the world's leading sources of raw materials, as well as the world's richest sources for investment," said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN. "The message may not be totally new, but the fact remains that economic uncertainties hovering around the world, many will be watching here for answers. We may not be able to save the world single-handedly, but if we are able to maintain healthy robust growth in ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific, we will help to hold the ship together. We will provide the lead time for Europe to get back on its feet," he added. Pointing out the need to stay focused, and to keep faith with open markets, Deputy Secretary-General Lim Hong Hin from the ASEAN Economic Pillar, cautioned against the emergence of protectionism.

"As of 2011, ASEAN's intra-trade had accounted for a quarter of our total trade. If you add our trade with key partners like China, Japan, the EU and the US, you are looking at a very important cornerstone of our healthy economic growth. That growth has helped to raise the living standards of many of our peoples, but there are many more who are waiting for their turn to enjoy the fruits of economic development. We cannot afford to fail them," said DSG Lim. The week-long meetings will bring together the economic ministers of the 10 ASEAN Member States of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The ministers will hold dialogue with partners like China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, the United States, Canada and Russia. In an earlier interview with the Phnom Penh Post, Cambodia's Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce, HE Cham Prasidh, said that Phnom Penh will push forward with plans to reduce the development gap among ASEAN member states during Cambodia's chairmanship of ASEAN this year. Narrowing the development gap is one of the main objectives of the ASEAN Economic Community. Earlier efforts by the grouping, combined with the positive investment climate in Asia, had helped boost Southeast Asia as one of the fastest growing areas in the world. This in turn, has raised the optimism of turning ASEAN into a single market, and a single manufacturing base. To see the pictures from the 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings, please click here. We will update the pictures daily during the AEM.

From http://www.aseansec.org/ 08/27/2012

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Clinton on Final Push for US' Asia Strategy

Analysts called the US strategy of re-engagement in the Asia-Pacific region "partly unsuccessful" and "destructive in the long run," as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton embarked on an 11-day, six-nation tour in the region for the final push of the strategy during her tenure. Clinton visited the Cook Islands over the weekend, becoming the first Secretary of State to participate in the Pacific Islands Forum. After visiting the island nation, Clinton will visit Indonesia, the seat of the secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and then head to China for a two-day visit starting on Tuesday. Tao Wenzhao, a senior researcher with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that Clinton's participation in the Pacific Islands Forum underlines the Obama administration's attention to the South Pacific, an area which used to be neglected by Washington. The analyst also noted China's increasing ties with the small island nations, which prompted the US to compete for influence. Clinton Friday announced more than $32 billion in new US programs for the region. According to Reuters, Clinton told the gathering Friday that the US was in the region for the long haul. But she also played down growing perceptions of a US-China rivalry in the region, declaring "the Pacific is big enough for all of us" and dismissing the notion that expanded US activity was "a hedge against particular countries."

Analysts also noted that Clinton's visit to Indonesia and Brunei will be centered on territorial disputes in the South China Sea, over which a summit of ASEAN leaders in July failed to reach consensus. AP quoted unnamed US officials as saying that Clinton will press them to find common ground and hash out a framework for negotiating with China. Over the past two years, the Obama administration has made a major push to increase engagement across the Asia-Pacific region, vowing a shift of strategic pivot. Jin Canrong, vice director of the School of International Studies at the Renmin University of China, said that Clinton regards the re-engagement as her political legacy, which aims to dominate the region's political agenda, and build a Trans-Pacific Partnership that excludes China as well as further consolidate its military edge. "However, it wasn't easy for Washington to push forward the strategy," said Jin. "The downward economic strength of the US led to its playing a limited role in the region's economy. In politics, it exerted some influence, but did not play a dominant role. As a result, it could only showcase its ambition by staging military drills with allies." Ni Feng, deputy director of the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, shared a similar view, adding that Washington's capacity to engage in Asia has declined compared with the 1960s and 1970s.

Ni said the US shift of pivot has intensified disputes between Asian countries, stirring up tensions between China and its neighbors. According to Tao, frequent drills between the US and its allies have destabilized the region, and the role played by Washington in disputes between China and Japan as well as territorial disputes in the South China Sea have hindered the peaceful settlement of such issues. "In the near term, Washington's Asia strategy seems to be working effectively. But over the long run, its destructive effects for Asia will gradually emerge," said Ni, adding that escalating tensions in Asia would not work to the benefits of the US, and would be contrary to Washington's attempts to reap profits from Asia's economic growth. Clinton will finish the trip with stops in Brunei and East Timor before heading to the Russian port city of Vladivostok, where she will represent US President Barack Obama at this year's Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit of regional leaders.

From http://www.globaltimes.cn/ 09/03/2012

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APEC Summit Issues Declaration on Regional Development

Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, concluded their summit in the Russian city of Vladivostok on Sunday with a declaration outlining the future development of the region. The leaders pledged to avoid the deepening damage from the European debt crisis and revive waning growth in the region by supporting open trade, reforming their economies and strengthening public finances. Russian President Vladimir Putin has concluded the summit, saying fellow leaders must show a promising outlook on regional economic growth. "The Asia-Pacific region is a locomotive of the world economy now. While in the eurozone we see the prospects of zero growth or even recession, here is the growth, and this growth is significant. The rates of growth are going a bit down, but nevertheless there is growth. And generally speaking, this state of affairs makes all the leaders of the economies representing this region optimistic." According to the declaration, the leaders agreed to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability while recognizing the need to support recovery within the available fiscal scope. They promised to strengthen a multilateral trading system by pushing forward the Doha Round of global trade talks. They also pledged to refrain from raising new barriers to trade and investment, and not impose new export restrictions or implement WTO-inconsistent measures in all areas by the end of 2015.

Facing the downward pressure of the global economy, the APEC nations have welcomed European leaders' commitment to taking all necessary steps to safeguard the integrity and stability of the euro area. In the meantime, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde briefed the press on the sidelines of the APEC Summit to say that the IMF took an interest in the design and monitoring of the European Central Bank's plan to staunch the eurozone debt crisis with unlimited bond purchases. "First of all, there is some positive development on the European scene, in particular what the Central Bank has announced last Thursday is a clear indication of the framework in which it would be an active player in restoring the situation in the eurozone. As far as the IMF is concerned, we shall certainly be ready to help and to assist in the design and monitoring of eventual programs of all conditions that would be part of the solutions." Lagarde also backed a new Chinese infrastructure spending offensive, saying it was important that countries running external surpluses make their contribution to supporting global growth. "In terms of China, clearly our view is that countries with surplus are in the capacity to not only let automatic stabilizers play but could also leverage their surplus to actually support growth, and particularly in the case of China, domestic growth, which is this rebalancing act that has taken place lately."

As for Russia, the host country of the APEC Summit, many experts believe the world's largest nation has made the summit a gateway for Asia to European markets, which forms a part of Russia's "looking east" development strategy. Igor Shuvalov, Russian first deputy prime minister, said his country was open and ready for cooperation with foreign investors. "Foreign companies can buy agricultural lands with no restrictions. And if this business grows, we think that export opportunities will be permanently increasing." During the summit, leaders also recognized that the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific is a major instrument to further APEC's regional economic integration agenda. The APEC region, composed of 21 Pacific member economies, accounts for about 40 percent of the world's population, around 57 percent of world's GDP, and 48 percent of global trade. Indonesia and China will host the next APEC Summits in 2013 and 2014.

From http://english.cri.cn/ 09/09/2012

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CHINA: To Check Implementation of Agriculture Law

China's top legislature will start a new wave of inspections on the implementation of its Law on Agriculture in September. Five inspection teams, organized by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), will be sent to 10 provincial regions including Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Yunnan, according to a meeting of the NPC Standing Committee held on Sunday. Local legislatures of other provinces and regions were also ordered to check the enforcement of the law. Wu Bangguo, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said in a written comment that the inspections are aimed at helping find out the prominent issues that hamper China's rural reform and development and providing suggestions to promote the agricultural modernization. The inspections, the eighth since 2003, will focus on five major areas including the development of modern agriculture, grain safety and the protection of farmland. Uyunqimg, vice chairperson of the NPC Standing Committee, said at the meeting that it is fundamentally important to promote better implementation of the law as it provides firm legal safeguard for the development of agriculture and the improvement of living standards in rural areas. However, China are facing a series of challenges in rural development, including weak grain productivity, lack of a long-term system for raising the farmers' income, and shortage of farmland and water resources, said Uyunqimg. She urged all teams to finish the inspection task with high quality and ensure effective implementation of the law.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/26/2012

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China Amends Laws on Agro-Technical Popularization

A draft amendment to the Laws on the Popularization of Agricultural Technology stipulates that national-level institutions for agro-technical popularization should employ professionals with college degrees or greater. Professional technicians should also pass a technical assessment organized by related government departments above the county level, the amendment says. The draft is undergoing a second reading by the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, China's top legislature, at a bimonthly session that began Monday.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/27/2012

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China Drafts Safety Law for Special Equipment

China's legislature on Monday started deliberating a draft law on the safety of special equipment, or equipment that operates under high pressure, temperature or speed with a potential threat to public safety. The equipment specified includes boilers, elevators and cranes, as well as other items, according to a draft law submitted to the 28th bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. In addition to existing supervisory measures, the draft specifies primary responsibilities for manufacturers and operators of special equipment in order to prevent accidents. From 2005 to 2010, accidents involving such special equipment had claimed over 1,600 lives across China, according to a briefing given by Wen Shizhen, vice chairman of the NPC's Financial and Economic Committee.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/27/2012

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Chinese Lawmakers Review Draft Laws

China's top legislature started its bimonthly session Monday to discuss draft laws and amendments concerning civil procedure, mental health, the safety of special equipment, tourism and environmental protection. Draft laws regarding the safety of special equipment and tourism, as well as a draft revision to the environmental protection law, were tabled for the first reading at the session, which will run from Monday to Friday. The draft amendment to the civil procedure law was submitted for its third reading, while laws on the popularization of agricultural technology and on mental health were submitted for their second reading. Lawmakers will also review the State Council's reports on the implementation of the country's national economic and social development plan and the use of the central budget, as well as ensuring essential financial support for county-level governments.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/27/2012

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Law Amendment to Prevent Malicious Prosecution

A draft amendment to the Civil Procedure Law will allow a third party to bring action if civil rights and interests are infringed upon by malicious prosecution. The draft is undergoing a third reading by the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, China's top legislature, at a bimonthly session that began Monday. The draft includes a new clause that allows third parties to appeal court decisions if they have evidence to prove that the court's verdict, ruling or mediation has violated their rights and interests. The draft also revises the amount of money people can sue for in small claims courts to 30 percent of the annual wage in the province, autonomous region or municipality that the case takes place in.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/27/2012

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Chinese Official Calls for Asia's Own Facebook, Twitter

Asian media groups should use technical innovation to enrich their publicity channels and have their own versions of Facebook and Twitter to expand the region's influence, a senior Chinese official said Tuesday. "Compared with Asia's increasingly vital role in the world economy, the influence of Asian media groups on the world stage is very much disproportionate," Cui Yuying, deputy director of the State Council Information Office, remarked at the 5th 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum. "10+3" refers to the 10 member states of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the three countries of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. The forum has been serving as a platform to promote media exchange and cooperation among the 13 countries.

Cui said that more than 80 percent of news comes from major Western media groups while their Asian counterparts, lacking "a strong platform and authoritative status," have to rely on the Western media to obtain information. Cui noted that the capabilities to publicize and the influence of media groups in the 13 countries was still very limited. According to Cui, Asian media groups should establish a world-leading communication platform as soon as possible, and exert great efforts to foster new media, strengthen cooperation in order to boost their influence on the world stage.

"While learning from advanced experiences and methods, we should also stick to our cultures, traditions and values, and positively explore a system of dialogue," Cui said. She added that it should be in line with each country's situation but also attract people from other countries. Addressing the opening ceremony, Wu Hengquan, chief editor of Beijing-based People's Daily, a main organizer of the event, urged Asian media groups to cooperate in diversifying world opinions and expressing the "viewpoints of Asian countries in an international way." Yoshibumi Wakamiya, Editor-in-Chief of the Asahi Shimbun, echoed Wu's remarks by calling upon media groups in Asia to spread Asian values along with information to the world. About 100 media officials, editors and reporters from the 13 countries attended the one-day forum, which was jointly organized by the People's Daily and the Jilin provincial government in northeast China "It should be our common task and responsibility to spread Asian concepts, amplify Asian voices and expand Asian influences," Cui said.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/04/2012

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Mainland Visitor Plan Shelved: HK Chief Executive

Hong Kong Chief Executive C Y Leung said Friday that Mainland authorities have agreed they would go ahead with a plan to relax visa restrictions for its non- permanent residents only after liaising with the city's government. Speaking to the media on Friday, Leung said the measure is mainly to ensure the healthy development of Hong Kong's tourism and its related industries, and to minimize the impact on Hong Kong residents' livelihood, in particular people in the North District. He said the Hong Kong government will closely monitor the situation. It is important for both sides to come to a consensus in setting up a mechanism to assess Hong Kong's capacity to receive visitors, he added. The Central Government is concerned and supports taking into consideration Hong Kong's capacity to receive visitors while relaxing visa restrictions for Mainland residents. In assessing Hong Kong's capacity to receive visitors, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said they would consider factors such as the number of permits Mainland authorities had issued, the performance pledge to clear visitors within 30 minutes, and the size of crowds at tourist spots.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/07/2012

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China to Enhance Gov't Inspections of Schools

Quality and fairness in education will be improved through enhanced inspections, according to a national regulation published Monday by the central government. The Regulation on Educational Inspections, which is scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 1, dictates procedures to be used during such inspections, as well as specifies qualifications and disciplinary measures for inspectors. Inspections will focus on the management of faculty, safety and hygienic conditions, compulsory education and the fair distribution of education resources, the regulation states. It also gives inspectors authorization to review and copy the financial records of schools within their jurisdiction, as well as calls for additional access to other related documents. Any failure to assist inspectors may result in disciplinary punishment for the heads of schools, says the regulation, adding that the inspection reports should be made public. After the regulation was adopted on Aug. 29, an inter-ministry committee for education inspection was established under the State Council, or China's cabinet, to coordinate the initiative across the country.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/17/2012

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Smoking Rule Has Little Effect

A new regulation that allows law enforcement personnel to fine people smoking in public places without first warning them appears to have had limited effect in its first few weeks. The revised regulation, which took effect on Sept 1 in Guangzhou, authorizes chengguan, officers who enforce city laws, to immediately issue a 50 yuan ($7.9) fine for smoking in public places. Previously, officers first had to warn the smokers and could fine them only if they ignored the warning. But the new regulation had little effect because of the lax enforcement in some areas and strong resistance among smokers. The Guangzhou chengguan declined to say on Monday how many people had been found violating the new rule or been fined. But insiders said few smokers were penalized in the past weeks. Even on the day the new regulation took effect, officers met strong resistance when they patrolled the city's karaoke bars and restaurants to enforce the anti-smoking rule.

Many smokers in VIP rooms refused to open the doors when law enforcement personnel arrived, according to Zhao Hong, deputy director of the Guangzhou chengguan. "The fine could be issued only when the officers were called to the scene," Zhao told local media. Only 44 smokers were fined on Sept 1 - in the city with around 2 million smokers, about 18 percent of the city population - according to the law enforcement office. In Baiyun and Nansha districts and in Zengcheng, a suburb of Guangzhou, no one was fined on the first day. Law enforcement personnel there were later ordered to intensify their crackdown on violations. To bolster enforcement of the new regulation, the Guangzhou city government plans to soon establish a 100-member group to patrol public places and penalize smokers. Restaurants, bars, cinemas and karaoke venues will be their main inspection targets in the following months. Han Zhipeng, a member of the city's political advisory body, said he was in favor of directly fining smokers in the city's non-smoking areas without giving a warning.

"The mere 50 yuan penalty is not severe enough," he added. He called for more concrete and effective measures to be introduced to help fight smoking in public places. But some residents said they fear the new regulation will not work in the long term. Guo Weiying, an office worker, said the regulation is good news for most Guangzhou residents, but a disaster for the city's smoking group. "I worry whether the new anti-smoking rule will have any staying power," she said. "Many law enforcement agencies in the city are usually lax on punishing public smoking," she said. Zeng Xingming, a restaurant owner in Guangzhou's Baiyun district, expected the regulation's impact on his business to be short-lived. "Our restaurant's business will soon get back to normal, because the new anti-smoking regulation does not target just my restaurant," he said. "It's fair when all restaurants are treated equally, and I never worry about my restaurant's future business," he added.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/18/2012

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JAPAN: APEC Ministers Agree to Avoid Harsh Export Rules

Ministers from the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum agreed Wednesday to avoid excessive food export restrictions that could lead to further surges in food prices. The agreement was reached on the first day of the two-day APEC ministerial meeting that kicked off in Russia ahead of a meeting of APEC leaders this weekend. However, the ministers remained divided over trade liberalization for eco-friendly products, sources familiar with their talks said. In Wednesday's morning session, the ministers shared concerns about recent rises in food prices. They also confirmed the need to promote investment, including from the private sector, to boost agricultural production, and agreed to strengthen information sharing to improve the transparency of the market for farm produce. Their agreements will be included in a joint statement to be issued Thursday.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano took part in the meeting. Gemba called for restraint on new barriers to investment and trade, such as shipment curbs by food-exporting countries, to ensure stable international supplies of farm products. Participants from other member economies, including the United States, also stressed the importance of avoiding trade restrictions. In the afternoon, the ministers discussed trade liberalization for eco-friendly products, aiming to draw up a list of items to be freed from trade barriers. Wide gaps on the issue, however, were apparent between advanced economy members and developing economy members. At last year's summit in Honolulu, the APEC economies agreed to cut their tariffs on eco-friendly products to 5 percent or less by the end of 2015. Advanced economies are now demanding that more than 100 items, including renewable energy-related equipment, be put on the envisioned list. However, developing economies, including China and Indonesia, are concerned about the possible negative effects of broad tariff reductions on their industries. "It will be difficult to include even 50 items in the liberalization list," a source familiar with the matter said. The outcome of the ongoing ministerial meeting will be reflected in the two-day APEC summit to be held from Saturday. The summit will be chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/06/2012

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Japan, Russia Promote 'Judo Diplomacy'

Japan and Russia are working to set up the participation of their leaders in a judo-related event in Vladivostok, as part of an initiative to strengthen bilateral ties through "judo diplomacy," it was learned Saturday. Arrangements are being made for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Russian President Vladimir Putin to take part in a ceremony on Sunday unveiling a bust of the late Vasili Oshchepkov, known as "the father of judo in Russia," informed sources said. Both leaders hold a black belt in judo, with Putin in fifth degree and Noda in second, a lower degree. At their first summit talks in June on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, the two exchanged national judo uniforms for the 2012 London Olympics. If "judo diplomacy" is realized again during the two-day summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum held in the city of Vladivostok in the Russian Far East, mutual trust between the Japanese and Russian leaders will hopefully be strengthened, according to the sources. The bust of Oshchepkov was created to celebrate the 120th anniversary of his birth. He launched a judo club in Vladivostok after learning the sport at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Japan.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/09/2012

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Govt Adopts Strategy of Zero N-energy Reliance

The government on Friday adopted an energy and environmental strategy aimed at lowering the nation's reliance on nuclear energy to zero in the 2030s.In the medium- to long-term strategy, the government said it will employ all policy resources so that the country can realize a society in which no nuclear reactors are operating in the 2030s.The strategy was adopted at a meeting of the Energy and Environment Council, chaired by Motohisa Furukawa, state minister for national policy. Other participants included Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The rule of not allowing nuclear reactors to operate for more than 40 years will be strictly applied, the strategy said, adding that the nation will not build any new reactors or expand any existing ones.

Nuclear reactors will be maintained only if their safety is guaranteed by an envisioned regulatory commission; they will be viewed as important sources of power for the time being, the strategy said. The strategy also called for continuing a project to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, and some research at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency's Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture. In July last year, the government decided to reduce the nation's dependence on nuclear energy in response to the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, where an unprecedented triple meltdown occurred.

In June this year, the government presented three options - lowering the percentage of electricity generated at nuclear plants in the nation's total power output to zero in 2030, reducing it to 15 percent, or aiming for a level of 20 percent to 25 percent. To gauge public opinion on the options, the government carried out open hearings and solicited public comments. From the results, the government concluded that a majority of people want a society that has no dependency on nuclear power, although opinions are divided on how fast such a goal should be achieved.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/15/2012

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Ministry to Analyze All Substances Found in Cigarettes

The health ministry has decided to analyze all substances found in popular cigarette brands to better understand the adverse health effects of smoking with the aim of reflecting the data in its future countermeasures, according to officials. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has also decided to launch an expert panel by the end of this year to discuss stricter regulations for tobacco manufacturers and measures to prevent health hazards posed by second-hand smoking, the officials said. A cigarette usually contains flavoring agents and many other addictive ingredients in addition to tar and nicotine. When analyzing cigarette ingredients in fiscal 2000, the ministry only investigated about 30 preselected harmful substances, the officials said.

In the envisaged test, however, the ministry would not only look into every ingredient, but also release the levels of carcinogenic materials found in cigarettes, which is not yet clearly known, the officials said. The ministry will select about 10 brands popular in Japan and ask an outside research institution to analyze the substances within the cigarettes and smoke. The results of the test will be reported to the panel - which will consist of medical experts and consumers - for use in its discussions. Currently, a pack of cigarettes only lists the amounts of tar and nicotine in the product. However, the ministry believes it is necessary to understand the makeup of cigarettes, as combustion may chemically change other materials into harmful substances.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/19/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Naturalization Rules Will Be Strengthened

The Ministry of Justice said Sunday it will strengthen naturalization requirements and take tougher action against those using forged passports and falsifying documents. A draft containing these changes will be sent to the National Assembly for deliberation. If passed, it will go into effect from the next year at the earliest. In the amendment, foreigners wanting to obtain Korean citizenship will be required to acquire permanent resident status before applying for naturalization. Currently, immigrants are eligible to obtain Korean citizenship as long as they have continued to live in the country for five years. However, the new regulations will require foreigners to obtain permanent resident status first. The ministry plans to issue permanent resident cards that need to be reviewed every seven years. The measure is designed to counter illegal immigrants who forge documents for naturalization, the ministry said.

"We found that a number of immigrants, including low-skilled workers, sneak into country on forged passports and also submit fake documents indicating that they have met the requirements for naturalization," an official said. He said the revision draft reflects the changing environment of immigration and naturalization. He added that the tougher rules will not necessarily dampen the nation's efforts to usher in a multicultural society. In June, the Korea Immigration Service rounded up 130 Korean-Chinese immigrants who entered the country between 2003 and 2011 under false identities. Many of them were females, who married Korean men to obtain citizenship. The ministry said that foreigners who submit forged documents may face a maximum three-year prison sentence or a fine of up to 20 million won ($17,630)."Being a permanent resident will mean that a person is staying in the country legally with a legal passport and legitimate documents," an official said.

The ministry said foreign spouses married to Koreans will be given priority for permanent resident status with simplified processes as long as the spouse has lived here for at least three years and has been married for more than one year. Children of couples will receive the same benefit. Business people who have made a large financial investment in the country or have unique skills that can contribute to the development of society will also enjoy a simplified process of naturalization. Other applicants, on the other hand, will be required to submit a residence record that shows they have not violated any Korean law during their minimum five years stay. The ministry also said applicants for Korean citizenship should know the Korean language and culture. "Acquiring permanent resident status is what the U.S. and other countries with a high number of immigrants requires for their citizenship applicants, and the policy has proven effective," an official said, "And we hope our draft revision will improve the transparency and accountability of the country's immigration policy."

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/02/2012

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Gov't to Step Up Fight on Infectious Diseases

The government plans to initiate research and development (R&D) to tackle infectious diseases more effectively, the finance minister said Friday. Minister of Strategy and Finance Bahk Jae-wan said during a crisis management meeting at the Gwacheon Government Complex Friday that the government will step up measures to control nationwide pandemics. The government wants to acquire the best technology available, with this plan due to run until 2040. The measure comes as the government believes the spread of diseases can have a negative impact on the country's economy. A day earlier, global ratings agency Fitch Ratings upgraded the country's sovereign credit rating by one notch from "A+" to "AA-," the fourth-highest on its scale. The government will invest in taking preventative steps against infectious diseases in eight particular fields until 2016. They are novel swine-origin influenza A (H1N1), super bacteria, tuberculosis, zoonosis such as Brucella and rabies, AIDS, diseases that flourish due to by climate change, bio-terrorism, and infectious diseases of unknown origins. "Infectious diseases not only harm people's health but also hinder social stability as well as lower our sovereign credit rating. It can also threaten the nation's economy," Bahk said at the meeting.

"As the possibility of national pandemics occurring due to unexpected climate change is more threatening, the government sees the need to come up with countermeasures. We hope the research and development efforts will protect the public's health." The occurrence rate of tuberculosis and hepatitis B in Korea is the highest among the OECD countries. The government sees the development of vaccines and medicines for bioterrorism as important, as well as real-time detection technology. Disease prevention technology, disease-diagnosing biochips, body imaging technology, and finding a cure for AIDS will be the top focus areas of the development projects. The current system centered on individual diseases will be changed into a comprehensive one where experiment and research will be shared through a network. A pan-departmental committee for R&D on infectious diseases formed in 2010 will be utilized more effectively to activate cooperation and exchanges between government departments. Bahk also discussed other issues such as "how to effectively provide financial support in job creation projects" and "how to alleviate discrimination in the service industry" at the meeting.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/07/2012

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Jeju Declaration Adopted to Promote Green Growth

The delegates at the 2012 World Conservation Congress (WCC) on Jeju Island adopted a declaration Saturday to promote Korea's green growth policy as a solution for sustainable development. More than 10,000 participants of the United Nations, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and companies from over 170 countries came up with the Jeju Declaration that summarized the discussions in the 10-day environmental conference organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The quadrennial meeting took place on the resort island as economic difficulties dominating international debates while relatively less interest has been shown toward the protection of nature. And the declaration proposes preserving biodiversity and development of the economy at the same time is possible through sustainable development. "Biodiversity should be seen not as a problem but as an opportunity to help achieve broader societal goals," the declaration stated. "We must work with the public and private sectors to enhance the transfer of green technology, share knowledge, experience and skills to integrate biodiversity and ecosystem values into global production and consumption. We encourage governments and businesses to pursue inclusive and gender-responsive green growth that ensures social integration of vulnerable groups, helps eradicate poverty, and keeps humanity's footprint within ecological boundaries."

The declaration includes discussions from the World Leaders' Dialogue, talks between international environmental leaders and members of the audience. The IUCN featured the program for the first time in this the 23rd WCC. It said through the declaration it will initiate a similar program on a regular basis on the island. The forum, also known as the Jeju World Leaders' Conservation Forum, will focus on nature-based solutions to promote sustainable development. In Korea's first WCC, the country managed to draw some local environmental issues to the attention of the international community. The IUCN approved a motion on preserving culture and community of female divers on Jeju Island. The divers who live by collecting shellfish show the unique matriarchal family structure of the island. The IUCN said it has contributed to the protection of the ecosystem as well as economic development through their activities, and added that their culture needs to be preserved. A motion that sought to stop the military from building a naval base in Gangjeong Village on the island, however, was disapproved. The Jeju Declaration will serve as the basis for environmental issues at the IUCN that will be led by Zhang Xinsheng of China for the next four years. He was chosen as new IUCN president, replacing Ashok Khosla of India.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/16/2012

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Lee Calls for Spirit of Taking on Challenges to Open 'Korea Route'

President Lee Myung-bak said Monday Koreans should muster up creative ideas, and take on challenges needed to open up uncharted paths in order to make the country more prosperous, stressing his trip to Greenland and other countries was part of such efforts. Lee made the remark during a biweekly radio address, outlining major outcomes of his eight-day trip last week to Russia's Vladivostok for a summit of Pacific Rim leaders, and then to Greenland, Norway and Kazakhstan for talks on resources development and other economic cooperation. Lee also said the recent upgrading of South Korea's sovereign credit ratings by the three global rating agencies - Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch - shows that the country is joining the ranks of advanced nations. Lee also took special note that South Korea was above Japan and China in Fitch's ratings.

"We achieved a grand-slam of three major international credit rating agencies upgrading (Korea's rating) in just 19 days," Lee said during the address, adding that the upgrading would help South Korea save about $400 million in interest costs. "There are many mountains we have to scale if we are going to become an advanced nation true to the name, but we have to carve out an uncharted path of 'Korea Route' with creative thinking and the spirit of taking on challenges so as to open up the path for a greater South Korea," he said. One of the most tangible results of Lee's trip was cooperation agreements he struck in Greenland and Norway for environment-friendly development of the Arctic that is believed to hold massive amounts of oil, gas and other important resources. "We concluded resources cooperation and geological research agreements with Greenland's autonomous government and laid a path open for the next government to start exploration and development in earnest," Lee said. Lee also said South Korea struck agreements with Norway that will help the country open up new Arctic sea routes that are expected to drastically cut shipping distances and time between Europe and Asia, compared with the existing roundabout lanes. Norway also promised to back Korea in its bid to win permanent observer status in the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum of Arctic states, he said. (Yonhap)

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/17/2012

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Gov't Discusses Electricity Supply Measures for Winter Season

The government says that it has come up with measures for the nation's electricity supply next month and training plans to effectively respond to possible blackouts. Minister Yim Jong-ryong of the Prime Minister's Office chaired a meeting with related agencies at the central government complex in Seoul on Thursday. At the meeting, officials revised the implementation of existing electricity supply measures. The government designated December to February as the period in which South Korea is expected to suffer a severe electricity supply crisis and plans to conduct civil defense drills to prepare for such an event. Instead of forcing citizens to save energy, the government says it will provide them with detailed information, including when electricity supply conditions will start to improve.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/20/2012

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INDONESIA: Jakarta to Improve Spatial Planning Guide

The Capital City of Indonesia will be making improvements to its draft Detail Spatial Plan in a bid to guide the city towards sustainable development for the next 20 years. According to Governor Fauzi Bowo, improvements will include the adding of detailed maps of infrastructure networks in the city. The infrastructure networks will include transportation and mass transit networks, power, telecommunications, tap water, waste water and drainage networks and disaster mitigation evacuation plans. By adding details on the city's planned infrastructure networks into the spatial plan, the City Administration can direct Jakarta's infrastructure growth towards a transit-oriented development. The Governor added that the City Administration will be discussing further technical aspects about the infrastructure network together with the City Council's legislative body and other stakeholders.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/04/2012

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MALAYSIA: Launching New Blueprint for Excellence in Education

A new "frank and bold" education blueprint styled as "Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025" faces up to weaknesses in the education system and pushes for excellence among teachers and students. The weaknesses in Malaysia's present education system had to be acknowledged, and Malaysians could not be in denial, if the country is to move forward, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said at the launch of the blueprint's preliminary report in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Alluding to the dismal performance of Malaysian students in the bottom one-third in international assessments, the premier said the education system had to be revamped to produce thinking and innovative students to meet future needs. "In the new economy, the thrust is knowledge, innovation and technology. Our system must meet these needs. We must prepare our children for jobs that are yet to exist," he said.

For a competitive edge, Malaysians should be bilingual, if not multilingual, Najib said, adding that this was because they lived in a multicultural environment. "After 55 years, every Malaysian must be able to speak Bahasa Malaysia...this is not a political but national issue. "English is a reality ... (it is) not a zero sum game but an asset if we can speak English well," he said. He added that English Literature could improve proficiency in the language and students should build up their reading in stages. The prime minister urged everyone to pick up three languages. "We need that competitive edge. We can leverage on our multiracial component. Why lose that advantage? We should be pragmatic," he told a packed hall at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre with over 2,000 people in attendance, including Cabinet ministers, MPs, educationists, non-governmental organisation representatives, teachers and students. Najib added that education was a national issue and should not be politicised because "as leaders we should be brave enough to de-politicise education for the sake of our children". "We must not work in silos but be an integrated team to deliver real changes," he said.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 09/12/2012

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Malaysia Embarks on Pollution-Mapping Project

The Department of Environment is conducting a pollution-mapping of rivers to identify major sources of water pollution in the country as part of the government's efforts to rehabilitate degraded waterways. "In Malaysia, the polluted areas are mainly where big settlements, big cities, towns and industrial areas are located. There are also a lot of illegal manufacturing areas that are contributing factors to the sewage and solid waste problems," said Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dato Sri Douglas Uggah Embas. He added that due to the rapid pace of industrial development and population growth in the Klang valley, an estimated 77,000 tonnes of waste is being dumped yearly in its major waterways. "We hope the pollution-mapping will be completed by the end of the year. With this, we can identify the most polluted areas, and stern action will be taken against the polluters under the Environmental Quality Act 2012," the Minister said. In addition, once the pollution areas have been identified, relevant government authorities will be able to take action and streamline their efforts towards rehabilitating polluted waterways to their original condition.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/13/2012

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Malaysia Launches Blueprint for Education System ICT Reform

Under the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 launched last week, Malaysia will equip 10,000 national schools nationwide with 4G Internet access and a virtual learning platform. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak unveiled the plan to embed ICT in teaching and learning for teachers, students, and parents through the expansion of 1BestariNet (Wi-Fi) programme to all schools. Also, the government will increase the number of ICT devices until the ratio of student-to-device reaches 10:1. He added that the ratio can continue to be lowered further subjected to the availability of funds and impact assessment. Between 1999 and 2010, Malaysian government has invested up to RM6 billion (US$ 1.97 billion) on the initiative ICT for education projects. Most of the funds went for additional computer labs especially to support the PPSMI scheme - the government's education policy aimed at improving the proficiency in English among pupils at primary and secondary schools.

In the blueprint, the effective use of ICT is required to foster students to learn how to leverage ICT efficiently to scale up quality learning across the country. It will also further strengthen the foundation of ICT-enabled schools as well as introducing proven ICT solutions into the education system. The government will also pilot a distance-learning and self-paced learning before scaling up nationwide. Under shift 9 in the same blueprint, a system called School Examination Analysis System (SAPS) - an online system to monitor students' progress, will be set up at some 500 trust schools as part of encouraging the partnership among parents, community and private sector to monitor learning performance of the students.

The government will also invest in ICT solutions for groups with specific needs such as rural schools, under-enrolled schools, and gifted students to enable cost-efficient access to high-quality teaching and learning resources. To evaluate significant potential investments in ICT schemes, the government will rely on evidence-based assessment by improving its Smart School Qualification Standards (SSQS) - the existing set of measurement tools. A ICT-driven solutions will be innovated after the government ensuring a strong foundation in ICT, and receiving clear evidence of the positive impact of its delivery.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/17/2012
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SINGAPORE: Passing Bill to Abolish Pensions for Office Holders, Members of Parliament

SINGAPORE, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) - Parliament of Singapore passed a bill to give legal effect to some changes related to office holders pensions on Monday, saying that new office holders who were appointed on or after last May 21st, as well as those who had served for less than eight years by that date, will not receive pensions. The move came after a review of ministerial salaries which recommended that the pension scheme be scrapped for office holders and Members of Parliament, local media Channel NewsAsia reported as saying. Those eligible office holders and members of parliament who were appointed before last May 21st will have their pensions frozen and be eligible only for pensions accrued up to May 20th last year. It is said to be in line with the principle of having a transparent wage system, where there are no hidden perks. And it affects all office holders, members of parliament, ranging from secretaries to the prime minister. In addition, the parliament also passed a bill to remove the power to grant a pension to former presidents. So far, no Singapore presidents have received this kind of pension before.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/11/2012

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SE Asia Health Ministers Agree Better Policies on the Elderly

Health ministers from the 11 member states of the World Health Organisation Southeast Asia Regional Office (Searo) agreed yesterday to adopt the Yogyakarta Declaration on Aging and Health, and committed to improving national responses to the health of aging populations. The declaration comes at an important juncture in history as 142 million people or 8 per cent of the population of the region are above the age of 60. The figure is estimated to double by 2025 and treble by 2050. "The WHO follows a life-course approach to promoting healthy, active aging. People who get the right start in life, follow healthy lifestyles and take good care of their health can expect to remain active during their eighth, ninth and even 10th decades of life," WHO director general Margaret Chan said. The adoption was made during the 30th health ministers meeting and the 65th session of the WHO regional committee for Southeast Asia in Yogyakarta, opened by Indonesian Vice President Boediono yesterday. WHO's Searo groups together Bangladesh, Bhutan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste. The declaration underscores concern that the economic effects of aging will impact on health care and social support systems and will require the attention of policy makers, NGOs and the private sector. The ministers also recognised that healthy aging should optimise opportunities for the physical, social and mental health of older persons to enable them to take an active part in society and to enjoy an independent life without discrimination. Indonesia's Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said in her remarks at the meeting that the declaration "will force governments of [Southeast Asia region] member states to commit on building partnerships among various stakeholders to strengthen health qualities and services for aging populations." Providing an example, Mboi said that Singapore had implemented a policy that prioritised housing facilities for families who were willing live together with their respective aged parents. "In this case, each of the states has to look for the right policy for its respective country," she said.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 09/05/2012

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BANGLADESH: Govt Taking Action Against Hallmark for Swindling: Muhith

Terming the Hallmark loan scam a big forgery in the country's banking system, Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Sunday said the government is taking stern action against the group which allegedly swindled over Tk 2,600 crore from the state-owned Sonali Bank Ltd. "It's a terrible matter, stern action is needed against the Hallmark Group and I think we're taking such measures," he told reporters at his Secretariat office. The Finance Minister said the government has so far suspended 19 officials of Sonali Bank as well as made OSDs two of its high officials. "No matter who says what, there had been no such strong actions in the past." Terming the Hallmark scam big a forgery in the entire banking system, Muhith said it takes two to make a quarrel and all are to some extent responsible for the fraudulence. "There are also too much talks over the issue," The Finance Minister urged all to be aware in making statement like 'slide in the banking system' as it is harmful to the country. "It also has immediate impact abroad and all need to exercise restraint ...not only the media, but also different government agencies." Muhith also observed that vested quarters are associated with the Hallmark scam as he believes that officials of the Sonali Bank and its Sheraton branch are not engaged alone in such swindling. He said enough investigation has so far been done into the Hallmark incident and the Sonali Bank has done a functional audit which seems to have got good results. "It's now very urgent to take steps and also to lodge cases against those involved in the scam. Besides, steps have been taken so that no one associated in the cheating cannot flee abroad and realise the amount." Considering the country's annual loan disbursement of around Tk 4 lakh crore, Muhith again said Tk 4,000 crore is not a big amount compared to that, but for a single 'Sheraton Hotel' branch of Sonali bank, it is 'incredible.'

He also said the Board of Directors of the state-owned bank would be restructured once he returns home from China as it is not only a process of the Finance Minister himself...rather a political process. The Finance Minister also expressed his resentment over the sweeping attacks on political influence in the Board of Directors of the bank, he said, "It has now become like a whipping horse. Every sector has some good and bad aspects, and in politics it is obvious." Muhith also mentioned that some of the directors of the state owned banks, including journalists, appointed on political grounds are doing very well. According to a functional audit report as of May 31 this year, the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch (Sheraton Hotel) of the Sonali bank had disbursed Tk 3,606 crore as loan to Hallmark Group and other entities without maintaining banking rules. Of the total loan, Hallmark Group alone took Tk 2,686.14 crore from the bank. In May, a central bank investigation also revealed massive irregularities by the bank in sanctioning and disbursing of loans, especially to little known Hallmark Group and others, and instructed it to take necessary actions. Sonali Bank on August 30 suspended 17 of its officials for their alleged involvement with the loan scam. On the Grameen Bank issue, Muhith said the managing director of the microcredit bank needs to be appointed to keep the institution alive.

From http://www.unbconnect.com/ 09/09/2012

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Bangladesh Plans New Investments in National E-Governance Framework

The Bangladesh government has approved a project involving Tk 2.81 billion to bring all the departments, agencies and associated organisations run by the ministries under the e-governance system to introduce a state-of-the-art service delivery system. The implementation of the project titled "Development of National ICT Infra-Network for Bangladesh Government (BanglaGovNet) will start within a month to connect all government entities under a single network. The approval came at a meeting of the cabinet committee on public purchase with Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury in the chair. After the green signal from the cabinet committee on public purchase, South Korea-based SK C&C Company Ltd will be appointed as the consultant firm to start implementing the e-governance project. The meeting also approved another four procurement proposals of different ministries and divisions involving another Tk 10.97 billion, Nurul Karim, additional secretary of the Cabinet Division, told reporters after the meeting. The proposals include import of 200,000 tonnes urea fertiliser from China at a cost of Tk 7.43 billion, appointment of a consultant to build the new railway line between Ishardi and Pabna at a cost of Tk 1.55 billion, construction of the 20-storey DZP Tower in Dhaka Zilla Prashid premises at a cost of Tk 1.6 billion and appointment of a consultant for rehabilitation of water distribution network under Dhaka Water Supply Sector Development Project at a cost of Tk 197 million. The government earlier initiated a five-year project (April 2010-June 2014) titled 'Development of National ICT Infra-Network for Bangladesh Government (BanglaGovNet)' to connect all the government entities under a single network. Under the project, a central data centre (CDC) will be set up and be connected to offices of deputy commi-ssioners (DCs), Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) in all 64 districts.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/21/2012

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INDIA: Govt Drafts Geographical Indication Act

Customers buy jamdani saris at a market at Rupganj in Narayanganj last week. The government has drafted the Geographical Indication Act-2012 with an aim to ensure entitlement to the country's traditional products and protect the reputation of these products against piracy. - Sony Ramany.

The government has drafted the Geographical Indication Act-2012 with an aim to ensure entitlement to the country's traditional products and protect the reputation of these products against piracy. The industries ministry, which has prepared the draft of the law, gathered feedback from the stakeholders and is examining the feedback to finalise the draft of the Geographical Indication Act 2012, ministry officials said. 'The ministry will soon take steps for enactment of the law which will provide legal protection to the producers, rights and reputation of the products against piracy by other local manufacturers and traders,' said a industries ministry official. He said the geographical indication would help Bangladeshi producers and innovators differentiate their products from similar competing products and increase its sales and export by protecting reputation of the products. Through the application of the GI process, businessmen can get several benefits such as ensure market access, reduced duty facility in the international market and establish brand and goodwill of local products.

However, the draft does not say anything against piracy and unlawful use by international manufacturers and traders. 'The ministry will consider this issue while finalising the act,' another official said. He said that after the enactment of GI act, the government would identify the products that originate in the country and register those products as its own under the act. Geographical indication means identifying and defining any products according to the origin of country or territory or in a region in any country and the sign of GI ensure a given quality, reputation and other characteristic of the products. Industries ministry officials said the products might be natural, agricultural, industrial or handicraft items. The difference between trademark and GI is nature of ownership. Trademark can be owned individually or by a group of people but the GI gives the product a collective right owned by a concerned community, they said. In the absence of the GI act in the country, Bangladesh is going to lose its rights on some traditional products such as Jamdani Sari, Nakshikatha and Fazli Mango as neighboring India has already got entitlement of these products as her own traditional products under GI act. India has registered Jamdani as Upada Jamdani Sari from Andhra Pradesh. Recently, Export Promotion Bureau asked the Industries Ministry to take steps to cancel the Indian registration of Jamdani Sari and get entitlement to the product in the name of Bangladesh, EPB officials said.

In a letter, EPB said that Jamdani is a unique Bangladeshi handloom product with a glorious history and unique creativity and Bangladeshi weavers make this fine cloth for thousands of years. 'But the sale of Jamdai might decrease as India holds the entitlement of the product,' it said. Officials from the Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks told New Age that after enactment of the Geographical Indication Act, they will take steps to cancel Indian registration of the Jamdani Sari. According to the draft GI act, any registered association of manufacturers, any institution and authority will be able to get GI registration of any products and GI department will provide registration. The draft also described the qualification for application for registration, the process of application, procedure of appeal to court, cancellation and rectification of registration, and crimes and punishment under the act.

From http://www.newagebd.com/ 08/23/2012

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Govt Starts Process to Frame Foreign Aid Policy

The government has taken an initiative to frame a foreign aid policy to ensure an effective aid use for benefit maximisation and to outline an exit plan on aid dependency, Economic Resources Division officials said. The government has set up an inter-ministerial committee headed by the division's senior secretary Iqbal Mahmud to draft the policy and consult with stakeholders. 'We have been assigned to draft a policy on foreign aid to specify how foreign assistance could be used in the best possible way to expedite growth in line with the sixth Five-Year Plan and to inform donors of priority areas of aid,' a committee member told New Age in the past week. He said that international lenders, development partners, experts and economists were demanding a comprehensive foreign aid policy to provide the government with guidelines in deciding which foreign aid would be taken or rejected, setting priority sectors for development project implementation on foreign assistance. 'Ultimately Bangladesh should make an exit plan on foreign aid dependency and that is why we should ensure an effective use of every penny of external assistance and that should be demand-driven,' he said. In the absence of a comprehensive foreign aid policy, the country fails to prioritise its requirement of foreign aid, they said.

The committee has already held its first meeting and discussed the main objective of the policy and sketched an outline of policy formulation. The first draft will be ready by March and after the committee will then consult with the stakeholders on the draft, another committee member said. Now the committee is examining some policies of developing countries, he said. There is now no written and comprehensive aid policy outlining of government priorities, basic principles and procedures for taking and managing foreign assistance. The government takes foreign loans by following the ERD handbook on external assistance, officials said adding that the project implementing agencies and ministries have also their own internal policies to take aid which is not sufficient for such a big aid-recipient country. Most of the time, lenders and development partners identify areas for giving loans and ministries and departments follow them, they said. There is no coordination among the ministries and development partners, resulting in many partners working in many sectors being distracted from national priority and planning. But the government should know which loans it will receive, they said adding that aid architecture had changed globally and Bangladesh needed to formulate a policy to cope with the new era of aid.

Bangladesh needs to get foreign aid for big infrastructure projects such as power plants, roads and highway and bridges but donors usually are not interested in financing in the sectors, ERD officials said. The policy should identify the areas in which aid is most needed, how it can be used properly and how it can be used to stimulate development, they said. He said that there would be specific plans on receiving external assistance in the policy and the policy would discourage the government from taking loans for any purposes already taking place. 'The policy will also contain exit modality from aid dependence,' he said. Once the policy is approved, every penny of the external assistance will be taken in keeping with the policy. Lenders and development partners will be informed of government priorities and they should be aligned to the priorities and they should fully respect the government's ownership of development programmes and projects.

From http://www.newagebd.com/ 08/27/2012

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e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project Formulated Under NeGP

The Ministry of Panchayati Raj has formulated a project namely e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP), under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), for e-enablement of all the Panchayats which will make their functioning more efficient and transparent. Under the e-Panchayat Mission Mode Project (MMP), 11 Core Common Software applications are envisaged. These applications collectively constitute the Panchayat Enterprise Suite (PES). Four of these applications namely PRIASoft, PlanPlus, National Panchayat Portal and Local Governance Directory have been rolled out and are in public domain. These can be accessed at http://Accountingonline.gov.in, http://planningonline.gov.in, http://panchayat.gov.in and http://panchayatdirectory.gov.in respectively. Six more applications namely Area Profiler, ServicePlus, Asset Directory, ActionSoft, Social Audit and Trainings Management were launched on 24th April, 2012 on the occasion of National Panchayat Day and are in the process of adoption by the States.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/01/2012

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Four Govt. Schemes to Be Linked to UID in Karnataka

In a significant move, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on Saturday agreed to link four schemes of the Karnataka government to Aadhaar cards to be issued in 21 districts from October this year. After a meeting between UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani and state Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar at 'Krishna', the CM's home office, it has been informed that Nilekani was open to Shettar's suggestion to make Aadhaar card an eligilibility criterion for issuing ration cards, pension schemes, scholarship schemes and housing schemes. The Aadhaar card will reduce duplication and optimise distribution of benefits to targeted beneficiaries and minimize scope for fraud. The UIDAI will launch its phase-II operation of issuance of Aadhaar cards from October in 21 districts in the state. The source also pointed out that Nilekeni was not happy with the progress in distribution of Aadhaar cards in Dharwad district which is one of the three prominent districts identified for the launch of pilot project in the state. There has been enrolments in Mysore and Tumkur districts, which have achieved 95 and 93 per cent of enrolments, respectively. As many as 1.41 crore people were covered under the Aadhaar enrolment programme in the state and remaining will be covered in a phased manner. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Shettar assured that the State will extend full co-operation to the Aadhaar programme.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/03/2012

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PM to Lay Foundation Stone for Kochi Metro Rail Project

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will lay the foundation stone for the Rs 5,100 crore Kochi Metro Rail Project on Thursday. The project linking the 25 km Aluva-Pettah stretch will be executed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. However, it is yet to sign an MoU on the division of work between the two agencies - DMRC and KMRL. The project is implemented with equity participation from the Centre, which will invest Rs 1,002 crore, about 19.3 per cent of the project costs. The State Government will put in Rs 2,009 crore, 38.7 per cent of the cost. The balance will be financed through borrowings, mainly from Japan International Cooperation Agency which will provide Rs 2,170 crore. The Board of Kochi Metro Rail Ltd which met here on Tuesday said it will review the detailed project report to examine if the project could be extended to suburbs. The first phase of the project, a mass rapid transport system, running on elevated light rail covers 25 km, and will have 22 stations. Each Metro train will have three cars initially with a capacity of 200 passengers. It is pointed out that the proposed project is expected to ease road congestion and enhance the quality of life for the people in the city. With the clearance given by the Centre, the Kochi Metro is expected run by 2016.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/13/2012

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Indian NGO to Push Sanitation Goals in Developing Nations

India's low-cost sanitation NGO Sulabh Sauchalaya is all set to go global by expanding its footprint in 50 developing countries to push the implementation of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), its founder says. Addressing European leaders and business tycoons at the LH (La Harve) Forum, Indian low-cost toilet innovator Bindeshwar Pathak appealed to the business community Friday night to focus on the sanitation sector to help achieve its MDG as early as possible. "My future course will be to propagate the idea of sanitation throughout the world especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America and this will be helpful in achieving the Millennium Development Goal," he said. Pathak favoured the Sulabh Sauchalaya model for Western countries as well, saying: "In western countries, they have sewerage systems that are very expensive to construct and maintain. They require enormous quantities of water to flush and also pollute the atmosphere. They also cause global warming as gases generated from human waste is discharged into the atmosphere." "Sulabh also want to set up the first University of Sanitation in India. My other step will be to publish an Encyclopedia of Sanitation," he said. Pathak has played a key role in construction of public toilets in several countries including Afghanistan, South Africa, China, Bhutan, Nepal, Laos, Ethiopia and 10 other countries of Africa. Sulabh has already constructed public toilets in some of these countries. Recognising his contribution and pioneering work in the field of low-cost sanitation and social uplift, the LH forum had invited Pathak to share the success of the Sulabh model with world leaders and business tycoons. The MDGs are eight international development goals that all member states of the UN agreed to achieve by 2015. One of the MDGs is sanitation. "Your personal and professional achievements among which your staunch dedication to the integration of the untouchables in India, alongside with your entrepreneurship sense led us to invite you," LH Forum President Jacques Attali said in his opening remarks. Pathak and his team have developed an indigenous two-pit toilet technology that is not only cost-effective but can also be used for producing biogas. Recycling and reuse of human excreta for biogas generation is an important way to get rid of health hazards. (IANS)

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 09/15/2012

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Madhya Pradesh's e-Governance Initiatives Are Worthy of Being Replicated in Other States: Rajiv Gauba

Rajiv Gauba, Additional Secretary, DeitY, Government of India, has said that the e-Governance schemes implemented in Madhya Pradesh for ensuing effective services to citizens are worth emulation by other States. In this context, he specially referred to online exam for patwaris' recruitment and e-procurement scheme. Gauba was speaking at state-level workshop on citizen-centric e-governance here today. Madhya Pradesh Electronics Development Chairman Premshankar Verma was the chief guest. Secretary to Chief Secretary and Secretary Information Technology Hari Ranjan Rao was also present on the occasion. Dwelling in detail on the National e-Governance Programme, Gauba said that electronic delivery of services will put an effective check on corruption and irregularities. He said that e-District Project forms an important part of the National e-Governance Programme in which Madhya Pradesh will be focused since basic facilities for it are available here. Premshankar Verma said that e-governance is vital for accelerating pace of development. Madhya Pradesh Electronics Development Corporation has been appointed nodal agency for this work. E-governance brings about work efficiency as well as transparency. He informed that over 30 lakh complaints of common people of Madhya Pradesh were redressed through call centre. He said that e-governance is meaningful only when its benefits percolate utpo last persons in the last row. Secretary Information Technology Hari Ranjan Rao discussed best e-Governance and information technology practices in Madhya Pradesh and future road map in detail and also made a presentation on the subject. He threw light on the activities of MAP-IT, Electronics Development Corporation, NIC and MP Online. He informed that 9,254 common service centres have been set up in Madhya Pradesh under PPP mode. Rao informed that a new Information Technology Policy has been implemented in the state under which lands have been made available to IT companies on concessional rates.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/15/2012

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National IT Policy 2012 Approved by the Cabinet

The Cabinet has approved the National Policy on Information Technology 2012. The Policy aims to leverage Information & Communication Technology (ICT) to address the economic and developmental challenges. The policy is rooted in the conviction that ICT has the power to transform the lives of people. The Policy envisages the growth of the IT market to USD 300 Billion and creation of additional 10 million employments by 2020.

The thrust areas of the policy include:
1. To increase revenues of IT and ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) Industry from 100 Billion USD currently to 300 Billion USD by 2020 and expand exports from 69 Billion USD currently to 200 Billion USD by 2020.
2. To gain significant global market-share in emerging technologies and Services.
3. To promote innovation and R&D in cutting edge technologies and development of applications and solutions in areas like localization, location based services, mobile value added services, Cloud Computing, Social Media and Utility models.
4. To encourage adoption of ICTs in key economic and strategic sectors to improve their competitiveness and productivity.
5. To provide fiscal benefits to SMEs and Startups for adoption of IT in value creation
6. To create a pool of 10 million additional skilled manpower in ICT.
7. To make at least one individual in every household e-literate.
8. To provide for mandatory delivery of and affordable access to all public services in electronic mode.
9. To enhance transparency, accountability, efficiency, reliability and decentralization in Government and in particular, in delivery of public services.
10. To leverage ICT for key Social Sector initiatives like Education, Health, Rural Development and Financial Services to promote equity and quality.
11. To make India the global hub for development of language technologies, to encourage and facilitate development of content accessible in all Indian languages and thereby help bridge the digital divide.
12. To enable access of content and ICT applications by differently-abled people to foster inclusive development.
13. To leverage ICT for expanding the workforce and enabling life-long learning.
14. To strengthen the Regulatory and Security Framework for ensuring a Secure and legally compliant Cyberspace ecosystem.
15. To adopt Open standards and promote open source and open technologies

The policy attempts to optimally leverage India's global edge in ICT to advance national competitiveness in other sectors, particularly those of strategic and economic importance. The Policy will promote an inclusive and equitable society. The Policy is oriented towards use of ICT to consciously promote decentralization and empowerment of citizens. The Policy will be notified in the Gazette shortly. Detailed proposals for individual initiatives will be formulated in consultation with the concerned Ministries.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/21/2012

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PAKISTAN: SC Orders Action Against Illegal Arms, Vehicles

The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday ordered police and Frontier Corps (FC) to launch a crackdown against illegal weapons and smuggled vehicles within three days. A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, heard the petition filed by the Balochistan Bar Association on the law and order situation in Balochistan. The CJP issued an order that all orders passed by the SC should be dispatched to the prime minister, the Balochistan governor and chief minister indicating that the court orders had not been implemented. During the proceedings, Justice Chaudhry said that the entire proceedings were in the national interest and it did not make any difference if anyone did not approve of them. The CJP said further the court would conclude this case as soon as possible as it would be troublesome if matters fell into the hands of others, making an implicit reference to the UN mission which is likely to arrive on September 10 to investigate forced disappearances in Balochistan. The deputy attorney general told the court that the order regarding permits had been implemented. The court asked the defence secretary if the agencies could lawfully issue permits. The secretary said that the Balochistan Police inspector general had been contacted and told to arrest the permit holders. He said further a high-level meeting would be called to address the issue. The CJP ordered police and the FC to launch a crackdown on transit permit holders in three days. The secretary requested the court to give them chance, adding that they would not disappoint the court.

Quetta CPO Mir Zubair told the court that the Special Branch and police had no authority to issue transit permits, adding that the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence were issuing them. Justice Chaudhry asked Raja Irshad, counsel for FC, about the absence of the Dera Bugti FC commandant and missing person Kaho Bugti. The lawyer informed the court that the commandant was in Malakand and was on his way. He also said the commandant's holidays had been cancelled after he gave a statement that Kaho Bugti was not in his custody. The CJP asked why didn't the commandant appear before the court, adding, "You know his court martial can be undertaken for not obeying the court order." The FC lawyer informed the court that the FC was a federal force and he could not represent it anymore, saying that the attorney general should represent the FC. The CJP said, "That's your personal matter." Balochistan Advocate General Amanullah Kinrani informed the court that the federal law secretary was busy with the Indian delegation in Islamabad. Kinrani also said the missing persons' list would be finalised in a few days. On September 7, the CJP said, "If our own institutions investigate and make efforts to recover the missing persons it will a good omen for the country." Justice Chaudhry had also said, "There is no security for the people and their property. Today a police officer was shot dead, until and unless grand crackdown is carried out against criminal elements the situation will not improve." Justice Chaudhry warned the officials that a UN delegation was on its way to Balochistan to review the situation of missing persons in the province, therefore, they must improve their state of affairs. The chief justice of Pakistan also said there were 22 agencies working in Balochistan, a list of these agencies should be submitted to the court. The court adjourned the hearing until September 19. Further proceedings will take place in Islamabad.

From http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/ 09/09/2012

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ARMENIA: Prosperous Armenia Wants Chance to Pursue Own Policy - Spokesman

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Prosperous Armenia party spokesman commented on recent media reports concerning the possibility of cooperation with the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA). "Prosperous Armenia party has always been ready to fulfill promises given to its voters in case we're given a chance to pursue our own policies without being burdened by preconditions or constraints," Tigran Urikhanyan said. Prosperous Armenia is the second largest parliamentary group in Armenia. Following the May 6 parliamentary elections Prosperous Armenia refused to join the ruling coalition, however never announcing itself as an opposition party.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 09/21/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Int'l Organizations' Opinions Considered While Preparing National Action Plans

The National Action Plan on Open Government and National Action Plan on Combating Corruption were adopted by decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on September 5, 2012. Action Plans, covering the period of 2012-2015 aim to ensure the continuity of measures in the fight against corruption and promotion of good governance, increase transparency in the activities of state bodies, establish the activities of state bodies in compliance with modern standards, and promote the principles of open government, the Azerbaijani Commission on Combating Corruption reported in connection with approving the National Action Plan on Open Government and National Action Plan on Combating Corruption. "Azerbaijan was among the first states, which joined the Open Government Partnership, initiated in international scale," the message said. "The goal of Open Government Partnership - launched as an international initiative, is to increase the transparency in public administration, ensure accountability, expand public participation and support application of new technologies. Action Plan on Open Government, guided by principles of Open Government Partnership defines measures for state bodies on delivering information on their activities to public, increasing the role of public in decision making, expanding electronic services and increasing the quality of services provided to citizens." Drafts of both Action Plans were developed by Commission on Combating Corruption of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the assignment of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. "Decree of September 5, 2012, demonstrates continuous character of state policy in this area and once more expresses determination and strong will of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in continuation of fight against corruption," Chairman of the Commission Ramiz Mehdiyev said. "Implementation of these reforms will increase the reputation of state bodies, stimulate state-citizen relations to new level of quality and increase the trust of citizens to state." In the course of drafting of Action Plans proposals and opinions of representatives of civil society, international organizations, who actively took part in public hearings, were taken into account along with representatives of state bodies. It is planned to involve non-governmental organizations into the process of implementation and evaluation of Action Plans and to organize broad public awareness measures.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/06/2012

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UZBEKISTAN: Senate Approves Law on Foreign Policy Concept

The Uzbek Senate Oliy Majlis (upper house of the parliament) approved a law on 'Approving the concept of foreign policy of the Republic of Uzbekistan' at today's plenary session, a Trend correspondent reported from the meeting of the Senate today. It was reported that the Legislative Chamber of the Uzbek parliament passed a law in early August this year. The bill was submitted to parliament by President Karimov as a legislative initiative. "The adoption of the law was caused by the need to further improve the conceptual foundations of Uzbek foreign policy to ensure timely and adequate response to the threats and challenges in the region and the world as a whole, strengthening the national security of the country," Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said while presenting the bill to the senators. "The concept envisages a single system of views determining the fundamental principles and strategic priorities of foreign policy, goals and objectives in the international arena, the mechanisms of Uzbekistan's promoting national interests in the medium and long term prospects," he said. According to the provisions of the Concept, the main purpose of Uzbek foreign policy based on the priority of the national interests of the Republic and equal cooperation is to strengthen state independence and sovereignty, increasing the role of the country as a full subject of international relations and creating security around Uzbekistan, stability and good neighbourliness.

According to the bill, Uzbekistan is pursuing a peaceful policy and does not participate in military and political blocs. It reserves the right to withdraw from any interstate organisation in case of its transformation into a military and political bloc. The republic is taking political, economic and other measures to prevent its involvement in armed conflicts and tensions in neighbouring countries and does not allow the stationing of foreign military bases and facilities on its territory. No integration should be imposed from the outside. It is unacceptable if it affects the freedom, independence and territorial integrity of the country or is dictated by ideological commitments. Uzbekistan reserves the right to make alliances, to enter the communities and other inter-state organisations and withdraw from them, guided by the best interests of the state, nation, its prosperity and security. According to the constitution, law on defence and military doctrine, the Armed Forces of Uzbekistan are created exclusively for the protection of state sovereignty and territorial integrity, peace and security of the population and do not take part in peacekeeping operations abroad.

The main priority of foreign policy in Uzbekistan is the region of Central Asia, whose vital interests are associated with, the concept says. Uzbekistan remaining committed to an open, friendly and pragmatic policy with respect to its nearest neighbours. As stated in the Concept, challenges in Central Asia should be settled by the states in the region themselves without the intervention of external forces. The major tasks in this direction are to ensure peace and stability in the region and promote the settlement of the situation in Afghanistan on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs. Participation in influential international and regional organisations is fully consistent with the country's national interests. Uzbekistan considers the UN as being the only universal organisation in the conservation of global security and stability with the capability of solutions to urgent international problems. According to the adopted law, the general management of the foreign political activity shall be carried out by the president of the country with the body responsible for the implementation of foreign policy as being the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/30/2012

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Uzbekistan Joins Agreement on Long-Term Cooperation with SCO Countries

Uzbek Senate (upper house of parliament) ratified at a plenary session on Thursday the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member countries (Bishkek, August 16, 2007). Law on the Ratification of the treaty was passed by the Legislative - the lower house of parliament on August 8, 2012 and submitted for approval in the Senate on August 9. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs Sadiq Safayev said "the treaty should serve as the fundamental basis of the relationship between the SCO member countries". The treaty meets the national interest of the peoples of the the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states, promotes the cause of peace and stability in the SCO, and creates a legal basis for joint efforts to effectively confront the modern challenges and threats to security. Law on ratification of the agreement is in the interests of Uzbekistan and does not require any amendments to the existing laws of the country, the chairman of the Senate Committee noted. Safayev said that the original priorities of the SCO were to preserve peace and stability in the region and the main efforts since the organization were aimed at combating terrorism, separatism and extremism. The document establishes the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of the SCO countries, peaceful resolution of differences and disputes, as well as mutual respect in choosing the path of political, economic, social and cultural development, according to national circumstances of each state. Agreements fixed in the document also reflect the common desire of SCO member states to give new quality and dynamics to multilateral cooperation in areas such as the expansion of economic cooperation, the deepening of relations in the field of culture, education, health, and science.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/30/2012

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Judicial Legislation Amended in Uzbekistan

The law on judicial remedial legislation has entered into force in Uzbekistan. A number of regulations have been changed to further reform the judicial system. The law was passed by the Legislative (lower) chamber of the Uzbek parliament in July, approved by the upper house - the Senate in August. The law was published in the national press on Wednesday. According to the final article, it enters into force from the date of publication. Among the main changes made to the Criminal Procedure Code, Economic Procedure Code and the Law on "Prosecutor's Office" are the rules. According to them, the court's right to file a criminal case has been ruled out. Moreover, announcing the indictment at the first instance court is the sole responsibility of the public prosecutor. Using such measures of procedural enforcement, as the dismissal and transferring a person to a medical facility are implemented after a judge's approval at the pre-trial stage.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/19/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Gillard Delivers School Funding Plan

Prime Minister Julia Gillard wants state and territory leaders to sign up to a new school funding model by the first half of next year, as part of a plan to propel Australia's education system into the top five internationally by 2025. Under the changes, there would be extra money for schools in disadvantaged areas and tougher entry requirements for people wanting to study education at university. Ms Gillard's response to the Gonski review of school funding does not detail how much extra money the Government is prepared to commit, but she has accepted the review's overall recommendation of a new funding model. Under the proposed scheme, schools would be given a base funding amount depending on how many students they enrol. It would then be topped up with additional funds if the school is in a rural or remote area, teaches children with limited English skills, is a smaller school, or enrols students from low income families.

There would also be extra funds for schools that teach Indigenous children or students with a disability. Ms Gillard says the plan would require an extra $6.5 billion based on the Gonski report's findings, and would need to be shared between federal and state governments. "You'll see me asking the states and territories to share my passion for improving our schools and putting our children first," Ms Gillard told journalists at the National Press Club. "I will personally lead these discussions and my aim is to settle the funding model through COAG (Council of Australian Governments) processes. Ms Gillard has indicated she wants to conclude negotiations with state and territory leaders by the first COAG meeting next year, but says she won't be "held to ransom" by jurisdictions that are not committed to reform. The Federal Government is proposing a six-year transition to the new funding arrangement, starting in 2014.

The Prime Minister wants Australia's school system to be ranked in the top five internationally by 2025 in reading, science and maths, and has called on the community to join her in this quest despite the "tough budget choices" that will be required to achieve it. "I want each of you - the whole nation - to join me in this crusade to change children's lives," she said. "I want us to commit to fund Australian schools in a way that puts a child's needs at the heart of our funding decisions." As part of her discussions with the states, Ms Gillard says she will insist on new measures to boost the quality of school teachers - including annual performance reviews. In addition, those wanting to study education at university will have to be in the top 30 per cent in numeracy and literacy tests, and student teachers will have to get at least a term of classroom experience before being allowed to graduate.

"Under our plan, you will need to be at the top of your class to get in to a university teaching course," Ms Gillard said. "Instead of new teachers floundering or drifting away from teaching, they will be equipped for the classroom though practical experience during training and two years of support once in school." Every school will be required to develop an "improvement plan", and there will also be breakfast clubs and after hours activities for students.

Another delay
The Government plans to introduce legislation into Parliament by the end of the year to begin the changes, but the Coalition has already dismissed the Prime Minister's announcement as a "promise on the never never". "Parents want to know what governments are going to do for their children today and tomorrow - not in 2020, not in 2025," Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne told reporters in Canberra. "There are children who haven't even been born, yet the Prime Minister is expecting us to believe will benefit from a policy that's being announced today, that won't have its full effect until 2020 and won't be tested until 2025. I doubt she'll be the Prime Minister in 2025." The Greens have expressed similar concerns about Ms Gillard's plan, arguing there is a "whole generation" of children who will miss out. "We feel that aiming to be in the top five by 2025 is actually not ambitious enough," Greens' schools spokeswoman Penny Wright said. "This new fairer funding model is exactly what Australian children need, but it will be a tragedy if none of the kids at school today see the full benefit of it."

The Australian Education Union (AEU) strongly supports the new funding model, but it too is disappointed by the proposed timeframe. "The urgent need for additional resources was clearly established by the Gonski Review and all ways to speed up the transition should be considered," AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said. However he is urging state and territory leaders to quickly commit extra funds to help lift student performance. "Any state Premier who refuses to sign on to this reform is ultimately expressing to its citizens that they don't value education and they don't value the children of their state."

From http://www.abc.net.au/ 09/03/2012

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Aus Futuregov Summit Showcases ICT Reforms

The Australian industry's flagship FutureGov Summit is off to a flying start - with top-tier government agencies and industry partners converging at this summit this month in the nation's capital, Canberra. Senior government officials from Australia, Austria, New Zealand, the UK, USA, Denmark, and Bahrain are meeting at this summit - with a focus on 21st century ICT reforms at all levels of government. Over two information-packed days, senior executives, ICT solutions providers, and industry stakeholders will discuss, debate and deliver an action plan to make the most cost-effective use of technology in government. Among the highlights, Ann Steward, Government Chief Information Officer, Australian Government Information Management (AGIMO) will deliver a welcome address. A ministerial panel discussion, featuring Senator Kate Lundy, explores strategies to align governments' ICT vision with operational work and structures.

On the international front, the CIO for the Austrian Federal Government, Reinhard Posch, takes a futuristic look at the use of technology to streamline citizen services - while drawing on the experiences of the Austrian government. Making "connected government" a reality comes up for discussion during an interactive discussion table led by the Denmark Ministry of Finance's Head of International Cooperation, Yih-Jeou Wang. This discussion opens up debate about making the concept of "open government" a reality. This session looks beyond the technology to business outcomes that can be leveraged to create an open government environment. Simon Haston, Programme Manager for Shared Services, Improvement Service (UK), is offering insights about delivering anywhere, anytime services during an interactive discussion that focuses on mobile government. The emphasis on mobility in government - and the next new technology challenges - is also being discussed by Mike Nelson, a Digital Director with The Scottish Government, UK.

Emerging trends for bring-your-own device (BYOD) and apps in a government environment are being highlighted by the Chief Information Security Officer for Napa County, Gary Coverdale (USA). This discussion weighs the pros and cons of BYOD technology for government users. Influential speakers, panel members and interactive discussion table leaders are drawn from across all levels of government. These officials are sharing the latest insights about emerging technologies, and the ROI these platforms deliver - while supporting governments of the future. This dedicated summit is supported by the industry's leading Australian and international solutions providers. These industry partners are sharing insights about the cost-effective use of technologies, more specific to government end-users. Platforms under the spotlight include cloud computing, information and cyber-security, mobile communications, unified communications, analytics, and digital information management.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/042012

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FIJI: Govt Will Not Make Constitution Submission - AG

The Fijian government is not going to make any submission to the Constitution Commission, confirms Attorney General and Elections Minister, Aiyaz-Sayed Khaiyum. Speaking to FijiLive, Sayed-Khaiyum said they do not see it necessary to make submissions to the Commission which is independent and has been set up to hear the voices of every citizen of the country. The Constitutional Commission last week said that they might seek for a short extension during the drafting of the constitution. "Even though we have lost a month due to flooding, we do not want to rush through the public consultations." Constitution Commission Chair, Professor Yash Ghai said. Sayed-Khaiyum when asked of the possibility for an extension said all depends on the Commission's recommendations. "If they need an extended time-frame then we will definitely give them a slight extension," he said. The Constitution submission ends on 30 September.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 08/28/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Call on Nations to Lower Subsidies

New Zealand is calling on the United States, Japan and European Union countries to be bold and use the recessionary pressures on their budgets to justify cuts in trade-distorting subsidies paid to their farmers. Speaking at the APEC CEO summit - a forum which connects business leaders with the wider APEC agenda - Prime Minister John Key said the levels of current subsidies were unaffordable and unsustainable. Mr Key's remarks repeated New Zealand's longstanding concerns that while some countries make much of signing free trade agreements, they still quietly continue to subsidise their inefficient industries. Nearly 1000 business leaders are registered as attending the summit. However, only about 300 showed up for the first session which saw Mr Key as part of a panel discussion on economic integration.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/07/2012

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Key: Surplus Goal Can Be Revised

Prime Minister John Key is not ruling out revising National's 2015 target for getting the Government's books back into surplus if there is a faster-than-expected slowing in the Chinese and Australian economies. He said it was still his preference to get back into surplus at the earliest opportunity, and the advice was that this was still possible. But New Zealand was not immune from any regional downturn and that would affect the level of tax revenue the country needed to hit the 2015 target. Mr Key was speaking at the summit of Asia-Pacific Rim economies (Apec) in Vladivostok, where concerns about the state of the powerhouse Chinese economy were aired by the region's business leaders. The Prime Minister noted the recent falls in iron ore prices and the write-off of value in mining shares in Australia which economists are picking signals the end of the mining boom in that country.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey shows pessimism among business leaders to have increased over the past year. Mr Key said it was more of a mixed picture for New Zealand. Although the country was obviously not immune from what was happening in the region, agricultural commodity prices had risen because of drought in the Northern Hemisphere growing season. In a speech to the business leaders meeting, Mr Key called on the US, Japan and EU countries to be bold and use the recessionary pressures on their budgets to justify cuts in trade-distorting subsidies paid to their farmers. He said such subsidies were now "unaffordable and unsustainable". His remarks repeated New Zealand's longstanding concerns that while some countries made much of signing free-trade agreements, they still quietly continued to subsidise their inefficient industries.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/08/2012

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Govt Introduces New Welfare Bill

The government has introduced a bill to change welfare rules so job seekers can be penalised if they fail drug tests and benefits can be stopped if people have outstanding arrest warrants. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced the changes earlier this month, saying too many beneficiaries were failing to get jobs because they weren't drug free, or were refusing to take drug tests. Under the legislation their benefit can be cut if they keep on failing tests - unless they're addicted and need treatment. The Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill also carries a raft of changes announced earlier this year, which are phase two of the government's welfare reform programme. It includes simplified benefit categories, stronger work-seeking obligations and support for people who need training to get jobs or need childcare. Three new benefit types will replace the seven current categories. Benefit rates are not being changed.

From NZ Newswire 09/17/2012

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Committed to APEC Objectives, Says PM

Papua New Guinea has indicated its commitment to the APEC objectives as adopted under the Bogor Goals, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said. O'Neill has asked for Australia's help to host the 2018 APEC meeting in PNG. O'Neill request came during the signing of the PNG asylum centre and human processing centre in Manus deal during the APEC leaders meeting in Russia last week. "In terms of the discussions for the APEC retreat, I agree that we need to focus on food security, higher education, financial integration and capital mobility to achieve the APEC objectives that are espoused under the Bogor Goals," he said. "PNG remains committed to the APEC objectives and is experiencing measured progress in areas such as investment and trade facilitation, business mobility, tariff reduction, counter-terrorism, market access and customs harmonisation, among others."

O'Neill indicated to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard that PNG would be seeking help from Australia in its bid to host the APEC meeting in 2018. "PNG, as you may now be aware, has expressed its intention to host APEC in 2018. "The logistical, security and administrative aspects are massive and I intend to seek your government's assistance, particularly in the area of infrastructure development, security detailing and management and finance of overall conferencing arrangements in the lead up to 2018," he said. O'Neill and Gillard at the end of the signing ceremony and agreed that PNG and Australia would continue to work together on issues of mutual interest.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 09/11/2012

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Digital Democracy - How Technology Helps Governments and Citizens to Open Up Politics and Public Administration

All over the world, more and more governments embrace open government concepts. Many administrations unlock their data vaults and make uncounted data sets available to the public as open data - machine readable, in multiple formats. These data treasures become a source for innovation and development of new services but they are also a basis for more and better participation of people. Visualizations make complex concepts more easily understandable and hence enable better informed citizens to voice their opinions. Today, citizens demand more transparency and inclusion in political decision-making. Recent legislation failures such as on SOPA (USA) or ACTA (EU) show that in a digital democracy, law making can no longer be done behind closed doors. Technology makes it possible for public administrations to open up and become more participative on the one hand. But it also helps people across national borders to connect and mobilize, to force transparency where it is lacking, to get rid of laws they don't like and collaboratively write laws they want on the other. Community Public Partnerships evolve, where governments and civil society work jointly for common goals. Tools used by governments as well as by civil society are often open source and shared with others. Some of the best open government platforms are running on Drupal. Open(ing) Government is still in its early phase. Its getting more global, more mobile, more open source. Engaging in Open Government means not only benefiting our society, it also means business opportunities.

From http://munich2012.drupal.org/ 08/28/2012

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Up to 16 Million to Benefit from Improved Public Services in Rio de Janeiro State

WASHINGTON, August 30th 2012 - Up to 16 million inhabitants of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will benefit from a US$300 million Development Policy Loan (DPL) approved today by The World Bank Board of Directors. The Rio State Development Policy Loan lll will improve the State's financial and tax administrations, as well as the provision of education and health services, "The World Bank is Rio de Janeiro's longtime partner. With this new loan, you can consolidate fiscal policies that already allowed us to have a relevant economic growth. The operation will help us improve the efficiency of our health care system and improve the quality of our education network," said Sergio Cabral Filho, governor of Rio de Janeiro State. The second largest economy in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro's economic activity is equivalent to that of Portugal or Venezuela. In recent years, it has grown faster than the rest of the country. In 2009, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita was US$ 11,051, about 30 percent above the nation's average. With upcoming mega sports events - the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 -, the State of Rio de Janeiro is increasing investments in infrastructure and social development . "Beyond the high-profile international events, the fact is that challenges faced by Rio de Janeiro are not that different to those faced by other states throughout the world and in Brazil. This program can serve as a model for other countries and states that want to use resources efficiently and improve education and health services for all groups in the population," said Deborah L. Wetzel, World Bank Director for Brazil.

This policy loan aims to improve the efficiency of public financial management and the quality of the State's services through a set of diverse actions, including:
Increasing the efficiency of public investment by expanding the provision of services through public - private partnerships.
Enhancing governance by providing greater monitoring and transparency of public investment.
Improving tax administration.
Improving the quality of public services delivered for low income households.
Implementing a merit-based selection process for school directors.
Putting in place a new management model for health units.

Improving the management of budget transfers for health services in small municipalities to better target the needs of local communities.
This is a one tranche loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) to the State of Rio de Janeiro. It is guaranteed by the Federative Republic of Brazil and has a final maturity of 23 years and six months, with a five year grace period.

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 08/30/2012

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CHINA: Wang Lijun Faces Four Charges

Wang Lijun, Chongqing's former vice mayor and police chief, has been charged with bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking by the Chengdu City People's Procuratorate, Xinhua learned from authorities on Wednesday. The prosecuting body filed the charges against Wang with the Intermediate People's Court of Chengdu City, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province. During the investigation period, the prosecuting body informed the defendant of his right to retain defense counsel. The prosecuting body also interrogated the defendant, heard the opinions of the defense counsel and examined all the case files. According to the indictment issued by the Chengdu City People's Procuratorate, although the defendant Wang Lijun, then-vice mayor of Chongqing as well as chief of the municipality's Public Security Bureau, had known beforehand that Bogu Kailai was under serious suspicion of murdering Neil Heywood, he consciously neglected his duty and bent the law for personal gain so that Bogu Kailai would not be held legally responsible. Wang was indicted for the crime of bending the law for personal gain.

Prosecutors said Wang, while he was performing his official duty, left his post without authorization and defected to the United States Consulate General in Chengdu. He was also indicted for the crime of defection. According to prosecutors, Wang illegally used technical reconnaissance measures, either without the approval of authorities or by forging approval documents. He was indicted for the crime of power abuse. Wang also took advantage of his position and accepted massive bribes in a bid to secure benefits for other individuals. He was indicted for the crime of bribe-taking. Prosecutors said facts related to Wang Lijun's crimes were clear; the evidence was concrete and abundant. According to the law, he should be prosecuted for the crimes of bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking. The Chengdu City Intermediate People's Court has accepted the case and will hold a trial at a later date.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/05/2012

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Courts Told to Manage Civilian-Government Cases Well

Chinese courts have been urged to protect parties whose rights are violated and bear in mind social stability when handling administrative cases that usually involve civilian-versus-government conflicts. "Courts at all levels should manage every administrative case well in accordance with laws and regulations, resolving issues concerning the interests of involved parties," Shen Deyong, executive vice president of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), said on Thursday at a meeting on rulings in administrative cases. Official figures show that China received 136,353 administrative cases in 2011, up 5.6 percent year on year. Such cases usually involve civilians accusing governmental administrative departments of wrongful decisions or policies that harm their interests. Noting growing varieties of administrative cases and more fields involved in these lawsuits, Shen called upon the country's courts to strive to solve administrative disputes at their source. "Courts must fully respect people's rights to legally bring up a lawsuit and deal with these cases appropriately from the angle of ensuring social harmony and stability," Shen said, warning that people might resort to "abnormal" methods to voice their concerns if legal means fail to address their conflicts. Shen stressed that mediation, only to be carried out with the agreement of involved parties, should first ensure that the parties with harmed interests receive proper compensation in accordance with laws. In addition, he called for a more effective and sensible dispute mediating mechanism that invites the joint efforts of Party committees, government departments and courts.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/06/2012

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Citizens Pay Less Proportion of Health Expenditure

Chinese citizens are paying less proportion of their total health spending than ten years ago, according to Minister of Health Chen Zhu. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Chen said the country has increased health resources with its financing structure being more efficient, and basic medical services having largely improved. According to statistics released at the conference, the national total health expenditure in 2011 reached 2.42 trillion yuan (383 billion U.S. dollars), 5.1 percent of the GDP. The health expenditure paid individually decreased to 34.9 percent in 2011, from 57.7 percent in 2002. The statistics show that government and social expenditure covered 30.4 percent and 34.7 percent in 2011, while the figures were 15.7 percent and 26.6 percent respectively in 2002. Chen said the medical care system has covered more than 1.3 billion people, more than 95 percent of the total population, and 832 million people have joined the new rural cooperative medical system as of 2011. The use of health services has grown significantly, with the total number of outpatients up from 2.15 billion people in 2002 to 6.27 billion people in 2011, Chen said.

Chinese citizens also have more convenient access to health care services, Chen said, adding that the number of residents within 15 minutes walking distance to hospitals has risen from 80.7 percent in 2003 to 83.3 percent in 2011. Also at the conference, Chen said that China's health sector has experienced tremendous progress, including the primary establishment of a health service system in both urban and rural areas. "China has enhanced the capacity of disease prevention and control, expanded the coverage of health insurance, and finished the preliminary establishment of the drug system, leading to a comprehensive development of the health sector," Chen said. Statistics from the ministry shows that the average life expectancy rose to 74.8 in 2010 from 71.4 in 2000, and the infant mortality rate decreased to 12.1 per thousand in 2011 from 29.2 per thousand in 2002. Chen also said that the gap in health development between the urban and rural areas is diminishing. In 2003, the basic health insurance covered 55 percent and 21 percent in urban and rural regions, while the figures are 89 percent and 97 percent in 2011, with the health insurance coverage rate in rural areas more than that in the cities, he added. By the end of June 2012, 343,641 rural Chinese had been covered by a medical insurance program designed to provide financial aid to seriously ill patients, Chen said.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/17/2012

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China Announces Appointments, Dismissals of Officials

The State Council, China's Cabinet, announced a reshuffle of several key posts in the central government on Wednesday. Tan Tianxing was appointed deputy director of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, replacing Zhao Yang, according to a statement from the State Council. Jiang Yang was appointed vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission. Wang Zhongjing was chosen as executive director of China for the Asian Development Bank, replacing Yang Yingming. Zhou Ying was removed from the post of vice minister of water resources, and Chen Fanglei was removed from the post of chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Key State-Owned Financial Organizations.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/19/2012

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JAPAN: Ministry to Establish Cyberdefense Unit

The Defense Ministry has said it will create in fiscal 2013 a special defense force with about 100 members to fight cyber-attacks. The ministry on Friday announced the nation's first defense guidelines on cyber-attacks, which specify Japan could invoke its right to self-defense if a cyber-attack occurs as part of an armed offensive strike. The guidelines stipulate cyberspace is "the fifth field of military operations" along with ground, sea, air and space, and state the ministry will establish a cyberspace defense force in the next fiscal year to study methods of counterattack. The guidelines further define cyberspace as "infrastructure that is essential for policy decisions and operations of [Self-Defense Force] units."

To defend the nation's cyberspace, the guidelines promote enhancement of the SDF's capacity and preparedness, and cooperation with the private sector and international community. To improve the SDF's preparedness, the ministry will recruit about 100 members for the new cyberspace defense force, and the team will take over some of the security operations that are currently conducted separately by the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense forces. The team will work to collect information about computer viruses for analysis. It will also improve the SDF's capacity to conduct drills to counter such viruses. The guidelines stipulate if a cyber-attack occurs as part of an armed offensive strike, the situation warrants exercising the nation's right to self-defense. But the guideline only says, "Each situation will be judged on a case-by-case basis" regarding what types of incidents would be viewed as armed attacks.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/08/2012

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Govt to Consider New Agency for Child Care

The government has set up a panel to consider a proposal for creating an agency to oversee child care policy, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoko Komiyama said. The panel, which will hold its first meeting Wednesday, will include Komiyama and a deputy chief cabinet secretary as well as parliamentary secretaries from the Cabinet Office, and the health and education ministries. The Democratic Party of Japan pledged to consider setting up a ministry for issues involving children and families when it took power after winning the August 2009 general election. "We can finally take the first steps toward realizing this proposed agency, and we will be working hard to discuss it," Komiyama said Friday.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/17/2012

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Noda Reelected as DPJ Leader / Wins by Big Margin Over 3 Challengers, Will Stay on as Prime Minister

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda easily won reelection as president of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan on Friday, but he looks certain to face tough work in managing the DPJ and his government ahead of a general election that could be held in the near future. Noda secured a three-year term as DPJ chief until September 2015, beating three rivals in the party leadership election - former agriculture minister Hirotaka Akamatsu, former internal affairs minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi, and former agriculture minister Michihiko Kano. Based on votes cast by DPJ lawmakers and others including rank-and-file party members, Noda garnered 818 points of the total of 1,231 points, against 154 points for Haraguchi, 123 points for Akamatsu and 113 points for Kano. Following the reelection, Noda showed his intention to select new party executives before he leaves for New York on Monday to attend the U.N. General Assembly session.

After confirming the result of next Wednesday's leadership election at the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, Noda is expected to reshuffle his Cabinet as early as Sept. 28. At a press conference following the reelection, Noda said he may carry out a reshuffle "to strengthen the functions of the Cabinet." Noda is considering holding talks with LDP and New Komeito leaders before the possible Cabinet shakeup, to reconfirm their agreement on integrated social security and tax system reforms, including a consumption tax hike, informed sources said. The envisaged Cabinet reshuffle could thus be delayed to early October, the sources said. Based on the three-party agreement, bills to double the consumption tax rate to 10 percent in two stages by October 2015 were enacted in August. Noda is resolved to make all-out efforts to ensure the recovery of the economy, having in mind a possibility of compiling a supplementary budget for fiscal 2012.

He appears to be considering convening an extraordinary Diet session in mid-October to work out details of economy-boosting measures. But the LDP and New Komeito are set to strengthen their confrontational stance on the Noda government and urge Noda to dissolve the House of Representatives as soon as possible for an election. At the press conference, Noda said he wants to focus on election strategies because elections for both chambers of the Diet are seen to be held in the not-so-distant future, hinting at a possibility of replacing DPJ Secretary General Azuma Koshiishi. With some DPJ lawmakers seen to be examining a possibility of leaving the party reflecting their sense of crisis over the next lower house election, Noda will face problems managing his government and the party.

The day's DPJ leadership election was the fourth since the party took power in September 2009 following its landslide victory in the general election the preceding month. In his campaign for the latest election, Noda underscored his achievements, including the enactment of the consumption tax hike bills. He also promised to implement reform measures based on the three-party agreement. Akamatsu, Haraguchi and Kano criticized Noda for causing the DPJ to split over the tax hike. Former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa and many other lawmakers left the ruling party out of their frustration at the tax increase. The three also slammed Noda over his government's nuclear energy policy, but failed to obtain broad-based support.

The DPJ held 308 seats in the all-important lower house when the party ousted the LDP from power in the 2009 election, but the number has since fallen to 245. DPJ defectors included Ozawa and his supporters and those who recently offered to leave the party to join Nippon Ishin no Kai, or the Japan Restoration Party. If 10 more DPJ lawmakers bolt from the party, it will lose its combined majority with its coalition partner, the People's New Party, in the lower house. In such a case, the DPJ-led coalition would be unable to vote down a possible no-confidence motion against the Noda Cabinet.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/22/2012

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Yamaguchi Gets Nod for 3rd Term as Komeito's Chief Representative

New Komeito Chief Representative Natsuo Yamaguchi obtained formal approval for his third term as the top leader of the opposition party at its regular convention in Tokyo on Saturday. Yamaguchi, 60, will serve in the post for two years through September 2014. His second term expired Saturday. He was the sole candidate in the party leadership race, which kicked off Sept. 14, and won the third term without a vote. Yamaguchi became the New Komeito leader in September 2009, replacing Akihiro Ota, who stepped down to take responsibility for the party's setback in the House of Representatives election the previous month. Until the election loss, New Komeito was the partner of the then ruling coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party, which also suffered a humiliating defeat in the lower house poll and lost power to the Democratic Party of Japan.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/23/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Government Begins Moving into Sejong City

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) began moving into the newly built city of Sejong Friday, becoming the first government agency to be relocated to the administrative hub in central South Korea. Sejong City, some 150 kilometers south of Seoul, came officially into being as a "special autonomous city" in July and will be home to 16 central government ministries and offices as well as 20 subsidiary organizations currently located in or near Seoul. The move to be completed by 2014 involves relocating some 10,000 government officials to the new city. The project, first put forward by former President Roh Moo-hyun in 2002, aims to promote balanced regional development and ease overpopulation in Seoul and nearby regions, where a fifth of the country's population of 50 million resides.

While the city is now in its first stage of construction, some departments of the PMO, including its 140 officials, were the first to relocate and began working there on Monday. This will be followed by the remaining PMO departments with 552 officials along with the ministries of finance, agriculture, environment and land, and the Fair Trade Commission, according to the government. It estimates the population in Sejong will grow from 121,000 this year to 300,000 by 2020 and to half a million by 2030, when construction of facilities and infrastructure is expected to be completed. (Yonhap)

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/14/2012

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Public Officials to Get 2.8% Raise Next Year

Government employees will see their pay increase for the third consecutive year in 2013. The Ministry of Strategy and Finance says public servants' wages will jump an average of two-point-eight percent next year. The ministry also said that officials of government agencies relocating to the new administrative city of Sejong this year will receive an additional 200-thousand won a month for a year to cover costs incurred by the move. The ministry said it determined the pay raise in consideration of inflation and wage gaps between public officials and employees of private companies.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/19/2012

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President Accepts Special Probe

Suspicions over the purchase of a plot of land on which a retirement residence for President Lee Myung-bak was intended to be built will be subject to an investigation by a special prosecutor, nominated by the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP). The national Assembly motion for this was endorsed at a Cabinet meeting presided over by President Lee, Friday, the deadline for him to decide whether to veto it. "I decided to accept the motion in order to stop wasteful arguments," Lee was quoted as saying by the presidential senior press secretary Choe Guem-nak. Cheong Wa Dae raised questions about the constitutionality of the bill because it empowers the main opposition party to name the prosecutor. "Allowing the main opposition party to recommend a special prosecutor is nothing but a political tactic put forward by the political parties," Lee said. "We hope the DUP will recommend candidates in a way that guarantees their neutrality and fairness." Cheong Wa Dae claimed the nomination process is against a Constitutional Court ruling that special prosecutors should be neutral and independent from any kind of political power.

Analysts say Lee's endorsement was aimed to prevent a possible public backlash against the ruling Saenuri Party if he had vetoed the investigation with the presidential election less than three months away. Rep. Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the Saenuri Party, is currently running neck-and-neck with Rep. Moon Jae-in, the DUP candidate, and independent Ahn Cheol-soo in various opinion polls. Following the endorsement, the investigation will be conducted for 30 days after Lee appoints the prosecutor from the candidates listed by the main opposition party. The Saenuri Party and the DUP earlier passed a special investigation motion on the now-defunct project of building Lee's retirement home in Naegok-dong, southern Seoul. The project came under fire after it was learned that the land was jointly bought by the President, his son Lee Si-hyung and the presidential security service. The project is alleged to have been a scheme for Lee to allow his 34-year-old son to buy the land at a price below market value. Lee, whose term ends next February, and his aides have strongly objected to such claims.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/21/2012

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INDONESIA: 46 Political Parties Register for Indonesia's 2014 Polls

Indonesia's General Election Commission (KPU) said on Friday that it had closed registrations for political parties wishing to contest the upcoming 2014 general election and announced the official list of 46 registered parties. The commission opened registration on August 10 and closed it on September 7. Commissioner Hadar Nafis Gumay said no more political parties were allowed to register with the poll body. "There are 46 political parties that have registered to participate in the 2014 general election," Hadar said, as quoted by tribunnews.com. The parties include new political parties the Independent Peoples Union Party (SRI) and the National Democratis Party (Nasdem). After closing the registration, Hadar said, the commission now would check whether or not the 46 parties had completed the 17 administrative documents requested by the commission. The verification process, he said, would run until September 29. "Then, we will later announce which parties completed the administrative documents," he said. After the administrative requirements were verified as complete, Hadar said, the commission would conduct a factual verification process, slated to wrap up by January 6, he said. Political parties would be officially recognized as 2014 national election participants only after passing the factual verification process. In 2009, the poll body cleared 34 political parties to participate in the national general election after verification of their registration documents.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 09/08/2012

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Small Party's Win in Capital Governor Poll Marks New Era in Indonesian Politics

JAKARTA, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) - People living in Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta celebrated the victory of Joko Widodo and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the challenger of the incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo and his pairing Nachrowi Ramli in the second round of the city's gubernatorial poll held on Thursday. The victory of the pairing was regarded by many as a new era of Indonesian politics as the pairing, with the support of two minor political parties, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle ( PDIP) and Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra), managed to defeat the incumbent pairing fully supported by more and bigger political parties in the election. These include the ruling party, Democrat Party, National Mandate Party (PAN), Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), United Development Party (PKB), Golkar party and National Awakening Party (PKB).

According to the results of quick count mechanism announced after the election officially closed at noon, Joko Widodo and Basuki Tjahaja Purnama gained 54.11 percent of the vote, much higher than 45.89 of the vote gained by the incumbent governor pairing in the poll to elect its administrator for the period of 2012-2017. The challenger pairing's victory surprised many parties as it was a new phenomenon in national politics as candidates supported by major political parties always won the regional elections. Analysts said that the voice of political parties is no longer identical with that of the people. Joko Widodo, who currently serves as mayor of Surakarta, a city in Central Java, has achieved a great deal in his current term, bringing greater prosperity to the local people. His partner Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a young politician of Chinese descent, is a former parliament member and used to serve as a regent in Bangka Belitung regency with remarkable records during his service. The pairing gained the highest vote in the first polling round with more than 40 percent, but had to undergo a second round as they have yet to reach the winning threshold of 51 percent of the vote.

"This is the victory for the people of Jakarta. I will always hear the people's aspiration and to embrace all elements among the public to develop the capital city," Joko Widodo said in his statement following the announcement of the results of quick count process. He said that he would work with all people in the capital city to solve the severe traffic jam and flood problems that have troubled 7 million people living in the capital city till this day. Meanwhile, the incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo said he respected the results of the quick count process, calling the local residents of the capital to uphold democracy. He added that the results of the election showed the victory for the people in Jakarta. He had also congratulated the winners even though the Jakarta election commission would announce the final result of the election in October. "People living in the capital city want changes to a better condition. The challenger pairing must start working quickly to perform their promises," Patrice Rio Capella, chairman of National Democrat Party said in an interview aired by a national TV station. Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta is home to most of the businesses, and it has the highest concentration of economic activities in the country.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/20/2012

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CAMBODIA: Launching Telecoms Regulatory Body

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) - Cambodia officially launched the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) on Thursday in a bid to supervise the country's fast-growing telecoms sector, officials said. Speaking at the launching ceremony, So Khun, Minister of Posts and Telecoms, said the TRC will govern rules and regulations in the sector with authority over spectrum and fair price setting for telecoms operators. "This is a new achievement for the country in reforming telecoms sector," he said. "The regulatory body will help to build more confidence among investors." The TRC is authorized to inspect and supervise on techniques and administration on the construction, operation, distribution and use of networks and telecommunications as well as information technologies. At the event, Mao Chakrya, TRC's newly-appointed director general, vowed to strengthen existing laws and regulations, to formulate new rules and regulations to keep up with the development of sophisticated technologies and to ensure a fair and transparent atmosphere for telecommunications operators. Telecommunications witness a significant progress in recent years. According to the ministry's report, by June this year, the country's eight mobile phone operators have sold out 19.64 million SIM cards, exceeding the country's population of about 14.5 million. In terms of internet use, the kingdom has about 30 internet service providers serving 1.86 million customers.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/20/2012

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MYANMAR: President Reshuffles Cabinet in Bid to Speed Up Reform Process

YANGON: Myanmar's president reshuffled his cabinet on Monday, his office announced, in a long-awaited move seen as promoting reform-minded allies and sidelining a prominent hardliner. Former general Thein Sein awarded four of his key ministers the joint role of minister of the president's office in what his aides said was a bid to speed up the reform process. They include Railway Minister Aung Min, who has played a leading role in ceasefire talks with ethnic rebels, as well as Finance Minister Hla Tun and Industry Minister Soe Thein, key figures in economic reforms. "They will work for the president. So the president will only need to make final decisions and he will have more time to work on the important matters," said a senior government official who did not want to be named, adding that their replacements would be announced later. Since taking office last year, Thein Sein has overseen a number of dramatic changes such as the release of hundreds of political prisoners and the election of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament. But there have been signs of tensions between reform-minded members of the government and conservatives opposed to rapid political change. The country's hardline Information Minister Kyaw Hsan, who for years oversaw the regime's often-fraught relations with the media, has been moved to the seemingly obscure role of minister of cooperatives. He will head a little-known ministry whose goal, according to its website, is to "promote cooperative socio economic well being".

Labour Minister Aung Kyi - the former junta's official liaison to Suu Kyi while she was under house arrest - will replace him. The move came a week after Myanmar said it had abolished pre-publication press censorship that was a hallmark of life under the generals who ran the country for almost half a century until last year. It also follows the appointment earlier this month of the navy chief to replace a regime hardliner as one of the country's vice presidents, in a move that was also seen as strengthening government reformers. Admiral Nyan Tun, 58, who has a reputation as a political moderate, was selected by the military personnel who make up one quarter of the legislature and have the right to choose one of the two vice presidents. His predecessor Tin Aung Myint Oo - a renowned hardliner with close links to ex-junta chief Than Shwe - resigned in July ostensibly due to ill health, fanning rumours of a power struggle between regime moderates and conservatives. There had been speculation that Suu Kyi might be offered a cabinet post but she herself has played down such as possibility because by law she would have to give up her seat in parliament.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 08/27/2012

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Myanmar President Calls for Materializing Good Governance, Clean Gov't

YANGON, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) - Myanmar President U Thein Sein has called on his newly-appointed government cabinet members, including ministers and deputy ministers, to make all-out efforts to materialize good governance and clean government, official media reported Tuesday. U Thein Sein urged the new cabinet members making affirmation at the President's Office in Nay Pyi Taw on Monday to adhere to the constitution and uphold Three Main National Causes, adding that "existing laws, rules, orders, directives and procedures must be abide by to avoid repeating mistakes", reported the New Light of Myanmar. "Understanding the policies of the state, objectives of the government and duties of the ministry, duties must be discharged honestly and earnestly," he stressed, urging the members to avoid corruption. Pointing out that the main aspiration of Myanmar's 60-million people are realizing peace and stability and national development, U Thein Sein called for fulfilling the people's desire, saying that they are to be implemented on a people-centered basis.

Emphasizing that the reform of the government needs to penetrate into subordinates who are actually in touch with the people, U Thein Sein called for removing the red tape that caused unnecessary disturbances and challenges for the administrative mechanism for ages. Myanmar new government completed its series of major government cabinet reshuffle last Friday in line with its reform strategy. In its 10-day reshuffle process that started on Aug. 27, the government, with the approval of the parliament, reformed its cabinet with 36 ministries. In the reshuffle, nine ministers were reassigned, two ministers and the Auditor-General were asked to resign, 15 former ministers remained in posts without change, 11 new persons were named to fill the open ministerial posts, one new auditor-general appointed, one deputy minister shifted and 19 new deputy ministers appointed. It was a major reshuffle of President U Thein Sein's cabinet in more than one year after he took office on March 2011 and the move came 12 days after U Tin Aung Myint Oo, who resigned from the post of vice president for health reason, was replaced by U Nyan Tun, who was former naval chief.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/11/2012

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Myanmar Gov't Reforms Provisional Press Council to Handle Media Affairs

YANGON, Sept.19 (Xinhua) - Myanmar's new government has reformed a 29-member provisional Myanmar Press Council (MPC) to deal with media affairs before a press media law is formally enacted by the parliament, official media reported Wednesday. The provisional press council was re-set up with retired Supreme Court Judge U Khin Maung Aye as chairman, U Soe Thein, noted writer and journalist, as vice-chairman, Chief editor of the private Voice Weekly Journal U Kyaw Min Swe as secretary. New Minister of Information U Aung Kyi stressed on Tuesday's meeting of forming the council the need to strive for promoting the integrity of each and all press organizations, expressing his belief that those with a sense of freedom, responsibility and accountability would be able to strive for the temporary MPC to become an association of high dignity. The provisional press council formation involves doyen literati, those from Myanmar Writers Association, Myanmar Journalist Association, Myanmar Printing and Publishing Entrepreneurs Association, Myanmar Publishers Association, Myanmar Press Union, Myanmar Journalists Network and those from media world. Before the government made a major reshuffle of its cabinet on Aug. 27, the ministry had formed a 20-member core press council early in the month which was said to include most non-media persons. The reformation of the provisional press council also came more than three weeks after domestic media publication control was totally liberalized, cancelling prior official scrutiny as previously done. The media liberalization under the fifth phase covers 86 journals, 55 magazines, books, calendars, post cards, formal messages, manuscripts of music and songs, and embassy publications. Beginning June 2011, the authorities had been undertaking media reform measures phase by phase. According to earlier figures of the ministry, there are about 200 private-run journals and over 200 magazines being published in Myanmar periodically, while the number of private publishers now stands as nearly 7,000. Myanmar's Ministry of Information administered various types of media, information and publication. In the print media sector, some five state newspapers - Myanma Alin, the Mirror, New Light of Myanmar, Myawaddy and Yadanapon are also being published daily.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/19/2012

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PHILIPPINES: President Gets High Public Approval: Pulse Survey

MANILA, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino III regained his record-high public approval and trust ratings in September, according to the latest survey conducted by Pulse Asia Inc. Pulse Asia President Ronald Holmes said in Aquino's approval and trust ratings in September "nearly approximate" his record- high ratings in October 2010 when he obtained 79-percent public approval and a trust rating of 80 percent. "Almost eight in ten Filipinos approve of President Aquino's performance in the past three months and express trust in him," Holmes said in a statement. Pulse's survey showed Aquino's approval rating increased by 11 percentage points in September, or to 78 percent from 67 percent in May. Aquino's rust rating increased to 78 percent in September, or 13 percentage points higher than May's. In terms of its performance on 12 national issues, the national administration obtained majority approval ratings on half of them and improved ratings on nearly all issues in September compared to May. Holmes said that majority of Filipinos approve of the administration's efforts to fight criminality, stamp out government corruption, enforce the law equally on all Filipinos, improve the national peace situation, create more jobs and increase wages. Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the high trust and approval ratings "affirm the Filipino people's belief and confidence in the President, his leadership, and his administration's relentless pursuit of reform." The Pulse Asia survey was conducted from August 31 to September 7, 2012, among 1,200 representative adults.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/19/2012

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SINGAPORE: Teachers, Education Support Staff Get Pay Rise

SINGAPORE: Schools across the island celebrated Teachers' Day in advance on Friday, and for many educators, it's an extra special occasion this year. Some 26,000 teachers and 500 Allied Educators (AEDs) will get a pay raise starting September 1. The Education Ministry said the adjustments will ensure the salaries keep pace with the market and match their roles and responsibilities. The last pay revision for teachers was more than four years ago. For Allied Educators, this is their first pay review since the scheme was created in 2009. Teachers will get an 8 per cent increment - which means a rise of up to S$550 for teachers, and S$830 for senior teachers. Allied Educators' salaries will go up by 5 to 15 per cent, which is an increase of up to S$700. Kelda Chan, an allied counsellor at Anderson Secondary School welcomed the move. "I feel that is how MOE actually sees and recognises our work and our effort in school, and I'm just thankful that they feel (our work) is just as important as that of a teacher." Mrs Constance Loke, Principal of Haig Girls' School, said: "I'm glad to hear about the salary revision. But at the end of the day, we do what we do because we love the children and we have a passion for making a difference in their lives."

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said on his Facebook page that he is pleased that the ministry is making the salary adjustments. Ng Wei Da, a teacher at Anderson Secondary, is one of many who hope to get more support from the ministry, in terms of managing their workload and professional development. "Recently, the PM mentioned about work-life harmony during the National Day Rally, and I think a lot of teachers are also facing this problem." Ms Chan said: "I would really like to contribute more to the school, but I think it'd be great if we're able to be equipped with a higher level training or education for us, post-graduate studies to be exact." The chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, said the ministry's move is timely. "Currently what we have is a tight labour market, and the experience is that every time we have a tight labour workforce, the teachers do feel a certain amount of attraction to want to try and see whether they will perform better in the private sector. I don't think it's wise for us to wait for that to happen," he said. Mr Lim said it's important to ensure teachers are paid competitively to better retain them.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 08/31/2012

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Singapore Opens Business Analytics Centre

The Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) yesterday opened a Business Analytics Translational Centre (BATC) to help public and private sector leverage cutting-edge analytics tools for big data management. "In today's highly connected society and competitive economy, organisations are looking to data to better understand their customers and achieve their goals. Analytics is key to deriving value from these data collected," said IDA CEO Ronnie Tay. The BATC will help users and developer of analytics technologies to leverage the analytics' innovation available today and foster the adoption of analytics in Singapore, according to him. The BATC will work with IDA to encourage user organisations and government agencies to leverage BATC's analytics capabilities to apply analytics strategically, to guide business strategy and planning, as well as optimise day-to-day business processes. The specific areas of collaboration include organising network session among users - both private and public sector, improving industry analytics capabilities through BATC's product and services from R&D, and collaborating with Research Institutions and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to transfer analytics knowledge to relevant professionals in Singapore through trainings, workshops, and seminars. The Centre will also provide an opportunity for trainees in R&D or applications development projects. This will develop a pipeline of talent capable of applying analytics approaches in various domains.

"BATC is a meaningful contribution from ASTAR and IDA to help both the public and private sectors innovate in their work processes to achieve greater productivity. It is also a useful demonstration of how public-public collaboration can establish impactful value-creating platforms for our economy," said Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of ASTAR. Dr Raj Thampuran, Managing Director of A*STAR said that the BATC as a platform for private-public partnerships and technology transfer will also attract companies to grow their business analytics efforts and interest. "BATC's value proposition is to translate ideas and knowhow created in our SERC research institutes and universities into real-world applications for use by industry," Dr Thampuran said. Public organisation that will use the BATC's facility include Ministry of Law in which the BATC will develop prototype analytics technologies to enhance the ministry's management, and enabling it to improve its formulation of policies and operations. Partners of the BATC from private sector include an international publishing company - Wiley, and Revolution Analytics.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/20/2012

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VIETNAM: Government to Continue Anti-Corruption Crackdown

HA NOI (VNS) - "We are determined to continue the fight against corruption", said Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc while receiving a delegation from Thailand's National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) yesterday. Phuc claimed that removing corruption was a top priority when building a professional and modern administration. He praised the five-day visit of the NACC, led by Panthep Klanarongran, and said that it would strengthen friendship and co-operation between Viet Nam and Thailand. Klanarongran said the NACC and the Government Inspectorate of Viet Nam (GIV) had held talks and signed a memorandum of understanding that outlined plans for the two countries to share experiences and provide mutual assistance in the training of anti-corruption personnel. Phuc praised the agreement and stressed that Viet Nam would continue to create and encourage favourable conditions for cooperative programmes between the two agencies.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 09/22/2012

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BANGLADESH: Govt Urged to Raise FFs Children's Age Limit for Public Service Entry

Amra Muktijoddhar Shontan, a platform of the children of freedom fighters, in a statement on Monday demanded that the government increase the age limit for the children of freedom fighters to get access to the public job to 35 instead of 32. The organisation also welcomed the decision of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Administration to increase the age limit for the commoners to public job to 32 from 30. In the statement, Amra Muktijoddhar Shontan (AMS) President Sajjad Hossain and General Secretary Rasheduzzaman Shahin said that the government had decided to increase the age limit of children of freedom fighters for (FF) entrance to the pubic service from 30 to 32 considering the supreme sacrifice of the FFs during the country's Liberation War in 1971. However, with the passage of time, the standard of living has improved and the average life expectancy too increased, they said, adding "But the children of the freedom fighters were deprived of jobs in the past. So it is very logical to increase the age limit of the children of freedom fighters."

From http://www.unbconnect.com/ 09/03/2012

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PM Reshuffles Cabinet; Distributes Portfolios Among New Ministers

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday reshuffled the cabinet swapping portfolios of some ministers and distributing ministries among the newly inducted ministers and state ministers. Shahara Khatun was removed from the Home Ministry and given the responsibility of Posts and Telecommunications Ministry. Newly appointed minister Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir replaced Shahara. Rajiuddin Ahmed Razu was made Labour Minister, while Engineer Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain will now look after the Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry. Abul Kalam Azad's wider responsibilities got the axe as information ministry went to new minister Hasanul Haque Inu. Azad is now the Minister for Cultural Affairs only. Communications Minister Obaidul Quader was relieved of his additional charge of Railways Ministry as it went to new minister Mujibul Haque. Dr Abdur Razzak will take care of the Food Ministry only as new minister Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali was entrusted with the responsibility of Relief and Disaster Management Ministry. Mostofa Faruq Mohammad was made Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Minister, which was earlier taken care of by Yeafesh Osman after the resignation of Syed Abul Hossain. New state minister Omar Faruk Chowdhury was made the deputy of Industries Minister Dilip Barua while Md Abdul Hai was made junior minister for Fisheries. The cabinet of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was expanded on Thursday in a year since last November, that also in the fourth year of the AL-led grand alliance government, with the swearing in of five new ministers and two state ministers.

The new faces who took oath as ministers are Awami League stalwart Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) president Hasanul Haque Inu, Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali, Mostofa Faruq Mohammad and Parliament Whip Mujibul Haque. Rajshahi district AL general secretary Omar Faruq Chowdhury MP (Rajshahi) and AL lawmaker Md Abdul Hai (Jhenidah) took oath as state ministers. With the latest additions, the number of the cabinet has now increased to 52 from 45. Earlier, on November 28 last year, Awami League stalwarts Suranjit Sengupta and Obaidul Quader took oath as ministers. State Minister Hasan Mahmud also took oath as a full minister on that day. On December 5 last year, the government replaced Syed Abul Hossain with newly sworn-in Obaidul Quader as the Communications Minister in a major reshuffle in the cabinet. Syed Abul Hossain was given the charge of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) splitting the Ministry of Science and ICT headed by State Minister Yeafesh Osman. Later, on July 23, Syed Abul Hossain resigned as the ICT Minister due to World Bank pressure on the government in connection with the perceived Padma Bridge scam. Veteran Awami League leader Suranjit Sengupta had been given the charge of the Ministry of Railways, which earlier used to be a wing of the Communications Ministry. In another significant change, Commerce Minister Mohammad Faruk Khan and Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister GM Quader swapped their portfolios.

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 09/15/2012

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Tackling Corruption in Bangladesh

Corruption is an everyday burden in Bangladesh. Perceptions, as well as public experiences of corruption are high in the country, with 66 percent of the population reporting that they have had to pay a bribe to access basic services in the last 12 months, and 46 per cent believing that corruption has increased. Bangladesh ranks 120th place with a score of 2.7 in Transparency International's 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, tied with Ecuador, Iran and Kazakhstan. Corruption was perceived to be greatest in institutions that interact with the public: the police and public officials. This is worrisome, because corruption hits the poorest people hardest. Out of a population of 148.7 million, around a third of Bangladeshis live under the poverty line. TI-Bangladesh: engaging people in the corruption fight "94 per cent of people in Bangladesh agree that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption." Since its establishment in 1996, Transparency International Bangladesh has actively campaigned against corruption in both the public and the private spheres of society.

In fulfilling its mission to "catalyze and strengthen a participatory social movement to promote and develop institutions, laws and practices for combating corruption in Bangladesh", TI-Bangladesh has created numerous civic engagement initiatives:
Committee of Concerned Citizens (CCC) is a series of local-level watchdog forums speaking up against corruption. The CCCs bring together driven individuals who are committed to inform, motivate, mobilize citizens and provide leadership in the growing social movement against corruption.
Youth Engagement & Support (YES): through engaging young people, the movement provides them with a way of raising voices against corruption.
The Integrity Pledge: introduced by TI-Bangladesh, this initiative is a voluntary pledge made by local-level public representatives, officials and service providers to promote transparency and accountability in the delivery of services in vital sectors such as education, health and local government. By ensuring people's participation in the planning, design, budgeting, implementation and monitoring process of service delivery, we can significantly improve integrity, transparency and accountability.

Our chapter in action
On June 2, TI-Bangladesh organized a two-day national convention on "Youth in Anti-corruption Movement: Achievement and Challenges", where it was highlighted that people's collective courage is vital in fighting corruption. Sultana Kamal, chairman of the TI-Bangladesh trustee board, said that "every citizen is obliged to take his or her stance against corruption, as the responsibility for corruption and rights violation committed through the state machinery eventually lies with the people". On April 9 TI-Bangladesh organised a discussion on the challenges of good governance in the use of climate funds. On December 9, International Anti-Corruption Day was celebrated in Bangladesh through public rallies in many Bangladeshi cities, where people wearing identical green T-shirts demanded good governance and effective control of corruption.

From http://www.transparency.org/ 09/18/2012

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INDIA: Ghana to Begin Pilot e-Procurement System Implementations

Dr Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, has asked the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) to design and pursue innovative strategies that would aid the state to derive value for money in its procurement processes. He said to achieve significant headway by way of socio-economic development, conscious efforts must be made to improve public procurement. Dr Duffuor made the call in an address read for him at the fifth public forum, organized by the PPA in Kumasi, on Thursday. "Consolidating the gains of Ghana's public procurement reforms through innovative approaches" was the theme. Dr Duffuor said the importance of robust public procurement system could not be over emphasized and that value for money should not be compromised at any level.He called for transparency, saying, without that the benefit of efficient public procurement would be elusive. The Minister urged the PPA to speed up processes towards the amendment of the current procurement law, Act 663, to tackle challenges in its implementation. Mr Samuel Sallas-Mensah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Authority, said the Swiss government has offered a $2.7 million grant to the PPA to help introduce the principles of sustainability into Ghana's public procurement processes. The three-year project is aimed at the effective incorporation of environmental, social and economic considerations into public procurement activities. He said a taskforce with wide representation of key stakeholder groups, had been formed to implement the Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) project. Mr Sallas-Mensah said they had already commenced processes to implement a pilot e-procurement system in the Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company, COCOBOD, the Finance and Economic Planning Ministry, Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Department of Feeder Roads by the end of this year. The goal is to increase transparency in the tendering process, improve coordination between government ministries and agencies to develop uniform standards and enhance competition between private sector firms for public contracts. Commodore Steve Obimpeh (Retired), Chairman of PPA, said the discovery of oil and gas places enormous challenge on government to initiate and adopt efficient and sustainable procurement system to reduce corruption.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 08/24/2012

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Abdush Shahid Remembered, Govt Yet to Fulfil Commitment

People attend a commemorative meeting on comrade Abdus Shahid at the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka on Saturday. - New Age photoPoliticians and academics on Saturday at a commemoration meeting said that leftist politician Abdush Shahid worked lifelong to establish an oppression-free democratic society. They expressed their bitterness at the demolition of his house in the capital and the non-fulfilment of the commitment of giving compensation to his family members. The Abdush Shahid Sangsad organised the discussion meeting in the Liberation War Museum's auditorium to mark the 16th death anniversary of politician, journalist and writer Abdush Shahid. Veteran journalist and cultural activist Kamal Lohani, who chaired the discussion, said that our governments have always deprived the real social workers who worked lifelong for the people's welfare. He called on the youths to remember personalities like Shahid who had sacrificed their lives for the common people. Anu Muhammad, Jahangirnagar University's teacher and economist, said that Abdush Shahid was a hero of the anti-British movement and had continued his struggles against the Pakistan regimes. He was wounded in the Khapra Ward killing in the Rajshahi Jail in 1950 where several leftist activists were shot dead by the police. 'We must apprise the youths of the selfless roles played by political and social workers like Abdush Shahid,' said Anu. MM Akash, Dhaka University's teacher and economist, called on the Awami League-led government to fulfil the commitment of compensation to Shahid's family. He urged the government to name the road which was made after demolishing his house Abdush Shahid Road. 'We have done little for the welfare of Abdush Shahid's family,' said Akash. Women's leader and academic Maleka Begum said that implementing the ideals of Shahid would be the best way to show respect to him. Tania Shahid, general secretary of the Sangsad and daughter of Abdush Shahid, said that the government had made a firm commitment to give their family a Rajuk plot and a flat at cheap price, but had done nothing yet. Dhaka University's teacher Dalim Chandra Barman, politicians Ruhin Hossain Prince and Shahidul Islam Sobuj, writer Kazi Mohammad Shish, Joynal Abedin, Razia Shahid, Abdush Shahid's wife, and Jaya Shahid, another daughter, also addressed the audience. Abdush Shahid was the author of 'Karasmriti', autobiography 'Akmakatha' and some other books. The discussion was followed by a cultural function.

From http://www.newagebd.com/ 09/09/2012

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Govt to Reduce Size of Sonali Bank Board

The government has decided to reduce the size of the beleaguered Sonali Bank's board of directors by retaining the directorship of only three existing members of the board, said officials. Quazi Baharul Islam, who is chairman of the 11-member board, will lead the skeleton board along with additional secretary Shahid Ullah Mia and chartered accountant ASM Nayeem, as per the government's decision to re-organise the board. Excepting one director's tenure, that of seven directors of the controversial board will automatically expire today (Sunday), the last day of the three-year tenure of the board. The directors who were political appointees of the ruling party are Anwar Shahid, KM Zaman Romel, Kasem Humayun, Shaimum Sarwar Kamal, Sattayendra Chandra Bhakta, Jannat Ara Henry and Pradip Kumar Dutta. The tenure of Subhas Chandra Singho Roy is scheduled to expire on September 13, said finance ministry officials. Subhas told New Age on Saturday that he would comply with any directives of the finance ministry. He, however, thinks he might not face the fate of other directors. 'I still have five days in hand,' he said, adding that he is expected to attend the first meeting of the reconstituted board this week. The Bangladesh Bank has asked the Ministry of Finance to reconstitute the board for its failure to check the misappropriation of a huge amount of money by the Hallmark Group and its five associated companies from the Sonali Bank's Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch. Finance minister AMA Muhith criticized the Bangladesh Bank for suggesting the recasting of the board of directors, saying that it had failed to perform its duty to monitor the activities of the commercial banks. Finance ministry officials said they could not reconstitute the board entirely in line with BB's suggestion due to technical reasons. They pointed out they have to rely on some of existing directors to assist the bank's managing director. Besides, reconstitution of the board will be delayed as Muhith is scheduled to go to China to attend an international economic conference from today (Sunday). He is scheduled to return on September 19, and until then any new decision with regard to the Sonali Bank is unlikely.

Moreover, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the concerned authorities to 'go slow' in the reconstitution of Sonali Bank's board, said sources. Sonali Bank's Hallmark scam triggered widespread debate in the public domain after it hogged the headlines of all the major dailies. There was uproar in the Jatiya Sangad and the treasury bench members on Thursday demanded a proper inquiry into the biggest scam in the country so far. Sonali Bank and the Ministry of Finance have already started departmental action against 31 banks officials, including two deputy managing directors, but they could not do anything effective to recover the money and arrest the Hallmark Group's managing director, Tanvir Mahmud. The Anti-Corruption Commission has launched an enquiry at the request of the Sonali Bank. It has already found out that at least 30 more local and foreign public and private banks are linked with the huge Hallmark Group scam. The 30 banks involved in illegal transaction of money include the Janata Bank, Agrani Bank, Rupali Bank, Uttara Bank, Shahjalal Islami Bank, Jamuna Bank, Al Arafah Islami Bank, Prime Bank, Bank Al Falah, Islamic Bank Bangladesh, Southeast Bank, National Credit and Commerce Bank, United Commercial Bank, One Bank, National Bank of Pakistan, State Bank of India, BRAC Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, Mercantile Bank, Premier Bank, City Bank, Social Islamic Bank, National Bank, IFIC Bank and EXIM Bank.

From http://www.newagebd.com/ 09/09/2012

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PAKISTAN: Govt to Set Up Control Room to Monitor Web

The government on Friday decided to establish a control room under the supervision of PTA director, which will monitor round the clock and immediately block any anti-Islam and obscene material on the Web. Interior Minister Rehman Malik chaired a high-level meeting, which was attended by interior secretary, IT secretary, PTA chairman, Ministry of Interior additional secretary, FIA director and other senior officers of the two ministries. The meeting reviewed the available content on web pages in the context of a film that sparked riots across the Islamic world. The meeting was told that so far PTA and IT Ministry had blocked 122 anti-Islamic attacks through websites in Pakistan. Member (legal) Ministry of IT would head a team while Member (technical) TA, DG S&D, PTA and FIA director would be its members, which will carry out round-the-clock monitoring of all such sites and take remedial actions. The meeting hoped that all web designers, web sites and social media would refrain from planting any such material which might hurt the feelings of Muslims. General public was appealed that any such material on the Web must be reported immediately to the PTA.

It was clarified that neither Youtube nor Facebook was blocked in the country. While discussing the issue of blocking pre-paid SIMs, the meeting noted that there were 24 million mobile SIMs which were blocked on the recommendations of the Ministry of Interior and that nobody had claimed seven million mobile SIMs as they were either stolen or issued on fake IDs. Increase in mobile phone sets with replicated IMEI numbers was also noticed and in this connection, FBR was directed to block the import of any such mobile phones. It was proposed that use of stolen mobile phones would be made non-bailable offence with seven years of imprisonment. The meeting also decided to resubmit in parliament the already expired Cyber Agreement Ordinance. Separately, the interior minister reviewed fire fighting and safety measures in Islamabad. It was noted with great concern that building owners were not fully cooperating with the authorities for implementing the said laws and hence proper evaluation of certain buildings was not possible, especially the internal safety of the buildings. The Islamabad district magistrate was asked to immediately issue a binding provision under section 144 to allow the concerned authorities from the fire branch of the CDA and Islamabad administration to have proper survey done as per the international standards. It was also noted that 50 percent of the fire incidents had taken place because of substandard electric wiring, hence it was made compulsory for buildings and houses in Islamabad to get certificate for satisfactory electric wiring material. The interior secretary was directed to have the draft legislation (Amendment) whereby the violation of safety procedure shall be punishable for three years with Rs 0.5 million fine or ceasing of property. The Islamabad chief commissioner was directed to appoint an electrical inspector who would be responsible to issue certificate about the quality of the electric wiring.

From http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/ 09/15/2012

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ARMENIA: Education Minister - Corruption Risks Major Problem for System

PanARMENIAN.Net - Corruption risks represent a major problem for the university system, Armenian Minister of Education and Science said. "The Education Ministry's anti-corruption program aims to minimize these risks. However, the low effectiveness is explained by the students' inability to acknowledge the need for high-quality education," Armen Ashotyan said, adding that the ministry is already developing 2012-2013 strategy aiming to speed up countering of corruption risks. Dwelling on the education institutions, particularly funding mechanisms of schools and universities, Minister Ashotyan noted that a competitive fund will be set up, with the best university projects to receive state funding.

From http://www.panarmenian.net/ 09/19/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: To Open New Taxpayer Service Centers by Late 2012

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Taxes will provide the country with taxpayer service centers by 2013, head of taxpayer service centers under the ministry Elchin Mammadov told media today. "The ministry will create taxpayer service centers by 2013 in all areas of the country where there are no administrative buildings," he said. "The buildings for these centers will be built or leased." He said that 34 centers operate in the country now. Over 55 new centers are planned.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/20/2012

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IRAN: Executive Bodies Obliged to Set Up Cyber Rescue Units

The Iranian administration has obliged all the executive bodies to set up special computer-based units to counter cyber attacks. Iranian Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Reza Taqipour told the Fars news agency that a national center to coordinate the cyber rescue units among the executive organizations. In recent years, Iran has been the target of several major cyber attacks, which have successfully been repelled. In September 2010, it was reported that the Stuxnet worm, which is capable of taking over power plants, had infected some industrial sites in Iran. In April 2011, Iranian officials announced that the country had been targeted by a new computer worm named Stars. Later, news agencies reported that another computer worm named Duqu had targeted some Iranian organizations and companies. On May 28, Reuters reported that security experts had discovered a new data-stealing spyware virus dubbed Flame that had lurked inside thousands of computers in several Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, for as long as five years as part of a sophisticated cyber warfare campaign.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/14/2012

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Kazakhstan, UNDP Discuss Effectiveness Increase of Government Institutions

Kazakh Economic Development and Trade Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev met with UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan Stephen Tull. Tull expressed gratitude for the Ministry's cooperation with the UNDP in the project "Strengthening of accountable public management to accelerate the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals in Kazakhstan", launched in 2011. The purpose of the project is to support the initiatives of the government of Kazakhstan to strengthen public accountability, increase the effectiveness of government and create conditions for the participation of civil society in the evaluation of public bodies. During the meeting they discussed the planned joint projects related to improved delivery and assessment of the quality of public services and other areas of cooperation in the framework of the UNDP and UN agencies in general.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/07/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Labor Sticks to Its Surplus Commitment

JULIA Gillard has reaffirmed the government's commitment to delivering a surplus as the opposition seized on recent big spending policy commitments to claim Labor had billions of dollars of unfunded election commitments. But as the opposition's question time attack moved from the carbon tax to the economy, Treasurer Wayne Swan seized on ratings agency Standard and Poor's decision to maintain a AAA credit rating as evidence of the government's fiscal credentials.

From The Australian 09/20/2012

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FIJI: Constitution Process Hailed Good for Economy

Fiji's constitution consultation process is good for the economy and faster economic growth can be expected in the coming months, says economist Doctor Biman Prasad. Dr Prasad said the process has instilled investor confidence in Fiji and with the elections scheduled for 2014, more positive economic growth is to be expected. "I think one can safely say that certain amount of confidence has been created as a result of the start of the Constitution Commission process," Dr Prasad said. "I think the appointment of the Commission led by Professor Yash Ghai has given the confidence not only to the people of the country and those who are participating in the process, but it has given a certain degree of confidence to the international community." Dr Prasad said the economic forecast for Fiji was very positive. "This is good for the economy and the expectation for the future is better. The expectation is that there will be elections in 2014 and people would be able to participate freely, a Government under the new Constitution that gives a lot of confidence to investors."

Dr Prasad said a lot of change could be expected in a short period. "I am positive that come 2014 we would have made some progress in the economy and one should expect better growth in 2013 and beginning of 2014, although it could still be somewhere around two per cent. The foundation for better growth beyond 2014 can be laid in the next two years and a lot of this has to do with how the Constitution making process progresses. "If we are able to get a new Constitution done and approved by the first quarter of 2013, which is what the plan is, I think we would have created a very solid foundation for the growth of the economy beyond that," Dr Prasad said.

From http://www.pina.com.fj/ 09/17/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: PM Must Make Most of His Opening Act

It's important Prime Minister John Key makes the most of his opportunity as the first political leader to speak to the APEC Summit to push out the boundaries on free trade. New Zealand will already be on the informal agenda at this year's high-profile meeting of Asia Pacific leaders by the time Key and his entourage reach Russky Island. There is keen interest in international trade circles in the pending candidacy of NZ Trade Minister Tim Groser for the top job at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Groser will not be openly pursuing the WTO objective of being selected as the next head of the organisation. The formal campaign is unlikely to be launched until he has sufficient shows of support from leading trade ministers. The expected announcement of Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard as the next head of the Singapore-based APEC secretariat will also add to New Zealand's cachet and deserved reputation as a key interlocutor in international trade and progressive force in the process of regional economic integration, which is the sub-text to 21st century-style free trade.

It now seems unlikely Key will be able to witness the signing of another historic New Zealand free trade deal - this time with Russia - at the Vladivostok APEC. The Russian embassy lowered expectations on this score on Monday. But while Key now seems unlikely to be photographed side-by-side with President Vladimir Putin witnessing Russia's first bilateral FTA - at the very least he is likely to leave his meeting with Putin with a renewed commitment from the Russian president. Where Key will get the opportunity to make a splash is at the prestigious CEOs summit as one of four speakers at the opening panel on "Economic integration: Benefits and unintended consequences." He is the only political leader on this panel. While Key is relatively small fry compared with Putin, outgoing Chinese president Hu Jintao and Indonesia's Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - the mere fact that he is on at the beginning of the programme means that other leaders and their officials will have an opportunity to consider his words before the main business of Apec gets under way.

The key question is whether the PM will play-in some key messages for Apec political leaders to consider when they hold their retreat - or take the anodyne route which tends to be favoured by NZ's foreign affairs officials. A newsletter spruiking the summit promotes Key's intentions. "With the Asia-Pacific becoming the engine for global economic growth, the success of our businesses and the overall wellbeing of our people will depend on our ability to make the most of the opportunities to improve trade and investment ties. "We can do this through regional trade agreements, Apec, and, of course the WTO - I look forward to discussing these issues with the participants of the CEO Summit in Vladivostok." With Russia having just recently made its debut at the WTO - and wanting to see some quick results to justify the internal disharmony caused by lowering domestic trade barriers - the time is opportune to focus attention on the need to get the Doha Round done.

Other panel participants include Igor Shuvalov, who is the first deputy PM of the Russian Federation, PWC International chairman Dennis Nally and International Paper boss John Faraci who spent time in NZ as CEO of Carter Holt Harvey when it was within his company's stable. The PM's role will be to marry the lofty officialese that passes for communication in such fora, with business cut-through. He will also have to balance the TPP agenda (which is largely seen now as being driven by the US) with that of the emerging Asian free trade bloc. At some point these blocs will need to converge. This is a difficult balancing act. But frankly there is little point in Key pulling his punches. At these summits, blunt, forceful and impassioned messages - sprinkled with compelling soundbites - make it into the international reportage.

On his arrival Key will also be briefed by Groser on the backstory to the Russian talks. The Trade Minister met his Russian counterpart in Cambodia at another regional fora last week. Before he left, Groser said he was ready to go at short notice to Moscow for further talks if the Russians indicated they wanted to break through the knotty issues around agriculture liberalisation in time for the Putin-Key meeting. Russia already has a large dairy industry. It wants technology transfer as a quid pro quo for liberalising its domestic market. The APEC CEO affairs are usually dominated by wall-to-wall suits (and high-priced Armani at that) and are uniformly male. But the organisers have gone out of their way to include a considerable number of female panelists and moderators in this year's lineup.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/05/2012

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Govt to Review Earthquake Commission

It is hoped a review of the Earthquake Commission will draw on the lessons learned following the Canterbury Earthquakes. The Government has confirmed it will review the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 and report back on changes to the act next year. Finance Minister Bill English and the Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee today announced the review will be led by Treasury, which will establish a cross-agency group to oversee the review. It will include representatives from the Treasury, the Reserve Bank, the Earthquake Commission, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment and an independent policy expert yet to be appointed. Mr Brownlee said the bill will look at what types of property EQC insures, including the structure and extent of EQC cover, how EQC prices its insurance, the institutional structure and design of the EQC, including its roles, the financial management of the Crown's risk exposure and how it should be financed.

"The review is expected to be forward-looking so will not affect the processing or entitlements of current Earthquake Commission claims," Mr Brownlee says. "It is not intended to provide a management audit of the commission's performance in Canterbury. Having the EQC cover has meant that through the multiple seismic events, insurance cover has been maintained for existing homes. Our high level of insurance penetration means that the economic burden of the recovery is well funded." More than 10,000 earthquakes and aftershocks have been recorded in the Canterbury region since the 7.1 magnitude earthquake on 4 September 2010.

Mr English said the Canterbury earthquakes were the most significant test of the EQC model since its inception. "In light of the lessons learned from the earthquakes, the Government will review disaster insurance arrangements to look at where changes to existing policy settings are desirable." EQC received over 414,000 building claims and over 93,000 land claims. It has paid out over $3.3 billion and its total claims expense for the Canterbury earthquakes is estimated at around $12.2 billion. The review will consult industry and key stakeholders, and release a public discussion document in March 2013, inviting comment on proposed changes to the Earthquake Commission Act. The Government intends to introduce resulting legislative amendments later in 2013.

Objectives of the review:
- Support the contribution of a well-functioning insurance industry to economic growth opportunities in New Zealand.
- Minimise the fiscal risk to the Crown associated with private property damage in natural disasters.
- Support an efficient approach to the overall management of natural disaster risk and recovery.
- Minimise the potential for property owners to experience socially-unacceptable distress and loss in the event of a natural disaster.

From http://nzherald.co.nz/ 09/18/2012

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Reforms to Help Beneficiaries Out of 'Trap'

The Government's latest welfare reforms will help get people out of the "trap" of benefit dependency, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says. The second bill in the Government's two-stage welfare reforms, signed off by Cabinet yesterday, will reduce the number of benefit categories, make benefits more work-focused, introduce expectations for partners of beneficiaries and make beneficiaries prepare for work. Ms Bennett this morning said the bill was about changing the expectations and support people could get on benefits. She told Radio New Zealand the safety net had over time "become a bit of a trap for quite a few people". "Some 161,000 people had been on benefits for at least five of the last 10 years, including 139,000 people who had been on benefits for at least 10 years. That sounds to me like it's trapping them there and not giving them the kind of opportunities that they need, so changing those will make a big difference for them."

Ms Bennett acknowledged there were some new requirements - such as enrolling children with a GP and in early childhood education - but only where those were available. "If there are barriers that we can help them break down, we will do that. But if there's real barriers and they aren't able to, then we certainly acknowledge that as well." The Government had pumped millions in health and education to make them more accessible. "It's growing all the time ... so if we can get them in, if we can give them the kind of help that they need, then I think that will make a big difference." Ms Bennett said case managers had quite clear criteria but there was some discretion when there needed to be. Most of the bill's changes were previously flagged but an unexpected move is the cancellation of benefits for anyone who turns down an offer of "suitable employment" - with a 13 week stand-down period before they could apply again. Beneficiary advocate Kay Brereton said the move was "harsh".

"It could be quite huge because I have seen people turning down jobs for really good reasons and having their benefit sanctioned as a result," she said. The existing penalty is a 50 per cent cut for four weeks, reaching 100 per cent for single people only if they do not accept a job offer within the four weeks. The maximum cut will remain 50 per cent for beneficiaries with children. Suitable employment is defined as any job that is "suitable for the person to undertake for a number of hours a week that is at least the employment required to satisfy the work test for that person". That is 20 to 40 hours a week for anyone expected to work fulltime, or 10 to 20 hours for people, such as sole parents with children aged 5 to 13, and those whose work capacity is limited by sickness. Most other measures in the 143-page bill have already been signalled. Seven existing categories will be changed to three: Jobseeker Support for those expected to seek work, Sole Parent Support for single parents with children under 14, and a Supported Living Payment for those with disabilities that will prevent them from ever working. Apart from penalties, the only groups that will face an actual benefit cut are widows and women alone with no dependent children. The widows' benefit, now $213.49 a week, will disappear next July and widows without dependent children will go on to Jobseeker Support at $204.96, a cut of $8.53 a week. Widows and women alone who are already on the benefit on July 15 next year will be "grandparented" on their present terms and conditions.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/18/2012

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Former PM Eager to Fight Corruption in Province

New Ireland Governor and former Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan is calling on the national government's anti-corruption team, the Task Force Sweep to work with his provincial government to weed out corruption. The call was made following the establishment of a New Ireland election sweep team to crackdown on candidates who continuously provided deliberate misinformation to the public and slandered their opponents in the 2012 general election. In a recent inaugural address to the 22nd provincial assembly, the former prime minister told assembly members the recent election was a disappointment in some ways. "I am saddened at the behaviour of many of the candidates who continuously provided deliberate misinformation to the public and slandered their opponents," Sir Julius said. "I have established by PEC decision No: 80 dated Aug 24, a New Ireland election sweep team - with a view to engage an independent investigator that will weigh complaints and allegations of wrongdoing during the election."

In support of provincial administrator Monovi Amani's recent outburst on the issue, Sir Julius said: "We cannot allow these corrupt practices to go unpunished. "A full investigation will make sure that the basic trust of the people in the electoral process is preserved and not abused." In his state of the nation address, Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said his government was "serious about stamping out corruption at all levels and all sectors of our nation". "No entity, including persons involved in corrupt practices in both the public and private sector, will be spared in this anti-corruption operation." As much as the government is critical of establishing the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) and the anti-corruption programme, Sir Julius welcomed the move.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 09/20/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Parliament Opens Its Doors to the Public for a Week in October

The Solomon Islands Parliament plans to open its doors to members of the public for a week in October. Open Week, from 8-12 October is the first of its kind for the National Parliament as every year Parliament only hosts an Open Day. An organising committee consisting of the Heads of Departments and staff of Parliament has been working around the clock to ensure all facilities and resources are ready before the date to showcase and allow people to come and see, hear and learn about Parliament. The National Parliament Office sees the event as an important opportunity for the staff of Parliament to take Parliament to the people. It says this will also be an opportunity where people can directly interact with staff of the National Parliament and Parliament Members who will be there to answer questions. This year's event will be organized under the banner: "Herem, Lukim and Save lo Parliament blo iumi".

From http://www.pina.com.fj/ 09/19/2012

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UNDP Offers Six-Point Plan to Fast-Track Women in Politics in Asia-Pacific

It will take 50 years for gender balance to be achieved in Asia-Pacific national legislatures if the increase in women's participation in parliaments remains at the current pace, says a UN Development Programme (UNDP) study released this week. Economic progress will be limited without equal opportunity for men and women to influence political and economic decision-making, according to the report, which offers a six-step action plan to fast-track women into politics. Globally, women hold slightly less than 20 percent of seats in parliament. In Asia-Pacific, just over 18 percent of all members of national parliaments are women. Women's representation in the Pacific, excluding Australia and New Zealand, is the lowest in the world, lagging behind the Arab region. On average, women are less than 10 percent of ministers in Asia-Pacific, according to the UNDP study.

The recommendations in Gender Equality in Elected Office in Asia-Pacific: Six Actions to Expand Women's Empowerment offer multiple policies to speed up gender equality. As every country has its own specific social, political, economic and historical circumstances no single approach will work, but the approaches outlined in the study have the advantage of being able to be individually tailored for each specific national context. The study was launched today as part of a two-day UNDP meeting on its governance and gender programmes in Asia. "A political system where half the population does not fully participate limits the opportunity for men and women to influence and benefit from political and economic decisions," says Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Director of UNDP's Democratic Governance Group. There are glimmers of change in Asia-Pacific. At the recently concluded Pacific Islands Forum, Australia's first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard recently pledged considerable funds to raise the status of women in the Pacific Islands. Thailand's first female Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is also committed to developing the role of women in her country. The government recently set up Thai Women Empowerment Funds to create jobs and activities for local women to assist them to participate in politics and administration.

The leading countries in the region for women's membership into parliament are New Zealand and Nepal, where women are one-third of all members of parliament. Women are more than one-quarter of parliamentarians in Afghanistan, Australia, Laos, Timor-Leste and Vietnam, according to the report. The report examines a range of institutional reforms which can contribute towards gender equality in elected office. Such topics as gender quotas or increased financing to assist women running for office are addressed, but as the lead author of the report, Pippa Norris, says, "It is not just a simple formula of add women and stir. There are many other windows of opportunities for countries to improve the situation of women in politics."

The six-step action plan suggests a range of options to increase women's political participation, including:
@ Constitutional reform includes expanding rights to vote and to hold public office, removing any residual forms of sex discrimination. Constitutions can also incorporate positive action provisions, including specifying reserved seats or the requirement for legal quotas.
@ Electoral, campaign finance, and party laws regulate the nomination, campaigning, and election process for entering parliaments. The study demonstrates that countries using proportional representation party lists and mixed electoral systems included on average more women in their lower house of parliament.
@ Reserved seats and legal gender quotas are a related strategy which has been carried out during the last decade in almost a dozen Asia-Pacific nations. Overall the study demonstrates that the proportion of women elected to parliament during the last decade rose at a faster pace in Asia-Pacific countries which had implemented legal gender quotas compared with those which had not used these measures.
@ Party selection rules and nomination procedures are also vital for achieving gender balance in elected office. The design and implementation of party quotas varies across and within countries, for example in their target levels, how far there is rank ordering on party lists, and how far formal rules are respected in practice.
@ Capacity development policies and programmes, especially by civil society organizations working outside of parties, involving equal opportunity initiatives, have been widely used. These can include candidate training, induction and mentoring programmes, recruitment initiatives, and awareness campaigns to counter stereotyping of candidates according to their gender.

Gender-sensitive rules and procedures in elected bodies will help women candidates to do their jobs once in office. Gender issues should be integrated into all parliamentary committees, debates, action plans, commissions, report and legislation to make sure that there are equal opportunities for women and men members.

From http://www.pina.com.fj/ 09/21/2012

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Good Governance and Leadership Is Our Issue Too

Young leaders said they need to be included in efforts for good governance and leadership in the Pacific, as the Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference closed today at the Commonwealth Youth Programme Regional Centre. 3 out of 5 Pacific islanders are young people (15-29 years old) but they are often sidelined in decision-making. Good governance and leadership projects and initiatives often do not include youth but focus on older bureaucrats and politicians. In an upcoming outcomes statement from the conference, young leaders said governments, regional organisations, donors and non-government organisations needed to include young people in decision-making and leadership roles, as they are 60% of the Pacific population. Young people from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Marshall Islands, Niue, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu drafted the call for change to have young people represented and active in decision-making forums.

The Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference participants called for:
• Youth Ministry focal points, national youth councils and young people to engage to address constraints to youth participation in decision making
• Effective partnerships with young leaders in country and across the Pacific
• Governments and regional agencies to create meaningful and relevant opportunities to have a place in decision making at all levels
• Agencies and donors to partner with young leaders to develop a coordinated approach to foster good governance and leadership at the local, national and regional levels throughout the Pacific

The young leaders expressed appreciation for regional agencies, which provide young leaders with expert advice and mentoring and funding support. They thanked the Commonwealth Youth Programme, Commonwealth Pacific Governance Facility, Pacific Leadership Programme, United Nations Development Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, International Labour Organization and Oceania Football Confederation for providing funding to attend this week's conference. Young leaders also said it was important to recognise leaders are not just elected politicians or powerful officials but are in civil society, where youth are very active. Young leaders said in the outcomes statement: "Sport is an effective development tool for building stronger communities for sustainable social and human development in the Pacific. Arts culture and religion contribute to the personal development of young people in the Pacific. Young leaders recognise the importance of being involved in high level decision making to ensure that youth concerns are recognised in development strategies. Young leaders call for more capacity building opportunities designed to build the leadership skills such as youth parliaments, youth summits, youth councils and analogous."

As the Duke of Cambridge said on Monday in his speech to the conference organised by the Commonwealth Youth Programme, young leaders are heirs and successors for the Commonwealth. They are also important leaders today, spearheading programmes and activities in their communities to tackle key social issues. Another outcome from the conference will be a Youth and Leadership Manual that youth leaders can use in their work in future. The Commonwealth Pacific Youth Leadership and Integrity Conference is part of the Commonwealth Youth Programme's Pacific Centre's work to engage and empower young people (ages 15-29) and enhance their contribution to development.

From http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/ 09/22/2012

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Transparency International Urges Fair and Accountable Management of Green Climate Fund

The anti-corruption group Transparency International today urged the board of the Green Climate Fund to give citizens a much bigger voice at its meetings if the group wants to follow through on its stated goal to be 'transparent and accountable' in its efforts to guard our planet against the effects of climate change. Crucial decisions about how best to manage up to US $100 billion per year to help developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions could be made this week at the Green Climate Fund's inaugural board meeting in Geneva. "We need a balance between the urgency to achieve results and the due diligence required to protect climate money and ensure its effectiveness," said Lisa Ann Elges, Head of Climate Governance Integrity Programme at Transparency International. Civil society observers to the Green Climate Fund can contribute important knowledge, expertise and impartiality to help shape policies that are strong and tailored to people's needs. The current proposal would allow just two civil society observers to actively participate in board meetings - one from the developed world and one from the developing world - while the rest of civil society would have to monitor the process from the side lines. This presents a great challenge to achieving meaningful engagement. Transparency must also be pursued more proactively. One way would be for the board to webcast its meetings, seek as much as possible to hold open, transparent meeting discussions, and create channels for people to contribute more meaningfully to the fund's activities by exchanging information, knowledge and ideas.

From http://www.transparency.org/ 08/22/2012

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IDC Study Shows Increased Awareness and Adoption of Storage Efficiency Technologies

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., August 23, 2012 - The rapid increase in the amount of digital data that needs to be stored is pressuring organizations to increase capital expenditures associated with the acquisition of storage capacity and operating expenses associated with management of this capacity. At the same time, economic issues are hindering these organizations' ability to increase budgets to meet the growing demand for storage. The resulting deadlock has paved the way for the adoption of various technologies that help increase utilization of existing storage resources and optimize the amount of data that needs to be stored. The new International Data Corporation (IDC) Special Study, The Economic Benefit of Storage Efficiency Technologies (IDC #236221), analyzes the results of a United States-based survey of 500 storage end users that currently deploy or plan to deploy storage and/or data efficiency technologies in their datacenters as well as the benefits these users were able to gain as a result of implementing these technologies. Technologies covered by this study include thin provisioning, storage virtualization, storage tiering, data compression, data deduplication, and thin replication.

Key findings in the study include:
Adoption of storage and data efficiency technologies typically comes in stages, starting with data compression and deduplication, followed by storage virtualization and tiering, and then by thin provisioning and replication.
It is typical that end users' savings expectations in storage spending and storage capacity as a result of implementing storage and data efficiency technologies are lower than what current users were able to recognize in the past 12 months, which suggests that future benefits might be underestimated.
Data compression and storage virtualization were identified as the two most adopted storage efficiency technologies while data deduplication was named as the most desirable storage efficiency technology for implementation in the near future.

IT organizations will continue to face pressures influencing the ongoing adoption of storage efficiency technologies. This pressure comes from an increased share of storage spending in the overall IT budget as well as an annual growth in data ranging from 40-60%."Technologies that help increase utilization of existing and new storage assets are widely welcomed by end users," said Natalya Yezhkova, research director, Storage Systems at IDC. "IDC's research shows that the increased use of storage efficiency technologies is one of the major contributing factors in the slowdown of storage capacity shipments over the past 12 months. As awareness of these technologies increases, storage vendors should be ready to deliver a variety of technologies to the whole spectrum of customers, from large businesses all the way down to small companies."

From http://www.idg.com/ 08/23/2012

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Global Internet Capacity Reaches 77Tbps Despite Slowdown

New data from TeleGeography's Global Internet Geography research reveal that international Internet capacity growth fell to the lowest pace in five years, decreasing from 68% in 2008 to 40% in 2012. While the pace of growth is slowing, international Internet bandwidth continues to grow rapidly, more than doubling between 2010 and 2012, to 77Tbps. Decelerating network capacity growth rates are mirrored in slowing rates of peak and average international Internet traffic growth. Average international internet traffic grew 35% in 2012, down from 39% in 2011, and peak traffic grew 33%, well below the 57% increase recorded in 2011. International internet traffic and capacity growth rates are declining due to a combination of factors, including slowing broadband subscriber growth in mature markets, and the expansion of content delivery networks (CDNs) and local caching technologies, which reduce the need for new long-haul capacity by storing popular content closer to the end-users. Nevertheless, the underlying drivers of bandwidth demand remain strong. Broadband penetration rates in developing markets remain modest, leaving substantial room for new subscriber growth. In more mature markets, where the pace of broadband subscriber growth has slowed, faster broadband speeds and the growing adoption of bandwidth-intensive applications, most notably online video, are spurring higher traffic volumes per user. 'With the exception of a few developing countries, the days of triple-digit annual growth rates are long past,' said TeleGeography Research Director Alan Mauldin. 'However, even with the use of CDNs and caching technologies, the compounding effect of rapid traffic growth will continue to require carriers to make considerable investments to expand network capacity.' TeleGeography's Global Internet Geography research service is a comprehensive source of data and analysis about international internet capacity, traffic, service providers, ASN connectivity, and pricing. It provides profiles of 113 backbone operators, international Internet metrics for 75 countries, and detailed transit pricing data for 41 countries.

From http://www.telegeography.com/ 09/06/2012

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Innovation: Economic Crisis and Weak Outlook Hit R&D, Says OECD

13/09/2012 - Business spending on research and development has been hit hard by the economic crisis, with nearly all OECD countries seeing a fall in investment which could impact innovation and long-term growth, according to a new OECD report. The OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outloook 2012 says that business spending on R&D fell a record 4.5% in 2009 in the OECD. Only France and Korea bucked the trend. The current weak economic recovery will likely lead to continued sluggish growth in R&D spending by firms, notably in Southern and Eastern Europe, in the foreseeable future. The outlook for France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States is also uncertain, according to the report. Spending by Asian economies, such as China, India and Korea, on the other hand continued to increase during the crisis. Year-on-year growth in R&D investment by firms in 2010 was 29.5% in China and 20.5% in Korea and India. Some sectors coped better than others. Sales declines for large high-technology firms in industries areas such as aircraft, IT hardware and medical equipment, were much lower than in medium-technology industries such as automotive manufacturers. Large software and healthcare firms also continued to increase R&D investment during the crisis.

Enterprise creation and venture capital investment have yet to return to pre-crisis levels, increasing unemployment and hurting innovation. While skilled workers have been less hard hit than low-skilled workers in the jobs crisis, long-term unemployment has risen among skilled workers, notably in Estonia, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and the United States. In fast-paced sectors such as biotechnology, aeronautics and IT, a long spell of unemployment can cause people to lose touch with the latest technologies and weaken their human capital. Low local demand and difficult financing may also accelerate the trend of companies relocating R&D and manufacturing abroad to take advantage of growing Asian markets. Government R&D spending partly offset the fall in business investment, as many governments devoted a substantial part of their stimulus packages to support R&D and innovation. Government R&D spending as a share of GDP was 0.82% in 2009, up from 0.78% in 2005. During the crisis, some countries strengthened their support for public research institutions and educational programmes, including Australia, Canada, China, Italy, Switzerland and the United States. Estonia, Germany and Sweden boosted investment in existing programmes to support innovation. The outlook for public spending on innovation varies widely across the OECD. Greece, Ireland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Spain foresee a decrease in government spending on R&D in the coming years. France, the United Kingdom and the United States expect to maintain their current spending levels. Others, including Chile, Denmark, Germany and Turkey plan to boost spending in the short-term. The report includes detailed profiles of the national innovation systems of the 34 OECD member countries, as well as of Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and South Africa.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 09/13/2012

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'Urgent Action' Needed on Clean Development Mechanism

A high-level panel has called for "urgent action" to safeguard the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) by providing extra support to under-represented developing countries and focusing on sustainable development priorities. CDM allows developing economies to earn credits for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as renewable energy production. These credits, known as Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), are equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide and can be traded globally, so that industrialised countries can meet their emission-reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. But the CDM is now under threat from a collapse in the carbon market. "The price of CERs is about two [US] dollars, down 70 per cent from a year ago," as there is far more supply than demand, said Joan MacNaughton, vice-chair of the panel and president of the Energy Institute in the United Kingdom. The panel presented its report at a CDM Executive Board meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, this week (10 September). CDM projects range from renewable energy such as wind, solar or hydropower to afforestation or fuel-switching schemes. But only one quarter of approved CDM projects currently declare their sustainable development impacts. The report recommends that more systematic monitoring and verification of sustainability is built into project proposals.

Also, developing countries are not equally equipped to monitor this impact, so the CDM Executive Board will provide funds to "designate an independent forum to do this for them," said MacNaughton, though she did not disclose the funding available. "We can help build national capacity, provide experts and best-practice examples, and train local people to ensure sustainability in developing countries," she added. Chandra Bhushan, deputy director-general of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in India, who contributed to the report, said: "The criteria [for measuring sustainability] must be specific to a project and not a blanket condition. "For example, the sustainable development criteria for a standalone industrial project to increase energy efficiency would be very different to that of a forestry project or a decentralised clean energy access project." The panel also recommends building capacity in developing countries and regions currently under-represented in the CDM, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. Two-thirds of projects are operating in China and India, and the rest in only 43 other countries. General capacity issues include a lack of infrastructure, social amenities, regulation and political stability. There are also specific CDM capacity problems in some countries, including a lack of human and political resources.

The panel's recommendations to the CDM Executive Board, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and policymakers aim to ensure "access to consultants" and to improve capacity building by standardising procedures for monitoring, as well as providing a new grant scheme to prioritise underrepresented regions, said MacNaughton. Bhushan argued that a "gold standard" mechanism should be implemented to value and price projects in terms of additional social and economic benefits, not just reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as the low price of carbon means many projects in developing countries will not happen otherwise. Another key recommendation is to revise the membership of the CDM Executive Board to include expertise and not just regional representation. Toyin Adejonwo-Osho, a lecturer in the law faculty at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, and an environmental consultant, disagreed that the panel composition needs to be revised. "The regional distribution on the panel is perfect as it is," she said. Bhushan agreed: "There should be a regional balance within any experts appointed by the CDM Executive Board, because climate change is not just a scientific issue: it is a political and social one too".

From http://www.scidev.net/ 09/14/2012

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ADB, P&G to Pilot Transforming Waste to Energy in the Philippines

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) are teaming up to explore the feasibility of building "waste-to-worth" energy plants in the Philippines that will generate up to two megawatts of power using solid waste collected from homes and businesses. "The disposal of municipal solid waste is a serious environmental and social challenge," said Jose Manuel Limjap, Investment Specialist at ADB. "This is the kind of innovative project that brings the public and private sectors together to tackle a problem seen throughout the developing world. Successfully piloting an integrated solid waste management system means it could be replicated in other parts of the world." Around 6,700 tons of solid waste is generated every day in metro Manila alone, but only 720 tons are recycled or composted. The balance is hauled to the city's dump sites, openly burned, or dumped illegally on private land, in rivers, creeks, or Manila Bay. This has led to serious environmental problems, such as air pollution and soil and groundwater contamination. The project aims to eliminate the need for landfill, as less than 1% of the waste is expected to remain after processing, and this will mostly be material that may be recycled for use in products like asphalt. ADB has approved a $385,000 technical assistance plan, equivalent to 60% of the total cost, to help determine the viability and sustainability of waste-to-energy projects. If deemed viable and sustainable, a lead waste-to-energy plant will be piloted in the Philippines by 2016. The project further aims to develop the municipal solid waste management system into a profitable and flexible business model and supply chain for the collection and treatment of municipal solid waste. If proven successful, it is hoped that the model will be replicated in other areas with such a need. P&G, a consumer goods company, is conducting these studies to further its long-term sustainability vision of having zero consumer or manufacturing waste go to landfills.

From http://www.adb.org/ 08/31/2012

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APEC: Innovation, Growth on Agenda for Vladivostok

Senior Officials from APEC's 21 member economies concluded their preparations on Monday in Vladivostok by finalizing their recommendations to Leaders and Ministers on advancing APEC's 2012 priorities to strengthen trade and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific, and reinforce the region's position as the vanguard for global growth. The 2012 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, will be held here on 8-9 September, preceded by an annual gathering of APEC Ministers on 5-6 September. During the meetings, APEC Leaders and Ministers will, in particular, consider the outcome of work on APEC's 2012 priorities to strengthen trade and investment, and regional economic integration, supply chains, food security and innovation. Setting the stage, APEC Senior Officials evaluated APEC's key achievements for this year, including the progress it has made on fulfilling Leaders' instructions to develop in 2012 an APEC list of environmental goods that directly and positively contribute to sustainable development. "APEC members and stakeholders have continued to intensively work on 'next generation' trade and investment issues to produce a set of specific and tangible deliverables for 2012," said APEC 2012 SOM Chair Igor Morgulov who is Russia's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"The results are crucial to improving opportunities for businesses and workers by facilitating global supply chains, assisting small and medium enterprises and promoting effective, non-discriminatory, and market-driven innovation policy." APEC Senior Officials additionally reached consensus on measures to further strengthen transparency in trade agreements and implement a more systematic approach to supply chain chokepoints. "Work on these issues drives APEC toward regional economic integration and contributes to building a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific," Morgulov said. "Equally important, these actions also promote good regulatory practices to expand trade and foster an environment that supports increased productivity and growth to help get the global economy back on track," he added. Updated tracking data reaffirms the value of such efforts. According to a new economic policy report that was presented to APEC Senior Officials, member economies improved the ease of doing business in the region by 8.2 percent in 2011, exceeding the five percent target for the year and keeping on track to meet the goal of a 25 percent improvement by 2015.

From http://www.apec.org/ 09/03/2012

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Microsoft's $300,000 Grants Kicks Off ICT Training for 20,000 Young Entrepreneurs in ASEAN Countries

The youth unemployment rate in Asia is an important matter for all generations. The International Labor Organization has released a study entitled "Global Employment Outlook: Bleak Labour Market Prospects for Youth" and it details this increasingly serious problem. It's predicted that the number of unemployed youths in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region will climb from 13.1 percent in 2012 to 14.2 percent in 2017. To remedy this problem, the ASEAN Foundation sees information and communication technology (or ICT) as a solution. On May 18, 2012, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) came on board with a $300,000 grant to fund ICT-related activities covering four ASEAN countries, namely Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam until mid 2014. Today, the ASEAN Foundation announced the implementation of the fund with ICT training programs for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This program is aimed at young entrepreneurs, aged 16 to 25, who will receive training focused on the latest ICT skill-sets that may be used for their business development. This pilot project will run for two years, hoping to reach more than 20,000 young entrepreneurs. This program is aimed at helping youth develop a knowledge of e-commerce and web business, and provide business and technical skills to raise their potential. The ASEAN Foundation developed a specific ICT curriculum for this training. To spread the training to targeted regions, it will conduct a 'Training of Trainers.'

Young and talented entrepreneurs will be chosen to join its e-business incubation program. West Sumatra, west Java (Bandung), north Sulawesi, and west Nusa Tenggara are the provinces selected for the program in Indonesia with help from SOS Children Villages Indonesia. In other nations, Bangkok and Chiang Mai will host the program in Thailand; Manila for the Philippines; and Hanoi for Vietnam. The executive director of the ASEAN Foundation, Dr. Makarim Wibisono, stated that the vision of the ICT training program is not only to promote growth and competition among micro-entrepreneurs in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, but its success will impact the region as a whole. Dr. Wibisono added: Through our collaboration with Microsoft, the ASEAN Foundation will be able to help communities throughout the region to realize greater opportunities through improved access to information technology.

The ASEAN Foundation partnership with Microsoft begun in 2005 in order to develop an ICT curriculum for farmers training in villages. It also provided ICT training for SMEs and reached more than 50,000 people in Indonesia. The president of Microsoft Asia Pacific, Tracey Fellows explained in today's announcement that this year's ICT training for SMEs is the first for Microsoft in the region: SMEs are the backbone of most countries in the region. Through this partnership, we want to empower young people to start their own businesses or creating their own opportunities. This assistance reflects our confidence in the ability of technology to improve the standard of living as well as social and economic development in each country. Microsoft Indonesia first provided a $39,500 grant for an ICT training program back in August 2005 as it begun its partnership with ASEAN Foundation. Now the amount has grown to $300,000 with Microsoft's local involvement, and expanded it to four ASEAN countries. With this fund, let's hope more local startups will blossom with this kind of sustainable funding.

From http://www.techinasia.com/ 09/19/2012

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CHINA: Gov't Micro Blogs Accounts Up to 50,000

The first report on the operation of micro blogs run by ministry-level departments was released by Sina.com, a leading Chinese website. The government now has 50,000 micro blog accounts, according to the report released on Aug 23. Seventeen ministries and ministerial level organizations have accounts with Sina Weibo, China's largest micro blog platform, operating 44 official micro blogs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has 11 micro blogs, the Ministry of Public Security seven and the Ministry of Health five. The Foreign Ministry's Waijiao Xiaolingtong - Foreign Affairs Information - micro blog has attracted more than 2.8 million followers since it was registered in April last year. As of Monday, it had made more than 5,000 posts.Seeing itself as 'the bridge between public and foreign affairs', Waijiao Xiaolingtong aims for a relaxed, lively tone. "New media enriches the style of diplomatic language, enhances innovation in discourse and displays a close-to-the-people diplomatic manner. It is a manifestation of people-oriented diplomacy", the micro blog's operations director, Gong Yufeng, said at the Media Salon conference organized by Renmin.com last month.

In addition to the online and offline interactive mode adopted by the Foreign Ministry, the report looked at other operational styles of ministry-level micro blogs. Among these were the micro-news releases of the Ministry of Commerce, and the up-to-date emergency information posts of the China Earthquake Administration. The report said that ministry-level micro blogs should focus on four aspects of planning and management. They should highlight the function of assisting politics and publishing professional and authoritative information to guide local government micro blogs. They should employ authoritative experts and reinforce the official position. They should take the nature of their followers into account and target specified professionals to reflect universal values. Finally, they should guide public opinion and use proper linguistic forms. Sina Weibo has become an important tool for the government, providing more effective communication and an interactive platform for the government and the public, the report said.


From http://www.china.org.cn/ 08/28/2012

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China Improves Monitoring Over Far-Sea Territory

The availability of remote-sensing images brought by China's satellites has allowed the country to better monitor its territory in the far seas, including the Huangyan, Diaoyu and Xisha islands and the surrounding sea areas, a major newspaper reported Monday. The overseas edition of the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), cited sources with the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) as saying it is a significant move in terms of extending China's maritime monitoring network coverage from the near to far seas. The network entered into service in 2009 after construction began in 2006. By combining satellite, aerial remote-sensing and ground-based monitoring methods, the system monitors development activities in China's coastal and sea areas "in a stereo and dynamic manner," the paper said. China's monitoring of its sea territory had long been constrained by its lagging monitoring capacity, mainly due to the shortage of satellites, the report said, citing experts. The situation improved following the activation of the maritime monitoring network. "The network coverage extension to the far seas will improve the country's ability to protect the maritime environment and respond to potential natural disasters," the report cited Tang Danling, an oceanic research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as saying. The SOA said the country's maritime monitoring network will continue to boost remote-sensing and monitoring over far-sea areas, according to the report.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/03/2012

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China Continues to Probe Alleged GM Rice Testing

Authorities are continuing to investigate whether dozens of children in central China were used as test subjects in a U.S.-China joint research project that included genetically modified (GM) rice. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) said in an online statement that its researcher was not informed that the American side had used GM rice in the joint test, which was designed to study how children's bodies absorb and transform beta carotene. Sources in the health department of Hunan Province, where the test allegedly took place in 2008, on Wednesday said "relevant officials" had gone to Beijing to participate in a joint investigation with the China CDC. This came after local government officials in Hunan and the provincial CDC had publicly denied the claim. But a lead author of the research paper, published in the August edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, insisted that the study had been conducted with all regulatory approvals required by each country.

The paper claimed that Golden Rice, genetically engineered to be rich in beta carotene, is effective in providing vitamin A to children. The experiment involved feeding the rice to 24 children aged between six and eight years old in Hunan in 2008, according to Greenpeace, which broke the news in late August. The paper's lead author is Tang Guangwen, director of the Carotenoids and Health Laboratory of Tufts University in the United States. While Tang insisted the testing had been approved, both the second and third author - Hu Yuming with the Hunan CDC and Yin Shi'an with the China CDC - denied involvement in the GM rice research project. The two toed the line of Hunan authorities, which on Sunday said the China CDC had conducted tests on children in the province in 2008, but these tests were meant to study children's bodies transformation of beta carotene in vegetables to vitamin A, and did not include GM food. "I am totally clueless," Hu told reporters. "I am aware of the vegetable and beta carotene transformation parts of the paper but know nothing about the part involving Golden Rice," Yin added.

The China CDC statement said the American project was signed by Tufts University and Zhejiang Academy of Medical Sciences and was led by Tang. Yin, who led a project approved by the China CDC on the transformation of beta carotene, combined his on-site tests with that of Tang, as both covered studies on beta carotene in spinach, the statement said. But the statement cited Yin as saying he did not know whether Golden Rice had been involved in the American study. GM food is controversial, as there is still no consensus on whether or not it is harmful to the human body. According to the Greenpeace website, it is simply not known whether genetically engineered crops are safe for human or animal consumption. Independent scientific studies on the matter are severely lacking, it said. "Children and infants are particularly sensitive to any possible health effects of genetically engineered rice," it added. "Absolutely disgusting!" said a comment posted under the Greenpeace article. "As a mother, I am outraged!"

The Chinese government introduced a regulation as early as 2001 to ensure the safety of GM food, with strict provisions for researching, testing, producing and marketing such products. According to the regulation, parties conducting GM agricultural experiments should have certain qualifications and form a panel to be in charge of the safety of the experiments. It also provides that any China-foreign GM agricultural experiment should be approved by the government's agricultural departments. An official with the Hunan provincial government's agricultural bureau in charge of GM-related issues said the office did not receive any application for a GM food experiment and did not give any approval. "Only after we know about the truth of this experiment can we talk food safety," Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post wrote in a commentary. "The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture need to disclose the truth."

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/06/2012

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China to Tighten Internet Management

China's regulatory authority on Tuesday vowed to strengthen management of the Internet as online application and consumption has become a new source of economic growth in the country. Speaking at the 2012 China Internet Conference, Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, said a comprehensive management system will be introduced to include government management, industrial self-regulation and supervision by society over the Internet industry. "While safeguarding a good Internet market order, the improved management aims to stop the spread of harmful information online and clean cyber space," Miao said. An increasing number of Chinese are taking to the Internet to seek business opportunities or express their views on public issues. More than 270 million Chinese had opened Twitter-like microblogging accounts on the Internet by the end of June, as the country's Internet users climbed to 538 million, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). MIIT figures also showed China's online business transactions exceeded 3.3 trillion yuan (520.58 billion U.S. dollars) in the first half of this year, up 14 percent from 2011.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/11/2012

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Innovation, Consumption Key to Boosting Future Economic Growth in China: Expert

TIANJIN, Sept. 12 (Xinhuanet) - Innovation and consumption are key drivers to boost the future economic growth when China is undergoing the economic restructure, said an expert on Wednesday on the sideline of the ongoing 2012 Summer Davos Forum in Tianjin. John A. Quelch from China Europe International Business School said to Xinhuanet that it's right for China to chooses a path by transforming the economy from export-led to more balanced, consumption-led. "The question is how quickly the transition will occur," said Quelch, adding that some economists believe that given the lack of health care, safety net and pension system, many Chinese will still go on saving for a rain day, and they will not step up for consumption. "This will be a big question hanging over Chinese transition," he held.

"There has to be a lot of growth coming from domestic consumption, but also from the development of service sector," Quelch added. On how to stimulate consumption, Quelch said there are three approaches any government can take. "One is to stimulate spending, such as infrastructure projects and the second one is to reform fiscal and tax regime, reduce taxation either on goods savings, services, income of lower levels in order to give more people more money to spend." "And thirdly, the government will create a level playing field for small and medium-sized enterprises, as they can deliver more goods and choices to Chinese consumers, will encourage more consumption by Chinese consumers," he said. Quelch acknowledged the importance of the service sector. "It's not so easy to develop the capability of service sector as it requires different mindset to be delivering services than to be manufacturing products in the factory line," Quelch said.

Acknowledging that it's hard for China to quickly fill the innovation gap with the U.S., Quelch is very confident that Chinese entrepreneurship will face up to the innovation challenge. "The research and development budget will be higher this year than any other time in China's history," he stressed, adding that the U.S. has been spending 3 percent of its GDP on research and development for more than 40 years. "So the Chinese have to be patient about that," he suggested. Quelch stressed the importance of popularizing the innovation products and services by saying that there is already a lot of tremendous innovation that's been patterned, but people have yet to fully appreciate how to successfully commercialize them to provide affordable and understandable value to end consumers.

"Someone once famous said the future has already been invented, and you can't buy it at retail," Quelch commented. Asked about the outlook about China's future economy, Quelch said he is optimistic of China making a great contribution not only to the world economy but also to social value around the world as well. "China has a fantastic record of last 30 years, it's probably the most substantial economic transformation in the human history," Quelch noted, "It would be unfair to expect China to replicate in the next 30 years what has been achieved in the last 30 years." "What makes me optimistic is that young people in China are very committed to doing the best they can do for their country and their family," he added. Themed "Creating the Future Economy", the three-day forum, featuring interactive programs on issues including the euro crisis, China's future economy and global food security, has attracted some 2,000 participants from 86 countries and regions.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 09/23/2012

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China Hails Social Assistance Achievements

China has established an institutional and comprehensive social assistance system over the past decade designed to guarantee the livelihoods of people in need, the Ministry of Civil Affairs announced Thursday. The system has covered both urban and rural areas, and its provision of medical aid has been developed, the ministry said in a press release distributed at a news conference. "The standard of assistance and subsidies has been improved substantially," the ministry said. Urban beneficiaries' average monthly subsistence allowances have increased from 148 yuan (about 23.5 U.S. dollars) in 2002 to 288 yuan in 2011, according to the ministry. For rural beneficiaries, annual allowances stood at 1,718 yuan in 2011, nearly double the 2007 figure. The ministry said around 23 million people enjoyed urban subsistence allowances while the number benefiting from rural subsistence allowances stood at 53.06 million last year. It also said 2.41 million urban vagrants and 179,000 beggars benefitted from the allowances in 2011. Additionally, street children have been helped through special measures including providing protection, education and family reunion assistance. The ministry described the achievement as a "historic transfer" from temporary and simple social assistance in the past.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/20/2012

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JAPAN: Ministry OK's Yahoo Ads / Controversial Program Doesn't Violate User Privacy

The government approved Wednesday Yahoo Japan Corp.'s use of content-based advertising technology to display ads that are relevant to its free e-mail users' messages, quelling privacy concerns previously raised. Following an announcement by Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Tatsuo Kawabata at a press conference, the Tokyo-based firm began implementing the technology Wednesday. The ministry deemed the technology does not violate the Telecommunications Business Law, which guarantees the privacy of communications .In the new ad program, the contents of sent and received e-mails on Yahoo's server are read and analyzed. Yahoo members then automatically see advertisements on their e-mail screens that match their interests. Members who wish to have their mail kept private can adjust their settings to stop the ad program's analysis.

The technology has drawn criticism because it also reads e-mails sent to Yahoo members by people who do not subscribe to Yahoo's mail service. But the ministry said Wednesday there are no issues associated with Yahoo's introduction of the program, as long as one of the parties involved in an e-mail communication agrees to it. Yahoo's e-mail service is used by 18 million people. After the company announced its plan at the end of May to launch the ad program in August, Internet users voiced privacy concerns. The ministry then questioned Yahoo to determine whether the technology was legal. After consulting with experts on the issue, the ministry compiled views that the ad technology can be used as long as the company respects certain rules, such as messages can only be read after they are opened, and the company must provide its users with relevant information in a clear-cut manner.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/20/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: 'Innovation School' Opens in Seoul

A parent-proposed "innovation school" has opened in Sangdo-dong, southwestern Seoul, as part of efforts to do away with formalities and promote better communication among teachers, students and their parents. Sanghyun Elementary School is the first "innovation school" to be established following a petition by parents. These schools focus on innovation in six aspects - management, curriculum, classes, student evaluation methods, counseling and education welfare. They receive autonomy in running the curriculum and can select the principal through a public recruiting process, while receiving 100 to 200 million won in state funding. A group of parents from two housing cooperatives in Sangdo-dong submitted an official request to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education in May.

It was accepted in June and teachers began preparing for the schools 16 classes on Saturday. Twenty-six teachers including the principal are at the school. However, classes will begin on Sep. 17, as residents of a nearby newly-constructed apartment building have yet to move in.There are some 60 innovation schools in Seoul but they were designated by the superintendant of the city's education office or through teachers voting to change to the new model. The growing number of students at these schools and complaints filed by parents who are unable to send their children to them reflect an increasing demand. Parents of children in other apartment complexes in Sangdo-dong have filed complaints as they want to send their children to the innovation school but were excluded from the school district, according to Oh Sung-hwan, supervisor of the innovation school department at the Seoul education office. "We believe that the increasing demand from parents show that they are now recognizing that the teachers at these schools are truly dedicated to education and the care of their pupils," he said.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/03/2012

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Seoul to Improve Jongno Area for the Elderly

Seoul City will turn an area of Jongno into a zone for elderly citizens. The city has decided to introduce programs or facilities for the elderly into the Jongmyo Shrine and Pagoda Park in Jongno so they satisfy the needs of senior citizens. The city plans to have a consulting firm study ways to improve the environment of the area and introduce facilities or programs for the elderly based on their discoveries. About three thousand elders visit the shrine and the park every day.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/07/2012

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Korea's First Envoy to ASEAN Vows to Deepen Cooperation

Korea's first ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said Friday that he will spare no effort to deepen bilateral cooperation with the 10-member regional bloc, hoping it will help ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Baek Seong-taek, a career diplomat who had served in various capacities at overseas missions including Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia, was appointed this week as Seoul's first envoy dedicated to ASEAN. With Baek's appointment, Korea became the fourth non-ASEAN nation to name an ambassador to the regional bloc and will launch a permanent mission for the ASEAN in Jakarta next month to redouble engagement on a wide range of issues such as trade, regional security, disaster management and human rights. "I will work to strengthen cooperation with the ASEAN to help it contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," Baek, 57, told Yonhap News Agency. "If ASEAN and Korea strengthen their cooperative relationship, we will stand to gain in a diplomatic community that deals with issues regarding the Korean Peninsula," Baek said.

Baek said he expects ASEAN to play a "balancing role" in Asia, where a power shift is under way amid the rise of China and the decline of Japanese influence, with the U.S. making a so-called "pivot" to the region. ASEAN is Korea's second-largest trade partner after China, and the second-largest investment destination after the European Union. The region is also an important source of energy and other resources for Korea, and sits on key maritime routes that the country uses to bring foreign resources home. Two-way trade between Korea and ASEAN stood at US$125 billion last year, and the two sides have already laid out a goal to increase bilateral trade to $150 billion by 2015.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/21/2012

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Lee, IWA Chief Agree to Work Together to Spread Water Management know-How

Korean President Lee Myung-bak met with the chief of the International Water Association on Friday, and agreed to work together to spread Korea's water management technologies and know-how to developing countries, an official said. Glen Daigger, head of the global network of 10,000 water professionals, has been in South Korea to attend a biennial meeting of the World Water Congress and Exhibition, which wrapped up its six-day session in the southern port city of Busan on Friday. About 7,000 people and some 200 businesses attended the conference. In a meeting with Lee, Daigger said global water experts learned about Korea's experience during the conference, especially its four rivers restoration project, according to presidential spokeswoman Lee Mi-yon. The project is aimed at preserving water, controlling floods and promoting tourism. Lee and Daigger shared an understanding that such technologies and know-how should be spread to countries suffering from flooding and drought, and the two agreed to work together to tackle global water problems, the spokeswoman said. Daigger also presented Lee with a special IWA award in recognition of his contribution to addressing global water problems, saying Lee is the first non-IWA member to receive the award.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/21/2012

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NPS Ranks 4th in World

Maintaining the position for the second consecutive year, Korea's National Pension Fund ranked fourth in the world last year in terms of total assets under management, a survey revealed Friday. According to Tower Watson, the National Pension Fund held total assets of $313.9 billion in 2011, the fourth-largest fund among 300 major pension funds surveyed. Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund ranked first with total assets of $1.394 trillion. The survey, conducted in cooperation with Pensions & Investments, a leading U.S. investment newspaper, also showed that last year's growth rate of the world's major pension funds was the lowest in the past 10 years, except for 2008 when the world struggled with the first effects of a global financial crisis. Total assets of the world's largest 300 pension funds grew by under 2 percent in 2011, down from 11 percent in 2010.

It is the lowest growth rate since 2003. In 2008 it posted 13 percent. But the survey showed that the total assets climbed to a new high of $12.7 trillion. "Asset allocation for the world's largest pension funds has changed markedly during the past six or seven years to be much more defensive in view of on-going economic uncertainty," said Naomi Denning, managing director of investment services for Asia Pacific at Towers Watson. She added that the top 20 funds, on average, now have roughly equal amounts in terms of equities and bonds at 40 percent each with the rest in alternatives and cash. By individual region, Asia-Pacific has the highest five-year growth rate of 9 percent, compared to Europe with 6 percent and 0 percent in North America. Meanwhile, the combined growth rate in the Latin American and African regions for the same period is under 8 percent, albeit from a low base. North America still remains the region with the largest share of pension fund assets in research accounting for over 39%, although this has declined steadily over the last decade. Asia-Pacific is the second-largest region, followed by Europe. The research also shows that the world's top 300 pension funds now represent over 46% of global pension fund assets.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/21/2012

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INDONESIA: Taking Steps to Tackle Infrastructure Woes

Plans for an MRT network criss-crossing Jakarta were first floated in the early 1980s. Some 30 years on, the first pillar has yet to rise. Now the Jakarta government says work will start before the year is out, having secured a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Seasoned watchers of Indonesia's infrastructure landscape, however, are not holding their breath. Here, deadlines - whether for airports, power plants or toll roads - are often missed, as money runs out or officials change their minds. Delays, investors say, are understandable. But of greater concern is whether the money they have invested will be protected should there be tussles over land or cancellations for whatever reason. As Indonesia's economic boom looks like it may be crimped by lack of infrastructure - not having enough roads, for instance, drives transport costs up - bureaucrats are rushing to shed the country's reputation for delays and red tape. Last month, the government issued new regulations to make land acquisition easier. It is also starting to guarantee investments in infrastructure projects and ministers are trying to make sure local administrations and agencies are on the same page. "There's more getting done than there has been in a long time," Michael Horn of international law firm Clyde & Co, who works on infrastructure deals, told The Straits Times. "New institutions, new land regulations, high quality consultants hired by government for high profile projects - all of this shows a higher level of interest and seriousness, and is cause for optimism."

The government is also now willing to offer guarantees for investors, helping to allay lenders' concerns, added Raj Kannan, managing director of investment company Tusk Advisory. This week, the World Bank announced US$4.6 million in technical assistance and up to $25 million in financing for the recently set-up Indonesia Infrastructure Guarantee Fund, which safeguards private investment in infrastructure projects should they be cancelled. Over the weekend, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono invited businessmen at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' meeting in Vladivostok to help build the infrastructure Indonesia needs. The government is devoting $20 billion of its state budget to building and upgrading infrastructure next year, but needs the private sector to match that every year for the next five years. Later this month, Dr Yudhoyono will head to New York to woo investors for, among other things, power plants in Batam and West Java, a drinking water project in Java, a toll road in North Sumatra, a cruise terminal in Bali, and a high-speed rail from the Soekarno-Hatta airport to Jakarta. Infrastructure experts feel more can be done to get previously stalled projects going.

One example is the Sei Mangke industrial zone south of Medan, where the local regent has yet to sign off on the land transfer. Stretches of the Trans-Java Toll Road that will link Jakarta to Surabaya have also been stalled for years. Kannan suggests the government bite the bullet and put the projects up for tender again, as they can then be backed by the new guarantees. "Most of these projects have issues because the government's contractual obligations are not guaranteed. Some were awarded as far back as 2004. It's eight years now and time to start anew," he said. Scott Younger, vice-chairman of the European Business Chamber of Commerce, said some of the less risky projects - like airport expansion - are usually taken in-house by state-owned enterprises. The private sector is left with greenfield investments - projects where little or no existing infrastructure exists, like new airports or industrial zones. These not only require larger investments, but their returns are less certain. Horn suggests turning to local currency bond markets to fund such projects as well, something Indonesia has not yet done. "Indonesia deserves to be treated like other investment grade countries that attract infrastructure investment funds, but investors will also expect the treatment they enjoy elsewhere," he added.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 09/14/2012

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MYANMAR: Pledging to Work for Effective Promotion of Human Rights

YANGON, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) - Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) has pledged to work jointly and bilaterally for the effective promotion and protection of human rights of the people of both in Myanmar and in the South East Asian region in compliance with the Paris Principles, according to a statement released Tuesday. The MNHRC made the pledge days after it was admitted into the South East Asia National Human Rights Institution (SEANHRI) as its 6th member at its 9th annual meeting held in Chiang Mai, Thailand on Sept. 12-14. The SEANHRI, which originally comprises Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, agreed in 2004 in Bangkok, Thailand to carry out jointly or bilaterally programs and activities in areas of human rights of common concern and signed the ASEAN NHRIs Forum Declaration of Cooperation in Bali, Indonesia on June 28, 2007. The regional body was renamed as SEANHR Forum (SEANF) at its 6th annual meeting in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in 2009 and its membership was extended to Timor Leste. The general objective of the forum is to organize itself as a regional mechanism for the effective promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights of the people in the South East Asia region, the statement added.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/18/2012

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MALAYSIA: 5 States Unveil Affordable Broadband Packages

Come 16 September, residents of Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu will be able to subscribe to the 1Malaysia Broadband Package for as low as RM20 (USD 6) per month for wireless network and RM38 (USD 11) per month for wired network. The wireless network will provide a minimum speed rate of 512kbps with 1GB capacity, while the wired network will provide a minimum rate of 384kbps with unlimited capacity. According to Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim the 1Malaysia package is being introduced as part of the Malaysian Government's on-going efforts to bridge the digital divide in the country. The Minister added that there is also a need to improve the penetration rates in Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu which currently stands at only 40 per cent to 50 per cent compared with the national rate of 64 per cent. Dr Rais also revealed that a series of meetings with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission will be underway to monitor and evaluate the package's success so that it can also be introduced to other states.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/10/2012

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PHILIPPINES: To Improve Fiscal Transparency in Supreme Court

Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad said today that his agency is willing to provide the necessary funds to support the efforts by the Supreme Court to increase the transparency and accountability of its internal processes. "We are more than willing to support the Supreme Court's drive for increased transparency, accountability, and openness in their budgetary activities. Among many solutions, we're proposing is the digitisation of the High Court's internal processes to boost operational efficiency and allow little to no room for abuse or irregularities," Abad said in an official statement. Among the proposed projects in the digitisation initiative includes the creation of an online portal to check and monitor the progress of cases in the Judiciary and the implementation of an integrated human resources and payroll management system. "Through an online portal, anyone can check the status of their cases online and monitor its progress from there, without having to make multiple visits or phone calls to a judge's office. In addition, it will be quicker and easier to identify which cases are taking too long to resolve, so that the judicial system can pursue measures to hasten the resolution of long-standing cases," he said. Meanwhile, the integrated Human Resource and Payroll Management system will enable the agency to facilitate the efficient release of salaries and benefits by maintaining an accurate record of employees currently serving in all courts at every level. Apart from implementing IT systems, the Budget Secretary also highlighted the need for the Supreme Court to establish an online presence by making use of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter to enlighten the public on key judicial matters. " As it stands, most Filipinos have little to no knowledge of how our court system works, given the many intricacies of the country's judicial processes. But with mounting interest in the judiciary's role in government, it may be time to engage the public and address their concerns in a more direct and responsive way," he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/03/2012

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Philippines Goes Hi-Tech for Disaster Response Plan

The Philippines is no stranger to disasters. Floods, earthquakes, volcanoes and typhoons frequently ravage the archipelago, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. But now a new plan aptly dubbed Project NOAH - National Operational Assessment of Hazards - intends to give Filipinos a better chance of overcoming these calamities by providing real-time access to weather information and updating maps, some of which date back to the 1960s. Spearheaded by the Philippine Department of Science and Technology, the 2 billion pesos, or $48 million, project was launched in July 2012. Automated rain gauges first were installed in river basis around the country, allowing scientists and other experts to track rainfall and river water levels in real time. This month, the project will roll out LIDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, technology which allows for high-resolution 3D mapping of the country's topography - something which scientists say will help the Philippines' better prepare for potential disasters. The entire country is expected to be digitally mapped within two years, according to scientists running the project. "Using the best technology available is the only way to minimize casualties," said Mahar Lagmay, executive director of Project Noah and a scientist at the University of the Philippines in Manila. "We need to develop a culture of preparedness and safety. He also added that the project will likely draw on newly-developed "super wifi" technology to get around some necessary infrastructural upgrades still lacking in the Philippines.

Just weeks after Project Noah was launched by the country's president Benigno Aquino III, the system was quickly tested when monsoon winds and rain dumped unusually heavy rainfall on critical cities in the Philippines, including Manila. The torrential rains caused the most severe floods seen since Tropical Storm Ketsana in 2009 which left the capital submerged for days. Initial assessments of the August floods showed that better tracking and disaster response times helped to limit the death toll to just over 100 people, compared to over 700 during 2009's floods. A report from the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, said local governments were "managing the situations well", and that that follow-up relief operation was put into action quickly. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the population displaced by the floods reduced by 10% in a week - a far better record than during Typhoon Ketsana, whose impact lasted months though similar levels of rainfall were recorded, according to Project Noah's tracking maps. Mr. Lagmay added that the improved maps could also serve another practical purpose - as a tool for urban planning and development, crucial for private sector investors that are starting to bet big on increased domestic spending in the country including in malls and on real estate.

The project has some private sector partners - including San Miguel Corp .'s Petron oil refinery, Philippine telcos Smart Communications Inc ., SUN Cellular and Globe Communications though none of them have pledged funding as yet. Smart Communications, for example, has been working to set up free call stations at disaster evacuation centers with charging facilities and internet provisions and opens SMS channels to receive donations during crisis situations. It is becoming increasingly important for Asian countries to adopt modern disaster relief strategies in the decades to come, experts say. According to a report from the Asian Development Bank, a projected 410 million urban Asians are at risk of coastal flooding in the next decade, with another 350 million at risk of inland flooding - similar to that experienced by Bangkok last year, and Manila this August. Observers note that social media is an important component in Project Noah's success. Comscore ranks the country the world's biggest market for Facebook , with more than 90% of its online population using the social networking tool, with an overall internet penetration rate of about 33% of its 100 million people. Representatives from Global Systems Mobile, the system on which many cellular phone networks function, are examining the Philippines to see how mobile phones can help bolster early warning networks elsewhere. Twitter provided some of the fastest alerts about a 7.6 magnitude earthquake off the eastern coast of the Philippines last month. And analysts say social media will become even more useful as radio stations and other broadcast media increasingly rely on the Internet for information.

From http://blogs.wsj.com/ 09/12/2012

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Good Governance Leads to Philippine Economic Gains

MANILA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) - Good governance has led to economic gains for the Philippines, that is a sentiment shared by both public and private sector executives who participated in the Second Integrity Summit. Perception that this developing Southeast Asian country is among the most corrupt in the world dented business confidence and limited growth for the past few years. But top executives and senior officials who participated in Tuesday's summit believe that the Philippines is succeeding in its fight against corruption. President Benigno Aquino III, who ran and won via an anti- corruption platform, said his administration's pursuit of "re- establishing a culture of integrity in government" made the Philippines more globally competitive. In a speech delivered at the summit, Aquino said his administration's strategy is to ensure a level playing field for investors, assuring them of a system that's "stable, rules-based, and whose outcomes are predictable."

Such policy has already borne fruit. Aquino cited the eight positive credit ratings upgrade obtained by the Philippines under his watch, one of them placing the country just a notch away from investment grade. There's also the significant jump of the Philippines to 65th place - from 85th place in 2010 - in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report. Most Philippine businesses in fact agree with Aquino's assessment. In its latest survey of enterprises released during the summit, Social Weather Stations (SWS) said "there has been radical progress in the fight against corruption." According to SWS, most of the executives they interviewed believe that "a lot" of corruption in the public sector fell to 42 percent in 2012 from 64 percent in 2009. SWS said that those saying that "most or almost all" companies in their own sector give bribes to win public sector contracts fell to 41 percent in 2012 from 48 percent in 2009. This is the lowest rate recorded since the survey was first conducted in 2000.

The private sector also did its part in responding to the government's anti-corruption drive. In December 2010, the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), led the creation of the Integrity Initiative. The initiative is a multi- sectoral campaign that seeks to "institutionalize integrity standards among various sectors of society - business, government, judiciary, academe, youth, civil society, church, and media." Two years later, the campaign continues to gain ground. Makati Business Club and Integrity Initiative chairman Ramon R. del Rosario, Jr. said signatories to the Integrity Pledge jumped to 1, 500 this year, from 700 last year. Del Rosario noted that 32 heads of government agencies have also signed the Integrity Pledge which is a "commitment to ethical business practices and good corporate governance." "We sounded the call to everyone who will no longer tolerate corruption as 'business as usual' to join us in this ambitious but worthy endeavor. I am very happy to report to you that the response to our call has certainly exceeded our expectations," he said.

Del Rosario said it makes good business for companies to be known doing "clean business" even as there are costs associated with pursuing "ethical leadership." He cited the experience of other countries where unethical companies have to contend with higher exposure to business risks and pay the price for their misconduct through exclusion from business opportunities and other penalties. "We want to see it happen in the Philippines, not just as an alternative way of doing things, but as the established norm," he said. Setting the right tone for agencies and companies, said Del Rosario, is "doable." He noted, for instance, that the Philippine Economic Zone Authority and the Department of Education urge its suppliers to sign the Integrity Pledge. Peza locators are also asked to sign it.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are also following suit. During the summit, DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson announced that the agency is looking at requiring contractors to sign the Integrity Pledge before they can participate in biddings for its projects. Also, DBM Secretary Florencio Abad said that his agency is also planning to ask bidders for government procurement contracts to first sign Integrity Pacts to be eligible. "We are committed to deepen our partnership with the private sector in pursuit of integrity and open government," Abad said. For her part, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim S. Jacinto-Henares said corruption can be easily combated if the love of country is ingrained in every Filipinos. "What's missing in this country is our love for our country. We lagged behind our neighbors because we do not love our country. Look at Japan, the interest of their country is front and center for its citizens. It is also the same in South Korea," Henares said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/18/2012

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Philippine Region to Use GIS to Monitor Social Devt Projects

After finding out irregularities in social development projects allotted to several provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), local officials together with its partner NGOs are taking their project monitoring and evaluation a notch further by leveraging quantum GIS. Quantum GIS is a free and open source desktop GIS application that provides users with data viewing, editing, and analysis capabilities. According to Darwin Rasul, Assistant Secretary at the ARMM's Office of Special Concerns (OSC), local officials discovered awarded contracts for the construction of school buildings worth millions of pesos but was recently found out to be non-existent. "When you look at the project report, you can see the projects that have already been awarded and bid out, the mobilisation funds already released. But when you check on the ground there is nothing," he said. By using Quantum GIS, local authorities will be able to improve their project monitoring efforts by geotagging projects to inform decision makers on what projects have been implemented, their exact location and how they are progressing. Rasul said that 11 OSC coordinators in the provinces of Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Lanao Del Sur and Maguindanao had undergone a five-day intensive training on how to fully maximise the software and to use cameras with GPS to geotag projects. He explained that with the system place, it will now make it easier to check whether the photos which the coordinators took on the ground matched data in the group's database. "Once we discover something anomalous, then we report it to the governor for proper action," he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/21/2012

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SINGAPORE: Launching 'Super Wi-fi' Internet Trials

Like other underdeveloped regions, the boom in Southeast Asia's digital economy has been fueled by explosive growth in mobile Internet usage rather than the development of vast broadband cable networks. Internet access, however, remains far from ubiquitous for the millions of people that live across the region's tens of thousands of islands, where broadband or 3G penetration remains weak or nonexistent. In Singapore, a consortium formed by software giant Microsoft Corp., MSFT +0.89%local telco Starhub CC3.SG +0.81%and the government's Institute for Infocomm Research is piloting the commercial deployment of a new wireless Internet technology that employs unused parts of the television spectrum, known as "white spaces," to transmit data. So-called "super wi-fi" - technically not a wi-fi technology, according to the international trade body that has rights to the term - operates at a lower radio frequency than traditional wi-fi signals, which enables it to broadcast at a lower cost and over greater distances, through line-of-sight obstacles such as trees and buildings. "We figured out how to use this spectrum in a way that currently wasn't being used and discovered that this spectrum actually may be better for wireless connectivity than the existing wireless spectrum we've been working with," said Michael Thatcher, Microsoft's chief technology officer for the public sector in Asia.

Singapore is the first country in Asia to commercially pilot the technology, though it has already been launched in Wilmington, N.C., and the U.K. government is looking to form a regulatory framework for it following tests earlier this year. Trials have also been conducted in Kenya, Brazil, Japan, Uruguay and South Korea as well as in other cities throughout North America and Europe. The Singapore White Spaces Pilot Group is engaged in what it calls "pre-competitive" pilot trials for local operators. The Singapore Island Country Club has employed the technology to improve wi-fi blind spots at its 18-hole golf course, and StarHub is using it to provide Internet access to ships anchored off Singapore, which have predominantly relied on expensive satellite communication for offshore Internet connectivity. The distance of transmission varies depending on the power of the antenna but the U.K. trials showed signals could travel up to 8 kilometers in some instances.

Singapore is already one of the most sophisticated markets in the world in terms of Internet access, but the mobile data network has in recent years faced increased strains that capacity has not been able to keep up with demand, prompting complaints from customers who say the system is not up to scratch. There are 11 unused channels in the city-state's current television spectrum, each with an eight-megahertz bandwidth that could each transmit data at speed of 14 megabits per second, comparable to current optimum mobile data speeds in Singapore. More widely, super wi-fi could address some of the more pressing Internet needs in countries such as Indonesia, which has seen enormous growth in mobile technology, without some of the necessary infrastructure upgrades. "Looking at island countries is a great scenario for some of what white spaces can do - it's not just Indonesia, there's also been a lot of interest in the Philippines" Mr. Thatcher said. Super wi-fi remains in its infancy and is still a long way from being granted the necessary regulatory approval for spectrum use in Singapore: the Infocomm Development Agency has given the pilot group a limited license to test the technology commercially, and a more permanent arrangement will most likely depend on the pilot's performance. Handset makers have yet to implement the technology and mobile phones will require a special chip set in order to transmit and receive data through the super wi-fi spectrum. Mr. Thatcher said the official publication of super wi-fi standards by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - a New York-based industry body - expected early next year will give other private-sector players greater confidence in the technology.

From http://blogs.wsj.com/ 09/06/2012

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S'pore Conversation: Key Challenge Is Managing Expectations

Vladivostok, Russia: The key challenge for the national conversation on Singapore's future will be that of managing expectations, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The conversation, he added, is also different from the government's previous attempts at engaging Singaporeans. "The last one was Remaking Singapore, which was 10 years ago. I think our situation has changed, our society has changed (since then)," said PM Lee. In the "Our Singapore Conversation", "we look at our problems afresh in a new situation, with a new generation, with a new perspective," he added. "So, each time we come back (to engage Singaporeans), some problems are revisited, some issues which we didn't alter before, now we decide that we may come to the conclusion that we have to make changes. So I think we have to take it in that perspective," said PM Lee. "You cannot say, I've had a discussion before, there is nothing new to discuss. I think that is not the way the world is." Spearheading the national conversation is a 26-member committee, comprising a mix of Cabinet ministers, academics and ordinary Singaporeans like students and a taxi driver. PM Lee said that in choosing the committee, the government tried to be inclusive. PM Lee was speaking to Singapore reporters in Vladivostok, Russia where he attended the APEC leaders' meeting.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/09/2012

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MOH to Develop Continuing Education Framework for TCM Practitioners

SINGAPORE: The Health Ministry said it plans to develop a continuing education framework for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners here. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this will not only raise the standard of TCM practitioners here, but will also instill more trust in patients. He said this on the sidelines of the Thong Chai TCM Symposium. He added that the framework is still in its initial stages and more details will only be released at the end of this year. Mr Gan said: "As scientific knowledge evolves, it is important for our practitioners to continue to learn, to acquire new knowledge, to acquire new skills. So I think continuing education is a very important part of the professional development. "We are still in discussion with the various stakeholders on how to go about encouraging our TCM practitioners to continue to upgrade themselves."

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/23/2012

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THAILAND: PM Satisfied with Flood Plan

BANGKOK, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) - Thai premier on her Saturday weekly TV program expressed satisfaction with her government's flood response plan after flood-hit central province of Sukhothai returned to normal in three days, Thai News Agency reported. Speaking her weekly TV programme "The Yingluck Government Meets the People", live from southern province of Krabi, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she inspected the flood situation in central province of Sukhothai and Phitsanulok earlier this week and found that the situation in Sukhothai was severely beyond the ability of the local authorities to handle. The Interior Ministry extended assistance to support the work of the local authorities and plans were adjusted to respond more effectively and the situation could return to normal in three days, she said. The premier asserted that the government's water and flood management in Bangkok and the provinces could effectively drain the water. However, if there was heavy rain, the water could overflow and possibly clog the drainage systems, but the situation could return to normal within days. Yingluck said she was satisfied with this year's flood response plan, compared to last year's response. She stressed that all provinces were instructed to prepare flood response plans and systematic water management plans. A total of 10 provinces of 77 provinces, mostly in the upper part of the country were now hit by flood. About 53,000 people were affected by flood so far.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/15/2012

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VIETNAM: Launching Construction of National Satellite Center

HANOI, Sept.19 (Xinhua) - A groundbreaking ceremony for construction of the Vietnam Satellite Center was held at Hoa Lac High-tech Park in Vietnam's capital Hanoi on Wednesday. The center, scheduled to be completed by 2020, is built in line with the country's strategy on research and application of satellite technology, and expected to become the most modern center of this kind in Southeast Asia. The center will provide basic facilities to carry out research, training, application and international cooperation in satellite technology between Vietnam and its foreign partners, addressed Prof. Dr. Chau Van Minh, president of the Vietnam Academy for Science and Technology (VAST), which is entrusted by the Vietnamese government to chair and coordinate with relevant agencies to implement the strategy, including construction of the satellite center. Built on a 9-hectare area (90 square kilometers), the satellite center costs a total investment of 700 million U.S. dollars, of which 590 million U.S. dollars comes from Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the rest comes from Vietnam's corresponding fund. The project will be built into three major categories, including construction of infrastructure and equipment installment, a center to assemble and testing for small satellites, satellite signal receiving station, research and training center, satellite museum and weather station; Two domestically-made small satellites for the earth observation; and training for about 350 scientists and high-level managers in satellite technology.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/19/2012

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BANGLADESH: Computer Training for Disabled Begin

A two-month professional graphics design and outsourcing course for disabled began at Creative IT Institute in the city's Dhanmondi recently. Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID) and Creative IT jointly organized the course, which include different matters on outsourcing such as photoshop, illustrator and SEO. A total of 22 male and female disabled are participating in the course, which will conclude on November 20, said a press release. The initiative is aimed at imparting training to the disabled so that they can earn money staying at their homes. Managing Director of Creative IT Monir Hossain, coordinator Abida Khanam, project coordinator of CSID Akhter Hossain and CSID's programme manager Iftekhar Ahmed and others were present on the inaugural ceremony.

From http://www.unbconnect.com/ 09/23/2012

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INDIA: "Govt. Is Working with Social Media to Prevent Misuse of Technology", Says Sibal

Admitting to difficulties in identifying people using Web sites to spread communal hatred, the Government said it was working with social networking sites to create an institutional mechanism to prevent misuse of technology. Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said some social networking Web sites have agreed to share user information with the Government but there were some procedural issues involved. The minister said that the government has to make efforts in consultation with the Web sites and impress upon them to create an institutional mechanism to prevent misuse of technology. If there was misuse of technology there should be provision for punishment, Sibal said, adding no such provisions were available at present. Sibal said some Web sites have refused to share user information contending that they were beyond the jurisdiction of India as their web servers were located in other countries.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 08/23/2012

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Workshop Held on Urban Governance

A workshop on urban governance was organized in Kolkata on Tuesday where chairpersons and mayors of several municipalities and municipal corporations of the state were present. The progress of schemes that was discussed in the meeting were the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission ( JNNURM) scheme, Swarna Jayanti Sahari Rojkar Yojona scheme, the urban livelihood mission scheme, housing for urban poor, national social assistance programme and the BSUP schemes. Apart from discussing on the progress of these schemes, it was also reviewed as to how the municipalities and municipal corporations were functioning to provide the basic civic services like water supply, solid waste management, maintenance and upkeep of roads etc and whether they were facing any difficulties in providing the services. Some high profile municipalities like the Bidhannagar municipality is facing problems in important civic matters. For example, the Bidhannagar municipality has been facing trouble to collect property tax. The civic authorities said that they were trying to re-start collecting property tax from next month. Also, many of the civic bodies were facing problems to properly manage solid waste. In the last such review meeting with the representatives of various municipalities located within Kolkata metropolitan area, the government's beautification plans was laid down before the civic bodies. It was also discussed as to how the civic bodies can develop street lighting and illumination in their jurisdiction areas.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 08/29/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Management Strategy of Illegal Buildings Developed with WB Assistance

The implementation period of the World Bank project on real estate registration in Azerbaijan has been extended until the end of 2014, project director Gevin Adlingqton told journalists on Wednesday. Previously the completion of the project was planned for the end of February 2013. "The real estate registration process took 60 years in my country. As a result of intensive efforts such as adopting IT-systems, digital cadastral cards and others, this project is planned to be completed within five years in Azerbaijan," Adlington said. He said the major issue for the timed implementation of this project is document automation at the State Committee on Land and Cartography, but "we are still optimistic". Management strategy for 'illegal buildings' has also been developed in the project framework and this process will be controlled by Azerbaijani government the WB representative noted. In July, 2007, the Azerbaijani government and WB signed a memorandum of co-administration of a single real estate cadastre in the country. The project consists of four components; registration of real estate; administration and register of state property; basic cartography and land cadastre; trainings, policy forming and project administration. The project costs amount to 38.57 million dollars with 30 million falling to the share of WB credit. Credit resources are allocated for the period of 20 years with a grace period of five years. According to the project system of real estate transactions, registration will be automated in each of the 21 register offices. This system is expected to lead to an increase in the number of transactions. The project covers 21 offices of the State Service of Real Estate Registration and 60 offices of the State Committee on State Property Administration. Woodlands, wetlands and natural areas will be included in this system.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/20/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: Ready to Embrace Estonian Experience in 'Green Economy'

Kazakhstan is ready to learn from the experience of Estonia in the development of a green economy', Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Karim Massimov said at the opening of the Kazakh-Estonian Business Forum in Astana during the visit of Estonian counterpart Andrus Ansip on Thursday. "We are interested in expanding cooperation with Estonia where in addition to the traditional contacts in the field of transport, the use of the port of Tallinn and air transport, we can use other ways in which Estonia has achieved a great success," Massimov said. He added the matter of the application of Estonia's experience in the development of a 'green economy' and energy efficiency. "Kazakhstan has just begun to move in this direction and we would love to attract Estonian companies which have already gained experience in this field," the Prime Minister said. Massimov noted that currently there are 54 joint Kazakh-Estonian enterprises operating in the fields of trade, finance and construction in Kazakhstan. Estonia exports engineering products, food, vehicles to Kazakhstan. In turn, Kazakhstan supplies oil (worth 75 million euros delivered in 2011) and rubber chemicals to the country. Kazakhstan is a key partner of Estonia in Central Asia and in 27th place among that country's trade partners. Bilateral trade in 2011 amounted to 126 million euros in the first half of 2012 to 83.5 million euros.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/06/2012

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Kazakh Delegation Attends International Conference on Health and Safety

Kazakh delegation headed by the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Mukhtar Tleuberdi took part in an international conference on the problems of health and safety which was held on September 5-6. The main focus of the delegates was the development of partnership, prevention of and combating the spread of biological threats. The organizers of this event were the U.S. administration and a number of international organizations, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan said. Delivering a keynote address on the first day of the conference, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Andrew Weber praised the contribution of Kazakhstan and personally President Nursultan Nazarbayev to ensuring global security, and the promotion of disarmament and non-proliferation. Among the many achievements of Kazakhstan Weber highlighted the decision of the head of state of complete liquidation of the infrastructure for the production of biological weapons, which Kazakhstan inherited from the former Soviet Union. The U.S. politician also expressed his gratitude for the fruitful bilateral cooperation and support for strengthening and development of both regional and universal mechanisms to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including biological weapons.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/07/2012

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TAJIKISTAN: OSCE Holds Workshop for Customs Agencies on Trusted Trader Programmes

A three-day regional training workshop on the implementation of an Authorized Economic Operator programme and the use of ICT and non-intrusive inspection methods by customs agencies started at the OSCE Border Management Staff College in Dushanbe on Thursday, the organization reported. The participants will learn how countries can develop and implement their own trusted trader initiatives, with particular attention on accepting and recognizing each others' programmes. The training emphasizes the importance of building partnerships between customs and the trade community. The trusted trader programme enlists the co-operation of private industry to enhance border and supply-chain security, combat organized crime and terrorism and help detect and prevent contraband smuggling. It allows countries to pursue simultaneously increased trade security and facilitation. "The introduction of Authorized Economic Operator programmes as described in the WCO's SAFE Framework of Standards is of high relevance for the region. Both customs agencies and the private sector can benefit from it. If implemented properly, it can help customs agencies to achieve higher compliance levels and security guarantees, while the private sector benefits from the simplified procedures and clearance processes," Ambassador Ivar Vikki, the Head of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan said. The seminar was co-organized with the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities and the World Customs Organization (WCO). It gathers mid- and senior-ranking customs officials as well as business representatives from Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. This is the second training activity co-organized by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities and the OSCE Border Management Staff College this year. It was preceded by a regional seminar in July on the recently-released OSCE-UNECE Handbook of Best Practices at Border Crossings - A Trade and Transport Facilitation Perspective.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/20/2012

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TURKMENISTAN: Preparing to Move to 11-Year Education

President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov ordered to study the best international practices to extend term of education in secondary schools in the country to 11-12 years, an official Turkmen source said. This topic has been key on the agenda of recent meeting on the reform of the system of education, including academic and higher education, vocational and secondary schools. A government report then noted that "in the context of the immediate tasks aimed at the consistent improving quality of education, training highly qualified specialists for the various sectors of the national economy, raising the intellectual potential of the nation, the President outlined a number of priority issues for the further development of national education system." In recent years Turkmenistan restored the Academy of Sciences disbanded before, Graduate School, education returned to the standard norms (from nine to ten years), and foreign diplomas again began to be recognised. Unique institutions of the desert and the sun were also restored. An industrial park is being built near Ashgabat. According to the Turkish Polimeks project, within it construction of technology museum is provided. The object is intended to encourage innovation and partially resembles akademgorodok (university campus) of the USSR.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/01/2012

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Turkmenistan to Put Forward a Number of Specific Initiatives at the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly

According to the press service of the Embassy of Turkmenistan in the Russian Federation, at the upcoming 67th session of the UN General Assembly, beginning September 18 in New York, the major focus of Turkmenistan's foreign policy efforts will be in the following areas: 1. Peace and security. 2. Sustainable development. 3. Energy Security. 4. Environment and Climate Change. 5. Humanitarian dimension. In the first area (peace and security), Turkmenistan will provide all possible support to the disarmament processes. To this end, Turkmenistan proposes holding a High Level Consultative Meeting in 2013 to discuss measures to expand the international nonproliferation legal framework. Given that further improvement of the relevant UN agencies can be one of the practical steps to implement progressive measures in the sphere of disarmament, Turkmenistan proposes establishing a Sub-regional Centre for Disarmament in Asia. Turkmenistan considers joint activities of the UN Member States in combating illicit drug trafficking one of the priority areas of cooperation within the UN. Ashgabat considers it useful to engage the expert community to discuss effective approaches to regional and national projects and programmes of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the European Union, as well as bilateral projects. In this context, Turkmenistan will propose establishing a permanent consultative mechanism consisting of experts, which can be joined by representatives of the governmental and non-governmental structures, as well as international consultants.

In the second area (sustainable development), Turkmenistan will continue taking practical steps to implement the initiatives put forward by the President of Turkmenistan at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development "Rio +20". In the third area (energy security), particular attention will be paid to creating an international mechanism aimed at effective functioning of the system of energy supplies. In support of this initiative Turkmenistan will invite the General Assembly to start substantive work to launch the process of establishment of international legal instruments that provide for three main elements: a multilateral UN document (convention, treaty); an institutional arrangement (a relevant UN body designed to monitor the implementation of a multilateral instrument); a database (a system for collection and analysis of data on fulfillment of commitments made by countries). As the first step in this direction, Turkmenistan will propose establishing an international group of experts in cooperation with the UN, which could be comprised of representatives of all interested UN member states. In the fourth area (environment), considering the provisions of the "Rio +20" Final Document, Turkmenistan will propose organizing, in cooperation with the UN, an international conference "Green Economy for the 21st century: national experiences and international partnerships."

Turkmenistan considers development of a comprehensive approach to the problem of Aral Sea one of the most important issues that require more attention of the world community. Turkmenistan believes that it is necessary to continue promoting the idea on establishment of a UN Special Programme on the Aral Sea, which will provide for specific plans on stabilization and improvement of the situation in the Aral Sea region. At the same time, at the 67th session, Turkmenistan will prepare proposals on establishment of a format for international environmental cooperation on the Caspian Sea, providing for broader involvement of the relevant structures of the UN system. At the 67th session, Turkmenistan will further develop the initiative of the President of Turkmenistan for creation of effective international instruments in the field of climate change. For these purposes, Turkmenistan will begin working on the issue of establishment of a Regional Center for Climate Change Technologies in Central Asia and Caspian Basin. In the fifth area (humanitarian dimension), Turkmenistan considers it expedient to include humanitarian issues in the agenda of the 67th Session of the UN General Assembly as a separate and independent item. In this context, Turkmenistan proposes development of a UN Platform of Actions on humanitarian issues that will serve as a political and legal basis for consolidation of efforts of the world community in the humanitarian dimension.

From http://www.turkmenistan.ru/ 09/17/2012

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UZBEKISTAN: Government Tightens Internet Censorship

The Uzbek Cabinet of Ministers' information and analysis department has been granted new powers to tighten government control over information networks. A new wording of a statute on the information and analysis department for information systems and telecommunications, a special government unit, has extended its power to control information, including on the Internet, according to an anonymous source at the Uzbek Agency for Communications and Information (UzACI). The department, set up in September 2007, was tasked to help develop information and telecom technologies and provide information security to government agencies and major state-run enterprises. Five years later a government resolution granted new powers to this body to tighten control over the content on the Internet and mobile operators. The new wording of the statute acquired a new paragraph which point to the department's new role.

"[It will conduct] systematic monitoring of the national information space and activities of the media, including modern information and telecom technologies, a satellite system, the Internet, other electronic means of delivering and spreading information, as well as print products." The revised document granted the department a function to "preserve the integrity of the national information space". This envisages powers to block websites and to ban foreign print media "threatening the integrity of the national information space", the source said. Local websites will be subject to stricter censorship as a separate paragraph of the statute provides for the department's involvement in "setting common requirements for information resources on the Internet". "The .uz zone will become even duller and more uniform as many controlling government agencies' efforts will inevitably lead to this. We can ironically suggest that the appearance of websites will also be regulated soon," the source said. He also drew attention to a new function "to increase the level of coordination between operators and providers and relevant government bodies".

"This was a justification for the UzACI's requirements set for mobile operators and Internet providers to switch off networks at the first demand of authorities," the source said. The Cabinet of Ministers' information and analysis department's new powers practically duplicate the powers of the UzACI's centre for monitoring the mass communication sphere and the presidential administration's information and analysis department. "These three structures practically duplicate one another. The only sense in such duplication, I think, is to make the information sieve as fine as possible and impassable for 'destructive' information," the source at UzACI said. However, he said, there is a fundamental difference between these three departments. "Government and presidential analysts act 'in the shadow' and a wider public will never hear about them, while our centre is a public and openly punitive organisation and prosecution experts testify against journalists on behalf of us," the source at UzACI said.

From http://www.uznews.net/ 09/18/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Queensland State Govt Boosts Funding for Healthcare

A raft of funding and policy reforms will revitalise the State of Queensland's healthcare service delivery programme under new funding arrangements unveiled in the state's 2012-2013 budget by Treasurer, Tim Nicholls. Among the new funding, the state budget has earmarked US$1.3 billion (AUD$1.3 billion) to construct, expand, and redevelop hospitals across Queensland - marking a 7.3 per cent increase in overall health-related spending. Another US$51.6 million (AUD$51.6 million) is being allocated to improve and upgrade health facilities across regional and remote areas. Health funding for Queenslanders is part of a broader agenda that seeks to revitalise services across core service areas, including health. This latest round of funding is the "highest health budget" in Queensland's history. Apart from infrastructure investment, the government is supporting a series of health initiatives.

These initiatives include funding a trial that enables elderly parents to plan for the future of children under their care, and born with disability. Additionally, up to US$44 million (AUD$44 million) is earmarked to provide better access to emergency and specialist care. Up to US$28.9 million (AUD$28.9 million) is being set aside - offering mothers and babies with additional access to home visits and community clinics during a baby's first year of life. This latest health funding coincides with moves to rationalise the operations of the state's peak body, the Department of Health. Policy changes involve transitioning from a single entity toward a collection of independent entities that will manage healthcare, at the grassroots. Revitalising healthcare and community services is at the heart of policy reforms this financial year. A supporting budget paper, "Service Delivery Statement, Queensland Health," canvasses a "decentralised regime" for healthcare.

Decentralised decision-making improves the flexibility, responsiveness and innovative capability of the public health system. A renewed funding focus seeks to make Queensland's healthcare system more sustainable - while easing pressures on public health services. These pressures stem from a continued growth in population and ageing demographics. Queensland faces an increased prevalence of chronic disease, and an escalating cost of healthcare and technology investment. Revised organisational arrangements will deliver a "best-practice model" supporting healthcare infrastructure and services. Earlier, the Queensland government sought to rationalise healthcare staff numbers. Queensland Health was required to cut 2,754 jobs under changes proposed by the state's Health Minister, Lawrence Springborg.

Minister Springborg warned that Queensland's health budget had been "chronically over-run for the last 12 years at least." He pointed to a widely-publicised US$1.25 billion (AUD$1.25 billion) "payroll debacle," saying this development offered a "trigger" to target and deliver new savings. The Queensland government is seeking sweeping reforms following a change of administration from the Labor to Liberal Party in April 2012. Incoming Premier Campbell Newman replaces long-standing Premier, Anna Bligh. This change of guard paves the way to rationalise services, and reassign funding priorities across key areas, including health and education.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/13/2012

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ASPI Calls for Boost in Oceans Aid Focus

Australia should play a bigger role in helping its poorer neighbours manage and exploit their maritime zones, a new study says. The Australian Security Policy Institute (ASPI) paper says countries like Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu all have large but underdeveloped offshore exclusive economic zones. While the government aid agency AusAID does have some maritime aid programs they tended to be unco-ordinated and lacking in focus, the paper says. It called on AusAID to make oceans a "key theme" of its work. "A dedicated focus in Australian aid across the spectrum of ocean management and development would support our aid priorities in fostering economic growth in neighbouring developing countries and helping them to protect the marine environment," the paper said.

Australia should help regional coastal and island states develop the capacity needed to manage maritime zones and exploit resource potential. "We can't be generous to everyone: the world's full of poor people who need our help," it said. "That's why it's realistic that the governments new aid plan prioritises aid funding to help poor people in areas of strategic importance to Australia, sensibly focusing on our region."

From http://www.pina.com.fj/ 09/19/2012

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FIJI: Build First Women Resource Centre

Fiji is working to set up the Pacific island nation's first resource centre for women in Savusavu with support of the Australian government. "This will be the first centre of its kind for rural women in Fiji and I must acknowledge the vision and commitment of the Soqosoqo Vakamarama Cakaudrove, who in collaboration with the Architects without Frontiers from Australia has been working on this project since 2008," acting Australian High Commissioner Glenn Miles said here on Wednesday. According to Miles, with funding support from Australian AID of $1.3 million Fiji dollars (US$742,000), the Cakaudrove Women's Resource Centre will provide local rural women with safe accommodation when travelling to Savusavu town to sell their produce and handicrafts. The centre will also become a key meeting point for women from Cakaudrove to receive training and assistance to improve their livelihood and enhance their culture in Fiji's northern island.

The contribution of women to rural development is already well documented. According to the 2010 UN Women economic analysis report of municipal markets in Fiji, 87 percent of all market vendors were women and rural women in particular reinvest up to 75 percent of their income earned in municipal markets back into their villages on family wellbeing and community commitments. The centre will also be used as a training facility to empower and train young rural women towards self-employment, which will ensure that women living in remote parts of the northern island of Vanua Levu to have easier access to services over economic opportunities, health, nutrition and education.

"Improving women's economic empowerment is achievable. This centre, once completed, will become the vehicle to do this," Miles said, adding Australia "is committed to improving the lives of disadvantaged women, men, their families and communities in Fiji". As Fiji's largest bilateral donor, Australia is increasing its support to Fiji to an estimated $100 million (US$57 million) in official development assistance by 2014.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 09/06/2012

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ADB Report Rates Fiji Ports Highly

The Fiji Ports Corporation Limited (FPCL) has been rated as the best performing in a study that looked at the performance of the port sector state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in six Pacific countries. The new Asian Development Bank study, Finding Balance, Benchmarking the Performance of State-Owned Enterprises in Papua New Guinea assessed the impact of SOEs on the PNG economy and compared this to the impact of SOEs on the economies of five other Pacific countries - Fiji, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga. FPCL, achieved the best results against the five other countries in terms of the average return on equity - 2.44 per cent - and average return on assets - 4.33 per cent. "In relation to revenue per employee, PNG Ports Corporation Limited is the standout performer, which could be driven by the fact that a number of activities, such as stevedoring, are contracted out. This would also explain why PPCL's cost per unit of cargo processed is $5.44, second only to Wellington's CentrePort at $2.64," the report said. "While FPCL's performance may be partly explained by economies of scale, size does not tell the whole story. Indeed, FPCL's 2.44 per cent average return on assets (ROA) is equivalent to the 2.51 per cent average return on assets of the Port Authority of Tonga, which is 26 times smaller than FPCL."

Wellington's CentrePort, which is an efficiently run port with three times the asset size of FPCL, showed only a slightly healthier 4.34 per cent ROA in 2007-2008. The report was of the view that both Wellington's CentrePort and the Port of Napier provided useful benchmarking data for Pacific island ports. And while these two New Zealand ports handled greater volumes of cargo than five of the six Pacific island ports included in the study, their operational and financial ratios remained instructive. CentrePort and the Port of Napier achieved average ROEs of 7.16 per cent and 9.52 per cent respectively for the 2007-2008 period compared with 3.33 per cent for FPCL; 4.52 per cent for the Port Authority of Tonga; 1.22 per cent for the Samoa Port Authority (SPA); and 5.72 per cent for PNG PPCL.

"From this comparative review, size appears to have only a marginal impact on profitability. Other factors such as the degree of private sector participation, the efficient use of the asset base, and governance arrangements play a larger role. The degree of contracting out of port operations varies among the six Pacific island countries. In Samoa, SPA is a pure landlord port with all of the stevedoring, container handling, and major maintenance contracted out to the private sector, with SPA retaining pilotage and dredging as core services. FPCL, however, undertakes many functions at its port, including stevedoring and pilotage; and it will soon own and operate several replacement pilot boats," the study said. It added that all of the port companies suffered the negative effects of poor governance. FPCL, it said, which appeared to have robust governance practices, had high director turnover rates, which may adversely impact board performance.

In Samoa and Tonga, the port boards have allowed management to undertake investments in non core activities at investment rates well below the target ROE set by shareholders. In the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and Solomon Islands, there were no effective owners as monitors and performance targets set by the shareholder ministers; and they generally had weak governance practices. In PNG, the owner of the port company, the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC), appeared to have had little interest in the performance of its SOE subsidiaries for a number of years, including PPCL. "Because the economies in all of the Pacific island countries depend on trade with other countries for virtually everything they consume and much that they produce, high-cost and inefficient ports negatively impact every sector of the economy and can create a significant drag on growth and productivity. "Reform, which is therefore crucial, will require a combination of initiatives: improved governance, improved accountability, a greater commercial focus with hard budget constraints, sale of non core assets and business lines, better asset utilisation, and clearer management goals and consequences for non achievement," the study said.

From http://www.pina.com.fj/ 09/21/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: New Miss Samoa to Promote Gender Equality and Environment

The former Shortland Street actress and New Zealand born Samoan, Janine Nicky Tuivaiti will focus on promoting gender equality and protection of the environment during her reign as Miss Samoa. She was crowned Miss Samoa 2012/2013 during the Teuila annual pageant held at Tuanaimato Gym 1 last Friday night. The 20 year old who hails from the villages of Faleasiu-uta and Levi, Falelatai was sponsored by Thomsen's Bridal Couture and was the sixth contestant. The Law student currently enrolled at Auckland University has an impressive resume for someone so young. She was no stranger to the stage and huge audiences. At the age of seven, she was a radio announcer on the Fofoga Samoa Saili Malo Radio show on station 1386 AM and also Niu FM with Paul Niumata in New Zealand. She has also performed at the popular Christmas in the Park Concert in 2005. She has released her first CD with Matafua Faamatuainu entitled Lou Loimata. Her role on Shortland Street, one of New Zealand's leading drama series was playing the character of Manino Tolio.

The Miss Samoa also not her first pageant as she was crowned Miss West Auckland 2010. She also won awards for the Fuataimi Competition in the Annual Secondary Schools Polyfest in 2009 and 2010. She is also a choir tutor at Papatoetoe Methodist church. "God gives us opportunities and obviously I thank God for my success tonight. I am happy and overwhelmed, it's a good feeling though," said the newly crowned Miss Samoa Janine Tuivaiti. "It was challenging during the competition as there were five other beautiful contestants' not only beautiful faces but they had personality too," she told Talamua. As the reigning Samoan Teuila princess she said that she would 'try to the best of my abilities to make an impact by promoting gender equality in the work environment and make a change for women.' She acknowledged the support of the Almighty, her parents and grandparents. The next step for her she says is to, 'continue to come here to make a change and promote Samoa and develop her identity as a tamaitai Samoa and to not give up' She looks forward to the upcoming Miss South Pacific pageant as her next challenge.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 09/11/2012

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Govt 'Command and Control' in Christchurch Criticised

The "command and control" approach the Government is using in Christchurch is no longer appropriate, an expert in public policy and governance says. Sacha McMeeking believes rather than imposing "pre-packaged solutions" on Christchurch the Government should be taking a deliberative approach to decision-making in the city and engaging more with the community. "We need real-time political dialogue in Christchurch. There are lots of examples of how we can engage citizens. It is timely to start experimenting with that in Christchurch," McMeeking told National Radio's Nine to Noon programme this morning. She was on the programme with former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore to discuss concerns that local democracy in Christchurch has been eroded by the Government through the auspices of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU), and the Government-appointed Environment Canterbury commissioners.

Moore said Wellington has too much control over what is happening in Christchurch and that a board made-up of "sensible wise people" should be set up to help reconcile the differences between what central Government wants for the city and what local government wants. "We need a structure in place that makes the city democratic," Moore said. McMeeking said the problem was not the structures themselves, but how they were being driven. "We should be looking for greater citizenship engagement," she said. "Currently we have processes where technocrats ... work up solutions that are then delivered as pre-packaged solutions to the community." That left people with only two options - either to support those solutions or to oppose them. A better approach was to engage citizens before decisions were made. "People believe they have solutions to contribute. Now is the time to trust in the intelligence and solution building capabilities of the people of Christchurch," McMeeking said.

From http://tvnz.co.nz/ 09/17/2012

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Pacific's First Female Market Manager

Martha Horiwapu is the first female to hold the position of market manager in the Pacific Islands. Honiara City clerk Charles Kelly said in other Pacific Island countries all market managers are male. Kelly said since coming into office early this year Horiwapu has impressed the council with the smooth operation of the office. "We are proud and really appreciate what she is currently doing," Kelly said. As a result he said the council will be sending her to Fiji to observe the work of other market managers and see how their markets are managed. However, Horiwapu said being a market mistress was no easy task. "It is not an easy task for me to always ensure that local produce sold at the market are of good quality," the market mistress said. Horiwapu recently came under heavy criticism after her decision to ban the sale of second hand clothing at the Central Market.

However, she said urged market sellers especially women to be creative and sell items which they themselves create at home. "It takes creativity for women to venture into new business activities to find ends meet," she said. "As a women advocator to elevate local women excel in daily business activities I have to make a change in the market not to violate the Honiara City Council by law. If we want change we must accept change now."

From http://www.pina.com.fj/ 09/19/2012

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Pacific to Develop a Roadmap for Regional Strategy Integrating Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change

Increased climate variability and change has the potential to lead to more frequent and intense disasters. This is of great concern to Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTS) and this week delegates at the 4th session of Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Pacific Regional Water & Sanitation Consultations discussed the development of an integrated regional strategy for DRM and Climate Change which is to be ready by 2015 to succeed existing separate policy frameworks which run their course by then. The development of this new integrated strategy will inform the Pacific's contribution to the ongoing global process towards a post-2015 Framework for disaster risk reduction which will succeed the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 - 2015. The Hyogo Framework was the first plan to explain, describe and detail the work that is required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses.

Mosese Sikivou, Deputy Director for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's (SPC) Disaster Reduction Programme, said that while the task is challenging SPC and its other coordinating partners, the Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), believe it should be kept as simple as possible. "We want to ensure that the various sectors and interest groups that contribute to the overall reduction of vulnerability and risk in our region can get full value out of the new strategy. It needs to be something that provides useful guidance and supports the various countries and territories in the Pacific to define the specifics of what needs to be done, and how it is to be done, at national and sub national levels. We also need to make sure that the new strategy capitalises on opportunities available at the regional and global level, such as those arising from the Rio 20+ Summit and the Millennium Development Goals review."

Jerry Velasquez, Head of the UNISDR for Asia and the Pacific, said that given its track record with the Hyogo Framework, the Pacific was very capable of developing a new strategy. "The Pacific was the first region in the world to take the Hyogo Framework and turn it into a region-wide planning instrument. Again it is taking the lead with the integration of climate change and disaster risk management," Velasquez said. "It is proof that the region is focused and pro-active. It is an important step in addressing the key challenge of how to make national economies more climate-independent as you seek to safeguard development gains. The Pacific has much to offer the rest of the world by way of good example. I am confident that the outcome of this meeting will provide valuable input for the formulation of the next global agreement on disaster risk reduction that will replace Hyogo in 2015."

The Pacific Platform is co-convened by SPC in partnership with the UNISDR. The meeting this year is supported by partner organisations like, The Asia Foundation, United Stated Agency for International Development, the University of the South Pacific, Institute for Research and Development in New Caledonia, United Nations Development Programme Pacific Centre, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, AusAID, the European Union and the French Pacific Fund.

From http://www.pina.com.fj/ 09/21/2012

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The Next Battle for Internet Freedom Could Be Over 3D Printing

In case you've forgotten already, earlier this year some Congressional legislators attempted to protect intellectual property through the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The language in the bill was far-reaching and ambiguous; thus prompting concern that application of the law would extend beyond its intent. TechCrunch's own John Biggs explained that SOPA "would allow the US government to essentially 'turn off' part of the Internet that it doesn't like." Many people reacted adversely to the proposed legislation and after a wave of activism encouraged by non-profits, corporate titans, and thought leaders, SOPA never came close to being enacted. The internet has traditionally represented freedom to many people. It has become a global commons where information is rapidly and freely proliferated, unimpeded by governments or corporations. The fear that this freedom would be lost formed a large part of the backlash against SOPA earlier this year. Soon, we will face another wave of potentially liberty-limiting legislation involving our internet activity.

What will be the source of this legislation? 3D printing. To date, 3D printing has primarily been used for rapid commercial prototyping largely because of its associated high costs. Now, companies such as MakerBot are selling 3D printers for under $2,000. A current project on Kickstarter is attempting to raise funds for a 3D printer with a price of $1,199. Given the typical price and product cycle we've seen in the past, it would be no shock to see 3D printers selling for under $500 in a few short years. Eventually, 3D printing will enable individuals to print just about anything from the comfort of their own homes. Already, hobbyists who own 3D printers are creating jewelry and toys. In the commercial space, 3D printing can print homes, prosthetics, and replacement machine parts. 3D printers can also print guns and synthetic chemical compounds (aka drugs). In July, user HaveBlue reported on the AR15 forum that he had used a mid-1990s. 3D printer to create a fully functional .22 caliber gun. He wrote: "It's had over 200 rounds of .22 [caliber rounds] through it so far and runs great!" The 3D printed portion of the gun was printed in plastic with a reported material cost of about $100.

The potential policy implications are obvious. If high-quality weapons can be printed by anyone with a 3D printer, and 3D printers are widely available, then law enforcement agencies will be forced to monitor what you're printing in order to maintain current gun control laws. Otherwise, guns could become more widely available and firearms permits won't matter to someone like James Holmes or Jeffrey Johnson. They can circumvent firearms laws by simply printing their weapons from a 3D printer for under $100. That is, unless federal agencies monitor every CAD file sent to a printer, whether or not it is harmless. Monitoring of every file sent to a printer means that federal agencies would need access to every home and office network. It is likely impossible that the government will be able to successfully prevent every illicit item from being printed, chiefly because a 3D printer would not have to be connected to the internet to print from a local computer. However, you can expect that a time will come when perhaps well-meaning politicians will attempt to prevent guns and synthetic drugs from being created using 3D printers. If passed, the resulting laws would be draconian in their invasion of privacy while simultaneously ineffectual in preventing the creation of the products they seek to prohibit.

Either we allow for the ambiguity that freedom and unregulated 3D printing will bring, or we enforce far-reaching laws that may decrease liberty without changing results. For those who appreciate the internet because of its democratizing effects and freedom, I believe the choice is clear. We should decide now that we will oppose any law that attempts to undermine freedom on the internet, no matter the consequences.

From http://techcrunch.com/ 08/26/2012

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UN Launches Network for Sustainable Development

A network of universities, research centres and technical institutions to provide practical sustainable development solutions has been launched by the UN. The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), launched last month (9 August), will work with governments, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society organisations to identify and demonstrate new approaches to sustainable development. Poverty alleviation, social inclusion and environmental sustainability - three of the major sustainable development goals laid out in the Rio+20 outcome document, 'The Future We Want' - will be the network's main targets. Although in the very early stages, there was already "a high level of interest", according to the SDSN's director, Jeffrey Sachs, who is also the UN secretary-general's special advisor for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Sachs said he hoped that by mid-2013, the appointment of working groups to tackle specific issues, the development of new models for sustainable agriculture and urban environments, and the implementation of procedures for affiliated institutions will have taken shape. The network will generate ideas and review documents for governments and institutions, mobilise funds, and provide a platform to showcase projects in a pre-commercial stage such as carbon capture and agroecology technologies.

SDSN also aims to serve as an open-access information store, although the specific member commitments for this are still under discussion. Above all, the network will amplify the voices of scientific and technological institutions - at local, national and regional levels - in global debates, said Sachs. "The network will bring another set of actors, currently at the fringes of sustainable development problem-solving, into the discussion", he told SciDev.Net. It is these actors that are best placed to devise the practical solutions desperately needed for sustainable development, Sachs said, adding that the lack of engagement with stakeholders at a national and local level when developing the MDGs had limited their effectiveness. "From experience, these institutions should be involved from the start." To help this rich source of expertise filter into government processes, the SDSN will have multiple points of contact with UN agencies, providing them with briefing papers on complex and diverse scientific issues, driven by researcher expertise. In particular, the network will have close ties with the high level panel formed recently to set a new development agenda beyond 2015 - the official 'end' of the MDGs. It will also link with other bodies, including the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) international scientific advisory board, which grew out of Rio+20, Sachs said. He added that the SDSN's "downstream" processes were not meant to substitute for such bodies but rather to complement their roles. However, David Sattertwhaite, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development, in the United Kingdom, told SciDev.Net that sustainable development solutions already existed at grassroots level. Therefore, rather than focusing on academic institutions, which had a poor record in driving development gains, more effort should be made to empower local governments through better funding, as they are best placed to capitalise on these innovations, he said.

From http://www.scidev.net/ 09/03/2012

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ICT in an Ageing Society

"There is no reason for older people in Europe to miss out on the benefits of new technologies", said once the Vice-president of the European Commission Viviane Reding, talking about one of the main objectives of the European Union and also of several ICT companies: to introduce this sector of the society into the 'tech world'. On 11 September a group of experts on technology and ageing, presented at the European Economic and Social Committee some ideas and projects that will help both older people and organisations specialized in technology to find their place in the world we are leaving. By 2020, 25% of the EU's population will be over 65 and people aged from 65 to 80 will rise nearly 40% until 2030. To respond to this growing demographic challenge, the Council of Ministers approved on 2008 a €600 million Commission plan to develop digital technologies designed to help older people to continue living independently at home and to be more involved in new platforms, such as social networks. Likewise, the Digital Agenda for Europe is pushing the ICT in the Member States and is offering better services to citizens, like high-speed internet connections, access to cultural content and job opportunities, explained Bruno Constantini, Secretary-General of FERPA (European Federation of Retired and Older Persons). According to him, to go forward and obtain good results, companies must have older people in mind because they "can be integrated as resources", and to not hire them is "a drop in the productivity of companies and a drop in the creation of products."

We use to think that people over 65 are at the end of their lives and don't need to work any more, but we are wrong. They can share they experience and younger generations can teach them about new technologies, said Constantini. "Our society can not longer live without technology", he stated, and "we need everybody on board", including older people. The percentage of people using ICTs in the workplace is increasing. According to a study made by Eurofound to 42,000 citizens in 34 different countries, 42% used them in 2010. Besides, 11,5% used ICT and machinery, 19,5% only the second option and a 27% could work without them. As well, is important to highlight that the number of people over 50 that work with technologies is growing up rapidly, 45,8% utilise them. However, "more use at work means new conditions", explained Greet Vermeylen, research manager at Eurofound. For instance, these new kind of jobs need specific skills and older people must be updated to be efficient and productive. Besides, "it is difficult to see whether ICT is helpful or not" for them, because some works may be more intensives, with painful positions or can generate long-term effects, she said. Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) is a joint program that calls for proposals for research and development to enhance the quality of life of older people. It counts with a €700 million budget, which 50% comes from the Commission and other public partners, and will finish in 2013.

In its five calls since 2008 the project worked always under the same idea: "improve quality of life of elderly people", said Karina Marcus, Director of the programme. To offer the option of "ageing well at home, community and work", they work in partnership with small and medium enterprises and universities, among others. Within its projects we can find "Rosetta", which installs alarms and other devices at home; Cap Mouse, a computer mouse that can be used with the tongue for people with diseases like Parkinson; and Connected Vitality, a laptop with two screen to create a more real communication. Despite Europe is working very hard to introduce older people into technologies, the continent would grow faster if all countries take examples of others, such as Japan. The Asian country has a rapid ageing population, therefore it created different devices and services to give more facilities to its older citizens. Besides the electronic health record, they developed a tele-medicine program which gives medical solutions, a tele-work system to promote jobs, a robot that can find solutions for dangers in public areas and a green ICT project, explained Koji Ouchi, First Secretary of the Mission of Japan in the EU. There is no doubt that older people are an important part of our society, and companies, institutions and younger generations should value them. Nevertheless, first of all we have to "ensure that access to ICT is a SGI (service of general interest)", said Pierre Bauby, EESC expert, and also "ensure that EU founds contribute."

From http://www.neurope.eu/ 09/11/2012

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ICT Useful in Creating Sustainable Cities - Worldwatch Institute

Information and communication technology can be a useful tool in helping cities like congested ones in countries like India and China improve their safety, cleanliness, and sustainability, according to a Worldwatch Institute study. More than half of the world's population live in urban areas, with many suffering from inadequate transportation, sub-standard buildings, lack of sanitation and poor public safety. According to the report, ICT can help not only through sustainable urban initiatives, but by encouraging more environmentally conscious consumer choices. "In Singapore, for example, commuters can use mobile phones to avoid hours in traffic by accessing data mapping tools that display traffic and provide alternate travel routes," the report said. "Commuters can also plan trips on public transportation and be notified of delays or changes in service." Michael Renner, Worldwatch senior researcher, says some municipal governments are already finding out the usefulness of ICT in the path towards sustainability. "Cities can be run more intelligently with the help of digital infrastructure, such as motion-sensor street lamps and energy chips in transit passes that allow people to enter a subway or bus with the simple swipe of a card," he said. Businesses can also contribute to boost sustainability, like how the Dutch city of Rotterdam partnered with conglomerate G.E. to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent, compared with 1990 levels.

"G.E. will use data visualizations, smart meters, and other technologies to optimize energy efficiency and improve water management," the report said. "The use of these ICT's will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Rotterdam, which emits as much carbon dioxide as New York City, while being only a tenth of its size." However, the report says ICT is not the silver bullet solution to greening cities despite how much it can contribute. "To be effective, ICT must be used not only in mapping problems encountered across cities, but also to find sustainable solutions to those problems," said the report's contributing author, Diana Lind of nonprofit Next American City. She highlighted three ways on how ICT can effectively promote sustainability, namely open access to data, community mapping, and community watch. Better data access can help make connections among seemingly disparate variables. One example is the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University in New York, where data is used to establish the connection between crime and poor housing, education and health care. "By analyzing data from the criminal justice system, researchers found that a disproportionate number of felons were from specific neighborhoods in large U.S. cities," Ms. Lind said. "Similar research may help officials target policies around education and poverty reduction in these areas, which could help in preventing crime." Mapping, on the other hand, can help ensure effective and sustainable urban planning. In some countries, large slums with a large population are excluded from city maps, discounting the numerous residents there. If these are included in maps, the city would not only become more organized, but can also prevent crime and accidents. Finally, community watch can be improved with ICT through various efforts like taking aerial photos of areas that may endanger public health or be of environmental concern, or reporting damaged street lights, streets, among others. With these, local governments can respond easier with such issues.

From http://www.ecoseed.org/ 09/21/2012

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ASEAN Nations Can Help Prevent Global Rice Price Rise

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ASEAN nations can help avoid world rice price shocks by reducing export restrictions, placing less emphasis on self-sufficiency, retooling Thailand's rice pledging program, and expanding coordinated rice policies with India and Pakistan, according to a series of working papers from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). "So far, the rice market appears to be holding steady and current production estimates suggest that overall prices will remain stable, which is good news in a time of worry over the global corn, wheat, and soybean markets," said Lourdes Adriano, Practice Leader for Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development in the Regional Sustainable Development Department at ADB. "To enhance resiliency and ensure that rice prices do not jump beyond the reach of the region's poor, policy makers must think and act regionally." The 2007-2008 rice price spike was triggered in part by export restrictions, and panic buying by importers. The working papers, produced out of the recent ASEAN Rice Trade Forum organized by the ASEAN Food Security Reserve Board, the ASEAN Secretariat, and ADB, show regional trade restrictions pushed global rice prices up 149%.Instead, the papers recommend that rice importing countries lower their self-sufficiency targets in exchange for commitments from exporting countries to stay away from unilateral export restrictions. Importing countries would feel less need to insure themselves against trade disruptions and exporting countries would gain new markets.

Assuming normal weather conditions and same macro conditions, rice output among ASEAN nations is expected to grow at 1.37% annually, from 110.5 million metric tons in 2010-2011 to 128.3 million metric tons by 2021-2022. Harvests will increase by 1.22% annually, while harvest area will increase by 0.15% to nearly 47 million hectares by 2022. Thailand is projected to return as the world's top rice producer, but the working paper notes that its rice pledging program, which guarantees farmers receive more than market price for their crops, provides disincentives to its exporters, resulting in the continual loss of rice export revenues since late 2011. As of 28 May 2012, exports are down by 43.1% or 2.86 million metric tons. Enhancing ASEAN's Resiliency to Extreme Rice Price Volatility also warns that should India revert to an export ban as it liquidates its rice stock and suffers from drought, the global rice economy could tighten quickly. This is particularly true if Thailand maintains its high paddy pledging price floor, as it effectively serves as an implicit tax on its rice exports. The recent climb in the price of international rice, and particularly for all types of Vietnamese broken rice, is because Thai traders are buying Vietnamese rice through the Cambodia-Thai borders to meet their export orders. Purchasing rice through this route is still cheaper for Thai traders than buying high-priced Thai rice. Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, and Myanmar have good production potential, given the availability of land and water resources, but require investments in transportation and market infrastructure, research and development for producing more with efficient use of natural resources, and improvements in production and milling quality. ASEAN also supplies rice to African countries. In 2011, Thailand and Viet Nam provided more than half of the total rice imports of Africa. Together with India and Pakistan, these four rice producing countries supplied about four-fifths of African rice needs.

From http://www.adb.org/ 08/30/2012

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APEC Economic Leaders' Week: Reinvigorating Growth and Prosperity

APEC Leaders and Ministers will gather in Vladivostok, Russia during APEC Economic Leaders' Week from 2-9 September to deliver an added boost to growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. Leaders of APEC's 21 member economies will meet on 8-9 September under the theme 'Integrate to Grow, Innovate to Prosper.' The meeting will be preceded by the APEC Ministerial Meeting on 5-6 September. On the table will be APEC's 2012 priorities which include the strengthening of trade and investment, regional economic integration, food security, supply chains and innovation. The business community will have several opportunities for high-level engagement with APEC Leaders in Vladivostok, including during the APEC CEO Summit on 7-8 September. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the host of APEC Leaders, will join this annual open dialogue between APEC Leaders and chief executives from across the region. The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Dialogues with Leaders on 8 September will facilitate an exchange of policy views in a roundtable setting that will deepen the understanding between key decision-makers involved in lifting the regional economy. Helping to launch APEC Economic Leaders' Week will be a meeting of ABAC representatives on 4-6 September and the Concluding APEC Senior Officials' Meeting on 2-3 September which will finalize preparations for APEC Leaders and Ministers. Throughout the week, APEC member economies and stakeholders will continue to work together to foster the kind of understanding, interest and propensity for action needed to build a more integrated and prosperous region. Guided by an enduring commitment to open dialogue and consensus, members will jointly assess and build on the progress made during the year to advance policies that further strengthen the regional economy and reinvigorate global growth.

From http://www.apec.org/ 08/31/2012

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Asia 'Will Be Hit Hard by Drought in 2020s'

Asia's wheat and maize production will be severely affected by climate change as early as the 2020s - with potentially devastating impacts on food security, a report warns. Previous climate change projections have covered long periods: for example, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change focuses on predicting changes for the period 2050 - 2100. The new report - 'Food Security: Near future projections of the impact of drought in Asia' - focuses on the 2020s, and highlights the areas policymakers need to address immediately. Published in draft form in July, by the UK-based Centre for Low Carbon Futures, the report averaged the projections from 12 global 'state-of-the-science' climate models. It found that, compared with the 1990 - 2005 period, the 2020s will witness increasingly severe droughts across much of Asia, primarily due to the decreasing availability of freshwater from seasonal rains. This is already a concern in many parts of South Asia, where poor monsoon rains have caused consternation for farmers this year. "China and India have the world's largest populations and are Asia's largest food producers," lead researcher Piers Forster, professor of physical science at the University of Leeds's Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, wrote in a foreword to the report. "We predict that their wheat and maize harvests will be strongly affected by droughts [...] unless states and communities can quickly adapt their agricultural practices."

China, Indonesia and Pakistan were relatively well-placed to adapt to climate change, the report found. Meanwhile, India was found to have one of the lowest capacities to adapt its wheat production, and central and northern India to adapt its maize production. The report recommends a series of policy measures to implement over the coming decade, including: immediate action to improve water resource management; the adaptation of farming practices, such as alternating planting dates; and more efficient use of fertilisers and pesticides. Wang Baotong, a crop expert from the Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University in Yangling, China agreed with the report's findings. He said that in such a large country experiencing increasing population, urbanization and cultivated area, food production in the face of climate change will be a big challenge. But Xiao-Ping Hu, a crop expert at the same university, said that the drought in China is not as serious as the report portrays it. He added that China is researching ways to enhance its crop production and quality.

From http://www.scidev.net/ 09/05/2012

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Joint Statement: APEC Is Foundation for Global Recovery

APEC Ministers concluded their meeting on Thursday in Vladivostok by issuing a Joint Statement on promoting increased growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region amid continued global economic uncertainty. The meeting was co-chaired by Russian Foreign Ministers Sergey Lavrov and Economic Development Minister Andrey Belousov. Ministers agreed that by acting on the concrete initiatives that the Joint Statement describes, the Asia-Pacific region will continue to serve as a major engine for the world economy and key driver for international trade and investment. It also can help APEC economies move closer to achieving balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth, and build a seamless regional economy. The Joint Statement outlines policy initiatives based on Ministers' assessment of progress in advancing APEC's 2012 priorities:
Trade and Investment Liberalization, Regional Economic Integration
Strengthening Food Security
Establishing Reliable Supply Chains
Intensive Cooperation to Foster Innovative Growth
Annexes to the Joint Statement include:

Annex A - Model Chapter on Transparency for Regional Trade Agreements/Free Trade Agreements for APEC
Annex B - Towards Reliable Supply Chains
Annex C - Recommendations of the innovation technology dialogue on nanotechnologies for energy efficiency
Annex D - Outcomes of APEC International Education Conference "Shaping Education within APEC"
Annex E - Investing in Human Capital

Ministers recognized the importance of strengthening APEC as an institution with respect to its capacity building work, private sector involvement and operational activities. They also welcomed preparations for APEC 2013 in Indonesia and the announcements by China, the Philippines and Peru that they will host APEC in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively. APEC Ministers' Joint Statement builds momentum for the 20th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting which will be hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin here in Vladivostok on 8-9 September.

From http://www.apec.org/ 09/06/2012

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APEC Region Trade Still Outperforms World

Trade in the APEC region continues to outperform the rest of the world, weathering global economic uncertainty, according to new APEC Policy Support Unit (PSU) research that was presented to APEC Ministers during their meeting in Vladivostok on Thursday. Growth in the nominal USD value of merchandise trade for APEC economies moderated to 4.6 percent in May 2012, down from 12.1 percent growth in December 2011 due to weak global economic activity and deflated traded good prices. But it was enough to remain at the top of the heap, by comparison. The rest of the world contracted by 5.6 percent in May 2012. "Though trade performance varied across the region in the first half of 2012, due to weak global demand and sharp falls in commodity prices, APEC members' economic growth has been fairly robust and resilient" said PSU Director, Dr Denis Hew. "Foreign direct investment across APEC economies is also encouraging," he adds. As a whole, the region accounted for nearly half of the growth of global FDI inflows in 2011. Economic activity in the APEC region is expected to remain relatively robust in the medium-term, despite trimmed growth forecasts caused by increased uncertainty abroad. Based on International Monetary Fund data, member economies' real GDP growth is on pace to accelerate from 4.1 percent in 2011 to 4.2 percent in 2012 and 4.5 percent in 2013, keeping ahead of the rest of the world.

APEC members' economic growth and their trade and investment flows could be significantly impacted by downside risks related to the external environment. However, there are steps that can be taken to help mitigate the risks, the report suggests. Proposed steps, supported by the business community, include reiterating the pledge to maintain free and open markets, and renewing the pledge to withdraw existing restrictive measures and resist new protectionist measures to bolster the global economic recovery process. "APEC should also continue to monitor trade and investment measures by member economies," Dr Hew said, building on the commitment made by Ministers in Singapore in 2009. Such issues are being constructively addressed by APEC Leaders, Ministers and Senior Officials during the 2012 APEC Economic Leaders Week here in Vladivostok. The APEC Policy Support Unit, APEC's independent research arm, regularly produces trade and economic analysis based on wide-ranging data sourced for all 21 APEC member economies.

From http://www.apec.org/ 09/07/2012

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Asia IT Leaders More Certain of Cloud Needs

Summary: CIOs in the region have moved out of the experimental phase with cloud computing; and now have the company's commercial and legal support to purchase cloud services.

SINGAPORE - IT leaders in the region have moved out of the experimental phase with cloud computing and now have a clear understanding of what they want from cloud providers as well as backing from the business's commercial and legal support. Speaking at a media briefing here Thursday, Bill Fathers, president of Savvis, said the discussions with CIOs has been "radically different" compared to last year as the IT leaders know exactly what they want from cloud computing. When purchasing cloud services, good CIOs are focused on business performance and are "armed to the teeth" with commercial and legal support of the company, said Fathers, adding that IT now reports to the CEO, not just the CFO. Mark Smith, managing director of Savvis Asia, who was also present added that CIOs were still "experimenting" with cloud a year ago. Now, they are "more serious" about cloud and are adopting cloud-based mission critical applications, he said. According to Fathers, cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) is one of the most popular apps for companies in Asia. However, enterprises are not trying to convert all their existing apps to be cloud-friendly and are looking to adopt new cloud-enabled apps, he said. Software-as-a-service for business analysis and business intelligence is among the new popular cloud apps. Fathers noted that SAP HANA and Oracle Exadata are popular tools for structured data. The unstructured data space does not have a dominant player as 20 providers are doing equally well, he added.

Biz bypassing IT to buy cloud services
Fathers noted that good CIOs treat cloud service purchases as partnerships with cloud providers, and not just a commercial transaction. However, the president noted that one-third of his clients are business owners who bypass the IT department to purchase cloud services. For some businesses, the IT department is seen as a constraint to business as opposed to a department to accelerate business growth, he said. Fathers noted that IT departments of financial services were "more conservative" while consumer and media companies were more forward-looking. He believes that the financial services industry was more conservative as it is subject to financial regulatory changes. He believes 95 percent of IT spending for these businesses is devoted to complying with the law. In order to take up jobs from the financial services industry, outsourcers have to become experts in regulatory changes as well. He added that Savvis currently has 15 employees whose role is to keep up with regulatory compliance.

Outsourced cloud adoption in Singapore to jump
During the briefing, Fathers also presented findings of a survey on IT infrastructure outsourcing trend. The study found that 98 percent of Singapore organizations planned to outsource the majority of their IT infrastructure by 2017, up from 58 percent that currently do. The study, which is in its fourth year, was conducted by Vanson Bourne. The research firm polled 550 senior IT decision makers from enterprises in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, United States, United Kingdom and Germany. Among Singapore companies with majority outsourced IT infrastructure, only 2 percent of the companies use outsource cloud. However, this figure is expected to grow to reach 74 percent in 5 years' time. Some companies are still hesitant to move to the cloud, according to the study. The top three reasons include concern over how much management and control resource is required; anticipated difficulty of integrating with existing infrastructure; and legal issues about processing workloads in an unknown geographic location, the study noted. Savvis also announced a dual-site hosing agreement with the Singapore Exchange (SGX). Smith explained that this will allow Savvis customers a closer connection with SGX's services, while providing a redundant facility for clients of the stock exchange. Asia is an important market for Savvis which expects strong growth from the region, said Fathers. Out of US$500 million global investment, the company has allocated US$200 million to the region despite Asia contributing a single digit percentage revenue contribution, he noted.

From http://www.zdnet.com/ 09/13/2012

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Asia-Pacific to Boost Integration of Education, Science

Representatives of the Asia-Pacific economies have agreed to establish closer ties between universities and research centres that would promote mobility for researchers and education providers. The aim is to promote technological innovation and economic development in the region. Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies, including Chile, Indonesia, and Malaysia, agreed to promote high-quality education services, strengthen regional ties and facilitate skill transfers at the APEC forum in Vladivostok, on Russia's Pacific coast, last week (2 - 9 September). Given that many developing economies in the region are moving to more knowledge-intensive, value-added manufacturing, "access to a wide range of quality higher educational services is critical for sustainable growth on this development pathway," says the APEC leaders' declaration on Promoting Cross-Border Education Cooperation. The agreement to encourage mobility envisages measures such as transparent visa regimes and developing joint research projects, as well as better provision of data on educational programmes and increasing the flexibility of courses - for example, offering online options. The policy focus of cooperative education and research should be on developing human capital and solving social problems in the region, according to APEC.

Earlier this year APEC formed a Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation, to foster public-private partnerships involving governments, scientists and businesses. The move was also aimed at increasing innovation and using new technologies to solve regional problems. Indonesia and New Zealand agreed at the Vladivostok forum to host a meeting of APEC science advisors under the partnership next year. The aim of the meeting is to advance strategic science and innovation relationships amongst APEC members. "We have limited budget for research, and people do not pay much attention to science, technology and innovation," Tiomega Gultom, the deputy director of International S&T Network Development Program and Analysis for the Ministry of Research and Technology of Indonesia (MoRT) told SciDev.Net. She added that the policy partnership initiative may help to make science, technology, and innovation become "an integral or an essential part for the implementation of development in Indonesia". APEC could be funding collaboration of researchers in areas of common concerns, such as renewable energy, food security and agriculture, global warming, and disaster mitigation, Gultom said. But she added that so far, APEC has only funded capacity building through workshop and seminars and has not provided scholarship for degree studies or research funding. Several APEC officials said the broader goal of cooperation on education and innovation policy was to help achieve a regional trade agreement that will allow free cross-border flow of capital, people, ideas, goods and services.

From http://www.scidev.net/ 09/14/2012

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CHINA: Shanghai Revs Up Broadband Speed to 16Mbps

SHANGHAI'S average broadband bandwidth will increase to 16 megabytes per second (Mbps) by the end of this year from current 12 Mbps, making the city the fastest in broadband connections in China. China Telecom said today subscribers to its faster fiber-optic network will total 2.5 million, or 70 percent of the city's total broadband family users. At present, 2 million Shanghai homes have installed the fiber-optic network .Local broadband service providers have been criticized for their low speed connections and higher prices. Two years ago, a Beijing-based research firm said Shanghai was the city with the slowest broadband network in China, said Shanghai Telecom, the city's biggest fixed-line phone operator. "After huge investment and several network upgrades, Shanghai is expected to take a lead in broadband services," said Hua Ruiqiang, Shanghai Telecom's marketing director. China Telecom's average broadband bandwidth in Shanghai will top 50 Mbps by 2015 and catch up with South Korea and Japan, Hua said.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 08/28/2012

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China to Digitalize Civil Air Defense Management by 2020

A senior official pledged on Monday to finish the construction of a digital managing system of China's civil air defense by 2020. The system would cover a basic network of information exchange, as well as systems on alarming, commanding, rescue and integrated support, said Bai Jianjun, head of the national Office of Civil Air Defense, at a training session in east China's Jiangxi Province. As to the progress of the ongoing digitalization, Bai said that regional optical-fiber communication networks had been installed in over 80 percent of all the provincial regions in the past decade. In addition, audible alarming systems had been equipped to over 95 percent of all the cities, said Bai.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/03/2012

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China to Upgrade Maritime Satellite Network by 2020

China plans to launch eight satellites providing ocean and land data before 2020, a senior official said on Wednesday. "The planned satellite launches, including four satellites observing the color of the sea, two observing ocean currents and two maritime radar satellites before 2020, have been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission," Jiang Xingwei, director of the National Satellite Ocean Application Service, told China Daily at the third Digital Ocean Forum in Tianjin. The new satellites will greatly improve China's ability to observe and supervise the marine environment, he said. China already has three satellites that monitor its territorial waters and islands, including the Diaoyu Islands and Huangyan Island, but they cannot be used to focus on a fixed location, Jiang said. The launch of the two maritime radar satellites will add that capability.

Pan Delu, of the State Oceanic Administration's Second Institute of Oceanography, said at the forum that it is urgent China moves forward with the satellite project because the country is at least 10 years behind the satellite technology of developed economies such as the United States. China is accelerating its pace of research and development of satellite technologies and broadening international cooperation. On Aug 30, China's National Satellite Ocean Application Service and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites in Germany signed an agreement allowing the exchange of data from their ocean-monitoring satellites. Jiang said that a US organization has shown interest in the data from the Haiyang-2 satellite. China has three maritime satellites in operation, according to the NSOAS.

Under the country's previous maritime satellite plan, published on the agency's website, three additional series of satellites will be launched: the ocean color (Haiyang-1) series, ocean current (Haiyang-2) series and maritime radar (Haiyang-3) series. Together, they will provide the capacity needed to fully monitor the country's ocean environment and guarantee its maritime rights. Satellite images and data have widely been used in marine environment monitoring and island protection. Xia Dengwen, deputy director of the China Oceanic Information Network of the State Oceanic Administration, said the current sea-monitoring is done by some satellites and aircraft. If more satellites are launched, the system will operate better, said Xia, who is in charge of the system. After three years of operation, the national sea-monitoring system has gradually expanded its coverage from offshore waters to distant areas, covering about 300,000 square kilometers of ocean, according to the State Oceanic Administration. Xia said satellite images and data provide important information used by China Marine Surveillance in monitoring the legitimate and illegal use of the oceans, helping authorities adjust the annual national sea-use plan.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/06/2012

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1.3 Million Rural Vendors Own Online Stores

THE number of online stores run by rural business owners more than doubled in 2011 as 1.31 million rural producers now sell products online, according to a recent survey made by Alibaba Group and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce company that operates Taobao.com, says the number of Taobao-licensed stores in rural towns and villages reached 590,260 at the end of 2011. The survey also showed that online transaction volume in China's rural area reached 20.9 billion yuan, still a fraction of total sales by traditional means. Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Fujian have more online vendors and bigger sales volumes than other provinces. About 24 percent of rural online business owners surveyed said poor transportation remains the biggest obstacle for their business expansion, especially in mountainous provinces like Yunnan and Shanxi.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/10/2012

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Cloud Computing Gives Baidu Mobile Edge

BAIDU, China's largest search engine operator, is boosting its cloud computing service in an effort to maintain its dominance of the mobile Internet sector.At its annual technology innovation conference in Beijing last week, Baidu said it will start to offer data storage and processing on the web instead of on actual servers to web-based application developers free of charge. The company will allow outsiders to include its own module, including applications like map software, on their products to help them build based on Baidu's existing service. Market watchers said the offer could benefit smaller developers who have limited resources. The search engine remains the most popular feature for Internet users in China. However, an increasing number of smartphone users are accessing the Internet through mobile phone applications to read news and exchange information with friends. Baidu Chief Executive Officer Robin Li said queries from smartphone applications at the search site surged 10-fold in the past year. However, mobile-based services comprise so little of Baidu's income at present that they aren't broken out in the company's quarterly earnings.

The value of China's mobile Internet market is expected to reach 73.8 billion yuan (US$11.6 billion) by the end of this year, with advertising income of 5.7 billion yuan, nearly double a year ago, according to a research report by Data Center of China Internet. An increasing number of players are entering the market, but most mobile Internet applications have yet to turn a profit. Consumers are bombarded with loads of applications, making it hard for any particular software to stay on top for more than several months. Smaller applications aimed at particular target groups barely get a notice. Making use of Baidu's computing capacity means smaller and medium-size developers won't have to pay for servers and other hardware facilities. Baidu has launched mobile phone software based on its search products, including maps, music streaming and photo editing. Earlier this year, it also collaborated with domestic handset makers to pre-install its Android-based smartphone operating system to boost traffic on mobile devices. But these initiatives apparently weren't enough to address a wider array of consumer needs, not to mention the various smartphone models with different operating systems.

Baidu will allow developers access to its cloud computing facility, such as remote online data storage and virtual application testing facilities, to make sure software can run smoothly on different types of operating systems. Baidu Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Li said the company will invest 10 billion yuan to build cloud-computing facilities. That includes a 4.7 billion yuan facility under construction in north China's Shanxi Province that will be put into use in four years. "We've been working hard to study individual web users' habits and search demands, and now we'll work more closely with developers," said Li Mingyuan, general manager of Baidu's Mobile and Cloud Computing division. Baidu's plan is to appeal to more users by joining hands with a group of applications makers instead of coming up with its own software on the mobile Internet. By doing so, it hopes that netizens who have been using its site to search for news and online interest groups will stay on the site to look for mobile phone applications. More application programming interface will be opened for developers early next year, including payment modules that will allow smartphone users to pay for applications they have downloaded or for value-added services within applications, such as games. Baidu surely won't be doing all this for free. Vice President Wang Jin said the building of cloud computing infrastructure is just the first step.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/11/2012

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Lenovo Eyes 'Public Cloud' for Consumers

LENOVO Group Ltd, the world's second-largest maker of personal computers, has agreed to buy Stoneware Inc of the US to gain cloud-computing products in its first acquisition of a software vendor. Stoneware produces software used mainly by governments and schools to synchronize data across multiple mobile devices, said Mark Cohen, a Lenovo vice president. The closely held, Indianapolis-based company has 60 employees, he said yesterday, without disclosing terms. The purchase is Lenovo's second in less than three weeks as CEO Yang Yuanqing expands the company to take on rivals including Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co in smartphones, tablets and Internet-ready televisions. Lenovo will use Stoneware to build a "public cloud" for consumers, Cohen said. The service would compete with Apple's iCloud, which lets users store music, movies and applications and access them by the Internet and wirelessly. The acquisition "helps us access and interface with users in a way that we haven't been able to do," Cohen said. "We are not trying to remake ourselves into a software company. What we're trying to do is selectively enter the software market where we can make a difference for our customers, and to support our overall strategy."

Lenovo, whose headquarters are in Beijing and Morrisville, North Carolina, has focused previous acquisitions on hardware. It bought the PC division of International Business Machines Corp in 2005. Last year, the company acquired control of Medion AG, a Germany-based computer maker, and the PC unit of Tokyo-based NEC Corp. On September 5, Lenovo unveiled plans to buy the Sao Paulo-based consumer electronics group known as CCE for about US$147 million. Cloud computing refers to data and software stored in "clouds" of servers that can be accessed anywhere by devices with web access, including smartphones and tablet computers. Lenovo has been in a partnership to re-sell Stoneware's software for the past two years, during which time the company's revenue doubled, Stoneware CEO Rick German said in an interview, without supplying more specific details. "We hope to do far better than that as we come together," German said. The software maker is profitable and was founded in 2000, he said. The transaction is expected to close by the end of this year, Cohen said.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/19/2012

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JAPAN: Govt to Expand Network for Wind Power

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry plans to expand the power transmission network from fiscal 2013 to promote the use of wind power. It will designate Hokkaido and part of Tohoku, regions deemed suitable for wind power generation, as target areas for the project. The ministry will create a system under which special-purpose companies (SPCs) will be established by power companies and operators of wind power generation facilities. The SPCs will be tasked with managing the new power transmission network. The operators will also be charged a fee for the use of power lines, money that will be used to maintain the new power transmission network. Therefore, it is possible to set up the network without raising electricity rates. If power companies were left to shoulder the maintenance costs on their own, fixed costs would increase and thus electricity rates would rise for consumers. Given the circumstances, the ministry decided to create the new system.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/07/2012

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Investment Trust Net Assets Up for 3rd month

The Investment Trusts Association has announced the net asset value of publicly offered investment trust funds in the country grew for the third consecutive month in August. The August value rose 1.4 billion yen from the previous month to 58.6 trillion yen, the association said Thursday. Growth slowed from 219.8 billion yen in July, as the value of stock investment trusts, which accounts for 80 percent of the total, fell for the first time in three months on small fluctuations in stock prices. Stock trusts posted net investment losses of 142.1 billion yen. Although they logged gains of 243.9 billion yen thanks to rising stock prices abroad and the yen's weakening against the euro, a total of 386 billion yen flowed out in the form of dividends.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/15/2012

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Falls in Land Prices Slow / Low Interest Rates, Tax Breaks Help Reduce Declines from Disaster

Year-on-year falls in domestic residential and commercial land prices slowed, according to a Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry report released Wednesday. As of July 1, residential land prices dropped 2.5 percent on average from a year earlier, compared with the 3.2 percent decline in last year's survey, and commercial land prices were down 3.1 percent against the 4 percent fall, the ministry said. The number of locations that saw land prices rise or remain flat increased not only in the three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, but also in regional areas. Land prices showed signs of recovery after falling more sharply in areas such as Tokyo last year following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

But the ministry said it needed to keep a close eye on how lingering uncertainties over the Japanese economy, such as the strong yen and the European debt crisis, may impact land prices. Average residential land prices fell for the 21st straight year, while commercial land prices were down for the fifth consecutive year. Of the 21,285 surveyed locations, 658 saw land prices rise, up from 88 in last year's survey. The number of locations where land prices leveled off increased to 1,972 from 863.Land prices fell at 18,655 locations, down from 20,564.In the three major metropolitan areas, the rate of decline was 0.9 percent for residential land, slower than the 1.7 percent logged in last year's survey, and 0.8 percent for commercial land, against 2.2 percent. Slowing land price falls reflected low interest rates and tax breaks for home buyers using loans, which supported housing demand, as well as growing corporate demand for large-scale quake-resistant office buildings. The margin of decline in land prices in the three areas expanded from January to June in 2011 in the wake of the disaster, before narrowing during the next two half-year terms. In other areas, the average fall in residential land prices slowed to 3.2 percent from 3.7 percent, narrowing for the first time in four years. Commercial land prices fell 4.1 percent on average, compared to a 4.8 percent drop in last year's survey. In disaster-hit Miyagi Prefecture, residential land prices fell 0.6 percent, the second smallest decline by prefecture after Aichi, due to robust demand for relocation of houses in disaster areas.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/20/2012

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Court Website Restored After Cyber-attack

A court website was restored Friday after a weeklong shutdown caused by a cyber-attack over Japan's territorial row with China over the Senkaku Islands. However, some of the website's functions, such as a judicial precedent search, will remain unavailable for the time being, sources said. The cyber-attack was found to have originated from an Internet Protocol address in China, according to the Supreme Court. Although no information leaks have been confirmed, further investigation is needed as there were suspicious access attempts while the website was offline, according to the court. On Sept. 14, the website was altered to show an image of the Chinese flag along with a claim written in English, Chinese and Japanese stating the Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China, are Chinese territory. The site was shut down the same day. The cyber-attack took place amid growing tension between the two countries following Japan's decision to nationalize three of the islands earlier this month. On Friday, Chinese patrol ships briefly entered Japanese territorial waters near the islands.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/22/2012

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Imports, Exports Both Fall as 754 Bil. Yen Trade Deficit Logged in August

Japan posted a customs-cleared trade deficit of 754.1 billion yen in August, marking the second straight month of deficit, as exports to Europe and China tumbled due to the economic slowdown and the yen's continued strength, the Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report Thursday. It was the nation's second-biggest trade deficit for August since comparable data became available in 1979. The largest August deficit, about 777.5 billion yen, was registered last year. Japan's exports fell 5.8 percent from a year before to 5.046 trillion yen, down for the third consecutive month. Automobile exports were down 1.8 percent, and those of electronic parts, including semiconductors, dropped 3.5 percent. Exports to the United States rose 10.3 percent, but exports to European Union member countries dropped 22.9 percent, hit hard by the region's persistent financial crisis. Exports to China, whose economy showed signs of slowdown, were down 9.9 percent.

Imports in August fell 5.4 percent to 5.8 trillion yen, marking the first decrease in two months. Crude oil imports dipped 8.5 percent due to lower prices on the international market. Imports dropped 31.4 percent for nonferrous metals and 20.3 percent for coal. But imports of liquefied natural gas remained robust, reflecting brisk demand from power companies for use as fuel for thermal power generation to substitute for nuclear power generation. Most nuclear power reactors in Japan have been suspended. By region, Japan's surplus in trade with the United States jumped 27.8 percent to 383 billion yen, up for seven months in a row. Japan incurred a 96.2 billion yen trade deficit with the EU, posting the fourth straight deficit. In trade with China, Japan logged a deficit for the sixth straight month, with the August balance resulting in 241.9 billion yen in the red.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/21/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Elderly Support to Fall Heavily on Younger Generations in Coming Decades

Seoul City projects that in 27 years every two economically active people will have to support one elderly person. The Seoul Metropolitan Government released a report by Statistics Korea and made the assessment. Currently, every seven-point-four economically active people support one elderly person. The report forecast that by 2039, the number of people aged 65 and older will surge 172 percent while the number of people 14 and younger will decrease 25 percent and the number of people aged between 15 and 64 will fall 26 percent. This means that the number of elderly people will be triple the population of infants and children. The report also found that 31 percent of Seoul citizens said they are willing to pay more taxes for the welfare of senior citizens. That's up five percentage points from four years ago. The number of people who are preparing for their old age also grew 12 percentage points from four years ago.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/05/2012

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Gov't, Ruling Party to Give Child Rearing Allowances to All Babies Under 2

The government and ruling Saenuri Party reached an understanding to give child rearing allowances to all babies under age two starting next year to expand welfare coverage, sources said Sunday. Saenuri sources said the new plan is a move in the right direction and could make it easier to deal with soaring costs of looking after babies. South Korea has one of the lowest birthrates in the world. Low birthrates can hurt the country's growth potential down the road and fuel rapid population aging. At present Seoul gives assistance up to the second-lowest income bracket or roughly 15 percent of all people with babies under two years of age. Initially, the government, citing financial restraints, said it could increase monetary support to 70 percent of all people, but this idea was opposed by the ruling party.

Once implemented, all newborns under age one will get 200,000 won ($177) a month regardless of household income, while the total will fall to 100,000 won for two-year-old toddlers. The ruling party is currently engaged in a move to strengthen the country's welfare system ahead of this year's presidential election slated for Dec. 19."Most of the deal has been ironed out with only minor details needing to be settled," a party official said. He said the only difference remaining is whether to give assistance to all people with babies or leave out the top 10 percent income earners who really do not need financial assistance. "Because most people who need it will get benefits, the understanding reached so far effectively means everyone in the country will receive assistance," he said. The Saenuri official added that the only other issue remaining is whether to give child rearing allowances to parents with kids who are three and four years old. The latest move comes as local administrators claimed they did not have the budget needed to give out childcare allowances this year. (Yonhap)

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 09/09/2012

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Foreign Doctors May Consult Patients in Korea

The South Korean government is pushing for a new measure to get foreign doctors involved in consulting and treating patients in Korea. The Ministry of Health and Welfare says it plans to hold a public hearing and discuss a medical bill aimed at allowing foreign doctors studying in South Korea to consult patients. If the bill is implemented, foreign doctors that went through a three-month training session and are approved by a screening committee can practice medicine at institutions under the supervision of a Korean medical professional. The medical institutions will be mandated to inform patients in advance if a foreign doctor will be consulting them.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/21/2012

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INDONESIA: Must Deal with Severe Effects of Global Warming

Officials and scientists have warned that if Indonesia does nothing to fight global warming, some 2,000 of the country's 13,400 islands will be underwater by 2030. By 2050, parts of Jakarta, including Tanjung Priok, Ancol and Indah Kapuk Beach, will be submerged, according to Indroyono Soesilo, secretary general to the Coordinating People's Welfare Minister. Scientists have urged the government to take stronger measures to reduce the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. So far, the government's biggest effort against climate change is its REDD+ initiative, which gives the state a role in conservation and sustainable forest management. "Forest and peat-related emissions in Indonesia make up 60 to 85 per cent of our greenhouse gases," said Agus Pratama Sari, who is part of the REDD+ Presidential Task Force. The government has made a commitment to unilaterally reduce greenhouse gases by 26 per cent by 2020 and with financial assistance from foreign donors, Indonesia can reportedly extend this goal to achieve a 41-per cent reduction.

These national projects, regardless of their costs, are critical in ensuring the country's future. "Without government action, climate change could cause damage worth at least five per cent of the nation's output per year, or 20 per cent at the very most," researcher from the Applied Technology and Research Agency (BPPT) Rony Bishry said. "Much of this damage could be mitigated by using just one per cent of Indonesia's annual spending," Bishry added. Scientists have also warned that grand schemes like REDD+ have to be complemented with local grassroots projects. The grassroots project is important given the statistics from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency which reported that 87 per cent of disasters in Indonesia between 2000 and 2012 were hydro-meteorological by nature - such as floods, drought and landslides. Villages and small communities are most vulnerable to these phenomena. One of the most telling examples was an October 2010 flood in Teluk Wondama regency in West Papua which killed 169, left 168 missing and injured 3,374. BPPT chief scientist Iwan Tejakusuma said that because relocation of village communities with deep roots is often out of the question, the government should focus on early warning systems. This technology has been applied in places like Malalak in Agam, West Sumatra. They include "Wireless Sensor Networks", which can measure land stability, detect flash floods and minimise loss of property and human life.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 09/07/2012

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CAMBODIA: PM - Poverty Reduction Target May Hit 2 Years Earlier

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) - Cambodia is expected to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) in poverty reduction two years earlier than the UN-imposed target, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Friday. According to the UN MDG, Cambodia is set the target to reduce poverty rate to 19.4 percent by 2015, meaning that the country needs to lift out at least 1 million out 4 million people out of extreme poverty. "The poverty rate in Cambodia has declined from 22.9 percent in 2009 to 20 percent in 2012 and could further drop to 19 percent in 2013," Hun Sen said Friday in a message to mark the 10th Anniversary of the International Day of Peace. The premier's prediction was made after the country's economy grew up to 7.1 percent last year in spite of flood devastation. He foresaw that the country's per capita GDP will reach 990 U.S. dollars in 2012 and 1,080 U.S. dollars in 2013 from 911 U.S. dollars last year. The Southeast Asian nation has the population of about 14.5 millions. Its economy relies on garment export, tourism, agriculture and construction. People living below poverty line are defined by an income of less than 1.25 U.S. dollars a day.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/21/2012

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PHILIPPINES: To Improve Poverty Database

The Department of Social Welfare and Development is undertaking an ICT Systems enhancement project to better support the activities of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction. The National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR) is an information management system that identifies who and where the poor are. It is a first of its kind in the Philippines, and makes available to National Government Agencies, Local Government Units, Non-Government Organizations and other stakeholders a socioeconomic database of poor households that can guide them in identifying beneficiaries of their social protection programs. Since the NHTS-PR is reliant on technology, the ICT enhancement project is set to equip the National Household Targeting Office with the necessary tools for data processing and management that will decrease the data processing time whilst maintaining data integrity.

Furthermore, the project will also address issues with regards to sharing of information as it will set to create a conducive environment that will facilitate easy sharing of information through data dashboards, maps, mobile processing and system to system integration with other government agencies. Vincent Leyson, Director of the National Household Targeting Office told FutureGov that the Php 315 million (USD 7 million) ICT enhancement project will include the installation of new hardware and software for the targeting system; capacity building for IT Officers; Use of Unified Multi-Purpose ID Card registration for the poor households and the digitisation of the household assessment forms. The Unified Multi-Purpose ID (UMID), in particular, is an initiative of the Philippine Government to standardise the identification process of individuals nationwide.

Leyson explained that the UMID is based on a smart card technology with embedded basic information, fingerprint, picture, and agency specific data of the individual identified in the card. "Giving UMID cards to the poor will ease the identification and verification process of the government so that they can focus on the delivery of social protection programs. The card can also be used as a mutually verifying ID for scholarships, subsidies and cash transfers as it has a Magnetic Stripe that can be used for ATM transactions." "Moreover, in our effort to espouse data integrity, we have on going, as well as lined up, validation activities for the year. We are also continuing the advocacy on the use of the NHTS-PR data among all concerned stakeholders. In addition, we are also strengthening the generation of feedback from our data users to get inputs for the planning of the next implementation of household assessment come 2013," he concluded.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/29/2012

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The Philippines Leverages Twitter to Repair Damaged Roads

The Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO) is working together with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to engage the public, via social networking sites such as Twitter, in reporting roads damaged by the recent monsoon rains and floods. By simply tweeting photos of damaged roads together with relevant details such as its location and tagging it to the official Twitter account of the PCDSPO (@PCDSPO) with the hashtag #lubak2normal, citizens are able to help the government in their efforts in rehabilitating the National Capital Region's damaged roads. According to an official statement, information submitted are entered into a database handled by the DPWH, for immediate action. As of 30 August 2012, the #Lubak2normal social media campaign has received a total of 241 reports on specific national road locations within Metro Manila that were in need of repair. Of these, 125 or 51.87 per cent of reported locations have already been fixed by the DPWH. Following this link, users will be able to view the progress of the DPWH's road rehabilitation efforts.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/17/2012

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Philippine Gov't Concerned on Rising Underemployment

MANILA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) - The Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Tuesday raised concern on the increasing number of underemployed Filipinos. DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz noted that under the latest labor force survey (LFS) conducted in July, there were 8.546 million underemployed persons in the country, or 22.7 percent of the working population, an increase of 1.451 million from a year earlier. "One indicator in the July 2012 LFS that seriously concerns us at the DOLE is the rising number of underemployed persons. These are employed persons who want additional hours of work in their present job; or who want to have additional job; or who want a new job with longer working hours," she said. Baldoz said that the increase in underemployment rate occurred largely among wage and salary workers in private establishments where most of the employment expansion during the quarter had been materialized. But except for the underemployment rate, all the other LFS indicators showed that the country's unemployment rate is within its target range of 6.8 percent to 7.2 percent for 2012, the DOLE chief said. The unemployment rate eased from 7.1 percent in July 2011 to 7. 0 percent in July 2012, as the survey indicated.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/18/2012

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Philippine Gov't Alarmed Over Increasing Number of Teenage Mothers

MANILA, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) - The Philippine government expressed alarm over the rising number of Filipino teenagers getting pregnant. Citing the National Statistics Office (NSO) data, Social Welfare Undersecretary Parisya Taradji said Thursday that the number of maternal deaths for teenage women ranged from 82 at the lowest in 2001 to as high as 164 in 2010. "It is alarming that the number of teenage mothers is increasing, from 7.1 percent in 2000 to as high as 11.7 percent in 2010," she said. She also cited a 2010 National Youth Assessment Study showing that 38 percent of 15-17 year-old, 44 percent of 18-24 year old, and 41 percent of those in the 25-30 age group think that early sexual encounter is acceptable in today's society. High incidence of early sexual encounter involves the 15-17 age group. Taradji quoted the survey that said early sexual encounter could also lead to sexually transmitted disease/infections (STD/ STIs), emotional problems and early pregnancy. She said that the study revealed that the youth themselves recognize teenage pregnancy as one of the main reasons for failing to finish school. "Other realities of teen pregnancy faced by young mothers include reduced employment opportunities and social stigma," Taradji said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/20/2012

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SINGAPORE: Secure Storage Now Accessible Via IOS App

Singapore's SecureAge Technology, the developer of LockCube - a cloud-based storage solution that stores encrypts and stores data - has released a iOS app that allows users to access and manipulate their mission-critical files. LockCube, a pay-as-you-go storage solution, "enables files to remain continuously encrypted as they travel over the Internet and while they are stored in mobile devices or on LockCube cloud storage", according to the press release. The LockCube iOS app is built on infrastructure that has already been deployed for use, and currently serves 20,000 employees in the public sector and the military in Asia. The app is available for free download at the iTunes store. LockCube uses the 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) to ensure that individual files are encrypted end-to-end within the cloud. The 256-bit AES is regularly deployed as the most stringent security standard across militaries all over the world for data protection. "Unlike many other cloud storage providers, LockCube provides file level encryption. Based on our many years of security experience in the government sector, only file-level encryption provides genuine protection of users' data," said Dr Teow-Hin Ngair, Chief Executive Officer at SecureAge Technology and Chairman of the Security & Governance Chapter (SGC) of the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF). SecureAge has also added its SecureDrive encryption feature to LockCube, which allows for the encryption, backup and restoration of large volumes of data via external devices.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/28/2012

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Singapore Rolls Out 120,000 Devices to Schools

Singapore's Ministry of Education (MOE) on August 24 rolled out 120,000 devices to 351 schools under the Standard ICT Operating Environment (SSOE) project. During the SSOE Deployment Milestone Celebration, the MOE, in partnership with NCS, announced the completion of the transition phase that would empower over 500,000 students. The devices will be arranged for over 40,000 principals, teachers, and administrative staff who have been educated on the use of the new services and solutions under the programme. "The Schools Standard ICT Operating Environment (SSOE) programme has enhanced the ICT infrastructure of schools in Singapore, to provide an environment for greater use of ICT in teaching and learning in schools," said SSOE Programme Director Lim Teck Soon. With SSOE, schools can now look forward to faster speed, enhanced security and full on-site support for their computing needs to enhance teaching and learning. A strong focus on users' needs and the close partnership between MOE and NCS had enabled the entire programme to be implemented successfully. We are confident that SSOE will redefine the pedagogical approach in the education system in Singapore and equip future generations of students to harness the full potential of ICT, he added.

Launched in June 2010, the SSOE programme has arranged and managed desktops, network and ICT support for all MOE schools in Singapore, enabling both wired and wireless network to improve the school's network performance and accessibility to education applications. Also, the programme has provided computing devices to all staff and school computing labs to facilitate effective and efficient use of the ICT infrastructure. For the next phase of the SSOE programme, NCS will manage the operations and provide maintenance support and technology refresh of the desktops and infrastructure, as part of the eight-year contract with the MOE. "As part of the curriculum, the teachers will bring students down to our eco-pond and herb garden to do their learning. With the use of the mobile carts, students can now access the information online. They will do their research, before collaborating and presenting to their classmates in the classroom," said Jane Wong, Head of ICT Department, Guangyang Primary School. To ensure effective adoption of new technologies available to teachers and administrative staff, a comprehensive change management programme consisting of training workshops and regular communications were organised during the transition phase. The objective of this effort was to educate the schools' staff on utilising the infrastructure and resources. Activities included conducting of surveys, focus group discussions, regular newsletters and setting up of a SSOE Service Portal as a point of engagement for school staff.

Under the SSOE Programme, desktop support through remote assistance technology is provided to teachers. With this, Service Desk engineers can take over the school staffs' notebook and guide them along in the actions on the spot. Mobile carts are also available in schools for students to use computing devices anywhere, thus encouraging ICT-based learning. Managed print services will also be rolled out as an option for schools to subscribe to, which provides cost-effective print services on a pay-per-use basis without the need to buy and own the printers. The use of a single ID to login across applications, and replacing of the login token with SMS authentication has also provided convenience to users and enhanced user experience.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/30/2012

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Economic Growth Important in Building Inclusive Society: Singapore President Tony Tan

SINGAPORE: Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam said economic growth is important in building a more caring, compassionate and inclusive society. He was speaking after the launch of this year's President's Challenge Volunteer Drive at the Lions Befrienders on Saturday. Saturday also marked the first anniversary of Dr Tan's appointment as President. During the event, he did preparatory work to put the finishing touches on some greeting cards, and joined volunteers to distribute the cards to seniors living in the Bendemeer area. Lions Befrienders helps the elderly with their social and emotional needs through community activities. Dr Tan said he will continue to work hard to build a society where Singaporeans will have opportunities to realise their dreams. He said those in need will not be left behind. "The most important for all these to continue, is to have a successful growing economy. Unless the economy grows, unless there are jobs, all these are just aspirations. You must have the means in order to realise it," said Dr Tan. Dr Tan also spoke of two highlights of his year in office - supporting Team Singapore at the London Olympics, and being inducted into the Honorary Senate of the Lindau Foundation for the Nobel Prizewinners Meetings. "I was proud to stand together with eight other scientists from Singapore, to profile Singapore as a research and development hub to a very distinguished audience, comprising nobel laureates, very bright young scientists, and to the world. I think this shows that although we are a small country, we can have a big impact," said Dr Tan. All in, Dr Tan said it's been a busy, fulfilling and meaningful year, and he looks forward to connecting with Singaporeans from all walks of life in the years ahead.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/01/2012

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E-govt Services Put Singapore at No. 1

SINGAPORE: A landmark survey measuring the Web's use, utility and impact on people and nations saw Singapore placed overall just outside the top 10 - among 61 countries - despite the Republic ranking highly in terms of communications infrastructure, including boasting the fastest broadband speeds in the world. Singapore was also second, behind Sweden, when it comes to the Internet's political impact - which measured, among other things, how a government used the Web to inform and engage with citizens, and whether main political parties had websites and campaigned online. In economic and social terms, however, the survey findings suggest the Republic could go some way still in getting the most value out of the Web - Singapore placed 13th and 22nd, respectively. This, particularly as the Republic boasts the fastest broadband speeds and also ranks second in terms of communications infrastructure (how wide and affordable public access to communications is). The Web Index, which was released on Wednesday, was the brainchild of the World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee, and was funded in full by a US$1-million (S$1.24-million) grant from United States tech giant Google. It was computed using data from both institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank and World Economic Forum, as well as a questionnaire scored by professionals or experts in various fields in each country.

The survey, which was released by Mr Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation, described Singapore's high ranking in terms of the Web's political impact as "perhaps most" surprising.. Singapore is also one of three countries with high per-capita income levels but are not among the Top 10 in making the Web work for its citizens - the others are Qatar (21) and Germany (16). The Index comprised three main segments, of which "impact" was the most heavily-weighted (60 per cent). The remaining 40 per cent was split between how far a country has expanded its communications infrastructure, and Web usage and content. To measure the Web's impact on a country politically, the foundation measured the extent of e-government services and whether these improved efficiency. It also looked at the extent that a government used the Web to provide information and engage with citizens, as well as whether main political parties had websites and campaigned for support online.

Singapore scored highest among all the countries for the efficiency of its e-government services. The Web's importance as a political battleground was most apparent in Singapore, the United States and Sweden. For social impact, the survey looked at how much information and communication technologies (ICT) aided access to basic services, such as health, education and financial services. In this aspect, the Republic was pipped only by Sweden and Qatar. The survey also measured the usage of social networking sites - Iceland had the most wired population; Singapore placed ninth overall. What probably dragged the Republic to 13th place overall in terms of the Web's social impact was probably a question on how much distance-learning is used for the training of teachers. When it came to the Web's economic impact, Singapore also has lots of catching up to do.

Whether in terms of the number of Web-based businesses or the extent companies used the Internet for business, Singapore fell short of countries like Sweden and Switzerland. The Republic's impressive ICT infrastructure has also not translated to as many new organisational models, such as remote working and telecommuting, as Sweden and the United Kingdom. National University of Singapore communications and new media lecturer Alfred Siew put this down to a "human resource problem". "Many of the companies here are really plugged in and employees can actually work from home but managers still prefer to see their workers in the office," he said. The prominent technology blogger also agreed that Singapore companies were "not as advanced" as those in other countries in terms of having a web presence. "Many mom and pop shops or SMEs think 'I do not need a website' because they don't think it brings them business. We could probably do more but it requires a mindset change," said Mr Siew.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/08/2012

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Singapore's Survival Depends on Nation Living the Global-Asia Story: PM Lee

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said Singapore's survival depends on how its people connect with Asia and the world. In his keynote speech at the inaugural Singapore Summit on Friday evening, Mr Lee stressed the importance of living what he called the Global-Asia story. The gathering of thinkers and policymakers at the Singapore Summit says a lot about Singapore's links with Asia and the world. Mr Lee said that with Asia, Singapore is closely linked to key markets - China, India and ASEAN - while many multi-national corporations are in Singapore. "Global and Asian forces are constantly at play here, and the country's survival depends on the Global-Asia story," said Mr Lee. Even though the last two decades have been a time of tremendous change, excitement and opportunities both in Asia and the world, Mr Lee cautioned that the world faces some risks revolving around the economic troubles in Europe and the US, the trend of rising nationalism and the shift in the strategic balance as China grows stronger.

If these risks materialised, the world will be in for a rough ride, said PM Lee. "We have to prepare for the risk scenarios just in case they materialise. We need an economy which is resilient, able to cope with a protracted global downturn. We need a strong armed forces and home team of security and police to protect ourselves against security threats and dangers. We need to build social cohesion to strengthen our sense of togetherness. "While we prepare for this, we also hope that the risks will be successfully contained and on balance I believe this is likely. Therefore we should not neglect to prepare ourselves for a good outcome, that is, for a challenging but bright future." To prepare for a challenging but bright future, Singapore has to harness and ride on what Mr Lee called the "Global-Asia Confluence". Singapore can become a springboard for companies venturing into and out of Asia; embrace globalisation but at the same time strengthen itself to cope with the risks. Singapore also has to build up foreign reserves and strengthen the social safety nets to cope with volatility and uncertainty.

Mr Lee also said the key to meet the challenges is mastering technology to transform Singapore into a Smart City. At the same time, it has to adapt to the rapid social changes brought about by social media. PM Lee said: "We are especially affected by this because we are small, we are open, completely English-educated. You don't even need Google to translate the web for you to understand. We are fully wired up and totally wirelessly accessible. There is no magic formula or handbook for doing this. Nobody has an answer, all are looking for the way forward. We have to exploit fully the Internet and the social media but institute safeguards against its misuse." If all these can be achieved, Singapore will be a special place to live, work and play at the crossroads of Asia and the world.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/21/2012

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THAILAND: Pilots a Smart CTV Project

Thailand's ICT Ministry on August 29 launched a pilot project to install intellectual circuit TV (ICTV) to improve public safety in Bangkok's most densely populated district. "Wi-Fi connected ICTV will keep a close eye on activity in the community while residents with internet access will play an important role to ensure safety of their neighbourhoods," said ICT Minister Gp Capt Anudith Nakornthap. Residents of Klong Toey district will be under an online security service provided by the ICT Ministry and CAT Telecom (CAT) under the Safe Community Project, one of the projects under the Smart Thailand Campaign to leverage the use of ICT to modernise the country. The ICTV to be installed in Klong Toey, will be equipped with high-definition digital cameras giving higher resolution than normal CCTV cameras, according to Kittisak Sriprasert, President of CAT. With its connection to the internet, the service can be used as a surveillance centre linked to a Geographic Information System (GIS) to improve future performance, Sriprasert added. CAT will also provide free Wi-Fi at the two largest public gathering locations in the district with a connection speed of at least 12/2Mbps, as part of the government's free Wi-Fi programme. Klong Toey district is located at the heart of Bangkok, and well known for being the capital's most populated low-income district. The ICTV project is expected to safeguard residents' lives and property as well as helping to tackle crime and drug trafficking.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/31/2012

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Thai Hospital Revamps Patient Operation

Thailand's state-owned Siriraj Hospital has deployed an enterprise management solution to eliminate the need to wait for patients, and streamline its operation. Siriraj Hospital has adopted iSoft software to improve clinical and patient management systems for inpatient and outpatient care. With the new system, Siriraj Hospital can service up to13,000 outpatients a day, up from 10,000 a day before the software implementation. The new system is expected to reduce waiting time by 40% and almost double the patient capacity. With 2,600 beds and 13,000 outpatients' visits a day, the Siriraj Hospital is Thailand's largest hospital and one of the biggest in South East Asia. The hospital is traditionally used by the Thai royal family, and is the principal teaching hospital of Mahidol University. The clinical and patient management systems is the second phase following the success of the first phase of implementing health IT three years ago.

In 2009, the Siriraj Hospital replaced its ten legacy hospital information system with iSoft's Enterprise Health Information System - master patient administration index, a blood bank module to manage blood donations, test specimens, and tracks stocks. "This is the major improvements in management and patient services by providing ready access to timely financial, patient and clinical information," Dr Viroje Chongkolwatana, the hospital's project manager and the medical faculty's deputy dean of information technology said. He added that accurate information will help doctors make speeder diagnoses to improve treatment, reduce waiting times, and generally improve patient care. "The new billing system will give us greater control of income and spending , and lead to financial savings," he said. Meanwhile, a private Rutnin Eye Hospital has also adopted iSoft that helps in reducing the waiting time of the patients to half an hour on average from three hours before. Thailand has 9,800 hospitals, 9,000 community hospitals, 700 major facilities upcountry and 100 major facilities in Bangkok.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/14/2012

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BANGLADESH: Create More Jobs to Spur Growth: Entrepreneur

The country urgently needs to create better jobs for all to accelerate growth by identifying high employment generation potential industries and sectors, said a leading entrepreneur and former adviser to the caretaker government. "Bangladesh has made slow but steady progress over the past 40 years in its quest to improve the lives of its people by providing them with gainful jobs," said Syed Manzur Elahi, chairman of Apex Group. He said the inability to create gainful and decent jobs may jeoparadise social order even regional stability that has been seen in Europe and the Middle East recently. In his recent write-up titled 'Creating Jobs for All', Elahi said job creation has been more rapid in services and manufacturing and there has also been some qualitative improvement as well through higher participation of educated labour and female labour in the total workforce. "These have helped bring about increases in real wages and average labour productivity...between 1980 and 2010, both real wages and average labour productivity have gone up by 1.6 percent per year," the successful entrepreneur said. On challenges to job creation, he said, "We must recognise that serious challenges remain in average labour productivity of Bangladesh compared to international and even regional standards." The quality and education level of the overall workforce, skill level and technical and vocational training remain very low compared to the needs of the market place, Elahi added. He gave importance to investment in education and human resource development and promoting technical and vocational education for skills upgradation. Manzur Elahi mentioned that only 22 percent of the employed labour force is engaged in the formal sector. "Some 11 percent of the employed labour is in manufacturing and another 11 percent is in organised services. The rest are still engaged in informal activities." The world is facing a worsening youth unemployment crisis; young people three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and over 75 million youth globally are seeking jobs, he said. Elahi also sought initiatives to engage with the US, EU and Japan and other major buyers on market access through economic diplomacy. The paper was presented at the International Conference on People's Empowerment and Development that held in the city early this month (Aug 5-6).

From http://www.unbconnect.com/ 08/24/2012

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Boost Internal Resources, Cut Foreign Aid Dependence: President, PM

President M Zillur Rahman and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday stressed boosting the country's revenue collection to reduce dependence on foreign assistance and loan for development activities of the country. Both the President and the Prime Minister came up with the call in their separate messages on the eve of the fourth National Income Tax Day-2012. The Income Tax Day will be observed in seven divisional cities on Saturday with elaborate programmes, aiming to create awareness about income tax and encourage people to pay tax regularly. In his message, the President said, "The revenue collection needs to be increased in order to reduce the dependence on foreign assistance and loan for the socioeconomic and infrastructural development of the country." Zillur said internal resources are very important to achieve self-reliance and for development.

He called upon the taxpayers to contribute to the welfare of the nation and the country by paying taxes in due time. "The role of tax culture is very important to ensure social justice and balanced distribution of the resources...to pay taxes on the income is a moral obligation for a good citizen." The President greeted all the income tax officials as well as persons involved in the income tax sector on the National Income Tax Day. He also expressed satisfaction over the tax collection in the last fiscal. "I'm happy to know the revenue collection from the income tax sector in the last fiscal exceeded the target. I request you all to ensure the continuation of the progress in the income tax sector." Zillur also congratulated the tax payers who have earned the honour of the best and the long-time taxpayers. "I firmly believe all the citizens of the country will be encouraged by the examples set by them to pay their due income taxes and play an effective role in the development and promotion of the tax culture," he said. The President wished the National Income Tax Day 2012 a success and called upon all to be part of flourishing the tax culture. In her message, the Prime Minister said, "I hope, we'll emerge as a self-dignified nation in the world map by reducing dependence on foreign aid and loan through boosting internal resources." She said there is no alternative to flourishing tax culture to ensure the country's socioeconomic and infrastructure development, social justice and balanced distribution of resources. The Prime Minister mentioned that public awareness has increased following income tax fairs in Dhaka and other districts. "As a result, revenue collection is exceeding its target."

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 09/14/2012

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INDIA: HC Asks Govt Not to Bar Fakhrul from Foreign Tour

The High Court on Sunday asked the government and the police not to bar the Bangladesh Nationalist Party's acting secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, from going on a foreign tour. The vacation bench of Justice Quamrul Islam Siddiqui and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal also asked the government to explain in four weeks why restraining Fakhrul from going abroad would not be declared illegal. The government was also asked to explain why a direction would not be given to the concerned authorities not to stop Fakhrul from going abroad. The court passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by Fakhrul, challenging the legality of the government's action in barring him from going abroad and seeking a High Court direction to the authorities concerned not to obstruct his foreign tour. The home affairs secretary, inspector general of police, additional inspector general, Dhaka's deputy commissioner and the officer-in-charge of immigration were asked to answer the rule. Moving the petition, Fakhrul's lawyer AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon told the court that Fakhrul on May 6 came to know from the newspapers that his name was included in a list of opposition leaders who are barred from going outside the country. The list has been sent to the immigration police at the airports, said the lawyer. He said that Fakhrul would go to New York on August 29 to attend a meeting and he feared that if he tried to go abroad without any order from the court the immigration police at the airport would humiliate him in public. Assistant attorney general Md Jahangir Alam opposed the petition, saying that the court should not issue an order based on the newspaper report. Daily Bangladesh Protideen published a report on May 6 under the headline 'Embargo on leaders of BNP-led 18 alliance leaving the country'.

From http://www.newagebd.com/ 08/27/2012

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e-Governance Implimented in Gaya

The Bihar government moved closer to nearly four million residents of Gaya district spread over 24 blocks and 332 panchayats, as Gaya formally became an e-district thereby making the people just a mouse click away from the government. Gaya administration entered the cyber world on Sunday afternoon at a function organized at Hasrat Mohani auditorium to mark the occasion. State assembly Speaker Udai Narain Chaudhary inaugurated the formal ushering of Gaya into e-district. IT minister Shahid Ali Khan was the chief guest on the occasion. Former IT minister and Tekari MLA Anil Kumar presided over the occasion. As per the details officially made available, Gaya's entry into the e-club (Gaya is the fourth district of the state after Nalanda, Madhubani and Aurangabad to join the e-governance scheme), over one dozen services will be provided to the people at their doorstep and they no longer need to make rounds of the block offices, SDO office and Collectorate, the poorer among them earlier losing several days' wages to get even small things done. These services will now be provided to them at the panchayat level community service centre (CSC) established under the PPP mode and managed by village level entrepreneurs (VLEs).

The services provided through the CSCs include caste certificate, residential certificate, income certificate, character certificate, handicap pension, widow pension, old age pension, BPL certificate, BPL information, land mutation and land settlement and possession of land. The charge for all these services will vary between Rs 10 and Rs 35. People can visit any of the 332 CSCs and submit their applications along with the fee and affidavit. The applicants will be updated about their work through SMS and once the work is done, they will be accordingly informed through SMS to collect the documents from the community service centre. In order to ensure transparency, the community service providers will display the necessary information on a notice board. Separate receipt and issue register will be maintained by the service providers chosen under the PPP mode. The certificates issued under the system will carry the digital signatures of the issuing official. The applications received at the panchayat level will necessarily have to be forwarded in original to the block/circle office concerned, say the guidelines issued for e-governance scheme. IT minister Khan said that Bihar was the first state in the country to impart computer education in madrassas and Rs 28 crore had been earmarked for the computerization of madrassas. Assemby speaker Chaudhary narrated the woes of the poor making the rounds of government offices for weeks and months to get even small things done. Chaudhary hoped that the e-governance scheme will provide the much-needed relief to the people particularly the underprivileged section.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 08/28/2012

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Electronic Payment of Customs Duty Is Now Mandatory in India

Electronic payment of customs duty has now been made mandatory by CBEC. This step has been taken for bringing about further reduction in the transaction cost of the importers. As a trade facilitation measure for importers, it has been decided to make e-payment mandatory for importers registered under Accredited Clients Programme and importers paying customs duty of Rs 1 lakh or more per Bill of Entry with effect from September 17, Central Board of Excise & Customs (CBEC) said in a statement. The CBEC has issued instructions advising all the Chief Commissioners of Customs to give wide publicity to enable trade to be ready in case any change in their software or any internal procedure for effecting e-payment is required, it said. As a large number of taxpayers would be required to pay the taxes electronically, it is requested that importers, trade and industry may be provided all assistance so as to help them in adopting the new procedure, it added. Electronic payment (e-payment) is advantageous to both tax payers and the government. To the taxpayers, it affords the facility of making payments from their own offices on a 24X7 basis. It also facilitates quicker release of cargo, it said. For government, it ensures immediate collection of taxes and error free data relating to tax payments.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/09/2012

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TRAI Directs Service Providers to Give Information to Broadband Consumers

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had issued direction on 27th July 2012 to Telecom Service Providers for delivering broadband services in a transparent manner by providing adequate information to the broadband consumers about various plans offered under Fair Usage Policy (FUP). Through this direction, telecom service providers have been directed, inter-alia, to ensure that speed of broadband connection in all broadband tariff plans is not reduced below the minimum speed specified and to provide alerts to consumers when their data usage reaches 80% and 100% of the data usage limit bundled with the plan.

TRAI received complaints from consumers and consumer organizations saying that service providers are not delivering broadband services in a transparent manner as they are not providing adequate information to the consumers regarding broadband services including broadband plans with Fair Usage Policy (FUP). Some of the service providers have started providing the information to their consumers as per the tariff plans submitted to TRAI. Service providers have also started providing the information through their website. Telecom Service Providers have to comply with the provisions of reporting requirement specified by Telecommunication Tariff Order wherein all service providers are required to report to the TRAI any new tariff for telecommunication services and /or any changes therein within seven days from the date of implementation of the said tariff.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/10/2012

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Government Aiming at 85 Thousand MW of Power During 12th Plan

Minister of New and Renewable Energy, Farooq Abdullah today said his ministry is making consistent efforts to popularise Solar Energy which is cheap and environment friendly. Various policies, regulatory and fiscal incentives have accelerated development of renewable energy generation and because of these initiatives, large capacity addition through renewable generation is envisaged in the 12th plan period, he said. Renewable energy has the inherent advantage of greater resource flexibility of a distributed energy system. Transmission plays a central role to facilitate seamless flow of electricity in a reliable and affordable manner. Renewable energy sector is coming into increasing focus in the context of climate change vis-¨¤-vis concern on energy security. A range of policy initiatives have also emerged to address climate change concerns and other environmental issues. Farooq Abdullah said this while releasing a report on "Green Energy Corridors" at Delhi cantonment.

Minister of Power, Veerappa Moily speaking on the occasion said Green Energy Corridors report is the first of its kind in the country which will provide an impetus to large scale integration of Renewable Energy and will pave the way for clean development. The government could achieve the target of 85 thousand MW of power in the 12th plan and it could definitely produce 25,000 MW by the end of this financial year provided that other things are tied up. There are also capacities which have not been utilised, it is available around us, only thing is that a decision has to be taken,. Veerappa Moily said. The report on "Green Energy Corridors" which was released jointly by Farooq Abdullah and Veerappa Moily covers various studies on transmission infrastructure requirement and other related services for integration of large scale envisaged renewable capacity in 12th Plan. The report also covers Intra/Inter State transmission system strengthening, other facilities like flexible generation, establishment of Renewable Energy Management Centre(REMC), forecasting etc. to address intermittency and variability aspects as well as grid integration issues of large scale Renewable Energy generation.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/15/2012

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Planning Commission Endorses 8.2 Percent Growth in 2012-17

A full Planning Commission chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday approved the 12th Five-Year Plan document that seeks to raise the average annual economic growth during 2012-17 period ending March 2017 to 8.2 percent from 7.9 percent achieved in 11th Plan. The total plan size is of Rs.47.7 lakh crore, 135 percent more than the investments realised in the 11th Plan (2007-12). And the thrust areas identified are infrastructure, health and education. The growth rate has been lowered to 8.2 percent from the 9.0 percent projected earlier in view of the current slowdown in growth. "Planning Commission's full meeting endorsed the view that given the changed international economic circumstances the lowering of growth rate estimate from 9 to 8.2 percent is realistic," Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman Planning Commission, said, briefing the media. The Commission also decided to incorporate suggestions made at the meeting. It would act on Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's suggestion that direct cash transfer of subsidies in food, fertilizers and petroleum by the end of the 12th Plan period. Direct cash transfers would bring down the government's subsidy burden as the money would go directly to the "genuine" beneficiaries and "plug leakages" in the implementation of these schemes. It was suggested at the meeting that beneficiary payments across a number of schemes, which have shown leakages in the delivery system, should be made through the Aadhar UID (Unique Identification) system. The 12th Plan seeks to achieve 4 per cent agriculture sector growth during the Plan period. The growth target for manufacturing sector has been pegged at 10 per cent. "The Prime Minister noted the reasonably good average growth rate of the 11th Plan period and both he and the agriculture minister emphasised that achieving 4 percent growth in agriculture is critical to achieve inclusive growth," Ahluwalia said.

Agriculture sector in the current plan period has grown at 3.3 percent, as compared to 2.4 percent growth in the sector during the 10th plan period. The document stresses the importance of infrastructure development and removal of bottlenecks as vital for high growth and inclusiveness. "Power sector was heavily mentioned and all members agreed that recent problems encountered in the power sector relate to fuel supply. This needs to be resolved on an urgent basis," Ahluwalia said. He said on the issue of fuel it was suggested that there is urgent need to resolve problems between ministries that hold up projects. The meeting also vetted targets for various economic and social sectors targets relating to poverty alleviation, infant mortality, enrolment ratio and job creation. Ahluwalia said health and education sectors are major thrust areas and the outlays for these in the Plan have been raised. Outlay on health would include increased spending in related areas of drinking water and sanitation. A major innovation in the 12th Plan is in the area of rationalisation and reform of centrally sponsored schemes. The key recommendation is the introduction of "Flexi-Fund"that allows flexibility to states to modify national guidelines for implementing centrally sponsored schemes. The Union Cabinet will now vet the Plan and then it will placed before the National Development Council (NDC), the apex decision-making body, for final approval. (IANS)

From http://www.newkerala.com/ 09/15/2012

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SRI LANKA: Development Not at Cost of Environment - President

Development projects will not be carried out at the cost of the environment or by causing hardships to the people, although the country is on the path of rapid economic development, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. The President said projects which will cause loss of personal property on a large scale and environment degradation will be rejected and added his government was not prepared to implement projects which would cause hardships to a section of the people to benefit others. He said certain Opposition elements were trying to obtain political mileage from the issue while spreading falsehoods to mislead the people. "The government's policy in respect of all affairs will continue to be guided by the vital interests and well- being of the people. This will not yield to any other consideration," he said. President Rajapaksa was speaking at the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) election rally in support of its candidates contesting the upcoming polls from the Ratnapura district to the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Council on Saturday. The President said the government has not neglected any village. "Development activities are taking place in all of them in line with the policy of achieving equity in development," he said. Speaking on the upcoming PC polls, President Rajapaksa said Provincial Councils and other local government bodies were playing a very constructive role in developing villages, districts and provinces. He said the government will ensure that such local bodies will meet their obligations in working towards realising people's aspirations. The President said the government laid emphasis on developing human resources and education of children. President Rajapaksa said the government provided jobs to graduates, professional and other skilled people. Speaking on migrant employees, he said the government's efforts has drastically reduced women going abroad to work as maids while increasing the migration of skilled professionals, both male and female. When the public queried from the President who was going to be the Sabaragamuwa Chief Minister when the UPFA records victory on September 8, the President said the most suitable will be appointed. The election rally was held at the public grounds in Ratnapura town. A mammoth crowd attended the meeting, despite the inclement weather. Several UNP activists including politicians Ratnapala Walegoda, Shantha Suduwella and Rohana Samaratunge joined the UPFA.Ministers Mervyn Silva, Prof Tissa Vitarana, D E W Gunasekera, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and W D J Seneviratne and Western Provincial Council member Udaya Gammanpila also addressed the meeting.

From http://www.dailynews.lk/ 08/27/2012

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PAKISTAN: Karachi DHA to Improve Living Environment

The Defense Housing Authority (DHA) is taking various measures to improve the living environment in the area. An official said here the other day that the DHA has issued a communique to inform/update the residents about these measures being taken by the housing authority to improve the living environment. The communique enunciates the roles and functions of DHA and Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC), the two separate organisations working in tandem for the shared goal of providing best civic facilities for the welfare and well being of DHA residents. The DHA is essentially a development authority (a body corporate) responsible for carrying out land usage planning and infrastructural development, while CBC being a service provider assures provision of municipal services and maintenance of civic infrastructure in developed phases of DHA. However, presently DHA is performing most of these functions in Phase-VIII as it is not fully developed yet. It was pointed out that for the convenience of DHA residents and members, some of the major functions of CBC include distribution of water, maintenance of roads, streetlights, traffic signals, parks, sewerage system, commercial areas, plots and all maintenance related work. Cleanliness of the area including garbage collection/disposal, bush shredding etc also falls under the jurisdiction of CBC. Infrastructural development in DHA Phase-VIII has gained momentum and is being completed on a fast track basis as per the timelines set forth. Two to three more sectors of Phase-VIII will be opened for construction of houses by the next year whereas rest of the major infrastructure works would be completed in three-four years. Comprehensive master planning of Phase-VII Extension has also been completed and infrastructure work of the area would commence soon to provide all requisite civic facilities to residents. It was pointed out that the DHA is working concertedly on early revival and rehabilitation of the stalled Cogen Plant in DHA to ensure availability of additional water. The process is complex and entails dealing with numerous stakeholders.

However, lately the rehabilitation process has started rolling and positive results are expected soon. The preliminary development works on the site of DHA's new mega project 'DHA City Karachi' have commenced while Sector Development Works in the area would start in next few months. Balloting of plots in DCK is being planned by the end of this year. DHA made concerted efforts to revive the dormant water front development projects failing which DHA land was repossessed in most cases through the help of court. DHA remains committed to the concerns of allottees/affectees, while handling these projects and is continuously interacting with the developers for early revival of such projects. DHA has formulated a new security plan to improve the security in the area and has also planned electronic surveillance of the entire DHA in phases. 120 digital cameras at all entry/exit points have been installed in DHA for surveillance/monitoring of the focal points while 260 more cameras are being added in Phase-II of the programme, furthering the aim to attain safe and secure environment in DHA. Administrator DHA, Brig Aamer Raza Qureshi, said that comfort and convenience of residents remains the top priority of DHA and concerted efforts were being made to provide the best housing and residential facilities to residents.

From http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/ 08/27/2012

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POL Price Hike, Worsening Law and Order

Three successive walkouts against an increase in prices of petroleum products and the fast deteriorating law and order situation in the country marred the proceedings of the Lower House of parliament on Monday before the treasury could move a resolution to discuss the precarious security situation in the country. The treasury side faced embarrassment on the first day of the new session when two of its allies, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP), walked out from the session as a mark of protest against increase in prices of petroleum products, along with the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which also staged a walkout against increase in petroleum prices as well as over the target killings and bad law and order situation in the country. The session on its onset reverberated with the strongly worded speech of PPP leader Abdul Qadir Gilani - who took oath as member of the House after his election on his father's seat - who said those who had favoured the disqualification of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani should be ashamed of their conduct, saying that the larger bench of the people had given a verdict in his favour.

However, later the government side was on the back foot when its allies, MQM and ANP, walked away from the proceedings by lambasting it over miseries of the people due to increase in petroleum prices, which led to new wave of inflation in the country. The PML-N side also took the opportunity to further blast the government on this issue as well as the killings of Hazaras and Shias in Gilgit-Baltistan and the continuous spree of target killings in Karachi. The issue of a minor Christian girl, Rimsha Masih, who has been held on charges of blasphemy, also emerged in the House when Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) member Nausheen Saeed condemned the incident, saying that the case had proved how the blasphemy law could be misused and regretted that the case had brought a bad name to the country. MQM member Wasim Akhtar said that when it had become evident that the case was fabricated against the girl, there was no reason to keep her in custody. However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik replied that after registration of an FIR, the matter was in the court. Malik said the case was a conspiracy against the country and assured the House that he would expose the real culprits behind it in today's (Tuesday's) session of the House.

On the precarious law and order situation in the country, the interior minister said that he would speak about it on the next day of the session, Wednesday, when the House would start a debate on the resolution moved on the law and order situation in the country. Earlier, Ahsan Iqbal blasted the government for what he said was its total failure on various fronts. He was particularly critical of the unending spree of target killings in the country and the massacre of Hazaras and Shias in Gilgit-Baltistan. The PML-N leader demanded that the Sindh and Balochistan governments should resign after their failure to secure the people's lives in their respective provinces. He condemned the increase in petroleum prices and said that it had broken the back of the common man. In a sarcastic remark to MQM's walkout from the session, he advised the party to walk away from the government rather than walking out from the session over increase in prices of petroleum products. MQM member Abdul Qadir Khanzda on a point of order said the House had formed a committee sometime back to review the prices of petroleum products but it had never been consulted regarding the issue. He urged the National Assembly speaker to take up the issue and look into the matter that why OGRA had never consulted the special committee. ANP member Pir Haider Ali Shah also condemned the price hike and announced to boycott the session against "the unjust act".

From http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/ 09/04/2012

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AFGHANISTAN: Roshan Secures 3G License

Roshan, Afghanistan's leading total communications provider, today announced that the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MCIT) has issued the company with a license that will enable Roshan to further expand and develop its already market-leading, innovative data packages via the 3G platform. Roshan celebrated the issuance of the license in a signing ceremony presided by His Excellency, Minister Amir Zai Sangin and other honorable ministerial dignitaries at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Kabul. Roshan is aiming for a commercial roll out of its 3G service later in the year. Roshan has brought to market a range of robust data platforms for Afghan individuals and business. Most recently, Roshan launched "Kahkashaan," an innovative galaxy of web portal services that allows customers to access rich content on their mobile phones, including ringtones, pictures, games and applications. The company was also the first to bring Blackberry and M-Paisa mobile money services to Afghanistan. "We are delighted to introduce 3G technology to Roshan's six million and counting customers, expanding access to data-rich products and converged solutions to meet their needs," said Karim Khoja, chief executive officer of Roshan at the ceremony. "Not only does the license further bolster Roshan's robust and high-performing data services, but it also complements our existing state-of-the-art network that currently offers the widest, most reliable and highest quality coverage across all of Afghanistan's 34 provinces," added Khoja. "3G technology is vital for the economic growth and development of Afghanistan in a host of different sectors - from education to health to commerce," said His Excellency, Minister Sangin. "In awarding this license to Roshan, we are embracing the mobile broadband revolution, expanding the country's data services and enhancing capacity, aimed at improving the lives of Afghans as they connect with each other and the rest of the world," added Sangin.

From http://www.sacbee.com/ 09/22/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Mobile Operator Develops Strategy for LTE Network Introduction

Azerbaijani mobile operator Azerfon has developed a strategy for the introduction of the LTE network, Azerfon CEO Jurgen Peetz told reporters on Monday. Peetz said that unlike other players in the country's mobile market, Azerfon's main goal is the simultaneous launch of the network throughout the country. "Over the past few years we have done enormous work to upgrade our network. We have significantly increased the number of base stations and invested heavily in the development of the network. And I can say with certainty that all the base stations that support 3G network, will also support the LTE network," Peetz said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/28/2012

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Azerbaijan's ICT Development Fund to Start Backing Projects in 2013

The Azerbaijani Information and Communication Technologies Development Fund will start financing large projects starting in January 2013, Azerbaijani Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Ali Abbasov said on Thursday during a meeting held at the ministry with a delegation of TeliaSonera. The minister said that in the near future the government of Azerbaijan is planning to provide companies involved in the ICT sector with special privileges in taxation and customs. Abbasov said earlier that the Ministry has prepared proposals to reduce customs duties on imports of parts for high-tech products into the country. The fee for computers imported into the country, as the Minister said, is three per cent, while the duty on imported components for their production ranges from 10 to 15 per cent of the cost. Despite the rapid development of the ICT sector in Azerbaijan, exports are far behind imports. To develop the ICT sector in Azerbaijan and increase its competitiveness, according to Abbasov, it's necessary to optimise the tax law in this area and the availability of concessional loans. Azerbaijan is implementing a project of establishing a fund to support ICT which will help to issue loans and grants to companies. Establishment of a fund will allow domestic companies to get both monetary and fiscal benefits. A decree establishing funds on the balance sheet of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of the State Fund for Development of Information Technology was signed by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on March 15. The Fund will be financed from the state budget and all sectors of the population will benefit from these advantages. The Fund will also provide direct financial support to promising start-ups in science and technology. In international practice the participation of small innovative companies in the Fund's programmes allows them to bring the development of scientific ideas on to the creation of a sustainable business that is attractive to investors. Its primary aim is to conduct public policy development and support of small enterprises in the scientific and technical fields providing them with direct financial assistance and training which in turn, facilitates the creation of new jobs.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/30/2012

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Teliasonera Intends Cooperating with Azerbaijan in Broadband Services Development

Prospects of building a rational, efficient telecommunications infrastructure in Azerbaijan, including cooperation with the operators in this field and other issues were discussed during the meeting between the president and CEO of TeliaSonera Lars Nyberg and Azerbaijani Minister of Communication and Information Technologies Ali Abbasov. Nyberg mentioned this at a press conference in Baku on Wednesday, noting that one of the key issues upon which discussions were held with the Azerbaijani side is cooperation in the development of broadband services. In this context the use of both optical and wireless networks are being considered. He said about 90 per cent of the TeliaSonera network traffic accounts for data services. This area has a significant growth and the trend is typical for all markets including Azerbaijan. "Of course Azerbaijan, as well as other telecommunications markets, has developed fixed networks. I hope that as in other markets, the mobile network in Azerbaijan will prevail, which will also contribute to a significant increase in this segment," Nyberg said. He said the presence of a stable and formed telecommunications infrastructure is an important component of the developed economy.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/30/2012

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Azerbaijan's Economic Situation Draws Cyber Attacks

The financial situation and economic development of Azerbaijan makes it more attractive to malefactor, the Symantec chief security strategist Bulent Teksoz told reporters on Tuesday. He said that previously the main purpose of intruders were towards the developed markets such as the U.S., China, etc., now interest has shifted to developing countries. In addition to the financial component, attracting attacks and the spread of malware in a virtual environment is in his opinion due to political processes also playing a certain role here. "A few months ago cyber war broke out in the Middle East. Two weeks ago, the largest Arab-American Oil Company Aramco suffered an attack. Such attacks on the energy sector continue to this day. "In Azerbaijan this sector, as well as other sectors of the economy, are also under threat. Our company provides all possible assistance in the prevention of negative factors. We can apply our experience also in the Azerbaijani market which is now important among the emerging markets. That's why Symantec investment in Azerbaijan steadily increases," Teksoz said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/11/2012

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Azerbaijan Transfers Information Base on Real Estate in E-format

The Azerbaijani State Property Committee transfers the information base of real estate registration from paper to electronic format, the State Committee said today. It is planned to transfer over 700,000 documents into an electronic format within the projects implemented by the Committee in this sphere. This will greatly ensure efficiency, transparency, and flexibility of the state committee's work. There is an e-service section at the official web-site of the committee (emdk.gov.az). This allows registering property online. The number of online-applications on statements and certificates received by the Committee has reached 200 today. The Committee registered about 98,000 property rights in January-August, of which 28,000 are primary, the remaining 70,000 - repeated. Around 37.4 percent of the registered documents fall to Baku. Physical and legal entities received about 71,000 inquiries on restriction from the state register.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/15/2012

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Distance Education Used in Azerbaijan for First Time

The Ministry of Health Care of Azerbaijan gave instructions on the launch of distance education with the use of modern information communication technologies in a number of professions (internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, family medicine, general surgery) for the first time. According to the schedule of the Azerbaijan State Institute of Advanced Medical Studies, postgraduate courses on 33 professions started in 2012/2013 academic year, the Ministry of Education reported to Trend. The lectures are held through internet and special programs in the classrooms of the Institute in Baku, so as not to distract the doctors in the regions from work. Distance education enables saving of travel costs and prevents long absence from work. Within the year postgraduate courses will be attended by 600 trainees.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/20/2012

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KYRGYZSTAN: Net Freedom Under Fire

The only parliamentarian republic in Central Asia - Kyrgyzstan - has become the scene of a growing attack on Internet freedom. In the beginning of September, parliamentarians and security services proposed two new measures which, according to opinion leaders and experts, would increase censorship in an already restricted Internet landscape. Last month, Kyrgyzstan's security services announced that they are launching a system next spring that will search Kyrgyz-language websites and .kg websites for what it called "hate speech". Critics of the measure worried it could lead to increased government surveillance and censorship. The first of the new measures proposes tackling offensive content on the Internet in order to protect the welfare of children.

Natalya Nikitenko, a member of the Kyrgyz parliament and the initiator of this law, told K-News 12 September, officials just want to "draw the attention of children and their parents to the existence of the problem": Online media and television often contain information accompanied by scenes of violence, pornography, and the promotion of drugs. That can affect the outlook of a child and lead to disastrous consequences. Such rules have been in place for a long time in other countries and have been known to work efficiently. However, the information portal Kloop cites human-rights activists emphasizing the similarities between the current law and the one passed a few weeks ago in Russia. The activists have found many similarities between the two laws. An online petition against the measure has gathered the support of almost 10,000 Internet users, according to organizers. The initiators of the petition think that this law could lead to censorship and hinder the development of the Kyrgyz Internet. Alexander Feydman, the owner of one of the most popular Kyrgyz web resources www.torrent.kg, told VB news agency that he also opposed the adoption of the bill because of its blurred criteria: I can't see a clear way in which it will be implemented. For example, someone can write a comment at 4 am, when the site is poorly moderated, take a screenshot of the comment that offended someone and send the complaint. After five days this site will be shut down. Daniel Vartanov, a software developer, told Net Prophet he didn't see the relevance of any attempt to control the Internet: Internet is not a place for posting information; it's a place for exchanging information. Attempts to controlling Internet are like attempts to control phones or conversations in the street.

Denis Berdakov, the director of the social media marketing agency "Digital Empire" went into details to Net Prophet about the issue of blurred definitions: The bill contains lots of illegal definitions that can serve to prohibit even cartoons for their promotion of violence, "unhealthy lifestyle", and even for "non-standard moral values". It is not clear how to detect illegal content, and as a result sites can be closed without a trial, based on the opinion of some "experts". The purposefully blurred wording of the law is very general and copies that of existing laws already known to be inefficient. But the new law could "help" in dealing with sites that criticize the government or its officials. Following the law proposed in the parliament, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Internal Affairs proposed their own measure to block web sites with "extremist" publications. The minister Zarylbek Rysaliev said that the rationale for the bill is that the state can't block the sites if their server is located outside of Kyrgyzstan. And again, the position of deputies and human rights activists varies. Kloop reported opinions from the different sides. According to Irina Karamushkina, a member of the parliament, "the state must protect its citizens from extremist information". Maksat Sabirov, another MP, sees the threat as coming from "many extremist religious organizations, which should be taken "care of".

Igor Shestakov, a media expert, told Kloop that the bill violates freedom of speech and used the example of Ferghana.ru, a website blocked in February 2012 in Kyrgyzstan. The government did not give concrete evidence of the reasons surrounding the banning of Ferghana.ru. I think that the government and the police are not professional enough and that such a measure as the proposed legislation could be used against freedom of speech and could put pressure on independent media. Dmitry Kabak, a human rights activist, also believes that the state must first give a clear definition of "extremism" before passing the bill, according to Kloop. As long as there are no clear definitions of what extremism means, any of us, including the site owners, can fall victim to illegal, unjustified measures. One of the initiators of the petition against the law for protecting children Erkin Mamasaliev told Net Prophet that the desire to protect themselves from criticism periodically surfaces in officials. Deputies and officials don't understand the specifics of the Internet and from time to time want to close or restrict access to certain sites. We want to demonstrate through our activities that it is impossible to restrict Internet. This law will be considered by the Committee of Parliament on 24 September. Activists planned a meeting with members of Parliament in 17 September, Mamasaliev said. They want to explain their position to officials and ensure that this law won't be passed in its current form.

From http://netprophet.tol.org/ 09/17/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: E-Government Will Favour Development of Networks of New Generation

The global trend has now arrived in Kazakhstan. Such service as interconnection appeals to Kazakhstan residents. Over the past 4 years the number of mobile Internet users has grown from 1 million to 10 million subscribers. In the interview to the Kazakh TV channel representatives of Kazakhstan cellular companies have announced that the e-government will boost the development of next-generation networks. In the recent five years the e-government has undergone serious development. Some types of certificates are given only in electronic form. Aida DOSSAYEVA, DIRECTOR, CORPORATE COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT OF CELLULAR COMPANY: Today Kazakhstan is actively developing the e-government services and in this area mobile internet appeals to people. Kazakhstan has a vast territory and the density of subscribers is very low. Using the World Wide Web, Kazakhstan residents can apply for marriage, pay a fine for violation of traffic rules, register the birth of a child, and order a new passport. Aida DOSSAYEVA, DIRECTOR, CORPORATE COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT OF CELLULAR COMPANY: For example, using these services, you can find out information about the condition of your driver's license. Tomorrow we will be able to expand the list and do it not only with the help of a digital signature. We can learn about the amount of pension, credit an account or get medical help. Everything is not far off. Due to the wide spread of the World Wide Web, in 2012 the share of voice services in one package of communication services has decreased by 2%. Market participants say that with the introduction of 4G, the popularity of the Internet will grow in leaps and bounds. According to the plans of the Ministry of Transport and Communications in 2015 4G network will cover all villages with a population of 50 thousand people. Aida Dossayeva, Director, Corporate Communication Department of Cellular Company The number of active users is increasing. The service of video calls is also very popular. However it is not the most popular service. Our subscribers are interested in the mobile Internet in terms of information. Tariffs contribute to the spread of the World Wide Web in Kazakhstan. So, according to official sources from January this year the cost of Internet access has been reduced by 27%.

From http://caspionet.kz/ 09/17/2012

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TAJIKISTAN: Opportunities of Development of the Economy to Be Discussed in Dushanbe Tomorrow

DUSHANBE, September 20, 2012, Asia-Plus - Tajikistan Free Market Center will hold the next meeting of Free Market Club in Dushanbe on September 21. Entitled "In Search of Economic Miracle," the meeting is devoted to considering the patterns of economic growth and determination of its major factors in some countries, press release issued by the Center says. "The successes of many countries, which just yesterday were in situations of extreme poverty, clearly show the economic, social and institutional benefits of capitalism as a system of decentralized making economic decisions. "Although the blind copying of foreign experience is not possible, analysis and evaluation of fiscal, monetary, industrial and agricultural policies of successful reformers can generate concrete recommendations for countries that seek to go from poverty to sustainable prosperity in a short period of time at the lowest cost. "The meeting is expected to consider policies of countries that have high rates of economic growth for at least 15 - 20 years. The following issues will also be considered at the meeting - What were the most common mistakes that made post-socialist countries in the 1991 - 2007 years? How in the successful countries were used economic, social and institutional benefits of capitalism as a system of decentralized system of making economic decisions?" The Free Market Club is an efficient intellectual format for dissemination and promotion of economic knowledge and liberal ideas among young people and a discussion forum for the free exchange of ideas and communicates with experts in the field of market economy. Financial support for the Club is carried out by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Tajikistan Free Market Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-for-profit classical liberal think-tank, its mission is promoting the principles of the market economy, private property, minimal government, personal freedom and the rule of law in Tajikistan through education, research, advocacy-campaigns and raising awareness of active civil society leaders, entrepreneurs, policymakers, scientists and youth.

From http://news.tj/ 09/20/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Gov Seeks EOI for "Smart Transport" System

Under a major new infrastructure upgrade, industry expressions of interest (EOI) are being sought to design and deliver an electronic freeway management system for the M4 in New South Wales - also one of the state's most congested freeways. The M4 connects the capital, Sydney, with suburban and outlying areas, and feeds traffic into other connecting states. It is one of the most heavily-used transport networks - with thousands of motorists using the freeway each day. A $US17 million (AUD$17 million) electronic freeway management system will help ease traffic flow, share updates about accidents, and other alerts in real-time with motorists. This system is being jointly funded by the State and Federal governments. It is being rolled out over two years - with planning underway from August 2012. State Transport Minister Duncan Gay says an electronic traffic management system will enable authorities to respond quickly to accidents, manage flows and share information about changing traffic patterns.

When fully operational, this system will equip authorities with the technology to more efficiently manage traffic congestion across the M4. It will also ease serious gridlock. Authorities will be able to respond more quickly to accidents, while sharing information with motorists to plan their journeys and avoid frustrating delays. The M4 electronic freeway management system is being supported by an expanded use of CCTVs, and digital messaging systems that deliver live feeds about traffic conditions and delays. More detailed updates will be provided about the severity of accidents, volume of traffic, and information about alternative routes. The Federal government estimates that a national electronic traffic management system will substantially reduce congestion around the country. This system may save motorists more than US$500 million (AUD$500 million) a year in fuel and related costs.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/28/2012

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Aus Govt Agency Wins Mobile Health Apps Award

Empowering consumers to take control of their health - anywhere, anytime - is under the spotlight at the Department of Health in the State of Victoria. This department has won a prestigious mobile apps award, acknowledging innovation in mobile healthcare service delivery. This award was handed out by the industry's peak body, the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association (AIMIA) under its medical category. The department's latest mobile apps project builds on its popular Better Health Channel web site - while extending download services into the fast-growing mobile health space. Since the service's launch a year ago, more than 83,000 people have downloaded information - enabling them to source more detailed snapshots about health conditions, and improve health literacy. The department's Better Health Channel app now places reliable and vital information in the "palms of peoples' hands," according to the Digital Services and Strategy Manager Gerardine O'Sullivan.

O'Sullivan, a project team leader, says a mobile setting engages more readily with individuals and families in meaningful and personalised ways. "As the most personal technology we own, mobile is increasingly becoming a key platform." Simon Blankenstein, the department's Digital Media Manager, adds that personalised mobile communication helps reach communities at the grassroots - while broadening the reach of healthcare information exchange. Increasingly, personalised apps will reach much wider sections of the community. The Better Health Channel ranks as one of the most-visited web site for health and medical information. This service taps into a growing demand for online and mobile healthcare information. In Australia, sourcing health and medical information online, and increasingly through mobile devices, ranks in the top-ten of consumer activities.

Among its features, the expanded Better Health Channel app delivers information to mobile devices - while connecting consumers to a range of relevant local health service providers. These include doctors, dentists, pharmacists and physiotherapists. The department plans to release an expanded version of the app shortly. This new version features personalised health alerts and notifications as well as access to a full range of Better Health Channel information. The Better Health Channel mobile app was launched in September 2011, and actively promoted through a wide range of "low-no cost" online and offline networks and channels. This service complements the Better Health Channel that has been operational since 1999. These channels tapped into readily-available government department websites, health service communication outlets, as well as radio, press and digital media. A recent Australian online study notes that nearly 75 per cent of people go online to find information specific to their circumstances. Increasingly smartphones and tablets are being used to access timely and quality health information and services.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/07/2012

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Economists Back Rates Slash to Prevent Recession

Concern is growing among economists over Australia's economic strength, with some betting the Reserve Bank will cut the cash rate by 100 basis points by mid-next year. Deutsche Bank expects falling commodity prices and demand from China will lead to a 13 per cent fall in the terms of trade, which represents the price of Australia's exports relative to imports. In the past, sharp falls in the terms of trade have led to recessions. The cash rate currently stands at 3.5 per cent. Deutsche Bank economist Phil O'Donaghoe says a sharp fall in terms of trade would mean the cash rate will be down to 2.5 per cent by mid next year. "We think we are going to get a fall in the terms of trade in Australia of about 13 per cent," he said. "If we look back through history we've seen those sorts of declines in the terms of trade on five different occasions. On three of those occasions the Australian economy has gone into recession, so I think that leaves the Reserve Bank with some pretty aggressive rate cuttings going to be required."

Mr O'Donaghoe predicts the cuts will happen over the next 12 months. "It really means for the economy that we are getting less income and when we see that we see softer consumption, softer investment and we see the ultimate response is that the Reserve Bank will take the cash rate lower, so another 100 basis points of cuts," he said. "We think that will be delivered pretty much over the next 12 months or so." ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan says several things could force the RBA into cutting the cash rate by 100 basis points. "The currency remaining high, the softening in commodity prices, the budget looks like it's under more pressure and fiscal policy might be tighter," he said. But most economists believe the cash rate will be cut to 3.25 per cent in November and stay there until late next year.

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/ 09/21/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Move 70 Percent of Govt Transactions Online by 2017

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain unveiled today plans to leverage today's cutting edge technologies to improve service delivery to the public as part of the Government's "Better Public Services Initiative". The initiative would entail the establishment of a one-stop online shop for businesses (Result 9 Action Plan) and a plan to shift an average of 70 per cent of common government transactions online by 2017 (Result 10 Action Plan). While New Zealand is doing well in international "Ease of Doing Business" Rankings, the Government realised that there's considerable scope for improvement and innovation. With that, the Government is now leveraging today's cutting edge technologies to reduce costs and increase productivity to make it even more convenient for businesses and citizens alike to transact with the government.

"The one stop shop online shop, which will be led by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, will make life easier for businesses by reducing the number of times they need to enter their details when dealing with the different parts of Government. It will also allow a greater degree of information sharing between agencies," Minister Joyce said in an official statement. "The point of the one-stop shop is to make the interaction with Government quick, seamless and user-friendly. The New Zealand public and businesses increasingly expect to be able to access Government services online without the need for dealing with multiple agencies. The Minister added that the Government is aiming to see a 25 per cent reduction in business costs from dealing with the government by 2017.

Meanwhile, Minister Tremain says the Result 10 Action Plan is about delivering smarter, faster and more convenient online public services that can be easily accessed anytime from devices such as smartphones and iPads. "The Department of Internal Affairs is working closely with Government agencies to deliver a wide range of digital services such as paying for vehicle licenses and applying for overseas visas. It is expected that later this year renewing an adult passport can be done online," Minister Tremain said. "Our goal is to ensure all New Zealanders have access to high quality public services no matter whether they are at home, work or on the go."

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/30/2012

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NZ Gov Paves Way for G-Cloud

The New Zealand government is laying the foundations for its G-cloud roll-out - with industry Requests for Proposals (RFPs) currently being sought to provide onshore-hosted cloud-based services. Together with these RFPs, a policy framework is being developed by the Department of Internal Affairs in tandem with core agencies. This department is expected to report back to relevant ministers by the end of 2012 about broad-based cloud adoption plans. Cloud computing will enable agencies to pay per-use for ICT products and services delivered through networks, rather than maintain their own ICT infrastructure, according to NZ's Minister for Internal Affairs, Chris Tremain. He says cloud computing is an "exciting, emerging technology" that will contribute directly to better public services, promote innovation, and substantially reduce costs.

"There are many opportunities for implementing cloud-based services across public sector agencies. The first will be cloud-based office productivity services like email, spread-sheets and word processing, which will improve consistency and enable much better collaboration between agencies." Cloud technology also offers immediate access to the latest software versions, updates, and patches. This access will deliver economies of scale to foster innovation - while taking advantage of new technologies as these become available. "This allows services to be developed much more quickly by using cloud-based technologies on demand, rather than going through a long development and implementation time frame," notes Minister Tremain. "Using ICT as a service allows immediate access, customisation and quick implementation."

A government position paper says cloud computing will enable agencies to use ICT resources on a pay-per-use basis, using data and services stored externally. This avoids having to invest in agencies' own ICT infrastructure and capability. A good comparison is the provision of electricity services. Moving forward, all agencies are expected to take a 'cloud first' approach when making procurement decisions. This approach will drive the standardisation of technology solutions and services, however does not require selecting "only one solution for all agencies." Among the options, agencies have the flexibility to directly engage with service providers. But these relationships are expected to act within all-of-government frameworks. New Zealand's moves into cloud computing mirror trends in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the US. These countries are also fast-tracking all-of-government frameworks to roll out cloud services.

The security of and access to information stored in the cloud remains paramount; the NZ government notes that it is taking a conservative, cautious approach. For now, cloud-based office productivity services will be hosted onshore - enabling agencies to better tackle privacy and security concerns. The Department of Internal Affairs says it is developing "robust frameworks" to ensure that internationally-recognised security, access and audit practices are put into place. This department is reporting back to relevant ministers about developing security frameworks by year's end, among other activities.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 08/31/2012

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NZ Tops OECD List for Education Spend

New Zealand has topped the list of 34 OECD countries for the amount of money spent on education. The OECD annual report on education was released overnight and said New Zealand directed 21.2 per cent of its public spending to education, Radio New Zealand reported. The data was from 2009 figures. New Zealand has overtaken the previous top country, Mexico, by nearly one percentage point. The OECD average was 13 per cent. The report also found New Zealand spent 7.2 per cent of its gross domestic product on education, with only Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland exceeding that amount.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/12/2012

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Govt Supports Tourism for Human Resource Development

The Papua New Guinea Government will support the University of Papua New Guinea's Tourism Department to take the lead in education and training in the industry. The Minister for Tourism Arts and Culture Boka Kondra stressed this at the 5th Tourism Conference staged at UPNG Main Lecture Theatre last week. He said the O'Neill/Dion Government would venture into encouraging more students into taking up scholarships in tourism and hospitality. "UPNG should take lead with other universities such as PAU, UOG, DWU, UNRE and Unitech to develop human resources for the industry. "The universities must seriously look into enhancing holistic approaches to training in the sector - providing both practical courses and higher academic postgraduate programs in tourism as an alternate, immediate, renewable and sustainable industry for PNG's stable economic growth," he added.

The Tourism Master Plan 2007-2017 has highlighted the need for human resource development in the sector both at the institutional and industrial level. "It is a vision for the new government to promote tourism growth in the country and is an invitation to key higher learning institutions such as UPNG to promote a fully-fledged faculty in tourism," Minister Kondra said. Meanwhile, UPNG Vice Chancellor Professor Ross Hynes also stressed on innovation and sustainable tourism in the country. He said sustainable tourism aims to effectively use the tourism resource such as biodiversity, culture, historic sites, adventure locations and recreation opportunities without damaging the resources. " Use what is there."

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 09/14/2012

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Equality for Women Slowly Gaining Momentum in Pacific

The head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, says equality for women in the Pacific is slowly gaining movement. Gender equality was a key topic at last week's Pacific Islands Forum in the Cook Islands. The leaders included a gender equality declaration in their final communique, and Australia announced an unprecedented fund for the region's women. But Michelle Bachelet said the Pacific is one of the regions that has moved at a slower pace. "It is moving. I would love to move it faster, but it is moving. And I believe this is a result of a lot of partnerships, and political will to advance. Of leaders, of governments, parliaments, but also the United Nations and donor countries." Bachelet said the situation of women in the region is still vulnerable, and every country can do more, especially by allocating funding for women's issues.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 09/06/2012

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Rethink Role of State in Finance, Says World Bank

Washington, September 13, 2012 - It is time to rethink the role of the state in the financial sector, so that governments can better balance the need for credit and emergency support for banks with measures to promote transparency and competition when crises erupt, says a new World Bank report. "Governments need to provide strong supervision and ensure healthy competition in the financial sector. They also need to support financial infrastructure, such as better quality credit information that is shared more systematically," says World Bank Group Managing Director Mahmoud Mohieldin. "But the mixed results of their direct role in issuing credits merits close examination. Indeed, as we emerge from the global financial crisis, governments may want to consider shifting toward indirect interventions." The Global Financial Development Report: Rethinking the Role of the State in Finance, examines how financial systems around the world fared during the global financial crisis. Coinciding with the anniversary of the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers, the report draws on several new global surveys and compiles unique country-level data covering more than 200 economies since the 1960s. Analyzing four characteristics - the size of financial institutions and markets, financial access, efficiency, and stability - the report tracks financial systems in the run up to the global financial crisis and gauges the extent of their recovery to date. The authors confirm that developing economy financial systems are less deep and provide less access than those in developed economies, but they do not differ much in terms of stability.

One of the report's original contributions is on state-owned banks. During the crisis, many developing economies turned to state-owned banks to overcome the credit crunch. In countries such as Chile and Tunisia, governments pumped capital into state banks to cover existing loans or provide new credit to exporters or small- and medium-sized firms. South Korea raised the credit ceilings of its state-owned banks, India and Tunisia set up credit lines for those banks, and Brazil's and China's largest state-owned banks expanded credit considerably during the crisis. The report finds that such interventions helped counter the spread of the crisis, but they may carry a price: inefficient lending, which in some cases is politically-motivated. In turn, that led to distortions that were amplified as capital was pumped into state banks, or as new credit lines were set up for them to encourage lending to exporters and smaller enterprises. In some instances, state banks continued to extend credit even during economic recovery, raising concerns that they may crowd out private banks. Past as well as new research on previous crises reveals that government ownership of banks is associated with lower financial development, more financial instability and slower economic growth. The report recommends that countries carefully consider the risks posed by state-owned banks and pay attention to how they are governed, which is especially challenging in weak institutional environments.

The report also reviews recent successes and failures of the state as a regulator and supervisor. External assessments suggest that supervision in many places, for example in Australia, Canada and Singapore, worked well. Also, many developing economies had limited exposure to the risky behaviors that precipitated the meltdown, and most averted outright distress, including Malaysia and Peru, both of which were praised for their prudent policies. Nonetheless, some countries suffered direct hits, especially in Europe and Central Asia, where reliance on parent banks and a build-up of funding imbalances in the run-up to the crisis left many countries vulnerable. The authors analyze common traits among countries that were hit hard by the crisis versus those that fared better. Non-crisis countries tended to have less complex but better enforced regulations. Crisis countries allowed for less stringent definitions of capital, were not as rigorous in calculating their capital requirements for credit risks, and only 25 percent of them required general provisions on loans and advances (versus close to 70 percent in non-crisis countries).

The report refutes the view that there was "too much competition" in the financial sector of the crisis countries. "Research presented in the report suggests that with good supervision, more competition can actually help improve efficiency and enhance access to financial services, without undermining stability," says Asli Demirg¨ąç-Kunt, the World Bank's Director of Development Policy and Chief Economist for Financial and Private Sector Development. The World Bank Group is working with member countries to support the development and stability of their financial systems, along with economic growth and poverty reduction. "Around 16 percent of the Bank Group's lending during the financial crisis went to the financial sector - double the 8 percent of its lending before the crisis began," says Janamitra Devan, the World Bank Vice President, Financial and Private Sector Development. "This report is part of the Bank's continuing commitment to provide knowledge, operational support and lending to developing countries - both in times of financial crises and in eras of economic expansion."

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 09/12/2012

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Asia as World Growth Engine Challenged: IMF

TIANJIN, China, Sept 13 (Bernama) - The slowdown in exports and capital flow volatility are challenging Asia's role as the engine room for world economic growth, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deputy Managing Director Zhu Min said Thursday. The Asian economy remains strong compared with the rest of the world, with better fundamentals than during the continent's financial crisis in 1998, Zhu told a panel discussion during the 2012 Summer Davos Forum held in north China's Tianjin city. However, the region is being challenged by the impact of the global slowdown on its exports and increasingly the volatile flow of capital in and out of it, China's Xinhua news agency quoted Zhu as saying. The IMF forecast Asia's annual growth rate to fall to 5.5 percent this year from 5.9 percent in 2011 and 8.5 percent in 2010, Zhu said. Meanwhile, foreign capital has moved in and out of Asia frequently in recent years, adding to risks of market instability. Foreign capital fled from Asia during the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, returned to the region in 2010 but exited once more in 2011 and is now back to Asia again, Zhu said. He cited an increase of foreign capital's share in the Malaysian bond market to 30 percent-35 percent from 5-10 percent. "Can Asia continue to lead global growth? That's the challenge and we really need to look into it," he said. Though Asia can maintain that leading position, it faces challenges. These include seeking more sustainable growth, moving up the value chain of manufacturing and tapping its service industry potential, Zhu said, noting that the most important aspect is manufacturing. As the global manufacturing base, Asian countries are forming a huge vertical integrated supply chain in the region but it needs to be more efficient, better financed and prepared against risks, he said. Zhu also called for setting up a regional bond market to meet capital demand in Asia. The three-day forum, formally known as the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions, started on Tuesday with the theme of "creating the future economy." It is the sixth of its kind to be held in China.

From http://www.mysinchew.com/ 09/13/2012

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Banks May Retreat from Asia Swap Markets as Regulation Bites

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Major Western banks may have to scale back or even withdraw from some of Asia's developing financial derivative markets due to regulatory hurdles and rising costs. Under new global regulations, banks must put their trades in commonly traded, over-the-counter derivatives such as interest rate swaps through central clearing houses. The problem lies with the rules at new clearing houses in India, China and South Korea, which risk making it prohibitively expensive or even impossible for some foreign banks to trade derivatives in these countries. For instance, members of India's clearing house, the CCIL, are concerned they could be exposed to unlimited liability should one or more participants default. Another big sticking point is whether the CCIL, along with China and South Korea's planned new derivative clearing venues - the Shanghai Clearing House and Korean Exchange (KRX) - will meet the standards for clearing houses set by the global markets supervisory body IOSCO and the central banker's Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems (CPSS). The principles look set to clash with those countries' domestic laws on bankruptcy, meaning it will be more expensive for banks to trade there. Understandably, foreign banks are reviewing the costs of staying in these markets. "The CPSS-IOSCO compliance issues come down to cost as banks can still clear at non-compliant CCPs, only that they will face much higher regulatory capital charges," said Keith Noyes, Asia-Pacific regional director for the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA). "Individual banks will do the math and decide if it's worth their while continuing to do business in those markets at those CCPs (central ccounterparties)."

NEW LEGISLATION
India has a Oct 1 deadline for mandatory clearing of rupee forwards. Over the course of the next year, many other over-the-counter derivatives in Asia will have to be centrally cleared, too, as countries bring in new legislation. That means international banks, currently in negotiations with the new clearing houses, could pull back from trading products such as rupee forwards or won-denominated swaps. Liquidity would be hit as local banks find their regular foreign counterparties unwilling to trade or roll over positions. While Asian banks may gain some market share as a result, concerns are growing that such a pullback by European and U.S. players could drain liquidity from these markets, even as policymakers and companies grapple with the stresses produced by the global economic slowdown and volatile financial markets. "Liquidity could dry up, so it's a big concern. There could be a downstream affect as well, swaps trades tend to be hedged with futures, so it could hurt futures as well," said Bill Herder, executive director for the Futures Industry Association in Asia. "These are fast growing markets, but for them to grow further they need external liquidity," he added. The derivative markets in India, China and South Korea are still tiny compared to those in the United States and Europe, but have all more than quadrupled in size since 2004. Figures from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) show that the average daily turnover in interest rate derivatives in these markets in April 2010 was $1.5 billion in China, $3.5 billion in India and $10.7 billion in South Korea. All three countries are establishing new central clearing houses to meet their G20 commitments to make over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives markets more transparent and less risky to the wider financial system. The G20 wants derivative trades in products such as interest rate swaps to be centrally cleared so that the credit risk of a bank defaulting on a trade is shared between members of a clearing house.

VETO POWER
Unlike Singapore and Hong Kong, India, South Korea and China plan to force commonly-traded OTC derivatives to be cleared onshore at their domestic clearing houses rather than allowing them to go through a larger offshore clearer such as LCH-Clearnet or CME. The first hurdle for foreign banks is whether their home regulators will even let them join these clearing houses. American regulators are unlikely to let U.S. banks join clearing houses if there is no cap on the degree of liability they would face in the event of multiple defaults. European banks report that it is still uncertain how or when their regulators will decide which Asian clearing houses are appropriate for them to use. "U.S. and European regulations have the potential to prevent their country's banks from clearing at third country CCPs (central counterparties) that do not conform to their regulatory prescription," said ISDA's Noyes. Still, there is optimism most of these entry hurdles can be overcome. "We have reached an agreement of what are the changes that are needed to be made and those are acceptable to the foreign banks. We are waiting for the Reserve Bank of India's acceptance," said Indirani Rao, the chief forex officer at CCIL. An official for KRX, who asked not to be identified, said it hoped Asian governments would work together with their western counterparts to find a resolution. "The objective of the CCP is to maintain stability in the financial system, so I don't think unilateral actions will be appropriate," he said. "I understand that there are some discussions over the matter at the government-to-government level, and I think there will be some adjustments between various parties."

CAPITAL CONCERNS
However, the CPSS-IOSCO principles present another hurdle. The standards have just been toughened up in order to reflect the systemically important role central clearing houses will play now they are set to clear trillions of dollars of OTC derivatives every day. But lawyers say that at present, local laws in these countries clash with some of the principles on insolvency and netting, the ability of banks to offset trades. That won't prevent banks from joining these clearing houses, but it will mean trades cleared there will not be eligible for any capital relief under Basel III. Basel III had aimed to give banks an incentive to use clearing houses by allowing them to set aside less capital for trades that are centrally cleared than those that aren't. "The Asian central clearing houses have a deepening understanding of the issues, but there is still much work to be done to ensure that the hurdles are removed and international banks continue to be effective in providing liquidity to on-shore markets," said Peter Connor, head of markets clearing for Asia Pacific at Deutsche Bank. A clearing executive at one global bank said that while it will likely sign up as a member with most of the new clearing houses, the move would be "ceremonial" rather then indicative of plans to put much business through them. Any pullback by Western banks could play into the hands of local Asian banks, who will not face the same regulatory constraints, although they are unlikely to make up for the liquidity shortfall. "It's my view that the local banks with the strong deposit bases and good capital structures are in a position to benefit from increasing regulatory capital charges," said ISDA's Noyes.

From http://finance.yahoo.com/ 09/18/2012

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CHINA: Hearing Likely Rise in Revenue Sounds Good

SENNHEISER expects to boost Chinese revenue by 20-30 percent annually until 2016 by expanding channels and introducing new cutting-edge earphones. Through the expanded channels and by launching 35 to 40 earphone models, Germany-based Sennheiser predicted its Chinese revenue will be between 360 million and 400 million yuan in 2012. The annual revenue growth will keep growing by 20 to 30 percent until 2016, said Marc Vincent, president of Sennheiser China, yesterday. Its Asia revenue will hit about 90 million euros (US$113 million) this year, with the China market contributing the biggest portion. Meanwhile, Sennheiser China has opened a Chinese-language online shop on its official website to provide pricing information. The company also plans to open more physical stores in China, especially in first-tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing. The company is also aware of counterfeit Sennheiser products being sold globally via e-commerce websites. These products cause Sennheiser to lose 10 million euros on average, Volker Bartels, president of corporate service at Sennheiser, said. "We can't ignore the counterfeit goods. They are not only showing up in China but everywhere globally," Bartels said during an exclusive phone interview.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 08/28/2012

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Chinese Lost US$46 Billion to Cybercrime Last Year: Norton Report

CHINESE consumers lost US$46 billion last year, almost half of the global losses, to cybercrime including malware attacks and phishing, a US-based the Internet security firm said in Shanghai today. There has been an increase in cybercrime which takes advantage of booming social networks and mobile technology, according to the annual Norton Cybercrime Report by the US-based Symantec Corporation. Chinese consumers who like to purchase products or services online are facing hacker programs, fake Websites and unreliable online payment methods every day, according to Taobao.com, the country's biggest e-commerce platform. An estimated 257 million people in China fell victim to cybercrime last year, suffering financial losses of US$46 billion, followed by Americans with US$21 billion and Europeans with US$16 billion, according to Symantec. "Though most people have basic anti-virus software installed in their computers, the Chinese still lack awareness of Internet security like password management and personal information protection," said Elaine Chan, Symantec China market development director. The highest numbers of cybercrime victims were found in Russia (92 percent), China (84 percent) and South Africa (80 percent). Globally, each victim suffered an average loss of US$197, compared with US$178 in China, according to Symantec's survey on some 13,000 people aged 18-64 in 24 countries. China's Internet population has surpassed 500 million, the largest in the world, and booming social websites like QQ and Weibo, and the popularity of mobile devices have made China the world's biggest mobile Internet market.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/11/2012

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China Financial Reform Urged to Offset Risks

TIANJIN, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) - China needs more reforms to liberalize interest rates and boost bond selling as the country's financial sector faces risks from piling corporate debt and an economic downswing, officials and economists proposed on Wednesday. China's company debt remains high and is even increasing in some places, building risks for Chinese banks, a major source of company financing, said Dai Xianglong, chairman of the National Council for Social Security Fund, during the ongoing 2012 Summer Davos Forum in north China's Tianjin. Chinese enterprises have an overall debt-asset ratio of 105.4 percent, well above the 80-percent alert line and putting them top of a 20-country ranking produced by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), CASS vice president Li Yang said in May. Li Daokui, director of the Center for China in the World Economy, also sounded an alarm bell for Chinese banks, saying the lenders posed the biggest risk for the country's financial sector.

Chinese banks' total asset value was already more than twice the country's gross domestic output, said Li at a session during the forum. Banking institutions saw their total asset value reach 122.9 trillion yuan (19.4 trillion U.S. dollars) by the end of July, according to official figures. Meanwhile, Fang Xinghai, director-general of the Office for Financial Services under the Shanghai municipal government, warned a lot of financial risks may emerge if unforeseen circumstances cause precipitous decline in China's economic growth rate, which will be the greatest risk for the financial sector in the next five years. "However, if we advance market-oriented reforms in this sector, it will drive economic growth in return," he told the session. Within the next five years, the government is expected to make more breakthroughs in reforms including interest rate liberalization and bond market development, Dai Xianglong said.

The central bank has gradually loosened its grip on interest rates since June this year, allowing banks to offer a deposit interest rate 10 percent above the benchmark and a lending rate 30 percent below it. In April, the government also increased the amount of investment quotas for qualified foreign institutional investors to venture in China's securities market. The number leapt from 30 billion U.S. dollars to 80 billion dollars. Dai suggested the central bank give small and medium-sized lenders even bigger room for interest rate movement. Allowing banks to decide interest rates freely will force Chinese banks to speed up transformation of their businesses and explore international markets, according to Xiao Gang, chairman of Bank of China. The liberalization will help narrow the currently large gap between loan and deposit rates and prompt banks to lend more to smaller companies and innovate in their operations to seek more profits, Xiao told the session. Boosting the long underdeveloped bond markets in China is viewed by many as a key.

Bond issuance can reduce companies' reliance on bank loans and reduce risks in the banking sector, Dai believes. China's bond markets have been troubled by segregated management, as different types of companies are subject to regulation by different government departments. "The development of the bond market has become the biggest constraint for China's financial reforms," Dai said, urging a unified bond market. Li called on the government to accelerate the practice of allowing banks to issue asset-backed securities, saying the move can mitigate banks' financing pressures and stimulate the bond markets. China began to pilot asset securitization in 2005 but progress slowed during the global financial crisis as regulators worried about the risks of such a practice. The China Development Bank, a national policy bank, issued 10.17 billion yuan (1.6 billion U.S. dollars) of asset-backed securities last week, the first such sale since the global financial crisis. Meanwhile, Dai provided a reminder that financial reforms should not be hurried and must be carried out gradually. "There are financial risks that are not yet fully exposed that can make us very nervous and have a big impact on China," he warned.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 09/13/2012

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China Willing to Promote Trade Calculation Reforms

Vice Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said Wednesday that China is willing to actively push for reforms regarding the way global trade is calculated. "As a major participant and beneficiary of globalization, China is a staunch supporter of the multilateral trading system and is willing to actively promote calculation reforms in world trade," Gao said during an international symposium held in Beijing. WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said that in the context of globalization, international capital has formed a global value chain through cross-border investment, off-shore trade and outsourcing. The emergence of the chain has brought about changes in the way trade is conducted, he said. Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said that despite profound changes in global trade, existing approaches to calculating global trade data still rely on old patterns that have misinterpreted countries of origin and failed to accurately portray the overall picture of global production. Conventional statistical patterns have neglected the contributions made by nations in production, overcalculated trade volumes and failed to comprehensively show the influence of trade on employment and incomes, Gurria said, adding that they have to some extent misguided governments' trade policies. Gao said the global value chain is not only a calculation issue, but also concerns trade policymaking. It will have a profound impact on the orientation of the multilateral trading system and the creation of new international trade rules and standards, he said. "China is willing to make due contributions to the setting of new international rules and standards," Gao said.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/20/2012

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JAPAN: Govts to Get 284 bil. Yen in Rebuilding Subsidies

The government will provide an additional 284.2 billion yen in reconstruction subsidies for areas damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the Internal Affairs and Communication Ministry said Tuesday. The subsidies will be paid Wednesday to nine prefectures, including Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, which were hit hardest by the disaster, and 223 municipalities in 11 prefectures, the ministry said. Of the nine prefectures, Miyagi will receive the largest amount, 57.5 billion yen, followed by Iwate with 38.9 billion yen and Fukushima with 28.2 billion yen. Among Miyagi's municipalities, Sendai will receive 15.8 billion yen, Ishinomaki 12.3 billion yen and Kesennuma 7.4 billion yen. Iwaki in Fukushima Prefecture will receive 6 billion yen. The recipient local governments can use the subsidies for reconstruction projects and covering the costs of bringing in support personnel.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/05/2012

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Economic Recovery on Hold / Govt Lowers Outlook on Weak Production, Personal Spending

The government cut its general economic outlook for the second consecutive month in a monthly economic report released Friday, due chiefly to weak personal consumption and industrial production. "The economic recovery appears to be pausing due to deceleration of the world economy," it said in the September report. The government lowered its economic view for two or more consecutive months for the first time since February 2009, when it issued a fifth consecutive downward revision amid the global financial crisis. The previous report in August said, "The economy is on the way to recovery at a moderate pace, due partly to reconstruction demand" following the March 2011 disaster, while noting "there has been a recent weakening." "Because of weak production and personal spending, as well as the slowdown of the global economy, the economic recovery is at a standstill," a Cabinet Office official said at a press conference.

The government revised down its outlook on personal spending for the second straight month, saying that "private consumption is almost flat while there has been some decline as of late." This included a fall in new vehicle sales in August from the previous month. The government also lowered its outlook on industrial production due to weak exports amid the global economic slowdown, saying that "both industrial production and exports are slow. "Also revised down were the outlooks on corporate profits and capital expenditures. Corporate profits "have recently shown signs of leveling off," the report said. There have been "some mild developments" in business investment, but it is picking up slowly, it said. In contrast, the government positively revised its outlook on corporate bankruptcies for the first time in 10 months. The report said that the number of business failures is falling moderately. Looking ahead, the government said the economy is expected to return to a path of recovery, thanks to continued reconstruction demand and in line with overseas development. Still, the report cited downward risks to the nation's economy from a further slowdown of overseas economies, and sharp fluctuations in financial and capital markets amid lingering uncertainties over the European debt crisis.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/15/2012

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BOJ Declares Additional Easing Moves

The Bank of Japan unanimously decided at its Policy Board meeting Wednesday to increase the amount in a reserve fund used to purchase government and corporate bonds by 10 trillion yen to 80 trillion yen as part of additional monetary easing measures. All nine members of the central bank's Policy Board - the governor, two deputy governors and six board members - agreed to provide more money to financial markets by bolstering the fund. The bank's bond-buying period, which was initially scheduled through June 30, 2013, was also extended until Dec. 31, 2013.However, short-term bond purchases will only last through June 2013, as originally scheduled. As many economies across the globe have been slowing down and the nation's economy has faced similar downward pressure, the central bank judged that quick implementation of policy measures was necessary. Regarding the current state of the Japanese economy, the central bank said, "the lift in economic activity has come to a pause," revising downward its view that the economy "had started picking up moderately" in the previous meeting in August.

Because exports and production have been on the decline partly due to a slowdown in the Chinese economy in the wake of the European financial crises, the central bank deemed an increase in consumer spending had also shown signs of weakening. It is the first monetary easing measure taken since April. The 10 trillion yen increase in the fund comprises 5 trillion yen for purchasing long-term government bonds and 5 trillion yen for purchasing short-term issues. The central bank also kept interest rates at zero to about 0.1 percent per annum, continuing its effective zero-rate policy. In a statement released after the meeting, the bank said, "These powerful monetary easing measures will contribute to a more accommodating financial environment for such economic entities as firms and households." Regarding future economic conditions, the Bank of Japan said the economy will continue to level off for now, and suggested economic recovery, which had been expected in the first half of fiscal 2012, will be delayed.

Other countries' central banks, including the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, have recently announced similar monetary easing policies. If the Bank of Japan postpones the additional monetary-easing measures, it is possible the yen's appreciation on foreign exchange markets might rapidly progress. Economists assumed this was one reason the central bank stepped in with the additional measures. At a Policy Board meeting April 27, the Bank of Japan increased the total amount in the reserve fund from about 65 trillion yen to about 70 trillion yen to purchase government and corporate bonds as part of additional monetary easing measures. In meetings from May to August, the central bank had deferred additional measures four times in a row.

Summary of BOJ's policy decision
The following is a summary of the Bank of Japan's Policy Board decision Wednesday:
- As an additional monetary-easing measure, funding for the purchase of government bonds and other assets will be increased by 10 trillion yen - from 70 trillion yen to 80 trillion yen.
- Assets to be purchased include 5 trillion yen in short-term bonds and 5 trillion yen in long-term bonds. The period of increase for the fund was extended to the end of December 2013.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/20/2012

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CURRENCIES & BONDS / Dollar Soars Above 79 Yen in Tokyo on BOJ's Unexpected Policy Decision

The dollar rose above 79 yen in Tokyo trading Wednesday, backed by the Bank of Japan's surprise decision to loosen its monetary policy further. At 5 p.m., the dollar was quoted at 79.05-05 yen, up from 78.71-74 yen at the same time Tuesday. The euro was at 1 dollars.3062-3065, down from 1 dollars.3078-3081, and at 103.30-30 yen, up from 102.96-98 yen. Wrapping up a two-day Policy Board meeting, the BOJ announced Wednesday it will boost the size of its asset-purchase program by 10 trillion yen to 80 trillion yen and that it will extend the program through December 2013, compared with the previously set expiration of June that year. Expectations for additional easing by the BOJ had been high after the U.S. Federal Reserve Board launched another round of asset purchases last week, a move that could weaken the dollar versus the yen and other major currencies. Nonetheless, "the 10 trillion yen was a bit surprising, because it was widely expected that any expansion of the asset purchase program would be some 5 trillion yen," a foreign exchange broker said.

BOJ move boost short-lived
Japanese government bonds jumped after the Bank of Japan's announcement of additional easing but eased later in Tokyo on Wednesday, with the impact of the central bank's move being short-lived. The yield on the latest 325th 10-year JGB issue carrying a 0.8 percent coupon fell to 0.795 percent in interdealer trading, slipping below 0.8 percent for the first time since last Friday, after the central bank's announcement in the afternoon. In late trading, however, the yield rebounded to stand at 0.81 percent, though still down from 0.815 percent late Tuesday.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/20/2012

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Foreign JGB Holdings Hit Record 8.7%

Foreign investor holdings accounted for a record 8.7 percent of outstanding Japanese government bonds as of the end of June, the Bank of Japan said Thursday. Foreign investors, including institutions and national governments, also held a record 82 trillion yen worth of JGBs as of June 30, up 20 percent from the previous year. Outstanding JGBs totaled 940 trillion yen. Amid financial market turmoil stemming from the European debt crisis, JGBs are considered relatively safe assets among foreign investors, analysts said. "This trend is expected to continue because the problem in Europe is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon," said Katsutoshi Inadome, a fixed income strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co.

"The proportion of foreign-held government bonds is still low in Japan compared to the United States and European countries," Inadome said. JGBs held by financial institutions in Japan increased 4.6 percent to a record 616 trillion yen, signaling banks used deposits to purchase JGBs amid the absence of other attractive options for managing funds. Reflecting increased JGB issuance, total debts owed by the central and local governments swelled to 4.2 percent to 1.12 yen quadrillion. Financial assets held by households edged up 0.1 percent to 1.52 yen quadrillion, including 844 trillion yen in cash and deposits, up 1.8 percent.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/21/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Analysis - Recovered Fast from Global Financial Crisis

A new analysis finds that South Korea recovered fast from the global financial crisis that erupted when U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy in 2008.The Korea Center for International Finance and other financial investment industries analyzed changes in stock prices of the world's top ten nations and South Korea in the wake of the financial crisis and found that South Korea ranked second in terms of posting growth in stock prices. Since Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, South Korea's stock prices grew by two-point-one fold, or the second highest among key nations. During the same period, Russia's stock prices grew nearly three-fold thanks to a rise in prices of raw materials while the United States' stock prices jumped by one-point-seven fold, putting them in fifth place. China, which ranks second in the world in terms of gross domestic product, ranked ninth and Japan came in eighth in terms of growth in stock prices.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/16/2012

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S. Korean Stocks Most Popular in Asia in Sept.

The South Korean bourse attracted the most foreign funds in Asia this month. Daishin Securities says that as of Monday, net foreign buying in South Korea's stock market stood at two-point-three-six billion dollars, the highest among seven major Asian economies. Taiwan followed at 827 million dollars, trailed by India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Foreign investors' overwhelming preference of South Korean stocks recently is believed to be due to Korea's sovereign credit rating raised by all three of the top global credit rating agencies. Securities officials believe the elevated ratings will likely spur an influx of foreign funds over the mid-to-long term.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/18/2012

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Gov't Boosts Budget to Draw Foreign Investment

South Korea will more than double next year's budget for attracting foreign investment and helping overseas Korean firms resettle at home. The decision was made at a meeting of economic ministers chaired by Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan Wednesday. The budget will go up 52 percent from 225 billion won this year to 335 billion in 2013. Attracting foreign investment will take up the bulk of the investment at 300 billion won, up 36 percent from the previous 220 billion. Over 35 billion won has been newly earmarked to support overseas Korean firms returning to operate in Korea. The government will also designate 12 new foreign investment districts in the country next year to supply rental sites and offer tax breaks. There are currently 78 such districts nationwide.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/19/2012

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INDONESIA: Police Criticised Over Budget Spending

An Indonesian budget watchdog has criticised the National Police for allocating small amounts of money to programmes aimed at maintaining public security and countering public disturbances. "Of the police's total 43.4 trillion rupiah [US$4.55 billion] 2013 budget, only 1.7 trillion rupiah is allocated for maintaining public security. That's why the police can't do anything during disturbances," Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra) coordinator Ucok Sky Khadafi said in Jakarta yesterday. The watchdog said most of the police's 2013 budget, around 29.7 trillion rupiah, would be spent on staff salaries. The police had allocated 7.6 trillion rupiah to purchase equipment and 5.9 trillion rupiah for additional spending, Antara news agency reported. Khadafi added the 1.7 trillion rupiah budget for public security was part of the 7.7 trillion rupiah allocated to a traffic safety programme and staff salaries. "Lawmakers should be critical of the budget proposed by the police. The police needs to increase the budget for programmes aimed at improving public security," he added.

US$1 = 9,565 Indonesian rupiah

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 09/07/2012

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THAILAND: BOT Watches Personal Lending, Property

The central bank is carefully monitoring personal loans, the property market and household finances to prevent asset bubbles from forming and household debt from exploding while weighing the risks of slower growth against high bank lending before making a move on interest rates. "While the risk of inflation has subsided, the risk of economic slowdown has increased," Paiboon Kittisrikangwan, assistant governor of the Bank of Thailand, said last week in an exclusive interview with Nation Multimedia Group. Global inflation has eased as oil prices have dropped recently, so the threat of inflation in Thailand has abated, he said. The latest round of quantitative easing (QE) by the US Federal Reserve will have a muted impact compared to the previous two rounds of QE. The Fed injected US$1.7 trillion (Bt52.34 trillion) into the economy in 2008 via long-term bond purchases, followed by $600 billion in 2010. The Fed now plans to buy new long-term bonds worth about $40 billion per month. "QE saves the US economy from falling into an abyss. It does not necessarily lead to more bank lending or corporate borrowing or faster economic recovery," he said.

American banks will not lend more to support the economy if they see bleak prospects for a recovery. Then liquidity will come back to the Fed, he said. The US economy is expected to expand at only about 2 per cent this year. It will take time for the major economies - the US, Europe and Japan - to fully rebound from the economic slump, he said. QE would work through the capital market with little impact on the real economy, he said. The latest QE comes as a threat of global inflation has subsided. The central bank has not lowered the policy rate from the current 3-per-cent level because it has to take into account the steep rise in bank loans, which last month surged 16-17 per cent, which was quite high. Due to lively lending, a rate cut may not be appropriate. Some lending, particularly for consumption, shot up 30 per cent, he said.

Taking into account inflation, the real interest rate is close to zero, which is quite supportive of economic growth. The central bank is also keeping a close eye on household debts and property loans. The bank would impose some measures to prevent problems such as over-stretched households or real estate bubbles, he said. The central bank will hold its annual symposium today and tomorrow. Young economists will present interesting papers to the public. Their research includes the reasons why the central bank must be independent from political intervention and the implications of the central bank's book losses. These are hotly debated issues now.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 09/24/2012

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VIETNAM: MoT Spends $209m to Upgrade National Highway 20

DONG NAI - (VNS) The Ministry of Transport signed a VND4.6 trillion (US$209million) contract on the first component project to upgrade National Highway 20 yesterday. At the signing ceremony, Minister Dinh La Thang asked investors and contractors to carry out the project quickly because after 30 years, the highway connecting the Southeast to the Central Highlands has seriously degraded. Under the contract, the component project of the highway connecting southern Dong Nai Province's Dau Giay junction and the Central Highlands' Lam Dong Province Highway 725 would be built under Build and Transfer manner. The construction is 123.1 km long. It is part of the two components project with a total investment of more than 7.6 trillion ($345million), which connects Dau Giay junction and National Highway 27 in Lam Dong Province with a total length of 268km. According to the design, the construction basically follows the current National Highway 20 design except for some local diversions, which are designed with higher standards in mind. The design also allowed for 16 new bridges and needed a site clearance of over 263 ha in the region. In addition, the highway plays an important role in shipping products for Nhan Co Bauxite Complex and meeting transport demand in the two provinces. Thus Thang asked constructors and investors to do their best to ensure that construction progressed both quickly and thoroughly. The project was assigned to the Management Board 7 under Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam while the investors were Cuu Long Traffic Investment, Development and Management Joint Venture and Mekong East Co, Petroleum and Construction Joint Stock Company, and Construction Materials No 1 Corporation.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 09/19/2012

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Viet Nam: Banks Develop More Services for Mobile Market

HCM CITY (VNS) - Banks in Viet Nam are vying with each other to diversify their internet banking services in order to take advantage of people's increasing reliance on mobile electronic devices. According to data collected in a survey on internet usage in Viet Nam made in 2011 by Cimigo Viet Nam, which specialises in marketing and brand research, 60 per cent of the 5,800 people polled used mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablet PCs to connect to the Internet. The survey says the number of people using PCs for accessing the internet dropped from 84 per cent in 2010 to 81 per cent in 2011 while the percentage of people using mobile electronic devices more than doubled from 27 per cent in 2010 to 60 per cent in 2011. The rapid increase in the number of people using mobile electronic devices has created big opportunities for services related to advertising, marketing and especially e-banking to develop strongly in the domestic market.

Cimigo Viet Nam's study also points out that mobile transactions are far more convenient than the alternative, as it takes only one or two minutes for a mobile phone user to complete a bank transaction. So many commercial banks are seeking to develop new e-banking services in order to take advantage of customer demand for mobile transactions. The Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) seems to have joined this movement at the right time. Since late May, the bank has offered several new e-banking services under the "ACB Online-Mobile Service" name. These utilities will help customers make transactions any time, anywhere on their portable devices. ACB Online is compatible with most of the mobile phones and tablet PCs currently on the market. The new service offers customers the ability to check their balance as well as obtain other information such as interest rates, fees, and securities. Customers can also transfer money both inside and outside ACB Bank by credit card, ID card or passport, recharge prepaid mobile phones and pay post-paid mobile phone bills. Many other commercial banks have also launched internet banking services similar to the ABC Online-Mobile Service to help customers easily make transactions via mobile electronic devices.

The Military Joint Stock Commercial Bank offers the eMB service, Orient Joint Stock Commercial Bank has the OCB Online service, and Ocean Joint Stock Commercial Bank features the Easy Online Banking service. Meanwhile, Nam A Joint Stock Commercial Bank facilitates customers' transactions with the Dai A Bank Online service, and the Dong A Joint Stock Commercial Bank has launched its own Mobile Banking Service. The HCM City Development Joint Stock Commercial Bank (HDBank) has also enriched its internet banking service with utilities for corporate customers. Customers will find it easy to make periodical/lot transfers into or out of the HDBank system as well as settle expenditures and buy airplane tickets. Furthermore, customers can settle electric bills (HCM City) or buy airplane tickets from agents. All transactions are guaranteed under the automatic multi-level submission mode. Accordingly, such transactions will undergo multiple checks before going through, ensuring maximum safety for clients. These services are now free or discounted, as are many other incentives offered by the banks.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 09/22/2012

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PAKISTAN: Govt Releases Rs 7.54bn Funds to Opp in Punjab

The federal government on Monday issued development funds worth Rs 7.54 billion to the Punjab Assembly lawmakers of the PPP and PML-Q after they filed complaints against Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif for not releasing funds. Former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani made a commitment to the PPP lawmakers to provide them funds for the completion of different developmental projects in their constituencies. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government halted the funds of the PPP and PML-Q in Punjab. The former PM had announced to provide development funds to PML-Q members as a goodwill gesture for supporting the PPP-led government in the Centre. Before Gilani's disqualification by the Supreme Court as the prime minister in a contempt case, he had earmarked Rs 50 million to all 108 MPAs belonging to the PPP and the PML-Q in two installments - first installment of Rs 30 million and second of Rs 20 million. When he was disqualified, last installment of Rs 20 million was pending due to which several projects of the lawmakers came to a standstill. The MPAs forced new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to release remaining Rs 20 million to complete their continued projects. The PM issued orders in this regard and the Finance Department has released the amount immediately. Opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly, Raja Riaz Ahmad, has also confirmed this during a press conference in his chamber on Monday. Sources told Daily Times that the developmental funds have been distributed among 83 and 25 lawmakers of the PPP and PML-Q respectively, while another 30 lawmakers elected on reserved and minorities seats have not been provided funds as they have no constituencies. Talking about opposition benches' relations with the ruling party, some of the PPP members said the Punjab government was politically victimising them to dent their reputation in their constituencies. They said the PML-N would not succeed as the PM had released funds for them.

From http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/ 09/04/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Atrabank Prepares for Major Recapitalisation

Shareholders of Azerbaijani Atrabank will discuss the recent decision of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) about the fivefold increase in the minimum total capital requirements for banks. The shareholders annual general meeting will be held on September 28 at the bank's head office, the supervisory board said on Wednesday. Shareholders will also discuss current issues. By the decision of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan (CBA) on July 25 this year, the minimum total capital of existing banks, as well as the capital of newly established banks was increased from 10 to 50 million manat. Terms of bringing capital to the new standard level for existing banks are to be set prior to January 1, 2014. As of May 1, the authorised capital of the bank amounted to 10.42 million manat with total capital - 11.5 million manat. AtraBank was established in December 1992. The main activities of the bank are the development of agricultural, textile, oil and other industries.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/29/2012

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Over $54 Million Issued for Mortgage Lending in Azerbaijan in 2012

The Azerbaijan Mortgage Fund (AMF), acting under the Central Bank, granted loans worth 42.51 million manat, or over $54.13 million in January - August 2012, the AMF statistical report said on Tuesday. The volume of mortgage loans increased by 8.25 per cent in August compared to July. Mortgage loans totalling 387.97 million manat have been granted from 2006 to August, 2012. During January - August 2012 the total amount of refinancing loans provided by banks amounted to 65.53 million manat. The AMF has posted bonds totalling 23 million manat during January-August 2012. Young people and families account for 72 per cent of the total loans,41 per cent of borrowers are aged 18-29 years, 31 per cent - 30-35 years and 28 per cent of loans accounted for borrowers over 36 years. The maximum amount of a common mortgage loan through the AMF is 50,000 manat at the rate of eight per cent and a payback period of 25 years and under the social mortgage it is 35,000 manat at an annual rate of four per cent and a payback period of 30 years. The initial payment under the social mortgage is 15 per cent, while for conventional loan is 20 per cent. Conditions of mortgage lending are as the following: loans must be issued in the national currency in manats and only to Azerbaijani citizens and the subject of the mortgage can only be an apartment or private house. The volume of the mortgage lending must not exceed 80 per cent of the market price and the monthly payment for a loan must not exceed 70 per cent of the debtor's monthly income. It is compulsory to take out an agreement on life insurance. Preferable conditions are granted to members of families of war victims national heroes, internally displaced persons, civil servants with at least a three years' experience, PhDs, persons making special contributions to sport, as well as the military with at least a three-year service term. Each family having the right to such a mortgage loan can only use the chance once. There are 26 authorised banks belonging to the Mortgage Fund, 19 insurance companies and 13 appraisal organisations all as participants in the mortgage market. The official exchange rate is 0.7853 AZN to $1 on Sept. 4.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/04/2012

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Azerbaijani Business Masters Over 78 Percent of Concessional Financing

Loans at 5.3 million manat were granted to 47 entrepreneurs of Sabirabad city and neighbouring regions through the National Fund for Entrepreneurship Support (NFES) under the Ministry of Economic Development (MED) of Azerbaijan on Friday, the ministry said. Implementation of the projects through these funds will contribute to the creation of over 250 new jobs. The event was held in the Mursali village of Sabirabad region with the participation of about 120 entrepreneurs working in Sabirabad and neighbouring regions. The event included presentations of model investment projects in priority areas identified for improving the economic potential of the Sabirabad region through concessional financing. This is the creation of modern milk processing enterprises, plants for processing of fruits and vegetables, livestock facilities, small and medium enterprises to grow cotton and horticultural farms. Since the beginning of 2012 NFES granted soft loans at 157 million manat to finance 1785 investment projects. The total amount of loans allocated for Aran economic region is 51 million manat for 769 investment projects. Implementation of these projects will create about 6,900 new jobs. In 2012, the Fund plans to grant loans at 200 million manat, of which 110 million manat will be provided through the repayment of loans. NFES was established in 1992. Issuance of loans to entrepreneurs is made through authorized banks and non-bank credit organizations, whose total number is 36.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/07/2012

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KYRGYZSTAN: Needs Finances for Political Stability

Kyrgyzstan needs finances to stabilize the political situation in the country, Kyrgyz expert Sergey Masaulov believes. On Thursday, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev signed a decree appointing Jantoro Satybaldiyev the country's prime minister. The previous government of Kyrgyzstan resigned in accordance with the law after the collapse of the parliamentary majority coalition. The political situation in Kyrgyzstan has remained volatile since April 2010, when President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted. According to the expert, in Kyrgyzstan, in these circumstances, any government will be unstable as long as the present constitution is in force. "At any time, any of the parties, which entered into a coalition majority, can get out of it, the latter, under the law, will break up, leading to the resignation of the government," Masaulov told Trend on Thursday. In his view, the situation in the country is "catastrophic" and the government faces "incredibly hard" tasks. The budget deficit is expected at the end of the year to be over 22 billion soums, and it may be covered only by external borrowing, which are not available, he said. "In Kyrgyzstan, there is now a serious decline in production, even in comparison with the previous year, but the worst situation is observed in the energy field," Masaulov said. He said it is expected that this winter power cutoff will be a forced measure. "Kyrgyzstan now needs to change the activity of the government so as to raise a little its prestige, as the prestige plays an important role now," the expert said. Masaulov noted that most experts give the new government of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan no more than six months. "However, if after a few days, as expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Kyrgyzstan, it will mean that the parties have reached substantial agreement," the political analyst said. He said that in this case, Kyrgyzstan can count on substantial financial support for its projects from Russia, particularly in the energy sector. "This could help the country get some financial stability and implement important projects that can change the situation in the country," he said. Masaulov believes that if the President of Kyrgyzstan chooses this direction, the current government can get real support.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/06/2012

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Kyrgyzstan to Allocate over $252 Mln for Foreign Debt Service

Kyrgyzstan will allocate over $252 mln (11.8 billion soms) for the service of the country's foreign debt, KyrTAG reported on Friday with reference to the country's deputy finance minister Mirlanbek Baygonchokov. Baygonchokov said the country's debt case contains 131 debts. All the loans can be divided into two parts - bilateral and multilateral. The country's major creditors are the Asian Development Bank, IMF, WB and other organizations as well as Russia, China, and Japan.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/14/2012

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WB to Allocate $30 Mln for Kyrgyz Budget Support

The World Bank (WB) will allocate $30 million for supporting the Kyrgyz budget, KyrTAG reported on Tuesday with reference to the head of WB's office in the country Alexander Kremer. The funds will be allocated on preferential terms. Around 45 percent of the sum are grants, 55 percent - are credits with zero interest rate. Kremer said the funds will be allocated on terms of improving the Kyrgyz Treasury's work, budget code, fight with corruption and ensuring the judicial reform in the country. He said during the 20 years of the Kyrgyz-WB cooperation, the country got grants worth $1 billion.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/18/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: Reserves of the National Fund Amount to $85 Billion

Reserves of the National Fund of Kazakhstan and gold assets amounted to $85 billion, Ak Orda said on Monday referring to the head of the Of the National Bank Grigory Marchenko. Marchenko informed the president about the situation in the financial sector of the country, particularly in the banking sector and the exchange market during the meeting. Marchenko noted that the situation on the currency market and the banking sector remains stable. The inflation rate in the country is rather low standing at 4.7 per cent. Following the meeting, Nursultan Nazarbayev instructed the development of proposals on further reform of the pension system and the use of financial institutions in the financing of projects in the framework of public-private partnership.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/17/2012

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Kazakhstan, ADB Develop New Partnership Strategy

Kazakhstan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have developed a new partnership strategy for the next five years, director of the ADB office in Kazakhstan Guanghui Li said at a briefing in Astana today. "Kazakhstan is on the way to go beyond the status of a country with an income above average," he said. "A new strategy is to maintain Kazakhstan's economic and social progress." Kazakh Economic Development Ministry official Kuat Tumabaev said that the strategy was developed given the key area of the strategic development plan of Kazakhstan till 2020. He added that the great attention will be paid to investments in the development of infrastructure projects. "The strategy emphasizes that over time the private sector must be the main driving force for growth," Tumabaev said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/19/2012

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TAJIKISTAN: To Sign 12 Financial Agreements

The Tajik government will sign about 12 loan and grant agreements with international financial institutions this year, Avesta.tj reported Tuesday. The total amount of the agreements will hit 831 million somoni or $175 million. Over 80 percents of the sum will be directed to the implementation of investment projects. About 60 percents of these agreements will be signed in the second half of the year. Most of the projects, expected to be implemented within these loans and grants, will cover Tajikistan's transport, agriculture and financial sector.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/11/2012

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TURKMENISTAN: IMF - Direct Economic Spillovers from Euro Area Crisis Likely to Remain Limited

Direct economic spillovers to Turkmenistan from the euro area crisis are likely to remain limited, final press release of the IMF mission which recently visited Ashgabat said on Wednesday. An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Veronica Bacalu visited Ashgabat to discuss recent economic developments, government policies, and prospects for the economy of Turkmenistan. The IMF team met with senior central bank and government officials, and representatives of commercial banks and international financial institutions. At the conclusion of the mission, Bacalu issued the following statement: "The economy performed well in 2011 and the first half of 2012. Increasing gas exports to China and a surge in public investment enabled a strong gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 14.7 percent in 2011," the information says. With record growth in gas export volumes and prices, and a surge in oil prices, export revenue surpassed the pre-crisis level. The current account swung into surplus, and official reserves remained at a comfortable level, supporting the stability of the manat. Headline inflation increased from 4.8 percent (end-of-period) in 2010 to 5.6 percent in 2011, but moderated to 3 percent in June 2012. In 2012−13, real GDP growth is projected to remain strong, at about 8 percent.

Greater hydrocarbon exports would strengthen the external position further. Inflation is expected to remain in single digits. IMF says fiscal policy was somewhat loosened in 2011 as the non-hydrocarbon fiscal deficit widened by one percentage point to 48 percent of the non-hydrocarbon GDP, but is projected to improve slightly in 2012−13. High levels of public investment, while aiming at increasing productive capacity, continues to pose challenges to public finance management. "Although the doubling of proven gas reserves implies that the non-hydrocarbon deficit would likely remain at sustainable levels even if gas prices halved, caution in public spending is needed to avoid inflationary pressures," the IMF notes. Improving both the use and management of growing hydrocarbon resources is key to maintaining macroeconomic stability and ensuring rapid sustainable growth. The mission welcomes progress on the new draft budget code, and encourages the authorities to speed up its adoption and secure its implementation in 2014 in line with international best practice, to include all hydrocarbon resource revenue. In addition, bringing the activity of the State Development Bank (SDB) in line with good international practices is also crucial to ensure efficient use of public resources. If inflationary pressures arise, the central bank should stand ready to tighten monetary policy and maintain price stability. The mission welcomes the recent elimination of some central bank-directed lending under the government programs and encourages the authorities to phase it out.

The 2011 law on banking institutions and, to some extent the newly established SDB, could in principle help modernize banking operations, wind down the directed lending, and open up banks to private and foreign capital. This should be complemented by market-driven interest rates and lending activities. Developing a dynamic private sector as envisaged in the national development program will require improving governance and the business climate and increasing the role of the private sector in resource allocation in the economy. The mission commends Turkmenistan's improvement of its anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism regime and full compliance with the Financial Action Task Force requirements. In addition, the ongoing efforts to adhere to international statistics standards are encouraging. The IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country's economic developments and policies.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/13/2012

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UZBEKISTAN: Development Forecast of Uzbek Banking System Remains Stable

Moody's Investors Service international rating agency reaffirmed the 'stable' outlook for the Uzbek banking system, a new forecast of the Uzbek banking system conveyed today. The main factors supporting this forecast are relatively favourable economic conditions in Uzbekistan, active spending and investments of the central government having a large amount of cash which are transferred to the economy through local banks, giving them a high, although gradually declining, level of bank capitalisation, the agency said. Moody's analysts believe that the macroeconomic conditions in Uzbekistan will positively affect the general operating sphere for banks during the forecast period of 12-18 months. According to the IMF, Uzbekistan's GDP growth will amount to seven per cent in 2012 and in 2013, 6.5 per cent. According to the agency, a large number of government sponsored projects will continue to stimulate the growth of the economy. New opportunities in lending will be created for the retail sector and small and medium-sized businesses in which the level of available banking services remains low. According to Moody's, the government's financial flexibility depends on the macroeconomic conditions of Uzbekistan's main trading partners namely China, the CIS countries and Europe. The main risks that could cause a slowdown in the country's GDP, is the further decline in global demand for Uzbek exports.

Agency analysts expect that the asset quality indices of Uzbek banks, supported by a relatively favourable operating system will remain stable, while the share of bad loans in total volume of given loans at the end of the forecast period is likely to remain close to the level of late 2011, amounting to 11.7 per cent. At the same time, the rapid credit growth conceals the real level of problem loans. Their volumes actually increase and can lead to a sharp increase in the share of bad loans in the whole system, the agency said. 'We believe that the reserves for possible losses on loans of Uzbek banks that made up 5.6 per cent of the total volume of given loans in late 2011, are not sufficient to cover potential credit losses and must be increased', the report said. According to Moody's, taking into account the capital adequacy ratio (Basel-I) of 18 per cent (as of late 2011), the total capitalisation of the banking sector has sufficient reserves to cover the higher expected losses on loans. These are calculated according to the basic scenario of the agency that proceeds from seven per cent GDP growth and 10 per cent devaluation of the national currency. Taking into account these assumptions, the total capital adequacy ratio under Basel 1 of the Uzbek banking sector will decrease to 14.9 per cent by the end of the forecast period. In case of the negative scenario which proceeds from less favourable market conditions for the Uzbek main export of goods, the capital adequacy ratio of the banking sector will drop to 10.3 per cent. This slightly exceeds the minimum regulatory level of 10 per cent. Moreover, the capitalisation of several systemically important banks in Uzbekistan does not keep pace with the rapid growth in the given credit volume.

The rating agency expects that the level of liquidity of the Uzbek banks will remain stable during the forecast period. The growth of client funds and large amounts of financial resources allocated by the government to the largest banks and limited dependence on market funding will contribute to this. The Uzbek banking system is currently represented by 30 banks, including three state ones, five with the participation of foreign capital, 12 joint-stocks and 10 private. In 2011, the total assets of Uzbek banks increased by 32.4 per cent compared to 2010 amounting to 27.45 trillion soums. The total loan portfolio was up by 35.6 per cent to 15.65 trillion soums and the aggregate bank capital by 30 per cent, up to 5.334 trillion soums.

From http://en.trend.az/ 08/31/2012

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Uzbek Central Bank, WB Implements Financial Reporting and Audit Improvement in Banks' Project

The Uzbek Central Bank and the World Bank launched a project to improve financial reporting and auditing in the commercial banks of the country based on the new recommendations of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), the Association of Banks of Uzbekistan told Trend on Tuesday. According to a representative of the association, the project implementation is due to the fact that the international financial community is concerned about the scale of the global crisis, moves to new standards of banking supervision in accordance with recommendations of the Basel 2 and Basel 3. They are intended to increase transparency in financial reporting and accounting in commercial banks. The 12-month project includes the full introduction in the banking system of international financial reporting and auditing standards. As previously reported, by the decision of the President of Uzbekistan 'On priorities for further reform and improvement of the stability of the financial and banking system in 2011-2015 and to achieve high international rating figures' (November 2010), further improvement of financial reporting and accounting for Uzbekistan's commercial banks based on the new recommendations of international financial reporting standards has been provided for. The Uzbek banking system is currently represented by 30 banks including three state, five with the participation of foreign capital, 12 joint-stocks and 10 private. Availability of banking institutions is 49.7 per 100,000 of the adult population and that corresponds to the highest level of assessment. In 2011, the total assets of commercial banks increased by 32.4 per cent, compared to the totals of 2010 and amounted to 27.45 trillion soums. The total loan portfolio of banks in the republic increased last year by 35.6 per cent - to 15.65 trillion soums and the aggregate bank capital increased during the year by 30 per cent - up to 5.334 trillion soums as of January 1, 2011. In the first half of this year the total assets of commercial banks increased by 18 per cent compared to the totals of 2011 to 32.4 trillion soums. The total loan portfolio of the republic's banks increased by 16.3 per cent to 18.2 trillion soums, whilst aggregate bank capital has increased for the past six months up 6.9 per cent to 5.7 trillion soums as of July 1, 2012. The official exchange rate is 1930.25 soums to $1 on Sept. 11.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/12/2012

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WB to Provide Uzbekistan with $40 Mln Loan to Support Agricultural Enterprises

World Bank Board approved the allocation to Uzbekistan of a loan of $ 40 million as additional financing for the second project to support agricultural enterprises. "The project will help farmers increase productivity, improve their financial and environmental sustainability, and profitability of agricultural businesses," the WB said on Wednesday. An additional loan will be given to Uzbekistan at the expense of the International Development Agency (IDA is part of the World Bank). Funds will be allocated to finance the farmers and replenish their working capital through local financial institutions. World Bank allocated to Uzbekistan a loan of $67.96 million for the second phase of the project to support agricultural enterprises in 2008. The loan has been allocated from the IDA for a period of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period, at a rate of 0.75 percent per annum. The project worth $74.76 million provides for increasing productivity, financial and environmental sustainability, rehabilitation of irrigation and drainage systems, improving governance in newly established farms and agribusiness enterprises in 90 districts of seven regions of Uzbekistan.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/15/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Scrapping Carbon Floor Raises Budget Uncertainty

Policy think tank Australia Institute says the Federal Government's decision to scrap the floor price on carbon is likely to lead to a hole in future budgets. The Government has announced Australia's emissions trading scheme will be linked with Europe's in 2015, and the proposed floor price of $15 a tonne will be scrapped. A tonne of carbon in Europe currently costs less than $10. Australia Institute director Richard Denniss says it is hard to see that price increasing as rapidly as the Treasury has forecast. "While there might be some cost to the budget, that cost to the budget means that the generosity of our compensation to households and industry is far greater than has previously been estimated," he said. Mr Denniss says Treasury's forecasts were always too optimistic, given the low global price of carbon. "Everything that's happening in the world carbon market suggests it is likely to stay that way," he said. "It won't affect next year's budget, but it would be an optimistic treasurer that thinks this won't cost any money."

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet argues it is a minor legislative change that will not impact on the household compensation the Government has distributed. "It is three years away and the Treasury modelling is something that we stand by," he said. "This announcement therefore does not come with any revision of our fiscal position. We stand by the budget as it was announced in May." Mr Combet says the Government anticipates a European recovery from the financial crisis and thinks the modelling, which shows the price will be $29 a tonne in 2015, is accurate. Frank Jotzo, a climate change economist from the Australian National University, agrees with Mr Denniss, that dumping the floor price does bring uncertainty for the budget.

European recovery?
He says if things do turn sour in Europe, it is certainly possible the price in the combined market could drop below the price floor. But he says it could also end up benefitting the Government's bottom line, given the price in Europe has moved as high as $53 a tonne in recent years. "I guess what we're looking at is an uncertain budget revenue over a period 2015 to 18," he said. "Treasury might well end up with more money from the carbon price than they would have under the floor price proposal." Greens leader Christine Milne says she is confident removing the floor will not negatively impact the scheme. In 2011 Senator Milne demanded the floor price be included for the Greens to support the legislation, but she now says with the linkage to the EU scheme, it is no longer needed. "The Greens and the Government have been negotiating for some months. The Greens will be voting for it," Senator Milne said.

Senator Milne says she backs the Treasury assumption that the ongoing instability in Europe will end by 2015. "I can't tell what is going to happen with Greece or Spain or any other components of the European Union," she said. "The Treasury modelling has shown that Treasury believe the price in Europe will have recovered by 2015. All of the international projections, providing the set-asides go ahead and those directive change, see the prices even higher than that." Mr Combet says the Government is not considering any further carbon pricing changes.

From http://www.abc.net.au/ 08/28/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Labour's $19m Vow to Feed Children

Labour's new education policy includes up to $19 million a year to give a free daily meal to all children in low decile schools. Labour leader David Shearer announced the policy in a keynote education speech today. He said Labour would join forces with community organisations to put food into schools - which could cost anywhere between $3 million to $19 million dollars depending on the model used. Labour would also extend reading recovery programmes to all New Zealand schools and increase the number of six year olds who did it by 5,000 a year - a change estimated to cost an extra $20 million a year. He said the changes were important to giving every child the same start in school. Labour would partner with community and voluntary organisations to get free food into all decile 1 to 3 schools. He said there were already successful models for it - such sa the fruit in schools and milk in schools. Groups which already ran similar programmes - such as KidsCan - had long waiting lists.

About 40,000 children were already fed at schools by charities, but a Ministry of Health survey had estimated at least twice that went to school with no food. "For those who say the country can't afford this, I have a clear message for them. We can't afford not to." Mr Shearer said that children who turned up at school without breakfast, without shoes or sick because of cold homes were not getting what they needed to do well. "I hear people argue that this is the responsibility of parents. We can debate that endlessly, but it won't change this reality: tomorrow morning kids will still turn up to school hungry." He said the Reading Recovery programme was "gold standard" and had a success rate of more than 80 per cent, yet was not universally available - only 59 per cent of low decile schools had it compared to 73 per cent of high decile schools. The goal was to lift the proportion of 6-year-olds doing Reading recovery from 14 per cent to 20 per cent - about 5,000 more children a year on top of the 11,000 who currently did it. Labour also wanted to introduce a similar 'maths recovery' programme for 7 and 8 year olds.

In other pledges, Mr Shearer said Labour wanted to introduce new easy to understand reports on schools so parents knew what they were like. Labour would also work more on the transition between education and the workforce. Teachers' union the NZEI said Labour's commitments would resonate with teachers. "We look forward to engaging in genuine consultation about building an education system where the views of teachers and parents are valued and the expertise of teachers is recognised and affirmed," NZEI president Ian Leckie said. Mr Shearer's speech offered some common sense solutions to the problems teachers dealt with in the classroom every day. "Children who come to school hungry are not able to learn to their full potential. And schools have been frustrated that they have insufficient resources to intervene early to support all the children who are struggling with reading and maths. "So more investment in Reading Recovery, in numeracy programmes and in food in schools is a timely and practical response."

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/09/2012

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Govt Depts Clock Up $1bn in Consultant Fees

Government departments which have spent millions in laying off staff are responsible for nearly $1 billion in consultants' fees. Figures provided by the Labour Party showed ten agencies have spent $910.5 million on contractors since 2008 while also spending $114.1 million on redundancies. The restructuring of the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) had seen departing staff collect $31.3 million in redundancy payments before contractors were hired at a cost of $125 million. Labour's State Services spokesman Chris Hipkins said the figures made a mockery of National's claim that it was moving resources from the back office to the frontline. "The public service has already lost a huge amount of valuable expertise and experience and is simply plugging the gap by hiring consultants. "This is short-term thinking and it doesn't make sense. We must invest in and value institutional knowledge."

While in Opposition, National was highly critical of Labour's failure to keep consultancy fees under control. Finance Minister Bill English said the contractors had been employed for work which the public service had neither the funding nor the expertise to do. He said specialist skills were needed for the rebuild of Christchurch, the design of the Deposit Guarantee Scheme, and on multi-billion dollar IT projects. "We just don't have public servants sitting around who know how to redo the 25 year-old tax collection system," he said. Mr English said the previous Government ran down the technological level of the public service to a "disgraceful level" and it had cost billions to rebuild it. There were still many large-scale technological projects to be completed so the increased spending on contractors would continue for several years.

Departments which had undergone major restructures had incurred the largest contracting fees, such as Corrections and Defence Force. The merging of several agencies into the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MoBIE) had cost $12.4 million in payouts and $104.5 million in contracting fees.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/11/2012

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Govt Austerity Slows Growth, Keeps Rates Low - RBNZ

The New Zealand government's drive for fiscal austerity will hold back growth and keep interest rates lower for longer, the Reserve Bank says. The central bank cited the government's clamp down on spending in a bid to get back to an operating surplus by 2015 as a constraint on economic growth and a reason behind New Zealand's historically low interest rate environment. The bank says the government's efforts to build its revenue base through spending cuts and raising indirect taxes will slice four percentage points from nominal gross domestic product over the next four fiscal years. "Fiscal consolidation is expected to have a substantial dampening influence on demand growth over the projected horizon," the bank said. "This consolidation will, all else equal, lead to a lower OCR (official cash rate) than would otherwise be the case."

The government's books came under pressure as recession hit the country just before the global financial crisis, and was followed two years later by a series of devastating earthquakes in Canterbury. Though the level of public national debt was relatively low, it ballooned as the costs of the quakes mounted, with a $20 billion bill tagged to the reconstruction effort. That rebuild is seen as the driving force for inflationary pressures re-emerging over the coming years, though the central bank doesn't expect it charge out of control. "Positive inflation will see effective tax rates increase over time, negatively affecting household disposable incomes and constraining private consumption," the bank said. That will also lead to a contraction in household savings, with the bank predicting a return to negative savings rates for the next three years. The bank projects the government's operating balance will remain in deficit as a percentage of GDP, falling from an estimated 4.2 per cent in the 2012 March year to 0.7 per cent in 2015, the year targeted for a surplus.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/13/2012

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Millions Spent on SOEs for Nothing - ABE

Taxpayers have paid hundreds of millions of kina into public enterprises for no net benefit, according to Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) managing director Thomas Abe. Speaking at the launch of Asian Development Bank's new publication, Finding Balance, Benchmarking the Performance of State-Owned Enterprises in Papua New Guinea, he said the achievements of PNG's state owned entities (SOEs) "hide a multitude of sins". Abe said the ADB estimated that in the period covered by the survey, from 2009-10, the government had made cash infusions across all public enterprises totalling about K700 million (US$328 million), this money had not brought any substantial improvement - "in fact, things have gone from bad to worse".

"The cost of funds for Papua New Guinea's public enterprises is artificially low at 4.5% compared to an average commercial rate of 11.4% over the financial year 2002 financial year 2009 used for the survey," he said. "The reason for the low cost of funds is the high proportion of advances from the government and the use of concessional loans from multilateral and bilateral development partners. If real-world interest rates had been used, our return on equity, for example, would have been halved. Continuous financial support from the government comes at its own cost, of course - as they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch. The most important thing to say about these handouts is that in no case did they result in better services or a faster rate of provision of services to rural areas. In fact, service delivery standards have declined and the extension of services into rural areas has proceeded at the usual snail's pace." Abe said as an example that at the start of 2002, Post PNG had only just been rescued from insolvency. It was still reliant on IPBC for life support.

From http://www.pina.com.fj/ 09/17/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: PMO to Request for More Money

The Office of Prime Minister will be requesting parliament for an additional supplementation of more than eight million dollars during the upcoming sitting. This was according to figures presented to the Public Accounts Committee as it resumed its hearing into the 2012 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2012 yesterday morning. The Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet appeared before the committee under the leadership of Secretary to Cabinet, James Remobatu. Mr Remobatu told the committee that the supplementation requested comes in two parts, namely contingency warrant of nearly four-million dollars and an additional Supplementation of nearly five-million dollars. Mr Remobatu said up to three million dollars under the contingency warrant is for expenses to cover the Police Commissioner's post and 700-thousand dollars for expenses incurred by the government on three state funerals earlier this year. These were for two former Governor Generals, the late Sir Moses Pitakaka and the late Sir Baddley Devesi, as well as the former Member of Parliament for Central Kwara'ae, the late Fred Fono. Mr Remobatu said the request for an additional supplementation is to cover overseas travel for the Member's of Parliament and telephone expenses, among others.

From http://www.solomontimes.com/ 09/13/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Public Accounts Concludes Hearing

The Solomon Islands Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has concluded its hearing into the 2012 Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2012, ahead of today's commencement of Parliament sitting. Following the appearance of various Ministries before the Public Accounts Committee to request for additional funds, the Committee will then prepare a report for parliament before the supplementary appropriation bill is debated. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, led by the Ministry's Permanent Secretary, John Wasi sought approval from the Committee for additional funds amounting to more than $35m. This was for expenses incurred over the Festival of Arts as well as for the Ministries costs for telephone bills, house and office rentals and office security for the rest of the year. On the other hand, the Committee also requested for the Ministry to provide details of how it spent additional funds towards hosting the recent 11th Festival of Pacific Arts.

The Ministry of Lands, led by its Permanent Secretary, Stanley Wale requested $7m. It was understood that part of the funds will go to trustees of Koku land in Central Guadalcanal for resettlement of residents of Goldridge and the Kongulai Water source landowners in Northwest Guadalcanal and Ziata landowners in Noro, Western Province. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by its Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Joy Kere also requested for an additional $950,000 as supplementary for its office rental group and an additional $1.8m for its commitment to the Melanesian Spearhead Group as pledged by the Government in 2009. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services had also requested for an additional $34m.

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development was the last to appear yesterday afternoon, seeking an approval of more than $45m for overseas scholarships expenses. Six other ministries appeared before the committee yesterday, including Culture and Tourism; Agriculture and Livestock; Communications and Aviation; Police and Correctional Services; Fisheries and Marine Resources and Mines and Energy. Parliament will start its sitting today when a motion of no confidence is expected to be tabled against the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Gordon Lilo Darcy.

From http://www.sibconline.com.sb/ 09/14/2012

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2012 Budget Under Pressure

The Solomon Islands Finance Minister says the 2012 Budget is under pressure from a lower growth in taxation revenue than was estimated in the original budget. Delivering the Supplementary Appropriation Bill on Tuesday, Rick Hou said overall revenue, while still growing solidly from 2011, is now estimated to be 140 million dollars less than the original 2012 estimate. Mr Hou said the government, however, will manage expenditure to address this pressure while avoiding general reservations and ensuring urgent needs are met. He said the revenue pressure will be offset largely by estimated under spending on the 2012 development budget due mainly to delays in passage of the 2012 Budget and other implementation issues. Rick Hou said to date, approximately 50 per cent of government development funds for 2012 have been spent.

From http://www.rnzi.com/ 09/21/2012

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Agriculture: Support to Agriculture at Historic Lows, Says OECD

Government support to agriculture in OECD countries fell to 19% of total farm receipts in 2011, a record low driven by developments in international commodity markets, rather than by explicit policy changes, according to the latest version of an annual OECD report. Support to producers stood at $252 billion (EUR 182 billion) in OECD countries in 2011, confirming a longstanding trend toward falling farm support. While Agricultural Policy: Monitoring and Evaluation 2012 points to a generalised move away from support directly linked to production, it finds that support which distorts production and trade still represents about half of the total. "The move toward lower farm support is a welcome trend, but we still see the need for better targeting and more cost-effective farm policy," said OECD Trade and Agriculture Director Ken Ash. "Farm support should be more closely directed at increasing agricultural productivity and competitiveness. Governments should also be doing more to address environmental issues, ensure sustainable resource use and help farmers better cope with risk." The new report shows that support levels still vary widely across OECD countries. Over the 2009-11 period, New Zealand had the lowest level of support, at just 1% of farm income, followed by Australia (3%), and Chile (4%). The United States (9%), Mexico (12%), Israel (13%) and Canada (16%) were also below the OECD average (20%).

The European Union has reduced its level of support to 20% of farm income. At the other end of the scale, support to farmers remains relatively high in Iceland (47%), Korea (50%), Japan (51%), Switzerland (56%) and Norway (60%).The report also shows that total support to agriculture as a percentage of national income is falling in the OECD area, declining from 3% of GDP on average over the 1986-88 period to less than 1% in 2009-11. This declining trend is observed in all OECD countries over the long term. The OECD projects that today's relatively high commodity prices will continue over the medium-term outlook, meaning that markets will provide farmers the income that many governments have until now sought to provide through cash payments or artificially high prices. "Given expectations of future demand growth and greater pressure on limited resources, there is a clear opportunity to turn farm policy toward the most pressing policy goals, like boosting innovation across the food and agriculture system," Mr Ash said. "Cash-strapped governments carrying out spending cuts across their budgets will have to improve the cost effectiveness of agricultural policies."

From http://www.oecd.org/ 09/19/2012

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Affinity Tests Appetite for Asia Private Equity with $3.5 Billion Fund

Asia-focused private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners is seeking to raise as much as $3.5 billion in a new fund, sources said, testing investor appetite for Asia funds at a time when a number of global players have already launched big funds. Affinity has hired London-based MVision to advise it on the fundraising, the sources who had direct knowledge of the plan told Reuters. It has started marketing the fund and scheduled a meeting with investors later this month, they added. The fundraising comes as a tough global economic environment forces limited partners (LPs), who provide capital to the buyout industry, to tighten their purse strings and scrutinize the performance of funds before making new commitments. Investment opportunities are opening up for private equity but volatile stock markets are also making exits harder. Founded in 2002 by K.Y. Tang, the former chairman of UBS Capital in Asia-Pacific, Affinity aims to take on the global giants with a fund size up to 25 percent larger than the last one it raised in 2008. The targeted amount is the same as that of U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group's planned new Asia fund. Other global funds raising capital for Asia investments include KKR & Co , which is seeking up to $6 billion, while TPG Capital and another Asia firm, RRJ Capital, aim to raise up to $5 billion each. In all, about $130 billion is being sought by 386 funds for Asia investments, according to data provider Preqin.

The surge of new jumbo funds is raising doubts about the market's capacity to absorb them. "How many pan-Asia funds will investors support, that's the question now," said one senior executive from a private equity firm based in Asia which is not raising new money. Limited partners have previously been investing in four to five regional funds in Asia, but are expected to cut back to two as they trim their portfolios in line with a global trend, the industry executive added. Affinity did not respond to requests for comment. MVision declined to comment. The sources mentioned in the story did not wish to be identified as Affinity's plans are confidential. Underscoring the challenges of fundraising, private equity funds have raised around $23 billion so far this year for investments in Asia, and may struggle to match last year's total of $53 billion, according to Mitul Patel, manager, Asia Research, at Preqin. Ex-TPG dealmaker Weijian Shan's $2.4 billion fund for PAG Asia Capital and Mount Kellett Capital Partners' $4 billion, are among the Asian fundraisings that closed this year, according to Preqin.

ASIA CATCHING UP
Many others are watching closely the response to the latest round of fundraisings before launching their own funds. Private equity fundraisings are often benchmarked on what are called first closings, which allow funds to begin investing before raising the full target amount. KKR has hit $3 billion for its first close, while RRJ is near a first close of $2.7 billion. TPG, which launched its fund first, has yet to hold a first close. Asia's share of the global fundraising pie has risen since the last time Affinity raised money in 2008 and the region is poised to overtake Europe as the world's second-largest private equity market, Preqin's Patel said. But 2008 was the peak of the fundraising cycle, with a record $84.4 billion raised for Asia. Funding has been tighter for private equity firms globally and in Asia since then. Private equity firms typically raise new funds every five years, and Asia, like the rest of world, is now in a new cycle. Big global LPs that invest in private equity, such as U.S. pensions giant CalPERS, meanwhile, are going through their own pains in a low-return environment and pruning their investment portfolios. "This is the challenge all of us are facing. The past is past, and how do we make the case that we're poised for the future, and deserve to be in someone's portfolio," said the private equity executive.

From http://news.yahoo.com/ 09/16/2012

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Asia's Top 500 Retailers Clocked US$959 Billion in Sales in 2011

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - (Marketwire - Sep 16, 2012) - Euromonitor International and Retail Asia are proud to announce the launch of the ninth edition of the Retail Asia Top 500 Retailers Ranking. This year's edition reported commendable performances by the top 500 retailers in the region who clocked US$959 billion worth of sales in 2011, up 11% from the previous year. According to Euromonitor's retailing market research, China finally overtook Japan to emerge as the most influential retail market in the top 500 ranking, taking 138 out of 500 spots, and contributing to 28% of the total sales across the region in 2011. Japan, which was ranked no. 2, took 129 out of 500 spots but still contributed a robust 26% of total sales in the region. "According to Euromonitor International's retailing research, China was one of the fastest growing retail markets in value terms in 2011" explains Geok Leng Loo, the Head of Research at Euromonitor International Asia Pacific. "However, Chinese consumers were not only spending in their own market, and a number of retailers around the world highlighted the benefits of these consumers on their sales performance." she added. "Hong Kong and Japan are two examples of countries that benefited from the high number of Chinese visitors." In the latest edition, Euromonitor provided a preview into the most successful retail formats in the region, with convenience stores leading the way with US$9,929 of sales per square meter. While traditional brick and mortar stores remain well established in the region, internet retailing is the next frontier leading retailers in the region are actively exploring. The Retail Asia Top 500 ranking is an accumulation of Euromonitor International's retailing data and analysis to rank the top retailers from 14 key economies across Asia Pacific in terms of total sales, number of outlets, sales area (sqm) and sales per sqm. A summary of key findings and a list of the top 40 retailers are now available for complimentary download via the Euromonitor International blog.

About Euromonitor International
Euromonitor International is the world's leading provider for global business intelligence and strategic market analysis. We have more than 39 years of experience publishing international market reports, business reference books and online databases on consumer markets. We deliver market research solutions to support strategic planning for today's increasingly international business environment. Our research offers in-depth market analysis on consumer goods and services industries worldwide, as well as economic, demographic and socio-economic data and insight on countries and consumers. Euromonitor International is headquartered in London, with regional offices in Chicago, Singapore, Shanghai, Vilnius, Santiago, Dubai, Cape Town, Tokyo, Sydney and Bangalore, and has a network of over 800 analysts worldwide.

About Retail Asia Publishing
Retail Asia Publishing Pte Ltd is the industry leader for multi-informational hub for the retail companies. Established in 1991, Retail Asia Publishing represents retail news and updates of the Asia Pacific nations in the monthly Retail Asia magazine. Staffed by industry specialists, Retail Asia Publishing is headquartered in Singapore, with a regional circulation of 15,036 and a worldwide readership of almost 60,000. For more information, visit www.retailasiaonline.com.

From http://finance.yahoo.com/ 09/16/2012

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Asia Pacific Companies Prioritise CRM

Challenged by the need to support multiple local languages and cultures in the region, says Forrester. Managing customer relationships has become companies' top priority in the Asia Pacific region, according to Forrester's new report, 'The Changing Face of CRM in Asia Pacific'. However, they are constantly challenged by the need to support multiple local languages and cultures in the region. Companies recognise the importance of management of customer relationships for continued business success and are now thinking about the customer relationship management (CRM) lifecycle beyond legacy CRM tools. For instance, ZOHO Corporation has formed a joint venture in China and formed a partnership in Japan to ensure that its CRM product is customised to suit local needs. Forrester emphasises the importance of local language support for core CRM capabilities and related services to successfully grow across the region.

Need to host data locally
Few companies operating in the Asia Pacific region are also challenged by local laws that require them to host data locally. Australia, China, and India regulate where firms can locate their customer data to maintain the privacy and security of customer information. The Reserve Bank of India has made it mandatory for all banks in India to ensure that all local regulations and cross-border regulations are clarified at the outset of an outsourcing agreement, including data centre hosting. All these factors have driven companies to choose CRM systems that support cloud-based delivery, integrate with social technologies, support mobile access, and provide analytics to improve engagement with customers. Paint manufacturing company Asian Paints has integrated SAP CRM with its dealer management system, which was further integrated with social media tools like Twitter and blogs to help dealers improve their insights into customers in their local area. KLM is offering 'Meet & Seat' service, which allows passengers to choose their seatmates based on social media profiles. Forrester suggests that CRM providers in Asia Pacific in search of continued growth should evaluate CRM solutions on region-, country-, and vertical-specific needs; understand that CRM projects will involve strong business support and not be IT-led; and help organisations create a CRM implementation blueprint to help manage expectations.

From http://www.computerworld.com.sg/ 09/20/2012

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Hong Kong Start-ups Lift Asia Hedge Fund Industry - Survey

* Hedge fund assets in HK grow by $6.5 bln to $47.1 bln
* Asian industry adds $3.5 bln, in line with portfolio gains
* Hedge fund industry in Singapore, Japan shrinks

HONG KONG, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Asia-focused hedge funds slightly increased the value of the assets they manage to $144 billion in the first half of the year, helped by a few large start-ups in Hong Kong even as the industry in Singapore and Japan shrank. Assets rose 2.5 percent, or $3.5 billion, as of the end of June compared with six months ago, a survey by industry tracker AsiaHedge showed on Friday. That was in line with the 2.4 percent return seen in the Asian hedge funds measured by the fund tracker. The Asian fund industry is struggling to improve returns as the slowing global economy and European debt crisis weigh on stock markets around the world. "The modest growth comes from a combination of inflows into some of the bigger launches of the past two years and existing managers as well as from a lack of significant redemptions from investors, who are holding their fire despite some lacklustre returns - at least for now," said Aradhna Dayal, head of Asia for HedgeFund Intelligence in Hong Kong. Start-ups in Hong Kong such as Asia Research & Capital Management and Tybourne Capital Management raised millions of dollars in the first half.

That helped boost the overall assets held by hedge funds in the city by $6.5 billion to a record $47.1 billion, according to the survey by AsiaHedge, which is part of U.K.-based HedgeFund Intelligence. Assets under funds in Singapore fell by just over $1 billion to $19.8 billion in the first half, while those in Japan saw assets plunge by 41 percent to $5.72 billion, the survey showed. "Unless Asian managers can bring in the same outlier returns that attracted investors to Asia in the first place, there is a possibility that we will see capital flow back to the recovering U.S. or to Europe, which appears to offer considerable value-driven investment opportunities at present," Dayal said. The number of hedge funds in Asia rose to 816 from 788 at the end of 2011. About 78 percent of the Asia-Pacific hedge fund industry assets are now managed from Asia, a major change from the past when a majority of the assets were managed out of the United States and London.

From http://finance.yahoo.com/ 09/21/2012

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CHINA: Alibaba Ramps Up Support for Small Businesses

ALIBABA Group, China's largest e-commerce company, said it will foster 1 million small online vendors with an average revenue of over 1 million yuan (US$158,730) a year as the company moves to build a platform for online vendors instead of serving consumers by itself. "We hope to support small business owners and by doing this some of the employment issues can also be solved," Alibaba President Jack Ma said at the company's annual customer convention in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Ma said the company will make more online tools and services available to small business owners next year and help them better serve consumers. He also said Alibaba's next major strategy is to offer financial services for cash-tight small business owners and provide data analysis service to business institutions. Ma said the e-commerce company will share the mass volume of data generated from tens of thousands of orders on Taobao each day to better predict economic conditions. In the past two year, the finance division of the group has offered 150,000 entrepreneurs small loans averaging 47,000 yuan in size. Earlier this year, Alibaba Group was split into seven business units in an effort to improve efficiency and pool resources.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/10/2012

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Tencent Fund to Help Data Security

TENCENT, China's largest Internet company by market value, said it will set up a 1 billion yuan (US$159 million) mobile security fund to encourage smaller firms to offer anti-virus service for the country's booming smartphone users. Ma Huateng, chairman and CEO of Tencent, said yesterday at the China Internet Conference in Beijing that the company will work with partners to keep data security for mobile phone users. He said that Tencent encourages start-up firms and other Internet companies to join it to offer a safe mobile Internet environment, without elaborating how the money will be used.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/12/2012

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Huawei Leads Chinese Firms in 4G Tech

HUAWEI Technologies leads Chinese telecommunication firms in hastening the development of 4G technology, which is 10 to 20 times faster than the current 3G network, Shanghai Daily learned at a Beijing telecom show which opened yesterday. China Mobile, Huawei and China Putian are displaying the latest 4G or LTE (Long Term Evolution) products at the PT/EXPO Comm China 2012 in Beijing. Huawei, China's biggest private telecom firm, now owns 9 percent of the patents on LTE technologies, ranking it No. 1 among domestic telecom companies. "We invested heavily and finally we are in the first-tier patent group globally," said a Huawei official, who declined to be named, at its booth at the show which ends on Saturday.

Sweden's Ericsson owns 8 percent of LTE patents and Qualcomm, the world's leading telecom chip design maker, owns 13 percent, Huawei said. China Mobile, the world's biggest telco by users, is building trial 4G networks nationwide in major cities including Shanghai, Hangzhou and Shenzhen. At the show the telco displayed several LTE mobile products, including 4G data cards, and for the first time two LTE phones. Although China hasn't issued LTE licences, handsets such as Apple's iPhone and Nokia's Lumia 920 support 4G and may debut in the domestic market at the beginning of 2013.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 09/19/2012

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China Unicom Wrests 3G Market Share

China Unicom Ltd., the country's second-largest mobile operator, added 3.07 million 3G subscribers in August, according to a statement filed on Thursday to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The company's total number of 3G subscribers reached 63.69 million by the end of August, the statement said. China Unicom has adopted a series of measures to win more 3G customers from market leader China Mobile Ltd., including selling cheaper smartphones and offering lower-cost 3G services. The operator aims to raise its 3G subscriber base to 90 million by the end of 2012. Meanwhile, China Unicom's 2G subscribers climbed to 162 million by the end of August, up 336,000 month on month, according to the statement. It added that the operator's Internet users with broadband access increased by 647,000 to reach 61.98 million by the end of last month, while its fixed-line telephone users fell by 167,000 to 92.41 million. Shares in China Unicom rose 0.55 percent to open at 3.63 yuan on Thursday.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 09/20/2012

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JAPAN: TEPCO to Set Up Panel to Reduce Procurement Costs

Tokyo Electric Power Co., with an eye on drastically reducing sourcing costs for materials and services, will set up an in-house procurement committee at the end of October to be headed by an outside expert, it was learned Tuesday. In its special program for improving business activities worked out this spring, TEPCO envisioned restarting operations of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture in April 2013.However, prospects for bringing the plant online have become uncertain because of the government's energy policy setting a target of zero nuclear power dependence for the country by the 2030s.Under the circumstances, TEPCO plans to beef up its management to allow the company to be profitable even if reactivation of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility is delayed, company sources said. Among major steps to be taken toward the goal will be adoption of more competitive bidding practices for procurement contracts and improved cooperation with other utilities in procurement, they said.

Assuming the top post of the envisioned procurement committee will be Sakon Uda, 57, who served as a senior managing executive officer of Japan Post Holdings Co. after working with McKinsey & Co., a U.S. management consulting firm, according to the sources. Uda is known for directing shrewd cost-cutting efforts at Japan Post. He also served as head of the investigation team in compiling a report by the Diet's independent panel on the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011. The report was released on July 5, 2012.The procurement committee will have four or five members in addition to Uda, including the TEPCO executive vice president and executive managing officer in charge of procurement. Items worth 1 billion yen or more will be subject to screening by the committee. Its secretariat will comprise about 15 members, including experts in asset appraisal, they said.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 09/19/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Limit Aid for Biz Entry in Overcrowded Sectors

The government is taking measures to ease the saturation of small-scale businesses concentrated in certain areas and encourage start-ups in other promising sectors.The Finance Ministry has been fully covering all consulting and marketing costs for start-ups in overcrowded business areas, but it will now shift to selective aid. Under the measures, small-scale businesspeople newly entering already saturated markets will have to shoulder part of the cost from their own pockets. The ministry has expanded subsidies for small-scale businesses to take root in promising sectors from 425 billion won this year to 750 billion next year. It will also provide region-specific training and have successful entrepreneurs serve as mentors.The government will create a small business promotion account of one-point-one trillion won to secure the necessary funds.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/19/2012

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SINGAPORE: Smaller Companies Urged to Adapt to "Megatrends"

SINGAPORE: Rapid urbanisation, rising consumerism and wider use of technology are some "megatrends" that experts at the Singapore Human Capital Summit said are pushing companies to rethink their business models and hiring strategies. These trends have spawned more demanding consumers and smarter employees. While larger Asian firms are quick to adapt, the smaller ones find it a challenge to keep up. Indonesia's dynamic economy has opened up new opportunities for players like Bank Mandiri. The country's strong consumer base, rising income and growing Internet users are paving the way for new markets and businesses. The bank invests about US$100 million a year in information technology (IT), to keep up with increased transactions via electronic channels. It is also beefing up its retail banking, risk and talent management systems as part of its transformation to reach wider markets. Zulkifli Zaini, president director and CEO of Bank Mandiri, said: "We are very lucky because we already have the foundation to grow." Small businesses can learn a thing or two from the Indonesian bank. Tony Nash, managing director of IHS, said: "With rising incomes and rising education come more demanding customers. So companies, particularly Asian companies, are going to have to focus much more on customer service, customer empathy and delivery satisfaction."

The economic forecasting firm IHS said some Japanese and Korean brands are already making headway in customer service, but others lag behind. "Lower-end brands, maybe, out of China and other places, they really are not competing in that premium market space yet. And as they compete in the premium market space, they will develop those customer-focused activities," said Mr Nash. As more global companies and talents head to Asia, experts see the need for staff training for empowerment and growth. Narayan Pant, Professor of Management Practice at INSEAD, said: "As you see competitive pressure develop in organisations, I think organisations are looking for skill sets that are more adapted to the needs of the future. And they are saying, 'Can we equip our participants with these skill sets?'" While the road ahead may be bumpy, experts said technology has somewhat levelled the playing field for smaller firms. Combined with innovation, small companies can use the Internet to tap wider markets and attract young talents.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/19/2012

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Singapore: UOB, SMU Set Up Institute to Help SMEs

SINGAPORE: A new institute has been set up to offer subsidised business consulting for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Launched by United Overseas Bank (UOB) and the Singapore Management University (SMU), the institute aims to equip local firms with information and expertise to help their regional expansion. The UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute brings together senior students from SMU and business owners to work on projects in areas such as marketing, branding and human resource management. Firms need only pay between S$500 to S$1,500 for business consultations compared to the S$15,000 to S$20,000 they will spend if they hired other consultants. The S$10 million initiative was borne out of donations from the bank and its customers, as well as a matching grant from the government. UOB donated S$3 million to the institute, while around S$2 million came from banking customers. A matching S$5 million grant came from the Ministry of Education.

More than 170 companies and 560 students have participated in the consulting programme since 2005 when the alliance between UOB and SMU began. Around 56 projects lasting between 10 to 12 weeks are undertaken every year. Ang Ser-Keng, director of the UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute, said: "Typically, the companies we work with range from very small companies to rather large ones. And the reason why we do not restrict ourselves is because larger companies have meatier projects, and meatier projects benefit our students as well. So we do not restrict ourselves. "I think we are all driven by the quality of projects and what it can deliver to SMEs and what it can deliver to students in terms of learning... Learning about your market, learning about your customers, your employees, your operations, how to improve productivity - those are the things that become even more crucial in this market environment." The institute also plans to launch a semi-annual industry research survey in December to analyse the economic outlook in five key countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and China. It will also launch an online resource centre in 2013.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 09/20/2012

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THAILAND: Banks to Focus More on Small Business Loans

Banks are expected to focus more on the SME segment next year because new Basel requirements will constrain their ability to lend to corporations. To sustain high returns, banks have to build up their SME port-folio, while the urbanisation trend gives banks more opportunities to extend credit to SMEs, Kevalin Wangpichayasuk, head of money and banking research at Kasikorn Research Centre, said last week. Banks have to adjust their strategies to cope with Basel III next year, which will raise the minimum Tier-1 capital ratio to 6 per cent from 4 per cent. The more banks lend to corporations, the more their capital will be eaten up. Corporations can mobilise funds through many channels such as debentures, initial public offerings and infrastructure funds. Corporations in the solar farm business are expected to launch infrastructure funds next year.

Yokporn Tantisawetrat, senior executive vice president and chief risk officer of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), said it is possible that banks will shift to lending to SMEs and retail customers rather than corporations due to the arrival of Basel III. Corporate demand for bank credit would not be as brisk as before because companies can raise funds through the capital market. If banks do not change their business direction, they would see their return on equity decline because Basel III, which sets the minimum capital adequacy ratio at 8.5 per cent, will push up the cost of banks. Many banks are revising their business models to prepare for the impact of Basel III. SME lending is one of their priorities, he added. SCB president Kannikar Chalitaporn said earlier that the bank plans to increase the proportion of SME and retail loans.

Krungthai Bank, Thanachart Bank and Kiatnakin Bank are among the banks that would aggressively chase SMEs loans next year. Kevalin said retail lending next year is expected to return to normal growth after the populist schemes such as the first-car buyer come to an end. Hire purchase loans, which are the key driver of loan growth this year, will be replaced by SME loans. Auto loans, however, will remain a leader in retail banking because some vehicles that could not be delivered to buyers this year will be handed over to them next year. Commercial bank loans are expected to expand by 11.3 per cent next year, slowing from 13 per cent this year. Outstanding commercial loans this year are expected to reach Bt8.8 trillion. Demand for larger loans next year would be seen by specialised financial institutions because SFIs must serve public investment. SFIs are expected to maintain this year's loan growth rate of 20 per cent. The outstanding loans of SFIs this year are expected to climb to Bt4 trillion. Public investment will be a key engine for economic growth next year because the government will gradually launch infrastructure projects such as flood management systems, mass transit routes and 3G licences, KResearch added.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 09/24/2012

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VIETNAM: Digital Information Accounts For 45% of Enterprise Value

HA NOI (VNS) - In Viet Nam, digital information makes up 45 per cent of an enterprise's total value, according to the Symantec Corp's first ever 2012 State of Information Survey. "In Viet Nam, the rapid growth of digital information is inevitable with the increasing usage of technology among enterprises," said Alex Ong, Symantec's country director for Viet Nam. "While organisations in the digital economy can use the information they generate every day to better serve customers and increase productivity, the same information can be a major liability if not properly protected and managed."

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 09/19/2012

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INDIA: 'Priority Sector' Light Engineering Fails to Flourish

The light engineering sector, which has got a huge potential, has failed to flourish due to the lack of an effective policy, financial support and upgraded technology, say entrepreneurs. The experts and entrepreneurs say that light engineering factories are struggling because of the shortage of capital, strict conditions imposed by the banks for loans and shortage of skilled workers. The government declared the light engineering a 'priority' sector in its Export Policy 2010 and a 'thrust' sector in its Industry Policy 2005, but none of the successive governments took effective action to help the sector to flourish, said Abul Hashim, owner of Nipun Engineering. The banks charge small businesses high interest rates of 16 to 17 per cent and are also unwilling to offer collateral-free loans although the sector belongs to the Small and Medium Enterprise category, said the Nipun's owner. He said that due to lack of capital and other sorts of support from financial institutions, most of the factories use outdated machines and produce low-quality products. The BRAC Bank's SME official told New Age that most of the entrepreneurs in the light engineering sector cannot improve the quality of their products and market them through the right channels as they do not have access to information.

If these industries cannot upgrade their technology now, they might not survive in the future because of increasing competition in the global market, he said. Saiful Islam, proprietor of Progoti Engineering, said that most of the people working in the sector do not have any formal training. 'They have learnt the trade simply by working,' he said, adding that proper training is sure to improve their productivity. To promote this sector the Bangladesh Institute of Technical Assistance Centre provides some materials and training for light engineering industries but these are not sufficient, said the BITAC's director, Syed M Ehsanul Karim. Students of BITAC or polytechnic institutes are not interested in working in the light engineering sector because of lack of job security or technological support, he said. 'Many industries have machines and tools but the workers are incapable of operating them,' he said. The Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners' Association's president, Abdur Razzaque, told New Age that 'the light engineering sector lacks policy support'. He said that about 6,00,000 skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled people are working in about 40,000 light engineering factories throughout Bangladesh. Razzaque said that small factories are engaged in manufacturing various import-substitute products such as electrical, ceramic, rubber and plastic goods, agricultural machines, machines for the apparel sector, for rice mills and for the paint industry and are helping the country to save a significant amount of foreign currency. They also make spare parts for cars and power looms, and even ammunition boxes for the Bangladesh Army.

From http://www.newagebd.com/ 08/26/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Ultra Company to Be Engaged in Systems Formation of Global Level

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies gave the license ULTRA COMPUTERS company on forming the personal data information resources and the information systems, including services to them, the compny said on Thursday. License will be valid for 5 years. The activities of the license will be realized based on "The Requirements for the protection of the personal information" that were approved by the Cabinet of the Ministry of the Azerbaijan Republic in the September 6, 2010 year. It should be noted that "The Requirements for the protection of the personal information" had been prepared on the basis of the decree number 275, on date 4 June, 2010 "on the application of the law about the personal information," of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic. The requirements adjust the occuring relations connection with the protection of personal data and the appropriate information systems within the collection, use, distribution and submission of them by the owner of the personal information or the operator.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/06/2012

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Azerbaijani Private Sector Provides More Than 70 Per Cent of Tax Revenues

In January-August 2012, the tax revenues to the state budget of Azerbaijan totalled 4.18 billion manat (compared to forecasted 3.8 million manat), which is 13.6 per cent higher than the fees for the same period last year, the Ministry of Taxes said. 'Some 52.4 per cent or about 2.2 million manat of tax revenue was achieved through non-oil sector and about two million manat (47.6 per cent) in the oil sector', the statement said. Some 73.3 per cent (about three million manat) of income was provided by the private sector. Tax revenue through local tax offices totalled 302.1 million manat during the eight months compared to 273.1 million manat. Accordingly, the forecast for the collection of taxes by these controls was performed at 110.6 per cent. The actual income for this line increased by 11.2 per cent, or 30.4 million manat compared to the same period last year. The ministry noted the increase in the income of different types of taxes in total tax collections due to the creation of new jobs and increased tax control over the conclusion of labour contracts. VAT revenues totalled 952.8 million manat, with the weight of total tax collections as being 22.8 per cent compared to the forecasted 942 million manat, excise tax - 313.3 million manat (7.5 per cent) compared to the forecasted 296 million manat income tax - 1 473.7 million (39.7 per cent) compared to the forecasted 1 473.7 million manat and on income tax - 520.1 million (12.4 per cent) compared to 477.4 million manat. This year, the deduction of VAT through local tax offices was 99.6 million (33 per cent of total revenue in the controls), excise taxes - 1.1 million (0.4 per cent), income taxes - 18.4 million manat (6.1 per cent) and profits taxes - 81.4 million (27 per cent).

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/12/2012

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Privatisation Approaches and State Property Management to Be Changed in Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijani State Committee for Property Affairs has attracted four international consultants to prepare a five-year strategic and business plan for one year within the 'Real Estate Registration ', implemented by the World Bank (WB). 'At present the international consultants are in Baku', the state committee said on Wednesday. According to the information, international consultants from the Netherlands and Germany - Peter Plantinga, Andre Kvitovski, Peter Laarakken and Fritz Digmaer will conduct analysis and monitoring in the areas of management and the effective use of state property, privatisation, property registration and single cadastre, as well as in the address register together with the state committee's working group. 'The preparation of a five-year strategic plan and the annual plan of the State Property Committee will be completed within one year', the statement said. 'The modernization of the State Property Committee is the main priority of a five-year strategic plan'. The objectives of the five-year strategic plan of the State Property Committee is to increase efficiency in the management and privatisation of state assets, to ensure new approaches and tools in this field and to improve the quality of services in real estate registration and to expand the use of electronic services. 'Instructions were given to inform each other of the progress of activity for the effective work of the relevant bodies included in a working group and international consultant', a statement said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/13/2012

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Investments in Azerbaijan's Non-oil Sector Up by Over a Third

Around 8.383.9 billion manat was invested from all financing sources into the development of the economic and social sectors in Azerbaijan in January-August 2012, or 28.4 per cent more than in the same period of last year, the State Statistics Committee said on Saturday. Investments in construction operations increased by 28.3 per cent to 5.020.7 billion manat, or 59.9 per cent of the total investment volume. Investments worth 3.783.1 billion manat were made in the construction of production facilities, while 4.600.8 billion manat were in services. Around 78.9 per cent of the total volume fell to domestic investment. The main part (74.9 per cent) of internal investments was made in state enterprises and organisations with only 26.3 per cent in private enterprises. Around 3.697.7 billion manat out of 5.933.9 billion manat envisaged for this year was invested in the construction of facilities financed through the budget funds. Around 3.553.7 billion manat (42.4 per cent of the total investment volume), bank loans - 387.5 million manat (4.6 per cent), budgetary funds - 3.850.4 billion manat (45.9 per cent), off-budget funds - 347.6 million manat (4.2 per cent), the population's funds - 208.4 million manat (2.5 per cent) and other - 36.3 million manat (0.4 per cent) were invested in the fixed capital through the funds of enterprises and organisations. Around 27.1 per cent (2.274.9 billion manat) was directed to the development of the oil sector, 72.9 per cent (6.109 million manat) - non-oil sector, including 10.4 per cent (870.7 million manat) - non-oil industrial sector. Investments in the oil sector increased by 23.6 per cent and non-oil - by 30.3 per cent. Around 37.5 per cent of investments fell to the industrial sector, 16.8 per cent - transportation and warehousing, 9.7 per cent - state management, 9.3 per cent - real estate transactions (of which 9.2 per cent - housing). Also included was 4.9 per cent - education, 4.7 per cent - agriculture, 4.5 per cent - entertainment and art, 2.9 per cent - construction, 2.5 per cent - communication and information, 1.9 per cent - trade and 1.5 per cent - health care, rendering administrative services, 1.4 per cent - tourist accommodation and catering, 0.8 per cent - financial and insurance activity. The official exchange rate is 0.7853 AZN/USD on Sept. 18.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/19/2012

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IRAN: Steel Output Surpasses 7.3 Million Tons

Iranian state and privately-owned sectors produced 7394 tons of steel during the first five months of the current calendar year which began on March 20, the Mehr news agency quoted the deputy industry minister as saying. Vajihollah Jafari added that the crude steel output amounted to 6.25 million tons during the aforementioned period of time showing an 8.8 per cent rise year on year. Iran will no longer need to import steel products next year once the steel production projects currently underway come on stream, the deputy industry minister said on Wednesday. Reza Fatemi-Amin told the IRNA news agency that some seven million tons of crude steel is imported annually. On September 4, Industry, Mine, and Trade Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari said that a number of steel projects with a total output of 12 million tons, are being implemented, the IRNA news agency reported. Iran will become one of the world's main steel exporters by March 2016, Ghazanfari said in May 2011. He added that despite global economic sanctions, the country's steel output increased by five million tons during the past two years, reaching 17 million tons. Iran produced over 6.25 million tons of crude steel during the first five months of this Iranian year which began on March 20, showing an 8.8 per cent growth year on year. Some 7.2 million tons of steel products were also manufactured in the five-month period, almost equal to the previous year's total output.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/21/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Business Slow on Cloud Uptake

While most New Zealand businesses are familiar with the concept of cloud computing very few are actually using the technology, shows a nationwide survey. The latest MYOB Business Monitor, a national survey of 1000 small and medium-sized companies conducted by Colmar Brunton, looked at awareness and use of the online technology often known as 'the cloud'. It found only 14 per cent were using cloud services for business, while 78 per cent said they did not use it, and 8 per cent did not know. Despite strong promotion from cloud technology vendors, kiwi businesses were yet to take to the cloud in great numbers, said MYOB general manager Julian Smith. "The cloud is very much the industry buzzword at the moment - you can't browse a business or technology website or publication at the moment without reading about it.

"Yet despite the technology industry's best efforts to teach others about the concept of cloud computing, our research shows a disconnect between SME cloud usage and their understanding of it." Cloud computing allowed a company to outsource services, such as data storage and software, to an off-site or even offshore provider. Rather than using software that was installed on an individual PC, workers accessed applications via the internet. This means companies needed to pay only for the software their staff actually used and software creators could directly upgrade or tweak their products. The survey found a lack of knowledge and security concerns were preventing business operators from embracing cloud computing. Of those surveyed, 31 per cent felt they did not know enough about the cloud, a quarter were not tech-savvy enough to feel confident to even start looking at the issue, and the same amount were unsure of the safety in storing their data in servers overseas.

Smith said it was surprising that almost four out of five business owners were not using the cloud. "It's likely that many business operators are in fact leveraging some form of cloud technology without realising it," he said. He believed those selling cloud computing needed to focus on promoting the productivity and financial benefits rather than just the technology behind it. "With cloud solutions now ready for the mass market, our approach must be more broad and business-focused. "Our clients and partners, many of whom already use cloud solutions, often tell me their main concern is how technology will help them be more competitive and make business life easier." The most popular reasons for businesses using cloud computing were the ease of accessing data from any location, and the ability to have team members work remotely. Smith said technology developments would see the cloud become "easier, faster and more efficient to adopt". Well ahead of the 14 per cent national average, the most cloud-connected region in New Zealand was the Manawatu-Wanganui region with 22 per cent of businesses using the service. Christchurch had 17 per cent of businesses using the cloud, while Wellington and Auckland had 14 per cent each.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 09/12/2012

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