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October 2012, Issue 131
unpan-ap@sass.org.cn
Special Focus on International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction
ˇˇ Role of Women Critical in Disaster Resilience
UNISDR Chief Calls for Women to Take Lead in Disaster Management
New Initiative Launched to Counter Natural Disasters in Asia
APEC Strengthens Regional Cooperation on Disaster Preparedness
Global Warming Can Trigger Extreme Pacific Weather, Says Study
Pacific Risk Resilience Programme Launched
UNPAN-AP Editorial Department Observes 2012 International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction
AUSTRALIA: Optus to Join National Emergency Alert System
CHINA: Over 800 Mln Chinese Disaster Victims Aided in Last Decade
INDONESIA: To Host Asian Meeting on Disaster Reduction
JAPAN: Internet Used to Guard Medical Records from Disaster
MYANMAR: VP Calls on People to Participate in Disaster Risk Reduction
NEW ZEALAND: Govt Ready for Fight over Water
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Call for Emergency Fund
THAILAND: Authorities Prepare for Drought
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ˇˇ Support for Accelerating Poverty Fight Tops Agenda at 2012 Annual Meetings
ITU and WHO Launch M-Health Initiative to Combat Non-Communicable Diseases
Measuring Well-Being Needs to Be at the Heart of Policy-Making, Says OECD World Forum
New Initiative Launched to Counter Natural Disasters in Asia
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ˇˇ CHINA: Smoking Rule Has Little Effect
China Willing to Promote Trade Calculation Reforms
China Spends Heavily in Afforestation Efforts
New Traffic Rules Highlight School Bus Safety
China Strives to Meet Air Quality Standard Deadline
Chinese Gov't to Recruit More Village-Leading Graduates
CPC Magazine Praises Reform, Opening-Up Policy
JAPAN: Govt Aims to Promote Japan at Annual Meetings of IMF, World Bank
Ministry Likely to Store IPS Cells for 10 Yrs
Ministry Ordered to Declassify Papers
Ministry to Propose Intl Trade Regulation on Endangered Turtle
Govt Submits No-nuke Resolution to U.N.
Govt to Support Development of Offshore Plants
SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Seeks Long-Term Plan to Achieve 'AAA' Rating
Government to Support Damaged Farms
Korea, Zambia Agree to Bolster Cooperation in Resources Development
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ˇˇ MYANMAR: Ruling Party Meets to Map Out Its Future
Myanmar Introduces Int'l Bank Card Services for First Time
PHILIPPINES: Cyberlaw Now in Effect
Framework Agreement to Bring Lasting Peace in S. Philippines
SINGAPORE: Amendments Proposed to 3 Pieces of Legislation Dealing with Death Penalty
Take-Up of PIC Scheme Has Been Promising
Singapore Passes First Personal Data Protection Bill
New Home Palliative Programme Launched
VIETNAM: Nation Focuses on Long-Term Poverty Reduction Strategy
National Assembly to Endorse Revised Laws
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: Government Giving Top Priority to International Trade
INDIA: E-District Project Underway in TN
India to Have Corporate Governance Policy Soon
Government Policies to Drive Green IT for India Inc.
India Starts Kicks Off Second Stage of Housing Project
Government Is Planning Two 'Smart' Cities in Each State
Tamilnadu Government Plans E-Umbrella for All Services
SRI LANKA: Making Public Draft Policy on Reconciliation
NEPAL: Government Plans to Eradicate Illiteracy by 2015
PAKISTAN: Govt Approves Rs4442mn Scheme for Energy Sector
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ˇˇ AZERBAIJAN: Parliament Adopts Law on Ensuring Uniformity of Measurements
Agricultural Insurance to Be Compulsory in Azerbaijan
TAJIKISTAN: To Present Energy Projects Within World Energy Council
TURKMENISTAN: Approving Law in Voting Rights Sphere
Turkmenistan Plans Radical Reforms in Rural Areas
Turkmenistan Plans to Complete Construction of Western Line of East-West Gas Pipeline by 2014
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ˇˇ Pacific Platform Moves on Post-HFA Agreement
Pacific Women Present Priorities to UN
Pacific Wants Climate Change Mentioned in New UN Millenium Development Goals
Pacific Risk Resilience Programme Launched
"A New Optimism - A More Dynamic Pacific Plan"
FIJI: Public Want New Constitution to Focus on Poverty
NEW ZEALAND: Do the Greens Have the Right Economic Plan?
NEW ZEALAND: Urgent Review of Govt Computer Systems Ordered
Bill to Extend Reserve Bank Power Fails First Reading
English Firm on Vetoing Bill
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Government Plans to Recall Local Doctors
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ˇˇ Scientific Research Bodies 'Failing to Engage Public'
Asia Must Cut Red Tape to Unlock Full Potential of Service Sector - ADB Report
Asia's Largest Government Modernisation Gathering Kicks Off
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ˇˇ CHINA: Announces Appointments, Dismissals of Officials
China Hails Social Assistance Achievements
Bo Xilai Expelled from CPC, Public Office
CPC to Convene 18th National Congress on Nov. 8
Restructuring Plays Important Role in Political Reform
SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Ease, Eliminate Age Limit for Public Sector Jobs
S. Korea Elected to UN Security Council
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: House Approves Five New Autonomous Regions
House Names Komnas HAM Commissioners
MALAYSIA: Civil Service to Create More Promotion Opportunities
PHILIPPINES: Opens Govt Call Centre
Philippine President Launches Coalition for 2013 Polls
THAILAND: To Reform Justice System with IT
Executive Appointment: Thailand
Thailand to Enhance Interoperability of E-Govt System
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ˇˇ INDIA: Planning Commission Wants Ports to Double Their Capacity
E-Governance Can Check Corruption
MP First State to Conduct Divisional Level E-Governance Consultations
NEPAL: Govt Forms Far-Western Region Development Commission
PAKISTAN: Amendments Can Be Made in Local Bodies System
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ˇˇ AZERBAIJAN: State Agency to Render Services of Nine State Bodies
Communication and IT Ministry Accelerates Operations to Form E-Government in Azerbaijan
TURKMENISTAN: President Makes New Appointments in Judicial System
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Optus to Join National Emergency Alert System
AUSTRALIA: Dept of Immigration Faces FOI Scrutiny
Dept of Parliamentary Services, Australia, Appoints First CIO
FIJI: Urge to Reserve Parliament Seats for Women
Salary Access Boost for Rural Civil Servants
Awards for Best in Civil Service
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Government Key to Improving Aid Delivery, Peer Review Says
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ˇˇ ITU: South Korea Top ICT Nation Again
UNISDR Chief Calls for Women to Take Lead in Disaster Management
ITU, Asia Broadcasting Union Call for Action to Get More Women into Technology and Media
Globe Breaks Ground on New Data Centre
ITU Telecom World 2012 Sets Platform for Young Innovators: Tomorrow's Leaders
ITU Releases Latest Global Technology Development Figures
APEC Strengthens Regional Cooperation on Disaster Preparedness
ADB Wins 2012 Asia's Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise Award
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ˇˇ CHINA: To Enhance Gov't Inspections of Schools
China Clamps Down on Illegal Sales of Retired Vehicles
Over 800 Mln Chinese Disaster Victims Aided in Last Decade
China Focuses on Managing Inflation: Senior Official
Maps to Be Closely Monitored
JAPAN: Tokyo to Buy Mountain Forests / 570-Hectare Purchase Would Protect Watershed Areas from Development
Job Skill Assistance Fails to Help 36% Find Work
Govt to Help N-evacuees Find Jobs in Hometowns
SOUTH KOREA: Groups Seek to Establish Labor Unions for Elderly, Youth
ICLEI Office to Open in Seoul
Emergency Response System to Be Beefed Up After Gas Leak
Park Pledges to Expand Police Force to Bolster Public Safety
President Lee Calls for Measures to Improve Public Security
Incheon to Host UN Green Climate Fund
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: President Appeals to Developing Markets to Tackle Trade Barriers
Indonesia to Host Asian Meeting on Disaster Reduction Next Week
MYANMAR: Seeking to Ease Land Price-Hike Crisis
Myanmar Gives Green Light to Foreign Credit Cards
MALAYSIA: More Protection for Whistleblowers
SINGAPORE: Govt Stresses Need to Maintain Clear Line Between Politics & Religion
Electricity Market to Be Made More Responsive to Demand
THAILAND: Authorities Prepare for Drought
DSI Cracks Down on Online Traders
VIETNAM: Better Agricultural Statistics Needed
President Stresses Need for Improved Judicial Training
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: IFC Training Initiative for Financial Sector Executives in BD to Step Up Support for SMEs
INDIA: Maharashtra Becomes First State to Launch Online Certification Course on E-Governance
Common Services Centre and National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology Join Hands to Make IT Courses Available in Rural India
Imimobile Launches India's First Cloud-Based Mobile Engagement Platform
PAKISTAN: Orders Operators to Monitor International Comms
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ˇˇ AZERBAIJAN: Scientific and Educational Institutions of Azerbaijan to Have Access to Eurasian Patent System
TAJIKISTAN: Virtual Science Library Launches Nationwide
TURKMENISTAN: LTE Technologies Researched
UZBEKISTAN: Uzbekenergo to Build Biggest Wind Power Installation in Central Asia
Uzbekistan Completes Navoi TPP Modernization
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: NSW Police Boosts Support for Comms Infrastructure
Australia Hosts Climate-Change Course for Pacific
Role of Women Critical in Disaster Resilience
NEW ZEALAND: Publishing National Standards May Do More Harm Than Good
Govt Ready for Fight over Water
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Call for Emergency Fund
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Government Embarks on Evaluation Exercise
ˇˇ Jobs Are a Cornerstone of Development, Says World Development Report 2013
ITU-T Technology Watch Tackles ICT-Enabled Education
ICT Uptake Continues to Grow Globally: Report
For Many Girls, ICT Is a Boring Career: Study
One Third of Global Food Produce Is Wasted: Report
ITU Telecom World 2012 Highlights Wealth of Opportunities in Transformed ICT Market
ITU Meet Ends Highlighting Key ICT Issues
Developing Asia Faces New Era of Moderate Growth - ADB Report
Asia Urged to Focus More on Services as Slowdown Worsens
Global Warming Can Trigger Extreme Pacific Weather, Says Study
Growth to Slow in East Asia and Pacific in 2012, but Domestic Demand Will Play Key Role in Rebound Next Year
Asia Growth to Slow, but to Remain Fastest in World: IMF
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ˇˇ CHINA: Citizens Pay Less Proportion of Health Expenditure
Huawei Leads Chinese Firms in 4G Tech
Lenovo Eyes 'Public Cloud' for Consumers
China's Economic Growth to Stabilize in Q4: Think Tank
Cloud Computing Cuts Costs of Storage
China Aims to Expand Forest Coverage to 21.66% by 2015
Online Players Hit New High
Fewer Chinese Cities See Home Price Rises
JAPAN: Plan to Put Tokyo Expressways Underground an Option, but an Extremely Costly One
Internet Used to Guard Medical Records from Disaster
Foreign Ministry Sees Website Hits Rise 50%
SOUTH KOREA: Survey Indicates Gap in Health Between Seniors in City, Country
75% of S. Koreans Say Gender Discrimination Is Still a Problem
Obesity, Underweight Problems Growing in S. Korea
People in 40s, 50s Face Bleak Future
Korea Urges Pan-Asian Cooperation to Fight Economic Crisis
More Foreign Wives to Be Given Teaching Jobs
Seoul to Reduce Radon in Subway
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: Delegation Highlights Environmental Disaster Vulnerability at ASEP-7
Health Ministry to Launch Diphtheria Vaccination
Indonesian Economy Needs More Revamping to Turbo Charge Growth
MYANMAR: VP Calls on People to Participate in Disaster Risk Reduction
The Philippines, ITU Launches ICT Statistics Portal
SINGAPORE: New Smartphone Applications to Help Encourage Active Aging
10,000 Cleaners Set to Get Pay Increases
More Private Education Institutions Meet Standards
THAILAND: Administrative Court to Launch Online Service
VIETNAM: To Build National Database for Biodiversity
Vietnam to Build Online Visa Issuance System
Nation's Growth Remains Among Region's Fastest
VN Jumps Five Spots in Global IT Index
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ˇˇ BANGLADESH: Working for Justice
INDIA: RBI Publishes Report on Cloud Computing for Small Banks
India ICT Spending to Reach $71.5 Bn by '13
Indian State Digitising 1471 Schools
Smartphones to Replace Credit Cards in Future
Indian Women Rise Against Violence in the Virtual World
SRI LANKA: Commercial Bank Upgrades E-Banking Service
Regional Cooperation Can Boost Development in South Asia
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ˇˇ ARMENIA: Russian Company Offers New Wireless Connection
AZERBAIJAN: President Chairs Cabinet Meeting to Discuss Results of Socio-Economic Development in Nine Months of 2012
Azerbaijan Becomes Member of International Partnership Against Cyber Threats
Azerbaijani State Operator Prepares Project to Develop Broadband Internet
Holding Int'l Internet Forum in Baku Is Appreciation of Azerbaijan's Relevant Successes, Top Official Says
KYRGYZSTAN: Demonstrates Lowest GDP Growth Rate in CIS
Kyrgyzstan, EBRD Discuss Cooperation Prospects
KAZAKHSTAN: Crime Rate Increases
Kazakhstan Forecasts 6-Percent GDP Growth in 2013
RF, Tajikistan Agree to Prolong Validity of Work Permission for Migrants
TURKMENISTAN: To Construct Gas Pipeline to Industrial Centre
Turkmenistan Demonstrates High Dynamic Growth During World Crisis
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ˇˇ AUSTRALIA: Developing E-Health Supply Catalogue
Aust Gov Tightens Internet Security
Queensland Delivers Open Data Reforms
1 in 8 Australians Living in Poverty: Report
FIJI: E-Tickets for Province
NEW ZEALAND: Five Million Kiwis by 2031
NEW ZEALAND: Govt Database to Track 30,000 At-Risk Kids
Charging Per GB to Use Internet Is Ridiculous
Kiwis Embrace Internet for Shopping and Finances
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ˇˇ World Bank President Calls for "Solutions Bank" to Meet Global Challenges
Big Data to Drive USD 28 Bln of 2012 IT Spending
Asia-Pacific Increases Spend on Digital Mobile Consumers
Greater Focus on the Poor Key to Effectiveness of Microfinance in Asia and the Pacific
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ˇˇ CHINA: Approves Nearly 31 Bln USD QFII Quotas
China Central Bank to Maintain Prudent Monetary Policy
China Allocates 69.6 Bln Yuan for Subsistence Allowances
Capital Gains Tax Passed for QFII
JAPAN: 10 Mil. Yen in Public Aid 'Stolen' / Woman Allegedly Received Assistance from 10 Municipalities
Govt to Resume Lending to Myanmar
Investment Advisers Probed on Lost Pension
Reconstruction Budget Screening Criticized / Relevance of Pro-whaling Spending Questioned; 'Zombie' Youth Exchange Program Slammed
SOUTH KOREA: Local Gov'ts Growing Less Financially Independent
Finance Minister Calls for Stronger International Cooperation
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ˇˇ INDONESIA: To Spend US$11.5 Mil on Transport IT System
Indonesia's New Financial Service Watchdog Gets Operation Budget
VIETNAM: Government to Fund More Research Projects on Domestic Hybrid Rice Cultivation, Production
Province to Boast Revenue from Farms
Lawmakers Plan to Allocate $950m for 16 National Target Projects
Ministry Holds Line on Transportation Costs
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ˇˇ INDIA: Finance Ministry Asks Banks to Go for Cashless Transactions
RBI Sets Up Committee for Sustainable Financial Inclusion
Innovate in Agricultural Loans, RBI Tells Foreign Banks
World Bank Says Capital Left for India Is Limited
SRI LANKA: Parliament Has Little Control Over Finances: Legislator
PAKISTAN: Finance Minister Briefs IMF Team on Economic Performance
Mobile Phone & Smart Card Banking Accounts Surge
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ˇˇ GEORGIA: Government to Inform Public on Financial State
KYRGYZSTAN: Has Biggest Budget Deficit Among CIS Countries
KAZAKHSTAN: A Loan Agreement Signed Between Kazakhstan and the World Bank
TAJIKISTAN: GDP Exceeds $ 5.1 Bln
Tajikistan, EDB Consider Financing of Nurek HPP Reconstruction
TURKMENISTAN: State Budget Executed at 40 Percent
Turkmen Parliament Approves State Budget for 2013
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ˇˇ NEW ZEALAND: English's Goal Still Surplus by 2015
Govt Books on Track for Surplus
Iwi with Unsettled Claims Can Buy SOE Shares on Credit - Govt
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ˇˇ Majority IT Experts Believe Cyber-Threats to Hit Businesses
APEC Economies Improve Ease of Doing Business by 8.2 Percent: Report
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ˇˇ CHINA: China Unicom Wrests 3G Market Share
Commentary: Telecom Sector Not in Trouble
SOUTH KOREA: Gov't May Provide Aid for Businesses in Gaeseong Complex
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ˇˇ MALAYSIA: Muhyiddin Wants Corporate Bodies to Focus on Social Welfare
SINGAPORE: 2 in 5 SMEs Face Challenges in Recruiting, Retaining Talent - Survey
New Platform for Young Entrepreneurs to Develop Businesses
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ˇˇ INDIA: ER&D Sector Expected to Create Over 10 Lakh Jobs by 2020
Aircel Launches Enterprise Cloud Offerings in India
Pvt Sector to Be Involved in India's Cyber Security
NEPAL: Regional Five Rural Dev Banks to Merge Within Six Months
PAKISTAN: WB Keen to Upgrade Pak Dairy, Meat Sector
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ˇˇ AZERBAIJAN: ADB to Render Technical Assistance to Determine Needs of Azerbaijani Railway Sector
Government: Non-Oil Sector Share in Azerbaijan's GDP to Exceed 70 Percent in 2016
Steady Growth Observed in Construction Sector of Azerbaijan
UZBEKISTAN: Index of Business Activity Increases by 1.3 Points in September
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ˇˇ NEW ZEALAND: Small Business - Earthquakes Show Use of Cloud
Small Businesses Remain Confident - ANZ

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Special Focus

International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction

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Role of Women Critical in Disaster Resilience

Women and girls are being recognised as the unsung heroes of local communities in preparing for, and recovering from disasters on this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction. The United Nations has declared that in 2012, the theme "Women and girls - the (in)visible force of resilience" will reinforce that women and girls are powerful agents of change. "Women make a valuable contribution to our communities during times of crisis," Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management, Nicola Roxon said. Women play an important role in all aspects of emergency management - from front-line recovery and operational decision making to long-term national policy development that will shape Australia's future resilience. This year's Women and girls theme is the perfect opportunity to say thank you to those women who are working as we speak to prepare their communities for the upcoming disaster season.

"One of the key messages of the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience recognises that connected communities are resilient communities - and women and children strengthen community connectedness," Ms Roxon said. "The Australian Government is committed to supporting initiatives that highlight and promote the role of women in disaster preparedness," Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins said. The National Women's Alliance Program has received Government funding for two important projects due for completion this year. The National Rural Women's Coalition will release Weather the Storm - Developing disaster resilient rural communities, a toolkit that helps women in remote communities take the lead on disaster preparedness.

The economicSecurity4Women Alliance is also developing a report to look at the economic impact of disasters on women. The report - Voices from the Flood Plains - uses disaster affected areas in Queensland and Victoria to discuss the specific needs of women in recovery. "Both these projects recognise the unique role that women have to play in preparing for and recovering from disasters, and today is a good opportunity for us to reflect on just how important that role really is," said Ms Collins.

From http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/ 10/12/2012

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UNISDR Chief Calls for Women to Take Lead in Disaster Management

The Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) called on Friday for women and girls to take leadership in disaster management for better disaster reduction. Margareta Wahlstrom, also Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said emphasis should be put on the greater involvement of women and girls before disaster strike to build true disaster resilience. She said the focus of this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction, which is on Saturday, is on women and girls whose efforts to build resilience to disasters often go unrecognized, with the theme "Women and Girls - the (in)Visible Force of Resilience." "Women are responsible for many of the key strategic decisions of daily life. In many parts of the world this includes securing food, water and energy. They have real impact when they are fully involved in community planning for disaster risk reduction," Wahlstrom said. She urged the international communities and national authorities to empower more women and girls to engage as volunteers and develop careers in disaster management. Also on Friday, Wahlstrom honored Yingluck Shinawatra, the Prime Minister of Thailand, as a leading woman figure in disaster management.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/13/2012

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New Initiative Launched to Counter Natural Disasters in Asia

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday announced the start of a major Asian initiative to assist vulnerable communities to prepare for and reduce the risk of natural disasters. The announcement came a day ahead of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. The IOM will spend 17 million U.S. dollars in community-based disaster risk reduction programs, as well as in building capacity in governments and the organization's national partners in the Asia and Pacific region, IOM spokesperson Jumbe Omari Jumbe said. He added up to 200,000 people would benefit from various programs which include preparedness for earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and cyclones. The organization believes it will prevent people from becoming climate migrants through helping them survive natural disasters. The Asia and Pacific region is at far greater danger from natural disasters than any other continent or region with 200 million people affected, more than 70,000 killed and a loss of nearly 35 billion U.S. dollars every year, according to the IOM.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/13/2012

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APEC Strengthens Regional Cooperation on Disaster Preparedness

APEC economies are strengthening regional cooperation to enable the region's citizens and businesses better prepare for disasters. Chairing the 6th APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum, Vladimir Puchkov, Russia's Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters, emphasized the need to expand regional cooperation to increase emergency preparedness in the Asia-Pacific. "The security and safety of our people are necessary prerequisites for the development of our economies," said Mr. Puchkov. "Through the active exchange of ideas at this forum, we will be able take concrete steps towards enhancing human security and reducing the threat of disruptions to business and trade." At the forum, senior-level government officials from APEC emergency services departments exchanged knowledge on integrating state-of-the-art technologies with disaster management systems, such as monitoring and forecasting. They also shared lessons learned from recent large-scale disasters, including the 2011 earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan. "Such major catastrophes in the region are critical reminders of the importance of APEC's emergency preparedness work," said Dr. Li Wei-Sen, Co-Chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group.

Speaking to the delegation, Dr. Li emphasized the need for greater cooperation and information sharing among APEC economies. "Learning from disasters is a very important component in emergency preparedness," he added. "We learn from Japan the essentials of public awareness and we learn from New Zealand the importance of involving the private sector - from these case studies we can very quickly acquire the needed knowledge and implement life-saving actions."The Asia-Pacific region comprises 52 percent of the earth's surface area and 40 percent of the world's population, and experiences over 70 percent of the world's natural disasters. Disturbingly, scientists warn that the intensity and frequency of disasters in the region will increase in the decades ahead. "Climate change and disasters continually threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the region," said Nguyen Huu Phuc, Co-Chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group. "These unfortunate events deeply affect our communities and undermine our efforts towards economic recovery and development." "From the robust discussions we had at this forum, we are fostering closer cooperation and building the capacity of our member economies," he added. Since 2005, APEC has played a role in enabling the region to better prepare for, respond to and recover from threats and devastation caused by natural disasters. By sharing expertise and collaborating on emergency preparedness issues, APEC members strengthen capacity to mitigate emergencies and disasters.

From http://www.apec.org/ 10/10/2012

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Global Warming Can Trigger Extreme Pacific Weather, Says Study

Global warming is likely to alter rainfall patterns in East Asia and the Pacific, causing more intense drought and floods in decades to come, according to a study published in Nature last month (15 August). A team of Australian-based scientists estimated that increased greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere will enhance equatorial Pacific warming by two degrees Celsius by 2050. This will cause the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) - the Southern Hemisphere's most expansive rain band, which extends from the sub-equatorial western Pacific south-eastwards to French Polynesia - to move northwards towards the equator by 1,000 kilometres. Normally, the rain band moves just a few kilometres northwards or southwards. During events such as El Nino and La Nina, the movement is 200 - 300 kilometres. The scientists project that the frequency of such occurrences will almost double over the next 100 years, and could lead to extreme climate events, such as droughts, floods and tropical cyclones, with a potentially devastating impact on countries in the Pacific. In an interview with SciDev.Net, Wenju Cai, the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) oceanographer who led the study, said that the last time SPCZ moved northwards by up to 1,000 kilometres was in the years 1997 to 1998.

This extreme shift led to an intense El Niño, a warm water current that periodically flows along the coast of Ecuador and Peru, greatly affecting wind, sea surface temperature, and precipitation patterns in the tropical Pacific. In 1997-1998, this had the effect of parching lands in South-East Asia, destroying crops and causing dire food shortages. It also brought cyclones to regions, including French Polynesia, which were unaccustomed to such events. "Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing a global redistribution of rainfall away from the subtropics to higher latitude regions," said Elisabeth Holland, a professor of climate change at the University of South Pacific in Fiji.If the rain band moves north-eastwards by 300 kilometres, countries located within the bands' normal position - such as Vanuatu, Samoa, and the Southern Cook Islands - will experience cyclones, droughts and forest fires. As the band moves further up, it will also bring floods and drought to South-East Asia and the rest of the western Pacific region, Cai said. He warned that regional policymakers should heed the SPCZ when preparing climate change adaptation programmes. Governments should ensure that any infrastructure built over the next few years would have the capacity to withstand the stronger typhoons, Cai added. He also advised that farmers need to be prepared for longer and more intense droughts and typhoons. Holland said these warnings should give more impetus to plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more extensively than directed by the current trajectory, particularly in light of China and India's escalating emissions, coupled with the slow decrease in Europe and the United States.

From http://www.scidev.net/ 10/05/2012

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Pacific Risk Resilience Programme Launched

Solomon Islands joins three other countries in the Pacific that are most vulnerable to natural disasters. Solomon Islands will be one of the countries who will benefit from a new Pacific Risk Resilience Programme that will focus on strengthening governance mechanisms for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation at the sub-national and local levels. To systematically address the central challenge of ensuring that Pacific communities benefit from the myriad of activities around disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, a new regional programme initially focused in four countries is being launched. Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the countries initially targeted for the AUD$16 million project for the period 2012-2016 include Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji. An international non-government organization (INGO) will be contracted to implement the programme at the sub-national level.

The programme will be centered on two components that will be implemented under one coordinated and integrated programme: 1) risk governance: supporting mainstreaming of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation into development planning and budgeting at all levels of government; and 2) community level risk management: strengthening community resilience through targeted and inclusive community based disaster risk management and climate change adaptation (supported through a community small grants scheme) and the integration of risk management in to local level governance mechanisms. "On top of the climate change adaptation issues all Pacific countries must face, Vanuatu, Solomon islands, Tonga and Fiji are the four countries most at risk of natural disasters in the Pacific. Disaster risk management and climate change adaptation share a common focus - building community resilience. Australia is pleased to support measures to build community resilience in some of the most vulnerable communities in the Pacific," said AusAID Minister Counsellor Pacific, Mr John Davidson.

"This programme addresses the need to link disaster risk management and climate change adaptation activities to governance structures, ensuring that such assistance actually has a positive and sustainable impact on Pacific island communities. But perhaps more importantly reduce the burden and ensure cooperation between national provincial and village levels in designing and implementing responses to disasters and climate change affects," said Mr Garry Wiseman, Manager of the UNDP Pacific Centre. The Pacific Risk Resilience Programme will focus on strengthening governance mechanism for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation at the sub-national and local levels. The programme is supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and implemented by UNDP for an initial period of four years in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji.

From http://www.solomontimes.com/ 10/16/2012

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UNPAN-AP Editorial Department Observes 2012 International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction

The International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDDR) is commemorated on 13 October. The theme of the 2012 IDDR is "Women and Girls - the [in]Visible Force of Resilience". To observe this special event, UNPAN-AP Editorial Department collects about 80 documents with an aim of raising people's awareness in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation process. The series of documents, mainly composed of country profiles, case studies, and analytical reports, show active involvements of governments from all countries in policy, planning and implementation processes for disaster reduction. For more details, click http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/apcity/unpan050431.pdf

From UNPAN-AP Editorial Department 10/18/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Optus to Join National Emergency Alert System

Optus users will be able to receive emergency location-based text message warnings from the National Emergency Alert System. Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management Nicola Roxon and Acting Premier of Victoria Peter Ryan on behalf of all States and Territories today announced that Optus will join Telstra and Vodafone in providing emergency warnings during disasters. "Getting emergency warnings out effectively during a natural disaster is absolutely critical, I'm pleased Optus has come on board to do this," Ms Roxon said. "In a world first, highly targeted location based emergency warnings will be used during disasters across Australia by the end of next year. It means Australian mobile phone users will be able to get these warnings if they're in a disaster area - this system won't only rely upon their registered address." The Gillard Government invested nearly $60 million to establish and upgrade the Emergency Alert system so that Australians can benefit from this world first technology that will provide highly targeted location based emergency warnings to be sent during disasters. The Victorian Government also contributed to this investment.

"Emergency Alert has delivered 7.5 million warning messages for more than 500 emergencies across Australia and the location-based capability will enhance this system even further," Ms Roxon said. Mr Ryan commended the efforts of Victoria's Emergency Services Commissioner Michael Hallowes who had led the negotiations on behalf of the Victorian Government will all three major telecommunications carriers on behalf of all states and territories. "The Emergency Services Commissioner has done an outstanding job working with Telstra, Vodafone and Optus to ensure all three major carriers provide this world first technology to Australia's mobile phone users," Mr Ryan said. "The degree of complexity in delivering technology cannot be underestimated, and we are very proud to see such a great outcome for the people of Victoria and Australia." With this agreement in place, Mr Ryan said all three carriers would have the location-based system in place by the 2013/14 fire season.

"As planned Telstra will deliver location-based capability to its customers by December 2012 and Vodafone and Optus will have it in place ahead of the 2013/14 fire season," Mr Ryan said. "While I am extremely happy that these agreements are in place, I do caution people who enter disaster-prone areas not to solely rely on their mobile phone. "It is important that people tune in to the radio, check emergency services websites and stay aware of conditions."

From http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/ 09/22/2012

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CHINA: Over 800 Mln Chinese Disaster Victims Aided in Last Decade

About 855 million people affected by natural disasters have received assistance from the government over the last decade, according to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Emergency aid and reconstruction for major natural disasters that occurred over the last decade has been completed, the ministry said Saturday, which is also the 23rd International Day for Disaster Reduction. Government investment in disaster reduction allowances jumped from 2.4 billion yuan (about 390 million U.S. dollars) in 2002 to 8.6 billion yuan last year, officials with the ministry said. The amount of the allowances was also raised during the period, with those who lost their homes due to natural disasters receiving 10,000 yuan per household, up from 300 yuan per household, the ministry said. The government also established 18 storage depots for relief supplies, with a network of depots extended to the township level, the ministry said. Multiple droughts, earthquakes and floods have hit several parts of China over the last decade, including severe earthquakes that struck Sichuan and Qinghai provinces in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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INDONESIA: To Host Asian Meeting on Disaster Reduction

JAKARTA, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) - More than 1,200 participants, including 49 officials at ministerial level, from Asia are to gather in Indonesia's Yogyakarta province to take part in Asian ministerial disaster risk reduction conference on Oct. 23 to 25, official said here on Friday. The fifth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) is to be opened by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, spokesman of Indonesia's Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said here. Risk and impact of the disaster in all areas in the region would be the main agenda, he said. "The conference would discuss on how to boost action on local level and to reduce the risk of disaster," Sutopo told Xinhua by phone. Last year, Asian countries dominated on the lists of countries hit by disaster, he said. 137 out of 302 catastrophes took place in Asia and caused economic loss of more than 294 billion U.S. dollars, said Sutopo. The conference is the first meeting of officials at the ministerial level to consider the continuation of the first comprehensive agreement on reduction of disaster risk, he said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/19/2012

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JAPAN: Internet Used to Guard Medical Records from Disaster

A staff member inputs patient information on a tablet computer at the Wing nursing home in Osato, Miyagi Prefecture. The information is instantly backed up on the Internet. Medical and nursing facilities, which lost patients' medical records in the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami last year, are making efforts to protect future data by storing it on the Internet. Because of the loss of the medical records, hospitals and nursing facilities in the disaster-hit regions are trying to store medical records on inland servers so doctors and caregivers can access the records even in the event of a disaster. The storage system utilizes cloud computing. The system has already been put to practical use in disaster-hit areas, and the central government has supported forming cloud computer networks around the country. However, some experts are concerned about personal information leaking.

The disaster in March last year resulted in the loss of records at many medical institutions. According to Miyagi Prefecture's medical association, 163 facilities, or 90 percent of hospitals and clinics in the prefecture badly damaged in the disaster, lost their medical records. When Shizugawa Hospital in Minami-Sanriku in the prefecture, which was destroyed by tsunami, resumed seeing patients at an evacuation center shortly after the disaster, about 300 to 400 patients a day sought treatment. The majority of them were suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes. Physician Masafumi Nishizawa, 40, said, "It was confusing because we had to rely on patients' memories about what medicine they had been taking." In light of this, the medical association, Tohoku University and others have established the Miyagi Medical and Welfare Information Network, aiming at sharing records by forming information networks among medical institutions and care facilities.

In the prefecture's Ishinomaki and Kesennuma districts, more than 50 facilities, including hospitals, clinics, care facilities and drugstores, are scheduled to be connected from next spring. Each facility plans to store its electronic records not only at the facility but also on inland backup servers after obtaining consent from patients and people concerned. The 1.39 billion yen operating cost will be covered by central government subsidies. At Wing, a specialty nursing home that opened in Osato, Miyagi Prefecture, in April, the records of about 100 people in the home are stored on the Internet. Ko Kimura, 35, a caregiver at the home, input "took antihypertensive at 1 p.m." on a patient's chart, which was displayed on a tablet computer, and sent it to a dedicated site.

The doctor who visits the home once a week for consultations with patients, can easily access the state of his patients from the information sent to the site by staff and uses it to better treat the patients. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is working to create a system to allow records to be mutually accessible by forming networks between a central hospital and surrounding medical institutions at a dozen locations throughout the country this fiscal year. Government subsidies cover about 50 percent of the costs necessary for the network, and about 950 million yen has been budgeted for the projects. Saving records on the Internet makes it easy to access data, but there is a risk of leakage through hacking and other means.

The ministry has proposed such safety measures as frequently changing IDs and passwords for those with access to the records or introducing a biometric security system. Shigeo Kunii, deputy manager at Tohoku University Hospital's Medical IT Center, pointed out concerns over security deficiencies for medical records stored on the Internet. "If operations are improved, concerns about security will be removed and the system will spread rapidly," he said.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/09/2012

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MYANMAR: VP Calls on People to Participate in Disaster Risk Reduction

YANGON, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) - Myanmar Vice President Dr.Sa Mauk Kham has called on people to participate in the disaster awareness program, saying that preparedness and preventive measures should be enhanced and speed up, official media reported Saturday. Addressing at the ceremony of the International Day for Disaster Reduction 2012 in Nay Pyi Taw Friday, Dr.Sa Mauk Kham urged all departments and organizations concerned to implement the short-, the medium-, and the long-term projects on the disaster risk reduction, said the New Light of Myanmar. He stressed "since the national development and disaster risk reduction are inseparable, every development project being undertaken in the country should be reflected from the disaster risk reduction perspective." He underlined that the local government have to respond immediately to the overarching impact of the natural disasters that is going to affect local people. Myanmar had established Disaster Preparedness Committees at all administrative levels to implement the disaster risk reduction strategies. Myanmar is one of the signatories of the Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center). Myanmar government carries out disaster risk reduction activities with various stakeholders and foreign organizations in the wake of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, Cyclone Giri in 2010, Tahlay earthquake and the flash flood in Magway Region in 2011.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/13/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Govt Ready for Fight over Water

The Maori Council will today meet allies, including representatives of the Maori King, as it considers Finance Minister Bill English's challenge yesterday to take the water rights fight to court in the next week. The council is also in discussions with legal heavyweights, including former deputy Solicitor-General Matthew Palmer, who may lead its legal challenge. Prime Minister John Key yesterday confirmed Mighty River Power, which is to be partially privatised next year, would officially cease being a state-owned enterprise next week when an Order in Council on October 23 removed it from coverage under the SOE Act. Mr Key acknowledged that was likely to prompt court action to block the sale from the Maori Council which took a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal for that purpose earlier this year. But Mr English welcomed that prospect. The Order in Council was, he said, "a pretty clear signal to anyone who wants to prevent the sale going ahead that the Crown is taking its first substantive step and if there's going to be court action we may as well get on with that and sort it out".

Mr English said he didn't want to pre-judge the nature of the court action but if it claimed the Crown hadn't met its obligations under the Treaty, "then we certainly believe that we have and someone going to court would have trouble succeeding on that basis". Co-chairman of the Maori Council Sir Edward Taihakurei Durie said the Government's decision was "disappointing if unsurprising". "It does appear that this matter is destined for the courts, not because that outcome is desired by New Zealand Maori Council but because the Government is refusing to progress resolution of the central issue - residual Maori proprietary rights." Sir Edward said the council would meet representatives of the Maori King, Waitangi Tribunal water claimants and iwi to discuss a response. Maori Council solicitor Donna Hall said a legal response before the Order in Council was passed was " a matter that's going to have to be looked at carefully". The council was discussing the matter with two teams of lawyers, one led by Queen's Counsel Helen Cull and another by Mr Palmer, who quit Crown Law two months ago after failing to win the top job there. Ms Hall said the council would be approaching various iwi for funding. The final decision as to whether the challenge would proceed would be made by King Tuheitia, she said. Mr Key confirmed the Government would not proceed with the Waitangi Tribunal's "shares plus" concept to address Maori claims over water.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/16/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Call for Emergency Fund

The Solomon Islands Minister for Environment, Hon. Moffat Fugui, says the country will have to change its attitude towards preparing for any future Disasters. In the recent Parliament siting, Hon. Fugui said that Government need to see the importance of a budget allocation for an emergency standby fund for Disaster Response. Fugui said the Government needs an approximate of six to seven million dollars to be ready to assist people affected by cyclones, earthquakes, droughts or floods. For such a country like Solomon Islands, where it remains vulnerable to disasters, at any one time the country needs that money to be available should any Disaster happen. He also revealed that the country does not have that so it needs to make allocations in the budgetary support to ensure that money will be ready for any future disaster response.

From http://www.sibconline.com.sb/ 09/26/2012

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THAILAND: Authorities Prepare for Drought

The Thai government is preparing proactive measures to deal with anticipated drought in the country. Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, in his capacity as president of the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC), and Hydro-Agro Informatics Institute chief Royal Chitradon, have called for a meeting on dry season water management. Plodprasop assigned the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking & Agricultural Aviation, Water Resources Department, and Royal Irrigation Department to immediately start working on the measures. All concerned parties are to identify appropriate measures and propose them to the water committee. Further meetings will be convened for follow up. The science and technology minister said Thailand's northeast is the most worrying. A monsoon trough will pass across the northeast this weekend. Artificial rain is scheduled to be made above Ubon Ratchathani's Pak Mun Dam, Khon Kaen's Ubonrat Dam, and Kalasin's Lam Pao Dam. The first two dams are currently at 40 per cent of capacity, while the latter is at only 20 per cent.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/17/2012

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Support for Accelerating Poverty Fight Tops Agenda at 2012 Annual Meetings

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim's call to redouble efforts to end absolute poverty won broad backing from the institution's member countries as Annual Meetings wrapped up in Tokyo October 13.The 188-member Development Committee supported Dr. Kim's vision of a World Bank Group that "focuses on impact, provides evidence-based assistance ... and promotes global public goods," said the committee's communique at the close of the meetings. "We still live in a world that has more than one billion people living in absolute poverty," Dr. Kim said at the closing press conference. "We must all work to make sure that the impressive gains in Latin America, Africa, and Asia over the past generation are not lost now. In just the last few years, growth from developing countries accounted for more than half of global growth." A day earlier, Dr. Kim outlined his plan to transform the Bank into a "solutions bank" that will use evidence and experience to tackle development problems and also establish ambitious targets for eradicating poverty and boosting shared prosperity, among other measures to modernize the institution.

Dr. Kim acknowledged as the Meetings opened that "we are in challenging times," marked by high and volatile food prices, weak growth in high income countries, and slowing growth in developing countries, which had been the engine of growth in the world economy. In its communique, the committee called on the Bank to work with other organizations to accelerate efforts to help the African Sahel, where "hunger threatens the lives of 19 million people and the stability of the region." The response should bring solutions that enable the region to "permanently escape the cycle of emergency aid, and reach a more resilient and sustainable future in the medium term. "Food security and food price volatility remain persistent threats to development in general and need more attention, the committee added. Donors meeting on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings made pledges to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, launched by the World Bank in 2008 at the request of the G20. The United States pledged to contribute an additional $1 to the fund for every $2 contributed by other donors (up to a total US contribution of $475 million), attracting $30 million contributions each from Japan and the Republic of Korea, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also indicating it would double its commitment.

"These new commitments are critical to our efforts to end hunger," said Dr. Kim. The World Bank Group must also continue to help countries strengthen conditions for job growth. "Recent financial crises mean fewer jobs where millions are needed," said the committee. The Bank's private sector arm IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency will be "especially crucial in supporting the private sector," it said, and encouraged the Bank Group to build on the work of the 2013 World Development Report on Jobs, released October 1. The Development Committee asked the World Bank to "contribute actively" to the process of setting global development targets that would take effect after the Millennium Development Goals sunset in 2015. It said the Bank should step up its work in fragile states, and acknowledged the Bank's progress on gender equality - all country strategies discussed in the past year are gender-informed - though much remains to be done.

The Bank should also provide support to countries that want to use natural capital accounting - a method of valuing natural resources and phenomena often left out of national budgets. In addition, "We are encouraged that the WBG-supported Global Partnership for Oceans has attracted new members and created a sense of urgency about the need for action to restore oceans to productive health and for sustainable aquaculture." The Bank's shareholders thanked the Government of Japan for hosting the Meetings as well as the Sendai Dialogue, a two-day forum where Japan shared lessons from its March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, and where leaders, disaster and development experts debated how to help vulnerable countries manage disaster risks. The committee called on the Bank to integrate disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change in its work with countries, while continuing to "play a major role in supporting effective responses and reconstruction operations, when disasters do occur.

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 10/13/2012

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ITU and WHO Launch M-Health Initiative to Combat Non-Communicable Diseases

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) today launched a new partnership called the 'm-Health' Initiative to use mobile technology, in particular text messaging and apps, to help combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases. Non-communicable diseases are some of the leading causes of death and disease in both developed countries and emerging economies alike. They dominate health care needs and expenditures in most developed as well as most low and middle-income countries. Of the 57 million deaths globally, NCDs contribute to an estimated 36 million deaths every year, including 14 million people dying between the ages of 30 to 70. Using mobile telephone technology, m-Health practices can help save lives, reduce illness and disability, and reduce healthcare costs significantly. Through the Initiative, ITU and WHO will provide evidence-based and operational guidance to encourage partners worldwide, especially governments, to implement m-Health interventions to address prevention and treatment of NCDs and their common risk factors - tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol. The Initiative is being discussed at the ITU Telecom World 2012, currently in session at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. The conference is a rare opportunity for thought leaders and digital pioneers in the corporate, research and academic sectors from around the world to meet with high-ranking policy makers and regulators, collaborating to share ideas on the future of global telecommunications.

M-Health: A unique opportunity to combat ill health and disease
"Technological innovations are changing the landscape of disease prevention and control. The widespread availability of mobile technology, including in many of the least developed countries, is an exceptional opportunity to expand the use of e-health. By joining forces, ITU and WHO will fight against debilitating non-communicable diseases that can be controlled through the intervention of m-Health solutions and services that are at once cost effective, scalable and sustainable," said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Tour¨¦. "In doing so, we will help end a scourge that hinders economic growth and development around the world." The ITU-WHO m-Health initiative will build on current projects, existing health systems and platforms, and will involve partnerships between governments, NGOs and the private sector. "WHO is already using mobile devices to carry out surveillance of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors. For example, the Global Adult Tobacco Surveillance system has used mobile phones to capture data on tobacco use in 17 countries - covering over half of the world's population. This experience of running population-scale mobile projects will be vital to the initiative," said Dr Oleg Chestnov, WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health.

WHO and ITU Member States are also testing mobile solutions for NCDs - ranging from providing assistance to help people quit tobacco, helping people increase their activity levels, eating more healthily and helping patients with non-communicable diseases better manage their conditions. All of these experiences will feed into the new initiative. The ITU-WHO m-Health Initiative, which will initially run for a four-year period and focus on prevention, treatment and enforcement to control non-communicable diseases, will work with partnerships at all levels. At the global level, partners will share knowledge and technical expertise to help develop the standard operating procedure for each m-Health intervention as well as build support for the Initiative. At the national level, governments work closely with the Initiative to accelerate the roll out of operational projects. The joint ITU-WHO work plan is a direct follow up to the high level meeting on the prevention and control of NCDs convened by the United Nations General Assembly in New York in 2011 where world leaders and the UN community agreed to pay greater attention to finding ways to deal with the growing global spread of NCD's and UN agencies agreed to work together to prevent and control NCDs and their risk factors.

From http://www.itu.int/ 10/17/2012

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Measuring Well-Being Needs to Be at the Heart of Policy-Making, Says OECD World Forum

A major step forward towards putting the measurement of well-being at the heart of policy-making was taken at a four-day international conference which ended in New Delhi today. Experts and policy makers from fields as diverse as the environment, development, health and education, discussed the progress achieved and improvements needed in the way we monitor and analyse our changing societies. The OECD's World Forum on Measuring Well-Being for Policy-Making and Development also took stock of the substantial level of work being undertaken internationally to broaden our notions and assessment of progress beyond the limits of traditional indicators such as GDP (gross domestic product). OECD Chief Statistician Martine Durand said developing new indicators was well advanced in a number of areas, such as the material conditions of households, in several quality of life domains and in the field of environmental accounting. But she added that major measurement challenges remain - both at the conceptual level (governance and social cohesion) and at the more technical level (GDP and prices; inequalities and mental health). Ensuring the timeliness of important indicators was also critical, she said.

Pointing out that India's per capita GDP is 10 per cent of the OECD average, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of India's Planning Commission emphasized the particular challenge facing developing nations: "At this level of per capita income, there is no question that doubling or tripling the GDP would go a long way towards meeting many of the multi-dimensional objectives that contribute to well-being. At India's income level, ignoring GDP entirely would be impossible. But GDP simply measures goods produced. It does not measure the negative externalities, such as damage to the environment and bio-diversity, pollution, and over-exhaustion of limited natural resources. These problems have now reached a scale where they cannot be ignored." Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University's Earth Institute warned of the dangers of neglecting the ecological dangers facing the planet. "If you are not scared, you are not well-informed," he said and called for accurate and systematic monitoring of man's impact on the environment.OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurr¨Şa said the economic and financial crisis had meant policy-makers must learn from previous mistakes. Referring to the OECD's 'Better Life Initiative', he said: "We have put the notion of well-being beyond just GDP to incorporate other dimensions like the quality of the environment, health, the strength of communities and the responsiveness of our institutions. Measuring progress also takes into account equity considerations and sustainability." Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said: "Our metrics are important not just because they tell us how we are doing but because they serve as guides in policy-making."

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/19/2012

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New Initiative Launched to Counter Natural Disasters in Asia

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Friday announced the start of a major Asian initiative to assist vulnerable communities to prepare for and reduce the risk of natural disasters. The announcement came a day ahead of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. The IOM will spend 17 million U.S. dollars in community-based disaster risk reduction programs, as well as in building capacity in governments and the organization's national partners in the Asia and Pacific region, IOM spokesperson Jumbe Omari Jumbe said. He added up to 200,000 people would benefit from various programs which include preparedness for earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and cyclones. The organization believes it will prevent people from becoming climate migrants through helping them survive natural disasters. The Asia and Pacific region is at far greater danger from natural disasters than any other continent or region with 200 million people affected, more than 70,000 killed and a loss of nearly 35 billion U.S. dollars every year, according to the IOM.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/13/2012

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CHINA: 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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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/ 10/23/2012

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China Spends Heavily in Afforestation Efforts

The Chinese government allocated 46.2 billion yuan (7.22 billion U.S. dollars) from its central budget to the return-farmland-to-forests plan during 2008-2011, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). As of the end of 2006, around 9.3 million hectares of farmland had been converted to forests since the government launched a national campaign in 1999. Around 15 million hectares of hillside was closed to facilitate afforestation during the period, according to the NDRC. Under the plan, farmers received grain and cash subsidies if they returned their farmlands to woodlands to combat soil erosion. By 2006, some 124 million farmers had been subsidized and the ecological environment had seen significant improvements, the NDRC said. The emphasis on boosting forest coverage came amid the country's efforts to increase its "forest carbon sink capacity." This means using forested areas to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby helping address global climate change. China's forest coverage reached 20.36 percent in 2010, up from 18.2 percent in 2005, and is expected to further increase to 21.66 percent by 2015.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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New Traffic Rules Highlight School Bus Safety

Chinese police have introduced two amended traffic regulations targeting school bus safety. Under the revised regulations on the management of driving licenses, failure to give road priority to a school bus will result in six penalty points, according the Ministry of Public Security on Monday. Using forged school bus plates or overloading school buses by 20 percent will result in 12 penalty points, it added. Under China's current regulation on driving licenses, if a driver's penalty points adds up to 12 or more within 12 months, he or she must report to the police and go through a seven-day special training on traffic law. They then have to take the written exam for a driving license again.

The report also introduced a regulation on vehicle registration, which features new provisions on school bus management. It specifies procedures and checklists for school bus license applications, safety inspections and routine supervision on school bus operations. Following a series of fatal school bus accidents since October 2011,China's Regulation on School Bus Safety Management was published and went into effect on April 5, 2012, which introduced the concept of "school bus" and required the two traffic regulations being revised. The provisions on school bus drivers will take effect upon being published, with the rest on Jan. 1, 2013, said the report.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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China Strives to Meet Air Quality Standard Deadline

China has been racing to meet the objectives set in its revised air quality standards, including promoting the use of an index for PM2.5, or fine particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter. A total of 138 monitoring stations in 74 cities across the country have begun publishing data on air quality, said Wu Xiaoqing, vice minister of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said at a Thursday conference. Another 195 monitoring stations have started trial runs, according to the ministry. An air quality monitoring network made up of 35 PM2.5 monitoring stations went into full operation Saturday in Beijing. The network, along with monitoring stations in Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu and Guangdong will release air quality data online.

The State Council, or China's Cabinet, passed revised air quality standards in late February that included indices for ozone and PM2.5. PM10 was previously used as part of the country's air quality standards before being replaced by the PM2.5 index, which measures finer particles that are considered more hazardous to health than larger ones. The government decided to monitor PM2.5 in four municipalities, 27 provincial capitals, as well as three key regions - east China's Yangtze River Delta, south China's Pearl River Delta and the northern Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area. Some 519 million yuan (about 82.6 million U.S. dollars) has been spent to fund the establishment of the monitoring networks, Wu said. Positive progress had been made in the implementation of the new standards, Wu said, adding that imbalanced development and inadequate technological preparation still pose problems for implementing the standards.

The ministry will set up supervision teams to inspect the implementation of the new standards and ensure that all 496 monitoring stations will be running by the end of this year, according to the official. Wu urged local authorities to use multiple channels, including television and the Internet, to publish air quality data. The MEP will examine the quality of the data that is affected by the new standards next year. For its next step, China plans to establish a national air quality monitoring network by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period, according to the ministry. In 2013, monitoring will be extended to 113 cities, with all cities at the prefectural level or above to implement monitoring in 2015. The government has set up 14 air quality background monitoring stations nationwide.

Another station in Xisha Islands in the South China Sea is under construction. Additionally, a total of 31 stations have been set up to monitor rural areas. "While promoting the new standards, we must recognize that PM2.5 is just one of multiple indices," said Zhao Yingmin, director of the MEP's science, technology and standards department. Zhao said attention should also be paid to the monitoring of other indices. According to Zhao, the MEP is also working on related standards regarding monitoring and evaluating techniques in order to enhance air quality monitoring.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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Chinese Gov't to Recruit More Village-Leading Graduates

The Chinese government has promised to recruit more university graduates who have taken on leadership roles in the countryside in a bid to encourage more college students to work in the rural communities after graduating. Next year, 10 to 12 percent of newly recruited public servants in the country will be college grads who have the experience of working as "village officials," according to the State Administration of Civil Service. The government's move is aimed at boosting grassroots-level training for college students. The number of university students with official positions in rural communities is expected to increase to 600,000 by 2020 from the current 200,000, officials have said.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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CPC Magazine Praises Reform, Opening-Up Policy

Tuesday's edition of Qiushi (Seeking Truth), the flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China (CPC), will include an article calling for further implementation of the country's reform and opening-up policy. Titled "Sparing no effort to push forward reform and opening up," the article quotes CPC Central Committee General Secretary Hu Jintao's speech July 23, saying Hu underscored the significance of the policy on building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Initiated mainly by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the reform and opening-up policy has been carried out since the late 1970s. It has driven China's rapid economic growth and overall development over three decades.

With the byline of Qiu Shi, the article says the reform has opened a new realm for the cinicization of Marxism and pushed the Party and the people to emancipate thoughts, seek truth from facts and advance with the times. It has also become the dynamic for development.
It adds that the policy has sparked a historical change in relations between China and the rest of the world, promoting the country's socialist modernization drive to adapt to the global development trend. "The reform and opening-up policy is in line with the common aspiration of both the Party and the people, and also conform to the historical trend," according to the article. "Its direction and path are absolutely correct, and its effectiveness and contributions cannot be denied. Any standstill or regression will find no way out."

The article arrives ahead of the CPC's 18th National Congress, scheduled to be started on Nov. 8. A new CPC leadership will be elected at the conference. The article underlines the critical period of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the crucial stage of deepening opening up and reform and transforming the economic development pattern. Problems and conflicts incurred during such a period can only be resolved through deepening scientific development. It then calls for adhering to the guidelines, principles and polices set since the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978, enshrining reform and innovative spirit into every step of state governing and pushing forward the reform and opening-up drive more consciously and steadfastly.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/23/2012

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JAPAN: Govt Aims to Promote Japan at Annual Meetings of IMF, World Bank

The government is hoping to attract more tourists by seizing the chance to promote Japan at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group in Tokyo from Tuesday. With the public and private sector acting together, the government aims to showcase the attractiveness of the nation's culture through various kinds of events. It also hopes such activities will lead to hosting more international meetings in the future, at a time when many countries have campaigns to attract similar gatherings. The government also aims to restore the image of Japan, which was damaged following the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent disasters. The annual meetings - being held in Tokyo for the first time in 48 years - are formal gatherings of financial and central bank chiefs from the 188 member countries and make up the highest decision-making bodies of the two organizations.

About 20,000 people involved in the meetings are expected to visit the country. The main agenda of the meetings is usually annual and audit reports. At the same time, there are also about 200 seminars and events in which key figures from various countries speak, often attracting public attention. Related events will begin from Tuesday at several venues including Tokyo International Forum, a main event venue, in Marunouchi, Tokyo. "[The events] will be a great opportunity to promote the attractiveness of Japan," a Tourism Agency official said. The agency plans to hold a "Japan Parade" in which about 600 performers will display folk entertainment such as Awa Odori dance, Yosakoi dance and Namahage demon street performances in cooperation with Mitsubishi Estate Co. on Marunouchi's Naka-dori street on Oct. 13.There also will be tasting sessions of regional dishes, traditional craft demonstrations and a bar offering sake from across the country on the first floor of Marunouchi Building from Monday through Oct. 14.

The Tokyo metropolitan government will provide meeting participants with free JR and subway train tickets as well as museum tickets. It also plans to hold sightseeing tours to Tokyo Skytree and Asakusa in Taito Ward, Tokyo. "There will be many influential and important figures. We hope they will promote Japan after they return to their countries," said a Tokyo metropolitan government official. Meanwhile, the Zenginza-kai, made up of shop owners and neighborhood associations in Ginza, Chuo Ward, printed about 50,000 copies of an English brochure introducing shops and restaurants in the area. Mitsui Fudosan Co. and other companies have also prepared events to promote Japan. Meeting participants will be able to experience free rickshaw rides in the Nihonbashi district, try on kimono and take part in a geisha cruise on a Japanese party boat around Tokyo Bay from Tuesday through Oct. 14.The agency plans to survey the participants at hotels close to the venue, and analyze data such as where they visited and their purchasing trends during their stay.

The agency plans to use the information to attract future international meetings. International meetings have a major impact on the overall economy. According to estimates, the ripple effect on the economy by an international meeting with 10,000 participants is about 3.8 billion yen. While China, South Korea and other Asian nations have been hosting lately, Japan's share of international meetings taking place in Asia and Oceania dropped significantly from 51 percent in 1991 to 21 percent in 2011.

MPD to tighten security
The Metropolitan Police Department will enhance its security readiness during the meetings, stationing as many as 5,000 police officials per day. As a precaution against terrorist bombings, the MPD will also use police dogs and strictly enforce traffic laws around the venue. Observers pointed out concerns of terrorist attacks targeting key figures such as finance ministers from participating countries. In response to this, the MPD conducted 250 drills in preparation for terrorist attacks. When the key figures travel, MPD security officials will accompany them. To help deter the possibility of terrorist bombings or radical protests, many uniformed police officers will be deployed around the venue. The MPD's explosive-ordnance disposal unit and riot police will also stand by. Additionally, the MPD will tighten security at Haneda Airport and JR Tokyo Station and other major stations. Some lanes of Hibiya-dori avenue and other streets around Tokyo International Forum will be closed during the meetings. The road along the JR elevated railway to the east side of Tokyo International Forum will be closed to vehicle traffic from Thursday through Oct. 13.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/06/2012

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Ministry Likely to Store IPS Cells for 10 Yrs

The health ministry plans to store induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for more than 10 years from next fiscal year to investigate possible problems deriving from regenerative medicine, according to sources. The ministry was prompted to consider safer clinical studies of regenerative medicine as research in this branch of science is expected to advance quickly following the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Kyoto University Prof. Shinya Yamanaka for his work on iPS cells. In regenerative medicine, iPS cells can be transformed into the cells of many organs and tissues to replace body parts affected by disease or injury. However, some scientists have pointed out that transplanting such cells could lead to the formation of cancer due to abnormal genetic activity. Research on how to avoid cancer has been rapidly advancing. However, it is possible abnormal changes could occur after cells made from iPS cells are transplanted into a human body regardless of the precautions taken.

Therefore, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to store all iPS cells and other cells used in regenerative medicine to investigate the cause of problems and develop methods to deal with these issues, the sources said. Besides storing iPS cells, the ministry will keep cells made from iPS cells, such as retina and nerve cells, as well as embryonic cells and stem cells extracted from body fat, they said. The ministry has included 3.3 billion yen in its budget request for next fiscal year for research to enhance the safety of regenerative medicine. Of this, several hundred million yen will be allocated for preparing storage facilities, the sources said. The ministry reportedly is considering using research institutes and universities to store the cells.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/11/2012

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Ministry Ordered to Declassify Papers

The Tokyo District Court ordered the Foreign Ministry on Thursday to disclose about 70 percent of classified documents from talks held from 1951 to 1965 that led to the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and South Korea. The court said the ministry's decision to withhold the documents is illegal. It explained the ministry must show it has a good reason, such as a possible threat to national security, to keep official documents classified for more than the set nondisclosure period of 30 years. The ministry was ordered to fully or partially disclose 268 documents including those related to the Takeshima islands, known as Dokdo in South Korea. The 268 documents are among 382 pieces of undisclosed information from 348 official documents that 11 plaintiffs, including historical researchers, requested that the ministry disclose in 2006.As for classified information related to the Takeshima islands, the ministry has claimed the documents contain proposals from the two countries and opinions from officials of a third country, and that its disclosure may put Japan at a disadvantage in future negotiations.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/13/2012

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Ministry to Propose Intl Trade Regulation on Endangered Turtle

The Environment Ministry plans to propose adding the Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtle, an endangered turtle only seen in Okinawa Prefecture, to an international trade regulation list at a conference of Washington Convention nations scheduled for March in Thailand. Though the turtle is listed on the ministry's Red List as a vulnerable species, they are sometimes illegally captured and sold overseas. To improve conservation of the turtle, Japan - for the first time - will propose restricting the import and export of a wild animal. Ryukyu black-breasted leaf turtles live only in the Yambaru region of northern Okinawa Island and on Tokashikijima and Kumejima islands. It has a shell about 15 centimeters long and its designation as a national natural treasure in 1975 prohibits its capture. Its habitat is shrinking due to land development, and experts are worried about extinction. Turtles sold at overseas markets or on Internet auctions for several hundred thousand yen are highly likely to have been smuggled out of the country. Therefore, the ministry's Wildlife Division decided to call for an international regulation as well.It plans to propose that permission be sought from the government in cases of international trade of the turtle.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/17/2012

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Govt Submits No-nuke Resolution to U.N.

Japan submitted, for the 19th consecutive year on Thursday, a draft U.N. resolution calling for joint action by U.N. member countries to abolish nuclear weapons. The resolution was jointly submitted to the General Assembly First Committee by a record 69 countries including the United States, which holds the world's largest nuclear arsenal. The resolution underlines the importance that North Korea abide by a Security Council resolution demanding the reclusive nation abandon its nuclear program. It also expresses concerns about Pyongyang's uranium enrichment program and light-water nuclear reactor construction, as well as a missile launch in April.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/20/2012

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Govt to Support Development of Offshore Plants

The government plans to promote the growth of domestically produced offshore plants - which will be made from converted tankers - for refining and storing natural gas and crude oil at sea, in the hope of developing resources in the nation's exclusive economic zone, it has been learned. In particular, the government intends to subsidize Japanese companies' technological development projects related to the construction of large offshore plants. The plan reflects a national strategy to nurture such technologies, so the construction of such plants can be a wholly domestic process. The government hopes this support will improve the technological capabilities of domestic companies in the field, which are said to lag firms in South Korea and China. The government's next Basic Plan on Ocean Policy is set to include the plan for enhancing support to the industry. The five-year basic plan, which will be in effect from fiscal 2013, should be completed by the end of this fiscal year.

Specifically, the support will target the technological development of offshore plants converted from large tankers by installing drilling equipment and refineries on the vessels. Such plants allow for the refining and storage of natural gas and crude oil to be conducted at sea, enabling the development of oil and gas fields far from land, where it is difficult to lay pipelines. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has requested about 1.6 billion yen for subsidizing the construction of such offshore plants in the next fiscal year budget. Subsidies will be provided to domestic shipbuilding companies and plant construction firms. Eligible projects could include developing technologies to prevent accidents from occurring when natural gas is converted into a liquid by cooling it to minus 160 C, and those to help offshore plants fix their location using Global Positioning System.

According to the ministry and other sources, most plants around the world are built on land to refine and store oil and natural gas there. In most cases, the resources are extracted from fields in the ocean and sent through underwater pipelines. The use of offshore plants is gradually increasing for developing underwater oil fields, but such plants have yet to be used for natural gas fields, the sources said. In projects related to offshore plants, South Korea has the highest market share by order volume with 39 percent, followed by China and Singapore, each with 14 percent. Both the Chinese and South Korean governments offer extensive support to projects in the offshore plant industry, in some cases with government-affiliated companies joining the projects. On the other hand, Japanese private companies have to bear all project costs, hindering them from winning contracts. Japan has a mere 1 percent market share in the field, with most companies playing a minor role in the development process, such as supporting transportation of gas and oil.

The underlying reason why the government plans to help domestic companies develop offshore resources technologies is concern that this country will not be able to develop energy resources in the exclusive economic zone on its own. Even if Japan conducts full-scale development of oil and gas fields now in its near waters, the nation will have to rely on foreign technologies for essential parts of the process, such as drilling. Reserves of various resources, such as methane hydrate - a methane compound considered a potential next-generation fuel source - are believed to exist in the seabed of the exclusive economic zone. The government faces the task of developing technologies to extract these resources. Nurturing domestic technologies for offshore resources development is crucial from the viewpoint of energy security. If the government plan helps companies construct offshore plants, the number of international orders the companies receive is likely to increase. This would help Japan strengthen ties with oil- and natural gas-producing nations and lead to a secure and stable supply of resources.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/22/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Seeks Long-Term Plan to Achieve 'AAA' Rating

The government will establish a long-term plan to achieve the highest credit rating of triple A (AAA). Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan gave a briefing on his ministry's plans during a parliamentary audit Friday, explaining a long-term plan will be created to realize the triple A status. This follows after South Korea's sovereign rating was upgraded by all three of the major global credit raters. He promised to maintain a fiscal balance but also strengthen the fiscal role to better respond to the economic cycle. The minister also said the global economy appears to have barely weathered critical moments last month and this month, but a fundamental solution has yet to be reached.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/05/2012

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Government to Support Damaged Farms

The South Korean government says that it will provide farms with some support for the losses they have suffered due to a toxic gas leak in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province. During a vice ministerial meeting chaired by Minister Lim Jong-ryong of the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday, the government announced standards and recovery plans to support regions that have been designated as a disaster zone. For areas that suffered damages in the beginning of this month, the government says that it will mandate that the farms get rid of all their agricultural produce and will provide some financial compensation for their losses. Regarding livestock farms in the area raising animals for food purposes, the government will make it mandatory for them to cull the livestock and will also provide the farms with financial support. Meanwhile, the government will also ask that affected horticulture be discarded and will provided the nurseries with financial support according to market prices.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/11/2012

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Korea, Zambia Agree to Bolster Cooperation in Resources Development

Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Zambian President Michael Sata agreed Wednesday to work together to strengthen cooperation in resource development, construction and development assistance, the presidential office said. Sata arrived in Seoul on Monday for a five-day visit that includes a summit with Lee, a meeting with South Korean business leaders, attendance in a Korea-Africa cooperation forum and visits to industrial facilities. He is the first Zambian president to visit Korea. In Wednesday's summit, Lee and Sata expressed satisfaction with the steady development of relations between the two countries, and pledged to make joint efforts to deepen cooperation in trade, investment, resource development and construction, the office said. The leaders also agreed to bolster agricultural and development cooperation, it said. Korea and Zambia forged diplomatic relations in 1990.Trade volume between the two countries amounted to $525 million last year.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 10/17/2012

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MYANMAR: Ruling Party Meets to Map Out Its Future

NAYPYIDAW: Myanmar's ruling party opened a crunch meeting on Sunday to revamp its leadership and chart a new course for the army-backed group after a by-election drubbing by Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy opposition. The Union Solidarity and Development Party gathered in the capital Naypyidaw as it looks towards a 2015 election that many expect to be the greatest litmus test of reforms that have swept the country under the current quasi-civilian regime. President Thein Sein, who greeted delegates at the start of the three-day conference, stepped down as party chief to take office last year and the post has since remained vacant. Members are expected to select new leadership as part of their efforts to map out the party's strategy. "We will discuss how we can better serve the people," USDP general secretary Htay Oo told AFP ahead of the meeting. "We are not only aiming to win 2015... We will continue working even if we do not win," he said, adding that the party had not been put off by its defeat in the April by-election.

The USDP lost all but one of the 45 seats it contested in the vote which swept Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy into parliament. This week the Nobel laureate said she had "the courage to be president" if elected, signalling a willingness to take the top job. That would require the amendment of a constitution that bars those with close foreign relatives from holding high office. Suu Kyi, who married a British academic, has two sons living in the West. Analysts say Thein Sein is locked in a power struggle with the lower house speaker and USDP vice president Shwe Mann, widely considered to harbour ambitions of taking the presidency after 2015. The relationship between the pair, both former generals, is believed to have soured after Thein Sein was appointed president while Shwe Mann, who was more senior under the previous regime, took the lesser role of speaker. But observers say electoral success will be a formidable challenge for the USDP, which swept a poll two years ago that was marred by allegations of fraud and the absence of Suu Kyi, who was released from house arrest just days later. "They cannot rig the election like before, so the USDP might need to find another way for themselves," said Hkun Htun Oo of the Shan National League for Democracy party.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/14/2012

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Myanmar Introduces Int'l Bank Card Services for First Time

YANGON, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) - Myanmar has allowed introducing services for four international bank cards - Visa, Master, CUP ( China Union Payment) and JCB (Japan Credit Bureau) for the first time to facilitate foreign travelers in domestic payment as a follow-up program of MPU (Myanmar Payment Union) card for local citizens in September, official media reported Friday. It is the latest reform of Myanmar's monetary sector made in coordination with the member banks of MPU, the Central Bank of Myanmar, Internal Revenue Department, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) and Myanmar Information Technology (MIT) Co.. The MPT and the MIT will work for technology and communication services required for launching the international card services at each member bank of MPU and their Automatic Teller machines (ATMs) and for usage of international payment cards at hotels and restaurants, the report said, adding that the Central Bank will supervise the card usage.

The move is timely made in preparation for the upcoming Myanmar- hosted 27th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in late 2013. Allowing international bank cards to operate in the country would be another step forward for Myanmar's banking sector and would have positive improvement in tourist industry of the nation that could attract more foreign investors, bankers said. At present, 17 private banks have participated in the MPU program and all private banks would join soon. Initially, ATM has begun service in November 2011 with six private banks. There is a total of 19 private banks and four state-owned banks in Myanmar. The move-in of the international bank cards came after the United States eased some financial sanctions on the country, before which foreign visitors were unable to use international credit cards on account of such sanctions on money transactions since 2003. After President U Thein Sein's civilian government initiated political and economic reforms, the U.S. has begun easing such restrictions since early this year.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/19/2012

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PHILIPPINES: Cyberlaw Now in Effect

Netizens beware. Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, which among other things provides for blocking certain computer data and for longer prison terms for those found to have committed libel, is now in effect. The Philippines' cybercrime law becomes effective starting today because the Supreme Court has not issued a temporary restraining order sought by various individuals and groups opposed to the new law. "The Supreme Court did not issue a TRO in the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 petitions which are up for further study," said Ma. Victoria Gleoresty Guerra, acting chief of the high tribunal's public information office. The justices held their regular full court session Tuesday with 10 justices in attendance. Guerra said four justices were absent - Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin and Mariano del Castillo were attending a conference in Croatia, while Roberto Abad was on personal leave. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said RA 10175 would take effect even if it did not have implementing rules and regulations (IRR). "Effectivity of that law is not conditioned upon the adoption of the IRR and the setting up of the Office of Cybercrime. No legal impediment for the law's implementation, given the absence of a TRO or injunction," she said in a text message to reporters. Seven petitions have been filed in the high court questioning the constitutionality of several provisions of the new law and asking it to issue a TRO.The law raises to more than 14 years in prison the cumulative penalties for a single act of online libel. It also guarantees imprisonment as the accused is ineligible for probation.

Most disturbing
Fr. Joaquin Bernas, a lawyer, described as "most disturbing to many" Section 19, which says: "When computer data [are] prima facie is found to be in violation of the provisions of this Act, the DOJ [Department of Justice] shall issue an order to restrict or block access to such computer data". The petitions were filed by Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, Alab ng Mamamahayag party-list group, businessman Louis Biraogo, a group led by lawyer Harry Roque and columnist Ellen Tordesillas, cyberlaw experts led by lawyer Jose Jesus Disini, a group led by Representatives Raymond Palatino of Kabataan and Antonio Tinio of ACT Teachers, and another group led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera. Guingona said he was disappointed that the Supreme Court deferred the hearing of the petitions. "I respectfully ask the high tribunal to resolve the issues and act on the petitions immediately to prevent further harm to our cyberusers. The implementation of the law will take back our citizens to the Dark Ages where freedom of speech and expression was not recognised," he said.

Guingona said he would continue to be with the citizens and Internet users in "this fight to ask the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order and to finally repeal some vague and oppressive provisions of the newly enacted law". "Let me say this once again, the state has no right to gag its citizens and convict them for expressing their thoughts. The Philippines is a democratic country," Guingona said. "The Filipinos should never be left to cower on the sidelines - their thoughts and voices should not be shackled by fear and intimidation. The people should not be afraid of its own government," he added. Palatino also decried the Supreme Court's inaction on the petitions. "To that we say, absence makes the Internet grow darker," he said. He was referring to online protests against the law, which consisted of blacking out websites and profile pictures in social networking sites.

Black placards
As the justices met, about 100 members of the Philippine Internet Freedom Alliance (Pifa), composed of different organisations of netizens and bloggers, staged a "silent protest" in front of the Supreme Court building on Padre Faura Street in Manila to show their opposition to the law and to call on the justices to issue a TRO. With their mouths covered with black electrical tapes, the protesters carried plain black placards and a huge streamer printed with the words, "Stop Cyber Martial Law". "The cybercrime law is undemocratic and has negative implications on the right to free speech and privacy. The cybercrime law is testing our country - whether we're truly a democracy or just a democracy on paper," said Red Tani, president of Filipino Thinkers, a member of Pifa Ayeen Karunungan, council member of Dakila-Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, said it was ironic that while the country was commemorating the 40th year after the declaration of martial law and crying "Never again!" the cybercrime law was signed. "Real democracy allows the right to free speech as it is fundamental in people's participation in governance. Enacting the law is the death of that right," Karunungan said. Pifa has called on people who could not attend street protests to do "an online blackout" of their websites and social media pages. On Facebook, some members have replaced their profile pictures with black screens and logos protesting the cybercrime law. Others posted "shaded" comments to demonstrate their fears of possible government censorship of online activities.

Seeking amendments
As online protests intensified, lawmakers moved to amend the cybercrime law on the eve of its implementation. Sen. Francis Escudero, who earlier admitted to missing the inclusion of libel in the new law when he voted in its favour, on Tuesday filed a bill seeking to repeal the provision. "[With] today's modern technology, the crime of libel does not only prove antiquated but to the contrary even overarching as a state tool to restrain freedom of speech," Escudero said in his explanatory note in Senate Bill No. 3288. Escudero said this was evident in the passage of the cybercrime law which broadened the coverage of the crime of libel to include even those with the use of "computer system or other similar means that may be devised in the future". "This must never be countenanced if only to remain consistent with the constitutionally prescribed freedom of the press," Escudero said.

Online petitions
The delay in the high court's decision on the petitions will give other groups an opportunity to file a similar suit. Pifa said it would file its petition against RA 10175 on Monday. The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it would file a separate case. It posted its petition online (http://www.nujp.org/no-to-ra10175/) to solicit signatures from individuals and organisations. Kabataan party-list group set up an online petition (http://www.change.org/petitions/junk-the-cybercrime-prevention-law) calling on President Aquino, Congress and the Supreme Court to junk the law. It had gathered 36,000 signatures as of 4pm Tuesday. In the House of Representatives, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodouro Casiño and Palatino filed a bill also seeking to repeal several provisions of the cybercrime law.

One degree higher
Casiño said one of the threats in the new law came from Section 6, which says that all offences defined under the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and special laws, such as libel, committed through information and communication technologies, shall be charged with a penalty one degree higher than that provided in the code. "By imposing a penalty one degree higher than what had been stated in the RPC on libel, longer prison terms are guaranteed for persons found to have published or posted material containing libelous remarks online," Casiño and Palatino said in the explanatory note. The lawmakers also assailed the provision that allowed government agencies to disclose, preserve, search, seize and destroy computer data. The law, they further said, would have a "chilling impact" on bloggers, online journalists and other Internet users because websites could be taken down without due process. Casiño said amending the law would bring it back to its original intention of combating websites on child pornography, data and identity theft, and other Internet scams. One of the House authors of the law, Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, said he was open to discussions about amending the measure. He said he was amenable to making penalties for libel civil rather than criminal.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 10/03/2012

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Framework Agreement to Bring Lasting Peace in S. Philippines

MANILA, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) - The Philippine government and the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) took a significant step to bringing lasting peace in southern Philippines on Monday afternoon by signing a framework agreement on creating a new Bangsamoro entity. The framework agreement was signed by Marvic Leonen, head of the Philippine government peace panel and Mohagher Iqbal, chief of the MILF peace panel in Malacanang, the presidential palace. The signing of the landmark document was witnessed by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles. "Today we sign an agreement that can finally see genuine, lasting peace in Mindanao. This agreement now defines the very path we take as a people - one where opinions are heard and hope is shared," said Aquino in his speech before the signing of the framework agreement. Murad in his speech appealed to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to support the framework agreement. "This is not a time for recrimination. This is a time for unity, " he said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/15/2012

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SINGAPORE: Amendments Proposed to 3 Pieces of Legislation Dealing with Death Penalty

SINGAPORE: Amendments have been proposed to three pieces of legislation which deal with the mandatory death penalty for murder and drug trafficking cases - the Criminal Procedure Code, Penal Code and the Misuse of Drugs Act. In July, the government announced its intention to reform the mandatory death penalty as it applies to these cases. Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code will make the process of appeal automatic in death sentence cases. The amendments create a mechanism for the Court of Appeal to review a death sentence where there is no appeal by the accused. And no death sentence can be carried out, unless confirmed by the Court of Appeal on appeal or review. Chairman of the Law Society's criminal law practice committee, Wendell Wong, said: "There is a belief that where fundamental liberties are concerned and especially where capital punishment is being imposed, we want to make sure that the right sentences are being passed down to the right offenders. Only in the most appropriate cases will the capital punishment be imposed and this is the right thing to do."

As for the Penal Code, in murder cases where killing is not intentional, the court can sentence the accused to death or life imprisonment. Amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act will allow the prosecution to issue a "Certificate of Cooperation", if the trafficker only played the role of courier and not involved in any activity related to the supply or distribution of drugs. Such a discretion only applies if the trafficker has also cooperated with the Central Narcotics Bureau in a substantive way or has a mental disability which substantially impairs his appreciation of the act. "Substantive cooperation" is defined as "substantively assisting in CNB's operations to disrupt drug trafficking activities within or outside of Singapore". Mr Wong added: "What this means is that there will have to be an active engagement by the Public Prosecutor, and it is almost like a condition precedent that unless a Certificate of Cooperation is issued, only thereafter will the courts have the discretion to impose a life imprisonment or not."

As announced in Parliament in July by both the Law and Home Affairs Ministers, all existing cases if eligible, will be considered for re-sentencing under the new law. And re-sentencing will take place in the first instance in the High Court, with an option of appeal to the Court of Appeal. A spokesman for the Home Affairs Ministry said executions were suspended in July 2011, and the suspension will continue until the proposed changes are enacted. And once legislation is in place, all accused persons who meet the requirements can elect to be considered for re-sentencing under the new law. This will involve accused persons in ongoing cases, as well as convicted persons who have exhausted their appeals and are currently awaiting execution. Currently, there are 34 people on death row for murder and drug trafficking cases. The Bills will be debated at a future sitting of Parliament.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/15/2012

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Take-Up of PIC Scheme Has Been Promising

SINGAPORE: Minister of State for Transport and Finance Josephine Teo says take-up of the government's Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme has been promising. The scheme offers businesses tax deductions for productivity measures. And after a year in place, 34,700 firms, or 30 per cent of active companies which have filed tax returns, have tapped the scheme. Automation equipment claims are the most popular under the scheme, followed by training claims. Mrs Teo said: "Usage of the PIC scheme is also well spread out across all economic sectors. Generally, between 20 per cent to 40 per cent of the companies in each sector have made use of the scheme, including priority sectors as identified by the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council." "For example, about 38 per cent of the companies in the construction sector and 32 per cent in the wholesale and retail trade sector have taken advantage of the scheme," she added.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/15/2012

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Singapore Passes First Personal Data Protection Bill

The Singapore Parliament passed the island's first bill to protect consumer data on 15 October. The bill aims to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal data by private organisations, and will be implemented as law in January 2013. The bill provides for the creation of a Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC), and a national Do-Not-Call Registry. The commission will be the country's main data protection authority, and will be responsible for administering and enforcing the bill and promoting awareness of data protection in Singapore. Individuals can register their Singapore phone numbers on the Do-Not-Call registry to prohibit private organisations from contacting them for commercial reasons. If they still receive marketing calls or messages, they can lodge complaints with the PDPC, which is responsible for keeping and maintaining the registry.

Further, organisations must seek the consent of customers before collecting and storing their data, and inform the customer about the purpose of the data collection. They also have to ensure a comparable standard of protection for personal data if they're transferring it outside Singapore, through measures such as contractual agreements. Companies found in violation of the rules can be fined up to S$1 million (US$820,000) for every data protection offense, and up to S$10,000 (US$8200) per customer complaint. Businesses will be given 18 months from implementation in January to comply with the rules. The Do-Not-Call Registry is expected to be set up in mid-2014. Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, introduced the bill in Parliament. "A data protection regime to govern the collection, use and disclosure of personal data is necessary to address individuals' growing concerns over the use of their personal data and to maintain individuals' trust in organisations that manage data," he said.

"A data protection law will also enhance Singapore's competitiveness and strengthen our position as a trusted business hub. It will put Singapore on par with the growing list of countries that have enacted data protection laws and facilitate cross-border transfers of data." The bill went through three rounds of public consultation conducted by the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts. Some public feedback was incorporated into the rules. For example, unsolicited business-to-business commercial calls have been exempted from the rules after feedback from businesses.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/17/2012

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New Home Palliative Programme Launched

SINGAPORE: A new home palliative programme has been launched for children and teenagers with life-threatening or terminal conditions. Called Star PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support), the programme aims to improve the patients' quality of life with support from a team of doctors, nurses and counsellors. The three-year pilot costs some S$3.1 million with 80 per cent covered by the Tote Board Community Healthcare Fund. And the HCA Hospice estimates that more than 160 children can benefit from home palliative care every year. Patients under the Star PALS programme may benefit from physiotherapy, occupational and speech therapy. It also aims to relieve the burden of caregiving by providing respites at home using a group of specially trained care staff called medi-minders. 17-year-old Wong Choon How has been suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy - a disorder that involves muscle weakness. Since April, Choon How has been receiving care from Star PALS and this has reduced the hassle of him having to go out of his house for check-ups.

"They will come to our house to help him do a check-up and measure his blood pressure. Sometimes, for minor ailments, they will prescribe medicine for him," said Choon How's mother, Madam Siok Bee Pan. More patients like Choon How will benefit from quality end-of-life care by the Star PALS team. Dr Chong Poh Heng, programme director for Star PALS, said: "For those who are suffering from advanced cancers which are not curable, we are able to help them accept what's ahead of them and plan some of these end-of-life care, which is so critical for them because we hope that at the end of the day when the stars stop shining, the parents can look back with fondness and not regret that they have not done their best for these unfortunate children." Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor said: "These families can now look forward to spending more time with their loved ones at home rather than in the hospital. Advance care plans could be made more consistently to honour the wishes of patients and their parents in relation to medical management at the end of life." The Health Ministry says it will continue to explore ways to extend the scope of home palliative care services to more patients.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/20/2012

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VIETNAM: Nation Focuses on Long-Term Poverty Reduction Strategy

HA NOI (VNS) - Viet Nam would focus on sustainable poverty reduction from 2012-15 under a National Target Programme recently approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Nguyen Trong Dam, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that the programme on sustainable poverty reduction prioritised people living in the most disadvantaged areas. The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) said that there would also be specific policies for other groups including old-aged people, the disabled and orphans. Head of the ministry's Co-ordination Office for the Poverty Reduction Programme Ngo Truong Thi said at the meeting in Ha Noi yesterday that the programme was part of national socio-economic development, in which Viet Nam planned to spend around VND27 trillion (US$1.3 billion) to increase the average income of poor households nationwide by 160 per cent during the 2012-15 period.

It aims to reduce the number of poor households by 2 per cent each year, build roads in 60 per cent of villages and communes nationwide and supply electricity to over 90 per cent of the population. Most of the programme's funding comes from the State Budget. The rest comes from local budgets and international aid organisations. Thi said that previous programmes had failed to mention sustainable poverty reduction since the focus at that time was on hunger elimination. "But now we need to focus on sustainable poverty reduction to avoid reducing poverty this year but allowing it to increase next year," he said. Thi added that providing allowances was just a short term measure. Policies previously issued to tackle poverty would be reviewed to limit overlapping in management and implementation, he said. Pratibha Mehta, the United Nations Resident Co-ordinator in Viet Nam, said that the pace of poverty reduction was not equal among regions and population groups.

In some places, the poverty rate was still high and chronic poverty persisted, particularly among ethnic minorities and in the mountainous and coastal areas' poorest communities. A substantial part of the population still lived very close to poverty line, she said. "Any shock, be it a natural disaster, or an economic or health related event, could push them back into poverty," she said. Children, women, and non-registered migrants and the near poor in disadvantaged areas were at a much higher risk of sliding back or deeper into poverty, she said. "Tacking challenges in poverty reduction in the coming years will require tailored and multi-sectoral approaches, where poverty is viewed as a multi-dimensional phenomenon, not just in monetary terms", she said. More sustainable and inclusive growth, which would create more jobs for under-employed youths and farmers, provide social protection for vulnerable groups, and better quality social services, was key to sustained progress in poverty reduction in Viet Nam, she added.

Viet Nam should keep in mind the daily challenges of the near-poor, who were at risk of falling back into poverty, and create opportunities for unemployed and under-employed youth who would define the future of this country, she said. The country had about three million households below the poverty line and 1.5 million households close to the poverty line, according to statistics from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. In Viet Nam, poor households must have an average monthly income below VND400,000 ($19) in rural areas and VND500,000 ($24) in urban areas. Near-poor households in rural areas earn an average income of VND401,000 -520,000 ($19-$25) per month. In urban areas, the cut off is VND501,000-650,000 ($24-$31).

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 10/18/2012

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National Assembly to Endorse Revised Laws

HA NOI (VNS) - National Assembly deputies will convene next Monday in the capital city for the fourth session of their 13th tenure. They plan to endorse nine revised laws, including those on anti-corruption, tax management and personal income tax. According to the five-week meeting's agenda, which was announced at a press meeting yesterday, law-makers will also ratify a resolution on confidence voting procedures for positions elected or approved by the National Assembly or local People's Councils. A resolution on collecting feedback on the draft version of the revised 1992 Constitution will also be passed. Other amended laws that will obtain formal approval cover lawyers, co-operatives, electricity and the capital city. Deputies will also ponder laws on disaster risk reduction and anti-terrorism measures, as well as revised laws on science and technology and land and the amended Constitution.

According to Nguyen Sy Dung, deputy head of the NA's Office, deputies will set aside 10 days to discuss the Government's report on the implementation of socio-economic plans in 2012 and similar plans in 2013 and the execution of the estimated State budget for 2012 and 2013 as well as a project that aims to restructure the economy. Two and a half days will be provided for question-and-answer sessions. A new feature of this meeting, Dung said, was that a majority of important programmes would be broadcast live. "There will be 13 live-broadcast sessions, an increase of five from the previous meeting. A number of them are debates and ratifications of resolutions," said Dung. Regarding a media query about the amendments of the 1992 Constitution, head of the NA Office Nguyen Hanh Phuc said they would focus on major topics such as the political regime, human rights, and the basic rights and responsibilities of citizens and the State apparatus organisation. The amendments will be discussed for two days and broadcast live. The whole amended Constitution will be available for public feedback between January and March of next year. "The new Constitution is scheduled to be ratified at the first NA meeting in 2014," Phuc said.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 10/20/2012

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BANGLADESH: Government Giving Top Priority to International Trade

Commerce Minister GM Quader at a seminar on Sunday called upon the private entrepreneurs to come forward in expanding trade and commerce across the country. He sought due role from the entrepreneurs to make Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021. Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) organised the seminar titled "Trade Facilitation in Bangladesh: Constraints and Ways Forward' in the city. Presided over by MCCI president Maj Gen (retd) Amjad Khan Chowdhury, the seminar was addressed, among others, by Chairman of Bangladesh Tariff Commission M Sahab Ullah, Commerce Secretary M Ghulam Hossain and chief of Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute Dr M Mujibur Rahman. Tariff Commission deputy chief Rama Dewan presented the keynote paper. Speaking as the chief guest, GM Quader said the government has increased different facilities and extended cooperation to help boost domestic and international trade. "All types of assistance are available in all government departments to boost trade and commerce," he said. He underscored the need for improving the standard of products and services using modern technology to remain competitive in global business. The minister claimed that the government has achieved huge success in creating an international market for Bangladeshi products, including medicine, shipbuilding as well as information technology.

From http://www.unbconnect.com/ 10/07/2012

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INDIA: E-District Project Underway in TN

Tamil Nadu e-Governance Agency is organising a 26-day long e-District training programme in Ariyalur district of Tamil Nadu. As part of the training, the revenue staff of the district, including tahsildars, revenue inspectors, and village administrative officers. The objective of the training is to train them on providing various revenue documents such as income certificate, community certificate and domicile certificates electronically. Currently, the people have to visit the taluk office to get various certificates, which results in income loss and repeated travel to the taluk. In order to overcome this, the government has introduced the e-District programme, as part of the Mission Mode Project. Once the programme is implemented, people can get these certificates from their nearest common services centre. According to the District Collector, P Senthilkumar, "to improve the service delivery, 24 common service centres would be setup across the district, including three taluk offices".

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/26/2012

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India to Have Corporate Governance Policy Soon

Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India is on the verge of finalising the national policy on corporate governance. The Ministry setup a high level committee headed by industrialist, Adi Godrej to draft a policy document on corporate governance. The committee has suggested 10 to 15 major recommendations including those related to independent directors to look after corporate governance issues. The ministry is actively considering the recommendations of the committee and will finalise the national policy on corporate governance soon, said Veerappa Moily, Minister of Corporate Affairs, Government of India.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/27/2012

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Government Policies to Drive Green IT for India Inc.

In its report, 'Hype Cycle for Green IT and Sustainability in India, 2012,' Gartner analysts said green IT and sustainability are emerging as key concerns for businesses, investors and technologists across industries and policymakers in India. Though many technologies are available, government policies will eventually drive green IT and sustainability solutions adoption by Indian enterprises. India's spending on green IT and sustainability initiatives will double from $35 billion in 2010 to $70 billion in 2015. In 2012, green IT and sustainability spending in India will total $45 billion, according to a report by research and advisory firm Gartner. This year, for the first time, a chapter on sustainable development and climate change was introduced in the government's annual Indian Economic Survey, 2011-2012. The survey has suggested making lower-carbon sustainable growth a central element of India's 12th Five Year Plan. This will set the tone for future policy initiatives and regulatory measures from the Indian government that will drive the implementation of some technologies - such as advanced metering infrastructure, carbon capture and sequestration, intelligent transportation system, solar energy technology, building integrated PV systems, eco-labels and footprints, combined heat and power technology, e-waste, distributed power generation, and water management - necessary to usher in low-carbon sustainable growth. As enterprises embrace IT to improve productivity and drive growth, penetration of ICT infrastructure has been growing rapidly during the past decade, as has the energy consumption and resulting carbon emissions of India's ICT infrastructure. Apart from the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry, the banking and financial services, hospitality, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and other industries that have significant exposure to the export markets, will also join the green IT and sustainability trend early in India. In other industries, addressing energy, carbon, resource efficiency and sustainable economic development is currently still in the early stages, the report said.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/03/2012

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India Starts Kicks Off Second Stage of Housing Project

Oct 03, 2012 (LBO) - India has started the second phase of building and repairing 43,000 houses in Sri Lanka's war ravaged Northern and Eastern provinces under a 270 million US dollar grant aid project targeting 50,000 homes. The project was launched by Sri Lanka's economic development minister Basil Rajapaksa and India's envoy to Ashok K Kantha, the Indian High Commission (embassy) said in a statement. The reconstruction was being done on an 'owner driven' model where the beneficiaries manage the reconstruction of their homes. A pilot project involving a 1,000 houses had been completed in July and 1,500 beneficiaries under the current project had already been given a first installment of 100,000 Sri Lanka rupee. High Commissioner Kantha was quoted as saying that by August 2013, 10,000 houses are expected to be completed, and the total 50,000 targeted under the project would be completed within three years. Each beneficiary would be given 550,000 rupees (230,000 Indian rupees) for a new house in installments and 250,000 rupees (104,000 Indian rupees) to repair, based on an assessment of the actual damage.

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/ 10/03/2012

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Government Is Planning Two 'Smart' Cities in Each State

Two "smart" cities with a host of modern features like intelligent transport and carbon neutral status in each of the states are being planned in the second phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal mission. "We have an urban renewal mission which means that the central government funds the cities and one of our programmes is that we propose to have two smart cities in every state," said Urban Development minister Kamal Nath while talking to reporters. The minister said medium sized cities with half a million to one million population will be developed as smart cities and expertise of Austrian Institute of Technology had been sought for the purpose. "Now how do we define these smart cities, what will it cover...right from broadband, intelligent transport to carbon neutral (features), these are so many components...that is what we propose to collaborate with the Austrian Institute of Technology," Kamal Nath said. "We want to seek assistance from the Institute on what kind of model smart cities we should look at," he added. Nath also said that medium sized cities like Ujjain or Jabalpur would be considered for the proposal to create smart cities. Nath was speaking after meeting a delegation led by Austrian minister of Transport, Innovation and Technology Doris Bures.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/04/2012

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Tamilnadu Government Plans E-Umbrella for All Services

Tamilnadu state government is soon expected to float tenders to invite consultant agencies specialising in e-commerce and e-governance services to put together a detailed working plan for the proposed common service centres where a range of services will be provided under one counter. At these centres, to come up in urban areas, people will be able to apply and receive birth and community certificates, pay taxes and utility bills and even book travel tickets at a single counter. The system is to be implemented by the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (Elcot). The system would first be implemented in Chennai as a pilot project and later extended to other urban areas. Kerala and Karnataka already have such a system in the form of citizen call centres and Bangalore One. A citizen call centre in Kerala allows people to call in to clear their doubts on various government schemes and documents, whether they are entitled to them, ways to access them and how they work. Bangalore One allows residents to pay mobile phone bills of state-run and private telecom operators, book tickets on KSRTC buses, pay insurance premiums and book train tickets on Southern Railways.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/05/2012

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SRI LANKA: To Modernise Information Sharing and Business Registration

The Department of the Registrar of Companies in Sri Lanka is modernising its document management system in a bid to increase efficiency in business registration and to improve the quality of data being shared across government agencies and the general public. The document management system will be made available online. In addition, a dedicated call centre will also be established to answer queries and feedbacks from the Department's stakeholders. According to an official statement, the Department will be using a new Oracle-powered online system to upgrade the department's automation system with an estimated cost of Rs 140 million (USD 1 million) and is now in its final stages of development. Once the system is in place, it can handle the total company registration process through online payments and issue certified copies online by accepting international credit card payments. Furthermore, it is also expected to reduce the amount of time it takes for stakeholders to do business registration and the filing of their statutory information.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/08/2012

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NEPAL: Government Plans to Eradicate Illiteracy by 2015

The government on Sunday launched ambitious 'Literate Nepal Campaign' aiming to eradicate illiteracy in the country by 2015. Unveiling a concept paper of the campaign in Kathmandu, Minister for Education Dina Nath Sharma said the government was committed to meet the target of making four million people literate within the next three years. Minister Sharma also urged all the stakeholders including political parties, civil society leaders, NGOs, community organisations, teachers and students to join hands with the government to make the campaign successful. "It is embarrassing for the state that millions of people are illiterate in 21st century," he added. According to him, the government was also planning to end the provision of taking thumb print especially of senior citizen while drawing elderly allowance and single woman allowance by enabling all the citizen to have their signatures in the official documents. Thought Nepal has made important progress in the last decade eradicating illiteracy still remains a dream as the recent surveys show near about 64 percent of total population being deprived of an opportunity to get educated. According to the most recent Nepal Living Standards Survey of National Bureau of Statistics, Nepal has an adult literacy rate of 56.6 per cent, with a huge variation between males and females. The literacy rate is 71.6 per cent for men and 44.5 per cent for women.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 10/14/2012

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PAKISTAN: Govt Approves Rs4442mn Scheme for Energy Sector

The Punjab Government has approved an energy sector scheme with an estimated cost of Rs. 4442.924 million for "Chief Minister's Ujaala Programme" here on Wednesday. Three development schemes of various sectors of the economy were also approved worth Rs 2936.847 million in the 14th meeting of Provincial Development working Party of current financial year 2012-13 presided over by the Punjab Planning and Development Board Chairman, Javaid Aslam, an official of P&DB told APP. Secretary Planning & Development Punjab, Arif Anwar Baloch, members of the Planning & Development Board and other senior representatives of the relevant Provincial Departments attended the meeting. The approved development schemes included: Preservation & Restoration of Shahdara Complex of Monuments (Revised) at the cost of Rs 461.837 million, Punjab Youth Internship Programme (Revised) at the cost of Rs 1507.234 million and Comprehensive TB Control Programme in Punjab (2012-2015) at the cost of Rs 967.776 million.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 10/10/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Parliament Adopts Law on Ensuring Uniformity of Measurements

Azerbaijani parliament adopted a law on ensuring the uniformity of measurements during the plenary session on Tuesday. Legislation in this area is not in line with international requirements today, head of the State Service of Metrology of the State Committee for Standardization, Metrology and Patents of Azerbaijan Oktay Abbasov said earlier. "The contradictions with international law create some problems for the development of economic relations with other countries, especially in trade. Documents of international organizations were used and recommendations of the European experts were taken into account during the preparation of the bill," Abbasov said. The new law will specify areas, which are subject to state regulation in the field of metrology, as well as areas where there is not need in it. "The law creates a good environment for the private sector in this area, simplifies the process of supervision over it," Abbasov said. The adoption of such a law is important in terms of Azerbaijan's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The current law in this area was adopted in 2000 and regulates the development, manufacture, inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, sales, import and export of measuring instruments. The uniformity of measurements - a condition of measurement, in which the results are expressed in accepted units and the measurement error are within the established boundaries.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/16/2012

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Agricultural Insurance to Be Compulsory in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan plans to introduce a new type of compulsory insurance, Finance Ministry official Orhan Bayramov told reporters on Friday. The State Insurance Supervision Service is examining the experience of Russia and Turkey to prepare a bill to introduce the compulsory agricultural insurance," Bayramov said. He said that this could be as a separate law and by means of amendments to the existing law on "Compulsory types of insurance". The bill may be ready within a year, Bayramov said. "Agriculture is a strategically important area of the economy," he said. "This law will be directed to insure the risks in the agricultural sector, which may arise as a result of natural disasters and to recover those losses." He added that this new type may be regulated through the compulsory insurance bureau. "We are working to include the insurance against accidents at work and occupational diseases in the compulsory insurance bureau," Bayramov said. The compulsory insurance bureau was created within the law on "Compulsory types of insurance". The bureau members are 12 insurance companies operating in Azerbaijan. The law regulates four types of compulsory insurance - real estate, liability of owners of vehicles, passenger insurance, civil liability insurance while exploiting real estate. The insurance companies have started using the law since December 16, 2011.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/19/2012

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TAJIKISTAN: To Present Energy Projects Within World Energy Council

Tajikistan will present its investment energy projects as well as the republic's energy potential report within the World Energy Council, Avesta.tj reported on Thursday. The Council will take place in Dubai on October 22-24. Tajik Prime-Minister plans to attend this event. Among the projects, expected to be discussed are high voltage lines, electricity supplies to Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the implementation of middle and large scale hydropower plants on Tajik rivers.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/18/2012
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TURKMENISTAN: Approving Law in Voting Rights Sphere

The Majlis (Parliament) of Turkmenistan of the fourth convocation approved the Law "On guarantees of voting rights of Turkmen citizens," which defines main guarantees of realization of constitutional right by Turkmen citizens to participate in elections and referendums held in the country. These documents correspond with provisions of the Constitution of Turkmenistan and legislative act in this sphere. In August Turkmen parliament approved a law "On Referendum", which was developed given experience of holding election campaigns accumulated in recent years in the context of further expansion of the democratic principles of development of the Turkmen society, Turkmen government said. The UNDP is implementing a project on cooperation in strengthening the electoral system and processes in Turkmenistan. One of the key areas of cooperation is to implement these standards in the national electoral legislation, as evidenced by the adopted laws "On presidential elections in Turkmenistan", "On Central Commission on Elections and Referenda of Turkmenistan".

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/22/2012

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Turkmenistan Plans Radical Reforms in Rural Areas

The program on the accelerated implementation of fundamental large-scale reforms in rural areas will be the primary issue on the agenda of the Turkmen Council of Elders, which will meet in the city of Turkmenbashi on October 23, an official Turkmen source reported. The Council of Elders meets annually and serves as an advisory body. The President Gurbanguli Berdimuhamedow noted at a government meeting last week that currently there are over a thousand of small villages in the country. "However, the living conditions in these settlements do not meet the modern requirements," he said, pointing out the reasonability of choosing a favorable living areas for people, building exemplary villages in this areas with all the necessary support systems and moving all the inhabitants of the small villages to these areas. The president drew attention to the need to address issues related to the territorial boundaries of settlements. Local authorities in the new settlements - archynlyks, should be provided with funds which will contribute to fulfillment of their responsibilities, assigned by the Constitution. In addition, all envisaged reforms will be implemented in one district, which will be selected as the sample in each region , this "will provide an opportunity to thoroughly examine the advantages and shortcomings of the reforms."

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/22/2012

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Turkmenistan Plans to Complete Construction of Western Line of East-West Gas Pipeline by 2014

Turkmenistan plans to complete the construction of the western line of the East-West gas pipeline by 2014. Eight gas compressor stations will be built in the section of the pipeline passing through Balkan province. This section runs for about 325 km, starting from the gas compressor station "Belek". As the Turkmenistan.ru correspondent reports quoting the Ministry of Oil and Gas Industry and Mineral Resources, putting into operation the East-West gas pipeline is of strategic importance for Turkmenistan. The National Program of Socio-Economic Development of Turkmenistan for 2011-2030 provides for construction of a number of social and industrial facilities that will depend on natural gas coming from this pipeline. Construction of the East-West gas pipeline began in May 2010. It should be commissioned by 2015. The pipeline's capacity is 30 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

From http://www.turkmenistan.ru/ 10/22/2012

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Pacific Platform Moves on Post-HFA Agreement

UNISDR Chief, Margareta Wahlström, today welcomed a major policy decision by Pacific Island States to help formulate a new international framework on disaster risk reduction to replace the current Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) in 2015. The 4th session of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management committed today in Noumea, New Caledonia, to develop an integrated regional strategy for disaster risk management and climate change which will be a key part of the region's contribution towards creating the new framework which is scheduled to be discussed at the next World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan, in 2015. Ms. Wahlström said: "Through their discussions this week and the decision announced today the Pacific Island States have raised significantly the profile of the consultations which are now well underway on a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action which is a landmark international agreement on reducing risk adopted by all UN member states. It is vitally important for all countries and regions to make their voices heard in this debate and to follow the lead of the Pacific Platform. Ultimately what's at stake is a safer and better world where fewer lives and jobs are lost and where the infrastructure is in place to cope with the rising number of extreme weather events."

UNISDR has already had over 280 participants in the first round of on-line consultations on the substance of the agreement but this is the first time that a regional body has committed publicly to developing a regional strategy which will contribute directly to shaping the future international agreement. Mosese Sikiviou, Deputy Director for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community's (SPC) Disaster Reduction Programme, referring to the new regional strategy, said: "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 capitalizes 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 UNISDR for Asia and the Pacific, said: "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." He added: "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 Platform is co-convened by SPC in partnership with the UNISDR, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. The meeting this year is supported by partner organizations 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.unisdr.org/ 09/20/2012

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Pacific Women Present Priorities to UN

A delegation representing the interests of women in the Pacific Islands is in New York for a meeting of UN Women. They are attending the organisation's first global civil society advisory group meeting. Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, executive director of FemLINK Pacific, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that their priority is to keep women's issues in the spotlight. "One thing of course is that we want clarity on what is the role of civil society as advisors to the UN Women agenda, but more importantly how do we influence the UN agenda," she said. UN Women is due to begin regional meetings, co-convened by UNICEF and other agencies, as part of a review of its operations. "It's quite important that the gender agenda and women's agenda doesn't get lost in the whole review," Ms Bhagwan-Rolls explained. "Any development agenda can't be sustainable if gender equality or the women's human rights framework is not included."

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/ 10/09/2012

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Pacific Wants Climate Change Mentioned in New UN Millenium Development Goals

Pacific Island countries say they want climate change considered for the United Nations' next set of development goals. The Post-2015 Pacific Consultation took place in Fiji's western tourist town of Nadi, and was attended by government representatives, civil society and development agencies from 15 Pacific Island countries. Over three days they assessed the region's progress towards the current Millennium Development Goals (MDG), examined successful strategies and started initial discussions on issues that could be reflected in the next development agenda. "The meeting has two main objectives," Garry Wiseman, manager of the UN Development Program's Pacific Centre, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program. "The first is to look at the situation between now and 2015 to see what more can be done to fast track progress on the MDGs . . . and now they've started discussing what might be the priorities for the region post 2015."

Mr Wiseman acknowledged that the Pacific has made good progress on a number of the goals, but he was concerned by the lack of gender equality, illustrated by the absence of women in the region's parliaments. Ways of accelerating progress on these goals ahead of the 2015 were suggested , but delegates were also eager to contribute views and perspectives on the post-2015 development agenda. "Things like climate change, non-communicable diseases and the value of the oceans are issues that have already come up in terms of things the Pacific would like to see more attention given to," Mr Wiseman said. A statement from the UNDP mentioned that small islands states vulnerability and youth unemployment also featured heavily. The consultation was organized through a regional partnership between the UN's Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UNDP, in cooperation with the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat and the Asia Pacific Community of Practice on Managing for Development Results (APCoP).

Fromhttp://www.radioaustralia.net.au/ 10/12/2012

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Pacific Risk Resilience Programme Launched

Solomon Islands joins three other countries in the Pacific that are most vulnerable to natural disasters. Solomon Islands will be one of the countries who will benefit from a new Pacific Risk Resilience Programme that will focus on strengthening governance mechanisms for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation at the sub-national and local levels. To systematically address the central challenge of ensuring that Pacific communities benefit from the myriad of activities around disaster risk management and climate change adaptation, a new regional programme initially focused in four countries is being launched. Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the countries initially targeted for the AUD$16 million project for the period 2012-2016 include Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji. An international non-government organization (INGO) will be contracted to implement the programme at the sub-national level.

The programme will be centered on two components that will be implemented under one coordinated and integrated programme: 1) risk governance: supporting mainstreaming of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation into development planning and budgeting at all levels of government; and 2) community level risk management: strengthening community resilience through targeted and inclusive community based disaster risk management and climate change adaptation (supported through a community small grants scheme) and the integration of risk management in to local level governance mechanisms. "On top of the climate change adaptation issues all Pacific countries must face, Vanuatu, Solomon islands, Tonga and Fiji are the four countries most at risk of natural disasters in the Pacific. Disaster risk management and climate change adaptation share a common focus - building community resilience. Australia is pleased to support measures to build community resilience in some of the most vulnerable communities in the Pacific," said AusAID Minister Counsellor Pacific, Mr John Davidson.

"This programme addresses the need to link disaster risk management and climate change adaptation activities to governance structures, ensuring that such assistance actually has a positive and sustainable impact on Pacific island communities. But perhaps more importantly reduce the burden and ensure cooperation between national provincial and village levels in designing and implementing responses to disasters and climate change affects," said Mr Garry Wiseman, Manager of the UNDP Pacific Centre. The Pacific Risk Resilience Programme will focus on strengthening governance mechanism for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation at the sub-national and local levels. The programme is supported by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and implemented by UNDP for an initial period of four years in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Fiji.

From http://www.solomontimes.com/ 10/16/2012

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"A New Optimism - A More Dynamic Pacific Plan"

Introduction
The Annual Leaders' Lecture Series is a growing tradition in our Region and I am both pleased and honoured to be here this evening to fulfil this role as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, and to contribute in some small way to showcasing the Pacific Plan and the importance of our efforts to strengthen its place in our future. Pacific Regionalism speaks to the heart of our duty as Leaders for it is incumbent upon us to foster the ties and linkages between our nations and to fashion these relations into productive frameworks of cooperation. The focus on the Pacific Plan as the centre piece of this public address is important to the work we have accomplished and the results we want to achieve, in future years. This evening I'd like to build on the journey that fellow Leaders have already begun to map and share my perspectives on how the Pacific Plan must continue to be inclusive, command ownership, and project A New Optimism - A More Dynamic Pacific Plan.

Roots of optimism
Many Pacific Leaders my contemporaries and those before me have provided considerable input and insight to the way the Pacific Plan may be developed and strengthened over future years. To those Leaders I pay tribute for their commitment to our Region and its diverse cultures and peoples. The leaders of Vanuatu, Samoa, and New Zealand, for example, have previously referred to the roots of Pacific Regionalism - described the challenges associated with the ebb and flow of external pressures upon our self-determination efforts and responsibilities, and posed relevant questions for debate about how the Pacific Plan may be better attuned with the wishes and aspirations of Pacific peoples. This year, I'd like to take up a point made by the Prime Minister of New Zealand last year when he discussed the inaugural gathering of seven nations in Wellington more than 40 years ago. The Right Honourable John Key talked about the presence of a strong spirit of cooperation among the Founding Leaders, which was evident in their communiqu¨¦ at that time.

It was an exciting time...a time of promise. When a sense of common purpose was taking hold with the anticipation of great developments to come. And perhaps a newly-emerging air of optimism among this group of nations willing to take on the challenges before them. This positive feeling generated among a small group of Pacific nations was a keenness to embrace a new 'Way' - a new concept of consulting and working closely together to achieve common benefits. A new sense of optimism was clearly on the table even in the face of economic challenges and political sensitivities, such as trade blocs, decolonisation, and nuclear testing in the Pacific. Over the course of more than 40 years, the central question, which would no doubt provoke a range of responses, revolves around whether the Pacific brand of Regionalism has any value. Certainly, questions of value and effectiveness have their roots in the minds of our Founding Fathers when they met in Wellington in 1971. I believe our Leaders demonstrated considerable foresight engaging as equal partners, understanding common problems and shortcomings, and placing the interests of Pacific peoples in the forefront of establishing a new organisational identity.

It's understandable that, in time, those early challenges would become subject to considerable pressures - pressures brought about not just by the overwhelming nature of global trends but the confluence of national interests with regional sensitivities of cooperation in new fields. While we want to pursue our national level interests at all times, regional cooperation does introduce scope for compromise and ongoing re-visitation. Former United States President and global philanthropist, Bill Clinton, recently articulated that many of today's biggest challenges are the "modern manifestations of our oldest demons". That challenge to break the mould of old mindsets is inspiring, and also appealing, to so many people across different walks of life, including here, in the Pacific.In our region, I believe we have already begun to witness the signs of an era of new optimism - an era based on the realisation of gains and an improved understanding of the way we need to do 'business' - not just to survive but to prosper: to "lead free and worthwhile lives".

Building Success
Although I make mention of the beginnings of a new time ahead, it would be remiss of me to omit the progress and successes of our Pacific Regionalism in past years. These success stories - and there have been many - are both uplifting and motivational. The Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands, RAMSI, is among those 'stand-outs' of Forum commitments and achievements in cooperation; Governance strengthening; security; human rights; conflict management and prevention, are key parts of our engagement within, and beyond our region. Economically, the Forum stands strong together, on policy and trade frameworks such as PICTA, and the advancement of services, investment, and private sector expansion. Inter-agency cooperation among the CROP group is strengthening; the Forum Compact aid effectiveness; and donor partner dialogue successes, now involve fresh engagement with the United States, and newly-developing high level contact with the United Nations Leadership and the UN's broad system of global programmes.

The Pacific Islands Forum as it stands today, more than 40 years on, has a suite of formal mechanisms of action - all strengthened and given meaning by that willingness to work together. The Pacific Plan, a blueprint of our priorities, guides and adds value to the cooperative approach adopted by our 16 nations. We must build on progress and allow these gains to become part of who we are, and what we have. The positive success stories are ours to promote and share with each other, and the rest of the world. Moreover, this new sense of optimism has to be driven by rising above the constraints and the difficulties we've confronted, and harnessing it to energise the Pacific Plan.

Future Generations
This year, on the occasion of the Annual Leaders' Lecture, I have the opportunity to provide these perspectives on the Pacific Plan after having hosted the Forum Leaders in Rarotonga, and also Aitutaki. The Cook Islands accepted this honour with enormous pride and an inspiring highlight for us as hosts was to witness the optimism of our own people - especially the young. For those fortunate to have been there, I think you would agree with me that the schoolchildren of Rarotonga were the heart of this year's gathering of Leaders - each school adopting a Pacific country as their own and taking them into their hearts as fondly as their own country spirit that beats within them. To me, our new optimism begins here: in those that are the heartbeat of our Region.

Oceans
The future generations are where our horizon lies as Pacific Islanders. For example, our support, hard work, and priority to establish a Marine Protected Area in the Southern EEZ of the Cook Islands, was all about the future. It's not about me...or you. Commanding half of our territorial sea and holding it up as an oceanic model for the sustainable management and use of our natural resources was all about our children's children. Today's framework of cooperation to pursue advantages is 'our doing' under the Pacific Plan's regard for our ocean but the ideals are clearly designed for the benefit of those to come. The sound management of our ocean's resources is also the driving force of our ongoing priority to investigate seabed mining in the Cook Islands - a new frontier that blends caution with optimism while mapping a way forward. Uppermost in this 'steady as she goes' approach is our deliberate and forthright path to build a credible new industry - an entirely new sector in our national economy, which will promote development with integrity.

The Cook Islands is not yet in a position to 'dive' for minerals but it is in a strengthened position...of knowledge and experience after nearly four decades of seabed mapping and research, and more recently, a regulatory regime that will assist a competitive industry into the future. While the Cook Islands is somewhat of an 'old hand' at talking about seabed minerals, it still remains true that deepsea mining is new territory to explore. Optimism generated by the possibility of riches at the bottom of the sea must therefore be tempered with the reality of global trends and technological advancements as much as our capability in sustainable management. Where the Pacific can claim an increasingly more positive outlook is the promise of new levels of cooperation in sharing experiences and information. With our nations integrated in close consultation, we can build the seabed mining knowledge base by drawing on the invaluable help of partnerships with entities such as the SOPAC Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The Cook Islands is a willing player in this regard and is prepared to advance the pace on sharing information on what will become a crucial industry in the future.

Fisheries
A quickening of pace has already characterized our cooperative, integrated approach to regional fisheries - the traditional centrepiece of the Pacific's 'oceanscape'. The fisheries resource crucial to our livelihoods and sustained economic strengthening has commanded the majority share of priority attention in policy and planning, as well as direct negotiations within, and outside, of the region. It's fair to say that our stewardship of the ocean is dominated by a sector that cuts across all four pillars of the Pacific Plan. Fisheries, is inextricably tied to considerations of economic growth, sustainable development, good governance, and security. In a series of firsts at this year's Forum Leaders' Meeting in Rarotonga, our fisheries management was given added security with the simultaneous conclusion of eight maritime boundary treaty signings, an accomplishment unequalled, anywhere in the world. This modest ceremony was a significant 'card' of achievement for the Region, harnessing multi-agency cooperation led by the Forum Fisheries Agency and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, bringing together several countries in a multi-layered joint effort for fisheries governance, and strengthening the Pacific's resource management priorities for the future. The purposeful dedication to preserve and manage our fisheries is a firm indicator of the potential of Pacific Regionalism, to rise above the constraints, and stay optimistic about the future.

Sharing
Our brand of Regionalism also demonstrated a heightened awareness of each other's peculiar challenges and advantages, during the Forum in Rarotonga. At the outset of the Forum proper, for example, the fledgling Polynesian Leaders' Group, which embraces five full members of the Forum, led a discussion on Energy, and the progress of adopting and utilizing alternative sources to fuel our future development. Samoa and the Kingdom of Tonga, are among the leading nations in the Pacific in this regard, securing higher levels of integration by boosting the share of Renewable Energy generation and applying working models for the region to investigate, and perhaps, adapt to their own power environments. The Polynesian Leaders resolved to launch a new effort of sharing the knowledge on Energy developments, particularly given the varying speed levels of advancement among the Forum member countries. We'd like to bring up the pace by learning as much as we can feasibly achieve, and in the process share the interest of how renewable energy can transform our power systems, and thus, national economies.

Enhancing the region with clean, green energy systems, is a goal we can achieve and promote more broadly. Individually, Pacific nations have taken bold steps. Yes, our Renewable Energy targets are ambitious. And no, our pockets are not deep. But by recognising the extent to which we can close the gaps in the renewable energy knowledge base, a broader, concerted approach to exchanging information and study data will capitalize on the real achievements thus far, lift the momentum for change, and inject an added level of optimism about the future security of our energy needs. Individual gains can translate into joint benefits under a fresh approach - and demonstrating that to the outside world can attract the investment we need. I believe our progressive steps in Oceans Management and Alternative Energy Development help generate a renewed sense of optimism that will propel us well into the next 40 years.

The Future
In thinking about the Forum's Founding Leaders, and their own outlook in 1971, I'm reminded of the way my elders in Aitutaki were concerned about the future of their livelihoods. My birth island - Aitutaki - is where a small community Growers' Association played a major role in motivating our Founding Leader Papa Arapati Henry to take their concerns to the Regional 'table'. At that time, well before the doors opened to Tourism, grassroots concerns over the future sustainability of our valuable banana exports helped shape the Premier's thinking - and approach - to Pacific Regionalism, and the burgeoning 'Pacific Way' of taking on challenges and talking them through with common purpose. Today, linkages between the grassroots reality and regional objectives need to be clearly articulated and appreciated. Alignment must lead to improved levels of integration in the way we approach the setting of priorities. For our Plan to be dynamic it should provide us the guidance with which to tackle our problems. It should remain relevant to the changing nature of the region and the influences and challenges it faces now, and into the future.

And as much as possible, the will and support of Leaders can, and should, strengthen ownership of the Pacific Plan. The forthcoming review ought to strengthen our capability of responding to the demands placed upon it. After all, we need a dependable way of keeping our finger on the pulse of this living framework so that it remains responsive to our needs and keeps that sense of optimism alive. Distinguished colleagues and guests, I'd like to close this lecture with a respectful word about the greatest inspirational 'framework' of all - the Bible. Should there be any doubt about the sense of something greater that's within our reach and the existence of optimism in believing in ourselves one need only look to the Good Book. On the road of adversity the Lord said this in Isaiah: "Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing." I believe the strengthening of our own resolve to do better, under our Pacific Plan to attain new heights of prosperity, and sustain peace in our region, we will always be blessed by the presence of the guiding hand of God. Kia Manuia and may God continue to Bless us all.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 10/19/2012

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FIJI: Public Want New Constitution to Focus on Poverty

Public submissions on Fiji's proposed constitution have focused on poverty and governance. Professor Ghai is overseeing the public hearings, which have entered their third and final month, and is travelling around Fiji hearing proposals from communities. He told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program poverty has frequently been mentioned, and that many hearings have also focused on governance. "(There have been) many complaints about the lack of welfare payments, difficulties in employment, difficulties of marketing their products because of inadequate infrastructure, and this is throughout the country, the difficulties people have coping with everyday life," he said. Professor Ghai says while some Fijians want the country to be ruled by its indigenous citizens, others want Fiji to recognise its multi-racial diversity and represent it in its governance structures. "We have been in the North Division over the last few days and a very strong theme coming out of that is people want Fiji to be a country of one people - common identity - even though differences of religion and culture would be honoured and respected," he said.

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/ 10/08/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Do the Greens Have the Right Economic Plan?

Prime Minister John Key says the Greens' call for the Reserve Bank to print more money in a bid to devalue the New Zealand dollar is "pretty wacky" and could create a financial crisis. Greens' co-leader Russel Norman has suggested the Reserve Bank create currency to take pressure off the NZ dollar. Dr Norman said quantitative easing, as creating more currency is called, would mean the Government had to borrow less, domestic investors would invest in other markets, and increased supply of credit would reduce interest rates for business and reduce reliance by banks on overseas borrowing. That would lead to lower interest rates and a lower exchange rate. Mr Key has dismissed Dr Norman's suggestion.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/08/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Urgent Review of Govt Computer Systems Ordered

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie has formally asked the Government Chief Information Officer Colin McDonald to carry out an urgent review of publicly-accessible systems operated by State Services. Mr Rennie said the Work and Income kiosk security failure had seriously breached any trust New Zealanders had in the Government. "It is imperative that Government takes the lead to reassure the public and repair the damage that has been done to this trust," said Mr Rennie. He said Mr McDonald will contact all government agencies directly, to seek assurance that their computer systems are robust. "Mr McDonald will lead public service agencies in evaluating and strengthening their ICT security measures to ensure that there are no systemic faults that could cause additional security issues." Since the findings of the Privacy Commission report in August on the handling of private material held by ACC, the State Services Commission has been considering a wider role for Mr McDonald across the system. "The use of technology to further improve access to public services is essential, but this needs to be delivered while ensuring personal information is protected," Mr Rennie said.

Disturbing' that security hole not fixed.
Earlier today, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said it was disturbing that an IT company identified a major security hole in Work and Income's systems more than a year ago but it had not been fixed. The Ministry of Social Development revealed this morning that IT company Dimension Data had tested the self-serve kiosks in April last year and identified issues of concern. Ms Bennett confirmed the report identified the same problem which was revealed this week by blogger Keith Ng, who had easily accessed thousands of copies of invoices with personal details on them through the kiosks. "What we now need to work out is was [the report] acted on, how was it acted on and obviously it wasn't well enough or we wouldn't be in this situation today." Ng has handed all his information to the Privacy Commissioner and MSD has contracted Deloittes to investigate the actual breach in question as well as MSD's wider computer security.

Ng was tipped off about the hole by Ira Bailey - an IT analyst who told the Herald he came across it by mistake while he was using a kiosk and was trying to find his USB stick. He had initially gone to the MSD to warn them of a hole and asked if they had incentive payments for reports of security flaws similar to those offered by Google or Facebook. Ms Bennett said the issue of Ira Bailey asking about some form of payment in return for the information before he went to Ng was only a "side issue" and she had bigger problems to deal with. She said Mr Bailey and Ng had ultimately done the department a favour. "I feel no ill-feeling towards any of them. At the end of the day, it's not their fault there is such a security flaw in the system and that is quite frankly the responsibility of the ministry. The main issue is that people were able to access information they shouldn't have been able to access."

Asked if she believed Mr Bailey had tried to 'blackmail' the Ministry of Social Development in return for his cooperation, she said she believed he was asking for a 'reward.' "You can take from that what you want to." Asked if Mr Bailey's name was leaked to the NZ Herald from within their offices, both Prime Minister John Key and Ms Bennett said not as far as they were aware. Ms Bennett said the Ministry of Social Development had said the leak had not come from them and she took them at their word.

What Deloittes will look at
Earlier today the Ministry of Social Development's chief executive Brendan Boyle said he wasn't confident that a warning about security flaws 18 months ago was acted on properly. Mr Boyle said the ministry received a report from Dimension Data in April last year identifying "flaws" in its system. "We will be asking Deloittes to determine what we did to follow up this report's recommendations and whether our response was adequate. "Since yesterday afternoon I have received further information that means I am not confident that we took the right actions in response to Dimension Data's recommendations on security. I will look to the review to provide me with the answers," Mr Boyle said. "I can confirm that KPMG was not engaged to penetration test our public kiosks. They have, however, been engaged in doing testing on other parts of our system."

Mr Boyle said the ministry's immediate aim was to resolve any security problems and restore public confidence in its systems. The Deloittes review would happen in two phases. The first would deal with the immediate security of its public kiosks. It would look at what happened, how secure information was able to be accessed and how it could be prevented from happening again. The second phase would involve a broader look at security across all the ministry's IT systems, including policies, governance and culture.

How the flaw was discovered
It has been revealed that Ira Bailey - one of 17 people arrested in the Urewera raids in 2007 - was the first to discover the major privacy flaws in the self-service kiosks. Mr Bailey, an IT analyst, said he told the ministry last Monday that there was a security issue before he tipped off blogger Keith Ng. Ng subsequently accessed thousands of documents such as invoices for children's medical care, before blowing the whistle publicly on Sunday night. The ministry closed the kiosks and ordered an independent inquiry into the lapse and Ng has handed over all the information he obtained to the Privacy Commissioner. Mr Boyle said the ministry was first contacted last week by a man who claimed there was a loophole in the system and had asked for a "reward" in return for his co-operation. The ministry had not acted because the reference was "vague" and the man had not mentioned the kiosks, he said. Mr Bailey said he had simply asked if the ministry had incentive payments for people who pointed out security breaches. "I called up on Monday 8th October to say there was a security leak and ask who to talk to. And I also asked was there an incentives scheme about security flaws, which is what Google and Facebook do."

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/16/2012

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Bill to Extend Reserve Bank Power Fails First Reading

A bill that would have made the Reserve Bank extend its focus beyond controlling inflation to the exchange rate, export growth and jobs narrowly failed to pass its first reading in Parliament tonight. The bill was sponsored by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters and supported by Labour and the Greens, but likened by Finance Minister Bill English to "snake oil." Mr Peters said the belief that inflation should always take precedence over other critical macro-economic factors was "not only absurd but it is reckless in the extreme for a nation like ours." Saying the Reserve Bank should focus on one objective was like saying you could have protein but not carbohydrates, he said. New Zealand's was among the most volatile exchange rates in the world _ now at 83c against the US dollar _ and it put enormous strain on the tradeable sector, the engine room of the New Zealand economy where real wealth was created. Mr Peters said when the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act was past in 1989, it was necessary to lift the country out of the depths of economic despair by"conquering the greatest evil of all inflation."

"They told us this would lead to a more efficient, more productive, more stable, more prosperous economy. We were all going to be better off." That was based on the belief that raising or lowering interest rates could create price stability without any long term costs at all. They were wrong, he said. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Amending Primary function of Bank) Amendment Bill said the primary function of the bill should be "to formulate and implement monetary policy directed to the economic objective of maintaining stability in the general level of prices, while maintaining an exchange rate that is conducive to real export growth and job creation." Finance Minister Bill English said the bill was "a variation of the monetary policy framework which happens to be one that can't work." The bill was based on the proposition that the Reserve Bank mechanism for changing interest rates could be used to lower or raise the exchange rate. "That is simply not the case. You just cant do that," he said. "It doesn't matter how you specify the monetary policy framework; the key to generating incomes and creating jobs is the competitiveness and productivity of our businesses. There is no free lunch." The Opposition was out of touch, Mr English said. "Voters in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the USA have never been more awake to snake oil than they are because they've learned the hard lesson." The lesson was that politicians who promise "free stuff" in the end have to borrow the money for it and have to pay it back. The bill was lost by 60 votes to 61.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/17/2012

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English Firm on Vetoing Bill

Finance Minister Bill English will not budge on his plan to veto a bill extending paid parental leave from 14 weeks to six months, even if the estimated costings are less than first calculated, he said last night. "This is a desirable policy but it's not our top priority," he said. Mr English said he was not prepared to borrow more to fund it when the Government had already borrowed to increase Working for Families by 5 per cent on April 1 this year in a cost-of-living adjustment. The top priority for families had been maintaining income support and increasing early childhood education. "Any extra spending we incur now is funded by debt and so we have to be very clear about those priorities if we are going to incur more debt." The Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' Paid Leave) Amendment Bill is sponsored by Labour list MP Sue Moroney.

The payments, of up to $475 a week, would remain but it would be phased in by four weeks a year over three years. Ms Moroney agreed yesterday that deciding whether to fund paid parental leave was a matter of priorities but said it would be of greater benefit than $1.76 billion being spent on the Puhoi to Wellsford highway. The week the bill was drawn from the ballot Mr English gave notice he would exercise his financial veto on it to prevent it being passed into law. He has estimated the cost to be an extra $450 million over its first four years, or $300 million over three years, vastly different from a new figure of $166 million extra for three years estimated by Infometrics in work commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The discrepancy emerged at the select committee yesterday considering the bill when MBIE officials appeared before it in private. The gap had narrowed somewhat by the end of the day. Both estimate that the extra cost annually when fully implemented would be $150 million and $145 million respectively.

Sue Moroney hoped the committee would take into account issues including:
* Reduced subsidy the Government would be spending on childcare subsidies of up to $12.09 an hour.
* Income tax paid from paid parental leave.
* The fact that some state-sector employees are paid for more than 14 weeks.
* Savings on hospital admission by babies, with breastfeeding rates increased.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/18/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Government Plans to Recall Local Doctors

The Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services has revealed that it is working with neighbouring Papua New Guinea to recall local doctors working in PNG hospitals. Media reports stated that the health minister, Hon. Charles Sigoto and its Permanent Secretary, Dr. Lester Ross met with the Papua New Guinea's health minister last month where discussions were based on the proposal. Dr Ross says there are a good number of local doctors who graduated with degrees and masters that are still working in PNG. He says most of the students went on Solomon Islands government scholarship but failed to return to serve the nation. A medical officer at the hospital speaking on condition of anonymity said the idea to recall the local doctors working outside of the country is a good thing for the country. The country faces shortage of medical doctors, although a lot of them continue to graduate each year. Some doctors who have spent few years in the country opted to work overseas because of the attractive pay package on offer from the host country. The question now is whether the Government will provide better incentives for local Doctors to return to.

From http://www.sibconline.com.sb/ 10/17/2012

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Scientific Research Bodies 'Failing to Engage Public'

Scientific research bodies in the developing world are less likely to encourage public participation with science than their developed world counterparts, a report has found. Sarah Palmer and Renato Schibeci, writing in Public Understanding of Science on 24 August, examined the requirements of science research funding bodies from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania, over the period 2004 - 2011.They found that the majority of countries were focused on educating the public rather than engaging with them. In particular, funding organisations in developing nations were less likely to encourage community participation. The researchers identified a spectrum of types of science communication, ranging from the 'deficit model' - the primary form of science communication, since 1985, where scientists educate the public about their findings - to a more 'deliberative' approach, where the public set the research agenda and are involved throughout. They then analysed funding organisations' public engagement policies by looking at their guidelines and websites, and gleaned additional information on the public engagement status and activities of national organisations from external websites.

The deficit model is still the most common form of communication, the authors found. But in developed countries, there has been a gradual realisation that the public also has valuable knowledge to share, and that the focus should be more on participation. Organisations doing this particularly well include the Wellcome Trust, in the United Kingdom, the European Commission's FP7 (Seventh Framework Programme), and Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council. "Developing countries seem to follow the deficit model more than the developed world," Schibeci, associate professor of science education at Murdoch University, Australia, told SciDev.Net. "In China and Latin America, there seems to be a mantra of 'educating the public', which often means transmitting knowledge. But it's the public who have to live with the consequences of scientific decisions." Schibeci said that scientists are often reluctant to engage with the public because of a lack of time, skills and rewards - such as recognition from their peers and ease of obtaining funding for further projects. However, he said, they must realise that communicating their work "is not the icing on the cake, but part of the cake".

International funding bodies are bringing about big changes, however. One example is the International Foundation for Science (IFS), which requests that grant applicants must explain how the research will fit in with "the environmental and socio-economic conditions in the region" and how they will "make their results available to local stakeholders, such as farmers and local industry". Graham Haylor, director of the IFS, said that public engagement in developing countries will "not only build their capability as scientists, but also increase their agency through widespread engagement as equals with farmers, entrepreneurs and policymakers [rather than above them, as implied by the deficit model]".Ruth Ladenheim, secretary of planning and politics in science, technology and productive innovation of the Argentinian Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (MINCYT), said that public engagement is a novel concept for many developing countries but that this "does not mean that their ... engagement is poor compared to developed countries". Ladenheim said that Argentina has been engaging the public with science with a "conviction" previously unseen and cited TECNOPOLIS, a public science, technology and innovation exhibition; TEC TV, the first Latin American television channel dedicated to science and technology; and an annual innovation contest that allows even non-scientists to take part.

From http://www.scidev.net/ 10/16/2012

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Asia Must Cut Red Tape to Unlock Full Potential of Service Sector - ADB Report

HONG KONG, CHINA - Booming service industries can be a powerful engine of economic growth and job creation for developing Asia, but the sector's true potential remains blocked by restrictions and red tape, a new ADB report shows. Watch how developing Asia's service sector has the potential to be a massive engine of job creation and inclusive growth."A slew of regulations restrict competition and hamper development of the services sector, affecting everything from the corner shop to mobile telephones," said Changyong Rhee, ADB's Chief Economist. "These barriers need to be dismantled so that everyone, particularly the region's poor, can seize the opportunities of growth." Services now account for almost half of developing Asia's output, ADB says in the theme chapter of Asian Development Outlook 2012 Update. The sector contributed about two-thirds of the growth recorded in India between 2000 and 2010, and more than 40% in the People's Republic of China. Services have also been a massive source of jobs, employing 34% of the region's workers, and thus furthering inclusive growth.View infographic in higher resolution. Notwithstanding their large and growing quantitative significance, labor productivity levels of developing Asia's services industries still lag well behind those of advanced economies, less than 20% of OECD levels in most countries. The relatively low share of modern services such as information and communications technology (ICT) weighs down on the sector's productivity performance.

Creating a dynamic, high-productivity services sector with a larger role for modern services will require tackling a wide range of bottlenecks which stifle competition and innovation. These include a lack of highly skilled workers, which hampers the development of high-end services, and services-relevant infrastructure such as ICT and broadband, which still lag advanced economies, and above all, burdensome regulations which protect incumbent firms from domestic and foreign competitors. Easing domestic regulations and trade barriers is critical to fostering more competitive services markets and higher productivity in the region. However, doing so requires a great deal of political will and commitment, given the formidable array of well-entrenched vested interests that benefit from regulatory barriers. These include state-owned enterprises as well as private monopolies. Nevertheless, the time to act is now. Mustering the political courage to reform Asia's services is an urgent priority for sustaining growth in the face of the uncertain global outlook. A vibrant services sector will have large spin-offs for the rest of the economy, enable the region to take advantage of the growing tradability of services, and promote inclusive growth by generating high-quality, high-wage jobs for Asian workers. Asian Development Outlook and Asian Development Outlook Update are ADB's flagship economic reports analyzing economic conditions and prospects in Asia and the Pacific, and are issued in April and October, respectively.

From http://www.adb.org/ 10/03/2012

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Asia's Largest Government Modernisation Gathering Kicks Off

The FutureGov Summit 2012 began today at 8.45am with a bang, with traditional Thai war drumming and dance ceremony meant to "bless the gathering and enliven the spirits of the audience". The Governor of Chiang Mai, Tanin Supasaen, welcomed the 160 delegates from over 20 countries from around the world during his opening address, during which he singled out efficiency, service delivery and transparency as the three key drivers in the move to modernise the public sector. Tomas Soderstrom, IT CTO at Jet Propulsion Laboratories in the USA, delivered the morning's keynote presentation, giving delegates a glimpse into the cutting-edge technology that goes into space exploration and the IT infrastructure associated with it. His presentation included a demonstration of augmented reality applications for mobile devices that are able to condense large volumes of data into practical audio-visual information. He also talked about having to deal with legacy systems and the mechanics of delivering the Curiosity Mars Rover videos online using cloud to a worldwide audience. His vision of technology roadmaps and connectivity "anytime, anywhere, by anyone, and with any device" was echoed in the address by the chairmen of the morning session, Laurence Millar, FutureGov's Editor-at-Large, and Andrew Stott, Member of the UK Transparency Board and Former Deputy GCIO. The two exchanged quick volleys on their vast government technology experience before the crowd, including reflections on recent developments in their respective countries. The Summit continues through the rest of the week, with the themes of Abundance, Tranquility and Blessings marking the activities during the three days of the event. It culminates in the FutureGov Awards Ceremony on the night of the 19th of October.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/17/2012

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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. Enditem

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/23/2012

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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 benefited 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/ 10/23/2012

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Bo Xilai Expelled from CPC, Public Office

Bo Xilai has been expelled from the Communist Party of China (CPC) and removed from public office, according to a decision made at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Friday. The meeting also yielded the decision to transfer Bo's suspected law violations and relevant evidence to judicial organs for handling. The decisions were made after attendees at the meeting deliberated over and adopted an investigation report on Bo's severe disciplinary violations, which had been submitted by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI). At a meeting held on April 10, members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee were briefed on the investigation into the incident in which former Chongqing Vice Mayor Wang Lijun entered the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu without permission as well as the reinvestigation into the suspected murder of British citizen Neil Heywood by Bogu Kailai, Bo's wife.

Based on Bo's mistakes and responsibilities in the two cases, as well as evidence of his other discipline violations uncovered during the investigations into the two cases, the CPC Central Committee decided to suspend Bo's membership in the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and the CPC Central Committee and the CCDI filed the case for investigation. Investigations have found that Bo seriously violated Party disciplines while heading the city of Dalian, Liaoning Province, and the Ministry of Commerce and while serving as a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and as Party chief of Chongqing Municipality. Bo abused his power, made severe mistakes and bore major responsibility in the Wang Lijun incident and the intentional homicide case of Bogu Kailai. He took advantage of his office to seek profits for others and received huge bribes personally and through his family. His position was also abused by his wife Bogu Kailai to seek profits for others, and the Bo family accepted a huge amount of money and property from others.

Bo had or maintained improper sexual relationships with a number of women. He was also found to have violated organizational and personnel disciplines and made erroneous decisions in the promotion of personnel, resulting in serious consequences. The investigation also uncovered evidence that suggests his involvement in other crimes. Bo's behaviors have yielded serious consequences, badly undermined the reputation of the Party and the country, created very negative impacts at home and abroad and significantly damaged the cause of the Party and the people. The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee decided at the meeting to expel Bo from the Party in accordance with the Party Constitution and CPC intra-party supervisory disciplinary regulations. The Party sanctions will be endorsed by the 7th plenary meeting of the 17th CPC Central Committee, which will be held ahead of the Party's 18th National Congress set to convene on Nov. 8.

The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee has also decided to remove Bo from public office in accordance with the country's Law on Public Servants and to transfer Bo's suspected law violations and relevant evidence to judicial organs for handling. The CPC Central Committee stressed that the investigation and handling of Bo's severe discipline violations further shows the CPC's basic requirement of being strict with Party members, its governance concept of governing the country in accordance with the law and its distinct position and resolution to fight corruption. The CPC Central Committee said the entire Party must fully realize the perennial, complex and arduous nature of the anti-corruption fight and give fighting corruption and building a clean government a more prominent place on its agenda so as to wage a resolute battle against corruption, leaving no room for corrupt figures to hide within the Party.

Party organizations at various levels must use Bo's case as a negative example to enhance cadre education, management and supervision, maintain strict Party discipline, improve the Party's working style, speed up the building of the system for punishing and preventing corruption, and constantly enhance the Party's capabilities of self-purification, self-improvement and self-innovation - all in a bid to maintain the Party's advanced nature and purity. The CPC Central Committee called for strengthened nurturing of the Party spirit so that leading Party officials can develop appropriate views toward the world and power. Party officials were told to consciously abide by Party disciplines, always keep pace with the CPC Central Committee, earnestly implement democratic centralism and voluntarily accept supervision from Party organizations and the people. They were told to strictly carry out the Party's cadre promotion policy and guidelines, and rectify unhealthy tendencies in selecting officials. They were urged to boost their awareness of the law and absolutely safeguard the dignity and sanctity of the law.

The CPC Central Committee also urged adherence to running the Party strictly and persistence in punishing and preventing corruption. Cases involving disciplinary and law violations should be severely dealt with, it said, vowing no mercy for corrupt figures no matter who is involved or how great his or her power is. The CPC Central Committee called on the Party, the country and people of all ethnic groups to closely unite around the CPC Central Committee led by General Secretary Hu Jintao and hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, under the guidance of the Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of the Three Represents. It urged deeply implementing the Scientific Outlook on Development and unswervingly advancing along the socialist path with Chinese characteristics, so as to make new achievements in anti-corruption campaigns and the construction of a clean Party and government, strive for the overall building of a well-off society and create new progress for the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/23/2012

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CPC to Convene 18th National Congress on Nov. 8

The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is proposed to convene on Nov. 8 in Beijing. The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee decided at a meeting on Friday to submit the proposal to the seventh plenary meeting of the 17th CPC Central Committee, which will be held on Nov. 1. The Political Bureau meeting, presided over by Hu Jintao, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, studied the preparatory work for the November meetings. Participants of the meeting also reviewed the draft work report of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to be submitted to the upcoming Party congress. The congress is a very important meeting to be held at a critical time when China is building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, and deepening reform and opening up and accelerating the transformation of economic development pattern in difficult areas, the meeting said.

The congress will hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, be guided with the Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thoughts of "Three Represents," and thoroughly carry out the Scientific Outlook on Development, according to the meeting. The congress will review the Party's work over the past five years as well as what the Party has implemented since the 16th CPC National Congress. It will summarize the precious experience the Party has gained from the historical process of uniting and leading the people of all ethnic groups to carry on and advance the socialism with Chinese characteristics, according to the meeting. The congress will thoroughly examine the current international and domestic situation and take into account of the new requirements for the country's development and new expectations from the people. The congress will draw out the guidelines and policies that respond to the call of the times and fulfill the wishes of the people.

The congress will make strategic plans for the overall advancement of China's reform and opening up and socialist modernization drive, as well as for the overall advancement of Party building in the new era. The congress will further mobilize the entire Party and the people of all ethnic groups to march unswervingly along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, continue to advance scientific development and promote social harmony, and continue to improve people's livelihood and well-being, and strive for the building of a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way. A new CPC Central Committee and a new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will be elected at the congress, according to the meeting. All preparatory work for the congress is going smoothly at present and preparations should be continued earnestly to ensure a successful congress, according to the meeting. The meeting approved that the draft work report of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to be submitted to the Party's 18th National Congress will be discussed at the seventh plenary meeting of the 17th CPC Central Committee.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/23/2012

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Restructuring Plays Important Role in Political Reform

This year marks 20 years since the socialist market economic system was implemented in China. During that time China has become the world's second largest economy. While the country's economic performance and restructuring has received wide acknowledgement, China also placed political restructuring in an important position in its overall reform and development agenda. It has successfully created the path of political development with Chinese characteristics. In August, the State Council decided to remove or modify 314 administrative examination and approval items in order to clear obstacles for its social and economic development and curb corruption. A total of 2,497 administrative approval items have been rescinded or adjusted over the past 10 years, accounting for 69.3 percent of the total.

The removal of government's administrative approval items and a major institutional restructuring of the State Council that took place in 2008 were both important measures for administrative system reform, and the important components for political restructuring. "Political restructuring has been strengthening along with the progress of China's economic restructuring during the past 30-odd years since the country carried out its reform and opening up policy," said Li Junru, a prominent theorist and former vice-president of the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. "Incorporating political restructuring into economic restructuring has been a distinct feature of China's political restructuring," he said. China has made efforts in reforming its political system during the last three decades. China has eliminated de facto life tenure for leading officials, and realized orderly succession of organs of State power and leaders. The country has expanded orderly public participation in political affairs, and the people are extensively involved in decision-making.

China has upheld and improved multi-party cooperation under the leadership of the CPC, carried out political consultation, democratic oversight and participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs. It has also developed a patriotic united front. The country has set up a sound and dynamic personnel mechanism, which attracts large numbers of talented people and puts them to best use and prepares them for both promotion and demotion. Moreover, China put in place a socialist legal system of laws with Chinese characteristics by the end of 2010. Li Junru, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, the top political advisory body, said: "Combining electoral democracy with consultative democracy is another distinct feature of China's development of political democracy especially in the past 10 years."

Democracy is always pursued within the CPC. As of this July, the leadership reshuffle of local Party committees at the provincial, city, county, and village-level had been completed. Promoting democracy and ensuring Party members' rights have featured the process of the reshuffle. "Improving the elections of deputies to legislative bodies has been a major manifestation of the advancement of electoral democracy in the past 10 years," Li said. In March 2010, the National People's Congress, the parliament, adopted the amendment to the Electoral Law with landslide votes, which grants equal representation in legislative bodies to rural and urban people. It requires "both rural and urban areas adopt the same ratio of deputies to the represented population in elections of people's congress deputies." It also raises the ratio of deputies from the grassroots level and sets more specified requirements for the elections to ensure justice and transparency. "Meanwhile, the role played by political consultative bodies at various levels reflects the advancement of consultative democracy in the past 10 years," Li said.

In a speech delivered at the opening session of a workshop for ministerial-level officials on July 23 this year, President Hu Jintao said the Party has put political system reform in an important position in the overall reform and development agenda. He said significant progress had been made in that regard. "Putting political system reform in an important position all along in the overall reform and development agenda" has summarized the experiences drawn from the reform and opening-up, Li said. "Political system reform is necessary because it is a decisive element in boosting the country's economic, educational, sci-tech and cultural reforms," he said. The reform of the political system has been far from achieving its goals, especially in terms of preventing individuals from acting willfully on their own or abusing their power. "China will not copy Western-style political systems," Li said. On the basis of China's national conditions, the country will continue to keep combining electoral democracy with consultative democracy, driving people's democracy by intra-Party democracy, and governing the country by law, he said.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 10/23/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Ease, Eliminate Age Limit for Public Sector Jobs

The government says it will ease and eliminate in some cases the age limit to apply for work in the public sector in order to respond to a rapidly aging South Korean society. Jang Souie has this report. The South Korean government said during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik on Friday that it will either get rid of or ease the age limit for 117-thousand jobs in the public sector. The government said the current system limiting employment at central government agencies and in municipal governments to people between 35 and 75 years old acts as an entry barrier for senior citizens in the labor market. Accordingly, age limits for 20 job categories, including childcare service providers and consultants at elementary, middle and high schools who are financially supported by the central government will be abolished, while the limit for six other occupations including farm managers will be eased. Meanwhile, age restrictions for another 330 job categories, such as street cleaners and cooks, will be scrapped or eased, and the retirement age for indefinite contract workers at around 80 public organizations will be raised to 60 years. As of July 2011, 66-thousand temporary workers and 58-thousand indefinite contract workers were employed by the central government and local governments. Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said that the recent decision was made to lay the groundwork for welfare through jobs in light of an aging population, stressing that the public and private sector should work to raise the level of economic participation by senior citizens.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/19/2012

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S. Korea Elected to UN Security Council

South Korea was elected Thursday as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, regaining ground to step up its involvement in handling the North Korea issue and other global security challenges. "South Korea will be able to take leading part in the U.N.'s efforts for world peace and security and holding a seat again on the Security Council is also expected to contribute to the stable management of situations on the Korean Peninsula," Seoul's foreign ministry said in a statement. South Korea's election, it added, is viewed as reflecting the international community's evaluation of Seoul's role so far and expectation for potential contributions. South Korea was chosen in the second round of balloting at the U.N. General Assembly, beating Cambodia 149-43. Bhutan was eliminated in the first round. The three vied for one seat up for grabs in the Asia-Pacific category.

South Korea will serve as a member of the 15-nation council for two years, starting Jan. 1.It will mark the second time Seoul has taken a temporary seat on the body, following a term in 1996-97.The Security Council is the U.N.'s top decision-making body, tasked with maintaining world peace. "If the first term provided lessons on U.N. diplomacy, now is the stage for South Korea to show maturity in both quality and quantity," said Kim Sook, Seoul's ambassador to the U.N. "It would serve as a chance to solidify the stature as a middle power in the international community and expand substantial contributions." South Korea is scheduled to hold the rotating presidency of the council in February in accordance with alphabetical order. Four other nations - Rwanda, Argentina, Australia, and Luxembourg - also became new members of the council.

The U.S. welcomed the new members. "We look forward to a strong and productive partnership with these incoming members to address issues fundamental to international peace and security, including nuclear non-proliferation, counter-terrorism, conflict prevention and resolution, promotion of democracy and human rights, and the oversight of complex U.N. field operations," said Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. South Korea has come of age when it comes to its U.N. membership, as it joined the organization in 1991 along with North Korea. Ban Ki-moon, formerly South Korean foreign minister, is serving as U.N. secretary general.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 10/19/2012

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INDONESIA: House Approves Five New Autonomous Regions

House of Representatives' Commission II on home affairs and regional autonomy approved on Monday the establishment of five new autonomous regions, including the province of North Kalimantan which will be the 34th province in the country. North Kalimantan will split from East Kalimantan after three years of preparation when it will have its own regional administration. The Commission also approved four new regencies; Pangandaran in West Java, Manokwari and Arfak highlands in West Papua and West Pesisir in Lampung. Commission chairman Agun Gunanjar said legislators used the Government Regulation considered the political and geo-strategical potential of each region before granting autonomy, as reported by tempo.co. The committee is also examining four other new regencies, Musi Rawas Utara in South Sumatra Mahakam Ulu in East Kalimantan, Malaka in East Nusa Tenggara and Mamuju Tengah in West Sulawesi.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 10/22/2012

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House Names Komnas HAM Commissioners

House of Representatives Commission III on law and human rights unveiled 13 newly selected commissioners of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) on Monday. Sandrayati Moniaga, an environmentalist and member of the board trustees of human rights watchdog Institute for Research and Advocacy (Elsam), secured 48 votes from 51 members of Commission III, the highest among all candidates. Maneger Nasution of the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) garnered 45 votes, while Papua-born activist Natalius Pigai gained 43. Human rights activist Otto Nur Abdullah and former official at the Law and Human Rights Ministry Ansori Sinungan secured 42 votes each. Muhammad Imdadun Rahmat, the deputy secretary-general of the nation's largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, and Muhammad Nur Khoiron from Desantara Foundation both garnered 38 votes, while journalist Siane Indriani got 36 votes.

Member of the Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (Demos) Roichatul Aswidah and former law and human rights director general Hafid Abbas secured 35 votes each. Lawyer Siti Noor Laila, Consortium for Agrarian Reform (KPA) member Dianto Bachriadi and incumbent Komnas HAM commissioner Nur Kholis garnered 33, 28 and 28 votes, respectively. Mochamad Soedioto of the Indonesian Association of Visually Impaired People (Pertuni), gay rights activist Dede Oetomo, incumbent commissioner Yosep Adi Prasetyo, urban poverty activist Sandyawan Sumardi and other candidates all fell short of making the grade. The written test for 30 candidates began on Oct. 11. Four days later, each candidate underwent a 30-minute interview with Commission III members. The new commissioners are expected to start work in early November. Commission III initially intended to select only 10 new commissioners, saying that fewer people would suit Komnas HAM's reduced budget of Rp 64.7 billion (US$6.7 million) for 2013. The newly appointed commissioners, who will work from 2012 to 2017, are expected to follow up on Komnas HAM's findings on the 1965 communist purge, the unsolved shootings between 1982 and 1985 and the Lapindo mudflow, which have all been categorized as human rights violations. Komnas HAM chairman Ifdhal Kasim also said that the rights commission was investigating human rights violations perpetrated against the followers of the Shia community.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 10/22/2012

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MALAYSIA: Civil Service to Create More Promotion Opportunities

More promotion opportunities are in the pipeline for graduates in the civil service in Malaysia. Chief Secretary to the government Dr Ali Hamsa said a degree holder who starts at Grade 41 should be able to retire at a grade as high as his (Dr Ali's) position. However, currently there are not enough opportunities for everybody to reach such levels. "We are still discussing this with the Public Service Department. The special commission on public services will also be coming out with a report on the matter," he said. Dr Ali was speaking to reporters after attending the closing ceremony of the 15th Public Service Commissions conference in Ipoh yesterday. On another note, he dismissed the allegation that the country has too many civil servants. Opposition political alliance Pakatan Rakyat had previously called for the civil service to be reduced. "There is no such thing as a bloated civil service." "We have the right size now at about 1.4 million civil servants, and we are increasing our productivity each day through creative and innovative methods," said Dr Ali. He also called on heads of department to go down to the field to monitor the effectiveness of services rendered to the public by their officers.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 10/05/2012

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PHILIPPINES: Opens Govt Call Centre

Six government agencies collaborated to launch a government call centre dubbed as "Contact Center ng Bayan" (The Nation's Call Centre), which aims to serve as a place where citizens can gain access to information and voice their queries, complaints, concerns and recommendations on various public services. The participating agencies are the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Civil Service Commission, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, National Computer Centre and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. According to Civil Service Commission chairman Francisco Duque III, the contact centre is not only a tool to address the citizenry's concerns but also a mechanism where the public can contribute to achieving quality public service. A contact centre can transform a citizen's experience of interacting with the government by offering a simple and clear point of access for information. In addition, it eliminates the need for citizens to travel to the government agency for clarifications they may need on certain services. The contact centre can be reached by dialing 1-6565 using PLDT and Digital landlines within the Philippines, and is only available from Monday to Friday at 8 am to 5pm. Other contact channels such as email and SMS will be developed and implemented within the next three months.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/28/2012

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Philippine President Launches Coalition for 2013 Polls

Setting the tone for next year's elections, Philippine President Benigno Aquino declared yesterday that the administration coalition would echo his reform agenda during the campaign season. As he presided over the official proclamation of the administration coalition's senatorial ticket at Club Filipino in San Juan City in Metro Manila, Aquino underscored the importance of having key allies in the Senate to ensure the passage of his legislative agenda for the remaining three years. "Every three years, our nation faces a crossroad. The question is: Where are we headed? Do we continue to tread the path we have taken, or do we revert to the old way of doing things? Are we optimistic about the future, or would you prefer the previous condition?" he asked in a speech delivered in Filipino. The coalition consists of the Liberal Party (LP), Nationalist People's Coalition, Nacionalista Party, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino and Akbayan party-list group.

The president took time to mention the credentials of each candidate, starting with Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara, son of outgoing Senator Edgardo Angara, followed by Aquino's cousin, Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, the youngest candidate on the administration slate. Included in the slate were Senators Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Antonio Trillanes IV; former Senators Ramon Magsasay Jr. and Jamby Madrigal; former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros and former Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar, wife of outgoing Sen. Manuel Villar; and Grace Poe-Llamanzares, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. Three of the administration candidates - Legarda, Escudero and Llamanzares - have also been adopted as candidates of the rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA). "This I assure you: The 12 candidates being offered by this coalition will help harvest the fruits of reforms we have laid down the last two years, three months and one day. They promise us that they will not steal. They will expedite the pace of change that we're enjoying, and they will not betray your trust. You - the people - are the Boss," Aquino said.

'Orchestra'
He explained the vote of his "bosses" come May 2013 would eventually decide whether the nation would "continue with the right" path he had set at the beginning of his term. "The resounding message should be - the reform and change undertaken the past two years were right. We want to speed up change, and we're now offering to you those who would help you achieve this," the president said, referring to the slate. Assuming the role of a conductor, he likened the nation to an "orchestra" that was expected by the audience to come up with a "harmonious sound instead of an out of tune soloist who thinks only of himself."

Campaign line
Budget Secretary Florencio "Butch" Abad, an LP stalwart, told reporters that the administration's nationwide and grassroots' campaign would carry the message, "Kapag walang corrupt, walang mahirap (There is no poverty if there is no corruption)." "You may add economic growth and expansion because, I think, that's where we're at right now, and we want to go deeper into. We need to go faster in the legislation - tax reforms and social policies, freedom of information," Abad said. "You have to define yourself in relation to the administration. You have to have a clear message to the people. If you are the alternative, why are you the alternative? In the same manner that the president made it very emphatic why this administration wants to win this election," Abad said.

'Us vs them'
In his speech, Aquino reiterated the gains so far achieved by his two-year administration vis-¨¤-vis the failures and inefficiencies of the Arroyo administration. He said that just two years and three months into his six-year presidency, "we have not just carried the burdensome problems they had left, we even surpassed the challenges." Thus, he said, the sides taken by the two rival election coalitions were clearly delineated. Apparently taking the first jab at UNA, he stated the obvious. "The critics are with them; those willing to cooperate are with us. Isn't it that the characters who are always critical of what we do every time they open their mouths are on their side?" he asked. The president acknowledged the citizens who were willing to rally behind the achievement of his goals. "Our belief is that we should keep an open mind because free speech brings forth clear solutions unlike others who are always critical of what we say. We can't be in one boat where the crew would row backwards...while we are striving in earnest to move forward," the president said.

He gave a noticeably longer introduction to both Llamanzares and Pimentel, but gamely teased Bam Aquino and Trillanes. "Koko was given a six-year mandate, but was only given with more or less two years," Aquino said, emphasising that Pimentel was a duly-elected senator in 2007, and thus wisely rejected calls for him to run again in 2010 pending the outcome of his electoral protest. Pimentel assumed office in 2011, after Juan Miguel Zubiri resigned. The president thanked Llamanzares for choosing to run on the LP-led slate, after turning down many politicians who "courted her". Turning to Trillanes, Aquino described his back-channel negotiator in talks with China as an "example of a persistent and brave soldier." "In his (second) term, perhaps he would show to us what it means to be a senior senator," the president said, triggering chuckles from the audience as the cameras panned to show Trillanes flashing a pained smile.

The president did recognise Bam Aquino as his cousin, but issued a warning: "If you lose your way, forget my mother and father; you will have to answer first to our grandmother. And when she's done (with you), I will be next." LP officials earlier said the administration candidates may be adopted by other parties, but they do not want members to join the campaign sorties of the other groups because that would be akin to campaigning for their fellow candidates' rivals. Llamanzares said it was important that she respect the rules of the administration coalition because she works for the administration as an official of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board. Escudero said he would campaign on his own but would work with the rules of both coalitions that adopted him. Asked if he would appear on stage with any of the two slates, he said had not talked about it with coalition officials.

Legarda said she wanted to bring her campaign directly to the people. As to whether she would join the sorties of the coalitions, she said those operational details could be worked out later. Legarda also said it was the president himself who asked her to join the administration coalition after he invited her to the Palace last week. According to her, she told him she did not have to join the slate and did not want to ease anybody out of it, but he replied that he wanted her to join his line up and that a slot was reserved for her. She said she would have continued supporting the president even if she was not made part of the administration coalition.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 10/02/2012

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THAILAND: To Reform Justice System with IT

Justice Ministry's Department of Legal Execution (LED), Thailand on October 27, announced the projects to transform its operation and services to citizen with new technology. In collaboration with Electronic Government Agency (EGA), the LED will deploy G-Cloud, Government Information Network (GIN), and Government e-Portal to enhance its existing system and operation. "G-Cloud will help improve our network's security as the EGA will monitor our log file 24/7 for any suspicious access," said LED Director General Prof Wisit Wisitsora-at. He added that using GIN will help the LED to reduce server and network cost while improving its efficiency in connecting with other stakeholders within the government through this network. At the same time, other organisations who would like to connect and make use of the LED's network can easily maximise this facility with no additional cost. The LED will also introduce its Bankruptcy Monitoring System on government e-Portal. Citizens and relevant organisations can access and receive the information of bankruptcy status more conveniently and easily. In the near future, the LED is preparing to introduce more e-services on e-Portal. One of which is its main operation system called Civil Enforcement System that will authorise only people who are relevant to particular law cases to access the information.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/29/2012

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Executive Appointment: Thailand

Thailand's Ministry of ICT today welcomes a new Permanent Secretary, Chaiyan Peungkiatpairote whose promotion is effective on October 1, 2012. Peungkiatpairote, 55, is a veteran official who has spent 28 years working in public sector. His last position prior to this promotion is Deputy Permanent Secretary for ICT Ministry. An Agriculture Economics degree holder from Kasetsart University in Thailand, Peungkiatpairote started his first public sector career at Ministry of Transport before being transferred to the ICT Ministry in 2003 when it was just established. At the ICT Ministry, he is well known for his policy expertise in space affairs relevant to telecommunication. His previous position was as an Executive Director of several bureaus including the Space Affairs Bureau, the Information and Communication Technology Industry Promotion Bureau, and the International Affairs Bureau. He continued his career at the Ministry as an Inspector General before being promoted to be Deputy Permanent Secretary five months ago.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/01/1012

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Thailand to Enhance Interoperability of E-Govt System

Thailand's Electronic Government Agency next year will focus on enhancing interoperability of e-government system, and ease the smooth transition of public sector to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), according to EGA's President & CEO Dr Sak Segkhoonthod. "Next year, the EGA aims at providing executive CIO trainings both to IT department and executive level officers in order to facilitate the interoperability of the government IT system," said Dr Segkhoonthod. According to him, the special focus of the EGA will be supporting the smooth transition of the public sector's website to IPv6 standard. "We will provide training to about 100 officers, for them to be able to migrate their system into the new IPV6 standard," he added explaining that the Thai government has ordered all e-government services to support IPv6 by 2015. Dr Segkhoonthod also added that the EGA will prepare to train public sector's officers in the area of Domain Name System (DNS) Security, as he expressed the concern over the shortage of skilled officers in this area. "There are a number of hackers trying to intrude into the government system these days, but many agencies still lack of skilled technical officers to solve and prevent this problem," he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/11/2012

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INDIA: Planning Commission Wants Ports to Double Their Capacity

The Planning Commission has said the capacity of Indian ports will have to nearly double to 2,302 million tonnes (MT) over the next five years to be able to handle the fast growing cargo traffic. As stated in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) document, to meet the overall projected traffic of 1,758.26 MT by 2016-17, the total capacity of the port sector is envisaged to be 2,301.63 MT. As per the 12th Plan, the traffic forecast by the end of the 12th Plan would be 943.06 MT and 815.20 MT for the major and non-major ports respectively with corresponding port capacities of 1,241.83 MT and 1,059.80 MT respectively. Total capacity of the ports in India, which include 12 major and over 200 non-majors, stood at 1,247.45 MT in 2011-12 and together they handled 971 MT cargo. The Plan anel expects Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust to have the maximum capacity at 155.61 MT by 2016-17 followed by Kandla Port at 145.13 MT. Almost 95 per cent by volume, and 70 per cent by value of India's global merchandise trade is carried through the sea route. The document said the average turnaround time of ships at the ports is higher caused by delays due to port-related inefficiency. Thus, the plan has advised that a time-bound plan should be made so that by the end of the 12th Plan, the turnaround time matches with most efficient ports. This action plan must be designed and put in place quickly.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/28/2012

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E-Governance Can Check Corruption

BJP president Nitin Gadkari said e-governance can check corruption and "red-tapism" to a considerable extent while addressing BJP's national convention on 'e-governance for good governance' in Mumbai. Gadkari said information technology (IT) should be used to bring in transparency, rule of law and speed in working process and dynamism. "Corruption can come down by 70-80 per cent because of e-governance. It can benefit a person and life can become easier with it," he said. The BJP leader also directed the IT cell of the state unit to prepare a module of e-governance in corporations and zila parishads for good functioning. "Application of technology in social life and rural development can prove beneficial to the people," Gadkari said.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/05/2012

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MP First State to Conduct Divisional Level E-Governance Consultations

Deepak Khandekar, commissioner, Jabalpur Division of Madhya Pradesh, inaugurated a consultative workshop on the topic, "Citizen Centric e-Government", in Jabalpur, on October 4, 2012. Delivering the keynote address, Khandekar said, "We are the first state where divisional level consultations have begun." He said these workshops should be held in all the seven districts which are under his jurisdiction where he would provide all support needed. "The whole administration of the state is in Hindi but unfortunately we have not been able to provide IT services in Hindi," he said, urging the IT department to provide applications in that language. "There are a number of missing links because of language," he said. Commenting on the top-down approach in implementing e-governance initiatives, he said, "We cannot imagine, while sitting in Bhopal and Delhi, the needs of the tehsil and blocks in the state." He urged district-level officers to start consultation workshops in their districts to include the last person in this project. The people in the Common Services Centres (CSCs), the citizens and the private sector all have to be included in the workshop. Khandekar also asked the departments to share resources as IT infrastructure had a short lifecycle. "We need to efficiently share IT resources," he stressed. "We need to address the lack of communication amongst us to improve the e-governance programme," he added. Hariranjan Rao, secretary, information technology department, government of Madhya Pradesh, said that he aimed to showcase the e-Governance initiatives in the state through the conference and also take suggestions to improve them in the future.

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

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NEPAL: Govt Forms Far-Western Region Development Commission

The government has formed Far-Western Region Development Commission on Thursday. The meeting of Council of Ministers held this morning at Singha Durbar formed the Commission under the coordination of Jhapat Bohara. The meeting also changed the names of three hospitals in different districts. Gulariya Hospital has been renamed as Bardiya District Hospital and Bal Hospital of Lahan has been changed into Ramesh Mahato Bal Hospital. Similarly, Sagarmatha Hospital has been changed into Gajendra Narayan Singh Hospital. Ramesh Mahato is the first martyr of Madhes protest. The cabinet also promoted Under Secretary Hridaya Narayan Mishra at the land reforms ministry to the post of Joint Secretary.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 10/01/2012

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PAKISTAN: Amendments Can Be Made in Local Bodies System

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari has said that amendments could be made in the newly introduced local body system (Sindh People's Local Government Ordinance) if needed, Geo News reported. Chairing the meeting of PPP Sindh core committee here Friday night, President Zardari said he wanted to take all the allies on board. Vandalism and strikes had no use, he said. The president directed PPP leaders to continue dialogue with the allies. Local Bodies Minister Agha Siraj Durrani apprised the meeting that PPP had decided to hold a big public meeting in Hyderabad on October 15.

From http://pakistanlink.org/ 10/06/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: State Agency to Render Services of Nine State Bodies

Around 23 services of nine state agencies will be rendered in the centers of the State Agency for Services to Citizens and Social Innovation under the Azerbaijani President, Chairman of the State Agency Inam Karimov said today. ASAN xidmet centers aim to create unified centers of state bodies, often located in different parts of each city and to rapidly transfer of the citizens' appeals to public bodies, Karimov said. He added that the main task of these centers is to render services to citizens at a new level. The citizens' satisfaction will be the main criterion for their activity, that is, a citizen in one building will be able to appeal to all necessary services of state bodies. The transparency of the centers' activity will be one of the main conditions of the centers. "Approaching the information kiosk in the center, the citizens will be able to appeal to any state agency and join the queue. No monetary transactions will be conducted between a citizen and a state employee," he said. "All payments will be held in the centers in an electronic form." "The centers will operate seven days a week, including Sundays," he said. "Some citizens want to resolve their issues connected with the state body during a lunch break, so the centers will work without a break." It is planned to render the services to citizens who can not leave the house because of illness or other reason in the future, Karimov said. Responding to the questions of NGO representatives, Karimov said that the state bodies will render the following services in these centers:

- Registration of civil acts
- Notary services,
- Issuing and replacing ID cards and passports,
- Replacing a driver's licence
- Issuing certificates of conviction,
- Registration of real estate transactions,
- Registration of commercial organisations and taxpayers
- Issuing archival reference to physical and legal entities,
- Receiving documents for registration of customs declarations
- Issuing permits for temporary and permanent residence permits, including those for the status of immigrants in Azerbaijan
- Issuing certificates about the information on the land cadastre
- Assigning pensions,
- Information services for all the services rendered by state agencies.

From http://en.trend.az/ 09/26/2012

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Communication and IT Ministry Accelerates Operations to Form E-Government in Azerbaijan

The Communications and IT Ministry accelerates the "e-government" formation in Azerbaijan, the ministry said today. According to the ministry, the issue was discussed within the board meeting held at the Ministry with the participation of departments. Azerbaijani Communication and IT Minister Ali Abbasov instructed to accelerate the work within simplifying the access to the "e-government" portal, the process of getting the electronic digital signature by citizens and removing the problems with telecommunication, postal and TV and radio infrastructure to render quality services to the population. According to the ministry, around 28 organisations received 2078 e-digital signatures since the commissioning of the issue centre. Currently, around 152 of the existing 395 electronic services belonging to the Azerbaijani state agencies were integrated into the electronic government portal which acts as a gateway to ensure information exchange between state agencies. The functions of the portal are not limited to a specific number of services. The number of e-services presented on the portal can reach several thousand units. Currently, some state agency electronic services are rendered via the 'single window' principle. The e-government portal is a key tool supporting the work with the public and enterprises in the public and private sectors. The portal is intended to reduce the number of the citizens' documents because different agencies can now communicate with each other electronically. The e-digital signature is required for using e-services.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/09/2012

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TURKMENISTAN: President Makes New Appointments in Judicial System

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammadov signed a decree on the appointments in the judicial system, an official Turkmen source said. Under the decree, Nazarseyit Maravaev has been appointed as judge of the country's Arbitration Court. The Arbitration Court of Turkmenistan, under the law, considers and resolves disputes arising from economic legal relationship, considers the bankruptcy case of legal entities and individual entrepreneurs, maintains and analyzes judicial statistics, resolves issues arising from international agreements of Turkmenistan within its competence. Under the presidential decree, new appointments were also made in Ashgabat. Gurbanmyrat Geldiev became a judge of Azatlyk etrap (district) court of the capital; Amantach Gurbanova - Kopetdag etrap court judge; Ogulgovher Gylychlieva - Azatlyk etrap court's Administrative and Executive Proceedings Judge. Appointments were also made in district courts in Akhal and Lebap provinces. Mergen Bayramov and a number of judges in Ashgabat and in the districts of Akhal, Balkan, Lebap regions were dismissed as judges of the Arbitration Court in connection with the expiration of the term of office.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/05/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Optus to Join National Emergency Alert System

Optus users will be able to receive emergency location-based text message warnings from the National Emergency Alert System. Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management Nicola Roxon and Acting Premier of Victoria Peter Ryan on behalf of all States and Territories today announced that Optus will join Telstra and Vodafone in providing emergency warnings during disasters. "Getting emergency warnings out effectively during a natural disaster is absolutely critical, I'm pleased Optus has come on board to do this," Ms Roxon said. "In a world first, highly targeted location based emergency warnings will be used during disasters across Australia by the end of next year. It means Australian mobile phone users will be able to get these warnings if they're in a disaster area - this system won't only rely upon their registered address." The Gillard Government invested nearly $60 million to establish and upgrade the Emergency Alert system so that Australians can benefit from this world first technology that will provide highly targeted location based emergency warnings to be sent during disasters. The Victorian Government also contributed to this investment.

"Emergency Alert has delivered 7.5 million warning messages for more than 500 emergencies across Australia and the location-based capability will enhance this system even further," Ms Roxon said. Mr Ryan commended the efforts of Victoria's Emergency Services Commissioner Michael Hallowes who had led the negotiations on behalf of the Victorian Government will all three major telecommunications carriers on behalf of all states and territories. "The Emergency Services Commissioner has done an outstanding job working with Telstra, Vodafone and Optus to ensure all three major carriers provide this world first technology to Australia's mobile phone users," Mr Ryan said. "The degree of complexity in delivering technology cannot be underestimated, and we are very proud to see such a great outcome for the people of Victoria and Australia." With this agreement in place, Mr Ryan said all three carriers would have the location-based system in place by the 2013/14 fire season.

"As planned Telstra will deliver location-based capability to its customers by December 2012 and Vodafone and Optus will have it in place ahead of the 2013/14 fire season," Mr Ryan said. "While I am extremely happy that these agreements are in place, I do caution people who enter disaster-prone areas not to solely rely on their mobile phone. "It is important that people tune in to the radio, check emergency services websites and stay aware of conditions."

From http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/ 09/22/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Dept of Immigration Faces FOI Scrutiny

A just-released report by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has warned that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has not fully complied with Freedom of Information (FOI) guidelines and requests for information. This OAIC report highlights delays within DIAC in responding to long-standing information requests, especially those of a complex nature that come under Australian Freedom-of-Information (FOI) guidelines. These delays run counter to Australia's FOI laws and corporate governance arrangements, according to the Australian Information Commissioner, Professor John McMillan. "Timely release of information will promote the democratic objective of promoting public scrutiny, discussion, comment and review of government activity," noted Professor McMillan. He added that the department continued to receive a higher volume of FOI requests compared to any other Australian government agency. "Substantial change is required in how DIAC handles complex and sensitive FOI requests."

In response to this latest report, Martin Bowles Acting Secretary for DIAC, said the department "has been making changes over time." He noted that the department will help, where needed, to improve compliance with Australia's FOI laws and guidelines. A department-wide review will focus on a greater profile for FOI, while highlighting a "whole-of-department responsibility" in responding to information requests. Plans are underway to minimise future delays, while increasing staff awareness about their obligations, especially for complex FOI requests, compared with those involving access to personal information. The OAIC report was initiated following concerns the department had failed "to comply with statutory time-frames" involving response-times. Red flags were raised about an "inefficient management of complex and sensitive FOI requests." Other issues involved inadequate communication with applicants, including delays in processing their requests. In 2010 - 11, DIAC received 8057 document requests under Australia's Freedom of Information Act. This represented the largest number of such requests received by any Australian government agency.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/02/2012

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Dept of Parliamentary Services, Australia, Appoints First CIO

The Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) in Australia has appointed Eija Seittenranta as its first Chief Information Office (CIO), as part of an ongoing effort to reorganise ICT service delivery to parliamentarians and their offices. Seittenranta is currently the General Manager of ICT Infrastructure at the Department of Human Resources, Australia. The new position was created following the release of a report called the 'Review of Information and Communication Technology for the Parliament', commonly known as the Roche report. The report recommended the creation of the office of CIO to manage the currently fragmented ICT services, strategies and staff for Parliament. The key issue reviewed by the report was "how to plan for and manage the delivery of ICT services to the Parliament in a way that best meets the differing requirements and priorities of the key stakeholders both effectively and efficiently".

Seittenranta's initial task in her new position will be to start implementing the 12 recommendations of the Roche report, which include the formation of a 'one-stop-shop' for ICT services to the Parliament. Currently, IT services provided to Parliament members are split amongst different departments. For example, desktop equipment for Parliamentary suites is provided by the Departments of the Senate and House of Representatives, but equipment for electorate offices is managed by DPS. The Department of Finance and Deregulation provides printing services and mobile phones to parliamentarians. The 'one-stop-shop' recommended by the Roche report will be established in DPS, and will manage the acquisition, installation, support and disposal of hardware and software systems for parliamentarians and their staff, in both the parliament suites and electoral offices. It will also provide mobile computing solutions to parliamentarians.

Additionally, the Roche report recommends the establishment of a Parliamentary ICT Advisory Board, which will be tasked with the creation of a parliament-wide ICT Strategic Plan to "ensure that stakeholder priorities are reflected in the investment decisions on technology and business systems". The Advisory Board will regularly review progress against the Strategic Plan and advise the new CIO on the overall objectives and desired outcomes. The recommendations of the report also aim to enhance flexibility in ICT services to parliamentarians to make it easier for them to choose which solution provider they wish to use.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/18/2012

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FIJI: Urge to Reserve Parliament Seats for Women

Women's rights campaigners in Fiji are calling for half of the country's political positions to be reserved for women. The Fiji Women Rights Movement and the Women's Crisis centre called for the change in its submission to the Constitution Commission. The movement's program officer Tara Chetty has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat Fiji is not alone in its gender imbalance. "Fiji, as well as the rest of the Pacific, has an absolutely atrocious record in terms of women's representation in national decision-making," she said. "The best we've ever peaked at is around 17 per cent, and that's if you're including both houses. It's usually running at under 10 per cent, and it's widely acknowledged that the Pacific is simply the worst in the whole world in terms of women's representation." The move follows a similar campaign in Papua New Guinea to reserve 22 seats in parliament for women, and a call by women in Vanuatu to boycott male candidates in this month's elections.

Ms Chetty says the move in Fiji would be a temporary measure, to deal with the country's massive gender imbalance in power. "We feel that we've been under represented for far too long, and this is not the time to be playing it coy and asking for 10 per cent here or 20 per cent there, but rather to state very clearly what we want to see," she said. "Obviously that is a negotiable position, but we wanted to make our position clear, that we are very serious about [this], and that it can't just happen organically on its own." The Constitution Commission will submit a draft to a Constituent Assembly in January, with the new constitution drawn up before the country's national elections, scheduled for 2014. Ms Chetty says the current process is the perfect time to map out how Fiji brings more women into decision-making roles.

"Where we've seen it happen most successfully is where there have been temporary special measures for women in decision-making," she said. "Pressure has been put on in different ways, so where there's not an official national quota, like in Australia for example, people have worked through the party system. "So there's lots of different options in terms of what type of temporary measures you use, but the point is we need some, and we need them to come from the constitution."

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/ 10/12/2012

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Salary Access Boost for Rural Civil Servants

CIVIL servants living in remote stations and outer islands can now access their salary at anytime and from anywhere through a partnership between the Ministry of Finance and Vodafone Fiji. Civil servants are able to receive notifications on their mobile phones through the M-PAiSA service. Permanent secretary for Finance Filimone Waqabaca was at the signing of the partnership that will benefit more than 2800 civil servants across the country. "Many of our employees are based in remote islands or attached to rural development projects. For these employees, accessing their salary means leaving their job sites to collect their pay. It would be far more convenient for these workers to receive their pay on their mobile phones," he said. Civil servants can receive their fortnightly or weekly wages from any Post Fiji outlet or any M-PAiSA agent. "Vodafone is well-placed with its M-PAiSA platform to offer this new and convenient payment option to business and individual customers," Vodafone managing director, Aslam Khan said. He said Vodafone expected to see mobile payments reach the $17billion mark globally by 2013. Mr Waqabaca said government was pleased to embark on this new journey where they are assisting families of civil servants get access to their salary in a more convenient way. "This would mean improved productivity and better service delivery from government workers," Mr Waqabaca said.

From http://www.fijitimes.com/ 10/20/2012

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Awards for Best in Civil Service

Civil servants in Fiji have the solemn duty to uphold their vows and serve all Fijians with absolute dedication and integrity. These were the words of Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama as he awarded the best in Fiji's civil service at the Service Excellence Awards held at Novotel Convention Centre in Lami on Friday night. Speaking to about 500 civil servants, dignitaries, ministers, permanent secretaries and members of the diplomatic corps, Commodore Bainimarama said the awards honoured a few whose performances were exceptional. "These are people who have gone beyond the call of duty and who represent the finest traditions of the civil service," Commodore Bainimarama said. He said the civil servants are the backbone of government, the people who keep the machinery of the State running. "It is your skill that is delivering the best practice, your hard work that sets the standards for others, your integrity that keeps the civil service free of widespread corruption," Commodore Bainimarama said.

He said the government also understands that there are elements in the civil service who have not measured up to the standard. "There is incompetence, laziness and corruption and there is no excuse for this." Commodore Bainimarama highlighted that his government was determined to rid the service of inefficient and incompetent workers. "If you are corrupt, we will find you and deal with you with the full force of the law," he said. Meanwhile, out of the 27 ministries that participated, 11 ministries received the Achievement Level Award while seven ministries received the Commitment Level Award.

Achievement Level:
* Ministry of iTaukei Affairs
* Office of the Prime Minister
* Judicial Department
* Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment
* Ministry of Youths and Sports
* Office of the Auditor General
* Ministry of Provincial Development and National Disaster Management Office
* Ministry of Works, Transport and Public Utilities
* Ministry of Finance
* Fiji Corrections Services
* Immigration Department

Commitment Level:
* Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority
* Fiji Police Force
* Ministry of Information, National Archives and Library Services of Fiji
* Ministry of Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics
* Ministry of Defence, National Security and Immigration
* Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
* iTaukei Affairs Board

From http://www.fijitimes.com 10/21/2012

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Government Key to Improving Aid Delivery, Peer Review Says

PNG is Australia's biggest recipient of aid, with almost $AU500 million put aside for development work there this year. However, following concerns about the effectiveness of aid projects, it is currently undergoing a peer review and the government has invited specialists from around the Pacific to participate. "If the impediment is in fact our processes and our systems, we cannot hold our people to ransom and we cannot continue to squander and waste all these resources because of the fact that we can't get ourselves organised in the first instance," PNGs Planning Minister, Charles Abel said. The peer review team is comprised of Pacific Islands Forum country experts in planning, budgeting, public financial and aid management systems. They include Noumea Simi from Samoa, Johnson Naviti from Vanuatu, Matthew Pativato from Solomon Islands and Richard Woodham from New Zealand.

"What appears to be lacking at this stage is the ability to be able to follow on from the policy documents so that there is implementation," Ms Simi told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program. "I think that what is needed most at this point in time is the leadership of government to be able to institute such measures for donor coordination . . . There is a disconnect between what the donors are doing and what the government is doing," she said. Mr Pativato said he believed PNG was "progressing well" but said: "We can see there is a still long way to go to meet these international principles on aid effective." The PNG government is planning to use the peer review to improve planning and budgeting systems, according to Mr Abel.

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/ 10/15/2012

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ITU: South Korea Top ICT Nation Again

Summary: The Asian giant is the most advanced ICT economy in the International Telecommunication Union's ICT Development Index, making it the third time in a row South Korea has clinched top spot. South Korea has topped a global list ranking countries on their level of ICT access, use and skills, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In its report released Thursday, the United Nations agency said this is the third time in a row that South Korea has come in first in the ICT Development Index (IDI). The Asian state has the highest percentage of households connected to the Internet at 67 percent, while both mobile broadband and fixed broadband penetration rates were at 84 percent to propel it to the top, it noted. South Korea has also made ICT development a policy priority and integrated its use in many aspects of society. The Korea Communications Commission (KCC), in particular, had "effectively [regulated] a highly dynamic and competitive telecommunication market, and [pushed] forward innovations and improvements such as the deployment of LTE in 2011", the ITU noted. As for the rest of the top 10, Europe dominated the list with Sweden ranked second, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Finland. Japan was the only other Asia-Pacific country in the top end, coming in eighth.

Large digital divide still
The top 30 countries in the IDI had been high-income countries, which highlights the link between income and ICT progress. The IDI values are on average twice as high in developed countries compared with developing ones, the ITU noted. "Some barriers faced by developing countries include the cost of devices and connections, the low speed and quality of broadband connections, the limited availability of ICT services outside major urban areas, and more generally, inherent development challenges related to poverty and literacy level," the report said. Developing countries, however, also made up the majority of those which have made the most progress in terms of ICT development, and Bahrain, Kazakhstan and Vietnam are some examples. This shows that many developing countries are catching up quickly to bridge the digital divide, the agency added.

3G prices, coverage needs to improve
Within the mobile sector, for instance, developing countries now account for the majority of market growth with cellular mobile subscription registering continuous double-digit growth. This helped boost the global total to 6 billion mobile subscriptions by end-2011, with China and India each accounting for some 1 billion subscriptions. The growth of mobile broadband services was also a promising development as such services are now more widely accessible in developing countries. "The surge in numbers of mobile broadband subscriptions in developing countries has brought the Internet to a multitude of new users. But despite the downward trend, prices remain relatively high in many low-income countries," Brahima Sanou, director of ITU's telecommunications development bureau, in the report. "For mobile broadband to replicate the cellular mobile miracle and bring more people from developing countries online, 3G network coverage has to be extended and prices have to go down even further," Sanou stated.

From http://www.zdnet.com/ 10/12/2012

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UNISDR Chief Calls for Women to Take Lead in Disaster Management

The Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) called on Friday for women and girls to take leadership in disaster management for better disaster reduction. Margareta Wahlstrom, also Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, said emphasis should be put on the greater involvement of women and girls before disaster strike to build true disaster resilience. She said the focus of this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction, which is on Saturday, is on women and girls whose efforts to build resilience to disasters often go unrecognized, with the theme "Women and Girls - the (in)Visible Force of Resilience." "Women are responsible for many of the key strategic decisions of daily life. In many parts of the world this includes securing food, water and energy. They have real impact when they are fully involved in community planning for disaster risk reduction," Wahlstrom said. She urged the international communities and national authorities to empower more women and girls to engage as volunteers and develop careers in disaster management. Also on Friday, Wahlstrom honored Yingluck Shinawatra, the Prime Minister of Thailand, as a leading woman figure in disaster management.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/13/2012

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ITU, Asia Broadcasting Union Call for Action to Get More Women into Technology and Media

Leaders attending an Asia-Pacific high-level forum have issued a rallying call for greater participation of women in media, information and communication technology (ICT) and communications across the region. The call came at the end of the two-day 'Women With the Wave' forum in Korea, with delegates urging media industry leaders, governments and international organizations to work harder to promote greater female representation in industry workplaces and on the airwaves. They stressed the need for a gender inclusive media and information and communication technology (ICT) environment that empowers women and girls to work in the media and ICT fields across all levels and occupational groups, both on- and off-screen. They also called for women to be given greater access to technological and digital platforms, and advocated for a positive, non-stereotypical and balanced portrayal across all forms of media and technological platforms. The forum was one of a number of events leading up to the 49th General Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) in Seoul. It featured a keynote speech by Oscar winning actor and advocate Geena Davis, who was recently appointed ITU's Special Envoy for Women and Girls.

"The time for change is now, and all of you in this room are powerful agents of change," said Ms Davis. I'd like to applaud Asian broadcasters, filmmakers, Internet stakeholders, academics and others in taking the lead to change the image of women and girls in ICTs. From Korea's famous K-dramas to Bollywood musicals, we need the characters that will inspire tomorrow's tech-centered professionals." The final statement issued by the forum paid tribute to the ABU, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), host organization the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), and other participating partners for helping to highlight the crucial role media plays in promoting women's full participation in all aspects of life and society. "We note that women and girls make up 50 per cent of the world's population and that equal rights and opportunity underpin healthy economies and societies," the statement says. "We call on all who can assist to recognize the digital wave now sweeping the world and to join us in supporting the preparation of women and girls for the opportunities and benefits which the knowledge society is now bringing to families worldwide, and which will do so even more in the future," it concludes.

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Tour¨¦ highlighted his organization's strong commitment to harnessing ICTs to empower women, both through improved access to new technologies and through training opportunities that will help them pursue a career in the fast-growing ICT sector. "ITU's Tech Needs Girls campaign and recently launched annual Tech Needs Girls Prize targets girls aged 9-18 at the time when they are forming opinions and making career choices. Together, the campaign and prize aim to help them see a connection between tech and their daily lives, gain confidence in their skills and find fun in ICT. In addition, our comprehensive multilingual Girls in ICT Portal highlights tech scholarships, training opportunities and mentorship programmes for girls and women around the world," he said. ABU Secretary General Dr Javad Mottaghi said the Union fully supported the forum's statement, adding that it would continue to do whatever it could to promote the cause of gender equality among its 220 members in the Asia-Pacific and partners worldwide. "Having more women at all levels in the media and new technologies is not only morally right but it makes great sense economically," he said.

The forum issued a nine-point plan of practical action that included greater effort from media leaders, greater consideration of research on gender bias, better access to training for women and girls, wider use of resources, more active promotion of gender equality, and greater cooperation to tackle gender inequality across the media and ICT industries. It also emphasized the need to promote women and girls in media and ICT, including developing programming story lines with women in ICT careers and promoting the Women's Digital Literacy Campaign. Forum delegates called on assistance from intergovernmental agencies such as ITU, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia-Pacific (ESCAP), UNESCO and UN Women, professional associations of broadcasters such as the ABU, regional training institutions such as the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) and the Asian Media and Information Communication Centre (AMIC), commercial businesses and foundations, relevant NGOs and tertiary education institutions, including university journalism and communication departments. At its 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference, ITU endorsed the celebration of an annual global Girls in ICT Day. In 2013, this day will be celebrated on 25 April, with governments, private industry, UN agencies and NGOs encouraged to invite girls and university students to spend the day at their offices, or organize 'shadowing' programmes with female mentors, so that they gain a better understanding of the opportunities offered by the ICT sector. For more information on 2013 activities, contact the team at girlsinict@itu.int or via Facebook at: www.facebook.com/TechNeedsGirls

From http://www.itu.int/ 10/16/2012

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Globe Breaks Ground on New Data Centre

Globe Business recently announced the expansion of its facilities with a formal groundbreaking ceremony to provide its ever-increasing number of enterprise clients with Tier-grade data center services. This major expansion of Globe Business' flagship MK2 data center adheres to the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) 942 Tier III standards. The new building adds 1,408-sq. m. floor space providing additional capacity to serve new and existing data center customers and part of the Globe Business core network. The design and implementation of network infrastructure ensure maximum availability, security and redundancy, enabling a high level of data center service available in the Philippines. Its tier-grade facilities, proximity and availability of commercial services make it a preferred location of customers, which can easily expand or upgrade their subscription with sufficient connectivity to serve scalable bandwidth requirements.

According to Globe Business, the purposely-built building is designed with fully-redundant N+1 configuration, giving customers peace of mind since their data is housed within a stable, resilient and redundant environment. Back-up systems are ready to ensure continuous availability. In addition, the Globe Data Center provides 24/7 security for the entire structure which is centrally and automatically monitored, particularly the electromechanical equipment and auxiliary systems, to ensure a stable operating environment. Separate areas are built for common racks, caged areas and high-density equipment based on customer requirements. It is equipped with a separate generator set and uninterrupted power supply-battery room. Precision Air Handling Units or PAHUs provide proper internal cooling systems. Globe Head of Business Products and Services Cocoy Claravall said that the company's existing data center has been the premier data facility in the country. "Customers prefer us over competition. It is our responsibility to make sure they will have best-in-class facilities so we continue to upgrade our service. Looking at it from a worldwide perspective, the trend has been going up for IT as well as data center services. We want to make sure that locally, our customers have access to the best data center facility available in the Philippines and ready for global standard certification, thus this major expansion."

Head of Globe Business Jesus Romero confirmed the company's prominence in the data center space, saying that "we are already the largest data center provider, with four of at least 300 sq. m. each in Makati, Quezon City and Cebu and two others in Manila and Mandaluyong, effectively cementing our leadership with this expansion project. Not to mention the ongoing construction of a new one in Cavite and an expansion for our Makati data center in the works. Once completed, the undisputed leadership position of Globe Business is thereby further strengthened, and with a firm foothold in the industry. No other data center has the breadth, depth and scale of this structure and magnitude." He said that the establishment of the new data center will help continue to propel the company's momentum. "We've been the pioneer in this business since more than 11 years ago when we started offering data services. Being the premier data center for the Philippines, we now have a sizeable number of enterprise and service-provider customers." "This expansion only signifies that we are getting a lot more customers and their trust. With the current trend of enterprises moving their data center facilities toward managed services, I think it is really a good sign that companies are finding a lot of value in it," he said.

With regard to industry norms, Romero said that "the company strictly adheres to international industry-established TIA 942 Tier III standards, meaning everything is redundant. Tier IV is the highest and the next logical succeeding level after. "Expressing his confidence, Claravall said that "this is just the start of the many similar endeavors lined-up as we are also re-designing and expanding our Cebu data center. This will help Globe Business maintain its leadership in data storage service." Company officials confirmed the target completion of whole infrastructure by Jan. 2013. It is earmarked to be of the same stature as the other Globe Business data centers which have the distinction of having three global industry certifications: ISO 9001:2008 for Quality Management System, ISO 27001:2005 for Information Security Management System and BS 25999:2007 for Business Continuity Management System.

From http://www.totaltele.com/ 10/18/2012

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ITU Telecom World 2012 Sets Platform for Young Innovators: Tomorrow's Leaders

The Young Innovators Competition at ITU Telecom World 2012 came to a conclusion in Dubai following five days of workshops, mentoring and pitching sessions which ended with a lively debate between young social entrepreneurs and leaders of industry, government and academia. Finalists of the Young Innovators Competition were joined by 2011 competition winners and a distinguished panel featuring Minister of Rwanda Jean Philibert Nsengimana, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Tour¨¦, Karim Lesina, Executive Director of AT&T, Osman Sultan, CEO of du; Ali Jazairy, Head of Innovation and Technology Transfer at WIPO; Didier Fass of LORIA Nancy; Sarah Lamb, Consultant, Technet, and Founder of Girl Geek Dinners."You are all winners and future leaders in an industry where the future is bright and the sky is no longer the limit," Dr Tour¨¦ said. The debate highlighted education; political will; business incubators; and commitment from the corporate sector to employ young people on merit as most important factors in enabling success. Mr Jazairy said, "You can build a flagless revolution based on innovation and knowledge, and we will follow you." "As young innovators, we need investment, mentoring and advice to get our projects started," said competition finalist Linkest Diwan, whose Crisis Communicator project offers a total disaster management system. "I'm really happy the ITU Young Innovators Competition exists. It provides innovators with social purpose a leg up, coaching and exposure. If there were more programmes like this on the planet, I believe the economic and environmental crises we have would be over in a day."

The Minister for Youth and Information and Communication Technologies of Rwanda, Mr Jean Philibert Nsengimana announced the launch of Transform Africa, a conference and exhibition for young entrepreneurs from Africa and around the world, to be held in Kigali, Rwanda, 18-22 March, 2013. He explained that the conference will invite young ICT entrepreneurs from across Africa to training, development and workshops, plus high-level ministerial round table discussions and connections with investors in Rwanda and beyond. "The number of mobile subscriptions in Africa has doubled in the past six years," said Mr Nsengimana. "In Rwanda, the increase has been ten-fold over the same time period. Transform Africa will catalyse the transformation of the economic landscape of enterprises." The annual Young Innovators Competition offers young social entrepreneurs the chance to shine an international spotlight on their innovative and creative ICT-based projects or concepts to drive socio-economic development. The twelve finalists were selected to attend ITU Telecom World 2012, the leading global platform for knowledge-sharing, debate and networking in the ICT community, on the basis of the business viability and potential social impact of their projects.

From http://www.itu.int/ 10/18/2012

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ITU Releases Latest Global Technology Development Figures

New figures released today by ITU show that information and communication technology (ICT) uptake continues to grow worldwide, spurred by a steady fall in the price of telephone and broadband Internet services. The new data, released in ITU's flagship annual report Measuring the Information Society 2012, rank the Republic of Korea as the world's most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. Of the ten top-ranked countries, eight are from Europe. The two remaining countries both come from the Asia-Pacific region, with the Republic of Korea in first place, and Japan ranked 8th. The top five countries have not changed their rank between 2010 and 2011. The only new entrant in the top ten is the UK, which moved up from 14th place last year to 9th place in 2012. ITU's ICT Development Index (IDI)* ranks 155 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2010 and 2011 scores. All countries in the IDI top 30 are high-income countries, underlining the strong link between income and ICT progress. There are large differences between developed and developing countries, with IDI values on average twice as high in the developed world compared with developing countries. The report identifies the group of countries with the lowest IDI levels - so-called 'Least Connected Countries' - and highlights the need for policy makers to pay keen attention to this group. "ITU's Measuring the Information Society report is the most comprehensive statistical and analytical report on the shape of ICT markets worldwide. Our reputation as a wholly impartial and reliable source of ICT market statistics makes this report the annual industry benchmark for technology development," said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Tour¨¦.

From http://www.itu.int/ 10/20/2012

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APEC Strengthens Regional Cooperation on Disaster Preparedness

APEC economies are strengthening regional cooperation to enable the region's citizens and businesses better prepare for disasters. Chairing the 6th APEC Senior Disaster Management Officials Forum, Vladimir Puchkov, Russia's Minister of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters, emphasized the need to expand regional cooperation to increase emergency preparedness in the Asia-Pacific. "The security and safety of our people are necessary prerequisites for the development of our economies," said Mr. Puchkov. "Through the active exchange of ideas at this forum, we will be able take concrete steps towards enhancing human security and reducing the threat of disruptions to business and trade." At the forum, senior-level government officials from APEC emergency services departments exchanged knowledge on integrating state-of-the-art technologies with disaster management systems, such as monitoring and forecasting. They also shared lessons learned from recent large-scale disasters, including the 2011 earthquakes in New Zealand and Japan. "Such major catastrophes in the region are critical reminders of the importance of APEC's emergency preparedness work," said Dr. Li Wei-Sen, Co-Chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group.

Speaking to the delegation, Dr. Li emphasized the need for greater cooperation and information sharing among APEC economies. "Learning from disasters is a very important component in emergency preparedness," he added. "We learn from Japan the essentials of public awareness and we learn from New Zealand the importance of involving the private sector - from these case studies we can very quickly acquire the needed knowledge and implement life-saving actions. "The Asia-Pacific region comprises 52 percent of the earth's surface area and 40 percent of the world's population, and experiences over 70 percent of the world's natural disasters. Disturbingly, scientists warn that the intensity and frequency of disasters in the region will increase in the decades ahead. "Climate change and disasters continually threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the region," said Nguyen Huu Phuc, Co-Chair of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Working Group. "These unfortunate events deeply affect our communities and undermine our efforts towards economic recovery and development." "From the robust discussions we had at this forum, we are fostering closer cooperation and building the capacity of our member economies," he added. Since 2005, APEC has played a role in enabling the region to better prepare for, respond to and recover from threats and devastation caused by natural disasters. By sharing expertise and collaborating on emergency preparedness issues, APEC members strengthen capacity to mitigate emergencies and disasters.

From http://www.apec.org/ 10/10/2012

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ADB Wins 2012 Asia's Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise Award

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been selected as a winner of the prestigious 2012 Asian Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE) award, in recognition of its work to devise knowledge-based products, services, and solutions for development in the region. "Knowledge propels development forward and enhances its effects. To achieve benefits for the poor in Asia and the Pacific, ADB's corporate strategy mandates our organization to develop, disseminate, and apply knowledge solutions," said Seethapathy Chander, Director General of ADB's Regional and Sustainable Development Department. "I am very pleased that, for two consecutive years, the priority that ADB is giving to knowledge solutions has been recognized on the international scene." ADB was among 26 Asian MAKE winners. The MAKE panel comprised Asian-based Fortune 500 senior executives and leading knowledge management experts. Winners were selected based on eight key knowledge performance indicators, including creating a learning organization, innovation, ability to develop knowledge workers through senior management leadership, and having an enterprise knowledge-driven culture. This is the second time ADB was selected as an Asian MAKE winner, after having won the same award in 2011. The prize was presented yesterday at the 13th World Knowledge Forum in Seoul, Republic of Korea, by Teleos, a knowledge management and intellectual capital research firm, in association with the KNOW Network, a web-based global community of organizations dedicated to achieving superior performance through networking, benchmarking, and sharing best knowledge practices.

From http://www.adb.org/ 10/12/2012

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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/ 10/23/2012

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China Clamps Down on Illegal Sales of Retired Vehicles

China's commerce supervisor on Friday ordered local authorities to intensify monitoring of illegal sales of retired vehicles in an effort to protect driver and passenger safety and prevent major traffic accidents. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) ordered local regulators to crack down on the sales of retired cars and their parts and to curb the practice of using parts taken from retired vehicles in other vehicles. In China, passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles normally have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. After this period, the vehicles should be abandoned under a compulsory regulation. Owners who wish to continue driving their retired cars will need to send their cars for safety checks up to four times each year. The SAIC also asked local authorities to step up monitoring on the used car market and clamp down on fraudulent advertisements from sellers in order to protect consumers. Meanwhile, the government agency said it will enhance monitoring over the electric bike market. It ordered local supervisors to crack down on sales of electric bicycles that don't meet standards set by authorities, and said that sellers of unqualified electrical bicycles will be fined.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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Over 800 Mln Chinese Disaster Victims Aided in Last Decade

About 855 million people affected by natural disasters have received assistance from the government over the last decade, according to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Emergency aid and reconstruction for major natural disasters that occurred over the last decade has been completed, the ministry said Saturday, which is also the 23rd International Day for Disaster Reduction. Government investment in disaster reduction allowances jumped from 2.4 billion yuan (about 390 million U.S. dollars) in 2002 to 8.6 billion yuan last year, officials with the ministry said. The amount of the allowances was also raised during the period, with those who lost their homes due to natural disasters receiving 10,000 yuan per household, up from 300 yuan per household, the ministry said. The government also established 18 storage depots for relief supplies, with a network of depots extended to the township level, the ministry said. Multiple droughts, earthquakes and floods have hit several parts of China over the last decade, including severe earthquakes that struck Sichuan and Qinghai provinces in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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China Focuses on Managing Inflation: Senior Official

Yi Gang, vice governor of the People 's Bank of China, made a speech at the last day of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank annual meeting Sunday in Tokyo to explain the monetary policy of China. Yi stressed that the most important job for central bank is to control inflation. China is developing dramatically, and local governments have desires of pursuing higher growth, so the central bank need to remind the governments the danger of inflation. He said the moral explanation is not enough, so the central bank has to use some tools, including required reserved ratio, open market operation, and exchange rate policy, to control the growth rate in a manageable range. Yi said China is in the process of opening up to the world, so the macro economy policy in China has to consider not only domestic problems, but also external issues. China is facing the dual challenges to balance the internal and external markets. China made a lot of efforts on transforming China's economy from centrally planed economy to market oriented one in recent years, including banking reform, interest liberalization, and exchange reform, he said.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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Maps to Be Closely Monitored

China's mapping authority will apply strict measures to prevent the distribution of maps that contradict the country's territorial stance. Maps have been found that contain a number of mistakes relating to Chinese territory, including marking the wrong borders, or identifying sensitive or classified geographical information. The map information should be regulated in accordance with the law, a notice issued by the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geo-information has stated. The publication of maps will be more strictly overseen by the mapping authorities, and publishing houses will be required to have the relevant qualifications before they publish maps, said the notice, which was posted on the website of the administration on Friday. Online maps that incorrectly show China's territory will be banned and websites uploading incorrect maps will be shut down. Maps brought into the country from overseas will be strictly monitored to prevent territorial misinformation and the distribution of classified information, said the notice.

Customs will confiscate any products with incorrect maps, and any devices or books that contain maps, such as GPS systems, road maps, atlases and travel guides, will be strictly checked before they are imported or exported, according to the notice. Of the 10 cases of illegal mapping last year, two involved incorrect maps. Those found to be violating the laws in the two illegal cases have been punished, Xu Yao, an official from the publicity department of the administration, said on Tuesday. In May 2011, customs at Shanghai Pudong International Airport stopped the export of a batch of uncensored 14-inch world globes. The maps on the globes did not mark the islands in the South China Sea, the Diaoyu Islands, and the Chiwei Islet as Chinese territories, the administration said in a statement. The companies in charge of the export of the globes received a warning from the local government but escaped punishment because the globes did not reach overseas markets and therefore did not create a negative influence, said the statement. In a separate case, the Chinese edition of National Geographic magazine published maps that did not mark the islands in the South China Sea, the Diaoyu Islands, and the Chiwei Islet as Chinese territory. The incorrect maps appeared in the first five editions of 2010, and in the third and sixth editions of 2011.

Li Qinggong, deputy secretary-general with the national security policy commission of the China Association of Policy and Science, said mapping geographical information should be strictly regulated because it is a kind of State practice as opposed to an individual activity. "Problematic maps with wrong information about borders could trigger diplomatic disputes, or even diplomatic protests," he said. "It would cause grave effects if some of the territories were missed in the maps." There are nearly 300 agencies nationwide qualified to provide online mapping services. The mapping administration has suspended the mapping services of 65 websites that did not have the relevant qualifications, according to a statement of the administration.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/23/2012

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JAPAN: Tokyo to Buy Mountain Forests / 570-Hectare Purchase Would Protect Watershed Areas from Development

The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to purchase a vast acreage of mountain forests upstream of the Tamagawa river systems to protect water sources from problematic purchases. The metropolitan government has expressed concern regarding nationwide purchases of land containing mountain forests by foreign investors, including those from China. Due to sluggish business conditions in forest industries, many landowners are considering selling land containing mountain forests, including those in watershed areas. Water source forests are located in water catchment areas upstream of rivers or near dams. The Tamagawa river systems supply about 20 percent of Tokyo's tap water.

The metropolitan government plans to buy about 570 hectares of mountain forests in Okutama, a town in western Tokyo, and Tabayama and Kosuge villages in Yamanashi Prefecture, by the end of this year. The purchase is not the first time the Tokyo government has bought water source forests to preserve the quantity and quality of the water supply. In 1913, the then Tokyo city government also bought upstream areas in the Okutama region and Yamanashi Prefecture. The final such purchase was made in 1933, when the Tokyo city government bought about 4,780 hectares in Okutama. Since the Tokyo city government was reorganized into the metropolitan government, it has not bought any privately owned forests. Although the forestry industry flourished in the Okutama region at the time, it waned nationwide after the end of World War II due to competition with imported wood.

In the Tama region, the number of forestry industry workers has been decreasing since the 1980s, while an increasing number of landowners have sold off mountain forests. Water source forests have also deteriorated. In 2007, Typhoon No. 9 caused landslides and other damage to land in the region. It also caused a huge quantity of fallen trees and dirt to accumulate at the Ogochi Dam in Okutama. The metropolitan government's Bureau of Waterworks said prices of mountain forests have almost bottomed out. However, a metropolitan government survey conducted in 2008 found that nearly 20 percent of about 600 owners of mountain forests in the Tama region said they wanted to sell if possible. In Hokkaido and Okinawa prefectures, foreign investors have bought mountain forests with the intention of developing resorts. However, there are no laws or ordinances regulating land purchases by foreign investors.

Since 2010, the metropolitan government has solicited owners of forests measuring five hectares or larger in watershed areas to sell their land, and has received over 300 inquiries. Metropolitan government officials said some owners had been asked by foreign investors to sell their land. Of a total of 48,000 hectares of forests in upstream water catchment areas above the Hamura diversion weir in Hamura, Tokyo, the metropolitan government has designated about 21,600 hectares as sources of tap water. The metropolitan government owns and manages the forests.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/14/2012

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Job Skill Assistance Fails to Help 36% Find Work

About 36 percent of cases in which an allowance was provided for people to acquire job skills in Tokyo and 22 prefectures in fiscal 2009 and 2010 did not lead to employment because recipients abandoned efforts to obtain the necessary certification, and for other reasons, according to the Board of Audit. The allowance is a benefit aimed at reducing the number of people on welfare, which has been setting records year after year. Of 18,000 cases nationwide with about 960 million yen in allowances paid out, the audit board investigated 13,500 cases in which 690 million yen was doled out in fiscal 2009 and 2010 in the 23 prefectures. The allowances paid in 4,950 cases, 36 percent of the total, did not lead to employment, indicating that about 120 million yen was wasted. The board found that of those who failed to find work, 1,270 cases did not obtain certification. Some of them failed to pass examinations, but about half of them stopped taking lessons or training sessions.

Some recipients only paid the first installment of the tuition and used the rest of the allowance on themselves. About 3,680 cases obtained certification but did not get a job. The harsh employment environment was responsible up to a point, but it is believed some did not try hard enough to find a job. Some people even applied repeatedly for the allowance, according to the Board of Audit. An informal job offer is not a condition to receiving the allowance, and it is paid to those who want it as long as local governments approve. According to a local government official, there are many cases in which the allowance is paid to motivate people to get a job even though they do not have a strong desire to work. The board said it was necessary to strengthen measures to ensure effective use of the allowance by checking whether the recipients actually attend training sessions and seek jobs, as a large amount of government money is involved. The allowance is part of occupational assistance, which is one of eight welfare benefits that include housing and medical assistance. Local governments confirm people's willingness to work and pay up to 74,000 yen, as of fiscal 2012, to those who want certification to obtain a job such as a nursing-care worker. Up to 380,000 yen is paid to those who plan to take a driver's license. According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, about 550 million yen was paid to a total of 10,994 cases in fiscal 2010.

New system proposed
As part of its job assistance for welfare recipients, the ministry announced last month a draft policy to help needy people. To strengthen job assistance, the ministry proposed a new system in which places for light work are provided for people to boost their desire to obtain a job and a certain amount of money is paid to them when they get off welfare, depending on their income. Behind these moves is a sense of crisis over an increase in the number of people who are able to work but do not have a job. As of the end of fiscal 2010, about 300,000 unemployed people were receiving welfare benefits although they were able to work, according to the ministry.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/17/2012

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Govt to Help N-evacuees Find Jobs in Hometowns

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will start helping people who were forced to evacuate after the outbreak of last year's nuclear crisis find jobs in their hometowns from fiscal 2013.The ministry will provide job search support subsidies to eight municipalities near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The eight municipalities are the cities of Minami-Soma and Tamura, the towns of Naraha, Hirono, Kawamata and Namie, and the villages of Kawauchi and Katsurao. Ministry officials said the subsidies will help cover the costs of job seminars, workplace training, and other programs such as orientation for former farmers now trying to launch careers as corporate employees. To help increase jobs in the eight municipalities, the ministry will also support local companies seeking job applicants, the officials added.

The ministry will dispatch about five officials to the Fukushima Regional Labor Bureau, where they will work as part-time coordinators for employment support. The coordinators will help municipal officials draw up business attraction and job creation plans that would qualify as projects covered by state budget funds for postdisaster reconstruction. The ministry will also open a special job support desk for evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture in Tokyo, Yamagata, Niigata, Saitama and Osaka prefectures, where many disaster victims live as evacuees, the officials said. The special desks, which will be established in Hello Work public job placement centers, will have consultants originally from Fukushima Prefecture, the officials added. The ministry sought 550 million yen for these employment support projects in its budget request for fiscal 2013.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/22/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Groups Seek to Establish Labor Unions for Elderly, Youth

Two groups, one promoting the rights of senior citizens and the other that of young people, are seeking to establish labor unions for their generations. On Tuesday, a group for the aged submitted the plan to the Ministry of Employment and Labor in order to promote welfare for the elderly. Another group representing the youth concurrently submitted its plan to set up a labor union to protect the rights of young people. The groups argued that they are making such a motion to protect their legal rights, and asked the ministry to recognize the legal status of the proposed labor unions. The government has rejected the request from the group representing the youth, which launched in 2010, citing that the union includes job seekers who do not have the right for collective bargaining. The group for the elderly was founded last month.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/02/2012

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ICLEI Office to Open in Seoul

The East Asian office of the world's largest international environment organization will open in Seoul Friday, according to the city government Wednesday. Municipal officials said that they will hold the opening ceremony for the regional secretariat of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) in central Seoul, with leaders of some 20 member cities from 15 participating countries. Setting up a branch in the Korean capital was decided in June during the world congress of the ICLEI, which is made up of some 1,220 local authorities from 84 countries. The Seoul office is the council's eighth regional secretariat, and will help 91 member cities from six countries in the region form networks and develop green growth policies. On the occasion of the office opening, the city will host a meeting, "ICLEI-Seoul East Asia Days," from Thursday to Saturday.

It will include a forum at City Hall, with about 300 participants including the heads of 20 overseas cities, chiefs of domestic local authorities, officials from related international organizations and civic group members. On Friday, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon will preside over a joint meeting of the ICLEI Global Executive Committee and the World Mayors Council on Climate Change (WMCCC) as chairman of the latter. Another session will be held the next day where participants will discuss ways for local authorities to lead in the sustainable production and consumption of energy. They will also announce the 2012 Seoul Energy and Climate Declaration of Local Governments, through which municipalities will reduce their use of fossil fuel and nuclear energy.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 10/17/2012

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Emergency Response System to Be Beefed Up After Gas Leak

The government said Friday it will overhaul its emergency response system against natural disasters and manmade hazards to help officials cope with incidents more quickly. The Ministry of Public Administration and Safety said it has decided to beef up the system because not only residents but also livestock and plants are suffering from snowballing damage following a toxic chemical leak in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, on Sept. 27.The authorities have come under criticism for their slow response to the incident. "We haven't outlined the overhaul plan yet because we're still working on the case, but we will come up with improvements," said Lim Sang-kyu, the director of the ministry's Disaster Response Division.

Lim said the ministry will publish a revised emergency manual to provide step-by-step guidelines for countermeasures against unexpected accidents. The disaster at the Gumi Industrial Complex occurred when the four workers at a plant tried to move 12 tons of hydrofluoric acid from a tanker truck to a storage tank without connecting the hose properly. The toxic chemical fumes that can cause blindness and damage to lungs, bones, and the nervous system spurted from the tanker truck and spread through the air. The four workers died of severe acid burns shortly after they were taken to hospital. The local authorities, however, were negligent in evacuating residents in time and alerting the government for assistance and emergency measures. Hundreds of hectares of farmland and orchards were devastated and thousands of livestock fell ill.

During the annual parliamentary audit and inspection of government agencies this week, lawmakers pointed out that firefighters and rescue workers were wrongly instructed by the National Institute of Environmental Research, an affiliate of the Ministry of Environment that deals with chemical leaks. "The rescue workers used water, instead of limestone powder, to wash out hydrofluoric acid from the disaster zone," said Rep. Kim Kyung-hyup of the Democratic United Party (DUP), Friday. "And that's because the institute did not have sufficient information to deal with such a situation and provided wrong information to the fire and rescue service." The government was also criticized for belatedly holding an emergency vice-ministerial meeting on Oct. 4, one week after the incident occurred.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 10/19/2012

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Park Pledges to Expand Police Force to Bolster Public Safety

Ruling party presidential candidate Park Geun-hye pledged Friday to expand the country's police force by 20,000 members as part of efforts to prevent violent crimes and improve public safety. In a news conference apparently timed to come ahead of Police Day on Oct. 21, the 60-year-old standard-bearer of the conservative Saenuri Party said the additional police force would put the country on a par with advanced nations in terms of the population-to-police officer ratio. "I will increase the police force by 4,000 each year over the next five years for a total increase of 20,000, and improve public safety to the same level as advanced nations," she said during the press conference at her party headquarters. "I will (reduce) the number of citizens per police officer to under 400 as in advanced nations."

South Korea is scheduled to hold a presidential election on Dec. 19, and the next president will take office in February for a single five-year term. Currently, each officer in South Korea is responsible for an average of 501 citizens, compared to 354 in the United States, 380 in Britain, 301 in Germany and 494 in Japan, according to the Saenuri Party. Park also said she would create a new post of deputy police chief to handle violent antisocial crimes such as rapes and murders of women and children. Such types of crime have turned into a major political issue in the country after a number of women and young girls have been kidnapped, raped and sometimes killed by social outcasts in a series of shocking incidents. "The lives and property of the people should be the top priority and there can be no happiness without safety," Park said.

The elder daughter of late President Park Chung-hee also promised to improve working conditions for police officers by pushing to raise their salaries and allowances for nighttime and weekend duty. She did not, however, lay out a clear plan for how she would tackle lingering resentment among the police over a controversial ordinance they say gives the prosecution greater control over their investigation rights. "In order to have effective and responsible investigations, we need a logical separation of roles based on the principle of checks and balances between the police and the prosecution," Park said. "I will create the stable public safety system the people wish for by adjusting the relationship between the police and the prosecution into one in which they monitor each other and keep each other in check."

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 10/19/2012

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President Lee Calls for Measures to Improve Public Security

President Lee Myung-bak urged South Korean police Friday to come up with fundamental measures for public security, saying nobody can lead a happy life in an insecure environment. President Lee said during the 67th Police Day ceremony that South Korean citizens were shocked by a recent series of crimes targeting women and children. He said protecting the safety of the citizens is the reason police exist, stressing that sexual violence, violence against children, and school violence must be resolved with strong determination. Lee also said that the current administration believes safety is the highest form of welfare and that the number of police officers has been increased by around six-thousand since the 1990s. He asked police officers to make a difference that the citizens can recognize. Around three-thousand government officials, foreign attaches and police officers took part in the Police Day ceremony.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/19/2012

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Incheon to Host UN Green Climate Fund

The South Korean city of Incheon has been selected to house the headquarters of the United Nation's Green Climate Fund. Twenty-four member countries of the fund convened at Songdo Convensia in Incheon early Saturday to vote for the future home of the secretariat. Six cities were in the running, including Incheon and Bonn, Germany. The voting was carried out in five consecutive sessions, with each session eliminating the city with the fewest number of votes. Incheon and Bonn were the strongest candidates, with Bonn promising financial funding and Incheon emphasizing the city's latest technology and nature-friendly environment. The fund will move its headquarters into a new building in Songdo International Business District in Incheon next year. The building will accommodate more than eight-thousand workers, and the move is expected to generate an annual 380 billion won in financial effects.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/20/2012

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INDONESIA: President Appeals to Developing Markets to Tackle Trade Barriers

JAKARTA, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called on the developing countries to team up to tackle the trade barriers in a bid to promote world trade development at the 2012 World Export Development Forum (WEDF) here on Monday. The three-day forum with the theme "Linking Growth Markets: New Dynamics in Global Trade" was organized by the Indonesian Trade Ministry and International Trade Center, and attended by more than 500 delegates from 50 countries. "Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) in developing countries often represent a major impediment to international trade and market access." Yudhoyono said in his speech at the opening ceremony. The president explained that within the South-South trade, NTMs could be as high as conventional tariffs, adding that although the WTO has addressed this issue, there remain some aspects which are not yet fully dealt with. He stressed that the objectives of lowering barriers in trade among countries must be achieved, "with lower barriers, we will have increase in trade. And as trade increases, the global growth will also rise." he said. "Therefore, I invite all of you to discuss and showcase initiatives that could enhance regulatory transparency and predictability, especially of the Non-Tariff Measures." said the president. The 2012 World Export Development Forum in Jakarta was the 13th forum since 1999 initiated by the International Trade Center. WEDF is a forum where developing markets are exposed to the knowledge and technical information necessary for them to compete on an equal footing with their developed nation counterparts.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/15/2012

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Indonesia to Host Asian Meeting on Disaster Reduction Next Week

JAKARTA, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) - More than 1,200 participants, including 49 officials at ministerial level, from Asia are to gather in Indonesia's Yogyakarta province to take part in Asian ministerial disaster risk reduction conference on Oct. 23 to 25, official said here on Friday. The fifth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) is to be opened by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, spokesman of Indonesia's Disaster Management and Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said here. Risk and impact of the disaster in all areas in the region would be the main agenda, he said. "The conference would discuss on how to boost action on local level and to reduce the risk of disaster," Sutopo told Xinhua by phone. Last year, Asian countries dominated on the lists of countries hit by disaster, he said. 137 out of 302 catastrophes took place in Asia and caused economic loss of more than 294 billion U.S. dollars, said Sutopo. The conference is the first meeting of officials at the ministerial level to consider the continuation of the first comprehensive agreement on reduction of disaster risk, he said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/19/2012

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MYANMAR: Seeking to Ease Land Price-Hike Crisis

YANGON, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) - Myanmar's Yangon regional government is seeking to ease the price-hike crisis with land plots in industrial zones in the former capital which has skyrocketed since 2011. Measures are being sought to bring down the price to enable establishment of factories on the land plots in light of Myanmar's economic reform. Currently, one acre (0.405 hectare) of land plot in Yangon's biggest industrial zone of Hlaingtharya is priced at 250 million Kyats to 400 million Kyats (about 300,000 U.S. dollars to 476,000 U.S. dollars), while in the Thilawa zone one acre is at 190 million Kyats (226,000 U.S. dollars). Entrepreneurs said the current excessively high land prices could affect foreign investment, suggesting that unless reclamation of new land plots, the price can be out of control.

As the land prices go up so do the condominium buildings. People have been investing mainly in the land and apartment in the country, an economist U Ko Ko Htwe said, adding that property- business became developed and the prices rose about ten times within a decade. High land price in industrial zones interferes with local and foreign entrepreneurs. To attract investors, land prices should be controlled systematically, providing all of the required infrastructures, he said. The price hike is not only happening in Yangon region but also in some areas deemed as being able to make good business covering the coastal region and region where hotel business can be expanded. A study reveals that while some people bought land plot for carrying out actual undertakings, some others do nothing on it but keep it at hand and trade it when the price gets higher, resulting in everflying prices. There are also some dozens of land plots owned by a single person, constituting monopoly of the land market.

As the real estate price is going up ceaselessly, people at basic level found it is not easy to possess a private apartment. Likewise, with the ascending land price, the investment capital for investors increases correspondingly. Recently, the Ministry at the President's Office is introducing a measure to establish land price control committees involving the government and the private sectors to deal with the issue in a transparent manner and such committees will be first set up in Yangon and Mandalay. Economic experts said only the application of correct taxation system can bring down the price. In August, Myanmar re-adjusted its tax rate on real estate deal by re-increasing the rate by 22 percent in terms of value on the deal after a provisional measure of reducing such tax had remained unchanged for four years since August 2007.

Buyer who fails to declare one's source of income for the purchase is now re-set to pay 37 percent tax over the deal against only 15 percent introduced in 2007 when it was once reduced from a heavy 50 percent prescribed in 1976. The re-increase of the tax rate is said to burden the buyer, estimating that once the purchasing power drops, the real estate prices could fall slightly according to real estate service agencies. Estate dealers said they are monitoring closely the development for at least six months to see if there is probable resumption of the business to normal. Myanmar's real estate business revived in late 2007 and has kept regaining high prices since then. The prices of land plots, houses, buildings and apartments lying in the commercial center of six Yangon downtown areas especially on the main roads have risen six times compared with the previous five years ago.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/13/2012

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Myanmar Gives Green Light to Foreign Credit Cards

YANGON: Myanmar has given approval for the introduction of Visa and other foreign credit cards, whose absence has been a long-standing headache for visitors. Visa, MasterCard, China UnionPay and Japan Credit Bureau have been granted permission by the finance ministry to enter the long-closed country, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper announced on Friday. It did not say when the introduction would take place. The Post and Telecommunications department and Myanmar Information Technology Co. will handle the technical side of the launch of card services at local banks and ATMs and their usage at hotels and restaurants. Due to decades of US sanctions, major credit cards are not widely accepted in the country, formerly known as Burma, obliging tourists and business people to carry wads of cash. But Washington opened the door to their return earlier this year, easing restrictions after reforms including the release of political prisoners and the election of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament. MasterCard said last month it had signed a deal with Myanmar's Co-Operative Bank that it hoped would pave the way for electronic payments, a move it said would have a "huge impact on tourism and travel".

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/19/2012

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MALAYSIA: More Protection for Whistleblowers

Malaysia has joined more than 50 countries in introducing the whistleblower protection laws in varying scopes as part of their anti-corruption efforts. The laws are meant to encourage individuals to speak out if they find corrupt practices or improper conduct in their workplace. It provides protection to informers, or "whistleblowers", in terms of confidentiality of information as well as immunity from civil and criminal action. The 1863 United States False Claims Act was one of the first laws meant to protect whistleblowers. Enacted during former US president Abraham Lincoln's administration, the act was targeted at catching dishonest suppliers during the American Civil War who would provide ill horses or faulty rifles and ammunition to the Union Military. Under the act, whistleblowers are not only protected from wrongful dismissal, but also promised a percentage of the money recovered or damages won by the government. The US have different types of legal protections for whistleblowers, depending on the subject matter and the state which the case arises.

The Lloyd-La Follette Act of 1912 allowed civil servants to furnish information to the US House of Congress and protects the whistleblower from "unwarranted" and "abusive" removal. Employee protections were also introduced in several US environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act 1972, Safe Drinking Water Act 1974, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act 1976, Toxic Substances Control Act 1976 and the Clean Air Act 1990. Under most of these laws, informers are accorded incentives and rewards. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 2010 authorises the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to reward those who divulge information on federal securities law violations at companies that are required to report to SEC. The law also prevents employers from retaliating against whistleblowers by firing, demoting, suspending, harassing or discriminating them.

Similarly, the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 in the United Kingdom protects employees from detrimental treatment by their employers, such as dismissal or being passed over for promotion. If any employee feels he or she has a case, it may be brought before an employment tribunal, which can decide whether to award compensation or not. Jamaica recently approved the Protected Disclosures Act 2011, which is modelled on UK's Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998. Malaysia's Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 came into force on Dec 15 2010, and is part of the Government Transformation Plan (GTP)'s National Key Results Area (NKRA) to eliminate corruption. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Idris Jala said the Act was developed on the best practices of the law in developed countries and following the success of its implementation in the United States and Europe. Under the act, individuals who expose corrupt practices in the public and private sectors are promised confidentiality and immunity from criminal or civil charges.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 10/04/2012

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SINGAPORE: Govt Stresses Need to Maintain Clear Line Between Politics & Religion

SINGAPORE: The government has stressed the need to maintain a clear line between politics and religion in Singapore. Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said the separation of religion and politics is a long established principle in Singapore. He was responding to a question from Nominated MP Laurence Lien who wanted an update on the government's stance on what it means to keep religion and politics separate. Mr Teo said: "Our politics and policies must serve all Singaporeans, regardless of race, language or religion. The government must not take sides with any religious group when making policies. "If politicians use the religion card for their own political purpose and agenda, and seek to sway voters through religious appeals, it will sow the seeds of division in our society, and undermine the inter-religious and social harmony we have painstakingly built." Mr Teo noted that a citizen who belongs to a particular religion will often be guided by his religious beliefs and personal conscience.

However, he should always be mindful of the sensitivities of living in a multi-religious society and the bounds of the law. To guard against the dangers of mixing politics and religion, parliament enacted the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act in 1990. Mr Teo said should any individual or group seek to embroil any religious group or use a religious office to further its political agenda, the government will take firm action. Mr Teo said he understands and respects that religious groups have deeply-held views which they wish to express and to be given due consideration. However, he said there are established formal and informal channels for them to do so. Recently, Singapore's Archbishop Nicholas Chia was involved in an exchange of words with activist group Function 8. This was over a letter he sent to the group on the Internal Security Act. Mr Teo confirmed that the Archbishop had intended the letter as a private communication to Function 8, but had later decided to withdraw the letter upon reflection as he was concerned it could be used in a manner that he did not intend and possibly harm social harmony. "Those who know Archbishop Chia and the type of person he is and his contributions to Singapore over the decades will certainly know he's not one who would endanger social harmony in Singapore. The position he took in withdrawing the letter was consistent with his words and deeds throughout his leadership of the Catholic Church and as a respected religious leader in Singapore," said Mr Teo.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/15/2012

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Electricity Market to Be Made More Responsive to Demand

SINGAPORE: The Singapore government is enabling the electricity market in the country to be more price responsive to industry demand. The Energy Market Authority is launching a consultation process incorporating demand response - where industries are encouraged to curtail their demand, thereby reducing peak demand for energy. Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, made the announcement on Monday at the opening of the Singapore International Energy Week. He said the move is expected to benefit major consumers of energy, including the electronics, petrochemical and chemicals sectors. As a small country almost wholly reliant on imported energy, Singapore has to adapt to the evolving global environment to shape its energy landscape.

One strategy is to empower consumers so they can make informed decisions on energy consumption. This is something which the industry consultation on demand response hopes to achieve. Mr Iswaran said: "This is specifically in the context of consumers being able to respond to price signals and then curtail demand when there are spikes in the price. "What that does is two things - one, at the individual consumer level, whether you are a company or an organisation, is that you are able to lower your costs of energy... At the system level, it then lessens the system level pressure when there are peak demands." Industries will be consulted on how they can put in place control systems to shed energy loads when prices spike - for example, by cutting down lights and air conditioning. "What we want to do through this consultation process is put out the Energy Market Authority's, the government's, thinking on these matters with some specific ideas and then get a response from the industry itself - because there's quite a range of industry players who would be interested in these sorts of initiatives," said Mr Iswaran.

"And we want to make sure we have heard the different perspectives before we go ahead to look at how we can structure these arrangements," he added. The public consultation will also cover the possibility of an electricity futures market in Singapore, to bring about greater competition in the energy market, which will in turn benefit the end-user. Mr Iswaran explained: "Futures markets are already well-established for other commodities such as oil and gas. They have also been introduced for electricity in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. "By enabling trade in forward electricity products, a futures market will complement Singapore's wholesale market and yield several benefits. "Firstly, independent retailers will be able to participate in the market by purchasing futures contracts and in turn offering competitive packages to consumers. This will increase retail competition and benefit end consumers. "Consumers will also be able to hedge their risks by locking in longer-term prices, while generation companies stand to gain by using the futures contracts to hedge against their fuel price and operational risks during plant outages."

Besides the various initiatives to boost Singapore's energy sector, there are also several research projects in areas of renewable energy and electric cars. Mr Iswaran emphasised that in Singapore's growing energy market, it is important to ensure that the required manpower is trained to meet the needs of the industry. Mr Iswaran also spoke about Singapore's strategy to diversify sources to enhance its energy security. He said Singapore's Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal is on track to start operations in the second quarter of 2013. With the development of the terminal, Singapore will be well-placed to diversify its gas supply and tap on the global LNG market. Mr Iswaran said the demand for LNG is already stronger than initially expected. He stressed that individuals and businesses have played, and will continue to play, a key role in developing a strong energy industry for the people and businesses. To acknowledge those who have made outstanding contributions to Singapore's energy sector, the government has introduced the Singapore Energy Award.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/22/2012

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THAILAND: Authorities Prepare for Drought

The Thai government is preparing proactive measures to deal with anticipated drought in the country. Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, in his capacity as president of the Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC), and Hydro-Agro Informatics Institute chief Royal Chitradon, have called for a meeting on dry season water management. Plodprasop assigned the Bureau of Royal Rainmaking & Agricultural Aviation, Water Resources Department, and Royal Irrigation Department to immediately start working on the measures. All concerned parties are to identify appropriate measures and propose them to the water committee. Further meetings will be convened for follow up. The science and technology minister said Thailand's northeast is the most worrying. A monsoon trough will pass across the northeast this weekend. Artificial rain is scheduled to be made above Ubon Ratchathani's Pak Mun Dam, Khon Kaen's Ubonrat Dam, and Kalasin's Lam Pao Dam. The first two dams are currently at 40 per cent of capacity, while the latter is at only 20 per cent.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/17/2012

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DSI Cracks Down on Online Traders

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) seized fake branded products sold online in two separate raids. DSI chief Tarit Pengdith said yesterday that the first raid, on a house in Bangkok's Thung Khru district, led to the arrest of one male suspect and the seizure of 540 fake wristwatches worth Bt2.5 million that were sold via the www.pimwin.com and www.nongpimshop.com websites. A second search, of two houses on Ram-Indra Road, yielded 366 branded goods worth Bt1 million that were sold via www.n2kshop.com and www.facebook.com/shopN2K. DSI investigators found that the websites, operated since 2008, had 3 million viewers and earned up to Bt1 million every month. Tarit said Thailand was trying really hard to crack down on intellectual property infringement after being on the US' Priority Watch List for five years now.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/18/2012

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VIETNAM: Better Agricultural Statistics Needed

LAM DONG (VNS) - Viet Nam must improve the quality and quantity of its data on agriculture and rural areas if it is to continue meeting the demands of a growing population, said the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dao Quang Thu. Delivering his speech at the opening of the 24th Asia-Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS) meeting in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong on Monday, Thu highlighted the fact that the data was vital for effective planning and strategy. Addressing the 85 delegates from 25 countries and international organisations taking part, Thu stressed that the event would help regional countries ensure the integrity of their agricultural statistics and draw up plans to implement the global strategy on agricultural statistics. Jointly organised by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Viet Nam's General Statistics Office, the five-day event will look at ways to maintain the accuracy and quality of agricultural statistics, as they determine the nature of agricultural and rural development policies in the region. Participants at the event will assess the current status of food and agricultural statistics in member countries, inform the member countries about the FAO activities in food and agricultural statistics during the preceding biennium, particularly in Asia and the Pacific and discuss new developments in agricultural statistics. This is the first time that APCAS has been held in Viet Nam since the biennial event began in 1966.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 10/10/2012

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President Stresses Need for Improved Judicial Training

HA NOI (VNS) - President Truong Tan Sang emphasised the importance of judicial training reforms and the key role major law universities have to play in this task at the seventh meeting of the Central Steering Committee for Judicial Reform in Ha Noi yesterday. Sang, who is also head of the committee, asked members to share their opinions on the matter and engage in lively discussion. The members suggested mobilising resources in both Ha Noi and HCM City law universities so they can succeed in training well-qualified judicial officials for state agencies. They also proposed adjusting goals, measures, training scales, teaching staff, content and methodology in the reform process of training officials in these sectors to ensure its feasibility, contributing to the success of judicial reform strategy. Regarding the draft report submitted to the Politbureau on allocating the training and recruitment tasks for judicial and legal officials, the members said it is necessary to specifically assess the Judicial Institute's training activities for judges, procurators and lawyers. They also recommended close monitoring of the two schools which improve professional skills for officials of courts and procuracies. The report should give forecasts on the recruitment needs of relevant agencies in this sector, they said. Sang highlighted the importance of raising the quality of Ha Noi and HCM City's law universities' training activities, especially with regards to international law. He also asked the two universities to update their teaching content, re-evaluate the quality of students and gauge the demands of judicial agencies to build suitable development strategies. He said the strategy of judicial reform towards 2020 is consistent so that shortcomings can be adjusted to meet changing situations.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 10/17/2012

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BANGLADESH: IFC Training Initiative for Financial Sector Executives in BD to Step Up Support for SMEs

Dhaka, Oct 15 (UNB) - International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, launched a training initiative for financial sector executives in Bangladesh to help them step up support for SMEs so they can expand operations and contribute to the country's economic growth. The programme, developed in collaboration with the Austrian Development Bank, Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank, is training bank executives in strategy, market segmentation, product design, customer management, credit-risk management, and information-management systems. The SouthAsia Enterprise Development Facility, managed by IFC, in partnership with the UK government and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, is supporting this initiative, said an IFC press release on Monday. Data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey shows that about 35 percent of Bangladesh's small and medium enterprises (SMEs) identify access to finance as a major constraint to business. Difficulty with payment services, deposit mobilisation, and investment financing are some of the impediments. IFC's training programme helps address these problems by guiding bankers on how to serve the SMEs effectively. "IFC is committed to developing the potential of small businesses in Bangladesh as they are the engine of economic growth," said Rehan Rashid, IFC Senior Country Officer. He added: "This programme aims to work with the financial sector in Bangladesh to expand its services into new markets and reach more small entrepreneurs." The training was designed by IFC's Global Small and Medium Enterprises Banking Program to help banks in middle-income and developing countries target the sector opportunity and expand this line of business. IFC has conducted similar trainings in East Asia and the Pacific, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, where IFC has had a significant impact in bolstering small and medium enterprises.

From http://www.unbconnect.com/ 10/15/2012

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INDIA: Maharashtra Becomes First State to Launch Online Certification Course on E-Governance

Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of Maharashtra has launched the first and one-of-its-kind 'Online Certification Course on e-Governance' in India. The course aims at creating awareness and understanding about e-governance in the people. The course is available for free and for everybody. The certification has been made mandatory for all staff-members in DIT as well as consultants and software developers working with Government of Maharashtra. Stakeholders and staff-members working on e-governance projects in other states of India can also take the test. Reading material for the course is provided on the website and encompasses policy and guidelines, projects and initiatives and important General Resolutions (GRs) regarding e-governance. The course material is designed to facilitate learning fundamental concepts and ideas of e-governance while focusing on practical situations. Links to useful external websites have also been provided for additional understanding of the topic. A user can read the material,research on internet and take the test. It is an open-book-test which focuses more on understanding and applying the concepts rather than mugging them up. The certification program consists of two parts - a written test and a personal interview. Both the parts will be conducted online. Personal interview will be held through Skype or Google Hangouts. Personal interview will ensure that the user has actually understood the concepts. To earn the certificate, a user will need to score the minimum marks in both the parts. "Response to the course is phenomenal. We hope to certify at least 100 people in next ten days," said Rajesh Aggarwal, Secretary (IT), Maharashtra.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/26/2012

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Common Services Centre and National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology Join Hands to Make IT Courses Available in Rural India

Dr. Ashwini Kumar Sharma, Managing Director of National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT) and Dr. Dinesh Tyagi, CEO of CSC e-Governance Services India, the Special Purpose Vehicle of the Common Services Centre (CSC SPV) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to offer various services for the NIELIT's Information, Electronics and Communication Technology (IECT) courses through the Common Services Centres (CSCs); as well as to extend the reach of the Common Services Centres Scheme by integration of NIELIT authorized centres across the country. Shri Sachin Pilot, Hon'ble Minister of Communications & Information Technology informed that through this unique partnership, citizens in rural India will now be able to avail online services for NIELIT's government recognized IECT courses, through the CSCs. Thus, enabling NIELIT reach its target of certifying over 1 crore individuals and moving the country closer to the objective of making one person in each family digitally literate- a goal the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY) has already committed to achieve. This MOU will fast track adding skilled manpower to the ICT based Indian economy, by providing opportunities to citizens in rural India to become eligible for a government and private sector jobs. CSCs offer a wide range of services in their villages, in an efficient and transparent manner, including government services like online certificates, affidavits, ration card, land records, e-district, grievance redressal, utility payments, social welfare benefits payments, Aadhar services; financial services like banking, insurance, micro-credit, pensions; educational services like digital literacy, distance education; business services like telecom, employment, train & bus ticketing, etc. Every day, States across the Country are adding new services to be delivered through CSCs, changing the way rural India accesses Government.

Shri Rajiv Gauba, Additional Secretary, DeitY during the function mentioned that the CSC SPV will enable States to integrate the NIELIT authorized centres into the CSC Scheme, thereby extending the reach of the CSC network, which leverages rural entrepreneurs to bring online services, both government and business, to the door-step of the citizen in every village, even in the remotest parts of the country. Today over 50,000 rural entrepreneurs are actively providing services to almost one crore citizens every month, with a cumulative monthly turnover of over Rs. 200 crores; making the Common Services Centre Scheme, under the National e-Governance Plan of the Government of India, one of the largest tele-center initiatives in the world. Dr. Ashwini Kumar Sharma, Managing Director, NIELIT mentioned that NIELIT is an Autonomous Scientific Society of the Department of Information Technology envisioned to bring in the most updated global industry relevant computer education within the reach of the citizen in the areas of Information, Electronics and Computer Education by offering its user friendly and appropriately designed curriculum through the non formal sector; and has authorized training Centres across the country for delivering courses and certifications in the field of Information, Electronics and Communication Technology (IECT). Now, NIELIT is planning to enable these authorized training Centres to offer various G2C and B2C services.

NIELIT will automate its activities related to citizens specially Students and these services will also be delivered through CSC Kiosks Thus giving more facilities to students for online Registration, Online Examination form filling, On line Accreditation form filling, On line expert registration, On line result certificate printing etc. specially for those living in Rural Areas. Some of the NIELIT courses are now recognized for various Government jobs and therefore the facility of utilizing the CSC network will provide the unique opportunity to people living in remote areas of the country. With this association NIELIT will also like to enhance the reach of digital literacy in the country. CSC of course shall be able to generate additional income which shall enhance its sustainability. Dr. Dinesh Tyagi, CEO, CSC-SPV mentioned that the flagship Common Services Centers (CSC) Scheme is being implemented across the Country under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DEITY), Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Government of India. The objective of the Scheme is to provide online services- government, financial, business, and social- at the door-step of citizens, through 100,000 internet enabled ICT centers called Common Services Centers (CSC). Each CSC is operated by a Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE) and serves a cluster of about 4-6 villages. VLEs are selected by the Service Centre Agencies (SCAs), the implementation partners under the CSC Scheme. SCAs are identified by States through a transparent bidding process. A Special Purpose Vehicle has been setup to monitor and expand the CSC Scheme.

Currently about 24 SCAs have implemented about 93,000 CSC across 33 States and UTs. Today over 50,000 rural entrepreneurs are actively providing services to almost one crore citizens each month, with a cumulative monthly turnover of over Rs. 200 crores; making this one of the largest tele-center initiatives in the world. He mentioned that CSC-SPV was established as a company under the Companies Act 1956, the CSC SPV was setup as an agency in perpetuity to guide and expand the CSC Scheme ecosystem. The main objectives of the company are:• Ensuring systemic viability and sustainability of the CSC Scheme • Monitoring achievements of the outcomes by the CSCs • Enabling delivery of G2C and B2C services through CSCs • Providing a standardized framework for collaborative decision making • Catalyzing and maintaining content aggregation on an on-going basis • Building stakeholder capacity and replicating best practices.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/05/2012

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Imimobile Launches India's First Cloud-Based Mobile Engagement Platform

IMImobile, a leading global specialist provider of mobile data platform and services to telecom operators and enterprises, today announced the launch of IMImobile OPENHOUSE, a secure, cloud-based mobile engagement (m-Engagement) platform in India. IMImobile OPENHOUSE acts as a value-add bridge between telecom networks on one side and businesses, developers, and service providers on the other side. It unleashes the power of the mobile medium for businesses and opens up new revenue streams for operators. IMImobile OPENHOUSE will now allow businesses to quickly setup and launch multi-channel customer engagement and employee productivity services using its ready-to-use engines. Developers can now use standards-compliant APIs on this unique m-engagement platform to incorporate mobility into their applications and services. Marketers, enterprises, and developers can now quickly and easily create and launch services, applications and campaigns. IMImobile OPENHOUSE also enables telecom operators to open up their network for innovation and monetize their network assets thus increasing their ARPUs.

IMImobile OPENHOUSE lays the foundation for establishing a vibrant marketplace for innovative business applications. It offers two types of services: Business Tools and APIs. Business Tools, aimed at enterprises of all sizes, are ready-to-use services, which are easy to use even for a first-time user. Developers can use APIs to directly incorporate mobile operator connectivity and IMImobile OPENHOUSE's platform capabilities within their business applications. The APIs comply with the latest industry standard protocols, so innovative services can be created without having to learn proprietary protocols or technologies. Announcing the IMImobile OPENHOUSE launch, Mr. Vishwanath Alluri, Founder & CEO, IMImobile said, "We believe our technology and our customers' business potential must evolve together. So we created IMImobile OPENHOUSE, a revolutionary new platform that lets businesses create their own services and solutions so that innovation is no longer restricted. This will help them work together much more easily without business obstacles or technical complexity." He added, "We estimate customer and employee engagement and employee productivity to be the prime drivers for this m-engagement platform. IMImobile OPENHOUSE has the first mover advantage to address and garner a substantial portion of this Rs. 8,000 crore market." IMImobile OPENHOUSE offers interactive business tools like SMS broadcast, Voice broadcast, Shortcodes, Longcodes, Keywords, Missed call to SMS, Missed call to call, SMS to call, Click to call, Polls, and Virtual IVRS. It also offers APIs such as Messaging API and Voice APIs.

From http://www.totaltele.com/ 10/12/2012

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PAKISTAN: Orders Operators to Monitor International Comms

Pakistan will begin monitoring e-mails, telephone calls, and other communications with the rest of the world within ninety days. The government has directed PTCL and other long distance operators to install monitoring equipment before the end of the year to allow checking voice and e-mail communications from abroad, The News International reports citing senior executive vice president of Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL), Sikandar Naqi.

From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 10/22/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Scientific and Educational Institutions of Azerbaijan to Have Access to Eurasian Patent System

The State Committee on Standardization, Metrology and Patents of Azerbaijan and the Eurasian Patent Department of Eurasian Patent Organization signed an agreement, the Committee said on Thursday. The agreement was signed yesterday in Moscow. The agreement provides the granting of permission for the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan and its subsidiaries, public libraries in the country, higher education institutions, as well as scientific and technical centers to use the Eurasian patent information system. The agreement signed was by Head of the State Committee Ramiz Hasanov and President of the department Alexander Grigoriev. The system will facilitate the search in patent sphere, identify objects of inventors' rights, and the creation of new ones. This will also play a role in the protection and commercialization of patents, and in promoting innovations related to the development of the whole economy.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/18/2012

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TAJIKISTAN: Virtual Science Library Launches Nationwide

On Monday October 8, Tajikistan's network of scientific and academic researchers gained an important new resource with the launch of the Tajikistan Virtual Science Library (VSL). According to the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, the Tajikistan VSL is a website that provides free and easy access to more than 10 million full-text research articles across many scientific disciplines. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA), the site is part of a larger program of technical consultations and training. It includes information on publishing in international journals and research proposal development, organized by the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Health, the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, DOE/NNSA, and CRDF Global. The Tajikistan VSL website (www.TajikistanVSL.org) was launched on Monday at the National Academy of Sciences. After the launch, research institute directors, university leaders, government representatives, Academy officials, individual scientists, and librarians from across the country participated in seminars hosted by DOE/NNSA and CRDF Global, intended to familiarize them with the website and its use in research. DOE/NNSA and CRDF Global plan to implement an extensive national workshop series in 2013 to help users and librarians throughout the country derive the full benefit of the program. The Tajikistan VSL reportedly consolidates access to more than 12,000 journals from major publishers and prominent international research repositories including the Directory of Open-Access Journals, ArXiv.org, CalTech University, CiteSeer, Cogprints, Eprints, HighWire Press, and research repositories from Lund University and Ghent University. The Tajikistan VSL allows researchers to search and download articles from the United Nations Research4Life collections: OARE, AGORA, and HINARI. The website can also be expanded to provide access to new journal collections as they become available. Later this fall, researchers will have the opportunity to access the site remotely by obtaining a log in name and password from their librarian or authorized representative.

From http://news.tj/ 10/09/2012

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TURKMENISTAN: LTE Technologies Researched

Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdimuhamedow has studied 4G wireless network LTE-technology. The presentation took place at the opening ceremony of national mobile operator Altin Asir's (TM Cell) large administrative office in Ashgabat. LTE will be an evolutionary milestone for flexible migration of services between mobile networks 2G, 3G and 4G. 3G network will effectively perform its task of delivering broadband services to billions of mobile users during a few more years. "However, in developed countries LTE technology should soon become the accepted standard to meet customer needs in terms of speed and high capacity which will allow support of new applications, such as interactive television, professional and other services," the state information service noted in the report. LTE will be the main driving force of the innovation development covering the wide area from support of new versions of applications to new opportunities in such areas as utilities, transportation, healthcare, media. Altin Asir mobile operator ,established in 2004, entered joined the World Association of mobile operators of GSM standard, where TM Cell mobile network, a national network of cellular communication of Turkmenistan, was registered under the number 438 02.According to the information service, today the number of their subscribers has reached over 3 million people. The report also noted that Turkmenistan will have its own national space communication system in the near future. "Having our own satellite implies a control of Earth's orbit, the establishment of satellite communications, and research related to outer space. It will also give a powerful impetus to the rapid development of the country's communications systems and the Internet, television and other industries, will contribute to the successful implementation of a number of national programs," the article stated.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/20/2012

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UZBEKISTAN: Uzbekenergo to Build Biggest Wind Power Installation in Central Asia

Uzbek state company Uzbekenergo plans to finish the construction of the first experimental wind-driven energy installation in the Central Asia with capacity of 750 kilowatt worth $3 million till the end of the year, RIA Novosti reported. The company has already started the installation of the first part of equipment. The installation will allow to produce about 1.28 million kilowatt of energy. The equipment for the installation was supplied by Chinese Xian Electric engineering Co. and produced by Xinjiang Goldwind. The financing of the project worth $3 million was provided by Uzbek side.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/09/2012

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Uzbekistan Completes Navoi TPP Modernization

Uzbekenergo has finished a project worth $468 million to build a combined cycle gas turbine at Navoi thermal power plant, the company told trend on Friday. The energy produced in combined cycle gas turbine will be available in the network in late October. As previously reported, the project of modernization of Navoi TPP worth $468 million includes the construction of combined cycle gas turbine with a capacity of 478 MW. The project will provide an opportunity for additional fuel savings to generate 3.4 billion kWh of electricity annually. The financing is implemented at the expense of the Uzbek Reconstruction and Development Fund's loan in amount of $351 million. An international consortium of Spanish Initec Energia and Turkish Calik Enerji is the General contractor. Capacity extension of Navoi TPP is a component of the energy project of Free Industrial Economic Zone Navoi. Navoi TPP, one of the largest power plants in Central Asia with an installed capacity of 1,250 MW. About 45 power plants with total capacity of about 12,400 MW, including 16 Uzbekenergo ones with a total capacity of 12,040 MW operate in the Uzbek power system. According to official statistics, Uzbekistan increased electricity production by 1.3 per cent up to 52.416 billion kilowatt-hours in 2011 compared to 2010.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/20/2012

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AUSTRALIA: NSW Police Boosts Support for Comms Infrastructure

The New South Wales (NSW) Police Force is expanding support for its voice and data networks under moves to strengthen field operations and better manage its state-wide communications infrastructure. This just-announced network management initiative streamlines voice and data traffic for NSW Police. It will deliver expanded support for emergency management services and other core front-line communications. NSW Police's operations span more than 500 urban and regional stations in the state of New South Wales. It is one of the largest law-enforcement agencies in Australia. The project strengthens around-the-clock network support and maintenance capabilities across cities and regional areas. Expanded support for NSW Police's communications infrastructure also streamlines traffic at network operations centres.

Andrew Stoner, NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment, said the latest initiative contributes to the "long-term health" of the NSW economy. "This partnership exemplifies how industry and publicly-funded organisations can cooperate to achieve sustainable economic and employment growth," he noted. NSW Police's voice and data communications network is a "critical resource" that enables front-line staff to do their jobs, according to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Michael Gallacher. "Support and maintenance of this network ensures the NSW Police Force can continue to improve our service to the citizens of NSW," he said. This initiative will improve the reliability and up-time of the state's police network. It also enhances support for mission-critical operational communications and information infrastructure. Additionally, communications covering a 000 Support Centre and a Police Assistance Line will be supported by the project.

Incoming emergency calls and other traffic are expected to be handled more efficiently. Plans are underway to improve response time to calls for help through an integrated maintenance and support regime. This network support contract has been awarded to NEC Australia under a three-year arrangement. NEC Australia is understood to be committing US$12 million (AUD$12 million) over five years on this partnership with NSW Police. This support encompasses organisation-wide telephones, PABX units, a call centre system, call managers, switches, routers, firewalls, wireless local area networks (LANs), and internet protocol (IP) networks.

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

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Australia Hosts Climate-Change Course for Pacific

Meteorologists and climate scientists from across the Pacific are in Australia to learn how to educate people about the effects of climate change. The 'Pacific Australia Climate Change Science Adaptation Program' brings together experts from across the region for a two-week course in Melbourne. Carsis Senape from Papua New Guinea's National Weather Service, has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat the course is helping them to better understand and explain the impacts of climate change. "We've basically been doing a lot of science, understanding what is climate change, what are the drivers that drive the climate of our region," he said. "Now we are beginning to draw programs especially for adaptation purposes." The program has been running for two years, and Senior Research Scientist at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Dr Brad Murphy, says a lot is being covered in the fortnight .

"It's a two week course to improve their understanding of climate change and the science behind it, really so they can better understand the science and be able to communicate it to stakeholders in their country, who are needing that information for adaptation planning," he said. "We're covering a whole range of climate science and climate change topics, including climate variability which is huge in the Pacific, the impacts of El Nino are massive, looking at what they're in for in terms of climate change in the future." In recent years the concern s about climate change in the Pacific, have mostly been voiced by the people living in low-lying coral atoll nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu. But knowledge of the problem is increasing across the region, and in some cases that has led to climate change being blamed for everything from heavy rain, and even, in Solomon Islands on one occasion, the birth of an abnormally heavy baby.

Mr Senape says in PNG the number of different languages and the large illiterate population is also a stumbling block. "Many things are happening on the ground, and now they're trying to understand why," he said. "For me as a climatologist, my duty is to go out and educate people - it's a bit challenging, because there are certain things which are not related to climate change. "There's this thing called climate variability...so not everything is due to climate change, but the people attribute everything that is happening to climate change, so that's the big challenge." Fifteen countries from across the Pacific and East Timor are represented at the forum, but Mr Senape says for most of them, the experiences with climate change and the lessons they need to learn are similar. "We all have the same physical, geographical set up [and] culturally, we are all the same people," he said. "So much of our challenges are similar and everything that we talk and discuss is common and we just hoping that this program...will be able to help us work towards those challenges."

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/ 10/12/2012

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Role of Women Critical in Disaster Resilience

Women and girls are being recognised as the unsung heroes of local communities in preparing for, and recovering from disasters on this year's International Day for Disaster Reduction. The United Nations has declared that in 2012, the theme "Women and girls - the (in)visible force of resilience" will reinforce that women and girls are powerful agents of change. "Women make a valuable contribution to our communities during times of crisis," Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management, Nicola Roxon said. Women play an important role in all aspects of emergency management - from front-line recovery and operational decision making to long-term national policy development that will shape Australia's future resilience. This year's Women and girls theme is the perfect opportunity to say thank you to those women who are working as we speak to prepare their communities for the upcoming disaster season.

"One of the key messages of the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience recognises that connected communities are resilient communities - and women and children strengthen community connectedness," Ms Roxon said. "The Australian Government is committed to supporting initiatives that highlight and promote the role of women in disaster preparedness," Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins said. The National Women's Alliance Program has received Government funding for two important projects due for completion this year. The National Rural Women's Coalition will release Weather the Storm - Developing disaster resilient rural communities, a toolkit that helps women in remote communities take the lead on disaster preparedness.

The economicSecurity4Women Alliance is also developing a report to look at the economic impact of disasters on women. The report - Voices from the Flood Plains - uses disaster affected areas in Queensland and Victoria to discuss the specific needs of women in recovery. "Both these projects recognise the unique role that women have to play in preparing for and recovering from disasters, and today is a good opportunity for us to reflect on just how important that role really is," said Ms Collins.

From http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.au/ 10/12/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Publishing National Standards May Do More Harm Than Good

National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics for students in Years 1-8 are now in their third year of implementation, and Fairfax Media recently published data facilitating the comparison of schools on the performance of their students against the standards. The Ministry of Education has also published National Standards data. There are two arguments often voiced by politicians and media commentators in favour of the publication of these kinds of data. The first is that the publication of National Standards data is a legitimate mechanism to hold schools accountable to the taxpayers who fund them and the parents whose children attend them. The second is that comparative data can assist parents to make informed choices about the schools in which to enrol their children. The New Zealand Assessment Academy, a group of leading researchers in educational assessment and measurement, does not agree with either of these arguments. While we acknowledge that accountability is important, we do not believe that the data published by Fairfax will serve accountability, either by the way they presented the data or by the conclusions which are likely to be drawn from them.

Neither, at this stage, do we support the publication of National Standards data by the Ministry of Education. We believe that what might seem valuable information about the performance of schools in fact runs a serious risk of misinforming the public and, in some cases, of unfairly tarnishing schools' reputations. If data are to be used for accountability purposes they must have a high degree of integrity and reliability. At present, there is no evidence that this is so. Even if sufficient reliability can be achieved, a simple comparison of schools on the basis of proportions of students at, above, below, and well below the standards, without taking into account the characteristics of schools, is likely to misrepresent schools with substantial proportions of students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Educational data from across the developed world show that socio-economic capital is strongly correlated with educational success. Although there are salutary examples of schools that overcome negative social and economic influences on students' achievement, there are factors beyond the control of teachers and schools that render any point-in-time achievement comparison almost meaningless.

Any comparison between schools ought to focus on measures of progress, and not on point-in-time performance. To some extent this can begin to address the difficulty of comparing schools catering to very different demographics; for example, a low-decile school that compares unfavourably with higher-decile schools on the proportions of their students at or above the standard, might nonetheless be able to show that its students make as much or more progress than students at higher-decile schools. At present, however, there is no sound mechanism to measure progress in the National Standards domains. Additionally, the regular publication of any table of assessment data is very likely to produce a bias in teaching towards the elements of learning that are captured in the table. Literacy and numeracy are important skills that ought to be (and are) emphasised in the primary curriculum; however, they are not the only things that are important.

Data like these could produce an incentive for schools to drill aspects of reading, writing and mathematics in order to support favourable judgments, potentially losing other important skills in the process. In other words, comparing schools on assessment outcomes is likely to lead to a narrowing of the curriculum to just those aspects that are most easily measured or assessed. While the New Zealand Assessment Academy acknowledges the right of all New Zealanders to access educational data and supports the right of the press in a free society to publish those data, we do not support the production of tables of data that can be used to compare schools, like those produced by Fairfax. We urge media representatives to think carefully about, and take much greater responsibility for, the effect that their publication of these data is likely to have.

Neither do we support the publication of National Standards data by the Ministry of Education at present, because we remain unconvinced that the quality of the data are sufficient to justify publication. Instead, we urge the Ministry to devote its resources to providing support to schools to improve the quality and consistency of teachers' judgments, to developing a sound method of measuring and reporting individual students' progress over time in reading, writing, and mathematics, and to provide further guidance and practical assistance to enable teachers to meet the learning needs of all students.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/05/2012

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Govt Ready for Fight over Water

The Maori Council will today meet allies, including representatives of the Maori King, as it considers Finance Minister Bill English's challenge yesterday to take the water rights fight to court in the next week. The council is also in discussions with legal heavyweights, including former deputy Solicitor-General Matthew Palmer, who may lead its legal challenge. Prime Minister John Key yesterday confirmed Mighty River Power, which is to be partially privatised next year, would officially cease being a state-owned enterprise next week when an Order in Council on October 23 removed it from coverage under the SOE Act. Mr Key acknowledged that was likely to prompt court action to block the sale from the Maori Council which took a claim to the Waitangi Tribunal for that purpose earlier this year. But Mr English welcomed that prospect. The Order in Council was, he said, "a pretty clear signal to anyone who wants to prevent the sale going ahead that the Crown is taking its first substantive step and if there's going to be court action we may as well get on with that and sort it out".

Mr English said he didn't want to pre-judge the nature of the court action but if it claimed the Crown hadn't met its obligations under the Treaty, "then we certainly believe that we have and someone going to court would have trouble succeeding on that basis". Co-chairman of the Maori Council Sir Edward Taihakurei Durie said the Government's decision was "disappointing if unsurprising". "It does appear that this matter is destined for the courts, not because that outcome is desired by New Zealand Maori Council but because the Government is refusing to progress resolution of the central issue - residual Maori proprietary rights." Sir Edward said the council would meet representatives of the Maori King, Waitangi Tribunal water claimants and iwi to discuss a response. Maori Council solicitor Donna Hall said a legal response before the Order in Council was passed was " a matter that's going to have to be looked at carefully". The council was discussing the matter with two teams of lawyers, one led by Queen's Counsel Helen Cull and another by Mr Palmer, who quit Crown Law two months ago after failing to win the top job there. Ms Hall said the council would be approaching various iwi for funding. The final decision as to whether the challenge would proceed would be made by King Tuheitia, she said. Mr Key confirmed the Government would not proceed with the Waitangi Tribunal's "shares plus" concept to address Maori claims over water.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/16/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Call for Emergency Fund

The Solomon Islands Minister for Environment, Hon. Moffat Fugui, says the country will have to change its attitude towards preparing for any future Disasters. In the recent Parliament siting, Hon. Fugui said that Government need to see the importance of a budget allocation for an emergency standby fund for Disaster Response. Fugui said the Government needs an approximate of six to seven million dollars to be ready to assist people affected by cyclones, earthquakes, droughts or floods. For such a country like Solomon Islands, where it remains vulnerable to disasters, at any one time the country needs that money to be available should any Disaster happen. He also revealed that the country does not have that so it needs to make allocations in the budgetary support to ensure that money will be ready for any future disaster response.

From http://www.sibconline.com.sb/ 09/26/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Government Embarks on Evaluation Exercise

A week-long evaluation exercise on the National Government's priority programs for 2012 starts today Tuesday 2nd October in Honiara, Solomon Islands. A five member team from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet spear-headed by Permanent Secretary (Special duties) Luma Darcy will conduct ministerial visits to the government's 24 existing ministries. The aim of the exercise is to evaluate the 2012 priority programs of the NCRA government policy which have been implemented by ministries since the beginning of this year. Assistant Deputy Secretary to the Prime Minister, Wilson Karamui said the team will discuss with Permanent Secretaries, Under Secretaries and Divisional Heads of respective Ministries to collect data on the implementation of government's priority programs in 2012. Mr Karamui said the team has been mandated to carry out the evaluation exercise to see how far government has been implementing its priority programs this year. The exercise will also help in making adjustments to areas that need improvement to the existing priority programs of government. The exercise is scheduled to be completed on October 9.

From http://www.solomontimes.com/ 10/02/2012

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Jobs Are a Cornerstone of Development, Says World Development Report 2013

The World Bank's 2012 World Development Report on Jobs indicates that most jobs are created in the private sector and are often the driver, rather than outcome, of economic growth. President Jim Yong Kim says providing key services like health, education and a good investment climate can help create the right jobs that will lead to improved standards of living and inclusive growth. Washington, October 1, 2012 - In developing countries, jobs are a cornerstone of development, with a pay off far beyond income alone. They are critical for reducing poverty, making cities work, and providing youth with alternatives to violence, says a new World Bank report. The World Development Report 2013: Jobs stresses the role of strong private sector led growth in creating jobs and outlines how jobs that do the most for development can spur a virtuous cycle. The report finds that poverty falls as people work their way out of hardship and as jobs empower women to invest more in their children. Efficiency increases as workers get better at what they do, as more productive jobs appear, and as less productive ones disappear. Societies flourish as jobs foster diversity and provide alternatives to conflict.

"A good job can change a person's life, and the right jobs can transform entire societies. Governments need to move jobs to center stage to promote prosperity and fight poverty," says World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, "It's critical that governments work well with the private sector, which accounts for 90 percent of all jobs. Therefore, we need to find the best ways to help small firms and farms grow. Jobs equal hope. Jobs equal peace. Jobs can make fragile countries become stable." The report's authors highlight how jobs with the greatest development payoffs are those that raise incomes, make cities function better, connect the economy to global markets, protect the environment, and give people a stake in their societies. "Jobs are the best insurance against poverty and vulnerability," says Kaushik Basu, World Bank Chief Economist and Sr. Vice President, "Governments play a vital enabling role by creating a business environment that enhances the demand for labor." The global economic crisis and other recent events have raised employment issues to the center of the development dialogue. The WDR authors, who processed over 800 surveys and censuses to arrive at their findings, estimate that worldwide, more than 3 billion people are working, but nearly half work in farming, small household enterprises, or in casual or seasonal day labor, where safety nets are modest or sometimes non-existent and earnings are often meager.

"The youth challenge alone is staggering. More than 620 million young people are neither working nor studying. Just to keep employment rates constant, the worldwide number of jobs will have to increase by around 600 million over a 15-year period", says Martin Rama, WDR Director. But in many developing countries, where farming and self-employment are prevalent and safety nets are modest at best, unemployment rates can be low. In those places, most poor people work long hours but cannot make ends meet. And the violation of basic rights is not uncommon. Therefore, the quality and not just the number of jobs is vitally important. The Report advances a three-stage approach to help governments meet these objectives: •First, solid fundamentals - including macroeconomic stability, an enabling business environment, human capital, and the rule of law- have to be in place. •Second, labor policies should not become an obstacle to job creation, they should also provide access to voice and social protection to the most vulnerable. •Third, governments should identify which jobs would do the most for development given their specific country context, and remove or offset obstacles to private sector creation of such jobs.

Understanding the particular jobs challenge for a given region or country is essential. Differences in the structure of employment across regions, across genders, and across age groups are striking. For example, 6 out of 7 workers in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are wage earners, but 4 out of 5 workers in Sub-Saharan African are farmers or self-employed. Many more women than men are in non-wage work in low- and lower-middle income countries. Meanwhile, in middle-income countries women are more likely to be wage workers, though too often they earn less than men. Policy priorities are different in agrarian societies and in urbanizing countries. Making smallholder farming more productive is key in the first case, while better infrastructure, connectivity, housing, and city planning are vital in the second. Demography matters too. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 10 million youth enter the labor force every year, but in many middle-income countries the population is aging and in some the labor force is shrinking. Skills and the removal of privilege in access to markets and jobs are needed to tackle youth unemployment. But longer working lives and affordable social protection are needed in aging societies.

Focusing on the key features of different country types can help identify more clearly the kinds of jobs that would make the greatest contribution to development in each case. This focus allows for an analysis of the potential tradeoffs between living standards, productivity, and social cohesion in a specific context. It provides clues about the obstacles to job creation and, ultimately, the priorities for policy makers as they identify the most important constraints to job creation and how to overcome them. Policy makers should tackle these challenges by answering such questions as: Should countries build their development strategies around growth, or should they focus on jobs? Can entrepreneurship be fostered, especially among microenterprises in developing countries, or are entrepreneurs born? Are greater investments in education and training a prerequisite for employability, or can skills be built through jobs? Amidst crises and structural shifts, should jobs, not just workers, be protected?

Jobs agendas at the country level are connected by the migration of people and the migration of jobs. Policies for jobs in one country can thus have spillovers on other countries - both positive and negative. The report explores whether international coordination mechanisms, such as bilateral migration agreements, could enhance the positives and mitigate the negatives. "To move jobs center stage, we also need reliable country-level data that is disaggregated and covers more than urban or formal sector jobs," says Rama. The World Bank Group fosters job growth through its two main channels of support to the developing world - the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA) - as well as through the IFC and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency. Assistance comes in the form of policy advice, support for private sector development plus loans and programs to advance urbanization, infrastructure and human development (including social protection).

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/01/2012

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ITU-T Technology Watch Tackles ICT-Enabled Education

A new ITU-T Technology Watch Report entitled "Standards for Technology-enabled Learning" investigates the technologies and services quickly emerging as viable tools to breed more dynamic, more affordable and far more inclusive approaches to education and training. With the potential to overcome challenges posed by distance or levels of economic and infrastructural development, information and communication technologies (ICTs) role in education policy in both developed and developing nations is sure to strengthen. The report distinguishes between purpose-built learning devices and all-purpose ICTs, and notes a trend in the shift from specialized educational devices towards developing educational apps running on existing all-purpose devices; contributing to the increasing scalability and sustainability of "ICT-in-education" initiatives. The report also explores the content of educational resources as well as the strategies through which they are distributed; highlighting, for example, the Open Educational Resource (OER) movement gaining support from a number of the world's most prestigious academic institutions, and some of the many "classroom-management" tools today available to teachers and their students. By identifying emerging innovations in the tech-learning field, the report aims to highlight the characteristics common to the most successful "ICT-in-education" models. Noting no shortage of research, development or examples of successful implementations, the report concludes that standards will have a key role to play in addressing the current disparity between the development and implementation of tech-learning products and services. In this regard, the report provides an overview of the standardization work already underway in this field, and additionally recommends the coupling of technical standards with supplementary best-practice guidelines on the rollout and maintenance of tech-rich education systems.

From http://www.itu.int/ 10/11/2012

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ICT Uptake Continues to Grow Globally: Report

Dubai: New statistics released by ITU show that information and communication technology (ICT) uptake continues to grow worldwide, spurred by a steady fall in the price of telephone and broadband internet services. ITU's ICT Development Index (IDI) ranks 155 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, and compares 2010 and 2011 scores. According to the report titled "Measuring the Information Society 2012", Qatar is ranked top among the Arab States in IDI while UAE slips two points to 45th rank. "The Arab States' IDI ranking closely matches differences in income levels across the region. The top five countries with the highest IDI values in the region are all part of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC]. All of these countries have an IDI of above five, Qatar standing out with an IDI of above six," said ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Tour¨¦. Among the Gulf states, Qatar is ranked 30th globally, followed by Bahrain at 40, UAE at 45, Saudi Arabia at 47 and Oman at 53 while Kuwait is not listed in the index. Toure said that Bahrain and Saudi Arabia recorded the biggest jump. The report further states said that Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE enjoy very high ICT household access rates. In Qatar, for example, 88 per cent of households have a computer and have access to the Internet, which is more than twice the global average. "Total global mobile©\cellular subscriptions reached almost six billion by end of 2011, corresponding to a global penetration of 86 per cent and there were more than one billion mobile©\broadband subscriptions worldwide in 2011 while there were 590 million fixed (wired)©\broadband subscriptions worldwide," the report said.

From http://gulfnews.com/ 10/14/2012

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For Many Girls, ICT Is a Boring Career: Study

In its endeavour to encourage girls to embrace technology, International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has launched the Tech Needs Girls Prize. To mark the first ever International Day of the Girl Child, ITU members and partners are today joining forces to launch the Tech Needs Girls Prize, a new global technology competition designed to inspire more girls to embrace technology and invent the future. "Our future is being shaped by technology and, with over 95% of all jobs now having a digital component, the information and communication technology (ICT) sector is an exciting place to be. Yet, as a global shortage of ICT professionals looms and the uptake of girls and women into ICT-related study declines, research reveals that technology has an image problem. Put simply, too many talented young girls mistakenly consider an ICT career to be boring, geeky, uncreative or a career path that lacks the 'world-changing' component many aspire to,' the UN body tasked with ICT-related matters said. Working in partnership with lead players in the ICT, education and media industries, ITU's new annual Tech Needs Girls Prize aims to dramatically shift perceptions. The prize targets girls between the ages of 9 to 18 at the very time when they start forming opinions about their place in the world and their choice of career path.

ITU and its partners will also name and tailor a suite of competitions to different specialist areas, offering girls around the world a variety of options to get involved, gain confidence in their abilities, demonstrate their creativity, explore their 'inner entrepreneur' and learn first-hand how ICT can make a real difference. "Empowering women and girls is a key part of ITU's mandate of 'connecting the world'. I am looking forward enormously to seeing the imaginative submissions that will come in from girls right around the world, and hope that this new prize will encourage many of them to consider a future in this most exciting of industries," said Dr Hamadoun I. Tour¨¦, ITU Secretary-General. The Tech Needs Girls Prize 2013 will be awarded as part of the annual Girls in ICT Day celebrations. ITU is working with leading players including Cisco, Intel Corporation and the G(irls)20 Summit to inspire girls to take the tech challenge. Geena Davis, ITU's own Special Envoy for Girls and ICT, will also be lending her voice and the important work of her institute to ensure that girls are better equipped to be leaders and creators in the world of technology. Full details of the prize, partners and the competitions will be released over the coming weeks.

The prize forms part of ITU's Tech Needs Girls campaign, launched at Girls in ICT Day this year, which is leveraging the convening power of ITU to bring players in the ICT, education and media industries together. This global call to action aims to transform the wide-ranging number of programmes and organizational initiatives into a force for movement on the urgent issue of ensuring girls and women play a much more substantive role in the ICT sector and are better empowered to harness technology to transform their lives and their futures. As the United Nations' specialized agency for ICT, ITU has long championed the catalytic role ICT can play in empowering women and girls. In 2010, ITU membership established Girls in ICT Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday in April every year and designed to raise visibility on the many exciting opportunities offered by an ICT career. For Girls in ICT Day 2012, over 1,320 events were held in nearly 90 countries, providing an estimated 30,000 young women with a better understanding of the opportunities offered by the ICT sector. A multilingual Girls in ICT Portal has also been launched by ITU to assist girls and young women prepare for and pursue a technology career. The portal currently houses some 500 programmes, including over 100 scholarships, 70 contests and awards, more than 100 training and internship opportunities, over 100 online networks offering career support and mentoring, as well as tech camps and other activities.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 10/15/2012

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One Third of Global Food Produce Is Wasted: Report

A UN report has warned ecological foundations that support food security, including biodiversity, are being undermined. The aim of achieving food security across the globe will become increasingly elusive unless countries factor the planet's nature-based services into agricultural and related planning, a report released from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says. Safeguarding the underlying ecological foundations that support food production, including biodiversity will be central if the world is to feed seven billion inhabitants, climbing to over nine billion by 2050 argues the study Avoiding FutureFamines: Strengthening the Ecological Basis of Food Security through Sustainable Food System. Inefficiencies along the food delivery chain further complicate the challenge, and the report highlights that an estimated one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, amounting to 1.3 billion tonnes per year. The debate on food security so far has largely revolved around availability, access, utilization and stability as the four pillars of food security, barely touching on the resource base and ecosystem services that prop up the whole food system.

The report aims to increase the focus on these crucial aspects, which are being undermined by overfishing, unsustainable water use, environmentally degrading agricultural practices and other human activities. It also frames the debate in the context of the green economy, calling for food production and consumption practices that ensure productivity without undermining ecosystem services. "The environment has been more of an afterthought in the debate about food security," said UNEP Chief Scientist Joseph Alcamo. "This is the first time that the scientific community has given us a complete picture of how the ecological basis of the food system is not only shaky but being really undermined." While pointing out the current challenges, the report also offers a clear way forward to shore up the ecological foundations and improve food security. It issues recommendations on the redesign of sustainable agriculture systems, dietary changes and storage systems and new food standards to reduce waste.

"The era of seemingly ever-lasting production based upon maximizing inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, mining supplies of freshwater and fertile arable land and advancements linked to mechanization are hitting their limits, if indeed they have not already hit them," said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "The world needs a green revolution but with a capital G: one that better understands how food is actually grown and produced in terms of the nature-based inputs provided by forests, freshwaters and biodiversity." The report, produced in collaboration with other international organizations including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), took a holistic approach to analyzing the food system. Twelve scientists and experts authored the report, covering many different areas of expertise including food consumption patterns, agricultural production, marine fisheries and inland fisheries. They found that while agriculture provides 90 per cent of the world's total caloric intake, and world fisheries provide the other 10 per cent, these life-supporting industries face many threats, all of which are exacerbated by underlying driving forces such as population growth, income growth and changing lifestyles/diets linked to urbanization.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 10/17/2012

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ITU Telecom World 2012 Highlights Wealth of Opportunities in Transformed ICT Market

Dubai, UAE, 18 October 2012 - ITU Telecom World 2012 brought together industry representatives and government leaders at the highest level to engage in five days of critical dialogue on networking, knowledge-sharing and the challenges defining the information and communication technology (ICT) sector as well as the opportunities arising from it. Participants met in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 14-18 October and included Heads of State, government ministers, corporate CEOs from across the industry ecosystem, heads of international agencies, thought-leaders, consultants and academics. A dynamic agenda examined the impact of new market players and business models emerging across the ecosystem. Debates centred on the roll out of broadband connectivity, the challenges of cyberthreats and the need to beef up cybersecurity as well as the vast opportunities unleashed by smart applications in such critical sectors as health, education, and government services and their role in achieving sustainable development. ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Tour¨¦ welcomed the diversity of delegates, themes and solutions at ITU Telecom World 2012, reminding the audience that this event embraces diversity, and celebrates and learns from that diversity. "Together we are diverse - but we are stronger as one and will strive together to meet the challenges of the industry and of the world today," Dr Tour¨¦ said. "The word "World" is rightly a part of the name of this event. We were hosted this year by the magnificent, connected city of the future that is Dubai - and look forward to celebrating ITU Telecom World 2013 in the ASEAN gateway city of Bangkok."

The Director General of the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Mr Mohamed Al Ghanim, hailed the many important conclusions reached at ITU Telecom World 2012 on themes as diverse as universal connectivity, broadband deployment, cybersecurity, child online protection and privacy - themes which touch upon our daily lives and work everywhere. "This event represents a sound basis for the exchange of experience at the national, regional and international levels that is necessary to deal with these subjects," Mr Al Ghanim said. ITU Telecom World 2012 was launched by the Leadership Summit, convening leaders of government and industry to debate the future of the telecommunications sector, and the ways in which it needs to be protected, funded and communicated. Innovative features on the dynamic agenda this year included the Visionary Keynotes series of inspirational addresses from Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab; Anders Lindblad, Head of Middle East Region for Ericsson; and Wim Elfrink, Senior Vice President and Global Technology Officer at Cisco.ITU and the World Health Organization launched a landmark m-health initiative aimed at using mobile communications to address the scourge of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular illnesses. For more detail, please see www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2012/77.aspx. The ITU saving Lives pavilion was also the platform to launch two new ITU initiatives for m-Powering smart sustainable development and effective disaster management. See www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2012/75.aspx

From http://www.itu.int/ 10/18/2012

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ITU Meet Ends Highlighting Key ICT Issues

The ITU Telecom World 2012, which concluded on Thursday, highlighted key issues in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The United Nations' event addressed the topics of affordability and availability of internet access to everyone, cyber security, new innovations, and e-Health, with the objective of stimulating socio-economic development, improving productivity and sharing the benefits of ICTs amongst the world's population. The ICT event, which started on the 14th of this month, come to a conclusion following five days of high-level meetings, discussions, workshops and other activities and networking events held by the 120 delegations, 85 ministers, presidents of telecommunication companies, and numerous experts who took part in this key international event. "We will continue to work hard to raise the profile of the UAE and its people on the global ICT map. The UAE, and Dubai especially, has received messages of praise and congratulations from all over the world for the success of this conference," the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) director-general Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim said in his address at the closing ceremony. Hosted by TRA of the UAE, ITU Telecom World is the first of three pivotal events organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that will take place in the UAE this year as the World's telecommunications capital.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the United Nations' specialised agency for ICTs. The Dubai Convention Bureau, a division of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the Dubai World Trade Centre, as well as etisalat and du, acted as strategic partners of the TRA, while the unique national pavilion of the TRA at the event also featured both operators. The participation highlighted the important role the UAE now plays in the global telecommunications arena as well as the advances the UAE has made in this field, in particular the introduction of 4G LTE technology - a first in the region. The UAE, through the TRA, will also be hosting the World Telecommunication Standardisation Assembly (WTSA) from November 20-29, an event held every four years at the international level to discuss issues relating to international telecommunications standards. A one-day Global Standards Symposium (GSS) will be held on the 19th of November and will be dedicated to the private sector. The third and final ITU event will be the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) held from December 3-14.

From http://www.khaleejtimes.com/ 10/21/2012

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Developing Asia Faces New Era of Moderate Growth - ADB Report

HONG KONG, CHINA - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is significantly scaling back 2012 and 2013 growth forecasts for developing Asia, saying that after years of rapid growth, the region must brace for a prolonged period of moderate expansion amidst an ongoing slump in global demand. Watch ADB's Chief Economist Changyong Rhee discuss the highlights of the report. "Developing Asia must adapt to a moderate growth environment, and countries will need to do more to reduce their reliance on exports, rebalance their sources of growth, and increase their productivity and efficiency," said Changyong Rhee, ADB's Chief Economist. "These measures are critical if the region is to continue lifting its people out of poverty." In its Asian Development Outlook 2012 Update, released today, ADB projects the region's gross domestic product (GDP) growth dropping to 6.1% in 2012, and 6.7% in 2013, down significantly from 7.2% in 2011. The deceleration of the region's two giants - the People's Republic of China and India - in tandem with the global slowdown, is tempering earlier optimism.

The report notes that the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in the euro area and looming fiscal cliff in the US could have disastrous spillovers to the rest of the world, particularly developing Asia. View infographic in higher resolution. The projected slowdown is likely to ease price pressures, however, with inflation falling from 5.9% in 2011 to 4.2% for both 2012 and 2013, assuming there are no spikes in international food and fuel prices.The People's Republic of China (PRC) is forecast to grow 7.7% this year and 8.1% in 2013, a dramatic drop from the 9.3% posted in 2011. The slowdown in the PRC is having a knock-on effect elsewhere in East Asia, with diminished demand for intraregional exports. Weak demand from industrialized countries is impacting East Asia's exports, and growth in the subregion are now forecast at 6.5% in 2012, with an uptick to 7.1% in 2013. For India, GDP growth will slow to 5.6% in 2012, down from 6.5% in 2011. The downward revision in India's prospects, due in significant part to weak investment demand, is expected to slow South Asia's growth to 5.6% and 6.4% for 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Growth in Southeast Asia is expected to quicken to just over 5% in 2012, mainly due to Thailand's recovery from severe flooding in 2011. Higher levels of government spending have contributed to growth in Malaysia and the Philippines, while investment and private consumption in the subregion are generally buoyant with inflationary pressures abating. Economic activity in Central Asia is moderating as oil prices stabilize and external demand cools. GDP growth is now projected at 5.7% in 2012 and is expected to edge up to 6.0% in 2013. The growth forecast remains unchanged for the Pacific region at 6% for 2012, where the resilience of larger Pacific countries, such as Papua New Guinea, is masking the weakening of some smaller economies. If an extreme shock were to materialize, most economies in the region have room to use fiscal and monetary tools to respond. However, there is currently no region-wide need to pursue aggressive demand management. Rather, efforts should focus on the medium-term issue of continued soft external demand. Developing a vibrant service sector in the region can supplement growth.

From http://www.adb.org/ 10/03/2012

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Asia Urged to Focus More on Services as Slowdown Worsens

Economic growth in developing Asia is slowing down faster than previously anticipated due to the continuing slump in global demand, said the Asian Development Bank, which has urged Thailand and other countries to pay attention to the service sector as it has the potential to be a new source of growth. The ADB projects developing Asia's gross-domestic-product growth dropping to 6.1 per cent this year, against the 6.9 per cent projected in April, Luxmon Attapich, senior country economist at the bank's Thailand resident mission, said yesterday. The regional economy is expected to expand 6.7 per cent next year, with growth rates this year and next down significantly from the 7.2 per cent experienced in 2011. The decelerating growth of the region's two giants, China and India, is tempering earlier optimism, according to the ADB. China's growth is projected to be 7.7 per cent this year and 8.1 per cent in 2013, a dramatic drop from the 9.3 per cent posted last year. The Indian economy is forecast to grow by 5.6 per cent this year, decelerating from 6.5 per cent last year.

"Excluding China and India, the rest of developing Asia is more resilient," said Luxmon. The bank also revised downward its projection of Thai GDP growth to 5.2 per cent this year, against the 5.5 per cent forecast previously. The economy is predicted to expand 5 per cent next year. A slowdown in Thai exports has adversely affected the economy, and export growth will probably be just 5 per cent this year, she added. Public spending and domestic consumption will shore up the economy, and government policy such as the rice-pledging scheme will boost consumption, the economist said. Major risks to the region include the euro-zone crisis, the US "fiscal cliff" and the volatility of capital flows. While inflationary pressure eases to an estimated 4.2 per cent this year, recent rises in commodity and food prices could pose a trouble, said Luxmon. Myanmar bucks the trend. The bank has, however, revised upward its growth forecasts for Myanmar's economy. GDP expansion is projected to be 6.3 per cent this year, up from the 6 per cent forecast previously, while the country is expected to achieve growth of 6.5 per cent next year. Investment in oil, natural gas and power, expansion in the construction sector and rising tourism and exports will contribute to Myanmar's higher growth.

"It is interesting in a way because where the rest of Asia sees a slowing down in growth, Myanmar, almost alone, sees a pick-up; this growth is due to recent economic reform and the economy opening up," said Craig Steffensen, ADB country director at the Thailand resident mission. The projected growth rate could have been even higher, but for the country's severe infrastructure and bureaucratic constraints. For example, electricity supply is inadequate, he said. Myanmar also has a limited number of qualified bureaucrats who can work with international institutions, he added. Luxmon said Thailand and other Asian countries could find a new source for future growth in services. The region needs to liberalise and upgrade its service sector, particularly modern service industries such as in the information and communications technology, financial and professional fields, she said. "The service sector is smaller in Asia than in Latin America and developing Europe," Luxmon said, adding that Asia's services productivity was also low. The tax system also needs to be revised. For example, China imposes higher tax rates on services than on industrial production, she said. Meanwhile, many countries - including Thailand - have inadequate ICT infrastructure and a shortage of skilled workers in modern service sectors, the economist added.

From http://ph.news.yahoo.com/ 10/04/2012

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Global Warming Can Trigger Extreme Pacific Weather, Says Study

Global warming is likely to alter rainfall patterns in East Asia and the Pacific, causing more intense drought and floods in decades to come, according to a study published in Nature last month (15 August). A team of Australian-based scientists estimated that increased greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere will enhance equatorial Pacific warming by two degrees Celsius by 2050. This will cause the South Pacific Convergence Zone (SPCZ) - the Southern Hemisphere's most expansive rain band, which extends from the sub-equatorial western Pacific south-eastwards to French Polynesia - to move northwards towards the equator by 1,000 kilometres. Normally, the rain band moves just a few kilometres northwards or southwards. During events such as El Nino and La Nina, the movement is 200 - 300 kilometres. The scientists project that the frequency of such occurrences will almost double over the next 100 years, and could lead to extreme climate events, such as droughts, floods and tropical cyclones, with a potentially devastating impact on countries in the Pacific. In an interview with SciDev.Net, Wenju Cai, the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) oceanographer who led the study, said that the last time SPCZ moved northwards by up to 1,000 kilometres was in the years 1997 to 1998.

This extreme shift led to an intense El Niño, a warm water current that periodically flows along the coast of Ecuador and Peru, greatly affecting wind, sea surface temperature, and precipitation patterns in the tropical Pacific. In 1997-1998, this had the effect of parching lands in South-East Asia, destroying crops and causing dire food shortages. It also brought cyclones to regions, including French Polynesia, which were unaccustomed to such events. "Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing a global redistribution of rainfall away from the subtropics to higher latitude regions," said Elisabeth Holland, a professor of climate change at the University of South Pacific in Fiji. If the rain band moves north-eastwards by 300 kilometres, countries located within the bands' normal position - such as Vanuatu, Samoa, and the Southern Cook Islands - will experience cyclones, droughts and forest fires. As the band moves further up, it will also bring floods and drought to South-East Asia and the rest of the western Pacific region, Cai said. He warned that regional policymakers should heed the SPCZ when preparing climate change adaptation programmes. Governments should ensure that any infrastructure built over the next few years would have the capacity to withstand the stronger typhoons, Cai added. He also advised that farmers need to be prepared for longer and more intense droughts and typhoons. Holland said these warnings should give more impetus to plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more extensively than directed by the current trajectory, particularly in light of China and India's escalating emissions, coupled with the slow decrease in Europe and the United States.

From http://www.scidev.net/ 10/05/2012

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Growth to Slow in East Asia and Pacific in 2012, but Domestic Demand Will Play Key Role in Rebound Next Year

Economic growth in the East Asia and Pacific region may slow down by a full percentage point from 8.2 percent in 2011 to 7.2 percent this year, before recovering to 7.6 percent in 2013. Growth in developed countries will remain modest, with recovery in the region to be driven mainly by strong domestic demand in developing countries, said the World Bank in its East Asia and Pacific Economic Data Monitor, released today. The new report says that weak exports and lower investment growth will cut down China's GDP growth from 9.3 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent this year. In 2013, however, China's growth is expected to rebound to 8.1 percent as the impact of stimulus measures kicks in, supported further by an uptick in global trade. "The East Asia and Pacific region's share in the global economy has tripled in the last two decades, from 6 percent to almost 18 percent today, which underscores the critical importance of this region's continued growth for the rest of the world," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. "Even under difficult global circumstances, poverty in the region will continue to decline, with the share of people living on $2 a day expected to reach 24.5 percent by the end of 2013, down from 28.8 percent in 2010," said Pamela Cox, World Bank East Asia and Pacific Regional Vice President. "Weaker demand for East Asia's exports is slowing the regional economy, but compared to other parts of the world, it's still growing strongly, and thriving domestic demand will enable the region's economy to bounce back to 7.6 percent next year."

The report cites reconstruction spending in Thailand after last year's floods as among the factors buttressing domestic demand in the region. In addition, countries like Indonesia - together with Thailand and Malaysia - are currently enjoying a boom in spending by their governments and the private sector on capital goods. In China, the growth of domestic demand in real terms has come down from last year, and GDP growth in the second quarter grew only by 7.6 percent compared to a year ago. Investment growth has slowed in particular, driven by last year's measures to rein in investments in real estate, the report says. However, relaxation in monetary policy earlier this year and local and central government stimulus measures could again reverse this trend in months to come. The report notes that tensions in the Eurozone have eased following the European Central Bank's announcement to defend the euro in July and the launch of its bond-buying program that significantly calmed the markets. Also, the recent announcements by the United States Federal Reserve regarding a new round of quantitative easing to help stimulate the American economy, has helped revive the global equity markets. However, the report says that considerable downside risks remain. Should conditions in Europe deteriorate sharply, the risks are high that developing economies might be affected. A crisis in the Eurozone will adversely affect the economies in the East Asia and Pacific mainly through trade and links to the financial sector. The report considers food price increases less of a risk for East Asia at this stage, as rice markets remain well supplied. Policy makers in the East Asia and Pacific Region will have to continue managing growth and reducing poverty in an environment that will remain volatile, the report says. Countries that have experienced rapid expansion of credit need to be cautious, while exporters of commodities should continue to take measures and build institutions that help manage volatile commodity revenues.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/08/2012

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Asia Growth to Slow, but to Remain Fastest in World: IMF

Oct 12, 2012 (LBO) - The International Monetary Fund has downgraded Asia growth to 5.4 percent in 2012 from 6.0 percent with European troubles hurting export demand and domestic slowdowns in India and China. Asian growth in the first half of 2012 was the lowest in 2008, the IMF said releasing its World Economic Outlook report for the Asia Pacific region. India, which has experienced trouble due to foreign exchange interventions by the Central Bank which has sent the rupee tumbling is expected to grow 4.9 percent in 2012, down from a earlier expected 6.9 percent. Sri Lanka would grow by 6.7 percent, down from an earlier forecast of 7.4 percent, Bangladesh 6.1 percent, up 0.2 from an earlier forecast. China is expected to grow 7.8 percent down 0.4 percent with authorities trying to bring the country to a 'soft landing' following earlier stimulus which had fired a property bubble. "Going forward, growth is projected to pick up very gradually, and Asia should remain the global growth leader, expanding over 2 percentage points faster than the world average next year," the IMF said releasing it. "However, considerable downside risks remain, in particular with regard to the euro area crisis." A one percent slowdown in China would also reduce growth in neighbouring countries of Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan Province of China where there are strong supply chain links,. by half percent, the IMF said.

In 2013 growth in Asia would be 5.9 percent, lower than the previously expected 6.6 percent. China, is expected to grow 8.2 percent in 2013 and India's growth is expected to recover to 6.1 percent. In 2013 Sri Lanka is expected to grow 6.7 percent, down from an earlier 7.0 percent forecast and Bangladesh 6.1 percent, down 0.3 percent. "The priorities for policymakers are to support noninflationary growth, maintain financial stability, and remain responsive to weaker-than-expected outcomes," the IMF said. "Refocusing structural and fiscal reform efforts toward sustained and more inclusive growth remains a priority." Though inflation pressures seem to have eased, monetary policy seem to be more accommodative than is suggested by measures such as the Taylor rule, the monetary watchdog said. Reserve country central banks such as the Fed and European Central Bank has been engaging in quantity easing (printing large volumes of money) in a bid to push credit, which can depreciate their currencies against traded commodities and fire inflation.

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/ 10/12/2012

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CHINA: 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/ 10/23/2012

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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/ 10/23/2012

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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/ 10/23/2012

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China's Economic Growth to Stabilize in Q4: Think Tank

The slowdown in China's economic growth will be curbed in the fourth quarter of the year following government measures but uncertainties will remain for future development, a Chinese think tank said in a report Sunday. China's economy is expected to grow by 7.7 percent in the first three quarters of 2012, while for the whole year, the growth rate will be 7.8 percent, the Center for China in the World Economy (CCWE) under the Tsinghua University forecasted in the report. The Chinese economy slowed to 7.6 percent in the second quarter, marking the slowest pace of growth in more than three years. h The CCWE said the slowdown of growth in the first three quarters is a result of decelerating fixed asset investment, especially in real estate, which will be reversed after the government stepped up approvals for infrastructure projects to boost growth.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approved dozens of infrastructure projects worth more than 1 trillion yuan (157.73 billion U.S. dollars) earlier this month, for highways, ports, railways, sewage networks and waste treatment plants across the country. China still has potential for rapid growth in the medium and long term, and urbanization will be the greatest boost for the country's future development, according to the report. The CCWE estimated that China's GDP will grow by 8.2 percent year-on-year in the first half of next year, while the whole of 2013 will be 8 percent. However, the CCWE said China's economy is also facing enormous risks, including global political upheaval and limited choices in making monetary policies. The future of Sino-Japan relations is one of the most critical elements to influence China's economic development, it said. Meanwhile, Chinese policy makers have limited room for further adjustments in monetary policies, as the country is likely to face inflationary pressures next year due to new monetary easing programs in other major economies, as well as domestic stimulus plans and rising prices of agricultural products. The rebound in property prices has also held the government from making new moves in monetary polices, said the report.

The CCWE said China may see an inflation rate of 2.8 percent this year, while for the coming years, consumer prices will grow by 3 percent to 5 percent annually. Li Daokui, head of the CCWE, said there is no hard-landing risk in a short term, but the next three to five years will be a difficult period for China's economy, during which the global economic and financial situation will remain turbulent. Special attention should be paid to economic adjustments in the United States, which might recur several times and bring new waves of economic and financial turmoil to the rest of the world, said Li, a former advisor to China's central bank. If the Chinese government could introduce more reform measures to consolidate the market economy, the country might see a relatively higher growth in the latter part of the next decade, he said.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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Cloud Computing Cuts Costs of Storage

NASDAQ OMX yesterday launched a cloud computing platform built by Amazon Web Services which it said would allow its trading clients to cut the cost of storing financial data. The system, FinQloud, is a response to regulators' growing demands that companies provide more granular data on their trading activities. Policymakers in the US and Europe want banks and brokers to provide them with more detailed information on their day-to-day operations to help authorities spot illicit or risky trading patterns. The world's largest banks and brokers have historically used specialist in-house systems for data storage, citing security concerns about external platforms.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 10/23/2012

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China Aims to Expand Forest Coverage to 21.66% by 2015

China is expected to raise its forest coverage to 21.66 percent by 2015 in a bid to improve the country's ecological environment, a senior forestry official said Sunday. Sun Zhagen, vice head of the State Forestry Administration (SFA), revealed the target at a forum on sustainable forestry development. China will beef up its afforestation efforts to cope with global climate change, Sun said. China's forest coverage reached 20.36 percent in 2009, up from 18.21 percent in 2006, with 20.54 million hectares of forests restored, according to SFA figures. The central government earmarked a total of 46.2 billion yuan (7.22 billion U.S. dollars) from 2008 to 2011 to subsidize farmers whose farmland was reclaimed and turned into forests.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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Online Players Hit New High

The number of Chinese online game players has surged to a new high after the upgrading of China's broadband speed and Internet service, the world's major game maker said yesterday. More younger players, especially students, are taking part in online games in China, Alex Tai, managing director of Blizzard China, said at the sideline of the world championship series of "StarCraft II" in Shanghai. "China has developed a good environment for online games as many foreign games are introduced and also due to the fast development of broadband service," Tai said. There are 120 million online game players in the country, up 4.6 percent from last year. The mainland has 538 million Internet users. The value of online games has hit 55.7 billion yuan (US$8.89 billion) on the mainland, up 20 percent annually, Analysys International said.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 10/23/2012

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Fewer Chinese Cities See Home Price Rises

Fewer Chinese cities saw home price rises in September from August as the country continued efforts to curb property prices and speculation, it was revealed on Thursday. In September, 31 cities, down from 36 in August, out of a statistical pool of 70 major cities recorded higher new home prices than a month earlier, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Compared with August, new home prices in 24 cities declined in August, up from 20 in August, while 15 cities saw their new home prices unchanged, the data showed. On a year-on-year basis, fewer cities saw rebounds in new home prices last month, with 12 out of the 70 cities witnessing price increases of up to 1.2 percent. Prices rose in 14 cities in August from one year earlier.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 10/23/2012

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JAPAN: Plan to Put Tokyo Expressways Underground an Option, but an Extremely Costly One

The government is considering removal of aging sections of elevated lanes of the Metropolitan Expressways in Tokyo and burying the roads underground. The greatest hurdle to this idea, which is the baby of the infrastructure ministry, is the huge construction cost, estimated at 4.3 trillion yen, which is close to the 5.4 trillion yen needed for the planned Chuo linear motor train line between Tokyo and Nagoya. The first elevated lane of the expressway opened between the Kyobashi and Shibaura districts in 1962, two years before the Tokyo Olympics. The Metropolitan Expressways are now 301 kilometers long, with about 90 kilometers constructed more than 40 years ago. About 1 million vehicles use the expressways every day.

To avoid trouble over purchasing land, many sections of the expressways were built over existing roads and rivers. About 80 percent of the lanes are elevated. Although the expressways were built for speed and to avoid traffic jams, many sections of the Inner Circular Route, which runs around central Tokyo, are narrow and the maximum speed is limited to 50 kph, although 100,000 vehicles use the ring road daily. Some people say this route, a section of which crosses Nihombashi Bridge, will be unnecessary after the completion of extensions on such highways as the Central Circular Route. Others voiced concern that if the old ring road was closed traffic jams would worsen. On Oct. 1, members of a council set up by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry inspected conditions on the elevated sections of Route No. 6 in Sumida Ward, Tokyo.

Tiny cracks were discovered along the bottom of concrete structures and it is feared concrete chunks could fall if measures are not taken to prevent this. However, an employee of Metropolitan Expressway Co. said: "This place is not that bad. There are sections in much worse shape." As of the end of fiscal 2009, repair work was needed at 96,600 places on the expressways. The figure was more than double that five years before. Because of old designs and narrow lanes, traffic jams are common, particularly at expressway junctions. But because the traffic volume is so great, the government has not yet been able to come up with a fundamental solution. In April, the ministry's experts panel discussed redevelopment of aged sections of the expressways and in September considered three options - removal, rebuilding on existing routes, and redevelopment with underground tunnels. The third option was considered the most desirable.

Financing such massive construction work was the main bugbear. "Government funds are limited," Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Yuichiro Hata said. The ministry has so far failed to come up with concrete time schedule and practical plans for securing the vast funds needed for redevelopment of the expressways. As a result, the first option - removing aged sections - is under consideration. Some people suggest priority should be placed on removing sections that would enhance scenic beauty. When the Shinagawa section of the Central Circular Route opens and the Tokyo Outer Ring Road is extended by the end of next fiscal year, they will serve as an alternative route to the Inner Circular Route. In 2006, when Junichiro Koizumi was prime minister, a plan was considered to remove the elevated section over Nihombashi bridge and replace it with an underground tunnel.

The main reason for this is that the bridge in Chuo Ward is a landmark and the starting point for all major roads in the Edo period (1603-1867). The plan was eventually abandoned. Akinori Nagamori, chief of the secretariat of Meikyo Nihombashi Hozonkai, an association comprising local store owners and residents to preserve the bridge's scenery, said, "The [elevated] road should be removed if it's impossible to build a road underground." Compared with similar expressways overseas, the Inner Circular Route is an extremely short 15 kilometers. London and Washington have ring roads more than 100 kilometers long, while Paris and Beijing have 30-kilometer-long ring roads.

Maximum speed limits on foreign ring roads are 100 kph or higher, and some of them have six to eight lanes. A traffic expert said, "Once the Central Circular Route is fully opened, the Inner Circular Route will be unnecessary." However, Hideo Nakamura, president of Tokyo City University, an expert of civil engineering, said: "Simply removing expressway sections could worsen traffic jams on other roads. Putting all sections underground is hardly cost-effective." In addition to the experts panels' options, he proposed a fourth option: burying part of the expressways underground while utilizing existing routes.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/08/2012

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Internet Used to Guard Medical Records from Disaster

A staff member inputs patient information on a tablet computer at the Wing nursing home in Osato, Miyagi Prefecture. The information is instantly backed up on the Internet. Medical and nursing facilities, which lost patients' medical records in the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami last year, are making efforts to protect future data by storing it on the Internet. Because of the loss of the medical records, hospitals and nursing facilities in the disaster-hit regions are trying to store medical records on inland servers so doctors and caregivers can access the records even in the event of a disaster. The storage system utilizes cloud computing. The system has already been put to practical use in disaster-hit areas, and the central government has supported forming cloud computer networks around the country. However, some experts are concerned about personal information leaking.

The disaster in March last year resulted in the loss of records at many medical institutions. According to Miyagi Prefecture's medical association, 163 facilities, or 90 percent of hospitals and clinics in the prefecture badly damaged in the disaster, lost their medical records.When Shizugawa Hospital in Minami-Sanriku in the prefecture, which was destroyed by tsunami, resumed seeing patients at an evacuation center shortly after the disaster, about 300 to 400 patients a day sought treatment. The majority of them were suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes. Physician Masafumi Nishizawa, 40, said, "It was confusing because we had to rely on patients' memories about what medicine they had been taking."In light of this, the medical association, Tohoku University and others have established the Miyagi Medical and Welfare Information Network, aiming at sharing records by forming information networks among medical institutions and care facilities.

In the prefecture's Ishinomaki and Kesennuma districts, more than 50 facilities, including hospitals, clinics, care facilities and drugstores, are scheduled to be connected from next spring. Each facility plans to store its electronic records not only at the facility but also on inland backup servers after obtaining consent from patients and people concerned. The 1.39 billion yen operating cost will be covered by central government subsidies. At Wing, a specialty nursing home that opened in Osato, Miyagi Prefecture, in April, the records of about 100 people in the home are stored on the Internet. Ko Kimura, 35, a caregiver at the home, input "took antihypertensive at 1 p.m." on a patient's chart, which was displayed on a tablet computer, and sent it to a dedicated site.

The doctor who visits the home once a week for consultations with patients, can easily access the state of his patients from the information sent to the site by staff and uses it to better treat the patients. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is working to create a system to allow records to be mutually accessible by forming networks between a central hospital and surrounding medical institutions at a dozen locations throughout the country this fiscal year. Government subsidies cover about 50 percent of the costs necessary for the network, and about 950 million yen has been budgeted for the projects. Saving records on the Internet makes it easy to access data, but there is a risk of leakage through hacking and other means.

The ministry has proposed such safety measures as frequently changing IDs and passwords for those with access to the records or introducing a biometric security system. Shigeo Kunii, deputy manager at Tohoku University Hospital's Medical IT Center, pointed out concerns over security deficiencies for medical records stored on the Internet. "If operations are improved, concerns about security will be removed and the system will spread rapidly," he said.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/09/2012

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Foreign Ministry Sees Website Hits Rise 50%

The number of visits to the English version of the Foreign Ministry's website surged 50 percent from the previous month to 4.97 million in September, a survey by the ministry has revealed. This is apparently due to an increase in foreigners accessing the site to confirm Japan's stance on the Senkaku Islands, a senior ministry official said Friday. On Sept. 11, Japan nationalized three of the five islands, a territorial issue that has led to a sharp deterioration in Japan-China ties. The ministry plans to more actively send messages confirming the legitimacy of its claim that the islands are an inherent part of Japanese territory.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/21/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Survey Indicates Gap in Health Between Seniors in City, Country

A Statistics Korea survey shows there is a significant gap between the health of seniors living in the city and those living in the country. The survey showed senior citizens living in the city were healthier as they exercise more regularly. However, their countryside counterparts were more satisfied with their relationship with their family. They indicated they were more satisfied with their children than city families. Around six-thousand senior couples got divorced last year alone, which is more than triple the amount seen in 2000.Meanwhile, male senior citizens over the age of 65 are expected to live 17-point-two more years, while female senior citizens are projected to live 21-point-six more years.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 09/28/2012

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75% of S. Koreans Say Gender Discrimination Is Still a Problem

Three out of four South Koreans believe gender discrimination is still a problem in Korean society. The Gender Equality and Family Ministry polled 35-hundred adults to survey the demand for policy measures for women. Seventy-five percent of respondents said gender discrimination is still a problem in society. Eighty-two percent of women and 67 percent of men agreed to this view. Respondents said gender discrimination was most evident in income, followed by politics and public safety. The survey shows parents' preference for sons over daughters has diminished as 70 percent were negative or neutral about the idea that they should have at least one son. Seventy-nine percent responded the same way to the idea that the son will inherit more family wealth.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/09/2012

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Obesity, Underweight Problems Growing in S. Korea

Government data show that the percentage of extremely obese South Koreans nearly doubled in the past 12 years, while underweight is becoming a growing problem for young Korean women. Our Kim Soyon has this report. The Health and Welfare Ministry has released an analysis of public health and nutrition data between the years 1998 and 2010 conducted by a professor at Dongguk University Ilsan Hospital. The information shows little change in the obesity rate of the South Korean population, which stood at 31-point-five percent in 2010. The figure has remained in the 30 to 31 percent range since 2001.

However, the percentage of highly obese people jumped from two-point-four percent in 1998 to four-point-two percent in 2010.The extreme obesity rate for men went up from one-point-seven to three-point-seven percent and that of women from three to four-point-six percent. A person is considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), which is calculated from his or her weight and height, is over 25 kilograms per square meter. Severe obesity is when the index tops 30.The percentage of underweight Koreans, whose BMI is below 18-point-five, also remains in the four-point-six to five-point-one percent range for over ten years. But young women are noticeably growing thinner. As for men, the underweight percentage dropped in all age groups during the surveyed period. A Health Ministry official says to prevent morbid obesity that is prevalent in the West, people must eat well, exercise and cut down on smoking and drinking. He also stressed that underweight young women can develop diseases such as osteoporosis, and he urged them to take a proper look at their appropriate weight level.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/10/2012

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People in 40s, 50s Face Bleak Future

Choi is a 43-year-old office worker at a financial firm in Seoul. He thinks he needs to work for at least 20 years more, considering he has to take care of his two preschool children until they enter college and land jobs and to lead a comfortable life with his wife after retirement. But people usually leave his company in their late 40s. The retirement age of 60 is a dream number these days for middle-aged workers like Choi, as firms don't want older employees who usually receive larger salaries than younger ones, unless they possess extraordinary skills. "Concerned about our post-retirement lives, my wife and I set up a pub to augment our finances. But business was not good so we sold it after making a loss. I always feel insecure when thinking about my old age," he said. A March survey showed Choi is not alone in his concerns. The poll of 1,580 adults by Open Survey found 60.3 percent of people in their 40s and 76.8 percent of 50-somethings said they are worried about early retirement. Their expected retirement age was 55, while they wanted to retire at 58.Only 7.1 percent said they are fully prepared for old age. The rest said they are not ready because of debt, increases in living expenses following price hikes, or childcare costs including expenses for their offsprings' education or marriage.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 10/16/2012

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Korea Urges Pan-Asian Cooperation to Fight Economic Crisis

Korea on Thursday called for Asian countries to build a proactive intra-regional mechanism to better protect their nations from a festering global economic crisis and to increase a pan-Asian financial safety net. Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun made the call during this week's two-day summit of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), a 32-member body created in 2002 to promote Asian cooperation at a continental level. "The Asian region has risen to greater prominence as it successfully overcame the 2008 global financial crisis," Kim said in his speech. "However, the Eurozone crisis continues to affect the emerging economies of Asia in such a way as to slow down their economic growth."

Kim warned that the European region's debt problems could cause another global financial crisis that would deal a severe blow to Asian economies. "In order to better prepare against highly contagious regional or global crises, Asian countries should make further efforts to build a proactive intra-regional coordination mechanism and an intra-regional financial safety net in particular," Kim said. Citing efforts by East Asian nations that doubled the size of a regional currency swap deal to US$240 billion, Kim said, "The ACD should seek ways to apply this experience to the entire Asian region." The Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization, which covers South Korea, China, Japan and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is aimed at providing them with a financial safety net against possible liquidity shortages.

"If ACD member states cooperate more effectively with one another within a more institutionalized framework and thereby maximize the Asian capacity, Asia will continue to stably lead the global growth," Kim said. Asian and Arab leaders, including those from major oil exporting and importing countries, opened the summit calling for close cooperation to jointly fend off the global economic crisis. Since the 2008 global crisis, economic growth around the globe has been fragile amid the deepening debt crisis in Europe, a weakening growth in the U.S. and a cooling Chinese economy. Such uncertainties have forced Asian countries to join hands in fighting against the impacts of the global economic malaise.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund cut its 2012 global economic growth forecast to 3.3 percent from its July outlook of 3.5 percent. Initiated by Thailand in 2002, the ACD brings together top officials from Asia's major economies - South Korea, China, Japan and India - as well as leading oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, in addition to Iran and Russia. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra were among the leaders attending this year's meeting.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 10/18/2012

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More Foreign Wives to Be Given Teaching Jobs

The government plans to give more foreign wives who are married to Korean men opportunities to teach their native languages at schools here and guide children from multiracial families. According to the education ministry, 240 foreign wives are currently working as language instructors at schools in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and Incheon. About 200 more are taking training courses and will start teaching next year. Another 160 will start receiving training next year. The training which takes place at teacher's colleges in cities and provinces across the nation lasts for one year (equivalent to 900 hours of training). The instructor-trainees are selected from among foreign wives who have bachelor's degrees. Those who complete the training courses are placed in elementary, middle and high schools that have multiracial children. Each school will have only one such instructor.

The instructors are helping multiracial students learn Korean as well as basic studies. They are also teaching their mother tongues such as Chinese and Japanese in foreign language classes to all students. Most of the 240 instructors that are currently teaching at schools are Chinese and Japanese, at 108 and 57 respectively. The number of Russian, Mongolian and Vietnamese instructors is also on the rise. The education ministry plans to expand the training courses to 16 cities and provinces, from the current six. "Through having foreign wives teaching at schools, we aim to raise their self-esteem and create a school environment which is multiracially-friendly," said a ministry official. "We are actively promoting cities and provinces to implement the measure."

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 10/21/2012

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Seoul to Reduce Radon in Subway

Seoul City will step up measures to remove toxic gas in the subway following a report on increased radon levels in subway trains. The city government said Sunday it will better ventilate 37 subway stations which it believes have high levels of the lung cancer-causing gas. The measures come after a September report that the level of radon in the trains rose by an average of 53 percent and up to 166 percent since screen doors were installed at subway platforms. The installation of screen doors at platforms and the fact that the ventilation facilities are now running for reduced hours for energy conservation purposes have been cited as the cause of the rise in radon levels. Radon which arises when uranium and thorium in soil or rocks break down, takes the form of a colorless, odorless radioactive gas. It spreads through the air when the substances in rocks inside subway tunnels melts into underground water that is used to clean the tunnels. The gas can cause lung cancer or stomach cancer if one is exposed to highly-concentrated levels for an extended period of time.

The city is taking various measures to control levels of the gas. It will measure the levels of radon at the 37 stations regularly, twice a year. It is also taking measures to block the channels through which the gas has been spreading. It will close drains and collect samples from the wells and let out the air of the wells in order to bring down radon concentration levels. And underground water will no longer be used for cleaning purposes. The ventilation facilities inside tunnels will run for at least 15 hours a day, up from the current 3 to 13 hours. In addition, radon has been included among the components in the air in trains subject to measurement, along with fine dust and carbon dioxide. The city has designated 37 stations as areas needing special attention. Among them are 17 stations of line 1 to 4 which are run by Seoul Metro and 20 stations of line 5 to 8 run by the Seoul Metro Rapid Transit Corp.

For line 2 the stations are Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, Euljiro 4(sa)-ga, Jamsil, Ewha Womans University, Ahyeon and Sports Complex. For line 3 they are Jongno 3(sam)-ga, Chungmuro, Gyeongbokgung, Anguk, Dongnimmun and Seoul National University of Education. For line 4 they are Chungmuro, Mia samgeori, Namtaeryeong, Hoehyeon and Samgakji.They were designated as special areas because these stations are located deep underground and have been built on granite. Twenty stations of line 8 have also been set as areas requiring attention, for the same reason. The stations for line 5 are Chungjeongno, Seodaemun, Gwanghwamun, Jongno 3(sam)-ga, Euljiro 4(sa)-ga, Sin geumho, Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, Cheongu, Haengdang, Wangsimni and Dapsimni. For line 6 they are Korea University, Wolgok and Yeokchon, and for line 7 they are Suraksan, Madeul, Nowon, Junggye, Hagye and Gongneung. "Although the concentration levels of radon in subway stations and trains remain at levels harmless to humans, we have prepared measures so that we can address citizens' concerns," said an official.

From http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ 10/21/2012

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INDONESIA: Delegation Highlights Environmental Disaster Vulnerability at ASEP-7

VIENTIANE, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) - The Indonesian delegation to the 7th Asia-Europe Parlimentary Partnership Meeting (ASEP-7) on Thursday called on countries in Asia and Europe to improve their capacity and awareness to reduce their vulnerability to environmental disasters. "...communities are mostly at risk because of the lack of awareness and capacity to cope with the disasters. On the other hand, government capacity to protect the population from natural disasters is limited," said Hayono Isman, head of the Indonesian Delegation held here. Isman noted the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters, especially those in densely populated regions, was an area of concern for Asia and Europe. However, he expressed confidence that through forums such as ASEP, Asia and Europe will be able to develop schemes that enhance cooperation, strengthen, expand and improve global disaster resilient communities. The two-day ASEP meeting, which opened on Wednesday, has brought together parliamentarians from across both regions to discuss global and regional issues. It is part of a series of Asia- Europe forums to be held in Laos over the next few months.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/04/2012

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Health Ministry to Launch Diphtheria Vaccination

The Health Ministry is set to launch a diphtheria vaccination program in 19 regencies and municipalities in East Java next month. The ministry's director of epidemiology and immunization, Andi Muhadir, said that East Java was chosen as the area of focus as parts of the province were especially vulnerable to the infectious throat disease. "Populations in East Java remain susceptible to diphtheria because of the low coverage rate of vaccinations, particularly for diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus among infants and adolescents," Andi told reporters. Between Nov. 12 and Nov. 24, the ministry plans to vaccinate 5 million infants, children and adolescents in 19 regencies and municipalities including Bangkalan, Banyuwangi, Bondowoso, Jember, Jombang, Madiun, Mojokerto, Pasuruan and Probolinggo. Diphtheria, an acute toxic infectious disease caused by Corynebacterium diphtheria, remains a serious health problems in the country.

According to national surveillance data, 83 percent of total diphtheria incidents in the country occurred in East Java last year. The East Java Health Agency recorded a diphtheria outbreak it categorized as an extraordinary event on Oct. 11, 2011. It infected 684 people and killed 20, according to data from the ministry. So far, only 375 diphtheria patients have received vaccinations. Despite the health agency's efforts to contain the outbreak, the disease spread and sickened not only infants but also adolescents aged up to 15 years old. As of the end of September, 661 people in East Java had been infected with diphtheria, with 28 fatalities recorded. "This is why it's important to deliver additional diphtheria immunizations in the province with wider coverage, both in terms of the number and age scope of the recipients," said Andi. In 2011, the Health Ministry launched a diphtheria vaccination campaign aiming to curb the infectious disease in 11 regions, including Bangkalan, Banyuwangi, Blitar, Gresik, Mojokerto, Pamekasan, Pasuruan, Sampang, Sidoarjo, Sumenep and Surabaya.

Julitasari Sundoro, the National Commission for Post-immunization Effects (Komnas KIPI), said the commission had written guidelines for local health workers to anticipate any adverse impacts or side effects of vaccination. "To anticipate any adverse side effects from immunization, we have conducted surveillance to monitor the quality of vaccine products, including DPT-Hepatitis B, DT and Td vaccines, which we will use in the vaccination campaign," she said. Komnas KIPI will also set up a workshop to train pediatricians, general physicians, midwives and other health workers on how to deliver the vaccines properly. All vaccines to be used during the campaign were produced by state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Biofarma.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 10/22/2012
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Indonesian Economy Needs More Revamping to Turbo Charge Growth

JAKARTA - With one of the highest economic growth rates in the world, Indonesia is experiencing good times right now but things could be even better if the government did more to revamp its economy, say international analysts. Southeast Asia's largest economy needs to do much more to slash bureaucracy and build infrastructure if it wants the party to continue, according to a report from Standard Chartered. In its report entitled "Economic Reform: The Unfinished Agenda," the bank looked at the state of reforms at countries around the world. If Indonesia can push through some of the difficult but necessary changes its economy needs, the report says its citizens will each be more than 40% richer in 2030. "Reform is the key to unlocking faster economic growth in developed countries as much as emerging markets," said the report, which estimates countries lose between one percentage point and three percentage points of growth per year by delaying reform. "Without reform, economies become stuck in low-growth trajectories."

Policy makers should take note as a 40% bump in per capita gross domestic product is not small change. The main areas that need work in Indonesia are outdated infrastructure as well as the growing number of bureaucrats and their too often confusing and even contradictory rules. As Indonesia has given more power to local officials, the number of local government bodies across the archipelago has jumped to close to 500 from 341 in 1998, the report said. The country now has around 4.6 million civil servants and 73% of them work at the local level. Indonesia needs to rein in the spending and regulatory powers of these smaller players if it wants to encourage more investment and growth, analysts say. "The government must address not only the size of the bureaucracy but also its lack of effectiveness," in building infrastructure and encouraging investment, the Standard Chartered report said. Ratings company Standard & Poor's came out with its own wish list for Indonesia last week. It is the last big agency that rates Indonesia below investment grade. Fitch Ratings and Moody's MCO -0.31%Investor Service already have an investment-grade rating for Indonesia.

While Indonesia is on the right track, it will need to push through unpopular reforms, such as raising the government-controlled price on fuel, and be cautious about adding further restrictions on foreign investment to stay on track, Standard & Poor's said. "There's a perception that the government's reform agenda has stalled, due to a lack of policy initiatives to promote long-term growth during President Yudhoyono's second term and from a slew of measures or policy proposals that appear to be anti-foreign investor, ad hoc in nature, and not conducive to efficient allocation of resources," the S&P report said. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for a reaction to the reports. In the past, the president has said he is committed to reforms but change often takes time in a diverse democracy like Indonesia. Standard Chartered predicts that with the right reforms, Indonesia is on track to become the world's sixth largest economy by 2030. But that will take some bold moves by a government that, with national elections less than two years away, has shown it is reluctant to rock the boat.

From http://blogs.wsj.com/ 10/22/2012

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MYANMAR: VP Calls on People to Participate in Disaster Risk Reduction

YANGON, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) - Myanmar Vice President Dr.Sa Mauk Kham has called on people to participate in the disaster awareness program, saying that preparedness and preventive measures should be enhanced and speed up, official media reported Saturday. Addressing at the ceremony of the International Day for Disaster Reduction 2012 in Nay Pyi Taw Friday, Dr.Sa Mauk Kham urged all departments and organizations concerned to implement the short-, the medium-, and the long-term projects on the disaster risk reduction, said the New Light of Myanmar. He stressed "since the national development and disaster risk reduction are inseparable, every development project being undertaken in the country should be reflected from the disaster risk reduction perspective." He underlined that the local government have to respond immediately to the overarching impact of the natural disasters that is going to affect local people. Myanmar had established Disaster Preparedness Committees at all administrative levels to implement the disaster risk reduction strategies. Myanmar is one of the signatories of the Agreement on the Establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Center). Myanmar government carries out disaster risk reduction activities with various stakeholders and foreign organizations in the wake of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, Cyclone Giri in 2010, Tahlay earthquake and the flash flood in Magway Region in 2011.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/13/2012

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The Philippines, ITU Launches ICT Statistics Portal

The ICT Office of the Department of Science and Technology together with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) launched the Philippine ICT Statistics Portal (PHICTS ) which aims to supply needed ICT statistics on demand for policy makers, researchers and the general public. According to Louis Casambre, Executive Director of the ICT Office, the portal aims to provide linkages with statistics-gathering agencies in the country as well as international research bodies. Apart from providing numbers, graphs and matrices, the portal will serve as a platform to publish analytical reports to describe ICT development in the country. At present, data available on the PHICTS include residential broadband statistics, market statistics for voice, mobile and data and other ICT related data from sectors like e-Health, education, gender, telecommunications, cyberservices, e-commerce, Business Process Outsourcing, e-government and cybersecurity. The ICT Office is also collaborating with other government agencies such as the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the National Statistics Coordinating Board, National Telecommunications Commission, National Statistics Office and the University of the Philippines Information Technology Development Centre to build up the wealth and quality of data available in the portal. Based from a report by the Philippine Information Agency, the PHICTS portal will be maintained and updated as often as possible to give reliable and consistent data for its intended users.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/01/2012

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SINGAPORE: New Smartphone Applications to Help Encourage Active Aging

SINGAPORE: Two new Android phone applications for the elderly were launched on Sunday, with the aim of encouraging active aging and inter-generational bonding. The two games - Snake and Ladders, and a memory game - will be in English, Mandarin and Cantonese and will also feature stars familiar to these senior citizens. Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, who graced the event, said such technology can improve the lives of senior citizens. The mobile games were jointly developed by The Adventist Home for the Elders and Nanyang Polytechnic. Mr Chan said: "While it might seem like a simple game, leveraging on such technology to help the elders to improve their memory, refresh the memories when they were young, it's very helpful to keep the elders mentally healthy."

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/14/2012

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10,000 Cleaners Set to Get Pay Increases

SINGAPORE: Cleaners in some sectors can expect to take home a bigger pay packet and enjoy higher starting basic salaries of between S$1,000 and S$1,200, as part of efforts to raise productivity through the Progressive Wage Model (PWM). The Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC) is pushing for the PWM to attract more cleaners to help ease the shortage of workers in the sector. These changes, TCC said, should apply to local cleaners in three sub-sectors - office and commercial buildings, food and beverage establishments, and conservancies. For a start, it wants to help about 10,000 cleaners in these sub-sectors earn a higher entry-level basic wage of between S$1,000 and S$1,200. There are about 46,000 local cleaners in these three sub-sectors. They make up more than half of the near 70,000 local and foreign cleaners in the industry here. Currently, cleaners in these positions earn between S$675 and S$950.

The cluster is also pushing for a 'wage ladder' - to give more "wage points" to cleaners who pick up new and better skills, or take on higher responsibilities. The recommendations are part of the drive for a PWM, where workers gradually earn more through skills upgrading and structured career advancement. They also aim to help raise productivity through technology and the re-designing of processes. The TCC, which has representatives from the Ministry of Manpower and National Environment Agency, as well as unions and service providers, considered several factors. These include what the cleaners' wages would have been if they had kept pace with productivity growth, the nature and working conditions in various cleaning jobs, as well as inputs from those in the cleaning industry. Deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Heng Chee How described the current situation as unsustainable, noting that the widening income disparity would create social tensions, and has increased the reliance on foreign workers.

NTUC is also working with its Building and Facility Management Services Cluster, which set up the TCC, as well as government agencies on appropriate levers such as accreditation to introduce the PWM for cleaners. NTUC Building and Facility Management Services Cluster's Zainal Sapari said: "We are hoping that the government will take the lead. If the cleaners working for the government sector are earning wages according to the progressive wage model, it will have a ripple effect on cleaners working in the private sector. "I think we will see the cleaning companies having to pay their cleaners working for the private sector higher salaries, otherwise their cleaners might then decide to work for cleaning contracts under the government sector." Mr Zainal added that he hopes that the recommendations will level the playing field, so that workers' salaries do not suffer at the expense of winning a contract. Sectors such as transport, hospitality and healthcare have already taken the cue and put the PWM in place.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/18/2012

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More Private Education Institutions Meet Standards

SINGAPORE: More private education institutions (PEIs) in Singapore have met baseline standards set out by the Council for Private Education (CPE), a statutory board which regulates the private education industry. By December 2011, almost half of all registered PEIs had attained longer registration periods of four or six years, compared with just 32 per cent in June in the same year. The percentage of PEIs that achieved EduTrust certification also increased - from 22 per cent to 28 per cent in the same period. The majority, or 68 per cent, of students studying in PEI courses in 2011 were enrolled in these EduTrust-certified PEIs. The sector has 338 PEIs as at 31 December 2011, offering 5,700 courses in four main segments - commercial post-secondary, vocational, preparatory and foreign system school. Excluding foreign system schools, 187,000 students were enrolled in the sector in 2011.

About half took up part-time programmes, and more than 60 per cent were locals. These statistics were published in the CPE's latest annual report, tracking the progress of the regulatory framework introduced in late 2009, as part of the cleanup of a sector plagued by issues such as poor standards, closures and disputes over course fees and course administration. It comprises the mandatory Enhanced Registration Framework (ERF) and the voluntary EduTrust Certification Scheme, which are administered by the CPE to raise and maintain standards in the sector. Mr Henry Heng, chief executive officer of CPE, described the higher level of compliance as a positive development that will help to ensure quality. He said the sector has made good progress in the past three years but there is scope for improvement. The CPE, he said, will continue to review and strengthen the quality and regulatory framework for the sector.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/19/2012

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THAILAND: Administrative Court to Launch Online Service

The Administrative Court is to launch an online service allowing people to follow up on the progress of court cases. The service, which starts with legal disputes, comes online on October 29. Direkrit Jenkrongtham, secretary general of the Administrative Court office, said litigants will find it more convenient to check on the development of legal cases through the Internet. He said the judges' working procedure will be transparent since public scrutiny is allowed, adding that passwords can be obtained from the court office. Direkrit said that there is currently a backlog of about 24,000 cases due to an insufficient number of specialised judges. When the Administrative Court was launched in 2001, 4,000 cases were filed with the court. The number of cases increased to 9,000 this year while the number of judges increased from 190 in the first year to 214 this year. To cope with delays, judges in the court of first instance must take 65 cases a year. The caseload has increased to 125 cases a year for the supreme administrative court.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/19/2012

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VIETNAM: To Build National Database for Biodiversity

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is working together with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to build a national biodiversity database to improve the management of biodiversity and strengthen the implementation of the Biodiversity Law in Vietnam. The project will help Vietnam deal with the lack of a consistent system for collecting, storing and sharing information related to the conservation and sustainable development of the country's biodiversity. Based from the project's feasibility study, decision makers are unable to maximise the use of biodiversity related information as it is currently being shared in various government agencies in its raw and unreadable format. Thuy Nguyen Xuan, Director of the IT Centre at the Vietnam Administration Office, told FutureGov that the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014 with the budget of USD 3 million contributed by the Government of Japan. "The project will also look into proposing mechanisms on how relevant government agencies can cooperate on important management issues to facilitate a conducive environment for sharing data." Thuy added that Nam Dinh province, which has prominent high-biodiversity areas, such as Xuan Thuy National Park and the surrounding wetlands will be the "demonstration province" to test the local system of the national biodiversity database.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/28/2012

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Vietnam to Build Online Visa Issuance System

Come July 2013, foreigners will be able to enjoy the convenience of applying for an entry visa in Vietnam thanks to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' new online visa issuance system. The system, with an estimated cost of about USD 1 million, aims to manage visa issuances for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' (MOFA) Consular offices in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang, as well as for all Vietnamese representative offices abroad. Nguyen Nhu Trung, Deputy Director General of the Information and Communication Centre at MOFA, told FutureGov that the new system will provide MOFA's agencies with a layer of services and applications on a safe, stable and effective infrastructure. Trung explained that the system will computerise the application receipts and streamline the processing and delivery of information on issued visas to the competent authorities in the Ministries of Public Security and Defence. In addition, it will also allow visa applicants to not only register for visa application online but also track how their applications are progressing.

"By having a standardised system, it will facilitate better interaction among agencies of MOFA thereby accelerating the decision and policy making processes," he said. Issuing Vietnamese visas for foreigners is the most in demand consulate service both inside and outside of Vietnam. In 2010, 90 representative offices of Vietnam have issued visa for more than four million foreigners wishing to enter Vietnam. "The current ICT system used for issuing visas has no uniform format for all representative offices. As such, the processing time is not optimised, leading to mistakes in information processing and inefficiency. In addition, there is no connected network among representatives dealing with simultaneous issuances." Trung said once the system is in place, it is expected to drastically improve the processing time and efficiency of visa applications. Furthermore, the streamlined data on foreigners already receiving visas to enter Vietnam will play a very crucial aspect in safeguarding national security.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/01/2012

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Nation's Growth Remains Among Region's Fastest

HCM CITY (VNS) - Viet Nam and the Philippines will be the countries with high potentials in the Asean region in the next 10 years, Bernardo Villegas, a professor at the Philippines' University of Asia&the Pacific, said at an investment conference held in HCM City yesterday. "VIP acronym now in use stands for three populous ASEAN countries, Viet Nam, Indonesia and the Philippines. They will have a rapid growth rate compared to Japan, Korea and Singapore," he said. With a total consumer market of more than 400 million, the VIP countries have a reasonable chance of competing with the two giant Asian economies, China and India, in attracting foreign investors looking for both domestic markets to sell to and as bases from which to export. "The three countries are at the same stages of economic development and have the advantage of a young labour force, compared to Thailand, which is ageing fast," he said. Even their Asean colleagues, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, had suffered declines in their GDPs because of their heavier dependence on exports, he added.

More than ever, the VIP countries demonstrated the advantages of a large population in insulating a country from the ups and downs of global markets. According to the Wider World in 2050 Report from HSBC, the Philippine economy will be the 16th largest economy by 2050, surpassing Indonesia, Australia, Argentina, Malaysia and Thailand. A growth rate of 7-10 per cent for the Philippines is possible in the next 10 years. However, Villega noted that there would be a food shortage in the next 10-20 years. "However, Viet Nam has an advantage in producing food, especially high - value food." He said the Philippines needed technical support from Viet Nam to produce agricultural products. Bilateral trade between Viet Nam and the Philippines has reached $1.6 billion. The Phillipines imported $849.4 million of Vietnamese food and products. Vietnamese rice makes up 50 per cent of export value to the Philippines.

Le Manh Ha, vice chairman of HCM City People's Committee said: "There is a lively partnership between the Philippines and Vietnamese businesses as manifested by the frequent exchange of top-level business delegations between the two countries in August and October." He added that HCM City authorities would create favourable conditions for Philippine investors. Nguyen Vu Tu, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Viet Nam to the Philippines, said the two countries should cooperate in the fields of education, health, franchise and retail. Short education-exchange programmes for Vietnamese students would be useful, especially in English, which is widely used in the Philippines. At the conference, Lu Thanh Phong, vice director of HCM City Department of Planning and Investment, said HCM City would be an ideal investment destination for Philippine investors. Sixty-five per cent of the population is young, and the city has a well-developed medical-care system, 23 department stores, 92 supermarkets and 230 traditional markets. HCM City contributes more than 20 per cent of the national GDP, with industrial output accounting for 27.9 per cent of national industrial output. The number of FDI projects in HCM City accounts for nearly 35 per cent of the country's total FDI projects.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 10/17/2012

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VN Jumps Five Spots in Global IT Index

HA NOI (VNS) - Viet Nam has been ranked 81st in the ICT Development Index for 2011, a jump of five places from the previous year's index, the Ministry of Information and Communications announced yesterday in a conference on the sidelines of the Mobile Viet Nam 2012 trade expo. "The wireless sector, especially 3G, has been the vital factor in the development of the Vietnamese telecommunications industry in the context of globalisation" said the head of the ministry's Authority of Radio Frequency Management, Doan Cong Hoan. Viet Nam was one of the leading nations in terms of annual IT growth out of the 155 listed on the index, Hoan noted. However, he said, the country's wireless sector was still in its fledging stages, fostering the development of digital content but with inadequate infrastructure. Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Le Nam Thang told the conference that the country's IT sector earned about US$7 billion annually and considerably contributed to the overall development of the national economy.

The conference, which attracted speakers from across the industry, provided a platform for agencies and businesses to share views on the future of Viet Nam's mobile sector. Representatives of VNPT Group addressed the topics of social networks and of developing 4G high-speed broadband, while miltary-run mobile service provider Viettel shared its experiences in investing abroad. Telcordia Technologies showcased its solution for users to keep their phone numbers when changing providers, a project initiated by the ministry. The company, a subsidiary of Sony Ericsson, has already implemented its solution in 19 countries worldwide, enabling mobile phone subscribers to swap networks without changing their numbers. Mobile subscriptions in Viet Nam have skyrocketed in recent years, from 19 million in 2006 to 98 million in 2009, and over 123 million by the end of September 2012.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 10/20/2012

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BANGLADESH: Working for Justice

Following rioting against its Buddhist people, the Bangladesh government is showing its resolve to do justice to the country's minority. Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina said that the Buddhist population at the receiving end of violence and arson end-September, would be rehabilitated in the shortest possible time. Thousands were rendered homeless as miscreants brought down and burnt homes and pagodas in Chittagong on September 29. Sheikh Hasina was speaking to the Ministers and State Ministers after the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Cabinet division at Secretariat yesterday. The PM referring to a letter of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, told her Cabinet colleagues that the President has assured them of sending some old Buddhist statues. Private banks have been roped in to help the government's rehabilitation programmes. Bangladesh remains on the edge of communal precipice as a period of Hindu festivities begin mid-October. The Prime Minister has directed lawmakers and her ministers be alert during the upcoming Hindu festival season as she feels there could be a conspiracy like the one in Ramu, Chittagong. Bangladesh's Interior Minister held out the assurance that the miscreants who stirred the violence will be traced and brought to book. Police had arrested a key instigator behind the attacks, Abdul Moktadir, who has since admitted to having spread Facebook images among local citizens on the night of September 29. Police are trying to ascertain whether someone had backed Moktadir in spreading the images derogatory to the Quran. The Prime Minister, who was on an official tour to the UN returned to hold an amity rally where she blamed opposition lawmakers for the violence and warned against further damage to the country's "social harmony". "It was found in the investigation that soon after a local MP left the place around midnight saying something, thousands of people joined in the mayhem and set fire to houses and temples of the Buddhist community," she had said. The government has promised to rebuild the Buddhist monasteries and temples and compensate the victims whose houses were destroyed in the violence. Monetary assistance has been provided from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund to the people affected by the sectarian violence.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 10/16/2012

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INDIA: RBI Publishes Report on Cloud Computing for Small Banks

The Reserve Bank of India has published on its website the report on "Cloud computing option for small size Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs)". The Working Group comprising senior officers from the Reserve Bank, experts from the software industry and eminent professors from academia was set up in July 2012. The Working Group reviewed the profile of the sector, technological trends in Cloud Computing and use of cloud like solutions within UCBs. Based on the analysis, the Working Group has suggested its approach for Cloud computing option. The study observed that many Urban Cooperative banks have been providing IT support to other cooperative banks which included sharing of Data Centre and DR sites, Automated Teller Machines and Payment Gateways. Some of these banks were also providing their software solutions as outright sale or fees based ASP model. It was observed that two leading software company had been also offering cloud like services which included core banking as well as many other solutions such as HR solutions, e-mail, storage, etc which the banks could choose. These services were mostly on private cloud like set up. The Working Group has recommended caution while adopting cloud computing solutions by the Urban Cooperative banks till such time that all issues related to its standards and technology management processes are understood and resolved. In cases where such innovative solutions are already adopted, the Working Group has recommended that the issues identified in this report may be examined on the lines indicated in the report to ensure adequacy of risk mitigation measures and to address concern regarding data security and data privacy in the multi-tenancy environment. Finally the Working Group has identified the need for further study in the area of Cloud Governance, Cloud Audit, Cloud Management and Cloud Security Technology.

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

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India ICT Spending to Reach $71.5 Bn by '13

India's total ICT spending is expected to touch $71.5 billion by 2013, telecom being the major contributor, a recent study by Gartner revealed. This is a 7.7 percent increase from the $66.4 billion forecasted for 2012, according to the research firm. Of the total estimated 71.5 bn, spending on telecom would contribute 47.8 bn during the period on review. The telecommunications market is the largest IT segment in India with IT spending forecast to reach $47.8 billion in 2013, followed by the IT services market with spending of $10.3billion. The computing hardware market in India is projected to reach $9.5 billion in 2013, and software spending will total nearly $4.0 billion. Software will record the strongest revenue growth at 15 percent, IT services will grow at 12 percent. The telecom segment, which accounts for 67 percent of the Indian ICT market, is set to grow at 7 percent revenue growth in 2013. The research report also revealed that in 2016, more than 2.7 billion mobile devices will be purchased globally, two-thirds of the workforce will own a smartphone, and 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile. With this new channel to customers and employees, organizations should design their business around mobile. This will have a positive impact on application delivery, employee productivity and process work flows.

In less than 2 years, 20 percent of sales organizations will use iPads as the primary mobile platform for their field sales force. By 2018, 70 percent of mobile workers will use a tablet or a hybrid device that has tablet characteristics. Asset ownership is also changing- by 2016 half of all non-PC devices used in business will be purchased by employees; and by the end of the decade, half of all devices in business will be. The firm also predicted that cloud solutions would take a big leap in the near future. Between 2011 and 2016 the market for Business Process Services in the cloud will double in size to nearly $145 billion. The cloud combines the industrialization of IT capabilities and the disruptive impact of new IT-led business models. However, the shift away from traditional IT acquisition models to public cloud services is still in the very early stages in India. Large enterprises in India are gravitating toward a private cloud model to better understand the constructs of cloud computing within their own premises before deciding to move some applications onto a public cloud model. Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner, provided the latest outlook for the IT industry to an audience of more than 700 CIOs and IT leaders at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo being held at Goa.

From http://voicendata.ciol.com/ 10/11/2012

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Indian State Digitising 1471 Schools

The government of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh has awarded a contract to implement next-generation solutions for teaching and learning in 1471 schools across 12 districts in the state. The INR 1.57 billion (US $29.62 million) project will provide computer-aided learning solutions to schools across Himachal Pradesh. The schools involved in the project will acquire digital classrooms equipped with interactive white boards and multimedia content. 618 government senior secondary schools, 848 government high schools and five 'smart schools' in the state will be involved in this project. In addition, 7500 teachers will receive training on how to understand and use these technology solutions, and how to facilitate ICT education of their students. Digital learning solutions are making significant inroads into India. The government of the state of Punjab recently announced the development of 795 new computer labs in government schools across the state. This initiative was launched as part of Phase V and VI of a centrally-sponsored ICT scheme in Punjab. During the first four phases, the government focused on enhancing ICT education in schools through new classes and curriculum, and training teachers in effective use of ICT tools in teaching. ICT-enabled schools in Punjab have been given access to power generators and broadband internet connections to facilitate implementation of state-wide school management of information systems (MIS) and geographic information systems (GIS), which are under development.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/16/2012

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Smartphones to Replace Credit Cards in Future

The latest innovation of 'mobile wallets' for credit card payments is now a rise, with major payment processors like MasterCard and PayPal jumping on the bandwagon and offering their own mobile wallet apps. The new innovation eliminates the plastic covering of the phone and turns it into a digital payment portal. As credit card companies and retailers seem to be banking on consumers finding the swiping and signing process far too time-consuming and tedious, they are trying to see a future in contactless payments, Fox News reports. According to the report, when it comes time to pay, retailers may scan a bar code on the phone, consumers may tap their device on a reader or they may do nothing at all as the register and phone communicate automatically using 'near field communication' technology. However, while mobile wallets can be convenient, they are limited by the number of retailers who are equipped to accept payments via the near field communication technology used by many apps, the report said. Regardless of the method, consumers are often free to go their way without swiping a card, entering a PIN or signing a receipt. A 2012 survey conducted by the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group found that over 48% of respondents expressed interest in mobile wallet technology, while younger consumers between the ages of 18-50 and those in households earning more than 50,000 dollars a year were most interested in these mobile apps.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/16/2012

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Indian Women Rise Against Violence in the Virtual World

No longer is Facebook, or any other social media platform, just a place to hang out, chat or share pictures. Innovative campaigns, which refrain from the usual 'lecturing' mode and speak in the language of the youth, are encouraging youngsters to connect with social issues like gender violence and spin the wheel of change. Delhi: One initiative that is using Facebook to engage with the youth on violence against women is the on-going One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign, launched internationally by Eve Ensler, American playwright and founder of V-Day, the global movement to end domestic violence. Women from 160 countries, including India, have responded to this global call by launching OBR campaigns in their respective countries.No one today, especially the youth, likes to be talked down to. As Sanyukta Das, a Delhi University student puts it, "Nothing puts me or my friends off more than a long winding speech by a person claiming to know it all. If anything, such speeches end up getting youngsters disengaged from, rather than connected with, an issue." So, instead of giving advice on what to do, these new-age campaigns involve people in active discussions on a particular subject.

The online OBR campaign does just that. Elaborates Jagori's Prabhleen, who has been working on creating OBR Delhi's Facebook page, "The OBR campaign is spread over a few months so we have designed it in a way that people can get involved with fighting violence for a longer period of time. The idea is also to create synergies. It's essentially a people's campaign and those who join in are free to share their thoughts, stories and even give updates of any events being planned around the issue of gender violence in their community." Jagori, a Delhi-based women's resource centre, that has previously launched successful online campaigns like the Safe Delhi campaign, has partnered with SANGAT, which is anchoring the OBR initiative in South Asia.How Facebook specifically works is that the greater the number of people who access the page, the more popular it becomes on the search list. So once a page is set up, links are sent out to as many people as possible, at times accompanied with a personalised message asking them to join. Adds Prabhleen, "It's a rigorous process and it takes at least two weeks for people to start joining in. Now we are in the process of making an India page although the Delhi page has already been created."

The Youth Collective's Manak Matiyani, 28, who is the brains behind the now well-known Must Bol (must speak) campaign, a by-the-youth/for-the-youth movement on gender violence, also understands the relevance of going online. "We went online because we realised that youngsters spend a lot of time on the Internet, chatting and networking," he says. As an experiment, they thought of using this space to raise awareness about violence in young people's lives, talk about it, and then address it.Led by 30 youngsters - all college-going kids - one of the campaign's themes that got a huge response was violence in intimate relationships. Underlining the fact that violence can be of varying degrees, the core members threw open a discussion on the social media with simple questions: Does your boyfriend read your SMSes and tells you whom to talk to and whom not to? Does your girlfriend know your Facebook password and screen your female friends? Where does concern end and control begin?The topic touched a chord immediately, and the responses and discussions began to roll. Based on the comments, the campaign team held workshops in colleges across Delhi, and then made short films, which were uploaded on the Internet as well as screened in colleges and public spaces. "We have reached across to 3,000 people till date and are partnering with youth organisations in other states on similar initiatives. Every time I see youngsters talking to each other on social issues on our social media page, and learning from each other, I know we are bringing about change," Matiyani adds.

On a similar subject, Breakthrough has been leading the Bell Bajao (Ring the Bell) movement against domestic violence since 2008. The campaign, which has become popular, courtesy interesting print and TV advertisements, and through the social media, asks people to ring the bell of a home where a woman is being subjected to violence. Besides such pan-India campaigns, there are some that focus on a particular geographical area, dealing with specific yet crucial issues. Like the Gurgaon Girlcott movement against sexual harassment of women, an innovative campaign launched this year that caught the fancy of the public and the media. Richa Dubey, who initiated it, says that while she always understood that the social media was one of the best tools for mass awareness, she could not fathom the extent of its power until her own campaign was born. "I remember sending out just one email. The rest was taken care of by the social media. Friends were telling their friends, there were discussions, and before I knew it I was giving interviews about my campaign," she says.What attracted her most to the campaign was its non-conventional way of protesting. Following a case of gang rape of a 25-year-old woman in Gurgaon, a satellite city of Delhi, Dubey decided to bring together a protest by putting the onus of safety of women on mall owners and shopkeepers, so that they in turn put pressure on the authorities. "The idea was to ask women not to spend money on themselves over a weekend. No shopping, no eating out, no beauty parlour visits - all weekend activities that shop owners benefit from. Instead of a boycott, it was a girlcott," she explains. The protest made authorities sit up and promise to take action by forming a task force to ensure safety of women.

Although many now acknowledge the importance of going online with their cause, there are apprehensions, too. Says Prabhleen, "Initially, we were skeptical of the fact that Facebook caters to a very specific audience. But we gradually realised that it is this very audience to whom the information needs to reach. Civil society organisations are doing tremendous work with people from the community but at the same time it's important for the college-going youth to also know what is happening around them and form their own viewpoints on it."Christina Jha was one of the many youngsters on the Delhi University campus who was really not concerned about the "harsh realities of life". Today, influenced by the Bell Bajao campaign, she is happy that she 'rang the bell' to stop domestic violence in her neighbour's home. She says, "Frankly, I was completely detached from a subject like domestic violence because I didn't know how to stop it. But this campaign, instead of preaching, advocates a simple act to change things - that's when we stop being indifferent spectators and get involved."The OBR campaign, too, hopes to create a significant impact. Says Prabhleen, "It's early days yet for us but we will start by posting stories on violence that appear in newspapers daily. This campaign may be geared towards a single day - February 14, 2013. But at least on that one day people will stand up against violence. And that in turn will motivate others to work towards a violence-free world."

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 10/18/2012

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SRI LANKA: Commercial Bank Upgrades E-Banking Service

Oct 17, 2012 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's Commercial Bank of Ceylon said its e-banking platform had been upgrade to be more user-friendly, give customers more control and better security features had been added. "e-Banking continues to grow in significance to customers of Commercial Bank,..." Palitha Perera assistant general manager operations of Commercial Bank said in a statement. "The new e-Banking platform is on par with that of most leading global banks, and reflects our leadership in offering meaningful high technology solutions." The platform comes with self registration, self-addition and registration of payment recipients, customisable templates for payments, multiple payments via a single basket, and a quick Nnvigation menu, the bank said. Enhanced security features include 2-factor authentication for third party fund transfers, two-layer login, personalised security questions; password change and third party fund transfer alerts; and password encryption and verification via hardhware security. The e-Banking platform supports bill payments to telephone, electricity, water, credit cards, insurance, pay TV, schools and rates. "Investing in Treasury Bills and effecting payments for share trading transactions is also possible, with self-registration of the users CDS number," the bank said.

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/ 10/17/2012

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Regional Cooperation Can Boost Development in South Asia

An ESCAP report underlines the need for enhanced regional cooperation for least developed sub-regions in South and South-West Asia to catch up with their global peers. Enhanced sub-regional cooperation can reduce wide development and infrastructure gaps in South and South-West Asia, stimulating growth that is more inclusive, sustainable and resilient to economic shocks and natural disasters, the United Nations told a high-level policymakers' forum in New Delhi, October 18-19. Among the participants were Government policymakers, advisors and development experts from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr Noeleen Heyzer said that "cooperation can help spur more inclusive growth and drive the elimination of poverty in the sub-region. Greater regional integration not only increases intra-regional trade, but also promotes investment in the sub-region's supply chain and production networks." "This creates more and better jobs and builds productive capacity, particularly in the sub-region's least developed countries. Greater intraregional integration can also improve food and energy security, as well as help reduce disaster risk," Dr. Heyzer noted. "Collective regional responses and solutions are more effective in addressing these challenges than individual country approaches." Said Mr Rajeev Kher, Additional Secretary, Minister of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, "India has always remained committed to the idea of regional cooperation and played an active role in promoting it. In light of the current slowdown in the industrialized world, regional economic integration is relevant within the sub-region more than ever, as the potential for the sub-region to integrate with itself remains untapped and huge consumption opportunities exist."

Report Launch
Dr. Heyzer and Mr. Kher unveiled an ESCAP report prepared by its South and South-West Asia office setting out a policy agenda for harnessing cooperation among its ten member countries to promote inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth within the sub-region. Kher underlined the importance of strengthening the manufacturing value chain across the South and South-West Asian sub-region and stated that political and policy interventions would offer new opportunities and resources to overcome the development deficit. "Regional cooperation in South and South-West Asia can be an important strategy to address many of the challenges facing the sub-region. In the decade ahead, the 10 member states of the sub-region have the chance to cooperate amongst themselves to ensure not only its growth dynamism, but also its re-emergence as an important crossroads between the East and the West," noted Dr. Nagesh Kumar, Director, ESCAP South and South-West Asia Office and ESCAP Chief Economist. According to the ESCAP South and South-West Asia Development Report 2012-13, the sub-region's slowing growth together with the uncertainty in advanced economies is "exposing its structural challenges." These include the need for more inclusive development, closing wide infrastructure gaps, strengthening food and energy security, diversifying and moving up the value chain in industrial and export structures, and reducing the risks and costs of disasters, particularly in the sub-region's least developed countries (LDCs) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs). "Low productive capacity, particularly in the sub-region's LDCs, limits their ability to move up the value chain and structurally transform their economies. Fundamental infrastructure gaps also threaten energy security and food security, and increase disaster risk," notes the report. "Greater regional integration not only increases intra-regional trade, but also promotes investment in the sub-region's supply chain and production networks." The report offers guidelines for South and South-West Asia to work together and with international development partners to boost food and energy security and trade, create employment opportunities for its large youth population and enhance connectivity across the sub-region and beyond.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 10/21/2012

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ARMENIA: Russian Company Offers New Wireless Connection

A Russian Company Laser ITC (Yekaterinburg) offers a new wireless service in Armenia. The innovation will be presented in the DigiTec - 2012 exposition in Yerevan. As the head of sales and marketing department of the company Vasiliy Golomidov told Armenian News-NEWS.am, the technology is based on laser rays, which may transfer the signal in short and medium distances. Besides, the system allows upgrading the operating system due to the relatively low cost. At present, Laser ITC cooperates with Armenian mobile operators and Internet service providers.

From http://news.am/ 10/10/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: President Chairs Cabinet Meeting to Discuss Results of Socio-Economic Development in Nine Months of 2012

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has today presided over a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers to discuss the results of the country's socio-economic development in nine months of 2012, and outline further priorities. President Ilham Aliyev said Azerbaijan's economy grew 1.1 per cent in nine months of the year, adding the non-oil sector increased 10.3 per cent. The Head of State noted $16 billion had been invested in the country's economy over the three quarters. "Some 70 per cent of this investment came from domestic sources." He said: "The weight of the private sector in the Gross Domestic Product is 83 per cent. The agricultural sector saw a 6.3 per cent increase. Strategic currency reserves have grown $5 billion from the beginning of the year to make $45 billion." The President said the work continued to study new directions of currency reserves management. He noted the population's incomes grew 12 per cent. "The inflation stood at just 1.5 per cent, while average monthly wage is $500 and pension is $190." The Azerbaijani President said development in the country had had a positive impact on the living standard of people. President Ilham Aliyev said the industrial output had decreased in recent years, adding this continued in nine months of this year as well.

"However, development processes are moving at a rapid pace in Azerbaijan, and international financial institutions and leading rating agencies praise our country's achievements." He said: "The execution of the State Program on Socio-Economic Development of Regions saw the creation of 1.1 million jobs so far, while 188 schools have been built and 103 schools have been reconstructed since the start of this year." President Ilham Aliyev said Azerbiajan's sport achievements increased in the third quarter of the year, adding the country's athletes shined at recent London Summer Olympic Games. The Head of State noted Azerbaijan gained big successes on the international scene. "Azerbaijan's position was welcomed with big sympathy in the UN Security Council. All 120 member states of the Non-Aligned Movement support Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, which means that three fourth of the world community says that the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be solved in compliance with the principle of territorial integrity." The President stressed the building of cooperative relations with the Latin American countries, saying "we are gaining new partners worldwide". Chairman of the Central Bank Elman Rustamov, Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov and Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population Fuzuli Alakbarov made reports on what had been done in the country in nine months of the year, and outlined further priorities.

In his closing remarks, President Ilham Aliyev gave instructions to relevant officials with respect to maintaining the inflation level, continuing measures to eliminate consequences of a recent earthquake happened in the western region, improving living conditions of refugees and IDPs, building and reconstructing schools, kindergartens and new roads, meeting the population's demand for gas, electricity and drinking water, and ensuring food security. President Ilham Aliyev said the size of preferential loans given to entrepreneurs would be AZN 300 million. The President noted budget expenditure would be AZN 20 billion in 2013. The Head of State stressed the necessity of adopting the State Investment Program until the end of this year. President Ilham Aliyev said gas production in the country increased. The President noted production of gas from the Umid field started, stressing the importance of the Trans Anatolian Gas Pipeline Project. President Ilham Aliyev underlined the importance of expanding transport infrastructure in the country even more, and speeding up the development of industrialization process as well as Baku and suburban settlements. The Head of State spoke of the importance of the second Baku International Humanitarian Forum, adding the results of the forum were productive. President Ilham Aliyev expressed confidence Azerbaijan's achievements would continue.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/10/2012

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Azerbaijan Becomes Member of International Partnership Against Cyber Threats

Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Ali Abbasov accepted as a member of the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (ITU-IMPACT Collaboration), which is the executive body of the International Telecommunication Union, the ministry said on Wednesday. The decision was taken within the exhibition - conference ITU Telecom World 2012, which takes place on October 14-18 at the exhibition center in Dubai with Technology Week of GITEX. IMPACT is the executive body of the United Nations specialized agency - ITU. Being the first in the world alliance against cyber threats, it brings together governments, academia and industry experts to build the capacity of the international community in the fight against cyber threats. This organization is the operational base of ITU Global Cybersecurity Agenda and provides access to expertise, facilities and resources to 193 ITU Member States, and also provides assistance to UN agencies in protecting their ICT infrastructures.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/17/2012

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Azerbaijani State Operator Prepares Project to Develop Broadband Internet

Aztelekom Production Association of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of Azerbaijan has prepared the next phase of the development of broadband Internet for 2013-15 year, the PA said on Thursday. Optic lines with length of 514 kilometers were laid in 17 telecommunications nodes (TKN) of the PA through the efforts of seven private providers involved in the project in the frame of the first phase. Connecting lines in 12 of 17 telecommunications nodes of state operator are transferred to the optical line. Total of 1,700 kilometers of optic lines were laid since the realization of the project. Today, the number of broadband connections in the network of Aztelekom production association exceeds 102,000 units, more than double the figure at the beginning of the year. The volume of broadband internet services increased by 75 percent as of September. Revenues from broadband services amounted to 18.5 percent in the total income structure of the PA from the beginning of the year, which is 9.8 percent more compared to last year.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/18/2012

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Holding Int'l Internet Forum in Baku Is Appreciation of Azerbaijan's Relevant Successes, Top Official Says

Azerbaijan is one of the leading countries in the field of Internet and in the region for the number of internet users, its promotion, dissemination and other aspects, Head of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Social and Political Department Ali Hasanov told Trend on Monday. "Holding this form in Baku, first of all, is regarded as appreciation of Azerbaijan's activity in this sphere. International community has decided to hold an international conference in Baku after assessing the situation with the Internet in Azerbaijan. Furthermore, it will be a major impetus to the further development of Internet in Azerbaijan," Hasanov said. He said participation of representatives of all international Internet service providers, government and non-governmental organizations of Europe will stimulate the future development of Internet in Azerbaijan and will support the development of this sphere. "The country will be in the spotlight of all Internet users, because an exhibition will also be held in Azerbaijan in those days," Hasanov said. "Using this opportunity, we will demonstrate our capabilities, as well as by studying the international experience in this field we will use it in the country in the future." IGF forum will be held in Baku within the International Telecommunications Exhibition BakuTel-2012 (Nov.6-9). The forum is expected to be attended by more than 1,500 representatives from over a hundred countries, including representatives of government agencies, private sector, civil society, Internet community, international organizations and others. Within the forum it is planned to discuss posting state institutions' information in the public domain and its possible use for the development of new products and services. One of the key issues on the agenda of the Forum will be the fight against cybercrime, benefits of applying "cloud computing", protection of intellectual property rights. Also use of the global network in operations to eliminate consequences of natural disasters will be discussed within the seventh meeting of the IGF.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/22/2012

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KYRGYZSTAN: Demonstrates Lowest GDP Growth Rate in CIS

Kyrgyzstan has demonstrated the lowest GDP growth rate among the CIS countries during the eight months of 2012, KyrTAG reported on Wednesday. The index amounted to 95.4 per cent of the last year figure during the similar period. High growth rate among the CIS countries was observed in Turkmenistan - 111.1 per cent, Uzbekistan - 108.1 per cent, Tajikistan - 107.4 per cent and Kazakhstan - 105.6 per cent. Kyrgyzstan also demonstrated a low growth rate of industrial production in constant prices, which amounted to 68.3 per cent, as well as the lowest index of prices on industrial goods, which made 98.1 per cent.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/10/2012

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Kyrgyzstan, EBRD Discuss Cooperation Prospects

First Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Djoomart Otorbaev met with the managing director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Olivier Descamps during the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, the country's government said on Monday. Otorbaev informed Descamps about the political situation, priority socio-economic reforms, as well as the investment climate in Kyrgyzstan. The parties discussed implementation of joint projects and cooperation with international financial institutions. Otorbaev also held talks with the Eurasian Development Bank board chairman Igor Finogenov. The sides exchanged views on the prospects of bilateral cooperation development. At a meeting with the director of the division of the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, Peter Beck, special attention was paid to the negotiations to issue grants and soft loan worth 30 million euro to Kyrgyzstan. By late this year as is expected, procedures for approving the project will be complete which will allow the country to receive the first tranche already in the first quarter of 2013.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/15/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: Crime Rate Increases

A reported crime rate increased by 52.5 percent in Kazakhstan in the first 9 month of 2012 compared to the same period of 2011, the Committee on Legal Statistics and Special Accounts of the Kazakh State Office under the Public Prosecutor's Office reported on Monday. Around 210,133 crimes were registered in this period (compared to 137,789 crimes in January-September 2011), including 22,561 heinous crimes (compared to 20,419 heinous crimes in January-September 2011). The number of general crimes in Kazakhstan increased by 54.9 percent to 196,696 in the reporting period. The number of theft cases increased by 66.2 percent to 131,713, hooliganism by 93.8 percent to 12,218, fraud by 57 percent to 15,580, robbery by 25.2 percent to 15,196. Around 1.1 percent of all crimes fall to especially heinous crimes, 10.7 percent on heinous crimes, 79.9 percent on moderate crimes and 8.2 percent on insignificant crimes. A crime rate increased in all regions of the country, except transporting regions (0.1 decrease in these regions). Meanwhile, especially heinous crime number decreased in the reporting period by 14.4 percent, including 10.9 percent decrease in murder number.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/08/2012

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Kazakhstan Forecasts 6-Percent GDP Growth in 2013

Real GDP grows in Kazakhstan is forecasted at 6 percent in 2013, 6.1 percent in 2014 and 7.6 percent in 2015, Kazakh Economic Development and Trade Minister Erbolat Dosayev said at the plenary session of the Majilis (Parliament's lower chamber), Kazinform reported. Inflation rate in 2012-2015 is expected at 6.8 percent, Dosayev said. According to the Minister, forecast of Kazakhstan's socio-economic development is based on the oil prices forecast on the world market ($90 per barrel in 2013 and $88.5 per barrel in 2014-2015). Kazakhstan's state budget expenditures are planned at $6.200 trillion tenge in 2012, 6.5 trillion tenge in 2014 and at 7.100 trillion tenge in 2015 ($1=150.65 tenge), Dosayev said. According to the Minister, the main priorities of the state budget expenditures in 2013-2015 are following: increasing employment, provision of affordable housing, regional development, human capital quality growth, improving of the living conditions of the population, industrial and innovative development and complete fulfillment of social obligations of the state.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/19/2012

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RF, Tajikistan Agree to Prolong Validity of Work Permission for Migrants

Russia and Tajikistan have agreed to prolong validity of registration of work permissions for work migrants, the agreement was reflected in joint agreement of two presidents, signed following the negotiations in Dushanbe, RIA News reported. "Specific steps on improvement of law mechanisms of work migration regulations, including establishment of legislative and social conditions for working migrants through prolongation of registration and operation validity of their work permissions, "the document stated. Moreover, work migrants from Tajikistan will receive 3 years long permission to work in Russia, RF president Vladimir Putin noted. "We are planning to prolong the time of registration to15 days, and their work permission to 3 years. We believe these decisions will contribute to the market of foreign labor in our country and will stabilize the situation with foreign labor and enable more solid legal basis of life planning for Tajik citizens," Putin noted.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/05/2012

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TURKMENISTAN: To Construct Gas Pipeline to Industrial Centre

A high pressure gas pipeline with a total length of 274 km is being constructed to provide the developing industrial centre in Garlik with natural fuel, the Turkmen oil and gas industry and mineral resources ministry reported on Thursday. The information says construction work is currently nearing completion. The number of gas distribution stations is expected to increase following the commissioning of the Bagtiyarlik Garlik gas pipeline. The importance of the Lebap region has considerably increased due to the commissioning of the Turkmenistan China gas pipeline through Uzbekistan and China, starting on the right bank of the Amu-Darya , Bagtiyarlik field. The Central Asian gas pipeline was constructed by CNPC and enabled the broadening the sales market which was previously limited by supply to Russia and Iran. CNPC is also operating in Turkmenistan based on an exclusive agreement on the production distribution on the development of the Bagtiyarlik onshore field in Lebap. Construction of the mining and processing complex for potash production in Garlik village is also underway. The company with the first production stage price amounting to $1.1 billion is constructing Belgokhimprom (Belarus). Its capacity is 1.4 million tons of chemical fertilisers a year. Liquid gas production is also developing in this field. Commission of a new enterprise with a processing capacity of one billion cubic meters of natural gas a year is expected in a short run. The new plant will be the second company with the same capacity in Bagaj, one of the most promising gas condensate fields in the country.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/05/2012

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Turkmenistan Demonstrates High Dynamic Growth During World Crisis

Turkmenistan demonstrates high dynamic growth when the world economy has been in a stage of uncertainty for more than four years, the Institute of Strategic Planning and Economic Development said today, Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper reported. "The domestic demand is expanded due to active investments," the article said. According to the article, the investments have increased by more than third in annual calculation for the first eight months of this year. "Over the last five years, the volume of investments have increased by more than nine times, while the share of investments to gross domestic product (GDP) for the same period ranged from one-third to a half of the national product," the article said. The share of the construction industry in the GDP doubled up to 14 percent. The production of building materials also increases. A new cement plant was commissioned in the Balkan region. A similar plant is being built in Lebap. The enterprises producing glass, natural coating materials, basalt slabs, tiles, ceramic tiles, waterproof roll material, paints will be built in the future. The plants producing reinforced concrete slabs were reconstructed. The oil and gas sector has a special place. "Turkmenistan-China" gas pipeline and "Dovletabad-Sarahs-Hangeran" in the direction of Iran were built and made a significant contribution to the diversification of export routes. It was mentioned that "East-West" internal gas pipeline is being built. It is planned to implement the large-scale project of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. The hydrocarbon production volumes are increased in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan is aimed at the implementation of priority projects in terms of diversifying the economy, developing the large processing plants. The construction of urea and ammonia plant was launched in the town of Mary in 2011. The first stage of the largest mining and processing complex for the potash production is being mastered in Lebap region. At present, a large part of the railway corridor North-South has been built. The transport infrastructure is being upgraded throughout the country. Turkmenistan is actively developing a sphere of communications. The national space satellite will be launched. The Turkmen Institute said that the country's main trade turnover falls to the private sector. The necessary conditions are being created for quality and sustainable development. The domestic private sector is also actively involved in the many thousands of investment projects in the country.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/22/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Developing E-Health Supply Catalogue

Under a recent initiative, the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) is helping develop a National Product Catalogue (NPC) that fully integrates suppliers' medical and product information electronically. In future, suppliers tendering for public health sector contracts will need to publish their product data in the NPC. At present, WA Health in Western Australia and NSW Health in New South Wales are using NEHTA's eProcurement service - while drawing on NPC data to ensure the right products are ordered and delivered. Pilots are under-way in South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. "The NPC is a single repository for product data about medicines, medical equipment and consumables," according to NEHTA's chief executive officer, Peter Fleming. Being able to store and share accurate and timely data on products traded between suppliers and healthcare organisations lays the foundations for the successful delivery of e-heath services.

This latest NEHTA initiative is endorsed by all Australian state, territory and federal health departments. A full-scale implementation of the NPC will save the public healthcare sector nearly US$200 million ($AUD200 million) each year, according to government estimates. These savings stem from being able to provide accurate, valid and up-to-date product data in an electronic format, while improving communications and operations across the supply chain. The NPC currently holds data about 240,000 items, covering more than 380 suppliers. This catalogue enables suppliers to provide standardised and accurate product and price data electronically to Australian health departments and hospital providers. The number of electronic users has grown by more than 30 per cent during 2011-2012. Many more companies acknowledge the benefits of using a single, centralised and standardised platform to share product data between trading partners.

Among its features, the NPC features unique identification numbers to improve the speed and accuracy of procuring medical products. It is similar to Australia's Healthcare Identifier System, and complements the Personally-Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) programme. An electronic catalogue provides a single repository for product data about medicines, medical equipment and consumables. It meets a growing demand for access to accurate and timely information about healthcare products and services. Electronic information management reduces order errors and supply costs associated with invoice re-conciliations, credit claims, returns and refused deliveries. NEHTA is driving e-health reforms nationally. It was established by the Australian, state and territory governments to develop better ways of electronically collecting and securely exchanging health information.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 09/28/2012

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Aust Gov Tightens Internet Security

The Australian federal government has moved to tackle cyber-attacks and other intrusions under an initiative that will reduce the number of internet gateways within government from 124 to just eight. This secure internet gateway programme is designed to improve security involving internet traffic - while helping save the government US$25 million (AUD$25 million) in costs over the next three years. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is the first lead agency to sign-up for this programme, and will play a key role to manage internet traffic for participating departments. Graham Gathercole, DAFF's chief information officer, says negotiations have involved identifying the "best value option" that meets the Australian government's cyber-security and information protection needs.

"Negotiations have resulted in an outstanding commercial and technological proposal for the Australian government and DAFF that all parties are happy with," he notes. DAFF is managing a part of the gateway programme for participating departments that come under its auspices. These departments include the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities; Bureau of Meteorology; Geoscience Australia; Department of Innovation, Industry, Science, Research and Tertiary Education; Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority; and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. This secure internet gateway initiative is part of the Australian government's "Internet Gateway Reduction Programme" that is being managed by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO).

This programme affects all Australian government agencies that are governed by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997. Reducing the number of internet gateways will improve security through a more consistent approach to gateway management, accreditation, monitoring and incident response, according to AGIMO. Australian telco carrier, Macquarie Telecom, has been awarded the five-year DAFF outsourcing contract. This is understood to be the first major outsourcing contract signed as a part of the "Internet Gateway Reduction Programme."

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/04/2012

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Queensland Delivers Open Data Reforms

A raft of reforms unveiled by Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, is set to create an open data revolution in Queensland - with plans to make government data more accessible for citizens and the industry. Under the government's just-released ICT reforms agenda, an e-government initiative is being rolled, out, including a new web site offering a portal into announcements and policy updates. Ray Stevens, Queensland's Member for Mermaid, takes up the role of Assistant Minister to Premier Newman, managing a newly-created e-government portfolio. This latest appointment opens up avenues for informed discussion and debate between government, industry and community stakeholders. Premier Newman said his administration is "determined to change the culture of the Queensland Government." The aim is to build up open government, at the same time, offering access to information collected across regions, in all kinds of formats, and for all kinds of reasons.

In the past, governments gave away land to stimulate economic development. "Now information is the new currency," Premier Newman said. "Open access to information held by the State Government will help stimulate the development of new, innovative applications by all sorts of private individuals, companies and non-government organisations," he noted. He added that examples of the types of information that can be released include location information for 'trackable' government vehicles such as buses, trains and ferries, road usage data, crime and accident statistics, speed camera locations and hospital statistics. Under future arrangement, incoming Assistant Minister, Ray Stevens, will work alongside the Queensland Premier and Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, Ms Ros Bates. This partnership will help deliver Queensland's "information revolution."

Among other reforms, an Open Data Reform Group is being formed. This group galvanises the Director-Generals of all Queensland Government departments - with a mandate to lead culture change across the administration. The Open Data Reform Group will seek feedback from the public and the ICT sector on what kinds of data, and what formats they need to develop solutions. "Once we make more data accessible, the Queensland Government will be encouraging application and solution development through new competitions and incentives," Premier Newman said. "This is all part of meeting our commitment to restoring accountability in government."

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/11/2012

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1 in 8 Australians Living in Poverty: Report

A report by welfare organisation the Australian Council of Social Service has found one in eight Australians is living in poverty, including almost 600,000 children. ACOSS says that equates to more than 2.2 million people living below the poverty line in Australia and close to 600,000 of them are children. The report provides the most comprehensive picture of poverty in Australia since 2006. It shows people who are unemployed, children (especially in lone parent families), and people whose main source of income is social security payments, are the groups most at risk. ACOSS says despite 20 years of economic growth, poverty has increased in Australia. ACOSS chief Dr Cassandra Goldie says it is a national disgrace. "This is the first time this figure has been counted in six years and it is deeply concerning to us that there is no reduction in the rate of poverty in Australia," she said. "In fact it has slightly increased. In a wealthy country like Australia, this is simply inexcusable."

Dr Goldie says it is unacceptable that the Newstart payment has not been increased in almost 20 years and that the Government last week made cuts to payments for sole parents. "Two-thirds of people on Newstart have been unemployed for more than a year and they clearly need more help than they are getting now from employment services," she said. She says the Government's parenting payment cuts are disturbing, given the report shows almost 300,000 children living in poverty are with sole parents. "There are almost 600,000 children living in families below the poverty line. About half of those children are in sole parent families, and one quarter of people in sole parent families are living below the poverty line," Dr Goldie said. "This makes the Federal Government's recent cuts to payments for sole parents all the more disturbing. Under the changes passed in the Senate last week, over 100,000 sole parents on the parenting payment will be between $60 and $100 a week poorer from January 2013."

ACOSS is urging the Federal Government to commit to a national goal to reduce poverty. It is calling for an increased investment in wage subsidies and training for the long-term unemployed, as well as initatives to ease housing cost pressures. "It is simply unacceptable that so many people are still going without the basics and the sorts of opportunities the rest of us take for granted," Dr Goldie said. "A wealthy country such as ours can and should do better to ensure that everyone is afforded an adequate standard of living. "It is a fundamental human right."

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/ 10/14/2012

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FIJI: E-Tickets for Province

STUDENTS from 14 schools in Cakaudrove will use cards instead of bus fare vouchers after Telecom Fiji Limited completed the installation of its e-ticketing consoles on 30 buses in the area this week. Maria Bereso, the project manager of TransTel, the company facilitating this electronic system, said the initial phase of the roll out in the north would have the system installed on the Vishnu Holdings Limited buses in Savusavu. "With the new system, students don't have to worry about properly maintaining their paper vouchers as the card is accessible and easy to use," Ms Bereso said. "They don't have to rely on their teachers anymore for their vouchers because they have their own bus passes." She said TFL, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, visited the nine education districts and the schools that they served throughout the country to conduct workshops and awareness with heads of schools, bus fare advocates, and school managers on the system.

"Demonstrations on how the system will work has been carried out and TFL has discussed thoroughly the housekeeping issues that is part and parcel of the project for instance, how to maintain a TFL bus pass and what to do if you lose your TFL bus bass to name a few," she said. "The same awareness sessions was organised for bus operators and bus drivers. Everyone has a role to play in the project and it's vital to the success of the implementation of this initiative that drivers are comfortable with the system and how to operate it while driving on our roads." Vishnu Holdings Limited operations manager Ambika Nand said they were honoured to be chosen as the first company in the north to have their buses installed with the system. "The problem of not allowing students in the bus as a result of presenting wet vouchers will now be solved," he said.

From http://www.fijitimes.com/ 10/21/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Five Million Kiwis by 2031

New Zealand will have more than five million people by 2031 - with almost 2 million living in Auckland, according to Statistics New Zealand projections. New subnational population projections show Auckland will continue to be New Zealand's fastest growing region, and account for three-fifths of the country's population growth between 2011 and 2031. In 2031, 38 percent of Kiwis will reside in Auckland, compared to 34 percent in 2011. It is projected Auckland would have almost 2 million of New Zealand's 5.2 million people. Natural increase (births minus deaths) is projected to account for two-thirds of Auckland's growth, and net migration (arrivals minus departures) the remaining one-third. Of New Zealand's 16 regions, only Auckland will have more births in 2027-31 than in 2007-11, but all regions will have more deaths as the population ages. "Auckland has a slightly younger population than other regions, and younger populations tend to have more births and relatively fewer deaths," population statistics manager Andrea Blackburn said.

Of New Zealand's 67 territorial authority areas, 44 are projected to have more people in 2031 than in 2011. However, population growth rates will slow over the period for all areas because of the contrasting trends between births and deaths. The fastest growth between 2011 and 2031 is expected in Selwyn and Queenstown-Lakes districts (up an average of 1.9 percent a year). Despite an estimated population loss of 8,900 in the year ended June 2011 following the earthquakes, Christchurch city is projected to increase by an average of 1,500 a year during 2012-16 and 2,500 a year during 2017-31. Statistics NZ produces the growth projections every two to three years to assist planning by communities, local councils, and government.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/08/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Govt Database to Track 30,000 At-Risk Kids

Bennett accepts proposal may intrude on privacy, but 'for those kids, let's get intrusive'. Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has rejected criticism that the newly released White Paper on Vulnerable Children falls short because it does not address child poverty, saying "poverty is not an excuse to abuse children." Speaking after launching the White Paper at the Jigsaw Conference in Wellington this morning, Ms Bennett said many people lived in financial hardship who did not abuse their children. "Poverty is not an excuse to abuse your children. This paper was always about the most complex and hardest to reach kids. They need us more than any other children in this country." Her comments were in response to comments by Labour's social development spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern and Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei that poverty was the most significant factor in child abuse.

Ms Bennett said she was confident that the plans set out by the paper - including a Vulnerable Kids Database of up to 30,000 children considered to be most at risk of maltreatment - would work, and results would be seen almost immediately. The Government had put aside $20 million initially to set up the database and fund the 'risk predictor' model that would identify the children who needed to go on it, as well as set up the first two Children Teams - teams of health and social professionals who would work with vulnerable children in each region. She said more funding would be needed, including for training professionals to identify child abuse. More funding would be provided in the Budget and resources would also be taken from areas where it was not having as much of an impact as it should. Regional children's directors would be responsible for deciding how resources should be used and where Government contracts should go.

She said the database was the most critical because it would allow all information about a child to be stored in one place - from changes of addresses to concerns raised by a GP. She said she would guarantee it would be secure. It was inevitable that some children would be put on the database who were ultimately not at risk, but the database would not be used to "stigmatise" them. "... it will only be when professionals are putting information in themselves, because they're face to face, that it would activate any response. So we're certainly not going to see children stigmatised or worked with unnecessarily." She said it had not been done before because it was complex and involved many government agencies working together. Ms Bennett said public opinion also had to be ready for it. "It is intrusive if you've got a group of people sitting around discussing a child. Quite frankly, parents are the best people to bring up their kids, certainly not the State and we should only be intervening when we really have to. I don't want to be intervening in good people's households that are getting on with it. There's always that line, and we have to be very careful we don't cross it."

Save the Children's chief executive Liz Gibbs said the Government's White Paper for vulnerable children is a move in the right direction, but provision of support for children should be universal. "We would like to see the Government developing a clear, child-focused, cross-party reporting framework that is a long-term approach to improve outcomes for all children," she said. Ms Gibbs suggested the Government report to the UN Committee on the rights of the child every five years. Unicef's national advocacy manager Barbara Lambourn said the Government should go further and address New Zealand's "severe and persistent poverty." She said the Government needed to address a lack of access to healthcare, children living in overcrowded conditions in poor housing, and children with poor nutrition. "Poverty is a factor in neglect, poor health and lack of opportunity. The White Paper does not offer solutions to plan better outcomes for these children," said Ms Lambourn.

Manager of Every Child Counts, Deborah Morris-Travers, said the Government were making the right moves to improve systems and practices to respond to vulnerability, but believed changes needed to be well resourced. "Care needs to be taken to ensure that universal services such as antenatal care and well child health are not eroded, and the agencies involved in the delivery of the Children's Action Plan have both the skills and resources needed," she said. The database of about 30,000 "at risk" children is to be created and accessed by health, school and social workers without parental knowledge as part of a huge overhaul of laws tackling child cruelty. Teachers, doctors, community organisations, Child, Youth and Family workers and others will have access to the database and be able to add to individual children's records. High-risk adults will also be added to the database so they can be tracked and an alert given if a child moves into their household. The database - a key part of the Government's white paper on vulnerable children to be published today - will assess the chances of a child being abused and act as an early alert system.

Ms Bennett said parents would not necessarily be told if their child was on the database, although they could request records under the Privacy Act. It is one of about 30 changes the Government is committed to after a lengthy review of the law and processes relating to vulnerable children. The proposals stop short of introducing mandatory reporting by health workers and teachers - but do impose legislative requirements for government agencies when dealing with suspected abuse. They also introduce measures such as protection orders to keep potential abusers away from children, and the ability to strip parents of guardianship rights. Ms Bennett said the database was one of the most critical plans. It would allow agencies involved in a child's life to see if serious issues had been raised by others - and could act as an early alert to prevent abuse. She accepted some people might consider it intrusive, but said it could have helped prevent deaths such as that of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie. Ms Bennett said in some cases, various agencies had different bits of information on a child.

"But no one put the pieces together. [The database] is going to put the pieces together. So for the small risk of it being seen as being a bit intrusive, for those kids, yeah let's get intrusive." She said efforts were being made to ensure privacy - some people, such as teachers, would be able to access only limited information on a child. The database would be monitored to see who accessed it, for how long, and which children they looked up. Misuse would be penalised. The model was developed by the University of Auckland after assessing 52,000 children born between 2003 and 2006 whose parent or parents were on a benefit, and monitoring them for five years. In other changes, all agencies working with children will be required to set up processes to deal with reporting abuse. There will also be a public education campaign on recognising the signs of child abuse, and teachers and health workers will be given extra training. A specific Vulnerable Children's Bill will be introduced to Parliament, setting up a layer of professionals to work with those vulnerable children who fall short of requiring Child, Youth and Family intervention.

A string of Children's Teams will be led by regional children's directors who will have significant powers to award contracts for services targeting children. Ms Bennett said it would also free up CYFS to work with the children most at risk. Regional directors would have to report on outcomes such as truancy and child-abuse rates. Other changes include a list of pre-approved iwi carers to take care of children of the same tribe who are removed from their own homes, and more money for family members such as grandparents who raise children.

Abuse forecaster
The Vulnerable Kids Information System will be developed from a "risk predictor" which can assess a child's chances of abuse before they are even born based on their home life and parental history. It was developed by a team of ethicists, social workers and economists at Auckland University. Associate Professor Rhema Vaithianathan said about 57,000 children were scored to see whether abuse before the age of 5 could be predicted. The results gave the researchers about 131 assessment variables, such as whether the parent was abused, the type of benefit, the partner's background, and prison history.

The plan
Database of 30,000 "at-risk" children
Who sees it Teachers, social workers, doctors and health workers
Criteria 130 risk factors, including whether they live with a known abuser
Aim To act as an early alert system to prevent abuse

What the minister says
"If you look at those high-profile cases that have gone through the coroner ... our lovely Nia Glassie, a whole lot of people held a small piece of information. No one put the pieces together. [The database] is going to put the pieces together. So for the small risk of it being seen as being a bit intrusive, for those kids, yeah let's get intrusive." - Paula Bennett

Nia Glassie
Was 3 years old when she died from head injuries in August 2007, after being kicked in the head. She had been subjected to months of abuse by her family, including being placed in a clothes dryer at top heat for up to 30 minutes and hung from a spinning clothes line. Her mother was jailed for manslaughter, her mother's partner and his brother were jailed for murder and two others were jailed for child cruelty.

Labour's social development spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern
Labour's social development spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern told Radio New Zealand the white paper was intervening at a mid-point. "Whilst I do agree with the Minister saying what we need to do first is making sure that our front line workers ... are appropriately trained to identify abuse when it's occurring, we also need to make sure we're properly resourced to respond." The paper omitted to acknowledge the scale of the child poverty issue. "It's a good plan when it comes to children who are at risk of being abused or are being abused currently, but every time we've raised the terrible issue of child poverty ... the Minister has always referred to her report on vulnerable children," she said. "We've been a world class place to bring up kids, and we can be again, but this is just not going to be enough if we are to return to that position."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the Government's Children's Action Plan and White Paper refused to deal with poverty, and neglected New Zealand's most vulnerable children. Ms Turei said the White Paper on vulnerable children and the Children's Action Plan, released this morning offered a narrow approach to preventing child abuse. "It beggars belief that the Government could write a plan to help vulnerable children without addressing the one thing that makes them more vulnerable than anything else. "The White Paper was an enormous opportunity to do something big and meaningful for our most vulnerable children, to prevent them from becoming at-risk in the first place. "But because it is allergic to helping poor parents, the Government has chosen to ignore the 270,000 children in poverty and park its ambulance at the bottom of the cliff instead." Ms Turei said nothing in the paper relieved the stresses on families that can't afford decent food or warm, dry homes for their children. She said children needed a Minister for Children, a Children's Act, and child impact assessments. "Children need their parents to earn a living wage, and if their parents can't work they need benefits adequate enough to afford healthy food."

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/11/2012

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Charging Per GB to Use Internet Is Ridiculous

New Zealand is in the thick of probably the biggest change to its tele-communications landscape in the past 50 years, yet a hangover of the old Telecom empire lingers - the internet supply industry's insistence on continuing to charge on a GB usage basis. So much about this is fundamentally wrong. Indeed, it is anachronistic to a country moving toward prevalence of the UFB and ultra fast connectivity everywhere. Why? First, charging for GB usage is understood and accepted on a network where your typical speeds don't exceed 10mbps of speed either up or down, and are typically slower, especially on home or business ADSL connections which have implied limits. The potential therefore for costly blow-outs is limited by the top-end speed these pipes can go. However, if you significantly increase the speed, as is happening with the UFB, research shows that data usage increases exponentially.

It isn't linear, it is literally hockey sticks. The reason for this is the increased access to all levels of service and interactivity available through the internet that we have previously been unable to delve into. So, increase the speed, and you exponentially increase the data usage. Second to this, understand that shifting traffic around New Zealand is essentially free. It carries very little cost, yet Telecom wants to charge smaller players in the market to hand over traffic, essentially packages changing between different couriers. Thankfully, this was stopped from occurring some time ago. Admittedly, Telecom would have the most traffic handed over of any ISP but no ISP guarantees to receive bandwidth from any other, so I don't understand why this would ever be an issue. It may become so, possibly in 50 years when connectivity reaches obscene scaling proportions, but we are several technological leaps from there. Hence, when ISPs say we don't get charged to view New Zealand sites or we get "unlimited access" to the likes of Sky TV, we should all recognise this as the misnomer it is. However, national transit isn't the issue.

The issue is internationally shifting traffic. Typical New Zealand businesses have 85 per cent-plus of all internet traffic usage as international usage and residential usage is even higher. Consider every time you go to Google as an example of international transit. There is only one way out of New Zealand for international transit - via the Southern Cross cable network - and bear in mind this is still very much controlled and largely owned by Telecom. Now, that poses some problems when you consider the ramifications of competitive pricing in the marketplace. However, probably the most interesting thing is that we, as ISPs, do not buy international traffic in GB usage amounts. We buy it in speed. How much data you try to put down the pipe at one time is completely up to you and is known as your "contention ratio". Hence why charging for GB usage is just a commercial construct for maximising profit.

So, what's the alternative? Some suppliers allow you to buy "dedicated" unlimited international bandwidth, but again this is largely unaffordable and a dumb idea in my mind. Why have a 50mbps national pipe but have a 2mbps international breakout - especially when most of your transit is going internationally as is typical? The right option is to have a guaranteed commitment on the amount of inter-national transit you receive and then the ability to "burst" into the maximum speed of your pipe through a shared pool system with rankings based on the base amount of international transit you buy. So, in the aforementioned example if you buy 2mb international guarantee, you get that no matter what, but then you can also access a shared pool to burst into the headroom remaining on your 50mbps pipe. What dictates how fast you go will be determined only by the contention ratio on that shared pool and who in the rankings is trying to access traffic at the same time as you are. Now, that is truly a high-speed, unlimited, fair internet model and I hope New Zealand ISPs follow suit and get on board. That way, we all benefit from the investment we are making in building a high-speed national network. Without it, we are heading for big bills and bugger all effective change in speed.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/15/2012

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Kiwis Embrace Internet for Shopping and Finances

New Zealand is fast becoming a digital nation with more Kiwis choosing to use the internet to shop, bank and pay bills than ever before, a survey has found. The annual Roy Morgan analysis examined how New Zealanders were using the internet and technology in their everyday lives. The results showed that 84 per cent of Kiwis were now using the internet. Client services head Howard Seccombe said the shift online "has fundamentally changed how we communicate, how we do business and engage with the media". Mr Seccombe said the rise of online shopping was the biggest standout, with nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders choosing to shop online. Kiwis spent $5.6 billion through the internet last year. "This is important for retailers and business, which may need to change how they approach customers." Only a small number of people shopped using smartphones. Nearly 70 per cent used phones to surf the web and nearly one-third accessed Facebook and Twitter through their phones.

He believed smartphones were the most important way for businesses to connect with consumers. "People always have their smartphones switched on and with them, which makes it easier for companies to connect to them." Mr Seccombe said there was also a shift in online banking. According to the results, it will not be long until online banking overtakes offline. "It's already happened in Australia. It will be a big moment when it happens here." He said "digital natives" who had grown up with technology would not be surprised by these results, but those who had come to the digital age later in life would be surprised. "For them, it will seem like it's grown from nothing to something huge." Each year, Roy Morgan Research surveys around 12,000 New Zealanders on aspects of Kiwi life.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/18/2012

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World Bank President Calls for "Solutions Bank" to Meet Global Challenges

TOKYO, October 12, 2012 - World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim today told the Bank's shareholders he wants the institution to become a solutions Bank that can work with partners and help "bend the arc of history" to eliminate extreme poverty. "Let me be clear: when I say we will be a solutions bank, I do not mean to suggest that we have ready-made solutions for every development problem. We do not, nor is this our goal," said Kim. "Through decades of development work I've learned that the best solutions to economic and social problems often lie with the individuals and communities coping with these challenges in their daily life. They have been my greatest teachers. We must listen to and act on their insights." Speaking to the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund at the Bank/Fund Annual Meetings in Tokyo, Kim noted that knowledge now flows "from entrepreneurs in Delhi to citizens in rural Mexico to civil society in Lagos to policymakers in Sarajevo." With the World Bank's global reach, Kim stated that the Bank is ideally positioned to connect and convene multiple stakeholders from around the world, brokering knowledge exchange across institutional boundaries.

"A solutions bank will be more focused on delivery than ever before. During an era of constrained resources and daunting challenges, this is what both our donors and our clients demand," said Kim. Kim observed that ongoing economic and financial instability in Europe continues to threaten growth and jobs in developing countries. Surging food prices are stretching the budgets of the poorest. And many countries in the Middle East are embarking on perhaps their most important transitions in generations. In this challenging environment, Kim cautioned that support for development can fade in the face of other priorities, but he emphasized that with over one billion people living in extreme poverty and 200 million unemployed, now is not the time for countries or institutions to go their own way or focus only on their own narrow interests. Kim noted the remarkable development progress made in recent years: "Over the last decade, some 50 developing countries - collectively home to over 4 billion people - have seen their GDP grow by an average of at least 5 percent a year. Thanks to this growth, poverty has fallen more quickly than ever before; the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG), to halve the 1990 poverty rate by 2015, was achieved some five years ahead of schedule," said Kim.

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Kim called on shareholders and other development partners to come together "to bend the arc of history" and accelerate this recent progress to work toward the goal of eliminating extreme poverty. "This goal is not farfetched - it is achievable. Together we can make it happen," said Kim. Kim stated unequivocally that this evolving world needs a strong World Bank Group - "A World Bank Group that, through our lending, our knowledge, and our convening power, provides integrated development solutions for both today's and tomorrow's challenges." In terms of the Bank's work with partners, Kim discussed challenges facing high-income countries, middle-income countries, low-income countries, fragile states, and countries in the Middle East and North Africa. He also discussed the need to continue to work in a more sustainable way. Kim also called on the Bank to leverage its knowledge and talent to advance a "science of delivery," and he identified four early actions to speed this process:

•First, establish a clear and measurable bottom line. "The World Bank Group's mission is to end poverty and build shared prosperity. That's why I've asked the institution to come up with a bottom line in the form of ambitious targets for these two goals." •Second, strengthen implementation and results. "It should not take two years for a project to evolve from concept to implementation. We want to be held accountable not for process but for results. That's why I will work with our Board to streamline our procedures, simplify our processes, and cut down project preparation time." •Third, provide clients with integrated solutions for maximum impact. "Better synergies will reinforce our comparative advantage as the only global development institution that can credibly support the public and private sectors; provide access to exceptional knowledge resources; and offer risk insurance to energize investment. That's why I've asked my management team to come up with a plan for building greater synergies across the World Bank Group to save costs and improve effectiveness." •Fourth, continue investing in data and analytic tools, building on the success of the Open Data initiative. 'Data are crucial to setting priorities, making sound policy, and tracking results. Yet many countries have weak statistical capacity, and lack reliable and updated economic and poverty data. That's why we will work with our partners to ensure virtually all developing countries have timely and accurate data. And we will be reporting annually on progress in fighting poverty and building shared prosperity.

"When we meet again in six months, I will give you a progress report on how we are doing, letting you know what has been accomplished and where we need to push harder. I hope you and your Executive Directors will hold us accountable throughout this process, ensuring we set ambitious targets for ourselves and mobilize to reach them," said Kim.Kim concluded his speech by noting, "At the World Bank Group we often talk about dreaming of a world free of poverty, the motto inscribed in the entrance of our headquarters. Well it is time to move from dreaming of a world free of poverty to achieving it. It is time to bend the arc of history. With global solidarity underpinned by a relentless drive for results, we can, we must, and we will end poverty and build shared prosperity."

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/12/2012

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Big Data to Drive USD 28 Bln of 2012 IT Spending

Big data will drive USD 28 billion of worldwide IT spending in this year, according to a study by Gartner. In 2013, big data is forecast to drive USD 34 billion of IT spending. Only USD 4.3 billion in software sales will be driven directly by demands for new big data functionality in this year. Big data currently has the most impact in social network analysis and content analytics with 45 percent of new spending each year. Starting near the end of 2015, organisations are expected to begin to use their big data experience in an almost embedded form in their architectures and practices. Beginning in 2018, big data services will offer increasingly less of a distinct advantage over traditional services. However, the skills, practices and tools currently viewed as big data services will persist as organisations will have incorporated the design principles and acquired the skills necessary to address big data concerns.

From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 10/18/2012

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Asia-Pacific Increases Spend on Digital Mobile Consumers

Companies in Asia-pacific have increased spend on digital mobile consumers, according to a research commissioned by Tata Consultancy Services. Organizations in this region will spend far more on responding to digital mobile consumers than companies in North America, Europe and Latin America this year. The study "The New Digital Mobile Consumer: How Large Companies are Responding," indicates that in 2012, companies will spend US $2.41 million per US $1 billion revenue in Asia-Pacific. Levels of investment will grow by 2015 with spending per US $1 billion revenue to increase to US $2.85 in Asia-Pacific versus US $2.41 million in 2012. "The digital consumer is an exciting and complex customer segment that global corporations have to understand and engage with," said N. Chandrasekaran, CEO and managing director for Tata Consultancy Services. "These consumers are diverse in their need, their interactions are flexible and often conducted 'in motion'. Keeping their attention means being able to serve their dynamic needs by leveraging the power of digital and mobile technologies to engage with them." Changes required to win loyalty of consumers. TCS' study focuses on consumer industries, both manufacturing and service companies, in four regions of the world: North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. This study emphasizes the need to introduce business changes to win the loyalty of consumers. "Businesses addressing this smart consumer segment must collect high quality data to understand them in real time; engage them in new and innovative ways; and reinforce their relationships through flawless technology interactions," added Chandrasekaran. 82% of "leader" firms recognize the importance of the digital mobile consumer and have thus made the digital mobile consumer a unique market segment. 85% of those surveyed have created a new product and service offering for digital mobile consumer. 28% of "laggards" have made the digital mobile consumer a unique market segment and 30% of such firms have created new product or service offerings for this audience.

From http://www.computerworld.com.sg/ 10/04/2012

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Greater Focus on the Poor Key to Effectiveness of Microfinance in Asia and the Pacific

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Microfinance needs to reach more of the poor in Asia and the Pacific, but do so in a financially sustainable way, says a new study from Independent Evaluation at the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The study, Microfinance Development Strategy 2000: Sector Performance and Client Welfare, emphasizes the twin goals of microfinance - reaching the poor and being financially sustainable. With microfinance becoming increasingly commercialized in the region, the study stresses the role of government and agencies such as ADB in addressing the financial needs of the poor, while at the same time ensuring the institutional sustainability of microfinance providers. "Despite the increasing popularity of microfinance in recent years, expanding the access of poor households to institutional financial services remains a great challenge to governments and development agencies," says the Director General of Independent Evaluation, Vinod Thomas. The study finds that the penetration of microfinance among the poor in Asia and the Pacific remains low. As of the end of 2010, some 20% of the population living below the poverty level of $1.25 per day had direct access to microfinance services in 21 developing countries receiving ADB microfinance support. This level was below ADB's goals.

Microfinance is seen in the region as an important means to helping low-income households take advantage of economic opportunities and improve living standards. But the degree to which it actually reaches the poor and improves their welfare is under public scrutiny. A review of two programs in Pakistan and Viet Nam points to an apparent tradeoff between targeting and effectiveness of microfinance. Smaller loans were better at targeting the poor, but less effective than larger loans in producing welfare benefits. In the Pakistan program, the average loan was $195 but reached substantially more borrowers living below the national poverty line than in the Viet Nam program, where the average loan was $1,972. The study found more positive direct and indirect welfare benefits in the Viet Nam program than in the Pakistan program. The study says that for microfinance to have a greater impact on reducing poverty in the region, it needs to better target the poor and focus more on educating them in using basic financial services, as well as more effectively link microfinance services to complementary pro-poor interventions.

ADB is one of the largest providers of microfinance support in the region. Between 2000, when ADB launched its microfinance development strategy, and 2010, it approved nearly $2.8 billion through 88 loans, grants, technical assistance operations, and private sector investments. The main thrust of ADB's interventions has been to ensure access to financial services for a majority of poor and low-income households and their microenterprises by focusing on programs and strategies to integrate microfinance into mainstream financial systems. Over two-thirds of ADB's microfinance portfolio supported the creation of an enabling policy environment for microfinance in recipient countries. ADB's support was relevant and responsive to the needs of countries for developing microfinance. It performed reasonably well in easing regulatory and policy constraints, and this worked most effectively in countries where the "government is committed to reforms, and where institutions, policies, and operating framework have been allowed to flourish," says the report. About 2.7 billion people worldwide, or 70% of the adult population in the world's developing countries, have no access to formal financial services, such as savings or checking accounts. They represent a key and still largely untapped market segment for financial inclusion.

"Improvements in the policy environment and integrating microfinance in the formal financial sector do not automatically improve outreach to the poor. Deliberate and innovative approaches are needed to benefit more people currently not reached by traditional financial institutions," says Thomas. One area showing promise is combining access to financial services with livelihood programs, food aid, skills training and asset transfers that help people in extreme poverty to gradually move into sustainable livelihoods and become creditworthy for commercial microfinance. Government-to-person payments also have the potential to become an effective means for financial inclusion, primarily through social transfers and wage and pension payments. These have already been implemented in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines. Technology-based solutions such as mobile phone and internet banking, payment cards, and electronic money can help microfinance institutions reduce operating costs and expand the reach of their services. "By and large microfinance has become an industry and is operating on a market basis in many countries," says the principal author of the evaluation Binh Nguyen. "Far more attention must be given to the financial literacy of the poor, consumer protection, and accountability to customers to ensure sound microfinance practices and that the poor have access to safe financial services." ADB's efforts have so far concentrated largely on addressing policy issues. The study calls for a greater focus on clients and the use of financial innovation and technologies to better reach the poor, among other measures for the viable and sustainable expansion of microfinance in the region.

From http://www.adb.org/ 10/17/2012

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CHINA: Approves Nearly 31 Bln USD QFII Quotas

China's foreign exchange regulator said Monday that it had approved investment quotas of 30.82 billion U.S. dollars to 157 Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (QFII) as of last Wednesday. The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) approved 9.18 billion U.S. dollars to 72 QFIIs from Jan. 1 to Sept. 19, according to a statement posted on the SAFE's website. The SAFE has accelerated QFII approvals since the start of 2012 to attract more overseas funds to boost the slowing economy and accelerate the market-based reform of the country's financial system. The SAFE will continue to improve its QFII investment program to support the reform and development of the country's capital market, according to the statement.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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China Central Bank to Maintain Prudent Monetary Policy

China's central bank said Tuesday it will maintain the prudent monetary policy while fine-tuning it at an appropriate time to promote a stable and relatively fast growth. "We will continue to implement the prudent monetary policy, make it more targeted, flexible and forward-looking, while fine-tuning it according to the economic situation development," the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement after its third-quarter monetary policy meeting. "The current economic and financial operations show signs of stabilizing at a slower pace and the consumer price situation is basically stable," the statement said. It said the central bank will employ various monetary tools to guide credit supply to grow at a steady and moderate pace and maintain reasonable social financing scale. "Global economic growth remains weak and we will closely watch the impact of recent rescue and stimulus policies taken by the European Union and the United States," it said.

The central bank has twice cut the benchmark interest rates and reserve requirement ratio (RRR) this year to buoy slowing economic growth, which registered its lowest rate in more than three years in the second quarter of 2012. Despite of increased speculation of more RRR cuts, PBOC favors more delicate monetary tools and it is reluctant to resort to blunt monetary instruments like RRR, analysts said. PBOC pumped a record 290 billion yuan (45.74 billion U.S. dollars) into the money markets via reverse repurchase agreements Tuesday in an effort to ease a cash crunch towards the quarter end and the forthcoming Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday starting from Sept. 30. It will also steadily push forward market reform of the interest rates' formation system and improve the renminbi's exchange rate mechanism to strengthen its two-way flexibility, according to the statement.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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China Allocates 69.6 Bln Yuan for Subsistence Allowances

China has set aside 69.6 billion yuan (11 billion U.S. dollars) from the central budget to pay for subsistence allowances to be given to needy rural and urban families next year, the Ministry of Finance said Friday. Of the fiscal spending, 35.1 billion yuan will be used for urban allowances, while the rest will be distributed in rural areas, according to a statement from the ministry. The central government has earmarked 87.5 billion yuan for minimum living allowances since the start of the year, with 44.36 billion yuan given to urban poor families, according to the statement. China established the subsistence allowance system in the late 1990s. The allowances are given to those whose per capita household incomes fall below the local minimum subsistence level. Last year, the average monthly urban subsistence level was 287.6 yuan per person, up 14.5 percent year on year. The figure for rural areas was 143.2 yuan per person, up 22.4 percent.

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/23/2012

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Capital Gains Tax Passed for QFII

China's financial regulators have drafted rules which will impose a 10 percent capital gains tax (CGT) on qualified foreign institutional investors (QFII) operating in the country, the China Business News reported Wednesday, citing an insider close to the matter. No timetable was mentioned regarding when officials intend to start levying the tax, which experts say is aimed at regulating QFII activity in the wake of recent increases to their investment quotas. Since 2003, when China's QFII scheme was introduced, regulators have long been divided on the subject of whether or not to tax the returns on the equity positions of overseas investors, Dong Dengxin, the director of the Financial Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times. For years, QFII yields were considered too small to bother taxing, so the subject of CGT was usually quickly shelved whenever it was brought up by the media or mentioned by officials, according to Dong.

However, the uncertainty surrounding whether regulators would eventually begin taxing QFII led many foreign capital holders to shy away from using these institutions to tap the Chinese market on their behalf, Zhang Haochuan, director of the research department from Z-Ben Advisors, a Shanghai-based fund investment consultancy, told the Global Times. With QFII returns already low owing to the volatility in the Chinese equity market, potential investors feared that taxes would squeeze profits even further, said Zhang. But with financial authorities speeding up the approval pace on QFII licenses and quotas over the past year, the growing QFII market has promoted regulators to codify a set of taxation policies for these institutions to both pacify some of the concerns of overseas retail investors and put the breaks on foreign capital flows into the mainland equity market, Zhang went on to say. There were 188 foreign institutional investors operating in China's capital market with combined quotas adding up to $30.82 billion as of the end of September, up from 116 institutions with quotas totaling $21.63 billion by the end of last year, according to recent data from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange. The State Council, China's cabinet, increased the country's overall QFII quota cap from $30 billion to $80 billion in April, among a slew of other efforts to allow foreign investors greater access to the country's stock market.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 10/23/2012

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JAPAN: 10 Mil. Yen in Public Aid 'Stolen' / Woman Allegedly Received Assistance from 10 Municipalities

A woman from Soka, Saitama Prefecture, who died in October last year at the age of 33, illegally received a total of about 10 million yen in social assistance from at least 10 municipalities from May 2010 to June 2011, according to local government sources. The woman used her real name and relatives' names on her applications for the aid and illegally received the money from ward and city governments in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture. The woman allegedly lied to municipal government officials in charge of social welfare, telling them she did not want them to contact her relatives to confirm her financial status because she had escaped from domestic violence. In one case, she told a case worker that a vacant furnished apartment unit for rent was hers. The woman's case has highlighted the harsh reality that local government check systems have not caught up with the sharp increase in the number of people applying for welfare.

The woman illegally received the livelihood assistance in nine municipalities in Tokyo - Higashi-Kurume, Nishi-Tokyo, Kokubunji, Tachikawa, Fuchu, Nerima Ward, Adachi Ward, Katsushika Ward, Kita Ward - and Soka, Saitama Prefecture, with the amounts ranging from 128,965 yen to 2,068,640 yen. The Tokyo metropolitan government obtained information suggesting the woman may have illegally received such aid from two other city governments in Tokyo. The woman began legally receiving public aid in December 2009 when she lived in Higashi-Kurume, claiming that she was unfit to work due to an eating disorder. While still receiving welfare from Higashi-Kurume, the woman successfully applied for public assistance at the Nishi-Tokyo city government in May 2010 under her younger sister's name. She was quoted as telling officials: "A man who lives with me used up my savings in futures trading and other investments. Since I'm also in trouble with my parents, please don't contact [them]."

The woman applied for public assistance at other ward and city governments one after another, telling such lies as "I escaped from domestic violence," and using at least four names, including her own and that of a cousin. In March and April last year, she was receiving public aid from nine municipal governments simultaneously. Typically, a local government contacts parents or other kin to confirm whether they can support the social aid applicant before a decision is granted to provide aid. However, the woman refused to allow the officials to contact her family members or relatives, claiming she was a victim of domestic violence. This allowed her to keep her real identity a secret from local governments. Many of the cheated local governments obtained copies of her family register to confirm her identity, but they could not tell she was lying because the names of her relatives did not appear on the family record.

In one case, the woman took local government officials to a vacant furnished apartment using a key she borrowed from the real estate agent and told them it was hers. The scheme was revealed last year when the Adachi Ward Office asked her to submit housing rental receipts, which the officials noticed were falsified. The ward office notified the Metropolitan Police Department, who then arrested her on fraud and other charges for allegedly illegally receiving about 530,000 yen in social aid using her cousin's name. However, investigative sources said the woman died in October last year while her trial was in process.

Typically, a social aid applicant needs to provide his or her name, assets, income and names of relatives who are responsible for supporting them, when they fill out an application. If a local government judges the claims to be correct, the assistance is approved and provided. However, documents that prove an applicant's identity are not required. And while local governments usually contact people who are responsible for supporting the applicant, this is not required by law. Though the flexibility of the aid system allows people who need assistance to get priority, the case of the woman who illegally received aid from multiple sources underscores how such a system can be exploited. Prof. Taku Okabe of Tokyo Metropolitan University, a social welfare expert, said, "If local government officials worked with domestic violence experts and investigated the woman's life more thoroughly, this incident might have been prevented." In this case, the local government's information-sharing system to check whether the applicants are who they claim to be also proved inadequate.o prevent such abuse of the public aid system and ensure people who really need assistance get it, administrative authorities must make more thorough efforts to confirm facts at the application stage so the identities of applicants can be truly known.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/07/2012

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Govt to Resume Lending to Myanmar

The government plans to resume low-interest loans to Myanmar as early as next year for the first time since the late 1980s, underscoring its commitment to aid, according to informed sources. The yen loans, intended to help finance infrastructure projects such as electricity, roads and telecommunications networks, are expected to be announced at a Myanmar aid conference in Tokyo on Thursday. The loans are also designed to help Japanese companies start business in Myanmar, a country that has drawn attention as the last economic frontier in Asia, according to the sources. Their resumption is conditional on the elimination of Myanmar's external debt obligations. The government has drawn up a refinancing plan under which the government-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation would extend bridge loans to repay Myanmar's debts, including those to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. An agreement on the plan is likely to be reached at the Myanmar aid meeting held on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/08/2012

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Investment Advisers Probed on Lost Pension

Financial regulators are investigating possible negligence at three investment advisers over massive losses allegedly incurred by a construction industry pension fund, according to sources. The Financial Services Agency and the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission are looking at whether there were problems with the client asset administration of the three advisory companies - Societe General Private Banking Japan, Stats Investment Management Co. and United Investments Co., according to the sources.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/08/2012

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Reconstruction Budget Screening Criticized / Relevance of Pro-whaling Spending Questioned; 'Zombie' Youth Exchange Program Slammed

Reconstruction Minister Tatsuo Hirano answers a question at a session of the House of Councillors Audit Committee. Ministries and agencies have been taken to task in a Diet committee over whether budgets earmarked for reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake have been used for unrelated purposes. During a session of the House of Councillors Audit Committee on Thursday, lawmakers noted that funds from the budget have been spent on projects totally unrelated to reconstruction in the disaster-hit areas. Representatives of the government were hard pressed to explain the connection between the projects in question and post-disaster reconstruction. Masako Mori of the Liberal Democratic Party said of one Foreign Ministry project, "It was revived like a zombie by the reconstruction budget."

The project, which facilitates exchanges between young people in the Asia-Pacific and North American regions, had 7.2 billion yen allocated to it in a supplementary budget for fiscal 2011.The project's purpose was said to be dissemination of information about the current state of the disaster-hit areas to the rest of the world, and youngsters from 41 countries and territories were invited to Japan for about 10 days to that end. The Foreign Ministry had organized a similar five-year project in which young people were invited from other parts of East Asia from fiscal 2007. The project ended in fiscal 2011.Mori said she believed the ministry planned to effectively revive the project under a different name, using visits to the disaster-hit areas as an excuse. Under the latest project, the visitors would stay in disaster-hit areas for only about three days during their 10-day tours, and Mori said the results of reconstruction efforts to date are unclear.

Government officials did not comment on Mori's criticism. In another instance, a government official could not properly answer a question about the effects of a project. In the same supplementary budget, 2.3 billion yen was allocated to measures to prevent the obstruction of Japanese whaling vessels by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an antiwhaling organization. The measures are under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry. The spending was approved because meat from whales is sold in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which is a disaster-hit area and also one of the nation's largest whaling bases. The measures would contribute to reconstruction, according to the ministry. But Renho of the Democratic Party of Japan, who was once minister of state for civil service reform, demanded an explanation of the kind of economic effects the measure brought about.

Takahiro Sasaki, senior vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, admitted, "It's difficult to show the economic benefits with numerical figures." During the session, the ruling and opposition parties pointed fingers at each other over responsibility for the suspected use of funds for purposes unrelated to reconstruction. Regarding a budget for disaster-prevention measures that cover the entire nation, not just the disaster-hit areas, Renho tried to deflect criticism of the administration by the LDP and New Komeito. Renho said, "The LDP and New Komeito expressed the opinion that the budget should be available for use nationwide." Reconstruction Minister Tatsuo Hirano also brushed off an attack concerning a subsidy to encourage location of industrial bases in the nation, which was provided to a contact lens plant in Gifu Prefecture. Hirano said, "We received a proposal from the opposition parties that funds should be allocated, and we approved it." In response, Mori was harshly critical, saying, "Responsibility for executing budgets lies with the administration. If you want to pass the responsibility on to others, you should return the reins of government to us immediately." The trigger of the budget misuse lies in a basic law for post-disaster reconstruction that was passed jointly by the DPJ, the LDP and New Komeito. The law stipulates that the legislation's purpose is the vigorous revitalization of Japan.

On that basis, the government in July 2011 presented a basic policy outline for reconstruction that stated: Nationwide efforts should be taken to prevent disasters or minimize disaster damage. Unless the Japanese economy is revived, reconstruction in the disaster-hit areas will not be possible. As a result, projects not clearly related to the disaster-hit areas were given budgets. Though spending in each fiscal year's general account budgets has been under strict ceilings, the reconstruction-related budgets are in a special account this fiscal year. Consequently, even a Finance Ministry official said, "Screenings became lenient simply because it was a historic disaster."

In the Diet session, the government expressed its intention to more strictly reexamine or screen spending. Initially the government predicted reconstruction budgets would total 19 trillion yen in five years. But about 18 trillion yen has already been earmarked in three fiscal 2011 supplementary budgets and the fiscal 2012 budget. The government's reexamined the budgets partly because it will be difficult to secure new revenue sources for the purpose. Currently, about 50 percent of reconstruction budgets are financed with temporary tax hikes, such as the income tax increase. One politician said, "If the public's discontent about the reconstruction budgets leads to criticism of tax hikes, it may negatively affect the hike in the consumption tax." Finance Minister Koriki Jojima said in the Diet session, "We'll strictly screen [the projects] from the viewpoint of whether they are absolutely essential and can be implemented quickly." Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada said in a speech in Tokyo on Thursday the government may order suspension of budget spending before the end of this fiscal year.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/20/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Local Gov'ts Growing Less Financially Independent

The Ministry of Public Administration and Security has released a report showing that nearly nine out of ten local governments rely heavily on the central government for financial support. The ministry's report to parliament detailed that local governments' average rate of financial independence from the central government has fallen from 53-point-nine percent in 2008 to 52-point-three percent this year. It said 216, or 88-point-five percent, of all local governments in South Korea depend on financial aid from the central government to cover more than 50 percent of their treasuries. One-hundred-23 local governments cannot pay their employees solely on the collection of local taxes. The financial independence gap among local governments is also considerable. Large metropolitan city governments can secure funds for an average of 55 percent of their budgets. Smaller cities are 38 percent financially independent, while counties are only capable of collecting 17 percent of their necessary finances.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/08/2012

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Finance Minister Calls for Stronger International Cooperation

Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan says stronger international policy cooperation is a must in order to use the global economic crisis as an opportunity to leap forward. Bahk made the remark during his keynote speech at the IMF-World Bank meeting in Tokyo on Friday. He said countries should move past their self-centered attitudes in order to achieve a sustainable global economy and come up with policy responses through close cooperation. Meanwhile, Bahk said European countries should move towards fiscal consolidation through overall structural reform backed by political leadership. In addition, he said developing nations should look for new growth engines, while developed countries expand support for the emerging economies and pass on development experience in infrastructure and education.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/12/2012

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INDONESIA: To Spend US$11.5 Mil on Transport IT System

Indonesia's Ministry of Transportation yesterday allocated IDR 110 billion (US$11.5 million) to the further development of Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) programme, said Deputy Trasnportation Minister Bambang Susantono. "The ITS programme has been deployed in 22 cities in stage across Indonesia since four years ago," he added. According to him, the new budget allocation is expected to help road commuters save thirty per cent of their transportation cost. The road users will be able to avoid being trapped in the middle of traffic congestion by accessing to real-time traffic information provided by ITS system and make an appropriate judgement or an efficient alternative road for their journey, he said. The ITS is the combination of transportation system integrated with Advanced Navigation System, Advanced Traffic Management System, Incident Management System, Electronic Toll Collection, and Advanced for Safe Driving. The system aims at improving the accessibility, efficiency and safety for land transportation including trains.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/01/2012

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Indonesia's New Financial Service Watchdog Gets Operation Budget

JAKARTA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) - Indonesia's newly-established financial services supervisory agency, OJK, said on Thursday that the parliament had approved an allocation of 1.69 trillion rupiah (about 175.1 million U.S. dollars) to finance its initial operation. "So there has been approved at 1.69 trillion rupiah to finance our operation. Further details about the budget would be discussed in the following meetings," said OJK Chairman Muliaman Hadad. Muliaman added that meetings to discuss about the budget would be resumed next month. The allocation, he said, would be used to finance the system setting up works in the new agency and its initial operation. The OJK would take over the central bank's jobs in supervising the operation of banks and financial services firms in the country. In the future the central bank would particularly be assigned to control the country's fiscal and monetary policies. Sworn in in July this year, the OJK board of directors is expected to commence work early next year.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/18/2012

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VIETNAM: Government to Fund More Research Projects on Domestic Hybrid Rice Cultivation, Production

HCM CITY (VNS) - Hybrid-rice production and cultivation in Viet Nam has been on the upswing in the last few decades, but farmers still must import at least 70 per cent of the hybrid seeds, mostly from China, according to agricultural experts. To address the need, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has set up plans to expand areas devoted to hybrid F1 seeds from the current 2,000ha to 5,000ha by 2015. The Government will also offer funds to private and State-owned companies as well as research institutes in an aim to develop domestically-produced seeds of better quality. In 1991, the country began planting F1 hybrid-rice seeds, which have higher yields and are more resistant to disease than inbred varieties. The area under cultivation with such seeds increased to 700,000ha by 2009. Not only did this help secure the country's food security, it made Viet Nam the world's third-largest hybrid-rice producer, after China and India, according to the Plant Cultivation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

Hybrid-rice varieties, which are used mostly in the central and northern regions, are favoured by many farmers over inbred-rice varieties because they are easier to grow. Over the last year, however, the country's hybrid-rice cultivation area has fallen to about 559,000ha, with an average yield of 6.19 tonnes per hectare a crop, accounting for 12-15 per cent of the country's total rice-cultivation area. Speaking at a seminar in northern Nam Dinh Province on Sept 18 to discuss targets for the 2013-20 period, Pham Dong Quang, deputy head of the Plant Cultivation Department, said many domestic hybrid-rice varieties had been certified, but most of them were not key varieties and could not compete with imported varieties. Viet Nam needs between 15,000 tonnes and 18,000 tonnes of F1 seeds for cultivation a year, but domestically produced F1 seeds meet only 20-25 per cent of the demand. Also speaking at the seminar, which was organised by MARD and the Nam Dinh People's Committee, was Nguyen Thanh Lam, general secretary of the Viet Nam Seed Trade Association.

He said the Government had invested more money to produce F1 seeds to meet demand, but fewer farmers were using them. Only a few domestically produced hybrid-rice varieties were available in Viet Nam, and these come from the same female parental line. Thus, there are not enough different kinds of hybrid-rice seeds to suit a variety of soil and climate conditions in the country. The director of the Hybrid Rice Research and Development Centre, Nguyen Tri Hoan, who is also head of the Institute of Food and Foodstuff Crops, said the shortage of researchers was a major cause behind the poor development of F1 seed production. The lack of cooperation among research institutes and seed companies was another obstacle, he added. Once the seed varieties are developed by research institutes, seed companies must take part in production activities. Research institutes would only be able to produce about 50-70 per cent of the seeds, Hoan said.

Mai Ba Luyen, deputy director of central Thanh Hoa Province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, pointed out that the most significant problem was whether local researchers could create hybrid-rice varieties with quality as high as imported seeds. "If they are competitive, then seed companies and farmers could earn profits from producing the domestic variety of F1 seeds, and we could expand cultivation areas," he said, adding that Thanh Hoa Province had developed areas where farmers specialise in producing F1 seeds. Under MARD's plan to 2015, the area under hybrid-rice cultivation would increase to 800,000ha. Domestic production of F1 seeds must meet 50-60 per cent of the country's demand. Duong Duc Huy, deputy director of northern Lao Cai Province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said domestic seed companies could reach this target easily. But the problem is the limited number of female parental lines to produce F1 seeds. "If we choose domestic female parental lines and import female parental lines for cross-breeding, then we could have enough to meet demand," he said.

For example, the hybrid-rice variety LC 25 was cross-bred from an imported female parental line and a domestic male parental line by Lao Cai Province's Agriculture and Forestry Seed Centre. It received national certification a year ago, and many farmers bought the F1 seeds. This year, the production cost of domestically produced F1 seeds has been about VND50,000 a kilo, while the price of Chinese F1 seeds cost VND100,000 a kilo. "This shows that the production cost of domestically produced F1 seeds can compete on price with Chinese F1 seeds," Huy said. Le Quoc Doanh, head of the Plant Protection Department, said MARD planned to invest in infrastructure and equipment for F1 seed production in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) province of Dak Lak, the central provinces of Quang Nam and Thanh Hoa, and the northern provinces of Lao Cai and Son La. From 2013 to 2020, MARD would increase hybrid-rice cultivation area for the winter-spring crop and summer-autumn crop in the north - central region, the Hong (Red) River Delta, and the mountainous northern region.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 09/29/2012
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Province to Boast Revenue from Farms

DONG NAI (VNS) - Dong Nai People's Committee will invest VND46 billion (US$2.2 million) in developing sustainable agriculture. The three-year project aims to help farms produce more products with competitive prices for domestic use and export. It also targets to minimise adverse effects that agricultural production might have on the environment. The push to improve farming stems from the fact that product quality hasn't measured up, thus prices have been low, dissuading farmers from increasing farm production. Under the project, the province will grant preferential loans to farms which produce goods for export. A fund to encourage agricultural production will be used to support the application of technology into production to minimise post-harvest losses. This will apply to farming and aquatic products. The Southern province will fully fund product trademark registration and website construction.

Besides, farm owners will get free consultations on how to protect their trademarks. Training courses on farm management, marketing and trade promotion will be held for farm owners and their staff. These courses will receive support from provincial authorities. With such support, the provinces will set a target to raise revenue from each farm to VND6 billion ($288,000) a year from the current VND2.6 billion ($127,000). Under the project, the number of the farms meeting standards will increase from around 2000 to 2,500 by 2015 and 3,000 by 2020. Of the 2,161 farms, 524 specialise in cultivation and 1,539 in animal husbandry. The province has three farms planting forests, 25 raising shrimp and fish and 41 combining tree planting and animal raising. Most of the farm owners have equipped themselves with machines to improve productivity and hundreds of others have applied information technology to production and trading.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 10/08/2012

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Lawmakers Plan to Allocate $950m for 16 National Target Projects

HA NOI (VNS) - The Government plans to allocate more than VND20 trillion (US$952 million) from the State Budget to support 16 projects that form part of National Target programmes in 2013. More than VND18.6 trillion ($885 million) of the total will come from internal capital sources with the remaining amount coming from foreign capital. The plan was revealed at the closing meeting of the 12th session of the NA's Standing Committee yesterday. Members present at the meeting discussed 13 current National Target Programme projects in the areas of communication, supervision, evaluation and capacity enhancement. The NA's Finance and State Budget Committee agreed with the Government's proposal to continue implementing these projects from 2012-15. The committee also agreed to reducing the investment capital for these 13 projects from around VND14 trillion ($667 million) by more than VND2 trillion ($95 million) after reviewing the content of each project.

The Government was requested to allocate VND15 trillion ($714 million) to two sustainable poverty reduction projects. Many deputies also called for the Government to review its programme implementation process and financial sources in order to find an explanation for the slow process of many on-going projects. NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung and Vice Chairman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan suggested that projects from the National Target Programme must become operational more quickly, especially ones working in the areas of new rural area development, water safety and environmental hygiene, job creation and health care. Yesterday's meeting also saw the committee adopt a draft amending the ordinance on providing state honours. The new ordinance will give the title "Heroic Vietnamese Mother" to those with one or more children who were revolutionary martyrs. The ordinance will come into effect at the beginning of next year.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 10/19/2012

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Ministry Holds Line on Transportation Costs

HCM CITY - The Finance Ministry has asked city and provincial authorities to prepare price management plans for transportation services in their localities to prevent any "unreasonable" hikes that can hurt consumers. The instruction comes as rising world prices push domestic fuel suppliers to increase prices. The latest increase last Monday, saw petrol prices rise by VND1,100 per litre and that of other fuels by VND500 to VND800 per litre. It is the third hike in fuel prices in less than a month. The Ministry has urged localities to set reasonable prices for transport services, based on "input" prices or prices of other services and commodities in the local market. Transport companies should not be allowed to take advantage of fuel price hikes to increase their prices unreasonably, the ministry reiterated. City and provincial authorities have also been asked to ensure that enterprises in their localities, especially those that consume large volumes of fuel, better manage their production costs so as to prevent very sharp increases in the prices of their products and services. Local authorities have to strengthen the management, control and inspection of the registration, listing and quoting of prices, especially for essential goods such as dairy products, pharmaceuticals, gas, transportation services, food and foodstuff, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

No choice
After the fuel price hikes, transportation firms have held urgent meetings to discuss prices. Thai Van Chung, Secretary of the HCM City Transportation Association, said transportation fees were affected by many different input factors, including fuel costs, interest rates and material costs, with the aforementioned having the most substantial impact. He said goods transport firms mostly used diesel, not petrol, and the price hike of VND500-800 per litre for oil is quite high, so they had no choice but to consider increasing transportation fees. However, the rate of increase would vary between companies, he said. The Mai Linh Group, for instance, has decided to amend tariffs in different areas in 53 cities and provinces that it operates. Mai Linh Corporation, a taxi company with 6,000 cars operating nationwide, has increased prices between VND800-1,000 ($0.03-0.05) per kilometre depending on the type of car. Currently, the price of a four-seat cab ranges from VND10,000-14,300 ($0.47-0.68) per kilometre, and a seven-seat car is from VND13,400-17,000 ($0.63-0.8).

Vinasun Corporation with a fleet of 4,500 cars has upped fares by VND500 ($0.023) per kilometre for all of its cabs in HCM City. In Ha Noi, taxi fares have yet to change, but some taxi firms have proposed increasing their fares between VND500-1,000 per kilometre, according to the city's Taxi Association. Bui Danh Lien, Chairman of Ha Noi Transportation Association, said taxi fares would be raised soon and the minimum increase would be five per cent. Petrol and gas prices have gone up three times in less than a month. The price increased by VND300-400 per litre in July and between VND500-900 per litre in August. This is also the fifth increase in 2012, marking a VND5,400 per litre hike in petrol since the start of the year.

From http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/ 10/22/2012

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INDIA: Finance Ministry Asks Banks to Go for Cashless Transactions

To promote cashless transactions, the Finance Ministry has asked public sector banks to take steps to reduce the fee to zero for electronic transfer of funds up to Rs one lakh. Currently, most banks charge a maximum fee of Rs 5 per transfer of funds up to Rs 1 lakh from one account to another through National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) system. Transfer of funds up to Rs 10,000 through NEFT system attracts a maximum charge of Rs 2.50 per transaction. In a recent communication to the state-owned banks, the Ministry had asked them to "take action" to reduce the NEFT charges to zero for value up to Rs 1 lakh. RBI has, however, retained maximum charges of Rs 15 per transaction for electronic transfer of funds beyond Rs 1 lakh to less than Rs 2 lakh. The government has been asking banks to encourage transactions through e-payment channels so as to reduce the number of transactions through cheques and other expensive modes of transactions. The public sector banks have also been asked to identify top 20 per cent branches in respect of business volumes to bring down the number of cheque based transactions by at least one-fifth in the current financial year. The banks have also been asked to ensure that all payments and disbursements by them, except sundry payments, are made only electronically.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/03/2012

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RBI Sets Up Committee for Sustainable Financial Inclusion

RBI has constituted a high level Financial Inclusion Advisory Committee (FIAC) to spearhead the efforts towards greater financial inclusion. The collective expertise and experience of the members of the committee will explore issues such as developing viable and sustainable banking services delivery models focusing on accessible and affordable financial services, developing products and processes for rural as well as urban consumers presently outside the banking network and suggest appropriate regulatory framework to ensure that financial inclusion and financial stability move in tandem. The Committee will be chaired by Dr. K.C. Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor, Reserve Bank of India and will comprise of members of board of directors of RBI, professors from eminent institutions, and senior level officials from UIDAI and banks. Executive Director in-charge of Rural Planning and Credit Department, Reserve Bank of India will be the convenor of the committee. Ensuring accessible and affordable financial services in all 6 lakh villages in India is a herculean task and given the enormity of the task, a lot of ground still needs to be covered. This calls for a partnership of all the stakeholders - RBI, other sectoral regulators like Securities and Exchange Board of India. While the regulators and the Government of India are already part of the financial inclusion project, a need was felt to engage the members from the civil society/Non-Governmental Organisations and others for a sound and purposeful collaboration. The committee, if necessary, would call other market players like Corporate Business Correspondents, Technology Vendors etc., as special invitees to the meetings. Since the financial inclusion model selected in India is primarily bank-led, the committee may also invite the Chairperson/Managing Directors of banks to its meetings to gather the perspective of the banks.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/13/2012

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Innovate in Agricultural Loans, RBI Tells Foreign Banks

Higher priority sector targets for foreign banks should bring new skills in farm and SME lending which public sector banks could pick up, the Reserve Bank has said. "We require foreign banks in the country and also in agriculture. They can bring in product innovation in lending to agriculture and SMEs rather than derivatives," said RBI deputy governor K. C. Chakrabarty at a banking summit co-organized by Yes Bank. He said private lenders and foreign banks would bring in a revolution in agriculture finance as they did in retail and technology, helping public sector banks learn in the process. Similarly, competition in priority sector lending would also make public sector banks improve. In July this year, RBI raised the priority sector lending target for foreign banks with 20 or more branches from the present level of 32% to 40% - the same as domestic banks - in a phased manner from April 2013. These banks have been asked to submit an action plan by December 31, 2012 for achieving the targets over a specific time frame to be approved by RBI. Until now, foreign banks had lower targets because their branch licencing was severely rationed.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/16/2012

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World Bank Says Capital Left for India Is Limited

The World Bank capital available for India is limited as the country is getting closer to the borrowing limit, a top bank official said in Hyderabad. Though the funds available are still in billions, the official warned that these could exhaust quickly considering the large scale of World Bank programme in India. India is the largest borrower from the World Bank. "We have a very large programme with India. It is about $27 billion," said John H. Stein, director, Sustainable Development Department, South Asia Region, World Bank. He was talking to reporters on the sidelines of an event during the ongoing United Nations conference on biodiversity. "The challenge we face in India is that India is getting closer to reach single borrower limit. The capital available for India programme is limited now. Therefore, the government is very careful about setting priorities." He pointed out that the Indian government wants to evolve transformative and innovative programmes and focus its attention on states, which are lagging. John said India had submitted its requests for two projects to the World Bank and the same were likely to be approved sometime next year. The national rural water supply and sanitation mission, which will be rolled out in many states by the ministry of rural development, needs World Bank loan of $500 million. The national watershed programme will cost between $230 million and $250 million.

The World Bank official said the watershed programme was important because the World Bank want development of small infrastructure in communities to enable them to change cultivation and food practices. "The work India does has lot of success in the watershed management and that is easily transferable to other countries," he said. John said two projects for conservation of biodiversity were also in the pipeline but declined to divulge the details saying India was yet to submit its requests. He said though the World Bank tries to do things quickly, it takes a long time as it has to deal with several states. Stating that the World Bank portfolio of projects in India were very successful, John admitted that they also run through a cycle of difficulties. "We do get problems solved. We really reached a point where can fix an implementation issue. It is not sometime easy solving issues of political economy," he remarked. On the World Bank blacklisting some companies in India, he said the World Bank laid strong emphasis on good governance. "We have an integrity group that investigates allegations of corruption and in those cases if we find evidences, the companies are indeed barred from participating future projects. It happens in not just India but every part of world."

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/19/2012

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SRI LANKA: Parliament Has Little Control Over Finances: Legislator

Oct 22, 2012 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's parliament has no real control over public finances with the arm of the government not even having a budget committee, though the country's constitution says otherwise, a legislator said. "When I first went into parliament, I was surprised that there was no budget committee in parliament," Eran Wickremaratne, an appointed legislator representing the country's opposition told the annual sessions of the Sri Lanka Economics Association. "There is no budget office in parliament. We only get a budget speech like you get. And then from those numbers we get we begin a plenary debate, not a committee debate." "And then at the end of the plenary debate, the majority carries, and it is carried through." A committee stage debate allows for changes in a proposed law to represent a wider view of citizens representatives, and not just that of the ruling administration. Sri Lanka has a British-style parliament where most laws come from the ruling administration and the concept of 'parliamentary sovereignty' is bandied about by the elected rulers, both in power and in the opposition. Such a process has given good results in countries like the UK where liberal thought mostly evolved and gained a foothold and the parliament was devised as an instrument to restrain the sovereign and the state. But in countries where liberal thought is not valued, and where nationalism and interventionism prevails, parliamentary sovereignty can lead to a type of 'anything goes' absolutism, where even constitutions are changed at will. In such countries the 'sovereignty' of the state and rulers can override that of the citizen.

Analysts say that under fully fledged National Socialism in Eastern Europe, the gazette and 'enabling law' eventually replaced what remained of Western European style parliaments. In the United States, where its founding fathers fought for self-determination from the British, the concept of the sovereignty of the individual is more developed, going beyond a Cromwellian status of parliamentary sovereignty. In countries where citizens have greater freedom from the rulers and the state, courts can strike down legislation that are unjust or infringes on the absolute guarantees of equality and freedoms set in the constitution. Even in the UK, parliamentary sovereignty has now been tempered by European Union requirements and human rights legislation. In the US, parliamentary majority absolutism is also tempered by a Senate, which has two representatives per state, regardless of its population, giving more freedoms to its citizens. Both the Congress and Senate can devise and pass laws (legislate) independent of the ruling administration, again tempering populist majority absolutism. Any of the houses can have a majority independent of the ruling popularly elected administration. In Sri Lanka even the passing of a 'private member's bill' or even debating one is almost unheard of. The US also has a Congressional Budget Office which goes into budget expenses in detail and makes forecasts.

Sri Lanka has two committees which have of late become more active; the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA). "What parliament has in terms of oversight is really, really surprising," says Wickremaratne. "We only look at expenditure post facto. So the COPA, the committee on public accounts is a post facto committee and the COPE is also a post facto committee." "Though the constitution says the parliament is supreme in terms of finance it is not supreme in terms of finance." "So there is no interaction. We do not summon experts. If there was a committee we could summon experts, we could have got views, when we were discussing the budget, but there is no such thing." "The consultative committee structure is terribly weakened." He said the executive was creeping into consultative committees which are chaired by ministers instead of backbenchers who were "auditing themselves." "So there is a dilution going on," Wickremaratne said. In the past decade a new twist was introduced into the budgeting process. A large contingency reserve was built into the budget to give extra money to spending agencies without going to parliament for approval though 'supplementary estimates' or disclosure. Though a citizen went to court to stop the process, courts allowed it provided parliament was informed after the fact, in a shoot first ask question later style of fiscal operations. Since the early 2000 state enterprises have also mushroomed under the companies law being set up overnight instead of being incorporated under a act of parliament, giving an opportunity for public debate and transparency.

From http://www.lankabusinessonline.com/ 10/22/2012

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PAKISTAN: Finance Minister Briefs IMF Team on Economic Performance

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister of Finance, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh briefed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) team on the broad contours of government economic policies and their outcomes. A delegation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) led by Jeff Franks and Government's economic team led by Dr Hafeez Shaikh held an introductory meeting here on Monday as a part of Post Programme Monitoring. This policy level meeting followed the recently concluded technical level talks held with the IMF delegation, said a statement issued by the Finance Ministry here on Monday. The participants exchanged views on the broad macroeconomic outlook for Pakistan in the current financial year and the medium term. The Finance Minister expressed the hope that subsequent sectoral discussion would be productive in providing the IMF team with a good overview of the government efforts and achievements as well as the reforms envisaged going forward. He saw this as a good opportunity for the new IMF team for building a mutually beneficial relationship.

From http://pakistanlink.org/ 10/02/2012

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Mobile Phone & Smart Card Banking Accounts Surge

KARACHI: The Deputy Governor, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Kazi Abdul Muktadir, has disclosed that Mobile Phone and Smart Card banking accounts have surged to nearly 1.45 million in the country, which indicates that Pakistan's financial sector is now going through a dynamic transition led by the latest technology solutions. Speaking at the launching ceremony of a new product, 'Easy Paisa Khushaal' of Tameer Microfinance Bank (TMFB) and Telenor at a local hotel on Tuesday, he said: 'The existing active players- the Tameer Microfinance Bank (Easypaisa) and UBL (Omni), have so far registered more than 1,447,381 mobile wallet accounts (mWallet accounts) of un-banked and under-banked population of the country. (mWallet accounts are opened under Branchless Banking (BB) and include both Mobile Phone and Smart Card accounts. He said that nearly 30 million BB accounts worth Rs. 115 billion were processed during a single quarter (April-June, 2012) by only two players (TMFB and UBL Omni). Abdul Muktadir said that such type of innovations in product designing will not only attract small savings to generate internal funding for Microfinance Banks (MFBs) but also provide savers a feeling of safety and security of insurance embodied with the product.

'Now the time is only of demand-driven innovative products, through which MFBs can easily handle the challenges like scarcity of funding and financial exclusion', he added. 'With the entry of new players and scaling-up of the existing institutions, the present growth momentum of BB accounts will rise further. Our Tele density also highlights the inherent potential for mobile banking in Pakistan', he said and added that achievements in the BB services have put Pakistan at the global centre stage of Financial Inclusion and innovation. He said that the World Bank's Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), in its recent study has also recognized Pakistan as one of the fastest growing branchless banking market in the World. He said that the Government and the SBP have been supporting the microfinance sector to reach out to the millions of un-served low-income people of the country. This growth is facilitated by several factors, including an enabling policy framework, institutional reforms, technology initiatives, regulatory flexibility, tax incentives and technical support through different programs and projects, SBP Deputy Governor said.

State Bank of Pakistan has also issued a Strategic Framework for Sustainable Microfinance in Pakistan which mainly focuses promoting use of alternative delivery channels to enhance financial services to people without access to finance which is recognized as one of the fundamental constraints in achieving sustainable economic growth in many developing countries, he added. Abdul Muktadir said that SBP has always been very encouraging in promoting innovations in products and delivery channels in order to promote financial inclusion and added that it (SBP) has also launched a 'Financial Innovation Challenge Fund' under its DFID-funded Financial Inclusion Program (FIP) to support innovation in products, and delivery channels in microfinance which will give further impetus to Branchless Banking. He congratulated the Tameer Microfinance Bank and its key partner Telenor for designing another innovative product and said that it will go a long way in promoting deposit mobilization and motivating other microfinance sector players to move in this direction. The State Bank looks forward to the success and positive outcomes of Easypaisa Khushaal and expects more innovative products from TMFB for promoting deposit mobilization and financial inclusion agenda', SBP Deputy Governor added.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 10/16/2012

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GEORGIA: Government to Inform Public on Financial State

Georgian PM Vano Merabishvili and the finance minister have informed the public about the government's financial state and currency reserves. According to the information, the greatest sum within last years - 2 billion lari ($1 = 1.65 lari) has accumulated on state account in September. Some 920 million lari are on the account of exchequer, 200 million - local administration agencies, 320 million - juridical persons of public law, 587 million lari - deposits of state companies. The indicators of the 2013 budget, which has already been presented to parliament in accordance with Georgian constitution, are positive. According to state budget project, budget deficit has been reduced from 3.5 per cent ... GDP to 2.8 per cent. According to Finance Minister Alexander Khetaguri, apart from domestic resources, Georgia has adequate volume of international reserves. As of September, reserve assets in National Bank amount to $ 2.9 billion. The minister noted that inflation indicators as of September are low, annual inflation indicator is around zero, its growth is not expected. According to forecasts, the annual inflation indicator is going to be low within 2012-2013. Khetaguri underlined that the state has stable positions from the financial point of view, which is a result to responsible and future oriented fiscal and monetary policy. In his turn, the prime minister Vano Merabishvili stated that the state has sufficient funds and currency reserves to fulfill pre election promises. Merabishvili wished success to new government, which is going to be approved by parliament in short run.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/08/2012

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KYRGYZSTAN: Has Biggest Budget Deficit Among CIS Countries

Kyrgyzstan has the biggest budget deficit among the CIS countries, KyrTAG reported with reference to the World Bank's office in Kyrgyzstan Alexander Kremer. The situation with deficit, which is about 6.2 percent of country's GDP, may be better during 1-2 years, he said. Kremer added that the organization is glad that the Kyrgyz government headed by Zhantoro Satibaldiyev pays great attention to this issue.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/18/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: A Loan Agreement Signed Between Kazakhstan and the World Bank

A Loan Agreement on the East-West Roads Project (Almaty-Khorgos section): the International transit corridor Western Europe - Western China (CAREC 1b)" was signed today between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the World Bank. The new 305 kilometers road from Almaty to Khorgos to be opened in 2015, being a transit link between China and Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries, has a great potential to accelerate trade flows and economic prospects to boost the regional economy. "The East-West Roads Project signed today will complete the upgrade of the Western Europe-Western China Road Corridor," says Bolat Zhamishev, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan. "Aimed at improving the efficiency of the transport link from Almaty - one of the main economic centers of Central Asia - to Khorgos, the main road border crossing between Kazakhstan and China, the Project will help improve access to markets, enhance business opportunities, and create more jobs". The new Project will lead to more efficient transport, lower road-user costs and improved level of services along sections of the WE-WC Road Corridor. In order to fully achieve the objectives, the Project will also assist in implementing an improved highway operations and maintenance based on the agreed levels of service. This will lead to a lower social cost, stemming from the reduced road traffic injuries, and an increased travel speed and riding comfort. "Managing roads, an important public asset, in an efficient and effective manner requires adequate institutional capacity as it is very expensive to build and maintain roads," said Sebnem Akkaya, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan. "Therefore, in addition to physical investments to improve the quality of the roads, the Project will increase efficiency and effectiveness of the modern highway operation and maintenance by scaling-up the road transport sector reform efforts initiated under the on-going South West Roads project, financed by the World Bank."

In the course of implementation of the WE-WC Road Corridor development program, the Government is taking steps towards reforming the Ministry of Transport and Communications to improve the road asset management system, road safety and road services. The Government successfully works on improvement of governance, anti-corruption measures and internal controls and audits in the transport sector. As a result, the savings of US$360.2 million during the procurement process of the on-going South West Roads project allowed for financing of an additional 80 kilometers highway along the same road corridor, as an extension to the section currently financed west of Shymkent city to the Shymkent/Zhambyl oblast border. Aimed to rehabilitate almost half of the WE-WC Road Corridor in Kazakhstan, the project is already changing the face of the region. More than 500 kilometers between Kyzylorda and Aktobe oblast border will be upgraded using the new type of pavement surfacing and more than 500 kilometers between Kyzylorda and Zhambyl oblast will be converted to a four-lane highway by 2015. And about half of the road length will be opened to traffic by the end of 2012. The issues related to social and environmental impacts are successfully addressed and managed as well. Following the efforts to enhance supervision and public oversight, the National Expert Council for Transparency and Sustainable Development is established comprising the Roads Committee, Project Management Consultants, Supervision Consultants, and civil society representatives. The Council already started the monitoring activities to ensure more accountability and transparency by detecting, preventing or resolving the socio-economic, labor, environment or corruption cases along the construction site. The total East-West Roads Project cost amounts to US$1 256.5 million, including the World Bank loan of US$1 068.0 million, and a co-financing from the state budget of US$ 188.5 million. The Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan is responsible for servicing and acquittance of the loan from the funds envisaged by the Law on the State Budget for the next fiscal year, according to the financial terms and conditions of the Loan Agreement.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/12/2012

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TAJIKISTAN: GDP Exceeds $ 5.1 Bln

Tajikistan's GDP according to the results of the third quarter exceeded 24.8 billion somoni or about $5.1 billion, Avesta.tj reported on Tuesday. This index increased by 7.5 percent compared to a similar period of 2011. The country's GDP consists of produced products - 44.9 percent, services - 42.2 percent and taxes - 12.9 percent.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/16/2012

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Tajikistan, EDB Consider Financing of Nurek HPP Reconstruction

The Tajik government jointly with the Eurasian Development Bank consider the issue of financing the Nurek hydropower plant reconstruction project, Avesta.tj reported. This issue was discussed by the bank's representative and the country's finance Minister Safarali Nizhmiddinov in Tokio this week. The bank's representative stressed that the organization is committed to wide-range of work in Tajikistan and expect the support of country's government for this. The bank examines the projects on irrigation system reconstruction in the country.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/18/2012

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TURKMENISTAN: State Budget Executed at 40 Percent

According to the totals of 9 months, the revenues of Turkmen state budget are executed at 139.4 percent, in the amount of 16.4 billion manat, or 41.5 per cent more than during the same period of 2011, the country's Finance Ministry reported on Monday. The exchange rate of national currency has remained stable within the last years. $1 equals to 2.84 Turkmen manat. The expenditure budget amounted to 10.2 manat or 95.4 per cent of planned figures. This indicator equals to 129.7 percent in comparison with the same period of last year. Considerable part of state budget, namely 76.6 percent was contributed to development of social field. The state budget revenue is executed at 140.6 per cent, the expenditure - at 96.9 percent. Expenditure on payments of salaries, pensions, state benefits and student stipends is fully financed. On the account of all financing sources within the program, the plan on investment development has been executed at 79.5 percent, which is 1.6 times more than the same period of 2011. Some 88 objects of social importance have been launched during the period, some 1420 kilometers of water lines, 506 km of sewerage, 904.7 km of highways, 123.6 km of gas pipelines, 1997.3 km of power lines, 2590.8 km of phone lines have been constructed. It was previously reported that Turkmen Parliament approved the law on "Turkmen State Budget for 2012". The revenue of the state budget of 2012 was 74.908.4 billion manat, expenses - 76.398.4 billion manat. According to the forecasts, budget revenues will exceed the previous figure due to higher rates of economic growth, investment activity, the modernization of material-technical base of industries, the widespread introduction of highly advanced technologies in the production. The revenues are formed by such important sectors of industrial areas as oil and gas, chemical, power engineering, construction. The agroindustrial complex, transport and communication sector, textile and food industries will be further developed. The revenues are planned to be increased by developing and stimulating the activity of the private enterprises. The significant investments will be spent to implement large-scale national projects, including the construction of new facilities of the national tourist zone of Avaza, the implementation of urban development program in the capital and provinces of the country, the construction of important social and cultural facilities, industrial and transport-communications infrastructure.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/16/2012

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Turkmen Parliament Approves State Budget for 2013

The Parliament of Turkmenistan of the fourth convocation adopted the law On the State Budget of Turkmenistan for 2013, the official Turkmen source said. The revenue of the state budget amounts to 86.335.8 billion manat with expenses - 89.735.8 billion manat. In recent years, the official rate of the manat to one dollar remains at - 2.85 Turkmen manat. The budget for 2013 provides for a 10 per cent increase in wages and government benefits, as well as a 15 per cent increase in pensions. From all sources of funding provided to send to industrial, social and cultural spheres of the economy, this amounts to 47.4 billion manat. The revenue part is formed through such industries as oil and gas, chemical, power generation, construction. The budget also provides for sustained development of the agricultural industry, transport, telecommunications, textile and food industries. It is expected that revenues will continue to grow through further development and support for non-state enterprises. A significant increase in payments for the construction of new facilities of the national tourist zone Avaza, the construction of social and cultural values, industry and transport as well as the communication infrastructure in the capital and regions of the country is provided. Next year, the largest budget expenditures accounts for centralised capital investments and their size will be increased by 42 per cent amounting to 9.1 billion. Funds allocated to education will increase by 15.7 per cent, health care 10.8 per cent and culture 22.6 per cent compared to last year. Revenues were provided at 74.908.4 billion manat with expenses at 76.398.4 billion manat in the approved state budget for 2012 a year ago.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/22/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: English's Goal Still Surplus by 2015

New Zealand remained focused on the target of getting back into surplus in 2014-15, Finance Minister Bill English said from Frankfurt last night after the Government's audited accounts for the last financial year were published yesterday. He said Government expenditure was under control and needed to stay that way with revenue being more uncertain. It was clear that New Zealand was a lot better off than many other countries. "The current outlook is a bit of a challenge but we remain focused on that target," he said. "To stay on track we need to keep control of the expenditure as we go through a modest adjustment compared to a lot of other countries." One of the biggest differences with Europe was that New Zealand actually had growth - 2 to 3 per cent - and Britain and Europe were looking at virtually none. Last week, Mr English visited Britain, which is in the middle of a protracted recession. His counterpart, George Osborne, this week indicated it could take another six years to recover and proposed even greater cuts to the welfare bill.

Mr English said the pair discussed quantitative easing - creating currency - which is now being advocated by the Green Party as appropriate for New Zealand. "There are big risks with it and it is just barmy to suggest that in an economy growing at all that you would do it," Mr English said. "It is being done in these other economies to avoid a persistent, deep recession. We're not in that situation." He rejected claims from Labour and the Greens that New Zealand was in a manufacturing crisis, though he admitted it was "pretty tough". Manufacturers deserved credit for maintaining jobs at about 250,000 despite four or five years of a relatively high exchange rate. "We are doing everything we can to create more jobs and make our manufacturers more competitive." Speaking about the accounts, Labour leader David Shearer said that after four years, New Zealanders "are working harder but going backwards". National's claim to be a credible manager of the books had been blown out of the water with its operating deficit being $800 million more than it forecast in May.

Q&A: Snapshot of the books Year ended June, 2012

What's the overall position?
The operating deficit, excluding gains and losses, was $9.24 billion, about half of last year's record $18.39 billion deficit because the earthquake costs were less, and more than the $8.44 billion deficit forecast in the Budget.

What if the earthquake expenses were taken out?
The operating deficit for the year just ended would have been $7.3 billion and the year before it would have been $9.3 billion.

What was better than last year?
Tax revenue was up by $3.5 billion and Core Crown expenses fell by $1.4 billion.

What was worse?
The write-down in KiwiRail's value in June was not factored in the May Budget forecasts and affected the operating balance.

What is the debt/ borrowing situation?
Net debt is $50.67 billion, or 24.8 per cent of GDP, slightly less than forecast in May. The Government receives $15.1 billion from issuing domestic market bonds, or $302 million a week.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/11/2012

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Govt Books on Track for Surplus

Government accounts for the year ended June are a case of so far, so good in terms of its objective to return to surplus. But economists remain sceptical that that can be achieved by the target year of 2014-15. The operating balance excluding valuation gains and losses (Obegal) was a deficit of $9.2 billion - half the quake-hit level of 2010-11 - or 4.5 per cent of gross domestic product. While it was $800 million worse than forecast in the May Budget, the difference is explained by a $1.4 billion writedown of KiwiRail assets. Excluding that, the deficit would have bettered the target by $600 million. Earthquake-related costs contributed $1.9 billion to the latest deficit, compared with $9.1 billion last year. Excluding quake-related costs, the Obegal deficit narrowed by $2 billion from last year, or 1 per cent of GDP, to $7.3 billion.

The cash deficit of $10.6 billion was $1.25 billion better than the Budget forecast but pushed net debt to $50.7 billion, just under 25 per cent of GDP. However, that compares favourably with an average net debt of 84 per cent of GDP for the 20 largest advanced economies, according to the International Monetary Fund's Fiscal Monitor, released on Monday. Infometrics economist Matt Nolan said that with the economy continuing to recover, albeit at a more gradual pace than had originally been anticipated, we could expect the deficit to close further in 2013. "Conspicuously absent from [the] release were any accompanying comments from [Finance Minister] Bill English reaffirming the Government's commitment to returning to surplus in 2015," Nolan said. "However, we have never viewed this as a realistic target and instead are expecting a surplus, at the earliest, in 2016." Bank of New Zealand economist Doug Steel also expects a deficit, albeit one which has shrunk to around 1 per cent of GDP by 2015. The direction of change in the fiscal accounts would be more important to the rating agencies than the precise timing of any return to surplus, he said. The tax take was up $3.5 billion on the year before, growing twice as fast as the nominal GDP, a proxy for the tax base.

The lion's share of the increase, $2 billion, was from the taxation of business profits. Core Crown expenses fell by $1.4 billion from the year before, largely reflecting a $1 billion reduction in the expected cost of the weathertight homes financial assistance package and a $500 million reduction in the cost of carbon credits issued by the Government under the emissions trading scheme. The Government's bottom line, the operating balance, gets blown around by factors beyond its control like the bond yields, which drive the discount rates used to calculate the net present value of the liabilities of ACC, and by the performance of investment markets, which affects the value of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund's portfolio. Such changes added $5.6 billion to the bottom line deficit in the latest year, pushing it to $14.9 billion, while they reduced it by $5 billion to $13.4 billion the previous year.

Government accounts
* Operating balance excluding valuation gains and losses was a deficit of $9.2 billion.
* Excluding quake-related costs, the deficit narrowed by $2 billion from last year to $7.3 billion.
* Cash deficit of $10.6 billion is $1.25 billion better than the Budget forecast.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/11/2012

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Iwi with Unsettled Claims Can Buy SOE Shares on Credit - Govt

Iwi who have not settled Waitangi claims will be able to buy shares in Mighty River Power and other power companies on credit when they are partially privatised, the Government confirmed today. The announcement by Finance Minister Bill English and Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson comes just days after the Government rejected the "shares plus" concept floated by the Waitangi Tribunal for addressing issues around Maori rights and interests in fresh water. Iwi yet to settle their claims could choose to receive a percentage of their forecast settlement package "on account" in the form of shares in the Government share offer companies. Mr Finlayson said. "This is a result of our constructive engagement with iwi leaders and their technical advisers," the ministers said. "It is another example of how direct engagement with the Crown can produce pragmatic solutions that provide an opportunity for more New Zealanders to participate in the share floats and support Iwi and the Crown to settle historic Treaty claims." Mr Finlayson said the "on-account" arrangements were not new for iwi in negotiations with the Crown and had been used used by many iwi in the past. "They must pay the full issue price and any amount drawn down will be deducted from the final settlement."

If yet-to-settle Iwi meet criteria for eligibility, they would be able to buy ordinary shares at the IPO price, on the understanding that the purchase forms part of their overall settlement package. They would not be eligible for loyalty bonuses, as these will apply only to individual New Zealanders. A 5 per cent maximum of their likely settlement would be available for Iwi not "local" to any of the power companies' assets. A 10 per cent limit would apply to Iwi who are local to any of the companies and a 12.5 per cent limit would apply to iwi who are local and had reached an Agreement in Principle with the Crown over their claim, and agreed an amount for settlement. Mr English said the actual amount to be advanced as on-account payments for shares would depend on the level of take-up by iwi. Treasury estimated that if all Iwi took up their full entitlement, that would amount to $145 million over the entire Government share offer programme.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/17/2012

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Majority IT Experts Believe Cyber-Threats to Hit Businesses

Defending the corporate infrastructure against targeted attacks has become a vital challenge for IT security practitioners and 52 percent of IT specialists are convinced that these targeted attacks will become even more frequent, according to a survey by B2B International. One third of the specialists surveyed believe that sooner or later their company will face a targeted cyber-attack. And that means it is already high time for organisations to prepare ways of defending their infrastructure, servers, workstations, corporate mobile devices, against targeted attacks looking to steal data or sabotage operations. The need for these measures is critical as the survey found that targeted attacks are regarded as the third most likely threat in the near future. Only 27 percent have heard about Stuxnet, and 13 percent about Duqu. The most familiar foes were Trojans designed to steal user data, names such as SpyEye and ZeuS turned out to be known by 31 percent of those surveyed.

From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 10/18/2012

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APEC Economies Improve Ease of Doing Business by 8.2 Percent: Report

APEC's 21 member economies improved the ease of doing business in the Asia-Pacific by 8.2 percent between 2009 and 2011, exceeding their five percent target for the period and paving the way for greater economic activity in the region. The findings were revealed in the new 2012 APEC Economic Policy Report, released on 4 October, which assesses member economies' progress in implementing the APEC Ease of Doing Business Initiative adopted in 2009. The Initiative's goal is to foster a 25 percent more favourable business environment in the Asia-Pacific region by 2015. "APEC economies and stakeholders continue to work together to make doing business throughout the region cheaper, faster and easier," said Raymond Greene, Chair of the APEC Economic Committee which produced the report. "Capacity building and best practice exchange within APEC are advancing regulatory reforms to these ends." The Ease of Doing Business Initiative's five priority areas include starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting credit, trading across borders and enforcing contracts. "The progress being made towards achieving APEC economies' ease of doing business goals is significant, particularly in certain areas such as starting a business which has advanced the most in average terms," said Dr Denis Hew, Director of the APEC Policy Support Unit which assisted in the report's preparation. Between 2009 and 2011, the median time to start a business in the APEC region fell 56.5 percent, from 23 to 10 days. By contrast, it fell only 12.5 percent for the rest of the world, from 20 to 18 days. Member economies have also made considerable inroads in making trading across borders more cost effective, Dr Hew noted. In 2011, the average cost to export a container in the APEC region was US$835, 44 percent cheaper than the US$1,486 amount for the rest of the world. And to import a container in the region it was 49 percent cheaper at US$896 compared to US$1,768 elsewhere. "While APEC economies have clearly improved the business environment in the Asia Pacific there is still much more to be done on an individual and collective basis," Dr Hew said. "This includes smoothing out the unevenness of progress across the region, for example, in dealing with construction permits and getting credit." APEC's ease of doing business performance was evaluated based on the World Bank's Doing Business data set.

From http://www.apec.org/ 10/04/2012

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CHINA: 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/ 10/23/2012

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Commentary: Telecom Sector Not in Trouble

The telecom equipment manufacturing industry is the pride of China. Chinese enterprises are surpassing their foreign counterparts in the technology-intensive and capital-intensive industry. China's telecom equipment manufacturing sector has gained advantage in the fiercely competitive market and attracted globally reputable companies. Huawei and ZTE had been the world's second and fifth largest telecom equipment makers for years. But after Huawei's sales revenue touched 102.7 billion yuan ($16.07 billion) in the first half of this year, it overtook Sweden's Ericsson to become the world's largest telecom equipment maker. The development path of China's telecom equipment manufacturing industry, however, is becoming increasingly problematic, both economically and politically. Fearing that China would challenge its hegemony, the United States has dealt one blow after another to Chinese telecom equipment makers. As a result, Huawei and ZTE cannot function in the US market freely. 

In 2008, the US used national "security concerns" to derail Huawei's proposal to join hands with Bain Capital, a politically reputable equity company, to acquire 3Com. Similar designs prevented the Chinese company from acquiring the wireless network division of Motorola. In 2010, Sprint Nextel excluded Huawei and ZTE from a contract worth billions of dollars, again because of Washington's "security concerns". The US also prohibited Huawei from participating in the construction of its National Emergency Communications Network and stopped it from buying part of the assets of American computer company 3Leaf Systems. And on Oct 8, the Intelligence Committee of the US House of Representatives issued a report that said: "Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems." The report recommends that US regulators block mergers and acquisitions by Huawei and ZTE in America and that US government computer systems not include any components from the two companies. The reason: Huawei and ZTE equipment can be used to send information to China through remote control. 

Given the importance of the US' market in the global economy, Washington's move would create political risks for Chinese telecom equipment makers in other overseas markets, even though the accusation that the two Chinese companies pose a security threat to the US is untenable. Many of the questions the House Intelligence Committee asked were related to crucial business secrets that could not be made public. Besides, the committee's report misunderstands and distorts the relationship between Chinese companies and commercial banks, and it revels in speculation instead of coming up with evidence. The report defies logic, because Huawei, ZTE and the Chinese military can never be "backdoor" espionage collaborators. How can a government whose "central task" has been "economic construction" for the past three decades engage two of its leading companies in "backdoor" espionage and jeopardize the future of the country's key industry? The country that masters the art of "backdoor", as well as "open", espionage is the one that has enjoyed monopoly in technology for decades. And it knows that even if consumers discover that their systems have been compromised they can't do much to correct them. 

Since the Chinese are latecomers to the global telecom equipment industry, the products made by companies such as Huawei and ZTE are highly substitutable. Had such companies been using their products for "backdoor" (or any other form of) espionage they would have been kicked out of overseas markets rather than becoming leading players in the telecom equipment sector. Moreover, would Chinese decision-makers use as "espionage partners" companies whose products can be easily replaced? The reality is, Huawei and ZTE not only have excellent safety records, but also have taken a series of measures to improve transparency to win the trust of consumers. Despite Huawei occupying one-fifth of the global mobile communications equipment market and 45 of the world's top 50 telecom service providers using its products, no security incident has been reported so far. Huawei has also taken a series of steps to improve transparency in the US market and offered its equipment for safety tests by a third party. But nothing, it seems, would make the US accept the facts. 

In February 2011, Huawei issued an open letter to the US government, in which it allayed Washington's safety fears over its equipment and sought a thorough investigation into its business. Had Huawei been afraid of being found out would it have made such a move? The House Intelligence Committee's report, though a setback for Huawei and ZTE, will not necessarily become the US' government's policy. And in case it becomes the US' official policy, the chain reaction would be too devastating for the American market to withstand. Therefore, Huawei and ZTE should not rush to abandon the US market. Also, Chinese companies should give up the idea of wining Americans' trust by listing in the US, because such a move will cause many side effects. This is a lesson Chinese companies that went public in the US have learned. Instead, Huawei and ZTE should focus on improving their technologies further and make efforts to expand their shares in the markets of Europe, Japan, the Republic of Korea and emerging economies, where political risks are not as high as in the US. So long as these markets grow faster than the US' (which is highly likely) and Chinese enterprises maintain and even increase their market shares in them, they don't have to worry too much about the setback in America. And patience will ultimately pay, because these companies' sustained efforts will prompt the US to shed its bias.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 10/23/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't May Provide Aid for Businesses in Gaeseong Complex

The South Korean government is mulling whether to provide financial support for South Korean businesses that have facilities running at the inter-Korean Gaeseong Industrial Complex in North Korea.A source from the Gaeseong complex said on Monday that under a request from the Unification Ministry, the Small & Medium Business Corporation (SBC) has been conducting a probe into the financial conditions of the 123 businesses located in the complex. The investigation is expected to wrap up in mid-October. The probe had been spurred by a visit by South Korean lawmakers from the National Assembly's committees for North Korea-related affairs to the complex in February. Business owners had requested the politicians to make efforts to ease their financial troubles at the time. An official from the Unification Ministry said if the probe results indicate that the businesses are in deep trouble, the government would look into ways to support the companies.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/01/2012

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MALAYSIA: Muhyiddin Wants Corporate Bodies to Focus on Social Welfare

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 (NNN-Bernama) - Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has reminded corporate bodies to also focus on the welfare of their staff and the community besides the profit aspect. He said the corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme was among the important strategies in providing the catalyst and driving the country's socio-economic changes thus ensuring that the corporate bodies concerned could survive in the long-term. "Thus, it is important for the corporate sector to integrate the CSR in the implementation of their development operations. "This is because society forms an important element in deciding the company's long-term profits and growth factor," he said in his speech at the Prime Minister's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Award 2011 organised by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, here. Muhyiddin said corporate bodies should also work together with the relevant parties in overcoming the fragility of the family institution and the community's social values currently which contributed to various social problems.

For this purpose, the forging of a smart partnership and strategic pact between the government and other parties such as the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), charitable voluntary bodies, the corporate sector and the general public was strongly emphasised. The Deputy Prime Minister wanted more corporate bodies to work together with the government in implementing community programmes to ensure that the people enjoyed prosperity. At the event, General Electric (GE) Malaysia was announced the overall winner of the Prime Minister's CSR Award 2011. The company also won in the categories for Workplace Practices and the Empowerment of Women. Other winners were ECM Libra Financial Group which won in the Education category; Kulim (M) Berhad (Environment); and Maybank (Community and Culture). Iris Corporation Berhad (Community and Social Welfare); VISTA Eye Specialist (Best Small Company CSR); and IBM Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Family Friendly Workplace). The Prime Minister's CSR Award was introduced in 2007 to encourage the corporate sector to work together with the government in discharging their corporate social responsibility.

From http://www.namnewsnetwork.org/ 10/22/2012

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SINGAPORE: 2 in 5 SMEs Face Challenges in Recruiting, Retaining Talent - Survey

SINGAPORE : Two in five small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore face challenges in recruiting and retaining talent, due mainly to salary constraints. According to a survey by the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), talent management is the top challenge cited by managers across all levels. About half of the respondents covered in the SIM Management Monitor felt they have not been effective in recruiting and retaining talent and blame the lack of competitive salaries for this. Nearly all the managers surveyed indicated 'people' as the most critical factor to ensuring the future growth and vitality of the SME sector in Singapore. The survey also found that managers are satisfied with their jobs and are positive about career prospects but cautious about the global economy. The majority, or 74 per cent, are satisfied with their current jobs. C-suite executives, or the company's most important senior executives, expressed the most satisfaction - at 84 per cent - compared with mid-level management - at 70 per cent. Managers in Singapore are more positive about the economy now, compared with 2009 during the global recession when the survey was first done.

In 2012, 45 per cent of the respondents are positive about Singapore's economic outlook, compared with only 12 per cent in 2009. However, 40 per cent surveyed this year are ambivalent about the local economy, compared with 27 per cent in 2009. As for the global economy, 16 per cent expressed optimism, compared with 6 per cent in 2009. However, the majority still feel negatively about the global economy. The stronger positive sentiments are reflected in how the managers feel about their jobs. Wilson Wong, senior lecturer at SIM University's School of Business, said managers are generally more positive about the Singapore economy, and by extension, their career prospects, as the country's top three trading partners - Malaysia, China and Indonesia - are still posting robust economic growth. He warned that the ambivalence about the local and global economies could increase, given that global macroeconomic fundamentals have worsened since the last quarter. On the productivity front, one in two SMEs supports the government's call for productivity, but 32 per cent also felt that the government is not doing enough to help them become more productive. On their own, two in three SMEs have put in place some productivity measures, such as sending more staff for courses, as well as upgrading current equipment and technology. Those who did not do so cited financial and time constraints. More than 780 managers based in Singapore were interviewed in the survey between June and July 2012.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/18/2012

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New Platform for Young Entrepreneurs to Develop Businesses

SINGAPORE: Aspiring young entrepreneurs now have a new platform to test and develop their businesses. SCAPE Underground, a retail space for showcasing Singapore's designs, brands and talents, was officially opened on Saturday by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, S Iswaran. Mr Iswaran, who is also the Second Minister for Trade and Industry, noted that many young entrepreneurs started their retail businesses at SCAPE Bazaar, which operates on weekends. Now, they can look forward to developing further at SCAPE Underground. It provides programmes for training and development for budding entrepreneurs. Several education institutions have been roped in to provide the training. SCAPE Underground's full-time retail concept allows the entrepreneurs to grow their businesses in the heart of Orchard Road before moving to a retail unit. Mr Iswaran said Singapore needs to develop small and medium enterprises that are driven by local entrepreneurs. "We are emphasising the fact that we want different pathways for people to succeed to realise their dreams and aspirations," he said. "So some would be happy pursuing a path through some kind of professional career or technical career, but others may want to try their hands at business."

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/20/2012

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INDIA: ER&D Sector Expected to Create Over 10 Lakh Jobs by 2020

The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) held its two-day NASSCOM Engineering Summit 2012 at the Hotel Hyatt Regency, Pune. The theme of the summit was 'Engineering Innovations for a better world' and it provided a platform for delegates to understand the transformation driving the global ER&D sector, opportunities that lie in the emerging markets, and the future prospects of the engineering industry in India and across the globe. The summit will also have focused discussion on key verticals including automotive, robotics, construction, heavy engineering and telecom. Delivering the welcome address, Mr. Som Mittal, President, NASSCOM, said, "The Indian IT-BPO industry has witnessed exponential growth over the past decade. The industry, over the years, has invented, transformed and reinvented to increase operational efficiencies, reinvent and embrace new business models offering its customers a transformed business proposition. Indian ER&D service has played a pivotal role in accelerating innovation and is establishing India as a design and innovation hub. To further build on this leadership position, the industry needs to pursue continued efforts to build a high-caliber R&D pool by instilling relevant research aptitudes and capabilities, both from educational and training perspective."

India is gaining depth in its ER&D capacities offering end to end product development. Indian offshore ER&D market is expected to reach USD 37-45 billion by 2020 and will create over 1 million jobs. This exponential growth in the Indian ER&D services is a result of flexible business models, short product life cycles, decreasing time to market and flexible capacity driving ER&D sourcing. Growth in this area is being driven by need for new products to meet the growing demand in emerging economies as well as fast evolving customer preferences. "Over the past decade, global ER&D spend has been growing steadily and the industry is targeting new growth engines, driving globalization of the ER&D structure across verticals and gaining a foothold in ER&D services off shoring. Though the Indian engineering services industry has been a leader, it needs to drive concerted initiatives to strengthen the innovation capacity and research capabilities through specific domain focus and by encouraging R&D collaborations." said Mr. Ravi Pandit, Chairman, NASSCOM Engineering Services, Pune and Chairman & Group CEO, KPIT Cummins. While the ER&D services industry has been growing by leaps and bounds, certain challenges grip the space and require immediate redressal. India needs to sustain its cost competitiveness and fill its absence of linkages to manufacturing capabilities. Also, lack of a formal innovation policy and supporting ecosystem will pose a threat to the budding ecosystem. Collaborative action is required to ensure future growth. ER&D is strategic to India and has the potential to bring a steep change to the Indian economy. The ER&D services market has played an important role in developing the ER&D capabilities of the country. India is now an emerging epicentre of the global ER&D market with more companies exploiting its supply base for future growth. It is important for major stakeholders of this industry - Indian Government and trade associations to ensure the growth trajectory of the industry and moving it to the next level of product development.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/01/2012

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Aircel Launches Enterprise Cloud Offerings in India

Indian mobile network operator Aircel has launched enterprise cloud offerings in India, according to Zdnet, citing a report in the Times of India. Aircel has collaborated with NEC India to power its cloud initiatives, which it has called Business Unplugged. They will initially start with a software applications portfolio, and then extend the range to other cloud offering at a later date. The focus will be on enterprise grade offerings, such as collaboration, CRM, ERP, human resource management system (HRMS), business suites and videoconferencing.

From http://www.telecompaper.com/ 10/15/2012

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Pvt Sector to Be Involved in India's Cyber Security

Private sector will soon be part of a mechanism to strengthen the national security against all kinds of cyber attacks. The Union government was working on a plan to involve private sector to implement a blueprint created to strengthen the country defense against all kinds of cyber attacks, reports said. Reports quoting the National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said India will set up a permanent working group on cyber security with representatives from the government and the private sector to implement the blueprint. The first steps of implementation will begin with setting up four pilot programs - a testing lab, multi-disciplinary centres of excellence, study of vulnerabilities in sample information infrastructure and conducting regular test audits. "We all have seen social media disseminating information to wreck communal harmony. This kind of phenomenon is something we need to learn to deal with," he said. "If India has to grow its IT industry, we also have to maintain our reputation of being safe, secure partners with whom everybody can work with," Menon added. A joint committee on international cooperation and advocacy will advise the JWG to promote India's interests at international forums on cyber security issues.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/16/2012

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NEPAL: Regional Five Rural Dev Banks to Merge Within Six Months

The five regional rural development banks have decided to go for merger within the sixth months with an aim of becoming national level rural development bank. The rural development banks from Eastern, Western, Far - Western, Mid-Western, and Central regions signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to merge into a single entity amidst a function on Thursday. After the merger, the bank will have the paid-up capital of Rs. 400 million. These banks are going to merge under the initiative of the government and Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB).

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 10/12/2012

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PAKISTAN: WB Keen to Upgrade Pak Dairy, Meat Sector

A World Bank delegation called on Vice Chancellor Prof Talat Naseer Pasha of the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) during a visit here on Wednesday and showed interest in the uplifting of dairy and meat sector. The delegation comprising Senior Agriculture Specialist Muhmmad Riaz and Dairy Consultant John JM Bonnier discussed prospects of initiating joint projects in livestock and related sectors with the vice chancellor. The World Bank representatives said they were interested in uplift of dairy and meat sectors in Pakistan. For that purpose, they proposed a project on meat value chain and desired collaboration with the UVAS. The vice chancellor told the delegation that the meat industry in Pakistan was lagging behind because of unavailability of beef breeds. He said the red-meat industry would grow if meat export to neighbouriong countries was expanded.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 10/17/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: ADB to Render Technical Assistance to Determine Needs of Azerbaijani Railway Sector

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide the country with technical assistance to prepare the solid waste project within the business plan for operations in Azerbaijan in 2012-2014, the bank told Trend on Thursday. The technical assistance to the amount of $800,000 is planned to be allocated in 2013. "Moreover, it is planned to render methodological and technical assistance to the amount of $300,000 to support the state in expanding the private sector in 2013," the bank said. In 2014, ADB will continue financing the projects in the sphere of transport and urban services. Technical assistance envisaged to prepare a project on railways will hit $1 million and will be used to determine the future needs of the sector in financing. In September, ADB approved the technical assistance to examine the opportunities of financing Baku's urban transport to the amount of $925,000. ADB approved the allocation of technical assistance in the amount of $225,000 to Azerbaijan in the frame of the second multitranche package (Multitranche Financing Facility - MFF) to develop the road network in the country (Second Road Network Development Program). The business plan envisages technical assistance worth $ 3.25 million taking into account the technical assistance, approved in 2012. "Earlier, it was planned to render technical assistance to prepare the bank's strategy in the country, but it was unnecessary as employees of the bank fulfill this work," the ADB said. Azerbaijan is a member of ADB since 1999. The ADB was established in 1966 and has 67 members. The headquarters of the bank is located in the capital of the Philippines, Manila. Azerbaijan became a member of the Asian Development Bank on December 22, 1999. The country's participation share in the bank's capital is 0.5 percent. Japan and the US (31.2 per cent of the total share capital), India and China (12.8 percent), Australia, South Korea and Canada (16 percent) are the ADB leading shareholders.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/08/2012

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Government: Non-Oil Sector Share in Azerbaijan's GDP to Exceed 70 Percent in 2016

The Azerbaijani government expects GDP growth to hit 5.3 percent or 56.1 billion manat in 2013, this is stated in the draft concept of Azerbaijani socio-economic development for 2013 and the next three years, prepared by the Ministry of Economic Development and published on the website of the Finance Ministry. According to the forecasts, the country's GDP will reach 57.62 billion manat in 2014, in 2015 - 62.03 billion manat, in 2016 - 66.54 billion manat, the real pace of the economic growth - 7 percent, 4.5 percent and 4 5 percent, respectively. The growth of non-oil GDP in 2013 is expected to reach 11.7 percent, in 2014 - by 7.7 percent, in 2015 - 6.8 percent, in 2016 - 6.6 percent, while oil GDP is expected to decrease by 2.9 percent, 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent respectively in 2013, 2015 and 2016 years. Oil GDP is expected to increase by 5.9 percent in 2014. According to the government forecasts, the share of oil sector in the country's GDP will continue to decline. It will hit 38.6 percent in 2013 compared to 43.4 percent in 2012, 33.7 percent - in 2014, 31.4 percent - in 2015, 29.4 percent - in 2016. The share of non-oil GDP in the country's economy will increase. It will hit 61.4 percent in 2013 compared to 56.6 percent in 2012, 66.3 percent - in 2014, 68.6 percent - in 2015, 70.6 percent - in 2016. The private sector share of GDP over the next four years will not fall below 82 percent. By the end of the year this figure will reach 83.5 percent, in 2013 - 83.1 percent, in 2014 - 83.1 percent, in 2015 - 82.8 percent, in 2016 - 82.7 percent. The official exchange rate is 0.7852 AZN/USD on Oct. 16.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/17/2012

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Steady Growth Observed in Construction Sector of Azerbaijan

The private sector share in GDP of Azerbaijan will continue to grow, Secretary General of the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs of Azerbaijan Mammadali Efendiyev said at the opening of of the XVIII Baku Azerbaijan International Exhibition "Building" BakuBuild 2012. "The economy is growing steadily, and measures to improve the business environment in Azerbaijan and to support Entrepreneurship play an important role in it," Efendiyev said. He noted that the construction sector is one of the fastest growing areas of the economy. Department Head of the International Relations and Information of the State Committee for Construction and Architecture Jahangir Gojayev believes that there is a steady and constant growth in the construction industry. "The construction exhibition that marks eighteenth anniversary plays an important role not only in the development of the sector itself, but also in promoting the country abroad," Gojayev said. Construction industry in Azerbaijan is one of the fastest growing industries today, which is reflected in exposure of the specialized exhibition BakuBuild 2012, which shows the growth and meets the ever increasing demands of the market. BakuBuild is organised by ITE Group plc and Iteca Caspian. BakuBuild is officially sponsored by Holcim Azerbaijan. Partners of the international exhibitions in 2012 are mobile operator Nar Mobile (communication partner), the company AZAL (official avia carrier), Hilton Baku and Qafqaz Point Hotel (official hotels). The Caspian Construction Week will for the first time take up all three of Baku Expo Center's halls, as well as a corridor and a new outdoor space, posting a 20% growth in exhibition space. BakuBuild 2012 will welcome 455 exhibiting companies from 31 countries, with 60% of exhibitors regular participants that are once again using the show to promote their products in the Caspian market.

One of BakuBuild's traditions is active participation from collective stands, and seven of these are taking part this year, among them regularly-appearing national groups from Finland, Germany, Italy, Iran, Spain and Portugal. The Greek national group is making its debut this year, exhibiting with the support of HEPO, the Greek Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Turkish firms are once again looking towards Azerbaijan's market by booking a large amount of exhibition space, and participation from Chinese firms has increased. As well as this, the year-on-year rise in domestic companies at the event is particularly encouraging for the organisers, firms from Azerbaijan making up 35% of all exhibitors. The percentage of exhibitors that are newcomers rises every year, this year reaching 30% of the total. One of BakuBuild's features is its universal character. The full range of building products and services, new designs and innovative technologies can be found here, from simple tools to landscape design. BakuBuild is again presenting a rich assortment of building equipment, finishing and cladding materials, sanitary ware, windows, doors and much more. The exhibition is set to please the visitors with a whole range of presentations - in line with fast-growing hotel construction in Azerbaijan, special lighting devices and equipment and exclusive chandeliers for hotels, mansions and residential complexes will be presented. Producers and distributors will showcase exclusive furniture for hotels and offices, new roofing and flooring developments, and liquid wallpaper. A presentation of skylight windows for lofts will be completely new. Since last year the exhibition has attracted companies working in urban equipment for children and people with disabilities, and this year real models of children's playground equipment can be seen as well as various devices to ensure comfortable urban living for people with disabilities. A new sector this year is Real Estate, presenting offerings in Turkish resort regions.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/17/2012

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UZBEKISTAN: Index of Business Activity Increases by 1.3 Points in September

The business activity index of the industrial sector of Uzbekistan, designed by the Centre for Antimonopoly Policy Improvement under the State Committee of the Republic, grew up by 1.3 points in September 2012 compared to August - to 66.2 points, the State Committee said. As reported, the forecast of the index in September was 67.2 points. According to the Centre for Antimonopoly Policy Improvement, the growth in the index by 5.4 points was observed in the field of mechanical engineering and electrical industry in September, by 4.4 points - in the field of agriculture and water resources and the production of consumer goods. Growth forecast for the index in October 2012, according to analysts of the Center is 66.2 points, which indicates moderate expectations of businessmen. The business activity index of the industrial sector is calculated from a survey of 100 large and medium-sized industrial enterprises. The index is based on five key indicators such as new orders, production and sales volumes, employment, and the remains of the finished product.

From http://en.trend.az/ 10/22/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Small Business - Earthquakes Show Use of Cloud

Several Christchurch business owners and management risked their lives after the February 2011 earthquake, venturing into dangerous buildings to rescue companies' computer servers and data. Christchurch businesses had invested heavily in IT systems on premises but could not access them locally or remotely because of access restrictions and loss of power. The hosted infrastructure provider, vBridge, set up by Hamish Roy and John Ward, had been going for a just couple of months when the September 2010 earthquake struck. The quake got business owners thinking about business continuity, and the position they would have been in had the shake been worse. After the February quake, vBridge was deluged with people walking in off the street looking for help. "We had mum and dad businesses coming in with parts of their computer," says Roy. "They came in with hard drives and we had to extract the data from it."

By deploying Hewlett-Packard storage technology, including HP LeftHand Storage, vBridge avoided customer downtime in either of the Christchurch earthquakes. "HP brought in four pallets of hardware - it flew it in to help Christchurch businesses get operational again," says Roy. "The key thing for businesses is about trying to be competitive in the market. If your competition is up and running and you are not, then you are losing out," says Ward. It wasn't all beer and skittles for the two entrepreneurs personally. Their office was "red-zoned" for a week, so they based themselves at a data centre. "Hamish was dealing with a destroyed house. He had a new business, young children and his house was in tatters," says Ward. "We were migrating businesses' infrastructure by day, and shovelling silt by night," he says.

The pair were recovering systems for businesses that had lost their premises and data and for businesses that immediately wanted to reduce their risk by using vBridge. Two years on, vBridge has seen an 1100 per cent increase in demand for virtualised infrastructure services or hosted cloud services, requiring the company to upgrade its data centre. Like many technical entrepreneurs, Roy and Ward were not experienced salesmen when they set up. They were from corporate and government IT backgrounds. But the earthquakes have helped support their argument that backing up your company data in the corner of the office is the most risky thing you can do.

"We have had to be an ambassador in the market we are in. We are trying to get a good understanding across of how our technology will benefit users," says Roy. "It's getting that understanding out there in the market - that cloud is not something to be afraid of. It can grow your business, give it a competitive advantage. We believe strongly in the product that is emerging - through a very collaborative approach. It's not about selling boxes, it's talking to customers about their challenges and designing something specific for them." vBridge's customers pay a monthly rental depending on what the customer consumes. The company has data sites in Christchurch, Ashburton and Auckland, and customers throughout the country, with the majority in Christchurch. "We want to be and are growing into being a nationwide provider. Our strategy is to be in Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin." The firm's revenue is achieving steep growth with turnover at just under $1 million.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/08/2012

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Small Businesses Remain Confident - ANZ

Small sized business confidence and hiring intentions are "holding up" even as ongoing uncertainty continues over the global economic outlook, according to ANZ's Business Micro Scope survey. Business sentiment across all New Zealand firms was relatively stable in the three months ended September 30, although larger firms were more optimistic than the smallest. Sentiment across businesses with 20 or more employees, rose to 23.5 per cent from 17.7 per cent in the three months ended June 30, while small and medium sized businesses, with fewer than 20 staff eased to 11.6 per cent from 11.8 per cent. Hiring intentions kicked up across both groups, the first rise in 12 months, led by the manufacturing, construction and service sectors. Agriculture was the lowest ranked sector for the second successive quarter, falling to a three year low. "In a difficult trading environment, it's encouraging to see that small business confidence has remained solid, and that some businesses are expecting to take on more staff," managing director at ANZ Business Banking, Fred Ohlsson, said in a statement. "New Zealand's 400,000-plus small businesses are the engine room of our economy. Even in difficult times, our smallest firms can help drive employment."

Low turnover was the biggest problem faced by both groups, at 25 per cent, up from 22 per cent in the previous quarter. The rising exchange rate was of concern for all firms, up 2 percentage points to 10 per cent in September. Profit expectations for the smallest SMEs fell into negative territory for the first time slipping 8 points to -1.4. Large firms profit expectations edged up 1 per cent to 20.2 per cent. "The micro business segment (up to 5 employees) reported an eighteen-month low in activity outlook, while small-sized firms (6-20 employees) registered a three-year low in activity outlook," the ANZ report says. "The combined measure across both segments also eased to its lowest level in three years but remains above the long-term average."

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz/ 10/08/2012

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