November 2012, Issue 132

unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ITU - Draft of the Future International Telecommunications Regulations
Draft Declaration on Fundamental Freedoms in the Digital Age
Asian Leaders Call for a Global Program to Invest in Disaster-Resilient Schools and Hospitals
ASEAN Countries Gear Up for Customs Clearance Integration
Regional Initiatives Boost Pursuit of APEC-Wide Free Trade Area

 

 

 

 

China to Improve Socialist Market Economy, Change of Growth Model
Party Congress Responds Positively to Age of Internet
China Plans to Raise RQFII Quota by 200 Billion Yuan
Govt Adopts Stimulus Measures
Govt May Phase Out Corporate Pension Funds  - Cash-strapped System Seen No Longer Feasible
Govt Picks 42 Projects for Review
Law Revision to Help Vulnerable People in Disasters
Collection of Fines, Penalties to Go Up 12% Next Yr
Gov't Discusses Support for Green Climate Fund's Launch
Gov't to Raise Health Insurance Fees by 1.6% for 2013
PM Calls for Measures to Secure Electricity Supply During Winter
Gov't to Boost Support for Korean Adoptees
PM Announces Energy Supply and Demand Measures Ahead of Winter

 

 

 

 

Indonesian Gov't Gives Workers Welfare Top Priority
Indonesia Targets Global Top 10 by 2050
Government Campaigns for Women, Children Health
Myanmar Publishes New Foreign Investment Law
Philippine City, USAID to Launch Mobile Payment Scheme
Singapore to Conduct Proposals for Tighter Ads Rules of Unhealthy Food, Beverage
Singapore Pushes for Greater GIS Collaboration
Thai PM Outlines 8 Strategies for AEC 2015

Vietnam - Lawmakers Debate Land Law

Vietnamese Legislators Approve Development Goals for 2013

National Assembly Green Lights Socio-economic Development Plan

 

 

 

 

Bangladesh - Ecnec Approves 8 Projects Involving Tk 3,020 Cr
Greenpeace Launches the New Version of Energy Revolution for India
India Plans Awareness Programmes on Food Wastage
Pan-India e-District Project Roll Out by 2016
Rajasthan to Link 10 Key E-Gov Schemes to Aadhaar
Maldives - BML to Launch New Soft Loan Scheme
President Declares Decision to Hold Forum to Share Future Development Strategies
Nepal ADB to Grant Rs. 946m for Water Project
Ambitious Melamchi Project to Be Completed by 2016

 

 

 

 

Azerbaijan Simplifies Legislation on Creation of New Cities
Uzbek Electoral Legislation to Be Amended
Uzbekistan's Legislative Chamber Adopts Law on ''Operational Investigative Activities''
Uzbekistan Develops Bill Regulating Activity of Interior Bodies
Uzbek Legislative Chamber Approves Job Creation Program for 2013

 

 

 

 

Pacific Advocates Against Violence Commit to Two-Year Plan

Australia Releases Its Energy White Paper
Australia Launches Its 1st Action Plan to Cut Aviation Emission
New Zealand Government Unveils Infrastructure Vision
Plan to Train 900 in Trades for Christchurch Rebuild
Peter O’Neill’s Pacific Plan
Project Targets Public Health in Rural Schools
Solomon Islands Parliament Approves Changes to Custom Bill

 

 

 

 

World’s Largest Anti-Corruption Conference to Be Held in Brasilia, 7-10 November
Only 43% of Countries Disclose Public Officials’ Financial Assets, Says World Bank
Global Forum on Public Governance - Better Governance for Inclusive Growth
Asia Plan 'Needs More Reform'

 

 

China to Recruit More Civil Servants with Grassroots Experience
Chinese Police to Be More Transparent
Sr. Official Urges Strengthened Judicial Administration
China Seeks Better-Educated Military Recruits
More Transparency Needed to Better Fight Corruption
China Explores Expansion of Grassroots Democracy
Chinese Prosecutors Capture 76 Fugitive Officials
New Committees Proposed to Stem Local Misconduct
China Vows to Eliminate All Hurdles for Future Reform
China to Improve Soft Power with Cultural Sector Reform
Central Gov't Departments Told to Follow Congress Spirit
Xi Jinping Elected General Secretary of CPC Central Committee
Local Civil Servants May Earn More Than National Counterparts in FY12
Ishihara Names, Launches New Political Party
Sasagawa to Run for Tokyo Governorship

 

 

INDONESIA: Judicial Institutions Need Overhaul
Indonesia Launches Nationwide Anti-Corruption Movement
MYANMAR: Gov't Renames Two Ministries
Myanmar to Form Tourist Police for Tourists Safety
MALAYSIA: State to Implement e-Procurement
Govt Communications to Be Restructured Under New Ministry
SINGAPORE: Government to Grow Social Services for Future Needs
Increasing Need for Inclusive & Democratic Governance: DPM Teo
Health Ministry to Conduct National Survey
Parliament to Discuss Work of Newly-Formed Ministries
THAILAND: New Cabinet Announced
VIETNAM: Needs Higher Education Ministry'

 

 

BANGLADESH: Retirement Age Raised by 1 Yr to 60 for Freedom Fighters in Govt Service PM
e-Governance Means Government at Your Service
INDIA: Effective e-Governance for Good Governance
PAKISTAN: Government Will Complete Its Five-Year Term
SBP Issues Instructions to Improve Transparency

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Deputy PM - ICT Sector Is Priority Area
Azerbaijan Introduces Centralized Water Infrastructure Governance System
Azerbaijan Creates Electronic Register of Civil Servants
KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament Approves Interior Minister’s Candidacy
KAZAKHSTAN: To Form "Political Elite"
EBRD Signs Memorandum to Develop New Light Rail System in Kazakh City

Representative of Central Communications Service Under President Appointed in Kazakhstan

Nazarbayev Receives Chairman of Kazakh Agency for Statistics

TAJIKISTAN: President Reshuffles Executive Personnel of Ministries and Agencies

 

 

FIJI: Reforms Needed for Stability - PM
Fiji Pension Reform a Success: Taito
Pay Rise for Fiji Govt Workers in 2013
NEW ZEALAND: Govt Sets Up Unit to Lift Maori Economic Performance
SOLOMON ISLANDS: Joining Anti-Corruption Body
VANUATU: Leaders Sign Agreement to Form New Government

 

 

 

ITU Academy Launched to Strengthen Capacity Development in ICT

Investment: G20 Governments Must Step Up Efforts to Resist Protectionism, Says OECD, WTO, UNCTAD Report
First Global Twitter Press Conference on Innovation
15th International Anti-Corruption Conference Closes with an Urgent Call to End Impunity
New Report Examines Risks of 4 Degree Hotter World by End of Century
Asia Pacific to Lead Global Cloud Traffic
APEC on Target to Reduce Energy Intensity, but More Work Needed, Says Early Assessment
Investments in Disaster Risk Management Essential to Sustaining Growth and Reducing Poverty

Raising Awareness of Violence Against Women in the Pacific

 

 

CHINA: To Resume Construction of Nuclear Plants
China Works for Safe Dangerous Waste Disposal
Fair to Highlight Robotic Tech
Technology Can Make Life More Convenient
CPC Central Committee Politburo Urges Implementing Congress Spirit
JAPAN: Elected to U.N. Human Rights Body

SOUTH KOREA: Govt. to Promote Agricultural Activities Based on Consumer Cooperation

Forum to Promote Civic, Social Groups Held at Museum

Tuition Burden to Fall 35% on Average for 1 Mln Students

Gov't Mulling Over Capital Controls to Curb Won Rally

S. Korea Ranks 29th in Terms of Business Environment

Survey: 86% of Korean Smokers Want Tighter Laws on Smoking

 

 

ASEAN Leaders Meet Dialogue Partners to Strengthen Political, Economic Ties

INDONESIA: Minister Calls for Forest Management
LAOS: Accepted as New WTO Member
Myanmar, UNICEF to Cooperate on Child Development
PHILIPPINES: Public Support Needed to Combat Children's Malnutrition
The Philippines Launches Mobile App for Disaster Preparedness
THAILAND: Police Fight Crime Using Social Network
Thailand Prevents Forest Encroachment with GIS Map
Thailand to Introduce Smarter Police Manikins for Traffic Control

 

 

BANGLADESH: Linking Food Security to Climate Change
INDIA: e-Gov Capacity Building Workshop in J&K
Controlling System Operations of Power Transmission
Building e-Governance Infrastructure

International Co-operation Necessary to Track Corruption and Recover Assets CBI Special Director

Study to Explore Feasibility of Free and Open Source Software in E-Gov

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: First Satellite to Be Launched in Early February 2013
High-Tech Park to Be Established in Azerbaijan
International Internet Governance Forum Opens in Azerbaijan (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan Establish Air Links
Azerbaijani Communications Ministry Makes Efforts to Reduce Roaming Costs
Satellite Technologies Presented in Azerbaijan’s Oil and Gas Sphere
KAZAKHSTAN: To Create New Model of Labor Relations
Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan Elected to UN Economic and Social Council

 

 

Pacific Looks to 'Asian Century' Report for Tips

AUSTRALIA: Giving $100m to Fight Malaria
FIJI: Water Foundation Assists Rural Children
Fiji’s New Minimum Wage Rates Announced
Pension for 70 and Over
NEW ZEALAND: Govt Hints at Charges for Water
New Zealand Leads World's Health Experts to Join Fight Against Obesity
New Zealand Seeks to Balance Aims of Two Asia-Pacific Trade Pacts
NZ Tax Approach 'One Size Fits All' - Global Report

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Government Assesses Country's Food Security

Gender Equality - Making Progress Through Mainstreaming and Statistics

 

 

 

World Bank Report: Helping the Poor Through Localized Development Is Tough, but Essential
UNESCO Launches Global Survey on Internet Privacy and Freedom of Expression at the Internet Governance Forum
Web Advertising to Grow Faster Than Broad Market in 2013
ASEAN Dynamism: Agricultural Transformation & Food Security 2040
Asia's Shift to Greener Transport Key to Global Sustainability - ADB Forum
Asia to Power Global Trade Growth
Developing Asian Economies Must Focus on Greener, More Inclusive Growth – ADB
Asia's Regional Bond Markets Expand but Many Risks Loom

 

 

CHINA: Govt Shirks Pension Contributions
China Sees Need to Create Chinese Intel
Shanghai to Boost Outsourcing Efforts
High-Tech Products Take Center Stage
Social Tech Boost
China's Economy Shows Positive Signs, with Uncertainties
China Focus: Online Shopping Bonanza Breaks Records
China to Become Largest Robot Consumer in 2014
China to Become Largest Economy 'In 4 Years'
Chinese Public Calls for Investment in Elderly Care
Chinese Socialism Worthy of Genuine Respect
JAPAN: High Turnover Seen in Education, Food Fields
SDF Officer to Study U.S. Cyberdefense
K Computer Drops to No. 3 in World Rankings

SDF Seeks White-hat Hackers / Cyberdefense Skills Hard to Cultivate, Especially at SDF Wages

SOUTH KOREA: No. of Self-employed People Aged 60 and Over Surges

Gov’t to Toughen Up Crackdown on Online Porn

Gov't Announces Plan to Evaluate Online, Mobile Games

KMA Joins Hands with World Bank to Battle Climate Change

South Korea Third in OECD in IT Industry R&D Investment

S. Korean Women Rank 8th Globally in Life Expectancy

 

 

ASEAN Urged to Bridge Digital Divide

INDONESIA: President Stresses Domestic Consumption Key to Spur Growth
Indonesian Employers Face Gov't Labor Salary Hike Policy
LAOS: To Introduce 4G Next Month
PHILIPPINES: City Launches Windows App to Boost Digital Presence
Philippines to Learn from US Handling of Superstorm
The Philippines to Introduce New IT System for Customs
Philippines to Launch Campaign to End Violence Against Women
SINGAPORE: Government Will Help Singaporeans Age Gracefully - PM Lee

Government Monitoring Industrial Rents, Land Prices

THAILAND: Hospitals Adopted Online Birth Registration System

Thailand Combats Natural Disaster with Gulf Radar

Thailand to Hold E-auctions for 1.69 Mil Tablets Deal

VIETNAM: National Assembly Mulls Over Increase to Income Tax Threshold

Ministry to Track Mobile Users

Vietnam to Develop E-gov in Da Nang

 

 

BANGLADESH: Urging Stronger Aid Coordination
Govt to Introduce e-Ticketing Soon in All BRTC Bus Services PM

INDIA: Government to Invest $200 Mn in 4 Yrs on Cyber Security Infrastructure
Consultative Meet on E-gov Concludes
India for Concerted Effort to Secure Cyber Space
Electricity the Catalyst for Socio-economic Development
Andhra to Dedicate Mee Seva E-Gov Solution to the Nation
Delhi High Court Embraces E-Court Fee System
SRI LANKA: Can Ensure Lasting Peace Through Shared & Inclusive Growth – World Bank MD

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Paying Special Attention to Development of Internet
Azerbaijan to Be One of World's Most Electronized Countries in Coming Years
Azerbaijani Minister: Information Security Problems to Be Reviewed to Coordinate Combat Efforts

ITU Welcomes Azerbaijan’s Involvement in Addressing Cybersecurity Issues
Internet Addresses of Countries in Region to Be Redirected to ICANN Root Server in Azerbaijan
Minister: Electromagnetic Radiation of Base Stations in Azerbaijan Complies with Regulations

Penetration Level to Reach 85 Per Cent After Broadband Internet Development in Azerbaijan

Reforming Azerbaijani Securities Market to Offer Sound Investment Opportunities

KAZAKHSTAN: Digital Economy Develops Rapidly

Tajikistan, IMF Mull Cooperation Prospects

TURKMENISTAN: GDP Ups by 11 Per Cent Since Early 2012

UZBEKISTAN: Salaries and Pensions Will Increase by 1.1 Times from December 1

Ways to Diversify Economy to Be Analyzed in Uzbekistan

 

 

E-Governance Leads to More Effective Government

AUSTRALIA: Government Abandons Plans for Internet Filter
Australian Business Conditions Weaken to Three-Year Low in October

Australia's Digital Economy Grows Increasingly: Report
Australia Launches Earthquake Hazard Map
FIJI: Boost to Rural Development

SOLOMONS ISLANDS: New Deal to Result in Faster Internet for Solomons

ADB Help Deliver Affordable High Speed Internet

TONGA: New Boost for Economic Recovery

 

 

 

Participatory Budgeting and Telecommunications to Build Transparency and Accountability

Developing Countries to Receive Over $400 Billion in Remittances in 2012, Says World Bank Report

Migrant Workers Worldwide to Remit Over $530 Billion in 2012

Tax Reforms Continue Worldwide Despite Economic Turmoil, Electronic Filing Increasing Especially

ADB, OFID Sign Risk-sharing Agreement on Trade Finance Program

 

 

CHINA: Tax Reform Helps Companies in Shanghai Save Over US$2.7b
China Expects Slower Rise in IC Revenue
Commentary: Shining a Light on Lower Taxes
Social Media Can Boost Output by US$1.3b
Subsidies to Migrants Resettlement Hits 99.9 Bln Yuan
Financial Reform to Boost Growth
JAPAN: Govt to Delay Local Tax Grant Allocations for Nov.

Spending on Public Works Surges in Disaster-hit Areas
Audit: 530 Bil. Yen Misused in FY11 / Irregularities Uncovered in Spending for Supplies, Government Projects

Govt Pledges 700 Mil. Dollars in Aid for Central Asia

 

 

ADB Grants US$20m to Combat HIV in Laos, Vietnam

INDONESIA: Govt Not Transparent on Rp 1.7 Trillion Workers’ Fund
CAMBODIA: Planning 3.1 Bln USD for National Expenses Next Year - Minister
THAILAND: Nation Group Net Profit Climbs 90% in Jan-Sept
VIETNAM: World Bank Backs Green Projects
World Bank Backs Loans to Improve Energy

 

 

BANGLADESH: On Highest Growing List
MALDIVES: We Accept IMF Recommendations Finance Minister

NEPAL: Govt All Set to Present Full Budget Despite Oppn's Outcry

Prez Nod to Budget Ordinance Unconstitutional CPN-M

PAKISTAN: New Rules for IBIs

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Plan to Optimize External Borrowing
KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament Starts Considering Budget for 2013
TAJIKISTAN: Government Discusses Budget for 2013

WB to Allocate 20 Million to Support Tajikistan’s State Budget
Tajikistan’s State Budget Amounted to $1.5 Bln
UZBEKISTAN: Legislative Chamber Adopts Budget Deficit for 2013

 

 

AUSTRALIA: Gov Unveils US$37M for Asian Studies

COOK ISLANDS: ADB Approves NZ$7.25 Million Loan for Its Inclusive Economic Growth

FIJI: 2013 Deficit Budget Focuses on Improving Capital Works

Funding Boost for Planning and Development

NEW ZEALAND: Govt Deficit Widens as Tax Take Falls

 

 

 

Doing Business Report: Entrepreneurship Getting Easier Globally

Public-Private Partnerships Bring Dynamism to Asia-Pacific's Health Sector

ADB's First Supply Chain Finance Program to Help Region's Small Businesses

 

 

CHINA: Huawei Blasts US 'Protectionism'
Baidu Records 60% Rise in Income
JAPAN: Survey - Yakuza Extorted 18% of Companies

SOUTH KOREA: Top 20% Spend 6.4 Times More on Private Education Than Bottom 20%

 

 

SINGAPORE: Second Funding to Help Raise Productivity in Food Services Sector

THAILAND: Joint Private-Sector Body Proposes 7 Strategies for 11th Development Plan
Bank Woo SME Clients with Good Ratings

Thai Firms Urged to Make Use of IPRS

 

 

BANGLADESH: PM Vows to Achieve Health Sector Targets

Govt Out to Create Crisis to Cling to Power BNP

Govt Lines Up 8 Projects for Implementing Under PPP

INDIA: KSITM e-Governance Projects

Govt, SMB Growth Sectors for IT-BPM Market NASSCOM

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Structural Reforms Needed for Privatisation of Communication Companies
TURKMENISTAN: President Wants More Attention Paid to Housing Privatization
Turkmenistan to Privatize State-Owned Enterprises in 2013-2016

UZBEKISTAN: President Appoints Chairman of State Committee on Privatization

 

 

AUSTRALIA: Small Business Trading Conditions Deteriorate Further - Survey

NEW ZEALAND: Independence Key to IT Fix-It Firm

Taming the IT System Crucial for SMEs

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Stimulus Package for Business

VANUATU: Call for Private Sector Participation in Climate Change Fight

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ITU: Draft of the Future International Telecommunications Regulations

In December 2012, the World Conference on International Communications (WCIT 2012) will be taking place in Dubai with a view to reconsider the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs) for the first time since 1988 under the aegis of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). One of the key questions that will be examined at WCIT is whether or not ‘ICTs’ or the Internet should fall within the scope of the ITRs. As the ITU has traditionally operated under a very closed-up, top-down decision-making process, civil society groups are concerned that the ITR review process might be used to fundamentally change the multi-stakeholder model that has been the hallmark of Internet governance up until now. There is also a concern that this process will have a detrimental impact on the open Internet, freedom of expression and access to information. Our legal analysis concludes that whilst the ITU might not be overtaking the Internet just yet, some of the proposals that have been made give no ground for complacency on the part of civil society, governments and businesses who want to preserve our Internet freedoms. In this analysis, ARTICLE 19 reviews key areas of concerns over the ITRs. We examine the question of definitions and scope of the ITRs as well as proposals that would give greater control to the ITU over content-related aspects of Internet policy. We also review the proposal of the European Telecoms Network Operators (ETNO) on new IP interconnection pricing scheme and its impact on net neutrality. Finally, we highlight a number of factors mitigating fears that the ITU might be overtaking the Internet.

Recommendations
1.Every effort should be made to oppose the inclusion of the terms ‘ICTs’, ‘Internet’ or ‘IP Protocol’ in the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs”);
2.References to 'spam', 'cyber-crime', 'cyber-security', 'data preservation, retention, protection', 'protection of personal information, privacy and data', 'information and network security', 'fraud' and other similar wording should be rejected;
3.The proposal of European Telecoms Network Operators should be resisted as seriously undermining the net neutrality principle;
4.As a matter of international law, States should make a reservation to those clauses that fail to comply with international standards on freedom of expression and the right to privacy on the Internet;
5.Should the revised ITRs fall well below the international standards on freedom of expression and privacy, States should not sign the revised ITRs;
6.The ITU should open-up its decision-making processes and make its reports and other documentation available free-of-charge.

From http://www.article19.org/ 10/26/2012

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Draft Declaration on Fundamental Freedoms in the Digital Age

By: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

We, the members of the Ministerial Council of the OSCE declare our strong and unwavering determination to uphold our Declaration from the 2010 Astana Summit reaffirming: 
our full adherence to the Charter of the United Nations and to all OSCE norms, principles and commitments, starting from the Helsinki Final Act, and all other OSCE documents to which we have agreed, and our responsibility to implement them fully and in good faith,
that human rights and fundamental freedoms are inalienable, and that their protection and promotion is our first responsibility, and
that civil society and free media help us to ensure full respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy, including free and fair elections, and the rule of law.
Recalling in particular Helsinki Final Act Principle VII (on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms) and Principle X (on fulfillment in good faith of obligations under international law) and our commitments in the Copenhagen Document (paragraphs 9.1, 9.2, 9.3, 10, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4 and 24) relating to the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Recognizing that:
human rights and fundamental freedoms do not change with new technologies and that they extend into the Digital Age,
in the OSCE region and across the globe individuals increasingly use new connective technologies to know and act upon their human rights and fundamental freedoms,
these new technologies facilitate the expression and dissemination of ideas and information by individuals, groups and organizations as well as their ability to create and maintain networks and associations, plan and conduct their peaceful activities and organize peaceful assemblies online and offline,
these new technologies thereby strengthen the capacity of individuals, acting alone or in community with others, actively to contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and to the democratic development, modernization, prosperity and security of their own countries and the international community.

We therefore reaffirm:
our commitments to respect the exercise by individuals, including members of groups and organizations, of their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including through new technologies such as the Internet, mobile networks and social media tools.

From http://osce.usmission.gov/ 11/24/2012

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Asian Leaders Call for a Global Program to Invest in Disaster-Resilient Schools and Hospitals

Heads of Governments and Ministers from Asian countries are calling for a global program to make schools and hospitals more safe in the event of a natural disaster. The Yogyakarta Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia, issued by participating countries at the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Management, urged for support towards local-level efforts to make schools safer in a cost-effective manner and a global program for safe schools and hospitals. Early action is particularly vital in making the most of investments in ‘Safe Schools and Hospitals’.  “Adopting resilience measures during planning and implementation processes is a win-win situation.  The additional costs are minimal, and inaction can have dire consequences further down the road,” says Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction. “However, this opportunity can only materialize when decision makers have the right incentives, tools and support to take action.” The Government of Indonesia, in partnership with the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), brought together decision makers from national governments and development organizations to share best practices in building resilient schools and hospitals, and to explore ways to scale-up and adapt successful programs to disaster-vulnerable countries.

Experience shows there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Countries need to understand the levels of risk their face, undertaking robust risk analysis in order ensure that design and constructions are in compliance with technical standards. “Action must begin today,” said Muhammad Nuh, Minister of Education and Culture, Government of Indonesia. “In order to proactively address the risks of natural hazards to protect our schools, we need to understand the exposure to risk and what cost-effective measures are available.” In Indonesia, a government program is rehabilitating heavily damaged classrooms in some 20,000 schools.  Another plan is to relocate schools to less high-risk areas. Participants recognize that, for optimum impact, development and infrastructure planning must mainstream elements of disaster risk reduction.  “To build the resilience of our education sector, we need to find ways to transfer successful initiatives. For example, countries could explore the options to invest in multi-purpose infrastructure, such as the Bangladesh multi-purpose cyclone facilities, which serve as shelters and primary schools,” says Neazuddin Miah, Secretary, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Government of Bangladesh. The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) is a biennial conference organized by rotation in different Asian countries. To date, four AMCDRRs have been hosted in the past by China (2005), India (2007), Malaysia (2008) and South Korea (2010). In 2006, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) was established to assist countries to reduce disaster risks. GFDRR is a growing partnership of 41 countries and 8 international organizations, including the United Nations and the European Union. Annual commitments to activities made by GFDRR have grown from US $6.4 million in 2007 to US$ 46.7 million in 2012.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/25/2012

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ASEAN Countries Gear Up for Customs Clearance Integration

ASEAN countries are pushing ahead with the establishment of National Single Window, an initiative for optimising data exchange and preparing their customs facilities for the regional economic integration in 2015. Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong said early this month that Thailand’s National Single Window will be fully established in late 2013, and it will be linked with other ASEAN countries by 2014. ICT Minister Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap, Thailand also said that the Electronic Transaction Commission has accelerated the establishment of electronic windows created to enhance the connection between private sector and government agencies. “The main focus is to encourage the linkage of agencies that have not yet linked to the National Single Window,” he added. According to him, this move will promote the integration and optimisation of data linkage internally and externally to be more secured. Also, it will pave way for the linkage to the ASEAN Single Window scheduled to happen within 2015. While Thailand is moving forward the national single window project, the Philippines’s Bureau of Customs (BOC) is also gearing up phase II of the same project to integrate trade data and services into a single portal following the success of the establishment of its National Single Window.

“Phase 2 includes preparations for the Philippines’ interconnection with the ASEAN Single Window,” he added and explained that the hardware and software components are easy to implement. But what will probably take more effort and time is the legal aspect. Under the National Single Window, the BOC processes applications to allow stakeholders to transact with government agencies through a single Internet-based window for permits, licenses, and clearances from traders. “The centralised system provides any agency information at the click of a button. Government agencies and traders are linked via the Internet through PCs or mobile devices. Traders can create their application entries and verify before sending them to the agency,” said Director Kissinger Reyes from the Management Systems Information Technology Group. Phase 2 of the national single window will provide a single source of trade data for analytical purposes. This will call for a government-wide rationalization, standardization and harmonization of all trade-related data, added Reyes. Among others under the ASEAN Single Window System, a process called G2G exchanged of Preferential Certificate of Origin will be applied along with other phytosanitary, health and veterinary certificates, he explained. As part of realising ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, ASEAN countries signed an agreement in December 2005 to establish and implement the ASEAN Single Window—an electronic system that would facilitate international trade and investment through fast clearance by the Customs Department. This interrelation would help reduce costs and enhance competitiveness among the member countries, and constituting one of the mechanisms to achieve the AEC.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/29/2012

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Regional Initiatives Boost Pursuit of APEC-Wide Free Trade Area

A slew of regional trade agreement breakthroughs in the Asia-Pacific in recent days are consistent with APEC member economies’ region-wide goal for a free trade area and could ultimately be merged to this effect with the help of new convergence mechanisms being developed within APEC. The comments were made by APEC Secretariat Executive Director Ambassador Muhamad Noor on Wednesday during a talk before academics in Singapore on APEC’s role in promoting regional economic development. He said that regional trade agreement negotiations, in particular the Trans-Pacific Partnership which was just given an informal  October 2013 target, and the newly announced talks for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and tri-lateral free trade agreement between China, Japan and Korea, involve a large number of APEC member economies. “If in the end they result in greater liberalization, this would be welcome within the context of APEC’s broader efforts to advance growth and prosperity through the promotion of greater trade and economic integration, and could offer new paths to achieving a region-wide free trade zone that is a shared objective of members.” APEC member economies continue to make progress on concrete initiatives that address ‘next generation’ trade and investment issues that future trade agreements should contain. This includes the endorsement of new APEC transparency guidelines for regional trade agreements and free trade agreements endorsed in 2012. “Transparency is a fundamental principle underlying trade liberalization and facilitation, and key for businesses and to reducing barriers to trade,” Noor explained. “APEC’s work on transparency promotes convergence and contributes to APEC’s regional economic integration agenda, further supporting the realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.” There are about 50 regional trade agreements and free trade agreements between APEC’s 21 member economies.

From http://www.apec.org/ 11/22/2012

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CHINA: To Improve Socialist Market Economy, Change of Growth Model

China should accelerate the improvement of the socialist market economy and the change of the growth model, said Hu Jintao in his report to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Thursday morning. "In response to changes in both domestic and international economic developments, we should speed up the creation of a new growth model and ensure that development is based on improved quality and performance," he said. He said taking economic development as the central task is vital to national renewal, and development still holds the key to addressing all the problems China is facing. Only by promoting sustained and sound economic development can China lay a solid material foundation for enhancing the country's prosperity and strength, improving the people's wellbeing and ensuring social harmony and stability, he said. In contemporary China, pursuing development in a scientific way best embodies the thinking that only development counts, he said. "Taking the pursuit of development in a scientific way as the underlying guideline and accelerating the change of the growth model as a major task is a strategic choice we have made for promoting China's overall development," he reiterated. He said the country should fire all types of market participants with new vigor for development, increase motivation for pursuing innovation-driven development, establish a new system for developing modern industries, and create new favorable conditions for developing the open economy.

This will make economic development driven more by domestic demand, especially consumer demand, by a modern service industry and strategic emerging industries, by scientific and technological progress, by a workforce of higher quality and innovation in management, by resource conservation and a circular economy, and by coordinated and mutually reinforcing urban-rural development and development between regions, Hu said. He said deepening reform is crucial for accelerating the change of the growth model. The underlying issue in economic structural reform is how to strike a balance between the role of the government and that of the market, he said. While unwaveringly consolidate and develop the public sector of the economy, the country must also encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public sector, Hu said. He said reforms should also be accelerated in fiscal, taxation and financial systems. A multilevel capital market should be developed, and steady steps be taken to make interest rates and the RMB exchange rates market-based, and promote the RMB's convertibility under capital accounts in due course. He stressed that top priority must be given to scientific and technological innovation in overall national development; strategic adjustment of the economic structure should be carried out as the major goal of accelerating the change of the growth model; urban and rural development should be better balanced and integrated; and all-around improvements to China's open economy should be promoted. "We must have firm confidence in winning the tough battle of deepening reform of the economic structure across the board and of accelerating the change of the growth model so as to increase the vitality and competitiveness of China's economy," he said.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 11/08/2012

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Party Congress Responds Positively to Age of Internet

The Internet has been unprecedentedly embedded into the ongoing National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Not only can contents on the Internet be found in the congress report, but online media practitioners are attending the congress in person. Shu Bin, general manager and chief editor of Rednet.cn, based in central China's Hunan Province, is one of two Internet media practitioners attending. The other is Liao Hong, president and chief editor of People.com.cn. It is the first time that delegates from the Internet sector are attending. Shu wrote on his microblog of Sina Weibo, "My life has been about the Internet during the past ten years. As an experienced netizen, I will record what I see and hear during the congress on the Internet." He told Xinhua, "This is a new thing, but not unexpected. We represent 'you' in front of the computer." Shu expressed the belief that their participation showed the Party's will to listen to the public and how new media is displaying influence in the new age. Shu recorded his thoughts before the opening of congress and had written 25 microblogs. Many netizens are expecting the delegates to share their words from the congress. The congress report looks at areas such as reinforcing regulation on the Internet and building a modern communication system. China has more than 500 million netizens with the Internet, becoming an economic engine as well as a platform for freedom of speech. During the congress, both Party delegates and ordinary people can discuss hot topics on the Internet.

Technological progress has broadened the channels of democracy and raised people's awareness of their rights, while at the same time, brought new challenges to the ruling party. The new media, including the Internet, are a challenge for the Party, as they are going to change many aspects of governing, which will bring the Party to a brand new age, said Liu Jingbei, director of China Executive Leadership Academy-Pudong in Shanghai. Robert Lawrence Kuhn, an American expert on China issues and writer of "The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin," identified new social media participating in politics to be one of the biggest concerns among the new trends for the Party congress. Some steps have been taken by the Chinese government after heated online discussions, which show the power of the Internet, he told Xinhua. State media and local officials have started to use microblogs, online messengers and other Internet tools to express their views and communicate with the people. Delegate Shen Haixiong with other delegates suggested including microblogs and other new media into the congress report. Convenient and low-cost online supervision should be fully used by the Party under the complicated circumstances to reinforce its governance capability, Shen said. On the other hand, pressure from the Internet is one of the ways of hearing from the public. For a party of more than 90 years old, there should be more channels to realize transparency. "There is one thing that you can be sure of -- that is many Party officials are not as scared as before when talking about the Internet. Microblogs and other new media are growing into a special channel for people in and out of the Party," said Meng Jian, professor of Journalism School of Fudan University in Shanghai.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 11/10/2012

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China Plans to Raise RQFII Quota by 200 Billion Yuan

CHINA is planning a nearly three-fold jump in quotas for the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor scheme, which permits qualified investors to channel offshore yuan funds into Chinese mainland stock and bond markets. The securities regulator also said yesterday that the quota for the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor scheme - the original, dollar-denominated program that allows institutional investors to buy stakes in Chinese-listed stocks or bonds - could be lifted if its current, US$80 billion limit is reached. The RQFII quota will be raised by 200 billion yuan (US$32 billion) from the current 70 billion yuan, Guo Shuqing, the head of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, told reporters yesterday. The increase follows a request by the Hong Kong authorities, Guo said. Most offshore yuan funds are raised in Hong Kong. "Last week, before the 18th National Congress of the Party started, three main Hong Kong government officials in charge of financial issues raised the issue. 'Can't you expand RQFII again? 70 billion yuan is too small. Can't you raise it by 200 billion?'" said Guo. He said the central bank and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange have already agreed to the increase and are preparing detailed rules, which will be released soon. The RQFII program was set up to allow foreign investors to use offshore yuan - which Hong Kong banks have accumulated mainly through yuan-denominated trade settlement - to buy mainland securities.

Regarding the QFII program, Guo said it could also be expanded once the current quota is exhausted. "We've already reached agreement with the central bank and the SAFE. If the US$80 billion gets used up, we will definitely expand it," Guo said. The CSRC sets an overall quota for the QFII program and approves foreign institutions as QFIIs, while the SAFE grants quotas to individual institutions. The SAFE has so far granted about US$30 billion, meaning that about US$50 billion in additional quotas could still be granted under the existing quota. Guo also said that certain individual QFIIs will see their quotas raised. QFII quotas are currently capped at US$1 billion per institution. "We'll look at individual institutions on a differentiated basis. For very big institutional investors, in the past we allowed them to invest at most US$1 billion. Now we'll expand the limit to US$2 billion, US$3 billion, even US$5 billion," he said.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 11/12/2012

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JAPAN: Govt Adopts Stimulus Measures

The government at a Cabinet meeting on Friday adopted the first round of economic stimulus measures featuring 392.6 billion yen in spending from reserves set aside under the fiscal 2012 state budget.Total spending, including that of local governments and the private sector, will top 750 billion yen.Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda instructed Cabinet ministers last week to compile economy-boosting measures to cope with growing uncertainties over the economy.The government plans to work out the second round of measures to shore up the economy by the end of November, including regulatory reforms and financial assistance for small businesses.At Friday's Cabinet meeting, Noda said the government "will accelerate efforts to help Japan recover from deflation soon and revitalize its economy."

The first round of measures is expected to increase the nation's real gross domestic product for fiscal 2012 by slightly more than 0.1 percent and create 40,000 new jobs, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference.The first package highlights steps for three priority areas under the government's economic revitalization strategy adopted in July. The three areas are energy and the environment, health and welfare, and agriculture, forestry and fisheries.The package also includes measures to support the reconstruction of areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year.Specifically, 25.1 billion yen will be used as subsidies to promote purchases of home-use fuel cells, 16 billion yen for the construction and improvement of processing facilities for farm produce, and 2 billion yen for research on regenerative medicine using induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells.Meanwhile, 120.3 billion yen in subsidies will help rebuild plants and retail facilities damaged by the March 2011 disaster.About 45.4 billion yen will finance the improvement of roads, ports and river facilities to minimize damage from floods stemming from sudden heavy rains.In addition, 20 billion yen will be spent to repair and strengthen aged school buildings and 17 billion yen to procure new patrol boats and helicopters for the Japan Coast Guard to help beef up its patrolling activities in territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands and Takeshima islands.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 10/27/2012

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Govt May Phase Out Corporate Pension Funds / Cash-strapped System Seen No Longer Feasible

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry compiled on Friday a draft reform plan to dissolve corporate employees' pension funds over five years and phase out the fund system itself over 10 years, as most of the funds are in poor financial condition.The ministry plans to take every measure at hand to collect the about 1.11 trillion yen shortfall in the funds' reserves to cover liabilities to the state-run pension program for company employees, and make up for the still-remaining shortfall with the public fund, according to the draft plan.The reform of the supplement pension system, however, is unlikely to proceed smoothly as some ruling and opposition party members have urged caution over the matter.The draft plan was presented at a meeting of the expert panel of the Social Security Council's pension committee on Friday. The ministry plans to finalize the plan and submit a bill to revise the corporate employees' pension insurance law to the regular Diet session next year.Corporate employees' pension funds are designed mainly for small and midsize corporations to manage the portion of public funds loaned by the government on top of employee contributions to corporate pension programs.

However, 287 among the 577 funds nationwide lack sufficient reserves to repay what they were loaned by the public pension system in the event that they are dissolved.The ministry found that cash-strapped funds were short about 1.1 trillion yen after it conducted a survey following the scandal involving AIJ Investment Advisors Co., in which corporate pension funds fraudulently disappeared. The finding prompted the ministry to conclude it would be difficult to maintain the supplement pension system.The draft plan stated the system would be abolished 10 years after the revised law comes into force. Regarding funds with insufficient reserves set aside to cover their public pension liabilities, the ministry is considering introducing a method to force them to dissolve. The draft plan also stated pension payments to retirees would be halted when funds lacking sufficient reserves to cover their liabilities to the public system apply for dissolution.The draft said measures would be taken to provide preferable conditions for the funds' dissolution, including reducing repayment amounts to the public pension system during the first five years of the 10-year phase-out period. It also said special measures would be taken to eliminate collective responsibility that would obligate corporations to shoulder other firms' contributions in the same fund in the event the firm goes bankrupt.

After being dissolved, funds would be able to choose whether to remain dissolved or offer other types of corporate pensions such as defined benefit pensions.The draft also said the parent organizations of funds should repay the portion loaned by the public pension program if funds cannot repay the debt themselves. The ministry would forcibly collect the debts of companies unable to repay the loans by such measures as seizing assets.However, this has raised concern both within the ruling and opposition parties that parent companies could be negatively impacted."Consideration should be taken so that [dissolution and subsequent repayment] do not negatively affect management of funds' parent corporations," one party member said.In cases where debts are not repaid though forcible measures, "Shortfalls should be covered by the public pension program," according to a ministry official. A senior Democratic Party of Japan official voiced concern about the plan, saying "If coverage [of funds' debts] by the state-run pension program for company employees is introduced on a large scale, the program's participants may find it unfair."

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/04/2012

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Govt Picks 42 Projects for Review

The government has selected 42 projects for a review designed to identify wasteful use of taxpayer money.The review, set to start next Friday, will cover reconstruction projects after last year's earthquake and tsunami, measures under the nation's economic revitalization strategy adopted in July and social security policy steps such as welfare benefits for the poor.The results will be reflected in the state budget for fiscal 2013 that begins in April.Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said ample funds should be utilized for projects people in disaster areas really need, but that spending of reconstruction funds on other projects should be strictly limited. The government has come under fire for spending money secured for post-disaster reconstruction on projects that have little to do with reconstruction efforts.The review, announced Thursday, will cover 17 post-disaster reconstruction projects for which 730 billion yen has been sought in budget requests for fiscal 2013. The rest will include seven projects in line with the revitalization strategy for which 147 billion yen has been requested, as well as four social security projects for which 13 trillion yen has been sought.The forthcoming event will be the fifth such review since the Democratic Party of Japan came to power in 2009.In previous sessions, examiners included many members of the Diet. The upcoming review will involve 12 examiners mostly chosen from the private and academic sectors.

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

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Law Revision to Help Vulnerable People in Disasters

The Cabinet Office has decided to revise the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Law to enable local governments to promptly help people in need of assistance to evacuate and confirm their safety in an emergency, it has been learned.The revised law would call for municipalities to compile lists of residents who consent to providing personal information such as names, addresses, age, gender and health conditions. Municipalities would then be allowed to distribute the lists to organizations for the disabled, welfare service providers and other private sector groups to make it easier for local governments to seek their cooperation, according to officials.The Cabinet Office aims to submit a bill to revise the law to next year's ordinary Diet session after asking experts to discuss the issue, the officials said.

Municipalities are encouraged to compile lists of people who would have difficulties evacuating during a disaster, such as the elderly, disabled, infants and pregnant women. Creating the lists during normal times is expected to help local governments confirm the whereabouts of vulnerable people and thus, better guide them to safety in a disaster.Currently, municipalities are not legally required to compile the lists; however, the central government does encourage them to do so under its guidelines. As of April 1, 64 percent of municipalities nationwide had compiled such lists.Under the revised law, the lists could be used not only during postdisaster periods, but also for disaster drills or when creating plans to help vulnerable people evacuate in an emergency.As many public servants themselves became victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, local governments could not confirm residents' safety or provide support immediately after the disaster.

Therefore, many private sector organizations for the disabled that arrived in the disaster-hit areas asked local governments to disclose the personal information of disabled residents in an attempt to confirm their safety. However, among eight such municipalities in Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima prefectures, only Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, agreed to comply, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey conducted three months after the disaster.As a result, some disabled and other vulnerable people were isolated and unable to receive any support.Local governments have implemented ordinances to protect personal information that also allow authorities to share such information with third parties during an emergency. However, many officials in disaster-hit areas said they could not disclose personal information unless they could confirm whether it was being provided to reliable organizations.Experts pointed out that municipalities were reluctant to disclose personal details of people in need of assistance at the time of disaster because they had failed to make arrangements with private sector groups beforehand.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/15/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Collection of Fines, Penalties to Go Up 12% Next Yr 

The government will levy more fines and penalties by over ten percent next year. Our Kim Soyon has the details.Report: A look at the government’s budget plan for 2013 shows revenues from different types of fines and confiscations are marked at over three-point-six trillion won. This is about 400 billion won or 12 percent more than this year.The Fair Trade Commission in particular has earmarked revenues from fines at about 600 billion won, a 50 percent increase from this year’s 400 billion won.Most of the fines by the watchdog will target companies that abuse their market domineering status, engage in collusive, unfair trade activities or violate laws concerning practices with subcontractors.The National Police Agency has raised fines for traffic and other violations by eleven percent, for total revenue of some one trillion won.Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry estimates fines and penalties to generate one-point-eight trillion won in revenue next year, up one-point-nine percent from this year.However, the National Assembly Budget Office has stated an opinion that such earmarks should be decreased as the rate of penalty payments continues to fall.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/23/2012

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Gov't Discusses Support for Green Climate Fund's Launch

The government held its first joint ministerial meeting on Friday following the selection of Incheon to host the secretariat of the Green Climate Fund.The meeting held to discuss follow-up measures was attended by senior officials of 15 offices including the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign and Environment Ministries.The meeting chaired by Vice Finance Minister Shin Je-yoon discussed ways to support the fund's launch by improving institutions, systems and enhancing living conditions for fund employees stationed in Korea.The government will draft comprehensive measures along these lines by next month.The Green Climate Fund was created to help developing nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions and better adjust to climate change. The agency will take charge of procuring and executing a large portion of global funds dedicated to climate change. It aims to raise 100 billion dollars every year through 2020.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/26/2012

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Gov't to Raise Health Insurance Fees by 1.6% for 2013

The government will raise the nation’s health insurance fees next year by one-point-six percent, the lowest increase in four years.The Ministry of Health and Welfare convened a meeting of its committee on health and insurance policies on Thursday and decided to raise the fees and expand the scope of people who will be eligible to receive insurance benefits.With the latest decision, people who receive insurance coverage through their employer are expected to pay around 92-thousand won in monthly insurance fees next year, up one-thousand-400 won from this year. People who have community-based health insurance are expected to pay around 79-thousand won, up one-thousand-250 won from 2012.The government will also approve insurance coverage for partial dentures for people aged 75 or older, cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, and tuberculosis diagnosis tests.Later next year, teeth scaling and ultrasound tests for people with serious illnesses will be gradually covered by insurance.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/26/2012

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PM Calls for Measures to Secure Electricity Supply During Winter

Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik called on government agencies to come up with electricity supply measures ahead of the winter season.Kim said during a national policy-setting meeting at the central government complex in Seoul on Friday that low temperatures are expected during the coming winter, and he urged government agencies to come up with various measures to manage electricity demand.The prime minister said that the recent shutdown of nuclear power plants operations due to their components used under fabricated warranties is expected to result in a mismatch in supply and demand. The Prime Minister said necessary measures should be put in place to resolve the anxiety of South Korean citizens and secure sufficient supply.Kim also ordered the Education Ministry to cooperate with relevant agencies to maintain a fair college entrance system, stressing that an improved system is required for foreign students and students in agricultural regions.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/09/2012

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Gov't to Boost Support for Korean Adoptees

The government will boost its assistance for Korean international adoptees.The Ministry of Health and Welfare revealed during a policy coordination meeting on Friday measures it plans to carry out to help Korean adoptees trace their roots. The measures also aim to help adoptees establish their identity by expanding opportunities on experiencing Korean culture

The ministry also decided during Friday’s meeting to request the U.S. State Department to confirm whether children adopted from South Korea by American families acquire U.S. citizenship and to grant citizenship to adoptees who have not received it. Such a call apparently comes after a Korean-American adoptee who was deported to South Korea robbed a bank in Seoul earlier in August. The man’s adoptive parents had never applied for the American citizenship.The ministry also decided to seek ways to join the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption in a bid to protect the human rights of adoptees.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/16/2012

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PM Announces Energy Supply and Demand Measures Ahead of Winter

Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik announced measures to control energy supply and demand on Friday, predicting a severe energy crisis this winter. He also called on South Korean citizens to make energy preservation measures. Jang Souie has this report.Report: Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik held a press conference at the central government complex in Seoul on Friday, where he said that he will try his best to have operations resume at suspended nuclear reactors as soon as possible. Kim added he will shorten the construction period of new nuclear power plants and utilize private generators.The prime minister also said that he will mandate electricity-guzzling companies to reduce energy use by as much as ten percent in January and February, when energy demand is expected to peak.Kim continued that starting in January, he will adopt a so-called selective peak system by charging extra fees on selected days and hours to be announced a day ahead of time. He added that discount charges will be applied at other times. As part of nationwide energy preservation efforts, public organizations will have to keep the temperature at 18 degrees Celsius or below, and private heaters will be banned. Public servants will be allowed to wear warm clothes regardless of formalities.Prime Minister Kim also said he will obligate department stores and hotels to keep temperatures no higher than 20 degree Celsius. He also urged shopping centers to keep their doors closed and the public to wear extra layers of clothes at home and keep indoor temperatures low.This is the second time Kim has held a meeting on energy supply and demand since May.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/16/2012

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INDONESIA: Gov't Gives Workers Welfare Top Priority

(JAKARTA, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian Vice President Boediono supported wage increase demands voiced by Indonesian labor unions that have been intensifying in the last few weeks, local media reported on Wednesday. "Improvement in the welfare of our working population is one of the government's top priorities," Boediono said in his keynote speech to open Investment Summit here on Tuesday. At least six provinces in the country have agreed to increase the regional minimum wage for 2013, with 27 others expected to follow suit, following strikes and protests by labor unions throughout the country. Boediono urged businessmen and prospective investors to understand the labor movement's demands for better pay and work conditions, which he regarded as the fruit of the country's maturing democracy. "We all should respect it [the labor movement] accordingly," he said as quoted by the Jakarta Post. Boediono described investors and businessmen in the country as "the goose laying the golden eggs," heaping praise on them for the important role they play in Indonesia's economic performance and who must be protected for the sake of the economy.

However, he argued that the "goose" should not be the only one enjoying the benefits of the golden eggs. "Let us also make sure that the benefits are shared fairly among those who have contributed to the laying of the golden eggs," the vice president said. "It is in the best interest of all to strike an appropriate balance between ensuring business activities prosperity and enhancing the welfare of the working population -- one cannot have one without having the other," he added. Speaking to investors attending the summit, Boediono reaffirmed the government's commitment to "systematically improve the business and investment environment" in Indonesia, a country that has recently become the new darling of overseas investors due to its stable economic growth, growing middle class and young demographic workforce. The two-day summit, held by the Investment Coordinating Board ( BKPM) and the first event of its kind in the nation's 67-year history, attracted more than 500 participants from 29 countries, exceeding the board's initial target of 300 participants.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/07/2012

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Indonesia Targets Global Top 10 by 2050

 JAKARTA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian Business Council for Sustainable Development (IBCSD) launched Indonesia Vision 2050 here to foster economic growth in the country over the next four decades, local media reported on Thursday. IBCSD's president Shinta Widjaja Kamdani said the vision was important to help Indonesia enter the top-10 of global economies by 2050. "As the private sector, we need to have a new platform that promotes business solutions to the challenges of the next decades. Thus, this vision is important because we need more innovation and different approaches to create sustainability in business, the environment and human capital," Shinta said on Wednesday She said businesspeople would need to have more dialogue to identify future trends in Indonesia and to reach consensus on a vision for a sustainable Indonesia by 2050. "We plan to create a road map for a sustainable Indonesia and we hope we will see the progress (in the making of the road map) next year. I do believe Indonesia would be a much more developed country by 2050 if we all could prepare the solutions earlier," she said as quoted by the Jakarta Post daily. She said the IBCSD would work together with Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), and other related parties such as the Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) to create the road map.The road map, according to Shinta, would accelerate creation and implementation new business solutions and leadership for companies in Indonesia.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/08/2012

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Government Campaigns for Women, Children Health

As the nation celebrates the 48th National Health Day on Nov. 18, the government will use the occasion to promote the health of women and children across the country. Bearing a slogan “Indonesia Loves Health: Safe Mothers, Healthy Children”, the celebration will include activities on how good health throughout life’s circle can help mothers experience safe motherhood and give birth to healthy children. The Health Ministry’s director general for nutrition and infant and maternal health Slamet Riyadi Yuwono said on Thursday that the government would use the celebration to strengthen partnerships with its stakeholders including the private sector, non-government organizations and civil societies to speed up progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “With only three years until the 2015 deadline, improvements in children’s and mothers’ health are unlikely unless we do something really serious,” he told a press briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Indonesia is to reduce maternal mortality from 228 per 100,000 births in 2007 to 102 by 2015. Infant mortality is projected to decline from 34 per 1,000 live births to 23. “We also hope that the number of malnourished children under five years can be reduced to below 15 percent from the current 18 percent. Without hard work, we are unlikely to reach the 2015’s targets,” said Slamet. World Vision Indonesia is one of civil groups working on mobilizing resources in support of the efforts of the Health Ministry to hold the 48th National Health Day celebration. World Vision Indonesia’s campaign director Asteria Aritonang said that her organization is giving its support not only for the National Health Day celebration but also for the Global Week of Action for Child Health which will take place simultaneously in 60 countries throughout the world from Nov. 13 to 20. “In 2011, we had significant progress in reducing infant mortality as the number of children who died before their fifth birthday globally has reduced to 6.9 million per year from 12 million in 1990. But with more concerted efforts, we could have achieved even more,” said Asteria. With quite high income per capita of US$3,000 per year, Indonesia still has a very high number of children who die before their fifth birthday. Every year 134,000 children under five years die through various preventable health issues.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/10/2012

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MYANMAR: Publishing New Foreign Investment Law

YANGON, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar state media Saturday published the country's new foreign investment law, passed by the parliament on Thursday and signed by President U Thein Sein for promulgation on Friday. The 20-chapter law mainly states that foreigner can make full investment in undertakings permitted by the Myanmar Investment Commission which will designate the minimum amount of the investment capital with the consent of the government. The law allows joint venture operation between foreigner and local citizen or related government department or organization on mutually-agreed ratio of investment. Dealing with restricted or banned undertakings, the law allows foreigner to do the business in partnership with local citizen and the ratio of foreign capital can be suggested in accordance with the prescription in the provision. Restricted or prohibited foreign investment undertakings include those lying within 15 km to the boundary line with neighbors but do not apply to the economic zone granted by the government. The restricted foreign investment undertakings also cover those which local citizen is able to carry out, such as some production and service sectors, agriculture, livestock breeding and fishing within Myanmar waters. The law grants five-year income tax holidays from the start of business operation and commercial tax relief or exemption will be applied on products for export. The law grants an initial period of 50 years for lease of land for investment undertakings which is renewable every 10 years and the commission is tasked to fix the lease prices of the land plots owned by government department or organization with the pre- consent of the government.

The law designates that local citizens only shall be employed in undertakings where no skill is demanded, while in those areas which need special skill, at least 25 percent of the employees be local experts or skilled workers for the initial two years from the day of starting operation, 50 percent for the second two years and 75 percent for the third two years. Foreign employers are set to have the responsibility to train local skilled employees to upgrade their skill in work implementation. The law allows foreign company to transfer all or part of its stake to other foreigner or local citizen with the pre-consent of the commission. The law permits transferring back the net profit of foreign investor through authorized local banks at the designated exchange rate which is now quoted as market rate. The law guarantees no nationalization of the foreign-invested business. Before the formal enactment of the new foreign investment law, the parliament basically agreed with almost all of those parts of amendments made by the president. The newly introduced Myanmar foreign investment law replaced the over-two-decade-long 1988 similar law in a bid to increase attracting foreign investment to the country for national development in line with its reform strategy.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/03/2012

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PHILIPPINES: City, USAID to Launch Mobile Payment Scheme

The city of Valenzuela and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are collaborating to launch a new partnership that will promote the use of mobile payments for select government services. The project will implement the adoption of mobile technology in the city’s financial transactions to help cut administrative costs, increase transparency, reduce potential leakage of government funds, and make doing business with the government easier for citizens. According to USAID Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Economic Growth, Education and Environment, Eric Postel, the project is part of the ‘Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money Project’ which will target three key areas: payment of government services, payroll distribution, and payment of private services such as utilities. He added that it will initially cover real property tax payments and later include payment of community tax certificates, business permits, market fees and other local government fees. “It also supports USAID Forward, an initiative which focuses on innovation and the application of technology to achieve high-impact development,” Postel said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/09/2012

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SINGAPORE: To Conduct Proposals for Tighter Ads Rules of Unhealthy Food, Beverage

SINGAPORE, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Singapore's authorities are reviewing tougher guidelines for advertisements of unhealthy food and beverage like fast food and soda, aiming at protecting children from being drawn to a diet that is high in fat, sugar or salt. The city-state's Health Minister Gan Kim Yong made that statement on Saturday, adding that a public consultation will be launched next month, local paper The Strait Times reported. He said some studies have showed that advertisements in mass media do have an influence on young children's food choices, as well as their preference for purchase requests through their parents. This trend is said inconsistent with the country's effort to encourage its citizens to lead a healthy lifestyle, typically for young children below the age of 12. "The guidelines will also specify what are the food that will be classified as undesirable, basically will look at the content of each food. We are not targeting at specific brands but looking at the food stuff and studying the content." he added. According to the report by The Strait Times, Norway, Sweden, and some other countries have already have some respective regulations in this area, which the city-state is planning to do the same.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/27/2012

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Singapore Pushes for Greater GIS Collaboration

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) signed an agreement yesterday that will push for greater collaboration on geospatial education, training and research and development.The partnership will enable both organisations to tap into each other’s expertise and resources in promoting the use of GIS in Singapore. As part of the agreement, SLA will also be awarding a SLA Geospatial Scholarship annually starting next year up to 2015 to deserving final year students in the Geospatial and Mobile Innovation specialization track under the Diploma in Information Technology Programme in NYP’s School of Information Technology (SIT). Furthermore, recipients of the scholarship will also have priority placement to complete their polytechnic industrial placement with the Geospatial Division in SLA. According to Mr Lai Poh Hing, Director of NYP’s SIT, the partnership with SLA will create interest and raise awareness for GIS among students. “The scholarship programme, in particular, will provide the recipients with opportunities to develop their full potential to venture into the geospatial industry,” he said. Meanwhile Mr Ng Siau Yong, Director of GeoSpatial Division, SLA, said that the partnership is crucial for Singapore to truly realise a spatially-enabled society. “We hope to groom geospatial professionals through this scholarship to support the geospatial industry growth in Singapore. This will allow Singapore to become an increasingly connected first world city supported by a vibrant geospatial ecosystem,” he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/08/2012

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THAILAND: PM Outlines 8 Strategies for AEC 2015

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has instructed all concerned agencies to work with the private sector in preparing the country for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, while the government has outlined eight key strategies to ensure the country's readiness. In a pre-recorded episode of her weekly TV programme "Yingluck Government Meets the People", the prime minister said she had chaired a second workshop for state agencies and the private and civil sectors on Wednesday. The aim was to follow up on various issues decided during the first meeting when all ministries had been assigned to assess Thailand's readiness and competencies in relation to various Asean directives and regulations. At the second meeting, Yingluck said the government was briefed on the readiness of each industry-assessed state agency. The premier said she has ordered the ministries to jointly work with the private sector to re-evaluate readiness in all aspects and present information to the Cabinet within two weeks.

Yingluck added the government has outlined eight strategies to prepare the country for the AEC in the next three years. The strategies include:
- promotion of competitiveness of products, services, trade, and investment;
- improvement of quality of life and social protection;
- development of basic infrastructure and logistics system to enhance connectivity;
- human resources development to meet Asean education standards;
- improvement of law and regulations to facilitate trade and investment;
- promotion of public awareness about the AEC;
- strengthening security issues;
- enhancing urban competitiveness to take advantage of opportunities in Asean

Yingluck said the Cabinet is committed to ensuring that the country is ready for the AEC at the national level, while four subcommittees will also be set up. These subcommittees will implement the eight strategies at the regional and provincial levels. There will be a joint committee with the private sector, a subcommittee on basic infrastructure, and a subcommittee on law amendment.                                                                                                                                                                                          

 From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 10/28/2012

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VIETNAM: Lawmakers Debate Land Law

HA NOI (VNS)— Revisions to the Land Law need to address shortcomings in land management and usage so that land-related complaints can be reduced, according to National Assembly deputies' comments yesterday during a discussion on the amended law. Deputies said the revisions to the law would add to other administrative reforms on land issues and improve how public land was overseen.  All this would limit corruption and wasteful land usage, they said. Deputy Le Van Hoang from Da Nang City agreed with other deputies that the revisions should express that land belongs to all citizens and the State serves as their representative. Regulations on the draft law, they said, would eliminate inconsistencies in land plans between different localities. Deputy Huynh Nghia from Da Nang City said the law should outline clear procedures for revoking land, while deputy Huynh Ngoc Anh from HCM City wondered how land prices were fixed. Deputy Hoang said land denunciations came either from citizens who had not received reasonable compensation for their land being revoked, or from disparities in land prices between localities and the State. They wondered whether localities should be entrusted to fix land prices based on their own conditions.

Constitutional change
Also during their discussions yesterday, National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung urged deputies to think hard about new amendments and supplements to the 1992 constitution. "Revising the constitution is a crucial task," he said. "The constitution represents the will of the people, so you have to discuss it thoroughly and take people's ideas into consideration." The amended constitution introduces a chapter embracing new, independent institutions, including a constitution council, national election council – plus the old State auditing agency. The amended constitution occasionally merges two chapters into one. Those on the national flag, emblem, anthem, the capital, national day become one chapter on "the political institution of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam". A chapter on "culture, education, science and technology" merges with a chapter on "economic institutions". Delegates agreed the changes were needed to build a law-based State, to ensure people's rights, to build and protect the country – and to be active in international integration. They also agreed that the changes would help improve the market economy.

Nguyen Van Phuc, who has worked with a committee for reforming the constitution in 1978,1992 and again now, said institutional reform enabled a country to develop in new situations. He said a detailed report on 20 years of applying the existing Constitution 1992 was needed before any changes were made. He suggested clarification of such things as citizens' fundamental rights, what constitutes public ownership – and the relationship between State agencies and local bodies. Phuc also agreed to establish a council to protect the constitution. Deputy Huynh Minh Thien from HCM City proposed that, despite pressure from some deputies, no changes be made to article two of the present constitution which says: "All State power belongs to the people in which the foundation is the alliance between working and farmers classes and intelligentsia." HCM City deputy Pham Khanh Phong Lan had proposed changing the words to: "All the State power belongs to the people and their foundation is great national solidarity." Lan argued that the changes would synchronise with the Party viewpoint that great national solidarity was the driving force for social development.

Like many delegates, deputy Vo Thi Dung from HCM City suggested the constitution confirm that the State economic sector continue to play a key role in the economy. Most deputies agreed with changes to an article about human rights. The article says "Citizens have the right to social securities. The State and society are responsible for supporting the elderly, the disabled, orphans and the poor. The State must have policies to support those who made sacrifices for their country. It must also support their families." Hoa Binh Province deputy Nguyen Tien Sinh suggested the amended constitution confirm the task of ensuring balanced economic development among different regions in the country. Today, the NA deputies will discuss ways to settle land-related denunciations. —VNS

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 11/07/2012

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Vietnamese Legislators Approve Development Goals for 2013

HANOI, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- Deputies to the on-going fourth session of the Vietnamese 13th National Assembly (NA) have approved goals for the country's socio-economic development for 2013 in capital Hanoi on Thursday. With 91 percent approval, the Resolution on socio-economic development in 2013 defined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 5.5 percent, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) growth to be kept at 8 percent, budget overspending to stay at 4.8 percent of the total GDP, trade deficit at 8 percent, total export turnover to rise 10 percent over 2012, unemployment rate in urban areas to less than 4 percent and about 1.6 million new jobs to be created, local VnExpress online reported. Along with these goals, NA deputies confirmed their determination to implement three strategic breakthroughs in lines with renewing the growth model and economic restructuring in 2013. They include improving human resources quality and perfecting the market economy mechanism, improving competitiveness and business environment; effectively performing the country's medium- term investment plan for 2013-2015; restructuring production with priority given to high value-added products, application of high technology, green technology, energy saving, and environmental protection. During the session, NA deputies also reviewed implementation of the development goals in 2012, of which five out of 15 goals would be unlikely to be realized. The one-month fourth session is scheduled to conclude on Nov. 22.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/08/2012

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National Assembly Green Lights Socio-economic Development Plan

HA NOI (VNS)— Members of the National Assembly yesterday adopted the 2013 socio-economic development plan by a majority vote of 91.77 per cent. Under the plan, the macro-economy will be stabilised and inflation reduced. The plan also sets out how to provide better management of social welfare and to strengthen national defence and social order. GDP growth has been set at 5.5 per cent compared to 6 to 6.5 per cent for the present year. The plan outlines hopes to increase exports by 10 per cent while keeping the trade deficit at about 8 per cent. The State budget deficit has been set below 4.8 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), similar to last year. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has been set at 8 per cent, about 2 per cent less than this year's target of 10 per cent. Social development capital will be about 30 per cent of GDP, 3 per cent lower than the 2012 target. The NA also agreed to create about 1.6 million jobs in 2013, similar to this year, and to reduce the number of poor households by 2 per cent and poor districts by 4 per cent. Urban unemployment rate has been targeted at 4 per cent – again, the same as for 2012.

To realise these targets, the NA has called for closer ties between fiscal and monetary policies in mobilising resources for economic growth and in restraining inflation. Solutions also include tackling the difficulties in raising money for businesses by reducing loan-interest rates for agricultural activities or export production, reducing bad debts – and adopting policies to help break the frozen real-estate market. The development plan also calls for stricter control over the quality of infrastructure work.The NA also said that to reduce the trade deficit, Viet Nam had to promote export activities while reducing the importation of luxury goods. It said all Vietnamese should be encouraged to buy goods made in the nation and implement thrifty practices if called on to use State money for any activities, including festivals, meetings or overseas business trips. Educational reform, preventive health and salary reform remain important considerations under the plan, as is fighting corruption, ensuring food safety and making administrative reforms. Deputy Nguyen Van Tien from the southern province of Tien Giang agreed with the Standing Committee's plan to focus on matters of urgency that concern the people. "Many supervision reports show only figures that lack of deep analysis and evaluation from independent organisations and voters," said Tien.

Deputy Le Lam from central Thanh Hoa Province said that since 2006, the NA had spent a lot of time each year discussing forest management and protection. However, he said the results left a lot to be desired. "Illegal loggers have been attacking the country's last forest areas, but we have failed to provide protection on time and effectively," said Lam. Lam proposed that the NA stop supervising what it had done, but leave it to ministries, sectors and localities who could then report to the NA. Deputy Tran Du Lich from HCM City said he had joined many NA supervision delegations visiting localities and that many good results had resulted. However, he said supervision reports should not only gather information from localities but also opinions from local people. To improve the quality of the reports, Lich proposed increasing the number of independent consulting experts while limiting those from ministries and the sector. Deputy Le Thanh Van from northern Hai Phong Port City asked the NA Standing Committee to assess the NA supervision delegations' operation methods and increase the strength of the delegations. Deputy Phung Van Hung from northern Cao Bang Province agreed, saying thousands of citizens' complaints were sent to the NA and its delegations, but there were no statistics showing how many had been resolved by supervision.

Disaster measures
In the afternoon, NA deputies shared comments on the draft Law on Disaster Risk Reduction and the revised Law on Science and Technology in separated group discussions. Most agreed that the introduction of the law on disaster risk reduction would help localise international conventions signed by Viet Nam. The draft law also embodied the country's renewed policy on the issue by shifting focus from disaster response to prevention and management. Deputies agreed that the State should play a key role in disaster risk reduction rather than "supporting" work in the area as outlined in the draft law. Deputy Hoang Dang Quang from central Quang Binh Province said the State's role would mean administrations from local levels would guide all tasks in disaster reduction and control, particularly in ensuring strategies on risk reduction were integrated into socio-economic development plans. Many deputies suggested that the law should stipulate how the State would finance work on disaster risk reduction, how to designate land where residents are too vulnerable to disasters while also clarifying the duties of armed forces and other agencies in search and rescue efforts.

Other deputies voiced concerns over the need to clearly define which agency should be responsible for weather forecasts and ways to ensure these forecasts were as accurate as possible. Deputy Ha Ngoc Chien from the northern province of Cao Bang called for domestic forecasters to improve their work. In regards to the law on science and technology, most deputies agreed that the legislation needed to be revised and updated as it had been in force for 12 years. Deputy Dinh Thi Huong Lan from Cao Bang Province said that over the years, many individuals and organisations had used money earmarked for scientific studies for other purposes, leaving a great deal of scientific research unfinished. She highlighted the need to have incentives to encourage quality work by scientists and researchers. She also suggested more open policies towards researchers and scientists from overseas countries, and more opportunities for local scientists to gain experiences from abroad. — vns

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 11/09/2012

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BANGLADESH: Ecnec Approves 8 Projects Involving Tk 3,020 Cr

Dhaka, Nov 20 (UNB) – The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on Tuesday approved a Tk 2,040 crore bus rapid transit (BRT) project for massive upgradation of Gazipur-Airport road, aiming to ease traffic congestion.The approval was given at an Ecnec meeting held at the NEC conference room with Ecnec Chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Briefing reporters after the meeting, acting Planning Division Secretary Bhuiyan Shafiqul Islam said a bus rapid transit (BRT) line would come into operation on the 20-km route under the project.He said a total of eight development projects involving Tk 3,020 crore were approved at the meeting. “Of the total cost, Tk 1,369 crore will come from the government fund while the remaining Tk 1,651 crore from project assistance.”

The 4-year project, ‘Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Project’, includes the construction of 20-km bus rapid transit line, 31 stations, a BRT depot, seven flyovers and the construction of Tongi Bridge.This will create a new public transportation system in Gazipur-Tongi-Uttara region making the route a safe, environment friendly and free from traffic congestion.Besides, 50 articulated buses will be procured under the project. Three development agencies -- ADB, AFD and GEF -- will provide a loan and grant of Tk 1651 crore for the project. A loan negotiation has also been completed in this regard.Ecnec approved another project with a revision under which Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) will be modernised and its existing facilities to be expanded to convert the country’s lone medical university into a centre of excellence. The project cost stands at Tk 526 crore.

The other projects approved at the meeting are: Stipend programme for the trainees of the institutes of marine technology and technical training centers project (Tk 48 crore-GoB); Fodder research and development project (Tk 28 crore-GoB); Strengthening the facilities of training, research and action research through infrastructure development of Rural Development Academy, Bogra (Tk 30 crore-GoB); Thorough renewal of worn-out rail and allied works in Chinkeyastana-Ashuganj section of Bangladesh railway (Tk 236 crore-GoB); Construction of one ro-ro ferry and one ro-ro pontoon for operation on Chandpur-Shariatpur ferry route (Tk 71 crore-GoB) and Development of Haluaghat-Munshirhat-Dhobaura road project (Tk 41 crore-GoB).Ecnec members, including Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Planning Minister AK Khandker, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, ministers concerned, advisers to the Prime Minister, members of the Planning Commission, secretaries and officials concerned attended the meeting.

From http://www.unbconnect.com 11/20/2012

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INDIA: Greenpeace Launches the New Version of Energy Revolution

16th November 2012, New Delhi: The roadmap comes at a critical time when the country is facing massive power shortage due to the inability of fossil fuels to meet its economic aspirations. Future of India’s growth lies with massive expansion and deployment of renewable energy technologies through key policy reforms and significant investments, without putting any negative impact on its pristine forest and dependent marginalised communities. The India Energy [R]evolution report jointly drafted by Greenpeace, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) focuses on the socio-economic impacts of renewable energy and proposes the pathway to ensure India’s energy security in the long run. Earlier this year, the three organisations released the Global Energy [R]evolution (2) which highlighted the severe energy constraint the world is facing due to its over-dependence on fossil fuel.

“Recent electricity grid failure and severe power shortage due to rising electricity demand constantly reminds us that coal and other fossil fuels have no future and their era of dominance is over. There is no cheap coal available without destroying forests, displacing people and wild animals and it is a heavy price to pay without any guarantee to meet the growing demand.” said Greenpeace India Senior Energy Campaigner Abhishek Pratap. “A transition to renewable energy is the best and the only option for the government to secure the future growth of our nation.” added Pratap.With over 30 crore people still waiting to see light in their home and industrial production going into slump with 7 % production loss last year due to lack of electricity supply, India faces a formidable challenge to build up its energy infrastructure fast enough to keep pace with economic and social changes. India needs to meet its twin objective of sustaining high GDP-based economic growth and providing access of modern energy infrastructure to its people while at the same time, maintaining its pledge to not exceed its per-capita emission from that of developed nations. There is a need to diversify the country’s energy generation and distribution through massive public and private investment for ensuring the energy security of the nation.

“With consistent and long term renewable energy policy frame work, India could build up a local renewable energy industry with an annual turnover of more than-INR 54,000 crore, creating more up to 24 lakh jobs by 2020. These investments in new renewable power plants will lead to fuel cost savings paying back the overall investments between now and 2050 two times over,” says Sven Teske, Senior Energy Expert from Greenpeace International. “It is a win-win strategy for India to combine security of energy supply and job creation,” Teske added. Highlights of the India Energy [R]evolution:

With significant shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency at a long-term basis will enable saving of around one-fourth of energy spending.
By 2050, India’s almost entire energy infrastructure i.e. 92 % will be based on renewable energy sources like Solar (Photovoltaic & Concentrated Solar Power), Wind (On-shore & off-shore) and Geothermal Energy.
The job generation potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency domains can be two to three times that of conventional energy for e.g. coal, oil. Currently India’s renewable energy industry employs 2 lakh people. However, this can be jumped to 14 times by 2030 if Energy [R]evolution pathway is taken. In the next eight years itself, 24 lakh new jobs will be created in the renewable energy sector if proper investments are made.
There will be significant reduction or in fact stability in the pricing of electricity generation which remains at INR 3.70  per unit by 2050.
Total avg. yearly investment in fossil power to the tune of INR 1, 00,000 crore will be offset through growth of RE. E[R] proposes that the average renewable energy investment per year will be close to INR 6, 10, 000 crore from 2011-2050.
CO2 emission per capita [t/per capita] will go down from 1.4 to a 0.3 ton by year 2050

India is one of the most dynamic markets for wind energy in the world today”, said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council. “The reference target for wind power of 15,000 MW in the 12th Plan Period (April 2012 thru March 2017) should be easily reached; and much more could be achieved with stable, long term support policies, ideally in the context of a National Renewable Energy law. This would send a clear signal to investors about the government’s vision for the scope and potential of wind power, and other renewable energy technologies.”  Sawyer added.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 11/16/2012

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India Plans Awareness Programmes on Food Wastage

The Government of India is planning to implement schemes at the school level to create awareness to avoid food wastage, says Prof K V Thomas, Union Minister of Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution. Delivering a key note address at the 27th meeting of the Central Consumer Protection Council in Kochi today, Prof Thomas said the union Human Resources Development ministry has agreed to implement the schemes. He said India is among the world's largest food wasting countries. Prof Thomas said a corpus of ten crore rupees will be created, with the centre contributing 7.5 crore rupees and rest by the state governments under the State Chief Secretaries to manage funds under the Consumer Welfare Fund. The Minister said a modern lab and office of the Bureau of Indian Standards will be set up in Kochi. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy inaugurated the Council Meet.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 11/16/2012

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Pan-India e-District Project Roll Out by 2016

New Delhi: All the 640 districts in the country would be covered under e-District Mission Mode Project by 2016, official sources said here.The project, estimated to cost Rs 1663.08 crore, proposes to deliver around 50 services on-line at the district level and its subordinate offices.e-District as a concept proposes integrated, seamless, and online delivery of citizen services at the district level through automation of workflow, backend digitization, integration and process redesign. The services have been shortlisted keeping the citizens needs as primary service objective.The major service categories include G2C services like issue of Certificates, Filing of RTI & Public Grievance, Request for new ration card etc. This project will also provide G2E/G services like revenue cases, Government dues and recovery etc.

Meanwhile, the Kerala State Information Technology Mission (KSITM), which launched the pilot projects in Pallakad and Kannur district, is working towards the state- wide roll out of e-District Kerala.Through KSITM, citizens can submit applications anytime for availing the required services. All certificates are issued through the e-District portal and it also includes the digital signature of the issuing officer.According to an official press release issued by the KSITM, “As many as 23 revenue certificates have been already made available online in the first phase. Nine other departments are preparing to roll out 43 citizen-centric services through the e-District portal.”The National Informatics Centre (NIC) has developed the e-District application and in order to enable service delivery through e-District, the government has notified the Kerala Information Technology (Electronic Delivery of Services) Rules, 2010, under the Central IT Act, 2000.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/16/2012

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Rajasthan to Link 10 Key E-Gov Schemes to Aadhaar

The Rajasthan government has decided to link 10 key schemes to the Aadhaar unique identification programme as part of its larger thrust on e-Governance to ensure fast delivery of services with transparency and accountability. The 10-key schemes include old-age, widow and differently-abled pension schemes, rural job cards, ration cards, driving license, property registration, water and electricity connections, Indira Awas Yojna and student scholarships.“The use of information technology will bring transparency in work and stop corruption. Accordingly, Aadhaar enabled service delivery system would be implemented in a phased manner across the state,” Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said in a statement.

Besides, the government has also decided to launch pilot projects to link the delivery of public distribution with Aadhaar cards in Dudu, Chomu and Shahpura tehsils of the state.To help implement these ambitious schemes, the Chief MInister has asked all state departments to spend three percent of their allotted budget on e-Governance, apart from establishing 750 posts to strengthen the Information Technology Department.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/19/2012

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MALDIVES: BML to Launch New Soft Loan Scheme

Bank of Maldives (BML) has stated that it had decided to introduce a new loan scheme as a new product.The bank said that the new scheme would be an extension to its previous soft loan scheme which had been well received by the public.BML had previously been issuing MVR15,000 loans without mortgage in its soft loan scheme. However BML did not state the ceiling value of the new loan scheme and its interest rate.BML revealed that many arrangements for introducing the product had been done and that the service will commence soon.The bank detailed that it has decided to make it easy for the customers of the new loan scheme. In this regard BML said that the new loan scheme will not require submitting quotations. The new loan scheme will only be targeted for bank customers who get salaries deposited in to their respective BML accounts. BML further stated that the loans will only be issued to those who have deposited their salaries continuously for at least one year out of the applicants who meet the required criteria.The bank stated that the previously issued MVR15,000 small loans will not be ceased with the introduction of the new scheme.

From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 11/11/2012

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President Declares Decision to Hold Forum to Share Future Development Strategies

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has declared his decision to hold a National Conference to constitute a forum for sharing future approaches and strategies on the road towards development. The President made this announcement while addressing the nation at the special ceremony held last evening at Dharubaaruge, to mark this year’s Republic Day.that regard, President Waheed revealed his expectation that this conference would tap into the mosaic of useful public opinion and ideas, which could help the nation charter a road-map for development as per the wish of majority. He also said that the conference, in general, would compose an active audience involving prominent politicians, entrepreneurs, tradesmen, scholars, students, women, youth, judges, lawyers and private applicants.

In his speech, President Waheed expressed his hopes for a coherent nation peopled by a community of citizens, who are accommodative to each other’s needs and live in common harmony, adhering to the ideal of mutual respect and understanding. He further stressed the need for gender equality, and a society that is productive, livable and secure enough for healthy familial relations to prosper.The President noted that the Government had and would always strive to make decisions as beneficial to the people of the Maldives. He highlighted the need for taking the right actions as necessary or relevant to the given circumstances or context in a structured and timely manner. The President further briefed the gathering on the historic transition of the Maldives from monarchical rule to a full-fledged republic.

Speaking at the ceremony, President Waheed reminded the nation of the critical need for its people to sacrifice their differences in opinion and ideologies, so that peace and harmony may prevail. He alluded to a potential economic breakdown that could precipitate due to a failure to establish a sense of common purpose and stability in the country.He further called on the nation to preserve the sanctity of National Flag by honoring its three colors, and not allowing any political prejudices to cloud their judgment of what is righteous and what is not.

From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 11/12/2012

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NEPAL: ADB to Grant Rs. 946m for Water Project

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide grant assistance of around Rs. 946 million (US$ 11 million) to the government for the implementation of Water Resource Project Preparatory facility.The agreement to this effect was signed between Lal Shankar Ghimire, Joint Secretary and Chief of the Foreign Aid Corporation Division, Ministry of Finance and Kenichi Yokyama, Country Director of Nepal Resident Mission on Friday with the objective to improve the water resources management projects.Ministry of Irrigation will be the executing agency of this project while Department of Irrigation will be the main implementing agency.The estimated cost of the project is US$ 13.8 million and the government will invest around US$ 2.8 million for the project.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 11/04/2012

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Ambitious Melamchi Project to Be Completed by 2016

The much-awaited Melamchi Project has made public its amended work plan aiming to complete the project by March 2016, state-owned news agency RSS reports.Construction of the 27.5-kilometer tunnel and head works, one of the major tasks of the project of national pride, was rescheduled very recently following the termination of contract with China Railway 15 Bureau Group.The implementing agency of the project- Melamchi Water Supply Development Board (MWSDB) has finalised the bidding document for the construction of the tunnel and head works and international bidding will be called within this week.

In order to commence construction works by the end of January, international bid will be invited by Friday, officiating Executive Director of Melamchi Project Ghanashyam Bhattarai told RSs.The MWSDB will hold a meeting within a day or two and detailed bid document will be publicized, said Bhattarai claiming that the work will gain momentum as the government has placed the project under high priority.The new work shall begin from where the China railway group has left and all issues related to the construction would be finalized today following discussion with the consultants, he said. The China Railway Group has already completed 6.5 kilometers of the tunnel.

Learning from the bitter experience of the past, the Board this time will award a contract with the company not quoting the lowest price but with high work efficiency, resources, technical capacity, human resource, success of the past among others, Mr Bhattarai said.It may be noted that the construction of the tunnel also falls under the immediate action plan of administrative and economic reforms unveiled by the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers a few weeks ago.The project that targets to supply 170 million litres of water daily is expect to cost more than 464 million US dollars. The construction of the tunnel and intake alone would cost around 100 million dollars.

The Asian Development Bank that has contributed the large amount of soft loan for the project has been working to ensure that the project is completed at any cost to resolve the drinking water problems of the residents of Kathmandu.It may be noted that two days after the contract with China Railway Company was annulled, Director General of the South Asian Department of the Bank, Juan Miranda had organized a press conference in the capital and expressed commitment to continue support the project until its completion, even though its cost had increased.The Company to be awarded the new contract to complete the tunnel shall receive a time of 36 months and would receive bonus if the work is completed before 6 months, said officiating executive director Bhattarai.

If the new company works accordingly to receive a bonus then drinking water from Melamchi would arrive to the capital in March 2016. The project was estimated to be completed a year ago, but the China Railway Company delayed the work by repeatedly demanding for funds citing increasing cost.Meanwhile, Vice-chairman of National Planning Commission, Dipendra Bahadur Khsetry said that the Government is expecting cooperation and support of all the sides concerned to complete the project as per the new schedule.side should obstruct this project of national pride, he added.By 2025, the capital would require 680 million liters of drinking water every day. Water supplied from Melamchi is expected to reach to some 1.1 million residents of Kathmandu.The Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) founded some 14 years ago was designed to finance four major components including Infrastructure Development, Social and Environmental Support, institutional reforms and Project implementation Support.

The MWSP was projected to cost 464 million US dollars in 2000. According to the original financial plan, ADB shouldered the largest financing share equivalent to 120 million US dollars followed by the World Bank (US$80 million), the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), US$52 million equivalent), NORAD (US$28 million equivalent), Sida (US$ 25 million equivalent), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA, $18 million equivalent), the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Fund for International Development (OFID/OPEC), $14 million equivalent), and NDF ($9 million equivalent). The Government´s original financing share in the MWSP was equivalent to 118 million US dollars.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 11/21/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Simplifies Legislation on Creation of New Cities

Under the changes proposed to the law On the territorial system and political division, the new administrative-territorial units of the district will be named according to the name of the territorial unit's center and the city and urban areas - in line with the name of one of the adjacent territorial units, member of the committee on regional issues of the Parliament Tahir Rzayev told Trend on Monday. The changes proposed to the law On the territorial system and political division mostly related to the creation of administrative units, their removal, the name and the definition of the boundaries. The new law simplified mechanism for creating cities. Thus, after the adoption of the law a few villages or towns, together, can create a city. Rzayev said this issue is important from the historical point of view and from the point of view of these areas' socio-economic development. "For example, creation of ​​the city called Devechi in the area would be commendable in terms of protection of the toponym after renaming Devechi region in Shabran. On the other hand, more funds are allocated for the development of the areas when the villages receive the status of the settlement and settlements - the status of towns. Development of administrative units is very important in terms of creating new infrastructure," he said. Rzayev noted that the socio-economic development of Azerbaijan stipulates the creation of new cities.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/19/2012

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UZBEKISTAN: Electoral Legislation to Be Amended

 

The members of the Legislative Chamber of Oliy Majlis (lower house of the Uzbek parliament) adopted amendments to the laws on "Elections to Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan" and "Elections to the regional, district and city councils of people's deputies" at the plenary session on Friday. They are related to further ensuring the freedom of choice and the development of the electoral legislation, the Legislative Chamber said. The bill was prepared on the basis of the concept of further intensifying the democratic reforms and forming the civil society. It aims to democratize the electoral system, to ensure transparency and openness of the electoral processes, to increase efficiency of the election campaign and election commissions' activity. In particular, the election campaign fixed in the legislation is important in the context of strengthening a multi-party system, tightening the inter-party competition, emerging the diverse and extensive forms and methods of the election campaign. The norms are aimed at ensuring equal conditions for the candidates to MPs. The election campaign is defined as the activity carried out during the election campaign and aimed at encouraging the voters to vote for a candidate for MP or a political party. This corresponds to the legal practice in the most developed democratic countries. Moreover, the norms governing the coverage of the election campaign in the private media outlets have been specified. Their intensification will ensure more transparency and openness of the elections, the election campaign and the policy of reforms taken into account the pluralism of opinions. According to the bill, the terms of payment for air time and other requirements must be equal and the same for all candidates for MPs and political parties. The legislation is planned to be supplemented by such rules as banning the election campaign not only on Election Day, but the day before the voting, banning the publication of the results of opinion polls, forecasts of election results and other topics related to the ongoing elections. The bill has also clearly determined the terms, order and procedures for early voting, the formation of the polling stations in prisons, as well as ensuring the rights of observers to attend the conference of the Uzbek Ecological Movement. This must serve to ensure more openness and transparency of electing the deputies of this movement. The bill will be submitted to the Senate of Oliy Majlis for approval. It is expected that the upper house of the parliament will consider the law in late November - early December.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/03/2012

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Uzbekistan's Legislative Chamber Adopts Law on "Operational Investigative Activities"

 

Legislative (lower) Chamber of the Uzbek Parliament has adopted the law on "Operational Investigative Activities", said the press service of the Parliament. The draft law has been developed in response to the Concept of further deepening of democratic reforms and formation of civil society in the country, proposed by the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov in November 2010. The operational investigations have been regulated by different regulations such as government regulations and departmental documents. The draft law includes the principles and forms of operational-search activity, legal guarantees of the rule of law, which will organize the existing rules and will help to secure the protection of rights and legal interests of citizens, as well as further democratization of the judicial system. When this draft law comes into force it will enhance the quality of preliminary investigation and will improve the work on prevention and prompt suppression of offenses. The law was adopted by the Legislative Chamber and submitted for discussions to the upper house - the Senate of Oliy Majlis.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/12/2012 

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Uzbekistan Develops Bill Regulating Activity of Interior Bodies

 

The bill on 'Interior bodies', developed by a special expert group of a commission preparing legal acts in the area of improving the system, has been submitted to the Uzbek Cabinet of Ministers for consideration, the Uzbek Interior Ministry said. At present, internal bodies' activity is governed by several regulations. The bill on 'Interior bodies' envisages summarising all acts regulating the activity of the interior bodies which were previously received by the president and Cabinet of Ministers. The experience of developed foreign countries was examined during its preparation. While developing the bill, special attention was paid to the rights and responsibilities of law enforcement bodies, the legal principles of their work, social security and personal safety, conditions and procedures of service, financial and material support. This will eliminate many problems and shortcomings in the work of the internal bodies at a legislative level. In particular, the bill envisages provisions on the procedure and conditions of using force, firearms and special equipment to comply with the rights and freedoms of citizens. Last week, the bill was discussed during a 'round table', organised by the Human Rights and Legal Support Department under the Interior Ministry. Representatives of concerned ministries and departments, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman), the National Centre for Human Rights, the Institute for Current Legislation Monitoring under the Uzbek President and the Independent Institute on Civil Society Monitoring attended the discussions. The recommendations and proposals will be considered and indicated in the final version of the bill, a statement said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/23/2012

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Uzbek Legislative Chamber Approves Job Creation Program for 2013

 

The legislative chamber of Uzbek Oliy Majlis approved a program at the plenary session on Friday to create jobs and provide people with them in 2013, the lower chamber of the parliament said today. According to the program, around 972,700 new jobs are planned to be created. They will appear after commissioning new large industrial facilities, renovating and expanding existing enterprises, further promoting the development of small business, private and family business, the service sector, home-based jobs etc. A significant part of home-based jobs will be organized in the regions, which are the traditional centers of national craftsmanship - Namangan, Ferghana, Andijan, Samarkand and Bukhara regions. Special attention will be paid to 28 remotely located, as well as mountain, border areas with insufficient development of production and the social sphere, as well as high unemployment level. At least 126,000 new jobs are planned to be created there in 2013 or 5 per cent more than in 2012. Another priority of the program is the employment of vulnerable categories of citizens. There are at least 100,000 jobs for people with disabilities and others within the program. An important direction of the program is the employment of graduates of educational institutions. It is planned to employ more than 500,000 graduates of professional colleges in 2013 through vacant jobs. At least 900 job fairs will be held in cities and regions. Moreover, commercial banks plan to continue the practice of providing graduates of colleges and universities with preferential micro-loans to organize own business. The commercial banks plan to allocate 5.1 trillion soum loans to support small business and private entrepreneurship. Concessional loans will be mainly used to finance the projects aimed at creating jobs in remote rural areas and areas with a tense situation in the labor market. The employment program approved by the Legislative Chamber will be submitted to the upper house of the parliament - the Senate. The program will be discussed in the Senate on December 5 - 6. According to the employment program for 2012, around 967,500 new jobs are planned to be created. Around 773,000 jobs were created in January - September 2012. According to the official statistics, the number of citizens registered in the employment bodies, as job seekers as of late September hit 18,000 compared to 24,100 as of 2011. The number of unemployed, defined by "Methods of calculating the unemployed" approved by the government hit 621,700 in January - September 2012 or 4.8 per cent of the economically active population.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/24/2012

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Pacific Advocates Against Violence Commit to Two-Year Plan

 

The weeklong Pacific regional meeting on the elimination of violence against women and girls ended in Nadi Friday with a mandate to step up advocacy and prevention measures to address the issue across the region. Among the resolutions of the sixth quadrennial meeting of the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women was that programmes aimed at preventing violence against women and girls should be grounded in a sound understanding, analysis and dynamics of the problem for these programmes to be effective. The meeting marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the network in 1992 and gathered 45 participants from 10 Pacific countries to review work done in network member countries over the past four years and agree on strategies to address violence against women and girls before the next meeting. Participants rejected the welfare model of addressing sexual and gender-based violence, instead advocating for a rights-based approach. A call was made for prevention programmes to move beyond the prevention of physical violence to include the prevention of coercive control, and the recognition of the rights of women and girls.

 

Resolutions addressed the meeting’s theme of “prevention and responses” to sexual and gender-based violence. One of the responses mandated by participants included the call for governments to make budgetary commitments that would be maintained over the long term to implement legislation on violence against women and girls. The resolutions recognised the importance of the training of traditional leaders, leaders of faith-based organisations and political leaders for a stronger and more committed approach to eliminating violence against women and girls. A call was made for compulsory gender and human rights training for all judicial officers and staff, including members of traditional justice systems. Protocols within the health sector should be developed to enable them to respond appropriately to victim/survivors of violence against women and girls. In this regard, health personnel should be trained and sensitised to ensure appropriate responses when they access health services.

Women’s network members from Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu attended the five-day meeting. Given the momentum and scale of the work addressing violence against women and girls across the region, the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women resolved to meet biennially rather than every four years, with the next meeting scheduled for 2014.

From http://www.pina.com.fj 11/19/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Releasing Its Energy White Paper

 

Australian Energy Minister Martin Ferguson released the government's energy white paper in Melbourne on Thursday. The 2012 Energy White Paper sets out the Australian Government's strategic policy framework to guide Australia's energy transformation to a cleaner and more productive energy economy. The central objective of the Energy White Paper is to provide the settings to deliver secure, reliable, clean, competitively priced energy to consumers; while building a national wealth through the safe and sustainable development of its energy resources. According to Ferguson's speech, The Australian Government recognises that rising energy prices are hurting households and businesses. The white paper said that Australian electricity pricing needs to be overhauled to stop inefficient investment in infrastructure which is only used during rare peak demand times. It also advocates charging more for power at peak times and using new technologies, like smart meters , which allow customers to monitor and adjust their energy usage, to help households manage their bills. Ferguson said there is no quick fix to counter the energy price rises of recent years, but he is challenging the states to introduce reforms which might ease some of the pain. The policy paper paves the way for tough negotiations between the Commonwealth and the states - the first is set for next month's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

 

From http://www.globaltimes.cn/ 11/08/2012

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Australia Launches Its 1st Action Plan to Cut Aviation Emission

 

Australia will reduce its carbon emission of aviation in the future through its first action plan launched on Tuesday by Transport Minister Anthony Albanese. The plan schedule to reduce carbon emission of aviation through improving airplane technology, using biofuels and taking more efficient processes. "The plan presents past, current and projected levels of aviation carbon emissions - and I am pleased to report we're doing well compared to international benchmarks," he told an Australian Airports Association convention in Melbourne. He also noted the immediacy of this plan. "Right now, demand for air travel is growing faster than efficiency gains, and that means our net aviation carbon footprint will continue to grow," he said. "It requires a concerted effort by both government and the entire aviation industry to manage this task," he said.

 

From http://www.globaltimes.cn 11/13/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Government Unveils Infrastructure Vision

 

The New Zealand government Thursday laid out its controversial infrastructure building program, involving plans to rebuild the earthquake-battered city of Christchurch and initiatives to support business growth. The "Building Infrastructure" report, covering one of the six areas of the government's business growth agenda, set out 67 infrastructure initiatives, including recruiting 900 workers to reconstruct infrastructure facilities in the city and surrounding Canterbury region. "For businesses to invest in plant and facilities in New Zealand, they need to be confident that they will have access to infrastructure that supports their businesses transport, energy, water and telecommunications," Finance Minister Bill English said in a statement. The investments listed in the report included 5.5 billion NZ dollars ($4.52 billion) for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Fund; 1.6 billion NZ dollars for ultra-fast broadband and faster rural broadband; 5 billion NZ dollars for the national electricity grid; and 12.2 billion NZ dollars for roads between 2012 and 2015.

 

The report set out a vision of resilient and coordinated infrastructure that contributed to economic growth and increased quality of life by 2030. "Resilient, efficient and coordinated infrastructure networks are vital to a well-running economy. They help the movement of people, goods and information around our country and around our world," English said. Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said the region's infrastructure repair was a huge task and the training of workers for the job over the next five years would benefit the national economy. To date, 19 km of fresh water piping, 70 km of waste water piping and 5 km of storm water piping had been laid, but that was only 12 percent of the work, Brownlee said in a statement. "Roughly 1,020 km of road will need rebuilding, which is half of the city's urban sealed roads," he said. Business lobby group Business New Zealand welcomed the report, with chief executive Phil O'Reilly saying appropriate infrastructure investment would bring more certainty for business and promote more private sector business investment. "Infrastructure assets are expensive and long-lasting, and if well planned and coordinated bring confidence for enterprise," O' Reilly said in a statement.

 

However, the opposition Green Party said the report lacked substance, with only two unstarted, but previously announced initiatives for highway project and oil and gas development of the country's east coast. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the center-right National Party-led coalition government had failed to create jobs with a vision limited to building "uneconomic highways" and extracting oil from "risky deep-sea wells." "There is nothing new in this report, nothing that is going to end the crisis in manufacturing, nothing to reverse the 65,000 increase in the number of unemployed Kiwis under National, and nothing to end the exodus to Australia," Norman said in a statement.

 

From http://www.globaltimes.cn 11/01/2012

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Plan to Train 900 in Trades for Christchurch Rebuild

 

A plan to train hundreds of workers for the Christchurch rebuild is being described as extremely timely. 900 tradespeople will be trained or up-skilled as part of a new government initiative. Bruce Kohn from the Building Industry Federation says the scheme coincides with a growing level of activity in the quake-torn city. He says there's a shortage of all types of workers including roofers, steel handlers and concrete layers. Mr Kohn hopes people from all over the country take advantage of the opportunities on offer. He says it's not only builders who are needed - one company is trying to repair thousands of driveways. Mr Kohn says the target of 900 new tradespeople needs to be met, because the demand is there. A social media campaign will be in place and a special bus will tour the South Island to attract workers to fill the skills gap. Philip Aldridge from the training group Infra-Train is cautiously optimistic the hundreds of people needed can be found. He says it's an exciting opportunity for job hunters and it's a chance for Cantabrians and others around the country to learn new skills and gain employment for the next few years.

 

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 11/02/2012

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Peter O’Neill’s Pacific Plan

 

There is an unmistakable push by Papua New Guinea into neighbouring economies in the Pacific region to invest and operat3e businesses there. The promise from its administration is that this trend will be seen over the next few years. Championing the ‘Pacific Way’ of looking out for each other, PNG will reach out to as many Pacific islands countries as it can in a form of engagement that it says will see wealth from its minerals boom flow through to help them achieve the Millennium Development Goals and ordinary Pacific Islanders lift living standards. In an interview with ISLANDS BUSINESS, PNG’s Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, shared his vision of a unified Pacific, where the free movement of trade and people is a reality, supported by individual national policies to drive economic development. O’Neill, a former accountant, businessman, Leader of Opposition and government minister, served as Treasurer in 2007 under Sir Michael Somare’s government. He was elected Prime Minister in a parliamentary vote in August this year. O’Neill led a PNG business delegation to  Fiji last month and held informal talks with Fiji leader Voreqe Bainimarama. ISLANDS BUSINESS spoke with him. Here’s excerpts of the interview:

 

There is a lot of interest lately by PNG investors to push into the Pacific region. Is this something we will be seeing more of during your term as Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea?

PNG is an economy that is growing and growing very strongly. Insofar as the opportunities that are there, I think the rest of the Pacific need to participate in helping us provide the necessary support in terms of skilled labour force and many other capacities that we in PNG are lacking. So this is why we are now embarking on a programme where we work together with other Pacific countries where we can try and encourage labour mobility, increase trading and investments and, of course, try to provide regional security in a sense we take advantage of the economic growth that is now happening in PNG so that we can also assist many other Pacific Islands Countries.

 

Now that PNG has opened up free trade to MSG countries, how do you view the new trade dynamics that will be triggered off with PNG’s massive population?

I think we in the Pacific as a region with close to 10 million people, we can look after ourselves better if we work together. That’s why we believe strongly that PNG with a population now of seven million people need to engage more with the rest of the Pacific. I know that we talk to our development partners, we talk to everybody around the world to work with us but we know our Pacific better than anyone else and it is important that we work together.

 

PNG has decided to immediately implement its duty free commitments under MSGTA, instead of gradually phasing out duty from goods on its Negative List, like Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. Why?

We have been in discussions with officials on this issue for a long time. But PNG is trying to integrate many of the economies in the Pacific so that we can work on supporting each and this is why we want to fast-track some of these issues. PNG is working very closely with Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, mainly because the Melanesian countries are the biggest in the Pacific and once we are able to engage more actively together, I think the rest of the Pacific can be able to follow us. As the economy continues to grow in PNG and opportunities increase, we are able to assist more and I think in a couple of years time, we will be development partners in many other sectors, not only in trade and investments, but in health and education, and so forth.

 

We have the MSG temporary workers scheme now in place. What is the extent of PNG’s need for skilled workers?

Over the next few years, world-class resources projects will be developed in PNG. Some that we are now doing are going to be the biggest in the world so as a result of that, many of our skilled workers are now joining those sectors. As a result some other sectors are missing out on the labour force that is available in PNG. So that is why we are trying to encourage other Pacific islanders to engage with us and take advantage of the opportunities that are there. By reducing restrictions that we have between each other, particularly in labour mobility, Pacific Islanders who want to come and work in PNG will just have to buy a ticket, get on a plane and come to PNG, arrive at the airport there and work for anyone they like and you don’t need a visa, you don’t need government approval. That’s our ultimate aim, which we’re hoping to achieve throughout the Pacific. So if Papua New Guineans want to go and invest in Cook Islands for instance, they don’t necessarily have to go and get a visa. Our ancestors have been travelling around the Pacific for thousands of years, these visa concepts are foreign to us.

 

Pacific economies have differences at local levels, different challenges, levels of bureaucracies, etc. Is there an understanding by PICs of what PNG is trying to do and perhaps streamline their economies so that everyone is on the same page?

We all have our own individual levels of politics in each individual countries, but our socio-economic issues like poverty, opportunity to get employment, opportunity to do business, opportunity to get a better standard of living…those are issues that concern us and PNG of course as a country with the biggest population in the Pacific, has a responsibility to help. We have our own challenges within our own country which we are attending to. But I’m hoping we can get our people in the Pacific to appreciate that nobody else is going to come and resolve our issues. We’re talking about climate change, we’re talking billions and billions of dollars yet no Pacific islands country has seen much of it. So people are just talking because they think that it’s the right thing to say but you know we need to resolve our issues, it’s our own efforts that will make the difference.

 

Do Papua New Guineans support your vision for PNG playing a supporting role to other Pacific Island nations and what are the interests by local (PNG) business in other Pacific Islands?

I think the one that we had this weekend (unveiling of the re-development plans of Pearl South Pacific in Fiji) is an eye-opener for most Papua New Guineans. It gives them an opportunity to see that other Pacific islands are also doing quite well. They come to Fiji, they enjoy the hospitality, they easily mix with the local community and I think wherever they go in the Pacific, that is the same. As I said (at the unveiling ceremony), this is not a relationship that was established overnight. Our founding father Sir Michael Somare led the way and had a very close relationship with Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and the others who were here before, so for us it’s natural therefore that we engage with Fiji and many other Pacific islands countries. We have a lot of families either living here or living in PNG, we have Fijians living in Papua New Guinea. So I think it will be very unfortunate if we do not promote that because we can engage with Asia much better than the Pacific, because Asia gives us a lot of opportunities. But while we’re doing that, I think it’s very important that we take many of our Pacific Islands families with us when we are engaging at that level. Indonesia has 200 million people and is one of the biggest markets in Asia and it’s right across from us. But in terms of culture, the way of life, Indonesia is very different. So we feel very comfortable in the Pacific and I think Papua New Guineans in general support the initiative that the government is taking, that is to engage with the Pacific more, and hopefully we will do that over the next two years and we look forward to that.....

 

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com 11/19/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Project Targets Public Health in Rural Schools

 

Water tanks and toilets are being installed in rural schools to improve public health thanks to a national partnership with AusAID, World Vision and ADRA. Australia's High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Matt Anderson, says this has given access to clean water and basic sanitation services to an additional 3,800 households. Twelve schools were also connected to improved sanitation facilities last year. Australia is providing $675 million Solomon dollars over the next four years to assist the Solomon Islands Government improve health services in Solomon Islands. Dr. Jagadeesh Nellore, a policy expert on public health, says sanitation continues to be one of the key health issues in the developing world. "2.5 billion people, over a third of the world's population, lack access to adequate sanitation facilities, perpetuating disease and high rates of child mortality," he says. Dr. Nellore says this puts a strain on governments that already face a multitude of developmental challenges. "In order to address diseases that are largely preventable, stakeholders most focus on achieving access to basic sanitation...this must be addressed at its early stages, when it is still manageable." Australia has indicated that it will fund an additional $72 million Solomon dollars for rural water, sanitation and hygiene services. The government has also indicated that it will increase budgetary support.

 

From http://www.solomontimes.com 11/21/2012

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Solomon Islands Parliament Approves Changes to Custom Bill

 

The Solomon Islands Customs and Exercise (Amendment) Bill 2012 has been passed in Parliament Wednesday. Introducing the bill in Parliament for debate, Minister of Finance and Treasury Rick Hou said the bill was very important. Hou said the amendment of the bill will better facilitate the regular and timely updates of excise and export duties. “To better facilitate and improve administration of tariff, excise and export regimes, an amendment of the Customs and Excise Act is necessary.” He said trade was one of the very important aspects for a country’s growth and development. “In fact the Solomon Islands economy has relied solely on the export and Import sectors, and more than 70% of total Government revenue comes from international trade.” He explained that the amendment (changes) allowed Solomon Islands to adopt a new international system in a timely and planned manner.

 

“We would like to implement the updated 2012 version of the Harmonized Coding System (HS 2012). This is a comprehensive harmonised list of products that was the international standard for classifying goods for trade and related purposes.” Hou informed Parliament, most Pacific Island Countries and Trading Partners along with other Melanesian Spearhead Group members are already using HS2012. He said Regional Free Trade Agreements will now be negotiated based on the version of the system.

From http://www.pina.com.fj 11/22/2012

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World’s Largest Anti-Corruption Conference to Be Held in Brasilia, 7-10 November

The biennial International Anti-Corruption Conference, now in its 15th edition, will take place from 7 -10 November in Brasilia. Leading experts from across a wide array of disciplines connected to the fight against corruption will discuss in over 50 workshop and plenary sessions how to best take the fight against corruption forward in five key areas: ending impunity, clean climate governance, preventing illicit financial flows, political transitions leading to stable and transparent governments and clean sports. The four-day event will be opened by the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff. The topics are particularly timely both in the international arena with a former President of a G-8 country recently convicted of tax fraud and as frustration grows across the Middle East that new leadership has not meant renewed efforts to stop corruption. In Brazil, the timing is auspicious as the conference coincides with the Mensalao case and comes ahead of the upcoming World Cup and Olympics. The 15th Anti-Corruption Conference will provide space for debate and discussions around solutions aiming at taking the fight against corruption to the next level. An emphasis of the conference will also be the exploration of how journalists and anti-corruption activists can work together to achieve this goal. In addition to President Dilma Rousseff, other high-level representatives of Brazil will include Minister Jorge Hage Sobrinho, Comptroller General, Izabella Teixeira, Minister for the Environment, José Eduardo Cardoso, Minister of Justice, as well as Carlos Ayres Britto, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

International speakers during the four-day program of events will include:

·   Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International

·   Tawakkol Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

·   Thabo Mbeki, Former President of South Africa

·   Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace

·   Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme

·   Raymond Baker, Director of Global Financial Integrity

·   Robert Greenhill, Managing Director and Chief Business Officer, World Economic Forum

·   Baltasar Garzón, Spanish jurist

·   Nicholas Shaxson, Author of Treasure Islands

From http://www.transparency.org/ 11/01/2012

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Only 43% of Countries Disclose Public Officials’ Financial Assets, Says World Bank

 

WASHINGTON, November 8, 2012– Financial disclosure laws requiring public officials to file a statement of their assets, liabilities and interests can make corruption easier to detect. However, a new World Bank database finds that although 78 percent of countries covered by the database have financial disclosure systems, only 36 percent systematically check public servants’ disclosures for irregularities and inconsistencies. To support countries in their fight against corruption, the World Bank is launching the Financial Disclosure Law Library to help policymakers and practitioners establish strong financial disclosure systems. The Library compiles over 1,000 laws and regulations on financial disclosure and restrictions on public officials’ activities from 176 countries. Financial disclosure by public officials provides law enforcement with information and evidence for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption, illicit enrichment and tax crimes. It also gives citizens the information they need to hold public officials accountable for their actions. The Library shows that not all public officials are obligated to declare their assets and interests. High-level officials are generally included; 93 percent of covered countries require disclosure for cabinet members, 91 percent for Members of Parliament and 62 percent for high-ranking prosecutors. However, only 43 percent of countries provide the public with open access to public officials’ financial disclosures.

 

“Financial disclosure systems make it harder for corrupt officials to hide their criminal activities or ill-gotten wealth,” said Jean Pesme, Manager of Financial Market Integrity at the World Bank. “Civil society and corruption fighters should back the G20’s call for asset disclosure systems, because they can be an effective tool for bringing thieving public servants to justice.” A World Bank analysis published earlier this year, Using Asset Disclosure for Identifying Politically Exposed Persons, noted that as much as 93 percent of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have disclosure systems, while the percentage drops to 53 percent in Middle East and Northern African countries. While significant variations in implementation and access exist across the world’s financial disclosure systems, stakeholders agree that such systems are essential. “Financial Disclosure is key in the fight against corruption,” says Navil Campos Paniagua, Manager, Complaints and Investigations Area, General Comptroller of the Republic of Costa Rica. “Until now, countries have been unaware of each other’s efforts when it comes to asset disclosure laws. The World Bank law library will certainly help practitioners and policymakers from different countries learn from one another and boost financial disclosure in their own countries.” The World Bank’s work in Financial Market Integrity supports transparent and inclusive financial systems, and the fight against illicit financial flows.

 

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 11/08/2012

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Global Forum on Public Governance: Better Governance for Inclusive Growth

 

14/11/2012 - The financial and economic crises demonstrate that most governments need to change the way they run their countries. Though some have a better track record of reform than others, all can do more to create inclusive, open and responsible governance that can reduce inequality and promote economic growth. During the Forum - Better Governance for Inclusive Growth – economists, policy makers, and senior government officials from developed and developing countries will highlight new ideas, identifying good practices and innovative solutions, for advancing the governance reforms necessary to foster inclusive growth.  The Forum is open to media. To register, please contact: news.contact@oecd.org. For further information on the Global Forum journalists are invited to contact: Laura Skoratko (e-mail: Laura.skoratko@oecd.org; tel.: +(33-1) 45 24 81 72) in the Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 11/14/2012

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Asia Plan 'Needs More Reform'

 

BUSINESS leaders have called on the Gillard government to accelerate key economic reforms if it is to meet ambitious productivity targets contained in the Asian Century white paper aimed at catapulting the nation's living standards into the world's top 10 by 2025. Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday released the Australia in the Asian Century white paper, reports the The Australian Financial Review, which sets the goal of boosting the average income by $11,000 to $73,000, pushing Australia from 13th place to 10th, ahead of Switzerland, Sweden and Taiwan. The white paper warns that "most of what is required to lift Australia's productivity is in the hands of ­individuals, especially managers of businesses". While business leaders welcomed the paper's emphasis on closer ties with the world's fastest-growing region, they argue the government should do more to deliver reforms that reduce red tape, ­compliance costs and labour market constraints. Business Council of Australia president Tony Shepherd said the 2025 ­targets were challenging. "Certainly productivity and efficiency start at the firm level but it is up to government – federal, state and local – to provide the circumstances and the business environment which encourages businesses to be more productive," Mr Shepherd said. Writing for The Australian Financial Review, ANZ chief executive Mike Smith argues the paper should form part of a broader commitment to reforms that will create a more flexible economy. "The white paper rightly identifies innovation, research and development and taxation policy among others as areas for focus," he said. "Ultimately this will also need to extend to creating more flexibility in labour markets, for example, by building new workforce skills, supporting mobility and accommodating a range of business operating models." To reach the government's target, productivity growth needs to be "roughly comparable to that experienced in the 1990s", the paper says. In that period, productivity surged off the back of Hawke, Keating and Howard reforms, including the floating of the dollar, dismantling of tariffs and labour market deregulation.

 

From http://qcl.farmonline.com.au/ 10/29/2012

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CHINA: To Recruit More Civil Servants with Grassroots Experience

 

China will recruit more people with grassroots work experience in the upcoming civil servant recruitment, according to a spokesman of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. Government offices at or above provincial level should employ people with more than two years of grassroots work experience, excluding special posts, said Yin Chengji, at press conference on Thursday. "China also encourages more college graduates to work at government posts at or below county level," said Yin, adding that around 12 percent of this year's civil servant posts have been reserved for college-graduate village officials. There will also be a crackdown on cheating during recruitment exams in order to ensure a fair test. Exams will be held in late November. According to sources with the State Administration of Civil Service, more than 1.38 million people were qualified to sit the exams as of 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Civil servant posts are sought after as they are stable jobs at a time when the job market has become increasingly tough.

 

From http://english.gov.cn/ 10/25/2012

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Chinese Police to Be More Transparent

 

China's Ministry of Public Security has issued a new decree that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013 in an effort to increase the public's awareness about the job responsibilities of police officers. The move is meant to ensure the rights of acknowledgement, participation and supervision over the behavior of the country's police force, Xinhua learned from the ministry Tuesday. The ministry has issued the new rules based on experiences obtained in recent years by local police departments in some localities. These departments have tried some new methods of law enforcement, such as internet-based information services and case-handling activities. The new regulations have six chapters and 36 clauses.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/30/2012

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Sr. Official Urges Strengthened Judicial Administration

 

Senior Chinese official Zhou Yongkang on Tuesday urged lawyers and other judicial administrative system staff to better safeguard people's legitimate rights and interests and promote social harmony. Zhou, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks while inspecting judicial administration work in Beijing. While visiting Dacheng Law Offices, Zhou called on lawyers across the country to improve their professional abilities and actively participate in public welfare undertakings such as legal assistance and law publicity so as to provide better legal services to the people and further polish the image of lawyers. Dacheng Law Offices was found in 1992. With more than 3,100 employees and 47 legal service agencies around the world, it has become one of Asia's biggest law offices. With the deepening implementation of China's "go global" strategy, law offices like Dacheng shoulder more responsibilities in safeguarding China's rights and interests overseas according to law, said Zhou, also secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Political and Legal Affairs. He also encouraged Dacheng to strive to build itself into a world-class brand. Zhou also visited the All-China Lawyers Association and the Ministry of Justice. He urged the association to reinforce the supervision over the lawyers' practice and train lawyer teams with firm political stance and proficient law knowledge. Remarkable progress has been made in various sectors including prison management, meditation among the people, community-based rectification, said Zhou at a meeting held after the inspection. The judicial administrative bodies at all levels should learn the spirits to be delivered at the upcoming CPC National Congress, Zhou noted. Zhou urged the judicial administrative system to deepen the implementation of the principle of "rule of law," and provide stronger legal support for China's building of a well-off society in all respects.

 

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/30/2012

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China Seeks Better-Educated Military Recruits

 

China seeks to encourage more well-educated young people to join the military by giving them preferential policies, ranging from promotions to better chances of obtaining advanced education. A recruitment spokesman from the Ministry of National Defense said Wednesday that young people with college degrees will receive preferential treatment during this year's recruitment period, which begins on Nov. 1. College students will be receive loans or tuition subsidies if they join the military, as well as get help in obtaining employment and further education after leaving the military, the spokesman said. Online recruitment is already open to the public, the ministry said in a statement, adding that candidates can send in online applications before Nov. 5. The Chinese military started recruiting college graduates in 2001. More than 130,000 People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers were college graduates as of the end of 2009. To help the military recruit more students, the country's top legislature amended the Military Service Law in 2011, raising the maximum age for recruits to 24. To attract more young applicants, China relaxed restrictions regarding the height, weight and appearance of recruits in 2011.

 

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/31/2012

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More Transparency Needed to Better Fight Corruption

 

A raft of property scandals uncovered by netizens have underscored the need for public officials to disclose their assets, which is key for curbing corruption and ensuring social equity. A government official in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, was removed from his post after investigators found that his lifestyle far outpaced his salary. A preliminary investigation announced last week revealed that Cai Bin, a senior urban management official from the city's Panyu District, and his family own 22 housing units, one more than the number claimed by online muckrakers who brought the scandal to light. In September, Yang Dacai, a former senior work safety official in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, was sacked due to a corruption scandal that was exposed after photos were posted online showing Yang wearing at least 11 expensive wristwatches on multiple occasions. These scandals were uncovered by Internet users through "human flesh searches," a form of vigilante activism that involves ferreting out a target's personal information and publishing it online, to uncover information regarding those officials' property holdings. However, the online techniques could not and should not be used as the primary tool for outing and calling attention to corrupt officials. A long-term and systematic supervision mechanism is the fundamental means for preventing and rooting out corruption. Under the current system, officials should report their property status to higher authorities but not all are required to do so. Making such reports available to the public is conducive to improving public supervision.

 

At present, only newly appointed grassroots officials in some areas are obliged to disclose their assets while those with more years of service and higher ranks are exempt. The scope of property declaration should be expanded to include more officials in order to better prevent corruption. Earlier this week, local authorities turned down the request of a college student in the eastern city of Nanjing to publicize Cai Bin's salary after Cai's property scandal was exposed early this month. The authorities said that such a disclosure was "beyond the scope of voluntary information disclosure." Authorities in Shaanxi Province rejected a similar request to disclose Yang Dacai's salary, citing similar reasons. However, a number of scholars and observers argue that such information should be disclosed because government officials are paid by the citizens and their salaries are a matter of public interest. The Chinese government has promised further efforts to make government affairs public and to expand the scope of the public's right to be informed in accordance with laws, regulations and policies, so as to enhance the level of guaranteeing citizens' right to information. In the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-2015), which was published in June, the government vowed to make public any government information that does not involve state or trade secrets or individual privacy. China began to implement the Provisions on the Disclosure of Government Information, which was seen as a milestone in government information disclosure and transparency, in May 2008.

 

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 10/31/2012

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China Explores Expansion of Grassroots Democracy

 

Wang Xiulan, a retired medical professor in her 60s, was surprised that a nod from the most powerful man in her home village could not make her planned clinic a reality. Wu Liutun, secretary of the Duqiao Village Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), told her that his signature did not count as it had before. Wu asked Wang to get permission for the clinic from eight village deputies from the No. 7 Group, one of the seven subsidiary units of Duqiao Village. Wang, a retired professor of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Henan University, based in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, planned to set up a clinic where the No. 7 Group is based, also her home village in the town of Baisha, Zhongmou County, and spend the rest of her life there. But to achieve this, she would need to obtain approval from at least two-thirds of the village deputies. "If she comes back, she will enjoy the same welfare as the other villagers, such as regular distribution of flour and cooking oil," said Wang Zhanjun, head of the No. 7 Group. "Will the villagers agree, as their welfare is being shared?" To avoid concentrating power in the hands of just a few people, Baisha introduced a villager representative system, or Villager Congress, in 2006. Unlike the past, when village heads decided everything, all major issues in the village are now decided by the representatives.According to Chinese law, a village head is elected by all the villagers, but in most cases, a supervision system is not in place. Many village chiefs have continued to find ways to impose autocratic rule, having taken office via bribery or threats, said analysts. Wukan Village, located in south China's booming Guangdong Province, grabbed international headlines last year when the residents of the small village staged three waves of large-scale rallies over a period of four months to protest what they alleged were illegal land grabs, corruption and violations of financing and election rules among officials.

 

As the urbanization process has accelerated in recent years, much of Baisha's land has become home to factories. The distribution of the compensation funds for the occupied lands is largely controlled by the village heads. In the village head election in 2005, only 15 of the 23 villages in the town were able to choose new leaders, for power was hard to be compromised, said Zhu Maitun, former secretary of the Baisha committee of the CPC. The introduction of the villager congress system has allowed elections to proceed more smoothly. In the 2008 village head election, all 23 villages chose new leaders with the help of the village deputies, as conflicts were first eliminated among families. Pan Changshui, 60, a farmer administered under the No. 7 Group, had never imagined that he would one day have a say in village affairs, as he is not originally from the village. He was first chosen by his ten family members as their family representative. He then competed with another ten family representatives to become a unified deputy for the 11 families. Finally, he became one of the eight deputies of the No. 7 Group and one of the 53 deputies of Duqiao Village. All the group's major issues are decided by the deputies at monthly meetings. The village deputy system gives villagers more room to supervise the village heads and is crucial for the autonomy of villages, said Dang Guoying, a researcher with the Rural Economy Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Science. However, it was not smooth sailing when the system was first introduced in the village in 2006. Wu Liutun, the village Party chief, worried that his opinions would no longer matter, but he soon found the benefits of sharing power.

 

Wu spent 800 yuan (126.9 U.S. dollars) on a water pump for the village last year, but some villagers accused him of taking a kickback. It was hard for him to justify himself. With the introduction of the village congress, villagers now make decisions themselves."In the past, you would be criticized if you made one error out of a hundred," said Yan Zhiqiang, Party chief of Baisha. "There was a lack of trust between the cadres and the masses." "Democracy has made the supervision of cadres a reality and the villagers have their say in public affairs," Yan said. The villagers' various requests, including compensation for demolition, building roads and land rentals, have been met with the successful operation of the village congress. The "village deputy system" is the epitome of China's exploration of grassroots democracy. Expansion of primary-level democracy was highlighted in the 17th National Congress of the CPC in 2007. A series of innovative measures have been taken to improve grassroots democracy, including the trial direct election of town-level Party chiefs in some Chinese cities. Chinese President Hu Jintao, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, called on officials to develop a more wide-reaching people's democracy and pay more attention to exerting the important role of the rule of law in the administration of the country and society, at the opening session of a workshop for ministerial officials and provincial heads on July 23. Analysts expect more measures to be taken to improve the grassroots democracy in China during the upcoming 18th National Congress of the CPC, which will convene on Nov. 8. The expansion of the primary-level democracy has laid a firm foundation and prepared talents for overall democracy in China, said Li Liangdong, a researcher with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. A plenary deputy conference was held among the No. 7 Group of Duqiao Village to discuss the feasibility of the retired professor's clinic in late August. After Wang promised not to enjoy any welfare from the village and wrote a letter confirming this, the deputies agreed that Wang could move back to the village and open her clinic.

Wang's dream of returning to her hometown has finally been realized.

 

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 11/05/2012

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Chinese Prosecutors Capture 76 Fugitive Officials

 

Chinese prosecuting bodies have captured 76 government officials who were on the run abroad accused of committing job-related crimes during the past five years, according to the Ministry of Supervision. During this period, more than 500 fugitives of economic-related crimes were also captured from outside China. These include government officials. "China has made remarkable achievements since the 17th Party Congress in 2007 in tracking down suspects on the run and in preventing law-breaking and rule-violating government officials from escaping the country," a ministry statement said on Monday. Authorities have coordinated efforts and strengthened international cooperation in tracking down corrupt officials, the statement said. Since 2007, via extradition, repatriation or persuasion, smuggling ring boss Lai Changxing as well as Gao Shan, former director of the Bank of China Hesongjie Branch in Harbin of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, among other fugitives, have been sent from Canada, the US and the Republic of Korea to China after years on the run. Due to international procuratorial cooperation, Xu Chaofan and Xu Guojun, both former directors of the Bank of China Kaiping Branch in South China's Guangdong province stood trial in the US and were sentenced up to 25 years in jail in 2009, according to the statement. Discipline inspection, supervision and organizational departments have implemented regulations on reporting officials' personal matters, including income, housing and families. Rules on officials whose spouses and children have moved overseas have also been strengthened. The Ministry of Public Security has tightened rules on the issuance of entry-exit certificates. Since 2008, it has uncovered 184 government officials who attempted to use fraudulent identity documents to obtain passports.

 

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 11/06/2012

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New Committees Proposed to Stem Local Misconduct

 

A new system of village-based supervisory committees has been proposed in China to stem emerging misconduct and corruption among local officials and guard against infringement of farmers' interests. An official document co-publicized on Monday by 12 central-level departments suggested the committees be formed in villages to improve supervision over members of village committees, the autonomous bodies that govern all of a village's public issues. According to a copy posted on the website of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, systematic arrangements should be made to improve auditing of village officials' economic responsibilities and hold them accountable. "In some regions, supervision over village officials is just a formality, and public money or power is improperly used, even resulting in graft and corruption," the document said. It warned that such malpractice hinders the country's efforts to build a socialist new countryside. Under the proposals, no village official should be relieved from economic responsibilities because of end of tenure or termination of service, unless auditing shows they are clean. Supervisory committees should order those who are found by auditors to have embezzled collective properties, money or resources, to return what they illegally gained, it said. They should gather opinions and proposals from auditors for review by villagers' conferences, and transfer cases where relevant to authorities for handling according to laws, it added.

 

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 11/06/2012

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China Vows to Eliminate All Hurdles for Future Reform

 

The Communist Party of China (CPC) will formulate goals, strategic targets and guidelines for future reform and opening up at its upcoming national congress and vows to eliminate all ideological and institutional hurdles in the way of scientific development, a spokesman said Wednesday. Calling reform and opening up a distinctive feature of China in the new era, Cai Mingzhao, spokesman for the congress, said at a press conference that upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics also depend on reform and opening up. "The Communist Party of China has shown its clear-cut attitude in advancing reform and opening up," said Cai, citing President Hu Jintao's remarks in July which described mind emancipation as the "strong ideological weapon", and reform and opening up as the "strong driving force" to push forward the causes of the Party and the people. The Party shall unswervingly advance reform and opening up, stay away from rigidity and stagnation and never vacillate, the spokesman said. China's future reforms will revolve around some important sectors, improving the country's basic socialist economic system, socialist market economy mechanism, basic distribution system, socialist democratic system, cultural management system, and social management system, he said. "Going forward, China will emphasize more on top-down designs and the building of supporting systems for the benefits of the people and provide more solid impetus for the national campaign of building a moderately prosperous society," Cai said.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 11/07/2012

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China to Improve Soft Power with Cultural Sector Reform

 

BEIJING, Nov. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Developing and reforming the cultural industry, is a key focus of delegates at the Party Congress and the public. Representatives from various cultural agencies have held a joint press conference on the issue. They laid out specific targets and actions for cultural reforms and the strengthening of soft power. Culture and the arts are an important part of China’s soft power. The country began refining its cultural industry 10 years ago. In 2002 at the 16th Party Congress, non-profit cultural undertakings were separated from the commercial cultural industry. So how effective has this been? Zhao Shaohua, Chinese Vice Minister of Culture, said, "We have basically put in place a new performing arts system with companies as main players, supported by public institutions. Over 99.5 percent of more than 2000 the state-owned cultural institutions have completed their reform tasks. We have to increases the vitality of enterprises and continue to reform." So far, 580 printing houses, 3000 bookstores, and 850 film studios have made the switch to for-profit. And so have 99.5 percent of China’s arts troupes. By 2020, the cultural industry is expected to be a pillar industry of the national economy; another goal is increased international competitiveness. A senior party official says cultural entities need to stand on their own feet to develop. Sun Zhijun, Deputy Director, CPC Central Committee Publicity Dept., said, "As for profit-oriented cultural entities, once they’ve been transformed into enterprises, they are no longer public institutions. They are independent market players that independently run their own companies and are responsible for their own profits and losses." Sun also says the basic role of cultural programs is to meet the cultural needs of the public. The free admission policy adopted in 2008 gives more people access to museums and galleries. This promotes a better sense of identity among Chinese. And encouraging creativity strengthens the country’s soft power. After more than 30 years of economic prosperity and social stability, China is playing more attention to its culture, heritage and arts. Generally speaking, the country faces a conflict between resources and development. So developing the cultural industry, which uses few sources but can generate greater profit, is a natural focus for economic transition.

 

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 11/12/2012

 

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Central Gov't Departments Told to Follow Congress Spirit

 

BEIJING, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- Party members and officials with various central government departments have been urged to study and follow the essence of the 18th National Congress to set an example for other groups and individuals. In a circular released Thursday by the Work Committee of Central Government Departments under the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, such departments were described as bearing key responsibilities including advising on important policies, making decisions about public resources, approving major events and items, reviewing key cases and legal supervision. Party members and officials with these departments were told to strictly study the report of the 18th CPC National Congress and the newly-amended CPC Constitution as well as "thoroughly and correctly" grasp the essence of the spirit of the congress in order to improve their work. The committee urged Party members and officials to incorporate the spirit of the congress into detailed policies and measures while establishing a system that aims to promote scientific development and reforms of their central government departments. Moreover, the circular stressed strengthened ideological construction, close ties between the CPC and the people as well as firm anti-corruption efforts -- points reflected in the report to the 18th CPC National Congress, which closed on Wednesday.

 

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 11/15/2012

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Xi Jinping Elected General Secretary of CPC Central Committee

 

BEIJING, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- Xi Jinping was elected general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee at the first plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee on Thursday morning. Other members of the newly elected Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee are Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan, and Zhang Gaoli.

 

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 11/15/2012

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JAPAN: Local Civil Servants May Earn More Than National Counterparts in FY12

 

The total salaries of local public servants in fiscal 2012 are projected to exceed those of national civil servants for the first time in nine years, according to a Finance Ministry estimate.The estimate, revealed Thursday, was presented to the meeting of a subcommittee of the Fiscal System Council, which advises the minister of finance.According to the estimate, the index for salaries of local civil servants for fiscal 2012, which ends in March 2013, stands at 106.9 against 100 for salaries of national civil servants.Salaries of national civil servants have been cut by 7.8 percent on average for two years from fiscal 2012 to secure funds for reconstruction of areas ravaged by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.In response to the estimate, many members of the subcommittee called on local governments to cut the salaries of their employees. Meanwhile, the central government was urged to slash tax revenue grants to local governments.

 

Civil servant benefits to be cut

The government, at a Cabinet meeting Friday, adopted a legislative amendment to cut retirement allowances for federal civil servants by about 4 million yen per head.The amendment is designed to narrow the gap between payments for private-sector employees.

 

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/03/2012

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Ishihara Names, Launches New Political Party

 

Former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced Tuesday the launch of a new party named "Taiyo no To.""I have been extremely dissatisfied with national politics for a long time," Ishihara said at a news conference at a Tokyo hotel. "I've decided to work with trusted like-minded friends for the good of this nation."The new party is a remodeling of the Sunrise Party of Japan, headed by Takeo Hiranuma, a House of Representatives member. The party will be eligible for 43 million yen in political subsidies from the central government for December that had been destined for the Sunrise Party of Japan.Before the announcement, the conversion of the Sunrise Party of Japan into the new party, whose name can be translated as "the party of the sun," was reported to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.Ishihara and Hiranuma are coleaders of the party.

 

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/14/2012

 

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Sasagawa to Run for Tokyo Governorship

 

Takashi Sasagawa, former chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party General Council, has announced he will run in the Dec. 16 Tokyo gubernatorial election.Sasagawa, 77, was a seven-time House of Representatives lawmaker who served as state minister for science and technology, among other posts. However, he retired from politics after he lost his seat for Gunma Constituency No. 2 in the 2009 lower house election.At a press conference held Tuesday in Tokyo, Sasagawa said he decided to run in the gubernatorial election after Shintaro Ishihara abruptly resigned as Tokyo governor. The official campaign will kick off on Nov. 29.Among his campaign pledges, Sasagawa said he would improve disaster management measures and make Tokyo a more comfortable place for senior citizens to live in. Regarding Tokyo's candidacy for the 2020 Summer Olympics, he said, "I'd like to win more support from Tokyo residents" for the Games.Sasagawa also said he was prepared to liquidate or sell off Shinginko Tokyo bank, which is under corporate reconstruction with financial support from the metropolitan government. Promising Tokyo residents that he can serve them "in this emergency," Sasagawa said that if elected he would give his salary and bonuses away for welfare and other purposes.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/15/2012

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INDONESIA: Judicial Institutions Need Overhaul

Constitutional Court (MK) chief justice Mahfud MD has called for the dismissal and replacement of all law enforcement officials so the nation’s judicial institutions can be freed from the influence of long-standing corruption. “The old organization bears the burden of past corruption. Therefore, the judicial institutions sabotage each other,” he said during an experts panel discussion, themed “Law, Justice and Social Order” in Jakarta, on Friday. “Judicial institutions are able to hold each other hostage because they know about each other’s scandals,” Mahfud was quoted by Antara news agency. Therefore, he suggested that all law enforcement officials be dismissed and replaced with new officials. “Some countries have already taken such steps in order to form a new organization that is free from the influences of the past,” Mahfud pointed out. Talking about state institutions formed only few years ago such as the MK, Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Judicial Commission (KY), Mahfud said: “They have been functioning quite well”.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 11/10/2012

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Indonesia Launches Nationwide Anti-Corruption Movement

JAKARTA, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia launched a nationwide movement on Sunday aimed at encouraging people to bear anti-corruption stance in mind as part of the activities to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day that falls on Dec. 9. The groundbreaking of the nationwide movement was held in the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) compound, with a huge banner that carries the slogan "Dare To Be Honest is Great!" covering the entire surface of a wall of the building. "Corruption can be eradicated by honesty. Honesty should not only be talked by the people. It must be implemented and be part of people's daily life. If people doing it every day, the potential of corruption act can be eliminated," KPK Vice Chairman Bambang Widjojanto told Xinhua on the sidelines of the event. He pointed out that honesty would be a basic strategy to encourage public awareness and commitment in eradicating corruption. The importance of exercising honest stance was resulted from several discussions to address corruption eradication efforts that previously had been conducted several times, he added. Experts agreed that the ongoing efforts to eradicate corruption had not bought the expected results. The efforts were only focusing on legal proceedings to eradicate corruption and tend to leave the efforts as the government's problems, the vice chairman said. Indonesia was ranked the 100th among 183 countries in the Corruption Perception Index of the Transparency International in 2011, showing that corruption practice was still significant in the country. In the same survey carried out by the international anti-corruption agency, Indonesia was ranked 110th among 178 countries and 111th among 180 countries in 2010 and 2009, respectively.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/25/2012

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MYANMAR: Gov't Renames Two Ministries

YANGON, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- The Myanmar government has renamed two ministries in line with the new development of the country, local media said in their websites Friday. The name of Ministry of Communications, Posts and Telegraphs was changed into Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, while that of Ministry of Labor into Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security. A message of the president's office in this regard was sent to the parliament for approval Thursday. Myanmar's new government carried out a series of major government cabinet reshuffle in August-September in line with its reform strategy. In its 10-day reshuffle process from Aug. 27 to Sept. 7, the government, with the approval of the parliament, reformed its cabinet with 36 ministries which include mergery of two ministries -- the Ministry of Electric Power 1 and 2 into one, addition of four ministries to the President's Office to become six and disbandment of the Ministry of Industrial Development. In the reshuffle, nine ministers were reassigned, two ministers and the Auditor-General were asked to resign, 15 former ministers remained in posts without change, 11 new persons were named to fill the open ministerial posts, one new auditor-general appointed, one deputy minister shifted and 19 new deputy ministers appointed. The major reshuffle of President U Thein Sein's cabinet came more than one year after he took office on March 2011 and also after U Tin Aung Myint Oo, who resigned from the post of vice president for health reason, was replaced by U Nyan Tun.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/02/2012

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Myanmar to Form Tourist Police for Tourists Safety

YANGON, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar Ministry of Home Affairs in collaboration with the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism will form " Tourist Police" unit for the sake of international visitor's security and safety, local media reported Monday. The unit is expected to form before the end of this year and it will perform tasks in regions where tourists mainly visit, said the Biweekly Eleven News. The purpose of forming tourist police is to help foreigners, provide tourists with necessary information related to railway stations, airports, bus terminals, shopping centers and prevent crimes in the tourists-dense areas as well as develop tourism industry in Myanmar. At present, tourist care centers were opened at Yangon, Mandalay and Nyaung U airports and more centers are to be launched across the country. According to statistics from the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, a total of 420,000 tourists arrived in Myanmar from January to early November this year. The statistics also show that there were 1091 hotels and guesthouses offering 44,294 rooms up to September 2012. According to official statistics of Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, the number of tourist arrival amounted to over 800,000 in 2011, up more than 24,000 or 3 percent from over 790,000 in the same period of 2010. Myanmar earned 319 million U.S. dollars in 2011 from hotel and tourist sector, up 26 percent from 254 million U.S. dollars in 2010.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/12/2012

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MALAYSIA: State to Implement e-Procurement

The Government will be expanding the reach of eProcurement (ePorelehan) to the state of Sabah which will enable suppliers and vendors in the state to participate in online business transactions with the government. The ePorelehan (eP) system is an e-government application supervised by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and introduced in year 2000, to make it easier to undertake procurement matters electronically. It aims to provide a more efficient and effective procurement process as well as savings in the business of procurement such as through the eBidding module and bidding online. According to eP Unit Project Director, Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah, the future plans would be to increase the number of eP and eP@Desa centres in Sabah to facilitate the suppliers to get services on the eP system wholly. He added that a total of 6,812 suppliers in Sabah are registered with the MOF including 3,502 Bumiputera-status companies, but only 51 per cent are eP-enabled, out of the total suppliers of 110,327 in Malaysia as of 30 September this year. He urged suppliers in Sabah to trade actively through the eP, as out of the 4,603 suppliers that are eP-enabled, only 1,119 suppliers or 26 per cent, have uploaded their catalogues into the eP system. “Through the use of the integrated eP system, government procurement can be done faster, correctly and with integrity,” he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/09/2012

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Govt Communications to Be Restructured Under New Ministry

SINGAPORE: The government will restructure the way it communicates, taking into account the current media landscape, where people source information from various mediums. Information, Communications and the Arts Minister Yaacob Ibrahim highlighted this as an area the new Communications and Information Ministry will focus on, from 1 November. New media have been a game-changer in spreading information. Singapore's Communications and Information Ministry will look at education -- how to make sense of what one reads on the web, said Dr Yaacob, the man helming the new ministry. "At the end of the day, we also have to ensure that people who are surfing the internet, going online, also understand how to navigate and have the right cyber skills, so to speak, to ensure they have the info-literacy and media-literacy skills necessary for them to understand what is being purveyed," he added. Going forward, the Infocomm Development Authority, Media Development Authority and the National Library Board will have a bigger role to play in cyber-education. With more voices being amplified in the digital age, authorities now have to look more closely at the way government-to-people communications are being managed. It is in this area that efforts are being made to enhance the way things are done. A Media Convergence Review Panel has been set up to assist with re-looking at Singapore's current media policies. The panel is led by Koh Boon Hwee, former chairman of telco SingTel. The authorities are paying special attention to how local content is driven with convergence, and what should be the right regulatory framework in this area, said Dr Yaacob. "Having local content which is attractive will allow us to anchor our population, not only to the country but to our sense of history and our sense as a people and allow us to help in the continuing conversation of who we are and where we want to go," he said. The government has been working closely with national broadcaster MediaCorp to enhance the slew of free-to-air entertainment and current affairs offerings.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/26/2012

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SINGAPORE: Government to Grow Social Services for Future Needs

SINGAPORE: Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mr Chan Chun Sing said Singapore needs to grow its social services much more in future. This is in view of the changing demographics and advancements in technology, which may see a rising number of elderly singles and people with disabilities outliving their caregivers. Social services cater to those who need social support as they may not have family members to fall back on. "Singles may not have very acute medical and social needs today, because they are healthy... but the challenges will come in 20 years' time, when the young singles become the old singles," said Mr Chan.  "How do you design social services that are within the community so that you do not uproot people? These are new challenges down there if 20 to 30 per cent of our people remain single throughout their lives." Mr Chan said help and support systems will have to evolve with the changing demographics. The new Social and Family Development ministry intends to better integrate social services at the community level, to make support more accessible.

As for manpower, the aim is to attract more retirees and housewives to meet the higher demand for social services. Mr Chan said public expectations of such services have also changed. With the widening income gap, those in the middle income group are also increasingly feeling unsettled. Singapore already spends about 40 per cent of its budget on social spending - mostly in the form of transfers for housing and education. Other areas are in social services, medical subsidies and employment. Mr Chan said the government is always ready to do more, but he added resources will be an issue. He said: "This government will always try do more and try to do better for our people - to the extent that some people criticise us for doing too much. The real issue for us is how to get this thing done - where to find the resources... those are the challenges that are real." Mr Chan said resources will have to be put to better use, such as helping voluntary welfare organisations pool resources, through the formation of social service hubs.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 10/26/2012

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Increasing Need for Inclusive & Democratic Governance: DPM Teo

SINGAPORE: Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean has spoken of the increasing need for inclusive and democratic global governance. He said the uncertainty in the international environment has added to the complexity of global decision-making and that calls for a global governance model that is inclusive, transparent and based on the rule of law. Speaking at the 5th Bali Democracy Forum, Mr Teo noted that uncertainty remains over the global economic outlook with the US and European economies remaining sluggish while China and India face a slowdown in their economic growth.  Meanwhile, the impact of the the Arab Spring continues to echo throughout the Middle East while nuclear proliferation in the Gulf and in Northeast Asia present further challenges.  These developments, he said, have implications for all countries, large and small.

Mr Teo, who is also the Home Affairs Minister, added that effective global governance cannot ignore the unique histories, cultures and interests of different regions. In this respect, regional organisations such as ASEAN can make important contributions to boosting governance in their respective regions. As for ASEAN, it has played a key role in maintaining regional security and stability since it was set up in 1967. To better handle the challenges, the regional grouping has adapted and evolved over time. The ratification of the ASEAN Charter in 2008, he said, has set the regional grouping on the path to becoming a more rules-based organisation. Mr Teo stressed that a stable and predictable rule-based international system is critical to the collective security and peaceful development of all states.  He made the remarks during the Leaders' General Debate at the Forum co-chaired by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/08/2012

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Health Ministry to Conduct National Survey

SINGAPORE: The Health Ministry will be conducting a national survey from this month till June next year to gather information on the general health status and lifestyle practices of Singaporeans. The results will be used to track the health of the population and the progress that has been made in reaching national health targets. The information will also be used for planning and evaluating health promotion programmes and healthcare services. A ministry statement said 18,000 households will be randomly selected to take part in the survey. These households will receive a letter informing them of the arrangements. Participants will be interviewed about their health and lifestyle habits, and have their height and weight measurements taken in their homes. The ministry said individual information collected in the survey will be kept confidential and only aggregated data will be published. It urged the selected households to support the survey, which independent research company Market Probe Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd has been commissioned to carry out.

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

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Parliament to Discuss Work of Newly-Formed Ministries

SINGAPORE: Parliament sits on Monday and the newly-formed Ministries of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and Social and Family Development (MSF) will kick off the sitting with the Acting Ministers outlining the work of their relevant ministries. MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar, has asked if MCCY will consider reviewing the admission criteria to the Specialised Independent Schools (SIS) such as allowing students from all academic streams to gain admission to the School of the Arts or the Singapore Sports School, as long as they qualified for the respective artistic or sporting criteria of the SIS. Nominated MP Nicholas Fang has asked about the role sports can play in achieving the aims of the new Ministry to engage the youth of Singapore and enhance community ties. The Employment Act will be up for discussion. The Acting Minister for Manpower has been asked if his Ministry has plans to enact legislation to give more employment rights to low-wage contract workers such as salary increments throughout the tenure of the contract, statutory benefits under the Employment Act and job security. Another question will be asked on the Media Development Authority's reversal of an initial M18 rating for the local film 'Sex.Violence.FamilyValues' to a rating of Not Allowed For All Rating.

The Minister for Communications and Information has been asked how the Board of Film Censors and Films Consultative Panel reconcile any differences in their respective film classifications. GPC Chairman for Education Lim Biow Chuan wants to know from the Education Minister if the Ministry will review the criteria for the award of ASEAN scholarships with a view to scrapping the scholarship for secondary and pre-university students and awarding the undergraduate ASEAN scholarship only. And the Ministry will also be asked if it will make the school principal's character assessment of the student as one of the criteria for the granting of the scholarship. In total, 79 questions have been filed for oral answer on topics ranging from housing, healthcare, education, transport and immigration policies. After question time, Law Minister K Shanmugam will make a Ministerial Statement to pay tribute to former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong. Nine Bills will come up for Second Reading, among them amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code, which among other things deal with the review of the death penalty for drug trafficking and murder cases. Also to be debated is the Casino Control Amendment Bill, which proposes a visit limit for vulnerable gamblers.

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

 

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THAILAND: New Cabinet Announced

His Majesty the King has issued a royal command to endorse the new Cabinet of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The appointments of 23 Cabinet members were announced on TVs Sunday.
The 23 positions endorsed are:
1 Surapong Towichakchaikul became deputy prime minister while holding his current foreign minister positon.
2 Plodprasop Suraswadi became deputy prime minister.
3 Pongthep Thepkanchana became deputy prime minister.
4 Warathep Ratanakorn become PM's Office minister.
5 Sansanee Nakpong became PM's Office minister.
6 Yukol Limthong became agriculture minister.
7 Siriwat Kachornprasart became deputy agriculture minister.
8 Yutthapong Charassathien became deputy agriculture minister.
9 Chatchachart Sitthiphan became transport minister.
10 Prin Suwannathat became deputy transport minister.
11 Prasert Chanruangthong became deputy transport minister.
12 Pongsak Raktapongpaisarn became energy minister.
13 Natthawut Saikua became deputy commerce minister.
14 Jarupong Ruangsuwan became interior minister.
15 Chat Kuldilok became deputy interior minister.
16 Pracha Prasopdee became deputy interior minister.
17 Sonthaya Khunpluem became culture minister.
18 Worawat Ua-apinyakul became science minister.
19 Sermsak Pongpanit became deputy education minister.
20 Pradit Sinthwanarong became public health minister.
21 Chonlanan Srikaew became deputy public health minister.
22 Prasert Boonchaisuk became industry minister.
23 Thanis Thienthong became deputy industry minister.
Three ministers who were removed from the Cabinet were:
1 Wirun Techapaiboon as deputy finance minister
2 Phum Saraphol as deputy commerce minister
3 Chuchart Harnsawat as deputy interior minister.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/28/2012

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VIETNAM: Needs Higher Education Ministry'

HCM CITY (VNS) — Viet Nam's complex higher education system needs to be better integrated in order to improve training quality, a foreign education expert has suggested. At a workshop held yesterday in HCM City, Martin Hayden, deputy rector of Australia's Southern Cross University, said Viet Nam should establish a single coordinating body such as a Ministry of Higher Education and Research for its higher education system. A single coordinating body, he said, should take responsibility for implementing national priorities approved by the State for the higher education system. The higher education sector has been expanding rapidly. From 2001 to 2011, there were on average eight new universities and twelve new colleges founded each year, and the enrollment increased from 162 students per 10,000 persons in 2001 to 251 students per 10,000 persons in 2011. The growth is expected to rise to more than 400 students per 10,000 persons by 2020. Hayden noted that Viet Nam's higher education system was complex, with national and regional universities, research institutes, academies, comprehensive schools, specialised schools, technical and vocational colleges, teacher-training colleges, community colleges and professional secondary schools.

Authority for decision-making in Viet Nam's higher education system is widely dispersed and as a consequence, administration of the system is highly fragmented, according to Hayden. The government has responsibility for the two national universities. The Ministry of Training and Education has responsibility for another 54 public universities and colleges, while 13 other ministries, together with many State agencies and provincial governments have responsibilities for another 250 public universities and colleges. Hayden said the dispersal of authority within the system severely limited its capacity to make progress in a coordinated manner, leading to problems in implementing system-wide policies. New accountability processes should also be deployed, he suggested, adding that line-management control by ministries and other State instrumentalities were significant impediments to accountability. "Public universities, which are generally not able to make their own decisions in Viet Nam, should be given more self-governing capacity," he said.

Viet Nam's public universities rank poorly in terms of institutional autonomy, even in comparison with public universities in the former Soviet satellite countries such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Lithuania. "The need for a transfer of governance responsibilities for public universities from the State to university councils is a matter of high priority," Hayden said. Further expansion of the public higher education system, however, would require vastly increased amounts of expenditure. Because the capacity of the Government to invest even more heavily in the higher system is limited, increased tuition fees appear to be the only available option, according to Hayden. He said the government should also set up an independent quality assurance agency for the higher education system. Organised by the Viet Nam National University-HCM City's Development Fund in co-operation with the International Education Institute, the workshop was attended by many domestic and foreign educational experts. — VNS

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 11/10/2012

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BANGLADESH: Retirement Age Raised by 1 Yr to 60 for Freedom Fighters in Govt Service PM

Dhaka, Nov 21 (UNB) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday announced that the retirement age of the freedom fighter officials and employees in the government services has been increased by one year more to 60 years.“The age of retirement for the freedom fighters was earlier increased to 59 years from 57 years. But, yesterday (Tuesday) we’ve taken the decision to increase their retirement age by another year to 60 years,” she said at a reception accorded to the gallantry award recipient freedom fighters and their successors at the Armed Forces Division.The Prime Minister handed over gifts and cheques to the gallantry award recipient freedom fighters and their successors.

Hasina said that her government has taken steps so that the nation remembers decades after decades the invaluable contributions and supreme sacrifices of the valiant freedom fighters during the war of liberation.“We’ve not only taken steps for those who have fought the war of liberation, but also for their successors so that they receive due respect,” she said seeking cooperation of all to this end.The Prime Minister said that the nation will always remember with gratitude the immense contribution of those who sacrificed their lives for liberating the country responding to the call of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971.Highlighting the steps taken by her government to ensure various facilities for the freedom fighters and their successors, she said the government has increased the amount of freedom fighters’ allowances and also the number of beneficiaries.

Hasina said the amount of allowances for freedom fighters has been increased to Tk 2,000 from Tk 1,500 along with raising the number of beneficiaries to 1.5 lakh from 1.25 lakh.Besides, she added, monthly allowance for the families of Bir Shreshtha has been increased to Tk 14,400 from Tk 11,250 while allowance for each of the 2,500 martyred families increased to Tk 7,020 from Tk 5,850.The Prime Minister mentioned that to preserve information on the veteran freedom fighters and members of their families, an initiative has been taken to prepare a database under the management of the Ministry of Liberation War Affairs.She said that in order to portray the real history of the war of liberation to the young generation, initiatives have also been taken to preserve historical places including the place where Father of the Nation delivered his historic 7th March speech and where the Pakistani occupation forces had surrendered on December 16, 1971.

In this regard, she said that construction works are progressing at the Suhrawardy Udyan for building `Shikha Chirantan’, an open stage having capacity of 2,000 seats, an underground museum, and a 156-seat Audio-Visual room.The Prime Minister said that the poor freedom fighters will be able to receive healthcare facilities from their nearest hospitals and upazila health complexes, and if necessary, they will be entitled to receive specialized treatments.  Listing various steps taken for the welfare of the freedom fighters, she said projects have already been undertaken to construct three-storied Muktijoddha Complex buildings with five-storey foundation in every district at a cost of Tk 119 crore while Muktijoddha Bhaban in every Upazilla at a cost of Tk 806 crore.

Hasina mentioned that during her previous term, quota in government service was first reserved for the children of the freedom fighters and now it has been extended to their grand children.She also noted the initiative taken to honour the country’s foreign friends including late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in recognition of their historical contributions to the war of liberation in 1971.Hasina reiterated her government's firm commitment to build a hunger- and poverty-free Bangladesh imbued by the spirit of the war of liberation, and called upon all to supplement the government efforts to this end.Earlier, the Prime Minister distributed gifts among 60 gallantry award winning freedom fighters and their successors including Mother of Bir Shreshtha Abdur Rauf and Mother of Bir Shreshtha Mostafa Kamal.

Prime Minister’s Defense Adviser Maj Gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique, State Minister for Liberation War Affairs Capt (retd) AB Tajul Islam, and chiefs of the three services were, among others, present on the occasion.Hasina said that it was her government which had introduced the state honour for the freedom fighters after their death.Necessary steps have also been taken to increase the amount of grants for funeral rites of war heroes, she added.

From http://www.unbconnect.com/ 11/21/2012

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e-Governance Means Government at Your Service

Ponnala Lakshmaiaha is a veteran politician hailing from Telangana with strong technical and academic background. He is currently a cabinet rank minister in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.He has held key portfolios in the Andhra Pradesh cabinet including Information Technology & Communications, Endowments, Major & Medium Irrigation, Aqua Culture and Fisheries. He has been in politics since the late 70’s and has contributed his share as a cabinet member to the growth of AP state. He has helped pave way for irrigating hundreds of thousands of acres of under-cultivated lands into today’s bountiful crop-yielding arable lands as Minister for Major Irrigation. He has contributed in the areas of policy formulation for hardware,  animal husbandry, dairy development, poultry, and allied industries in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Ponnala Lakshmaiah’s political career that spans over three decades is focused on service to the socially and economically challenged sections in the state of Andhra PradeshThere is no doubt that a great progress has been made in the e-Governance space in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Please share with us your vision for further improving the governance structure through ICT in Andhra Pradesh?

As far as government is concerned, we are committed to good governance. This good governance has two components, one is human element and the second is the infrastructure or the technological element. To reach out to maximum number of people we need the help of technology, but this technology must be handled by sensitive and competent people, only then it will lead to best possible results. The e-Governance systems are a result of both, the human element and the technology. It always results in better systems of governance. We are going all out to create more efficient e-Governance systems, as we are motivated by the desire of serving people in better ways. That is our vision; whatever we do should bring maximum possible advantage to the people. The research and the technological implementation that is happening in name of e-Governance should benefit the common man and raise his standards of living.

The IT industry in the state has been growing at a healthy rate. What kind of contributions, in terms of enacting new policies, has the government in the state made for the development of the IT industry?The ICT industry has always been the main driver behind the jobs creation and fostering of regional development in the country. The Government of Andhra Pradesh is committed to the development of a more competitive industrial environment. There are large numbers of initiatives that we have taken to develop the IT industry. In order to promote sustained growth of ICT sector, not only to enhance the balanced regional socio-economic development but also to spread the usage of IT to the last mile of the State, for the benefit of common man,  Government has announced the ICT Policy 2010-2015. If I may say so, the IT Policy in the state is far more effective as compared to that in any other state in the country. As a matter of fact, it is well known that in the world one out of every three IT professionals is from India, and one out of every three Indian IT professionals is from Andhra Pradesh. This by itself is a proof of the fact that the state is blessed with abundant talent in the field of IT. There are more than 700 institutions in the state that are engaged in churning out highly competent IT professionals. These talented professionals coming out of our institutions serve the manpower needs of not just the Andhra based IT industry, but the entire world. It is a result of work done by the government on the policy and infrastructure front that we have so many institutes capable of providing world class training in IT related subjects.

A decision to set up Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) around the city of Hyderabad has also been taken. Will this also lead to improvement in the size and scope of IT industry?I was about to come to ITIR. The Centre has finally gave “in principle” approval to the Andhra Pradesh government’s proposal for setting up an Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) around the city. This will give a muchneeded boost to the state’s efforts to attract fresh investments into the industry. The ITIR will be developed in an area of 202 sq km (50,000 acres)  in two phases over a period of 25 years. The ITIR is aimed at attracting an investment of Rs 2.19 lakh crore in the ITITES sectors and create direct employment for 15 lakh youths. ITIR is a combination of production units, public utilities, logistic, environment protection mechanism, residential areas and administrative services.  ITIRs will include Special Economic Zones, Industrial Parks, Free Trade Zones, Warehousing zones, Export-Oriented Units, growth centres, existing settlements and estates.

The most important e-Governance programme in Andhra Pradesh is the Mee Seva. Tell us about Mee Seva. What are the ways by which Mee Seva is benefitting the people in the state?Government of Andhra Pradesh has always been at the forefront of leveraging IT for development and governance. The Mee Seva means “At Your Service.” It is an all-inclusive programme, and has vastly benefitted all sections of the society, and especially the poor section, who rely heavily on welfare schemes for their well-being. Mee Seva leveraged creation of Centralised Land Records database, its purification, digital signing and a web-based application that allows functionaries to take up necessary updation etc. The unique feature of this application and database is that it is in Telugu. Through this system lakhs of citizens in the state are able to access crucial documents and certificates through common kiosks. Crucial documents get issued to the citizens across the counter.

When we talk about G2C services in the e-Governance space, we are basically talking about putting governance in the online pace. But this kind of process also leads to a lot of crucial information pertaining to the citizen being put in online mediums. So what kind of security measures are we taking to protect the  privacy of the individual?The intention behind our e-Governance initiatives is very clear; we want to reach out to the people. The manual systems do not reach to the people in the ways in which we would want to. So we are using technology to improve the system of interaction between the government and the people. As far as the security systems are concerned, they are in place. There is latest technology being used to provide most convenient and secure gateways for conducting transactions. We also have laws to give strict punishments to people who target government websites.

It is an accepted belief that IT industry is concentrated mainly in the urban areas, so what steps you are taking to develop IT industry in smaller towns?The government is taking many new initiatives to ensure that IT industry can also move into our tier 2 towns. Many new institutions have been allowed to come up in the towns. In fact 5 years ago, hardly any IT industry was located in the town of Vizag, but now the same place generates revenues of more than `1,000 crore. Similarly things are going to pick up at other towns also.You have been associated with many rural development projects. In your opinion what kind of impact ICT can have on rural industries and on agriculture?

Modern technology has a role to play in every sector, including agriculture. For instance, in agriculture you need to know the nature of the soil, you need to know what kind of fertilizers will be most suitable. You will need information on transplantation of the produce post harvesting. The thing is that such information can be more easily accessed through the use of technology Nowadays we have computer systems that can be accessed in Telgu language. This has brought computing and Internet close to many farmers. In fact, I would like to tell you that we are one of the first Unicode members along with IBM, Honeywell and Microsoft. Only 9 entities are the permanent members, Andhra Pradesh is 10th member. We are taking active measures to ensure that Telgu becomes one of the premier languages for conducting business on the web.

Mee Seva initiative has become  very popular among the people and many other states in the country are planning to launch their own versions of Mee Seva.At a ground level, what kind of impact is the Mee Seva initiative having on the people?In the past, for issue of Caste, Residence, Income certificates of students, the applications were physically submitted at Tahsildar Office. This was followed by field verification by concerned VRA/VRO and after receiving the report, Tahsildar used to issue physically ink signed certificates. During the high demand months of June-August / admission closing dates, Tahsildar office used to receive more than 1,000 applications in a day, which resulted in inordinate delays or issue of certificates without verification. Mee Seva has really made service delivery very convenient for the citizen. Prior to the launch of Mee Seva project, applicants used to visit the respective departments to avail services, many a times applicants were forced to visit these offices to get their certificates. Under the revised process, Mee Seva is able to issue certificates across the counter within 15 minutes in 90 percent of the cases.

Given the fact that the technology keeps evolving at a very rapid pace, where do you see the governance in the next 10 years?I see paperless, cashless, transparent, hassle free, instantaneous governance becoming a reality. One thing I believe certainly, with the talent we have in Andhra Pradesh, a major revolution in governance is bound to happen. The state has been on the forefront when it comes to the implementation of Aadhaar. In times to come the Aadhaar system will start playing a central role in the management of government benefits and subsidies.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/09/2012

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INDIA: Effective e-Governance for Good Governance

Good governance, as we know, is the backbone of any society. If we seek to raise our economic standards to globally advanced levels, our basic infrastructure for governance also needs to improve in tandem. It is our firm belief that Mee Seva is going to be the beginning of the change that all of us want to see in governance in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Mee Seva, the flagship e-Governance initiative of the State Government, is by itself a proof of how Information and Communication Technology can be used to create efficient, hassle free and  transparent interface for the citizens.The State of Andhra Pradesh has always been on the forefront when it comes to leveraging IT for development. The State initiated the eSeva project in 2001 to provide bill payment services for various Government Departments and private organisations. One of the first such projects in the country, the eSeva project served as a single-window solution for the citizens in urban parts of the State.

Common Service Centres (CSCs) were established to extend similar benefits to the rural citizens of the State as part of National e-Governance Project (NeGP).Though eSeva succeeded in reducing the drudgery of bill-payments at multiple counters, it was still serving as a ‘post-office’, accepting applications, sending by post to the concerned office, receiving back and then handing over to the citizens. In many ways the power of ICT was seen to being under-utilised in various government records like land records, Registration etc. Citizens had to make many rounds of the  government departments in order to get hold of the much needed documents.Mee Seva, which is Telugu for “At Your Service,” was evolved as the need was felt for a faster, easier and transparent mechanism for delivering various G2C services. The concept is unique and first-of-its kind in the country. It is the first time that the entire solution right from the collection of applications till the issue of final certificates has been turned electronic. It is also possible to track request through its life cycle at various stages and render it amenable for monitoring at Tehsil, Division or District level.

There is no requirement of physical interaction whatsoever between the user and the issuing authority thereby limiting the chances of corruption and other malpractices. There is no doubt that over the longer term, initiatives like Mee Seva will incentivise the economy of the state. We intend to leverage the support of public and private organisations to keep developing even better e-Governance systems. An event like the eINDIA 2012 is important, because it is a platform to highlight the power of ICT to usher seminal efficiencies in governance, health, education, agriculture and every other field.The eINDIA 2012, which is being convened from 15-16 November, 2012, at Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC), Andhra Pradesh, will bring together leading thinkers, policymakers and industrialists from around the world to discuss ideas and strategies for the future. This event will also be a place to showcase potential and opportunities in various sectors in Andhra Pradesh. Our aim, at this juncture, is to showcase Andhra Pradesh’s inherent strengths, and the opportunities that exist here for industry and enterprise.With open arms, we welcome the finest thinkers, policy makers and entrepreneurs, who are arriving for eINDIA 2012.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/09/2012

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PAKISTAN: Government Will Complete Its Five-Year Term

The Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar said that the government would complete its 5-year term which ends on March 18. "The elections will be called within 60 days after completion of this term. We hope the elections would be held by May 2013," he said while talking to the media at Hyderabad Airport here on Sunday. The Minister denied that there is any plan to postpone the elections on any pretext. "These are just rumours," he clarified. He said it is auspicious for the country that a democratically elected government would complete its constitutional period.

Talking about the state of the country's flag carrier airline, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the Minister announced that a fleet pf 8 new aircraft is being bought on lease for the PIA. He noted that the biggest problem of the Pakistan International Airlines is the shortage of aircraft adding that the government is addressing that issue. "We are also increasing the revenue of the PIA," he added. When asked about the complaints of the business community of Hyderabad about the condition of the runway of Hyderabad Airport, Qamar said the repair work of the runway would be completed within 3 months as soon as the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) submits a report in that regard. "After this repair work even the 737 and A20 aircraft would be able to land at the airport," he said. The Defence Minister praised the performance of the CAA's Training Center in Hyderabad saying that the aviation staff trained who were even working in the foreign countries.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 11/12/2012

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SBP Issues Instructions to Improve Transparency

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has issued detailed instructions for Profit and Loss Distribution and Pool Management in Islamic Banking Institutions (IBIs) in order to improve transparency and disclosures and bring standardization in IBIs profit and loss distribution policies and practices.A statement here on Monday said that with the issuance of these instructions, which are applicable with immediate effect, Para IV of annexure-II of IBD Circular No. 2 of 2008 stands withdrawn.Further, the provisions of BPRD Circular No. 7 of 2008 regarding minimum rate of return on savings deposits as amended from time to time shall no more be applicable on Islamic Banking Institutions.

The failure to comply with SBP instructions shall invoke penal action under the provisions of Banking Companies Ordinance, 1962, says IBD Circular No.3 of 2012 issued to the Presidents/Chief Executives of all Islamic banks and all conventional banks having Islamic banking branches today. It may be pointed out that the peculiar nature of relationship between the depositors and Islamic banking institutions (IBIs) where income earned by the IBI has a direct impact on depositors return; there was a need for Islamic banking industry to have well defined, transparent and standardized policies and practices for profit and loss computation and distribution. As per SBP instructions, each pool of deposit established by IBIs would act like a virtual enterprise having explicitly demarcated sources of funds, ownership of specific assets and income and expenses. The profit earned on the financing and investments made through such pool of deposits will be shared between IBIs and the depositors as per pre-agreed profit sharing ratio. In case of loss, the same will be borne by the depositors in proportion of their investments unless caused by the negligence and misconduct by the IBIs in managing the depositors' funds.

From http://www.brecorder.com/ 11/19/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: Deputy PM - ICT Sector Is Priority Area

Holding the Global Internet Governance Forum in Baku is recognition of the fruitful results of the policy for society's information development in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijani deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov said at the opening ceremony today. He said that the ICT sector in Azerbaijan is a priority area and that the president pays attention to it. "Thanks to the president's decisions this field is developing rapidly. This is particularly so in the field of ICT in the public administration system and rendering electronic services to the population," he said. The problem with Internet governance for sustainable economic and social development as discussed at the forum demonstrates the role of the Internet in our globalising world and emphasises the importance of the forum and stipulates the broad interest in the Internet Governance." He added this is testified by the presence of many participants representing state agencies, businesses and public organisations, at the forum. "Azerbaijan has been actively developing recently," he said. "The ICT and Internet opportunities are widely used in the country. Internet services became available, the technology of their use expanded and the number of users increased." He said that close mutual cooperation at international level can bring about results in resolving many issues related to the challenges of developing the global world, including Internet regulation. "Moreover, one must not turn the Internet into a tool of terrorism, religious, racial, inter-cultural xenophobia, separatism and other manifestations that are contrary to international standards," he said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/06/2012

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Azerbaijan Introduces Centralized Water Infrastructure Governance System

"Azersu" company (Azerbaijani national water operator) starts implementing a geographic information system to assess the current state of the sewerage systems and the design of water supply systems, head of the Department of Information and Communication Technologies of the company Samir Ganili said at a press conference today. The project of governing the underground infrastructure - "Azersu CIS" has been presented there. "The geographic information system allows analyzing the network and modeling the infrastructure of drinking and sewage water, conducting geographical inventory of water infrastructure," he said. The system will also manage the infrastructures of drinking water, wastewater and rain water and conduct work on the areas. Bentley Company is implementing Azersu CIS project. The company has rich experience in creating the geographic information systems. He said that the project implementation is designed for three years. The project involves placing the data on the electronic map in online regime. The operations on creating a system component and staff training are under completion today. "The operations are underway to transform archival data in an electronic form," he said. "The buildings in Baku will be numbered within this project. This will identify the data on the number of subscribers living in the building, regulate the flow of water, receive information about emergency situations."

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/20/2012

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Azerbaijan Creates Electronic Register of Civil Servants

A tender was announced in connection with the establishment of the registry and the winning company was determined, deputy chairman of the Commission on the Public Service under the President of Azerbaijan Vafadar Misirov said on Friday. He noted that a new version of the registry will be prepared in the coming months, the authorities will be able to get information about state employees by entering the base. So far, the registry contains information on approximately 20 thousand civil servants, he said. Misirov said the authorities send information about the civil servants in the commission via e-mail, and sometimes there are mistakes. "State agencies will be able to place information about public servants after the launch of the new database," vice-president of the Commission said. Range of information about the civil servants on the register is defined by the law, he said. It includes information about the work record card and questionnaire of civil servants. Misirov noted that civil servants themselves will also be able to read the information in the registry in the future. "In case of any information change on civil servant, he may apply to the personnel department," he said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/23/2012

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KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament Approves Interior Minister’s Candidacy

On Thursday deputies of Kyrgyz Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) approved Shamil Atakhanov as Minister of Internal Affairs, KirTAG reported. Only one of the 103 registered deputies voted against. Thus, 102 out of 103 deputies voted for Atakhanov. 64 year old Shamil Atakhanov is a former head of the National Security Committee, a retired colonel and a member of the Social Democratic Party.

 

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/08/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: To Form "Political Elite"

 

Kazakhstan will soon make retrenchment of civil servants, which will affect to the so-called "A" corps, which is the political class of the republic, Kazakh newspaper "Liter" reported according to the deputy head of presidential administration Bauyrzhan Baibek. "This reform is very important. Number of political employees will be reduced by 6.5 per cent, from 3,277 to 538 people. They will be people, political appointees, which will be very little," - the deputy head of Kazakh presidential administration Bauyrzhan Baibek said. According to him, here will be created as so-called "golden fund" - "A" corps (including 500 people). This category will be able to ensure that the economic reforms, social modernization, and in the end they will bear the responsibility for the inclusion of Kazakhstan in the 50 successful countries. This is not the first action, two years ago, President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree to reduce of 15 percent of state government agencies, in result 26 thousand people lost their positions. This year has been a moratorium on the increase of civil servants in the country. "Corps "A" are managers, the elite of the elites, whose will be rigidly selected" - said Bauyrzhan Baibek. He also added that no one can just simply take place in "A" corps. According to him, it would create a national commission under the President. Head of the AP, his deputy, vice-ministers, deputy speakers of the Senate and the Majilis will be members of this commission. "The National Commission will select people into the reserve and only the people from this reserve will be appointed to the position of the "A" corps, Baibek explained. "If a man falls out of the "A" corps, at the second time he will never be there," Bauyrzhan Baibek assured.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/06/2012

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EBRD Signs Memorandum to Develop New Light Rail System in Kazakh City

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Kazakh city of Almaty have signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at the development of a new light rail system in the centre of Kazakhstan's biggest city, the EBRD reported. "The agreement envisages a project with an estimated cost of $ 300 million. It will cover construction of about 14 kilometers of light rail tracks to replace the existing tram route and will also finance new rolling stock and equipment," the bank said. According to the bank, the future light rail, also known as fast tram, will be faster and cheaper to build than a metro and will serve as the backbone of the rest of the surface public transport system in the city. "Implementation of this project is aimed at improvement of the urban transport system of Almaty by developing environmentally friendly modern electrical transport. The project will result in a better quality of passenger transportation as well as a lower level of emissions," Almaty's head Akhmetjan Esimov said said at the signing. This project will be the first major public-private partnership (PPP) transaction in urban transport to be launched in Kazakhstan. The EBRD will seek grants to cover costs for legal and technical advisers to assist the city of Almaty with drafting PPP documents. "The EBRD has also invested in other urban transport projects in Kazakhstan, in particular the Almaty buses and trolleybuses," the bank said.

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

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Representative of Central Communications Service Under President Appointed in Kazakhstan

 

Altay Abibullayev was appointed to the position of the Official representative of Central Communications Service under the President of Kazakhstan (CCS), the press service of the CCS reported. "Altay Abibullayev is appointed as the Official Representative of CCS under President of Kazakhstan," a statement said on Wednesday. The CCS was established by order of the President Nursultan Nazarbayev to improve transparency in the activity of Kazakh state agencies and provide a greater public awareness of the governmental work. According to the press service, the official representative of the CCS under the President will hold regular briefings for Kazakh and foreign mass media. Altay Abibullayev was born in 1974, he is a Master of International Relations at University of Warsaw, Faculty of Journalism and Political Science. He has served in the foreign policy system since 1997, held the position of Advisor at the Kazakh Embassy to Poland and Austria, as well as at the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the International Organizations in Vienna. Prior to his appointment he served as the Chairman of the International Information Committee - the official representative of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/14/2012

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Nazarbayev Receives Chairman of Kazakh Agency for Statistics

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev received Chairman of the Agency for Statistics Alikhan Smailov on Thursday. According to the agency's press service, at the meeting A. Smailov reported on the results of agency's work and prospects of further improvement of statistical methodology, and development of information systems. The Chairman of the Agency for Statistics also informed of passage of the law "On state statistics" formalizing the norms and standards of the official statistics based on the UN recommendation and principles of e-Statistics integrated information system. "Currently, average life expectancy of Kazakhstanis makes 69.6 years. This demonstrates dynamic development of the healthcare sector and effective state policy aimed at improvement of the quality of life," Nursultan Nazarbayev noted. President Nazarbayev also paid attention to the fact that the national statistics system had improved and become more effective in line with the international practice. The Kazakh Leader gave specific instructions on the integration of the agency's information system with the systems of other government bodies and introduction of the international standards into its activities.

From http://engnews.gazeta.kz/ 11/15/2012

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TAJIKISTAN: President Reshuffles Executive Personnel of Ministries and Agencies

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon recently made changes to the executive personnel of some ministries and departments of the country, the Avesta reports. As the head of state's press service reported, according to government regulations senior advisor to the president on economic policy Nematdzhon Buriev was appointed as First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, the Deputy Minister of Justice Abdumanon Kholikov as the First Deputy Minister of Justice, the head of the Control Department of the Executive Office of the President Hakim Mirsaev - Deputy Minister of Justice. Karimjon Azizov is appointed as the First Deputy Director of the TV channel Safina, Shohon Odinaev as the Deputy Director of Safina TV channel. Muhammad Ghoib, the former director of the First Channel of Tajik television is appointed as chief editor of the official publication Jumhuriyat. The president also presented the candidatures of a chairman of Trade Unions of Sughd province Saidboy Zakirov for the position of deputy chairman of the Central Commission for Elections and Referendums and the director of the State Agency for Social Protection, Employment and Migration at the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection , Nurullo Mahmadulloev as a member of the Central Commission for Elections and Referendums to the consideration of Parliament. According to the Article 13 of the Law 'On the Chamber of Accounts of the Tajik Republic' the president presented a proposal to the Majlisi Namoyandagon (Lower House of Parliament) on the appointment of the chief auditors of the Accounts Chamber. The candidatures of the chief of Anti-Corruption Agency, Agency of State Financial Control and Anti-Corruption Ashurali Mirzoyev, the head of the Secretariat of the Committee for Economy and Finance of the Majlisi Namoyandagon Kosim Muminov, Deputy Head of the Agency - Head of the State Audit Office of the Agency for State Financial Control and Anti-Corruption in Dushanbe Faizali Zaripov, Deputy Head of the Agency for State Financial Control and Anti-Corruption Mahmadali Samiev and Chief of Finance of Gorno Badakshan Autonomous Region Zikrihudo Samadov were presented for these positions. During the meeting with the newly appointed staff, Emomali Rahmon admonished them to undertake honest and faithful service for the interests of the state and the people and stressed that the interests of the state and nation should be placed above all other interests.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/12/2012

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FIJI: Reforms Needed for Stability – PM

 

The Fijian government will not hesitate to review structures and relations that have been an impediment to economic growth, says Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama. Speaking at the Prime Minister’s Exporter of the Year Awards in Sigatoka, Bainimarama said these impediments have fostered corruption, created an uneven playing field, cronyism and a jaundiced system. He said the FNPF reform is one such initiative which despite being criticised by some economists and those who benefited from a skewered system managed to get international recognition and an award to FNPF as a leading superannuation fund. Bainimarama said similarly, the Essential Industries Decree creates a rational approach to labour relations in identified critical economic sectors. “Unreasonable and unrealistic labour relations do not help workers. The do not help employers, they do not help investment and they do not help families. In fact, they hurt them all as only a privileged few benefit from a skewered system whose long term objective is to protect those privileges,” said the Prime Minister. He went to say that Air Pacific (soon to be Fiji Airways) was saved because his government made the appropriate decisions which included the application of the Essential Industries Decree to Air Pacific.

 

“Now our national airline has made a remarkable turnaround. Instead of closing down or cutting jobs as many airlines throughout the world have done, Air Pacific/Fiji Airways is buying a new aircraft. It is rebranding and can add more routes. This will create more jobs for Fijians and will expand our ability to bring more tourists to our shores. All of this will lead to more growth in our economy. All of this has been done without a single job lost or exploitation of its workers,” Meanwhile, Bainimarama says the Fiji’s government believes in hard work, not handouts and wants a strong partnership with the business community as it works to overcome economic challenges. He said businesses need consistency from government when it comes to such things as land availability, access to labour, application of the law, the supply of raw materials and access to markets. And as part of the government’s holistic approach to development, they have adopted a long term view to strive with progressive policies to consolidate Fiji’s strength as an exporting country.

“We have opened up new markets with our “Look North” policy which had launched a global diplomatic campaign to engage with all nations and we are promoting our goods and services with initiatives such as “Buy Fijian Made” campaign,” he said. “We are also reforming the Civil Service to make it more responsive to the needs of business and we have to do a lot more to remove the frustrating red tape that often gets in the way of dealing with government. We want the Civil Service to do what it is meant to do and that is to serve the people.” The Prime Minister added that they have also introduced a range of incentives to assist export efforts and this includes zero rated duty on plant and machinery and competitive tax rates to encourage further investment. He concluded by urging all citizens of the country to back the export sector as it not only promotes and sells Fijian made products and services but also keeps the nation’s foreign reserves healthy.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com 11/19/2012

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Fiji Pension Reform a Success: Taito

Three thousand out of 10,000 members eligible for pension opted out of Fiji’s National Provident Fund’s (FNPF) new age-based pension scheme which came into effect in March this year. FNPF chief executive, Aisake Taito said the significant number was largely due to members’ lack of understanding about the new scheme. As a result, the fund had to pay out a lump sum of about $127 million (US$71 million). In fact it was not all smooth sailing for the fund in implementing the new scheme as there were issues with late payment of pension. This was however resolved over time. The 7000 members who decided against lump withdrawal reinvested $168million (US$94 million) into the new pension scheme. Taito deemed the 70 per cent membership retained as an indication that the pension reform was a success and that it reflected the members’ confidence in FNPF. He said Fiji National Provident Fund recorded a negative contribution of $0.9million (US$0.5 million) for the financial year ending 30 June 2012. Taito attributed this to more withdrawals – in housing and flood assistance - than contributions collected from members. Withdrawals for this period increased to $318.2million (US$1178.1 million) from $309.5million (US$173.3 million).

Taito also revealed a net surplus of $115million (US$64 million) recorded by the fund, even after paying out $127million (US$71 million) to pensioners who opted for a lump sum withdrawal. As the result of the net surplus the fund’s net assets also increased to $3.9billion (US$2.2 billion) from $3.8 billion (US$2.1 billion) in 2011. The fund also recorded an increase in total investment income from $249.9 million (US$139.9 million) in 2012 compared with $238.8 (US$133.7 million) million in 2011. The increase Taito said was largely due to high returns from the fund’s investments, both domestic and off-shore. Taito said that the structural changes implemented in the last 12 months have built a strong foundation to create value for FNPF members and inspire confidence in the future of the Fund. The total membership of the Fund grew by 4,633 to almost 373,00 and employers increased by 340 to 7,840. Meanwhile, in line with industry best practices, the fund has separated Pension businesses from Contribution businesses. Assets worth $252million (US$141 million) were set aside for the newly-established Retirement Income Fund to support pension payments.

From http://www.pina.com.fj 11/22/2012

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Pay Rise for Fiji Govt Workers in 2013

Over 4500 Fiji’s civil servants and unestablished government wage earners will get a pay rise in the new year. From 01 January 2013, all established staff in the civil service will receive a minimum salary of $10,000 (US$5,650) a year and a total of 1663 civil servants will benefit from this decision. While all unestablished government wage earners will receive a 10 per cent pay rise, also effective from 01 January 2013. This pay rise will benefit 2,878 government wage earners. Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Commodore Frank Bainimarama made the announcement during the 2013 National Budget address in Suva today and said the government will introduce performance-based bonuses throughout the civil service. “This underscores my government’s fundamental belief that individuals should be rewarded on merit and accomplishment. No longer will seniority and personal connections be a path to advancement. We want to reward the best people and keep them working in government,” he said.

 

However, this bonus will be paid out only to those who perform over and above what is expected of them. Bonuses for performance in 2013 will be paid in 2014. “We must retain highly skilled and capable officers in the civil service. Too often, they are lost to the private sector or regional and international organisations. By setting salaries that recognize the different skill requirements for each position, we will retain more skilled and competent officers in the service.” Bainimarama said the civil service is doing better, but government will not rest until the job is done. “We will continue to work to eliminate red tape, buck passing, incompetence, slackness and corruption in the civil service. At same time, we will continue to improve the working conditions of civil servants” he added. Civil servants received a 3 percent pay increase in the 2012 budget while doctors and nurses received a 6 percent rise and the Police Officers were given 9 percent increase. Fiji’s economy is projected to grow by 2.5 per cent in 2012. Forecast growth for 2013 is 2.7 per cent. For 2013, the Fijian government estimates total revenue of FJ$2.1 billion (US$1.1 billion) and a total expenditure of $2.3 billion US$1.2billlion. The estimated net deficit for 2013 is $218 million (US$123 million) - or 2.8 per cent of GDP.

From http://www.pina.com.fj 11/23/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Govt Sets Up Unit to Lift Maori Economic Performance

 

A Maori unit within the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment will be set up to drive a government plan to lift Maori economic performance. The unit will drive a strategy to improve Maori economic outcomes by lifting Maori educational achievement, through on-job training. The Maori Economic Development Panel released the Maori economic development strategy and action plan today. A Maori economic development advisory board will be appointed by Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples and Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce to provide mentoring and evaluation of the strategy and plan. The plan includes a focus on financial literacy, increased resources to enhance Maori governance, a private sector action plan to improve Maori land productivity and a new Maori-oriented investment fund. The action plan includes 26 action points including improving educational outcomes for Maori through on-job training, improved governance of Maori assets and access to capital; and land productivity.

Maori Economic Development Panel chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said the panel planned on inter-generational change in terms of economic development. "This report is the work of nearly 1000 New Zealanders who care deeply about improving the economic status of Maori and the economic performance of New Zealand," he said. "It's an important day not just for Maori, but for all New Zealanders. Mr Joyce said Maori education and training rates had been lagging and were not where they needed to be. Underachievement in education needed to be dealt with in order for Maori to achieve their full economic potential. This goal would form part of Ministry of Education public service targets to improve Maori outcomes. Dr Sharples said the plan would provide user-friendly programmes for Maori. He talked about Maori children performing poorly in educational achievement statistics. "We have to stop kidding ourselves and have more meaningful programmes," said Dr Sharples. Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell said the strategy marked another milestone achieved in the relationship accord between the Maori Party and the National Party. "We are very pleased to see that the Government has committed to a plan of action that will support Maori business to flourish into the future.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 11/19/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Joining Anti-Corruption Body

 

Solomon Islands has joined the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and Pacific as one of its newest members. The country's membership was reaffirmed at the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative recent meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. The other newly admitted member was East Timor. Together, they brought the total membership of the Anti-Corruption Initiative up to 30 countries. The Inspector General of Vietnam, Huynh Phong Tranh, welcomed Solomon Islands and East Timor to the organization during the meeting, which was attended by a local delegation led by Auditor General Edward Ronia. Mr Ronia said that as a member of the Anti-Corruption Initiative, Solomon Islands will gain access to updated information on new developments in anti-corruption measures. More importantly, he said the country, like all the members of the Initiative, will be obliged to start meeting anti-corruption requirements under the Initiative. "It is worrying that Solomon Islands is still not as proactive in her anti-corruption developments as we could be," Mr Ronia said. "With the increasing complexity of criminal activities in the world, it would be a sad state of affairs for Solomon Islands if she became targeted by international criminals as the weak link in the fight against corruption in the region."

 

Mr Ronia said the next step under the Initiative will be a self-assessment review on anti-corruption measures in Solomon Islands. "A recommended panel of reviewers was being prepared for consideration by the Solomon Islands Government. Thereafter Solomon Islands, together with Norway, is scheduled to review Pakistan against the UNCAC Convention in 2013." The auditor general said that as a member of the Initiative, the country will have direct access to the other member countries' anti-corruption laws, policies and practices to use as models for implementing similar anti-corruption arrangements for the Solomon Islands. Mr Ronia said that it is important that Solomon Islands leaders demonstrate strong political will to fight against corruption. The country's membership of the Anti-Corruption Initiative followed on from its accession to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in January this year. Mr Ronia was accompanied to the Hanoi meet by Andrew Muaki, Director of Governance and Anti-Corruption in the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office and Jimmy Sendersly, Acting Director, Financial Intelligence Unit, Central Bank of Solomon Islands.

From http://www.solomontimes.com/ 11/13/2012

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VANUATU: Leaders Sign Agreement to Form New Government

Two of Vanuatu’s major political parties have signed an agreement to form a new coalition government. The new parliament is due to sit from today to elect a new Prime Minister. In the three weeks since the election, two main groupings have continued to claim a majority of the 52-seats. The incumbent Prime Minister, Sato Kilman and deputy Prime Minister, Ham Lini, have signed a Memorandum of Agreement for the formation of a new coalition. Lini signed the agreement in the name of a bloc comprising his party, National United Party, Reunification of Movements for Change, Nagriamel Custom Movement and Vanuatu National Party. The two leaders refused to speak to media, saying they will only be available to reveal the composition of their government after parliament sits. They claim the support of 31 MPs.

From http://www.pina.com.fj 11/19/2012

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ITU Academy Launched to Strengthen Capacity Development in ICT

 

Geneva, 23 October 2012 – The Global ICT Forum on Human Capacity Development in Capetown, South Africa, focused on the migration of analogue to digital broadcasting, was inaugurated today by Minister of Communications of South Africa Ms Dina Pule. ITU released a publication on the Digital Dividend: ‘Insights for Spectrum Decisions’ and conducted information sessions on understanding the transition process from analogue to digital broadcasting. The Report explores the human capacity development implications of this transition and addresses how organizations and nations can prepare human capital for a digital economy. ITU also launched the ITU Academy, an integrated approach to delivery of training through an e-Learning platform that will run interdisciplinary courses catering for a wide range of ICT educational needs. Discussions at the Global ICT Forum on Human Capacity Development centred on ICTs for capacity building and explored e-Learning trends, strategies and perspectives as well as innovative uses of mobile devices for knowledge dissemination. ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré reiterated the need to expedite the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting and noted that capacity building lies at the heart of future ICT development. “Digital broadcasting is the future, and it is essential that we make the transition sooner than later to keep pace with the fast pace of change in the ICT sector,” Dr Touré said.

 

‘Digital Dividend’ explained

Speaking on different occasions, Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau noted that ITU recognizes the need to provide a detailed insight into what the digital dividend process entails and to help decision makers allocate and manage spectrum and the digital dividend process. He explained that the digital dividend is the amount of spectrum freed up by the transition of terrestrial television broadcasting from analogue to digital. “Digital broadcasting is inherently more efficient than analogue,” Sanou said. “Spectrum efficiency gained by the transition of terrestrial analogue television to digital is the ‘dividend’ that provides a win-win situation for both consumers and the industry, with more choice and quality in television services for users and new revenue streams and business models for operators and service providers.” Guidelines in the Report provide a framework for developing a roadmap for the analogue to digital transition process, comprising 43 functional building blocks, with one specifically dealing with the digital dividend. The Global ICT Forum discussions on the transition and the ensuing digital dividend examined the strategic intent and importance of the transition as well as policy, regulatory, technical and human capacity building implications. Mr François Rancy, Director of ITU's Radiocommunication Bureau, stated: “Decisions on the allocation of the digital dividend are among the most important that need to be taken by regulators and governments in the coming years. These decisions will to a large extent determine the ability of populations to access the Internet and broadband. ITU is happy to contribute to exchange experience and best practices on this important matter.”

 

New ITU Academy launched
Speaking at the launch of the ITU Academy, Mr Sanou said, “The ITU Academy will respond to demand for knowledge and skills in information and communication technology (ICT) training, teaching and research. The Academy will offer a wide and growing range of general and specialized courses on all aspects of telecommunications/ICT in Radiocommunication, Telecommunication Standardization and Telecommunication Development.” Programmes in the ITU Academy will be delivered both by traditional, face-to-face means as well as online learning. The programmes will be designed to equip an expanding number of target groups with the specialist knowledge and tools needed in the rapidly evolving domain of telecommunications/ICT and to use the skills and related technology in the creation of a ‘Knowledge Society’.

From http://www.itu.int/ 10/23/2012

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Investment: G20 Governments Must Step Up Efforts to Resist Protectionism, Says OECD, WTO, UNCTAD Report

31/10/2012 - The OECD, WTO and UNCTAD have called on G20 governments to step up efforts to resist protectionism in the face of continuing high unemployment and a weak economic recovery. In their eighth report to the G20, the organisations say that strengthened multilateral co-operation is needed and urge countries to show leadership in keeping markets open. “The temptation towards protectionism is as strong today as ever with the crisis continuing to undermine our economies,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. “Now more than ever governments must hold firm on their commitments to open and transparent investment. G20 leaders have an essential role to play in revitalising the multilateral trading and investment system.” G20 members have on the whole continued honouring their pledge not to introduce new restrictive investment measures, according to analysis of actions taken between May 2012 and October 2012. Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, Russia and Turkey amended their investment policies, while almost exclusively reducing restrictions to international capital flows and improving clarity for investors, according to the report. Twelve G20 members signed bilateral investment treaties or international investment agreements over that period, including Australia, China, Japan, Korea and the European Union. G20 leaders have committed to resist protectionism and promote global trade and investment at summits since 2008. They mandated WTO, OECD and UNCTAD – the leading international organisations in international trade and investment policies – to monitor developments and report publicly on countries’ adherence to their commitments.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/31/2012

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First Global Twitter Press Conference on Innovation

 

The first Global Twitter Press Conference will be conducted by Mr. Sam Pitroda on 2nd November. The Adviser to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations and Chairman, National Innovation Council will host the first global press conference on Twitter to discuss ‘Global Innovation Roundtable’. The press conference will be held on the concluding day of the Global Innovation Roundtable hosted by the National Innovation Council, Government of India. The National Innovation Council has organized the Second Global Innovation Roundtable on the 1st and 2nd November 2012 in New Delhi. The Roundtable will see participation of leaders of Innovation from more than 15 countries. The roundtable will offer a forum for sharing ideas and experiences among all the participating countries to identify mechanisms to collaborate on inclusive innovation that meets global needs of inclusion, access and equity. The Global Innovation Roundtable will be webcasted live over two days at http://wstech.wstream.net/innovation/121101/. The National Innovation Council, Government of India, hosted the first Global Innovation Roundtable in November 2011 in New Delhi, India. The Twitter press conference will talk about the deliberations and outcomes of the Global Innovation Roundtable and will take up questions from Indian and international media. Mr. Sam Pitroda will host the conference from his Twitter handle @pitrodasam and will invite other Global Innovation Roundtable participants to join in. The Twitter Press Conference will start at 4.00 pm and is scheduled for 1.5 hours. The hash tag for the conference will be #innovation. The website of the Global Innovation Roundtable will provide all details of the Global Press Conference.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/31/2012

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15th International Anti-Corruption Conference Closes with an Urgent Call to End Impunity

The need to fight impunity was stressed at the closing session of the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference, which called for the promotion of a culture of transparency leading to a participatory society in which leaders are accountable. The 15th biennial International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) brought together more than 1900 representatives from the public, private and non-profit sectors from 140 countries. With the theme Mobilising People: Connecting Agents of Change, the conference explored five key global challenges: ending impunity, clean climate governance, preventing illicit financial flows, political transitions leading to stable and transparent governments and clean sports. Over 50 sessions looked for new ways to connect citizens to hold leaders of both the public and private sector to account, with special emphasis on using new technologies, social media, as well as supporting younger generations. “The last four days of vigorous debate spurred fresh enthusiasm for the fight against corruption, and renewed our determination to stamp out the impunity that aids and abets corruption in all walks of government and business,” said the Hon. Justice Barry O’Keefe, chair of the International Anti-Corruption Council. “The IACC has always been a much-anticipated global conference and we are proud to have hosted it in Brazil. We have in these 4 days of work (1,900 experts from 140 countries) learnt from each other‘s best practices and discussed ideas and viable solutions to combat and prevent corruption. Brasilia has thus become the world capital of the fight against corruption,” said Minister Jorge Hage Comptroller General in Brazil.

Brazil‘s President Dilma Rousseff opened the Conference. Minister Jorge Hage Sobrinho, Comptroller General of Brazil, Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira and Justice Minister José Eduardo Martins Cardoso also addressed the Conference. Other prominent speakers included Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karman, Richard Goldstone, Baltasar Garzón and Misha Glenny, author of the book on organised crime McMafia. Under the IACC Game Changers Initiative, the conference invited 23 young journalists, from Tunisia to Nepal, to cover the 15th IACC as part of the Young Journalists’ Initiative. Their stories can be read here. It also called on 25 developers to hold a four-day hackathon and develop new tools to help activists fight corruption. In addition, the Initiative awarded six 5000 euro grants to bring innovative anti-corruption projects to life. The IACC, first held in 1983, has evolved into the leading global forum on governance and anti-corruption. The conference fosters cooperation and innovation in developing tools to tackle corruption in government, business and society. The 15th IACC was organized by the IACC Council in cooperation with Transparency International, Amarribo, Instituto Ethos, and was generously hosted by the Government of Brazil and the Office of the Comptroller General of Brazil. The IACC Council expressed sincere appreciation to Senegal for its efforts to combat corruption and its interest in hosting the IACC conference in the future. The 16th IACC will be held in Tunisia in 2014. Deputy Prime Minister Ladgham of Tunisia attended the conference.

From http://www.transparency.org/ 11/10/2012

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New Report Examines Risks of 4 Degree Hotter World by End of Century

WASHINGTON, November 18, 2012 – The world is barreling down a path to heat up by 4 degrees at the end of the century if the global community fails to act on climate change, triggering a cascade of cataclysmic changes that include extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks and a sea-level rise affecting hundreds of millions of people, according to a new scientific report released today that was commissioned by the World Bank. All regions of the world would suffer – some more than others – but the report finds that the poor will suffer the most. Turn Down the Heat, a snapshot of the latest climate science prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and Climate Analytics, says that the world is on a path to a 4 degree Celsius[1] (4°C) warmer world by end of this century and current greenhouse gas emissions pledges will not reduce this by much. “A 4 degree warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2 degrees,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.  “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.”

 

The report says that the 4°C scenarios are potentially devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher under and malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased intensity of tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems. "The Earth system's responses to climate change appear to be non-linear," points out PIK Director, John Schellnhuber. "If we venture far beyond the 2 degrees guardrail, towards the 4 degrees line, the risk of crossing tipping points rises sharply. The only way to avoid this is to break the business-as-usual pattern of production and consumption." The report notes, however, that a 4°C world is not inevitable and that with sustained policy action warming can still be held below 2°C, which is the goal adopted by the international community and one that already brings some serious damages and risks to the environment and human populations. “The world must tackle the problem of climate change more aggressively,” Kim said. “Greater adaptation and mitigation efforts are essential and solutions exist. We need a global response equal to the scale of the climate problem, a response that puts us on a new path of climate smart development and shared prosperity.  But time is very short.”

 

The World Bank Group’s work on inclusive green growth has found that with more efficient and smarter use of energy and natural resources opportunities exist to drastically reduce the climate impact of development without slowing poverty alleviation or economic growth. “While every country will take a different pathway to greener growth and balance their own need for energy access with energy sustainability, every country has green growth opportunities to exploit,” said Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development. Those initiatives could include: putting the more than US$ 1 trillion of fossil fuel and other harmful subsidies to better use; introducing natural capital accounting into national accounts; expanding both public and private expenditures on green infrastructure able to withstand extreme weather and urban public transport systems designed to minimize carbon emission and maximize access to jobs and services; supporting carbon pricing and international and national emissions trading schemes; and increasing energy efficiency – especially in buildings – and the share of renewable power produced. “This report reinforces the reality that today’s climate volatility affects everything we do,” Kyte said. “We will redouble our efforts to build adaptive capacity and resilience, as well as find solutions to the climate challenge.” 

 

Turn Down The Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided summarizes a range of the direct and indirect climatic consequences under the current global path for greenhouse gas emissions. Key findings include:

•Extreme heat waves, that without global warming would be expected to occur once in several hundred years, will be experienced during almost all summer months in many regions.  The effects would not be evenly distributed.  The largest warming  would be exptected to occur over land and range from 4° C to 10° C.  Increases of 6° C or more in average monthly summer temperatures would be expected in the Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East and parts of the United States.

•Sea level-rise by 0.5 to 1 meter by 2100 is likely, with higher levels also possible. Some of the most highly vulnerable cities are located in Mozambique, Madagascar, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

•The most vulnerable regions are in the tropics, sub-tropics and towards the poles, where multiple impacts are likely to come together.

•Agriculture, water resources, human health, biodiversity and ecosystem services are likely to be severely impacted.  This could lead to large-scale displacement of populations and consequences for human security and economic and trade systems.

•Many small islands may not be able to sustain their populations. 

The report states that the science is unequivocal that humans are the cause of global warming, and major changes are already being observed. The global mean temperature has continued to increase and is now about 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels. 

 

While a global warming of 0.8°C may not seem large, the report notes that many climate change impacts have already started to emerge, and the shift from 0.8°C to 2.0°C warming or beyond will pose much larger challenges.  But a global mean temperature increase of 4°C approaches the known historic level of change for the planet, which harks back to the last ice age when much of central Europe and the northern United States were covered with kilometers of ice and global mean temperatures were about 4.5°C  to 7°C lower. And this contemporary human-induced climate change, the report notes, is occurring over a century, not millennia. Kyte said, “The Bank commissioned the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics to make a summary analysis of the latest climate science, as a means to better understand the potential impact of a 4°C warmer world in developing countries.” Today, the Bank is helping 130 countries take action on climate change. Last year, it doubled its financial lending that contributes to adaptation. The Bank-administered US$7.2 billion Climate Investment Funds are now operating in 48 countries, leveraging an additional US$43 billion in clean investment. Increasingly, the Bank is supporting action on the ground to finance the kind of projects that help the poor grow their way out of poverty, increase their resilience to climate change, and achieve emissions reductions.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 11/18/2012

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Asia Pacific to Lead Global Cloud Traffic

Asia Pacific will generate the most cloud traffic by 2016 as compared to North America and Western Europe. The second annual Cisco Global Cloud Index (2011-2016) indicates that Asia Pacific will process the most cloud workloads - about 36 percent of the global cloud workloads by 2016. Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are identified as the nation's best prepared to lead this trend. Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and China are the emerging countries that will contribute heavily to this trend, according to Cisco that also notes Asia Pacific as ready to support advanced cloud computing applications over fixed networks. The Index says 2014 will be the first year when the majority of workloads shift to the cloud. More than 50 percent of all workloads by that time will be processed in the cloud versus 48 percent in the traditional IT space.

 

Four-fold increase in traffic

Cisco also predicts a four-fold increase in global data centre traffic by 2016 and notes that the vast majority of the data centre traffic is caused by data centres and cloud-computing workloads used in activities that are virtually invisible to individuals. About 76 percent of data centre traffic will stay within the data centre and will be largely generated by storage, production and development data during 2011-2016. Seven percent of data centre traffic will be generated between data centres, and 17 percent of data centre traffic will be fuelled by end-users accessing clouds for Web surfing, e-mailing and video streaming. The Middle East and Africa will have the highest cloud traffic growth rate through 2016. The Asia Pacific region will process the most cloud workloads, followed by North America by this time. "This year's forecast confirms that strong growth in data centre usage and cloud traffic are global trends, driven by our growing desire to access personal and business content anywhere, on any device," said Doug Merritt, senior vice president, Corporate Marketing, Cisco. "When you couple this growth with projected increases in connected devices and objects, the next-generation Internet will be an essential component to enabling much greater data centre virtualisation and a new world of interconnected clouds."

From http://www.computerworld.com.sg/ 11/01/2012

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APEC on Target to Reduce Energy Intensity, but More Work Needed, Says Early Assessment

APEC is on target to reduce its energy intensity and meet its green growth goals to reduce APEC's aggregate energy intensity by 45 percent by 2035, according to an analysis released this week in Chinese Taipei. Roberto Lozano, a researcher with the Asia-Pacific Energy Research Center (APERC), said that APEC could reduce energy intensity by 45% by 2035 if it achieves an average growth rate of 2% per year or 9.5% every 5 years. “APEC’s energy intensity reduction is framed within a permanent commitment to reduce the effects of climate change, namely greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting economic growth and development,” Lozano told the APEC Expert Group on Energy Efficiency and Conservation on Thursday. “With 2005 as a reference, it is expected that by 2035 energy intensity will have decreased 59.3% in the transport, 48.4% in the industry and 45.9% in the joint demand of the residential, commercial and agriculture sectors,” he explained. The group acknowledged that in spite of APERC’s latest projections suggesting that it is possible for APEC to meet its goal of reducing energy intensity in 45% by 2035, the recent historic trend indicates that it might still require further efforts to accomplish it. For that reason, member economies reported on their commitments to boost their efforts to achieve that goal. At the same time, the work will yield better trade flows in energy efficient goods and services across the region.

 

APEC delegates recognized that energy efficiency and conservation are global issues and vital for the modern civilization. Its improvement is often considered a major indicator of an economy’s sustainable development. “Some of the energy savings have been achieved domestically, but not necessarily across the borders,” said Dr Alex Tong, Vice President and General Director of the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Chinese Taipei. Briefing the group about progress made in Chinese Taipei, Tong explained how ITRI, a nonprofit research and development agency, developed a platform for loan guarantees to energy service companies that can work across the border and achieve energy savings across economies. “Just recently we tried to commercialize recovery of energy from waste heat,” he continued. “This provides 10% efficiency over 100 degrees of waste heat. “These energy savings practices without any fuel will create big savings and each economy has a program to support energy service companies.” Indentifying a clear pathway to this goal, APEC Expert Group on Energy Efficiency and Conservation Chair Terry Collins reminded participants that APEC Leaders reaffirmed the need for greater reform and alignment in regulatory approaches and international standards to eliminate non-tariff trade barriers.

 

“Energy efficiency and conservation is common sense but only commitment and resolution can lead to its implementation,” he said. “This meeting is a good opportunity for us to share with what has been accomplished and to realize further improvement through information exchange. “A responsive approach will be valuable for member economies to continue their work in the coming years,” he said. Members agreed that innovation in the industrial and manufacturing sectors across Asia-Pacific will create energy savings. Work is underway to complete the 5th edition of the APEC Energy Demand and Supply Outlook which will be published in late 2012. The volumes will include a summary of key trends in demand and supply; an overview of APEC energy investments and alternative scenarios for high gas; improved urban planning; and the race for a virtual clean car.

From http://www.apec.org/ 11/09/2012

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Investments in Disaster Risk Management Essential to Sustaining Growth and Reducing Poverty

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — The growing incidence of natural disasters in Asia and the Pacific—where four of five cities globally classified as at extreme risk are located—threatens to undermine seriously rapid economic progress, calling for a much stronger focus among governments on disaster prevention, says a new study from Independent Evaluation at the Asian Development Bank. The region has borne the brunt of the physical and economic damage of the sharp rise in natural disasters since the 1980s. Its people are four times more likely to be affected by natural disaster than in Africa and 25 times more than in Europe or North America. With 25% of the world’s gross domestic product, the region accounted for 38% of the economic losses due to natural disasters during 1980–2009. The study—ADB’s Response to Natural Disasters and Disaster Risks—calls for projects and programs to put a far greater emphasis on improving disaster prevention. Much wider recognition is needed of the fact that natural disasters, particularly storms and floods, are becoming endemic and that their increasing frequency and severity can slash economic growth and development. “We have thought for too long that natural disasters come and go, that they are just an interruption to development, and that they can be dealt with after they strike,” says the Director General of Independent Evaluation, Vinod Thomas. “However, there is growing international recognition that the incidence and impact of natural disasters are increasing because of persistent poverty, population growth, and climate change.”

 

In its review of ADB’s disaster-related projects and programs, the study notes that disaster prevention accounted for one-third of investment, compared with two-thirds spent on disaster recovery. Yet, by some measures, one dollar invested today in reducing disaster risk saves at least four dollars in future relief and rehabilitation costs. The independent evaluation study finds that ADB’s disaster-recovery projects have been much more successful than ADB-supported projects overall. But many of them had the limited objective of restoring particular types of infrastructure, rather than rehabilitating livelihoods, or increasing disaster resilience. So far, very few countries have focused on the disaster risks in their economic development plans. Member country governments and ADB must do more to highlight the need for investment in disaster prevention, not just in infrastructure, but also in relation to social development. During 1995–2011, ADB provided funding of $10.37 billion for 264 natural disaster interventions, including 104 loans for $8.55 billion. A special review of ADB’s disaster response programs in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Pakistan finds several areas where ADB and the rest of the development community could improve both disaster response and preparation. In Bangladesh, for example, ADB has been efficient at renovating damaged roads and bridges. But it can support the proactive and successful disaster management programs the government has implemented. These programs have dramatically lowered deaths in this disaster-prone delta-region caused by regular, powerful cyclones. In a storm in 1997, for example, 111 were killed in contrast with 300,000 people in a similar storm in 1970.

 

In Indonesia—after the earthquake off Sumatra and resulting tsunami in December 2004, killing more than 200,000 around the Indian Ocean—the government gained valuable experience, through effective delegation, in handling the huge numbers of donors that line up to respond to such disasters. Greater support is now needed for strengthening the institutions that emerged out of the response to the disaster, including the National Agency for Disaster Management. This replaced the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (known as BRR)—set up in 2005 and dissolved in 2009 as it completed its task—as the government’s central coordinating body for disaster response and prevention. Another lesson learned in the earthquake-tsunami response is the hugely complex needs such disasters create. “You cannot simply rehabilitate roads and bridges and then build temporary shelter. Often, poverty, gender, ethnic issues, property rights and other problems compound the difficulties and require much greater attention and capacity for response from the development community,” says Tomoo Ueda, Principal Evaluation Specialist and the main author. In Pakistan, where the country’s defense forces have gained respect for their disaster response, there is significant need for greater support for civil disaster-management institutions, such as the National Disaster Management Authority. “Throughout the region, we must recognize that investments in disaster risk management are an essential means to sustaining growth and poverty reduction,” says Thomas.

From http://www.adb.org/ 11/13/2012

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Raising Awareness of Violence Against Women in the Pacific

 

November 25, 2012 – Around one in every three women in the world over will be physically or sexually abused at some point in their life; one in four children bear witness to domestic or gender violence. In some Pacific countries, the statistics are worse. According to the World Bank's 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, between 60 and 70 per cent of women in Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu report experiencing some form of domestic violence. The Pacific region has some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world. A 2008 WHO survey found that 23 per cent of women in Kiribati reported abuse during pregnancy, while 68 per cent of women aged 15-49 experienced violence from an intimate partner. According to Merilyn Tahi, Coordinator of the Vanutu’s Women’s Center, “We also have to look into our cultural and traditional practice to address violence again women.” She explained that, “In some Vanuatu cultures, on the day of the wedding, women are told about their roles and that they cannot tell what happens at home outside the house. And they believe that is culture.”

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 11/25/2012

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CHINA: To Resume Construction of Nuclear Plants

The construction of new nuclear power stations, which had been suspended since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, will be resumed in China. But only a small number will be launched by 2015 and all of them will be located at coastal sites. Prior to the Fukushima disaster, some energy officials indicated China would embark on as many as 40 nuclear energy projects during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), and at least seven inland provinces applied to host plants. In contrast, according to a statement released on the government website on Wednesday, China will resume construction of nuclear power plants "in a steady and orderly way" and "at a reasonable pace".Two programs — the national plan for nuclear power security (2011-20) and nuclear power development (2011-20) — were approved on Wednesday at an executive meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao. A national energy development program up to 2015 was also approved. All new nuclear reactors must comply with the highest international safety standards, according to the plans. He Jiankun, director of the Institute of Low Carbon Economy at Tsinghua University, said nuclear power strikes a balance between an increasing thirst for energy and the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions. "Nuclear energy is irreplaceable," he said. China’s competitiveness will be compromised if it rejects nuclear power or if it fails to use the latest nuclear technology, he said. The choice of a site for a nuclear power station "must be based on thorough scientific research". And there must be adequate assurances that under no circumstances would radioactive leakage occur, he added.

 

China’s nuclear power generating capacity accounts for just 1.8 percent of its electricity, lower than the average 14 percent for countries that have nuclear power, according to a government white paper on energy policies that was also released on Wednesday. "The development of nuclear power is significant for the optimization of China's energy structure and will safeguard national energy security," it said, adding China will continue to develop nuclear energy in a "safe and highly efficient" way. Safety is the priority, it said. "China has conducted comprehensive and stringent security and safety checks following the Fukushima nuclear accident. The results have proved that the safety of China's nuclear power is guaranteed," the white paper said. The paper also addressed China's increasing dependence on imported oil and said its low energy reserves continue to threaten energy security. Robust economic growth in the past two decades has transformed the country from a net oil exporter to a major importer. Experts said energy security and oil security are world issues that need global solutions. "The world's oil situation is changing with more geopolitical uncertainties," Tsinghua University's He said. "The development of gas shale in the United States has alleviated its reliance on imported oil and lessened its interests in the Middle East."

China needs to boost oil exploration, increase global cooperation and contribute to the establishment of an international system of energy security, he said. Per capita energy consumption in China is about one-third of that of developed countries but will grow sharply, the white paper said. Li Zuojun, an economist at the Institute of Resources and Environmental Policies with the State Council's Development Research Center, said China must promote low-carbon development. Coal still accounts for about 70 percent of China's energy consumption and about 80 percent of its electricity production. Coal production was 3.18 billion metric tons in 2011 and the country aims to curb that to around 3.9 billion tons by 2015, according to the 12th Five-Year Plan for the coal industry. "China's energy consumption is highly reliant on abundant coal, which leads to serious environmental problems," Li said. The country has set a target to enhance the proportion of non-fossil fuels in the overall primary energy mix to 15 percent by 2020, while it also plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 10/25/2012

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China Works for Safe Dangerous Waste Disposal

The Chinese government has released a guideline to ensure all dangerous wastes produced by major licensed units at or above city levels will be safely disposed of by 2015. "Our country's prevention of pollution from dangerous wastes started late with a weak foundation and historical consequences. The pressure will be huge and the situation will remain austere until 2015," said the guideline jointly adopted by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Health. The document, which was made public on Monday, praised the progress made in that regard between 2006 to 2010, citing that licensed waste-producing units safely disposed of 8.4 million tonnes of dangerous wastes in 2010, up 180 percent from 2006. It urged strengthened control of harmful wastes from the sources, supervising all waste-processing procedures as well as integrating legal, administrative, economic and technologic measures to stem illegal dumping of wastes and improve waste-treating capacities. The guideline came after a series of waste dumping cases affecting local environments and people's health. In May, seven people received jail terms from a local district court after two companies in southwest China's Yunnan Province were found to have dumped 5,000 tonnes of chromium-contaminated waste near a local reservoir and on nearby hills from April to June last year. Ensuing rainfall reportedly washed some of the chemicals into local water supplies, causing the deaths of 77 heads of cattle. No human deaths have been attributed to chromium pollution in the case, but at least 14 local residents have been diagnosed with cancer since 2002 and many suspect their diseases were caused by contaminated drinking water. The guideline set a goal of having 90 percent of units producing dangerous wastes at all levels and 95 percent of those dealing with these wastes at all levels to meet government management standards by 2015. In addition, the document set down several key missions including surveying dangerous waste, developing an industry to utilize these wastes, and boosting capacities to safely dispose of heavy metal and medical wastes.

From http://www.china.org.cn/ 11/01/2012

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Fair to Highlight Robotic Tech

ROBOTIC technology will be in the spotlight at the China International Industry Fair which will display the latest Chinese technological advances in developing robots. Intelligent robots, or irob, have started to play an important role in industry, disaster rescue and routine life and this will be highlighted at the fair, experts said. "The irob is actually a software robot which can connect with cell phone, television and a control sensor at home," said May Mei, a researcher at Shanghai Zhizhen Web Technology Co, the developer. "People can chat with the robot (equipped) with artificial intelligence and give orders like searching the Internet for information and controlling electric appliances. So far it has been widely used by the government and telecommunication companies on their Internet customer service platform." Mei said the company is working on an irob system to control all home electric appliances through a human voice. Zhejiang University, the developer of two robot table tennis players, said developing them has spawned off other technologies like quick vision recognition and this has been introduced to industrial and civil use. The five-day fair opens today at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in Pudong New Area.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 11/06/2012

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Technology Can Make Life More Convenient

CUTTING-EDGE information technologies and products, including mobile Internet, cloud computing and GPS, are used in the transportation, education and medical sectors in Shanghai, Shanghai Daily learned at an exhibition yesterday. A BMW car that can be unlocked with an iPhone, a school bus which can keep parents informed of the location of their child and mobile applications telling people the exact time when the next bus will arrive were just some of the technologies in the spotlight as the 14th China International Industry Fair opened yesterday in Shanghai. China Unicom, the country's No. 2 mobile carrier, has invested 185 million yuan (US$29.4 million) in cloud computing in 15 cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Cloud services allows users to access, store and edit data and files online. In Shanghai, China Unicom provides 10 gigabytes of cloud storage for Word, Excel and picture files, which can be easily shared through short message and Weibo services. "It's just like a portable personal data center for every one," the official at the booth said, showing the "Smart Cloud" application on an iPhone. Besides cloud computing, a BMW was also shown during the fair. Car owners can control the car by phone through China Unicom's 3G network, including locking and unlocking doors and turning on the air conditioner. China Telecom also showed wireless technologies through its 3G and WiFi network. With a card-swipe device on school buses, parents can get short messages sent to their mobile phone when their children get on and off buses through China Telecom's network.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 11/07/2012

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CPC Central Committee Politburo Urges Implementing Congress Spirit

BEIJING, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a meeting on Friday to arrange implementing the spirit of the just-concluded 18th CPC National Congress. The meeting was presided over by CPC Central Committee General Secretary Xi Jinping. The Party unveiled a new leadership lineup for the next five years Thursday. A statement released after the meeting described the 18th CPC National Congress, held from Nov. 8-14, as "an extremely important meeting convened at the decisive stage of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects." It went on to add that learning, promoting and implementing the congress's spirit concerns the work of the Party and the country and the lasting development of the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics. It said this is of great significance in confidently completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, under Xi's leadership. The statement added that the foremost political task is to concentrate the mind of the Party, the nation and people of all ethnic backgrounds onto the congress's spirit, and meet the various tasks and goals that have been set in the congress. This would be done through learning, promoting and implementing the congress's spirit, the statement added.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 11/16/2012

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JAPAN: Elected to U.N. Human Rights Body

The U.N. General Assembly on Monday elected Japan and 17 other countries, including the United States and South Korea, to serve on the U.N. Human Rights Council for three years beginning Jan. 1.The council, composed of 47 members, looks into human rights violations in U.N. member countries and makes recommendations for improvement.Members of the council are elected by a majority vote of 193 U.N. member countries. Japan was elected for two consecutive terms from 2006 through 2011.The United States, which was elected for the second straight term, takes a critical stance toward the council, saying it is too strict about Israel's human rights situation. In a statement Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed the need for "ending the Council's disproportionate and biased focus on Israel."The council was established in 2006, but the administration of then U.S. President George W. Bush did not seek U.S. membership.The United States reversed its stance in 2009 under the administration of President Barack Obama and was elected that year.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/14/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: Govt. to Promote Agricultural Activities Based on Consumer Cooperation

The Ministry for Food, Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries says that will promote community agricultural activities in which consumers directly participate in the production and distribution process.The ministry said these community supportive activities involve producers and consumers signing contracts to supply agricultural produce on a regular basis or directly manage stores to sell the produce.The ministry says it will back the establishment of related cooperatives and launch educational and consulting websites to nurture professionals as part of its efforts.In addition, it will support the establishment of common workshops where seasonal agricultural produce can be packaged for delivery.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/01/2012

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Forum to Promote Civic, Social Groups Held at Museum

A forum to allow civic and social groups explain what they do to the public is being held at the National Museum of Korea in central Seoul.The forum will continue through Saturday and is designed so civic and social groups can freely and directly communicate with the public to boost public understanding of their work and participation in their various activities.A total of 194 groups including social enterprises and cooperatives are taking part in the event, which is hosted by the Office of Minister for Special Affairs and is sponsored by the Happy World Foundation.During the opening ceremony Friday, Stefano Zamagni, the vice director of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies Bologna Center, gave a lecture on the topic of social economy and the advancement of cooperatives. His speech marked the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/02/2012

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Tuition Burden to Fall 35% on Average for 1 Mln Students

The tuition burden on college students from families in the bottom 70 percent income bracket will fall by an average 35 percent next year. Our Kim Soyon explains.Report: The Education Ministry on Wednesday announced plans to ease the college tuition burden for 2013. Under the plan, students from families earning in the bottom 30 percent will receive 450-thousand to 900-thousand won more in government scholarships next year.Students in the bottom 40 to 70 percent will also be eligible to receive state scholarships despite previous ineligibility.Also from next year, grades will not be a factor for freshmen to receive scholarships. Any first-year student in the bottom 70 percent income group will receive a scholarship for their first semester. However, grades will factor into the awarding of scholarships from the second semester on.

 

The government budget for scholarships will be expanded from one-point-seven trillion won this year to over two-point-two trillion next year. Including scholarships funded by colleges, over two-point-eight trillion won will be put towards reducing the tuition burden in 2013.This figure equals roughly 35 percent of actual tuition paid by students from families earning in the bottom 70 percent. Some one million students are expected to receive the grants.The ministry will also revise guidelines so students from families whose economic situation suddenly worsened due to parents' illness or bankruptcy can also receive state scholarships.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/07/2012

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Gov't Mulling Over Capital Controls to Curb Won Rally

The South Korean government is looking into implementing market-control regulations like setting a ceiling for trade in non-deliverable forwards on the recent rapid appreciation of the won against the dollar.Finance Minister Bahk Jae-wan said during an appearance on a KBS show on November 11th that if the value of the won continues to grow quickly then the government would seek to implement three capital controls: setting a ceiling on NDF trading, taxing foreigners’ investment in bonds and bank taxation.Bahk also said the government is currently watching the won very closely and said the government is prepared to implement any changes or improvements to the three capital controls if needed.The minister also said it would be difficult for the country to reach a three percent-range annual growth this year as the ministry had previously forecast.

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

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S. Korea Ranks 29th in Terms of Business Environment

Business magazine Forbes has listed South Korea as the 29th best country in the world for business.The country’s ranking went up by two notches from last year.New Zealand topped the list this year, after coming in second last year, backed by its transparent and stable business environment that encourages entrepreneurship.Canada, which ranked top place last year, slipped to fifth place this year as it lost ground on innovation and technology.Denmark ranked second this year, followed by Hong Kong and Singapore.

 

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/ 11/15/2012

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Survey: 86% of Korean Smokers Want Tighter Laws on Smoking

A new survey finds that the vast majority of smokers in South Korea think the government should tighten up laws on smoking.The International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project's team of some 100 health experts from around 20 countries conducted the survey three times on roughly 45-hundred smokers in South Korea.A staggering 86 percent of respondents said they believe the government must actively pursue policies to strengthen smoking regulations, and 40 percent said they think all types of tobacco should be prohibited.Eighty-eight percent of polled smokers said they would never pick up smoking if they could turn back the clock.The survey also found that 94 percent of smokers believe you shouldn't smoke in cars with children. However, just 29 percent said smoking should be banned in restaurants.The team of experts said it is imperative for South Korea to raise taxes on tobacco products. It noted that South Korean smokers spend less than three percent of their income on cigarettes, and the number of people who quit smoking due to rising cigarette prices fell from 38 percent to 27 percent between 2005 and 2010.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/15/2012

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ASEAN Leaders Meet Dialogue Partners to Strengthen Political, Economic Ties

 

PHNOM PENH: Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong attended the regular ASEAN Plus One Summits with China, India, Japan and South Korea, the 4th ASEAN-US Leaders' Meeting and the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Commemorative Summit on Monday. A statement from the Singapore Foreign Affairs MInistry said the 15th ASEAN-China Summit reaffirmed the strong and multi-faceted relations between ASEAN and China. The summit explored ways to expand cooperation in areas such as science and technology, healthcare, culture and investment, as well as activities to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership in 2013. The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to promote peace, stability and mutual trust in the South China Sea, and adopted the Joint Statement of the 15th ASEAN-China Summit on the 10th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. At the ASEAN-India Summit, the leaders looked forward to the Commemorative Summit to mark the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-India relations, which would be held in New Delhi next month.

 

During the ASEAN-Japan Summit, leaders reviewed the progress of the implementation of the Plan of Action 2011-2015 to implement the Joint Declaration for Enhancing ASEAN-Japan Strategic Partnership for Prospering Together. They also explored activities to mark the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan relations in 2013, including a Commemorative Summit to be hosted by Japan next year. The ASEAN-South Korea Summit reviewed the progress of the implementation of the ASEAN-South Korea Plan of Action 2011-2015 to implement the Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, and discussed ways to further strengthen ASEAN-South Korea relations. During the 4th ASEAN-US Leaders' Meeting, ASEAN and the United States exchanged views on regional and international issues, and reviewed the state of ASEAN-US cooperation. The ASEAN leaders also welcomed the US announcement of its Expanded Economic Engagement (E3) initiative, which aims to help prepare ASEAN member states to pursue high-standard trade agreements. At the meetings, the leaders also encouraged the Dialogue Partners to actively support the ASEAN Community building process and ASEAN Connectivity initiative.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 11/19/2012

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INDONESIA: Minister Calls for Forest Management

JAKARTA, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economy, Hatta Rajasa on Friday called to boost forest management in the country as an effort to decline deforestation. The minister said that forest management is very important in Indonesia because the world's attention is focused on forests. "It's all the more important as the international community regards the forests in Kalimantan as the lungs of the world," Hatta was quoted by Antara news wire as saying. He explained that illegal logging activities during the beginning of 1998 had destroyed 3.5 million hectares of forested area but the figure could be reduced to 0.25 million hectares. "People should also be involved in forest management so that they can gain from the economic aspects of forests," Rajasa said. Meanwhile, Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said his office would provide funds for the development of green areas by people. According to him, the people could borrow from the fund to buy various kinds of trees and saplings for planting. "The funds are allocated for development of green areas by people," Hasan said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/02/2012

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LAOS: Accepted as New WTO Member

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has accepted Laos as a member after 15 years of negotiations, Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Nam Vinhaket announced yesterday. Speaking at a press conference in Vientiane, Dr Nam said he had signed the WTO accession protocol and would submit it to the Lao National Assembly to consider and ratify at the end of this year. This would enable Laos to achieve full membership in the global trading body early next year. “Laos will automatically become a full member when the National Assembly informs the WTO that it has ratified the protocol,” he said, adding that Laos has 180 days to complete the ratification process. An official ceremony to accept Laos as a WTO member was held on October 26 in Geneva, Switzerland. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith attended the event along with Dr Nam and other Lao officials.

 

Dr Nam said that over the 15 years of negotiations with WTO, “we amended over 90 laws and regulations to meet WTO requirements”. This legislation would not only help Laos to integrate its economy with that of the international community but would also improve the domestic business climate. According to the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation, Laos has improved its business landscape this year thanks to government efforts to streamline the process of business registration along with import and export procedures. “In a country like the Lao PDR, the accession process is not limited to changing some laws and regulations. We had to change our way of doing business. Indeed, such a mind change is a difficult and time-consuming exercise. Given the progress we have made, both institutionally, legally and in our mindset, 15 years actually seems a very short time,” Dr Thongloun said when speaking in Geneva. “In that period, over 90 laws and regulations were enacted, including on trading rights, import licensing, customs valuation, investment, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, and intellectual property rights.”

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said Laos had come a long way since it embarked on the road to membership in 1997. “This is never easy for any least developed country, and Laos' first steps were slow. But it is now seriously reforming its economy and its institutions, and has shown skill in its membership negotiations.” “The ability to strike the deal says much about Laos' own ability, the flexibility of WTO members who are now implementing a series of deci sions to speed up least developed countries' accession to the WTO, the technical assistance several of them have provided, and the invaluable mediation of the chair of the Working Party, Ambassador Yi Xiaozhun of China,” Lamy said.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 10/30/2012

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Myanmar, UNICEF to Cooperate on Child Development

YANGON, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Myanmar government and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) have agreed on cooperation for the development of children in the country, official media reported Saturday. Dr. Daw Khin San Yi, Deputy Minister for National Planning and Economic Development, and UNICEF Resident Representative Ramesh Shrestha, signed basic cooperation agreement (BCA) in Nay Pyi Taw recently as the two parties view further cooperation, said the New Light of Myanmar. The agreement covers young children survival and development, accessibility of water, environmental cleanliness and personal hygiene, access to basic education and gender equality, HIV/AIDS and children, protection of children, supervision and assessment of social policy. Myanmar and UNICEF established relations in 1950, according to UNICEF. UNICEF has also been engaged in Myanmar's relief work based on its core commitments to children. UNICEF works on protection of children, basic education for children, rural health services, community water supply, sanitation, HIV/AIDS prevention, early childhood development as well as immunization programmes. UNICEF, founded in 1950, is the world's leading development organization working for the well-being of children.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/10/2012

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PHILIPPINES: Public Support Needed to Combat Children's Malnutrition

MANILA, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Friday enjoined Filipinos to work with the government to bring down the incidence of malnutrition and meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target of the United Nations. In his address during the 2012 National Nutrition Awarding ceremony, Aquino said that while the government has achieved a lot in fighting malnutrition, much needs to be done to meet the MDG target of reducing the proportion of underweight Filipino children to 13.6 percent by 2015. Based on the report titled "Updating of the Nutritional Status of Filipinos" made by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, the government was able to bring down the proportion of underweight children to 20.2 percent in 2011, from 26.5 percent in 1992. Aquino said a major strategy of the Philippine government to meet the MDG target by 2015 is to focus on the first 1,000 days of each child--from conception to two years old. He said the government will carry out nutrition counseling for expectant mothers, prepare them for breastfeeding, put up lactation stations and promote the regular use of alternative milk.

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

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The Philippines Launches Mobile App for Disaster Preparedness

The Department of Science and Technology launched a mobile application based on its highly successful project called NOAH which stands for Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards. NOAH aims to provide reliable and authoritative information about weather conditions in the country. It is designed to be a disaster preparedness system to reduce loss of lives, and damages to properties due to rain-triggered natural hazards. Now that it’s accessible via a mobile application, Filipinos will be able to access information relevant to current weather conditions right on the palm of their hands. “When it comes to getting and accessing information, there is nothing more ubiquitous than the mobile phone,” Raymund Liboro, Department of Science and Technology project director for NOAH. A 2011 World Bank study showed that 80 per cent of Filipino households have a mobile phone, making the application convenient and accessible. The NOAH mobile application will initially be available only for Android smartphones. However, its sharing options will allow users to share information across different social media. Future enhancements include incorporating a flood forecasting system. “This will really help us give advance warning to residents of flood-prone areas [and] if there is a need to evacuate,” said Vic Malano, Deputy Aadministrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/09/2012

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THAILAND: Police Fight Crime Using Social Network

Metropolitan Police Division 4, Thailand has recently launched ‘Smart Police Social Network’ project to encourage police officers to use social networking in their work, and leverage CCTV and IPCAM to improve performance and efficiency.  “I have used LINE and encouraged my subordinates to do so too,” said Metropolitan Police Division 4 Commander Major General Naiyawat Padermchit. LINE is a free communication application famous in Thailand.  Maj Gen Padermchit has eight stations under his jurisdiction and he has encouraged them to adopt the LINE in sharing crime information. “It would be easier for police to track down culprits,” he added. Maj Gen Padermchit believed that social-networking would become an important channel in communicating and engaging with the citizen, given that a great growing number of people now engage in social network via their smart phones. Also, police officers from eight police stations will be trained to integrate new technology such as CCTV, IPCAM, and variety of social networking to communicate and conduct real-time crime report directly to the command war room of the Metropolitan Police Division 4 for a more efficiency in making decision on any critical situations. Hua Mark police station—one of eight police station under Maj Gen Padermchit’s command— started Facebook pilot project in May last year, and received an overwhelming response, said Pol Senior Sgt Major Sombat Wamahaisri who has been in charge of the station’s Facebook project. “Our fanpage has more than one-million views and thousands of supporters,” he disclosed the popularity of the police’s fanpage given than it has existed for only a little over a year. Major Wamahaisri said that the Smart Police Social Network project has been inspired greatly from the success of this Facebook fanpage. Maj Gen Padermchit said this Facebook page had efficiently facilitated communications between police and local people, and allowed the Hua Mark police station to get many useful tip-offs.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/05/2012

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Thailand Prevents Forest Encroachment with GIS Map

Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has recently introduced ‘DSI Map’ for wider use among public agencies and citizens across the country to fight against forest encroachment and avoid land conflict in the country. Developed by Map and Geo-Informatics Operation Centre under the DSI’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and Environment Crime, DSI Map is an online mapping portal created based on data provided by Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. “Anyone with an access to internet can use and benefit from the map data provided on DSI Map. They only need to have GPS location data and search it on the programme,” said Pol Lt Col Prawut Wongseenin, Director Bureau of Consumer Protection and Environment Crime, the DSI. He also added that the mapping data from the DSI Map will also come with relevant basic information attached to that plot of land such as reserved forest area noticfication. “This will help prevent forest encroachment and put an end to land conflict over the land owned by citizens that is close to the conserved area,” he says.

The previous version of DSI Map was a closed programme used by the DSI only before it decided to further develop the programme into a more user friendly and make it accessible freely over internet for public and local government to use. “People can now search for the area information easily and fast as well as receiving accurate and official information related to the land to avoid conflict,” he said. Forest encroachment is a major problem Thailand has been confronting. One of the core causes of the problem derived from unclear boundaries between the conservation forest and private owned area. To prove the right over the area takes long time and complicated process in which this inefficiency has put a lot of injustice to many cases at the court, Pol Lt Col Wongseenin explained. “This programme together with the basic law on conservative forest will prevent citizen to encroach into the preserved forest as well as preventing illegal commercial activities to happen over prohibited area. At the same time, it will empower people to keep an eye on inappropriate activities conducted by government officers,” he said. The DSI planned to promote the wider use of DSI Map to local authorities and citizens in the relevant areas, and has provided series of training to officers in Ministry of Justice, local leaders, and citizens in the North East, and the South.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/08/2012

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Thailand to Introduce Smarter Police Manikins for Traffic Control

Thailand’s Metropolitan Police Bureau will introduce Smart Police Manikins with 3G and hidden CCTVs by end of November at critical traffic locations across the capital. ‘Police Sergeant Cheoy’—Police Manikins whose name means ‘Still’ are widely used and positioned at critical traffic locations in Bangkok as part of an effort to alert and remind road commuters to respect traffic regulation. The new and smarter version of Police Sergeant Cheoy is equipped with new technology of hidden CCTV network with facial recognition system to detect driver faces, and car identification number more efficiently. With 3G technology and Wi Fi connection, Police Sergeant Cheoy will also be able to transact data to the Traffic Control and Command Centre. Meanwhile, Thai Traffic Police will be able to access an internet connection with Wi Fi at 395 intersections across Bangkok. The effort will enable real-time feed of traffic information. Starting last week, traffic police booth at Phaya Thai intersection was the first to be equipped with Wi-Fi internet connection as part of “Smart Police” project—a collaborative effort launched by Metropolitan Police, National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre, 3BB Wi-Fi and the Thai Intelligent Transport Systems Association. Each police booth at 395 intersections across the capital will be equipped with webcams to provide a real-time feed of traffic to the Traffic Control and Command centre, allowing video conferencing as part of an effort to leverage technology to resolve unexpected traffic problems. “Wi Fi connection will allow police to leverage devices and technology more efficiently as well as to send and receive real time traffic situation and be able to solve traffic problem on time,” said Metropolitan Police Bureau Deputy Chief Pol Maj Gen Worasak Nopsithiporn. He also added that the Wi Fi is sponsored free of charge by private sector. “With the connection, the police will be able to look out for stolen vehicles via a license-plate detection system,” he inserted.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/12/2012

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BANGLADESH: Linking Food Security to Climate Change

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proposed the launching of a wide ranging agricultural research initiative under Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM). This, she said, would help increase food production, considering a precarious future in the area of food security, especially in the light of climate change.Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was speaking during a discussion on global issues on the concluding day of the two-day ninth Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in the Lao capital yesterday. "Considering the importance of food security in today’s and future world, we would like to propose the initiative covering the whole of the agriculture sector," she said.

 

Considering the importance of food security in today’s and future world, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed the need for launching of an ASEM-wide research initiative covering the whole of the agriculture sector. “On food security, agriculture in its totality must be at the center-stage of our agenda. Focus should be on supporting research, in conventional and in new areas connected to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts,” she said. The Prime Minister also urged the Asia Europe leaders to work to add more value to the progress achieved in the global negotiation process, plan and declarations to address the climate change issue to save the humanity.

 

Urging development partners to live up to their commitments of delivering additional resources to adapt to and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change, the Prime Minister sought to dispell the confussion between ‘development finance’ and ‘climate change support’. “In climate change discourse, technology transfer and funding support are critical. Climate change support must not be confused with development finance," she said. "Our development partners must honour their commitments - the resources should be new and additional.”. Stressing the need for having clarity on mobilisation of funds or, operation of climate funds, - particularly with the ending of the ‘fast start finance’ this year, Hasina said a legally-binding document is also required to be concluded at the earliest - based on ‘equity’ and ‘common but differentiated responsibilities.’

 

Terming climate change and food security two most critical issues and inter-related ones, the premier said, “Both are important for our survival, sustenance and prosperity in Bangladesh, in Asia and the world. In recent times, there have been many regional and global plans and declarations. While these processes are going on, let’s think how much value we can add to them from within the ASEM.” She said that there is enough compelling science-based evidence to establish that climate change is real as it is known that connection between the rise in temperature and the loss of labour productivity. In terms of dollar, she said, climate change means a loss of 1 percent of global GDP with potentiality to rise to three percent. To face the crises, Hasina observed that the adaptation costs are rising as today; what is possible with US 100 billion, would cost 10 times more in 2030. “The world is aware of the disastrous fallout of climate change impacts on countries like Bangladesh,” she said.

 

Although countries like Bangladesh are least responsible for climate change, the premier said, her country is doing its best to resolutely face the challenge. “We are committed to a low carbon development path and have decided never to exceed the average per capita emission of the developing countries. It is indeed time for us all to consider acting positively on our volition - in the interest of our ‘today’ as much as for our ‘tomorrow.’ As agreed at Rio-plus 20, Hasina said the Sustainable Development Goals must be based on economic, social, and environmental pillars. “We must now ensure how the multiplicity of voices and concerns are best secured.” PM said climate change stands to adversely affect agriculture with an alarming fall in food production, particularly major cereals like rice, wheat and maize. “In Bangladesh, our loss due to climate change is about 2 per cent of our annual GDP. With all damages together, our total loss could be 3 to 4 per cent of our GDP,” she added.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 11/06/2012

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INDIA: e-Gov Capacity Building Workshop in J&K

A 2-day workshop on ‘Capacity Building Measures on Urban Development and e-Governance’ started on Monday in Jammu & Kashmir. The workshop has been organized by the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation.Ms. Neesha Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Urban and Development and Poverty Alleviation, GoI was the guest of honour at the workshop. Mr. I P Gautam, Principal Secretary, Urban Development and Housing, Government of Gujarat was also present to share his experiences on implementation of e-Governance in Guajrat.The workshop has been organized by the Ministry of  UD & PA in collaboration with the Regional Capacity Building Hub (RCBH), CEPT University Ahmadabad and Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) under JnNURM,  was also attended by the officers of SMC, SDA, Directorate of ULB including other engineering departments.

In his inaugural address the Commissioner, SMC Dr G N Qasba expressed his gratitude to the dignitaries. He said civic body spread over 240 sq kms with 12 lakh population is contemplating to provide civic facilities at the doorsteps of its citizens. He hailed the role of Principal Secretary H & UDD Suresh Kumar as the one who is keen and interested to upgrade the E-Governance for the benefit and facilities of City dwellers.He expressed thanks to all participants and speakers. On the occasion, Neesha Singh assured that there shall be no constraint of funds for capacity building measures and e-Governance.  “It has been decided that henceforth capacity building measures will be the domain of state government and funds shall be released with certain financial parameters by the government of India,” the press release said.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/06/2012

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Controlling System Operations of Power Transmission

The Indian power sector has the third largest transmission network in the world. APTRANSCO is the second largest T&D network in the country.Improving network performance is the key priority of APTRANSCO. Post reforms transmission losses have reduced from 9 percent to 4.22  percent during 2011-12 and the lowest amongst state utilities in the country. Transmission losses during 2012-13 up to July 2012 is 4.02  percent. Transmission system availability (99.89 percent) in Andhra Pradsh is the highest among trans- mission utilities in the country. The  failure rate of Power Transformers is 1.53 percent. This has been achieved by continuous monitoring of power transformers. APTRANSCO is  sing latest technologies like Multi Circuit Towers, INVAR Conductor, Monopole, Gas Insulated Substations and UG Cables to increase  he transmission capability. APTRANSCO is currently responsible for strengthening, expanding and controlling the state’s transmission  infrastructure at voltage levels of 132 kV and above. It also handles load dispatching operations.

Honours and awards
In recognition of excellent performance, Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Ministry of Power (MoP), New Delhi, has conferred on APTRANSCO the award of “Gold Shield for the year 2010-11” in the category of “Early Completion of Transmission Projects” for the fastest completion of Transmission project of 400 KV Double Circuit (DC) line from Kothagudem Thermal Power Station (Stage-VI) to Khammam Substation in a record time of 17 months as against the CEA norm of 24 months.CEA has hailed APTRANSCO as one of the best power utilities in the Country. APTRANSCO was chosen for excellence in “Cost Management Award” by a Jury headed by Justice S. Varma, Former Chief Justice of Hon’ble Supreme Court for achieving various economic and efficiency measures. APTRANSCO adjudged as the Joint winner of prestigious “5th Enertia Award under Best Performance Utility – State Category” for its continuous excellence in the areas of loss reduction and transmission system availability. APTRANSCO awarded “National Vigilance Excellence Award” for the year 2011 at all India level among various banks, PSUs and other ministries for vigilance activity under preventive vigilance by the Vigilance Commissioner, Central Vigilance Commission.

IT initiatives
Various IT initiatives have been taken up to improve the performance and bring in transparency and accountability. These include CAT (Consumer Analysis Tool), MATS (Monitoring and Tracking System), TIMS (Transformer Information Management System), PMRS (Performance Monitoring and Reporting System), Book consolidation Module and Remote Meter Reading (RMR) Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). e-Vaaradhi, an electronic way to reach electricity consumers for passing the messages relating to billing information, power shutdown information, etc. through SMS is introduced.The Department is in the process of having charters and service standards for all the services rendered at all levels. APTRANSCO has also adopted many technologies for minimising losses in the transmission system. These include:

Erection of Reactors at 400 KV Substation
Reduction in the length of the transmission line
Conducting Study Flow wherever the power factor is less than 0.95 and erecting Capacitor Banks at the Substation to improve the power factor
Conducting Energy Auditing regularly to reduce losses like replacing struck meters, curbing theft of energy, requesting discoms to install Capacitor Banks
Strengthening the transmission system.
Policies adopted by Andhra Pradesh Government to make the state self-sufficient in electricity
Additional power is tied up and flowing in to the grid.
Power is being purchased through power exchanges as and when available at a reasonable rate.
Synchronisation to private power plants are given immediately to add additional capacity to the grid.
Government of India has been requested to consider the allocation of additional power till end of May 2013 to meet the present critical power crisis.
Government of India has been requested to arrange additional natural gas of 4.5 MMSCMD, so that gas plants can operate at least 75 percent PLF as decided by EGoM.
Government of India has been requested to allocate power from unallocated share of Central Generating Stations of Southern Region upto 500 MW. Against this, Ministry of Power, Government of India allocated 100 MW of power from Central Generating Stations of Eastern Region from 30.07.2012 to 31.10.2012.
Government of India has been requested to allocate power from unallocated Power of 300 MW from the Kundankulam Atomic Power
Plant and 75 MW from 2nd expansion of Neyveli Lignite Corporation of firm basis to Andhra Pradesh.
AP discoms are not in a position to purchase any quantum of power other than already tied up due to severe transmission corridor constraint between NEW (North, East, West) Grid and Southern Grid. PGCIL was requested to expedite the laying of transmission corridor and to get the lines completed by the end of 2013.
Government of India has been requested to ensure that firm coal supply should be maintained to all units of Simhadri as per Fuel Supply Agreement to operate at 100 percent PLF. • NTPC has been requested to start generation of Simhadri 4th unit at the earliest so that another 210 MW power can be supplied to Andhra Pradesh as per obligations.
Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has proposed to fund 40 percent of the expenditure to be borne for creating transmission, evacuation   network for wind and solar energy. In this connection proposals were already submitted for transmission and evacuation scheme of 3,150 MW of power costing about `1,830 crore out of which 40 percent amount i.e. `732 crore is to be released by MNRE.

e-Governance system
e-Governance system links development goals, policies, priorities, plans, programmes, projects, budgets, action plans and performance  owards achieving the desired objectives. The system involves performance indicators, performance monitoring, performance measurement, performance-based evaluation, performance-based review and evidence-based policy-making. Performance monitoring is a continuous process of collecting and analysing data to compare how well a project, programme or policy is being implemented with reference to expected results.APTRANSCO has implemented an efficient e-Procurement System, which connects buyers and suppliers through electronic exchange of tenders, catalogues, contracts, POs, invoices, etc. Through e-Procurement, APTRANSCO can include on-contract and off-contract buying. It can also include a variety of techniques such as RFPs, quotes, auctions and reverse auctions. Notification of tenders can be received, bids can be submitted online and the status of the different bids can be tracked seamlessly

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/09/2012

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Building e-Governance Infrastructure

“The long term focus of KSITM will be on creating an integrated e-Gov platform wherein the services provided by various government departments and agencies will get integrated into an unified system,” says Dr Jayasankar Prasad, Director, Kerala State IT Mission. Please give us an overview of the ways by which KSITM is facilitating the development of e-Governance in the state of Kerala. What is the vision under which KSITM has been created by the state government? Kerala State Information Technology Mission (KSITM) was formed as a nodal agency for implementation of the various initiatives under the IT department. KSITM has been piloting various IT related and IT enabled services /projects in the state since its inception in 1999. The mission has successfully undertaken the e-Governance initiatives in the state and has kept the state at par with other states in India.In your opinion what are the most landmark projects undertaken by KSITM? What kind of response are your e-Governance projects seeing from the common citizens?

 

The most prominent of the project undertaken by KSITM over the years are the State Data Centre, Kerala State Wide Area Network (KSWAN), e-Krishi, e-Procurement, State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG), Mobile Service Delivery Platform, Sutharya Keralam, Digital Workflow System, Entegramam – My Village, Fast Reliable Instant Effective Network for Disbursement of Services (FRIENDS), Service and Payroll Administrative Repository for Kerala (SPARK), etc. Though the efforts made in e-Enabling the government departments have resulted in the creation of standalone back-ends, digital work flows and service delivery channels, the expectations of the citizens, connected with e-Government, a “one government view” has not been metfully. KSITM today focusses on consolidating and integrating the various applications and systems across the government to ensure a seamless delivery of services to the citizen. The long-term focus of KSITM will be on creating an integrated e-Gov platform wherein the services provided by various government departments and agencies will get integrated into an unified system. The intention is to make all government interactions, information and transaction services, available electronically through a single access point, for all the users (citizens, CSC operators, government employees, resident and non resident Keralites, visitors and business). The integration and standardisation and consolidation of all government systems, infrastructure and processes is a vital step in that direction. This in turn will lead to increased availability, accessibility, productivity and effectiveness of electronic delivery of public services, increases the efficiency of the government and also trustworthiness, transparency, traceability, security and privacy of data.

 

The state of Kerala has implemented Akshaya for bridging the digital divide. How effective is this initiative being at the ground level? What is the situation of digital divide in the state? Akshaya is acting as an agency to bridge the digital divide and for delivery of services to the door step of the citizen as a friendly face of the government. Akshaya network with more than 2000+ Akshaya Centres is available all across the state at the rate of two per panchayat. It is ubiquitous,networked, competent and scalable to deliver all sorts of citizen services. Kerala with its high literacy and ICT penetration has bridged the divide to a great extent and the well spread out Akshaya centres which is a unique network of local entrepreneurs is playing its part in the scheme of things.

 

Majority of India still speaks in local languages. What steps are you taking to ensure that there is support for Malayalam language in e-Governance systems? The flavour of the mother tongue and the need to provide requisite information and services using the official language led to the project called Malayalam computing. This is an initiative for creating capacity and content in the local language, Malayalam. The broad objectives of the project are to strengthen local language, Malayalam, using the possibilities provided by Information and Communication Technologies and to address the linguistic barrier which prevents the people of Kerala from tapping the new technologies. Government departments are encouraged to use the Malayalam fonts/language for communication even through the digital media, interfaces for the same are available in the digital file flow systems and applications. Further developments in the area of mobile based Malayalam computing, etc. are in the pipeline.

Security is an area of concern for every online system, with incidences of hacking being on the rise. What steps is KSITM taking to ensure that the e-Governance systems, where lots of private information on the citizens are stored, are being kept up to date? Government of Kerala felt the need for setting up of Computer Emergency Response Team-Kerala (CERT-K) to actively coordinate with CERT-India (CERT-IN) to ensure cyber security in the state and the team works as a special project of the KSITM. The team looks into awareness creation, security audits and proactive and reactive measures with respect to cyber threats on the government websites and applications.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/10/2012

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International Co-operation Necessary to Track Corruption and Recover Assets CBI Special Director

KOLKATA: The need of the hour is to build international co-operation among law enforcement agencies to battle global corruption and recover assets, V K Gupta, special director, CBI said at the 2nd Interpol Global Programme on Anti Corruption and Asset Recovery in New Delhi on Monday. The theme of the programme is "Corruption - A Multi Jurisdictional Investigation". It is being attended by over 29 participants from the Maldives, Malaysia, Fiji, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and India. Senior Interpol officers are also participating in the programme.

 

Gupta inaugurated the conference and said that corruption has taken centrestage in many countries and emerged as the most important issue concerning polity and public life. According to him, the battle against global corruption has to be fought at many levels. "The design of any government's development programme should provide more transparency and accountability. Systems and procedures which are opaque, complicated, centralized and discretionary are a fertile breeding ground for the evil of corruption. Countries need to engage with each at different levels to effectively block all physical escape routes for fugitives who are blatantly indulging in corrupt practices," the special director said.

 

CBI special director K Saleem Ali said that asset recovery and impounding of proceeds of corruption is extremely important. According to him, this is one factor that really hits those indulging in corrupt activities. "An 'ethical ambience' is required in society which promotes transparency, accountability and equitable distribution of powers to combat the menace of corruption," he said. Additional director R K Dutta said that new sophisticated and ingenuous methods are being adopted by those indulging in corruption, to transfer proceeds of crime to various countries through dubious channels. He said that there is a need for law enforcement agencies to equip themselves with updated knowledge, skills and techniques to fight corruption.

The five-day Interpol Global programme, being organized by the CBI, will have over 14 sessions to be addressed by experts from Interpol, CBI, NIA, FBI, World Bank, Europol, CFSL and other law enforcement organizations. Some of the issues to be dealt with include Role of international Organizations in Asset Recovery, Active Vs Passive Bribery, Intelligence Collection in Anti-Corruption Cases & Asset Recovery, Detection, Investigation and Prosecution of Corruption in Exploitation of Natural Resources, Computer Forensics, and issues in mutual legal assistance and extradition in asset tracking and recovery. The CBI, the Interpol's National Central Bureau in India, had organized the first such Interpol Global programme in February, 2012.

From http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ 11/19/2012

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Study to Explore Feasibility of Free and Open Source Software in E-Gov

New Delhi: Trivandrum–based International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) and the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore will jointly conduct a study on the use of free and open source software in e-Governance.The study, to be completed in 18 months, will cover the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Lead Researcher of the joint study Rahul De said.The study would bring out the extent to which free and open source software is used in government projects, and assess the economics of its use, an ICFOSS statement said.

 

“There is still wide variation between different states in the deployment of free and open source software.,” De, Hewlett-Packard Chair professor in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Sustainable Economic Development, IIM – Bangalore, said.Besides a cost advantage, free and open source software comes with other advantages too — user licenses are liberal, and users are free to customise software.“With the 2012 Government of India Software Policy providing explicit support for free and open source software, it becomes imperative for e-Government applications to consider it,” Rahul De said.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 11/20/2012

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AZERBAIJAN: First Satellite to Be Launched in Early February 2013

Regional communication commonwealth (RCC) is expanding mutually beneficial cooperation between communication administrations in the field of networking and communication equipment, information technologies and governing the radio frequency spectrum, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov said at the 47th joint meeting of the council of heads of RCC communication administrations and 18th Coordination Council of the CIS member states for Informatization under the RCC. He said that the organisation contributes to a fruitful cooperation with the International Telecommunication Union and the Universal Postal Union. The Baku meeting of RCC heads of communication administrations will give a positive impetus to the expansion of mutually beneficial cooperation of the member states. "Real GDP in Azerbaijan has increased threefold for the last seven to eight years in the industrial sector fourfold, in agriculture - by 1.3 times, in the construction sector by 3.1 times and in transport and ICT threefold," Sharifov said. He said that around $102 billion has been drawn since 2004 to develop the economy from all sources of funding. Around 49.8 per cent were financed from domestic sources. During this period, around $38.1 billion was invested in the oil and gas sector and more than $60 billion was transferred to the non-oil sector, as well as to develop the financial sector of the economy. During these years, the population's income increased by 5.3 times, the average salary by 4.7 times and the minimum salary - 10.4 times. The poverty rate declined from 44.7 per cent in 2004 to 7.6 per cent in 2011. During this period, the number of enterprises has doubled. "At present, telecommunications services and information technologies are rapidly developing in Azerbaijan, as well as throughout the world, today," he said. "Azerbaijan holds leading positions on certain types of communications. Around 65 Internet users and 30 broadband Internet users fall to every 100 people." He said that one of the most important achievements is to lay telephone lines in all areas and to electrify the entire telephone network later. The mobile sector of the Republic is also developing dynamically. At present, around 110 mobile phones fall to every 100 people in the country. This is higher than the average level. "The first Azerbaijani telecommunications satellite will be launched in early February 2013," he said. "The satellite coverage area will include Europe, Asia, Africa and the countries of the Economic Cooperation Organisation. The telecommunications satellite services will enhance cooperation among the ECO member states."

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/05/2012

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High-Tech Park to Be Established in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on the establishment of the High Technology Park in the country. According to the decree, the "High-tech Park" is a territory which has the necessary infrastructure, material and technical basis, management structures for preparation of new and high technologies, research in the field of energy efficiency, space and telecommunications, information technology and communications. Joint organization of events by the Ministries of Communication and Information Technology, Economic Development, Education, and the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan should be ensured. LLC "High Tech Park" is being established under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology for the organization and management of the Park. Reorganization and (or) the abolition of the company is executed by the President of Azerbaijan. The Cabinet of Ministers is instructed to ensure the transfer of 30 ha territory of superphosphate plant, which is subordinated to Azerkimya of SOCAR, to the company, and inform the President about it. The Ministry of Taxes and the State Committee for Property Affairs is instructed to take measures for the state registration of the LLC High Tech Park. The Cabinet of Ministers is instructed to periodically inform the President of Azerbaijan on the work done in connection with the execution of the decree.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/05/2012

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International Internet Governance Forum Opens in Azerbaijan (PHOTO)

Azerbaijan is rapidly developing, as well as in the field of the Internet, Deputy Communication and IT Minister Elmir Valizade said at the opening of the Seventh International Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku on Monday. "The Internet is a very fast dynamic for our country," he said. "The investments in this area are increasing year on year. While examining the figures of developing the Internet infrastructure, one can see that Azerbaijan holds one of the leading places in the region. The price for the Internet service is the same throughout the country and everyone has access." He said that a good example is the number of mobile phones which exceed population numbers. These phones are also used to access the Internet. He added that Azerbaijan is constantly decreasing prices on the internet and its infrastructure is rapidly growing. "Our citizens have been able to use an electronic signature since 2011," he said. "This also facilitates the development of an electronic government. Currently, around 40 ministries are working with an electronic signature." He also stressed that the Trans-Eurasian Information Superhighway project opens up great opportunities for Azerbaijan. "The Republic is working to improve the situation with the Internet in the future," he said. "We have an absolutely free Internet. Every citizen is free to express an opinion on the Internet. Our government is fully focused to improve the situation in the future."

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/05/2012

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Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan Establish Air Links

 

Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan have signed an agreement on a new air service, Azerbaijani State Civil Aviation Administration's website reported on Monday. The parties coordinated a draft agreement between the governments of Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan, on air service and signed the relevant bilateral document during negotiations held in Bishkek. 'The legal framework has been set to begin carrying regular passenger and cargo flights between the two countries', the report says. The Azerbaijani side was represented in the negotiations by representatives of Silk Way Airlines and the Azerbaijani Embassy in Kyrgyzstan.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/19/2012

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Azerbaijani Communications Ministry Makes Efforts to Reduce Roaming Costs

Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies is taking the necessary steps to reduce the cost of roaming services, the ministry told Trend on Monday. According to the ministry, at present in some cases, Azerbaijani citizens are facing problems whilst using roaming services abroad. The problems include both the costs and the quality of the GSM-service operators which are yet to be improved. The main task in solving these problems is to achieve a consensus on the interconnection costs while staying connected to the guest network. According to the ministry, the quality of network to deliver voice traffic is also an important issue which should be clearly negotiated during the signing of a contract between operators. "Today we have opportunities both to improve the quality and to further reduce costs for this type of service. The settlement of the roaming issue is currently being negotiated between the ministry and mobile operators," the ministry said. Service providers are often put under pressure by the ministry to resolve these issues. Because of this, a phased reduction of tariffs has been reached over the last year. Reduction of roaming costs is being monitored for countries accounting for the bulk of traffic which are mainly Russia, Turkey and Iran. According to the ministry, tariff reductions can only take place through the cooperation of operators. Today Azerbaijani mobile operators have a roaming agreement with hundreds of foreign operators. Tariffs of foreign operators and their expenses provided to Azerbaijani operators are being considered in the formation of tariffs. Ultimately the final price is determined for example at 1 or 1.5 manat per minute which does not allow operators to reduce tariffs below a set level. Azerbaijani mobile operators are not able to reduce roaming tariffs unilaterally. Therefore, it is very important to continue the negotiations in this direction. Mutual agreements have already been reached with operators from Russia, CIS countries, Turkey and the UK, resulting in a 20 to 30 per cent reduction becoming possible in some directions. This process is to be continued.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/21/2012

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Satellite Technologies Presented in Azerbaijan’s Oil and Gas Sphere

Azerkosmos under the Azerbaijani Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies has informed SOCAR's Ecology Department about the use of satellite technologies in oil and gas and solving environmental issues, the company said today. According to the report, the participants were informed about the necessary technical means, software, and functions to receive information and space data. Azerspace-1, the launch of which is expected in early 2013, is geostationary and will be located at an altitude of 36,000 kilometres providing Azerbaijan with many channels. In the coming days, the results of an Azerkosmos tender for launching low orbit satellites will be revealed. The satellite will be used for remote sensing of the earth, mapping and geological studies. Its launch is expected in 2014. SOCAR includes the Azneft production association (the companies producing oil and gas on and offshore), the Azerkimya industrial association (chemical enterprises) and Azerigaz industrial association (gas distribution).

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/21/2012

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KAZAKHSTAN: To Create New Model of Labor Relations

Kazakhstan will create a new model of labor relations, Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Kazakhstan Serik Abdenov said at the IV Economic Big Business Forum Expert-100-Kazakhstan. "A new model of labor relations, based on the principles of decent work, will be created by the order of the President. First of all the matter is about establishing a decent dialogue between the employee and the employer," Abdenov said. He noted that at present, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security is working on a bill relating to the activities of trade unions and the working partnership. "In addition the map of social risks is created and the work over the map of social tension is being carried out. We as a state agency try to prevent conflicts," he said. He added that actions are held in Kazakhstan due to non-payment of wages mainly in the construction industry - 76 percent, and conflicts due to dissatisfaction with the salary mainly in the oil and gas industry. "So, today, wage arrears in Kazakhstan is 1 billion 37 million tenge ($ 1 - 150 tenge), and it refers to several thousand employees. This debt is for three months. So families did not receive income for three months," the minister said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/07/2012

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Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan Elected to UN Economic and Social Council

The UN General Assembly has elected Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 2013-2015, the UN News Centre said. The Economic and Social Council was established by a United Nations charter as the principal body responsible for coordinating the economic, social and related work of 14 UN specialised agencies, nine functional commissions and five regional commissions. The council serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues and formulating recommendations toward the policy for member states and the UN system. It is responsible for: * Promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress; * Determining the methods of resolving international problems in economic, social and health services; * Promoting international cooperation in the field of culture and education; * Promoting the universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. In general, around 18 ECOSOC members were elected at the last UN General Assembly. It comprises Albania, Croatia, the Netherlands, Canada, San Marino, United States, Bolivia, Colombia, Haiti, Benin, Mauritius, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Nepal and Kuwait. Around 54 countries are involved in the council's activity. The General Assembly elects them, renewing the board by a third annually. Places are distributed in the following way: 14 seats fall to African countries, 11 - Asian countries, six - Eastern European States, 10 - Latin American and Caribbean countries and 13 Western European and other countries. Ashgabat has previously announced such initiatives as the creation of the UN Energy Council to resolve the problems of the international energy supply and concrete proposals to resolve the situation in Afghanistan. The UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia has been operating on a permanent basis in Ashgabat.

From http://en.trend.az/ 11/12/2012

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Pacific Looks to 'Asian Century' Report for Tips

Pacific Island nations have begun analysing the findings of the Australian government's 'Asian Century' White Paper on developing closer ties with Asia. According to a 2011 ANZ report, most Pacific exports to China currently come from PNG with a small proportion from Solomon Islands. In 2010 the region had a trade surplus of $US457m with China, and it has been working to increase that and to expand into other Asian markets. The White Paper unveiled by Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sunday explains that within a few years Asia will be the world's largest producer of goods and services, and the world's largest consumer. "The Pacific Islands very much are looking themselves at their market and trading and political opportunities in Asia," Dr Paul Barker, director of the Institute of National Affairs think tank in Papua New Guinea, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program. "The Pacific Islands will be doing the same thing and exploring their Asian opportunities, and I'm sure they'll all be looking closely at this White Paper to see what ideas and lessons there are for them." The White Paper argues that the so-called 'Asian century' is "an Australian opportunity" and lays out Australia's aspirations for closer ties on trade, education and security. Dr Barker says the Pacific Islands are unlikely to "begrudge" Australia's focus on Asia, but said "there would be a concern that the Pacific shouldn't be left out of the process."

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au 10/30/2012

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AUSTRALIA: Giving $100m to Fight Malaria

Australia's government has committed $AU100 million over the next four years to malaria prevention and treatment around the world. Australia's Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, told the 'Malaria 2012: Saving Lives in the Asia Pacific' conference in Sydney that his government would commit $AU100 million over the next four years to malaria prevention and treatment around the world. The funding was announced by Australia's Foreign Minister, Bob Carr at the 'Malaria 2012: Saving Lives in the Asia Pacific' conference in Sydney this morning. "Sixty-four percent of the population of the Asia Pacific are vulnerable to malaria," Senator Carr said. "It stalks the land and we have got an opportunity to eliminate it." He said that $AU14.5 million of the funding would go towards researching a new strain of drug-resistant malaria found in the Mekong Basin.

Funding gap
Another $AU20 million will go to providing treatments, mosquito nets and rapid diagnostic tests for Australia's close neighbours, including the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Recent research from Australia's Burnet Institute found these countries had some of the highest incidences of malaria, but were least able to deal with the disease. Dr Jimmie Rodgers, the director-general of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, was at the conference and told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that many Pacific countries were increasingly struggling to fund malaria eradication initiatives. He explained that in the last 20 years the incidences of malaria had been reduced from 500 per 1,000 head of population to less than 50 in Solomon Islands, and from 200 per 1,000 head of population to about 25 in Vanuatu. "But the funding gap needs to be filled because if its not, there is a possibility that the gains made in these two countries will be stagnant or could actually be reversed," Dr Jimmie Rodgers warned.

Good example
The United Nations has praised Australia's announcement, saying its commitment to the global fight against malaria is exemplary. "We have been so impressed by what we've seen over the last several days," Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary-General's special envoy for malaria, said. "I think what we've started here with Australia's leadership we'll see be emulated throughout the rest of the world."

From http://www.radioaustralia.net.au 11/02/2012

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FIJI: Water Foundation Assists Rural Children

 

Children who live in isolated rural communities often find it difficult to attend school and receive an education because of irregular or non-existent public transport services. Such was the case for 25 primary school children living in villages from as far as Bukuya, not accessible by daily or reliable transportation, who wanted to attend the Navala Catholic School in Ba. But with the opening of a new dormitory at the school by Fiji Water CEO Rokoseru Nabalarua, Wednesday, the opportunity for an education has become a reality for these children. With the assistance of a Fiji Water Foundation grant of $52,000 (US$29,200) for all material and labour costs, the new building has a dormitory room, two family rooms and a dining room. In his address at the opening ceremony, Nabalarua said that access to education was a human right, and the new dormitory provides safe and quality living quarters for the children, “their home away from home”.

An architect’s survey in 2010 revealed that the previously existing facility was beyond repair, with the only option being to knock the whole structure down and rebuild. With a licensed carpenter from Navala village at the helm, construction began in March 2011, and he, along with fathers of children attending the school, completed construction of the dormitory in July 2012, despite setbacks due to unfavourable weather conditions including flooding of the only access road. Nabalarua said that the opening of the dormitory sees Navala School and its students join the more than 100 educational institutions and 30,000 students of all ages already assisted by the FIJI Water Foundation, a part of the contribution that the Foundation is committed to making in giving back to the Community.

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com/ 11/01/2012

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Fiji’s New Minimum Wage Rates Announced

 

Fiji’s Minister for Labour, lndustrial Relations and Employment, Jone Usamate has promulgated the 2012 new minimum wage rates and conditions for workplaces covered under the ten (10) Wages Regulations Orders (WROs) effective from 31 October 2012. The Minister said Government's commitment to ensure social justice prevails for workers and thanked the employers for their understanding in reaching the new rates after the respective Wages Councils adopted a productivity-based wage criterion in reviewing the initial rates proposed by the Councils. Minister Usamate said this was the time in the history of Fiji that Government has introduced a productivity-based wage system for the ten sectors covered under the WROs, which also accounts for the cost of living component. He appealed to all employers to honor their moral and legal responsibilities to their workers by fully complying with the new wage rates and minimum conditions under the 2012 WROs.

He also reminded them to continuously improve their levels of productivity by adopting modern business practices and to invest in the quality training of their workers to remain competitive. The Minister revealed the new minimum wage rates under the 2O12 WROs, which cover ten industries or sectors, were revised up by 7.9 to 1O.4%, as compared to the former wage rates of 2O11. This, he said, is reflective of the positive recovery in the national economy and confidence in the labour market. The respective percentage increases in minimum wage rates by sectors under the 2012 WROs are as follows: Security Services (9.7%); Manufacturing Industry (9.9%) Printing Trades (7.9%); Building and Civil and Electrical Engineering Trades (7.9%); Road Transport (10%), Sawmilling and Logging Industry (10.4%); Hotel & Catering Trades (7.9%); Mining & Quarrying lndustry (7.9%); Wholesale & Retail Trades (7.9%); and Garment lndustry (9.9%).

From http://www.islandsbusiness.com 11/01/2012

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Pension for 70 and Over

 

A PENSION will be provided to Fijians aged 70 years and over who do not have any form of income from January next year. This was revealed by Prime Minister and Finance Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama. Commodore Bainimarama said the initiative by the government was a first for Fiji. He said 9000 Fijians who did not have any income, pension or had never been part of a superannuation scheme would benefit from this assistance. "The budget for this program is $3.2million," Commodore Bainimarama said. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation has been tasked with the role of controlling this new pension project. Minister of Women and Social Welfare Dr Jiko Luveni said the announcement for people above 70 years was exciting. "It is an exciting program because it is available to anyone above 70 years and who is not receiving any form of income at all," Dr Luveni said. She explained that those entitled for pensions should not be receiving any form of income even though they live with their families who support them.

"We need senior citizens to have money, we need to give them the confidence and to be happy and comfortable with their lives and contribute to their family welfare," Dr Luveni said. Under Fiji's social welfare system, a household will receive a maximum of $150 per month including a $30 food voucher. "Nearly 13,000 poor households will benefit and we will increase the coverage of our poor population from the current three per cent to 10 per cent. The total budget for this program is $22.7million," Commodore Bainimarama said. He said the care and protection program, which targeted children, would continue with a budget of $5.9million. "With an allocation next year of $500,000, the welfare graduation scheme focuses on moving recipients from welfare to workfare. Fiji cannot support a culture of dependency. We must commit ourselves to the idea that poverty is a temporary state," the Prime Minister said.

From http://www.fijitimes.com 11/23/2012

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NEW ZEALAND: Govt Hints at Charges for Water

Land and Water Forum cannot agree on formula but price may be put on water for farmers and others. Farmers, industries and other large users may be charged for water under a new policy being developed, Finance Minister Bill English indicated yesterday. Mr English said water reform may include "pricing" after the Land and Water Forum - a group made up of representatives from the farming, industrial and tourism sectors, conservation groups and iwi - said it could not reach agreement on the issue. The forum, which has been working to hammer out consensus on how fresh water should be managed since 2009, produced its third and final report yesterday. The report dealt specifically with how to allocate water and manage its quality. However, while it had discussed the question of taxes and charges for water use "at some length" it was unable to reach a resolution. Some members of the forum objected to water charges because activities that depended on water use generated wealth and employment and water users already paid general taxes and rates.

Members in favour of charging argued that the benefits of water use needed to be better shared with the wider community. The Green Party wants a charge on water with at least some of the money raised used to clean up polluted waterways. Responding to questions from Greens co-leader Russel Norman yesterday, Mr English said the Government was interested in further discussing a price on water. "I would expect that over the next six to nine months we will have the support of the Green Party in advancing water reform, which may include developments in the pricing area." Labour environment spokesman Grant Robertson said while the report did not explicitly advocate water charges, it did "allow for a regime that would see a fair price paid by major users".The forum's report, which was welcomed by Federated Farmers, Horticulture NZ and Business NZ, provided a solid foundation for the development of water management, said Primary Industries Minister David Carter.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 11/16/2012

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New Zealand Leads World's Health Experts to Join Fight Against Obesity

 

A new international network of public health experts from developed and emerging economies will hold governments and the food industry accountable for levels of obesity, the New Zealand organizer said Monday. Obesity prevention expert Professor Boyd Swinburn, of the University of Auckland School of Population Health, has organized a meeting of 23 experts on monitoring food composition, food marketing, food labeling and food pricing. Participants included representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, universities in New Zealand, Australia and North America, and from low and middle-income countries, including Brazil, India, China, Mexico, South Africa and Fiji. The network known as INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity/Non-communicable Diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support) was meeting in Bellagio, Italy, from Nov. 19 to 23, said a statement from the University of Auckland.

 

It would aim to increase the accountability of governments and the food industry in improving the world's food environments, by monitoring the nutrient content of foods globally, the marketing of food to children, food prices, and government and private sector policies around food and obesity. The members of the network were driven by a collective goal to tackle the alarmingly high rates of obesity and its related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. "We will be collecting benchmarking data so that governments and the food industry can be measured against reasonable standards for progress on reducing the unhealthiness of current food environments because it is mainly these food environments which are driving up obesity throughout the world," Swinburn said in the statement. "Over the past few decades, we have seen a dramatic increase in the supply of cheap, tasty, high-calorie foods that are very heavily marketed," said Swinburn. The United Nations, the WHO and public health groups had called for governments and the food industry to take urgent steps to improve food environments and prevent obesity.

 

"There are no good systems in place to measure what governments and the food industry are doing in relation to food environments. And there are no good standards in place to benchmark their policies and actions against good practice. And so there is no way of knowing if their efforts are hitting the mark," said Swinburn. "In most cases, governments are leaving the food industry to regulate their own efforts to improve food environments, and this is clearly failing to result in the improvements. There is currently no good way of comparing the foods available for sale in different countries and across time. There is also no good data on the relative prices of healthy and unhealthy foods in different countries," he said. "In addition, no-one is keeping track of the activities of the food industry that have important influences on the food supply, such as their lobbying of governments and the political donations they make. This is where INFORMAS will step in." At the meeting, the group would aim to have in place benchmarks for measuring the progress of governments and the food industry and finalize an approach to monitoring the healthiness of food environments in different countries. The first set of data was expected next year, Swinburn said.

From http://www.globaltimes.cn 11/19/2012

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New Zealand Seeks to Balance Aims of Two Asia-Pacific Trade Pacts

 

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key's support for a new Asian free trade agreement received a mixed response Wednesday, with critics saying he was ignoring an obvious conflict between the new proposed pact and the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. Key has joined other leaders from Asian countries in Cambodia to launch negotiations for a 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that would include the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) states, together with Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. "The goal is an outcome that offers New Zealand businesses improved access to key markets across Asia, and robust trade and investment rules," Key said in a statement Wednesday. The RCEP offered the opportunity for the first time to negotiate a free trade relationship with Japan, New Zealand's fourth-largest trading partner. "New Zealand's participation in RCEP will complement our existing free trade agreements in Asia," said Key. "Along with our participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, it also underlines the government's commitment to ensuring New Zealand actively participates in the development of the trade and economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region."

 

New Zealand would work closely with ASEAN and other partners to make the negotiations a success when they began next year, he said. Critics have said the United States is using the 11-nation TPP talks as a vehicle to contain China's economic growth in the Pacific, while the RCEP includes China and neighboring emerging economy India. The New Zealand International Business Forum (NZIBF) said Wednesday that while the coverage of the RCEP could be even bigger than the TPP in terms of its contribution to economic welfare, they were mutually reinforcing as potential pathways to a wider Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific. "This negotiation will build on New Zealand and Australia's existing high quality free trade agreement with ASEAN and will bring both the giant North Asian economies and India into the same network," NZIBF chairman Graeme Harrison said in a statement. However, Auckland University law professor and prominent TPP critic Jane Kelsey said Key needed "a reality check" if he really believed New Zealand could maintain a balance between the TPP and the RCEP.

"The US-dominated Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is pitted against the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that pivots around China as well as India," Kelsey said in a statement Wednesday. The prime minister may not want to 'over-emphasize' the China- US stand-off, but that is now the dominant narrative of the TPP, " said Kelsey. New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser had promised that New Zealand would walk away if the TPP became an exercise in "China- bashing," but this promise was "more hollow by the day." "The TPP has now become a geo-political pact. There is a serious risk that participating governments will sign up for strategic reasons to a text that surrenders their domestic economies and grants undue influence over their policy decisions to powerful, largely US, corporate interests," said Kelsey. The current TPP trade agreement between Brunei, Chile, Singapore and New Zealand came into force in 2006, but the United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada and Mexico have joined negotiations to expand the agreement. Japan announced its interest in joining the TPP in 2010, when the negotiations began, and Thailand voiced its interest in joining this week. New Zealand became the first developed nation to sign a free trade agreement with China in 2008.

From http://www.globaltimes.cn 11/21/2012

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NZ Tax Approach 'One Size Fits All' - Global Report

 

New Zealand has a "one size fits all" approach to its tax system which negatively impacts on small businesses, according to a major global report. The Paying Taxes 2013 study looked at the steps taken worldwide to make it easier and cheaper for small and medium-sized businesses to pay taxes in the year to May 2012. Overall, governments had continued reforming their tax systems despite global economic uncertainty, said the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report. New Zealand was described in the 165-page report as generally following a "broad based, low rate" approach to tax policy. "This approach, along with a high standard of tax administration through the Inland Revenue, has led to the present system being well recognised as comprehensive and coherent. However, the New Zealand tax system is not without issues and limitations."

 

Although SMEs made up 97 per cent of kiwi businesses, the income tax system adopted a "one size fits all approach" which failed to distinguish between large multinationals and small businesses. "This means that SMEs are required to complete the same income tax compliance requirements as larger more complicated businesses." The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants had released two discussion documents over the past three years suggesting a more simple tax regime for SME's, it said. The report also said the kiwi government's focus on returning to surplus by 2014/15 had put pressure on Inland Revenue (IRD) to increase tax revenue by generally getting tougher on closing loopholes, enforcing legislation, and pursuing tax debts. IRD had won a number of "high profile court cases" on the general anti avoidance rule, it said. "Businesses now face a degree of uncertainty as to when legitimate tax planning becomes tax avoidance. Some tax professionals believe the tax avoidance pendulum has swung too far in the Inland Revenue's favour and that this may ultimately require legislative intervention."

 

Overall, the New Zealand tax system had proved resilient in light of domestic and global economic conditions, the report said. Reforms announced in the 2010 Budget had contributed to a fall in New Zealand's total tax rate and the time spent by tax payers in making their payments, it said. In terms of global averages, medium-sized companies paid a Total Tax Rate (the cost of all taxes borne) of 44.7 per cent of profits, made 27.2 payments, and spent 267 hours complying with its tax requirements in the year. In comparison, New Zealand SMEs paid an average Total Tax Rate of 33.5 per cent, made eight payments, and spent 152 hours meeting tax requirements. Out of the 185 economies, the most common tax reform in the year was the introduction or improvement of online systems for tax compliance, which occurred in 16 countries. The number of economies which made reforms dropped from 35 last year to 31 this year. Paying Taxes 2013 measured all mandatory taxes and contributions that a medium-sized firm must pay in a given year, including profit or corporate income tax, property taxes, dividend tax, and capital gains tax.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 11/22/2012

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: Government Assesses Country's Food Security

 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock says it is important that the Ministry and the Government have information on the food security situation in homes across the country. It says that is why the Ministry has allocated $135,000 dollars to conduct the survey out of the $2.5 million allocated to the Women in Agriculture Development Programme for 2012. The survey will help the Ministry design a programme that addresses the needs of the day, and the needs of women folk in the country. It is understood that a multi-sectoral approach will be taken, with a particular focus on four the main pillars of food security:

 

- The availability of food products, which requires a sustainable agri-food chain, intensification of agricultural production, and the development of international trade and regional integration. Support for smallholder farmers is essential insofar as rural areas are more affected by shortages;

- Access to food, through supporting employment, increasing income and social mechanisms for income compensation, including in times of crisis;

- The nutritional value of food intake, particularly for pregnant and lactating women and children under five. This area of action specifically requires training and education actions, as well as greater agricultural diversification;

- Crisis prevention and management, by uniting the different humanitarian and development actors to implement the Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies.

 

The Ministry calls on the public especially at village level to participate and support the survey, so that it can develop the right approach to deal with food security.

From http://www.solomontimes.com 11/18/2012

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Gender Equality - Making Progress Through Mainstreaming and Statistics

Officials from 15 Pacific Island countries discussed opportunities for strengthening national capacities in gender mainstreaming at a regional meeting organised by SPC with support from the United Nations Population Fund and UN Women in Nadi in November. The Regional Gender Mainstreaming Stocktake and Gender Statistics Meeting built on a 'gender stocktake' of six countries in the region - Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tonga - which highlighted some of the gaps and entry points for advancing gender equality in those countries. SPC carried out the stocktake in 2009-2010. Several other Pacific Island countries are now interested in a stocktake of where they stand in progressing towards gender equality. 'There's increased awareness of gender equality issues in the region, particularly since the recent Forum Leaders meeting held in Cook Islands, and a realisation that to achieve gender equality, government systems have to be in place, and working in a coordinated and transparent way,' said Linda Peterson, Manager of SPC's Human Development Programme.

 

Ruth Pokura, Director for Gender and Development, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Cook Islands reported that the stocktake has prompted the Public Service Commission in her country to incorporate gender mainstreaming in the public service as a key result area in the job descriptions of permanent secretaries. In the Solomon Islands, Janet Tuhaika, Director of Women's Development, Ministry for Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, said the stocktake was 'a positive step for the Solomon Islands government and as a result we have received several requests to support gender mainstreaming in key sector areas of government.'The meeting also focused on SPC's gender statistics work with Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Marshall Islands. 'Quite often statistics are seen as just technical - however, collecting sex disaggregated data and also ensuring our national statistics offices include gender indicators is important for reporting on CEDAW and other international human rights instruments,' said Rothina Ilo from the Department of Women's Affairs, Vanuatu. SPC's Gender Advisor Brigitte Leduc said that the collection of gender statistics requires collaboration with planning and national statistics offices. 'Analysing the statistics from a gender perspective helps us to understand the key causes of gender inequality and to address them.'

From http://www.solomontimes.com 11/21/2012

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World Bank Report: Helping the Poor Through Localized Development Is Tough, but Essential

WASHINGTON, Nov.15 – Few dispute the value of letting citizens have a say in development projects affecting their lives. After all, if local people participate in decision-making, contribute cash and labor to build roads, or organize neighborhood committees to resolve conflicts, they will be more in charge of their destinies and can hold governments more accountable. Over the past two decades, development experts have focused more on boosting local participation, with the World Bank investing nearly $85 billion over the past decade on community-driven development projects and decentralization. With other donors investing billions more, today community-based organizations, such as school management committees, community health groups, water-user groups, and village councils, are widely found in the developing world. What kind of results have these efforts produced? Has civic engagement been jumpstarted? Has this contained conflict or corruption? Has access for the poor to schools or health facilities improved? Has poverty declined? Designing and implementing successful participatory development projects is complex and difficult, according to a new World Bank Policy Research Report, “Localizing Development: Does Participation Work?” Five years in the making, the report provides a comprehensive look at efforts by donors and governments to “induce” civic engagement in development.

 

The report, which draws on more than 500 studies, could help local participatory projects become more results-oriented and evidence-based. It says success, where it has come, has taken a great deal of commitment and time – from both project staff and governments – to create inclusive and accountable local institutions. Participatory development projects have a strong record when it comes to health and education. Indeed, there are some common features among community-based programs that have done well in reaching the poor and improving services. One a responsive state, as in Brazil’s. Programa Saude da Famılia, which provides free health services and is managed by municipal governments under the supervision of the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Assessments of this program reveal substantial health effects, especially for newborn babies and young children. In addition, the program is cost effective, at some $30 per capita. Another key to success is significant effort in building capacity at the local level, as was the case with Ghana’s Community Health and Family Planning Project. It is also vital to pay a great deal of attention to context and to commit strongly to transparent monitoring systems, as in Indonesia’s Kecamatan Development Program. Many of these findings debunk popular myths about community participation in development. The most common myth is that poor and disadvantaged communities have ample “social capital,” and can therefore be quickly mobilized to act collectively in their own interest. The other is that community-driven development projects can replace or bypass state structures that are seen as sluggish at best or corrupt at worst.

 

“Rarely is much thought given to how difficult it is to effectively organize groups of people to act in a way that solves market and government failures,” said Vijayendra Rao, lead economist in the World Bank’s Development Research Group, who co-authored the book with colleague Ghazala Mansuri, who has since become a lead economist in the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction and Equity Group. “In fact, local development faces multiple challenges, such as lack of coordination, inequality, lack of transparency, corruption, free-riding, and low capacity.” That helps explain why it is no easy job trying to induce civic engagement in development. Indeed, the report shows that, by and large, community-driven development projects, tend to deliver education and health services effectively, while reducing poverty and corruption tends to be more challenging. In some instances, development efforts could be more sensitive to complex contexts like social, political, historical or geographical realities. For example, some projects are vulnerable to being captured by local elites who may use their preferential access to allocate project benefits to themselves, their families or their social networks. One can start to make sense of this, the authors argue, by understanding that deliberate top-down efforts to amplify grassroots citizen engagement creates challenges, which are fundamentally different from those emerging from more “organic” forms of participation, such as civic watchdog groups, environmental movements or the recent democracy movements in the Middle East.

At the heart of the problem, the authors contend, is how projects assess what it takes to engage civil society. Most poor and disadvantaged people live in societies that have longstanding hierarchies of power and privilege, and those at the bottom of the rung are severely limited in access to opportunities. This constitutes what the authors call ‘civil society failure,’ a phenomenon that can be corrected by some degree of reversal in local power relations. Such a correction requires shifts in social interactions, norms and local cultures and is far from easy. As a result, participatory projects sometimes struggle to build cohesive, sustainable organizations. “Genuine efforts at inducing civic engagement require a sustained long-term commitment and a clear understanding of the social and political forces at all levels of society,” Mansuri said. “Building dams, bridges, roads, and even schools and clinics is much easier than changing social and political systems. To do this well, we need to invest a great deal more in learning about what works.” That, Rao said, requires a real change in how donors and governments design and carry out participatory projects. There is no quick fix for the challenges documented in Localizing Development, but it moves us toward understanding what it will take to support civic engagement for more equitable and sustainable development. By thinking through local development policy with civil society in mind, practitioners and policy makers can better understand when civic participation is likely to solve a development challenge, as well as what may be needed to successfully organize the disadvantaged to act in their own interest. The World Bank is also constantly seeking to improve its community-driven development projects also taking steps to improve monitoring and evaluation of Bank-supported participatory efforts. Policy Research Reports (PRRs), which are released every few years, aim to contribute to the debate on appropriate public policies for developing economies.

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 11/15/2012

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UNESCO Launches Global Survey on Internet Privacy and Freedom of Expression at the Internet Governance Forum

 

How do the “digital footprints” of Internet and cellphone users affect privacy, and what impact does this have on freedom of expression? These questions lie at the heart of a new study released by UNESCO this week. The new report also served as the basis of a well-attended workshop on Wednesday addressed by a renowned expert panel at the 2012 Internet Governance Forum Panellist Katitza Rodriguez, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, pointed out how correlations of data could allow inferences about the religious views and sexual orientation of individuals, at a time in history when privacy was still an emerging right. Organized in collaboration with Global Partners & Associates, the Council of Europe and Article 19, the workshop also heard from Andrew Puddephatt and Ben Wagner, who contributed to the global survey. The two experts highlighted how challenges to privacy protection have multiplied through the advent of new types and amounts of information being collected. In addition, they pointed to issues around data storage and analysis, surveillance by public and private actors, and to the growth of markets for personal data. Puddephatt and Wagner also explained how privacy rights, and anonymity, can reinforce freedom of expression, yet also limit it, such as when journalists wish to publish information about personal bank accounts that expose corruption. When freedom of expression and privacy clash, the decision on which should prevail should be guided by an assessment of which right best serves the public interest, said the two researchers.

The pair reiterated the recommendations in the report that strong constitutional protection is needed to safeguard both privacy and freedom of expression. They proposed a highly limited role for criminal law to protect privacy, putting the emphasis instead on civil remedies for violations. Other speakers included Gabrielle Guillemin from Article 19, who argued against privacy being protected prior to publication. Sophie Kwasny of the Council of Europe highlighted the importance of work to set standards for privacy and data protection. Max Senges of Google warned against setting privacy barriers too high, giving examples of data enabling customised services to individuals as well as being necessary for developing online simultaneous interpretation. He also stressed how corporate self-regulation, and media and information literacy for users, could protect privacy and freedom of expression. Ceren Ünal, from Bilkent University Faculty of Law in Turkey, emphasized the importance of simple, practical privacy protection instruments being made available in diverse languages to accompany users’ education. David Souter, from ICT Development Associates, praised the UNESCO study for linking freedom of expression and privacy rights in the light of a constantly changing Internet in which many people have not adapted their behavior to new privacy threats. Director of UNESCO’s Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, Guy Berger, chaired the workshop and reported its outcomes at the IGF’s main session on Security, Privacy and Openness, held on Thursday. The Global Survey on Internet Privacy and Freedom of Expression is part of the UNESCO Series on Internet Freedom and is framed within the Organization’s mandate to promote comprehensive freedom of expression online and offline.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 11/17/2012

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Web Advertising to Grow Faster Than Broad Market in 2013

Internet advertising spending is projected to increase 15 percent in 2013, while total ad growth will be weaker on concerns about Europe, the U.S. budget and the lack of major media events next year. Global Web ad spending is expected to jump to $101.8 billion next year from $88.4 billion, according to Zenith Optimedia Group Ltd. Total spending on ads may grow 4.9 percent to $530 billion, trimmed from the 6 percent increase estimated earlier this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Industries released today. Digital and emerging markets will drive growth, Paul Sweeney, a Bloomberg Industries analyst, said in a report. While the London Olympics and the U.S. presidential election helped boost spending on advertising in 2012, there will be no comparable high-profile sporting or political events in 2013. “A deepening of the European crisis has led to heightened caution in developed markets, as agencies reported drastic budget cuts in the third quarter,” Sweeney said. Mobile ads, which still make up a smaller part of total spending, may grow 51 percent to $9.7 billion, according to New York-based EMarketer Inc. Martin Sorrell, chief executive officer at the world’s largest advertising company, WPP Plc (WPP), has voiced concerns about the outlook as pressure mounts form the coming “fiscal cliff” -- $607 billion in spending cuts and tax increases to automatically take effect in January unless lawmakers act. WPP cut full-year sales targets for 2012 following third- quarter results last month. Revenue growth for the year will be 2.5 percent to 3 percent, down from an earlier forecast of about 3.5 percent.

From http://www.businessweek.com/ 11/23/2012

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ASEAN Dynamism: Agricultural Transformation & Food Security 2040

November 5, 2012 - A side event of the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank on the theme of "Agriculture Transformation & Food Security Strategies 2040” was held on October 11, 2012 at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo. The objective of the event was to discuss the findings of a study conducted by JICA focusing on food security strategy in three counties in ASEAN, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia. The event brought together ministers, senior policy makers, officials of multilateral and bilateral development assistance agencies to realize agricultural transformation that is vital in the region in order to enhance food security by 2040. How should governments and the private sector respond to new challenges in the region to enhance food security? Mr. Hideaki Domichi, the Senior Vice President of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) expressed his expectation in his opening remarks that this event will serve as a starting point for an extensive policy dialogue as well as a road map in the region for food security. Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director of the World Bank, emphasized the necessity of new policies to respond to the new constraints such as increase in population and urbanization under region’s common characteristics such as scare water resources and land. She explained that boosting agriculture research and extension system, modernizing water management system, resolving land-related issues as well as to promote effective public interventions in the sectors are important to raise productivity.

 

Mr. Harinder Kohli, Chief Leader, Centennial Group then presented the study conducted by JICA. He pointed out several fundamental drivers that will affect the future prospects for agricultural production in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) such as 1) Increase in population; 2) Increase in income; 3) Changing in the demand for food production; and 4) Scarcity of land and water. To respond to these drivers, there is a need for major transformation to move to higher-value crops. Furthermore, greater cooperation among the countries is necessary. A panel discussion participated by six panelists followed the keynote address by Mr. Kohli.  Mr. Hiroto Arakawa, Vice President of JICA took the role of moderator for the session. Mr. Arsenio M. Balisacan, Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning, Director General, National Economic Development Authority, the Philippines explained that the concept of food security consists of food availability, accessibility, utilization and stability. He emphasized that the concept of “food accessibility” is important considering history of famines and hunger in Asia due to inequity of purchasing power in spite of food supplies at the national level. Furthermore, he explained that increase in agriculture productivity by itself will not lead to sustained poverty reduction in rural areas. Policies need to address the issues though fostering dynamic linkage between the farm and the non-farm sectors of the economy. Priority of various options should be determined based on the impact.

 

Ms. Armida Alisjahbana, State Minister of National Development Planning, Chairperson of the National Planning Agency in Indonesia agreed that the issue of linkages between agriculture sector to the rest of the economy is important. In addition, she emphasized on sustainability and necessity of new varieties that adapt to the new climatic condition in the region. Mr. Dang Kim Son, Director General of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam mentioned that bringing small scale farmers into the new reform of market integration is essential. A Public and Private Partnership approach is important to bring more private sector in the economy of the country to connect production to the market to have higher value added products. Mr. Klaus Rohland, Country Director for China, Mongolia and Korea at the World Bank mentioned that synergy of factors, such as urbanization and climate change should be considered. He also explained that some cooperative mechanisms are necessary to raise the scale of operations. Finally, he concluded his intervention mentioning that credibility and trust is important in ASEAN region. Mr. Pierre Jacquet, President of Global Development Network, Former Executive Director and Chief Economist of Agence Francaise de Development (AFD), mentioned that food security should include concept of ability to mitigate risks and to manage risks. He emphasized that we need to move from crisis management to risk management. He also pointed out the importance of coordination among donors.

 

Mr. Masayoshi Honma, Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resources Economics, Graduate School of Agricultural and life Sciences at the University of Tokyo mentioned that a bottom-up approach rather than a top-down approach should be taken for food security policy. The private sector should play a bigger role. He also emphasized that common rules and institutional harmonization would be very important for more efficient use of regional and global resources. Finally, Mr. John Roome, Director of Sustainable Development, East Asia and the Pacific Region, at the World Bank concluded that the shape of agriculture over the next 30 years is going to be very different from 30 years ago. Therefore, adaptation to the change is critical and food security has to be within the context of transformation of agriculture over the next 30 years. He also emphasized that applying this discussion into practical implementation is important. For the implementation, precise strategies will be needed. At the end, he concluded the event emphasizing that all the factors, such as the public sector, civil society need to work together to enhance food security in ASEAN by 2040.

From http://web.worldbank.org/ 11/05/2012

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Asia's Shift to Greener Transport Key to Global Sustainability - ADB Forum

Asia must scale up sustainable transport development or face a bleak future of congested roads, pollution, ill health and economic damage, which could have ripple effects around the world, a high level transport forum in Manila heard. View infographic in higher resolution.“The choice is to let unsustainable transport become entrenched with dire consequences for the economy, quality of life, health and climate change, or to begin making the changes needed for a sustainable transport future,” said Bindu Lohani, Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development at the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The third ADB Transport Forum focuses on “Inclusive and Sustainable Transport,” providing a platform for more than 400 global transport experts, civil society representatives, development partners and senior officials from developing member countries to discuss key regional transport challenges, share knowledge, and brainstorm ideas to improve the sector. Booming cities and rising incomes are fueling a dramatic surge in vehicle fleets across Asia. In 1980, just one in 10 motorized vehicles in the world was in Asia, but by 2030 the region is expected to account for nearly half the global total. The epidemic of cars and trucks already weighs heavily, with Asia’s cities now suffering the highest air pollution levels in the world and traffic accidents in the region killing nearly 2,000 people a day.

Watch this video on how a road project in the PRC is making roads safer and empowering women.Without a change in current transport development patterns in Asia, global carbon dioxide emissions and fuel prices will keep rising, with grim consequences for climate change, energy security, and economic growth. Asia’s policymakers are already responding, with investments in railways and other non-motorized public transport, user friendly urban planning, and the adoption of efficiency measures like fuel economy standards for vehicles. However, Asia’s needs are vast, with estimated investments of $2.5 trillion required between 2010 and 2020 to help close the infrastructure gap in transport. View photo essay on rebuilding roads after the Wenchuan earthquake struck the PRC.ADB has provided financing, knowledge, and capacity building support to help developing member countries scale up sustainable transport development. Its sector loans are around $3 billion a year and growing, including assistance for bus rapid transit systems in Bangladesh and People’s Republic of China (PRC), as well as metro rail lines in Viet Nam. It is also supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation measures like the planned development of inland waterways in the PRC to reduce road freight volumes; and cross border transport initiatives, including regional railways. By 2020 lending for roads is expected to be overtaken by investment in urban transport, railways and other subsectors.

From http://www.adb.org/ 11/06/2012

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Asia to Power Global Trade Growth

 

Asia will be the primary driver of global trade growth for years to come, according to a new report from HSBC. China, India and Vietnam are among the best positioned, with exports expected to post double-digit annual increases for decades. "The pattern of global trade will be increasingly influenced by the rapidly growing Asian economies, whose exports and imports will continue to grow strongly," the report says. Overall, global trade is forecast to increase by 5% in 2013 before jumping to annual rates of 6% to 7% until 2016. But stumbling blocks remain. Europe is mired in a debt-induced funk, and the continent's growth prospects remain weak. Simon Constantinides, regional head of trade and receivables finance for HSBC, said that Europe's fiscal situation is one of the biggest risks examined by the bank. "We can't ignore Europe," Constantinides said. "It's one of the biggest concerns and challenges facing the global economy." However, in a finding that underscores the increasingly global nature of trade, Europe's prospects will be helped by rising exports to developing economies, especially in Asia.

 

Related: EU, China spar again over solar trade
One of the biggest destinations for European goods will be China, as the world's second largest economy attempts to move from an investment-dependent model to one based on consumer spending. "This shift creates export opportunities for businesses right across the developed world as countries such as China, which were previously known as centers for production and manufacturing, become equally important as a market for Western exports," HSBC's James Emmett, the bank's head of trade and receivables finance, said in a statement. There are other bright spots as well. Bangladesh is expected to benefit greatly from trade with India, with its total trade projected to increase 19% between 2013 to 2015. Brazil, meanwhile, will ramp up trade with India, Vietnam and China.

From http://money.cnn.com/ 11/12/2012

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Developing Asian Economies Must Focus on Greener, More Inclusive Growth – ADB

 

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – While advanced economies gradually rebuild their balance sheets, Asia’s emerging markets need to diversify sources of growth to boost GDP, Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda said today during an address at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Global Dialogue in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. “Tomorrow’s successful economies will focus on effectively transforming themselves through growth that reaches more people, especially the poor,” Mr. Kuroda said. “Growth must be more inclusive, green and knowledge-led.” The ASEAN Global Dialogue brings together leaders and key officials from ASEAN and East Asia countries, as well as development partners, to explore challenges and discuss solutions to a range of issues facing the region, including the ongoing global financial crisis, climate change, conflicts, and food and energy security. While global growth remains sluggish, developing Asia is in better shape with 6.1% growth expected this year, Mr. Kuroda told participants. ASEAN economies have shown particular resilience. He noted that with 420 million Asians entering the labor market by 2030, job creation will remain a daunting challenge for the region. Infrastructure development is essential to job creation efforts, and in response to ASEAN’s massive infrastructure needs the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund was created earlier this year. Mr. Kuroda also noted that freer trade and greater macroeconomic cooperation within the region will enhance efficiency, strengthen stability and sustain growth.

From http://www.adb.org/ 11/20/2012

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Asia's Regional Bond Markets Expand but Many Risks Loom

Emerging East Asia’s local currency bond markets continue to expand and are performing well, but risks loom large on the horizon, warned the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) latest Asia Bond Monitor. “There are a number of downside risks to the local bond markets. The US could fall over the fiscal cliff and the new Chinese leadership has to deal with slowing growth in the world’s second largest economy,” said Iwan Azis, Head of ADB’s Office of Regional Economic Integration. “A surge in volatile capital inflows and rising inflation in the region are also potential threats.” Volatility spillovers from mature markets to local bond markets are another major risk. The report showed that external shocks and volatility are also increasingly being transmitted between domestic markets and between markets across Asia as they expand and their influence grows. This means that regulators in Asia need to monitor and coordinate market policies nationally as well as regionally and globally. Bond yields fell in most countries in the third quarter on the back of moderating inflation, strong economic performance, and steady investor demand, with the exception of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) where concerns over slower economic growth and inflation have pushed yields higher. The region’s bond markets are, however, increasingly diverse in terms of growth rates, issuance, and yields.

At $6.2 trillion, the region’s local currency bond market was 3.5% bigger than at end of June 2012 and 11.0% larger than at the end of September 2011. Government bonds continue to dominate with $4.1 trillion outstanding at the end of September, 3.1% more than at the end of June. Some markets, such as Malaysia, Singapore, and the PRC saw solid growth in their government markets over the quarter. However, those of the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong, China grew only a tad while the markets of Indonesia and Viet Nam shrank slightly, due to a sharp drop in issuance by monetary authorities. The amount of Sertifikat Bank Indonesia bills outstanding fell by 23.9% on quarter while State Bank of Viet Nam bills tumbled 62%.Corporate bond markets continued to expand at a faster rate than their sovereign counterparts though with $2.2 trillion outstanding at the end of September, up 4.2% on quarter, with most markets posting growth. Overall, bond issuance differed sharply between countries over the quarter, however, with gross bond sales rising 38.1% in Malaysia, 13.0% in the Philippines, and 10.5% in the PRC but tumbling 81.3% in Viet Nam, 25.9% in Hong Kong, China and down 8.1% in Thailand. The report’s annual liquidity survey showed an uptick in liquidity in both government and corporate bonds for the region as a whole. The survey showed that increased investor diversity, greater availability of hedging instruments, and more transparency are key to boosting activity in emerging East Asia’s local currency bond markets. The Asia Bond Monitor assesses the markets of the PRC; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; the Republic of Korea; Malaysia; the Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; and Viet Nam.

From http://www.adb.org/ 11/22/2012

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CHINA: Govt Shirks Pension Contributions

With many still arguing about whether China should extend the country's retirement age to shore up the financial shortfalls facing its pension system, He Ping, director of the Social Security Research Institute, recently proposed increasing workers' personal pension contributions. As I see it, neither raising the retirement age nor forcing people to pay more to the system will address the country's pension shortage. Workers across China already pay about 8 percent of their salaries to the country's pension scheme, much more than elsewhere in the world. Yet, personal incomes in China are still relatively low, with the average person in the country making just one fifteenth of the average US income. With earnings so low and pension fees so high, it is unreasonable to ask people to have more pension money deducted from their wages. Actually, the real cause behind the pension fund gap is a lack of government funding. In 2011, social security funds only accounted for about 15 percent of the government's fiscal expenditures, much lower than the 30 and 50 percent seen in most developed countries.

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

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China Sees Need to Create Chinese Intel

THE Chinese semiconductor industry needs industrial restructuring and consolidation to create internationally competitive firms, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday. The next-generation chip design and manufacturing requires huge investment and talent. Because of a lack of capital and talent, Chinese firms are lagging behind global giants like Samsung and Qualcomm. The technology gap between the domestic semiconductor industry and its overseas peers has been widening, said Ding Wenwu, director general of the ministry's electronics information division. "China doesn't have a leading firm in the semiconductor industry, like Intel, Samsung or Qualcomm," Ding said during the IC China 2012 conference held in Shanghai yesterday. He said the government is drafting plans to encourage industry consolidation but he didn't elaborate. The revenue of the chip design sector surged 20 percent in the first six months, triple the integrated circuit industry's growth rate. In the first half, China's IC revenue totaled 85.2 billion yuan (US$13.5 billion), up 7.5 percent annually. It accounted about 10 percent of the global IC market, the China Semiconductor Industry Association said. Meanwhile at the IC China 2012, Applied Materials Inc, a US-based semiconductor equipment provider, signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance the Shanghai Integrated Circuit R&D Center's research and development capabilities in 12-inch wafer manufacturing.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 10/24/2012

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Shanghai to Boost Outsourcing Efforts

SHANGHAI will continue to develop its outsourcing industry to help the city restructure its economy and bolster the service sector, government officials said yesterday. The city's software and information technology service sector may expand 20 percent annually, with market value expected at 600 billion yuan (US$95.2 billion) by 2015, said Fu Xinhua, vice chairman of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization. The software service industry will contribute about 40 percent of the overall information technology industry in the city, Fu told the Global IT Outsourcing Forum 2012 in Shanghai yesterday. He Jifeng, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and president of the Software Engineering Institute of East China Normal University, said "Shanghai should foster more high-end outsourcing contractors especially in the finance sector." The contract value of software outsourcing in Shanghai surged 40.5 percent annually in the first three quarters to US$1.4 billion, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce said.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 10/26/2012

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High-Tech Products Take Center Stage

A WIRELESS system able to warn people before jaywalking, an air cleaner system for subway stations and specially designed handsets for students - these are some of the high-tech products or services that will be on show during the 2012 China International Industry Fair. The latest developments in automation, electrical systems and industrial robots will be shown during the fair, city officials said yesterday. Robots will be one of the main highlights during the five-day fair, which opens on November 6. Nearly 60 companies from around the world will showcase robots, including the smallest robot made by ABB and domestically developed robots. An air cleaner system made by Shanghai Tianyue Development Co are now installed in 10 Shanghai Metro stations for tests. The system will be gradually installed in all stations in the city, according to Wang Lingling, Tianyue's general manager. "Metro stations are often full of air pollution and bacteria, which can harm the health of thousands of passengers every day," Wang said. After the system was installed in Xujiahui Station, pollution and bacteria levels dropped 60 percent, the company said. Shanghai Super Star Industrial Development Co designed a system that detects people when jaywalking at intersections. The system has been installed at nine intersections in the Pudong New Area. It uses a warning voice when people break traffic rules. A video and related messages will be transferred to traffic police departments. Meanwhile, a student handset that can report a user's location will also be on display. The price of the model is about 300 yuan (US$47.6), although it may drop further if the maker, AWIT, can secure a deal with carriers in the future, according to Chen Lanfei, the company's marketing manager.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 10/31/2012

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Social Tech Boost

FULLY utilized social technologies can create as much as US$1.3 trillion in value annually in four industry sectors globally, McKinsey & Co said in a report yesterday. Four commercial sectors including consumer goods, retail financial services, professional services and advanced manufacturing are expected to benefit from social technologies in terms of product development and operations, marketing and sales-related activities as well as improvements in business support activities.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 11/07/2012

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China's Economy Shows Positive Signs, with Uncertainties

The Chinese economy has shown positive signs of stabilizing but it's hard to judge what it will be next year, governor of China's central bank said Thursday. Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), made the remarks during a panel discussion with delegates from the financial sector to the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which opened Thursday morning in Beijing. China's economic momentum will depend on not only domestic conditions, but also changes brought by the global financial crisis, said Zhou, who is also a CPC delegate to the national congress. "It has become increasingly clear that the Chinese economy is now moving towards a better direction," he said. Due to the impact of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, China's economy began slowing this year. The Chinese economy expanded only 7.4 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2012, marking a downturn for seven straight quarters, the National Bureau of Statistics said. As the government adopted a series of fiscal and monetary measures and accelerated the approvals of investment projects to spur the slowing economy, the domestic economy has stabilized since September with better indicators, Zhou said. He said it's hard to judge how the global financial crisis will continue to affect the Chinese economy, because the spreading of the European debt crisis and the so-called "fiscal cliff" problem in the United States have increased uncertainties of the world economy. "We need to monitor the effect on our economy of the monetary easing policies launched recently by the United States and the European Union," he said. China is likely to maintain the policy continuity "to some extent" in 2013, but will leave "ample room" to make the policy targeted and flexible. The CPC Central Committee will set the tone for the economy at an economic work conference scheduled to convene at the end of this year.

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

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China Focus: Online Shopping Bonanza Breaks Records

HANGZHOU, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- More than two billion yuan was spent in the first 70 minutes of a 24-hour shopping bonanza at China's largest business-to-customer online purchase website on Sunday. More than 10 million people swarmed to Taobao.com, for its 24-hour 50-percent-off carnival because of "Single's Day." November 11 (11/11)represents four single people. The sale has been initiated by the e-commerce company Alibaba Group with Taobao.com and Tmall.com, based in Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang Province. As of 11:18 a.m. Sunday, trade volume reached 7.9 billion yuan (1.265 billion U.S. dollars), exceeding the 5.2 billion yuan in the 24 hours on Nov. 11 last year. Volume reached 10 billion yuan as of 1:38 p.m., which was the target for the 24 hours. It was realized 10 hours in advance, according to the company's statistics. The sales carnival is also testing the banking system and express delivery systems. Wu Liying, a bank employee in Hangzhou worked overnight to avoid any collapse of the banking system. "It's been too hustle and bustle," Wu told Xinhua. "The scale has exceeded the daily volume, which has brought great challenges to our system." Payment channels at some banks appeared to falter, just as they did last year on the same day. Although the Alipay.com, payment platform of Alibaba Group connecting the website to banks, has had a project team in place since August, the online system of China Construction Bank broke down for a while due.

 

Systems of the Bank of China and Industrial Bank were alerted as being too busy. According to the China Construction Bank, transaction flow exceeded six times than usual during night hours. The system failed from 1:15 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. in branches in Sichuan Province and Beijing. The event has also triggered a busy day for logistics industries. "I can only slept two hours at night. Some online shops needed to start deliveries at 3 a.m.," said Wang Yunda, a courier of Shentong Express in Hangzhou. Last year, 20 million packages were delivered with some customers having to wait three months for their goods. Other e-commerce companies, including 360buy.com, suning.com and dangdang.com have joined in marketing on the same day to form a real tide sweeping the whole Internet purchase, said Lu Zhenwang, observer of e-commerce. Consumer habits have been changing in the country and new online space emerged in the world's largest market with the largest population, Lu said. The number of netizens reached 538 million in June while the popularity rate is only 39.3 percent in China, according to the latest statistics of China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). "The rate is 70 percent in western countries, which indicates China's large potential for online purchasing," said Jing Linbo, researcher of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Although exports continued to improve in October it was only described as a "slight improvement" by Chen Deming, minister of commerce.

"China's economy cannot only count on exports, which is still hard to predict, while investment is influenced by policies and macroeconomic environment. Thus, domestic demand carries more expectation to stimulate China's economy," Jing said. "Online purchases shows the potential of China," he said. The report of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) raised a new goal to double people's income by 2020 from 2010. This requires the Party to not only stimulate domestic demand but also balance supply and demand, said Huang Hao, associate professor of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "The online purchase platform shows great consuming capacity, which offers a channel to balance supply and demand as some commodities were transferred from traditional sellers," Huang said. Some companies transferred their storage from downtown department stores to e-commerce depots right before Single's Day, which created a new way to decrease the storage of traditional retailers, he said. "The large social collaboration triggered by e-commerce marketing pushes the limits of each one in the chain. More peaks will come to be both tests and chances," said Zhang Yong, president of Tmall.com. Ma Yun, board chairman of Alibaba Group, which runs Taobao.com, said that e-commerce is complementary to advanced traditional retailer in the U.S. "However, China's infrastructures and traditional retail industry is not perfect enough, which gives e-commerce a chance to become mainstream to stimulate domestic demand, while logistics and other supporting facilities can improve and match up," Ma told Xinhua.

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

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China to Become Largest Robot Consumer in 2014

Demand for industrial robots is predicted to hit 32,000 units by 2014 making China the world's largest robotics consumer. According to the International Federation of Robotics, the sector's technology and production have gained momentum amid higher labor costs and China's efforts to restructure its economic growth pattern and improve energy efficiency. At the China International Industry Fair, which closed yesterday, China's robot manufacturers exhibited their models in direct competition with their foreign counterparts. The fair attracted more than 1,800 participants over the five-day exhibition. At the event, SIASUN Robot & Automation Co. demonstrated their new models, which are integrated with numerical control machines that can accomplish multi-procedure processes. The company's self-designed products have been exported to overseas markets including the US, Canada, Russia and India. Despite the growing sector, the industry warned that a lack of core technology will stall the development of robot manufacturing in the country. Gu Chunyuan, vice president at manufacturer ABB (China) Limited, said, "despite the substantive demand, Chinese manufacturers still have to rely on some overseas suppliers for many key components, which may hinder the independent growth of China's robot sector." Gu also highlighted the importance in supporting downstream industries and nurturing professional talent to improve development of the sector.

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

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China to Become Largest Economy 'In 4 Years'

CHINA is expected to become the world's largest economy in four years as the balance of economic power is forecast to shift over the next five decades, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has forecast. Fast-growing emerging economies will account for an ever-increasing share of global output in the next half century, it said, and China's gross domestic product will surpass the eurozone's this year. The United States is expected to cede its place as the world's largest economy to China as early as 2016, according to the latest OECD report. However, analyst John Ross, a visiting professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said it could take a bit longer for China to top the list. "I think this is a bit exaggerated. It will take five to seven years to happen," he said. The OECD also said that India's GDP was expected to pass that of the US over the long term. The combined output of China and India would exceed the current Group of Seven economies' GDP by around 2025, and by 2060 it would be more than one and a half times larger, whereas in 2010 China and India accounted for less than half of the G7's output. The G7 is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US. Fast-aging economic heavyweights, such as Japan and the eurozone, will gradually lose ground on the global GDP table to countries with a younger population, such as Indonesia and Brazil, the OECD said. "The balance of economic power will shift dramatically over the next 50 years in a baseline scenario," Angel Gurria, secretary-general of OECD, said. "The publishing of the long-term forecast report is a wake-up call as we will face new challenges to ensure a prosperous and sustainable world for all," Gurria said. The report comes at a time when worries are mounting around the world over the eurozone debt crisis and the American budgetary challenge. The OECD said that global output would edge up annually by 3 percent in the next half century, mainly driven by productivity improvements and human capital growth, while a great variance between regions and countries was expected.

From http://www.shanghaidaily.com/ 11/12/2012

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Chinese Public Calls for Investment in Elderly Care

BEIJING, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Most Chinese hope the government will increase its investment in care for the elderly, according to the results of an online survey published on Tuesday. In a poll conducted by the China Youth Daily, 86.4 percent of 8,476 respondents said they want more government investment in rehabilitation and care for senior citizens over the next decade, according to a report in the Tuesday edition of the newspaper. The issue of caring for the elderly has become imperative, as it concerns the people's livelihoods, the newspaper quoted Tong Xiao, a social development researcher at the East China University of Political Science and Law, as saying. Tong urged greater commitment by public organizations and volunteers to take care of the elderly, adding that the aging population will create an increasing burden for the government. In the survey, more than half of respondents said high pressure in the workplace and living costs have made it difficult to take care of their own parents. About 39.7 percent of the people surveyed said it is not feasible for them to move their parents closer to home to look after them, while 36.4 percent said they believe nursing homes are not currently suitable for their parents. Moreover, restrictions in the current medicare insurance system, which requires cumbersome procedures for people to get coverage for medical fees incurred outside of their registered area of residence, have made it even more difficult for elderly parents to visit and live with their only children working in other cities, Tong said. The survey indicated that 64.1 percent of the respondents wanted the government to expand coverage for pension plans, while 52.4 percent said a gap in pension plans between urban and rural areas, as well as between different kinds of employers, must be eliminated.

Disparities in different pension plans have caused many young people to change their career choices and thus affected the distribution of human resources, since many people end up choosing positions in government departments or government-sponsored organizations in order to secure their pensions, said Zhang Yi, a researcher with the Institute of Sociology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. A telephone survey conducted by the Guangzhou Public-Opinion Research Center indicated that about 66 percent of Chinese have confidence in the government's ability to provide elderly care. More than 60 percent of the survey's 5,000 respondents said they are content with the current pension system, while 41 percent of people from low-income groups said they disapprove. Pension payments are still below the average living standard for most cities and townships because the government is still working to expand the system to cover more people, said Shen Shuguang, a professor at the Lingnan College at Sun Yat-sen University. Shen suggested increasing personal contributions and fiscal support for the pension system in order to raise the payment level in the future. In a speech delivered at the opening of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Nov. 8, President Hu Jintao said the Party will intensify efforts to improve basic public services and ensure that everyone can enjoy access to education, employment, medical care and housing.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 11/13/2012

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Chinese Socialism Worthy of Genuine Respect

BEIJING, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese pupils are better at math than most of their global peers. Teachers usually encourage them to solve a problem using whatever method works best to get the correct answer. China's aspiration for a successful society that benefits all its people is much the same situation as the diligent math students. Chinese President Hu Jintao's recent political announcement that China will follow a "path of socialism with Chinese characteristics" disappoints some Western ideologues. However, China's mode of socialism turned China from an impoverished country into the world's second largest economy in the past three decades and thus deserves sober-minded consideration and genuine respect. The economic success of many industrialized countries, largely in the West, after World War II reinforced the self-righteousness of Westerners who tend to deride ways other than capitalism and who admonish the rest of the world to take a similar path. Over the last couple of decades, some Western thinkers have asserted that history has ended with the triumph of capitalism and all other paths have been proven wrong. Nevertheless, as predicted by Karl Marx and Joseph Schumpeter, the intrinsic defects of capitalism result in recurrent crises, the latest round of which erupted on a chaotic Wall Street and in Frankfurt's financial district. Among 90 percent of the world's countries adopting capitalism, only a tiny fraction can be regarded as prosperous. Capitalism, with a history of nearly 500 years, first acquired primitive accumulation through colonization and plundering, often by coercive means.

 

Modern capitalism and liberal democracy are sometimes compromised by money, as seen in the latest U.S. presidential election -- the most expensive in U.S. history -- with campaign costs soaring into the billions of dollars. The Nobel laureate Michael Spence has described the U.S. electoral process as "an evolution from one propertied man, one vote; to one man, one vote; to one person, one vote; trending to one dollar, one vote." The Tea Party, which used to label itself as a grassroots movement, was later found to be financed by wealthy backers such as the Koch Brothers and others, who sought to influence political power. The social flaws of capitalism, together with the financial crisis and the European debt crisis, should encourage people to rethink the Western development model. In contrast, a socialist China is able to pool all necessary resources to solve major problems and reduce unnecessary bickering over de facto power competition. The effectiveness of this system helps explain why China has maintained a relatively steady course against the backdrop of the current international crisis. China's pursuit of socialism is an inevitable choice in history. After the Opium War in 1840, China became a semi-colonial and semi-feudal society, as foreign powers expanded their aggression against China. The country was devastated by incessant wars and turbulence, and the people suffered from hunger, poverty and oppression. During the struggle of the Chinese people, none of the Westernization movements, such as the 1898 Reform Movement or the 1911 Revolution, prevailed. It is the Communist Party of China (CPC) that changed China's once doomed fate.

 

In recent years, the social unrest caused by Russia's "shock therapy," Latin America's "radical reform" and some African countries' copying of the U.S. political system have proven that unwise imitation of the Western system can be disastrous. Although many problems exist, China generally ensures political and social stability and follows a path of socialism that accommodates Chinese features. At the same time, China is ready to learn from other countries. The late leader Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the country's reform and opening-up policy, said socialism should be enriched by all the achievements of human civilization in a bid to gain comparative advantage over capitalism. Addressing the 18th CPC National Congress, Hu said, "We should respect diversity of civilizations and development paths, respect and safeguard the rights of all peoples to independently choose their social system and development path, learn from others to make up for our shortcomings, and advance human civilization." Like different methods leading to the same correct answer in math, both capitalism and socialism attempt to achieve an ideal society that can be shared by all human beings. It is still too soon to judge which system is better at achieving this goal. China has no reason to abandon a path proven workable by history and suitable to its conditions in order to turn to a path that has already failed the Chinese people. Let China follow its own way and let the rest of the world genuinely respect China for pursuing its own unique path.

From http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/ 11/13/2012

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JAPAN: High Turnover Seen in Education, Food Fields

 

Nearly 50 percent of employees in the education and food industries quit their jobs within three years of graduating from university, according to a government survey.The survey compiled by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry presented turnover rates for the first time by industry amid growing concerns about young people leaving their jobs within a short period.According to the survey released Wednesday, 429,019 students got a job just after graduating from college in March 2009. Among them, 123,582, or 28.8 percent, quit their jobs within three years.Meanwhile, firms in the electric utility and gas industries had lower than 10 percent turnover.By industry, those working at education companies, including teachers at cram schools and private schools, scored the highest turnover rate of 48.8 percent, while those in the hospitality, restaurant and service industries had 48.5 percent turnover. On the other hand, turnover was as low as at 6.1 percent for the mining and quarrying industries. Employee turnover at power, gas and water supply firms was 7.4 percent, and 15.6 percent for manufacturers."We'd like companies to use the industry data to think about ways to improve their working environment," an official of the ministry said.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/02/2012

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SDF Officer to Study U.S. Cyberdefense

The Defense Ministry will send a senior Self-Defense Forces officer to the U.S. Strategic Command's cyberdefense division, informed sources have said.The ministry plans to station an SDF field-grade officer from fiscal 2013, with the cyberdefense group to learn U.S. cutting-edge cybersecurity technology to boost SDF cyberdefense capabilities, the sources said.In 2010, the United States established the Cyber Command, under the U.S. Strategic Command, to oversee the cyberdefense units of the army, navy, air force and marines.At the end of fiscal 2013, the SDF plans to create a cyberdefense unit in the Joint Staff Office.

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

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K Computer Drops to No. 3 in World Rankings

 

The K computer fell from second to third on the list of the world's fastest supercomputers, according to the latest semiannual global ranking.Titan, built by Cray Inc. of the United States, won first place on the TOP500 List, knocking IBM Corp.'s Sequoia out of the top spot.Titan achieved 17.59 petaflops, or quadrillions of calculations per second.The maximal performance of the K computer, installed at the Riken Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, was 10.51 petaflops, unchanged from June. It topped the list in June and November last year.The K computer began full operations in September this year and has been used to carry out 31 research projects in five fields, including medical care, disaster prevention and manufacturing.

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/14/2012

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SDF Seeks White-hat Hackers / Cyberdefense Skills Hard to Cultivate, Especially at SDF Wages

 

The Defense Ministry is having trouble finding enough qualified personnel to staff its 100-member cyberdefense unit planned to be launched in fiscal 2013.The new unit needs experts in computer viruses and hacking techniques, but developing qualified personnel within the ministry has been slow going, and outside recruitment has faced difficulties in terms of pay and security.At a meeting of the House of Representatives Security Committee on Nov. 8, a committee member asked: "The militaries of the United States and Europe have hired [outside] hackers, but the Japanese people consider hackers to be the bad guys. Will the Defense Ministry hire them?"Daisuke Miyajima, parliamentary vice defense minister, declined to comment, but another senior ministry official informally confirmed that they are indeed looking to hire hackers."We cannot defend our computer systems without knowing how they will be attacked," he said. "We are looking to hire talents who cannot be developed by the Self-Defense Forces under the defense-only policy."

 

However, the ministry said it is not looking to hire "bad" hackers who access computers illegally. The ministry said it wants "good" hackers who are gifted engineers with deep knowledge of how computers and networks operate.Currently, the SDF has four units comprising 360 members total, including the command communication unit, that are responsible for protecting its computer system.The ministry has been unable to find enough qualified staff to run the new 100-member unit among its existing teams.Although the SDF has sent personnel to Carnegie Mellon University in the United States to study computer virus analysis since 2000, only 30 people have so far completed the program.

 

The senior official said the ministry must hire outside experts if it wants to launch the new unit in time, but the salaries the SDF is offering have hindered recruiting.SDF members who serve in particular ways, such as on combat aircraft or submarines, are paid relatively well. For example, a captain who pilots a jet receives a flight allowance of about 200,000 yen a month in addition to a basic monthly salary of about 300,000 yen.SDF computer engineers, however, are not eligible for special pay.The ministry can opt to hire experts from private companies through special contracts with the firms, but this method creates problems in terms of how to protect classified information after the contracts expire.Militaries around the world are already recruiting private-sector IT experts.The commander of a U.S. cyberdefense unit attracted attention in July by calling for hackers to join the military.

 

At a hacker conference in Las Vegas, the commander said that while the pay was low, they would have a great time in the military.It has also been reported that the Chinese military hires outside experts to help run its cyberwarfare unit."It is difficult for military education, which aims to institutionalize its members, to develop geniuses," said Motohiro Tsuchiya, Keio University professor and member of a government information security panel. "In cyberspace, just having one gifted hacker can make a huge difference. Japan should modernize its human resource development system to keep up with other militaries."

From http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/ 11/17/2012

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SOUTH KOREA: No. of Self-employed People Aged 60 and Over Surges

The number of self-employed people aged 60 and over has surged by more than 100-thousand from last year. Our Bae Joo-yon has more.REPORT: Statistics Korea announced on Thursday that around one-point-eight million people aged 60 or older were estimated to be self-employed as of August, up nearly 110-thousand from a year ago. Of those, some one-point-three million ran their businesses alone.The statistics agency said that the number of self-employed people aged 60 and older saw a decline up until 2010 then began to surge from last year, apparently due to a rise in the older population and a jump in the number of retirees who are not able to enjoy national pension benefits.The total number of self-employed people in South Korea, including those who work for a family business without getting paid, stood at seven-point-one million, up two percent from a year ago. Of the total, the number of men grew by roughly 120-thousand to four-point-three million, while the number of women rose by 16-thousand to two-point-eight million. The statistics agency found that among the total number of self-employed people, around one-point-nine million were graduates of college or graduate schools. That’s up 169-thousand from last year. The agency added that 210-thousand people who are college or graduate school graduates were estimated to work at businesses run by their families or spouses without getting paid. The number of such people rose by 23-thousand from last year.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/25/2012

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Gov’t to Toughen Up Crackdown on Online Porn

 

The government aims to block the distribution channels of online pornography, which has been blamed for a recent streak of sex crimes against women and children in South Korea. Our Kim Soyon tells us more.Report: The government held a national policy coordination meeting Friday chaired by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and announced comprehensive measures to eradicate obscene materials to create a sound, healthy society.The government will continuously monitor online hard-drives and file-sharing sites and activate a filtering system on pornographic materials around the clock. It will also mandate that Web site operators implement technical protective measures against porn.Unregistered hard-drives will be clamped down on and obscene sites with servers based overseas will be blocked at the source via countries used as international gateways for Internet traffic.Korea will also strengthen global cooperation with Interpol and others to crack down on foreign Web sites that heavily upload child porn materials. It will also seek to become a member of organizations including the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online.The government will also lay out a legal foundation to enforce administrative sanctions on adult Internet cafes including shutting down businesses.The overall prison term will be increased for people producing child pornography, while the exact sentencing terms will be decided during the legislation process.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/ 10/26/2012

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Gov't Announces Plan to Evaluate Online, Mobile Games

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family says it will evaluate online and mobile games in line with the so-called "shutdown law” in an attempt to foster sound gaming habits among Korean youth.The ministry will base its assessment on seven questions to determine if a game can trigger addiction. A list of 21 questions will also be used to identify problematic teen behavior resulting from online game playing.All online and mobile games that can be played on cell phones, tablet computers and other devices will be evaluated. If the shutdown rule is deemed necessary for a game, it will be made unavailable to minors under age 16 from midnight on May 20th next year.Some of the evaluation questions focus on a game's reward system, the division of roles among players, and the addictive nature of its rules.The Korea Association of Game Industry is protesting the ministry's measure, saying the government is automatically assuming that online games are harmful. It added the shutdown is unrealistic as industry factors are not being taken into consideration.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 10/31/2012

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KMA Joins Hands with World Bank to Battle Climate Change

The Korea Meteorological Administration is teaming up with the World Bank to help fight climate change.KMA administrator Cho Seok-joon signed a memorandum of understanding with Francis Ghesquiere, manager for the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Management Practice Group, on Saturday at World Bank headquarters in Washington.The agreement is for cooperation in responding to climate change in developing countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines. The World Bank offered to work with the KMA, since South Korea has been recognized as a model regarding the quick modernization of its weather forecast system.Under the agreement, the KMA will provide its resources and equipment to countries recommended by either the World Bank or KMA when needed, with funding coming from the World Bank.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/03/2012

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South Korea Third in OECD in IT Industry R&D Investment

 

South Korean companies’ investment in IT and communications research and development accounts for nearly one-point-five percent of the country’s gross domestic product.According to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, investment in research by South Korean IT and communications companies accounted for one-point-48 percent of the nation’s GDP, coming in third after Finland and Taiwan out of 38 countries.Only four countries had a ratio of over one percent: South Korea, Finland, Taiwan, and Israel.By sector, manufacturing investment by conglomerates like Samsung Electronics accounted for one-point-36 percent of South Korea’s GDP, while software and contents made up 0.13 percent.Out of the total investment for research and development made in South Korea, 53-point-one percent was for the IT industry, leaving South Korea in fourth place after Taiwan, Finland and Greece, respectively.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/ 11/04/2012

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S. Korean Women Rank 8th Globally in Life Expectancy

 

A new report finds that South Korean women are expected to live an average of 84 years and men 77-point-three years. That’s higher than the average life expectancy of advanced nations.According to the United Nations Population Fund report issued by the Planned Population Federation of Korea, South Korean women ranked eighth in terms of average life expectancy while Korean men came in 26th place.The report found that the global average life expectancy is 71-point-six years for women and 67-point-one years for men. The expectancy was higher for advanced countries at 81-point-three years for women and 74-point-six years for men.The report also said that the world’s total population grew by some 78 million from last year to stand at roughly seven billion this year.By country, China had the largest population in the world with one-point-three billion people followed by India with one-point-two billion and the U.S. with 300 million.South Korea’s population stood at 48-point-six million, putting it at 26th in population size out of 189 countries. The combined population of the two Koreas was estimated at 73-point-two million, which ranks 19th in world populations.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr/11/15/2012

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ASEAN Urged to Bridge Digital Divide

 

ICT Ministers of ASEAN member-countries gathered in Cebu, the Philippines last week and agreed to enhance their collaboration on critical ICT programmes towards implementing the ASEAN ICT Masterplan (AIM) targeted for completion by 2015. Vice President Jejomar Binay represented President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino in the 12th Asean Telecommunications and IT Ministers (TELMIN) meeting during November 15 and 16, noting that ASEAN is stronger when connected and in creating ICT jobs. The key address of the meeting was the concern over bridging the digital divide as it is considered one of six pillars needed to be built as the important foundation of the AIM. This two-day event was chaired by TELMIN Chair the Philippines’ Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo, and welcomed senior officials and regulators in charge of ICT in their respective countries to update the progress of the implementation of the AIM. “We agreed that we need to reach out to the unserved and underserved areas of our countries, nothing that many applications of ICT can bring about productivity to sectors that might need it,” said Montejo. He cited an example on agriculture sector that real time weather updates could help the agriculture sector improve farming management.

According to him, this meeting also helped the member countries learn and share information to benefit the entire ASEAN. “There is a great potential for improvement in productivity that lead to more savings if everyone can become competitive,” he added. Montejo pointed out applications like remote medical diagnosis conducted by Singapore government, and smart identification cards from Singapore and Malaysia that can be used to pay toll fees and access to public transportation systems. During his welcome speech, he talked about the progress of Integrated Government Philippines project (iGovPhil) accepting that the Philippine government still remains bullish with the opportunities that the ICT can provide for governance. “We are particularly upbeat about our iGovPhil project — our flagship e-governance initiative which will provide the unifying common application services, enterprise architecture, and physical infrastructure to eventually ensure inter-operability and secure data sharing across all e-government systems,” said he. “We believe that this suite of inter-operable systems and strategic applications of iGovPhil will transform how governance is done in our country. For us, this means smarter government,” he added.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 11/19/2012

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INDONESIA: President Stresses Domestic Consumption Key to Spur Growth

JAKARTA, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono emphasized Tuesday that domestic consumption is the main driver of the country's economic growth and that export-oriented economic style was not suitable for Indonesia. "Indonesia's economic growth is dominated by domestic consumption, so Indonesia doesn't need to follow the foreign economic strategy which is apt to export-orientation," President Yudhoyono said here in Indonesia's National Economic Committee Tuesday, as quoted by Indonesia's kompas.com. Indonesia's rapid economic growth over the past few years had turned middle-class households richer. With a population of about 240 million, middle class comprises 60.9 percent of Indonesians in 2011, according to a survey by Indonesian central bank. Data released by Indonesia's Central Statistics Agency (BPS) last week shows the Southeast Asia's largest economy grew 6.2 percent in the third quarter thanks to strong domestic consumption despite the global economic slowdown.

Yudhoyono said countries like China, Singapore were the model of export-orientated economies, relying on huge trade surpluses to get economic developed, it is not necessary for Indonesia to follow their style. Unlike its neighboring countries, Indonesia's economy is driven by domestic consumption, which accounts for almost 60 percent of the country's overall economy. Strong domestic demand helps provide Indonesia with some protection against international fluctuations in commodity prices and demand, according to analysts. "Besides development of domestic market, Indonesia also needs to develop and implement the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia's Economic Development Master Plan (MP3EI) to fuel the economic growth," the president added. Indonesia unveiled the ambitious blueprint MP3EI last year, aiming to drive the country to be one of the world's ten biggest economies by 2025 with GDP to reach 4.5 trillion U.S. dollars and the per capita income from the present 3,000 U.S. dollars to 15, 000 U.S. dollars.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/13/2012

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Indonesian Employers Face Gov't Labor