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October 2017, Issue 191

unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

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Rethink Tourism Policy for Sustainable and Socially Inclusive Growth, Says OECD as Ministers Meet

Better Global Prospects Yield Favorable Outlook for Developing East Asia Pacific

World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings 2017: Development Committee Communiqué

Governments Rapidly Dismantling Harmful Tax Incentives Worldwide: BEPS Project Driving Major Changes to International Tax Rules

Guidelines for Civil Participation in Political Decision Making

 

 

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CHINA: National Anthem Law Takes Effect

China to Air Documentary on Social, Economic Achievements

China Amends Regulations to Simplify Administrative Procedures

Hong Kong to Launch New Profits Tax System Next Year

JAPAN: Abe Must Advance Policies Based on Mission Entrusted in Poll / Eliminate ‘Arrogance,’ Steer Govt Carefully

SOUTH KOREA: Govt. Announces Measures to Nurture IT Talents

Pres. Moon to Seek Constitutional Revision for Decentralization of Power

 

 

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INDONESIA: Revised Online Taxi Regulation to Be Enforced on Nov. 1

CAMBODIA: Parliament Amends Laws to Give Opposition Seats to Other Parties If It's Dissolved

MYANMAR: To Launch New National Drug Control Policy in This Year-End

THAILAND: PM Pledges to Make Success of Reform Efforts, Urges People to Help Change Country for the Better

VIETNAM: Politburo Issues First-Ever Regulation on Personnel Rotation

Ministry Calls for Clear Policies for Start-Ups

PM Praises Social Credit Policies

 

 

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INDIA: Govt Constitutes High Level Forum on 5G India 2020

 

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Preparing Strategy for Development of ICT in 2018-2021

TURKEY: To Intensify Fight Against Cyber-Crimes

TURKMENISTAN: Adopting Law on Free Economic Zones

 

 

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AUSTRALIA: Experts Gathering to Talk Clean Energy Target

ABC 'Fair and Balanced' Laws in Parliament

Senate Sinks Citizenship Laws

Senate Sets Energy Policy Deadline

SA Won't Support Government's Energy Plan

NEW ZEALAND: Leaders Sign NZ Coalition Agreements

Are the New Government’s Housing Policies Achievable?

Labour Shortage a Challenge for KiwiBuild Plan

 

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Global Wildlife Program Promotes People’s Active Participation in Wildlife Conservation

The Importance of Cities as Partners in Successful Governance

Egovernment in Local and Regional Administrations: Guidance, Tools and Funding for Implementation

Better Infrastructure, Jobs, Services in Cities Urgently Needed in East Asia Pacific: World Bank Report

Ministers Issue Statement on Transportation Connectivity

 

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CHINA: Party's Ever-improving Governance Gives Renewable Power to Economy

China Law Society Establishes Research Center for Party Regulations

China to Deepen Reform with Public Hospitals

China Continues the Fight Against Corruption

CPC Officials Lead Poverty Relief Work in Rural China

Xi Calls for Advancing Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for New Era

JAPAN: FSA Must Not Return to Arbitrary Administrative Style After Reforms

Greater Public Burden, Benefit Cuts Must Be Discussed First

Parties Must Commit to Work Style Reforms That Curb Excessive Overtime

2017 Lower House Election - Parties’ Campaign Promises Stress Support for Childcare

Each Vote Counts as Japan’s Citizens Fulfill Responsibility for the Future

Set Nation on Correct Course through Lower House Election / Confirm Quality, Persuasiveness of Policies

Abe Begins Work on 4th Cabinet

Victory Gives Abe Mandate for 3rd Term as LDP President / PM Expected to Focus on FY18 Budget

Cities and Prefectures Get into the Spirit of Labor Reform

SOUTH KOREA: Lawmakers Urge ICT Ministry to Fully Implement Blacklist System

Moon Vows to Root Out Corrupt Hiring Practices at Public Organizations

Moon Vows to Restore Relationship with Labor Sector

 

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INDONESIA: President Supports Formation of Police's Anti-Corruption Squad

PHILIPPINES: Duterte Names New Military Chief

THAILAND: Environment Reform Committee Goes on Line

Election Set for Nov 2018

Police Reform Committee Set to Receive ‘Wish List’ Following Public Hearing Process

Environmental Reform Committee Reforms Include Small Tweaks and Grand Plans

Four Areas Need Addressing to Reduce Corruption: Committee

Prayut Creates New ‘Super Board’ to Ensure Regional Plans in Line with National

Govt Suggests Reforms for Resources Committee

VIETNAM: Transport Minister Named Da Nang's Leader

1,500 Vietnamese Special, Mobile Police Officers to Be Deployed During APEC Summit

Anti-Corruption Fight Set to Intensify

Vietnam Has 2 New Cabinet Members

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BANGLADESH: Excise Department, NBP, Punjab IT Board Sign Pact

INDIA: Mobile App to Avail Services of Pensioners’ Portal Launched

Young Startups Promoting Heritage Should Get Incentives from State Govts

AWS to Set Up Cloud Centres in Bahrain by 2019

Bureaucratic Reshuffle at the Centre

Cyber Security Is No Longer Just an IT Department Discussion: Fortinet Survey

NEWSNIC Launches Version 2.0 of Open Government Data Platform India

Committed to Uphold High Standards of Governance

Expanding E-Governance Framework: Integrating Digital India & China’s Internet Plus

MyGov Turns Three, Participative Governance Takes Successful Stride 

Committed to Uphold High Standards of Governance

PM Modi Inaugurates All India Institute of Ayurveda

 

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AFGHANISTAN: Regional Cooperation Inducing Transformation

AZERBAIJAN: Another Bank Joins E-government Portal

KAZAKHSTAN: Legislative Chamber Holds Meeting with Delegation

TURKMENISTAN: New Deputies Appointed for Minister of Finance

UZBEKISTAN: To Implement International Mobile Equipment Identity System

New Head of Administration Appointed in Uzbekistan’s Khorezm Region

 

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AUSTRALIA: Public Wants Cashless Welfare Cards

Senate Unlikely to Support University Package

UN Grills Australia on Human Rights

NEW ZEALAND: First to Announce Govt Tomorrow

New Govt Urged to Keep 'Social Investment Approach'

Minimum Wage Hike 'Good for Work, Good for Business'

Poverty Portfolio 'Gives Children a Voice'

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Three Ways IoT Is Making Cities Smarter

Building Managerial and Innovation Capabilities Is Essential to Prepare for Technological Adoption

Progress on Gender Equality Far Too Slow

Smart Cities Are Boring. Give Us Responsive Cities.

World Bank Urges Action to Break the Cycle of Poverty from Generation to Generation

Population Ageing and Rising Inequality Will Hit Younger Generations Hard

World Bank Treasury Hosted Its 2nd Government Debt and Risk Management Program Roundtable

ePrivacy and Digital Innovation Must Be in Balance

Responding to Refugee Crises in Developing Countries

Public-Private Dialogue Enabling Women: APEC Forum

World Bank Debars Three Entities in Relation to Misconduct Impacting an Environmental Program in the East Asia and Pacific Region

Transportation Ministers: Reduce Emissions

 

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CHINA: Developing Technology to Recognize People by Posture Only

China Leads Global Quantum Communication Development

Chinese Scientists Make Breakthrough in Replacing WiFi with LiFi

Chinese Students Invent Environment-friendly Hydroelectric Power System

Beijing Technology Hub Attracts More Young Talent

IEA Says China Remains Leader of Renewables

Debut of Facial ID Technology Sparks Controversy

Report Indicates China's Progress in Science and Technology

Official Says China Makes Great Strides in Poverty Alleviation

Quantum Computing Cloud Platform Released in China

Chinese Prosecutors to Use AI in Investigation

Continued Innovation to Help China Avoid Middle-income Trap: HSBC

From Theory Prediction to Bold Observatory, Chinese Researchers Help Usher in New Era in Astrophysics

China Exports Drought-resistant Rice Farming Technique

China to Improve Entry-Exit Services to Attract Professionals

Study Reveals Anti-cancer Properties of Caterpillar Fungus

World's First Driverless Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit System Launches in China

JAPAN: Improve Support System for Children Needing Daily Medical Attention

Parties Must Offer Specific Measures to Address Anxiety

Use Loan, Scholarship Systems More Effectively to Promote Higher Education

Govt to Expedite Development of Snow Removal Vehicles Mounted with Self-Driving Technologies

Japan Fails to Toughen Passive Smoking Ban Due to Resistance

New Cancer Program Targets Prevention

SOUTH KOREA: Moving to Ease Bioethics Law to Boost Gene Therapy R&D

Korea Eyes Lead in ‘4th Industrial Revolution’

Koreans Rank 8th in Mobile Data Usage Among OECD Member States: Report

Moon Calls for Increased Cooperation with OECD for Growth, Job Creation

Korean Researchers Develop Blood Test Technology to Predict Alzheimer’s

Govt. Tests Drone Delivery System in Sejong

NORTH KOREA: Once-Touted AI Tech Hits Development Ceiling - Report

 

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INDONESIA: Govt Urged to Regulate App-Based Public Transportation

THAILAND: Centre Set Up to Monitor Drones During Cremation Period

VIETNAM: Ministry Seeks Hotlines for Complaints over Education, Training

PM Urges Provinces to Tie Up on Climate Issues

Education Ministry Asked to Delay New Education Curriculum

HÀ Nội Seeks Support Over Smart City Initiative

Vietnamese Capital to Install More Air Monitoring Stations

 

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India Blockchain Week Attracts over 500 Technologists from Around the Globe

Concurrent Monitoring Through ICT

YASH Acquires Codiant Software Technologies

ePrivacy and Digital Innovation Must Be in Balance

Honeywell Building Technologies to Aid Rajkot Smart City and Surveillance Goals

IL&FS Technologies Limited to Provide Campus Wide Wi-Fi Network to Central Universities in India

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Developing New Mechanism to Regulate Electricity Market

Azerbaijani Postal Operator Registers over 400 Lost Docs Via Lost and Found Service

TURKMENISTAN: To Introduce Payments for Public Utilities

UZBEKISTAN: IT Ministry Conducts Press Tour at Innovation Center Named After M. Ulugbek

Uzbekistan Continues Training on Using National E-Case Management System

 

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AUSTRALIA: Major Investment into Cancer Research

Govt to Bring Welfare Drug Trial to Senate

Govt 'A Bit Rich' on Education: Labor

Govt Should 'Stay Out' Australia Day Debate

NEW ZEALAND: Decision on Government Looming

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The Future of the IoT: From Smart Cities to Cyborgs

3.9 Billion People Lack Access to ICT, ITU Calls for Change

OECD to Launch Report on Population Ageing and Rising Inequality

Signs of Economic Recovery in Middle East and North Africa but Growth Still Impacted by Instability

Unequal Access and Usage Could Hold Back Potential of Digital Economy

ITU World Standards Day 2017 Celebrates Standards for Smart Cities

Information Economy Report 2017

What Will the Smart City of the Future Look Like?

7,000 Newborns Die Every Day, Despite Steady Decrease in Under-Five Mortality, New Report Says

New World Bank-UNHCR Joint Data Center to Improve Global Statistics on Forced Displacement

The ITU Is Trying (Again) to Govern the Internet

OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2017

Privatix- the Blockchain Solution to Internet Censorship.

Smart Cities: Ordinary Citizens Were the Missing Link All Along

Managing Migration Better Can Help Boost Welfare and Growth in ASEAN

Reducing Risks in Developing Countries Is Key to Spur Investment and Growth

 

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CHINA: Winning the Toughest of Tough Battles Against Poverty

Foundation Solid for Stable China Growth: Economists

China Sees Robust Toy Trade Growth

China Becomes Largest Source of Tourists for Abu Dhabi

China Industrial Output Remains Stable in Jan-Sept

China Shows Strong Economic Resilience with Q3 Data

China's Home Prices Continue to Stabilize

Xi Offers Answers to World Development Problems

China's Economy to Steer Clear of Rapid Slowdown in New Era: Economist

JAPAN: Labor-Saving Farm System to Tap into IT

FY18 Trial Management of Game Meat Industry Using ICT Aimed at Easing Worries

SOUTH KOREA: Meaningful Digital Inclusion Means More Than Connectivity

Global Leaders Vow United Efforts to Address ICT Issues

OECD Advises Korea to Use More Advanced Digital Tools

KAIST Partners with WEF for ‘4th Industrial Revolution’ Push

 

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INDONESIA: City Plans to Open Bike Rental Service Along Sudirman

City to Introduce 'Pink Troops' for Child-Friendly Parks

MYANMAR: Pledging to Continue Working with UN in Achieving Socioeconomic Development

SINGAPORE: MOE to Raise School Fees for PRs, International Students for Next 3 Years

THAILAND: E-Commerce Market Heading for Bt2.8 Trillion This Year

Intellectual Property Protection a ‘Key Element of Thailand 4.0’

Thousands of Retired Teachers to Be Rehired

Thong Fah Welfare Smartcard System Rife with Problems

VIệtNAM: Urged to Build Smart Cities

57 Pct Vietnam's Workforce Are Informal Workers

HCM City Sees Low Enrollment Rate in Family Health Plans

HN to Relocate Residents Living in Flooded Areas

Deputy PM Wants ICT Investment

HCM City Offers Waste-Treatment Services to Neighbouring Province

VN Needs to Enhance ICT Application in Agriculture

Wired VN Faces New Security Threats

 

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INDIA: De-Nibandhan Digitization of Land Records

Online OPD Appointments in Delhi Government Hospitals

Seamless Boarding Process at Airports Soon

Building New India with Digital Power

Sidhu Promises Better Tourism Infrastructure for Punjab

Smart Tourism Practices Delved Upon at National Tourism Conclave in Chandigarh

BECIL Spreading Wings in Digital India & Smart Cities Spectrum

Internet May Soon Carry Traffic at Speed of Light

NTT Com Launches Data Network Services in India

Paytm Sets Up Awareness Camps to Help India Go Cashless

Celebrating Smart Tourism in Punjab

Next Skills Announces Connectivity Package for College Students

Smart Tourism in the Era of Smart Cities: The Punjab Story of ‘Incredible India’

ITDC: Expanding Horizon of Incredible India

PAKISTAN: A Quick Overview of Big Data Solution Providers

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Informing European Commission on Formation of Digital Economy in Country

Issuance of New Ids to Help Develop Azerbaijan’s E-Commerce

Azerbaijan’s Electronic Signature Experience Presented at UN Conference in Geneva

Free Wi-Fi to Cover More Parks in Baku

Azerbaijan’s E-Payment System E-Pul Launches New Service

Exchange Transactions Up by More Than Threefold in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan Inks Deals for E-Commerce Development (PHOTO)

E-signatures to Be Free for Azerbaijani Citizens from 2018

Azerbaijani Gov’t Expects Stable GDP Growth Until 2021

Azerbaijani Government Announces Forecasts for Exports in 2018

Azerbaijan in Talks with Several States on Mutual Recognition of E-Signatures

Public Transport Payment in Azerbaijan to Be Available Online

KAZAKHSTAN: Digital Market Continues to Grow

UZBEKISTAN: IT Ministry - Prices for Telecom Services Will Not Increase

 

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AUSTRALIA: Climate Change 'Is Real' - Energy Minister

Australian Government Details Govpass Digital ID

Mobile Networks Not to Be Slugged: Xenophon

Productivity Report Slams Waiting Times

NEW ZEALAND: Nationwide Housing Affordability Improves

NZ a Land of Fibre-Fuelled Digital Opportunity, Says IDC

One Third of Secondary Students Self Harm – Study

Lowest Sept House Sales in Six Years – REINZ

Warnings to Avoid Wi-Fi over the Top - IT expert

Revealed: NZ's Emissions Fifth Highest in OECD

Coming to NZ – the B.One Smart Home Hub

LoT Alliance Calls for Government Backing to Help Grow More Food

NZ's Fastest Growing Regions Revealed

Climate Change 'Can't Overwhelm Us' – Shaw

Higher Minimum Wage: 'I Can't See Any Downside at All in Paying People Properly'

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Crowd Budget Platform by Crowdpolicy

Statement on Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi)

Participatory Budgeting: Spreading Across the Globe

Review of the Debt Sustainability Framework for Low Income Countries

Asian Development Bank, New Development Bank Meet to Discuss New Project Cofinancing

ADB to Double Climate Financing for the Pacific in 2017-2020, Signs First Agreement with GCF

ADB Launches New Funded Trade Finance Product with J.P. Morgan to Promote Trade in Developing Asia

APEC Finance Ministers Issue Joint Statement

Finance Ministers Drive Inclusive Recovery

 

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CHINA: Cutting Gov't Spending on Vehicles

China Cuts Fees on Businesses by More Than 60 Billion U.S. Dollars

JAPAN: Dire Shortfall of Social Security Funds

Finance Ministry Proposes Cuts in Medical Fees and Reductions in Cost of New Drugs

SOUTH KOREA: 5G Market to Reach W35tr in 2025

Gov't to Broaden Access to State Subsidy for Vulnerable, Poor

 

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INDONESIA: Government, House Update State Budget Bill

Customs Signs Agreement with Banks for E-Tax Payment

10 Financial Institutions to Have Access to E-ID Data

House Set to Approve 2018 State Budget on Wednesday

MYANMAR: Approving over $4bn FDI in First Half of Current Fiscal

MALAYSIA: PM Set to Announce Last Budget Ahead of General Election

THAILAND: Low-Income Welfare Programme Begins amid Hiccups

Somkid Tells Finance Minister to Increase Welfare-Card Credit Limits

VIETNAM: Gaining Over 700 Mln USD from State Divestment in 9 Months

HCM City Approves 2 River Dredging Works at $91m

HN Plans $66m Project to Reduce Traffic Congestion at Southern Gateway

Vietnam's Budget Revenue Up 13.9 Pct in 9 Months

Government Advised to Re-Define Public Debt

 

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INDIA: e-Payment of Road Tax in Haryana

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Azercell, PASHA Bank Continue to Implement Projects in District

Transition to Digital Banking in Azerbaijan Inevitable - PASHA Bank

Azerbaijan Reduces Period of Repaying Overpaid Taxes

Azerbaijan Exceeds Forecasts for State Budget Revenues, Expenditures

New Tax Incentives Can Be Introduced in Azerbaijan

Demand for Azerbaijani Finance Ministry’s Bonds Exceeds Supply

Azerbaijan Talks on Raising Excise Tax Rates for Imported Products

KAZAKHSTAN: Foreign Debt Up by $4.2B

 

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AUSTRALIA: Frydenberg Announces $36m Energy Trial

Australian Government Offering AU$60m in Grants to Encourage Smart Farming

Australian Government Awards AU$5.9m in R&D Grants to Support Defence Operations

Greens Propose Ban of Taxpayer Coal Funding

Labor Slams Bishop over $1.2m Expenses Bill

NEW ZEALAND: New Government Defends Spending Plans

Commerce Commission Divvies Up $50m Telecoms Development Bill

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NGOs: It's Time to Go Digital. Here Are 5 Tips to Get You Started

Pick-Up in Private Consumption and Investment Drives Higher OECD GDP Growth in Second Quarter of 2017

World Bank Debars Three Companies for Sanctionable Misconduct

Transport Sector Is "Off Track" to Sustainability

Billion-Dollar Projects Fuel Spike in Private Sector Infrastructure Investment

APEC Announces Asia-Pacific’s Top Women Entrepreneurs

 

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CHINA: Robotics Firm Partners with UAE's Telecom Giant for Market Expansion in Mideast

China's Chang'an Auto to Stop Sales of Fossil Fuel Cars by 2025

China Steps Up Overcapacity Cuts in Coal Sector

Taiwan Manufacturing, Service Sectors Confidence over Growth Cools in September: Report

SOUTH KOREA: Moon Pledges to Introduce 'Regulatory Sandbox' for New Innovative Industries

Moon Urges Defense Industry to Gain Independent Tech Capabilities

Big Data to Lead Korea's Future Biohealth Sector

Korean Mobile Carriers to Face Off in 5G at Global Forum

KT Eyes on Global Maritime Industry with Solutions for Safety

 

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CAMBODIA: Raising Monthly Minimum Wage for Garment Sector to 170 USD for 2018

SINGAPORE: 2 Companies Chosen to Supply Smart Shower Devices to 10,000 Homes

VIETNAM: Telecoms, IT, Retail Firms Top Profit-Making List

SME Vietnam Network to Connect and Support SMEs

 

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INDIA: Google, MeitY Launch Initiatives to Proliferate Digital Awareness

10 Years of ‘Dell Giving’

 

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PAKISTAN: APAG Signs Accord to Acquire eLogistics, Supply Chain Software

IRAN: Private Sector Invests in Kazakh Meat Industry

 

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NEW ZEALAND: Vocus to Sell Off Business

 

 

 

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Rethink Tourism Policy for Sustainable and Socially Inclusive Growth, Says OECD as Ministers Meet

 

Governments need to rethink their tourism policies to encourage more diversity, reduce concentration in high-density destinations and put in place long-term strategies that are ecologically sustainable and socially inclusive, according to the OECD. The recommendations were among those informing discussions by ministers and high-level government officials from 45 countries meeting at the OECD on Monday and Tuesday this week, alongside senior representatives from industry and international organisations. Their aim was to explore ways to better manage the sector’s vigorous growth and formulate future policies. For the OECD, rethinking the tourism model involves improving the tourist’s experience, better managing the impacts of tourism, and encouraging positive spillover effects on the wider economy. Tourism policy should ensure that it contributes to economic growth that is shared broadly across society and improves the well-being of citizens. Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in the world economy, and its potential remains very strong. In OECD countries, tourism contributes on average 4.1 percent of GDP, 5.9 percent of employment and 21.3 percent of service exports. 

 

Addressing the meeting, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said tourism was a bright spot in a still sluggish global economy but the sector faced considerable challenges. In certain heavily visited areas tourism has faced a backlash in public opinion due to its impact on the local population, culture and environment. He said whether the benefits of such a dynamic sector are shared widely depends crucially on how policy is led and designed. The digital economy is transforming tourism through mobile technology, online sharing platforms and changes in how tourism services are delivered and experienced. Adjustment to such rapid change presents both opportunities and challenges for policy-makers, says the OECD. In particular, they must address the impact on employment, consumer protection, privacy, security, taxation and regulation.

 

The OECD argues that tourism can also serve as a tool to help protect natural areas, and has the potential to make a major contribution to the 2030 UN sustainable development agenda by working to achieve more resource-efficient consumption and production patterns. The high level meeting also discussed how quality, well targeted investment in the sector was needed to manage growth that was both sustainable and inclusive by contributing also to broader, economic, environmental and social goals. In their statement, the ministers and other participants agreed that tourism policy required a whole-of-government approach but also recognised the value of dialogue with industry, social partners, academia and other civil society representatives in developing, implementing and monitoring policy.

 

The High Level meeting on Tourism Policies for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth was chaired by Greece’s Minister of Tourism, Elena Kountoura. In this interview, she sets the scene for the meeting. Further information about the issues discussed at the meeting can be found here. To find out more about the OECD’s work and data on tourism visit: www.oecd.org/industry/tourism/  Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/03/2017

 

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Better Global Prospects Yield Favorable Outlook for Developing East Asia Pacific

 

Improved global growth prospects and continued strong domestic demand underpin a positive outlook for the developing economies of East Asia and the Pacific, says the latest World Bank report on the region. Stronger growth in advanced economies, a moderate recovery in commodity prices, and a recovery in global trade growth, are the favorable external factors that will support the economies of developing East Asia and Pacific to expand by 6.4 percent for 2017. The October 2017 edition of the East Asia and Pacific Economic Update reports that the uptick in growth in 2017 relative to earlier expectations reflects stronger than expected growth in China, at 6.7 percent, the same pace as in 2016.  In the rest of the region, including the large Southeast Asian economies, growth in 2017 will be slightly faster at 5.1 percent in 2017 and 5.2 percent in 2018, up from 4.9 percent in 2016. Several external and domestic risks could impact this positive outlook. Economic policies in some advanced economies remain uncertain, while geopolitical tensions centered on the region have increased. Monetary policies in the U.S. and the Euro Area could be tightened more quickly than expected. Many countries in the region have high levels of private sector debt while fiscal deficits remain high or are on the rise.

 

“The recovery of the global economy and the expansion of global trade are good news for the East Asia and Pacific region and its continued success in improving living standards,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for the East Asia and Pacific Region. “The challenge will be for countries to strike a balance between prioritizing short-term growth and reducing medium-term vulnerabilities, so that the region has a stronger foundation for sustained and inclusive growth.” China’s gradual rebalancing away from investment and towards domestic consumption is expected to continue, with growth projected to slow to around 6.4 percent in 2018. Thailand and Malaysia are expected to grow more rapidly than expected, due to stronger exports, including tourism, for the former, and increased investment in the latter. Gains in real wages are fueling strong consumption in Indonesia, and a rebound in agriculture and manufacturing is boosting growth in Vietnam. In the Philippines, the economy is projected to expand at a slightly slower pace than in 2016, partly due to slower than expected implementation of public investment projects. The outlook for smaller countries is mixed. Mongolia and Fiji are expected to fare better in 2017-2018. Mongolia’s macroeconomic stabilization program is encouraging new foreign direct investment in mining and transport. Fiji’s growth will be supported by reconstruction from Cyclone Winston. Growth in Cambodia and Lao PDR is moderating compared to 2016, but its pace remains higher than other countries in the region; trade and FDI in Cambodia and expansion of the power sector in Lao PDR are the main drivers.

 

Expanding tourism, low world commodity prices, high levels of revenue from fishing fees, and rising construction activity are supporting moderate GDP growth rates in most of the small Pacific Islands. In the longer term, reforms in tourism, labor mobility, fisheries, and the knowledge economy have the potential to lead to significantly higher incomes, employment, and government revenue. “The improved prospects for global growth offer a window of opportunity for countries to reduce vulnerabilities while pursuing reforms that can yield growth dividends over the longer term,” said Sudhir Shetty, World Bank Chief Economist for the East Asia and Pacific region. “Reducing risks to financial sector stability and strengthening competitiveness, including through deeper regional integration, remain priorities.”

 

To maintain resilience against risks, the report calls for a move away from measures aimed at short-term growth towards policies that address financial sector and fiscal vulnerabilities. These measures include: strengthening supervision and prudential regulation in countries experiencing rapid growth in private-sector credit and debt; reforming tax policies and administration to help boost revenue collection; and being ready to tighten monetary policy if warranted by the pace of interest rate increases in advanced economies. Structural reform priorities differ across countries. Sustained reforms of the state-owned enterprise sectors in China and Vietnam can improve growth prospects. The Philippines, Thailand, Lao PDR and Cambodia will benefit from continued improvements in public investment management systems to support expanding public infrastructure programs. In Indonesia, liberalizing the regulations for foreign investment remains important.

 

The report also highlights the potential that tourism development and deeper regional integration offer to offset the risks of protectionism. Growth in tourism, if well managed, has the potential to yield substantial benefits to the region, including for the Pacific Island Countries. The ASEAN Economic Community offers one avenue for promoting further regional integration, including by further liberalizing trade in services and reducing non-tariff barriers. Despite success in reducing poverty, high and rising inequality is a growing concern, as are falling mobility and growing economic insecurity. For lasting inclusive growth, measures to reduce extreme poverty must be accompanied by policies that broaden access to quality services and more productive jobs, and stronger social protection systems that reduce the consequences of adverse shocks. The East Asia and Pacific Update is the World Bank’s comprehensive review of the region’s economies. It is published twice yearly and is available free of charge at http://www.worldbank.org/eapupdate

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/04/2017

 

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World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings 2017: Development Committee Communiqué

 

1. The Development Committee met today, October 14, in Washington, D.C.

2. Global growth has improved over the past year with a recovery in investment, trade and commodity prices as well as supportive global financial conditions. Still, risks to the global outlook remain skewed to the downside, and prospects for growth vary widely across countries. While there has been encouraging progress in poverty reduction globally; high rates of inequality persist within and among countries, and stubborn pockets of poverty remain. Complex, interlinked challenges also risk rolling back the important gains of recent decades in an increasingly interconnected global economy. 

3. The urgency and scale of today’s risks to development require national and global coordinated action to achieve robust, sustainable, and inclusive development outcomes. The WBG is an effective and accountable leader in the global development arena, and we acknowledge its strong track record of supporting countries’ long-term development ambitions. With its capable staff, it is well-positioned to catalyze and deploy public and private finance to serve all clients using a range of financial, risk, advisory and knowledge products. It also has the capacity to convene partners at the global, regional, and national levels. These factors make it a unique institution within the development community.  

 

4. Recent human losses and economic shocks caused by natural disasters, famine, conflict, and displacement demonstrate that hard-earned economic and social gains can easily be lost. The need for fiscal adjustment also poses challenges in many economies, especially in highly indebted countries. We call on the WBG and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to remain alert to the risk of debt distress amid the cyclical and structural headwinds that confront many developing economies, including through enhanced support for private investment in Africa. Their continued assistance is critical to countries’ efforts to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth, enhance human capital, and strengthen resilience.   

5. To promote sustainable and inclusive growth, we urge enhanced coordination and partnership across multilateral development banks (MDBs) and other international financial institutions (IFIs) to help leverage the financing required to create jobs and build healthy economies. We are encouraged by WBG efforts to maximize finance for development, including through the Cascade approach, which is intended to ensure that public and private investments are complementary. We ask the WBG to help countries maximize their development resources by drawing appropriately on private sector solutions to achieve the WBG’s twin goals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

6. To enhance human capital, we encourage systematic approaches to health, nutrition, education, and social protection that create the foundations for long-term development. In particular, we welcome the World Development Report, Learning to Realize Education’s Promise. Improving learning outcomes for all is an important practical strategy for eliminating poverty and achieving shared prosperity. It is also a moral imperative. When children attend school without learning even the most basic life skills, it is not just a wasted opportunity; it is also a grave injustice. We urge the WBG to work with clients to adapt and design policies which over time can help them bolster learning and prepare their citizens for technological changes that will transform labor markets.  

 

7. Closing gender gaps for women in access to property, finance and decent work is critical for achieving the SDGs. We are encouraged by the WBG’s creation of the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, which is expected to leverage more than US$1 billion to help unlock the potential of women entrepreneurs. We also welcome the creation of a Gender Diversity Working Group at the Board of Executive Directors and request an update on its progress by the Spring Meetings in 2018.

8. To strengthen resilience, we urge continued investment in policies and programs that enable economic diversification and minimize the negative impact of acute and long-term challenges to development. Macroeconomic shocks arising from such crises as conflict, pandemics, natural disasters, and extreme weather events can displace communities and create high costs in terms of lost lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and social cohesion. Moreover, cyclical shocks place pressure on vulnerable financial systems. We call on the WBG and IMF to continue to work with countries to strengthen domestic resource mobilization, reduce illicit financial flows, create instruments for crisis and disaster prevention and preparedness, and ensure economic and social resilience when crises and disasters occur.  

9. We highlight the need for action to address challenges – climate change, migration and forced displacement, global health, as well as fragility, conflict and violence (FCV) – that threaten all countries. We applaud platforms such as the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, the Global Concessional Financing Facility and the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility as examples of WBG leadership in helping countries apply solutions at national, regional, and global levels. We note the ambition set out in the WBG Climate Change Action Plan. We recognize that small states are disproportionately affected by disaster risks and note the continued importance of facilitating their access to finance.

 

10. We welcome the start of IDA18, its record replenishment of US$75 billion, its new financial model and Triple A rating, and its focus on jobs and economic transformation, gender, climate change, governance and FCV. We look forward to successful implementation, including the contribution that increases in funding and staff will make in countries affected by FCV. We especially commend the renewed focus on facilitating private sector investment to boost growth for the poorest and most vulnerable. In this regard, we recognize the importance of IDA18’s IFC-MIGA Private Sector Window to mobilize private investment and create markets in the most challenging environments. 

11. We are encouraged by the Forward Look implementation update and recognize the importance of the WBG serving all client segments, noting that resources should be strategically deployed to meet global and client needs and targeted to areas of the world that most need funding and have least access to capital, with a tailored value proposition to the full range of clients. We support the initiatives that seek to optimize operational and administrative simplification without compromising the quality of WBG operational and analytical support. We expect the WBG to continuously strive for improvement through initiatives such as the Environment and Social Framework implementation, the Agile program as well as the Compensation Review. Increasing efficiency and effectiveness are also critical to support the institution’s goals of reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity in a sustainable manner. We look forward to a further update at the Spring Meetings 2018, including targets for measuring progress.

 

12. We welcome the progress report to Governors on the Shareholding Review. We endorse the continuing work that provides for further consideration of options and call on the Board to bring these discussions to a successful conclusion by Spring Meetings 2018.  

13. We recall the high ambition set out in the Forward Look and recognize the expectations placed on the WBG. We ask the Board and Management to review all possible options to enhance the WBG’s financial capacity and develop a package of measures, including internal levers and general and selective capital increases, for Governors’ consideration, with the aim of reaching a decision at the 2018 Spring Meetings.

14. The next meeting of the Development Committee is scheduled for April 21, 2018.   

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/14/2017

 

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Governments Rapidly Dismantling Harmful Tax Incentives Worldwide: BEPS Project Driving Major Changes to International Tax Rules

 

Governments have dismantled, or are in the process of amending, nearly 100 preferential tax regimes as part of the OECD/G20 BEPS standards to improve the international tax framework, according to a progress report released today. The report provides details on the outcome of peer reviews undertaken of 164 preferential tax regimes identified amongst the more than 100 jurisdictions participating in the OECD Inclusive Framework on BEPS. The OECD/G20 BEPS Project delivers solutions for governments to close the gaps in existing international rules that allow corporate profits to “disappear” or be artificially shifted to low or no tax environments, where companies have little or no economic activity. Revenue losses from BEPS are conservatively estimated at USD 100-240 billion annually, or the equivalent of 4-10% of global corporate income tax revenues. The BEPS Action 5 standard covers tax incentives (“preferential tax regimes”) that apply to mobile business income, such as financial and services income and income from intellectual property, which multinationals can shift with relative ease. To avoid a race to the bottom and negative spillover effects on other jurisdictions' tax bases, all 102 members of the BEPS Inclusive Framework have committed to ensuring that any regimes offered meet the criteria that have been agreed as part of BEPS Action 5. Crucially, this includes a requirement that taxpayers benefiting from a regime must themselves undertake the core business activity, ensuring the alignment of taxation with genuine business substance.

 

The Action 5 Progress Report on Preferential Tax Regimes includes the review of 164 preferential tax regimes offered by Inclusive Framework members against the Action 5 standard. 

Of the 164 regimes reviewed in the last twelve months:

99 require action;

For 93 of these 99 regimes, the required changes have already been completed or initiated by Inclusive Framework members,

56 regimes do not pose a BEPS risk,

9 regimes are still under review, due to extenuating circumstances such as the impact of the recent hurricanes on certain Caribbean jurisdictions.

 

"Harmful tax practices are a particularly aggressive way through which jurisdictions can encourage the erosion of other jurisdictions' tax bases," said Martin Kreienbaum, Chair of the Inclusive Framework on BEPS. "It is critical that they be addressed, to protect the level playing field and prevent a race to the bottom. The Inclusive Framework's peer reviews are resulting in real changes to these tax incentives, making it harder for multinationals to artificially shift their profits around the world for a tax advantage." "These outcomes demonstrate that the political commitments of members of the Inclusive Framework are rapidly resulting in measureable, tangible progress" said Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. "The jurisdictions concerned are already working to address the harmful tax practices in their preferential regimes. In fact, countries have already changed or are changing almost 95 percent of the regimes where action is needed." Inclusive Framework members have agreed an ambitious timeline, whereby jurisdictions whose regimes have harmful features are expected to adjust their regimes as soon as possible and generally no later than October 2018. The OECD will continue to publish the results of reviews of preferential regimes and the progress that jurisdictions are making to adjust them to reduce the risks posed to tax bases. Media queries should be directed to Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration (+33 6 26 30 49 23), Achim Pross, Head of the International Co-operation and Tax Administration Division (+33 6 21 63 27 67) or the OECD Media Office (+33 1 45 24 97 00).

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/16/2017

 

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Guidelines for Civil Participation in Political Decision Making

 

The Committee of Ministers,

Considering that the participation of citizens is at the very heart of the idea of democracy;

Considering that representative democracy, based on the right of citizens to freely elect their representatives at reasonable intervals, is part of the common heritage of member States;

Considering that direct democracy, based on the right to take part in elections and to launch and sign popular initiatives and requests for referendums, is a long-standing tradition in certain member States;

Considering that participatory democracy, based on the right to seek to determine or to influence the exercise of a public authority’s powers and responsibilities, contributes to representative and direct democracy and that the right to civil participation in political decision-making should be secured to individuals, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society at large;

Emphasising that responsibility and accountability for taking decisions ultimately rests with the public authority that has the democratic legitimacy to do so;

 

Having regard to texts of the Council of Europe that contribute to creating an environment for civil participation, such as:

the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 5) and its additional protocols;

the Council of Europe Convention on Access to Official Documents (CETS No. 205);

Recommendation Rec(2003)3 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making;

Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the legal status of non-governmental organisations in Europe;

the 2009 Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process;

 

Having regard also to texts that define the right to participate:

the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority (CETS No. 207);

Recommendation Rec(2001)19 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the participation of citizens in local public life;

Aware of the need to further strengthen the trust in and credibility of our democratic institutions and confident that widening the opportunities for civil participation in decision-making processes is one of the ways to achieve that aim;

Encouraging member States to draw on the views, information and expertise provided through participation and to develop a culture of effective participation based on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law,

Adopts the following guidelines and invites member States to make the widest possible use of them and to ensure their dissemination, in particular among all authorities responsible for or otherwise involved with civil participation in political decision making.

 

Purpose

The purpose of these guidelines is to strengthen and facilitate participation by individuals, NGOs and civil society at large in political decision making.

 

Definitions

For the purpose of these guidelines, the following definitions are used:

civil participation”: the engagement of individuals, NGOs and civil society at large in decision-making processes by public authorities. Civil participation in political decision-making is distinct from political activities in terms of direct engagement with political parties and from lobbying in relation to business interests;

“decision-making process”: the development, adoption, implementation, evaluation and reformulation of a policy document, a strategy, a law or a regulation at national, regional or local level, or any process where a decision is made that affects the public, or a segment thereof, by a public authority invested with the power to do so;

non-governmental organisations” (NGOs): voluntary self-governing bodies or organisations established to pursue the essentially non-profit-making objectives of their founders or members as set out in Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the legal status of non-governmental organisations in Europe. They may include, for example, voluntary groups, non-profit organisations, associations, foundations, charities or geographic or interest-based community and advocacy groups;

“civil society at large”: the ensemble of individuals and organised, less organised and informal groups through which they contribute to society or express their views and opinions, including when raising issues regarding human rights violations, corruption and other misconduct or expressing critical comments. Such organised or less organised groups may include professional and grass-roots organisations, universities and research centres, religious and non-denominational organisations and human rights defenders;

public authority”: any executive, legislative or administrative body at national, regional or local level, including individuals, exercising executive power or administrative functions.

 

III. Conditions and principles

Conditions enabling civil participation

Participation requires all involved to honestly and sincerely exchange viewpoints to ensure that the positions of civil society are effectively taken into consideration by public authorities with decision-making powers.Conditions for effective civil participation therefore include:

respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, adherence to fundamental democratic principles, political commitment, clear procedures, shared spaces for dialogue and good conditions overall for a vital, pluralistic and sustainable civil society;

creation and maintenance of an enabling environment by member States, comprising a political framework, a legal framework (where appropriate), and a practical framework, guaranteeing individuals, NGOs and civil society at large effective rights of freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of information;

recognition and protection of and support for the role of civil society in a pluralist democracy, its functions in terms of advocacy and monitoring of public affairs and its contribution to building a diverse and vibrant society.

 

Principles

Civil participation should be promoted and enabled by the following principles, which apply to all actors involved in civil participation in political decision-making:

mutual respect between all actors as the basis for honest interaction and mutual trust;

respect for the independence of NGOs whether their opinions are consistent with those of the public authorities or not;

respect for the position of public authorities with whom responsibility and accountability for decision making lies;

openness, transparency and accountability;

responsiveness, with all actors providing appropriate feedback;

non-discrimination and inclusiveness so that all voices, including those of the less privileged and most vulnerable, can be heard and taken into account;

gender equality and equal participation of all groups including those with particular interests and needs, such as young people, the elderly, people with disabilities or minorities;

accessibility through the use of clear language and appropriate means of participation, offline or online, and on any device.

 

Fundamentals of civil participation in political decision-making

Civil participation should seek to provide, collect and channel views of individuals, directly or via NGOs and/or representatives of civil society, providing a substantive exchange of information and opinions which inform the decision-making process so that public needs are met. Civil participation should be guaranteed by appropriate, structured and transparent means including, where necessary, legal or regulatory measures which could include provisions for handling requests for recourse or redress in the event of non-compliance. Any limitations or restrictions to participation should be clearly defined in this framework and be in accordance with the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights. Different phases of the decision-making process being undertaken by the public authority invested with the necessary power should be open to civil participation.

 

Information should be easily accessible, transparent and available to the public except where classified for reasons clearly specified by law or restricted for reasons of data protection in line with the relevant Council of Europe conventions and other international obligations. Adequate information should be provided in a timely manner allowing for substantive Input while decisions are still reversible. Public authorities should plan and manage civil participation and clearly define the objectives, actors, process and timeline, as well as the methods used. Public authorities should provide up-to-date, comprehensive information about the decision-making process and procedures for participation. Public authorities should seek to avoid unduly burdening individuals, NGOs and civil society at large in the course of civil participation and may take appropriate action to facilitate participation. Where public authorities provide some support to individuals, NGOs or civil society at large in the course of civil participation, they should do so in a manner which avoids influencing the outcome of the participation exercise in any way.

 

Where necessary, co-ordinating bodies should be established or developed with a view to setting up and managing civil participation processes, subject to their roles being clearly defined, emphasised and supported. Public authorities and NGOs may wish to conclude framework agreements for co-operation to support civil participation. The timeline allocated should provide, other than in exceptional and well-defined circumstances, sufficient opportunity to properly prepare and submit constructive contributions. Similarly, recourse to restricted procedures and/or procedures involving a limited number of actors should be made only in exceptional circumstances and for which reasons are given. The scope and method of civil participation should be commensurate with the issue at stake. Public authorities should solicit the widest possible range of contributions, including from marginalised, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people. Public authorities should not make a final decision until the end of the civil participation process which they have launched, unless exceptional circumstances so require and subject to clear justifications being given.

 

Types of civil participation

Civil participation in decision making can take different forms, including: provision of information, consultation, dialogue and active involvement.[1]

Provision of information

At all stages of decision making, all appropriate information should be presented in clear and easily understandable language and in an appropriate and accessible format, without undue administrative obstacles and, in principle, free of charge, in accordance with open data principles.[2]

Public authorities should provide the widest possible access, both offline and online, to key documents and information without restrictions on analysis and re-use of such information.

Consultation

 

Consultation allows public authorities to collect the views of individuals, NGOs and civil society at large on a specific policy or topic as part of an official procedure.

Consultation may be carried out through various means and tools, such as meetings, public hearings, focus groups, surveys, questionnaires and digital tools.

Public authorities should provide publicly available feedback on the outcome of consultations, particularly information giving reasons for any decisions finally taken.

Dialogue

Dialogue is a structured, long-lasting and results-oriented process which is based on mutual interest in the exchange of opinions between public authorities, individuals, NGOs and civil society at large.

 

Public authorities, NGOs and civil society at large may consider establishing different platforms as a permanent space for dialogue and participation. Such platforms may include regular public hearings, public forums, advisory councils or similar structures.

Active involvement

Active involvement refers to opportunities for civil participation in decision-making processes provided by public authorities to individuals, NGOs and civil society at large that extend beyond the provision of information, consultation or dialogue. It may include working groups or committees for the co-development of documents as well as of policies and laws ultimately requiring a decision by the appropriate public authority.

Where joint working groups or committees exist, public authorities should adopt transparent criteria and processes for the representation of individuals, NGOs and civil society at large.

Various types of partnerships involving public authorities, NGOs and representatives of civil society may be suitable at different stages of the decision-making process and may include partnerships relating to the implementation of decisions.

 

Implementing measures

To enable civil participation, member States should make the widest possible use of these guidelines and ensure their dissemination to enable public authorities to take awareness-raising measures and widely disseminate the guidelines themselves, where necessary, in their official language(s). This may include user-friendly guides, brochures or other tools, both offline and online, training for civil servants and support for training measures for members of civil society.

Where appropriate, member States should adopt or adapt any rules and measures to enable public authorities to make use of these guidelines.

Member States may wish to consider inviting civil society to:

      communicate and disseminate information about opportunities for participation and to help facilitate input by broad segments of civil society concerned;

      contribute to assessing the implementation of civil participation laws and regulations.

 

In order to evaluate member States’ experience in the practical application of these guidelines, the Committee of Minister may ask the European Committee on Democracy and Governance (CDDG), together with the Conference of International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) of the Council of Europe to ensure regular follow-up and provide feedback to the Committee of Ministers. The Committee of Ministers may transmit these guidelines to the Parliamentary Assembly, the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe and the European Commission for Democracy through Law (the “Venice Commission”), and invite them to disseminate and make the widest possible use of the guidelines in their own work.

From https://search.coe.int/ 10/19/2017

 

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CHINA: National Anthem Law Takes Effect

 

China's National Anthem Law came into force Sunday to ensure appropriate performance of the song. The anthem shall be sung at formal political gatherings, including the opening and closing of National People's Congress sessions, constitutional oath ceremonies, flag raising ceremonies, major celebrations, awards ceremonies, commemorations, national memorial day events, important diplomatic occasions, major sport events and other suitable occasions, according to the law. It is now illegal to use the national anthem during funerals, "inappropriate" private occasions, commercials or as background music in public places. Violators, including those who maliciously modify the lyrics, play or sing the national anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way, can be detained for up to 15 days, even be held criminally liable. The song will be included in textbooks for primary and secondary schools, and people are encouraged to sing the national anthem on appropriate occasions to express patriotism.

 

The national anthem "March of the Volunteers," has lyrics by poet Tian Han and music by Nie Er. The original song greatly encouraged Chinese soldiers and civilians during the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945). It was chosen as the national anthem in 1949, and was broadcast across the world as Mao Zedong declared the founding of People's Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949. The national anthem was revised in 1978. The "March of the Volunteers" was reaffirmed as the national anthem in 1982. China already has laws covering its national flag and national emblem. Previously, without a law to standardize etiquette for the national anthem, the song was sometimes used inappropriately.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/01/2017

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China to Air Documentary on Social, Economic Achievements

 

A documentary highlighting China's social and economic achievements since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012 will be aired on the state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), according to an official statement Thursday. The seven-episode documentary, named "Forging Ahead with Original Aspirations in Mind," also summarizes the thoughts and footsteps of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. The film shows how policies and top-down designs were formulated and carried out by the CPC Central Committee, detailing its courage, intelligence and sense of responsibility in fulfilling its dreams. By telling inspiring stories, the documentary gives a vivid depiction of Party members forging ahead while keeping original aspirations in mind.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/05/2017

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China Amends Regulations to Simplify Administrative Procedures

 

China has revised regulations on administrative procedures to make it easier for businesses to gain government approvals in the latest effort to invigorate the market. Altogether 35 clauses in 15 administrative laws and regulations would be amended to eliminate approval requirements and enable the government to strengthen oversight after the removal, according to a State Council decree signed by Premier Li Keqiang. Through the revision, China has annulled 20 administrative approvals including requirements to gain permission for temporary tour guide certificates and lightning-protection business qualifications. The new regulations went into effect on Monday, allowing authorities greater power to supervise related activities after the approvals were canceled. In China, administrative approvals to conduct businesses and access public services usually involve drawn-out and redundant procedures. To simplify the procedures and reduce burdens on businesses and individuals, the government is committed to redistributing authority or eliminating excess requirements. Over the past five years, China has made big strides in creating a better business environment for both domestic and overseas companies. Through simpler approval processes, lower corporate fees and technology-based services, the government is transforming its functions to let the market play a larger role in the economy.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/23/2017

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Hong Kong to Launch New Profits Tax System Next Year

 

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) aims to launch a new profits tax system in April when the new year of assessment starts, the HKSAR Chief Executive Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Tuesday. The amendment bill to facilitate the launch of a new two-tier profits tax system is expected to be tabled at the Legislative Council by the end of this year, she told the media before an Executive Council meeting. Lam called on legislators to examine the amendment bill with efficiency. The new profits tax system will cut tax rate for the first 2 million HK dollars (256,410 U.S. dollars) of company profits from 16.5 percent to 8.25 percent.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/24/2017

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JAPAN: Abe Must Advance Policies Based on Mission Entrusted in Poll / Eliminate ‘Arrogance,’ Steer Govt Carefully

 

The people have not necessarily shown their full support of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But they hope that the prime minister will maintain stable politics that will clearly lead to economic revitalization and security for Japan. This is the popular will that was shown this time. The Abe-led Liberal Democratic Party scored a landslide victory in the 48th House of Representatives election, with the number of seats it won far exceeding that needed for a majority. The LDP will continue its partnership with Komeito to maintain the coalition government. Abe has won his fifth straight national election since the 2012 lower house election. After the election’s outcome became clear, Abe expressed his determination to govern, emphasizing that “we want to achieve results one by one under a stable political foundation.”

 

Abe has established a foothold ahead of next autumn’s LDP presidential election in his bid to win a third term. It is essential for him to devise a greater long-term strategy for his administration both in terms of domestic and foreign policies and to lay the foundations for its implementation. Japan faces an array of difficult challenges, including an escape from deflation, fiscal reconstruction and North Korea’s nuclear and missile development. The leadership of Japan cannot be entrusted to the opposition parties as they are now. Continuation of the Abe administration, which possesses a comprehensive ability to implement policies, is a realistic option. Voters can be said to have made such a judgment. As a result of realignment among the opposition parties in which Kibo no To (Party of Hope) was founded, the Democratic Party disbanded and joined forces with Kibo, and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was founded, opposition parties ran candidates against each other in single-seat constituencies, which diluted the anti-LDP vote. This point in favor of the LDP cannot be overlooked.

 

Public opinion surveys taken immediately after campaigning officially began showed that the Abe Cabinet’s disapproval rating exceeded its approval rating. Abe should not think his policies and political posturing have won the people’s unconditional confidence. It is true that voters endorsed the ruling coalition’s governing abilities, but its victory can largely be attributed to the opposition camp’s mistakes. If the Abe administration’s arrogance becomes visible once more, it would not be strange for its public support to plunge suddenly. Abe must endeavor to govern carefully and humbly and meet public expectations by advancing diverse policy challenges. The ruling camp has announced it intends to take on such measures as making education free by changing the distribution of additional revenue raised by the consumption tax rate hike set for October 2019.

 

It is necessary to crack down on pork-barrel spending and design a system to provide assistance to households truly in need. It is also essential to present a new plan for achieving fiscal health, as it is no longer possible to achieve a primary fiscal balance surplus by fiscal 2020. The Abe administration started with the goal of revitalizing the economy. Rather than rehashing existing policies, it is also essential that the government strengthen its growth strategy from various perspectives to accelerate the Abenomics economic policy package. The North Korean situation could become more tense. Japan, the United States and South Korea must act in concert, intensifying pressure on the regime under its leader Kim Jong Un and continuing to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions, while winning China’s cooperation.

 

The CDPJ started as a party that accepted leftist and liberal-minded members of the DP who could not join Kibo, but managed to widely appeal to people critical of the Abe administration, thus increasing its numbers. In addition to labor organizations’ support for individual candidates, the CDPJ’s election cooperation with the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party also proved effective. In the days ahead, the CDPJ may join hands with independents who are former DP lawmakers. The CDPJ will be urged not to become a mere “resistance party,” opposing anything the government and the ruling party do, but to start a constructive debate with them. It is commendable that Kibo approves of the security-related laws and takes a stance of becoming a conservative opposition party that differs little from the LDP over security policies. Putting an end to hitherto unproductive arguments over security issues is important.

 

Kibo had once shown its position of aiming to take power. But the party later stalled — apparently due to Koike’s remarks, such as one about “excluding” some of the DP members of the recently dissolved lower house from joining Kibo — and it failed to get back its strength and had a tough battle. The party’s superficial policies, such as freezing the planned consumption tax rate hike and reducing the nation’s nuclear power generation to zero by 2030, lacked specific details. In the name of pursuing politics unconstrained by vested interests, the party fielded a large number of first-timers with little political experience, a move that was also regarded with skepticism. The election conveyed the impression of structural weakness in the new party, which had no base as an organization and relied on Koike’s popularity as the one and only feature of the party. Kibo had a poor performance in Tokyo — Koike’s home turf — while most of its successful candidates across the country came from the DP. It may be inevitable that Koike’s unifying force will decline.

 

Such moves as lawmakers reverting to the DP on policy, or leaving their party in an attempt to rally the forces of the DP again, would make a mockery of voters and are not permissible. The JCP had many leftist votes taken away by the CDPJ, thus failing to improve its showing. In the latest lower house election, the issue of amending the Constitution became a genuine point of contention. The LDP, Komeito, Kibo and Nippon Ishin no Kai are all positive about revising the Constitution. Although the combined number of seats won by these parties far exceeds two-thirds of the lower house, they have yet to get into step when it comes to which provisions should be revised. In the days ahead, the LDP will resume its intra-party discussions on four items, including a provision to establish constitutional grounds for the Self-Defense Forces and creating a clause to deal with emergencies, and work out the party’s ideas. Other parties should also draw up their own opinions, without idly putting off their discussion. Such actions will become an important step toward building suprapartisan consensus.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/23/2017

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SOUTH KOREA: Govt. Announces Measures to Nurture IT Talents

 

The government announced a comprehensive package of measures Monday to cultivate IT manpower considered essential to help local companies to take full advantage of the ongoing fourth industrial revolution. The ministry rolled out the blueprint for the next five years to deal with the latest revolutionary changes that are characterized by a fusion of cutting-edge technologies such as big data and the Internet of Things. Under the measures announced by the Ministry of Science and ICT, the government will offer quality education by working jointly with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labor and Employment to nurture future scientists and engineers. "The government hopes that this policy plan would act as a catalyst to support more scientists and engineers, as well as bridge the gap between science technology and society," said Kan Byeong-sam, an ICT official.

Specifically, the government will work with one of the country's top engineering schools, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, to expand science curriculum at primary and secondary schools so students can discover their given talents early on, which can help them decide on what kind of jobs they want to have in the future. Also, the government will focus on nurturing "high-quality" engineers by fixing various policy hurdles, as the country lacks specialists in fields such as artificial intelligence. Earlier, the government announced that it will first allocate 52.5 million won to a total of 350 up-and-coming researchers who possess good potential to make breakthroughs in their respective fields. Under the blueprint, the government will make an effort to create an environment where scientists and engineers are properly compensated for their work.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 09/25/2017

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Pres. Moon to Seek Constitutional Revision for Decentralization of Power

 

Speaking at a ceremony marking the nation’s fifth Local Autonomy Day in Yeosu, South Jeolla Province, the president said he will set making South Korea a nation strong in decentralized power as a national goal.  Moon said he will aim to change the name of self-governing bodies to “local governments” and incorporate their legislative, administrative and financial powers as well as welfare rights into the Constitution. To decentralize local finance, the president said he will seek to set the ratio of national taxes and local taxes to seven-to-three. In the long-run, Moon said he will seek to change that ratio to six-to-four. Moon also unveiled plans to strongly pursue projects on building innovation cities in a bid to further boost the nation’s balanced development. He stressed efforts must be made so that Seoul and its surrounding areas do not become black holes that suck in all people and money. The president said current innovation cities located throughout the nation are playing a key role in revitalizing regional economy and growth. He then promised to develop such cities into a large-scale cluster in a bid to secure competitiveness in regional industries. Moon said that South Korea has, for a long time, adopted imbalanced growth strategies centered on the capital region. He said due to such strategies, the capital area has become oversized while areas outside the capital have become underdeveloped. He said such difference has divided regions and the people. The president said decentralizing power and seeking balanced national development are key values for advancing the nation.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr 10/26/2017

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INDONESIA: Revised Online Taxi Regulation to Be Enforced on Nov. 1

 

The Transportation Ministry has said it has finished revising a ministerial regulation on ride-hailing applications and that it will be sent to the Law and Human Rights Ministry immediately to be recorded as a state document. “Hopefully, the revised regulation will be sent to the Law and Human Rights Ministry tonight,” said Transportation Ministry acting director general for land transportation Hindro Surahmat in Jakarta on Monday as reported by kompas.com. He said the regulation would come into force on Nov. 1. The ministry had organized public consultations in a number of regions to find a solution to the disputed ride-hailing app regulation, following the annulment of 14 articles of Transportation Ministry Regulation No. 26/2017 on the operation of non-route public transportation by the Supreme Court in August. Operators and drivers of conventional taxis protested the emergence of several ride-hailing application providers that they believed had jeopardized their businesses because of unfair competition with the online services. In the revised regulation, Hindro said, the ministry had added several requirements, including installing a meter in each vehicle, abiding by floor and ceiling prices, requiring operators to have at least five vehicles and showing evidence of vehicle ownership. Hindro added the ministry would soon distribute stickers to be attached on the front windows of online ride-hailing vehicles, but the stickers could not be distributed immediately, pending the allocation of a vehicle quota for each region.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 10/24/2017

 

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CAMBODIA: Parliament Amends Laws to Give Opposition Seats to Other Parties If It's Dissolved

 

The Cambodian parliament on Monday amended four election laws targeting to redistribute the main opposition party's seats to other parties if it is dissolved after its leader Kem Sokha was charged with treason. The legal changes, proposed by the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), relate to the redistribution of the seat(s) of a political party in the Parliament, in the Senate, as well as in the provincial, municipal, district and commune councils to other parties if that party is disbanded for any "serious crimes." Sixty-seven lawmakers of the ruling CPP, including Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, unanimously approved the amendments to the laws as all lawmakers of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) boycotted the session. Under the changes, if a party abandons its seat(s), or is deleted from the List of Political Parties, or is dissolved, the National Election Committee will reallocate the seat(s) of that party within seven days to other parties taking part in the elections. CPP senior lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the proposed changes to the four laws were made after CNRP leader Kem Sokha had allegedly committed treasonous acts by conspiring with foreign power(s) to topple the government through the so-called color revolution.

 

"The Cambodian People's Party, which is the party in power, cannot accept his treasonous acts," he told the parliament. "He betrays the nation and people, and his goal is to destroy the nation." The kingdom's 123-seat parliament currently comprises two parties -- the ruling CPP holding 68 seats and the opposition CNRP possessing 55 seats. CNRP is the main rival to Hun Sen's ruling CPP, as the Southeast Asian nation is gearing up for the national elections in July 2018. The Cambodian government filed a complaint to the Supreme Court on Oct. 6 requesting the dissolution of the CNRP after its leader Kem Sokha was charged with treason. Kem Sokha, 64, was arrested on Sept. 3 in Phnom Penh for allegedly plotting the overthrow of the government with the U.S. support. He was accused of treason, a charge that could face up to 30 years in prison. If the CNRP is dissolved, its 55 parliamentary seats will be redistributed to five minor political parties taking part in the national elections in 2013 based on vote percentages they received. The five parties are royalist Funcinpec Party, the League for Democracy Party (LDP), the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party (KAPP), the Cambodian Nationality Party (CNP) and the Khmer Economic Development Party (KEDP). According to the calculation by legal experts, Funcinpec Party will receive 41 seats, LDP six, KAPP five, CNP two and KEDP one.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/16/2017

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MYANMAR: To Launch New National Drug Control Policy in This Year-End

 

Myanmar government will launch a new national drug control policy at the end of this year, Major General Aung Soe, Deputy Minister for Home Affairs said on Wednesday. The government will also implement a two-year action plan in accordance with the new drug policy to carry out drug eradication throughout the country, Aung Soe told the Second Inter-governmental consultation on National Drug Control Policy. At present, a new draft narcotic law to tackle drug issues has been sent to the parliament for approval which is based on introducing several amendments to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law (1993) as there are large-scale of illicit drugs production and trafficking and high rates of heroin usage.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 09/27/2017

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THAILAND: PM Pledges to Make Success of Reform Efforts, Urges People to Help Change Country for the Better

 

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday vowed to achieve success in his administration’s reform efforts, saying that the government has been relentlessly working on this crucial area although the progress made to date is still considered to be relatively minor. The PM urged people to follow the work up and support the government.  People should help change the country for the better, he said, adding that for its part the government would try its very best to solve all problems. Reform is among the crucial work addressed since the military-led government took office in mid-2014. It was first taken up by the junta-appointed National Reform Council, which developed the reform blueprint, which was further worked on by the National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA). The NRSA was recently dissolved following the promulgation of the new national reform law over a month ago.  The new law created 13 reform committees working on reform in 13 crucial sectors, from politics to the environment. They are obliged to submit their reform plans to the government by December, before implementation in the next five years. The panels’ reform plans must also be in line with the new national 20-year strategy.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/24/2017

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VIETNAM: Politburo Issues First-Ever Regulation on Personnel Rotation

 

Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng last Saturday signed the Politburo’s first regulation on personnel rotation, aiming at reducing redundancy and ensuring administrative leadership in disadvantaged areas. Regulation 98-QD/TW aims to implement a more effective personnel strategy when the process of national industrialisation and modernisation is being enhanced. As such, it supplements earlier resolutions, including Resolution 11 on the rotation of senior, managerial personnel issued by the Politburo’s ninth tenure. It specifies the purposes, requirements, principles and targeted positions for the reshuffle, rotation criteria, process and duration, benefits for transferred personnel, and supervision of rotation and handling of violations in the process. Under the new resolution, any official within the political system can be transferred to a different job, especially to disadvantaged areas in need. The move also aims to deal with the problem of personnel redundancy and resultant inefficiency.

 

The rotation of officials also aims at filling key provincial and district positions with officials who are not local residents, while preventing officials from holding a position for more than two consecutive terms. The personnel rotation must happen under the leadership of Party committees at all levels, and ensure the principle of democratic centralism, the regulation says. Only senior and managerial cadre will be rotated under this regulation. It will not apply to those doing specialised work, except when there is a need for such staff in certain spheres or localities. The regulation stipulates that those who are transferred must be young, promising officials with good capacity, political virtues and moral lifestyles. The reshuffling of managerial cadre can be made between central and local levels, between localities, and among agencies of the Party, the State, the Vietnam Fatherland Front, socio-political organisations, armed forces, public service units and State-owned enterprises. A person must hold a position for at least three years before being transferred, the regulation says. Regulation 98-QD/TW was promulgated during the sixth session of the 12th Party Central Committee that is taking place in Hà Nội.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 10/10/2017

 

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Ministry Calls for Clear Policies for Start-Ups

 

Creating encouraging polices and a clear legal system is crucial to attracting investment to creative start-ups, according to a Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) official. Đặng Huy Đông, deputy minister of Planning and Investment, said that currently, guidelines on the establishment, management and funding and investment mechanisms for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including creative firms, are prescribed in Article 18 of the SMEs assistance law. However, bar Article 18, Việt Nam’s legal system has no specific regulations on creative start-ups’ investment procedure, legal status, organisational structure, rights, responsibilities and obligations of related parties. Therefore, a decree should be issued to define the legal status of innovative start-ups and investment funds, as well as incentives for and limitation on these entities’ profit-generating means and social impact, and at the same time address the legal system’s limitations in the matter. The MPI has begun drafting such a decree, aiming to establish foundations for innovative start-ups and exempt them from corporate income tax for a definite period of time.

 

The draft is now undergoing consultation, with its 40 articles based on experiences from developed countries such as Canada, the US, Singapore and the EU, stated the Enterprise Development Agency under the MPI. The draft features detailed provisions on the financial conditions of creative start-up investors and principles of innovative start-up investment, plus regulations on these companies’ legal status, management, operation and establishment procedures. The draft proposes that individual investors must meet certain financial conditions, such as having an average annual income of VNĐ200 million (US$8,900) for the last two years before their investment application, or having total assets of VNĐ500 million ($22,250), minus their personal debts. For investing organisations, total required assets in their latest financial report must be no less than VNĐ1 billion ($44,500). Additionally, creative start-up investors, enterprises, organisations and individuals must stay aware of their contributed capital proportion and their legal responsibility in combating money laundering in Việt Nam.

 

The ministry hopes the draft will create an appropriate legal corridor to channel capital for start-ups in Việt Nam, by generating more options for investors to make investments through innovative companies and funds. Đông also commented that if foreign creative projects are registered in Việt Nam, they would be incorporated into the country’s creative development, contributing to the improvement of national credit rating and investment attractiveness. In the context of rapidly developing technology, creative start-ups are the main force of the innovative ecosystem. Though associated with high-risks due to the high requirements of technology and innovation, creative start-ups can contribute great economic value and enhance national competitiveness. Given the high-risks involved with these firms, traditional funding channels such as bank loans are less suitable than start-up ventures as a source of funding. The Government should also issue policies to support start-ups investment activities, such as tax exemptions and reductions, pre-financing, counterpart funds, or unsecured lending for start-ups to minimise risk to private investors. Việt Nam is working towards becoming a start-up nation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), targeting one million effective enterprises by 2020, facilitating technological innovation by giving priority access to finance, and opening up new market opportunities.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 10/17/2017

 

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PM Praises Social Credit Policies

 

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has hailed the Party and State’s use of credit to implement social policies, saying the policy contributes to development and poverty reduction. The PM made the remark on Monday when chairing a teleconference with leaders of 63 localities nationwide to review 15 years of credit policies for the poor through the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP). He expressed his pleasure with the efficiency of 20 credit programmes that the VBSP runs, helping nearly seven million poor households and other needy groups access loans. He said that the bank’s organisation suits conditions in Việt Nam, with the bank operating 11,000 transaction points nationwide, along with 200,000 saving groups in rural villages and communes. Noting that Việt Nam still has 1.9 million poor households and 1.3 million living close to the poverty line, the Government leader asked credit officials to try to grasp the poor’s needs to better serve them. He also urged the bank to use advanced technologies and diversify their products and services to help customers access preferential loans.

 

The PM asked ministries and localities to propose measures to strengthen resources for social policy credit. “In the Government’s perspective, investing in the VBSP and the poor means investing in development,” stated PM Phúc. He also called for the engagement of organisations, individuals, businesses and all of society in contributing capital to the bank, joining hands to improve living conditions for the poor. The VBSP reported that since its establishment in 2002, the bank has provided loans to more than 31.8 million poor households and policy beneficiaries. The funds helped nearly 4.5 million households escape from poverty, about 3.4 million labourers have jobs and 3.5 million students pay for their studies. Capital from the bank has been used to build 9.9 million rural water supply and sanitation works, nearly 633,000 houses for the needy and more than 11,000 storm shelters in the central region. As of September 30, the VBSP’s total outstanding balance was VNĐ169 trillion (US$7.43 billion), 24 times higher than in 2002, with growth of 19.2 per cent each year. Thanks to credit, the poverty ratio dropped to 4.25 per cent in 2015 from 22 per cent in 2005. The bank’s capital by the end of September was VNĐ179 trillion ($7.87 billion), 25 times higher than that in 2002, 15.6 per cent of which was from the State budget. Its overdue and charged-off debts fell to only 0.81 per cent as of September 30. At the conference, the PM presented the VBSP with the Labour Medal, first class, in recognition of its outstanding performance. Twenty collectives and nine individuals with excellent contributions to disbursing social policy credit were also honoured at the event.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 10/17/2017

 

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INDIA: Govt Constitutes High Level Forum on 5G India 2020

 

5G IndiaThe government has constituted a high level forum on 5G India that will evaluate and approve roadmaps and action plans for the latest technology in the country,  said the Ministry of Communications. The 5G India 2020 Forum has been constituted with three Secretaries of key Ministries/Departments Telecom, Meity and DST, and also comprising of renowned experts like Dr  A. Paulraj, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, USA, Mr Gururaj Deshpande – Chairman of Sycamore Networks, Sandstone, USA, Indian industry led by CEOs of ICT industry, Telecom Standard Development Organisation of India (TSDSI), Professors from IIT Madras, IIT Mumbai, IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IISc Bengaluru, IT industry and stakeholders from industry associations. The primary goals of the forum are to achieve early deployment of 5G in India; create a globally competitive product development and manufacturing ecosystem targeting 50% of Indian market and 10% of global market over next 5 to 7 years. According to the Ministry, the forum will have focused actions in research ecosystem  for IPR development, standards development, PPP projects, pilot roll-outs, etc. The forum will also work on regulatory framework, including spectrum assignments and a startup-friendly regulatory environment to enable leap-frog and embracing of innovative technologies. Also, the focus will be on inclusive business environment  with special attention on investment incentives favourable to startups and innovators. “Forum will constitute a number of Steering Committees in different domains,” said the Ministry.“A vibrant ecosystem of research built around 5G that encompasses Industry, Government and Academia will further strengthen the MAKE (& DESIGN) in INDIA initiatives, The Ministry added.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/28/2017

 

 

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Preparing Strategy for Development of ICT in 2018-2021

 

A strategy for the development of information and communication technologies for 2018-2021 has been prepared in Azerbaijan, according to the concept and forecast indicators of economic and social development for 2018 and the next three years, submitted to the Azerbaijani parliament.  It is based on the national strategy for development of information society in Azerbaijan for 2014-2020, which envisages the formation of an effective mechanism to carry out reforms for the future development of industry.  The medium-term priority direction of ICT industry’s development will be the improvement of governance structures and strengthening of the ICT industry, the liberalization of telecommunications market, the continuation of work to expand e-services, the formation of e-government, a unified national information environment and the country’s integration into the global information society.  In this period, the concept envisages an increase in investments in the development of mobile infrastructure, the development of optical and wireless networks to provide services to the public and business.  Work will continue on the creation and development of space industry. The launch of the second geostationary satellite into orbit and the acquisition of a high-resolution observation satellite are planned.  It is planned to restructure enterprises open to privatization, improve the management structure, and form a competitive market in 2018-2021.

From https://en.trend.az 10/24/2017 

 

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TURKEY: To Intensify Fight Against Cyber-Crimes

 

Turkey will intensify the fight against cyber-crimes, in connection with which a special center for monitoring and responding to cyber-attacks and cyber-threats will be created, the Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications told Trend Sept. 25. The ministry said the new center will review the websites of companies and if security vulnerability is detected, they will be notified. Companies that do not take steps after receiving such a notification, will be punished, said the ministry. Cyber-crimes and cyber-threats have become serious problems in Turkey, according to the Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications. Three state bodies are involved in ensuring cyber-security in Turkey – Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications; Information and Communication Technologies Authority; Scientific and Technological Research Council. Number of internet users increased by 20.1 percent in Turkey in 1H17 as compared to the same period of 2016.

From https://en.trend.az 09/28/2017 

 

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TURKMENISTAN: Adopting Law on Free Economic Zones

 

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed the country’s Law “On Free Economic Zones” on Oct. 10, a source in the Turkmen government said.  The country is implementing program measures to modernize, diversify and strengthen the export potential of the national economy.  Big investments are allocated for the development of oil and gas sector, agro-industrial complex, high-tech industries that produce competitive goods for world markets, and the formation of developed transport, information and communications infrastructure.  The Turkmen state supports the development of small and medium businesses.  Important aspects of the state economic policy are international cooperation, large-scale financing of the most important national and international projects by domestic resources, as well as attraction of foreign investments to the country, establishment of long-term mutually beneficial relations with business circles of the world, including the introduction of innovative resource-saving technologies, advanced achievements of management and marketing.  The new law determines the legal, organizational and economic basis for the creation, functioning and liquidation of free economic zones in Turkmenistan.  “The new law will give a new momentum to the development of national economy, help to increase the investment attractiveness of Turkmenistan,” reported the Turkmen Dovlet Habarlary state news agency.

From https://en.trend.az 10/10/2017

 

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AUSTRALIA: Experts Gathering to Talk Clean Energy Target

 

Energy experts are gathering in Melbourne to discuss the Clean Energy Target, the only recommendation of a national review into the electricity system not adopted by the federal government. Chloe Munro, who sat on the panel for chief scientist Alan Finkel's review, will join a panel of energy experts to discuss how a CET will work to boost investment and transform Australia's energy market. The Turnbull government has accepted 49 of its 50 recommendations but is still considering the central proposal for a clean energy target, with some among its ranks raising concerns over the role of coal power. A target would mandate the amount of electricity to come from generators below a set emissions level. A poll commissioned by the Climate Council, published last week, found 77 per cent felt a target was important, especially 18 to 24-year-olds (83 per cent). Wednesday's discussion is expected to centre around design options, implementation, impact and opportunities for stakeholders in Australia's energy market. Ms Munro was until recently the Executive Chair of the Clean Energy Regulator, the independent statutory authority established to administer the carbon pricing mechanism and other key pieces of Australia's climate change legislation. The CEDA panel will also feature Rachel Watson, chair of the Clean Energy Council and Andy Vesey, CEO of AGL.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 10/11/2017

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ABC 'Fair and Balanced' Laws in Parliament

 

Draft laws which will require the ABC to be "fair and balanced" have been introduced to the Senate, with the government sticking to a deal with One Nation over media ownership reform. In return for Pauline Hanson's support for the changes, which were rubber stamped on Monday, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield introduced separate legislation to the upper house on Wednesday. 'The Australian people expect a publicly funded broadcaster to canvass a broad range of issues, and report on those issues in a fair and balanced matter,' Senator Fifield said in his second reading speech. Separate legislation will seek to insert a reference to regional Australia in the ABC's charter. Under those changes, a regional advisory council will also be established to consult with the ABC board, which will be required to have at least two non- executive directors with a connection to a regional community. Meanwhile, the Greens and Labor successfully moved a motion calling on the Senate not to support legislation which forces the ABC or SBS to make staff salaries public. The government will ask the public broadcasters to publish salaries voluntarily before attempting to force them to do so. Senator Hanson told parliament the public had a right to know what salaries were being paid by the taxpayer funded organisations.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 10/18/2017

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Senate Sinks Citizenship Laws

 

The government's planned changes to citizenship eligibility laws have been torpedoed in the Senate, with the Greens claiming a 'humiliating' victory over Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Draft laws, which include extending the waiting time for permanent residents to apply for citizenship, tougher English language tests and extra powers for the minister, were listed among legislation to be debated this week. The Senate gave the government until Wednesday to allow debate on its legislation before it was struck out by default. Greens senator Nick McKim said it was a major win for people whose lives were put on hold when the government announced the changes in April. 'Peter Dutton's been humiliated today by the Senate,' Senator Nick McKim told AAP. 'He didn't even have the courage of his convictions to bring the bill on for debate. It's an indication of cowardice and lack of conviction from Peter Dutton.'The government attempted a last-ditch attempt at saving the legislation with amendment which changed the level of English competency for citizenship applicants from 'competent' to 'modest'. But the alteration couldn't garner the support of the Nick Xenophon Team, which was vital with Labor and the Greens also opposed. When debate did not get underway by Wednesday evening, legislation was removed from the Senate notice paper, requiring the government to win a motion to restore it at a later stage. Labor leader Bill Shorten said the proposed citizenship changes were patently unfair and ridiculous, and suggested the government go back to the drawing board. Mr Shorten said the proposed requirement for university-level English competency - which the government has since agreed to water down - appalled working and middle-class migrants who had been in Australia for decades. 'I think the best thing they could do is just quietly drop the proposals,' he told reporters in Canberra. 'Here's an idea for Dutton - maybe he should talk to us before he announces this stuff.' Mr Dutton's office has been contacted for comment.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 10/18/2017

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Senate Sets Energy Policy Deadline

 

The federal government has been set a deadline to provide more detail on its plan to cut power bills and emissions. Senators agreed on Wednesday to call on Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg to provide documents and detailed modelling on the national energy guarantee by 12.45pm on Thursday. The Senate order comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull continues his blitz to convince voters, industry and state governments of the benefits of his plan. Mr Turnbull will attend a breakfast with members of the Energy Security Board, which came up with the policy, at an Australian Industry Group event in Canberra on Thursday. The government argues the national energy guarantee will reduce household bills by an average of $110 to $115 a year over the period between 2020 to 2030. However, Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson described it as a 'half-arsed policy designed to save Malcolm Turnbull's bacon'. The policy has been met with a variety of views from within the coalition. Nationals MP George Christensen is planning to launch a public campaign to get a coal-fired power station in north Queensland, arguing the new policy needs to be broad enough to cater for coal. The Tasmanian Liberal government says the policy needs to encourage more renewable energy, which not only cuts emissions but creates jobs. Mr Turnbull says he's aiming to deliver a triple bottom line - affordable and reliable energy, while cutting emissions.

From www.skynews.com.au 10/19/2017

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SA Won't Support Government's Energy Plan

 

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has confirmed to Sky News he will not support the government's new energy policy. 'The prime minister is beholden to Tony Abbott and the coal interests, and his priority is coal rather than a renewable energy future,' the Labor premier said in a statement. Mr Weatherill says the government's planned National Energy Guarantee is a 'shell without any specifics' and he's confident other premiers will also withhold their support. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull needs the support of the states to implement his energy plan, which is aimed at ensuring a reliable supply of energy and meeting carbon emissions reduction targets. Mr Turnbull rejected the notion his energy plan is 'dead on arrival' without Mr Weatherill's support. 'Absolutely not,' he told reporters on Wednesday. State and territory energy ministers will meet their federal counterpart Josh Frydenberg at a special COAG meeting next month.

From www.skynews.com.au 10/25/2017

 

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NEW ZEALAND: Leaders Sign NZ Coalition Agreements

 

New Zealand's incoming Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signed her coalition agreement with Winston Peters - formalising the Labour-New Zealand First coalition government. It was the first time Labour leader Ardern and NZ First leader Peters appeared together since the new Government was announced. The coalition agreement sets out the portfolios the coalition and support partners will be given, and the policy details of the agreements. Peters has been confirmed as Deputy Prime Minister, and will also continue to hold his position as Foreign Minister. The agreement outlines portfolio positions for NZ First - four ministerial postings inside cabinet and a parliamentary undersecretary. The portfolios are foreign affairs, infrastructure, regional economic development, internal affairs, seniors, defence, veterans' affairs, children, forestry, state owned enterprises, racing, associate finance and associate education. Ms Ardern will reveal on Wednesday which MPs have been assigned to each portfolio. The agreement also outlines a commitment by the new government to a minimum wage rise of $20 an hour by 2020. 'We are a low wage economy,' Ardern says, 'New Zealanders deserve to have a wage that they can live on...that they can have a quality of life with.' 'It is no longer acceptable to try and expect families to survive on the minimum wage at the level that it is.' Asked about her phone call with US President Donald Trump, Ardern said the focus was on the NZ election. The NZ Government has also committed to move to an emissions-free government-vehicle fleet by 2025/26, and to introduce a Zero Carbon Act and independent Climate Commission.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 10/24/2017

 

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Are the New Government’s Housing Policies Achievable?

 

The government must get all sectors to work together to boost local construction skills, confidence and scaling up the industry to achieve its 100,000 homes goal, experts say. Auckland alone needs 14,000 houses a year, but only 10,000 are being consented and only 7000 a year being built. The party has promised to build 100,000 homes for first-home buyers in the next 10 years to deal with the housing crisis. Auckland Housing strategist Leonie Freeman told Nine to Noon co-operation between different sectors was important. "The key to me - which is what I've been talking about for the past year in my comprehensive solution - is that we've got to get away from acting in silos," she said. "At the moment we've got government, council, the community housing sector, developers, banks and iwi acting on their own. We've got to come together."

 

"We need a real innovation, and when I talk about innovation it's not just about like technology innovation, it's innovation about how do we work together to achieve these targets." Those targets were many and varied. "You can't just tick one box and suddenly we've got affordable housing. We need to look at land, we need to look at higher density housing, we need to look at different forms of housing so we go away from the typical house - which in the '70s it was 100 square metres, now it's 230." Probably the most central problems were increasing the scale of New Zealand's construction industry, however. "What I'm looking at for housing going forward is there'll be a slowdown in construction in numbers in housing just because of uncertainty in confidence." "The construction companies, they will scale up if they see there's certainty of supply coming on and the only ones who typically have that sort of supply is government and council.

 

"How can we keep the construction numbers being built, provide the confidence for the lending to keep happening?" AUT built environment department head John Tookey agreed scaling up was the main concern. "The way I would view it is the biggest single issue - irrespective of the policy decisions that have been taken by government as far as how many houses we want built -  is literally building capacity in the industry and having a robust plan for building houses. "The devil's in the detail ... literally how do we scale up, how do we start talking about increasing capacity in the industry." He said there was a range of people being brought in from overseas to fill the skills shortage in the industry, but more was needed to grow those skills in New Zealand. "Nobody's looking at the moment about scaling up the supply side of skills, let alone before we start talking about the technology of construction for example.

 

People needed to change their expectations, he said. "At the moment we're building anticipating the New Zealand dream being the quarter acre of paradise. "From a funding-model perspective we've got a significant issue because basically the vast majority of housing supply comes from individual people commissioning their own house on a standalone block that they create themselves. "And of course inevitably that tends to supply the top end of the market rather than the bottom end. "You can actually see a steady escalation, an increase in teh proportion of four, five and six-bedroom homes that exist in Auckland in particular. At the same time the proportion of dwellings with two or three bedrooms - you know, the affordable ones - has declined."

 

He said those top-end builders were still far outweighing the effects of the Auckland Unitary Plan or examples like Wellington where the council was looking at using its own resources more to boost supply. "The way I would view it is the biggest single issue is irrespective of the policy decisions that have been taken by government as far as how many houses we want built, is literally building capacity in the industry and having a robust plan for building houses in the industry. CoreLogic senior research analyst Nick Goodall said he thought the key was confidence. "You've got to have that confidence in the long-term outlook of where the market's going to head to, so that gives everyone the ability to plan in the here and now." Looking from the perspective of investors, it did not seem the proposed policies could lead to a bust in the market either.

 

"You wouldn't necessarily see people selling off those older houses for lower prices than they deem necessary, so they're potentially going to hold onto those longer anyway so they're not going to create a massive drop in the market. Sam Yin - chief executive of Hougarden.com, New Zealand's most popular Chinese-language real estate website - said overseas buyers were mostly interested because they already had family or other connections. "We had a survey of about 1000 people. We found almost 80 percent of people were saying that they have friends and family living in New Zealand and "And also there are 20 percent of people already had New Zealand residence or are citizens and are planning to come back to New Zealand to settle. "So we don't want to overvalue the Chinese market ...  but we found that most people overseas are interested in buying property because they have very close connection to New Zealand." He said buyers were however being put off by the difficulty of getting a mortgage, the low supply of properties and Chinese government policies making it difficult to transfer money.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 10/25/2017

 

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Labour Shortage a Challenge for KiwiBuild Plan

 

The new government is promising to build 10,000 houses a year, but some in the construction sector doubt a stretched labour supply will be able to keep up. Labour's $2 billion KiwiBuild scheme aims to produce 100,000 new houses for first-home buyers in the next decade. For months now the building industry has been suffering from labour shortages and turning to overseas workers to fill skilled positions. Recruitment company Tradestaff said they continue to have more jobs than people to fill them. General manager Janice McNab said she could not see how an additional 10,000 homes can be built. "While the idea of it I applaud ... I can't comprehend that that could happen, given current resourcing levels. Even with apprentices coming through the system, we do not have the capacity to be able to do that."

 

Leighs Construction head Anthony Leighs said the whole industry was already working through unprecedented demand, with both residential and commercial builders relying on the same limited labour pool. "Everybody is under significant pressure and while the industry has the ability to grow its capacity, to insert an additional 10,000 houses on the current level of work out there will certainly be challenging and it will push the industry in some ways into territory it hasn't been to before" The new government has reassured that, while immigration would be reduced, nothing would constrain the construction industry's ability to get workers. It plans to issue an extra 1500 new KiwiBuild visas to fast-track temporary foreign workers. But employers using the scheme would need to take on a trainee for every foreign worker they hire.

 

Warwick Quinn, the chief executive of industry training group BCITO, said that was likely to encourage more companies to take on apprentices and build on the numbers entering the industry. "Ten percent of firms are training 100 percent of our apprentices and if we can expand the number of firms willing to train by offering them more flexible options and a bit of carrot and stick stuff at the same time we could well fulfil the needs we require in helping fill the shortfall."

Mr Quinn said building another 10,000 houses a year would be a challenge. "But then again knowing there's going to certainty of supply through some government support and guarantee for the next decade means theoretically during any recessionary times or when times get tough from a market perspective there's going to be that continuous level of activity. Registered Master Builders head David Kelly said while initially the residential sector had "questioned the idea" he was pleased to see the government's plans.

 

"I think it's encouraging in terms of some of the thinking they've done and the planning they're starting to do. Chief among plans is a move to enter more public-private partnerships with big firms Fletcher Residential, Ockham and Mike Greer Homes already approached by incoming minister Phil Twyford. "That's certainly the way it needs to go. It needs to involve those larger scale residential construction companies and I believe those companies are up for it if they've got the certainty around finance and the number of houses the government is going to contract with them to deliver. So I think it's a good start," Mr Kelly said. He noted 10,000 homes would not happen in the next 12 months, but was optimistic. "It will be that planning around where, what type of building, the joint venture arrangements with residential construction companies. If those things are done well I don't see why we can't achieve the goal."

 

'We're going to build whole new communities' Incoming Housing Minister Phil Twyford told Morning Report the new government will invest in trade training and apprenticeships and bring in foreign workers to help meet the target. He agreed that there were skills shortages, but the new government had a plan to fix that. "We're going to invest massively in trade training and apprenticeships for young New Zealanders. The second thing is, because the former government didn't invest in the workforce, we're going to have to bring in skilled people from overseas, just like the former government did after the Canterbury earthquake." Mr Twyford said 16,000 new homes will be built by this time next year, which would include some already underway. "We're going to partner with the likes of Auckland council, with Ngāti Whātua, if they want to, and other developers and investors, and we're going to build whole new communities. And they will include large number of affordable homes, and state housing as well, and market housing." Mr Twyford will be sworn in as Housing Minister today.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 10/26/2017

 

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Global Wildlife Program Promotes People’s Active Participation in Wildlife Conservation

 

The Government of India, the World Bank-led Global Wildlife Program (GWP) funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are convening more than 100 participants from over 20 countries in New Delhi, India, from October 2-3, 2017, for a conference on People's Participation in Wildlife Conservation—supporting the country’s Wildlife Week celebration. “This conference is of the outmost importance to the wildlife conservation community not only in India but around the world. Without local communities participating and benefiting from wildlife conservation, it is going to be very hard to win the current war against poaching and the international illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife parts. This conference promises to deliver solutions to this crises that affects us all," said Jaime Cavelier, Sr. Biodiversity Specialist at the GEF. Engaging people across all sectors is critical for the survival of many endangered species. These species include tigers, elephants and rhinos—keystone species that play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. The loss of wildlife and their habitats impedes the progress to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and threatens the future of local economies.

 

During the conference in Delhi, the Government of India and the UNDP will launch the Securing Livelihoods, Conservation, Sustainable Use and Restoration of High Range Himalayan Ecosystems project (SECURE Himalaya). As one of the projects within the GWP, the GEF has provided an $11.5 million grant. An additional $61 million in co-financing has been committed by India's central and state governments. “UNDP is proud to support the Government of India in the ‘SECURE Himalaya’ partnership, which is a recognition that people’s participation is critical to protecting the biodiversity wealth of the Himalaya’s and in securing the lives and livelihoods of local communities,” said Marina Walter, Country Director a.i. UNDP India. The SECURE Himalaya project is being implemented by the Government of India in partnership with UNDP to sustain critical ecosystem services (such as fresh water, erosion reduction, mineral resources, land for food crops, medicinal plants, etc.) and conserve vulnerable snow leopards by securing community livelihoods, enhancing enforcement, strengthening community institutions, and improving knowledge, advocacy and information systems for promoting landscape-based conservation approaches. The project will develop participatory natural resource management practices and enterprise-based sustainable livelihoods for local communities in four high elevation landscapes—alpine pastures, sub-alpine forests and critical watersheds.

 

“Through the SECURE Himalaya project in India, our partners will build alliances between the private sector, local communities and local government authorities. We hope this conference will give our stakeholders in India and our partners across the GWP’s 19 countries the ability to engage people in wildlife conservation across all walks of life,” said Claudia Sobrevila, the GWP’s Program Manager. Conference participants include several ministers in charge of wildlife and/or forestry or tourism departments from the GWP countries as well as other government officials and national project leads, senior representatives from GWP partner organizations including the GEF, UN agencies and international NGOs, as well as youth and private sector representatives. This conference is designed to provide a platform for the project leaders to raise awareness, showcase, and learn from African and Asian experiences.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 09/29/2017

 

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The Importance of Cities as Partners in Successful Governance

 

Anna Lisa Boni, secretary general, EUROCITIES shares her reflections on the growing importance of cities as agenda setters. The growing importance of cities as agenda setters has been recognised globally in the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda of the UN. This reflects a movement more generally to reality check policy making, by giving more of a say to those that implement it on the ground. Cities are the right scale to build partnerships that bring policy closer to citizens. In Europe, the Urban Agenda for the EU, launched in May 2016, is a good starting point. It recognises the added value of bringing cities, member states and the Commission together on matters that concern us and our citizens. It is a new way of working together and a learning process for all partners. We need to keep the process flexible and adapt as we move along, to be able to make the most of this opportunity to join up all levels of government to work together for better solutions.

 

One year in, the 12 thematic partnerships envisaged in the Pact of Amsterdam, as the key instrument to deliver the agenda, have all been set up. They are at different stages of implementation but all are working on better regulation, better funding and better knowledge sharing on their specific topics. We are invested in these partnerships and we want to continue to work with partners to match urban challenges and solutions to EU objectives and ensure clear outcomes for cities. Using the tools of the urban agenda to involve cities in finding solutions to common challenges will help create a stronger EU, especially if these outcomes are used to feed into longer-term EU policy development. The Urban Impact Assessments also offer cities a channel to flag up potential concerns with policy developments directly to EU decision makers. As such, they recognise the role of cities as implementers of a broad range of EU legislation and the importance of including cities in governance processes.

 

Better collaboration on policy in this way should mean better ownership across the different levels of government in how policy is implemented. This is particularly important when considering the financial framework post-2020. Cities need a more effective approach to funding that addresses urban challenges, allowing cities to draw on and combine different EU funding streams to deliver integrated solutions locally. Strategic challenges encountered on the local level are also European ones. City authorities tackle issues around worklessness, migration and the environment (and many others) on a daily basis. City authorities play a pivotal role in meeting these challenges by connecting EU investments with local needs. But cities’ say in long-term investment decisions, notably through EU cohesion policy, is minimal.

 

Modernising cities

Beyond the specific tools of the urban agenda, we need to continue to ‘urbanise’ existing work process at EU level, such as the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Smart Cities and Communities, where EUROCITIES coordinates the action cluster on business models, financing and procurement. We want to boost integrated approaches to EU financed projects that involve cities as partners and in policy developments that impact cities. Another way to share ownership of decision making and outcomes, can be through knowledge exchange. Sharing rather than competing is also a core function of city-led networks, like EUROCITIES. We directly engage over 140 of Europe’s largest cities at both political and expert level across a broad range of policy issues. Our well-established working practices act as a multiplier for the debates and outcomes of the urban agenda, allowing our broader membership to contribute and benefit.

 

We want to make partnerships and multi-level governance a priority. Cities are the perfect scale to test out innovative solutions that benefit their citizens. These solutions often make sense in different contexts and can be shared between cities or upscaled by feeding into national and European decision making. In the coming months, our campaign ‘cities4Europe, Europe for citizens’ will be doing exactly this, by sharing innovative city practices that engage our citizens directly. A stronger EU starts with the citizens, and cities can help make that happen. EUROCITIES is the network of major European cities, with over 140 members, representing more than 130 million people. Visit: www.eurocities.eu to learn more.

From https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/ 10/11/2017

 

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Egovernment in Local and Regional Administrations: Guidance, Tools and Funding for Implementation

 

This guide will help local and regional administrations implement and find EU funding for eGovernment in line with the principles and priorities set out in the EU eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020. Local and regional administrations have an important role both in modernising administrations and services in areas of importance for society, and in taking responsibility for directly providing their citizens with services shaped to meet expectations in an increasingly digitalised world. The European Commission supports the acceleration of the digital transformation of governments at all levels – national, regional and local through the EU eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020. This guide aims at supporting the implementation of eGovernment at local and regional level, and touches on issues such as setting up a strategy, infrastructure, open data and open services, public sector innovation, funding opportunities and available awards to foster eGovernment. It also contains concrete recommendation for opening up data and open decision-making, tool, learning platforms and many useful links. 

From https://ec.europa.eu/ 10/15/2017

 

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Better Infrastructure, Jobs, Services in Cities Urgently Needed in East Asia Pacific: World Bank Report

 

Cities across East Asia and the Pacific – the world’s most rapidly urbanizing region – are not delivering infrastructure, jobs, and services at a pace as rapid as urban development, leading to widening inequalities that may hamper economic growth and lead to social divisions, says a new World Bank report called Expanding Opportunities for the Urban Poor. According to the report, the region’s average annual urbanization rate of 3 percent has helped lift 655 million people out of poverty in the last two decades. Yet the region also has the world’s largest slum population: 250 million people with poor-quality housing, limited access to basic services, and at risk to hazards such as flooding. Failure to expand opportunities for the urban poor impacts the countries’ growth potential. In high-income countries, such as Japan and Korea, inclusive urbanization created the space for higher economic growth. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Singapore’s economy grew at an average of 8 percent annually, largely due to an urban planning strategy that delivered effective infrastructure, affordable housing, and social services. “Cities across East Asia have propelled the region’s tremendous growth. Our collective challenge is to expand opportunities to all in the cities – from new migrants living in the peripheries to factory workers struggling to pay rent – so that they can benefit more from urbanization and help fuel even stronger growth,”said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific.

 

Currently, 75 million people in the region live on less than US$3.10 a day. Three countries account for the bulk of the region’s urban poor: China, Indonesia, and the Philippines. By 2018, half of the region’s population will be urban – more than 1.2 billion people in all, or one-third of the world’s urban population. Amongst the challenges faced by the urban poor is the lack of access to jobs, public transport and other infrastructure, and affordable housing. In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, low-income commuters can spend as much as 36 percent of their monthly expenses on bus fare, due to inefficient public transit routes. In Indonesia and the Philippines, 27 percent and 21 percent of the urban population, respectively, have no access to effective sanitation facilities. Slum residents are also more at risk to disasters, as the communities are often in low-lying flood-prone areas. The report encourages city governments to have a multi-dimensional approach to planning, incorporating aspects of economic, spatial, and social inclusion to foster economic growth and reduce poverty.

 

“Rapid urbanization is a challenge and an opportunity. Provide low-income residents with affordable transport services or housing, so they can save for their children’s education. Ensure that social protection programs are in place to help families cope during difficult times, such as in the aftermath of natural disasters,” said Judy Baker, World Bank Lead Urban Specialist and lead author of the report. “Solutions for inclusive urban growth are not one-size-fits-all, but they are practicable, effective, and necessary for the greater good.” Although 6 out of the world’s 10 mega-cities are in East Asia, urban poverty is more prevalent in secondary cities, which are growing in importance. As of 2010, small and medium cities account for a quarter of all cities in the region. The report recommends ten guiding policy principles that can be adapted to specific circumstances. They include: connecting the urban poor with job markets; investing in integrated urban planning; ensuring affordable land and housing; recognizing the rights of all citizens to the city; targeting marginalized sub-groups among the urban poor; strengthening local governance and embracing citizen engagement; and investing in better data and information systems, for evidence-based policy making.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/03/2017

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Ministers Issue Statement on Transportation Connectivity

 

Transportation Ministers from the APEC member economies issued a statement following their meeting in Port Moresby to build connectivity and trade flows that benefit all corners of society in the Asia-Pacific. The statement reflects the outcomes of the APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting chaired by Papua New Guinea Transport Minister Westly Nukundj and informed by engagement with representatives from the private sector. It describes joint actions to be implemented by APEC economies over the next year to promote their infrastructure connectivity and development of efficient, safe, secure and environmentally sustainable land, sea and air-based supply chains. These actions aim is to enable broad-based job creation and economic growth—from dense urban centers to remote rural areas across the region.

From https://www.apec.org/ 10/09/2017

 

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CHINA: Party's Ever-improving Governance Gives Renewable Power to Economy

 

Du Jinxing, 88, was among 55 business leaders in east China's Fujian Province who made a joint appeal in newspapers asking for free entrepreneurship 33 years ago, one of the strongest drives for market-oriented economic reform in China. The former head of the Fuzhou Electric Wire Plant attended a meeting of Fujian entrepreneurs organization last week to discuss the latest guideline on entrepreneurship, released on Sept. 26 by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council. "The guideline defines the meaning of entrepreneurial spirit and gives legal rights and interests to entrepreneurs," Du said. In the old planned economy, companies were obliged to execute government orders. There was no free entrepreneurship. The guideline makes creating a favorable environment for entrepreneurship a government priority. Through a simpler approval process, lower corporate fees and better technology, the government is transforming itself to achieve its goal of shifting from "Made in China" to "Created in China."

 

One of the reasons behind China's stable performance during global instability or domestic economic slowdown is the role of the CPC in political and economic activity. Businesses have remained ahead in creativity, prompted by improved education, research, government support and investment. UBS claims that China's investment in research and development has exceeded some European countries and will surpass that of the United States in 2018. Nomura analyst Ying Zhongxi believes China is beginning an era of high-speed development in artificial intelligence (AI), following a State Council guideline in July. Goldman Sachs said in a recent report that AI and machines will be the next area of major area of creativity in China.  "The government understands the 'new normal' in the economy, and has formed a mode of development which centers on structural reform," said Chen Hongyu, a professor at CPC Guangdong Provincial Committee Party School. "It is an important CPC economic theory."

 

The Party has ensured that better social governance solved various social problems through advanced theory, a scientific attitude, professional methods and appropriate standards. Over the past five years, officials have come up with new ideas, mechanisms and methods, solving a number of problems, improving the sense of security and satisfaction of the people, and creating a stable environment for reform and development. At a corruption reporting center in Foshan City, south China's Guangdong Province, an LED screen displays a map showing villages in different colors: the deeper the color, the more complaints about the village committee. The complaints are about "si feng," the four forms of decadence: formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance. In December 2012, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee came up with an eight-point frugality code to address "si feng." In April 2014, Foshan set up the country's first online reporting platform, receiving information and complaints from the public.

 

As of September this year, it had dealt with more than 4,000 complaints, through which 444 officials were punished. The high efficiency of the platform has earned it the nickname "the e-commission for discipline inspection." The CPC has been taking advantage of big data as new means to dig for possible violations and corruption in officials. The platform analyzes the performance of officials and public servants in different areas, industries and levels and sounds an alarm when complaints rise markedly, according to Pei Guangming, deputy secretary of CPC discipline inspection committee in Foshan. Yao Yang, dean of the National School of Development at Peking University, said that with new methods, CPC should select more capable staff in promoting officials. "The Party needs to ceaselessly tackle problems found in promotions, such as those based only on scores, GDP or age," Yao said.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/01/2017

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China Law Society Establishes Research Center for Party Regulations

 

The Party Regulation Research Center of the China Law Society (CLS) has been established in Beijing, said the CLS Friday. The center will become a think tank that researches regulations of the Communist Party of China, said the CLS. CLS President Wang Lequan said the center demonstrated that the CLS is strengthening research into socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics and Party governance. The center should improve the building of academic organizations, research mechanisms and incentive mechanisms, Wang said. He also said the center will support higher education institutions and research institutes exploring the party regulations, as well as talent training systems.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/06/2017

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China to Deepen Reform with Public Hospitals

 

China will carry forward public hospital reform to optimize medical care resources for public health, according to a decision at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Monday. The reform on medical care pricing at public hospitals will continue toward dynamic price adjustment of medical services to make the knowledge expertise and efforts of medical workers better reflected in values. One or two cities in provincial regions where the comprehensive medical reform are piloted will be chosen for medical insurance payment reform, which covers all medical care institutions and services. The government will also designate over 100 disease categories for an insurance payment by-category reform. "The medical care reform is not only a major project to better public wellbeing, but also a major economic measure," Li said. He said the public hospital reform should be pushed forward across the board, and the reform on medical care partnerships should be piloted in multiple forms to better serve "Healthy China" with better and more convenient healthcare services.  China's medical care reform should adhere to the principle of guaranteeing basic health care, building up working mechanisms and strengthening community health services, he added. China started the latest round of healthcare reform in 2009, making offering healthcare services to all people as a public good its core objective.

 

As of September, all public hospitals in China have joined the comprehensive reform program to end 60-year-old practice of drug price markups, which enables rationalization of medical care cost. As the reform proceeds, the share of drug sales in the total revenues for hospitals dropped from 46.3 percent in 2010 to 38.1 percent in 2016. Public hospitals, which totaled 12,708 by the end of 2016, provided 2.85 billion diagnosis and treatments last year, accounting for 87.2 percent of cases provided by all hospitals in China, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The reform on the medication dispensing scheme will also be deepened as public hospitals will be encouraged to practice category-based pharmaceutical procurement. Hospitals across different regions and different specialized hospitals will be encouraged to conduct procurement together. The public hospital oversight mechanism will be reformed to better supervise the quality and safety of medical care, medical services and medical expenses.

 

The number of hospital beds, construction standard and procurement of large medical equipment will undergo greater scrutiny. "The medical care reform is still an ongoing reform, and these are progresses yet to be consolidated. The government should provide due financial support. The reform on the remuneration mechanism of medical workers should get stronger support to provide them with more incentive," Li said. The meeting on Monday decided to speed up efforts to establish medical treatment partnerships, which promote effective cooperation and coordination between different types of medical institutions, including major hospitals and grassroots clinics. All major public hospitals must take part in the development of such partnerships before the end of October. The operating mechanism of medical partnerships will be further improved to ensure better coordination in technical support, staffing, staff salary arrangements, and resources sharing among different medical institutes.

 

Private medical care facilities, aged care and rehabilitation centers will also be encouraged to join the partnerships to provide integrated services for the public. More efforts will be made to expand the availability of family doctors, and to enable the doctors to offer more services based on demand and improve the fee collecting and paying mechanisms. Medical services at grassroots will be further improved, with more emphasis on improving the talent, technology and key departments at county-level hospitals. "The medical treatment partnerships should be developed in parallel with systematic reform. Openness instead of exclusiveness to private capital is the way to go. A lot can be done to advance China's medical equipment and pharmaceutical industry, not least the traditional Chinese medicine, including with Internet plus medical care that can help better consolidate our resources," Li said.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/09/2017

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China Continues the Fight Against Corruption

 

The Eighth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have once again proved the Party's resolve to fight corruption. The meeting approved punishment of two senior officials and membership removal of one official for violating the Party's code of conduct. Also on Tuesday, the CCDI announced punishment of two former vice mayors of Chongqing Municipality and demotion of an official of the Ministry of Public Security. As the world's largest ruling Party, the CPC released an "eight-point" code on frugality and maintaining close ties with the masses in late 2012 to reduce undesirable work practices. Although it has been five years since the 18th CPC National Congress, the anti-graft determination of the CPC has never faltered, as everyone is equal before Party rules, no matter how high level he or she may be.

 

Last month, the CCDI announced that former chief of Chongqing Municipal Committee of the CPC Sun Zhengcai had been expelled from the Party and dismissed from public office. In July, a statement had said that Sun had been put under investigation. In the fight against all corruption from the low-level "flies" to the high-ranking "tigers," Sun joins several other senior Party officials who have been punished for discipline violation including Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai, Guo Boxiong, Xu Caihou and Ling Jihua. The CCDI now has a monthly reporting system on the implementation of the rules within provincial-level governments, central Party and government agencies, centrally administered state-owned enterprises and central financial institutions. In five years, more than 280 centrally-administered officials have been investigated by the CCDI, at least 120 of whom have been transferred to judicial authorities, according to figures at an exhibition held by four departments including the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee.

 

Disciplinary watchdogs nationwide have also punished more than 1.4 million Party members or officials since 2012. In a move to hunt corrupt suspects who fled overseas, China worked with the international community via operations, such as "sky net" and "fox hunt." By the end of August, 3,339 fugitives were captured from more than 90 countries and regions, with 628 of them being former officials. About 9.36 billion yuan (around 1.41 billion U.S. dollars) was recovered. Among the top 100 fugitives listed on INTERPOL red notices, 47 have been arrested. These documents and operations have helped the Party gain crushing momentum in anti-corruption fight and won public applause. With more than 89 million Party members, no one can turn a blind eye to political regulations and rules. It is imperative that they consolidate their communist beliefs, adhere to the basic Party line and win public trust. The line drawn by Party discipline can never be crossed. Although remarkable results have been achieved, the Party will continue the fight and root out the scourge that attempts to threaten its survival.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/10/2017

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CPC Officials Lead Poverty Relief Work in Rural China

 

Despite being a county government official, Lyu Nanyi spends much of his day working in a rural village. Lyu, 36, a Party official in Xundian County in southwest China's Yunnan Province, has been doing his best to tackle poverty in Kedu New Village. He goes door to door to find out about people's lives and comes up with ideas to help them get out of poverty. "It has been an unforgettable experience," Lyu told Xinhua, as China observes its national anti-poverty day on Tuesday. "While helping people live better lives, I have also learned a lot about rural life and improved communication with farmers." Like Lyu, about 500,000 officials of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have been assigned to complete residencies in more than 100,000 rural villages in China to help tackle poverty. China is committed to bringing all rural people out of poverty by 2020. Lyu was transferred to the village in 2015 and tasked with poverty relief. In addition to Kedu New Village, he also helps poor villagers in four other villages in Xundian.

 

According to a Chinese saying, if you want to get rich, you must build roads first. So Lyu started by concentrating on building a road for villagers. "In the past, there was only a mud road, which released dust into the air on sunny days and became muddy when it was rainy," Lyu recalled. "When villagers wanted to build houses, they did not dare to transport materials by truck because the road condition was too difficult. They had to carry everything by hand." Now that the road has been paved, Lyu said it makes everything easier. But many residents remain poor. Lyu said that local resident Teng Zhonglin lost his wife to illness years ago. Teng has to support his child, as well as his father, who suffers from mental illness. The family lives in a mud shack susceptible to rain and wind. "I tried to help him make more money, such as finding a job in the nearby area," Lyu said. "He also receives subsidies from the government."

 

Lyu has also helped introduce a flower planting company to Kedu New Village, employing 109 families. Residents are in charge of picking flowers, packaging and spraying pesticide, and each family can make a monthly salary of about 2,000 yuan, in addition to the money from land leased to the company. Thanks to Lyu's efforts, the families in Kedu are expected to shake off poverty at the end of this year. Lyu's story shows the CPC's determination to win the battle against poverty, said Yang Lihua, a CPC official in Yunnan. "Such activities not only help people out of poverty, but also strengthen the grassroots foundation of the CPC," Yang said. Han Qingxiang, a professor at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, said the story shows that the CPC serves the people whole-heartedly. "The CPC has and will always put people's interests first," Han said.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/16/2017

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Xi Calls for Advancing Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for New Era

 

Xi Jinping on Thursday called on members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and people of all ethnic groups in the country to advance socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era. Xi made the remarks during a panel discussion with delegates from Guizhou Province who are here to attend the CPC's 19th National Congress. Commending Guizhou's development over the past five years, Xi said socialism with Chinese characteristics has now entered a "new era." He said this is a "major political assessment" as well as a "strategic reflection that affects the whole landscape." "The evolution of the principal contradiction facing Chinese society represents a historic shift that affects the whole landscape," Xi said, echoing a report he made at the opening session of the Party congress when he spoke of "the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life." Xi told delegates from Guizhou that efforts must be made to address unbalanced and inadequate development and meet people's ever-growing needs for a better life. He went on to highlight strict Party governance, saying it is the fundamental guarantee for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Party organizations at different levels and all CPC members and officials must uphold the authority of the Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership, he said. Xi also instructed authorities to organize education and training programs on the guiding principles of the 19th CPC National Congress after its conclusion.          

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/19/2017

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JAPAN: FSA Must Not Return to Arbitrary Administrative Style After Reforms

 

With the reforms, the Financial Services Agency is meant to shift its priority in its financial administration from responding to crises to dealing with ordinary times. The FSA will undergo a large-scale organizational restructuring next summer. Of the three bureaus — the Planning and Coordination Bureau, the Supervisory Bureau and the Inspection Bureau — the FSA will abolish the Inspection Bureau and integrate its functions mainly into the Supervisory Bureau. The FSA is expected to modify its stance so far of emphasizing the “inspection of and administrative measures for” financial institutions, and shift to focus on the “development” of banks and other institutions. After the collapse of the bubble economy, financial authorities gave the highest priority to solving the issue of nonperforming loans. The Inspection Bureau strictly examined the probability of repayment with regards to banks’ financing. There were a number of financial institutions that were forced to massively increase their reserve funds and later ended up collapsing.

 

Consequently, the amount of nonperforming loans in Japan was reduced. But in financial circles, backward-facing financial practices such as not providing loans to those without adequate collateral or credit guarantees have prevailed among lenders. There is no end to the new enterprises that cannot obtain loans despite having promising business plans. Such a clog in funds has been pointed out as a factor in hindering economic growth. The FSA will change its inspection of bank loans to emphasize such qualities as the business potential of borrowers, rather than such formalities as the presence of collateral. This aim is understandable. Should the agency turn back to such an arbitrary administrative style as meddling in the details of corporate management on the pretext of “development,” it would be putting the cart before the horse.

 

The administration’s involvement in the management of banks is chiefly aimed at preventing their collapse through its risk controls, thus stabilizing the financial system and protecting depositors. To begin with, will bureaucrats with no experience in the banking business be able to fill the role of an adviser on individual loans? Deciding whether to provide a loan by discerning the potential of a company is the essential part of the banking business. It is banks’ primary activity to improve their own assessment abilities through the process of selecting companies they should provide loans to. The big challenge for the banking industry is to reinvigorate regional banks, whose business performances are deteriorating at an accelerated pace amid the population decline and low interest rates. In fiscal 2016, a majority of regional banks were in the red in their main businesses, such as financing. The agency has been backing up the reorganization of regional banks so they can streamline their operations.

 

The Fair Trade Commission has put on hold management integration planned by regional banks in the Kyushu region, saying, for instance, that the integration will “lead to a regional monopoly.” There is undeniable inconsistency in the action taken among government agencies. The FSA must steadily promote coordination of views with the FTC. The fixed number of staff at the FSA is set at 1,575, up 15 percent over the past decade. For the next fiscal year, the agency has asked for an increase of 23 to be approved. It is certain there is a growing need for hiring human resources with a high degree of specialization, such as information technology. The disposal of nonperforming loans, which the FSA had focused on, has been put to bed. There should be room for the agency to streamline its operations, along with the planned abolition of the Inspection Bureau.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/01/2017

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Greater Public Burden, Benefit Cuts Must Be Discussed First

 

Given the rapidly aging population and declining birthrate, there are fears about the sustainability of this country’s social security system. Confronting these harsh realities and presenting a concrete image of a social security system that can eliminate the public’s anxiety about the future is the responsibility of politics. Political parties’ campaign promises for the House of Representatives election list various measures to improve the social security system, including stronger support for child-rearing generations. Most of the promises, however, are vague as to the sources of funding and how they can be realized. Measures that boldly call for increases in the public’s burden and cuts in benefit payments are also scant. These pledges have taken on an aspect of inter-party competition to offer services, and are unevenly weighted toward benefits. The public will see through attempts to win popularity with hollow words. Parties should do more to debate policies that actually convince voters. The present social security system lacks a source of financing to keep up with benefit payments and relies on deficit-covering national bonds, which leaves future generations to pay the bill. The current system will come to a dead end sooner or later.

 

The current structure should be modified so that a balance between benefits and burden for current generations can be attained. To achieve this, the consumption tax should be raised. This is the main goal of the “integrated social security and tax system reforms” that are based on an accord reached by the then Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito. To overcome the low birthrate, benefits to the currently working generations should be increased in the form of child-rearing support and other measures. The shift to “social security for all generations,” as the LDP advocates, also conveys a similar idea. That course of action is correct. The two-time postponement of the planned consumption tax rate hike has shaken the framework for the integrated reforms. The reliance on debt and breaking promises of reform must not be continued. How should the framework be rebuilt? Parties’ stances on this issue will be put to the test. All parties are commonly advocating for free early childhood education and nursery school — an idea not included in the integrated reforms.

 

The LDP advocates for free preschool education and nursery services for all children aged 3 to 5 and infants aged up to 2 from low-income families. To this end, the party calls for changing the allocation of additional revenue from the planned consumption tax rate hike by diverting funds originally intended to be set aside for the reduction of deficit-covering national bonds. Komeito said that education and nursery services for all children up to the age of 5 should be free. The opposition parties that promote such ideas as freezing the planned consumption tax rate hike also agree on making education free of charge. All of these ideas leave future generations to pay the costs later. Fees for nursery schools and kindergartens have already been reduced or exempted in line with the income levels of parents. The higher the household income, the greater the benefit will be if kindergartens and nursery schools are made free for all children. When the harsh financial situation is taken into account, these measures will inevitably be considered as reducing burdens, which is lacking in balance.

 

The highest priority should be placed on eliminating the problem of children waiting to be accepted by nursery schools. Given that the number of such children, including “hidden waiting children” not included in statistics, has topped 90,000, the significance of making kindergartens and nursery schools free dims. If funds are diverted to such a cost-free measure and that delays the implementation of steps to tackle the shortage of nursery schools, it will threaten the prospects of promoting the active engagement of women in society.  The ruling parties have proposed bringing forward the schedule for the “Plan for Raising Children with Peace of Mind,” now seeking to boost the capacity of childcare facilities by 320,000 by fiscal 2020. It should also be remembered that the working conditions should be improved to secure enough childcare workers and the quality of childcare services must be enhanced. Even if the consumption tax rate is raised to 10 percent, additional financial sources will be needed to fund new measures. It is essential to make efforts to win public understanding for the increased burden. Kibo no To (Party of Hope) has pledged to make reducing the number of children on nursery school waiting lists to zero a legal obligation. But it has failed to draw a concrete image. Besides child-rearing assistance, the feasibility of other measures touted by the party is also questionable in terms of funding.

 

Komeito has called for moving up the schedule for providing financial support to low-income pensioners, a measure slated to be introduced when the consumption tax rate is increased to 10 percent. Kibo has put forth a plan to establish a cap on out-of-pocket expenses for welfare services. It has also proposed providing cash to low-income earners and others in need. But such measures would require more than ¥10 trillion in funding. In a bid to slash expenditures from state coffers, meanwhile, the party has simply sought “reform involving self-sacrifice,” which calls for measures such as reducing the number of lawmakers. In social security reform, the most important task is curbing the growth of medical and nursing care costs. These costs could soar in 2025 when baby boomers turn 75 or older. Both medical service and nursing care fees will be revised in fiscal 2018. This is the last chance to turn the current system into a sustainable one. Nevertheless, the parties have not addressed the issue much, leaving something to be desired.

 

The LDP has called for the use of medical data to prevent disease and prevent ailments from becoming serious. Kibo has also brought up a measure to prevent disease by analyzing genetic data. But these proposals are insufficient as measures to curb social security benefits. A system that can provide services seamlessly should be developed by reinforcing home medical care and nursing services to prevent people from excessively relying on hospitals and facilities. Current services for those who need light or moderate degrees of nursing care should be reviewed to focus more on those in need of extreme support. The subject and scope of services should be overhauled in accordance with changes in people’s needs. These tasks must be undertaken as soon as possible. Reforms that seek to have affluent elderly people cover a fair share of the burden also must be carried out. As for the pension system, serious discussions are urged with an eye on an era of 100-year lifespans.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/12/2017

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Parties Must Commit to Work Style Reforms That Curb Excessive Overtime

 

An environment in which diverse people can actively work should be facilitated by correcting the practice of working long hours and improving the situation of nonregular employees. To maintain the vitality of society amid a population decrease, work style reforms must be quickly promoted. In March, the government laid down an action plan for work style reforms. To give the plan concrete form, the government was scheduled to submit to an extraordinary Diet session a bill to revise the Labor Standards Law and related legislation. However, the move was put off due to the dissolution of the House of Representatives at the outset of the Diet session. In their election campaign pledges, the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito emphasize their endeavor to correct the practice of working long hours. Their election pledges seem to bear in mind the government’s policy of writing into law upper limits on the number of overtime hours, such as up to 720 hours per year and less than 100 hours per month. It is significant to rectify the current situation in which there is effectively no ceiling on overtime hours.

 

Kibo no To (Party of Hope) and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan have also called for restricting long working hours. The Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party have insisted the government plan is inadequate, criticizing it as an idea that “could induce death from overwork.” This is because the 100-hours-per-month rule is based on the critical line for determining death from overwork, which serves as a standard for acknowledging cerebral and cardiac work-related diseases. The new overtime restrictions represent an ultimate line that must not be exceeded. They are not aimed at affirming overtime hours that closely approach the upper limits. Abruptly setting extremely severe restrictions would not produce good results. It is important for corporation to hold labor-management discussions and appropriately apply the regulations.

 

Another task is to spread and promote an “interval system” designed to secure a certain length of time between the time workers leave the office and when they next come to work. The government is seeking to create a system that is not based on working hours so some highly paid specialist jobs will be removed from the list of jobs covered by the work-hour restrictions. The aim of establishing such a system is to separate wages and working hours so efficient work styles will be promoted. Although the envisaged system had been viewed as a contentious issue that would pit the ruling camp against the opposition bloc, the ruling parties did not include the scheme in their campaign pledges despite having said the system should be promoted. Although the opposition Democratic Party had bitterly opposed the system as an attempt to “do away with overtime pay,” neither Kibo — to which many DP members moved after leaving the party — nor the CDPJ has referred to the system at all. What is this all about?

 

Another pillar of the work style reform drive is to promote equal pay for equal work, the practice of eliminating distinctions in the treatment of employees based on the individual employment status. Wage levels of nonregular workers stand at only 60 percent of those for regular employees. To improve the situation, the government is taking legislative measures to ban an unreasonable disparity in the wage levels. The ruling and opposition parties are almost unanimous regarding the promotion of the equal-pay-for-equal-work practice. To make sure the endeavor produces results, it is important to design a necessary scheme acceptable to both labor and management. Kibo has called for exempting small- and medium-sized companies from social insurance premium payments if they increase the number of their regular employees. A task to be tackled in this will be how to raise necessary financial resources. In-depth discussions need to be promoted so the treatment of nonregular workers will be improved.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/17/2017

 

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2017 Lower House Election - Parties’ Campaign Promises Stress Support for Childcare

 

The public has a great interest in social security policies that address health care, nursing care and children on nursery school waiting lists, and each political party is seeking to attract voters by including measures to resolve social security-related issues and ease the public’s burden in their policy platforms for the House of Representatives election. If spending on social security is increased, the national debt and the public burden will increase. The balance between premiums and benefits, as well as financial resources for such measures, are likely to draw scrutiny. The Liberal Democratic Party vows that it will aim to realize “social security for all generations,” which will allow both elderly and young people to live with a sense of security and play an active role in society. The LDP’s pledges emphasize the child-rearing generation, whose social security benefits are said to be insufficient compared to those for elderly people. The party stipulates in its platform that it will intensively invest in measures to assist this generation.

 

Concerning measures to address the number of children on nursery school waiting lists, the government formulated a childcare support plan to secure enough childcare capacity for 320,000 children by fiscal 2022. The LDP promises to implement the plan two years ahead of the original schedule. An increasing number of women want to work after enrolling their children in nursery schools, and the LDP has postponed its goal of reducing the number of children on the waiting list to zero, which it pledged in the 2014 lower house election campaign to achieve by the end of fiscal 2017. The LDP’s coalition partner Komeito also promises to implement the government’s plan ahead of the original schedule, while calling for moving up the schedule for providing financial support to low-income pensioners and expanding the number of elderly people who are eligible for reduced care insurance premiums.

 

Kibo no To (Party of Hope) advocates for the introduction of a basic-income program, under which individuals are unconditionally given a certain amount of money on which to subsist. It also supports the establishment of a system where an upper limit is set for the total monthly out-of-pocket expenses for health care, nursing care and other social security programs, with the government paying the amount exceeding the upper limit. At a plenary session of the House of Councillors in January this year, Renho, then leader of the Democratic Party, advocated introducing a basic income program, while in the 2016 upper house election the DP advocated the aforementioned system that sets an upper limit on social security expenses. Kibo advocates social security policies similar to those of the DP, which emphasized redistribution of wealth. Kibo is also vowing to create a law making it legally mandatory to reduce the number of children on waiting lists to zero.

 

Nippon Ishin no Kai, which calls for decentralization, says it will aim to fundamentally resolve the issue of children on waiting lists by decentralizing power so that local governments can set requirements for licensed childcare facilities via local ordinances. Amid the serious shortage of childcare workers, many parties are pledging to secure a sufficient number of childcare workers by raising their wages. The Japanese Communist Party is promising to raise wages for childcare workers and childcare facility officials and improve their terms of employment in line with their professional skills. The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has promised to improve treatment and raise wages for childcare workers and kindergarten teachers. The Social Democratic Party is pledging to raise monthly wages for childcare workers and others by ¥50,000 for the time being.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/19/2017

 

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Each Vote Counts as Japan’s Citizens Fulfill Responsibility for the Future

 

Sunday is the voting day for the House of Representatives election. A voter should cast his or her ballot after thoroughly comparing policies and assertions by each party and candidate. This is the first nationwide lower house election since the voting age was lowered to 18. Each party has campaigned with young people in mind. Reducing the burden of higher education, early childhood education and childcare and improving the treatment of nonregular employees are the pillars of the campaigning. Measures against the declining birthrate are important, but a situation must be avoided in which future generations will increasingly be forced to pay the price. It is important to assess the cost-effectiveness and measures to secure financial resources for policies. In last year’s House of Councillors’ election, the voter turnout for those aged 18 and 19 stood at 46.78 percent. The figure was lower than the overall turnout, but higher than the figure posted for those in their 20s and 30s. Some surveys show a higher turnout for high school students in the 18 years’ group.

 

It can be appreciated that there has been education to help high schoolers understand the meaning of the sovereignty of the people, such as by holding mock elections. Efforts to raise young voters’ awareness will lead to a long-term increase in the voter turnout rate. The voter turnout for the previous lower house election fell to a postwar low of 52.66 percent. It was a serious situation that nearly half of all voters abstained, possibly undermining the basis of democracy. Improving the voter turnout is an important task. In a Yomiuri Shimbun opinion survey, 80 percent of respondents said they were “interested” in the lower house election, exceeding the 69 percent for the previous general election. The early-vote turnout is the highest ever. Measures to set up polling stations in convenient places such as in front of railway stations or in shopping centers were probably successful. To rectify the “vote-value disparity,” rezoning was carried out for 97 constituencies in 19 prefectures. Municipalities split between two or more constituencies have increased to a record number of 105. Many voters have different polling stations from the ones used in the previous lower house election. Voters are advised to check the ballot cards mailed to their homes well.

 

Due to the declining population of rural areas, the number of polling stations is decreasing. In order to ease the inconvenience of polling stations being far away, the city of Hamada, Shimane Prefecture, introduced a “mobile early vote polling station,” with vans touring around rural areas. It is said the program was received well by elderly voters who do not drive. The government of the town of Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, also started a similar program. It is necessary to develop an environment in which everyone can vote easily, through measures such as shuttle services to polling stations and actively setting up early-vote polling stations. Voting will start at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. in principle. However, many polling station have set an earlier closing time. Thirty-five percent of polling stations have changed voting hours. Due to the effects of Typhoon No. 21, some municipal governments have brought the voting date forward or shortened voting hours. Voters must pay careful attention to relevant information.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/21/2017

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Set Nation on Correct Course through Lower House Election / Confirm Quality, Persuasiveness of Policies

 

The 48th House of Representatives election is being held on Sunday. It is an opportunity to select a new course for Japan, which is facing various issues. Voters should cast their precious vote by calmly examining the assertions of parties and candidates. Of note in this election is that the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, split up before official campaigning started, and candidates who were originally in that party were divided into three groups — Kibo no To (Party of Hope), the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, and independents. The election battle took the form of a three-way race in which the conservative centrist opposition parties of Kibo and Nippon Ishin no Kai and the leftist and liberal parties of the Japanese Communist Party, CDPJ and Social Democratic Party challenged the ruling bloc of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito.

 

It is true that it has become easier for voters to understand the differences between parties after the “mix of politicians” was broken up and they were regrouped based on basic ideals and policies. It was also unusual that the election was held amid a situation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe viewed as a “national crisis,” with the North Korea situation becoming tense. A lower house election is primarily an election to choose which party should hold power. However, Kibo, which was expected to aim to take power, only fielded slightly more candidates than half the Diet seats in the lower house. Voters need to decide whether they will put their trust in the Abe administration or which party they hope will increase in strength. How much can the ruling camp increase its number of seats to build on the simple majority of 233, which is their election goal? It is also worth paying attention to which party — Kibo or the CDPJ — will become the largest opposition party. The pros and cons of the Abenomics economic policy package, measures for the rapidly declining birthrate and aging population, and preparation to strengthen the security environment are some of the factors to base one’s judgment on when voting.

 

With regard to Abenomics, the prime minister emphasized that items in the package “have been realized one by one,” saying the Nikkei Stock Average recently posted its highest close in 21 years. Abenomics has led to an improved employment situation and restored corporate earnings, but some sense of stagnation is in the air due partly to sluggish wage growth. Kibo leader Yuriko Koike has criticized Abenomics, saying “economic growth has not been progressing,” and called for thorough regulatory reform. Yukio Edano, leader of the CDPJ, has appealed to broadly increase wages, saying Abenomics “has made the strong stronger, and biased economic policies were carried out.” However, it is hard to say they have presented specific ideas in this regard. As to the planned hike of the consumption tax rate to 10 percent in October 2019, the ruling coalition and the opposition had a different argument. In their election campaign pledges, the ruling parties have said they will implement a planned consumption tax hike and change the purpose for part of the revenue increase to be generated through that scheme.

 

This will be a shift from using the money for reductions in deficit-covering bonds to such objectives as the introduction of free education. They have not yet advanced a new fiscal reconstruction target. Kibo, the CDPJ and Ishin have called for freezing the tax increase. The JCP and the SDP oppose hiking the tax rate. However, their proposals about how to come up with an alternative revenue source can be seen as merely empty slogans, such as the introduction of reforms involving “painful cuts,” which seem to produce few results. It is regrettable that each party has avoided presenting measures that might entail pain caused by reducing the burden, which would be passed onto future generations. Concerning national security, the dynamics of the so far bitter confrontation between the ruling and opposition parties have changed due to Kibo’s approval of the security-related laws. Ishin has also shown a certain level of understanding for the legislation. It is significant for the Self-Defense Forces to gain even wider support so they can carry out activities based on the legislation, such as the protection of U.S. vessels.

 

The JCP, CDPJ and SDP insist on scrapping the legislation. Amid a growing threat from North Korea, it must not be forgotten that there is a need to increase the reliability of the Japan-U.S. alliance, using the security-related legislation as a basis for that objective. There is a growing possibility that the election will result in a scenario in which the number of lower house seats to be won by the LDP and Komeito, combined with those to be gained by Kibo and Ishin, which are both positive about constitutional amendment, will exceed 310 or two-thirds of the chamber, a figure necessary to initiate procedures to revise the Constitution. The LDP has advanced such proposals as clearly writing the existence of the SDF into the Constitution. Komeito insists on adding environmental rights to the supreme law. Kibo asserts such issues as the “right to know,” while Ishin places priority on such proposals as the adoption of free education. It is useful to know what kind of constitutional amendment each party is seeking as a basis for deciding which party to vote for.

 

On his campaign trail, the prime minister did not refer to the scandals involving the Moritomo Gakuen and the Kake educational institution. During a debate among party leaders, Abe expressed words of “repentance,” but he only reiterated that “No one has said I was involved [in the case].” In this regard, the prime minister’s accountability will be assessed in the election. Questions can be raised about DP House of Councillors members and others who have referred to the idea of “reuniting” such people as CDPJ and independent candidates under the DP. Some Kibo candidates are openly criticizing their own party’s election pledges or even referring to a possible departure from the party after winning the election. It is necessary to closely watch whether Kibo will be able to properly unite as a party, even though it was hastily established. LDP candidates include some former lower house members who have been taken to task for their inappropriate remarks and scandals. Voters have a responsibility to sternly examine whether candidates in their constituencies have the appropriate qualities to be Diet members.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/21/2017

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Abe Begins Work on 4th Cabinet

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe began work on his fourth Cabinet on Monday following the Liberal Democratic Party’s landslide victory in the House of Representatives election the previous day. In Sunday’s election, the LDP and its coalition partner Komeito secured 310 seats, or a two-thirds majority of the 465-seat lower house, the level necessary for initiating constitutional amendment. Abe, who is also LDP president, met with Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi on Monday afternoon and confirmed that the LDP and Komeito will maintain their coalition. A special Diet session to elect a prime minister is scheduled to convene on Nov. 1. Abe will inaugurate his fourth Cabinet that day and plans to reappoint all incumbent ministers to their posts. During an LDP extraordinary executive meeting at noon on Monday, Abe indicated that he will lead the government with a sense of seriousness.

 

“Our party’s unity brought about this result,” Abe said, commenting on the LDP’s resounding victory. “Let’s run [the government] in a sincere manner by humbly taking it [the election outcome] to heart.” On Monday morning, the LDP and Komeito secretaries general and Diet affairs chiefs met and confirmed that the two parties will work with opposition parties to convene the special Diet session on Nov. 1. Bearing in mind the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution scandals, the officials agreed that their parties should humbly manage Diet affairs. Abe plans to retain all ministers from his third Cabinet as he recently reshuffled the Cabinet in August and has placed importance on continuity in his administration. Abe also plans to retain party top executives, including Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai and Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida.

 

The prime minister will also focus on crafting a budget for fiscal 2018. He plans for the budget to prioritize policies for a “productivity revolution” and “revolution in human resources development,” which were touted during the lower house election campaign. The government plans to submit the fiscal 2018 budget along with a supplementary budget for fiscal 2017 to an ordinary Diet session, which will convene in January. It seeks to reallocate revenue from the planned consumption tax rate hike to 10 percent in October 2019 for such measures as making preschool education free. The government will discuss later how much of the additional revenue will be appropriated for such measures. Abe will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump, who is scheduled to visit Japan from Nov. 5 to 7. The two leaders are expected to confirm efforts to strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance in dealing with North Korea, the most pressing diplomatic issue.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/23/2017

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Victory Gives Abe Mandate for 3rd Term as LDP President / PM Expected to Focus on FY18 Budget

 

Following a landslide victory in Sunday’s House of Representatives election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is accelerating his efforts to solidify his grip on power, which has been shaken by scandals including suspected cronyism involving the Kake Educational Institution. Abe is also president of the Liberal Democratic Party and if he wins a third consecutive term as LDP leader in autumn next year, he will secure the post through September 2021. With an eye to seeking a “super long-serving administration,” Abe aims to deliver results in domestic and foreign affairs. “I didn’t expect us to come so far,” Abe told a senior LDP member early Monday, referring to the party’s results in the general election. Abe is expected to focus his efforts for the time being on drafting a budget for fiscal 2018. He intends to allocate funding with priority on measures to achieve policy goals included in the LDP’s election pledges, such as a “revolution in human resources development.”

 

The prime minister aims to pass a supplementary budget for fiscal 2017 swiftly during an ordinary Diet session to convene in early January and then push through the budget for the next fiscal year as soon as possible. During the ordinary Diet session, the enactment of legislation related to work style reforms is expected to be given top priority, as the dissolution of the lower house put it on hold at the extraordinary Diet session. The legislation centers on setting a cap on overtime, with violators subject to penalties, and achieving an “equal pay for equal work” system. It also covers the introduction of a “post-hourly wage” system in which certain high-income professionals are exempt from work-hour regulations. However, the opposition camp has criticized it as a “zero-overtime-pay bill.” Asked how he would prepare for next autumn’s LDP presidential election, Abe said on an NHK TV program Sunday night, “I have no plans whatsoever.” But observers strongly believe Abe’s dominance will be unshakable with backing from the LDP’s largest faction led by Hiroyuki Hosoda and another major faction headed by Taro Aso.

 

At a press conference, LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai indicated his support for Abe’s expected bid to seek a third term. “It should be Mr. Abe again after Mr. Abe,” he said. A source close to Abe also said, “This victory has given him the impetus to pursue a third term.” Former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, viewed as a post-Abe hopeful, also appears to seek the party leadership. Ishiba has strengthened his stance against Abe through such positions as opposing Abe’s revision plan for the Constitution’s Article 9. However, Ishiba’s faction had only 20 lawmakers before the lower house was dissolved. That is not strong enough to consolidate his foothold within the party. LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida also has drawn attention in connection with the party race. Members of Kishida’s faction have been split over two strategies: aiming for a peaceful transfer after maintaining support for Abe or challenging Abe. On an NHK TV program, Kishida only said, “That’s not something I should comment on at this moment.”

 

Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda, who failed to secure endorsements from the needed number of LDP lawmakers to run in the previous party presidential election, has expressed her readiness to run next year. Abe is the third-longest-serving prime minister in postwar Japan, with 2,128 days in office as of Sunday. The figure combines his first stint in power with the current second term. If he wins the party leadership race, survives the House of Councillors election and completes his term as prime minister, Abe’s days in office will top 3,500. That will take him past not only Eisaku Sato, the longest-serving prime minister under the current Constitution with 2,798 days, but also Taro Katsura, who was prime minister under the Meiji Constitution, with an all-time record of 2,886 days, including prewar and wartime leaders.

From http://the-japan-news.com 10/23/2017

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Cities and Prefectures Get into the Spirit of Labor Reform

 

Municipal and prefectural governments across the country plan to adopt their own measures to promote labor reforms for their employees, such as by consigning operations to the private sector to cut overtime and introducing flexible working hours. Starting in November, the Kobe Municipal Government will allow employees who take care of children or elderly family members to work flexible hours, with the aim of reducing their burdens and preventing them from quitting. Instead of working from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day with a lunch break, employees will have to be at work between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and set flexible hours before or after those times. Kobe will be the first ordinance-designated major city to fully introduce the system. “We aim to create a working environment that is friendly to employees and improve our services for citizens,” a Kobe official said.

 

The city of Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, has reinforced a staggered shift system adopted in fiscal 2013. Under the expanded system, fully implemented in October, employees are allowed to start working 30 minutes earlier from 7 a.m. The system can be used not only by regular workers but also by temporary and reappointed staff. The Shiga Prefectural Government has announced a plan to set a special quota in its budget for fiscal 2018 to cover measures to promote work-style reforms and reduce overtime. It plans to take such steps as utilizing technology and outsourcing operations, officials said. In October, the Miyazaki Prefectural Government set up a satellite office in its main building that allows workers from outpost agencies to finish their work after meetings without returning to their base office. “Local governments need to promote work-style reforms actively in order to recruit competent workers amid intensifying competition with private firms to secure human resources,” an official of the internal affairs ministry said. “We hope they will make such moves voluntarily.”

From https://www.japantimes.co.jp 10/25/2017

 

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SOUTH KOREA: Lawmakers Urge ICT Ministry to Fully Implement Blacklist System

 

Lawmakers urged the Ministry of Science and ICT to fully implement a blacklist system for mobile devices as a measure to further cut mobile bills during a parliamentary audit on the ministry Thursday, Ruling and opposition lawmakers discussed the reasons behind the heavy burden of mobile costs for households and called for government measures to ease the burden by expanding the blacklist system for mobile devices during the audit at Gwacheon Government Complex in Gyeonggi Province. Rep. Kim Sung-soo of the ruling Democratic Party said one fundamental solution to fix the high mobile cost problem would be to fully introduce the blacklist system during an afternoon session. Currently, Korean mobile carriers manage subscriptions of handsets under the international mobile equipment identity system, or widely known as the whitelist system, which the lawmaker argued is a cause of high mobile costs.

Under the system, the prices of mobile devices and calling plans have been inevitably interlocked, concealing from consumers how much they actually pay for their devices and plans. The blacklist system was partially introduced in 2012, allowing consumers to purchase mobile devices independently and choose a calling plan at one of three mobile carriers. Science and ICT Minister Yoo Young-min partially agreed with Rep. Kim, but remained cautious on immediate implementation of a mandatory blacklist system. “Although the system itself makes sense, we need to take a careful approach due to problems with stakeholders in the industry,” Yoo said. “A consultative body will need to be formed to examine possible problems and issues of the system.”

Vice Minister Kim Yong-soo said once the blacklist system is fully introduced, mobile costs for households would rise in the short run, as the system would do away with existing discounts for mobile bills offered by the mobile carriers. SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho attended the audit as a witness to answer questions from the lawmakers on behalf of the telecom industry. KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu and LG Uplus Vice Chairman Kwon Young-soo declined to make an appearance at the audit, citing overseas business trips. In response to questions that were purported to have the telecom firms to further cut mobile bills, Park acknowledged there is room for further cuts, if stakeholders in the industry can share costs for telecommunications infrastructure.

“With the appearance of smartphones, data traffic spiked and that caused us to spend more on buying frequency spectrums,” Park said. “If stakeholders including manufacturers, content providers and the government, agree to share the costs, there will be more room for fee cuts.” Regarding the blacklist system, Park said it would help promote competition among market players, leading to new business opportunities. “The blacklist system is expected to help ease the consumer burdens, so we are considering it positively,” the CEO said. Choi Sang-kyu, head of domestic sales at LG Electronics, who also attended the audit, said LG will try to provide affordable mobile devices, if the blacklist system is fully adopted. Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics is said to be negative on the idea to separate the sales of devices and subscription to mobile services. Samsung CEO Koh Dong-in refused to attend the audit.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 10/12/2017

 

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Moon Vows to Root Out Corrupt Hiring Practices at Public Organizations

 

President Moon Jae-in has instructed his officials to root out corrupt hiring practices at public organizations, and if necessary, conduct investigations into every public institution. In a meeting with his senior secretaries at the presidential office Monday, Moon warned anyone caught asking for or arranging illegal recruitment at public organizations will be held accountable through both the criminal and civil laws regardless of their ranks. The president also ordered the secretaries to consider drafting a measure that can make it possible to annul or cancel the employment of those hired at public organizations through illicit means. Noting the law and the system should be enhanced to secure transparency of the employment process, Moon warned not only the organizations committing such a personnel corruption but also government ministries in charge of them will be held accountable dearly. 

From http://world.kbs.co.kr 10/23/2017

 

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Moon Vows to Restore Relationship with Labor Sector

 

President Moon Jae-in says restoring the relationship between the government and the labor sector is an urgent task. At a dinner meeting with union leaders at the presidential office on Tuesday, Moon vowed to recognize the labor sector as an important partner in state affairs. He added that former administrations had unilaterally pushed labor policies over the last decade without recognizing workers as a partner in carrying out state affairs.  In the meeting, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions(FKTU) is said to have urged government efforts to shorten work hours, expand the scope of ordinary wages -- based on which other allowances are calculated -- and hire irregular workers as regular employees. The presidential office initially invited officials from the country's two leading labor umbrella groups --- the FKTU, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions(KCTU) and their affiliated labor unions. But the KCTU decided to boycott the meeting earlier in the day, saying the presidential office did not accept its demand to invite all affiliated unions of the organization to the dinner.

From http://world.kbs.co.kr 10/25/2017

 

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INDONESIA: President Supports Formation of Police's Anti-Corruption Squad

 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has given his full supports to the police's plan to set up a special squad against corruption, the president's spokesman said on Tuesday. "The authority (the squad) is in the police. The president's only concerns were on swift and massive moves in the nation's efforts to eradicate corruptions," Indonesian presidential spokesman Johan Budi said. The initiative to form such a squad was initially put forward by the police at a hearing in the parliament last month. The squad is expected to commence its operation early next year. Conveying the president's advises on the planned police's anti-graft squad, Johan said it must have the capability to push forward the nation's efforts against corruption, and coordinate with the anti-corruption commission KPK and the Attorney General Office. Inspector General Bambang Sunarwibowo, the Indonesian police chief's planning deputy, told lawmakers last month that the police anti-corruption squad was intended to help improve anti-graft institutions in investigating and interrogating corruption suspects. The KPK had made series of arrest against senior government officials, governors and regents involved in corruption cases in the past years. The arrests were conducted by the squad teams deployed by the KPK through covert operations to nab corrupt officials red-handed when they received bribe money from their bribers. Indonesia charges both the bribers as well as officials who receive bribes in corruption courts.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/17/2017

 

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PHILIPPINES: Duterte Names New Military Chief

 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte officially installed Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to replace Gen. Eduardo Ano, who officially retired from military service after reaching the mandatory age of 56. "As we begin the rebuilding from the ruins of war, we welcome (Guerrero) as the new chief of staff with the hope that the AFP will remain at the forefront of our battle against all threats against our nation, external or internal," Duterte said in a speech during the change of command ceremony at the AFP's main headquarters in Quezon City. "I will now request (Guerrero) to supervise the destruction of all arms whether high-powered or hand guns, all of it will be destroyed in some place to show that we are also able to meet the challenges of terrorism and violence," Duterte added. Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Duterte was referring to the more than 1,000 firearms seized from the pro-Islamic State (IS) militants who took over the southern Philippine city of Marawi for five months. The Marawi conflict, which broke out on May 23, finally ended on Oct. 23 when all the IS-linked extremists were killed. The conflict claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people, including 960 militants and 165 soldiers and policemen, and complete ruined the city. For his part, Guerrero vowed to defeat the rebel groups and the IS extremists that continue to fight the government. Prior to his new post as AFP chief of staff, Guerrero was the commander of the AFP's Eastern Mindanao Command. He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1984.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/26/2017

 

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THAILAND: Environment Reform Committee Goes on Line

 

The natural resources and environment reform committee has employed new technology to boost participation among the public. Public participation is as key element in the new national reform law, which stipulates that reform committees must hold public hearings on their plans. The natural resources and environment reform committee has opened a Line account, titled “Joining reform on environment”, to encourage members of the public to participate. Comments and other feedback are invited and shared in the new Line group. The committee, in its sixth meeting on Tuesday, also resolved to identify successes stories in natural resources and environment management as part of its reform pushes. The vice chair, Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, said the reform committee had also fine-tuned its set of primary goals for the next five years to be in line with the 20-year national strategy. The refined goals include: maintaining natural resources and their health so they can provide a foundation for the country’s social and economic development; balancing conservation and uses of natural resources to mitigate development impacts on natural resources; protecting the environment to minimise pollution and other public health and environmental impacts; and boosting effectiveness in managing natural resources and the environment to minimise conflicts and inequity, based on public participation. The committee is one of 13 reform bodies appointed under the new charter and the National Reform Law.  Its work has been divided up among six sub-panels, covering land resources (land, mining, forests and wildlife), marine and coastal resources, water resources, biodiversity, environmental quality, and environmental management. The reform committees have 90 days to finish their plans before submitting them to concerned parties, including the National Strategy Committee, for endorsement and implementation. The reform plans must be in line with the new long-term national strategies as required by law

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com 09/27/2017

 

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Four Areas Need Addressing to Reduce Corruption: Committee

 

The anti-corruption reform committee has created a framework for building their recommendations, dividing it into four areas: corruption prevention and monitoring, precautionary measures, corruption suppression, and anti-corruption organisations. The second area, precautionary measures, would emphasise state office precautions, as well as asset scrutiny and reporting of all civil servants to their heads. The committee is working out in detail how to properly report assets and changes of assets and values, said committee chair Panthep Klanarongran. Democrat Party deputy leader Nipit Intarasombat said he agreed with the idea of all state officials reporting their assets. This, he said, could help prevent collusion between them and politicians, a relatively common practice in the country’s corruption cycle. Nipit said the asset reporting is not as difficult as some may fear, as people should well know which assets belong to them or their families. If they fail to report them without any ill intention, they would not be subject to any punishment, he said. The fourth area, anti-corruption organisations, would put an emphasis on creating independent and integrated watchdogs.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/19/2017

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Prayut Creates New ‘Super Board’ to Ensure Regional Plans in Line with National

 

PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has approved yet another committee on regional administration acting as a “super board” in a bid to integrate and accelerate the work flows of provincial cluster authorities in all six regions of Thailand. The approval was granted during a meeting of the integral provincial and cluster administrative policy committee chaired by Prayut on Thursday. The committee was set up early this year as part of the government’s bid to improve work and manage budget efficiency at provincial and provincial cluster levels so that they can be developed at a similar pace, without leaving some behind. Members of the new committee would be sought by the Prayut-headed committee, which will forward names for the Cabinet’s approval Acting as a super board, the new committee would assist provincial clusters in developing regional strategies, to bring them in line with the national one. “All regions have to create connectivity among each other. By doing so, each region needs to be paved with a development plan to prevent work overlapping,” Prayut said “They will also be divided into clusters to support regional competitiveness.”

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/19/2017

 

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Govt Suggests Reforms for Resources Committee

 

Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat has recommended the natural resources and environment reform committee to introduce, in addition, indicators for environmental reform work output and outcome, as well as executive administration to its ongoing reform planning. The committee was set up as one of 13 panels in accordance with the junta’s charter that sets out its 20-year-reform plan for better governance of the country. It met with Surasak’s ministry for the first time on Friday to exchange views on how they would best cooperate on the committee's reform work. Surasak also suggested the committee embrace His Majesty the Late King's guidance over sustainable development as part of its reform plans. Executive administration, he said, should also be set aside along with other reform elements to help drive reform efforts in future. The committee has divided its reform work into six sub-sectors, covering land resources (land, mining, forests and wildlife), marine and coastal resources, water resources, biodiversity, environmental quality, plus natural resources and environmental management. It is obliged to submit its plan to the government by December so that it can be implemented over the next five years.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 10/23/2017

 

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VIETNAM: Transport Minister Named Da Nang's Leader

 

Vietnamese Transport Minister Truong Quang Nghia has been appointed to the position of secretary of the Da Nang Party Committee, replacing an ousted leader of the central city, Vietnam News Agency reported. The appointment was made under the decision of the Communist Party of the Vietnam Central Committee (CPVCC)'s Political Bureau which was announced at a conference in Da Nang on Saturday. The newly-appointed secretary said one of key tasks he wants to fulfill is successfully hosting the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Leaders' Week slated for Nov. 6-11, local online newspaper VnExpress reported on Saturday. Nghia replaced Nguyen Xuan Anh who on Friday was dismissed from the positions of secretary of the Da Nang Party Committee, and member of the CPVCC. The CPVCC agreed that as the leader of the Da Nang Party Committee, Anh bears the main responsibility for violations and mistakes of the municipal Party Committee's Standing Board, Vietnam News Agency reported. Anh himself broke organizational and operation rules on the party, and violated the regulations on things party members are not allowed to do, and the rule on party members' responsibility in setting good example. Anh's wrongdoings and mistakes are serious, putting negative impacts on the prestige of the party organization and himself, and causing discontent among party members and people, Vietnam News Agency quoted the CPVCC's conclusion as reporting.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/07/2017

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1,500 Vietnamese Special, Mobile Police Officers to Be Deployed During APEC Summit

 

Over 1,500 Vietnamese special and mobile police officers, 800 traffic police officers and more than 500 fire-fighters will be deployed to ensure security and order during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Week slated for Nov. 6-11 in Vietnam's central Da Nang city, local media reported on Wednesday. The High Command of Mobile Police Force under the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security will also send to Da Nang nearly 50 special-purpose vehicles, including armored cars and vehicles used for jamming radio signals, online newspaper VnExpress reported. The APEC Leaders' Week will be attended by leaders of 21 APEC member economies and their spouses, 42 ministers of foreign affairs and economy, representatives of many international organizations and some 10,000 delegates, including entrepreneurs and reporters.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/11/2017

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Anti-Corruption Fight Set to Intensify

 

The Party and State will increase inspections to detect and strictly deal with corruption cases, and speed investigation and prosecution of violators, President Trần Đại Quang told voters in HCM City yesterday. Meeting with voters from Districts 1, 3 and 4 in preparation for the upcoming fourth session of the 14th National Assembly, the State leader said that thanks to firm directions from the Party Central Committee, Politburo  and the Central Steering Committee on Corruption Prevention and Control, as well as joint work by relevant agencies, serious corruption cases have been brought to the light. He stressed the need to promptly discover violations of the law and other negative phenomena, as also strengthen supervision of personnel and administrative work. Speaking about transport works under the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) model, he admitted there was lack of transparency in project approval and price appraisal. He also shared voters’ concern over unreasonable toll collection in several localities.

 

"The Party Central Committee and Government have ordered comprehensive supervision over BOT projects, he told the voters. Regulations will also be adjusted to fix shortcomings," he said. Food hygiene and safety had been added to the list of fields that would be subjected to close scrutiny by the legislature, and the Government must report to the NA the outcomes of State management of this issue, he said. The President also told voters that the NA planned to adopt five bills, give opinions on nine draft laws and discuss socio-economic issues and supervision over other important issues. President Quang said that in the amended Law on Complaints, different forms had been introduced and regulations on protecting complainants had been added. Meanwhile, in the revised Law on Corruption Prevention and Control, rules on assets filing and accountability for origin of assets had been extended. He also noted that the Party Central Committee’s sixth plenum had issued a resolution on continued renovation towards streamlining the political apparatus to make it more efficient and effective.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 10/14/2017

 

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Vietnam Has 2 New Cabinet Members

 

Vietnam's National Assembly, its top legislature, on Thursday appointed a new transport minister and a new government inspector general. Vietnamese legislators appointed Secretary of the Soc Trang provincial Party Committee Nguyen Van The, 51, holder of a doctoral degree in transport, as minister of transport, and Secretary of the Bac Lieu provincial Party Committee Le Minh Khai, 53, holder of a master's degree in accounting and auditing, as government inspector general. Earlier, on Wednesday, the National Assembly relieved Truong Quang Nghia of the post of minister of transport and Phan Van Sau of the post of government inspector general. Now, Truong Quang Nghia is secretary of the Da Nang municipal Party Committee, and Phan Van Sau is secretary of the Soc Trang provincial Party Committee. From Oct. 23 to Nov. 24, the National Assembly will approve six draft laws on public debt management, seafood, forest protection and development, planning, credit institutions, and Vietnam's representative organizations in foreign countries. The top legislature will also give comments on nine other bills including those on national defense, network security, sports, competition, state secret protection, anti-corruption and special administrative-economic zones.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 10/26/2017

 

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BANGLADESH: Excise Department, NBP, Punjab IT Board Sign Pact

An agreement was signed between Excise & Taxation Department, National Bank of Pakistan and Punjab Information Technology Board here on Wednesday for providing registration of vehicles and motorcycles to the purchasers at the sale points under Transport Sahulat Programme. Under the agreement, registration and number plates will be available from dealers to the purchasers instead of their repeated visits to the offices. The government is providing relief to the people through effective use of information technology for timely resolving their problems and improving service delivery. This was stated by Provincial Secretary Excise & Taxation Dr Ahmed Bilal at the launching ceremony of Transport Sahulat Programme. Chairman Punjab Information Technology Board Dr Umer Saif, In-charge Special Monitoring Unit Salman Sufi and Head of the National Bank were also present on the occasion. Narrating the details, Secretary Excise said that this agreement was part of Transport Sahulat Programme so that the registration system of vehicles could be modernised. 

He said under this agreement, the dealers registered with Excise & Taxation Department will provide License Plate to the purchasers of the vehicle at the time of purchase and the vehicle tax amount will be transferred to the account of Excise Department in National Bank through dealers directly. He said that the registered vehicles will be running on roads smoothly through this system and unregistered vehicles will be discouraged. The dealers' vehicles registration system will first be launched in Lahore and later its scope will be extended to other 35 districts. Under this system, theft of vehicles and other problems will be resolved. Secretary Excise & Taxation further stated the dealers obtaining license under this system will be given training of Dealers Vehicles Registration System Software and later this system will be started officially in Lahore. The registration of vehicles will be transferred on smart card next year. Ahmed Bilal said that the system was being introduced for the first time in South Asia which will not only help in eliminating corruption but the vehicles to be used in terrorism will also soon be identified. 

From http://www.brecorder.com 10/03/2016

 

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INDIA: Mobile App to Avail Services of Pensioners’ Portal Launched

 

The Central Government has launched a mobile application to help retired officials avail the services of Pensioners’ Portal. The application was launched by Minister of State for PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions Dr Jitendra Singh. The Minister said that a number of reforms have been undertaken by the government to facilitate the pensioners. “The retired population is increasing in India and we should do our best to channelize their energies in a positive manner,” he added. “The mobile app will extend all the services meant for the pensioner, which are currently available on the Pensioners’ Portal, to the mobile handset,” the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions said. The key features of Pensions Portal’s include personalised pension process road map, bhavishya, pension calculator, etc. A pensioner can avail various services such as checking the date of credit of his first pension, action taken, calculating the commuted pension and giving feedback through the portal.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/25/2017

 

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Young Startups Promoting Heritage Should Get Incentives from State Govts

 

To promote a culture of entrepreneurship, Union Minister Jitendra Singh urged the state governments to come forward with exclusive incentives for young startups which traditionally identifies with the culture and heritage. Inaugurating the 3-day “StartUp Expo 2017” at Pragati Maidan, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh called for indigenous startups initiatives. “Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s startup initiative has the capacity to open new avenues of employment. Also, it can serve the rich cultural and traditional heritage of India,” the minister said. He applauded the Ministry of DoNER for offering “Venture Capital Fund” to young startup willing to set up a unit in one of the North-Eastern states.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/25/2017

 

 

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AWS to Set Up Cloud Centres in Bahrain by 2019

 

Cloud data centres in BahrainAmazon Web Services (AWS) will soon launch cloud data centres in Bahrain. In the first phase, three data centres will be opened in this Middle East nation. “As countries in the Middle East look to transform their economies for generations to come, technology will play a major role, and the cloud will be in the middle of that transformation,” said  AWS CEO Andy Jassy. UAE-based telecoms service provider du  has also joined the Amazon Web Services Partner Network (APN) to accelerate access to the cloud for enterprises across the UAE. “Joining AWS’s global partner programme means our customers can quickly deploy and connect Cloud services with consistent performance and new elasticity,” remarked Fahad AlHassawi, the Chief Commercial Officer at du. “We are giving our customers access to world-leading cloud solutions and enabling them to scale their connectivity on-demand. In this way, we are making the promise of the Cloud a reality for customers on our network,” he stated. Presence of data centres will improve the performance of cloud applications for local customers, cut data transport costs for customers and cloud providers, and provide a local application hosting option to customers bound by law to host data within country borders. AMAZON is the first american company to offer cloud data centres in this region. Alibaba Cloud is offering a similar solution on Dubai. Amazon and Google have been building out their cloud regions with multiple zones at a time. It enables enterprises to connect services supported with guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS) and Experience end-to-end. Cloud Access Exchange combines enterprise level connectivity with the scalability and flexibility of AWS.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 09/28/2017

 

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Bureaucratic Reshuffle at the Centre

 

In a major bureaucratic reshuffle, the Central Government has appointed Ajay Narayan Jha, an IAS officer of 1982-batch, Meghalaya-Nagaland (MN) cadre as Officer on Special Duty in the Department of Expenditure. He is taking charge in place of Ashok Lavasa, an IAS officer of 1980 batch, Haryana cadre, who is retiring by the end of this month. C K Mishra, an IAS officer of 1983 batch, Bihar cadre, has been appointed as Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in place of A N Jha. Currently he is Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Injeti Srinivas, an IAS officer of 1983 batch, Odisha cadre has been appointed as Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Currently he is serving as Secretary, Department of Sports & DG SAl. Gopal Krishna, a 1983-batch IAS officer of West Bengal cadre has been appointed as Secretary, Ministry of Shipplng in place of Ravi Kant, who has been shifted to Department of Food & Public Distribution. Kant has replaced Preeti Sudan, an IAS officer of 1983 batch, Andhra Pradesh cadre, who has been appointed as Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Currently she serves as Secretary, Department of Food & Public Distribution. Rahul Prasad Bhatanagar, an UP cadre IAS officer of 1983 batch has been appointed as Secretary, Department of Sports & DG, SAl. Currently he serves in cadre state. Alok Shrivastava, an IAS officer of 1984 batch has been  appointed as Department of Justice. Currently he serves as Special Secretary, Ministry of Shipping. K V Eapen, an IAS officer of 1984 batch, Assam-Manipur cadre has been appointed as Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances and Pensions & Pensioners’ Welfare. Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Special Secretary, AYUSH, has been appointed as Secretary, Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopatby, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) on contract basis for the remainder period of three years.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/13/2017

 

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Cyber Security Is No Longer Just an IT Department Discussion: Fortinet Survey

  

 

Fortinet, the global leader in high-performance cybersecurity solutions, in its new Global Enterprise Security Survey, revealed that 42% of IT decision-makers in India believe that IT security is still not a top priority discussion for the board. According to the research, many IT professionals believe that the transition to the cloud as part of their organisations’ digital transformation will in turn make security a growing priority. Now, IT decision makers feel strongly that cybersecurity should become a top management priority with 87% of the respondents saying that the board should actually put IT security under greater scrutiny. Patrice Perche, Senior Executive Vice-President, Worldwide Sales and Support at Fortinet, said, “As organisations now embrace digital transformation and turn to technologies like the cloud, cybersecurity is no longer just an IT investment but a strategic business decision.” Perche said, “In today’s digital economy, I expect the trend we’ve seen at the board level to accelerate with security being treated as a top priority within an organisations’ broader risk management strategy. By doing so, companies will be in a better position to succeed in their digital transformation efforts.”

 

Three key drivers for cybersecurity becoming a top priority:

Increase in security breaches and global cyberattacks: In the last two years, 84% of businesses have experienced a security breach. 71% of ITDMs said there has been an increased focus on IT security following global cyberattacks, such as WannaCry.

Increased pressure from the regulators: With major fines threatening the bottom line, such as the impending GDPR compliance for European data, the board now has a mandate to take interest.

Transition to the cloud as a catalyst for security priorities: As organisations look at migrating to the cloud as part of their digital transformation, 88% of IT security decision makers believe that cloud security is becoming a growing priority.

Increased pressure from the regulators: With major fines threatening the bottom line, such as the impending GDPR compliance for European data, the board now has a mandate to take interest.

Transition to the cloud as a catalyst for security priorities: As organisations look at migrating to the cloud as part of their digital transformation, 88% of IT security decision makers believe that cloud security is becoming a growing priority.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/13/2017

 

 

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NEWSNIC Launches Version 2.0 of Open Government Data Platform India

 

National Informatics Centre (NIC) has launched ‘Open Government Data Platform India v.2.0‘. This version of OGD Platform provides better experience to both data providers and platform users with unified interface. Some of the key highlights of the new platform are responsive web layout design, better discoverability of resources, enhanced visualization platform, option to enable SMS and email alerts, etc. The winners of the #OpenDataApps Challenge were also felicitated on Tuesday by NIC, Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY). Cash prizes worth Rs. 1 lakh have ben given each to three of the winners and Rs. 50,000 to each of the runners up of the challenge. The #OpenDataApps Challenge was launched on August 8, 2013, by Communications & Information Technology Minister, Kapil Sibal. It was one of the initiatives of NIC to create awareness on the potential of Open Data and drive the data-fuelled innovation. The challenge, which was organised in association with NASSCOM, aimed at bringing together various stakeholders i.e. senior leaders and data controllers from various ministries and departments, entrepreneurs and innovators from start-up and developers community, IT Industry and private sector, academia and civil society to build an ecosystem around Open Government Data. The entrepreneurs, developers from industry and community were invited to create unique and useful apps across platforms and devices ranging from Mobile/Tablet, text-based SMS to voice-based applications using Open Government Data. A total of 99 applications pertaining to various sectors i.e. Agriculture, Postal, Governance, Health, etc were submitted from across the country for the challenge.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 10/14/2017

 

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Committed to Uphold High Standards of Governance

  

The State of Gujarat is emerging as a growth engine of India keeping the idea of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”. Gujarat is the investment destination for numerous businesses because of thriving economy, business-friendly policies, industrial infrastructure, and natural resources, says Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in an exclusive interview with Gopi Krishna Arora of Elets News Network (ENN). Excerpts: In the year gone by, my Government has followed Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call of “Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas” and has sincerely taken forward the growth story of Gujarat. I take pride in stating Gujarat under Shri Narendrabhai’s leadership helped India redefine Good Governance and Development Model. Our objective is to continuously work for public welfare. I am extremely grateful to the people of Gujarat for the faith they have shown in me and the support they have given me in the past year till now. Today, Gujarat Government is committed to uphold these high standards of governance and committed to serve the people better. In future, we hope for many more synergies that lead Gujarat to the top. Largely viewed as a growth story, Gujarat has been a leader specific State, don’t you feel the pressure to perform?

 

The State of Gujarat is emerging as a growth engine of India keeping the idea of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas” (at the centre of its actions). Going back to the history of development in the State of Gujarat, the biggest ever event ‘Vibrant Gujarat Summit’ was started in 2003, under the visionary leadership of the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Narendra Modi, it took Gujarat to the top-most level when it comes to global investments. Gujarat is the investment destination for numerous businesses because of thriving economy, business friendly policies, industrial infrastructure, and natural resources. The State has always been one of the fastest growing States in India, from the development of basic agriculture to industry revolution, from textiles to tourism, from dynamic culture to information technology. Today, Gujarat is home to global industrialists and young entrepreneurs alike. When it comes to performance, key purpose of our government is earning the faith of people and we have managed to do so by emerging as transparent, decisive, sensitive and progressive.

 

“Substantial investment by Suzuki, Ford, Tata, SAIC Motors, Hero Moto Corp and many more have been instrumental to this growth.” In today’s age of science, technology and innovation, effective use of ICT is imperative to meet the ever-growing expectations of citizens and businesses. E-Governance is continuously evolving to provide access, equity and empowerment to masses. Tell us about the major e-governance projects initiated in Gujarat in recent times. Gujarat, in fact, has emerged as a pioneer in the field of e-governance initiatives. We have several initiatives operating on the ground, aligned with Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under National E-Governance Plan as well as various State-sponsored initiatives. For instance, some of the major projects run by the State government include Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems (CCTNS), eCity, eCourt, eDhara/eJamin, Garvi /CSIS, e-District, eGram Vishwagram etc. Our focus is on innovative technology and innovative use of technology. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have overtaken Gujarat in Ease of Doing (EoD) Business and recently you said Gujarat will bounce back to No. 1 position nationally. What measures are there in the government pipeline? Gujarat has always been among the most preferred destinations for doing business. The Government of Gujarat has recently introduced “The Gujarat Single Window Clearances Act 2017”. The act provides for a robust application review mechanism at district and State level, with the pendency being reviewed at the highest-level. A dedicated single window agency namely ‘Investor Facilitation Agency’ has been set up through this act.

 

We have devised a common incentives form in order to simplify the application procedure for industries to avail incentives. We also initiated filing of ‘Consolidated Annual Returns’ under 11 labour laws. All half-yearly and yearly returns are required to be submitted under one consolidated annual return. In the last one year, three commercial courts also became functional having jurisdiction over 27 judicial districts in Gujarat. Besides, we have brought several landmark reforms like Comprehensive General Development Control Regulations (GDCR) for entire State, AutoCAD based building plan approvals, provision for selfcertification/ third party certifications for labour and environment laws, which will go a long way in improving the business friendliness in the State. The Government of Gujarat realises the potential of the industry and the growth opportunities it brings to the State. How are we planning to make the State best investment destination? While Gujarat has been successful in attracting big ticket investments in manufacturing and industrial sector, the Government has also focused on creating a support ecosystem by encouraging development of MSME. This ecosystem enables forward/ backward linkage and cost competitiveness. It is this ecosystem that makes any investment sustainable and competitive, both in domestic and export markets.

 

With over 20 lakh Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the State providing employment to over 1.5 crore people, the State continues to focus on providing all handholding measures. As a Chief Minister of the most promising State, you have established four pillars of good governance – Transparent Government, Sensitive Government, Decisive Government and Progressive Government, what are the major decisions being taken in this regard? The Gujarat Government has taken 475 principal decisions in the welfare of the people in the past 365 days, based on the four pillars of good governance – Transparent Government, Sensitive Government, Decisive Government and Progressive Government. Our government has carried forward Shri Narendra Modi’s tradition of giving priority to agriculture, industry and service sector as well as simplification of laws and strengthening civic infrastructural facilities. Looking at the areas of health, education and employment, Gujarat Government has taken various sensitive decisions including opening of more than 150 Jan Aushadhi stores, established new independent (green filed) self-finance colleges, providing monthly assistance of Rs 500 for patients in tribal areas, increased the pension given to widows, implementation of 7th pay commission as well as new amendment to law against cow slaughter.

 

But just erecting the pillars is not good enough. The Gujarat government has proved it is also committed to respect and follow the principles they depict. We have maintained transparent decisionmaking processes, even while tackling sensitive issues like strengthening laws related to prohibition, ULC regulation act, waiving toll-tax on State Highways, and implementation of PESA Act for tribal empowerment. Other programmes which reaffirm our decisive and progressive approach are implementation of the Shramik Annapurna Yojna, smart tablet distribution to students, creation of Digital classrooms, various schemes for farmers, SAUNI Yojna, Sujalam Sufalam Yojna, Shravan Tirth Yojna, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, Rooftop Solar Scheme, Seema Darshan programme, Subsidy on onion and potato, securing Heritage city status for Ahmedabad city, completion of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam project, initiating Seva Setu, Mukhyamantri Sadak Yojana and many more. How is Gujarat leading in urban transformation towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Smart Cities Mission? What are your future plans for the same? Gujarat has made substantial progress in creating future ready, smart and livable cities. Already six cities of Gujarat are chosen to be developed as Smart Cities. These cities are Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Dahod and Gandhinagar. The State Government has chalked out a plan on better urban mobility, metered 24 X 7 water supply, green spaces, cycle tracks, development of futuristic commercial complexes, etc, as a part of the smart cities initiative.

 

What are the major policies through which State Government is promoting Startups and Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (MSMEs) of Gujarat? We have been encouraging entrepreneurs and innovators by providing support to startups through funding, mentoring and incubation under various policies and schemes. The State has introduced various schemes and policies including Gujarat Startup / Innovation Scheme under the Industrial Policy 2015, Gujarat Electronics & IT/ ITeS Startup Policy 2016, Student Startup & Innovation Policy 2017 etc. Additionally, the Government of Gujarat has also created the ‘GVFL Startup Fund’ of Rs 250 crore towards promoting startup ecosystem along with GVFL Ltd. We have also set up the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology or ‘iCreate’ on PPP model as a Centre of Excellence for providing an ecosystem for next-gen entrepreneurs. iCreate offers support of 6 to 24 months to individuals seeking grooming, preparation and incubation support.

Our efforts and initiatives have been recognised by Government of India and Gujarat was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration in 2017 for successful implementation of startup India programme. We are also making extensive policy interventions to strengthen the MSME sector by providing support in funding, infrastructure, technology, market access and skill development. We have provisions for special assistance for MSMEs under our Industrial Policy 2015, Gujarat Aerospace and Defense Policy and Textile Policy as well.

 

“Gujarat Government is committed to uphold high standards of governance and is committed to serving the people better”. Any suggestions for the companies seeking to enter Gujarat market for expansion? The Government of Gujarat has always believed in employing a policy-driven approach towards development, and it is a matter of pride that today we have over 20 State government policies for supporting business needs across sectors and domains. This policydriven approach has yielded results. Gujarat is a national leader in over 15 sectors of manufacturing industry such as chemicals and petrochemicals, textiles, automobile and auto components, engineering, pharmaceuticals and so on. The State also has a leadership position in areas such as ports and maritime, renewable energy, tourism and agriculture. Gujarat is one of India’s most industrialised and urbanised economies, and is a national leader across various sectors of socioeconomic development. Today, with roughly 6% of India’s geographical area and 5% of the country’s population, Gujarat accounts for almost 8% of India’s Gross Domestic Product, 18% of India’s Industrial Output and over 20% of exports. The State is home to major domestic as well as multinational corporations, and has managed to garner a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of $10.5 billion between 2011 and 2017. In fact, in year 2016-17, we have bagged third rank in attracting FDI among Indian States.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/16/2017

 

 

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Expanding E-Governance Framework: Integrating Digital India & China’s Internet Plus

  

In March 2015, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang unveiled the China Internet Plus (CIP) plan, “to integrate mobile Internet, Cloud Computing Big Data, and the Internet of Things with modern manufacturing, to encourage the healthy development of e-commerce, industrial networks, and Internet Banking, and to get Internet-based companies to increase their presence in the international market.” (China Daily newspaper). With annual ICT investment worth 2.7 trillion yuan ($415 billion) and 731 million internet users, China is looking to re-boost its economy through Internet Plus. In July 2015, Indian Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi launched Digital India Programme (DIP) to transform India into digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. For DIP, India will spend `1.13 trillion INR in the next three-five years to provide Internet connections to all citizens. The plan is likely to create over 17 million direct and 85 million indirect jobs. During 4th India-China Strategic Economic Dialogue held in Delhi, on October 7th, 2016, an Action Plan on “Digital India” and “Internet Plus” between the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India and National Development and Reform Commission of China was agreed. CIP and DIP, if implemented successfully and in synergy, can finish the digital divide of almost 40% of world population (population of India-China) and can boost the world economy by re-energising two world’s fastest growing economies.

 

Chinese Internet Plus Action Plan: As per the action plan, China will push forward the integration of the Internet and customary industries, fueling its expansion from utilisation industries to manufacturing. The action plan maps development targets and supportive measures for key sectors, which the government hopes can establish new industrial models, including mass entrepreneurship and innovation, manufacturing, agriculture, energy, finance, public services, logistics, e-commerce, traffic, science and artificial intelligence. The government expects to further deepen the integration of the Internet with the economic and social sectors, making new industrial models a fundamental main thrust of development by 2018. By 2025, Internet Plus will become a new economic model and an essential main thrust for economic and social innovation and development. China will cement its development premise by advancing Internet technology, infrastructure, handling the technological bottlenecks of industries and strengthening hazard control. Digital India Action Plan: A 2014 report by the McKinsey Global Institute stated that in 10 years, leveraging technology in India through Digital India could pump in anywhere between $500 billion and $1 trillion into the economy — which represents anywhere between 20 and 30 percent of India’s current GDP which is equal to the manufacturing sector’s share of GDP.

 

The transformational benefits of embedding technology into governance are additionally well documented – technology could help 200 to 250 million Indians improve nourishment and raise incomes by receiving their full entitlements of subsidised sustenance (utilising electronic payments or technology-enabled conveyance to reduce leakage of benefits). Around 90 million farmers in 2025 could improve their incomes through access to real-time market data. Technology-based teaching methods can improve school learning outcomes and thereby raise the efficiency of some 24 million students who will enter the workforce by 2025, and help bring vocational training to anywhere between 18 million and 33 million more Indians. Furthermore, an estimated 300 million Indians could achieve financial inclusion through technology-enabled services in 2025, and 400 million of India’s poor could access improved healthcare services. Challenges for China Internet Plus (CIP): Even with (and because of) government support, things won’t be any easier. A first challenge to the Internet Plus plan is that, precisely, if it’s government-powered in China, it means going through all the ladder of central, provincial and local barons. Not a guarantee of seamless uberisation.

 

Another more contentious argument from the South China Morning Post edited in Hong Kong wants that “Beijing needs to address censorship before any new strategy can be expected to have an impact”, adding that “we all know the key thing about the internet is freedom. If Beijing misses the point and continues to censor access to information, Premier Li’s new Internet Plus strategy will probably just get more Chinese to shop online rather than have any significant and long-term impact on the country’s long-awaited economic transformation.” Challenges for DIP: Digital India is a great plan but its improper implementation due to inaccessibility and inflexibility to requisite can lead to its failure. There are few barriers of the Digital India programme which are as follows. First, The National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) is the backbone of Digital India. It will connect 250,000 panchayats (village governing council). It has been reported in the media that we are laying out just 500 km each month, as opposed to the 30,000 km. Second, the government needs to examine the validity of cases from the business on spectrum shortage. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) administrator Rahul Khullar stated, “The accessibility of airwaves in India is less than 40 per cent as compared to European countries and less than 50 percent than in China.”

 

Spectrum is a scarce resource and several licensed frequency bands are under-utilised. The government could use emerging technologies like cognitive radio (CR), used by the US government, that could permit spectrum to be used more efficiently. A CR transceiver filters for unused bands and changes its transmission and reception parameters to different frequencies amid heavy data loads without interruption. Third, and in particular, the government needs to create an enabling approach ecosystem to ensure the Internet is neutral — i.e., open, reasonable, accessible and has no gatekeepers. Thus, the government’s legitimate arrangement on Net Neutrality should be essential. Fourth, the government needs to create a unified and efficient technological stage for the entire government machinery to ensure that all assignments, both government-government and government-citizen, are automated. This, require digital leadership inside the government to lead the process of creating and embedding such a stage — the stage that permits it to operate with consistent standards of efficiency, transparency and responsiveness. Fifth is the issue of cyber security, a 2014 report ranked India second, simply after the United States, for cyber crimes. India is also not well-equipped to handle cyber-terrorism assaults. Cyber security, therefore, remains a huge crevice in India’s Internet ecosystem. Thus, the government should provide a digital framework and a redressal mechanism. These five issues require immediate intervention of the government.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 10/19/2017

 

 

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MyGov Turns Three, Participative Governance Takes Successful Stride 

 

MyGov, the dynamic initiative of the Indian government has successfully completed its three years today. The idea of participative governance has made a great stride by creating an efficient and potent interface for healthy exchange of ideas and views for both policy makers as well as citizens of the country. By facilitating a dialogue between citizens and government over online platform, MyGov has crossed more than 1.78 Million users base who actively participate and contribute their ideas, suggestions via online discussions. Moreover,  this disruptive online platform gets more than 10,000 posts per week on various emerging issues by the citizens of the country. This strategic initiative is reflective of the fact that the Indian system has reached the level of radical transformation by integrating and adopting technology to take the country forward on the path of durable progress, stability and transparency.  In one of the recent interviews with eGov magazine, Gaurav Dwivedi, CEO of MyGov stated, “Social media has ushered in the era of citizen generated sentiment and content, and has emerged as a cost-effective channel for government departments to extend their outreach.” Further adding he said, “ A number of government departments have led the way, most notable being the police in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, and municipal corporations of the country’s many Tier-I cities that are extending their functions on social media. In view of the social media and citizen engagement frameworks issued by the government, and with MyGov now leading the way, use of social media for governance is here to stay.”

 

In its short span of existence till date, MyGov has rolled out various kinds of activities and successfully engaged the citizens on important issues such as Clean Ganga,  Girl Child Education, Skill Development and Healthy India, and many more. The platform has shortened the distance gap by involving countrymen as active partners in nation-building. The citizens in good number participate in online & onground tasks, groups-centric & national themes, discussions, polls, blogs, opinions and much more. With MyGov platform, government has ensured to achieve development and provision of basic needs to the people easily overcome challenges, succeed in stabilizing democracy and reinforce the relationship between an individual and the government. Enumerating to three year’s achievements, we see a steady progress on the policy and development front through consistent and realistic participation of both citizens and the government.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 10/19/2017

 

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Committed to Uphold High Standards of Governance

 

The State of Gujarat is emerging as a growth engine of India keeping the idea of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas”. Gujarat is the investment destination for numerous businesses because of thriving economy, business-friendly policies, industrial infrastructure, and natural resources, says Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in an exclusive interview with Gopi Krishna Arora of Elets News Network (ENN). Excerpts: You took over as the Gujarat Chief Minister over a year ago, how has been the journey so far? In the year gone by, my Government has followed Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call of “Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas” and has sincerely taken forward the growth story of Gujarat. I take pride in stating Gujarat under Shri Narendrabhai’s leadership helped India redefine Good Governance and Development Model. Our objective is to continuously work for public welfare. I am extremely grateful to the people of Gujarat for the faith they have shown in me and the support they have given me in the past year till now. Today, Gujarat Government is committed to uphold these high standards of governance and committed to serve the people better. In future, we hope for many more synergies that lead Gujarat to the top. Largely viewed as a growth story, Gujarat has been a leader specific State, don’t you feel the pressure to perform? The State of Gujarat is emerging as a growth engine of India keeping the idea of “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas” (at the centre of its actions). Going back to the history of development in the State of Gujarat, the biggest ever event ‘Vibrant Gujarat Summit’ was started in 2003, under the visionary leadership of the then Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Narendra Modi, it took Gujarat to the top-most level when it comes to global investments. Gujarat is the investment destination for numerous businesses because of thriving economy, business friendly policies, industrial infrastructure, and natural resources. The State has always been one of the fastest growing States in India, from the development of basic agriculture to industry revolution, from textiles to tourism, from dynamic culture to information technology. Today, Gujarat is home to global industrialists and young entrepreneurs alike. When it comes to performance, key purpose of our government is earning the faith of people and we have managed to do so by emerging as transparent, decisive, sensitive and progressive.

 

“Substantial investment by Suzuki, Ford, Tata, SAIC Motors, Hero Moto Corp and many more have been instrumental to this growth.” Vijay RupaniIn today’s age of science, technology and innovation, effective use of ICT is imperative to meet the ever-growing expectations of citizens and businesses. E-Governance is continuously evolving to provide access, equity and empowerment to masses. Tell us about the major e-governance projects initiated in Gujarat in recent times. Gujarat, in fact, has emerged as a pioneer in the field of e-governance initiatives. We have several initiatives operating on the ground, aligned with Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under National E-Governance Plan as well as various State-sponsored initiatives. For instance, some of the major projects run by the State government include Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems (CCTNS), eCity, eCourt, eDhara/eJamin, Garvi /CSIS, e-District, eGram Vishwagram etc. Our focus is on innovative technology and innovative use of technology. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have overtaken Gujarat in Ease of Doing (EoD) Business and recently you said Gujarat will bounce back to No. 1 position nationally. What measures are there in the government pipeline? Gujarat has always been among the most preferred destinations for doing business. The Government of Gujarat has recently introduced “The Gujarat Single Window Clearances Act 2017”. The act provides for a robust application review mechanism at district and State level, with the pendency being reviewed at the highest-level. A dedicated single window agency namely ‘Investor Facilitation Agency’ has been set up through this act.

 

We have devised a common incentives form in order to simplify the application procedure for industries to avail incentives. We also initiated filing of ‘Consolidated Annual Returns’ under 11 labour laws. All half-yearly and yearly returns are required to be submitted under one consolidated annual return. In the last one year, three commercial courts also became functional having jurisdiction over 27 judicial districts in Gujarat. Besides, we have brought several landmark reforms like Comprehensive General Development Control Regulations (GDCR) for entire State, AutoCAD based building plan approvals, provision for selfcertification/ third party certifications for labour and environment laws, which will go a long way in improving the business friendliness in the State. The Government of Gujarat realises the potential of the industry and the growth opportunities it brings to the State. How are we planning to make the State best investment destination? While Gujarat has been successful in attracting big ticket investments in manufacturing and industrial sector, the Government has also focused on creating a support ecosystem by encouraging development of MSME. This ecosystem enables forward/ backward linkage and cost competitiveness. It is this ecosystem that makes any investment sustainable and competitive, both in domestic and export markets. With over 20 lakh Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the State providing employment to over 1.5 crore people, the State continues to focus on providing all handholding measures.

 

good governanceAs a Chief Minister of the most promising State, you have established four pillars of good governance – Transparent Government, Sensitive Government, Decisive Government and Progressive Government, what are the major decisions being taken in this regard? The Gujarat Government has taken 475 principal decisions in the welfare of the people in the past 365 days, based on the four pillars of good governance – Transparent Government, Sensitive Government, Decisive Government and Progressive Government. Our government has carried forward Shri Narendra Modi’s tradition of giving priority to agriculture, industry and service sector as well as simplification of laws and strengthening civic infrastructural facilities. Looking at the areas of health, education and employment, Gujarat Government has taken various sensitive decisions including opening of more than 150 Jan Aushadhi stores, established new independent (green filed) self-finance colleges, providing monthly assistance of Rs 500 for patients in tribal areas, increased the pension given to widows, implementation of 7th pay commission as well as new amendment to law against cow slaughter. But just erecting the pillars is not good enough. The Gujarat government has proved it is also committed to respect and follow the principles they depict. We have maintained transparent decisionmaking processes, even while tackling sensitive issues like strengthening laws related to prohibition, ULC regulation act, waiving toll-tax on State Highways, and implementation of PESA Act for tribal empowerment. Other programmes which reaffirm our decisive and progressive approach are implementation of the Shramik Annapurna Yojna, smart tablet distribution to students, creation of Digital classrooms, various schemes for farmers, SAUNI Yojna, Sujalam Sufalam Yojna, Shravan Tirth Yojna, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna, Rooftop Solar Scheme, Seema Darshan programme, Subsidy on onion and potato, securing Heritage city status for Ahmedabad city, completion of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam project, initiating Seva Setu, Mukhyamantri Sadak Yojana and many more.

 

How is Gujarat leading in urban transformation towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Smart Cities Mission? What are your future plans for the same? Gujarat has made substantial progress in creating future ready, smart and livable cities. Already six cities of Gujarat are chosen to be developed as Smart Cities. These cities are Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Dahod and Gandhinagar. The State Government has chalked out a plan on better urban mobility, metered 24 X 7 water supply, green spaces, cycle tracks, development of futuristic commercial complexes, etc, as a part of the smart cities initiative. What are the major policies through which State Government is promoting Startups and Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (MSMEs) of Gujarat?. We have been encouraging entrepreneurs and innovators by providing support to startups through funding, mentoring and incubation under various policies and schemes. The State has introduced various schemes and policies including Gujarat Startup / Innovation Scheme under the Industrial Policy 2015, Gujarat Electronics & IT/ ITeS Startup Policy 2016, Student Startup & Innovation Policy 2017 etc. Additionally, the Government of Gujarat has also created the ‘GVFL Startup Fund’ of Rs 250 crore towards promoting startup ecosystem along with GVFL Ltd. We have also set up the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology or ‘iCreate’ on PPP model as a Centre of Excellence for providing an ecosystem for next-gen entrepreneurs. iCreate offers support of 6 to 24 months to individuals seeking grooming, preparation and incubation support.

 

Our efforts and initiatives have been recognised by Government of India and Gujarat was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration in 2017 for successful implementation of startup India programme. We are also making extensive policy interventions to strengthen the MSME sector by providing support in funding, infrastructure, technology, market access and skill development. We have provisions for special assistance for MSMEs under our Industrial Policy 2015, Gujarat Aerospace and Defense Policy and Textile Policy as well. “Gujarat Government is committed to uphold high standards of governance and is committed to serving the people better”. Any suggestions for the companies seeking to enter Gujarat market for expansion? The Government of Gujarat has always believed in employing a policy-driven approach towards development, and it is a matter of pride that today we have over 20 State government policies for supporting business needs across sectors and domains. This policydriven approach has yielded results. Gujarat is a national leader in over 15 sectors of manufacturing industry such as chemicals and petrochemicals, textiles, automobile and auto components, engineering, pharmaceuticals and so on. The State also has a leadership position in areas such as ports and maritime, renewable energy, tourism and agriculture. Gujarat is one of India’s most industrialised and urbanised economies, and is a national leader across various sectors of socioeconomic development. Today, with roughly 6% of India’s geographical area and 5% of the country’s population, Gujarat accounts for almost 8% of India’s Gross Domestic Product, 18% of India’s Industrial Output and over 20% of exports. The State is home to major domestic as well as multinational corporations, and has managed to garner a Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of $10.5 billion between 2011 and 2017. In fact, in year 2016-17, we have bagged third rank in attracting FDI among Indian States.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/25/2017

 

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PM Modi Inaugurates All India Institute of Ayurveda

 

On the occasion of National Ayurveda Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first ever 200-bed ayurveda hospital on the lines of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi. The All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) is a prestigious project of HSCC (India) Ltd. The AIIA deals with neurological and degenerative diseases, rheumatology and musculoskeletal conditions, diabetes and metabolic disorders, allergic disorders, yoga, panchakarma, kriyakalpa, diabetic retinopathy and infertility among other conditions. It also teaches post-graduate students, PhD courses, and skill development programme. The Prime Minister was briefed about the project by Gyanesh Pandey, CMD, HSCC. Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik along with other dignitaries were  present on the occasion.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/25/2017

 

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AFGHANISTAN: Regional Cooperation Inducing Transformation

 

Through mutual cooperation and deep understanding with India and other regional countries, Afghanistan can achieve its goals of bringing transformation in governance, urban infrastructure development and banking sector, says Dr Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Ambassador of Afghanistan to India, in an exclusive interview with Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN). “Today in a population of around 30 million, we have 20 million mobile users in Afghanistan. Apart from the rapid growth in mobile telephony, the public as well as the private sector in Afghanistan have been using ICTs in increasingly sophisticated ways.” Afghanistan and India have shared a friendly relationship for long, what is the significance of India’s role for Afghanistan? India has shared close ties with Afghanistan for decades. India’s contribution in rebuilding the country is immensely appreciated and acknowledged by the Afghans, as India is the fifth largest bilateral donor to Afghanistan in the world. India is focused on building institutional capacity and providing human resource assistance to Afghanistan by offering 1,000 scholarships annually to Afghan students in various disciplines and rebuilding infrastructure of the country. Afghanistan is seeking support from regional countries, including India, to ensure a successful Afghan reconstruction effort. What kind of collaborations Afghanistan is seeking from India to effect its socio-economic cultural transformation? The socio-economic development is crucial to any country as it improves the quality of lives and leads to individuals and society at large, reaping many social benefits. Education is the yardstick to measure progress and prosperity, and serves as a pillar of strength for any nation. The socio-economic and cultural transformation of Afghanistan looks to bring in a quality education, women empowerment, health, hygiene and sanitation, infrastructure development. This will herald a new era for the people of our country.

 

What do you think about industry participation, considering it is essential for bringing transformation in governance, urban infrastructure and the banking sector? Through mutual cooperation and deep understanding with India and other regional countries, Afghanistan can achieve its goals of bringing transformation in governance, urban infrastructure development and the banking sector. The Government of Afghanistan and the international community need to focus on agricultural and rural development, electricity, water, power supply, roads and transportation facilities, sanitation and disease control, local farm and non-farm industries, and extraction of natural resources. Implementing such policies will create markets for domestic agricultural goods, which, on one hand, will be plentiful and, on the other hand, will be cheaper than what is available presently. Strong and large domestic agriculture markets will result in rise of income of farmers. It will also develop and increase manufacturing while enabling the processing industries to purchase raw material in large quantities and at profitable prices. This will help the economic cycle to start moving in a positive direction. How Afghanistan is ensuring a peaceful and stable atmosphere that is conducive for large scale investments? The Government of Afghanistan is fully determined to take initiatives for peace and aims to engage the region and the world to address the multiple dimensions of the ongoing violence in the country. The search for peace and security in Afghanistan includes multiple interlinked dimensions – in the government, Afghan society, armed groups, regional neighbours and involved actors from around the globe. More importantly, the SAARC nations (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan,Sri Lanka and the Maldives ) need to take concrete steps to establish peace in the region.

 

“The socio-economic and cultural transformation of Afghanistan looks to bring in quality education, health, hygiene and infrastructural development.” How do you perceive the use of ICT for good governance? The Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) will definitely play a key role in the economic growth processes of political, cultural, socioeconomic, behavioural and development. In the early 2000s, there was less use of ICT technology. In 2001, Afghanistan had only 20,000 operational telephones, which were only available in Kabul. People had to travel long distances to make international telephone calls. At present, the development is showing positive trends. Today, in a population of around 30 million, we have 20 million mobile users in Afghanistan. Apart from the rapid growth in mobile telephony, the public as well as the private sector in Afghanistan have been using ICTs in increasingly sophisticated ways. This change over the past 10 years has provided Afghans access to information, financial and transactional services, and more importantly to new markets. The Government, with the support of World Bank and the USAID, has initiated a number of programmes to expand electronic and mobile government services to its citizens. Private businesses have begun to offer services such as money transfer and bill payments, agricultural market price information and health information services using the mobile networks and devices.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 10/26/2017

 

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Another Bank Joins E-government Portal

 

Azerbaijan’s AFB Bank OJSC has started to issue e-references through the ‘Electronic Government’ portal (e-gov.az), the Information and Computing Center of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies told Trend Oct. 24. One can use the service via "E-reference on citizens' personal data" section. Citizens will be able to establish personal information via registration on the "Electronic Government" portal and send it to the bank. The e-reference will be valid and simplify the paperwork for the issuance of loans by the bank. Currently, more than 25 banks and credit organizations have joined the project. It is planned to expand cooperation in that sphere with other banks in future. To date, one can get 18 references through the E-government portal. The E-government portal is a key tool supporting the work with citizens, as well as state and private enterprises.

From https://en.trend.az 10/24/2017 

 

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KAZAKHSTAN: Legislative Chamber Holds Meeting with Delegation

 

On 26 September, Legislative chamber of the Oliy Majlis visited the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan headed by the Chairman of the Senate K. Tokayev. During the meeting with parliamentarians of Kazakhstan, the speaker of the Legislative chamber of the Oliy Majlis informed the guests about the ongoing large-scale reforms in the country. Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan thanked for the warm reception and noted increased relations between the supreme representative bodies of the two countries. This can be evidenced by the fact that the deputies of the Legislative chamber have carried out seven visits to Kazakhstan to participate in various activities since 2016 onwards. Parliamentarians of Kazakhstan have repeatedly visited Uzbekistan. Mutual visits, participation in various activities, exchange of experience have allowed to establish close working contacts between parliamentarians of the two countries, said K. Tokayev. Then the participants of the meeting discussed issues of further strengthening inter-parliamentary relations.

From https://uzreport.news 09/26/2017 

 

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TURKMENISTAN: New Deputies Appointed for Minister of Finance

 

Rovshen Nuryagdyev and Ezizgeldi Annamuhammedov have been appointed deputies of Turkmen minister of finance and economy, according to a decree of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The Ministry of Finance and Economy was established Oct. 5 after a merger of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy and Development. This measure was taken to transform Turkmenistan’s financial, economic and banking sector and improve its activities, according to a Turkmen presidential decree.

From https://en.trend.az 10/07/2017 

 

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UZBEKISTAN: To Implement International Mobile Equipment Identity System

 

The Ministry for development of information technologies and communications has developed a draft resolution of the President "On additional measures on streamlining the system of accounting and import of mobile devices in the Republic of Uzbekistan". The draft resolution envisages the implementation of International Mobile Equipment Identity system (IMEI). Similar mechanisms are currently used in many countries around the world. It allows suppressing and fighting against the illegal import and use of non-certified mobile devices. Along with this, the system of registration of devices using IMEI-codes would allow to raise the efficiency of the fight against the unauthorized use of networks and telecommunications, reduce the number of thefts and increase the responsiveness. Reference Uzbekistan`s market of mobile devices is estimated at about 2-3 million units per year. It is fueled mostly by an illegal entry of non-certified goods. The number of mobile subscribers comprises 21.5 million.

From https://uzreport.news 10/03/2017 

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New Head of Administration Appointed in Uzbekistan’s Khorezm Region

 

Ilgizar Sobirov has been appointed head of administration of Uzbekistan’s Khorezm region. The corresponding decree was signed by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on October 14, 2017. Sobirov was born in Koshkupir district of the Khorezm region on February 20, 1959. He graduated from the National University of Uzbekistan. Earlier, Sobirov served as the head of the Koshkupir district, chairman of the Senate Committee on Defense and Security. Sobirov headed the Senate of the Oliy Majlis (upper chamber of the Uzbek parliament) in 2006-2015. After his resignation, he held the post of the head of the justice department of the Khorezm region.

From https://en.trend.az 10/15/2017 

 

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AUSTRALIA: Public Wants Cashless Welfare Cards

 

Pauline Hanson believes people will support a wider rollout of the cashless welfare card system in Australia to reduce domestic violence and ensure children attend school. Cashless welfare cards quarantine 80 per cent of welfare payments for housing, food, clothing, household supplies and essentials. The money cannot be used to buy alcohol or gamble. Brisbane's Wide Bay is the fourth location targeted for rollout, after WA's Goldfields and East Kimberley regions, and Ceduna in South Australia. Senator Hanson believes the cards will 'definitely' reduce drug and alcohol consumption, adding that when she met with elders in areas where the trial has been run they verified it was helping their communities. 'I think in general, having spoken to taxpayers, I think they're in agreeance with it,' she told reporters in Perth on Wednesday. National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 10/11/2017

 

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Senate Unlikely to Support University Package

 

A planned overhaul of university funding which included higher course fees and a lower income starting point for repayment of student loans looks dead in the water. The package includes cutting university funding in 2018 and 2019, increasing student fees, lowering the repayment threshold for HECS-HELP student loans and tying a portion of funding to performance measures. The higher education sector opposes the package, which it says will cut $2.8 billion over the next four years and leave students paying more for less. Labor and the Greens have followed suit, leaving the government to rely on crossbench votes in the Senate where it next heads. The Turnbull government has failed to convince the Nick Xenophon Team to back its suite of measures in the Senate against opposition from Labor and the Greens. 'We have too many highly qualified young people, with PhD degrees, stacking supermarket shelves or making lattes. We need to do better than this,' Senator Xenophon said in a statement on Thursday.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 10/19/2017

 

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UN Grills Australia on Human Rights

 

Former prime minister Tony Abbott's attack on a 2015 report into children in immigration detention has been raised during a United Nations examination of Australia's human rights record. Australia is being grilled by the Human Rights Committee in Geneva early on Thursday (AEDT) following its election to the UN's Human Rights Council. Vice chair of the Committee Yuval Shany noted Australia's 'generally strong record' on human rights, however he questioned Mr Abbott's 2015 comments on the Australian Human Rights Commission's The Forgotten Children report. The report found detention centres were a 'dangerous place for children' and called for a royal commission into the practice of putting asylum seeker children into mandatory detention. The then prime minister labelled the report 'a blatantly partisan politicised exercise', something Mr Shany labelled an 'odd statement'.

 

Mr Shany also remarked he was 'perplexed' that Attorney-General George Brandis asked Commissioner Gillian Triggs to resign before the critical report was published. The Australian delegation responded that the relationship between the government and the commission was 'in a very good place at the moment'. Australia's implementation of the human rights committee's decisions was also criticised. Mr Shany said it's 'unacceptable' for Australia to 'routinely reject' the committee's views, or 'self-judge' UN human rights treaties compliance, saying the country can't 'pick and choose' its compliance with human rights law. The lack of implementation was 'completely off the charts for the committee', Mr Shany said. 'It's incredible for a country that claims to have a leading role in global human rights.'

 

The Australian delegation responded that the implementation of views would have to be an area where the committee and government 'respectfully disagree' as Australia does not see the views of the committee and other treaty bodies as legally binding. The same-sex marriage plebiscite was also criticised by the committee, with member Sarah Cleveland remarking: 'Human rights are not to be determined by opinion poll or a popular vote'. Other issues raised by the committee included, transgender and intersex rights, domestic violence, the sterilisation of intellectually disabled women and girls, and the balance between anti-terrorism laws and personal liberty. Australia was elected unopposed to the council, for the first time on Tuesday, as a Western European and other States representative for a three-year term.

 

John Quinn, Australian Ambassador and permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, said Australia 'was not complacent' and acknowledged there were things the country 'could do better'. He said violence against women and improving the lives of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders as well as constitutional recognition were particular issues for Australia. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop nominated the empowerment of women globally, indigenous rights, abolition of the death penalty and crises in North Korea and Syria as the issues Australia would pursue during its tenure. It will also push for reforms to the council.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 10/19/2017

 

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NEW ZEALAND: First to Announce Govt Tomorrow

 

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has confirmed he will announce which major party he will form a coalition government with on Thursday. Mr Peters has in talks with both National and Labour to determine who forms government in New Zealand following the 2017 General Election. After the election the incumbent National party was left with 56 seats and Labour 46. Both major parties were well short of the 61 needed to form a government in the 120-seat parliament. NZ First has nine seats, with Mr Peters ultimately making the decision which party will form government. The Green party, with its eight seats, has thrown its support behind Labour. A statement from NZ First said Mr Peters had spoken to the leaders of the National Party and the Labour Party today advised them that the decision about which party he will support.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 10/18/2017

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New Govt Urged to Keep 'Social Investment Approach'

 

The new Labour-led government is being advised to keep one of the outgoing Prime Minister's pet policies - the social investment approach. The so-called Social Investment Approach uses data to measure how services are being delivered to the most vulnerable and whether they're working. Before the election, Prime Minister Bill English told Morning Report's Guyon Espiner, social policy was a key election issue, and only his party had a vision for change. "The policy is focused on the toughest social problems in New Zealand, serious young offenders, how to deal with 14-year-olds with multiple convictions, a household full of family violence and drug addiction. "Now we're trying to crack into that, how you deal with the 370 at risk families in Rotorua for whom the government probably only provides good services for about 150," said Mr English.

 

This year the policy will cost $320 million and Victoria University's professor of public policy, Jonathan Boston, said for such a small amount of money it was worth keeping. He's about to publish a book on social investment and said because the idea was one of National's flagship policies, Labour was likely to change its focus. Professor Boston said that would probably mean less emphasis on the cost of having people on benefits for a long time. "So enhancing employment, enhancing wages, enhancing educational achievement, reducing recidivism and things of that nature." Professor Boston cautioned against abandoning the strategy altogether, saying it was useful and the new government should build on and modify the building blocks that were already in place.

 

Improvements to the current system included better evidence and analysis, better relationships with social service providers and more long term funding, he said. Other positive factors included suitable contracting arrangements, adequate funding and ongoing investment. But Bill Rosenberg from the Council of Trade Unions is less optimistic, and said National's version of social investment was fundamentally at odds with Labour's core values. "National's view of social investment takes the view that you can identify the most disadvantaged people by personal characteristics, like whether their mother was on a benefit. It doesn't start with underlying causes like poor housing, low incomes and high unemployment. "I think Labour and the Green's values would say address those underlying causes, invest in society and you invest in everyone." Treasury figures show children who come to the attention of social welfare agencies mostly have parents on a benefit, in prison or serving a community sentence and a mother with no formal qualifications. They are less likely to do well in life.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 10/24/2017

 

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Minimum Wage Hike 'Good for Work, Good for Business'

 

A hike to the minimum wage under the new government will make a huge difference to thousands of low-income families, social advocates say. Under the Labour-led government, the minimum wage will go up to $16.50 from 1 April, before rising to $20 by 2020. Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly said people on the minimum wage were not currently earning enough to feed their families. "What we have noticed specifically is the growth in demand for food parcels by people who are working and receiving minimum wages, not just beneficiaries," he said. "That increase has grown year on year on year over the last few years." There was one way of knowing if the planned increases would make a difference, Mr Farrelly said. "If in three years ... the need for food to sustain people on a week-to-week basis, who are already working, was wiped out, I think we'd have something to rejoice in there."

 

In the meantime, the wage increase would be a big step towards moving a large number of New Zealanders out of the depth of poverty, he said. People RNZ spoke to in downtown Auckland were overwhelmingly supportive of the change. One woman said it was "great" that the minimum wage would increase but benefit levels should also be raised. "Every family needs to be able to feed their kids - young ones that have got young families that are struggling to pay a mortgage, that are struggling to put food on the table, and all they want to do is live the Kiwi dream," she said. E Tū union national secretary Bill Newson said the businesses he had spoken to were not worried about the change. "There'll be a few people saying that the sky's going to fall in and it's a disaster [but] employers I've talked to seem fairly relaxed about it. It's good for work, it's good for business also."

 

Employers had three years to plan for a $20 minimum wage but unions would also be looking for pay hikes for those already on that amount, Mr Newson said. However, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne was worried about the effect on smaller farms. Her organisation was not opposed to more generous wages, but wanted to know if there might be an exemption for young workers who could be paid a lower youth rate, she said. "They build a bit of experience and then you get the confidence in them and then you can put them up the scale." Some farmers may simply go without employees they otherwise would have hired, she said. "The smaller farms we're talking about here, some of the margins people work on are very tight."

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 10/25/2017

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Poverty Portfolio 'Gives Children a Voice'

 

Children's advocates are excited to see the new government's plans to reduce child poverty but question how quickly things can improve. The most recent Child Poverty Monitor report said three in 10 New Zealand children lived in households earning less than 60 percent of the median income. During the election campaign Labour said it would lift 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020. The new government's Cabinet appointments have made children a policy priority - Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has taken on the role of Minister for Child Poverty Reduction and New Zealand First's Tracey Martin is the new Minister of Children and will oversee Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children. Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft said Ms Ardern's new portfolio was needed as the situation had been ignored for too long.

 

"If you take the income-related poverty measurement, which is 60 per cent or less of the median income, that's 295,000 children living in families that don't earn enough money for basic life essentials. I would describe the situation as serious." Mr Becroft hoped within Labour's three-year term there would be a significant drop in income-related poverty. The new government should increase the eligibility threshold for Working for Families, increase the accommodation supplement and make changes to benefit eligibility, he said. While it was the government's job to provide a safety net, others needed to step in too. "It's a whole community responsibility - we need NGOs, community groups and businesses to be committed as well, because it's not just something that can be solved overnight or just with government intervention," Judge Becroft said.

 

Child Poverty Action Group economic spokesperson Susan St John said having a Minister for Child Poverty Reduction was the best news low income families have had for a long time. "Child poverty is such a serious problem and [Ms Ardern] has recognised that - she is elevating the issue so people can actually see it," she said. "Children don't vote, they don't have a voice, but she is giving them that voice." The new government needed to think hard about how Working for Families should be restructured, Ms St John said. "Money actually matters ... Working for Families [has] been neglected over the past nine years."

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 10/26/2017

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Three Ways IoT Is Making Cities Smarter

 

Internet of Things or IoT, has so many and so broad applications in the Smart Cities that it is impossible to make a closed list. In general terms, they have a technological infrastructure capable of improving urban management in a qualitative way in different areas, such as the three ways iot is making smart cities that we will see in this post: transport, energy and urban furniture maintenance. They do so by collecting, aggregating and using data intelligently in order to provide a better quality of life to their residents, from efficiency. To do this they take advantage of the data revolution of Big Data, as well as the sensors and data treatment technologies of low cost. The same concept of IoT refers to a network based on data obtained from the online interconnection of physical objects. Specifically, it is through a specialized hardware as it reaches a connectivity that also achieves certain behaviors according to what is programmed.

 

Interactive sensor networks

In the context of intelligent cities, this advanced technology allows drawing the city of the future. Looking for solutions for a better municipal administration that, in many cases, are already a reality. From the control and decongestion of traffic, improving energy efficiency or urban waste management, among an endless number of possibilities, IoT can make innovative contributions to cities. The first one of the three ways iot improve cities, is about setting up a large interconnected ecosystem in which conventional resources and services gain in efficiency thanks to technology. The difference marks the use of this data obtained in real time to meet the needs of citizens. Through the use of real time sensors, data are collected and converted immediately into usable statistics. At the same time, these interact with other processes, within that complex ecosystem that constitutes the smart city. On the other hand, with smart cities as a pillar, the IoT provides an overview of the city, in order to be able to verify what happens at each moment, how everything evolves. Therefore, that network of interactive sensors also offers the keys to continue to increase its effectiveness continuously. A clear example of how information collected in real time through sensors can be processed and used to improve the lives of citizens, is Urbo, a dashboard for SmartCity, developed by Geographica along with Telefónica, which allows clearly and in a simple way to process the information from the sensors, visualize it, analyze it and make decisions at the same time that it makes the life of the citizen easier.

 

Urbo, a dashboard for Smart Cities.

Transportation, maintenance and energy are key issues in cities and, precisely because of  this, IoT can make a big difference when it comes to implementing smart city projects.

Transport: mobility and quality of life

Transportation is one of the ways in which the IoT is making the cities more intelligent. In terms of mobility, the challenge is to provide citizens with easy access, ideally ecological and economic resources to respond to their daily needs. The IoT will help to integrate the different modes of transportation, as well as reduce congestion, facilitate parking and optimize the urban space, scarce by definition. The Stockholm case is interesting, one of the pioneering cities in this respect. In the capital and most populous city of Sweden, traffic jams not only reduce the quality of life of its inhabitants and trigger emissions of greenhouse gases, but also influence the city’s productivity.

 

Already in 2008 at the city’s entry points, 18 variable charging toll points were created that penalized peak hours. A measure that showed its great effectiveness, achieving a traffic decrease of around 14 percent. In other words, the city saved 40,000 vehicles a day and reduced emissions by applying innovative technology that does not involve complexity and brings great benefits in order to boost mobility, protect health and the environment. As expected, the developments are currently far beyond. A few days ago Drive Sweden– a government organization exclusively dedicated to the development of smart mobility in Sweden – published an article of the World Economic Forum that by 2030 expect that the jams are a thing of the past, thanks to the Smart Mobility. However, the case of Sweden is not isolated, nowadays we can find cases of success in which IoT has allowed to develop systems that improve traffic and contribute to improve the lives of citizens. Some examples are: Smart Santander:  The sensors located on the streetlights allow to detect the traffic density and therefore, through an application, say where there is more possibility of being able to park and / or calculate alternative routes to reach the same point of the city. Birmingham: This project goes even further. In May 2016, they presented an application that allows to know what the traffic situation will be in the next 30 minutes in a certain point of the city with a relatively low margin of error. Another of the wonders of IoT.

 

Maintenance of urban furniture

Achieving an efficient maintenance of the urban furniture is another of the great challenges of the cities. A pending subject that ranges from the most common infrastructure, such as street lights or litter bins and containers, to banks or services related to all of them. For example, High-tech containers are becoming popular in many cities. The designs and features are very varied, from including Wi-Fi connection or including solar panels to compact the garbage until notify the collection service that need to be emptied. Returning to the solution mentioned above, Urbo, allows to visualize in real-time the status of all the containers of the city for which it has been implanted, thus, it allows detecting any type of anomalies and analyzing historical data, it helps, for example planning the garbage truck routes based on actual needs. On the other hand, real-time information provides great accuracy that creates new opportunities for handling more efficient the resources. Among other possibilities, residents can report damage to urban elements through smartphones or, using light signals, warn them that the bins are full.

 

Energy: smart efficiency

The last one of the three ways iot improve cities, is the fundamental support in the integration of detection and actuation systems connected to the network in order to optimize the energy consumption. On the other hand, an essential aspect to face growing urbanization, especially to reduce the environmental impact of cities, each time more difficult to manage without resorting to a smart city vision. In this sense, the management of the city from a sustainable approach requires the reduction of energy consumption through new proposals, while reducing energy needs. The installation of smart public lighting along with civil warnings in case of danger, for example, help both to better energy consumption and to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants, whih can save lives. Definitely, new technologies provide a unique opportunity for a truly transformative information management and processing that, in the cities, translates into an improvement of existing services as well as the emergence of new ones. Citizens, meanwhile, become both users and actors, favoring the development and smooth functioning of these smart services. Its active role can help to design, and then improve with its use, innovative projects in areas such as those mentioned.

From https://geographica.gs/ 10/02/2017

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Building Managerial and Innovation Capabilities Is Essential to Prepare for Technological Adoption

 

The potential gains from innovation in terms of boosting incomes, jobs, and economic growth are vast. Yet, paradoxically, developing countries do surprisingly little when it comes to adopting advanced-country experience to upgrading their products, technologies, and business processes says a new report launched by the World Bank today. The report finds that the lower level of technological adoption in developing countries is a rational response of firms to a range of constraints that they face: barriers to accumulating physical and human capital, low managerial capabilities, and weak government capacity. Managing these constraints to meet the challenges of an intensely competitive and rapidly evolving global economy requires a reconsideration of innovation policies and how we measure innovation progress say the report’s authors, Xavier Cirera and William F. Maloney. The report, The Innovation Paradox: Developing-Country Capabilities and the Unrealized Promise of Technological Catch-Up, underscores the challenges that policymakers and entrepreneurs face in realizing the potential fruits of innovation. “Understanding how to promote innovation in developing countries is more important than ever, given the new wave of digitalization and automation that is rapidly altering economies around the world,” said Jan Walliser, Vice President, Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions.

 

For the private sector in developing countries, the report asserts that adopting better firm managerial and organizational practices are overlooked ingredients that are critical to innovating in products, processes, and upgrading the quality of their goods. These practices are also the building blocks to developing more sophisticated innovation projects that include the invention of new products and technologies. “The potential gains from bringing existing technologies to developing countries are vast and dwarf foreign aid. Yet, developing country firms and governments invest relatively little to realize this potential,” said author William Maloney, Chief Economist Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions. “Our research finds this is a result of weak firm capabilities to recognize and adopt these technologies, weak enabling environments, and limited government capabilities to design and implement the necessary support policies. Therefore, unlocking the enormous growth potential of moving countries closer to the technological frontier is not as simple as, say, providing additional incentives for research and development.”

 

The report argues that developing-country ministries and agencies often lack human capital and effective organizational structures at a time when designing and implementing innovation policy is becoming even more complex. Effective innovation policy requires choosing the appropriate combination of policy instruments in the context of scarce government capabilities. The report proposes a conceptual framework, the “capabilities escalator,” where policies to support firm upgrading are sequenced in accordance with the level of capabilities of the private sector, as well as of policymakers and institutions, and ratchet up through progressively higher stages of sophistication. “Developing country firms need to focus on building the foundations for successful innovation,” said Co-Author Xavier Cirera, Senior Economist, Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice. “Therefore, developing country innovation policy cannot focus primarily on research and development but must begin with strengthening managerial and organizational practices.” The Innovation Paradox is the first volume of the World Bank Productivity Project that seeks to bring frontier thinking on the measurement and determinants of productivity to global policy makers.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/03/2017

 

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Progress on Gender Equality Far Too Slow

 

Countries need to do much more to close gender gaps worldwide, according to a new OECD report. The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle presents a stark call to action, highlighting that very little progress has been made since the 2012 OECD report Closing the Gender Gap Now. “The pursuit of gender equality must be a priority to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth for the benefit of every citizen,” said OECD Chief of Staff and G20 Sherpa Gabriela Ramos at the launch of the report in advance of the Women’s Forum taking place in Paris. “There is no reason for women to trail behind men in social, economic, and political outcomes. Countries need to do much more to reach the gender equality goals.” In the latest survey carried out in 2012 on the pursuit of gender equality, OECD countries identified the three most important gender inequality issues: violence against women, the persisting large gender wage gap, and the unequal sharing of unpaid work. Many countries are now prioritising these issues in policy, and many are also pushing to get more women into public and private sector leadership.

 

Some progress has been made, the report notes. Most OECD countries are tackling workplace harassment through stronger laws and regulations. Several countries, including Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom, have introduced measures to encourage more young girls to choose science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) and young men to study and work in health and education. Nonetheless, gender gaps persist in all areas of social and economic life across countries, and the size of these gaps has often changed little in recent years. While today young women in OECD countries leave school with better qualifications than young men, they are less likely to study in the higher earning STEM-related fields. Women’s labour force participation rates have moved closer to men’s rates over the past few decades, but in every OECD country women are still less likely than men to engage in paid work. When women do work, they are more likely to do it on a part-time basis, are less likely to advance to management positions, are more likely to face discrimination, and earn less than men. The median female worker earns almost 15% less than her male counterpart, on average, across the OECD – a rate that has barely changed since 2010.

 

Women are less likely to be entrepreneurs, and female-owned businesses tend to earn less than male-owned ones. Gender gaps tend to increase with age, reflecting the crucial role that parenthood plays in gender equality. Much more than fatherhood, motherhood typically has sizable negative effects on workforce participation, pay and career advancement. Gender inequalities pervade public life, as well: women are underrepresented in political office, holding less than one-third of seats in lower houses of national legislatures, on average, in the OECD. Affirmative action is needed but alone is insufficient to bring about gender equality. Countries also need to invest in female leadership opportunities through for example mentoring opportunities and network supports. At the same time male role models in senior management need to drive the change in gender stereotypes and norms that continue to hamper women’s access to leadership. Clearly much remains to be done to narrow, and ultimately close, gender gaps across all countries. The report outlines not only the social but also the strong economic case for action: reducing the gender gap in labour force participation by 25% by 2025, as agreed by G20 leaders, could add 1 percentage point of growth to projected baseline GDP growth across the OECD over the period 2013-25, and almost 2.5 percentage points if gender participation gaps were halved by 2025.

 

Since 2013, about two-thirds of OECD countries have put in place new equal pay policies, involving greater transparency on pay with companies increasingly required to analyse and disclose their gender wage gaps. Many countries have also introduced measures to improve access to quality early childhood education and care, as well as encouraged fathers to take parental leave: several, including Canada, Japan, Korea and Poland, have increased subsidies or benefits for childcare; and others, including Norway and the UK, have introduced or expanded free childcare. The full report and individual country notes for Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States are available via http://oe.cd/gender2017 Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/04/2017

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Smart Cities Are Boring. Give Us Responsive Cities.

 

As an urban technologist, I’m often asked to give an example of a compelling smart city application that real people are using. But to be honest, there really isn’t too much to point to – yet. Cities may be getting smarter, but they haven’t noticeably changed from a user perspective. It seems like most of the digital advances in cities have been invisible and focused on city operations, rather than on the parts of the city that people can see, touch, and use. Sure, it’s important that city managers can better identify water leaks, or more accurately predict the likelihood of a building failing an inspection, but there isn’t a direct, personal, benefit to city dwellers. So it’s understandable that some people feel like there hasn’t been much progress. The reason that we, as city dwellers, haven’t been wowed by transformative Smart City applications is that Smart Cities are boring. It’s the same reason people’s faces don’t light up at the thought of a data warehouse (ok, settle down, nerds). Smart Cities are just a means to an end; a step along the road to truly digital cities. In order to evolve into a city that fully realizes the potential of the internet, delivering real, tangible benefits to its inhabitants, cities will go through three phases: 1) They first need to collect data about their environment, 2) They need to process that data, and finally, 3) They need to take corresponding real-time action. My shorthand is: See, Think, Do.

 

See – The Instrumented City

For the last couple decades, we’ve been living in an Instrumented City. Sensors upon sensors upon sensors – everything’s got a sensor, from the front door to your office to the bikeshare dock, to the traffic light on the corner. Everything is being quantified, and this is the foundation of any future city developments. In order to change something, you need to first be able to measure it.

 

Think – The Smart City

So what do we do with this data? This is where companies like IBM, GE, and AT&T have been focusing their efforts over the past few years. In the Smart City, insights are derived from the data generated in the Instrumented City. This is done using data platforms, algorithms, and data science, and allows us to not only understand what we measured, but also why it matters. We can start building correlations and causations, creating models to predict and test human behavior, and gaining insights into why things happened and how change might be affected. AI will start to play a larger role in analyzing massive amount of data and developing understanding of what’s happening in the city. But it’s all fairly “back-office” at this point. Think of it as the internet before everyone had email, or web 1.0 sites. Yeah, it’s important and it’s changing how the world works, but why should I care? What can I do?

 

Do – The Responsive City

Now, this is where things get interesting, when things start to actually happen, and where people will notice and feel the difference. It’s the stage with the most opportunity for development and new products. The Responsive City is one that, as the name suggests, responds to the needs, wants, and desires of its citizens; whether they’re workers, residents, or visitors. All this is done in real time, and it’s active and rich with applications. Building upon the data generated in the Instrumented City and the insights developed in the Smart City, The Responsive City is like an app layer on top of hardware, data, and base services. In cities, these apps will be focused on manipulating infrastructure or influencing behavior to dynamically optimize the city for any number of outcomes; safety, convenience, efficiency – but also discovery, joy, community. All of this helps support what makes cities great in the first place – engaged citizens of diverse backgrounds sharing a common space in time. This all relies on digital, controllable, infrastructure, and that’s coming quickly. Uber and Lyft are examples of connected cars that preposition themselves based on anticipated transportation needs.

 

Digital screens and dynamic street furniture are early examples of responsive infrastructure as well – with the potential to act like an Augmented Reality layer for the city, these products superimpose real-time information over the streetscape to inform or influence the population, and to help them in any number of ways; citizens can better move through the city, explore all that the city has to offer, and be alerted to emergencies in real time, to take just a few examples. Cities are ready for this transformation. With digital infrastructure, automation, and machine learning comes the ability to predictively respond to demands and optimize outcomes for millions of people at once. Today, we have a massive opportunity for city managers, social activists, and entrepreneurs to create new economic opportunities, reshape behaviors, and repurpose our resources to truly redefine the modern city. The infrastructure needed for this revolution is beginning to fall into place, but how do cities ultimately arrive at this final stage of responsiveness?

 

To pave the way for effective responsive cities, cities need to:

Partner on Resources, Access, and Outcomes

We need to toss out our preconceived notions of what’s possible in cities and start with the desired outcomes. City managers need to identify untapped resources or infrastructure in need of reinvention and then make it easy to partner and collaborate with the private sector. Public-private partnerships ought to be aligned on mutually beneficial outcomes, like universal access to resources for people of all abilities, and not fixate on a particular solution, or prescribed procurements.

 

Understand Groups of People and Influencing Their Behaviors

A responsive city is reflective of the humans in it. The internet has shown us a glimpse of what’s possible with personalization – recommending videos or products or friends to you. A single person. But city experiences are inherently one-to-many. 50 people look up at a sign, and they experience it together, with 50 different backgrounds and maybe as many individual objectives. This opens up an interesting field of study: understanding groups of people and how they respond to real-time changes in their environment. Whether it’s something like dynamic road closures for on-demand pedestrian plazas, or directing people with different mobility needs to the fastest route for an event, or helping them discover a new business that just opened; balancing people’s needs with the city’s -in real time- will be an exciting new area for exploration, blending Urban Planning with User Experience Design and Behavioral Science.

 

Make it Real-Time

Becoming a responsive city isn’t a static objective, it’s a constantly moving target. We need to think past fixed, single-purpose infrastructure and focus on dynamic, real-time digital infrastructure that can change as people and cities change. The focus should be not only staying relevant over years as cities change on the macro scale, but staying relevant from moment to moment, from the morning commute to lunch. The internet has changed everything we do – how we live, work, and play, all through access to information, and communication with each other. But it hasn’t always lived up to its transformative potential. We’ve seen it create isolation and siloed groups that breed intolerance.

 

And cities can be stale and inflexible – designed by people who died long before today’s inhabitants were even born, and where change is measured in decade planning exercises. Cities are rarely representative of the actual people using, working, and living in them. But now, as the internet makes its way into cities, we have an opportunity to make the internet more human, and cities more dynamic. We can build true community experiences where people of different cultures and backgrounds and abilities share digital interactions with one another as well as their city. We have the ability to shape our environment and share information in real time to better connect people with each other, and with resources. We have an opportunity to build an inclusive digital urban experience, and that starts with a responsive city.

From https://techcrunch.com/ 10/16/2017

 

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World Bank Urges Action to Break the Cycle of Poverty from Generation to Generation

 

The social status of one’s parents is as influential today as it was 50 years ago in determining a person’s future, according to early findings from an upcoming World Bank report, Fair Progress? Educational Mobility Around the World. Marking the 25th anniversary of the International Day to Eradicate Poverty, the institution sounded the alarm on a lack of progress since the 1960s in an area that is crucial for reducing poverty and inequality and promoting growth. The preview paper, released today, helps put together the first pieces of the economic mobility puzzle, focusing squarely on how one generation’s education can make or break the next generation’s success. This highlights the important role of public policy in providing a level playing field, so that every child, regardless of parental background, can reach his or her full potential. The full report, to be released in early 2018, will broaden the scope and examine the drivers of income mobility, including the role of markets and the broader forces of economic transformation.

 

“We are living in the middle of a human capital crisis and need to do everything we can to create a world where children everywhere have the opportunity to become whatever they want,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “The potential of hundreds of millions of people is being wasted, as their chances remain too closely tied to the previous generation. We have to invest in young children so they are hardwired to succeed, encourage and meet the aspirations of young people, and act at all levels – especially locally – to ensure that tomorrow’s generation can thrive regardless of where they are born.” Increases in education from generation to generation have stalled over the last half-century. About half of people born in an average developing economy in the 1980s have more education than their parents – showing no improvement when compared to those born in the 1960s. If the world does not alter the way it invests in its children, particularly those coming from less advantaged backgrounds, there is little reason to believe that this assessment will be different 10 years from now, making an end to extreme poverty by 2030 an even bigger challenge.

 

Low levels of upward mobility are particularly pronounced in the developing world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, only around 12 percent of today’s young adults (born in the 1980s) in some Sub-Saharan African economies have more education than their parents, compared to more than 80 percent of the same generation in parts of East Asia. All of the 15 economies where people’s education level is most closely tied to their parents’ education level are developing economies. The study points to three broad pathways forward to increasing economic mobility from generation to generation. Equal opportunities for children: Investments in early childhood development, education access and quality, maternal and child health, nutrition, infrastructure, water and sanitation, and other key services in the earliest years are critical to improving mobility and building human capital. For example, economies that have lower stunting (low height for age, a sign of chronic malnutrition) rates for children at age five and those that invest more of their public resources in education are likely to have higher mobility.

 

The recent World Development Report on Education makes a strong case for investments in learning and better-quality education as a pathway out of poverty, and the World Bank Group has recently announced the Human Capital Project— an accelerated effort to help countries invest more, and more effectively, in their people—as a critical step to boosting inclusive economic growth and ending extreme poverty. Aspirations: When people perceive that they cannot move out of poverty, they are less likely to take the necessary steps to do so - their perceptions impede their aspirations, keeping them trapped. It is critical to incorporate behavioral insights into policies and programs, to better reach those who have been left behind in the development process. Local action: The environment a person is born into matters, alongside the social status of one’s parents. Actions at the local level, from regions down to neighborhoods, are crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty. Poorer people are likely to live in poorer areas with worse schools, crumbling infrastructure, low access to and quality of services, and higher crime, which can impact a child’s ability to learn, grow, and thrive.

 

End Poverty Day

The world is making progress toward the goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity everywhere. By focusing our resources on three areas - promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth, investing in human capital, and fostering resilience to shocks – and by measuring progress – we can get the rest of the way. End Poverty Day presents the global community with an opportunity each year to focus on our goals and to work with government and citizens, civil society, private sector and development organizations to build support for the action needed to achieve those goals.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/17/2017

 

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Population Ageing and Rising Inequality Will Hit Younger Generations Hard

 

Younger generations will face greater risks of inequality in old age than current retirees and for generations born since the 1960s, their experience of old age will change dramatically. Moreover, with family sizes falling, higher inequality over working lives and reforms that have cut pension incomes, some groups will face a high risk of poverty, according to a new OECD report. Preventing Ageing Unequally says that in 1980, there were only 20 people aged 65 and over for every 100 of working-age, on average across the OECD; by 2015 this number had risen to 28 and by 2050 is projected to almost double to reach 53. Many OECD and emerging economies are ageing much faster. At the same time, inequalities have been increasing from one generation to the next. Among people starting their working life it is now already much higher than among today’s elderly. The future elderly will be in more diverse situations: people will live longer but more will have been unemployed at some point in their working lives and earned low wages, while others will have enjoyed higher, stable earning paths.

 

Inequalities in education, health, employment and income start building up from early ages, according to the report. A 25-year old university-educated man can expect to live almost 8 years longer than his lower-educated peer, on average across countries; for women the difference is 4.6 years. At all ages, people in bad health work less and earn less. Over a career, bad health reduces lifetime earnings of low-educated men by 33%, while the loss is only 17% for highly-educated men. Low earners tend to have a lower life expectancy than high earners and this reduces further their total pensions. Raising the retirement age tends to widen inequality in total pensions between low and high earners, but the impact is small. Gender inequality in old age, however, is likely to remain substantial: annual pension payments to the over-65s today are about 27% lower for women on average, and old-age poverty is much higher among women than men. Old-age inequality issues are even more acute in emerging economies and several, including Brazil, China and India, are facing rapid ageing at a relatively early stage of development, have wider health inequalities than OECD countries and a less effective social safety net.

 

To tackle these issues, the OECD says that countries should take a life course approach focusing on three areas: Prevent inequality before it cumulates over time. Measures should include providing good quality childcare and early education, helping disadvantaged youth into work and expanding health spending on prevention to target at risk groups. Mitigate entrenched inequalities. Health services should move to a more patient-centred approach and employment services should boost efforts to help the unemployed back into work, as well as remove barriers to retain and hire older workers. Cope with inequalities at older ages. Reforms to retirement income systems cannot remove inequality among older people but can mitigate it. Well-designed first-tier pensions can limit the impact on pension benefits of socio-economic differences in life expectancy. Some countries have pension adequacy risks, especially for women. Making home care affordable and providing better support to informal carers would also help reduce inequalities in long-term care. More information, including the report and country notes are available at: http://oe.cd/pau2017

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/18/2017

 

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World Bank Treasury Hosted Its 2nd Government Debt and Risk Management Program Roundtable

 

The World Bank Treasury has successfully concluded its second Government Debt and Risk Management (GDRM) Program Roundtable. The GDRM program, sponsored by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), supports middle-income countries to improve macroeconomic and fiscal management by reducing vulnerability to financial and other shocks. 27 government debt managers representing 18 emerging market countries gathered in the World Bank Treasury building in Washington D.C. to share experiences and sound practices with fellow debt managers. The two-day roundtable, held on October 16- 17, 2017 started with welcome remarks by the World Bank Vice President and Treasurer– Arunma Oteh, and Werner Gruber, World Bank Group Executive Director followed by the keynote address, “Global Economic Outlook: Challenges and Opportunities for Emerging and Frontier Markets” by Meral Karasulu, Director of Fixed Income Research, Global Debt Team, Oppenheimer Funds. “Debt managers in emerging market economies are facing increasingly complex challenges and vulnerabilities, making effective and prudent debt management all the more macro-critical.”  said Arunma Oteh, World Bank Vice President and Treasurer.  

 

“Middle-income countries in particular, are engaging in ever more complex operations for funding and risk management. At the World Bank, we recognize our clients’ need for specialized and highly tailored support in building the required capacity,” she said highlighting one of the GDRM program’s crucial components. The Roundtable was featured discussions on a range of topics related to the theme of “NAVIGATING DEBT MARKETS”. The debt practitioners debated issues such as “Currency Choice in International Bond Markets”, “Using Cross-Currency Swaps to Manage the Cost and Risk Profile of Public Debt Portfolios”, “Innovative Financial Instruments: What is the Promise for Public Debt Managers?”, “International Settlement of Local Currency Bonds”, and “Managing Relations with Non-Resident Investors”, followed by presentations about debt management reforms under the GDRM program in Azerbaijan, Indonesia and Serbia. Later, GDRM program participants took stock of the first phase of the program, evaluated achievements and challenges in fully implementing reforms. As the program is entering its second phase in 2018, it will build on the existing and unique strengths and incorporate new elements to foster the sustainability of results. The GDRM Round table concluded with the closing remarks by Marcelo Giugale, Director, Financial Advisory and Banking, World Bank Treasury.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/19/2017

 

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ePrivacy and Digital Innovation Must Be in Balance

 

ePrivacy is crucial in the digital era we live in. Any regulation in this area needs to be pro-innovation and future-proof. The compromise package on the ePrivacy Directive presented in the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has failed to meet these requirements. This is why the EPP Group did not support the Report today. Michał Boni MEP, the EPP Group Shadow Rapporteur on the e-Privacy proposal, explained: “The confidentiality of communications is a fundamental right of EU citizens and there is no doubt that we need to protect it. However, it is equally important to acknowledge that data processing, with respect for fundamental rights and necessary safeguards, is essential for digital innovation and for the business opportunities of European companies, which provide millions of jobs throughout the EU. Data processing is in the public interest. It enables us to, for example, detect child sexual exploitation material online or prevent the spread of epidemics through identifying areas where such risks occur. Such processing cannot be conducted if the rules presented today enter into force. This is why the Report voted in committee today was not acceptable for us.”

 

“Despite differences in our positions, I appreciate the cooperation with other political partners throughout our negotiations. We all tried to compromise and find alternative common solutions. Unfortunately, it was not possible in the end. However, the negotiations on the new ePrivacy rules are not finished. We must continue to cooperate in the trilogue negotiations with the Member States. The EPP Group will continue to fight for the restoration of balance between privacy, security and innovation. European citizens should be allowed to benefit from both a high level of privacy as well as innovative products and services based on non-privacy intrusive data processing. We will work towards solutions which respect fundamental rights and which do not undermine the General Data Protection Regulation”, added Boni. The revised ePrivacy rules take account of the important technological and economic developments in the electronic communications sector in the last years. This Report, however, goes far beyond what is needed for preserving the privacy of users online. It demands stricter limitations for data processing than the recently-adopted General Data Protection Regulation. The Report not only restricts the possibility to process metadata for compatible purposes or in the legitimate interest of the provider, it also prohibits so-called tracking walls which publishers need to generate revenue through targeted advertising, while providing open access to their content. The Report also requires ‘privacy-by-default’ settings for software which will put internet browsers in the position of gatekeeper to the detriment of smaller European companies by basically disabling the usage of cookies.

From http://www.eppgroup.eu/ 10/22/2017

 

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Responding to Refugee Crises in Developing Countries

 

As the world grapples with an unprecedented refugee crisis, the OECD will present a new report examining developed country responses to forced displacement in developing countries on the sidelines of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) High-Level Meeting on 30 October at the OECD Conference Centre (2 rue André-Pascal, 75016 Paris.) Responding to Refugee Crises in Developing Countries: What Can We Learn From Evaluations? includes case studies on Afghanistan, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan. Monday’s event will be an opportunity to discuss how lessons from the past should feed into forthcoming guidance from the DAC on responding to refugee crises. Speakers include UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk; Development Assistance Committee Chair Charlotte Petri Gornitzka and OECD Director of Development Co-operation Jorge Moreira da Silva. The event is open to media. Journalists are invited to contact Juliet Lawal in the OECD Media Office (juliet.lawal@oecd.org, +33 1 45 24 13 69) to register attendance, or to request a copy of the report. Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 10/24/2017

 

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Public-Private Dialogue Enabling Women: APEC Forum

 

Despite shortcomings, the Public-Private dialogue on Women and the Economy (PPWE) has been effective in creating more opportunities for women to integrate into the economy, APEC delegates agreed yesterday. On the second day of the four-day APEC 2017 Women and Economy Forum being held in the Huế City, they discussed 11 recommendations contained in an independent assessment of the PPWE mechanism to improve its operations. Five key pillars impacting women’s economic empowerment had been identified when the PPWE was initiated including access to capital and markets, skills and capacity building, women’s leadership and agency, and innovation and technology. This year, the final report on PPEW will be presented to the bloc’s senior officials committee on economic co-operation (SCE). The delegates agreed to include gender in all APEC working groups, a document proposed by Việt Nam was approved during a late working session on Tuesday. The two main activities that are set to take place today are: Public Private Dialogue on Individual Action Plan for the Enhancement of the Ratio of Women’s Representation in Leadership; and a workshop on APEC Women Entrepreneurs in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

 

APEC awards

Japanese Rika Yajima, who manages the Aeru company, won the APEC Efficiency and Success Target Award yesterday. Expressing her happiness at receiving the award, Yajima noted that her company’s products were created by Japanese artisans “using traditional techniques blended with contemporary senses.” Two Vietnamese candidates, Nguyễn Hoàng Minh Nhật and Nguyễn Thị Mỹ Liên, also won prizes. While Minh Nhật won the highest growth potential award, Mỹ Liên was given a special prize. Nhật, 26, who manages the Minh Nhật bread brand with 20 shops in Hà Nội and HCM City, said her company employs 300 people with an average salary of VNĐ5 million. “I started the business in Hà Nội in 2014 and rapidly set up shops in the two biggest cities in Việt Nam. I plan to increase this to 100 shops in the next two years in other big cities and provinces in Việt Nam,” she said. Lê Thị Mỹ Liên, 41, from Đà Nẵng, began a company dealing in agarwood products in the central city three years ago. Her Châu Thông company earns revenues of about VNĐ10 billion (US$442,000) per year. Maria Gracia Dalgalarrando Hiritcadle of Chile won the Most Innovative Business Model award.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 09/28/2017

 

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World Bank Debars Three Entities in Relation to Misconduct Impacting an Environmental Program in the East Asia and Pacific Region

 

The World Bank Group announced the debarment of Berkman International Inc. (Berkman) for five years; the Center for Environmental Studies and Management, Inc. (CESM) for 18 months; and Mrs. Belen Gacad for 18 months. The debarments are part of two Negotiated Resolution Agreements (NRAs) relating to the same World Bank investigation. The investigation revealed that Berkman engaged in corrupt practices to influence the implementation, of World Bank-financed contracts under the Third Manila Sewerage Project and the Integrated Persistent Organic Pesticides Management Project (IPOPs), in the Philippines.  Berkman also engaged in fraudulent practices when seeking IPOPs contracts by misrepresenting its past work experience, the identity of its joint venture partner, the involvement of its subconsultant, and the identity and allocated man-hours of its project team members. CESM engaged in fraudulent practices by concealing a conflict of interest with a procurement consultant when seeking IPOPs contracts. Mrs. Gacad engaged in corrupt practices by facilitating certain of Berkman’s improper payments. Under the terms of the NRAs, Berkman, CESM, and Mrs. Gacad are required to (i) cooperate with the World Bank Integrity Vice Presidency to support its investigations, and (ii) meet the World Bank Integrity Compliance Guidelines. The debarments qualify for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions that was signed on April 9, 2010.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 10/04/2017

 

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Transportation Ministers: Reduce Emissions

 

Papua New Guinea Minister Justin Tkatchenko opened a key policy meeting of APEC Transportation Ministers by underscoring the need for greater action to improve the lives of millions of people around the Asia-Pacific. He said this is fundamental to economic growth and development. Transportation Ministers from APEC member economies convened in Port Moresby to improve connectivity and trade flows in the region. They are intent on easing integration bottlenecks to drive job creation and growth that benefits more people. “The challenges we face in the transportation sector are not just domestic, they are regional and global and require multilateral action,” said Minister Tkatchenko. “In the APEC region, the convergence of infrastructure and services will enhance our capacity and improve supply chain connectivity,” Minister Tkatchenko explained. “APEC economies represent more than half our global trade and the billions of people in our region depend on us to deliver efficient transportation systems that will provide investment, enhance business and create jobs.” Ministers considered reforms to bridge port, airport and road network gaps, and facilitate efficient, safe, secure and environmentally sustainable supply chains connecting all areas of APEC economies.

 

“Our theme focuses on advancing regional economic integration and inclusive growth,” said Papua New Guinea Transport Minister Westly Nukundj, Chair of the APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting. “Resilient and sustainable transportation connectivity is very important for our region.” “Taking advantage of digital developments, the region continues to grow and we need to focus on reducing emissions and providing a greener planet for all,” added Minister Nukundj. “We need to commit to the overarching agenda for improving connectivity and deepening regional economic integration through transportation safety and security.” Ministers are also detailing next steps in APEC to connect workers, businesses and prospective customers across borders, guided by inputs from the private sector on their fast-evolving transportation requirements. Earlier in the day, Transport Ministers held a dialogue with the private sector with a focus on increasing the efficiency of air traffic management and simultaneously reducing emissions and promoting sustainable travel through technological improvements and digitized awareness. The Ministers heard from representatives of International Air Transport Association, Air Niugini and Qantas. Papua New Guinea will host APEC in 2018.

From https://www.apec.org/ 10/09/2017

 

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CHINA: Developing Technology to Recognize People by Posture Only

 

Chinese researchers have developed new technology that can recognize people by their posture within a distance of 50 meters. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences institute of automation believe the technology determine people's identity even if they just walk randomly with their back to the camera. Huang Yongzhen, one of the researchers, said the technology could count as many as 1,000 people at an area as big as 1,000 square meters at a distance of 100 meters. The technology could be used extensively in security systems, public transportation and business venues, Huang said. China is in a world leader in posture recognition technology, according to the institute.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/02/2017

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China Leads Global Quantum Communication Development

 

After saying nihao, or hello, to his Austrian counterpart some 7,000 kilometers away, Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, completed the world's first intercontinental quantum communication in Beijing. The dialogue between Bai and Anton Zeilinger, Austrian quantum physicist and President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, on Sept. 29 could be ultra-secret if they keep it private between them. Encrypted by quantum communication technology, what they said could not be wiretapped, intercepted or cracked. Bai's greeting was first sent out through a control center in Beijing along the Beijing-Shanghai Trunk Line, the first of its kind for secure quantum telecommunication open for use the same day. The 2,000-km trunk line had been connected through a ground station to the world's first quantum satellite Micius launched by China in August last year. Micius was named after a fifth century B.C. Chinese philosopher and scientist who was credited as the first person to conduct optical experiments. During their talk, Zeilinger expressed congratulations on the achievements Chinese scientists made in quantum communication and hoped to strengthen cooperation.

 

Earlier that day, Bai had video talks with staff in Hefei, Jinan, Shanghai and Urumqi ground stations through the trunk line. Pan Jianwei, chief scientist of the trunk line, said the video call between Bai and Zeilinger involved a long distance and multiple nodes. Given that some nodes were not built by Chinese scientists, the tests showed the ground-space quantum communication network was stable, compatible and good for practical use, said Pan. Chinese businesses, including the Bank of Communications, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Alibaba, have used the quantum communication technology for information transmission. Zhu Yu, deputy head of the China Information Industry Association, expected the tests would attract more companies into the sector of quantum communication, and a brand new industrial chain would come into shape. A number of encryption communication products including quantum USB key, a protecting device for mobile payment, have been put to the market. In one or two years, China is likely to issue national standards for quantum key distribution equipment, according to sources close to the trunk line project.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/02/2017

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Chinese Scientists Make Breakthrough in Replacing WiFi with LiFi

 

Chinese scientists have made a breakthrough in creating full-color emissive carbon dots (F-CDs), which brings them one step closer to developing a faster wireless communication channel that could be available in just six years. Light Fidelity, known as LiFi, uses visible light from LED bulbs to transfer data much faster than radio wave-based WiFi. While most current research uses rare earth materials to provide the light for LiFi to transmit data, a team of Chinese scientists have created an alternative -- F-CDs, a fluorescent carbon nanomaterial that proves to be safer and faster. "Many researchers around the world are still working on this. We were the first to successfully create it using cost-effective raw materials such as urea with simple processing," said Qu Songnan, an associate researcher at Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which leads the research.

 

Qu said rare earth has a long lifespan which reduces the speed of LiFi transmission. However, F-CDs enjoy the advantage of faster data transmission speeds. In previous studies, carbon dots were limited to the emission of lights such as blue and green. The new nanomaterial that Qu's team has developed can emit all light visible to the human eye, which is a breakthrough in the field of fluorescent carbon nanomaterial. Qu said this is significant for the development of LiFi, which he expects to enter the market in just six years. A 2015 test by a Chinese government ministry showed that LiFi can reach speeds of 50 gigabytes per second, at which a movie download can be completed in just 0.3 seconds.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/03/2017

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Chinese Students Invent Environment-friendly Hydroelectric Power System

 

A group of Chinese students have invented a system to increase the electricity generation of small and medium-sized hydropower stations during dry seasons. The system is based on a variable speed, constant frequency motor for small and medium-sized hydropower plants designed by a doctoral team from Hunan University. "Traditional hydroelectric power stations have a fixed water flow requirement, which means electricity outputs drop dramatically during the dry season," said Lyu Mingsheng, one of the students. The invention fixes the current situation where power output is directly proportional to river flow, allowing small and medium-sized hydropower plants to maintain output throughout all seasons, according to Lyu. Improving generating capacity is expected to reduce the number of hydropower plants needed in the future, therefore lessening their effect on the environment. "The new technology will transform the dam construction in China, making it more environment-friendly," he said. Lyu cited official figures published in 2013 that stated China had more than 45,000 hydropower stations in rural areas, with the total installed capacity exceeding 65 million kilowatt (kW). If the new system was applied to all of these stations, the total installed capacity would be increased by 19.5 million kW, almost equivalent to the output of the Three Gorges Dam which is 22.4 millon kW, Lyu added. The core technology has received 10 national patents and several companies have signed cooperation agreements with Lyu's team.         

From http://www.news.cn/ 10/03/2017

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