January 2014, Issue 146

unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global LED Lighting Market Forecast to Benefit from Increased Government Legislation

New Export Credit Rules Will Boost Railway Development and Help Countries Achieve Greener Growth, OECD Says

ICT Priorities in the Middle East - Enterprise ICT Investment Plans to 2013

 

 

 

 

China to Stick to Policy of Food Self-Sufficiency

China Begins E-Commerce Legislation

Top Legislature Pushes for Genetic Safety Rules

CHINA: To Boost Judicial Transparency, Fairness

Xi Stresses Vitality-order Balance in Rule of Law

Maintaining Food Security Again Top Priority for China

JAPAN: Govt to Urge Municipalities to Craft Strategy for Growth

Govt Steps Up Measures for Protecting Expats

Abe Vows Renewal of Economic Focus

SOUTH KOREA: Park Lays Out 3-Year Economic Innovation Plan

 

 

 

 

MYANMAR: President Says Healthy Constitution Must Be Amended from Time to Time

Myanmar President Underlines Important Developments Achieved in 2013

PHILIPPINES: President Inks Law for Supplemental Budget for Disaster-hit Area Reconstruction

Philippine Gov't Vows to Continue Implementing Anti-poverty Programs

THAILAND: Education Ministry Reveals Technology Master Plan

VIETNAM: Taking Slow Step in Adjusting 2-children Policy - Population Expert

New Rules Govern E-Commerce Firms

Vietnam Pledges to Keep More Stable Market Prices in 2014: Official

 

 

 

 

INDIA: Policy Guidelines for Land Management by Major Ports

Scheme for Operationalization of Power System Development Fund

Guidance Handbook on Voluntary Implementation of Non-Legislative Recommendations of the FSLRC Issued

NABARD Initiates a Slew of Measures for Promoting Rural Credit and Rural Infrastructure

 

 

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: New Monetary & Financial Statements Introduced for Banks

Azerbaijan Increases Employee Rights Protection

KAZAKHSTAN: Plans to Legislatively Tighten Penalties for Smoking in Public Places

TURKMENISTAN: Law on Denationalization and Privatization of State Property Takes Effect

Law on Certification Takes Effect in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan Moves to International Accounting Standards

Turkmen Parliament Told to Tighten Control over Law Execution

President: World Countries Support Turkmenistan's Energy Security Initiatives

 

 

 

 

UNESCO Reveals Successful ICT-Pedagogy Integration Project

AUSTRALIA: Tony Abbott Urges World Leaders to Prioritise Growth and Free Trade

NEW ZEALAND: Debt, Education Focus of PM's State of Nation Speech

Paying Off Debt Is Govt's Focus - Key

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: What’s on the Agenda for Its Business in 2014?

SOLOMON ISLANDS: PM Outlines 2014 Priorities

 

 

 

 

A Citizen’s Guide to Open Government, E-Government, and Government 2.0

OECD Appoints New Directors for Economic Policy

Asia/Pacific (Excluding Japan) Government Sector 2014 Top 10 Predictions: Designing Tomorrow’s Governments

CIOs Seek to Maintain Relevance Through Service-led Transformations

 

 

CHINA: Making It Easier to Sue Government

China Fights Election Scandal to Safeguard Political System

Xi to Head Leading Group for Overall Reform

China Casts a Wider Net Against Corruption

Liu Stresses Promotion of Core Socialist Values

Top Legislator Urges Improving Congress System

Chinese Premier Vows Reform to Curb Govn't Corruption

Senior Military Official Demands CPC Loyalty

Premier Li Hears the People's Counsel

JAPAN: Local Governments’ Will, Capabilities Tested in Transfer of State Authority

Prompt Action Imperative to Reform Electoral System

Govt Embarks on English Education System Reform

Reform Diet with More Debate Among Party Leaders, Electoral System Review

Secrets Body Seen Balancing Security, Rights

SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Hire Some 4,100 Officials Next Year, the Most Since 2008

 

 

MALAYSIA: PM Urges Citizen Engagement via Social Media

PHILIPPINES: President Welcomes Positive Survey Results on Gov't Performance

The Philippines to Form IT Advisory Council for 2016 Automated Elections

The Philippines Simplifies Budget Preparation with Online System

Philippines Rolls Out More Initiatives to Combat Corruption

SINGAPORE: Attorney-General's Chambers to Expand Legal Representation Services to Statutory Boards

VIETNAM: Deputy PM Urges to Further Simplify Administrative Procedures

45 Corruption Cases Detected in Vietnam in 2013

Anti-Corruption Remains Hot Topic in Vietnam

 

 

MALDIVES: Govt in Talks to Strengthen Justice System, Says President

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Various Office Duties in Defense Ministry’s System to Be Entrusted to Civilians

EU to Support Reforms in Azerbaijan’s Pension-Insurance System

KYRGYZSTAN: Director of State Commission on Religious Affairs Changed

KAZAKHSTAN: New Head Appointed to Public-Private Partnership Centre

 

 

AUSTRALIA: 'Unsustainable' Welfare System to Be Overhauled, Says Minister

Government Excludes Age Pension from Review of 'Unsustainable' Welfare Spending

FIJI: Academic Says an Electoral Commission Is Needed to Set Up as Soon as Possible

TONGA: Challenges for MDE Government in 2014 Election Year

VANUATU: Constitutional Review Must Be Done Only Through Government

 

 

 

Post Event Report: Best Run Cities 2013

World Bank Group: New Open Data Tool Helps Countries Compare Progress on Education

Think Tanks Create Global Advisory Group That Will Review Internet Freedom, Governance

APEC Addressing Changing Growth Patterns: Bollard

 

 

CHINA: To Unveil College Enrollment Reform

China's Urbanization Rate to Hit 60% by 2018

China Abolishes Reeducation Through Labor

Xi: China to Promote Cultural Soft Power

China to Launch Nationwide Safety Overhaul

Senior CPC Official Stresses Work Style Rectification

Xi Urges Science Innovations After Lunar Probe Success

China Establishes Advanced Science Research Centers

Crackdowns Planned on Illegal Publishing, Reporting

China's State Councilor Stresses Goods Safety

China to Tighten IPO Supervision

Chinese Vice Premier Stresses Work Safety

China Launches First Mobile Operating System

More Efforts Urged to Promote 'Mass Line' Campaign

Pressure Rises on Treating China's Pollution

JAPAN: Local Govts to Check Aging Infrastructure

SOUTH KOREA: Gov’t Announces Long-term ‘Culture Technology’ R&D Plan

S. Korea's Commerce Minister Vows All-out Efforts to Create Jobs

President Emphasizes Need for Education Revolution, Creative Talent

Smart Tech Gets Spotlight at CES 2014

Park Calls for Ceaseless Efforts for Technological Innovations

Gov't Vows Stern Action on Bank Data Leaks

 

 

CAMBODIA: Conducting Live Fire Drill to Strengthen Military Capacity

Cambodia Considering Development of Expressway to Serve Growing Economy

PHILIPPINES: Customs Agency Launches Transparency Portal

The Philippines Highlights Importance of Integrated Financial Management System

Philippines Committed to Further Improving Investment Environment

The Philippines Launches Data.gov.ph

Geo-Tagging Government Projects - A Must in the Philippines

SINGAPORE: Defence Scientist Supports Cyber Security Promotion

Singapore Government Warns Public of ‘Tweet Storm’

 

 

INDIA: Steps to Up the Ante for Post-Retirement Entrepreneurs

Security for Women in Public Road Transport in the Country

10 Best Investment Options to Save Tax

Abolishing Income-tax Feasible, More Research Needed: Experts

Use of Digital Tools Enriching Our Democracy: PM

Efforts Being Made to Set-up a National Offshore Wind Energy Agency

Innovation Hub at National Science Centre, Delhi Launched

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Success Led to Growth of Its Influence on International Arena

KAZAKHSTAN: Changing Procedure for Issuing Work Permits to Labor Migrants

President: Kazakhstan Intends to Conduct Active Exploration Operations Through World Companies

 

 

Post Event Report: Best Run Cities 2013

AUSTRALIA: Labor Calls for Unity on Bullying

Federal Police to Trial Data Filtering Technology

Understanding and Extracting Value from Govt Data

Govt Helping the ACCC, Billson Says

NEW ZEALAND: R&D Help Key for Growing Business - Survey

New Zealand Education Ministry Reveals Progress of Managed Network

 

 

 

World Oil Demand to Grow in 2014: OPEC

Gartner: Global IT Spending Will Grow Slightly in 2014

The World Braces for Retirement

Global Airport IT Market 2012-2016

OECD Broadband Statistics Update

Global Economy at Turning Point, Says World Bank

Global IT Security Spending Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2016

10 IT Outsourcing Trends to Watch in 2014

APEC Predicts Economic Slowdown

Asia to Lead World Economies amid Challenges - ADB

18 Startups in Asia That Caught Our Eye

Asia Foundation Anniversary Highlights Critical Issues Facing Asia: Poverty, Inequality, Dysfunctional Governance, and Violent Conflict

Asia/Pacific Mobile Context Services and the Impact on Mobile Network Infrastructure

 

 

CHINA: Guarantees Subsistence to the Poor

China to Complete Land-Use Right Registration in 5 Years

China to Deepen, Broaden Economic Diplomacy

Economic Reform Faster Than Expected

Chinese Economy to Maintain Stable Growth in 2014

Gov't to Ensure Migrant Workers' Wages

China's Urbanization to Get More Human Touch

China's 2013 Service Trade to Reach New High

Local GDP Growth to Slow in 2014

China's GDP Up 7.7% in 2013

JAPAN: 44% Use Smartphones, 41% Don’t Want to

Cloud Computing to Be Used in Schools from FY14

Interpol Cybercrime Office Taps Japanese

Japanese Smartphones Making Headway Overseas

Cybersecurity to Include Oil, Credit Cards

Govt to OK New Japan Post Insurance

SOUTH KOREA: Telemedicine Brings Health Care to Remote Communities

Gov’t Offers Athletics Vouchers to Low-income Families

Newcomers to Lead Electronics Market in 2014: Report

Grab Useful Data at Public Data Portal

Park Makes Pitch for Greater IT Cooperation with India

Ad Spending by IT Firms Surges in 2013: Data

No. of Public Libraries to Increase to 1,100 in Five Years

 

 

Southeast Asia Startup Investments 2013: It’s All About E-Commerce, Fashion, and Women

Myanmar, UN Vow to Work for Social Security

INDONESIA: Ending 2013 with 71.2 Mln Internet Users

MYANMAR: President Stresses Efforts to Achieve Long-lasting Peace

Myanmar Pledges to Ensure Child's Rights

PHILIPPINES: New Real-time Traffic Control System for Metro Manila

Philippines Pledges to Join Global Efforts in Curbing Cyber Sex

Digital Maps of Land Resources Launched in the Philippines

The Philippines to Roll Out E-Purchase Card System

SINGAPORE: Gov't to Build More Childcare Centers

Self-Tracking of Personal Health Information Gains Ground in Singapore

Singapore to Lead the World in Analytics

Cyber Intelligence Centre Opened in Singapore

VIETNAM: A Major ICT Spender in 2014

Ministry Eyes 1.6m New Jobs in 2014

PM Urges Tra Vinh to Prioritise Weak Transportation Infrastructure

PM Calls on Kon Tum to Alleviate Poverty

More Vietnamese Cities Roll Out Free Wifi

Vietnamese Province Announces Annual ICT Index Results

 

 

BANGLADESH: GDP Growth to Slow Down to 5.7pc - WB

INDIA: E-Insurance to Come into Existence from Next Year

Indian IT Service Sector Gears Up for 2014

NABARD to Promote Rural Credit Through Slew of New Measures

India and South Korea Sign MoU for Mutual Recognition of Digital Signature Certificates for Efficient E-Governance/ Cross Border Trade Facilitation

Railways Launches Online Booking of Retiring Rooms

Visible Improvement in School Infrastructure Since Implementation of RTE Act, 2009

PAKISTAN: Import of Telecom Equipment Witnesses US$ 36mn Decline

Pakistan Has Many ’Positives’ to Achieve Rapid Growth: WB

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Starts to Study Virtual Employment

Azerbaijan Launches Registration of IMEI-Codes via Electronic Signatures

Azericard Offers SMS Information Service When Roaming

Number of Mobile E-Signature Owners in Azerbaijan Increases

Suspension of Foreign TV Channels’ Broadcasting in Azerbaijan Clarified

Azerbaijan Launches E-Accounting Pilot Project for Municipal Taxes

Minister: All of Azerbaijan to Be Provided with Broadband Internet Access by 2018

Azerbaijani Mobile Operator Announces New Campaign for Its Subscribers

Baku Metro to Be Provided with Corporate Mobile Communication

Trade Office Head: Improving Azerbaijan’s Economic Freedom Index Testifies to Reliability of Country as Business Partner

Azerbaijan Increases Electricity Export by Almost Quarter in 2013

Azerbaijan to Study Israel’s Experience in Information Security

Large-Scale Projects Contribute to Azerbaijan’s Economy: Minister

IRAN: Economic Recovery - Tehran Looking for New Allies

KAZAKHSTAN: Plans to Provide Employment for Disabled People in Field of Tourism

TURKMENISTAN: Increasing Salaries, Pensions and Scholarships by 10 Percent

Beyond ‘WWW’: Life Without Internet Exists

UZBEKISTAN: Increase in Mobile Operator Subscriber Fees

 

 

AUSTRALIA: Government Launches Emergency Smartphone App

New Phone Reforms Reducing Complaints, More Improvements to Come

NEW ZEALAND: Health’s Success with New GP Electronic System

New Zealand’s Govt-Wide Information Management Service

New Zealand on Track to Complete Immigration Management System

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Economic Growth a Priority - PM

TONGA: Online Money Transfer Service Removes Its Transaction Fees

 

 

 

Tax Revenues Bounce Back in Most Countries

For Asia, 2014 Looks Like a Year of Higher Interest Rates

Asia Will Drive Global Recovery, Asian Financial Forum

Asia: From a Market of Millions to Millions of Markets

ADB Prices $1.5 Billion 5-Year Global Bond Issue

 

 

CHINA: Local Government Financing Should Be Standardized

China Boosts Pensions for Corporate Retirees

Gov't Spends More on Public Culture

China Invests 2.6 Bln USD to Protect Major Riverheads

JAPAN: IMF Exec ‘Sees Upward Revision in Growth’

Consumption Tax Hike Must Support Stable Social Security

BOJ Continues Its Record Monetary Easing Policy

BOJ Shouldn't Ease More While Inflation Hopes Intact

SOUTH KOREA: President Says 2014 Will See Great Economic Growth

Gov't Debt Rising at Worrisome Pace

Korea's Social Security Spending Lowest Among OECD Members

S. Korea's ICT Exports, Trade Surplus Reach Record Highs in 2013

 

 

INDONESIA: Gearing Up for Subsidy Reform

CAMBODIA: Collecting Tax of 881 Million USD in 2013

MALAYSIA: To Cut National Expenditure with ICT

THAILAND: Education Ministry to Invest in New Information Management System

Govt Plans to Seek Bt130 Billion to Pay Angry Farmers

VIETNAM: Central Bank Urges Banks to Assist Companies in Difficulties

 

 

India: Forex Reserves Drop by $12.6 Mn

As Fiscal Deficit Target in India Turns Hard-to-handle, Govt Orders Banks to Pay Interim Dividend

PPPAC Recommends PPP Projects Worth Rs. 7595.19 Crores; EC Approves VGF of Rs. 1280.65 Crores for PPP Projects

SRI LANKA: Measures to Bring Coins Stagnated Overseas

PAKISTAN: Increasing the Tax Loop

President Urges WB to Finance Pakistan’s Energy, Water Projects

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: ADB Ready to Expand Cooperation with Banks

WB to Assess Prospects of New Project in Azerbaijan

 

 

AUSTRALIA: Foreign Aid Funding Cut by $95 Million

Australian Customs Invests US$13mil in New Technology

NEW ZEALAND: Govt Grants Worth $140m Awarded to 31 Tech Firms

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: K100m Telecom Push

TONGA: World Bank to Help It

 

 

Global ICT Market in the Education Sector 2014-2018 New Research Report Available at ReportsnReports.com

ICT Budget and Staffing Trends in Retail Banking - Enterprise ICT Investment Plans

Business Strategy: The Public-Private Divide in Asia/Pacific (Excluding Japan) Healthcare

Finally, an Accelerator Just for Enterprise Startups in Asia

Implementation of Power Sector Reforms Essential to Drive Investments in 2014, Says Frost & Sullivan

 

 

CHINA: To Hold Annual Trade Fair for Aging Industry

Private Firms Granted Telecom Licenses

JAPAN: Innovative Midsize Firms Prospering

Survey: Firm Heads Positive on Economy

Government, Private Sector to Jointly Develop Technology to Probe Seafloor

Take Firm Measures to Avoid Severe Downturn After Consumption Tax Hike

SOUTH KOREA: Public Entities Not to Take Responsibility for Losses from Debt-reduction Efforts

SK Telecom to Launch World's First 3Band LTE-A Service

 

 

INDONESIA: Govt to Phase in Increases in Electricity Tariffs for Industry

MYANMAR: To Allow Foreign Banks to Operate This Year

SINGAPORE: More Private Buses to Support Peak Period Feeder Services

VIETNAM: SMEs Need Stronger Legal Skills

 

 

India and Japan Enter into Memorandum in the Field of Tourism

SRI LANKA: Food and Beverages Industry Will See Tremendous Growth in Next Few Years

 

 

Azerbaijani Private Sector Is Preparing Projects on Development of Ecologically Sound Agriculture

TURKMENISTAN: Private Sector’s Contribution to Industrial Development Increasing

Turkmenistan to Begin Privatisation of State Property in July

 

 

AUSTRALIA: Tony Shepherd, Head of Commission of Audit, Won't Rule Out Privatising Key Assets

NEW ZEALAND: Digital Highway Is a Key Route to Small Business Revenue Growth

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: PM Wants State Businesses to Help Cut Costs

 

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Global LED Lighting Market Forecast to Benefit from Increased Government Legislation

 

The world LED lighting market is driven primarily by government regulations and policies towards the use of energy efficient lighting. Over the same time period, the world LED lighting market has also experienced declining lighting product prices. Growth in the sectors such as residential, outdoor and industrial are forecast to drive revenue growth in the total LED market during the period 2012 to 2017. On a global scale, it is forecast that Gu10 60W equivalent LED lamps prices will decline and this price is also expected to be reported across all of the LED light products. The global LED market is expected to see a surplus of LED products and this over supply is forecast to drive prices downwards.

 

The development of alternative technologies and high initial investment required to install LED lighting is expected to represent the key challenges faced by companies operating in the global LED market. By raising awareness of LED lighting within the residential market as well as focusing on the provision of financing projects, leasing and maintenance of lighting solutions within the professional lighting market will enable companies offering LED lighting tackle these challenges. The LED market is also expected to benefit from the high level consciousness towards energy efficiency and increased activity within the outdoor activities and the application of LED lighting outdoors. LED lighting is more energy efficient than more traditional lighting and the costs to energy usage is also forecast to drive the increased market revenues globally. The LED market is expected to develop further by targeting the functionality of these lights to affect moods for end users by allowing colour control and light management systems to be implemented. In addition, companies offering LED lighting solutions are expected to offer financing, leasing and maintenance lighting solutions to help corporations and clients to overcome the high initial investment required to install these types of lights. In order to complete projects successfully, companies offering LED lighting solutions will have to focus more on providing expertise, consultations and also maintenance solutions to end users.

 

Within the world LED market, the top three companies operating in the sector dominate sales within the tier 1 structure. Standardisation of LED products will be the launch pad to commoditize solid state lighting (SSL) in the mass consumer market (residential segment). In addition, Asia Pacific is expected to maintain their dominant market share of the global LED lighting market over the next few years as a result of the continued investment in infrastructure projects. In addition, it is expected that large-scale construction projects in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries will also drive growth in LED lighting and the adoption of SSL over the next few years. Companies operating the world LED market are investing more money in research and development although corporations' marketing expenditure is forecast to remain stable. The financial turbulence and Europe's debt crisis has had a negative impact on the global lighting market although it is the increased regulation being implemented globally which is fuelling the increased penetration of more energy-efficient lighting solutions. LEDs are therefore benefiting from the implementation of this new legislation. China has recently passed new legislation which bans incandescent light bulbs which has reinforced this trend. The percentage of LED lighting of the total lighting market is forecast to total 70% by 2020 as LED lights take preference over more traditional lighting options.

From http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/ 01/06/2014

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New Export Credit Rules Will Boost Railway Development and Help Countries Achieve Greener Growth, OECD Says

 

New international rules on state financing of rail exports will boost the development of cleaner transportation infrastructure and help countries meet green growth objectives, the OECD said. The new Sector Understanding on Export Credits for Rail Infrastructure adapts the OECD’s widely-accepted rules on export credits to the sector-specific financing conditions of new railway infrastructure projects. The innovative and unique new framework is designed to meet the variable needs of public authorities and exporters, in both advanced and emerging economies, while helping promote the use of rail as a viable alternative to road and air transportation, in the context of energy scarcity, fuel prices and climate change. The Rail Sector Understanding (RSU) lengthens repayment periods for contracts involving an overall value of more than SDR 10 million ($15.3 million). Terms provide for repayment up to 12 years for transactions in High-Income OECD countries, subject to conditions aimed at complementing the private sector, and of up to 14 years for transactions in all other countries.

 

The RSU is applicable to export contracts for essential rail infrastructure assets, including rail control, electrification, tracks, rolling stock, and related construction and engineering work. “Offering wider terms for the use of export credits in the rail sector will contribute to the creation of new railway projects, as well as the rehabilitation of existing rail infrastructure, which will reduce road traffic congestion and related carbon emissions and help countries achieve their sustainable growth objectives,” said David Drysdale, head of the OECD export credit division. The new Rail Sector Understanding took effect on 1 January 2014, for a four-year trial period. Its terms are applicable to an estimated accessible market - projects not reserved exclusively for domestic suppliers – expected to top $120 billion annually over the 2015-17 period.

 

The OECD is at the centre of multilateral efforts to harmonize state financing of exports. The Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits, which came into force in 1978, plays an important role in the multilateral trading system. It helps ensure that both OECD and non-OECD exporters compete on the price and quality of their goods and services, not on the support received from governments. The OECD export credit rules serve as a benchmark for governments, industry and the financial sector, and are embedded into WTO subsidy rules. The Participants to the Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits are: Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the United States. Beyond the new Rail Sector Understanding, sector-specific export credit rules also exist for aviation, climate change projects, nuclear power plants and shipbuilding.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 01/09/2014

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ICT Priorities in the Middle East - Enterprise ICT Investment Plans to 2013

 

Product Synopsis

This report presents the findings from a survey of 137 Middle Eastern enterprises regarding their Information and Communication Technology (ICT) investment priorities. The survey investigates the core technologies which Middle Eastern enterprises are investing in, including the likes of enterprise applications, security, mobility, communications and collaboration, and Cloud Computing.

 

Introduction and Landscape

Why was the report written?

In order to provide deeper insights into Middle Eastern enterprises' ICT investment priorities and strategic objectives.

What is the current market landscape and what is changing?

Enterprises in the Middle East are witnessing a relatively low adoption of cloud computing solutions. The demand for these solutions is expected to increase, with significant portion of respondents planning to invest here through to the end of 2014.

What are the key drivers behind recent market changes?

Organizations across the Middle East have gradually started to adopt cloud computing in an effort to minimise costs and reduce burden of IT management.

What makes this report unique and essential to read?

Kable Global ICT Intelligence has invested significant resources in order to interview CIOs and IT managers about their IT investment priorities. Very few IT analyst houses will have interviewed 130+ ICT decision makers in the Middle East market in 2012.

 

Key Features and Benefits

Recognize Middle Eastern enterprises' strategic objectives with regards to their ICT investments. Identify Middle Eastern enterprises' investment priorities based on their budget allocations across core technology categories such as enterprise applications, security, mobility, communications and collaboration, and Cloud Computing, etc. Learn about the drivers that are influencing Middle Eastern enterprises' investments in each technology category. Establish how Middle Eastern enterprises' IT budgets are currently allocated across various segments within a technology category. Gain insight into how Middle Eastern enterprises plan to change their IT budget allocations across various segments within a technology category.

 

Key Market Issues

Enterprises in the Middle East are increasing their focus on strengthening their security infrastructure after facing a series of high profile attacks on various high profile multinational firms. The survey shows that with the increasing complexity of ICT infrastructure, a large proportion of Middle Eastern enterprises are favouring investments in IT systems management in the next two years. E-mail archiving is the most widely used content management technology in the Middle East, primarily driven by enterprises' need to meet compliance regulations. The exponential growth in data generation and the increasing need of companies to make decisions based on actionable insights is driving the demand for data warehousing/marts and data analytics. Kable believes that as enterprises continuously look to reduce their impact on environment and minimise IT infrastructure and energy costs, the demand for green IT technologies is expected to grow in the coming months.

 

Key Highlights

With the increasing adoption of applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) and supply chain management (SCM), 91% of enterprises are favouring investments in enterprise applications in the next two years. The demand for virtualization technologies is expected to rise with 51%, 48%, 46%, and 41% of enterprises planning to invest in server, network, desktop, and storage virtualization respectively through to the end of 2014. Mobility is slowly gaining acceptance in the Middle Eastern enterprise market, as 74% of enterprises are currently using this technology, and 85% are planning to invest in this area in the next two years. The survey shows that with the increasing need of enterprises to reduce travel and operational costs and connect with employees/clients who are geographically dispersed, 69% of Middle Eastern enterprises are planning investments in web/video conferencing systems in the next two years.

 

The survey shows that enterprises' investments in private cloud and hybrid cloud are relatively low. Nevertheless, investments in these areas are expected to grow as 62% and 60% of enterprises are planning to invest in them respectively in the next twenty-four months.

1 Enterprise ICT investment trends

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Survey demographics

1.3 ICT budget changes

1.4 Strategic objectives

1.5 Core technology investment priorities

2 Detailed ICT investment priorities

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Enterprise applications

2.3 Business intelligence

2.4 Security

2.5 Content management

2.6 Mobility

2.7 IT systems management

2.8 Communications and collaboration

2.9 Green IT and virtualization

2.1 Cloud computing solutions

3 Summary

3.1 Middle Eastern enterprises are planning to increase their spending on advanced technologies such as mobility and cloud computing

4 Appendix

4.1 Definitions

4.2 Further reading

4.3 Contact the authors

List of Tables

 

Table 1: Middle Eastern enterprise ICT survey geographical breakdown

Table 2: Middle Eastern enterprise ICT survey industry breakdown

Table 3: Middle Eastern enterprise ICT survey breakdown by size band (number of employees)

Table 4: Recent and expected ICT budget changes among Middle Eastern enterprises

Table 5: Current strategic objectives of Middle Eastern enterprises

Table 6: Current and future investment priorities of Middle Eastern enterprises across core technologies

Table 7: Enterprise applications - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Table 8: Business intelligence - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Table 9: Security - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Table 10: Content management - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Table 11: Mobility - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Table 12: IT systems management - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Table 13: Communications and collaboration - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Table 14: Green IT and virtualization - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Table 15: Cloud computing solutions - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

List of Figures

 

Figure 1: Middle Eastern enterprise ICT survey geographical breakdown

Figure 2: Middle Eastern enterprise ICT survey industry breakdown

Figure 3: Middle Eastern enterprise ICT survey breakdown by size band (number of employees)

Figure 4: Recent and expected ICT budget changes among Middle Eastern enterprises

Figure 5: Current strategic objectives of Middle Eastern enterprises

Figure 6: Current and future investment priorities of Middle Eastern enterprises across core technologies

Figure 7: Enterprise applications - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Figure 8: Business intelligence - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Figure 9: Security - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Figure 10: Content management - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Figure 11: Mobility - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Figure 12: IT systems management - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Figure 13: Communications and collaboration - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Figure 14: Green IT and virtualization - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

Figure 15: Cloud computing solutions - Middle Eastern enterprises' current and future investment priorities

From http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/ 12/31/2013

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China to Stick to Policy of Food Self-Sufficiency

 

China will stick with policies to maintain food self-sufficiency and protect farmland from urban encroachment while pledging to deepen its reforms in rural areas.A meeting of the Party attended by President Xi Jinping said China will continue to ensure that at least 120 million hectares of rural land would be reserved for agricultural use, a policy known as the “red line.”Prominent researchers and economists had called on the government to abandon the “red line” and have also said it should relax its long-standing self-sufficiency target of 95 percent and make better use of global markets. While the report did not mention the 95 percent figure, it said self-supply would remain the key to China’s efforts to “seize the initiative on food security.”

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/25/2013

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China Begins E-Commerce Legislation

 

China started a two-and-a-half-year process of drafting a comprehensive e-commerce law on Friday as its e-commerce market expands at full speed.A drafting group for the legislation was set up on Friday during a meeting by the Financial and Economic Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC)."Booming e-commerce has become a growth point for national economic development and a focal point for adjusting its structure," said Lyu Zushan, head of the drafting group."As a result, it is in urgent need to tease out, replenish, revise and improve existing laws and regulations," he said, adding that a comprehensive law could promote sustainable and healthy development of e-commerce.According to a preliminary timetable set at Friday's meeting, the drafting group will embark on research of the subject and submit a report by the end of 2014, and actual drafting of the law should be completed by June 2016.The transaction value of China's e-commerce industry reached about 8 trillion yuan (about 1.32 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2012, up 30.8 percent year on year.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/27/2013

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Top Legislature Pushes for Genetic Safety Rules

 

China's top legislature Saturday suggested that the State Council, China's cabinet, research legislation on genetic resource management and safety.A total of 30 national lawmakers filed a motion on drafting a law on genetic resources at the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in March this year.The NPC Environment and Resources Protection Committee reviewed the motion and passed it over to the State Council, urging the cabinet to carefully consider their ideas and initiate research to draft the law, said a report passed by the NPC Standing Committee at its bimonthly session.Lawmakers argued in the motion that China has very rich genetic resources but legislation clearly lags behind technological development.Currently, the Ministry of Agriculture has a regulation on biological safety of genetic modified farm produce.

 

The Ministry of Science and Technology is drafting a regulation on human genetic resources while the State Forestry Administration is working on a regulation on genetically modified plants.China will need a law protecting and exploiting genetic resources as well as safeguarding genetic safety, the motion held.At the March session, lawmakers handed in several bills on amending the 1987 law on air pollution, which has already been revised twice in 1995 and 2000.The NPC Standing Committee has listed it in its legislation plan. It will speed up the drafting procedure and lawmakers' proposals have been incorporated into a draft prepared by the Environmental Protection Ministry, the report said.Another focus for amendment was the law on protection of wild animals. A total of 130 lawmakers submitted four bills about its revision in March.The NPC Standing Committee agreed that the 1988 law needs amending to meet new issues and it has been preparing for the drafting, according to the report.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/29/2013

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CHINA: To Boost Judicial Transparency, Fairness

 

China's courts at various levels are required to impose standardized penalty measurement from Jan. 1, 2014, the latest boost to judicial transparency and fairness, the Supreme People's Court (SPC) said Tuesday.The SPC has previously issued two specific circulars on the standardized penalties in local courts, asking them to to accurately determine criminal responsibilities that defendants should bear, according to a guideline from the SPC.Penalty measurement refers to discretion as to whether defendants should be sentenced to punishment below or above the norm.The guideline specifies procedures assessing penalties for 15 crimes including intentional injury, robbery and rape.It also asked the courts to combining punishment with leniency, stating that violent and drug crimes should be heavily punished based on benchmark sentences, while leniency should be showed to those involved in less serious crimes.Standardized penalty measurement has been trialed since 2008 and the overall effect proved to be positive, the SPC said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/01/2014

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Xi Stresses Vitality-order Balance in Rule of Law

 

President Xi Jinping has called for a greater role for the Communist Party of China (CPC) in guiding the country's political and legal affairs, urging a balance between "vitality and order."Xi made the comments during a central political and legal work meeting held from Tuesday to Wednesday."The Party should lead legislation, ensure law enforcement and set an example in abiding by the law," Xi said, adding that political and legal work should be conducted with an aim to safeguard Party policies and the authority of the law.According to Xi, ensuring social stability is the basic task of the country's political and legal work, and promoting social justice and equality its core value."People's demands for their lawful interests must be properly handled; policies with a crucial impact on protecting people's interests must be improved; The position of the law in solving conflicts should be strengthened," said Xi.

 

The president stressed that relations between stability and people's interests as well as those between vitality and order must be well managed.Xi ordered officials in the political and legal system to "carry the sword of justice and scale of equality" and take pragmatic actions to safeguard social justice and equality while solving prominent issues that harm people's interests.Xi insisted that power abuse, wrongful judgments, ordinary people unable to afford to go to court, and police not responding to emergencies should not be allowed to happen.Officials in the political and legal system should take public concerns seriously, protect the people's life and property, and crack down on serious criminal offences to ensure that the people live and work in peace and contentment, Xi said.

 

All officials in the legal and political system should enforce laws impartially, promote transparency in their work, and be open to public supervision in order to eliminate judicial corruption, Xi noted, adding that any violations will be punished harshly."Officials at all levels are forbidden to overstep the limitations of laws, to abuse their power, or to bend the law for personal gain," Xi said.He also urged the establishment of systems to record, report and hold officials responsible for any interference in the judicial process.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/09/2014

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Maintaining Food Security Again Top Priority for China

 

China's top policy priorities for 2014 will be improving the rural environment and maintaining food security, according to a key policy document issued yesterday.The "No. 1 document," issued every January by the Party's Central Committee and the State Council, has focused on rural matters every year since 2004.This year's document also focuses on the development of "modern agriculture" and lays out improvements in the way the countryside is governed."Rural reform and development are confronted with a more complicated environment and an increasing number of difficulties and challenges, as the country is going through a period of transformation," the document says.China's rapid marches toward industrialization, urbanization and information-based development are imposing pressing requirements on the development of modern agriculture, it says.

 

China has acknowledged that industrial contamination of water and soil, together with the overuse of pesticides and fertilizer, has caused severe environmental problems in the countryside.The fight against rural pollution is part of China's efforts to ensure it has enough farmland, water and rural labour to feed a growing urban population without having to turn to overseas markets.The policy document says China will seek to resolve environmental constraints such as water shortages.Around 3.33 million hectares of farmland is now too polluted to grow crops, the government said at the end of last year.Rejuvenating contaminated land will help China ensure that at least 120 million hectares of land is reserved for farming, a policy known as the "red line."Improving food security is top of the reform list for 2014 and the next few years.

 

"Taking good control of its own bowl is a fundamental principle the government must stick to over a long period of time," the document says.China should spare no efforts in promoting domestic grain production, strictly observing the red line for its arable land and constantly raising the country's agricultural production capacity, it says.China has been striving to maintain food self-sufficiency, or rely mainly on domestic grain supply. The government has set a minimum line of 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of arable land to ensure food security.China's arable land totaled 2.03 billion mu at the end of 2012, slightly higher than the minimum line, according to the results from a survey released in December.However, the actual available arable land was just slightly above the line after deducting land for forest and pasture restoration or polluted land.

 

While relying mainly on domestic grain production, the country will make good use of the international markets for agricultural products as a complement to domestic supply, the document says.Large and medium-sized commercial banks should ensure a presence in counties and extend their networks to townships, the document says. Banks should also reinforce their capability of providing services to rural areas.China will improve the mechanisms for coordinating urban and rural development by improving the rural living environment, providing equal basic public services in urban and rural areas and speeding up reform of its household registration system to help rural migrant population become urban residents.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/20/2014

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JAPAN: Govt to Urge Municipalities to Craft Strategy for Growth

 

To revitalize regional economies, the government has decided to encourage municipalities to jointly formulate regional growth strategies, government sources said. Key regional cities will be tasked with establishing what the government is temporarily calling industrial competitiveness councils. Working jointly with neighboring cities, towns and villages, as well as universities, financial institutions and other companies, these councils will be in charge of promoting tourism, expanding sales channels for agricultural and marine products, and developing and manufacturing new industrial products. From among the 61 cities in Japan with a population of 200,000 or more, the government will first designate some as “regional core cities.” Some of these core cities will start model projects from fiscal 2014 and more core cities will implement their projects in a full-fledged manner from fiscal 2015. Municipalities that will participate in the regional growth strategy scheme will be given extra tax allocations from the central government.

 

Though the nation’s economy has been improving thanks to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policy, the central government’s pressing task is to steadily spread the favorable effects of the policy to regional areas. Tokyo and other prefectural governments currently play a central role in promoting regional economies, such as through tourism. However, a central government official said, “It is difficult to produce favorable effects because funds are allocated thinly and widely across a prefecture.” Therefore, the central government has decided to make cities, towns and villages play a major role in promoting their regional economies. The regional core cities will conclude tentatively called cooperation agreements with neighboring cities, towns and villages, and establish industrial competitiveness councils that will comprise officials from local companies and universities to jointly draw up a regional growth strategy, according to the sources.

 

In many cases, there are universities and research institutions in core cities that will be able to supply a variety of human resources from home and abroad to provide a foundation suitable for carrying out many tasks with municipalities. The growth strategy will incorporate measures to revitalize the regional economy for the next several years. The government plans to conduct model projects in some areas in fiscal 2014 and provide research expenses for municipalities to participate. In fiscal 2015, the projects will be expanded to about 20 areas and the government will provide municipalities with hundreds of millions of yen a year in extra tax allocations. Cooperation between municipalities to revitalize regional economies has already been seen in some areas. For example, the Fukuoka municipal government invites exhibitions and trade shows to conference halls in the city and guides visitors to restaurants and hotels in neighboring areas. The Hamamatsu municipal government is developing advanced medical devices jointly with small and midsize enterprises and universities in neighboring cities and towns. The government aims to promote these kinds of movements to other parts of the country and plans to submit to the ordinary Diet session to be convened later this month a bill to revise the Local Government Law.

From http://the-japan-news.com 01/12/2014

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Govt Steps Up Measures for Protecting Expats

 

One year has passed since the Algerian hostage crisis that claimed the lives of 10 Japanese people, and in that time the Japanese government has taken significant steps to protect the lives of its citizens overseas, including the establishment of the National Security Council. Since the crisis occurred on Jan. 16 last year, the government has been working to strengthen its system for securing the safety of expatriates. Modeled after its U.S. counterpart, the NSC is the command center for the government’s diplomacy and security policy. “To continue efficiently protecting the lives and safety of Japanese nationals, the government will work together as a whole to do everything it can to ensure the nation’s crisis management capability,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference Thursday. As the relevant ministries and agencies had difficulty sharing information during the Algerian crisis, the government has made it mandatory for each ministry and agency to offer information to the NSC in an effort to consolidate facts.

 

The government has also strengthened exchanges with sections dealing with information on terrorists and public safety in Britain and other countries. Shotaro Yachi, secretary general of the National Security Secretariat under the NSC, on Friday began a visit to six countries, including the United States and Britain, and is scheduled to hold talks with his counterparts there. To strengthen its intelligence gathering in Africa, the government will increase the number of countries there where defense attaches are stationed at Japanese diplomatic establishments. Defense attaches are currently stationed in only two countries in Africa—the Japanese embassies in Egypt and Sudan—but this number will be raised to seven countries on the continent in fiscal 2014. Also, the Self-Defense Forces Law has been revised to allow the SDF to provide ground transport for Japanese people living in foreign countries who become involved in dangerous incidents. The government has further formed a team for overseas emergency deployment, consisting of officials from such entities as the Foreign Ministry and the National Police Agency who are ready for immediate dispatch to any place where an incident has occurred that involves Japanese nationals or Japanese companies. The government is also holding seminars for companies operating in foreign countries and for those that plan to do so.

From http://the-japan-news.com 01/18/2014

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Abe Vows Renewal of Economic Focus

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that his administration will continue to prioritize the nation’s economic reconstruction. Abe spoke at a regular convention of his Liberal Democratic Party, saying that his government seeks to bring economic recovery to the whole of Japan and has to “ensure a positive economic cycle.” The prime minister said that he is aiming for approval of both a supplementary budget for fiscal 2013 and the primary budget for fiscal 2014, which begins April 1, during the ordinary Diet session to be convened on Friday. Regarding the consumption tax hike planned for April, Abe said Japan should not miss an opportunity to overcome deflation and stressed efforts not to let the economy get off the recovery track. In his speech, Abe also urged the ruling party to unite in support of former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe in the Tokyo gubernatorial election on Feb. 9. He further committed to making every effort to bring success for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The party adopted a 2014 action plan calling for the firm implementation of the Abe administration’s growth strategy, the passage of constitutional amendments and efforts to win unified local elections next year. Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of New Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, joined the convention as a guest.

From http://the-japan-news.com 01/19/2014

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SOUTH KOREA: Park Lays Out 3-Year Economic Innovation Plan

 

The second year of President Park Geun-hye's government will focus on laying the groundwork for innovation and improvement of the overall economic conditions that can be palpable to the people. To that end, President Park said during a news conference marking the new year that she will launch and successfully carry out the so-called three-year economic innovation plan this year and open the "era of people's happiness."  "In order for people to feel the actual achievement, we will establish the three-year economic plan for innovating and making another leap in our economy," Park told reporters.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 01/06/2014

 

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MYANMAR: President Says Healthy Constitution Must Be Amended from Time to Time

 

Myanmar President U Thein Sein on Thursday expressed his believe that healthy constitution must be amended from time to time to address national, economic, social needs of society. Thein Sein gave the speech in his regular monthly address to the nation aired through state radio. He underlined that political dialogue, essential for national reconciliation and the foundation of the national peace process may require the amending or revision of the Constitution. "Amending the provision on the qualification of the political leadership of the country, I would not want restrictions being imposed on the right of any citizen to become the leader of the country," he pointed out. In this regard, he said, the amending of the Constitution will be undertaken to facilitate national reconciliation, the foundation of the national peace process, through consensus based on mutual understanding, and listening to each other's demands. He continued to say that a discussion about constitutional amendment issues and other related issues, which would have been impossible before, is now openly discussed and debated among the public.

 

Showing the level of political maturity in the country, the country's main political group, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and other political parties have also actively organized forums and meetings to discuss constitutional amendments, he said. He called for working towards increasing political vibrancy by improving participation and citizens' political rights. He specially pointed out that the reform process is stronger, adding that an achievement of the reforms was the much-anticipated and grand hosting of the 27th Southeast Asian Games in December. He strongly believed that the support from citizens living both inside and outside the country provided a driving force for medals. In 2014, Myanmar will take over the important responsibility of chairing the regional group ASEAN, ensuring success of our chairmanship of ASEAN through the joint efforts of our people, he added. So far, with the aim of national reconciliation, together with the hard work of the political prisoner Review Committee, and in keeping with his promise, U Thein Sein has freed all political prisoners by the end of last year.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/02/2014

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Myanmar President Underlines Important Developments Achieved in 2013

 

Myanmar achieved some important developments in 2013 with a new political culture emerging within Myanmar society where different political groups avoided direct confrontation and instead overcame challenges through negotiation and dialogue, said President U Thein Sein in his new year speech to the nation on Thursday. U Thein Sein described the country's reform process as stronger, attributing the achievement to the governments' working collaboratively on various issues. One of the achievements he pointed out was the grand hosting of the 27th South-East Asian Games in December, the first successful regional games hosted on Myanmar soil in 44 years. On political changes domestically, he said political groups within a short time have been able to participate in a meaningful manner in a political system created by the 2008 Constitution. He called for working towards increasing political vibrancy by improving participation and citizens' political rights.

 

Over the past year, political groups were seen organizing constitutional amendment activities. A parliamentary Committee to Study and Amend the Constitution was canvassing for comments from the public and various organizations. The army has also submitted its proposals and comments to the Committee in addition to political parties and civil societies. The president pinpointed for the first time that the main political group, the National League for Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, and other political parties have also actively organized forums and meetings to discuss constitutional amendments, saying that these activities have been held in a free and open manner and showing that the level of political maturity in the country has risen. He underlined the positive development of free expression of opinions through news media and social networks. With regard to the constitutional amendment issue, the president insisted that "a healthy Constitution must be amended from time to time to address the national, economic, and social needs of our society."

 

He stressed the need for constitutional amendment for national reconciliation which is the foundation of the national peace process. He also emphasized the need to amend the provision on the qualification of the political leadership of the country, holding that he would not want restrictions being imposed on the right of any citizen to become the leader of the country. He called for all necessary measures in place to defend national interests and sovereignty. He urged to choose to do the right things in order not to fall into political impasse in trying to solve the ongoing political differences. On the ongoing peace talks with ethnic armed groups, he expected an early beginning of political dialogue once final negotiations are over. Noting that in 2014, Myanmar will take over the chair of the regional grouping ASEAN, he called for efforts to ensure success of the chairmanship of ASEAN through the joint efforts of the people. In keeping with his promise, the president has freed all remaining political prisoners at the end of 2013.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/03/2014

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PHILIPPINES: President Inks Law for Supplemental Budget for Disaster-hit Area Reconstruction

 

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has approved the 14.6-billion-peso (328.9 million U.S. dollars) supplemental budget for 2014 to fund the disaster-hit areas in the country last year, a senior government official said Thursday. The fund will be used for relief and rehabilitation services in areas affected by disasters and calamities, both natural and man- made, said Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. at a regular press briefing in Malacanang, the presidential palace. Among the disasters mentioned in the Republic Act 10634 signed by President Aquino were the Zamboanga City standoff between the government troops and the faction of the Moro National Liberation Front under Nur Misuari last September, the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in central provinces of Bohol and Cebu last October and the super typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, that struck central Philippines last November. Coloma said that the Department of Budget and Management was tasked to release the fund directly to the appropriate government agencies with the approval of the president. Coloma said the massive reconstructions efforts this year is expected to contribute to the country's growing economy despite concerns that the full effects of typhoon Yolanda would impact on the economy this year.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/02/2014

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Philippine Gov't Vows to Continue Implementing Anti-poverty Programs

 

The Philippine government vowed on Monday to continue implementing anti-poverty initiatives such as the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to help the poor. Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said programs such as the CCT give poor children and their families a chance to benefit from the economic growth the Philippines is currently enjoying. "The government is determined to push through with our poverty alleviation programs and our CCT has been met with approval by multilateral agencies like the World Bank," said Lacierda. He made the statement after research institute Social Weather Stations (SWS) released on Monday the findings of a survey conducted on Dec. 11 to 16 which showed that more Filipinos considered themselves as poor. The survey, which involved 1,550 respondents, revealed that 55 percent of Filipinos consider their families as poor, up from 50 percent in September. Also, 41 percent of respondents regarded their family as "food-poor" which increased from 37 percent in the third quarter of 2013.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/13/2014

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THAILAND: Education Ministry Reveals Technology Master Plan

 

The Ministry of Education Thailand reveals five key strategies in its Technology Master Plan for Education, after a meeting last week presided by Minister of Education Chaturon Chaisaeng. The strategies, designed to improve the use of technology in learning, include:

1.To increase the performance and capabilities of ICT teachers and staff

2.To develop standard, content, and electronic learning media

3.To develop ICT infrastructure

4.To develop ICT system for supporting management and services

5.To promote research and development of innovative technology for education

 

The Ministry has been working with Silpakorn University on the masterplan and they are close to 70 per cent completion. The masterplan should provide clearer steps on improving students’ access to technology and digital content that are relevant to the curriculum. The plan will cover the use of technology, quality of content, a system for screening, supply and selection, as well as the production of digital media for teaching and learning.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/16/2014

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VIETNAM: Taking Slow Step in Adjusting 2-children Policy - Population Expert

 

"It is necessary to replace Vietnam' s current two-child propaganda with a looser policy. However, Vietnam should take slow steps for new changes of the country's population policy at suitable time," said Dr. Nguyen Duc Manh, director general of Vietnam's Institute for Population, Family and Children Studies. The expert shared his views with Xinhua in Vietnam's capital Hanoi in an exclusive interview over the possibilities of loosening Vietnam's population policy on the occasion of Vietnam's Population Day, which falls on Dec. 26 annually. "Vietnam's population hit 90 million as of Nov. 1, 2013, which brings Vietnam to the fourteenth in the world's large population countries," said Manh. "A lot of very good progresses have been made in Vietnam's population and family planning sector during the 1989-2009 period. During the period, each couple was advised to have one to two children to ensure the best raising and educating conditions for their children." Since 2009, Vietnam has maintained the birth rate for each woman at 2.05 to 2.09 children, instead of 6.4 children per woman in 1960. This means, Manh said, each woman at her productive age will give birth to approximately two children, instead of more than six children before the propaganda.

 

The decreasing birth rate has led to dramatic decline in population growth rate in Vietnam. The country's population growth rate in 1960 reached 3.9 percent, before reducing to 1.06 percent in 2012, Manh said, adding that "results from the propaganda are quite impressive." Talking about the possibilities of adjusting the country's two- child propaganda amid remarkable progresses in population controlling and family planning, Manh said, "Adjusting the propaganda of a maximum of two children for each couple is a necessary move. However, Vietnam should deliberate in publishing the new changes to avoid abrupt inversion in the country's population growth rate and make them public at suitable time." The expert also listed three main conditions for adjusting the two-child propaganda in Vietnam. "Birth rate per woman in Vietnam has only been relatively stabilized in the past five to seven years. Maintaining sustainability in birth rate per woman for longer time is of great significance," Manh said.

 

Earlier, in a conference held in Hanoi, Vuong Dinh Hue, head of the Central Economic Committee, assessed that this will help extending the country's "golden population structure" period, when Vietnam grasps the chance with many advantages and potentials of abundant young workforce to boost the country's socio-economic development. "The second condition is the country should balance birth rate per woman among areas," said Manh. Statistics by the General Department of Population and Family Planning under Vietnamese Ministry of Health showed while the birth rate in the country's Central Highland is 3.1 children per woman, that of the southeast region is 1.7 children per woman. "The third condition includes changing awareness and responsibilities of some people over the stability of Vietnamese population," Manh told Xinhua. Vietnamese people at rural areas aren't aware of the importance of the country's population to their living standards, which easily leads to destabilization of Vietnamese population and has negative impacts on the process of improving Vietnamese human resource quality, said Manh.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 12/26/2013

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New Rules Govern E-Commerce Firms

 

Enterprises and individuals operating electronic commerce businesses will be fined if they have not registered their businesses with the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT). According to Decree No 185 of the Government, which came into effect on January 1, 2014, unregistered firms and individuals will be fined VND10-100 million (US$475-4,760) and VND10-50 million ($475-2,380), respectively. The penalties can also be applied in other cases, such as companies and individuals that do not report changes of information on their registered websites or who take advantage of their e-commerce business to illegally attract capital. Along with payments, websites providing e-commerce services will be suspended from operating from six to 12 months. Management agencies are to confiscate evidence of violations, withdraw domain names ".vn", ask owners to resolve problems they caused and pay for illegal profits. MoIT's Viet Nam E-commerce and Information Technology Agency reported that, currently, more than 200 e-commerce websites have registered their business operations and more than 100 websites providing e-commerce services have also registered. However, there were still thousands of websites not completing their registrations. The agency will cooperate with other administrations to investigate and check firms and individuals working in e-commerce. Websites to be investigated include those selling products and providing e-commerce services, such as e-commerce trading floors, online auction websites, online promotional websites and others regulated by MoIT.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 01/04/2014

 

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Vietnam Pledges to Keep More Stable Market Prices in 2014: Official

 

Vietnam has pledged to keep domestic market prices of petroleum and essential commodities stable in 2014, especially as the Lunar New Year holiday approaches. Vietnamese Minister of Finance (MoF) Dinh Tien Dung made the remarks at a television program named "People ask, Ministers answer", MoF website reported Monday. Dung said MoF attaches great importance to the work of controlling essential commodity prices, adding that it would contribute to ensuring stability of macro-economy. The government needs to harmonize interests among the governments, businesses and people as well as respect the rights of businesses in valuating, said Dung. Dung highlighted that the work of price control is expected to eliminate step by step cross compensation in the economy, in which commodity can be sold at market prices instead of state subsidizes. "The control of prices of essential commodities including petroleum, electricity, coal and gas among others will help avoid sudden and unreasonable price increases, aiming at stabilizing macro-economy, restraining inflation and bringing about more benefits for companies as well as people," the minister told the TV program aired Sunday.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/13/2014

 

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INDIA: Policy Guidelines for Land Management by Major Ports

 

The Union Cabinet today approved the Policy Guidelines for Land Management by Major Ports, 2014. Land Policy is one of the most significant policy frameworks guiding the overall functioning and development of the port sector. These guidelines aim at optimum utilization and optimum realization of the value of land reserves by linking it with prevailing market rates available with major ports of the country. The policy seeks to minimize discretionary powers of port authorities in the process of allotment, by putting in place a mechanism of leasing / licensing of port land through a transparent tender-cum-auction methodology. The main objective of the policy is to ensure that land resources are put to their optimum use as per the approved land use plan. This will also bring in more accountability and transparency into the process of land leasing and licensing and minimize the element of discretion and arbitrainess at port level. The policy will be made applicable to all the major Port Trusts and Ennore Port Limited, except for land relating to the township areas of Kandla, Mumbai and Kolkata Ports.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 01/02/2014

 

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Scheme for Operationalization of Power System Development Fund

 

The Union Cabinet today approved the proposal of the Ministry of Power  for operationalization of the Power System Development Fund (PSDF) and the scheme formulated for utilization of funds deposited therein based on the procedure laid down in the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) Power System Development Fund Regulations. The Power System Development Fund will be utilized for the following purposes :

i)Creating necessary transmission systems of strategic importance based on operational feedback by Load Dispatch Centers for relieving congestion in Inter-State Transmission Systems (ISTS) and intra-state system which are incidental to the ISTS.

ii)Installation of shunt capacitors, series compensators and other reactive energy generators for improvement of voltage profile in the grid.

iii)Installation of standard and special  protection schemes, pilot and demonstrative projects, and for setting right  discrepancies identified in protection audits on regional basis.

iv)Renovation and Modernization (R&M) of transmission and distribution systems for relieving congestion.

v)Any other scheme / project in furtherance of the above objectives, such as, conducting technical studies and capacity building, etc. The PSDF will be operationalized within three months.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 01/02/2014

 

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Guidance Handbook on Voluntary Implementation of Non-Legislative Recommendations of the FSLRC Issued

 

The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Shri B N Srikrishna, submitted its Report to the Government on March 22, 2013. The Report contains various recommendations, legislative and non-legislative. The said Report in English and Hindi is available on the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance website: finmin.nic.in. There are a number of recommendations in the Report which are in the nature of governance enhancing and do not require legislative changes. It has been decided that in the first instance, Financial Sector Regulators may voluntarily adopt the governance enhancing recommendations within a reasonably proximate timeframe.

 

With a view to facilitating the task of regulators and help developing a uniform rationale based understanding about the non-legislative governance enhancing principles, a detailed ‘Guidance Handbook’ has been prepared which essentially includes governance enhancing provisions/recommendations, their rationale, suitable examples of global good governance practices and guidance on implementation. These recommendations encompass issues relating to consumer protection, consumer protection for retail customers, timeline for regulations on consumer protection, requirements for framing regulations, notices to regulated entities, transparency, transparency in Board meetings, reporting, approvals, investigation, adjudication, imposition of penalty and capacity building. The ‘Handbook’ has been circulated to the Financial Sector Regulators and the same is put in public domain on http://www.finmin.nic.in website for the information of public at large.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 01/10/2014

 

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NABARD Initiates a Slew of Measures for Promoting Rural Credit and Rural Infrastructure

 

NABARD has initiated a slew of measures for improving rural credit and rural infrastructure particularly warehousing as decided at the 198th Meeting of the Board of Directors chaired by Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD, held here yesterday.The Board has approved the launch of three crop specific Pilot Projects with production and post-production interventions to be implemented through Primary Agriculture Co-operative Society (PACS). The three Pilot Projects include business models for potato in Hooghly district, West Bengal, tomato in Karnal district, Haryana, and onion in Nasik district, Maharashtra. The total outlay for the projects is Rs 37.20 crore, comprising loan and grant support from NABARD of Rs 18.43 crore and Rs 2.43 crore respectively and a subsidy support of Rs 16.34 crore from the Central/State Governments.

 

The Pilot Projects envisage crop-specific market surveys, identification of specific market players and marketing support through establishment of Project Market Facilitation Centres (PMFCs). The Projects will provide for productivity enhancing measures and post-harvest interventions. These measures include support for irrigation particularly micro-irrigation, scientific storage facility, cold storages and setting-up of agro-service centres. The pilots will also support promotional interventions including field demonstrations, crop and activity specific training and capacity building of farmers, exposure visits, etc. for ensuring technology adoption by them. NABARD has sanctioned 548 warehousing projects in seven states amounting to Rs 1,046 crore under the NABARD Warehousing Scheme (NWS). These projects on completion will create an additional storage scientific space of 11.30 lakh MT for agriculture commodities and also help in better price discovery for farmers. NABARD Warehousing Scheme 2013-14 has been formulated as per the announcement made in the Union Budget with a corpus of Rs 5,000 crore. The scheme envisages financial support for construction of warehouses, godowns, silos, cold storages and cold chain infrastructure to store agriculture produce, both in public and private sectors.

 

As decided by its ALCO, NABARD has revised the rate of interest on refinance provided to banks for investment credit with effect from January 7, 2014. The refinance rate has been reduced by 20 basis points, and the revised rate of interest on refinance for a period of five years for Commercial Banks, State Cooperative Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Primary Urban Cooperative Banks will be 9.70%. The revised rate of interest for refinance for a period of three to five years will be 9.90%. Further, banks drawing refinance of Rs 500 crore and more in a single drawal will be allowed further reduction of 10 basis points, making the effective rate 9.60% and 9.80% respectively. However, for State Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (SCRDBs), 10 basis points reduction is allowed for a single drawal of Rs 200 crore and above. These measures are expected to give a boost to banks for extending investment credit and creation of much-needed warehousing infrastructure for agricultural commodities in the country.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 01/10/2014

 

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AZERBAIJAN: New Monetary & Financial Statements Introduced for Banks

 

By Order #25/2 Elman Rustamov, the chairman of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan, endorsed the Instruction on composition and presentation of monetary and financial statements. The Instruction, put into force since 27 December, implies specification of some parameters. Now, loans of up to AZN 5,000 relate to micro-loans, loans for up to 360 days to short-term loans, and loans for the period of up to 360 days to long-term loans. The banks are required to report on expenditures of customers related to such parameters as: fee for loan registration; charge for opening of a loan account; payment for loan giving in the form of cash; payment for registration of mortgage; insurance costs; costs for valuation of collateral; other payments for loan approval. The Instruction contains a new form of monetary and financial statements.

From http://www.news.az/ 01/01/2014

 

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Azerbaijan Increases Employee Rights Protection

 

Azerbaijani Parliament adopted several amendments to a legislation for increasing protection of employees. The amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences and the Tax Code adopted on December 27 provide increasing penalties against employers who employ people without a contract. The fines for employers who are physical entities for attracting persons to work before implementing the employment contract increased from 1,000 to 3,000 manats, for officials from 3,000 to 5,000 manats, and for legal entities from 20,000 to 25,000 manats. Amendments to the Tax Code provide a 1,000 manats fine per employee for employers who hide their income. Parliament also adopted a law amending the Labor Code, which urges Azerbaijani employers to sign labor contracts with employees in electronic form. Head of the parliamentary committee for legal policy and state construction Ali Guseynli said changes in the Code were aimed at strengthening tax control, proper registration of the number of employees, and the regulation of issues related to controlling the wages. At the meeting, Azerbaijani MP Ganira Pashayeva offered an amendment to the Law "On employment" on providing work for people with disabilities. She said some citizens with disabilities face serious problems in employment. "In many cases, employers refuse to hire people with disabilities. From this perspective, it would be good if there is an increased quota provided for people with disabilities in existing legislations. Simultaneously, it is necessary to toughen penalties for those who violate this law requirement," she added.

From http://www.azernews.az/ 01/02/2014

 

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KAZAKHSTAN: Plans to Legislatively Tighten Penalties for Smoking in Public Places

 

Kazakhstan plans to legislatively tighten penalties for smoking in public places, the official account of Nur Otan Party in the social networks said. Currently, the Majilis (lower house) of Kazakh parliament is working on a draft law on amendments and supplements to the Code of Kazakhstan on public health and heathcare system in which the innovation is to be introduced to toughen penalties for tobacco smoking in public places. In accordance with the bill, the range of areas where the smoking is planned to be banned will be expanded.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/16/2014

 

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TURKMENISTAN: Law on Denationalization and Privatization of State Property Takes Effect

 

A law on denationalization and privatization of state property which sets legal, economic and organizational framework of this measure took effect in Turkmenistan. "Normative legal acts of Turkmenistan shall be brought into conformity with this law within three months from the date of its entry into force, " according to a document signed by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. The law is aimed at the development of entrepreneurship and the creation of conditions for attracting investment and the development of efficient, socially oriented market economy in Turkmenistan. The objects are: state-owned enterprises as a property complex , buildings, buildings, structures and facilities under construction, production and non-production units and structural divisions of an enterprise as a property complex, the privatization of which doesn't violate technological cycle, separate divisions of state enterprises, tangible and intangible assets of state enterprises, uninhabited area in houses not of common use, share of securities in the authorized capital of joint stock companies in the property of state-owned companies of different legal forms. (including those producing agricultural products ) . Turkmen citizens, foreign citizens, stateless persons and legal entities of Turkmenistan created in accordance with the law, legal entities created in accordance with the laws of foreign countries, international organizations can be the entities. Foreign legal entities may participate in such a process only in case of the conclusion of the Agency for Protection from Economic Risks under the Turkmen Ministry of Economy and Development. The denationalization is implemented in the following forms: conversion into a joint stock company or enterprise of other form. The state property is privatized in the following forms: sale at the investment contest, sale at auction, sale of shares owned by the state, on the stock exchanges; direct sale of a privatized facility. The state program of privatization of enterprises and state-owned facilities for 2013-2016 has been approved in Turkmenistan. It is planned to privatize the state enterprises in various areas, namely, construction, transport, communication, etc., state facilities and to create the developed infrastructure of the joint-stock companies.

From http://en.trend.az/ 12/28/2013

 

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Law on Certification Takes Effect in Turkmenistan

 

A law setting legal, economic and organizational framework for certification took effect in Turkmenistan. The law was signed by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. "Normative legal acts of Turkmenistan are subject to be brought into conformity with the current law within three months from the date of its entry into force," according to the law. According to the new law, the state regulation and control over the certification sphere are carried out by the Turkmen Cabinet of Ministers, authorized body or other state bodies within their competence. The new law includes an article dedicated to the issues of industrial security. "In order to ensure the safety of dangerous production facilities, implementation of works and rendering services, protection of industrial workers, the population and the environment from exposure to dangerous and harmful production factors, production and technological equipment , materials and chemicals, vehicles carrying dangerous cargo, as well as the means of individual and collective protection of the personnel are subject to certification for compliance with industrial safety requirements, " the document said. Earlier, Turkmenistan adopted an "Order of certification of products imported to Turkmenistan from foreign countries". In accordance to this document, Turkmenstandartlary main state service carries out certification in the country and covers almost all products and goods produced in large and small, public and private enterprises. Turkmenstandartlary is a corresponding member of the International Organization for Standardization - ISO since 1993, it participates in the work of Interstate Council for Standardization, Metrology and Certification since 1992, and in the Interregional Association for Standardization of ECO member states since 1991. Turkmenistan uses ISO-9000 globally recognized international standards. Enterprises of significant export-oriented industries - textiles, chemicals, oil refining - have already received certificates corresponding to this quality system. Turkmenstandartlary has been entrusted with functions of an independent expert group for assessment of the quality of agricultural products, first of all grain and cotton.

From http://en.trend.az/ 12/29/2013

 

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Turkmenistan Moves to International Accounting Standards

 

All enterprises, institutions and organizations in Turkmenistan, regardless of the form of ownership, have moved to accounting based on international financial reporting standards from January 2014, Turkmen Ministry of Finance said on Jan.3. The country's credit institutions started this process in 2011. A phased transition of enterprises, institutions and organizations was carried out during 2013 and by early 2014. To this end, the ministry has developed regulations, courses for specialists were organized and corresponding training centers have been created. The Constitution of Turkmenistan renewed in recent years, includes an article on a phased transition to the market economy. Turkmenistan is rich in natural gas. The harvest of export volumes of cotton and grains, as well as diversification of the economy is being carried out in this country. The textile industry and oil and gas processing industries have significantly developed there. Turkmenistan plans to privatise technologically obsolete small and medium enterprises by selling them at auctions by 2015. The country also plans to use mechanisms for trust management, corporatisation and management of large enterprises' corporate properties. Attraction of foreign investments, creation and development of joint ventures are other aspects of the institutional transformation. The second phase of this process covering 2016-2020 includes the creation of corporate companies in the areas of construction, building materials industry and others. The third phase from 2021 to 2030 will be characterized by deepening the adaptation of new enterprises to market conditions, and intensive development of domestic and foreign markets.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/03/2014

 

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Turkmen Parliament Told to Tighten Control over Law Execution

 

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov called on Majlis (parliament) to tighten control over strict execution of the laws, the Turkmen media reported on Wednesday. The president made this statement to the MPs of the new fifth convocation elected during the elections on December 15, 2013. "Along with the improvement of the legislation, the adoption of new laws, another urgent task is to tighten control over the strict execution of adopted legislative acts because unfortunately, the requirements, regulations and provisions of certain legal documents are not fully implemented," the president said. The president drew attention to the need for the most effective use of Majlis's powers to exercise control over the execution of laws based on the Turkmen constitution. President Berdimuhamedov proposed to change and amend the relevant laws and considered it appropriate to re-analyze the articles of the Constitution. "We must pay special attention to the improvement of the provisions of the Turkmen constitution by observing the strategic objectives of the development of the society and the country in the new millennium," the president said. "While adopting the main law in the new version, it is important to work out and approve the goals and objectives of legal reforms to be carried out at the present stage of social development." According to the Turkmen constitution, the parliament passes laws, makes changes and additions to the Turkmen constitution, approves the state budget, resolves the issues on holding referendums and announces presidential and parliamentary elections. It also considers the issues on the appointment and dismissal of the chairman of the Supreme Court, attorney general, interior minister and minister of justice and ratifies and terminates international treaties, resolves the issues to change the state borders and the administrative-territorial division of Turkmenistan.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/08/2014

 

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President: World Countries Support Turkmenistan's Energy Security Initiatives

 

More and more countries realize the importance of Turkmenistan's international safety initiatives, namely in energy, transport, environment and support them, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on Saturday. "This creates favorable conditions for expanding and intensifying the bilateral relations," the president said. "The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution "Reliable and stable transit of energy resources and its role in ensuring sustainable development and international cooperation" in May 2013 initiated by Turkmenistan." President Berdimuhamedov said that the number of Turkmenistan's supporters standing for Ashgabat's views on the key issues of global development is steadily growing. This is stipulated by the fact that more than 70 countries acted as co-authors of the resolution on the security of energy transit. The UN News Center reported earlier that at a meeting with representatives of the Turkmen government in New York in September 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed Turkmenistan's initiative to ensure energy security. It is known that it is planned to hold a meeting of international experts on the subject in Ashgabat in early 2014. Ashgabat believes that the coordinated actions of producing countries, transit countries and consumer countries, capable of optimizing the economic development are required in the modern conditions. Turkmenistan is one of the key natural gas suppliers in the Caspian region supplying fuel to China, Russia and Iran. An additional gas pipeline to Russia (the Caspian Sea - through Kazakhstan), to Europe (via the Caspian Sea through Azerbaijan and Turkey) and India (Trans-Afghanistan through Pakistan) are among the discussed projects. The Turkmen President stressed that the management of the country's fuel and energy sector must concentrate its efforts to operate open fields, in particular the industrial development of the Galkynysh gas field recognized as the second largest field in the world. "It is necessary to increase oil production, to ensure the necessary production volumes of natural gas and its supply to foreign countries in the volumes corresponding to the signed contracts," the president said. "It is also necessary to continue increasing production and export supplies of liquefied gas." "It is necessary to take concrete actions to complete the construction of the bitumen production enterprise, the planned oil and gas pipelines," he said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/12/2014

 

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UNESCO Reveals Successful ICT-Pedagogy Integration Project

 

UNESCO Bangkok in Thailand implemented a three-year project to create a conducive environment for ICT integration in education, focusing on students’ use of technology for learning. Supported by Korean Funds-in-Trust, this project spanned seven countries, namely Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and China. The project, named ‘Facilitating Effective ICT-Pedagogy Integration Project’, successfully improved teachers’ capacity on integrating ICT effectively, gathered leaders’ support for whole-of-school strategy, gave rise to communities of practices, and promoted knowledge sharing and collaboration across countries. UNESCO Bangkok attributed the success to the project’s sound design and regular improvements, local partnership and support, priority on pedagogy, as well as good understanding of local needs and context.

 

Some of the challenges encountered by the team included cultural and language barriers, motivation for new ways of teaching, absence of learning indicators and lack of leadership. The team plans to expand the project by producing and sharing more relevant resources while working closely with the current network of stakeholders and partners. The team will also launch the second phase of the project, titled ‘Supporting Competency-Based Teacher Training Reforms to Facilitate ICT-Pedagogy Integration’. It will focus on influencing policy discussions and working with governments to transform teacher training in the area of ICT-enabled teaching.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 01/06/2014

 

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AUSTRALIA: Tony Abbott Urges World Leaders to Prioritise Growth and Free Trade

 

Tony Abbott has used a keynote address to the World Economic Forum in Davos to burnish his new government’s free market credentials and urge world leaders to prioritise growth, free trade and competitiveness as global economic recovery remains fragile. In first major post-election speech on the economy and economic policy, the Australian prime minister set down some broad philosophical markers. Abbott told the forum markets were “the proven answer to the problem of scarcity” and, borrowing from Abraham Lincoln, he said governments should do for people “what they can’t do for themselves – and no more”. The rise of the middle class in China and India had been driven by technology and by aspiration, he said, and by an instinct that “empowered citizens can do more for themselves than government will ever do for them”. Officialdom, he said, had begun to grasp “that human freedom is less a threat than an opportunity”. Where people had freedom, they created markets, he said. While most governments around the world produced economic stimulus packages in response to the global financial crisis, Abbott strayed into partisan politics with some criticism of the former government’s Keynesian tendencies.

 

The prime minister said Labor had departed from the surplus maxim of the Howard years with spending that lingered beyond the crisis. “The reason for the spending soon passed but the spending didn’t stop because, when it comes to spending, governments can be like addicts in search of a fix,” Abbott told the forum, arguing the policy under his Labor predecessors Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard was “spend our way to prosperity”. Australia, he declared, was “under new management, and open for business”. Abbott produced a shopping list of his policies for attendees at the World Economic Forum, using them as case studies of initiatives to boost “growth, participation and productivity”. He said Australia would use its presidency of the G20 to promote global growth. He declared he wanted “respectful but robust discussion of each country’s national plan”. Abbott has used the preamble to his Davos visit to reflect negatively on international talkfests. On Thursday night he said he wanted the G20 meeting in Brisbane to produce a communique “just three pages long explaining precisely how good intentions are being put into practice”. The G20, he said, must focus on trade, and “at the very least … renew its commitment against protectionism and in favour of freer markets”.

 

“My hope is to have a really frank leaders-only discussion in Brisbane about the biggest issues we face, including digitalisation and its implications for tax, trade and global integration,” he said. He said the G20 would tackle taxation and the problem of business artificially generating profits to “chase tax opportunities rather than market ones”. Abbott said companies should pay tax in the countries where the revenue was earned, rather than profit shift.

From http://www.theguardian.com 01/23/2014

 

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NEW ZEALAND: Debt, Education Focus of PM's State of Nation Speech

 

The New Zealand government will stay focused on paying down debt as the national economy continues its forecast growth, Prime Minister John Key said in his annual state of the nation speech Thursday. However, facing a general election sometime before the end of November, Key also unveiled a major new investment in education and promised other programs in the near future. "The economy will grow strongly this year. Our economic growth is forecast to be one of the highest in the developed world in 2014," Key said in the published speech to the West Auckland Business Club. "The government will produce a budget surplus next year, when most other countries will still be in deficit and building up debt, " he said. "The government will get back to running surpluses next year. At first they will be very small but they will build up over time. There might be some room for modest spending or revenue initiatives, but the top priority has to be getting our debt down. "The government had borrowed around 50 billion NZ dollars ($41.41 billion) over six years to get the country safely through the greatest financial crisis since the 1930s, and one of the most expensive natural disasters in history, he said referring to the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011.

 

Key also announced the government would invest 359 million NZ dollars ($297.45 million) over four years to improve education in the country's schools. "New Zealand stands out among other countries for the wide gap we have between our top students and our lowest-performing students," he said. "International studies also show that we are not keeping pace with achievement in other countries, particularly in maths and science. In fact, we have been on a gradual downward slide since the early 2000s." Opposition parties criticized the education announcement, saying it failed to recognize the real problem in education, which was growing economic inequality. "The Prime Minister omitted to mention that there are 150,000 people unemployed, not to mention the scores more that are underemployed throughout the country," leader of the opposition New Zealand First Party Winston Peters said in a statement. "He also failed to talk about the lack of action over the net 150 billion NZ dollars ($124.26 billion) of overseas debt that New Zealand has." Peters is widely expected to play a "king-maker" role in deciding a coalition government after the election, which pollsters say is too close to call.

From http://www.globaltimes.cn 01/23/2014

 

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Paying Off Debt Is Govt's Focus - Key

 

The National Government's economic focus will be on paying down debt as Crown finances improve but a Labour-led government would take the country backwards, Prime Minister John Key said this morning. In his state of the nation speech to the West Auckland Business Club, Mr Key said that with mounting signs of economic improvement, he was looking forward with confidence and optimism. "But that doesn't mean the job's done _ in fact it's just begun.''It was vitally important to continue hard-won gains of recent years, "that includes a huge improvement in managing the country's finances''. His Government's record of "careful savings'', disciplined spending and running a more efficient public sector was in contrast to the last Labour Government which increased spending by 50 per cent over nine years. "That spending helped push mortgage rates to almost 11 per cent and crippled the internationally competitive parts of the economy. New Zealand can't afford that approach again'' With the Government back to running surpluses from next year "there might be some room for modest spending or revenue initiatives, but the top priority has to be getting our debt down''.

 

The Government had borrowed about $50 billion over six years to get the country safely through a recession, the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes. "In better economic times we have to reduce that debt. That will lift national savings, and help keep a lid on interest rate rises as the economy heats up. "We also have to lock in the improvements we are making to New Zealand's economic settings. And we have to lock in the progress we are making in delivering better public services. The alternative was "to go off into left field''. That meant a Labour-Greens government and their polices including new regulation of the electricity market. "They would be the only government in the world to want less competition in their electricity market. Less competition means higher prices. On top of that, Labour wants an emissions trading scheme that would put up household energy bills by $500 a year _ just like that.” Mr Key also attacked Labour's plan to raise the retirement age to 67. "They want people to work two more years before they can retire.''He said Labour would also look to reintroduce the national awards system for wage setting "like we had in the 70s _ so hello strikes and goodbye productivity''"They want to put up income taxes and introduce a new tax on all productive businesses and farms in the country.''

 

Labour and the Greens' "alternative prescription'' was "a combination of high spending, untried economic experiments and a lack of focus on what really matters''. "It would be a huge step backward when the country is so obviously moving forward. "So this year I want people to think hard about where New Zealand is going, and how to keep us on the right track.''NZ First Leader Winston Peters said Mr Key was presenting "a particularly self-serving, selective view of what is actually happening in New Zealand"."The Prime Minister omitted to mention that there are 150,000 people unemployed, not to mention the scores more that are underemployed throughout the country. Mr Key had also "failed to talk about the lack of action over the net $150 billion of overseas debt that New Zealand has".The figure referred to by Mr Peters includes private sector debt as well as direct Government borrowing. Mr Peters also said the "Kiwi dream" of home ownership "has vanished for young New Zealanders after his Government failed to do anything to stop the speculative housing bubble"."And as for his educational changes, let's hope Novopay can pay the new positions promptly and properly! "The Prime Minister is fooling no one with his selective view, and many New Zealanders will let him know that at the polling booth this year," says Mr Peters.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 01/23/2014

 

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: What’s on the Agenda for Its Business in 2014?

 

The coming year looks promising for Papua New Guinea business, with the giant PNG LNG project due to commence gas exports, and further investments looking likely. Meanwhile, eyes are on the O’Neill Government to see how it can improve the operating environment for business. Business Advantage PNG looks ahead to consider what 2014 may bring.

 

Mining and petroleum

After a five–year development phase, the ExxonMobil-led PNG LNG plant prepares to export its first shipment in the second half of 2014. A second LNG project may be on the way, after InterOil teamed up with Total SA to explore its Elk–Antelope fields. The national government expects a third, smaller project, the Stanley gas project, to commence by year’s end. Meanwhile, after a tough year for the mining sector, which has been forced to cut back on exploration and reduce operating costs in the face of lower commodity prices, all eyes will be on the O’Neill Government, which has been drafting revised Mining Act. What mines may emerge to replace the tiring Ok Tedi mine? Is the worst over or are there more cuts to come? Some may see the announcement that the Morobe Mining Joint Venture is moving ahead with a feasibility study for the Wafi-Golpu gold, copper and silver project as a promising sign, but another project in the pipeline, the Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 undersea mining project, is still in abeyance pending negotiations with the government. In Bougainville, the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Dr John Momis, says the push to revive the Panguna copper mine will slow, as landowners cannot agree on the proposed Bougainville Mining Act.

 

Agriculture

Prices continue to be volatile for several of PNG’s agricultural exports, with palm oil prices—now PNG’s largest commodity export—likely to remain low for the time being. Global copra prices began rising in late 2013 and are expected to trend upwards in 2014, but PNG’s cocoa industry is struggling to deal with the impact of the devastating cocoa pod borer. Coffee bean production is also declining. Although 80% of the population rely on agriculture for their income, crumbling roads and infrastructure means farmers struggle to get their products to market, prompting calls for the government to boost support. Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll has announced the Cocoa Board will receive K3.5 million to set up a subsidiary company by March and develop a business plan.He said the plan includes partnering with six districts to plant 4.8 million cocoa trees by the end of the year. Cocoa futures are trading at about US$ 2,700 per tonne and are expected to rise further due to a global shortage of about 160,000 tonnes in the 2013/2014 season.

 

Infrastructure

Substandard roads, power blackouts, irregular water supplies, flight delays and rudimentary health services continue to hamper the country’s development. But infrastructure can be the next key investment area, according to Kina Asset Management’s Syd Yates. There are already promising developments in electricity, where independent power producers are augmenting PNG Power’s own power generation. Meanwhile, fast broadband internet is on its way, with the fibreoptic cables being laid to create PNG’s National Transmission Network. To address the lag of investment in infrastructure , the government has gone into deficit and also intends to develop four economic hubs in the towns of Port Moresby (finance), Lae (manufacturing), Mount Hagen (agriculture) and Kokopo (tourism). Business will also be hoping for greater competition in telecommunications, with a recapitalised Bemobile now up and running and prices set to drop. We can expect more roadworks in 2014, with Department of Works Secretary David Wereh announcing his department will be focusing on regional roads development this year, saying K1.5 billion is needed each year for maintenance, but dealing with the backlog requires another K3 billion.

 

Port Moresby’s infrastructure will continue getting a refresh ahead of the 2015 Pacific Games, while Lae businesses will be looking forward to end of 2014, when the much-needed Lae port expansion is predicted to be complete. They’ll also be looking for progress with the new highway to Nadzab Airport. Manufacturing and fisheries. Retail and manufacturing reported a 20-30 per cent drop in revenues in 2013, as the kina weakened and commodity prices fell. Despite that, manufacturers are planning to expand, particularly in fisheries. Employers are expecting to hear this year the results of the newly-appointed Minimum Wages Board, which is reviewing the last minimum wage determination of K2.29 (A$1.03) per hour, made in 2008.

 

Forestry

The Prime Minister has promised to set up a Task Force to deal with the Special Agricultural Business Leases (SABL) system, after a special commission found that only four of the 42 leases they examined had obtained landowner consent. The drive for sustainability continues to gain momentum, with the EU now banning illegally-produced timber, which is thought to have constituted about one-third of exports.

From BUSINESS ADVANTGAE PNG 01/16/2014

 

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SOLOMON ISLANDS: PM Outlines 2014 Priorities

 

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has announced Government’s policy areas that it intends to place more emphasis on this year. Lilo made the announcement at a National Prayer Breakfast organised for leaders and a cross section of stakeholders including the Private Sector, NGO’s and Diplomatic Corps at the Heritage Park Hotel. Included in the top 10 priority areas is the conduct of a ‘clean and effective’ national election towards the end of the year. The second priority area is the improvement of the governance process by introducing the Political Parties Integrity Bill in Parliament and the new Leadership Code Act which aims to keep leaders in constant check. The third priority area is to bring to parliament regulations to support the implementation of the Constituency Development Fund Act which was passed in parliament last year. The fourth priority is to ensure the full implementation of Government’s new Charter of Accounts under the new Public Finance Management Act by the end of May to allow the new government to have better access to information on public finance management for sound decision making. The fifth priority area aims to improve educational institutions such as Solomon Islands National University and others by reviewing the current Education Act to separate basic education and TVET from the higher education with the view to establishing an independent higher education commission with the long-term plan to making Solomon Islands as the higher education hub of the Pacific. The sixth priority is to continue to pursue customary land mobilisation and reform by looking at ways to bring customary land into productive usage as land remains fundamental in the country. The seventh priority is to see the Honiara Boundary issue resolved so that sensible discussions can start on developments outside the original Honiara boundary. The eighth priority is to begin work on a legal framework by May 2014 to build an autonomous national hospital for Solomon Islands. The ninth priority is to ensure that the country’s first fiber optic cable (the fastest internet connection) will be established before the end of the year and the tenth priority is to continue to engage with the country’s multi-lateral and bilateral partners with the hope for a high-level meeting, at the ministerial level, between Solomon Islands and Australia taking place this year. Prime Minister Lilo said the Government remains committed to the broader development and on-going development agenda of the country and these are priority areas he would push to achieve.

From http://www.pina.com.fj 01/23/2014

 

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A Citizen’s Guide to Open Government, E-Government, and Government 2.0

 

Engaged citizens want clear, credible information from the government about how it’s carrying on its business. They don’t want to thumb through thousands of files or wait month after month or go through the rigors of filing claims through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) . They want government information, services, and communication to be forthcoming and swift. The Open Government, Government 2.0, and E-Governance movements fill the need of connecting citizens with the government and each other to foster a more open, collaborative, and efficient public sector through the use of new technology and public data. Open Government is defined by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) as “the transparency of government actions, the accessibility of government services and information, and the responsiveness of government to new ideas, demands and needs.” E-Government is defined by the World Bank as “the use by government agencies of information technologies that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government. These technologies can serve a variety of different ends: better delivery of government services to citizens, improved interactions with business and industry, citizen empowerment through access to information, or more efficient government management. The resulting benefits can be less corruption, increased transparency, greater convenience, revenue growth, and/or cost reductions.”

 

Government 2.0 is defined by Gartner Research as “the use of Web 2.0 technologies, both internally and externally, to increase collaboration and transparency and potentially transform the way government agencies relate to citizens and operate.” Open Government and E-Government paved the way for Government 2.0, a collaborative technology whose mission is to improve government transparency and efficiency. How? Gov 2.0 has been called the next generation of government because it not only utilizes new technologies such as social media, cloud computing, and other apps, it is a means to increase citizen participation. While some question the logistics of funding, implementing, managing, and securing Open Government, E-Government, and Government 2.0 projects, advocates—from single-source bloggers to large well-funded groups—don’t show any signs of slowing down. Plans for summits, conferences, new applications, and publications suggest that Open Government, along with all its emerging technology, is here for the long haul. We have compiled a list of organizations, blogs, guides, and tools to help citizens and public service leaders better understand the Open Government, E-Government, and Government 2.0 movement.

From https://onlinempa.unc.edu/ 01/07/2014

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OECD Appoints New Directors for Economic Policy

 

The OECD has appointed a former Portuguese economy minister and a high-level German government official to top leadership posts in the Economics Department, reinforcing its commitment to identifying and promoting policies that improve countries’ long-term economic performance. Alvaro Santos Pereira will become Director of the Country Studies Branch on 1 April 2014. Christian Kastrop will become Director of the Policy Studies Branch on 15 March 2014. Welcoming the two appointments, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said: “Mr Santos Pereira and Mr Kastrop will bring valuable political and policy experience to the Organisation, ensuring that it continues providing solutions to the challenges countries face in today’s complex and multi-polar economy.” Mr Santos Pereira, Portugal’s Minister for Economy and Employment from June 2011 to July 2013, will support the Chief Economist and ensure that the Organisation remains at the forefront of the international political economy agenda. He will directly oversee 70 staff members responsible for around 20 country-based Economic Surveys annually.

 

As Minister for Economy & Employment in the Government of Portugal, Mr Santos Pereira was responsible for industry, commerce and services, tourism, energy and public works, transportation and employment policy, implementing a major programme of economic and labour reforms.   Prior to this, he was a Professor of Economic Development and Economic Policy at Simon Fraser University in Canada, and a lecturer at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and at the University of York, in the United Kingdom. He holds a Doctorate in Economics from Simon Fraser University, Canada, and a Masters in Economics from the University of Exeter, UK. Mr Kastrop, a German national with lengthy experience at the Ministry of Finance, will support the Chief Economist, provide leadership and strategic direction within the economics department and ensure that analysis and policy advice promote stronger, cleaner and fairer economic growth. He will directly oversee a staff of 90, responsible for key publications including the twice-annual Economic Outlook and the flagship report on structural reform, Going for Growth.

 

Since 2011, Mr Kastrop has been Deputy Director-General of the Economics/Strategy Department of the German Federal Ministry of Finance and Director of Public Finance, Macroeconomic and Research Directorate.  His career at the ministry also includes stints as Deputy Director General of the European Department and Director of European Economic and Monetary Union Directorate; Deputy Director General of the Money, Banking and Finance Department; and Director for G20, IMF, OECD, International and Monetary Policy Directorate. He holds a Doctorate in Economics and a Masters in Economics and Psychology from the University of Cologne.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 01/16/2014

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Asia/Pacific (Excluding Japan) Government Sector 2014 Top 10 Predictions: Designing Tomorrow’s Governments

 

This IDC Government Insights presents the top 10 predictions for the Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) or APEJ governments in the year 2014. This study discusses key issues, conditions, and challenges that government officials and organizations must address as they perform their roles and responsibilities in IT strategic planning, investment decision making, and technology program delivery. In the pursuit of investing in innovative ICTs for organizational relevance, as well as competence and effectiveness, outcome-based measurements must still be in place. Notably, prudence considerations such as transparency, value-for-money practicality, and stakeholders' accountability will continue to dictate the soundness of government investments today. "The 3rd Platform era of technological change through advances in cloud, analytics, mobile, and social technologies provides an excellent opportunity for APEJ government agencies to pursue more innovative (and even more disruptive) programs aimed at improving productivity and performance," says Gerald Wang, Research Manager, IDC Government Insights Asia/Pacific."Three main themes are noted for the year 2014: 360-degree stakeholder engagements, 3rd Platform service transformations, and a heightened focus on building future competencies with cutting-edge technologies -- all driven by the still-important cost management agenda."

 

Table of Contents

Predictions

In This Study

Situation Overview

APEJ Government ICT Spending Overview

APEJ Government Trends Overview

Potential Impact and Implications for Government Executives

Trends in Government-to-Citizen (G2C)/Government-to-Business (G2B) ICT Service Delivery

Trends in Government-to-Enterprise (G2E)/Government-to-Government (G2G) ICT Service

Delivery

Considerations for Growth Opportunities in the Government Sector

 

Future Outlook

360-Degree Stakeholder Engagements, Collaborations, and Participation

Prediction #1: Developments in Artificial Intelligence Through the Growth of Big Data/Analytics Technologies Will Likely Boost Personalization in eGovernment Services

Prediction #2: Over 80% of APEJ Governments Will Invest in Collaborative Ecosystems for Collective Intelligence and Crowd-Sourcing Initiatives

Driving Critical Government Innovation in IDC's 3rd Platform Era of Technological Change

Prediction #3: Central APEJ Governments Will Leverage the Cloud as a Means to Further Whole-of-Government (WoG) Agendas in Cost Savings and Operational Efficiencies Through Increased Cloud-Related IT Consolidation and Shared Services Initiatives

Prediction #4: The Lack of Manpower Skills, Knowledge, and Competencies to Exploit BDA Will Lead to Greater Spending by APEJ Governments to Improve Domestic BDA Know-How and Use

 

Patterns

Prediction #5: Combating Mobile Security, Threats, Privacy, Liability, and Data Loss Will Be Key Focuses for APEJ Mobile Government Service Implementations

Prediction #6: Bidirectional Feedback Rather than Just One-Way Broadcast Communication Channels Will Assist APEJ Governments to Derive Real Value in Social Investments

Innovating Boldly for Sustained Future Relevance and Competitive Advantage

Prediction #7: Driven by National Development Agendas for Future Sustainability, 10-15% of APEJ Governments Will Likely Realize "Stage 2: Opportunistic" Smart Cities' Milestones as defined by IDC Government Insights' Smart City Maturity Model

Prediction #8: From Connected Technologies to Connected Workforce to Connected Operations, The Internet-of-Things and Smart Machines Will Boost Operations of Critical Infrastructure

Prediction #9: Network and Web Security, Data Loss Prevention, and Identity and Access Management Challenges Will Feature New Security and Risk Mitigation Techniques with APEJ Governments Seeking to Redress National Paranoia over Increasingly Complex Threat

 

Landscapes

Prediction #10: Infonomics Will Potentially Rise in APEJ Governments, Managing the Value of Information Assets

Essential Guidance

Learn More

Related Research

Synopsis

Figure: Designing Tomorrow's Governments -- An Overview

Figure: Conceptual Model of an AI-based Personalization System-Enabled by Big Data/Analytics

Technologies

Figure: Four Dimensions of Opportunities for Collaborative eGovernment Initiatives

Figure: The Evolution of Smart Government IT

From http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/ 01/06/2014

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CIOs Seek to Maintain Relevance Through Service-led Transformations

 

As IT spend moves to line of business managers, and with more than half spending at least 70% of their time on day-to-day tasks, CIOs are creating a new mission for IT. CIOs must act now to take on a more strategic role or risk being pushed aside by line of business managers, an international survey carried out by Logicalis has found. Of the almost three quarters (72%) of CIOs who expressed a view, 60% agreed that line of business managers will gain more power over IT decision making over the next three to five years – a trend driven by the growing availability of externally available cloud services and expectations of technology and application consumerisation.

 

In response, CIOs are more acutely aware than ever of the need to take on a key strategic role, the Logicalis survey found. They are actively seeking to confront the challenge of legacy operational costs and drive services-led technology and operational transformation, to reshape the IT function as a pseudo service provider. But most are still struggling to resource day to day management tasks:

-- Three quarters (73%) of CIOs and IT Directors want to spend at least half of their time on strategic activities

-- In reality, 53% of CIOs and IT Directors currently spend 70% or more of their time on day-to-day management of technology, while 80% spend at least half of their time on low value, non-strategic activity.

The international survey found that a consensus appears to be emerging as CIOs seek to effect the dramatic shift in focus on which their long-term relevance may depend. Internal technology and operational optimisation, aligned to more extensive and efficient use of managed services partners and cloud services are emerging as key priorities for the CIO and their organisation:

-- 63% see streamlining and optimising their technology infrastructure as vital to freeing up time to focus on strategic goals

-- 31% would consolidate the use of managed services, selecting single vendors to manage specific technologies and/or services across multiple territories

-- 30% want to hand more day-to-day management activities over to specialist managed services vendors

-- 19% point to an increased adoption of the cloud consumption model.

 

Commenting on the findings, Kama Pathy, Technical Director at Logicalis Asia said: "These findings confirm the reality we see on the ground. IT leadership is now actively looking to drive a services-led transformation strategy to re-align from a technology-defined function to one that is service-defined. But CIOs are not only looking to transform their IT systems. "We interpret these common themes as CIOs striving to change the way IT is perceived by the wider organisation. Who wants to run a business function that line of business managers think is less agile and less relevant than external providers? Clearly these CIOs are taking a proactive approach to staying relevant, focused on a transformation agenda across all aspects of IT infrastructure, operations and the end user experience.

 

"Creating a service defined enterprise, in which IT and line of business are working towards shared priorities is now a crucial mandate for the CIOs we surveyed. It seems clear that CIOs will now focus their teams on delivering an IT experience comparable with external services providers, and will also engage with services partners to assist them in achieving the service maturity and agility necessary to compete for internal business in the coming years." In response to the survey, Logicalis is continuing to align its own services offerings to give customers a single point of engagement across three critical transformation journeys; bringing its Systems Integration, Managed Services and Cloud Service offerings under a single portfolio brand, Optimal. The Optimal services portfolio enables CIOs to create a balanced approach to owning, operating and funding the infrastructure and IT services their businesses need.

 

With over 2,300 services professionals in 24 countries, Logicalis is actively investing in expanding its services skills, capabilities, platforms and processes, to address its clients' key infrastructure, operational and consumption challenges – including a recently announced initiative to explore the future impact of Software Defined Networks on a range of customer sectors, and recent investments in ITSM skills in all major regions. Mr Pathy added, "Overall, it is clear from the survey that tackling both technology and operations transformation to deliver efficiency, maturity and agility is where our customers are looking for most assistance today. "CIOs increasingly want partners like Logicalis not simply to help in one area. They want maturity and agility in how they build a new virtual data centre, but also how they automate services, connect into their service management environment, and then how they provide a service catalogue internal customers can consume at a price point and experience comparable with external providers. But, they also want us to deliver instant maturity by providing new business solutions directly, in the form of managed or cloud based services.

 

"But, while the customer is now looking for us to blend our role as Systems Integrator, Managed Services Provider and Cloud Solutions provider to support the service defined enterprise, the survey also suggests that CIOs recognise they may have too many services partners today. Services provider sprawl is an issue many CIOs clearly want to avoid or remedy by consolidating on a select number of service partners who can work across the services lifecycle, and that is very much part of the rationale behind the Optimal services portfolio." Chris Barnard, Associate Vice President at IDC, added: "We predict that business innovation focused on creating a wider variety of solutions targeted at new business opportunities and challenges will drive a profound shift in the role of the IT organisation. "Enterprise IT groups cannot afford any longer to be just watching, studying, exploring, or experimenting with cloud services, mobile devices, social technologies, or the other core elements of what we call the 3rd platform. They must develop deep competence in all of these technologies, often with the help of third parties with expertise in 'as a service' strategies."

From http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/ 01/20/2014

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CHINA: Making It Easier to Sue Government

 

A draft amendment to the Administrative Procedure Law, submitted to China's top legislature for a first reading on Monday, should make it easier for citizens to take the government to court.The Administrative Procedure Law, which went into effect in October 1990, is a major guarantee of citizens' rights to pursue the government through the courts, and this first revision to the law should alleviate "petition pressure."While applauding a law that once played an important role in solving disputes, Xin Chunying, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, said citizens had started to complain of "three difficulties" in making a case against governments: the filing of cases; the hearings of such cases; and enforcement of verdicts which favor citizens.When citizens, legal persons or other organizations have disputes with governments or governmental staff, governments are unwilling to be defendants and courts are reluctant to accept and hear such cases, leading many citizens to try to solve their disputes through "letter and visit" (petitions), Xin said.

 

In many parts of the country, citizens have more confidence in petitions than in laws, she said as she explained the draft amendment to Monday's assembly of the bimonthly session of the NPC Standing Committee, which is being held from Dec. 23 to 28.To smooth the litigation process, the draft amendment stresses the courts' duty to ensure citizens can take authorities to court and underlines the need for courts to accept cases involving governments as defendants. Governments should neither intervene nor obstruct courts from filing and hearing such cases. Governmental defendants should respond to the suits according to law.The amendment means more rights infringement cases should be accepted by the courts. People's courts will now accept suits in which administrators have infringed citizen's legal ownership or right to use over natural resources such as forests, pasture, mineral reserves, mountains and water.Courts shall also be required to accept suits concerning infringement of rural land contracts and management rights, illegal fundraising, unlawful collection or requisition of property, or unfairly apportioned fees.

 

Citizens may bring cases against governments which fail to provide appropriate subsistence allowances or social insurance benefits.To further protect citizens' right to sue, the draft allows individuals to sue the government via oral deposition. For those who have difficulty writing a statement of charges, the court will write the plaintiff's oral statement into records and notify the sued party.To standardize the litigation procedure, the draft amendment adds articles to ensure that courts make a registration upon receiving an indictment and give a written statement with due date to the plaintiff.If the indictment is valid, the court should file the case within seven days of receiving the complaint. If the indictment does not meet standards for filing, plaintiffs should be informed in writing of the reasons for refusal, also within seven days. Plaintiffs may appeal to higher courts if they are dissatisfied with the rationale.If courts neither file a case nor give a clear statement in seven days, plaintiffs may appeal to a higher court.

 

If the higher court rules the case should be filed, they may accept it directly or pass it on to a more appropriate court.To reduce intervention in cases in which government itself is the defendant, the draft amendment allows higher courts to designate remote grassroots courts to accept trans-regional administrative cases.The revision is of great significance for averting government intervention in administrative cases and realizing truly independent hearings of such cases, said Jiang Ming'an, professor at Peking University.Considering that many administrative bodies simply refuse to implement or ignore verdicts which favor citizens, the amendment stipulates that administrative bodies' refusal to execute verdicts should be made public.The leaders of bodies which refuse to abide by verdicts will be subject to detention, if their refusals exert a very bad influence on society.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/24/2013

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China Fights Election Scandal to Safeguard Political System

 

A People's Daily commentary to be published on Sunday stresses China's resolution to fight election scandal and maintain people's confidence in the country's fundamental political system -- the system of people's congress.The Hunan provincial legislature said on Saturday that 56 elected deputies to the provincial people's congress had offered bribes to 518 lawmakers of Hengyang municipal people's congress and another 68 staff, with the total amount of money involved exceeding 110 million yuan (about 18.14 million U.S. dollars).The number of people involved in the election case is huge, the amount of money large, the matter serious, the effect pernicious, and this is a severe case of election violation via bribery, the commentary said.Only by overhauling and seriously handling the case in accordance with laws and disciplines will win the heart of the people and maintain the people's confidence in the country's fundamental political system, added the commentary of the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

 

In the Hengyang case, some officials ignored Party disciplines and national laws, drew votes via bribery and received bribes, leading to the spread of violation of Party disciplines and laws, according to the commentary.The provincial legislature has disqualified the 56 during a plenary meeting, while the county-level legislative body of Hengyang City has accepted the resignations of the 512 who took bribes.The commentary said that to resolutely punish and handle corruption is a necessity for the CPC to rule by law, and the Hengyang case must arouse high alert and be dealt with severely.A recent anti-corruption guideline issued by the CPC Central Committee has reiterated to tighten efforts to probe cases of law violation, and no matter in which field, anyone who violates the CPC disciplines and national laws should be investigated and harshly punished.

 

The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held in November said that China will improve its system of corruption punishment and prevention, build a clean government, and cultivate cadres with clean hands.The commentary said that each CPC cadre should take the lead to abide by Party rules and national laws so as to maintain state authority and dignity.The commentary also called on governments and officials at all levels to observe strict disciplines, strengthen system construction, strictly act by laws, maintain authority and dignity of the people's congress system, improve Party building and fight corruption.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/29/2013

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Xi to Head Leading Group for Overall Reform

 

President Xi Jinping will head a leading group for overall reform, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee decided on Monday.The political bureau decided to set up the group to lead the work to comprehensively deepen reform and appoint Xi as its head, according to a decision adopted at a political bureau meeting held on Monday.This is the latest development of a reform blueprint put forward at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee.A decision made at the session first came up with the idea of establishing such a leading group, an important reform move.The leading group will be in charge of "designing reform on an overall basis, arranging and coordinating reform, pushing forward reform as a whole, and supervising the implementation of reform plans," the document said.It will research and decide on major guidelines, policies and schemes for systematic reform in economic, political, cultural, social and environmental sectors as well as the Party system, the document said.

 

The group will lead major reforms at the national level and address major issues with nationwide significance and long-term effect, which involve different regions and departments.It will guide, push forward and supervise the implementation of major reform policies, the document said.When explaining the reform blueprint to the plenary session in November, Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said it is hard for certain or several departments to push forward such a complicated systematic reform so a higher level of leadership is needed.The leading group will allow the Party play a better role of commanding the whole situation and coordinating the efforts of all quarters, he said.Prof. Xie Chuntao, with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told Xinhua that setting up the group is necessary because reform this time will be both unprecedented in scale and degree. A goal has been set to "achieve decisive results in the reform of key sectors by 2020."To achieve this, an institution that exercises core leadership is essential because reform on such a large scale will involve not only government institutions but also those of the Party, legislature and judiciary, said Xie.Experts also suggested that top-level design and leadership is very much needed in future reform to break entrenched vested interests and boost confidence.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/31/2013

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China Casts a Wider Net Against Corruption

 

In a drive that first targeted officials, then university presidents, and now lawmakers, China's fierce battle against corruption is hitting deeper and affecting more people.It no longer comes as a surprise when the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) opens an investigation into a high-profile official.Last month, at least five officials at the ministerial or vice-ministerial level were brought down by the CCDI, including Li Dongsheng, former vice minister of public security and Li Chongxi, former top political advisor in southwest China's Sichuan Province.In fact, updates on graft investigations have become routine, if not daily, on the CCDI website.However, Party and government officials are not the only targets of the anti-corruption campaign. The country is trying to squeeze corruption out of various sectors.Shocking election fraud was exposed in late December in central China's Hunan Province, in which 56 lawmakers from Hunan's Hengyang City bribed 518 fellow lawmakers and another 68 staff in order to be elected to the Hunan Provincial People's Congress.

 

The total amount of money involved exceeded 110 million yuan (18.14 million U.S. dollars).The bribers were disqualified and those who took the bribes resigned.This was considered a major move to show the resolve to fight corruption in the country's fundamental political system, the people's congress system.Educational institutions have been another target.An Xiaoyu, vice president of Sichuan University in southwest China, was investigated by the CCDI for suspected serious discipline violations.An's investigation came after the case of Cai Rongsheng, director of the admissions office of Beijing-based Renmin University of China, who is also confirmed to have been investigated.China's anti-graft campaign started from the self-reflection of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).Calling corruption a serious threat to the Party's survival, President Xi Jinping has vowed to fight corruption and harmful work styles and called on the entire Party to stay on full alert since he took the helm of the CPC in November 2012.Xi has called for a crackdown on "tigers" and "flies," referring to corrupt officials of both high and low rank.

 

Ideologically, the CPC started a campaign to promote the "mass line" and advocate against four forms of undesirable work styles: formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.In everyday life, the CPC has issued a series of detailed instructions. The latest instruct officials to hold simple and inexpensive funerals and "take the lead" to follow smoking bans in public spaces.In order to have a long-term effect, the CPC announced a five-year (2013-2017) plan to show its resolve to firmly fight corruption and maintain its "high-handed posture."Courts and prosecutors are also asked to supervise officials through more independent and lawful investigation and rulings.The Party's efforts are not limited to within the political system. Its main aim is to keep the whole society from being "corrupted." Only then will people feel real change.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/03/2014

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Liu Stresses Promotion of Core Socialist Values

 

Senior Chinese official Liu Yunshan on Saturday stressed the need to bolster core socialist values and create upward social atmosphere.When delivering a speech at a symposium on core socialist values, Liu said the promotion of core socialist values will serve the need to carry forward Chinese people's common ideals and make the nation "ideologically and spiritually stronger."Core socialist values include national goals of prosperity, democracy, civility, and harmony; social goals of freedom, equality, justice and the rule of law; and individual values of patriotism, dedication, integrity, and friendship.Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China(CPC) Central Committee, said core socialist values should be incorporated into school curriculum as well as into family and social education.The official asked CPC members and officials to take the lead in practicing core socialist values.The promotion of core socialist values will become an important factor in the evaluation of officials' achievements, he said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/05/2014

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Top Legislator Urges Improving Congress System

 

Top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang on Tuesday urged the strengthening of theoretical study of China's congress system to help it advance with the times.Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, made the remarks while attending the founding ceremony of an institute for NPC system study.Zhang said the NPC system, the fundamental political system of China, has demonstrated superiority and vitality and has proved to be a system that suits China's national conditions and the times.Lawmakers and researchers must enhance their confidence in the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and unswervingly adhere to the NPC system, said Zhang.Zhang also urged constantly developing the NPC system based on China's conditions to make it better serve China's deepening reforms and the rule of law, said Zhang.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/07/2014

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Chinese Premier Vows Reform to Curb Govn't Corruption

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday pledged to further streamline administration and promote transparency of government affairs to fight against corruption.Li made the remarks while presiding over a meeting held by the State Council, or China's cabinet.He called on government officials to learn the spirit of President Xi Jinping's anti-graft speech at the third plenary session of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which closed on Wednesday.Li said the task to streamline administration and delegate power to lower levels should be given priority in the government's efforts to deepen reform and build a clean government.He pledged to make public information about the government's financial budgets and statements.The premier stressed zero tolerance to corrupt officials and promised to seriously punish any breach of the "eight-point" anti-bureaucracy and extravagance-busting guidelines announced by the central authorities.China's top prosecutor Cao Jianming also urged procuratorial organs at all levels to learn the spirit of Xi's anti-graft speech while presiding over a meeting held by the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) on Wednesday.Cao, procurator-general of the SPP, called on procuratorial organs to work out specific measures for the implementation of a five-year (2013-2017) plan on building a system to punish and prevent corruption, issued by the CPC Central Committee on Dec. 25.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/16/2014

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Senior Military Official Demands CPC Loyalty

 

A senior Chinese military official on Friday said troops should be loyal to the Communist Party of China (CPC).While speaking at a graduation ceremony at the National Defense University, Fan Changlong, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, said the CPC exercises absolute leadership over the military.Fan told graduates to maintain a high degree of consistency with the Party in their thoughts, politics and actions.Fan also urged the military to boost combat preparedness, as well as called on commanders to be deeply involved in military combat preparation and be able to lead troops to fight and win if the need arises."The troops should always bear in mind their tasks, responsibilities as well as their enemies and they should always have passion for their mission," Fan said.Military officials should set examples in improving their work styles and fighting against formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance, he said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/17/2014

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Premier Li Hears the People's Counsel

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang listened to people from science, education, culture, medical and sports circles and the public at large while drafting a government work report.A total of 10 representatives shared their views on the government's work in 2013 and made some suggestions to improve the report at a forum held on Friday, according to a circular published on Sunday.The speakers included hybrid rice researcher Yuan Longping, writer Feng Jicai, actor Li Xuejian and badminton star Lin Dan, as well as representatives from universities, hospitals and bookstores, according to the circular."The purpose of the country's development is to serve the people's material and cultural demands. Without progress in science, education, culture, health and sports, our development will not be a comprehensive one, and is unsustainable," Li said.After hearing opinions from a university student entrepreneur, Li said the government should formulate a program to support business start-ups by university students and graduates.In response to words from a farmer from central China's Hunan Province and a migrant worker in east China's Jiangsu Province, Li said the Party and the government will pay continuous attention to solving their difficulties, and the representatives' comments will be taken into account in improving the draft.He called on government departments at all levels to improve their work accordingly.He expressed his thanks to the representatives and conveyed his greetings for the upcoming Chinese lunar new year.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/20/2014

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JAPAN: Local Governments’ Will, Capabilities Tested in Transfer of State Authority

 

It is essential to revitalize regional areas by eliminating the waste caused by dual administration of central and local governments and work out innovative measures to utilize the individuality and characteristics of each region. The government has decided to transfer 48 types of clerical work and authority, including the expansion and management of national roads and first-class rivers under its direct control, to prefectures. It also plans to reexamine 18 clerical items, including provision of HelloWork’s job information. It will submit related bills to the ordinary Diet session convening early next year to realize these goals. The transfer of authority on national roads and rivers has been left pending since the Council for Decentralization Reform, an advisory panel of the Cabinet Office, recommended this action in 2008. However, the Democratic Party of Japan-led government then came up with a wild scheme of “abolishing in principle” local agencies of the central government, thereby adding a serpentine dimension to discussions on decentralization. But the issue was eventually resolved with realistic measures worked out by the Liberal Democratic Party-led administration.

 

Administration of some sections of national roads and first-class rivers has already been transferred to prefectures. It is unreasonable to assert that administration can only be carried out by the central government. Coherent town building may be possible by integrated expansion and administration of national roads and connected local roads. It was appropriate for the government to work out measures to secure fiscal resources, including one allocating local tax grants to finance maintenance and management costs incurred by prefectural governments. Decentralization will not make much headway without securing such fiscal resources. It also will be possible depending on the situation to transfer authority over roads and rivers under the control of local governments to the central government. Recent years have seen flood damage caused by heavy rain in various parts of the country. In some of these disasters, small municipalities found it difficult to take adequate crisis-management measures for rivers. The central government’s role in times of disaster was recognized anew following the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accompanying huge task of reconstruction. Transferring authority in this manner is reasonable, rather than calling for the uniform transfer of authority to local governments.

 

Noteworthy is a system for handling registration and clerical work to audit nonprofit organizations that will provide paid-for transport services to replace taxis and buses in underpopulated areas. Clerical work will be transferred to municipalities that apply for the system. If they are reluctant to do this, such work will be transferred to prefectures willing to do so. Thus, municipalities will be asked whether they want to undertake new clerical work or are capable of doing so and to make decisions on their own initiative. This formula can be applied to the transfer of other kinds of clerical work and authority to local governments. It also has been decided to move 29 types of clerical work and authority, including a decision on standards for the composition of primary and middle school classes, to government-designated major cities. These cities will be required to bear the financial burden of paying schoolteachers and administrative personnel, but they will be able to exercise a wider range of discretionary powers, including whether to form small classes. It is indispensable for the government, prefectures and municipalities to continue studying how to divide the various roles to promote practical decentralization.

From http://the-japan-news.com 12/24/2013

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Prompt Action Imperative to Reform Electoral System

 

The issue of fundamental reform of Diet electoral systems was carried over to this year after many courts handed down rulings in 2013 highly critical of disparities of vote values in elections of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councillors. Though political parties have been debating the issue, their opinions remain widely divided. Little time remains for the parties to act on this issue because Diet action, such as revising related laws, must be completed before the next lower house or upper house election is held. The situation is more urgent in the upper house. A November 2012 revision of the Public Offices Election Law that added a total of four seats in some prefectural electoral districts while cutting the same number of seats in others postponed the fundamental reform of the system. Instead, a supplementary provision to the law states, “A conclusion over fundamental reform shall be made” before the next upper house election is held in summer 2016. A Supreme Court ruling in 2012 also demanded the Diet reexamine the allocation of upper house seats for each of the prefectural electoral districts.

 

Parliamentary groups in the upper house formed a council on electoral system reforms, which is chaired by Masashi Waki, the Liberal Democratic Party’s secretary general in the upper house caucus. Waki said, “We seriously take the laws and court rulings to heart, and will promote debates in our council.” The upper house panel is now hearing opinions from experts and plans to finish the process by around April. It aims to start full-fledged debates between the ruling and opposition parties after Waki presents his personal proposal before or after the Golden Week holidays in May. Considering the time necessary to explain the reforms to the public, the ruling and opposition camps will need to agree over a reform plan by the end of 2014, and related bills will have to pass in an ordinary Diet session in 2015 at the latest. The political parties share the view that unless the actions are completed by the deadlines, it will be impossible to implement the reforms before the next upper house election in 2016. Debates on reforming the upper house’s electoral systems were conducted in 2006 and 2012 but conclusions were postponed on both the occasions. Thus it is uncertain whether the ruling and opposition camps, still widely divided on the issue, will be able to reach an agreement in time.

 

New Komeito insists on dividing the nation into 11 blocs of multiple-seat electoral districts. Your Party and the Japanese Communist Party demand upper house elections be held using only a proportional representation system. Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) insists that the lower and upper houses merge into a single chamber, which would require amending the Constitution. The LDP has not presented a practical plan of its own. The Democratic Party of Japan has only presented a demand that the total number of upper house seats be cut by about 40 from the current 242. Waki expressed reservations about converting electoral districts into blocs or choosing proportional representation alone, saying: “If all upper house elections are held under the proportional representation system, prefectures with small populations would go without representation.” Some members of the upper house council are also critical of overemphasizing the equal value of ballots. The lower house also must coordinate opinions quickly in order to implement its electoral system reform before the next lower house election is held.

 

The LDP, Komeito and the DPJ are scheduled to resume working-level negotiations on electoral reform when this year’s ordinary Diet session begins. LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba said at a recent press conference, “As we ask the public to shoulder burdens after the consumption tax rate is raised, we must make efforts to streamline ourselves. The implementation of the consumption tax hike will be a benchmark.” Ishiba emphasized his intention to compile a plan to cut the number of lower house seats at the same time that the consumption tax rate is raised from 5 percent to 8 percent in April. In November last year, the LDP, Komeito and the DPJ agreed to reduce the lower house seats while maintaining the framework of the current electoral system, which combines single-seat constituencies and proportional representation. But many in the LDP and Komeito are reluctant to implement fundamental reform in the near future. Ishin no Kai shares the view that the current framework of the electoral system should be maintained.

From http://the-japan-news.com 01/01/2014

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Govt Embarks on English Education System Reform

 

 

The education ministry has embarked on reform of the English education system as part of efforts to develop a generation of skilled workers who can play an active role at a global level. The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has mapped out the reform plan to be implemented in 2020, the ministry source said. The reform includes plans to start English studies at an earlier primary school grade and allow some middle school classes to be taught in English. The ministry also hopes to have high school students acquire the ability to express themselves fluently through discussions and presentations, according to the source. While classes taught entirely in English have just been introduced at high schools this fiscal year, there are mixed feelings about the reform—including anticipation and confusion—among teachers, observers said. “Form pairs,” Sho Kobayashi, a teacher at Tokyo Metropolitan Hakuo Senior High School, said in English during his English class. He delivered instructions in rapid English to first-year students. “Time is up,” he said.

 

Since the school in Taito Ward, Tokyo, introduced classes taught only in English in April last year, it has struggled to make the full switchover. Kobayashi majored in English pedagogy in university and graduate school. As he has no experience studying abroad for an extended period of time, he teaches students by visiting English classes at other schools and practicing accurate pronunciation using a CD included with a textbook, among other means. During the Dec. 20 class, Kobayashi used no Japanese. Under his instruction, the students read a textbook, and discussed their ideas in English in pairs and groups. “At first, it was hard to follow, but I’ve gradually gotten used to hearing English,” a student said. Kobayashi said students consulted with him one after another about the class by around early May. “The students told me, ‘It’s hard to understand what’s being said,’ or ‘I’m worried that I might not be able to keep up,’” he said. In response, Kobayashi tried various methods to help them understand what he was saying by changing his words and expressions to simpler English. He also designed his lessons to follow a recognizable flow. Eventually, his class started to run more smoothly.

 

During each lesson, he still moves from seat to seat, checking students’ pronunciation, marking beats by playing castanets. Kobayashi said he supports the government’s reform plan to conduct English-only classes from the middle-school level. “It’s important to become accustomed to English earlier in life,” he said. Meanwhile, right after entering high school, many students speak English with Japanese accents. “There are great differences among teachers in terms of conversation and pronunciation lessons. It’s necessary to raise the performance levels of teachers as a whole by providing training programs for them,” he said. The government’s reform plan also seeks to raise teachers’ abilities to teach English. The ministry plans to study requiring teachers to accomplish a certain level of results of English proficiency tests including the Test in Practical English Proficiency (Eiken) and TOEFL. A private English conversation school said an increasing number of teachers have been taking lessons. Aeon Corp., which operates English conversation schools nationwide, said there has been a substantial increase in the number of primary school teachers who enroll in its courses.

 

Primary school educators have been teaching English to fifth- and sixth-graders as a “foreign-language activity” class with a native speaker serving as an assistant language teacher. The main activities in the classes are singing songs and playing games in English. After the starting age for “foreign language activity” is moved up to the third grade, instructors will be expected to teach basic reading and writing of English to fifth- and sixth-graders as a full-fledged subject. Many primary school teachers said English has always been a tough subject for them. “I can’t have a conversation with ALTs, so I communicate with them by writing. I can’t even consult with them about the lesson,” Aeon quoted a teacher as saying. A 23-year-old high school teacher of Chiba Prefecture who was taking lessons said, “I’m paying to attend private lessons with my own money, but it’s not a training program for instructors of English.” “The bottom line is high school entrance examinations. Entrance examinations primarily focus on reading comprehension and grammar. If the exam style doesn’t change, it’s hard to change the way we teach,” said a English teacher of a public middle school in Saitama.

 

The education ministry was spurred to compile a reform plan for English education by experts’ advice that the current system does not instill sufficient speaking ability, which will prevent students from fully adapting to globalization. “After six years at middle and high school, students should be able to hold a conversation in English, but it doesn’t work that way in this country,” said Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura when he announced the reform plan. “We are switching from English for entrance examinations to English that will let us communicate with people in foreign countries.” There have been many similar suggestions in past years, leading to such countermeasures as the introduction of high school English classes taught only in English. However, there were reports of cases in which only the teachers spoke English, with no response from the students. “The objective of emphasizing communication is not being realized. We thought further strengthening was necessary,” a senior official of the ministry said. Concerning entrance exams for high schools and colleges, which currently focus on translation, reading and grammar, the ministry plans to ask schools to place more importance on communication. It believes that changes in entrance exams can promote reform in classes at middle and high schools.

 

The greatest challenge to realize the reform plan is nurturing competent teachers. It will be difficult to secure the 73,000 English teachers needed to cover all primary schools nationwide.

The education ministry plans to staff more schools with native English assistant language teachers (ALTs) and to utilize private citizens who can teach English, in addition to carrying out training courses for teachers. Whether the reform plan can be successfully carried out by the initial goal of 2020 depends on how many competent English teachers the ministry can cultivate. “If students learn English from primary school as an official subject, they can have more practical English classes at middle and high schools. That would be very effective,” said Prof. Kensaku Yoshida at Sophia University, an expert on English education. However, “some students become to hate English as soon as they start learning English grammar at middle school,” Yoshida said. “If primary schools simply teach what middle schools currently teach, that would only cause ‘English allergies’ at an earlier stage. It’s necessary to nurture competent teachers who can teach in ways suitable for different ages.

From http://the-japan-news.com 01/07/2014

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Reform Diet with More Debate Among Party Leaders, Electoral System Review

 

The Diet must respond appropriately to changes in and outside Japan and deal quickly with the issues it faces. To realize this, it is essential to reform the nation’s political decision-making system, which is often trapped in the old mold. The ordinary session of the Diet is to be convened Friday, and parliamentary reforms must be carried out as quickly as possible. Under the current system, the prime minister and other cabinet ministers are tied up in Diet deliberations far longer than their counterparts in Britain and Germany. It is important for the government to be completely accountable. But, if it prevents the ministers from working on domestic and foreign affairs, it is like putting the cart before the horse. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, last month proposed a review of Diet management. The proposal calls for debates among party leaders in the Diet, which were held only twice last year, to be held once a month, although the prime minister is required only to attend plenary sessions of the Diet and budget committee meetings to answer basic questions. If cabinet ministers have to skip deliberations to attend international conferences or to deal with disasters, vice ministers or parliamentary secretaries should fill in for them, it says.

We think the proposal’s basic direction is appropriate. “The proposal will give the prime minister and cabinet ministers an excuse to avoid Diet deliberations,” the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan said. This objection is far from convincing because, when it was in office, the party proposed flexible management of the Diet “from the viewpoints of national interests and foreign policy.”

 

After a change in government, a ruling party becomes an opposition party. Both the ruling and opposition parties should work together to constructively make new rules. The substance of Diet deliberations must be enriched and the Diet’s management streamlined. A battle of words between the ruling and opposition parties tends to be nothing more than a tug-of-war about Diet schedules, with the ruling parties trying to pass bills as quickly as possible and the opposition parties attempting to scrap bills by drawing out the deliberations so they cannot be passed before the end of a Diet session. A typical example of that is the process to enact a bill to protect special state secrets. In Japan, the cabinet submits most bills to the Diet. To make the Diet more functional as a legislature, more bills should be sponsored by Diet members. Since the state of the divided Diet in which the opposition controlled the House of Councillors has ended, the Diet must make preparations for a similar situation to occur in the future. For instance, it is necessary to review the system of a joint committee of both houses that is formed when different decisions are made by the two Diet chambers. In practice, members of the committee, 10 each from the upper and lower houses, are all selected from the majority party at each chamber. This practice has robbed the committee of its substance and made it a place where 10 supporters and 10 opponents to a certain bill meet but can never reach an agreement, except to confirm that negotiations failed.

 

We expect Diet members to come up with ideas to help the committee reach agreement, such as by changing the number and composition of its members, for instance. It is also necessary to come up with a decision on what to do about Yui no To, a party formed near the end of last year by defectors from Your Party, as it has been prevented from forming a new parliamentary group in the Diet. Yui no To, which comprises 15 lawmakers, submitted on Jan. 7 an application to the secretariats of both houses of the legislature for registration as a parliamentary group, but the secretariats turned it down. As Your Party rejected the defections of 13 of the 15 lawmakers, who won Diet seats in proportional representation contests, the application was blocked due to the Diet practice of leaving the authority for filing an application allowing certain members of a parliamentary group to secede up to the group’s top leader. The result is that Yui no To has neither a waiting room nor has an interpellation slot been allotted to it. It also is ineligible to receive funds to cover legislative investigative activities that are paid from the state coffers to parliamentary groups. Under the circumstances, the party has difficulty in engaging in Diet activities.

 

Your Party has demanded that the defectors who obtained Diet seats on the strength of ballots that were garnered in the name of the party in the proportional representation segments of the Diet elections should resign as legislators and return their seats to Your Party. Your Party’s argument is reasonable, considering they were elected to the Diet solely on the strength of votes cast for the party in the proportional representation contest. It is also understandable, however, that the LDP has said the insistence of Your Party seeking to make Yui no To members remain in Your Party’s parliamentary group “in spite of their disagreements with Yui no To should be deemed unnatural.”] At a meeting of directors of the lower house’s Rules and Administration Committee, it was agreed that “the will of individual house members should be respected regarding their withdrawal from a parliamentary group.” There have been a number of cases in which lawmakers who won seats through proportional representation and later broke away from their parties to be subsequently acknowledged as withdrawing from parliamentary groups.

 

Participation of such a lawmaker who defects to a new party is allowed under the Public Offices Election Law. Preventing lawmakers from seceding from one parliamentary group to join another will hamper political realignment moves. If there are no prospects of resolving conflicts involving a parliamentary group, the speaker of the lower house or the president of the upper house should mediate to resolve the problem. A problem like that between Your Party and Yui no To can recur at any time. It is desirable to establish a set of rules governing the formation of a new parliamentary group and procedures concerning secession from an existing one. Also problematic in this connection is that there has been little progress in reforming the electoral systems of both houses. Regarding the disparity in the value of votes in the lower house election in December 2012, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that it was in a “state of unconstitutionality.” In lawsuits concerning the upper house poll in July last year, 13 high courts in various parts of the country ruled the election to be “in a state of unconstitutionality,” while three others bluntly called the election “unconstitutional.”

 

The courts all called for the legislature to tackle the task of drastically reforming the election system to rectify vote value disparities between the most and least represented constituencies. Both the ruling and opposition camps in the lower and upper houses must realize the seriousness of the current state of affairs, which the judiciary refuses to call “constitutional.” The main factor hindering an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties on electoral system reform is the difference in views concerning the reduction of lawmakers. The parties should redouble efforts to come up with truly desirable and feasible electoral systems, by setting aside trimming the number of Diet seats, which has been influenced by opportunistic party interests intended to pander to the public. If the ruling and opposition parties remain unable to craft specific reforms because of their partisan maneuvering, there is no other option than to leave the matter up to deliberations by an expert third-party organ, an idea proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

From http://the-japan-news.com 01/19/2014

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Secrets Body Seen Balancing Security, Rights

 

The advisory council on safeguarding information, which held its first meeting Friday, is expected to play roles for maintaining a balance between securing secrets to gain trust from other countries and information disclosure to meet the Japanese people’s rights to know. The council, which was established to monitor operations of the government’s system to keep specially designated state secrets from outsiders’ point of view, has begun works to make integrated operational rules that will be applied to the whole of the government. The council will continue debating the issue until the law on protecting specially designated state secrets is enacted at the end of this year. At another meeting held in the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo’s Uchisaiwaicho district Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “To make the Japanese version of the National Security Council function, we established the law on protecting specially designated state secrets. I promise that freedom of the press, freedom of speech and the people’s rights to know will never be curtailed.”

 

Abe emphasized that he aims to balance national interests over security and freedom of the press in reporting and gathering information. The Japanese version of the NSC, which was established in December last year, and the legislation for keeping state secrets are two wheels of a wagon for the government’s diplomatic and security policies. The government decided to take these actions because Japan has been regarded by other countries to have many vulnerabilities for secrets as legislative systems for the purpose have not been sufficient. According to Prof. Hideo Nagano of Hosei University, a member of the council, Abe talked about an episode during the council meeting about his experience in which he was shocked to know Japan’s secret protection system lagged behind when he accompanied a predecessor on a diplomatic visit abroad. When then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited the United States, an interpreter was about to accompany Koizumi at a meeting in which then U.S. President George Bush and Koizumi received reports about top secrets. Then, the U.S. side conducted security clearance screening on the interpreter, Nagano quoted Abe as saying.

 

Abe said, “Unless the security clearance [to evaluate qualification of officials who handle state secrets as stipulated in the law] is conducted sufficiently, Japan will not be trusted by other countries.” Focuses of attention from now on in the council include the guidelines over designating and declassifying special state secrets. By deciding details over which information will be designated as state secrets and standards for extending the length of periods during which the information are designated as state secrets, the council aims to eliminate room for the government to arbitrarily implement the system, such as concealing information that is unfavorable to the government. Once a year, the prime minister will report to the council about how the secret protection system is operated. Masako Mori, minister of state for consumer affairs who is in charge of the state secrets law, held a press conference at the Japan National Press Club on Friday and indicated that the government will report the number of designated state secrets and that of discarded documents to the council.

 

About the balance between keeping state secrets and people’s rights to know, one member of the council said during the meeting, “From the point of view over the rights to know, it’s important that the system will be operated in a way in which the public’s anxiety will be eliminated.” Tsuneo Watanabe, chairman of the board and editor-in-chief of The Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, who chairs the council, said after the meeting: “Proper news-gathering and reporting activities must not be repressed even by a bit. I’ll make remarks about points with such fears.” On the day, the council also discussed how the council will be managed and decided that summaries of minutes of the council’s debates will be disclosed on the Cabinet Secretariat’s website. About the minutes themselves, Watanabe said that they will be disclosed to the public in the future. “I assume that the minutes will be kept as official documents so that they will be disclosed to the public in the future,” he said. “Probably, while the [council’s] meetings are talks not open to the public, nothing discussed in the meetings would be kept secret.”

 

About the point that the minutes themselves are not disclosed, Nagano told reporters after the meeting: “Because highly confidential issues are discussed [by the council], making them public will be a problem. Though this is just my guess, [council members] may hesitate.” Advisory members selected to ensure objectivity, transparency The seven third-party members of the government’s advisory council on safeguarding information were selected from various fields to keep a close watch on the implementation of the law on protecting specially designated state secrets. The selection from various fields reflects the intentions of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The advisory council is to receive a report from the prime minister on the law’s implementation—such as designation of confidential information as secrets subject to special control and removal of the designation. The council has the right to present its opinions to the government on the law’s implementation regarding the handling of specially designated state secrets. “We have to ensure objectivity and transparency in the handling of secrets by the government, which has been ambiguous so far, by introducing checking systems with third-party members,” Abe said at the first meeting held Friday.

 

Abe stressed that the council’s activities will prevent the government from arbitrarily implementing the law regarding specially designated state secrets. The council also will study two new government panels aimed at checking how to handle designated state secrets. The protection and oversight committee under the Cabinet Secretariat comprises the chief cabinet secretary as the head of the committee and vice-ministerial-level members of the foreign and defense ministries, the National Police Agency and other government entities. The committee is intended to allow top administrative officials of government ministries that have many officials who deal with confidential information from foreign countries to share information on handling state secrets. Meanwhile, the information protection and oversight office in the Cabinet Office will monitor the appropriateness of the system to control and dispose of formal documents. In the future, this system will comprise about 20 members under the independent officer for public document management.

From http://the-japan-news.com 01/19/2014

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Hire Some 4,100 Officials Next Year, the Most Since 2008

 

The government said Monday that it plans to hire 4,160 civil servants next year, the highest annual intake in six years. The figure will be 412 more than hired this year and marks the biggest number since 4,868 were recruited in 2008, according to the Ministry of Security and Public Administration

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 12/30/2013

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MALAYSIA: PM Urges Citizen Engagement via Social Media

 

Najib Razak, Malaysia’s Prime Minister and President of the ruling party United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), has urged his party members to leverage social media to engage with citizens. With the number of first-time voters expected to double to six million by the next general election in 2017, Malaysia is seeing a rise in the number ofyouth who are eager to engage and play a role in governance. The proliferation of smartphones among youth, furthered by the Government’s policy to issue RM 200 (US$ 61) rebate on smartphones for the youth, has led to social media being a key channel for the youth to engage the Government and receive information. The Malaysian Government is keen to leverage this interactive digital channel to engage its audience. Chief of UMNO Women, Sharizat Abdul Jalil, has said that social media is overtaking the traditional channels of information sharing by government. UMNO’s Women Youth wing has recently set up a social media unit representing all 191 divisions of the party.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/16/2014

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PHILIPPINES: President Welcomes Positive Survey Results on Gov't Performance

 

Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday lauded the results of a survey which showed that Filipinos remain satisfied with his performance despite criticisms hurled against his government concerning relief efforts for typhoon victims. A survey conducted by research institute Social Weather Stations on Dec. 11 to 16 showed that 69 percent of Filipinos expressed satisfaction with Aquino's governance. "In lieu of the usual naysayers trying to promote the impression that there is a general dissatisfaction among the Filipino people, the survey shows that an overwhelming majority are solidly with (Aquino)," Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement. Lacierda noted that Aquino's public satisfaction rating was obtained despite the "tough" decisions he had to make on issues of "serious national concern." He said these include the conflict in Zamboanga City as well as the earthquake and typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, which struck central Philippines earlier this year. Following the onslaught of typhoon Haiyan, Aquino's government was criticized for its slow delivery of goods and services needed by victims in typhoon-affected areas. "We are grateful to our people for proving once more that they are on the side of true public service and are unswayed by mere politicking," Lacierda said. He said the government will continue to work hard to sustain the high economic growth currently being enjoyed by the Philippines.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 12/26/2013

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The Philippines to Form IT Advisory Council for 2016 Automated Elections

 

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) and the ICT-Office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is calling on the reconstitution of the COMELEC Advisory Council (CAC) to provide recommendations on the Automated Election System (AES) for the upcoming 2016 National and Local Elections. The CAC will be made up of nine members from the academe, non-government electoral reform organisations, ICT professional organisations and select government agencies. They will be tasked with providing recommendations on the most appropriate, secure, applicable and cost-effective technology to be applied in the AES. Previous CAC members were composed of senior decision makers from agencies such as the Department of Education, DOST, Philippine Computer Society, University of the Philippines, Consortium of Electoral Reforms, CIO forum and the Philippines Electronics and Telecommunications Federation. According to an official statement the COMELEC and ICTO-DOST is calling the early formation of the council so that they can prepare the budget requirements and ensure that the relevant stakeholders have enough time to provide their necessary input. “We are hopeful that with the early convening of the CAC for the upcoming 2016 automated election, we can minimise potential security issues that came up in the previous elections such as the late release of the source code,” said Louis Casambre, CAC Chairman and Executive Director of the ICTO-DOST.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/07/2014

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The Philippines Simplifies Budget Preparation with Online System

 

The Department of Budget and Management recently rolled out an Online Budget Execution Documents (BEDs) System for government agencies, as part of the current administration’s public financial management reforms. The Online BEDs is a web-based system which will simplify the preparation of various budget execution documents in government agencies. It aims to lessen the forms to be manually accomplished and give agencies a more convenient and easier way to prepare and promptly submit budget execution documents containing the agencies’ physical and financial plans, targets and monthly disbursement programme. According to an official statement, the system is crucial for the efficient cash programming and timely issuance of cash allocations to fund the implementation of government programmes and projects. Furthermore, the system will also enable agency Central Offices to generate consolidated reports of the BEDs of their attached agencies, regional offices and operating units.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/13/2014

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Philippines Rolls Out More Initiatives to Combat Corruption

 

Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III unveiled Wednesday two projects aiming at combating corruption by making government transactions more transparent. Aquino said the Cashless Purchase Card (CPC) program and the Open Data Philippines online portal will "modernize" government procurement. "The Cashless Purchase Card program and Open Data Philippines are only the latest in a long list of reforms we have implemented towards instituting good governance," he said in a speech at the opening of the three-day Good Governance Summit in Manila. Aquino said the CPC program enables government agencies to make financial transactions entirely through electronic means instead of cash or checks. It will initially be implemented at the Department of Budget and Management, Department of National Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the first quarter of this year. Aquino said he hopes the CPC program will be expanded to other national agencies by 2015. Through the CPC and other similar reforms, he said government financial transactions should "be 100 percent checkless and 80 percent cashless before the end of this year." Aquino also announced the launch of the Open Data Philippines website which features the latest national government data accessible to the public.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com /01/15/2014

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SINGAPORE: Attorney-General's Chambers to Expand Legal Representation Services to Statutory Boards

 

Singapore's Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) mulls to provide legal representation service for the country's statutory boards, the AGC announced Friday. Currently, the AGC only handles government-related affairs, such as cases involving ministries. The extending will start by "taking onboard judicial review cases against statutory boards and civil penalty cases enforced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore," Attorney-General Steven Chong Horng Siong said in a speech at the opening of the Legal Year 2014. "By pulling together all these cases under my chambers, we will ensure that a whole-of-government perspective is adopted in the conduct of litigation and that public law principles are developed within a coherent analytical framework," Chong added. Besides, Chief Justice of Singapore Sundaresh Menon said during the same event that the city-state also has some plans in pipeline to ensure lower-income Singaporeans have access to legal services, particularly in areas such as criminal law, family law and basic civil claims and disputes. An inter-agency committee named Committee to Study Community Legal Services Initiatives has recommended the reporting of hours expended by all lawyers on pro bono work. The chief justice said "the legislative amendments required to mandate such reporting will likely be introduced this year, with a view to their implementation, if passed, in 2015." "The data, which will be collected over a period of between three and five years, will enable us to better understand the pro bono landscape, our society's needs and how far those needs are being met by the profession," he added. In addition, the city-state's Ministry of Law also has plans to increase the funds available for criminal legal assistance.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/03/2014

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VIETNAM: Deputy PM Urges to Further Simplify Administrative Procedures

 

Administrative procedures remain complicated and overlapped, said Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday, adding that the one-stop mechanism has not been implemented effectively, describing it as "one door with numerous locks." Addressing a meeting with relevant ministries and sectors on the administrative reforms in investment, construction and land on Thursday, the Vietnamese deputy prime minister pointed out that some inconsistencies are still seen in a number of the country's laws including the Law on Investment, Law on Enterprises and Law on Construction, causing difficulties for both administrative agencies and businesses. According to Dang Huy Dong, deputy minister of Planning and Investment, results of a review on the ministry's administrative regulations relating to investment, construction and land recently showed that investors have to follow 18 different procedures in the fields of land, construction and environment to get permission to implement a project.

 

Dong proposed that in order to simplify administrative procedures, it is necessary to perfect the one-stop administrative mechanism which is also termed as "one-door policy" in Vietnam, allowing investors to submit documents to just one location. "It is necessary to make stronger efforts in administrative reforms in investment, construction and land, reducing intermediate stages and creating favorable conditions for local residents and enterprises," Vietnam's state-run news agency on Thursday quoted Deputy Prime Minister Phuc as saying. Phuc also demanded that ministries, sectors and localities work together to build a list of required procedures and the duration of procedure handling. In 2001, Vietnamese government enacted the overall program on administrative reform in 2001-2010, putting forward the one-stop mechanism, in which administrative procedures reform was set as one of key tasks of the government. In order to effectively carry out the reforms of administrative procedures, Vietnamese government in 2007 issued a decision regulating the implementation of the "one-door policy" in all state administrative agencies in localities.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/03/2014

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45 Corruption Cases Detected in Vietnam in 2013

 

Vietnam's Government Inspectorate of Vietnam detected 45 corruption cases in 2013, with the involvement of 99 people, said Vietnamese Government Inspectorate on Thursday. At a teleconference held in Vietnam's capital Hanoi on Wednesday to review 2013's work, the Government Inspectorate revealed that an amount of 354 billion Vietnamese dong (16.7 million U.S. dollars) have been found embezzled in 2013, the website of the institution reported on Thursday. The inspectorate has revoked 299.6 billion Vietnamese dong (14. 2 million U.S. dollars), handled administrative fines to ten collectives, 104 individuals, and transferred 26 cases to investigation agencies. According to Inspector General Huynh Phong Tranh, in 2013, the agency conducted a total of 8,921 administrative inspections. They detected the misuse of 326.5 trillion Vietnamese dong (15.5 billion U.S. dollars) and 4,520 hectares of land. As a result, more than 25 trillion Vietnamese dong (1.2 billion U.S. dollars) and 3,653 hectares of land have been reclaimed while more than 1,580 collectives and 2,675 individuals were fined for administrative violations. The inspection sector also transferred 72 cases and 75 individuals to investigation agencies. Addressing the conference, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung instructed closer inspection of the performance of ministers and chairpersons of people's committees across Vietnam, especially in exercising state management of land, capital construction investment, state-owned enterprises and implementation of national target programs. The Government Inspectorate said, corruption and waste in Vietnam mainly occur in fields of land use, credit, banking, asset management and capital, causing huge economic losses and public discontent.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/09/2014

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Anti-Corruption Remains Hot Topic in Vietnam

 

Vietnamese people have been carrying non-stop discussions on the key cases of anti-corruption recently. Joint efforts by the country's government and party showed that, there is no safety zone in the fight against corruption which makes local people become more and more confident, voter Nguyen Dinh Huong was quoted by local Tien Phong (Pioneer) online newspaper as saying that at the 13th meeting of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front on Sunday. Vietnam Farmers Association Chairman Nguyen Quoc Cuong shared the view with Huong, adding that there must be a mechanism or measure to ensure security for those who delate corruption crimes. In an interview with the country's state-run news agency VNA on the occasion of coming Lunar New Year on Sunday, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong said after the establishment and operation of a central steering committee on prevention of corruption one year ago, many complicated corruption lawsuits have been put on trial, winning great consensus among people. The committee had closely supervised the investigation of top 10 corruption cases in 2013 and is expected to take some other cases into serious consideration in 2014, said Trong. However, Trong told VNA that, the most adorable result in the struggle against corruption in the country is to prevent it from happening. Handling stringently existing cases is also a positive prevention measure, Trong added. In a recent move, the CPV Politburo issued a directive that helps strengthen the party's supervision on asset declaration among civil servants and party members. Vietnamese Nhan Dan online newspaper reported Monday that, the directive, 33-CT/TW, is seen as another development in preventing corruption in Vietnam.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/13/2014

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MALDIVES: Govt in Talks to Strengthen Justice System, Says President

 

President Abdulla Yameen on Thursday said his government was in talks with the judiciary, on ways to make the country’s justice system more efficient. Speaking during a meeting with the people of Addu, President Yameen noted that the government would not be able to complete all of its tasks within the first hundred days. However, the first hundred days would pave the way for the government to reach major decisions on its main projects, he added. The president reiterated some of the government's pledges, assuring the increase of the allowance for elderly above 65 years, and the introduction of the insurance scheme for fishermen in order to ensure a monthly wage of MVR10,000 regardless of the catch. He said farmers would be covered under a similar insurance scheme. President Yameen arrived back in Male Friday afternoon following the conclusion of his trip to Addu.

From http://www.haveeru.com.mv/ 01/18/2014

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AZERBAIJAN: Various Office Duties in Defense Ministry’s System to Be Entrusted to Civilians

 

A number of office duties in the military units of the Armed Forces and other institutions that are subordinate to the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry will be gradually entrusted to civilians, the spokesperson of the ministry, Lieutenant-Colonel Vagif Dargahli told Trend on Jan.17. The reforms carried out in the country's Armed Forces allow for improvement to the system and management of defense, and to further enhance the army's combat readiness, according to Dargahli. Nevertheless, the army will be exempt from execution of additional functions that are not peculiar to it, including a variety of tasks in the fields of economy, security and service orders, the spokesperson said. This will ensure the fullest participation of personnel in military training. "To this end, civilians are involved in the implementation of a number of office duties, and it is planned to resolve these issues in stages in the future," Dargahli said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/17/2014

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EU to Support Reforms in Azerbaijan’s Pension-Insurance System

 

Azerbaijan and the European Union are working on a new twinning project in the pension-insurance sphere, chairman of Azerbaijani State Social Protection Fund Elman Mehdiyev told journalists on Jan.24. Currently the work is being carried out at the expert level with partners from Latvia and Germany, according to the chairman. The project cost hasn't been determined yet. Azerbaijan will be assisted within the project in preparation of legislation for the work of private pension funds, the introduction of the system's accumulative component, as well as a number of other issues related to the development of Azerbaijan's pension-insurance system. The parties will sign an agreement on the starting the implementation of the project in the near future, according to Mehdiyev. The cumulative part of labor pensions envisages accumulation of real pension capital in the individual accounts of the insured persons, and its direction to the pension provision in accordance with the legislation after increasing its amount by using data management tools until the person reaches the retirement age.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/24/2014

 

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KYRGYZSTAN: Director of State Commission on Religious Affairs Changed

 

Abdilatif Zhumabaev has resigned from his post as director of the State Commission on Religious Affairs of Kyrgyzstan due to a job transfer. The corresponding decree was signed by Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev today, the press service of the state commission's press service said, Kabar agency reported. By the decree of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev from January 17, 2014, Orozbek Moldaliev was appointed to the post. As the state commission stressed, today Moldaliev is being presented to the staff.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/17/2014

 

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KAZAKHSTAN: New Head Appointed to Public-Private Partnership Centre

 

Azamat Oinarov is to head the Kazakhstan Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Centre, the Kazakh Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning said on Jan.8. "Azamat Oinarov has been appointed chairman of the Kazakhstan Public-Private Partnership Center JSC. Previously, he served as Deputy Defence Minister for Economics and Finance," the ministry said. Oinarov began his career in 1992 as a junior researcher at the Research Institute of Economy and Market Relations under the Ministry of Economy of Kazakhstan. In 1994 he worked as chief specialist at NAFA under the Ministry of Econom, then moved to a similar position in the State Export-Import Bank. In 1996 he began his activities at the Almaty Merchant Bank CJSC as a leading specialist. Oinarov was appointed deputy chairman of the board of Tsesnabank JSC in 1997. In 1998 he was appointed deputy chairman of the Economic Planning Committee of the Ministry of Economy and Trade. In 1999 Oinarov was appointed head of the Chancellery Department of the Kazakh Prime Minister. In 2001 he moved to the post of deputy chairman of the Agency for Regulation of Natural Monopolies and Protection of Competition. Between 2003 and 2006 he worked as Deputy Finance Minister and in 2007 he was appointed Deputy Defence Minister for Economics and Finance. In 2010, he was engaged in professional activities at TASK Holding LLP as financial officer then worked as advisor to the chairman of the Board of Directors.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/08/2014

 

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AUSTRALIA: 'Unsustainable' Welfare System to Be Overhauled, Says Minister

 

Australia’s welfare system is to be overhauled, with only the age pension exempted from potential reforms announced by the social services minister, Kevin Andrews. Andrews has used the latest figures available, 2012’s statistical overview of income support customers, to label the country’s welfare system “unsustainable”, the Australian reports. The two main areas of focus of the welfare reforms are the disability support pension – which he labelled a “set-and-forget payment” – and Newstart, with the government looking to move people from the payments into the workforce. “Work is the best form of welfare,” Andrews said. The proposal has been labelled “ideologically driven” by the chief executive of the national council of St Vincent de Paul society, John Falzon. The overview shows the number of people receiving government payments in 2012 was 5,033,323, with the age pension making up almost half that number at 2,282,592, though Andrews has ruled out changes in that area.

 

He compared Australia to European countries in recession, saying the country risked the same fate if welfare was not reformed. “The context of this is we have a rapidly ageing population in Australia and that means in the future there will be more people who are dependent on income support payments and it also means we also see a very substantial shrinkage in the workforce,” he told ABC News 24. “The combination of those two things places additional pressures on the country and additional pressures on the economy, so it’s prudent for the government to look at welfare and to ensure it is sustainable, otherwise we will find ourselves in the case of some of the European countries at the moment where their welfare system has become unsustainable.” Andrews has quietly extended the deadline of a review of the welfare system, saying he expects it to be completed at the end of February. He said in December, when it was announced, that it would be done within a month. Falzon said while he broadly supported a review of the welfare system, focusing on reducing the amount of cash spent on it would come at the expense of long-term objectives such as reducing unemployment.

 

“It’s always been therapeutic for welfare bashers to put in the boot to people who are excluded and blame them for their exclusion from the workforce,” he said, adding: “It’s irrational and ideologically driven to say we need to reduce cash welfare payments and we know it’s complete hype the Newstart employments have ballooned.” Falzon said the government needed to work with businesses in areas of high unemployment and provide adequate support for people when they are outside the labour market. He said he supported the proposal to introduce universal payments topped up as people needed but on the condition the base rate was “reasonable”. “There is very little political courage or will to act on the woefully low Newstart payments,” he said. “It is seen as somehow soft.” The number of people on Newstart grew from 527,480 in 2011 to 549,773 in 2012. In 2002, 554,821 claimed the allowance. The 10-year low for people claiming Newstart was in 2008 with 399,401. Within a year it had risen to 520,194 as the effects of the global financial crisis hit Australia. The figure would be much larger today as more than 80,000 single mothers were moved to Newstart from the higher single parents’ allowance in January 2013 under the Gillard government.

 

Andrews has ruled out retrospective changes as part of the reforms and though the Commission of Audit has the authority to examine the welfare system, most of the changes will be flagged in the review. “This is not about tossing people off welfare who are there at the present time, it’s about recognising the reality the population is ageing, that carries with it a number of very significant consequences for Australia in terms of a greater number of dependants, particularly older dependants, and a shrinkage in the growth of the workforce,” he said. When asked how cuts to welfare because of budget constraints fitted with the Coalition government’s expensive Paid Parental Leave policy, Andrews replied it was not a form of welfare. “The paid parental leave scheme is a workforce-related entitlement and it does address the very thing I’m talking about,” he said. “What we need in Australia in the future is two things, we need more workers and we need obviously to maintain the birth rate.” Among the reforms flagged by Andrews is not allowing people claiming Newstart to turn down a job if it is more than 90 minutes away. He had already spoken about possible reforms to the disability support pension which would include reviewing payments to people under 40. He says another proposal is for one universal welfare payment with top-ups for different levels of need, but that this is a long-term option.

 

Andrews has estimated the cost of Australia’s welfare system at $70bn and ruled out returning single mothers with children older than eight to the single parent pension, saying there was too much debt. The former Mission Australia head Patrick McClure, who reviewed welfare for the Howard government, is overseeing the review. The welfare figures include people on the age pension, the disability support pension, sickness allowance, the widow pension, wives’ pensions (where the partner is on the DSP or age pension), carer payments, Austudy, Abstudy, youth allowance, Newstart and parenting payments.

From http://www.theguardian.com 01/21/2014

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Government Excludes Age Pension from Review of 'Unsustainable' Welfare Spending

 

The Federal Government says the age pension will be excluded from a wide-ranging review of the welfare system. The review into the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and the Newstart allowance is due to be handed to the Government in February and is likely to recommend making it tougher for people to qualify for the payments. Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews says a new report shows income support payments are now costing the Government $70 billion a year and he is concerned they are becoming unsustainable. Mr Andrews says one in five Australians is receiving an income support payment. But he has ruled out touching the age pension. "At this stage we are looking at other income support payments, but not the age pension," he said. The man who will lead the review has previously recommended a universal welfare payment, with extra loadings depending on individual circumstances but the Government has indicated that is unlikely in the short term.

 

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten had raised concerns the Government would target the age pension in the crackdown. Mr Shorten based his claim about the age pension on an interview Mr Andrews gave to ABC's NewsRadio in which he highlighted the inconsistency of the unemployment benefit rate being indexed at a different rate to the DSP. Labor sources believe that because the disability pension is indexed the same as the age pension, Australia's 2 million pensioners should be worried. Mr Shorten says people on the age pension do not "deserve to be on the chopping block"."I think all Australians understand that people on the age pension have paid taxes their whole life," he said. The number of people receiving Newstart has fluctuated over the 10 years to 2012, with a decline to 399,401 recipients in 2008, down from more than 500,000 in 2002. However, that figure jumped after the global financial crisis and was just shy of 550,000 people in 2012.

 

Australians on disability pension up to 827,000

The number of people qualifying for the Disability Support Pension has steadily increased over the decade from 658,000 to 827,000 in 2012. In December, the Government flagged plans to alter the DSP to make it harder for some people to receive it permanently. Those on the pension receive up to $813 a fortnight. The Government says the number of people on the pension has grown by 20 per cent in the past decade and the cost to the budget in the last financial year was $15 billion. "Unfortunately if you take something like the DSP at the present time, it's a set and forget system," Mr Andrews said. "People go onto the DSP and they're virtually left on there and after a few years on the DSP it's unlikely they're going to be able to work again." But Mr Andrews says the Government is not looking at retrospective measures. "This is not about tossing people off welfare who are there at the present time," he said. "It's about recognising the reality that the population is ageing ... and that means that in the future there will be more people who are dependent upon income support payments and also means that we see a very substantial shrinkage in the growth of the work force."

 

Mr Shorten says the Government should instead look at making cuts to its paid parental leave scheme. "Get rid of this gold-plated paid parental leave scheme," he said. "If they want to tackle the real problems, don't start at the bottom of the heap. Don't start at the people who haven't got a voice." But Mr Andrews has dismissed that. "A paid parental leave scheme is a work force-related entitlement and it does address the very thing that I'm talking about," he said. "What we need in Australia in the future is two things. We need more workers and we need obviously to maintain the birth rate. "About a quarter to one-third of economic growth comes through your population growth alone and maintaining a birth rate is a measure which counters some of the impact of the ageing of the population."

From http://www.abc.net.au 01/21/2014

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FIJI: Academic Says an Electoral Commission Is Needed to Set Up as Soon as Possible

 

An Auckland University political scientist says the Fiji Government needs to set up an Electoral Commission as soon as possible, in preparation for the country's approaching elections. A general election is promised for September but the members for the commission and an election supervisor are yet to be appointed. Stephen Ratuva says an Electoral Commission is needed soon. “Some names have been bandied around but nothing has been confirmed yet so they are still looking for people to be on the commission - that's a very very important aspect of the electoral process - to have a commission in place and also the electoral regulations to be in place before the election. Because the electoral commission will basically look after the election process.” Ratuva also says people are waiting for the regime's leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to set up his own political party. Meanwhile, the Fiji High Commission in Canberra has set dates for the voter registration drive in Australia as 2,241 more Fijians have registered to vote in the 2014 elections. In a notice to Fijians in Australia, the commisson noted that the registration exercise is scheduled for 14-23 February.

 

Interested voters have been reminded to carry valid Fiji passports. For those Fijians whose passport have expired or is due to expire within the next six months, have been advised to make arrangements for renewal. The final timetable of registration dates and venues will be released later. The elections office is also looking at sending voter registration teams to the United Kingdom and USA. To date, 588 overseas Fijians have been registered following the first registration drive in New Zealand in October. Locally, the office says five permanent registration centres are up and running across the country with more scheduled to open in the coming weeks and months. There will also be more focus on Fiji's rural and maritime communities this year. With 2,241 registering between 30 November 2013 and 24 December 2013, a total of 542,403 Fijians have so far registered to vote in the 2014 elections. As at 24 December 2013, a total of 15,900 had visited the elections office to check their details and 1,118 lost cards were replaced.

From RNZI 01/07/2014

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TONGA: Challenges for MDE Government in 2014 Election Year

 

2014 started off with a bang for Tonga. On January 6 the Prime Minister Lord Tu‘ivakano sacked his Minister of Finance, Hon. Lisiate ‘Akolo, apparently over a disagreement on how to fund a 5% salary rise for public servants. Five days later on January 11, Cyclone Ian struck a devastating blow on the northern islands of Ha‘apai, inflicting damage that is running into multi-millions of pa‘anga. The impact on the Tongan economy of the cyclone and the salary rise for civil servants at this point of time is a matter of great concern. Tonga’s More-Democratically-Elected Government (MDE) has been struggling during the past three years to cope with the national foreign debt and to balance the National Budget without cutting back on its expenses or increasing its revenue. Tonga's Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth is expected to drop below its current ignominious 1.3% percent unless there is a significant increase in remittances and tourism earnings.

 

General Election

Eleven months from now, in November 2014 Tongans will go to the polls to elect new members of parliament. As Tongans are preparing to pick their teams to find solutions to Tonga's many problems, it is important to look at some of the immediate challenges that are confronting Tonga.

 

• 44% COLA

The 44% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of the salaries of Civil Servants that was initially proposed by the Public Service Commission may be viewed as a measurement of the decline in Tonga’s standard of living since the last COLA in 2009. The value of the Tongan pa‘anga is continuing its current decline.

 

• Cabinet reshuffles

The continued reshuffling of the cabinet ministers during the past three years rolls on – even to the point of recruiting ministers from the so-called opposition. The latest new minister ‘Aisake Eke, is not a member of the so-called Party but, in fact, has been very much part of the opposition in the House. The rapidly revolving door to Cabinet proves that the new system of government does not provide Tonga with a pool of capable candidates for cabinet minister selection.

 

• Medical costs

Tongan taxpayers carry the burden of the medical bills for cabinet ministers. It is alarming to know that cabinet ministers, civil servants and members of parliament do not have medical insurance.

 

• Unemployment

There is a clear absence of industries that might employ many people, and boost exports to bring in foreign earnings. There is a lack of technical skills in Tonga to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

 

• Obstacles to investment

The taxation liabilities on new investments, and also the taxation liabilities on injections of donor aid funds for private sector projects, continue to be obstacles to growth for local businesses, which are surviving in a declining economy.

 

• Reduced spending in local economy

The impact of the well-intentioned new National Retirements Benefits Fund has taken millions out of the spending power of wage-earners and put it into bank deposits. When commercial banks cannot lend locally their investments, surely, must be placed overseas where our savings will help to drive the turnover in other economies – not ours.

 

• Agricultural exports

It remains a challenge to boost exports particularly of Tonga's abundant agricultural products to our island neighbours Fiji, Samoa, Niue and the Cook Islands.

 

• Vava‘u and Ha‘apai tourism setbacks

Outer islands tourism has suffered serious setbacks from political posturing over domestic airlines, even before Cyclone Ian blew in. And so on. The challenge now is for the voters to find a new MDE Government that can effectively lead Tonga under the current electoral system.

From http://matangitonga.to 01/17/2014

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VANUATU: Constitutional Review Must Be Done Only Through Government

 

The Office of the Prime Minister has voiced its concern that a private independent body has established a body to review the national constitution of Vanuatu. The Parliamentary Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office is responding to an article in the Daily Post last week by Philemon Hango, who stated that he has established an independent private group to review the national constitution of the republic of Vanuatu. “The government is not aware of this body and cannot support its initiatives because it is acting outside the jurisdiction of where the need for the national constitutional review is. I am here to tell the leader of this independent group that the Government is the only legal body through which the review of the national constitution can be undertaken,” Parliamentary Secretary Yatan told Daily Post. “The government of the day has already included and planned out the review of the national constitution of Vanuatu in its 100-day program,” said MP Yatan. He said Philemon Hango must understand that MPs are the legal voice of the people of the Republic of Vanuatu, whether he likes it or not. “The MPs are the voice of the nation when it comes to deciding and passing laws for the country, whether Philemon Hango’s candidate is in parliament or not. All 52 MPs represent the whole population of Vanuatu. And one of the important matters on the present government's agenda is a review of the national constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu - something the previous government took only half way and left it at that. This government will complete the review for and on behalf of the people of Vanuatu,” Yatan said in reply to the setting up of Hango’s independent review.

From VANUATU DAILY POST 01/14/2014

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Post Event Report: Best Run Cities 2013

 

How are city managers using today’s cutting-edge technologies to create liveable communities? This report discusses how some of the region’s innovative cities are engaging with technology, planning and people to move towards a knowledge-based economy. Today, city managers are hard-pressed to keep up with a growing population, changing expectations of citizens, and erratic macro and micro economic reforms to avoid potential socio-economic losses. For the longest time, cities have been focusing on improving their infrastructure, with little attention given to community engagement. This is exacerbated by a silo mentality in many government departments resulting in inefficiencies in public service delivery. This forum addressed how city managers should engage the community and other relevant stakeholders to determine what kind of place they want to live in. This report discusses on how using technology some smart-city governments are breaking barriers and engaging their citizens through various innovative and open government initiatives.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/07/2014

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World Bank Group: New Open Data Tool Helps Countries Compare Progress on Education

 

The World Bank Group today launched a new open data tool that provides in-depth, comparative, and easily accessible data on education policies around the world. The Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) web tool helps countries collect and analyze information on their education policies, benchmark themselves against other countries, and prioritize areas for reform, with the goal of ensuring that all children and youth go to school and learn. “Education is one of the most important drivers for ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. But guaranteeing a basic education means little unless schooling leads to learning for all children and youth,” said Elizabeth King, World Bank Group Acting Vice President for Human Development and Director of Education, at the Education World Forum. “Achieving better learning outcomes depends not only on having enough classrooms, teachers, and textbooks, but also on having the right policy environment to make sure they contribute to learning.”

 

Despite significant progress in recent decades in getting children into school, learning levels remain alarmingly poor. In low-income countries, many young people complete basic education without acquiring fundamental literacy and numeracy skills. Even in middle-income countries, many students do not learn the basic skills expected by employers and needed to secure a job. Today, an estimated 250 million children around the world are unable to read and write, even after spending three or more years in school. To date, the Bank Group, through SABER, has analyzed more than 100 countries to guide more effective reforms and investments in education at all levels, from pre-primary to tertiary education and workforce development. Through SABER, the Bank Group aims to improve education quality by supplying policymakers, civil society, school administrators, teachers, parents, and students with more, and more meaningful, data about key education policy areas, including early childhood development, student assessment, teachers, school autonomy and accountability, and workforce development, among others.

 

SABER helps countries improve their education systems in three ways: Providing new data on policies and institutions. SABER collects comparable country data on education policies and institutions that are publicly available at: http://worldbank.org/education/saber, allowing governments, researchers, and other stakeholders to measure and monitor progress. Benchmarking education policies and institutions. Each policy area is rated on a four-point scale, from “Latent” to “Emerging” to “Established” and “Advanced.” These ratings highlight a country’s areas of strength and weakness while promoting cross-country learning. Highlighting key policy choices. SABER data collection and analysis produce an objective snapshot of how well a country’s education system is performing in relation to global good practice. This helps highlight the most important policy choices to spur learning.

 

SABER findings are already contributing to education reforms in a number of developing countries. For example, in Nigeria, where 11 million children remain out-of-school, SABER was used to identify and tackle some policy bottlenecks, including the lack of standard information on student learning, and a mismatch between teacher skills and student needs. SABER analysis on Bulgaria’s workforce development was used to modernize the vocational education and training system in the country. As a result, Bulgaria is in the process of adopting new vocational education guidelines and amending its Labor Code. Going forward, the Bank Group plans to utilize the data to help countries link policy implementation to enhanced student performance, and ensure that education programs have their intended outcomes. Several partners have provided generous support for SABER, including the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid), UK Department for International Development (DFID), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), and Russia Education Aid for Development (READ).

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 01/21/2014

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Think Tanks Create Global Advisory Group That Will Review Internet Freedom, Governance

 

A global commission has been created to investigate how to ensure Internet freedom and security at a time of growing concerns over privacy breaches. Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt, will head a group of some 25 experts from various backgrounds, including academia, government and civil society. They will work together over the coming two years to create "a strategic vision for the future of Internet governance." The creation of the Global Commission on Internet Governance was announced Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The commission was set up by Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation and Britain's Royal Institute of International Affairs. Bildt is an avid Internet and Twitter user.

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 01/23/2014

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APEC Addressing Changing Growth Patterns: Bollard

 

“We are now seeing a shift toward domestic demand-driven growth and an increase in services trade as opposed to predominantly trade-driven growth that focused on manufactured and processed goods that occurred in region over the last three decades,” explained Dr Alan Bollard when he delivered a keynote speech in Hong Kong, China on Monday. Dr Bollard, the APEC Secretariat’s Executive Director, made this assessment when delivering remarks on the changing patterns of trade and investment influencing growth in the Asia-Pacific and the way trade moves across economies through new initiatives at the border and across the border at the Asian Financial Forum where he addressed members of the global financial and business community. These changing growth patterns, coupled with the increasingly complex way goods and services move across borders, from e-commerce to value-added supply chains, are impacting the economic environment and the way APEC addresses cross-border trade.

 

“Most production used to be “made-here/sold-there” and was vertically integrated within large firms,” said Dr Bollard. “Rules of origin and value-added were simple concepts.” “But today, we are seeing an increase in intermediate goods, intra-industry trade and supply chains, which use border transactions more aggressively and help SMEs to globalise,” he continued. “As a result, rules of origin and value added are much more complex.” For example, the Apple iPhone supply chain is a complicated web that extends throughout the Asia-Pacific region. With research, development and design in the United States to chip manufacturing in Malaysia, fingerprint sensors fabricated in Chinese Taipei and inductor coils made in Japan, the Apple iPhone eventually ends up in China for final assembly. In response to this web of cross-border movement and subsequent increased intra-APEC trade, APEC’s Supply Chain Connectivity initiative streamlines border regulations so supplier components can seamlessly move across regional boundaries.

 

“Today, efficient borders are recognised as a source of competitive advantage,” explained Dr Bollard.  “APEC members are working toward reducing the red tape and heavy policing that slows down goods getting across borders.” “Increasingly border regulation in APEC member economies is being streamlined through single window, harmonised, contracted operations.” However, as borders become more open, criminal and undesirable movements can take advantage. As a result, APEC is working on new technologies and international arrangements to help deter this. “As APEC innovates new initiatives to accelerate economic integration in the Asia-Pacific, we are moving toward frontiers of the future and the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), as envisioned by APEC Economic Leaders,” concluded Dr Bollard. “We will always have international borders, but we can ensure they are configured to promote trade and regional prosperity.”

From http://www.apec.org/ 01/13/2014

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CHINA: To Unveil College Enrollment Reform

 

China will unveil a master plan to reform college enrollment in the first half of next year, said a spokeswoman with the Ministry of Education on Thursday.The plan will herald the most systemic and comprehensive overhaul of China's college enrollment system, said Xu Mei, the ministry's spokeswoman.Xu said each province will work out measures to implement the reform plan in the second half of 2014.An overall reform blueprint that emerged in the wake of a key Party meeting in November vowed to allow for more diverse assessment of students in college enrollment and unify arts and science-oriented entrance exams.The ministry also made public on its official website a hotline for reporting misconduct in the upcoming graduate school entrance exams, which will be held Jan. 4 to 6 next year.Students that plagiarize on the exams will be subject to harsh penalties, such as denied participation in state-level exams for up to three years and dismissal from their current schools, the ministry said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/26/2013

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China's Urbanization Rate to Hit 60% by 2018

 

China's urbanization rate is expected to hit 60 percent by 2018 at the current rate of urbanization, according to a blue book released on Thursday by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.China's urbanization rate will top 54 percent by the end of 2013, according to the book.Every one percent of growth in gross domestic product created 1.3 million to 1.7 million jobs in China's urban areas in 2012, the book said, adding that a total of 12.66 million jobs were newly added last year.The income of both rural and urban residents saw an increase from 2010 to 2012. However, there is a large income gap between the two, the book said.Annual per capita income in the highest income households was 20 times more than that of lower income families, it added.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/27/2013

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China Abolishes Reeducation Through Labor

 

The bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) adopted a resolution to abolish legal documents on "laojiao" (reeducation through labor) on Saturday.The resolution stresses that all legal laojiao penalties before the abolition of the system remained valid. After abolition, those still serving laojiao time will be set free. Their remaining terms will not be enforced.The resolution goes into effect Saturday.The resolution nullifies a 1957 State Council decision on reeducation through labor, and a 1957 NPC Standing Committee resolution to adopt the State Council decision, likewise supplementary regulations from 1979.Reeducation through labor dealt with minor offenders whose crimes did not warrant full court proceedings. It allowed detention for up to four years without an open trial.Yang Huanning, vice minister of public security previously stated that amendments to the Criminal Law and new laws on public security and drugs had gradually rendered laojiao redundant.The historical mission of laojiao has been completed.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/28/2013

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Xi: China to Promote Cultural Soft Power

 

President Xi Jinping has vowed to promote China's cultural soft power by disseminating modern Chinese values and showing the charm of Chinese culture to the world.Efforts are needed to build China's national image, Xi said when delivering a speech at a group study session of members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Monday.China should be portrayed as a civilized country featuring rich history, ethnic unity and cultural diversity, and as an oriental power with good government, developed economy, cultural prosperity, national unity and beautiful mountains and rivers, Xi said.China should also be marked as a responsible country that advocates peaceful and common development, safeguards international justice, and makes contributions to humanity, and as a socialist country which is open, amicable, promising and vibrant.

 

At the session, Xi called for efforts to promote advanced socialist culture, deepen reform in the cultural system, and enhance people's cultural creativity, moves that he believed will raise China's overall cultural strength and competitiveness.In order to build a solid foundation for the nation's cultural soft power, China needs to deepen the reform in its cultural system, promote socialist core values and push forward the cultural industry.He stressed more publicity for modern Chinese values, or socialist values with Chinese characteristics.The publicity and interpretation of the Chinese Dream should be integrated with such values, Xi noted.The Chinese Dream means the Chinese people's recognition and pursuit of values, the building of China into a well-off society in an all-round way and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, he said.

 

The Chinese Dream also means that every Chinese will realize his own dream in fulling the Chinese Dream, the highest common factor for the unity of the Chinese nation, and the sincere aspirations of the Chinese nation to contribute to the mankind's peace and development, Xi added.To show charm of the Chinese culture to the world, Xi said it was important to accommodate Chinese cultural inheritance with contemporary culture and a modern society.Mass media, groups and individuals should play their roles in displaying the charm to the world, he added.To strengthen China's soft power, the country needs to build its capacity in international communication, construct a communication system,better use the new media and increase the creativity, appeal and credibility of China's publicity, Xi said."The stories of China should be well told, voices of China well spread, and characteristics of China well explained," the President said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/01/2014

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China to Launch Nationwide Safety Overhaul

 

China will launch a nationwide work safety overhaul this month to prevent the occurrence of major accidents, the country's work safety watchdog said on Saturday.The State Administration of Work Safety will send 16 teams to oversee safety checks in 31 provinces, regions and municipalities and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps., with each team in charge of two places.Safety measures should be enhanced in industries including coal mines, transportation, hazardous chemicals and fireworks, as well as in public places, according to the administration.A special safety overhaul on the country's oil and gas pipeline will begin in early March, the administration said.China witnessed a series of tragedies in 2013. A fire at a poultry factory on June 3 in northeast China's Jilin Province claimed 121 lives. In November, 62 people died in an oil pipeline blast in Qingdao City of east China's Shandong Province.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/05/2014

 

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Senior CPC Official Stresses Work Style Rectification

 

More efforts are needed to rectify officials' work styles amid the ongoing "mass-line" campaign, a senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official said on Sunday.Liu Yunshan, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a campaign group meeting, telling officials to push forward with the campaign.The first round of the campaign is coming to an end and second part will be carried out soon.The one-year campaign was launched in June by China's leaders to boost ties between CPC officials and members and the people, while cleaning up undesirable work styles such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.

 

Liu called for officials to learn from experiences, listen to opinions from the public and conduct in-depth research to better carry out second-round work.Liu asked leading officials and organs to take the lead in correcting undesirable work styles found in the first stage of the campaign.The campaign has various stages, including special sessions for officials to launch criticisms of colleagues and themselves, rectification of problems, and inspection teams to supervise results.Liu also demanded strict implementation of the "eight-point" anti-bureaucracy and formalism rule that was introduced at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in late 2012, during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday which begins on Jan. 31.He urged officials to expose violations of the "eight-point" rule in a timely manner.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/05/2014

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Xi Urges Science Innovations After Lunar Probe Success

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed science and technology innovation to support productivity and national strength.Xi made the remarks on Monday while meeting space scientists and engineers who participated in the research and development of the Chang'e-3 mission."Dare to walk the unwalked paths, constantly seek excellence through solving difficulties, and accelerate the shift to innovation-fueled development," Xi said, urging that science and technology innovation be put in a "core position" in the country's overall development.The Chang'e-3 lunar probe, composed of a lander and China's first moon rover, named "Yutu," soft-landed on the moon on Dec. 14, making China the third country to carry out such a mission after the United States and the Soviet Union.Yutu separated from the lander hours later and the two photographed each other on Dec. 15.The Chang'e-3 mission marked the completion of the second phase of China's lunar program, which consists of orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.On behalf of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission, Xi congratulated the space scientists and engineers on the success of the lunar probe mission and extended his New Year's greetings.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/06/2014

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China Establishes Advanced Science Research Centers

 

China has begun establishing five innovation centers that will unite the country's leading talents for research in advanced science and technology fields, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).The five centers focus on the fields of quantum information and technology, Tibet plateau and Earth system science, particle physics, brain science and thorium molten salt reactors, CAS president Bai Chunli said Thursday at a meeting.With CAS-endowed autonomy in research and management as well as independent evaluations from global experts, the five centers will unite China's top scientists and represent the country's most advanced progress in these fields, according to Bai.Bai said they hope to build the five centers into world-class research centers with their own characteristics and significant international impact.According to Bai, these centers aim to shoulder major science and technology missions, achieve innovations in various fields, and unite and offer steady support for leading talents.The Chinese government has repeatedly stressed innovation in various science fields and industries as the key fuel for the country's development.While meeting space scientists and engineers behind the successful Chang'e-3 lunar probe mission earlier this week, President Xi Jinping urged deepening reform and innovation in science and technology to enhance national strength.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/10/2014

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Crackdowns Planned on Illegal Publishing, Reporting

 

China will carry out five special campaigns to crack down on illegal journalistic operations and violations in the children's and student publishing market from January to March.These crackdowns will target counterfeit reporters, for-profit journalism, children's books, teaching materials for primary and middle school students, as well as paper and magazine publishing, according to a State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television statement on Thursday."The campaigns focus on the most prominent issues in the journalism and publishing fields, which are closely related to the people, harm people's interests, induce public complaints and strong reactions," the statement said.With the aim to regulate industrial order and ensure healthy market development, the administration said it was determined to shut down papers, punish violators, name and shame typical cases and discourage potential wrongdoers.Meanwhile, groups and individuals responsible for publications for children with lewd and harmful content or illegally published and overpriced teaching materials will be punished.The plans follow a series of actions taken by the Chinese government to clean up the media and publishing industries, including a two-month national campaign late last year that led to the investigation of 200 criminal cases involving people impersonating reporters for blackmail purposes.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/10/2014

 

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China's State Councilor Stresses Goods Safety

 

State Councilor Wang Yong has urged efforts to intensify market supervision and ensure products' safety for the upcoming shopping spree ahead of China's traditional spring festival holiday.During a two-day tour of central China's Henan Province on Friday and Saturday, Wang visited local markets, food processing enterprises and inspection and quarantine points for imported and exported goods.He said that the quality and safety of goods is closely related to the public's interests and that supervision departments should strengthen supervision and maintain market order."Officials in quality supervision departments at all levels should bear zero tolerance to any products' safety problem," the state councilor added.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/11/2014

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China to Tighten IPO Supervision

 

China's securities watchdog will check price-setting processes for all the 51 IPOs that have been approved since December, according to sources quoted in the 21st Century Business Herald on Wednesday.Some IPO sponsors are circulating the message that inspectors from the China Securities Regulatory Commission plan to check the book-building process of all 51 IPOs, rather than applying spot checks.The rumors of tightened checks appear to conflict with the CSRC's statement on Sunday that it plans only random spot checks of investor roadshows held for first-time offerings.The CSRC had not responded to calls from China Daily as of press time.IPOs will be suspended if companies are found to have disclosed information not contained in IPO prospectuses and other public releases. Underwriters will also be penalized for sharing non-public information with institutional investors.

 

"We haven't received formal notice from the authority, but it is possible,"said Vivien Wei, who works for an investment bank based in Guangzhou.Based on earlier arrangements, materials of issuance should be maintained for three years after an offering, including live recording of the book-building and roadshow processes.The CSRC warned earlier that a "market-decided" price does not mean price manipulation, and has discouraged high-priced offerings. But since then, some offerings have flouted the guideline, and the CSRC is determined to step in to curb the tendency, Wei said.In a recent case, CSRC supervisors summoned executives behind Jiangsu Aosaikang's IPO offering, after the company announced last Thursday that the offering would be suspended.Aosaikang had published a financing plan to issue 55,466,000 shares at 72.99 yuan ($12.07) per share, a price-to-earnings ratio of 67:1, far higher than the average PE level in the pharmaceutical sector. In the offering, 43.6 million of the shares to be issued were to be transferred from the holdings of former shareholders.Analysts said it was the Aosaikang case that triggered the tightening of supervision for this round of IPOs.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/16/2014

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Chinese Vice Premier Stresses Work Safety

 

Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai on Wednesday stressed that government at all levels and enterprises must continue to strive for work safety and cut down accidents.He said at a national conference on production safety that better safety supervision helped decrease accidents and causalities in 2013.Ma demanded stronger awareness of pursuing work safety. He also asked to enhance the accountability system in which enterprises and local governments must shoulder major responsibility in preventing accidents.His remarks highlighted the safety in coal mines, road transportation and oil and gas pipelines, which need regular checks and fire-fighting measures, especially for construction sites, crowded places and underground locations.China's top work safety watchdog just completed an investigation into a fatal pipeline blast that claimed 62 lives in the eastern city of Qingdao on Nov. 22.The direct reason for the accident was repair staffs' drilling operations that produced sparks and caused an explosion fuelled by oil leaked from a pipeline owned by a subsidiary of Sinopec, the country's largest oil refiner.A total of 63 people will be penalized, with 48 of them to receive punishments for violating Party and administrative disciplines and 15 others having been transferred to judicial organs for their alleged crimes.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/16/2014

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China Launches First Mobile Operating System

 

China launched its first independently-developed mobile operating system under the name China Operating System (COS) on Jan. 15.COS was co-developed by Shanghai Liantong and the Institute of Software with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISCAS). Several days earlier, COSHIP Electronics Co., Ltd. also revealed its 960 OS operating system on Jan. 9.Based on Linux, these two operating systems were developed entirely independently by China.Li Shuming, director of ISCAS, said at the launch on Wednesday that COS was intended to break the foreign monopoly in fundamental software, attempting to pioneer the independent development of mobile operating systems in China.COS developers have said the system enjoys a high security level. It was also intended to make up for the flaws in Apple's iOS and Google's Android -- the former being too restrictive, while the latter remains sensitive to malicious software.Aside from enhanced security levels, COS is more localized and friendly to Chinese users in terms of operation interface, language input, stability of cloud services and so on. Unlike previous systems which were practically revisions of the Android, COS was developed entirely independently, from the code to the construction of user interface, according to the State-run People's Daily's website.COS will be installed on personal computers, smart phones and other smart devices, carrying with it over 100,000 applications.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/17/2014

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More Efforts Urged to Promote 'Mass Line' Campaign

 

Top leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have called for more efforts to promote a campaign to boost ties between the Party and the people.The "mass line" campaign was launched in June 2013, with aims to boost ties between CPC officials, Party members and the people, while cleaning up four undesirable work styles -- formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance.President Xi Jinping and six other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee are in charge of supervising campaign implementation in designated provincial-level regions.They have attended provincial Party leadership meetings, conducted study tours and given instructions during past months, with achievement made, particularly in cleaning up undesirable work styles.Official figures released on Thursday showed 22,457 official cars and 519 government building projects had been canceled in the seven provinces by the end of 2013.

 

Meetings held by provincial Party committees or governments have been reduced by 35 percent and official documents decreased 15 percent.Public spending on official receptions, overseas trips, and vehicle purchases and maintenance in the seven provinces has decreased by 3.373 billion yuan (556.9 million U.S. dollars).A total of 6,820 officials in the provinces have been punished for violating the "eight-point" anti-bureaucracy rules as of the end of 2013.Results in streamlining administration and delegating power to lower levels have also been seen in these provinces.A total of 1,193 items of administrative approval have been canceled or delegated to lower levels.Since the campaign started, Xi Jinping, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has joined Hebei provincial Party leadership sessions during which the officials self-checked the work to promote the "mass line" campaign.

 

Premier Li Keqiang attended sessions in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Top legislator Zhang Dejiang joined in a Jiangsu Province leadership session and top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng attended a session in Gansu Province. Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli joined sessions in Zhejiang, Heilongjiang and Sichuan provinces respectively.During the sessions, key members of provincial Party committees examined their own conduct, laid out major problems and their causes, and set down plans for correction.The top leadership urged efforts to deepen the "mass line" campaign in order to better promote overall reform across the country.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/17/2014

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Pressure Rises on Treating China's Pollution

 

A no-nonsense approach is being adopted at legislative sessions across China as local officials are told to control pollution or lose their jobs.Shi Songqin, a village official in east China's Zhejiang Province, got in a sweat, when his provincial party chief warned him that his political career would be at stake if he could not tackle his village's sewage issues.The annual session of the Zhejiang People's Congress, the provincial legislature, opened in Hangzhou on Thursday and continued on Friday.As a delegate to the provincial People's Congress, Shi spoke at the meeting that his village, Jianchuan, with a population of 5,000, did not have enough money to build sewage treatment facilities.The village is located in the riverhead of Qiantang, a major river running through the province.Xia Baolong, secretary of the provincial committee of the Communist Party of China, immediately allocated 1 million yuan (165,000 U.S. dollars) for Shi to build sewage treatment works.

 

"Sewage must be treated before it is discharged. If the work is done well, you will be rewarded, otherwise, you will be replaced," Xia told the meeting. Two entrepreneur delegates donated another 18 million yuan to the cause.Zhejiang, known for its vigorous private sector, is one of China's better-off areas, but growth has been achieved at a heavy cost to the environment.The coastal province that used to boast an abundant river system now has per capita water resources below the national average.As China tones down its economic growth demands and focuses on quality growth, local magistrates are getting tough on pollution.Li Qiang, governor of Zhejiang, said in the work report delivered to the meeting on Thursday that treating water pollution would be the number one issue for the government this year.

From http://www.news.cn/ 01/17/2014

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JAPAN: Local Govts to Check Aging Infrastructure

 

The government will ask local governments to draw up a comprehensive plan to manage aging infrastructure, including roads, bridges and public facilities, in fiscal 2014, it was learned Monday. More than 100 local governments have conducted surveys on buildings such as their offices and schools, but it will be the first time for aging infrastructure such as roads, bridges, tunnels, and water supply and sewerage systems to be checked on a nationwide basis. The government has been discussing measures to deal with the nation’s old infrastructure following an accident in the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway in December 2012 in which ceiling panels collapsed, killing nine people. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will request local governments to map out a “comprehensive plan to manage public facilities and others” as early as this month, according to sources.

From http://the-japan-news.com 01/14/2014

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SOUTH KOREA: Gov’t Announces Long-term ‘Culture Technology’ R&D Plan

 

Korea has recently announced its long-term plan to support research and development (R&D) into cultural content industries and into related so-called "culture technology" fields, such as the tech used in movies, broadcasting, games, animation, performances and exhibitions. The Korean government announced its Second Basic Plan for Culture Technology R&D on December 19, all part of its goal to enrich the cultural sphere, to develop the creative industries and to increase the happiness of the people. The plan contains the two main strategic tasks of boosting competitiveness and increasing the happiness of the people, both by developing R&D in culture-related industries. The plan also proposes a future direction for R&D investment in "culture technology," all part of the administration’s vision for the creative industries. 

 

Combining culture and technology, the catchphrase "culture technology" was coined in 2001 to describe one of the government’s six main future-oriented technologies, along with the likes of information technology, biotechnology and nano technology. As the content industry converges with IT, so-called "culture technology" can now be applied to the entertainment, education, medical, national defense, manufacturing, robotics and automobile sectors, all of which now put a much higher emphasis on "culture technology." Currently, the Korean government considers itself as having 72.5 percent of the technological capability of some other advanced countries. Part of the goal of this new plan is to increase that to 85 percent by 2017. Concurrently, and also by 2017, the government plans to increase the country's "culture, leisure and happiness index" (unofficial translation) to more than 30 percent by carrying out more R&D into the creative industries. Finally, the government also plans to increase the number of commercialized technologies from 1.1 cases per KRW 100 million of government investment to 1.3 cases by 2017. 

From http://www.korea.net 12/27/2013

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S. Korea's Commerce Minister Vows All-out Efforts to Create Jobs

 

South Korea's commerce minister on Monday urged all-out efforts to create new jobs and revamp the country's economy while acknowledging that both external and internal conditions will continue to pose many difficulties in the new year. "The economy, which had repeatedly shown negative growths in the past, is showing hope of slow recovery with positive growths in the 1 percent range in the past two consecutive quarters," Yoon Sang-jick, minister of trade, industry and energy, said in his new year's message.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 12/30/2013

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President Emphasizes Need for Education Revolution, Creative Talent

 

President Park Geun-hye emphasized the importance of education in fostering creative talent. In a New Year’s meeting with leaders of Korean education on January 8 in Seoul, President Park mentioned last year’s “Destination Imagination” project where all participating students received an award. She urged that the country needs an “education revolution” in order to incubate talented human resources so that the country could lead the world in an era where creativity and ideas drive the world and drive the global economy.  “An ‘education revolution’ needs to take place in the classroom. Classrooms should be a space of happiness,” said the president. President Park urged that the educational environment needs to teach students how to live together rather than how to compete, and that it needs to encourage them to develop both their dreams and talents as much as possible. “The government will strive to change the paradigm of Korean education so that students will be able to fully develop and display their aptitude, talents, and creativity, and to develop both their personality and their intelligence in a balanced manner,” said the president. Mentioning the “free semester” system which some middle schools have been test-operating over recent years, the president said, “If we change the basic framework of education, making it a ’creative education,’ and build a system to value individual capability rather than educational background, Korea’s education system can become the one required for the times.” 

From http://www.korea.net 01/08/2014

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Smart Tech Gets Spotlight at CES 2014

 

The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the world’s largest international consumer electronics and technology trade show, began its four-day run in Las Vegas, U.S., on January 7. Over 40 Korean firms participated in this year’s CES, where electronics and technology companies from around the globe unveiled their latest ultra HD (UHD) displays as well as flexible, wearable and smart technology. The participating Korean firms include two world-leading electronics makers -- Samsung and LG -- as well as Kia Motors, Moneual, Zalman Tech, Yuji Robot and other small- and medium-sized enterprises. On the opening day, both LG and Samsung unveiled some of the world’s first curved and bendable UHD televisions. Samsung’s bendable UHD organic light emitting diode (OLED) and liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions can be either curved or flattened, controlled by remote control. Unlike existing curved TVs, viewers can adjust the angle of these new televisions and still enjoy the high resolution, eight times higher than ordinary HD televisions, according to Samsung. On the same day, LG showed off its own 77-inch flexible UHD OLED television. The firm says there's no distortion in either color or clarity as you adjust the curve angle thanks to its ultra high resolution, thereby greatly improving the viewer experience. Both LG and Samsung also introduced their curved UHD TVs in various sizes, ranging from 40- to 110-inches. The two technology firms also unveiled curved smartphones, wearable electronic devices and home appliances that use smartphone applications. Samsung showed off new technology that uses smart devices as a connecting hub rather than just as a communication tool. Samsung and BMW jointly developed an automated driving technology dubbed the "iRemote application" which can control BMW’s first electric vehicle, the i3, using Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch. Also getting in on the wearable tech game, LG showed off its first wearable smart device, the "Lifeband Touch." Among other things, users can tap the wristwatch-shaped device, equipped with an OLED display, and see how many calories they consumed or how hard they exercised, all connected via Bluetooth to their smartphone application. Meanwhile, Kia Motors revealed its next generation "UVO EX e-service" smart technology specifically developed for electric vehicles. Based on a smartphone app, its UVO telematics system provides users up-to-the-second information about their battery and their distance until empty and has the ability to search for nearby charging stations. It allows drivers to preset a charging time and charging level ratios, as well as to pre-set the temperature conditions in the vehicle cabin. Kia plans to use this technology in its Soul electric car, which will go on sale later this year. 

From http://www.korea.net/ 01/09/2014

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Park Calls for Ceaseless Efforts for Technological Innovations

 

President Park Geun-hye urged scientists and information-communication technology (ICT) experts Friday to work harder to develop new technologies and innovate, saying South Korea can't afford any stalling in such efforts in a fast-moving global economy. "New technologies and industries are now moving forward at a dazzling pace in many parts of the world," Park said in a speech at a New Year's meeting with leaders of the science-technology and ICT sectors. "We don't have any time to hesitate." The science-technology and ICT sectors are the best areas where South Korea can excel, she said.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 01/10/2014

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Gov't Vows Stern Action on Bank Data Leaks

 

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won instructed the financial watchdog chief Monday to sternly punish those responsible for a recent massive leak of personal information of credit card users, calling for fundamental measures to prevent recurrence. According to the prosecution, sensitive personal information, including resident registration numbers, bank account numbers and credit ratings, of as many as 104 million customers were leaked altogether from the country's major credit card firms of KB Kookmin Card Co., NH Nonghyup Card Co. and Lotte Card Co. "Relevant institutions should do everything to learn the exact situation of the data leak to prevent the stolen information from being used by financial scammers," Chung told Shin Je-yoon, the chairman of the policymaking regulatory body, the Financial Services Commission. He then instructed the watchdog chief to set up a task force involving the government and the credit card firms to find out what caused the incident and who is responsible for it, according to the Prime Minister's Secretariat. Chung then called on the authorities concerned to "greatly strengthen punishment for those who leaked the information to deter anyone from daring to conduct such crimes."

   He also stressed the need for "fundamental solutions to prevent the recurrence of such incidents," such as levying fines on credit card firms. Speaking at a meeting with ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers later in the day, Shin apologized for "causing concern" to the public and vowed to act quickly to ease their fears. "If there is a need for institutional and legal measures, we will make improvements as soon as possible through consultations with the party," he said. The ruling party's chief policymaker Kim Gi-hyeon berated the credit card firms involved. "I don't understand how the credit card firms in question didn't work over the weekend in such an emergency situation," he said. "It only makes sense to ban the collection of excessive personal information." Rival political parties expressed serious concern over the incident and called for strict punishment of those responsible. "It's a truly shocking incident that shouldn't have happened," ruling party spokesman Yoo Il-ho said. "Effective and reliable measures should be taken to ensure that no further harm is done to the people."

   Ruling party spokeswoman Min Hyun-joo also expressed astonishment, saying the government is shifting responsibility to financial institutions, while the financial institutions are leaving individuals to handle the case on their own. The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) vowed to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents by revising relevant laws, among other measures. "The financial authorities should take responsibility and take practical measures, including strict punishment of those responsible for the leak," DP spokesman Park Kwang-on said.  The massive leakage came less than a month after personal data of some 130,000 customers of Standard Chartered Bank Korea and Citi Bank Korea was stolen, the largest number in the history of the banking sector in South Korea. In the wake of the case, the Financial Customer Agency said Monday it will request the Financial Supervisory Service to launch a probe into the banks and credit card firms that experienced the leaks of their customers' information.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 01/20/2014

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CAMBODIA: Conducting Live Fire Drill to Strengthen Military Capacity

 

Cambodia on Monday conducted a live fire exercise to build capacity for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in defending territorial integrity, an army chief said. The drill was held at the military training field in Kampong Speu province, about 70 km west of capital Phnom Penh, with the participation of about 1,900 soldiers. Gen. Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, said that BM-21 rocket launchers were fired during the exercise. "The purpose of the exercise is to strengthen the capacity for our armed forces in defending our territorial integrity and national interest only," he told reporters at the event. "The drill is also to test our new weapons." About 145 shells had been fired and all had hit the target in the distance between 20 km and 40 km, he said. It was the third time that the country held live fire drill with BM21 rockets. The first one was made in March 2010 and the second was in April this year. Cambodia has begun to strengthen its defense capacity since it had territorial dispute with Thailand in 2008. The dispute had triggered several times of deadly armed clashes between troops of the two countries.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 12/30/2013

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Cambodia Considering Development of Expressway to Serve Growing Economy

 

Cambodia is considering the development of an expressway network to meet the need for the country's growing economy, Minister of Public Works and Transport Tram Iv Tek said here Wednesday. "The expressway network is one of the vital infrastructure for the modern industry or economy, and it is essential for future economic development," he said at a workshop on the Master Plan for Expressway Development in Cambodia. The minister said many Asian countries, including neighboring Vietnam and Thailand, have formulated their national expressway network plans and are constructing expressway networks. "Cambodia has been enjoying an economic growth and stepping toward the ASEAN Community," he said. "This means it is a good time for Cambodia to start developing an expressway network." However, he said, such ambitious project would not happen in the country before 2020. According to the master plan, Cambodia could build a national network of 2,230 km of expressways, connecting most of the provincial administrative regions, special economic zones, key transport centers, tourism attractions, border crossings and national defense strategic areas. The project could cost up to 25.5 billion U.S. dollars.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/08/2014

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PHILIPPINES: Customs Agency Launches Transparency Portal

 

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) unveiled a new website called “Customs ng Bayan” (Customs of the Nation) as part of newly-appointed Customs Commissioner John Phillip Sevilla’s initiatives to “uproot” the agency from its long history of institutionalised corruption. “We are publishing reports of almost every importation into the Philippines in December 2013. Going forward, we intend to publish this list every month,” Sevilla said in an official statement. Each item in the list represents a specific quantity (measured by weight) of a specific item that was imported by a specific importer on a specific day. The list- 88,006 items in December 2013 alone- is organised by major product groups, using the Harmonised Standard (HS) Code classification system. “For each item, we include information such as a description of the item imported, its HS code number and standard HS code description, what country the item came from, its value and the amount of duties and taxes collected on that item.”

 

The Bureau of Customs, for the past years, has been one of the country’s most prominent faces of corruption in the government. According to Sevilla, all of that is about to change as they make drastic shifts in leadership, personnel and processes. In particular, he highlighted the importance of leveraging ICT to support the administration’s reform agenda. “We need to improve the capacity of our IT systems to comply with needed reforms,” he said, adding that the Bureau is now studying the feasibility of implementing a single IT platform for all transactions, which involves improving the planned Php 442.3 million (US$9.8 million) National Single Window (NSW) project. The NSW will facilitate trade through efficiencies in the Customs and authorisation processes. It will allow single submission and accelerated processing of applications for licenses, permits and other authorisations required prior to undertaking a trade transaction.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/08/2014

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The Philippines Highlights Importance of Integrated Financial Management System

 

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Florencio Abad underscored the importance of the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS), a program at the center of the Aquino administration’s goal to integrate fiscal oversight and reporting systems in the Philippine bureaucracy. “As part of the agency’s budget reforms, the GIFMIS is geared towards providing reliable, accurate, and updated financial and performance information. The system will collect and organise financial information in a central database which will support budget preparations, management, accounting and financial reporting initiatives across the DBM, Commission on Audit and the Department of Finance,” Abad said. In addition, GIFMIS is expected to reduce the administrative costs such as paper documentation and various IT systems, resulting in more savings more the government. Now that public bidding for the consulting services has begun, DBM is looking to secure the best service possible to ensure that fiscal automation requirements are properly met. “We cannot emphasise the importance of GIFMIS enough. For the longest time, fiscal management across the bureaucracy was composed of disparate systems, without a single unifying program supporting a whole body of related processes. Once we have GIFMIS in place, we can expect improved efficiency in the way we manage public funds, from budget planning all the way to auditing and financial reporting. It’s really a program that strikes at the heart of transparency and openness issues in the country’s fiscal processes,” he said.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/10/2014

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Philippines Committed to Further Improving Investment Environment

 

The Philippine government vowed Saturday to further level the playing field in the country to attract more foreign direct investments (FDI) as the central bank reported an increased FDI last year. Philippines' Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said despite the increased figure showed that some areas of the Philippine business climate have improved, the Aquino administration will focus on areas that need further improvement when it comes to both foreign and local investments. "The president has always emphasized the need for a level- playing field when it comes to foreign or local investments," she said. "Those who are already here, who are seeking to expand and those who are outside but would want to place their investments here would see that they will get a pretty level-playing field," she promised in an interview at state-run radio station. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Friday said it registered net FDI of 3.36 billion U.S. dollars for the first 10 months of 2013, up 35.3 percent compared to the same period in 2012 of 2.485 billion dollars. The BSP said in a statement that foreign investors continue to have confidence in the sustainability of the Philippine's business environment. The notable rise in foreign investments reflects favorable investor sentiment, the BSP said noting that macroeconomic stability is believed to be firmly rooted in the country's basic fundamentals.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 01/11/2013

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The Philippines Launches Data.gov.ph

 

President Benigno Aquino III launched the Philippine government’s official transparency portal called “Open Data Philippines” as part of his administration’s ongoing reforms towards instituting good governance. Open Data Philippines is a website for publicly available, up-to-date national data on categories such as economics and labour, transport and traffic, environment, geospatial data, health, education and many more. During his speech at the Good Governance Summit held in Manila earlier this week, the President emphasised that everyone should not make the mistake of thinking that Open Data Philippines stops at being a repository of data. “Ultimately, opening data is more than just making columns and rows of figures available for viewing; it is about empowering the people through information,” he said. “As President, I thought that I would have access to all kinds of information any time, every time, and all the time. To a degree, that is true. But it is not as simple as punching a few keys on a keyboard. Sometimes, it actually involves wading through documents that are fragile, given their age—and that only happens, of course, if you can find out immediately where these documents are located. With Open Data Philippines, we have useful and relevant information at our fingertips—which we can use to better assess, improve, and even develop programs and policies.” Furthermore, he also highlighted how developers can make use of the data available in the portal to create their own applications to address needs and issues in their local communities. Among those already included in the website are applications that can help Metro Manila residents plan their daily commutes. Other applications seek to make government expenditures more accessible such as those developed during a recent hackathon hosted by the Department of Budget and Management.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/17/2014

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Geo-Tagging Government Projects - A Must in the Philippines

 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) launched the pilot trial of its Project Information Management System, a database that tracks all anti-poverty initiatives in the country by using a built-in geo-tagging feature. According to DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman, PIMS will help make project implementation more efficient, as the information is now integrated for all units at different levels – from the central government agencies down to the barangays (villages). Aside from data storage, the system can also be used for map production, geo-tagging application, and spatial analysis. It also has web and Short Message Service (SMS) applications. She highlighted its geo-tagging feature as a key tool that can help local authorities ensure transparency in project implementations. Geo-tagging involves attaching location-specific information such as geographical coordinates to pictures, videos and even SMS messages. By incorporating geo-tagging, in project management, DWSD can easily track, validate and confirm the roll out of government projects and whether they have achieved their desired goals. “The PIMS helps ensure the integrity of the project by making the data transparent at all levels. Since more eyes will now be looking into the progress of the projects the possibility of committing fraud is minimised even more,” Soliman said. She added that through PIMS, lead agencies will now be able to better track the progress of the projects, allowing them to better respond to issues and concerns that may be flagged by any of the staff.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/21/2014

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SINGAPORE: Defence Scientist Supports Cyber Security Promotion

 

With the Singapore government stepping up efforts to grow a strong pool of IT security professionals, Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA), a statutory board under Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), organised a timely camp to promote cyber security interest among youths. The camp, with MINDEF’s Chief Defence Scientist Quek Tong Boon as the Guest of Honour, provided more than 100 students from tertiary institutions a glimpse into the world of cyber defence. Students were taught how to detect system loopholes and vulnerabilities, spot security breaches and respond to an incident. The camp also covered strategies and methodologies to secure information systems in the event of various cyber attacks. The students got their hands dirty in a cyber security simulation where they had to work in teams to keep their systems operating while fending off attacks. Chairman of the Organising Committee and Director of DSTA’s Infocomm Infrastructure Programme Centre Mr Tan Ah Tuan said: “With the Government stepping up efforts to grow a strong pool of IT security specialists, the camp represents a timely means of promoting interest in cyber security. We hope that these young talents will consider applying for the DSTA Internship and subsequently pursue a career in this field as they are our future cyber warriors and have the potential to make a difference to Singapore’s cyber defence.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 12/26/2013

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Singapore Government Warns Public of ‘Tweet Storm’

 

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) alerted the public of a ‘tweet storm’ targeted at two government Twitter accounts. Last Thursday, a member who claimed to be part of the Anonymous group posted on Pastebin - an open web site where users can store and share text - garnering support for a tweet storm against the Twitter accounts of Singapore Government’s @govsingapore (pictured) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs @MFAsg. A tweet storm is a coordinated effort by users to send out the same tweet at the same time, causing a spike of activity around that certain topic. The person demanded the release of five men who were arrested for vandalism in support of Anonymous. The post also asked supporters to email their petitions directly to Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. IDA advised the public not to be alarmed by unusual activity on the twitter pages and assured that government infrastructure will not be affected by the twitter storm.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 01/23/2014

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INDIA: Steps to Up the Ante for Post-Retirement Entrepreneurs

 

Bangalore: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” The famous American writer Mark Twain, was absolutely right when he compared aging of body with aging of mind. Breaking the conventional notion that startups and entrepreneurship goes only with young brains, we have been witnessing an increasing number of older demography dictating the course of the game. Sean Castrina author of the famous book “8 Unbreakable Rules for Business Start-Up Success” is under the opinion that late blooming entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed with their experience reservoir, steady financial backbone and a clear cut awareness of their weakness. "At 50 years of age and older, you know your Achilles heel. At 20, you don't think you have one," says Castrina. With a strong conviction of your shortcomings entrepreneur.com lists out a few steps that can catalyze the post-retirement entrepreneurship.

From http://www.siliconindia.com/ 12/31/2013

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Security for Women in Public Road Transport in the Country

 

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved setting up of a unified system at the national level (National Vehicle Security and Tracking System) and State level (City Command and Control Centre) for Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking of the location of emergency buttons in and video recording of incidents in public transport vehicles, in 32 cities of the country with a population of one million or more according to the 2011 census.

 

The implementation of the project will help in:

i) Mapping of routes of public vehicles;

ii) Tracking of vehicles on the route;

iii) Highlighting of violations through visual and text signals;

iv) Panic button alert to transport and police through visual, text and voice.

v)Permit, registration and licence cancellation based criteria for enforcement.

(vi) Providing safety and security to women / girl child in distress in minimum response time.

The total estimated cost of the project will be Rs.1405 crore. The project will be implemented within a period of two years after allocation of funds to set up a National Level Vehicle Security and Tracking System and City Command & Control Centre with installation of GPS / CCTV / Panic buttons in public road transport.

 

The scheme for security for women in public road transport has been formulated with purpose of improving safety and protection of women from violence by using information technology in the following manner:

I. Tracking of all public transport vehicles:  This shall be done in accordance with Sections 72, 74, 75 and 76 of Central Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.   Defaults will be reported and updated on the data base of the vehicle.

II. Emergency button in all public transport vehicles: The button will generate an alarm in the system. For vehicles which are also provided with facilities for video recording, the City Command and Control Centre can receive pictures of actual incidents and raise an alarm with the nearest police and transport patrol to reach the bus.

III.Video recording in public transport vehicles with large seating capacity:  Incidents recorded will be kept for seven days in the on-board unit and can be used as evidence and arrest of accused in case of any incident.

 

Background:

Women play an important role in the economy, politics and social sectors of a country. People from smaller towns, including a large number of women, move to cities in search of jobs or studies. With increasing participation of women in the economic sphere, safer mobility of women is essential. As most people, particularly women and the girl child, cannot afford their own transportation, they depend on public transport. The Justice JS Verma Committee constituted in December, 2012 to look into the possible amendments in the criminal laws related to sexual violence against women made various recommendations for public transport vehicles in its report. The Report of Justice (Retired) Ms. Usha Mehra, Commission of Enquiry constituted under the Commission of Enquiry Act, 1952 to look into the incident of gang-rape and assault on a woman on 16.12.2012 in Delhi suggested measures for safety and security of women in the NCT of Delhi and NCR.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 01/02/2014

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10 Best Investment Options to Save Tax

 

Bangalore: Most often we see people taking wrong decisions over tax saving instruments. The reason is simple—they take decisions at the last moment that to sometimes by the end of a financial year. Always try to do the tax planning in advance as it gives you enough time to understand and evaluate different options that would match your financial situation. One thing, that you need to keep in mind while choosing these tax saving investments, is that they should be under Section 80C. Benefit of taking investments under Section 80C is that from gross total income certain investments are deductible maximum up to 1 lakh. The PPF will be the first choice as a tax saver in 2014 as it scores well on almost all parameters. When Fixed Deposits (FD) compared with PPF, the maturity and tax on the interest earned is exempted in PPF. PPF investors will be provided with more options like opening new account in a post office branch or a bank, doing self paperwork without any agent’s help, periodicity and quantum of investment, liquidity, withdrawal of money (not beyond 50 percent of balance) after five years and flexibility to take loans. In addition some of the banks will also provide online investments. The PPF can be useful for risk-averse investors, self-employed professionals and those who are not covered by the Employees Provident Fund and other retrial benefits.

From http://www.siliconindia.com/ 01/08/2014

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Abolishing Income-tax Feasible, More Research Needed: Experts

 

New Delhi: Abolishing income tax and other levies and replacing them with some other suitable form of revenue is feasible and desirable, say experts, although some believe that such a move would militate against social equity. Describing the concept as "aspirational", Ficci President Sidharth Birla said: "If the steps proposed enhance revenue by broadening and broad basing the tax payer base and help improve transparency of regulatory framework, we will tend to welcome these aspects. The radical proposal, which is being talked about by the BJP, relates to abolition of all direct and indirect taxes for individuals as well as corporates in favour of a nominal banking transaction tax. The proposal, Birla said, would involve hard arithmetic as the revenue losses would have to be recovered from other sources while stressing that India needs a stable, equitable and a friendly tax regime. President of industry body PHDCCI Sharad Jaipuria said: "The personal income tax should be reduced or abolished with alternate sources. I believe, government has the potential to generate revenue from other sources which are unexplored yet".

 

While pointing out implementation of the tax proposal is within the realm of possibility, some experts also opined that it has the potential to deal with menace of blackmoney. "...it may reduce corruption and collusion with the Government agencies. It may remove the tax burden from individual as well as corporate taxpayers. The taxpayers will also not indulge into practices like falsification of accounts, money laundering and other illegal ways of tax evasion," said Girish Vanvari, Co-Head of Tax, KPMG in India. He said, however, that a comprehensive and holistic analysis is required before going for such a drastic reform. Another leading global tax consultant PwC India, however, expressed apprehensions saying that abolition of income tax would be against the progressive system of revenue collection.

From http://www.siliconindia.com/ 01/08/2014

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Use of Digital Tools Enriching Our Democracy: PM

 

New Delhi: The use of digital tools in political campaigning and the active participation of youth in politics are enriching India's democracy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said. "Recent developments point to the greater enrichment of our democracy, which is becoming more participative and interactive, with people using both traditional methods and new digital tools to mobilise and communicate," Manmohan Singh said here while addressing the inaugural session of the 12th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual gathering of the people of Indian origin. "It is especially encouraging to see our youth from all walks of life not only articulate their expectations and aspirations, but take actively to politics to shape their future." The prime minister's comments come on the heels of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) coming to power in Delhi after the assembly elections last month. The year-old AAP vigorously used the social media to garner support for its candidates and assumed power in the Indian capital. Stating that the participation of youth in politics is only to be welcomed, Manmohan Singh said: "It is only thus that the extraordinary transformation that is taking place in our country on multiple levels can be distilled constructively into our democratic process, which has the vitality and responsiveness to reflect the new and emerging concerns and hopes of our people." He said whatever the results of the next general elections in the country this year may be, "they will once again demonstrate to the world the strength of our democracy and our institutions".

From http://www.siliconindia.com/ 01/08/2014

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Efforts Being Made to Set-up a National Offshore Wind Energy Agency

 

Ministry of New and Renewable Energy is making efforts to set up a National Offshore Wind Energy Agency to explore wind generation potential in the offshore areas. Speaking on the occasion of a daylong “National Level Consultation on National Wind Energy Mission” in the capital today, Dr.Farooq Abdullah, Minister for New and Renewable Energy said that the potential of generatingpower through wind energy in the offshore areas was immense and the Ministry will approach the Union Cabinet soon for a decision. Dr. Abdullah also expressed the hope that the Finance Ministry will restore the benefits of Accelerated Depreciation for Wind Power Producers in the Interim Budget to be presented next month. The Union MNRE Minister also supported the idea of appropriate financial support to the wind power producers. The one day long National Consultation has been organised by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to discuss the need and scope of a National Wind Energy Mission which work towards improvinginvestment climate by resolving issues connected with resource potential, land availability, grid connectivity, clearance procedure and zoning.

 

This initiative is part of the efforts of the Ministry to remove hurdles in wind power development in the country, and bring together all stakeholders on a common platform to work in a coordinated and concerted manner. The Consultation is being attended by industry representatives, state electricity regulators, State and Central Government officials and research and development experts. Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Dr. S.B. Agnihotri, Secretary, MNRE highlighted the importance of setting up an Evacuation Infrastructure and short-term large scale Storage Facilities for the renewable energy. He also stressed on the need for making available long term finance at reasonable rate for the wind power producers.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 01/09/2014

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Innovation Hub at National Science Centre, Delhi Launched

 

The Union government has taken yet another step to promote innovation through science and technology by establishing innovation hubs across the country. Shri Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Innovation Council & Adviser to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations inaugurated an ‘Innovation Hub’ at the National Science Centre, New Delhi today. It provides a unique opportunity for children of various age groups to work at the facility during the week-ends to develop their ideas on various aspects of Science & Technology. Membership is available for interested students for long-term hands-on and minds-on engagement in creative activities in science & technology. Over 40 students have already sought membership of the new facility and it will be functional from this weekend.

 

The Innovation hub has been equipped with components namely, Hall of Fame with stories of Inventions and Inventors; Innovation Resource Centre with online access to innovation-centric resources; Innovative Laboratory to carry out activities, experiments and projects; Tech Lab for Robotics & Microprocessor Programming; Tod-Phod-Jod (Break & Remake) for students to open gadgets and reassemble them on their own; Kabad Se Jugad (Build from Scrap) for students to develop things from scrap and low-cost materials and an Idea Box for children to propose ideas and create an idea bank. The best ideas will be chosen for experimentation, model making and project work. In addition, children are encouraged to identify real life problem/investigatory projects and work on for solutions under the guidance of experts/mentors.

 

While delivering the keynote address, Shri Sam Pitroda announced that the National Innovation Council along with the Ministry of Culture and the Planning Commission is working on the scheme to launch 100 such innovation hubs across the country. Similar hubs have been launched at the Bangalore and Kolkata Science centres under the Council of Science Museums, an autonomous body under Ministry of Culture. The basic idea is to encourage children to imagine and explore. He suggested that all Science centres must engage with the local community and create local ecosystems to own, support and nurture these innovation hubs. He also suggested that every science centre must have members of the local community including businessmen, scientists, professionals, academicians, and members of the civil society in its governing board.

From http://pib.nic.in/ 01/23/2014

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AZERBAIJAN: Success Led to Growth of Its Influence on International Arena

 

Azerbaijan's all-around development and growth of its economic potential are among the major factors that provided the success achieved in the country's independent foreign policy, head of the Department of Public and Political Issues of Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, Ali Hasanov told Trend on Dec. 29. He said that in 2013 Azerbaijan was active within framework of international organizations, which the country is a member of, and also strengthened multilateral and bilateral cooperation. Hasanov said that, last October, during its UN Security Council Presidency, Azerbaijan brought up for discussion such global issues as peace and international security, fight against terrorism and conflicts settlements. "A summit meeting under the topic 'Strengthening the partnership synergy between the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation' was held for the first time in the UN's history at Azerbaijan's initiative," Hasanov said. He went on to add that Azerbaijan, during its two-year activity in the UN Security Council has once again proved that the country can contribute to establishment of global security, stability, tranquillity and peace in the entire world and development of inter-civilizational and inter-cultural dialogue and makes every effort in this direction.

 

"During this time Azerbaijan has established close working relationships and partnerships with the UN member countries, the governing bodies of organizations and other international institutions. The UN Security Council has become a tool for informing the world community about the realities of Azerbaijan and means of preserving attention towards settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict fairly, within international law," Hasanov said. He said 2013 also was an important year in terms of informing the world community about the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict's realities and the world community's support for Azerbaijan's fair position. "I would like to note that the decisions and resolutions of the UN, the European Parliament, OSCE, Council of Europe, Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other influential organizations supported Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and expressed a demand to the Armenian government to liberate the occupied lands," Hasanov said. "Parliaments of nine states - Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Peru, Panama, Bosnia and Herzegovina, have recognized the Khojaly genocide.

 

Legislative bodies of 13 U.S. states have adopted documents recognizing the Khojaly massacre as one of the biggest tragedies of modern times, as a genocide," he stressed. The high-ranking official noted that Azerbaijan's rapid socio-economic development, establishment of a modern society, major achievements in domestic and foreign policy, global initiatives that were put forward, naturally led to Azerbaijan's growing influence on the international arena and its importance for the international community. "Azerbaijan was able to attract the attention of the entire world for its independent policy, experience of economic development, cultural heritage, example of tolerance and success achieved in sports. The country's potential and experience, gained in recent years, allow it to hold any event at a worthy level," Hasanov said. He noted that 2013 was marked in Azerbaijan with holding numerous events at the regional and international level.

 

"Holding of the first South Caucasus Forum, 2nd World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, the US-Azerbaijani forum, 3rd Summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States, Davos Economic Forum, 3rd International Humanitarian Forum, numerous sporting competitions and other major events, has clearly shown that the country is becoming a center of economic, political and humanitarian dialogue of the global scale," Hasanov said. "On the other hand, these events have made an important contribution to discussion and settlement of important issues of the region, strengthening the friendly and fraternal relations among Turkic states and inter-cultural dialogue at the world level, strengthening humanitarian cooperation and organizing effective discussions of global economic issues", he noted.

From http://en.trend.az/ 12/29/2013

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KAZAKHSTAN: Changing Procedure for Issuing Work Permits to Labor Migrants

 

Starting February 2014, Kazakhstan will simplify procedures for issuing permission to migrant laborers working for individuals, Kazakh media outlets reported. The law "On amendments and addenda to some legislative acts of Kazakhstan on the issues of labor migration" was signed by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in December, 2013. Earlier, officials from Kazakh Interior Ministry noted that the new law will legalize labor migration and bring it out of the "shadow" sector. The document covers citizens of countries having visa-free entry and stay agreements with Kazakhstan. Thus, from now on every citizen of Kazakhstan will have an opportunity to invite no more than five migrant laborers. Guest workers themselves will be obliged to pay about 3700 tenges ($1 = 154.49 tenges) to the state treasury.Under the new rules, migrant laborers will be required to get a personal identification number. After a year the guest workers will have to leave the country. They will be able to return to Kazakhstan only after a month, if during the first visit to the country they filled in the declaration and affirmed their incomes. Every migrant labourer must have a bank account with enough money to return home.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/09/2014

 

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President: Kazakhstan Intends to Conduct Active Exploration Operations Through World Companies

 

Kazakhstan is to examine ways of attracting world companies through simplifying the legislation, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said in his annual address to the Kazkakh people in Parliament on Jan.17. "Kazakhstan should enter the world market in the field of geological exploration. Our subsoil has not yet been explored as much as it should. What we have is superficial. Projections show that the total reserves of wealth in the subsoil of Kazakhstan are several times more than we have today," the president said. The president stressed the need to attract investment in geological exploration. The head of state tasked the government to simplify the legislation in order to bring world exploration companies to the process. "Investments from foreign engineering companies should be attracted by simplifying our legislation," Nazarbayev said. He called for greater efficiency of traditional extractive industries highlighting the need for new approaches to management, production, hydrocarbon processing and saving the export potential of the oil, gas and mining sectors. "It is necessary to finally decide on possible scenarios of oil and gas production," the president said. He went on to say that it is also important to increase the development of rare earth metals given their importance for knowledge-based industries of electronics, laser technology, communications and medical equipment. The head of state instructed the government to assist foreign companies in establishing advanced production facilities.

 

"We need to develop joint projects with foreign companies and establish engineering centres," Nazarbayev said. The head of state emphasised that multinational companies are now working in Kazakhstan's largest oil and gas fields, metallurgical, mining and smelting facilities. Nazarbayev stressed the need to establish production facilities in the country for maintenance and service to companies. "To this end the government should help with resources, and capabilities. And I know that many large companies are willing to do so. It is necessary to sit down at the negotiating table immediately and begin working," the president said. The head of state said there is no need to import equipment for oil and gas production from abroad. "Those companies can be moved here. Agricultural equipment should be collected here in our country. Metallurgical equipment that we import needs to be created here as well. It is the responsibility of companies that develop our subsoil and earn big money," Nazarbayev stressed.

From http://en.trend.az/ 01/17/2014

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Post Event Report: Best Run Cities 2013

 

How are city managers using today’s cutting-edge technologies to create liveable communities? This report discusses how some of the region’s innovative cities are engaging with technology, planning and people to move towards a knowledge-based economy. Today, city managers are hard-pressed to keep up with a growing population, changing expectations of citizens, and erratic macro and micro economic reforms to avoid potential socio-economic losses. For the longest time, cities have been focusing on improving their infrastructure, with little attention given to community engagement. This is exacerbated by a silo mentality in many government departments resulting in inefficiencies in public service delivery. This forum addressed how city managers should engage the community and other relevant stakeholders to determine what kind of place they want to live in. This report discusses on how using technology some smart-city governments are breaking barriers and engaging their citizens through various innovative and open government initiatives.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 01/07/2014

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AUSTRALIA: Labor Calls for Unity on Bullying

 

LABOR has urged co-operation between state and federal governments to expand the reach of new anti-bullying legislation. The call came amid state resistance to a union push that would give the Fair Work Commission greater powers over workers who lodge complaints. Acting Opposition Leader Penny Wong said states should consider co-operating to broaden the commission's reach. "The laws currently do cover a significant number of Australians," she said. "If there was a capacity for the laws with state co-operation to cover more employees, I think that should be looked at, but that will be a matter for the government." Acting opposition employment spokesman Doug Cameron went further, saying it was a "matter of pr