July 2014, Issue 152

unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World Bank Called for Tighter Economic Policies to Restore Economic Stability

 

 

 

 

CHINA: Regulating Company Charges

China Mulls Rules for Gov't Building Ban

China Passes Revised Law for Army Facilities Protection

Action Launched to Help Poor Children's Education

China Issues White Paper on Foreign Aid

JAPAN: Govt to Support Local Goods Drive

Constitutional Reinterpretation Enhances Japan’s Deterrent Power

Govt Plans Law to Boost Women’s Role in Society

SOUTH KOREA: Science Ministry to Introduce Laws for Better Mobile Service Plans

Govt's Major Economic Measures Unveiled in Economy Management Plan

 

 

 

 

Singapore, India Plan Smart Cities Partnership

INDONESIA: Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence Still Relevant to Int'l Relations

CAMBODIA: Launching 5-Year Strategic Plan to Support Disabled Persons

MYANMAR: Launching Early Childhood Care, Development Policy for Future of Nation

Myanmar Drafts Action Plan for Development of Dry Ports, Containerization

PHILIPPINES: President Signs Free Disaster Alerts Law

VIETNAM: President Urges Legal Improvements

New Laws on Social Issues Go into Effect

 

 

 

 

INDIA: Now, a New Gadget to Gaurd Women

Indian States Told to Implement Food Act Within 90 Days

SRI LANKA: Govt’s Policy to Provide Better Public Service

NEPAL: New Monetary Policy - Review of Laws Needed for a Share in Global Financial Market

 

 

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: UN Approves Draft Law ‘On Rights of Persons with Disabilities’

Azerbaijan’s Economy and Industry Ministry Sets Priorities

KAZAKHSTAN: State Bodies Rebuked over Duplication of CIS Countries` Laws

Kazakhstan May Establish Legislation Think-Tank

Kazakhstan Passes Law on Capital Amnesty

 

 

 

 

FIJI: New Constitution Plan

NEW ZEALAND: Mobile Phone Recycling Scheme Gets Government Approval

Labour Unveils Digital Strategy

Local Government Focus on Powering Local Economies

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Market Diversity a Priority

 

 

 

Governments Must Address the Vulnerability of Social Institutions, OECD Says

Most Information Commissions Fail Transparency Test

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

 

 

CHINA: Government Audit Uncovers Corruption

President Xi Stresses Building Strong Frontier Defense

Social Media Accounts to Educate CPC Members

Xi Pledges China Will Never Seek Hegemony

CPC Highlights Disciplinary Inspection Reforms

Xi Warns CPC Against Complacency

China's Supreme Court Sets Up Environment Cases Division

Government Depts Urged to Correct Financial Wrongdoing

Official Urges Further 'Mass Line' Implementation

Judicial Reform Guideline Underlines Independent Trial

Central Govt to Ensure Policies Enforced Locally

Senior Officials Demoted for Corruption

JAPAN: Security Law Minister to Be Created

Japan Public Pension Fund Hires Private Equity Executive

‘Key Communities’ Eyed for Services

10% of National Public Officials to Be Transferred or Cut

Tourist Safety Status System Planned

SOUTH KOREA: E-Government Tops UN Survey for Third Time

Science Ministry to Help Foster Local R&D Centers

 

 

INDONESIA: New President-elect Prepares New Gov't

MYANMAR: Open Emergency Monitoring Center in Riot-hit Northern City

MALAYSIA: Government Drops Overall, but Strong for Digital Inclusion, Online Service Delivery - UN E-Government Rankings 2014

PHILIPPINES: President to Focus on Inclusive Growth in Last 2 Years of His Term

The Philippines Connecting 160 Government Offices to Improve Efficiency, Allow Shared Services

THAILAND: Expected Reform Council to Represent 11 Groups

Thailand's Interim Charter Disclosed

VIETNAM: Ministry of Construction Projects Per Capita Living Areas to Rise by 2020

 

 

INDIA: Keen to Set Up National Judicial Commission - Minister

 

 

ARMENIA: PM Receives Pension Fund Manager

KAZAKHSTAN: New Chairman Appointed to Finance Ministry’s Public Procurement Committee

TAJIKISTAN: President Makes New Appointments

UZBEKISTAN: New Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population Appointed

New Head Appointed to Uzbek State Committee

 

 

AUSTRALIA: Government Preparing Open Data ‘Toolkit’ to Guide Agencies

Coping with the myGov Crash: How Australia Is Fixing Its Tax System Glitches

NEW ZEALAND: Government Departments Report Efficiency Gains from Open Data

 

 

 

Prevention and Preparedness Can Reduce Impact of Disasters Says New Report

Global Value Chains Offer Opportunities for Growth, Jobs and Development, but More Must Be Done So All Countries and Firms Can Participate Equally, According to a New OECD-WTO-World Bank Group Report

Waste Management Schemes Helping Boost Public Health in Pacific - ADB

Greater Employment Challenges Loom in the Pacific - ADB Report

Funds Passport to Create 170K Jobs, Save USD20 Bln: Study

Asia Pacific Business Leaders to Urge APEC to Intensify Work to Realize the FTAAP

Leverage on Technology

Asia Pacific Wastewater Treatment and Management Industry Outlook to 2018

 

 

CHINA: Premier Stresses Targeted Controls

Chinese Vice Premier Highlights Effective Investments

Li Stresses Innovation-Driven Economic Upgrading

China to Prepare for Aging Society

China Names and Shames Wayward Law Enforcers

China Promotes Transparency in Corruption Cases

Reform Brings Independence to China Judiciary

Second-child Policy Having Limited Effect

China's Power Data Point to Positive Signs, Pressure

China Sets Timetable to Reform Gov't Vehicle Use

Ministry Orders Enhanced Security in Public Transportation

China Boosts Security on Buses

Huge Embezzlement in China's Housing Projects

JAPAN: Social Welfare Service Corporations Must Step Up Role as Local Entities

Japan Announces Roadmap for Hydrogen Introduction

Govt Support of Scientific Research Should Lead to Fruitful Innovations

Arrest in Benesse Data Breach Case Must Lead to Tighter Info Management

Urgent Measures Needed to Counter Adverse Effects of High Energy Prices

Utmost Efforts a Must to Secure Transport in Underpopulated Areas

SOUTH KOREA: Science Ministry to Cut Telecom Costs for Households

Researchers Develop World's Most Efficient Solar Cell

S. Korea Evokes National Image of Cutting-Edge Technology: Survey

S. Korea Boasts Highest R&D Intensity: Report

 

 

INDONESIA: Having Potential for Quick Advancement, Says UN E-Government Survey 2014

Indonesia Will Manage Poll Tensions Without Foreign Help

SINGAPORE: Government Takes Joined-up Approach to Tackle Climate Change

Singapore Government Showcases 3D Urban Mapping on Newest Commercial District

VIETNAM: NA Wants New Laws on Citizens' Data Management

 

 

INDIA: Bracing for Technology Driven 2nd Green Revolution

Indian States Told to Undertake Drought Mitigation Works

Four New CR Stations Set to Go On-air in India

SRI LANKA: President Opens First Medical Reference Laboratory

Sri Lanka Ranks Top Among South Asia

 

 

ARMENIA: Large-scale Work Needed in Yerevan to Strengthen Buildings

AZERBAIJAN: Securities Transaction Be Held in New Order

KAZAKHSTAN: New Tech Park for Development of Innovative Projects to Be Opened in Astana

 

 

4 Tips to Improve Government Contact Centres - Genesys

Building Capacity for Resilient Development

ITU, UN Women Announce New Global Awards for Outstanding Work in Technology for Gender Equality

AUSTRALIA: Government to Build Online National Vocational Education & Training Database

OK to Store Data Offshore, Says Government

Australian Government Publishes Interactive Map of National Statistics by Region

Government Delivers on Commitment to Abolish the Carbon Tax

Start Small and Build Up: Australia Shares Successes in Public Sector Innovation

NEW ZEALAND: Digital Literacy in the Developing World - A Gender Gap

Aussie Govt Report Eyes Potential to Copy NZ's RealMe Online ID Service, Mutually Recognise IDs on Both Sides of Tasman

SAMOA: Government Urged to Help Farmers

 

 

Boosting Productivity Key for Developing Economies to Close Income Gap with Advanced Countries, Says OECD Development Centre

Global Growth to Slow as Wage Inequality Rises over Coming Decades, Says OECD

Global Warming, Aging to Hit Global Growth: OECD

ICT Courses in Local Varsities Don’t Serve Industry Needs, Say Experts

Global Passenger Information System (Display, Announcement, Emergency Communication, Infotainment, Mobile Applications, Devices and Components, Services) Market Report - Forecast to 2019

World Bank Group to Help Developing Countries Reap Maximum Benefits from Implementing WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

Global Economy Starts Second Half on Solid Footing

Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) Market in the APAC Region 2014-2018

ADB Maintains Developing Asia Growth Forecast

Credit Outlook in Asia Pacific Stable, Says Moody's

 

 

CHINA: Releasing Documentary on Online Terrorism

Report Underlines China's Cyber Security Challenges

China to Develop High-standard Farmland to Ensure Output

60% of Mobile Internet Users Are Male: Report

Online Terror Info Traced to Overseas Websites

Li Vows Steps to Maintain Growth

China Still Top Choice for Foreign Investors

China's Internet Society Proposes Good Faith

CPPCC Discusses Water Diversion Project

Chinese Incomes Continue to Rise

Universities to Guarantee Admission Equality

JAPAN: Mobile Phone Carriers Must Stop Corralling Customers with SIM Cards

SOUTH KOREA: Global Reactions Flow in as Korea’s Internet Speed Ranks First

S. Korea's ICT Exports Surge to Record High in H1

3 in 10 S. Korean Teens Victimized by Cyber Bullying: Study

Carriers Invest Over 5 Tln Won Per Year for Faster Network: Report

Korea Tops Connectivity, E-Trade Lists

S. Korea, Romania to Join Forces in IT Industry

NORTH KOREA: Doubling Number of Cyber Warriors Over 2 Years

 

 

INDONESIA: Expect Undersea Cable Project to Be Completed in 2017

Singapores Success - The Inside Story on Its 2014 UN E-Government Rankings Rise

Singaporeans Underestimate Retirement Needs, Survey Says

Singapore Boosts Security Measures in Response to Foreign Worker Riot

Singapore Amends Copyright Law to Address Online Piracy

Singapore's Jobs Banks Kicks Off with 16,000 Positions

VIETNAM: Encouraging More Use of Bio-Fuel

Vietnam to Build HCM City Region by 2030

Fighting Corruption Vital to Sustainable Development in VN

E-Gov't Targets Increased Satisfaction

Viet Nam Rises in Tech Rankings

 

 

Sri Lanka and Maldives Sign Deals on Health, Education

INDIA: Mobile Phones Empower the Poor in South Asia

Govt to Provide Toilets in All Existing Girls Schools in India

Indian Government Gets Robust About Sanitation

Indian Govt Concerned Over Safety of Children in Schools

Around One Million People Homeless in Urban India

India for Major Infra Boost in Its North-east

Now, Soil Maps via GIS to Aid Indian Farmers

SRI LANKA: Unemployment Down to 4.2 Per cent

National Nutrition Walk to Improve Nutrition Launched

MALDIVES: Pay $4 Mn Arbitration Fee to GMR

 

 

ARMENIA: Hosting Seminar on Role of Single Window and IT Systems for E-Governance

CIS States Plan to Sign Agreement to Reduce Roaming Charges

AZERBAIJAN: Eastern Partnership Countries’ Experts to Be United Within One Network

UK to Assist Development of Azerbaijani IT-Companies’ Businesses

Azerbaijan Increases Electricity Generation in First Half of 2014

Azercell Launches Free Smartphone Campaign

Volume of E-Commerce Market Makes Up $1.6 Million in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan's Population Exceeds 9.5 Million

Public Voice Traffic Usage in Azerbaijan's Phone Network Down by 35 Percent

KAZAKHSTAN: Introduction Terms of Mobile Number Portability Service Announced

 

 

Asia-Pacific to Witness 17.9 pc Rise in Digital Advertising This Year

AUSTRALIA: Government Launches National Map to Visualise Open Data

Data Centre Market Booming

Australian Government Launches Tool to Benchmark Agencies’ Digital Maturity

Call for Urgent Action to Correct IT Industry ‘Gender Imbalance’

Now Is the Time to Get on Social Media, Says Government CTO

NEW ZEALAND: Big 4G Mobile Rollout - Progress Report

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Speed Internet for Residents

 

 

First OECD PISA Financial Literacy Test Finds Many Young People Confused by Money Matters

World Bank Group Provided $11.9 Billion to Europe and Central Asia in Fiscal Year 2014

World Bank Group’s Infrastructure Spending Increases to US$24 Billion

ADB Downgrades 2014 GDP Growth Forecast for Pacific Region

ADB to Invest $228 Million in Energy Projects in Pacific for 2015-2017

Asia Pacific Advances Cautiously on Bank Resolution and Bail-in: Moody's

 

 

CHINA: Earmarking $6.7 Bln for Employment Boosting

Social Security Fund Has 68.6 Bln Yuan Investment Yields

China Offers $14.41Billion Foreign Aid from 2010 to 2012

China on Path to Modern Fiscal System

JAPAN: Abe Says Gov't Will Offer Y2 Mil Subsidy for Fuel-cell Cars

¥4 Tril. Budget Quota for Growth, Revitalization

Japan Walking 'Tightrope' on Public Debt, Says Amari

SOUTH KOREA: Gov't Mulls Reducing Tax Benefits amid Shortfall Woes

Finance Minister Defends New Tax on Corporate Cash Reserve

 

 

PHILIPPINES: To Implement Key Banking Reforms in 2nd Half

World Bank Hails Philippines as Next Asian Miracle

SINGAPORE: Offering Subsidies to Promote Healthier Cooking Oil

VIETNAM: World Bank Offers $3.8b in Soft Loans to Aid Poverty Alleviation

Ministry Offers Tax Breaks to Lift Recovery

World Bank Finance Project Benefits Rural Regions of Viet Nam

WB Pledges Loans to Viet Nam

 

 

INDIA: Budget 2014 - Tech Cos Seek Clarity on Taxes, GST Implementation

Public Investment Needed to Boost Stalling World Growth: IMF Chief Christine Lagarde

Budget Boost for Community Radio in India

Indian Budget-2014 Will Boost Infrastructure: Official

Indian Financial Services More Prone to Cybercrime

Financial Assistance to Madhya Pradesh for New Industrial Development Hubs

SRI LANKA: CEB Loses Rs18.6bn Up to April

Sri Lanka Budget Deficit 3.5-pct of GDP Up to April

MALDIVES: Govt Collects Over MVR 500,000 in Alms

 

 

ARMENIA: Dollar Still Falling

AZERBAIJAN: WB to Approve Additional Funding of Third Project Soon

Azerbaijani President Allocates AZN 8 Mln to ASAN Service

Azerbaijani Stock Market Grows 86%

KYRGYZSTAN: EBRD to Allocate $5 Mln to Improve Energy Efficiency

 

 

AUSTRALIA: ‘Digital Disruption’ to Cost Banks $27 Billion

FIJI: $1.5m for Housing Plan

NEW ZEALAND: Government Operating Deficit Bigger Than Expected

 

 

Small Businesses Continue to Face Finance Constraints Despite Economic Recovery

State Retirement Plans for the Private Sector

 

 

JAPAN: Manufacturers, Flush with Cash, Start Spending on Technology

Benesse Customers at Risk in Huge Data Leak

Women, Private-Sector Hires Win More Govt Appointments

Smaller Firms Faced Tough Pay Decisions

SOUTH KOREA: Tech Firms in Race for Extended Battery Life

Firms Expect Tough Wage Negotiations in 2014: Poll

LG Electronics Net Jumps 164.8 Pct

 

 

PHILIPPINES: Allow Full Entry of Foreign Banks

THAILAND: BOT Backs NCPO Plan for Collateral Law on Loans to SMEs

VIETNAM: Railways Undergoing Restructuring amid Challenges

Gov't Greenlights Auto Industry Plan

Support Industry Needs Policy Support

Vietnam Sees Growing Popularity of Electric Bike

 

 

INDIA: Switching on Power Sector Reform

SMS Service for Farmers in India Logs 1150 Mn Advisories

MALDIVES: Guesthouse Land Only for Medium Enterprises, Says Minister

 

 

AZERBAIJAN: Entrepreneurs Obliged to Inform Customs Union`s Authorities on Imported Goods

 

 

Private Sector Organisations Urged to Include Their Issues in the New Framework on Regionalism

AUSTRALIA: Private Business Slow to Adapt to ‘Digital Disruption’

Don't Forget Small Business in G20 Goals: Australian Minister

NEW ZEALAND: Service Sector Expands

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Jobs Decline in Private Sector - Bank

SMEs Lack Financial Ideas

 

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The World Bank Called for Tighter Economic Policies to Restore Economic Stability

 

In its newly released Mongolia Economic Update, the World Bank said that the Mongolian economy is facing challenges from the large balance of payments pressure and high inflation. The World Bank underscored that the economic vulnerability will likely continue under the current growth-oriented policies and urged that monetary and fiscal policies be tightened in order to restore economic stability and maintain financial soundness. Three years of growth-oriented economic policies have successfully supported double-digit economic growth but also led to large economic imbalances. The Government and monetary authorities implemented strong economic stimulus measures in 2013 as the country gradually was losing growth momentum amidst falling foreign investment and the weakening global minerals market. Expansionary policies relying on quantitative easing and external debt-financing contributed to the country maintaining double-digit economic growth last year despite the weakening external environment. The policy-induced high growth, however, also came with significant balance of payments pressure and high inflation. The current account deficit remained close to 30 percent of GDP in 2013 for the third consecutive year, while the foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2013 dropped to half of its level from the year before. Double-digit inflation continued since mid-2013 and picked up to 13.7 percent in May.

 

“In 2014, the economy is undergoing an adjustment in response to the large external and internal imbalances. Domestic demand is now under growing pressure from high inflation and continued currency depreciation. Inflation rate exceeded nominal household income growth in the first quarter according to the World Bank’s estimation. Annual economic growth is expected to soften to 9.5 percent in 2014 reflecting waning domestic demand. Considering the still high domestic credit growth and currency depreciation, inflation will likely remain at a double-digit level for the remainder of the year.” saidTaehyun Lee, World Bank Senior Economist. Large balance of payments pressure will likely persist in 2014. The current account deficit will likely narrow in 2014 due to weak imports and stronger copper exports. However, surplus of capital and financial account is also dropping amidst further dampening of the FDI. The overall external financing gap of the balance of payments is easing this year compared with the year before but the financing gap of the first five months still remained high, reaching over five percent of expected annual GDP of 2014. The international reserve level in May declined to US$1.6 billion, down by 61 percent from its peak at the end of 2012. The reserve level is still enough to cover around three months of imports and the bilateral currency swap line with neighboring China will be able to provide a significant buffer. However, economic policies need to focus on addressing the large external imbalance to ensure stable and sustainable economic growth.

 

The World Bank also underscored the importance of close monitoring on deteriorating asset quality of banking sector. As domestic credit increased by over 50 percent over the last twelve months, the size of non-performing loans and past-due loans more than doubled to MNT 1 trillion in May, up from MNT 464 billion in the same month the year before. The NPL ratio remains relatively moderate but the ratio has been also growing in recent months. Close attention is also needed to signs of overheating of the housing market and the rising household debt, added the World Bank’s economic report. The World Bank called for tighter monetary and fiscal policies and strengthened supervision on the banking system. “The recent signs of weakening aggregate demand reflect inevitable adjustment of the economy to restore domestic and external economic balances. Further economic stimulus relying on quantitative easing and large off-budget spending may not be much effective and will likely add to pressures on inflation and currency value. It would also likely accelerate depletion of international reserves through a slower adjustment of the balance of payments imbalance. Key task for economic policies now is to safeguard the economy from reaching more vulnerable situation. During the adjustment process, economic growth may become slower than previous years but will still remain higher than many other developing countries.” said Taehyun Lee, the World Bank Senior Economist and Acting Country Manager.

 

Monetary policy needs to be tightened to address high inflation. Recent indicators show signs of a gradual tightening of the expanded balance sheet of the central bank. Continued tapering of quantitative easing would help ease inflationary pressure over time. Financial sector policy should focus on ensuring financial stability and enforce proper prudential regulations to banking operations including policy lending programs. Fiscal policy should adhere to the fiscal discipline of the Fiscal Stability Law. Legal institution for fiscal discipline is already in place, but implementation still remains questionable. Under the current trend, overall fiscal deficit will reach 10 percent of GDP due to continuous off-budget spending after 10.9 percent of GDP last year. Off-budget spending needs to be consolidated into the budget and the fiscal deficit needs to be kept within the target of the Fiscal Stability Law. “No one can deny the great potential that Mongolia has. The country has proven it over the last three years with amazing growth and reduced poverty rate. Yet, the road to the future prosperity is a long-term process and the economy is facing short-term challenges in the middle of the road that need to be overcome by tighter and stability-oriented economic policies.” concluded Chorching Goh, the World Bank Lead Economist for China, Mongolia and Korea.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 07/03/2014

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CHINA: Regulating Company Charges

 

China will strengthen the management of all kinds of charges and fees imposed on companies. China's cabinet the State Council said in a circular streamlining administration and delegation of power to the lower levels would stimulate companies, especially small ones. The government will invite public supervision through a list of charges and fees. Local authorities must use the list to ensure that no charges outside the list are imposed," the circular showed. The varieties of charges will be gradually reduced and a mechanism for supporting small businesses by temporary fee exemptions will come into force.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/26/2014

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China Mulls Rules for Gov't Building Ban

 

China has begun soliciting public opinions on a draft updated regulation aiming to curb the construction of illegal government buildings amid a national frugality campaign.A temporary regulation on managing government buildings has been in place for 26 years but falls short of the central government's current requirements as a five-year ban on the construction of new government buildings was tabled in 2013.The renewed draft of this regulation, as publicized on Wednesday by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, stipulates that government office construction projects must be accompanied by feasibility reports and design blueprints, and they must be officially approved before construction can begin.As for funding, the draft bans any form of loans from financial institutes, sponsorships and fund-raising."

 

Buildings with reception functions such as accommodation, meetings and banquets, including those in the name of 'training centers,' are off limits," it said.Lavish government office compounds have been pivotal for local officials to showcase their pride and take in counterparts who usually visit in the name of business trips or attending training courses.According to the draft rules, officials and departments involved in illegal construction projects will be named and shamed, and those in serious cases will be held criminally responsible. Projects will be halted and the buildings in question will be evacuated and confiscated.The draft also urges supervision, finance, land, construction, auditing and other related departments to jointly supervise government building projects, and units with the power to okay such construction should publicize project information to the public on a regular basis.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/27/2014

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China Passes Revised Law for Army Facilities Protection

 

China's top legislature on Friday passed a revised law to improve the protection of military facilities, adding provisions to stress the security of waters under military controlAquaculture is banned in waters under military control, and non-military facilities are not allowed to be set up in such areas, according to the revised law.Any fishing or other activities must not affect war preparedness, training and duty performing of military ships, the law stipulates.The law also bans building facilities or obstacles that could interfere with military radio equipment, and bans conducting activities disturbing the electromagnetic environment of military radio equipment.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/27/2014

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Action Launched to Help Poor Children's Education

 

The China Social Welfare Foundation launched an action on Saturday to help 1,000 orphans and children in poverty finish their education.The action, sponsored by the foundation and the official website of the Xinhua News Agency, plans to raise 10 million yuan (1.6 million U.S. dollars) this year for these children.It will help needy children aging between 14 and 17 to finish a secondary vocational education and help those aging between 16 and 23 to finish adult higher education, according to the foundation.The children will be nominated by local governments and their names will be publicized.The action was part of the Showyes Project under the foundation. The project has helped subsidize more than 600 children from less-developed areas since it was initiated in June last year.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/06/2014

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China Issues White Paper on Foreign Aid

 

China on Thursday issued its second white paper on foreign aid, elaborating how the nation helps other developing countries reduce poverty and improve livelihood without imposing political conditions.The white paper, China's Foreign Aid (2014), says as the world's largest developing country, China appropriated 89.34 billion yuan (about 14 billion U.S. dollars) for foreign assistance through grant, interest-free loans and concessional loans from 2010 to 2012."When providing foreign assistance, China adheres to the principles of not imposing any political conditions, not interfering in the internal affairs of the recipient countries and fully respecting their right to independently choosing their own paths and models of development, " the document said.China first began to provide foreign aid in 1950, when it provided material assistance to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Vietnam, according to an earlier white paper on foreign aid issued in 2011.

 

Before the updates on foreign aid from 2010 to 2012, China had offered aid to 161 countries and more than 30 international and regional organizations, already providing 256.29 billion yuan in aid to foreign countries, data from the previous white paper showed.From 2010 to 2012, over half of China's foreign aid went to African nations, according to the new white paper.During the period, China provided foreign assistance in forms such as undertaking complete projects, dispatching medical teams and volunteers, offering emergency humanitarian aid, and reducing or exempting the debts of the recipient countries.Recipient countries of China's foreign aid from 2010 to 2012 included 51 African nations, 30 Asian countries, nine in Oceania, 19 in Latin America and the Caribbean and 12 European countries.Besides, China also provided assistance to regional organizations such as the African Union, according to the white paper."Developing countries, especially the least developed ones, are still confronted with the tough task of poverty reduction and development," the white paper said.

 

The document called for the international community to mobilize more development resources to promote economic and social development of developing countries to eliminate poverty worldwide.In total, China undertook the construction of 580 projects in 80 countries, including 80 hospitals, 85 schools and 156 economic infrastructure facilities.Also, China relieved nine least developed countries and heavily indebted poor countries, namely, Tanzania, Zambia, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Togo, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire and Sudan, from 16 mature interest-free loans totaling 1.42 billion yuan.One of the important objectives of China' s foreign assistance is to support other developing countries to reduce poverty and improve the livelihood of their peoples.China will respect and support developing countries' exploration of development paths suited to their own national conditions and make concrete efforts to help other developing countries promote social and economic development, it noted.The white paper vowed to continue increasing the input in foreign assistance, saying China is willing to work with the international community to make greater contribution to the development of mankind.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/10/2014

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JAPAN: Govt to Support Local Goods Drive

 

The government will launch a system to support the promotion of relatively lesser-known local specialties nationwide within this year, as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to boost local economies, according to government officials. Under the envisioned framework, officials say municipal governments will designate local specialties and the central government, in cooperation with local governments, will provide broad financial support to businesses that develop new products as local specialties and open up new markets for them. The government will submit a bill to revise the law for promoting businesses of small and mid-size enterprises using local resources during an extraordinary Diet session this autumn, according to officials. Boosting local economies is one of Abe’s areas of focus to realize his own Abenomics economic policy package. The envisioned scheme will be the first project to be carried out under this approach. The central government already has a similar framework in place to assist with local specialty promotion, under which prefectural governments have designated about 14,000 items as “local resources.” Producers of such products are eligible for low-interest loans from government-affiliated financial institutions.

 

But under the envisaged framework, municipal governments will designate local specialties because they have a better grasp of their respective administrative areas than prefectural governments. The new approach will enable municipal governments to select products that are already renowned within their areas, but lack exposure in others. Municipal governments will also be able to designate their local agricultural and marine products, craftwork and local dishes for nationwide marketing. The support system will expand the scope of eligible applicants for financial support beyond the limits of the current framework, which covers only producers of designated specialties, so loans will be available even to retailers and online business operators. Regarding financial support for producers, the envisioned system will create a new program under which municipal governments will receive zero-interest loans from the central government. Producers will then be provided with zero- or low-interest loans over five to 10 years. Eligible producers would be able to receive loans worth up to about 80 percent of their total expenses, when loans from the central and local governments are combined. This means, for example, that an eligible producer with a project costing ¥30 million would need to secure only ¥6 million as start-up capital. Retailers and online business operators dealing with designated local specialties will also be able to receive low-interest loans and credit guarantees. Support will also be given for projects that promote designated local specialties online to boost their brand recognition.

 

The envisioned framework will likely stimulate joint public-private efforts for online promotions of local dishes known as B-level dishes, in a bid to follow the success of Fujinomiya yakisoba, or deep-fried noodles in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, which is now enjoying nationwide fame. The annual B-1 Grand Prix, an event that promotes local areas through their respective B-class cuisines, has also helped other dishes rise out of obscurity, including Kofu torimotsu ni, stewed chicken giblets from Kofu; Hachinohe senbei-jiru, vegetable and flour cracker soup from Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture; and Tsuyama horumon udon, deep-fried udon with broiled pieces of beef entrails and vegetables from Tsuyama, Okayama Prefecture. Hopes are high that the government-led initiative will encourage many areas nationwide to promote local products much as the local industrial association of Imabari, Ehime Prefecture has successfully boosted brand recognition of Imabari Towels by setting its own criteria to improve the local product’s quality.

From http://the-japan-news.com 06/30/2014

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Constitutional Reinterpretation Enhances Japan’s Deterrent Power

 

The government has made a historic decision that will reinforce our coordination with the United States and other members of the international community. It is also likely that the decision will contribute to solidifying Japan’s peace and security. On Tuesday, the Cabinet approved the government’s reinterpretation of the Constitution to allow limited exercise of the right of collective self-defense. At a press conference that day, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his resolve to “consolidate Japan’s path as a peace-seeking nation.” He also pledged to establish “a seamless legal framework on national security to protect the lives and daily livelihood of the people.”  There have been gaps between the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito over the issue. While the LDP has supported permitting Japan to exercise its right of collective self-defense, Komeito held onto a cautious approach. We would like to praise both parties’ efforts to find middle ground and reach an agreement. It is safe to say that Abe’s fiery devotion to the cause, as well as his persistent and unyielding position on the reinterpretation of the Constitution, has made it possible for the ruling parties to overcome difficulties and reach an agreement. Komeito had to take time in building a consensus, including holding talks with its regional organizations, but in the end it was able to reach a responsible decision. We believe Komeito’s experience as a member of the ruling coalition has greatly helped the party reach such untiy.

 

Under the government’s reinterpretation of the Constitution, Japan will be permitted to use the minimum necessary force when an armed attack takes place against a foreign country with which Japan has close relations, and there is a clear danger that the basic rights of the people of Japan will be fundamentally undermined. The interpretation that Japan “possesses, but cannot exercise” the right of collective self-defense has long stood. Allowing Japan to exercise the right is a major sea change, as it means Japan has overcome a national security problem that has long loomed over the nation. The reinterpretation does not touch on specific issues, but it will likely enable Japan to deal with all eight example scenarios cited by the government as cases in which the nation should be able to exercise its collective self-defense right. Those scenarios include protecting U.S. vessels under armed attack, minesweeping operations and missile defense. The reinterpretation has also left rooms for Japan to participate in minesweeping operations authorized by a U.N. resolution under a collective security framework. If the government goes too far in narrowing the scope of the nation’s permissible exercise of the collective self-defense right, it would restrain the activities of the Self-Defense Forces and hollow out the significance of changing the interpretation of the Constitution. The reinterpretation follows the core principle of the 1972 government view on the right of collective self-defense and is logically consistent with previous interpretations. It is clear that this reinterpretation was made within a reasonable range.

 

This is not a case of using constitutional reinterpretation where actual amendments to the Constitution are required, and it differs fundamentally from such cases. This case is more a matter of the government making necessary adjustments to previous interpretations that were overly self-restrictive due to conditions in the Diet. The reinterpretation is made based on the Cabinet’s right to an official interpretation of the Constitution. The Diet will play a role in this issue through deliberation of bills related to the reinterpretation, and when the government asks the Diet for approval of plans to exercise the right of collective self-defense. The judiciary also has a voice in the issue through the power of judicial review. Thus the issue will be handled consistently with the Constitution’s principle of separation of powers among the administrative, legislative and judicial branches. It is difficult to understand criticisms asserting that the reinterpretation is “counter to constitutionalism.” It is similarly off base to argue that the latest Cabinet decision would pave the way for war, a line of argument propagated by left-leaning and liberal voices. Exercising our nation’s right of collective self-defense does not mean using force to protect any other nation in a situation unrelated to our own defense. The government’s new stance on the right has categorically ruled out our nation’s involvement in military situations such as the Iraq War.

 

The government’s revised view on the right has also expanded the range of cooperative international peace activities the SDF will be able to conduct. For instance, the revised interpretation has narrowed the scope of a constitutional ban on SDF actions inseparable from the use of force by another country. The Cabinet decision has limited the ban to “activities in combat zones.” The decision has also made it possible for the SDF to conduct armed rescue operations during their involvement in U.N. peacekeeping missions and other overseas missions. If civilians or foreign troops face an armed attack in areas distant from but accessible to SDF members engaged in such overseas tasks, these personnel will be able to go to their rescue. In such cases, they would be permitted to use weapons in their execution of such duties, under the latest Cabinet decision. We believe these changes will enable the SDF to better accomplish international missions such as supply, transport and medical support activities along with U.N. peacekeeping operations. The Cabinet decision also addresses some issues regarding SDF actions to be taken in what have been described as gray-zone situations, including a potential scenario in which foreign armed groups take control of remote Japanese islands. It expedites procedures for invoking SDF maritime patrol operations and other activities aimed at addressing such situations.

 

We suggest the government consider expanding the list of SDF duties to include territorial patrols, thereby enabling our country to carry out “seamless activities” in the event that the nation’s peaceful situation is subverted by a military contingency. The government and the ruling parties are set to begin implementing legislative measures to complement the Cabinet decision during this autumn’s extraordinary Diet session. Among those measures are amendments to the Self-Defense Forces Law and the Armed Attack Situations Response Law. It is important to create and refine laws to respond flexibly to a variety of situations. It is also worthwhile to consider establishing a permanent law on SDF dispatch for overseas missions—not only for U.N. peacekeeping missions, as sanctioned under the current legislation. At the end of the year, Tokyo and Washington are scheduled to revise the Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation. The Japanese and U.S. governments must ensure the planned changes to the defense cooperation guidelines properly incorporate changes made to our nation’s defense policies as a result of the latest Cabinet decision. These changes include the newly granted approval for exercise of the right of collective self-defense and the reconsideration of the ban on SDF actions that are inseparable from the use of force by other nations.

 

We hope Japan and the United States will work together to deepen their defense cooperation. Japan should increase SDF support for U.S. forces, and U.S. forces should be more significantly involved in the defense of remote islands and other parts of our country. Drafting plans for military emergencies and repeating joint military exercises under the new defense cooperation guidelines will also function to shore up the Japan-U.S. alliance and increase the two nations’ combined deterrent potential. Abe’s efforts to lift the self-imposed ban on our nation exercising its collective self-defense right has garnered support not only from the ruling parties, but from opposition lawmakers as well. The idea is endorsed by such opposition members as Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), Your Party and some members of the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan. However, the DPJ’s top cadre remains noncommittal about whether to approve the exercise of the right, and has criticized Abe’s initiative in reinterpreting the nation’s fundamental law. With the Cabinet’s decision completed, Abe should take every opportunity—ad-hoc parliamentary sessions that can be convened even during the the Diet’s recess, for example—to explain the significance of ending the ban on the collective self-defense right. It is crucial for the prime minister to make every effort to ensure that the public better understands the true meaning of revising the government’s official stance on the right.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/02/2014

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Govt Plans Law to Boost Women’s Role in Society

 

The government has decided to establish a law to promote women’s participation in society by prompting local governments and businesses to compile action plans to promote women to higher positions. It aims to submit the bill to the Diet, potentially as soon as this autumn’s extraordinary session. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set the promotion of women’s participation in society as one of the major pillars of his growth strategy, with a goal of having 30 percent of all leadership positions filled by women by 2020. The new law is aimed at having businesses accelerate their efforts to achieve this goal. It will call on them to make their own action plans for promoting women to higher positions, and clearly list in their financial statements the percentage of women among their board members and managers, to let the public know how actively women participate in their companies. To make the new law effective, the government is considering introducing a system in which it preferentially buys products from firms that actively promote women, or awards orders to such firms for projects subsidized by the government.

 

The government is also considering making it compulsory for businesses of a certain size to compile an action plan. But this will require coordination with the business community, which has been cautious toward such plans, saying they will greatly affect their management. Moves to promote women have been spreading since Abe called in April last year for listed companies to have at least one female board member. According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s basic survey on wage structure, the percentage of women in managerial positions at private firms with 100 or more employees increased slightly to 7.5 percent in 2013 from 6.9 percent in 2012. However, the pace of improvement remains slow, prompting the government to decide a new law was necessary to accelerate moves to achieve its goal. At an international conference for businesswomen held by a private body in Tokyo on Sunday, Abe again expressed his desire for women to make up at least 30 percent of the national public service personnel hired next fiscal year. “The test is coming over whether we can create a society in which women can flourish,” Abe said.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/14/2014

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SOUTH KOREA: Science Ministry to Introduce Laws for Better Mobile Service Plans

 

South Korea's science ministry said Thursday it will introduce a set of rules in the mobile devices market to provide better incentives and prices to all subscribers. The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said it aims to enact the tentatively named "Act on the Improvement of Retail System of Mobile Telecommunication Devices" in October after gauging the opinions of policy watchers and industry players next month.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/10/2014

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Govt's Major Economic Measures Unveiled in Economy Management Plan

 

The following are key measures from the government's economy management plan to be carried out by newly inaugurated Finance Minister Choi Kyung-hwan. The plan mostly focuses on boosting domestic demand, stabilizing people's livelihoods and reforming the country's economic structure.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/24/2014

 

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Singapore, India Plan Smart Cities Partnership

 

Singapore and India plan to partner and share knowledge on how to build successful new cities using technology and data, following a recent visit by Singapore’s foreign minister. India’s Budget has just committed to spend US$1.2bn on building 100 new smart cities across the country. The partnership will focus on water and port management, and infrastructure development, K Shanmugam, Singapore’s foreign minister, has told India’s regional press. Singapore is already involved in a partnership with China for its Tianjin Eco-city, which has helped it to improve the city’s quality of environment and green infrastructure. The partnership sets out to build a city that is liveable, environmentally-friendly and resource-efficient, with an estimated population of 350,000 residents by 2020. Liew Choon Boon, Senior Director in the Eco-city Project Office of Ministry of National Development told FutureGov that “Within a short span of 6 years, Tianjin Eco-city has overcome harsh site conditions and transformed from barren land into its current lush living environment. We are especially proud of Tianjin Eco-city’s progress in the area of infrastructure development as all its buildings are certified green.” He added: “This demonstrates the possibility that it is possible to achieve high economic growth yet keep greenhouse gas emissions low.” The ultimate vision for the city is to be “a leader in eco-development,” he said. “Given China’s renewed priorities in urbanisation and fight against environmental degradation, we are confident that the developmental model of Tianjin Eco-city will be relevant to China’s quest.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 07/15/2014

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INDONESIA: Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence Still Relevant to Int'l Relations

 

The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence initiated 60 years ago are very important universal norms and still play great roles in guiding international relations, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said. During a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, Marty said the five principles which speaks about respect for territorial integrity, the non-use of military aggression and others are actually shared by the contemporary world in the current international relations. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence advocated by China, Myanmar and India in 1954 stand for mutual respect for each other' s territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence. In 1955, the principals were widely supported by the international community at the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung. "The conference in Bandung helped solidify and confirm these principles that govern relations among countries in the region," Marty said.

 

Marty, who took office as Indonesia's chief diplomat in 2009, spoke highly of China's consistency in applying those principles regionally and globally to a number of occasions. Marty said the record of China on maintaining, applying the principles is very sound."China is the first country outside ASEAN that accessed to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), and I understand now China is also ready to access to the Southeast Asia nuclear weapon free zone treaty," Marty stated. The former Permanent Representative to the United Nations said Indonesia always shares the same view and implements the spirits of the Five Principles. "Indonesia in 1976 promoted the TAC within Southeast Asia, which is a concrete example of how the five principles are continuing to be relevant," Marty said. Indonesia will always partner with China and other countries to promote those kinds of outlook, he said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/26/2014

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CAMBODIA: Launching 5-Year Strategic Plan to Support Disabled Persons

 

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday launched a five-year national disability strategic plan (2014-2018) with an aim to improve the living standard and to promote the rights of the persons with disabilities. "The strategic plan, consisting of ten goals, is the necessary foundation and backbone to uplift the situation of disabled persons in Cambodia," the prime minister said at the launching ceremony, which was attended by about 3,000 persons with disabilities. He said the goals include poverty reduction, equitable healthcare, judicial service, elimination of discrimination, education, freedom of expression, participation in politics, public transport and communication means, assurance of gender equity, and strengthening and expansion of international cooperation for disabled persons. "This plan outlines a vision to enhance the life quality of persons with disabilities and their families and enable them to participate on an equal footing in society," he said. "I am strongly convinced that this plan is a dynamic policy tool helping address disability issues." Vong Sauth, minister of social affairs, veterans and youth rehabilitation, said the country has about 301,629 persons with disabilities, equivalent to 2.06 percent of the total population of 14.67 million. "Disability in Cambodia is a challenge that needs strong attention, as it causes loss to the national budget, impacts on the socio-economic position and the livelihood of people," he said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/03/2014

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MYANMAR: Launching Early Childhood Care, Development Policy for Future of Nation

 

Myanmar has launched its first ever multi-sectoral policy on early childhood care and development ( ECCD), calling for increased government investment in the services for young children to enable them to have a better start in life and for the hopeful future of the country. Wednesday's state media quoted President U Thein Sein as stating that the future of children depends on the implementation of ECCD activities which are not just about the quantity but also the quality of services. Myanmar Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement ( SWRR) Dr. Daw Myat Myat Ohn Khin stressed at the launching ceremony the need to fully cooperate with development partners for achieving the vision, mission and objectives collectively agreed upon for children. The SWRR ministry pledged to inject 28 percent of its budget in ECCD services instead of only 10 percent, while the Education Ministry is committed to spending 12 percent of its budget in early pre-school and kindergarten education in place of low-level investment. UNICEF Myanmar emphasized the importance of investing in early childhood, saying investment in ECCD is the most cost-effective way for national development as it could yield high economic returns and break the cycle of poverty. "Launching the ECCD policy is the first concrete step toward mobilizing more resources across ministries for the support to early childhood development and a crucial measure in tackling child poverty and reducing inequalities," it said, highlighting the importance of collaborative efforts of parties concerned including the private sector. The Multi-Donor Education Fund (MDEF) involving Development Assistance of Australian Aid also expressed willingness to provide continued support for the comprehensive policy for children. According to UNICEF Myanmar statistics, Myanmar has achieved only 22.9 percent in ECCD service coverage while other ASEAN member countries 57 percent. There has been also a great service coverage gap for urban and rural areas with 39.1 percent and 15.9 percent respectively, the figures show.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/09/2014

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Myanmar Drafts Action Plan for Development of Dry Ports, Containerization

 

Myanmar has draft an action plan for the development of dry ports and containerization of rail transport to ensure free flow of goods and provide new opportunities for international trade before implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, state media reported Friday. The action plan is set to be carried out in the current fiscal year of 2014-15. Under the plan, the state-run Myanmar Railways is to build dry ports in Yangon and Mandalay, where three sites are targeted as top priorities as these sites are large enough to hold containers and road and rail networks facilitating access to industrial zones. The plan also covers running container trains from inland container depots to sea ports directly and the repair of 13 bridges on the Yangon-Mandalay railroad. According to the Myanmar Railways, open tenders to develop the dry ports will be invited soon to start construction work within four months. There are three special economic zone (SEZ) projects being implemented in Myanmar -- Thilawa SEZ in Yangon region, Dawei SEZ in southern Tanintharyi region and Kyaukpyu SEZ in western Rakhine state.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/11/2014

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PHILIPPINES: President Signs Free Disaster Alerts Law

 

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III said Friday that he has signed into law a bill which directs telecommunication companies to send free mobile alerts during natural and man-made disaster and calamities. Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act or Republic Act 10639, which was signed by Aquino on June 20, requires telecommunication companies to send out alerts from several government agencies to warn Filipinos of an impending storm, tsunami or other calamities. Telecommunication companies were tasked to send the warning directly to mobile phone subscribers located near and within the affected areas and to include contact information of local government units, agencies concerned with disaster relief as well as location of evacuation areas. Companies that do not comply with the law will be fined a minimum of 1 million pesos (22,812 U.S. dollars). Their franchise and other licenses may also be suspended or revoked by the National Telecommunications Commission.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com 06/27/2014

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VIETNAM: President Urges Legal Improvements

 

The increasing complexity of crimes, particularly corruption and drug cases, requires the procuracy sector and the political system as a whole to take more drastic measures, said President Truong Tan Sang. At a working session with leading officials of the Supreme People's Procuracy yesterday, Sang asked them to improve personnel, investigation and prosecution works, especially in the settlement of economic and corruption cases. He said there was a need to perfect the legal system in line with the 2013 Constitution, urging the procuracy sector to work with other judicial agencies on draft laws to make law enforcement effective. According to Prosecutor General Nguyen Hoa Binh, in the first half of this year, the number of cases relating to ownership, economic management and position increased by 7.5 per cent, while corruption and drug cases recorded decreases of 2-14 per cent. Notably, on May 13-14, some individuals took advantage of workers' rallies against China's illegal dispatch of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou – 981 in Viet Nam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone to cause social disturbances in central Ha Tinh and southern Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces. They incited others to destroy and loot the property of foreign firms, the State, and private domestic businesses, and acted against law enforcement officials, disrupting social order and business activities. In face of the situation, the sector co-ordinated closely with other judicial agencies to make legal proceedings against the rioters, helping stabilise political security and social order in the localities.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 07/09/2014

 

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New Laws on Social Issues Go into Effect

 

The President's Office, at a press conference yesterday, promulgated new laws and a resolution that were approved during the seventh session of the 13th National Assembly in late June. These are the revised laws on Health Insurance and Vietnamese Nationality, apart from the laws on Entry, Exit, Transit and Residence of Foreigners in Viet Nam, Construction, Marriage and Family and the Notary. The other laws that were passed were the laws on Bankruptcy, Public Investment and Customs, along with the laws on Environmental Protection, and amendments and supplements to the Law on Inland Waterway Traffic. Interestingly, the Law on Vietnamese Nationality no longer sets a time-limit for the registration of Vietnamese nationals as promulgated in the 2008 version. The law is also designed to allow overseas Vietnamese, who have not yet lost their nationality, as prescribed by law before the effective promulgation of this law, to retain their Vietnamese nationality. Vietnamese residing abroad, who have not yet lost their nationality, but have no papers to prove it, as prescribed in Article 11 of this law, should make a registration with overseas Vietnamese representative missions to have their Vietnamese nationality recognised and their passports issued, it said. Meanwhile, the Law on Marriage and Family, consisting of nine chapters and 133 articles, removes the regulation forbidding same sex marriages. However, Item 2 of Article 8 mentions that the State does not recognise same sex marriages. At the press conference, the President's Office also made public a resolution on the country joining the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on matters specific to aircraft equipment.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 07/11/2014

 

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INDIA: Now, a New Gadget to Gaurd Women

 

The smart band with a wearable technology works when a free SOS app which is installed in a phone, in which one can key in upto 5 contacts. New Delhi: An adroitly developed citation of wearable technology which will send that critical SOS message to five of your guardians along with location in the time of distress. Developed by SpotNsave this inexpensive avant-garde technology simplifies the means to reach out to your family in the dread situations. And it is expected to hit the market by the end of this month and it will be economically priced to reach the majority. Spotnsave smart band breeze in comfy-to-wear sleek n stylish silicon bands that could be adopted as an indispensable part of their life. And this soft & classy smartband is comprised of a rechargeable module deployed with avant-garde technology that gets into action right after double clicking the SOS button on band which not only sends that crucial SMS with your location but also keeps on updating your real-time location which makes them easier to reach you at the earliest.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 07/02/2014

 

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Indian States Told to Implement Food Act Within 90 Days

 

The National Food Security Act-2013 aims to provide food and nutritional security by ensuring access to food at affordable prices. New Delhi: The Indian government has asked all the states to ensure implementation of the National Food Security Act-2013 within next three months, after completing other preparatory measures. The Government has allocated food grains to 11 Indian states under the National Food Security Act. This was stated by Indian minister of state for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Raosaheb Patil Danve in the Lower House of the Indian Parliament. The states which have been covered are Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan while the remaining states of Bihar, NCT of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chandigarh have been directed to complete the formalities required and implement the act within the next three months.

 

The National Food Security Act-2013 (NFSA) aims to provide food and nutritional security by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices. Under this act, 75% of the Indian rural population and 50% of Indian urban population is covered, who receive food grains at subsidised prices of Rs. 3, 2 and 1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains respectively under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). Special focus on nutritional support is given to pregnant women and children under 14 years of age.

rom http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 07/22/2014

 

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SRI LANKA: Govt’s Policy to Provide Better Public Service

 

The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the people who talk about good governance have not changed their policies so far. Colombo: The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the present Government’s policy and belief are to provide a better public service by strengthening public service. The President mentioned this while declared opening the Customs Headquarters building. President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open the new Headquarters building of the Customs Department last morning (July 14) amidst religious blessings. The state of the art new building, "Export Centre" which will work 24 hours, 365 days to speed up clearance of exports has 12 stories. More than 10 thousand million rupees has been spent to construct the building. Addressing the gathering following the opening of the building, the President said that the people who talk about good governance have not changed their policies so far. All government buildings are renovated now. Public servants should provide their services while being in a pleasant environment, he said.

 

“There are politicians who do not have confidence in the public service. Their opinion is to reduce the public sector work force. Even now they have not changed. They have trust only in the private sector. They say that the public sector is not efficient. They believe in other methods to create good governance. They still believe in their old ideas. We have changed our policies from 2005. We trusted the public service. We have confidence in the public sector. We have the confidence that the public sector can provide a better service. No matter how carefully we work, there are some who escape our sight. It is possible for racketeers to escape your vigilance”, the president further added. The president also said, “you are not only imposing taxes, but protect the culture, artifacts, environment and wildlife. You have that responsibility. You are able to fulfill your duties today without fear. The public service is not there to harass people. We have to assist the public with the proper legal procedures.”

 

“Love your country. The country needs your service. The country is developing now. We have risen to a middle income economy now from a defendant economy. Be proud of your country. Do not allow to reverse the freedom won. You need to make your contribution, said President Rajapaksa. The land where the new building is at present, was to be sold to a Singaporean Company by the then UNP Government. The ownership of the land was retained by the Customs Department following trade union action led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was the Opposition Leader at that time. The President who was the Prime Minister in 2005, laid the foundation stone for the building. The building which resembles a ship in the sea. The President also opened the Customs Museum. He was presented with books containing the history of the Customs, mementos and the First Day Cover and the stamp depicting the 205 years of service of the Department. Customs Director General Jagath P. Wijeweera, presented the President with a book on export taxes. Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B. Jayasundara and Presidential Chief of Staff Gamini Senarath were present at the opening ceremony.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 07/15/2014

 

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NEPAL: New Monetary Policy - Review of Laws Needed for a Share in Global Financial Market

 

The need of amending the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act and the Act Prohibiting Making Investment in Foreign Countries has been felt in order to make the capital account in tune with the time in the context of the national economy integrating with the global financial market. The Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) stated this in the monetary policy made public on Friday. The central bank stated that this was necessitated by the need of participating in the global exchange market amid the growing challenges in managing the foreign exchange. NRB Governor Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada said that a revision in the existing provisions was necessary to ease the supply of the raw materials needed by the gold and silver entrepreneurs. He said arrangements would be made by which the commercial banks outside the Kathmandu Valley would also be able to buy and sell gold in the current fiscal year alone. The new monetary policy has adopted the line of giving continuity to the policy of adding the goods based on the need of the list of importable goods from India on payment of convertible foreign currency.

 

The new monetary policy also provides for the banks and financial institutions to exchange up to 10,000 US Dollars annually for the Nepali nationals meeting the set criteria for the purpose of medical treatment in foreign countries. The new policy has adopted provision of importing goods through the letter of credit (LC) from Rasuwagadhi Customs Office in the context of the extension of Nepal-China trading points, of late. Facility of exchanging money as per the bill is managed if any tour packages were sold by any internal travel and tour companies themselves or in coordination with the foreign agencies. Similarly, facility to pay up to 100,000 US dollar has been managed through bank with the recommendations of bodies concerned to Nepali companies that provide telecommunications in agreement with the foreign companies and take satellite service in rent or used the service. The monetary policy allows sending money to other countries cutting Nepal's share on the basis of the amount if any international non-government organizations working in Nepal run programmes in the country and also in other countries.

 

Likewise, the monetary policy has made provisions by which Nepalis holding accounts in foreign currency will be allowed to make payment of 10,000 US dollars annually to purchase goods and services through their accounts. The monetary policy has adopted the policy of diversifying the limit of investment studying the provisions of other SAARC countries. The policy also mentions that banking transactions could be carried out from the commercial banks in different places of China in order to systematize the payments through the commercial banks for the import and export trade with China. The monetary policy extended the limitation of 30,000 US Dollars to 35,000 US Dollars for the payment of goods imported through Draft and TT from third countries except India.

From http://www.nepalnews.com/ 07/19/2014

 

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AZERBAIJAN: UN Approves Draft Law ‘On Rights of Persons with Disabilities’

 

The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) has approved Azerbaijan's draft law 'On the rights of persons with disabilities' worked out by the country's Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population. The draft law was earlier submitted to the UN CPRD by the ministry. During the 11th session of the UN CPRD held in Geneva in April 2014, the head of the Azerbaijani delegation, Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population, Salim Muslimov made the first report on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the ministry said on July 14. The experts of the UN committee thoroughly examined the draft law submitted by the ministry and concluded that the project complies with the spirit and the main principles and provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, according to the ministry. Moreover, the experts of the UN committee proposed to bring some terminological expressions, concepts and terms into compliance with international conventions, after which certain articles of the draft law were improved. The draft law 'On the rights of persons with disabilities' and the draft of the National Action Plan to Protect Persons with Disabilities for 2014-2018, are available on the following websites: www.eesmn.gov.az www.mlspp.gov.az.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/14/2014

 

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Azerbaijan’s Economy and Industry Ministry Sets Priorities

 

The Economy and Industry Ministry of Azerbaijan has set priorities in its activity.  The corresponding decisions were adopted at an enlarged meeting of the ministry's board on the ministry's tasks assigned by President Ilham Aliyev at a cabinet of ministers meeting, according to a message from the ministry.  It should be noted that the meeting of the cabinet of ministers was dedicated to the socio-economic development in the first half of 2014 and the challenges ahead.  The board chairman, the Minister Shahin Mustafayev informed the meeting participants on Azerbaijan's achievements in the reporting period, and the ministry's tasks.  Minister Mustafayev noted that the announcement of 2014 the 'Year of Industry' by the president shows the high attention and significance attached to this sector, as well as the onset of a qualitatively new stage in the industrialization in Azerbaijan.  He also stressed that President Ilham Aliyev gave instructions for further development of the industry, including the creation of industrial clusters and neighborhoods, as well as, directing investments to the industrial production growth and the continuation of works on creation of technological parks.  Mustafayev gave specific instructions to the ministry's structural units on the quality and timely execution of the tasks that were assigned by the president at the cabinet of ministers meeting.  The board meeting also made a decision to develop an action plan for the execution of these tasks. Aside from that, the board meeting discussed the activities as part of the action plan on declaration of 2014 the 'Year of Industry' in Azerbaijan.  The meeting also discussed the current state of execution of the tasks, assigned to the ministry by the presidential decree 'On additional measures in the development of agriculture and the food market' and the decree 'On the measures to improve governance and accelerate institutional reforms in the agrarian sector', as well as, other current issues.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/17/2014

 

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KAZAKHSTAN: State Bodies Rebuked over Duplication of CIS Countries` Laws

 

Speaker of the Kazakhstan`s Majilis (lower chamber of Parliament) Kabibulla Dzhakupov said during a joint session of Parliament that the developers of the draft law, namely, state bodies not infrequently rewrite the rules of foreign law without taking into account the national legislation. "There are a number of old problems in the sphere of legislative activity. There are not enough good, quality draft laws introduced by the government from year to year. Often a developer rewrites rules of international law, excluding national legislation. Thus, many rules of the draft law on personal data duplicated rules similar to the law of one of the member countries of the Commonwealth of the Independent States and contradicted 7 codes and 27 laws of Kazakhstan. As a result, MPs were obliged to revise the draft law," he said. Dzhakupov added that in general, compared to the previous period, the quality of the proposed legislation has been improved, however, the MPs "do not see the horizon of excellence." Thus, in his opinion, during the work of the fifth convocation, some 267 draft laws were introduced to the Majilis by the Government, some 43 of them returned back due to non-compliance with the requirements. Only 38 percent out of 114 draft laws introduced by the government during the third session, fully complied with all requirements.

 

"The clear problem is interagency inconsistency. Often the draft developed by the specialized public agency is coordinated with other agencies formally. A detailed analysis of the real situation begins only within the frame of working group of the parliament. As a result, the document is processed by 70-80 percent, and in some cases almost completely. This happened with the draft laws on personal data, internal affairs agencies on combating the activities of financial pyramids," the speaker said. He added that the perennial problem in authenticity of texts of draft laws in the state and Russian languages was according to him the reason for the return of 10 out of the 13 projects aimed at the revision of the laws. "I will bring two examples. About 2,500 laws have been adopted during the years of independence, but over these 23 years, not any text of the draft law has been established in the state language by the government. As the head of the state said, the language issue should be decided not by political discussions but the use of the state language of and by all the Kazakh people at home, at work, and in public places. Based on this, our contribution to the development of official language would be the development of the draft law in the state language, "Dzhakupov said. During the meeting, he cited data from the Kazakh Ministry of Education and Science that in 2013, the number of graduates who have studied in the Kazakh language in all specialties was more than 85,000 people, and more than 89, 000 this year. "At the same time, 4,200 lawyers have graduated during the last two years who studied law in the Kazakh language. Where are they all? Why don't state agencies use these resources? I hope that the government will take measures on all the relevant issues," the speaker said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/30/2014

 

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Kazakhstan May Establish Legislation Think-Tank

 

It is necessary to establish the National Research Institute of the legislation for the qualitative legislative activity in Kazakhstan. Speaker of the Kazakhstan`s Majilis (lower chamber of Parliament) Kabibulla Dzhakupov made the remarks at a joint session of the parliament chambers. "One of the measures to improve the quality of legislative activity in Kazakhstan should be the establishment of the National Research Institute of the legislation," he said. Taking into account the principle of the effectiveness of such an institution it is advisable to set up under the government, concentrating in it the best brainpower, professional practitioners, as well as progressive legal scholars on major areas of law, according to the Kazakh speaker. "The new institute as a single center of elaboration and scientific support of the state's legal system development would be more engaged in the formation of the concept of managed and controlled lawmaking in the country," Dzhakupov said. He paid special attention to promising areas in the legislative activity of MPs in the coming period. This, above all, the adoption of laws necessary for the efficient operation of the Eurasian Economic Union. "We need to adopt such laws, to create such legal mechanisms that people and the economy of Kazakhstan receive the maximum benefit from this union," the speaker said. The parliament adopted a resolution announcing the closing of the third session of the fifth convocation and parliamentary vacation from July 1 to September 1, 2014 at a joint session.

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/30/2014

 

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Kazakhstan Passes Law on Capital Amnesty

 

President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the law on capital amnesty, Kazakh presidency reported on June 30.  The law concerns Kazakh citizens, repatriates and persons holding a residence permit in Kazakhstan and is aimed at the legalization of the property of these groups of people including legalization of the money previously removed from legal economic circulation.  The law is expected to reduce the 'shadow' economy, attract additional funds, investments and revenues to the economy, as well as stabilize the balance of payments.  The capital amnesty will be held from September 1, 2014 till December 31, 2015.  The capital amnesty will be carried before the introduction of the general declaration of expenses which is scheduled to start on January 1, 2017.  The money should be deposited into special savings accounts opened in banks for legalization.  Capital amnesty was ordered to be held by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/03/2014

 

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FIJI: New Constitution Plan

 

THE Social Democratic Liberal Party says it will make a new constitution for Fiji if it gets into government following the general election on September 17. This was one of the key policies announced by the party in its election manifesto made public at Suva's Civic Centre yesterday. The manifesto titled Reclaiming Fiji highlighted that the new constitution would ensure God's rightful place in the supreme law, uphold Christian values and ensure respect for all religious faiths and religious freedom for all citizens. The manifesto said a SODELPA government in agreement with other political parties would explore ways of amending or repealing the 2013 Constitution through legal means. "Following proper procedures, prepare a new constitution for Fiji that will be acceptable to a great majority of the people of Fiji and seek an advisory opinion from the Supreme Court on the status of the 1997 Constitution," the manifesto revealed. The manifesto further revealed that SODELPA would repeal all the decrees that suppress basic human rights.

 

Party leader Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa said their priority would be to provide employment and livelihoods for the many thousands of people without income. "Allocate $50million annually to subsidise the price of an approved list of VAT free basic food items. This will give some initial relief to the poor and needy," Ro Teimumu said. She also revealed that a SODELPA government would commission a comprehensive remuneration survey throughout the civil service and the disciplined forces to restore affordable and appropriate levels of pay and relativity. "Implement the agreed recommendations of the remuneration survey. Establish a special tribunal to revisit and investigate the cases of all civil servants and others unfairly impacted or dismissed as a result of the 2006 coup."

From http://www.fijitimes.com 07/19/2014

 

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NEW ZEALAND: Mobile Phone Recycling Scheme Gets Government Approval

 

Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced that the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum’s (TCF) mobile phone recycling programme has received government accreditation. The programme, known as RE:MOBILE, is the first product stewardship scheme dealing with e-waste to be accredited under the Waste Minimisation Act. “E-waste is a growing waste issue as New Zealanders increasingly own multiple devices, such as phones, computers and tablets,” Ms Adams says. “On average, New Zealanders replace their mobile phones every 18 months, leading to a significant number of phones available for reuse or recycling. In fact, it is estimated that each year up to three million mobile phones become obsolete in New Zealand. Of those, only about 2 per cent are recycled. There is significant potential for improved efficiency in the use of resources if we can capture and process e-waste."

 

RE:MOBILE has been running since 2010 and involves Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees, as well as waste companies Swapkit, Zero Waste New Zealand and Sims Recycling. The scheme covers mobile and smart phones, their batteries and accessories such as chargers, data cables and head-sets. TCF outgoing Chief Executive David Stone says the scheme – known as RE:MOBILE is the first e-waste recycling programme in the country to achieve Government accreditation. “This Government seal of approval of our programme is proof that it has met its environmental requirements for accreditation. Now anyone who wants to recycle their phone knows that they are using an approved scheme, We hope that people will be encouraged to bring in their unwanted phones to Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees stores around the country following the Government endorsement of this programme. Over 70% of kiwis have at least one unconnected mobile in their house, this tells us that there are many phones still lying around in people’s homes,” he says.

 

Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees have in-store recycling bins around New Zealand where people can drop off their old mobile phones. They also offer a free mail-in service for old phones, and there are regular community-based recycling campaigns. The phones are sorted into those that can be sold overseas for reuse and those suitable for recycling. Non-working phones are sent to local recyclers for dismantling before the parts are sold overseas. Some of the funds raised through the sale of reusable phones are donated to the Starship Foundation. By 2020, RE:MOBILE aims to increase the number of phones collected annually for reuse or recycling to nearly 300,000, reduce the number of mobile phones going to landfill by 2 per cent, and reduce the number of old phones stored at home by 10 per cent.

From http://www.geekzone.co.nz 07/08/2014

 

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Labour Unveils Digital Strategy

 

Labour has added to its policy blitz this week with plans to boost the information and communications technology sector including establishing 1200 "digital apprenticeships" and a new support package for small technology startups. "A Labour Government will support the ICT sector to make New Zealand a tech-savvy nation and put ICT at the heart of our economic upgrade strategy", Labour Leader David Cunliffe said in an announcement on the fringes of the NetHui conference in Auckland today. Mr Cunliffe said that while apprenticeships were already on offer in the telecommunications, engineering sectors and also for technicians, there was no apprenticeship for "information technology" itself. The only places where people could currently get a formal qualification in information technology was outside the workplace at a private training enterprise, polytech or university, and there was largely an absence of opportunities to qualify through a mix of study and on the job training. Labour would establish a "clear career pathway" for people to gain a nationally recognised diploma or certificate qualification in ICT and once that was in place would fund 400 additional tertiary training places each year for three years to provide the academic component for those qualifications.

 

"This will help to encourage more people into the industry who were previously put off by the prospect of having to undertake training off job and in their own time, and prefer the option of learning while earning." Labour says the policy would cost $2.1 million in the first year increasing to $6.3 million by the third year. A Labour Government would also establish "Garage Grants" - a support package of up to $10,000 available to support entrepreneurs 'in transforming their clever idea into something big". Along with the cash, which would be available via the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, the scheme would also see applicants receive "individual training, mentoring and support from successful entrepreneurs". Labour says the scheme would cost up to $3.2m over four years. Other planks of Labour's policy include the establishment of a dedicated Chief Technology Officer who would report directly to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on technology issues. Labour also says the technology sector will benefit from its plan to offer businesses tax relief through an accelerated depreciation regime and its research and development tax credits. Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said Labour's plans for the sector were "not up-to-date and poorly thought through".

 

"They propose grants and accelerated depreciation for start-ups and don't seem to know that those are already happening. They propose a Chief Technology Officer when the Government already has a Chief Information Officer performing a similar role." He said Labour had "truly missed the mark on ICT skills". The demand in ICT is primarily for graduate-level software designers and programmers, not in the trades. That's why we're investing nearly $30 million dollars in our ICT grad schools for final year undergraduate and postgraduate training." Labour would be "far better to endorse that approach," Mr Joyce said.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 07/11/2014

 

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Local Government Focus on Powering Local Economies

 

Local government focus on powering local economies, building vibrant communities. On Sunday, more than 550 delegates representing central government, stakeholders, industry and the councils around New Zealand will gather at the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) 2014 Conference in Nelson to discuss and debate the theme of Powering Local Economies, Building Vibrant Communities. The annual event is highly anticipated by the sector as informative and engaging for learning and networking. The conference is attended by mayors, chairs, chief executives, councillors and senior management from New Zealand's councils are expected to attend alongside key stakeholders from the private sector, government and non-government agencies. Recent media coverage has highlighted the changes in demographics that provincial areas of New Zealand face. These issues will be addressed at the 2014 LGNZ Conference as a wide range of high profile speakers discuss the theme of how to power local economies and build vibrant communities. Looking ahead to important policy matters with the 2014 general elections just months away, LGNZ President Lawrence Yule will launch the LGNZ 2014 Manifesto highlighting our key policy priorities for the incoming government. Prime Minister John Key and the Leader of the Opposition David Cunliffe will speak on key policy impacting local economies and communities.

 

Local Government Funding Agency Chair Craig Stobo, Auckland Council Chief Financial Officer Andrew McKenzie and Te Rununga o Ngai Tahu Chief Executive Officer Arihia Bennett will speak on lifting governance and financial performance. NZX-listed Xero’s Chief Executive Rod Drury will talk on why businesses locate in the regions they choose to, BERL Chief Economist Ganesh Nana will talk about future economic thinking with Lincoln University Professor of Trade and Environmental Economics Caroline Saunders, and Head of New Zealand ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Therese Walsh will talk about the needs, opportunities and key success factors for towns hosting major events. Thames-Coromandel District Council Chief Executive David Hammond, Oosh Managing Director Suzie Johnson and Urbanismplus Director Kobus Mentz will speak about making localism work through innovation. A series of master classes will cater to the specialised interests of the sector. The master class sessions are on new generation funding models for infrastructure, the economic impact of cycleways, smart digital investment, improving governance through strengthening capacity and capability, and engaging with youth. “The LGNZ conference is a time for the sector to come together and tackle important issues while sharing best practice, future thinking and strategies to further lift leadership and performance of the sector, and further lift the value we deliver to communities for ratepayers,” Mr Yule says. “I know local government elected members, staff and stakeholders get huge value from the event every year and this year is a particularly strong line up.”

From http://www.scoop.co.nz 07/18/2014

 

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Market Diversity a Priority

 

THE need to diversify the local market to attract foreign investment remains a priority for the Papua New Guinea government, Trade, Commerce and Industry Secretary John Andrias said. Andrias said that when welcoming over 45 participants who attended a seminar on Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus in Port Moresby. “The need to diversify market entry and access for PNG-made goods and services and to attract multimillion dollar foreign direct investments into the growth areas of our economy remains a priority for the government.” The participants represented various government departments and agencies as well as the private sector and the civil society organisations. Andrias said Papua New Guinea was an active participant in global trading system and a party to several regional and international trade agreements. He said the country was determined to fully participate in global value chains and attract foreign direct investment that will underpin our economic expansion and sustainable development.

 

Andrias said the government was committed to adopting policies that would significantly enhance its participation in regional and international trade. There was a strong commitment to address supply-side constraints, expand production capacity and encourage more domestic participation through actively supporting small and medium enterprises. He said PNG’s participation in regional economic integration was driven significantly by its commercial interests and that PNG would accede to PACER Plus only when there were demonstrable benefits for the country. Earlier trade agreements such as South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Corporation Agreement (SPARTECA) had failed to facilitate PNG’s exports to Australia and New Zealand. For PACER Plus to achieve its objectives and facilitate greater participation of FICs in international trade, the issue of non-tariff barriers had to be comprehensively dealt with and Australia and New Zealand should undertake significant commitments in areas of labour mobility and development assistance.

From The National 07/10/2014

 

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Governments Must Address the Vulnerability of Social Institutions, OECD Says

 

Future generations will pay a high price if countries fail to reform pension, health care and unemployment schemes, according to a new OECD report. Vulnerability of Social Institutions warns that population ageing and slower growth will  threaten the  sustainability and the adequacy of benefits in the coming years while undermining the risk sharing across society that social institutions have long provided. The ratio of workers to retirees will on average shrink from 4.2 to 2.1 across the OECD area by 2050, triggering a high pension burden for future workers if nothing is done. Health care spending could rise considerably in the future, due to both price and technology developments. After a period of relative stability in the 2000s, structural unemployment has been drifting up since the recent crisis, putting upward pressure on unemployment spending. In the face of these challenges, governments must reform social institutions, while being prepared to make regular adjustments to adapt to trend changes and to shocks with long-lasting effects.

 

Among the key OECD recommendations:

The retirement age of pension schemes should be linked automatically to life expectancy gains in the countries where this is not yet the case. In the health sector, regulated competition among health care service providers, well-designed budgetary caps, hospital payments based on diagnostic related groups and health technology assessments can improve sustainability without damaging the adequacy of services. The settings of unemployment insurance systems – notably the coverage, amount and duration of benefits – should balance different objectives. In the short run, generous benefits and long duration generate large spending spikes during severe downturns and can create disincentives to work. But too stringent eligibility criteria and short benefit duration can jeopardise the core functions of unemployment insurance as a tool for risk sharing and efficient reallocation of labour.

 

The legacy of high government debt and weak growth prospects stemming from the global economic crisis strengthen the call for adapting social institutions. Projections of future public health care and pension spending indicate that policies must be developed today to address spending pressures so that countries can avoid a considerable tax hike or benefit cuts in the future. The crisis has also revealed the weaknesses of social institutions in some countries. On average, youth poverty has soared during the crisis, and in hard hit countries, unmet medical needs have increased. OECD analysis shows that some reforms are better than others at limiting the trade-off between sustainability and adequacy of benefits and services.  Increasing the statutory retirement age is more efficient for balancing Pay-As-You-Go pension schemes, including defined-contribution point schemes, than increasing the contribution rate or decreasing the pension rate. However, raising the retirement age is not sufficient if options for early retirement exist; the employment of older workers needs to be facilitated.

 

Similarly, reforms aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the health care sector could generate large savings and partly offset future spending pressures, thus easing the sustainability-adequacy trade-off. Effective labour activation policies can reduce spending on unemployment benefits, and by getting people back to work, will also buttress government revenues.  Contingency plans should be in place to cope with a surge in unemployment, and activation policies should be scaled up during crises. Temporary extensions of unemployment benefit duration and temporary loosening of eligibility criteria may play a useful role in countries where duration is low and access to social assistance is limited.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 07/09/2014

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Most Information Commissions Fail Transparency Test

 

Information commissions — watchdogs for the transparency regime under the RTI Act — are some of the most opaque organizations according to an independent report. Of the 29 commissions in the country, only 17% have the facility of online filing of appeals and complaints, 42% do not display information on the cases that will be heard that day or that week, 58% do not display the updated status of pending appeals and complaints while 35% do not have a system of making their orders public within a reasonable timeframe. The report prepared by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) also revealed that there was a steady increase in the number of RTI queries in 2012 as compared to the previous year. While Gujarat and Odisha saw a 46% increase in applications, Karnataka witnessed 29% increase. There was a 19% increase in RTI appeals with the Central Information Commission (CIC).

 

More than three-fourths of the commissions do not have a website in the local language. The CIC and state information commissions of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have local language websites. Only 17% of information commissions provide online facilities for submitting appeals or complaints or both. While the CIC, Gujarat and Tripura commissions accept online filing of both appeals and complaints, their counterpart in Bihar provides this facility for filing second appeals only. About 42% of information commissions do not display cause lists on their websites that will help the public know what cases are likely to be heard by the commission. These include commissions in Assam, Bihar, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Sikkim that continue to resist the idea of displaying cause lists on their websites, the report said.

 

About 58% of commissions including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal do not provide data on disposal of cases and pendency of appeals and complaints. Nineteen of the 29 commissions have made their orders public but the commissions of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh do not have updated information for the last 2-4 years. Incidentally, this comes at a time when there has been a sharp increase in RTI applications. Gujarat and Odisha have seen a 46% increase in applications while Karnataka has recorded 29% increase. At 26%, Chhattisgarh witnessed the third highest increase in the number of RTI applications received in 2012 followed by Mizoram at 20%.

From http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ 07/14/2014

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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."

From https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/ 06/30/2014

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CHINA: Government Audit Uncovers Corruption

 

Financial audits of government finances in 2013 helped uncover 314 serious cases of "law and disciplinary violations" involving 1,100 people, a new report has showed.These people's illicit acts were found by auditors of central and local revenue and spending last year, according to the National Audit Office's (NAC) 2013 audit report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Tuesday.The guilty parties mainly work at government offices with administrative approval rights or departments controlling important state assets or resources, the NAC said in the report, but it did not reveal how these people were dealt with.The report said that 112 are group cases, involving 760 people. Each of these cases involves a "nest" of people, centering on one or several officials who grasp public power or resources. In 31 cases, the principal suspects' family members also participated.

 

The report also said that suspects are committing crimes in a more covert way, such as asking for shares of a company in place of cash or laundering money under the disguise of doing public good.While inspecting the China Investment Corporation and other two financial companies, the NAC found that they have illegally given loans or covered bad loans. These loans totaled about 18.3 billion yuan (2.9 bln U.S. dollars).The eight state-owned banks, including the ICBC, were found to have lent 375 billion yuan to companies barred from gaining such loans.The NAC also uncovered 11 cases, worth 80 billion yuan, in which suspects had used the Internet to swindle money or raise funds illegally.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/24/2014

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President Xi Stresses Building Strong Frontier Defense

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for efforts to build a strong and solid frontier defense network for both territorial land and water at a national meeting held on Friday.Xi said, upon mentioning frontier defense, one cannot help thinking China's modern history when the country was so weak and destitute that it was for everyone to bully.Foreign aggressors broke China's land and sea defense for hundreds of times, plunging the Chinese nation into the abysm of calamity, Xi added, calling on the people not to forget the history of humiliation and to build a strong frontier.Xi urged China's frontier defenders to meticulously monitor over and control the frontier and to mount actions to defend the country's maritime right, while implementing an overall national security outlook.Furthermore, Xi called for efforts from both the military and civilian communities to strike a balance between frontier defense and economic development, staunchly safeguarding frontier security, stability and prosperity.Premier Li Keqiang and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli also attended the meeting.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/28/2014

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Social Media Accounts to Educate CPC Members

 

China's social security fund gained 68.6 billion yuan (11.2 billion U.S. dollars) from investment in 2013, with a 6.2-percent return on investment, according to statistics from the fund manager.The rate of return on investment was higher than the 2.6-percent inflation rate during the period, the National Council for Social Security Fund (NCSSF) said.Founded in 2000, the fund is designed to serve as a solution for the country's aging problem as well as a strategic reserve to support future social security expenditures.By the end of last year, the fund's managed assets totalled 1.24 trillion yuan, and its investment yields amounted to 418.7 billion yuan, which put the average annual investment return rate at 8.13 percent, outperforming the nominal inflation level.Despite the overall success in investment, the fund was found to have incurred unnecessary losses due to mismanagements.The National Audit Office announced earlier this week that losses incurred by irregular management and unwise decisions at the fund totalled 17.5 billion yuan during the 2010-2013 period.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/28/2014

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Xi Pledges China Will Never Seek Hegemony

 

China will never seek hegemony, no matter how strong it becomes, President Xi Jinping said on Saturday at a high-profile meeting to mark the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence."China does not accept the logic that a strong country is bound to become hegemonic, and neither hegemony nor militarism is in the Chinese DNA," Xi said in a speech, as he played host to leaders from Myanmar and India to commemorate the anniversary.Citing poems and old sayings from the three countries, Xi called for dialogue based on equality to resolve disputes and joint efforts to preserve regional peace.He also announced the establishment of a friendship award and an outstanding scholarship related to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.Observers said Xi's remarks and the first meeting of leaders of all three of the peace code's founding countries since its inception sought to assure the world of China's peaceful development amid simmering tension in the East and South China seas.

 

It will take time for China, or any growing power, to be fully accepted by the world. But China will prove its intentions with its actions, based on the five principles, which can play a bigger role in the current international community, they added.In 1954, the leaders of China, India and Myanmar initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. They are mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity; mutual non-aggression; non-interference in each other's internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful coexistence.The joint commemoration - especially the presence of Myanmar's President U Thein Sein and India's Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari - shows those two countries' efforts to push forward the peace code and their relationship with China, said Zhang Jiuhuan, former director of the Department of Asian Affairs at the Foreign Ministry.

 

Having guided the rapid development of ties between China and Southeast Asia, the principles could also lead to the resolution of issues between China and some Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea, said Zhang, who is also a former Chinese ambassador to Singapore and Thailand.Wang Fan, vice-president of China Foreign Affairs University, said the five principles could be developed to become a mechanism to guarantee the spirit's future implementation.East Asia - divided by an outdated alliance system - lacks a sound multilateral platform for cooperation. So the five principles under a mechanism could better restrict all concerned parties, he said.Ansari also called for "a new paradigm for global action", "a framework in which opportunities and challenges for the betterment of our societies coexist".The five principles "can act as a catalyst", he said in a speech at the meeting.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/29/2014

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CPC Highlights Disciplinary Inspection Reforms

 

The Communist Party of China (CPC) on Monday underscored its disciplinary inspection reforms, just as four of the country's former high-ranking officials were expelled from the Party. A meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Monday approved an implementation plan of these inspection reforms, according to a statement released after the meeting presided by the CPC Central Committee's general secretary, Xi Jinping.No detail of the reform plan was included in the statement.Monday's meeting came as China's anti-corruption drive reached a new crescendo as four former high-ranking officials were expelled from the CPC one day ahead of its 93rd anniversary.Xu Caihou, former vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, Jiang Jiemin, former head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, Li Dongsheng, former Vice Minister of Public Security and Wang Yongchun, former vice general manager of the China National Petroleum Corporation, were expelled from the CPC, the Party's Central Committee announced.

 

Calling the CPC's disciplinary inspection reforms a vital component of China's ongoing campaign to deepen reforms, the statement called on officials at all levels to exercise self-discipline and preserve their moral integrity.They should also take the lead in improving their work style, building a clean government and fighting corruption, it said, adding that secretaries of CPC committees should be the first persons responsible in these regards.Those who derelict their duties and fail to improve the Party's work style and build a clean government will be held accountable, it added.The statement also highlighted a dual leadership scheme designed to grant more power to discipline inspection agencies.

 

Under the scheme, local discipline inspection agencies must report to not only the CPC committees at the same level but also the inspection agencies of their superior level when investigating cases.The statement called to strengthen the leadership of superior discipline inspection agencies over subordinate ones, adding that inspectors must also be sent to top-level Party and State organs.Also approved at Monday's meeting was a document containing the CPC Central Committee's opinions on an overhaul of China's household registration system.The statement called for an orderly urbanization and for good public services to be made accessible to all people living in cities.

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

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Xi Warns CPC Against Complacency

 

The Communist Party of China (CPC) should avoid complacency and be aware of its weaknesses despite increasing praise from the people, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Monday, a day before the CPC's 93rd birthday."Ninety-three years on, our party has united people of all ethnic groups to go through battles, achieve great success in revolution, development and reform and has changed the fate of the Chinese nation," Xi said during a meeting on improvements to the work style and morality of CPC members.Xi called for "sobriety" in assessing the state of the Party.CPC members should have be ready for the unexpected and be well prepared for dangers in times of safety, he urged.The president asked them to understand the "severe dangers" the Party is facing, such as isolation from the people and corruption."We must insist on governing the party in a strict manner," he said.He also extended greetings to all CPC members and staff on the fall of the party's birthday on July 1.On Monday, the CPC expelled four heavyweight officials, including Xu Caihou, former vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission.

 

Xu was cited for bribery and may face prosecution as his case has been forwarded by the discipline agency to prosecutors.The work style and morality of CPC members matters to the survival of the party, Xi told the meeting.He urged authorities to strengthen implementation of the "mass-line" campaign and ensure its effectiveness.The mass-line campaign was launched last June to cement Party-people ties and clean up undesirable work styles such as bureaucracy and extravagance.Xi noted that implementation of the campaign is a long-term and regular task, and efforts must be made to keep undesirable work styles from returning.To improve Party building, officials in high office should take the lead in creating a sound political environment, he believes.All officials should act with integrity, telling the truth to their superiors and subordinate and daring to fight bad practice, Xi urged."Officials at all levels must keep clean, use their power in the right way and be able to withstand temptation."

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

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China's Supreme Court Sets Up Environment Cases Division

 

The Supreme People's Court (SPC) has set up a tribunal for environment cases to better implement the revised environmental protection law, said a court spokesman here on Thursday.The tribunal will hear civil cases involving pollution, exploitation of natural resources and conservation of natural environment such as forests and rivers, said Sun Jungong, SPC spokesman, at a press conference.It will also hear appeal cases forwarded from lower courts, supervise the trial of environment cases at lower courts and draft judicial explanations about such cases, Sun said.The SPC expects that the tribunal can set the standards for trials of environment cases, better protect people's environmental rights and help fight pollution and other offenses harming the environment, he said.About 134 special environment tribunals have been established at local courts in 16 provincial divisions since the first was founded in southwest China's Guizhou Province in 2007.

 

Following suit of the SPC, all provincial high courts will also set up similar institutions while city courts and lower ones can decide based on their own conditions, said Zheng Xuelin, chief judge of the tribunal, also at the press conference.According to Zheng, environment cases have taken a very small proportion of all court cases across the country, nearly 30,000 out of more than 11 million.Zheng admitted that it is still difficult for people to file an environment case since courts are held back by technical problems such as lack of practical standards to assess damage, and in some cases interference from local governments.With the operation of more environment tribunals, Zheng expects the number of these cases to increase.China's top legislature revised the environmental protection law in April, imposing much harsher punishment on polluters and heavier liability on government.

 

The new law allows public litigation on environmental issues and expands the range of the plaintiff, from parties directly affected by environmental damage to officially registered social organizations that engage in public litigation on environmental issues for more than five years.China has faced an increasing number of protests, or "mass incidents", over environmental issues. Cities have seen residents take to the streets against paraxylene projects, which they believe are a major threat to the environment and public health.Courts are considered a more rational way for people to express their concerns without triggering chaos and violence.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/03/2014

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Government Depts Urged to Correct Financial Wrongdoing

 

China's central government has ordered sweeping correction of departmental wrongdoing in money use exposed by auditors last week.At a State Council meeting on Wednesday, departments and institutions named in the annual audit report were ordered to list their problems and give a detailed timetable for each correction.The corrections must be finished before the end of October, and the results will be publicized after being reported to the top legislature, according to a statement from the meeting, which was presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.The National Audit Office's (NAC) 2013 report exposed the malpractice and corruption of a number of government departments, banks and state-owned enterprises, concerning theft of poverty relief funds, embezzlement, luxurious overseas trips and feasts.For instance, the Ministry of Culture and two public institutions embezzled 104 million yuan (17 mln U.S. dollars) and spent 30 percent of it on gifts and giving out allowances.

 

The eight state-owned banks, including the ICBC, were found to have lent 375 billion yuan to companies barred from gaining such loans.The NAC helped uncover evidence of 314 serious cases of "law and disciplinary violations," involving 1,100 people.At Wednesday's meeting, the State Council asked authorities and institutions to make use of money that remained from previous years and avoid wasting spare funds.It also urged them to increase investment in the real economy to help with small companies' financing.The State Council will cut more administrative approval items and delegate more power in this aspect, including the right to allocate funds, to authorities at lower levels, it vowed.It also called for improvements in the budgetary system's transparency and strengthened supervision and auditing to ensure the correct use of public money.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/03/2014

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Official Urges Further 'Mass Line' Implementation

 

Senior leader Liu Yunshan on Saturday called for persistent implementation of the Party's "mass line campaign," as the second phase of the campaign nears the end.The campaign is in its key stage, and more strength should be exerted with its approaching to the end, according to Liu, a Standing Committee member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau.The campaign was launched in June last year to make government more accessible to the public while cleaning up officials' undesirable work styles.The second phase of the campaign is scheduled from January to September 2014, targeting more low-level departments and leaderships, while the first phase focused on central and provincial-level departments.Various levels of Party committees should reinforce the implementation of the campaign to ensure that it will not end in shouting slogans, Liu said.He asked authorities to really solve the specific problems resented by the people, such as the issue of "naked officials," or those whose spouses and children have all emigrated overseas.Liu also asked officials and Party members to study President Xi Jinping's remarks on creating a sound environment for political career and take the lead in promoting a clean "political eco-system."

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/05/2014

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Judicial Reform Guideline Underlines Independent Trial

 

China's top court on Wednesday published a guideline for reforms in the country's court system over the next five years, underlining efforts to ensure independent trial.The guideline includes 45 major reform measures, which fall into eight key judicial issues such as personnel, finance and judicial selection, according to a document issued by the Supreme People's Court (SPC) at a press conference.The reform will be focused on efforts to remove some deep-rooted problems affecting the capability and fairness of the country's judicial system, and to ensure the courts exercise their judicial power in a legal, independent and just manner, the document said.Work to promote the justice, efficiency and authority of the judiciary will also be accelerated, it said.According to the guideline, judicial selection committees consisting of representatives of judges, organization and personnel departments and the public will be set up at provincial-level courts in a bid to promote professional selection of the bench."Previously, China's judicial selection and management system took reference from the public servant management system, which did not suit the profession's characteristics well," said He Xiaorong, head of the SPC judicial reform office.In addition to professional selection, the candidates' honesty and integrity will also be reviewed and the nominees will be appointed by the legislatures according to legal procedures.

 

Also, trial judges' right to issue their rulings and opinions independently will be further guaranteed and their judgements will no longer need to be signed by the courts' chief judges, said the guideline.However, they will also be held responsible for their judgements, it noted.Moreover, local courts' finances will be put under uniform administration featuring separate management of the courts' spending from the money and property they collect as litigation fees, fines and forfeitures.The guideline said that to handle some serious or complicated cases, a system will be established to allow superior courts to set up circuit courts, and tribunals with specialized jurisdiction in environment-related cases as well as courts specializing in intellectual property rights trials will also be set up.The guideline pledged reforms to promote judicial transparency, to strictly enforce the exclusionary rule of illegal evidence and to remove unreasonable elements in the courts' performance assessment system.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/10/2014

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Central Govt to Ensure Policies Enforced Locally

 

The central government has sent several inspection groups to see whether national policies are carried out at the grassroots level, a move aimed at tackling difficulties in enforcement.A series of problems in policy enforcement surfaced after the State Council, China's Cabinet, recently allocated eight inspection groups to 27 administrative authorities and departments in 16 provinces and municipalities.Premier Li Keqiang heard the report of those groups in an executive meeting on Wednesday. Li stressed that all the authorities must enhance their awareness to shoulder the responsibility of putting policies into practice.The inspection groups found that some local governments dragged their heels when carrying out policies, while some governments eluded their responsibilities.A few officials were found during the inspection to be derelict in their duties and not enforcing the policies, said the groups' report, adding that some local officials treated policies with indifference.

 

Li said the officials and authorities that did not carry out the policies should be held accountable, and the central government will set a time limit for enforcement.Specific measures for the policies in provinces and municipalities must be issued in a timely way, while the improvement of local rules should be also accelerated, Li said.The corrective actions must be reported to the central government within a definite time, and superficial enforcement must be banned, he said.Li required local governments to reduce procedures to put the policies into practice, thus stimulating the market's vitality and social creativity.Some industries, including those in energy conservation and environmental protection, should be further improved, and the central government will provide aid in areas where enforcement is a challenge, he said.

 

Regular inspections are also needed in local governments and departments, he added.Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, approved of the inspections and said they are a better way to create communication between the central government and local authorities."The inspections can help the leadership know whether their policies are realistic and expose problems or difficulties as local governments implement the policies," Yang said."Some reforms were hardly effective in the past because they were not put in place," he said. "But now, the enforcement of a policy across the country can be supervised and pushed under the inspection."The inspection is also helpful for policymakers to improve their work, he added.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/17/2014

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Senior Officials Demoted for Corruption

 

A vice-minister-level official in Jiangxi province was demoted seven levels in the hierarchy of Chinese officials, a rare punishment of a Party official for corruption that prompted discussions on the Internet.The Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on Wednesday that Zhao Zhiyong, was removed from his post as a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Jiangxi Provincial Committee and secretary-general of the CPC Jiangxi Provincial Committee, which is equivalent to a vice-minister in the official hierarchy. He was demoted to the level of a section worker, the second-lowest rung on the ladder.Additionally, Zhang Tianxin, former Party secretary of Kunming, capital of Yunnan, another vice-minister-level official, was demoted by four levels to become a deputy division chief, equivalent to a deputy chief of a county.

 

He also was stripped of his CPC membership and demoted "for dereliction of duty that led to losses of State assets, and for taking advantage of his position for personal gain", according to the CCDI.Compared with government officials, Party officials usually face Party discipline first if they commit violations.Amid a nationwide anti-corruption campaign that has toppled a range of government officials, netizens questioned why these officials were demoted to low-grade public servants instead of being sacked.Xue Lan, a professor with the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University, said this may be due to the fact that while "the two officials violated Party discipline, their behavior didn't violate the law" and the punishment took this into account.

 

Zhao and Zhang are not the first sub-provincial officials to be demoted since the 18th National Congress of the CPC launched an anti-corruption campaign in 2012. Fu Xiaoguang, an official at the provincial level in Heilongjiang province, was demoted to department level as punishment for spending public funds on lavish banquets last year.On July 23 last year, Fu and his relatives traveled to a Jingpo Lake spot in Mudanjiang for sightseeing. During the trip, Meng Qing'an, director of the local forestry bureau, died after drinking alcohol with Fu, according to a report by China Central Television in November.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/17/2014

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JAPAN: Security Law Minister to Be Created

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told The Yomiuri Shimbun he will create the position of state minister in charge of national security legislation as part of his planned Cabinet reshuffle in September. The move is intended to complement his Cabinet’s recent decision to lift the nation’s self-imposed constitutional ban on its right of collective self-defense, a move that will allow the use of force under defined conditions. In an interview with the Yomiuri on Saturday, the prime minister also said his government will submit a package of bills designed to revise laws relevant to the Cabinet’s decision on limited approval for exercising the collective self-defense right. The 30-minute interview was conducted at the prime minister’s official residence. Abe also said his administration intends to impose renewed sanctions on North Korea if the country does not satisfactorily honor its pledge to reinvestigate the fate of all Japanese nationals in that country, including those kidnapped by North Korean agents. “[The planned changes to the relevant laws] will constitute a major legislative revision. So the new Cabinet post must be given to someone well-versed [in national security],” he said.

 

The Abe Cabinet comprises 18 ministers, the maximum allowed by law. As a result, one member of the Cabinet will likely be assigned to handle the national security legislation portfolio in addition to his or her current post. The prime minister also hinted at submitting the legislative package to next year’s ordinary Diet session, instead of the extraordinary Diet session this coming autumn. “It’s necessary to give the public the whole picture [of the package], ranging from bills for gray-zone situations to those related to the collective self-defense right. It’s not a matter of where to begin,” Abe said. Making legislative preparations will be “a massive amount of work. So it’ll take a while,” he said. The prime minister commented on Pyongyang’s promise to report the progress in its new round of investigations into the fate of the abductees by a North Korean special investigative committee. Pyongyang has told Tokyo that the first report on its probe will be delivered somewhere from the end of summer to early autumn.

 

Abe said North Korea’s reinvestigation must make progress from the beginning. “It’s important that the first report show substantial progress has been made in resolving the dispute over the abductees and those believed to have been kidnapped,” Abe said. Various organizations tied to the abduction issue, including the Association of the Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, have demanded the Japanese government impose renewed sanctions on that country if Pyongyang does not keep its promise. Abe emphasized his intention to decide based on close examination of North Korea’s actions to carry out the probe. “The bargaining chip of lifting sanctions can be revoked whenever necessary, thus returning to a situation in which sanctions are imposed again,” he said. The prime minister also commented on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s grip on power. “He’s making progress in consolidating his power base through frequent personnel reshuffles,” Abe said.

 

Abe said the abduction issue must be resolved before diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea are normalized. To achieve this goal, the prime minister stressed that he would continue to demand that Pyongyang immediately return all abduction victims to Japan, uncover the whole truth behind the issue, and hand over to Tokyo those responsible for kidnapping Japanese nationals. Main points from interview —The national security legislation portfolio will be created in the September Cabinet reshuffle. —A package of bills related to such security issues as handling gray-zone situations and exercising the collective self-defense right will be submitted to a Diet session next year. —The first report to be issued by a North Korean special investigation committee about its probe into abduction victims and other Japanese must contain tangible results. —If North Korea’s actions to reinvestigate the fate of abduction victims and others are unsatisfactory, renewed sanctions could be imposed on that country.

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

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Japan Public Pension Fund Hires Private Equity Executive

 

Japan’s public pension fund has hired a London-based private equity executive for its investment committee, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to make the fund more capable of riskier investments and less concentrated in government bonds. The 125 trillion yen Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) said Hiromichi Mizuno, a partner at Coller Capital which invests in the private equity secondary market, was appointed for a two-year term effective Friday. He replaced Kimikazu Nomi, CEO of a state-backed investment group called Innovation Network Corporation of Japan and whose term expired earlier this month. Mizuno brings extensive overseas investment experience to the eight-member committee, which is comprised mainly of economists and academics. His firm, Coller Capital, invests in the secondary market and allows private equity investors to liquidate their stakes early. Prior to joining the firm in 2003, he held senior roles as head of private equity investment and Japanese corporate finance divisions in New York at the former Sumitomo Trust & Banking.

 

Mizuno will continue in his current job in London and travel to meetings in Tokyo, a GPIF official said. All of the committee’s members hold day jobs elsewhere. The latest appointment comes after the government overhauled the fund in April by hiring new committee members and shrinking its numbers to eight from 10. Abe’s government has been pressing the fund, which manages reserves for the national pension system and is the world’s largest, to shift more of its portfolio into stocks and other risk assets and away from the paltry yields of Japanese government bonds (JGBs). The 10-year JGB currently yields less than 0.6%. It is hoping the fund can boost its investment returns for the nation’s burgeoning number of retirees. Since the 2009/10 fiscal year, it has been paying out more in benefits than it has received in contributions due to the rising number of retirees as Japan’s population rapidly ages. The fund had 53.43% of its assets in domestic bonds at the end of March, 15.88% in Japanese equities, 10.66% in foreign bonds, 15.03 percent in foreign equities and 5% in short-term assets.

From http://www.japantoday.com 07/19/2014

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‘Key Communities’ Eyed for Services

 

The government will likely embark on a model project to set up centralized “key communities” complete with facilities to accommodate shopping, nursing care and other basic daily needs of the residents of nearby depopulated areas, according to government sources. The envisaged core community-based service networks would seek to offer residents of sparsely populated areas easy access to shops, gas stations, centers for elderly people’s nursing care and other facilities. To achieve this goal, the project would provide bus services to and from the key community among neighboring communities, to enable people living in underpopulated communities to support their own day-to-day lives, according to the sources. The plan comes in response to the rapid decrease in population and increase in average age seen in many of these areas. The ongoing changes are making it increasingly difficult for each community to accommodate the daily needs of its residents on its own.

 

To overcome the problem, the project seeks to transform sparsely settled communities into communities that provide their residents the necessities of daily life in a sustainable manner. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry intends to include project-related appropriations in its budgetary requests for fiscal 2015, the sources said. There are about 65,000 depopulated communities nationwide. According to a 2010 ministry survey, 454 of these areas are likely to disappear completely within 10 years, and 2,342 are projected to eventually go the same way. A number of sparsely populated communities have already vanished, largely as a result of “natural extinction,” or an accelerated decrease in their population leading to an eventual loss of all residents. With this in mind, the government has concluded that it will be necessary to make progress in designating essential daily services necessary for residents of underpopulated areas and setting up centers to provide these necessities.

 

In fact, about 20 percent of the city, town and village governments nationwide that encompass sparsely settled communities are already working to promote community-based network projects. However, the national government believes these projects are still not sufficient to meet the needs of local residents. This awareness prompted the government to launch the project to help support these local governments. The government will also consider increasing the number of areas eligible for the planned assistance in the future, the sources said. The project would designate one of the communities in each depopulated area as a key community, setting up facilities essential for people’s day-to-day lives there, including shops, gas stations, centers for nursing care for elderly people and other services for the promotion of health care. The key community would use unoccupied houses to offer housing to people from outlying communities who wish to permanently relocate to the central community, including those who previously left the area to live elsewhere.

 

The core community-based networks would also seek to create jobs for local residents through the promotion of local industries. Measures would include developing new local specialties, promoting them as regionally branded products and creating and expanding a network of retail outlets for the products. The network zones, consisting of the key community and its neighboring communities, would include currently existing school districts and areas that were under the control of local governments prior to the nationwide municipal mergers that occurred several years ago. In addition to running buses within each network to provide transportation among member communities, the project would also offer a mobile sales vehicle to serve the area. The size of each networked zone would be determined based on the results of city, town and village government surveys on the status of underpopulated communities. The national government would use the findings to designate model areas and study how best to support each local government.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/21/2014

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10% of National Public Officials to Be Transferred or Cut

 

The government has adopted a policy to reduce or transfer to different positions 10 percent of national government employees over five years starting in fiscal 2015. The policy aims to staff important posts in such high-priority fields as regional revitalization by moving employees across ministries and agencies more flexibly while reducing personnel costs. The Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs, in charge of uniform management of personnel matters of the central government, will take a leading role in deciding transfers of general administrative officials. Specialists such as judges and Self-Defense Force members are not included. The government will set an annual goal of reducing or transferring to different posts at least 2 percent of the central government officials over a period of five years by streamlining clerical work through the promotion of electronic approval systems and the standardization of operations that currently vary among ministries. The policy will also clearly state a goal for each ministry.

 

Concerning fields with political significance, positions linked to regional revitalization and creating favorable work conditions for women, as well as the Japan Coast Guard, which is responsible for patrolling areas including the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, are expected to have more officials. Previously, the government had launched a plan to cut the number of officials at national administrative bodies by 10 percent from fiscal 2010 to 2014, succeeding in eliminating 32,206 positions—more than the original goal of 30,244—over five years. The total number of officials fell to 297,138, down 5,143 from the fiscal 2010 figure of 302,281. Personnel costs saw a ¥76.9 billion drop. The Democratic Party of Japan-led administration of then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda decided in 2012 to newly hire only 3,780 employees in fiscal 2013, a 56 percent cut from the previous year. But in 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revised the downsizing plan, saying that the plan may cause generational imbalances and interfere with administrative functions in the future. The government plans to give informal appointments this fiscal year to about 7,000 new graduates. The new policy, however, does not refer to a numerical reduction target, raising concerns that the reductions may fall to a sluggish pace.

From http://the-japan-news.com/ 07/26/2014

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Tourist Safety Status System Planned

 

A new safety confirmation system available in multiple languages will likely be introduced in the nation ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, enabling visitors from abroad to post their safety status on an official website should a disaster occur, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. Using the system—which is to be jointly developed by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and Secom Co.—foreign visitors will be able to post information such as their whereabouts and health conditions on a designated website so their family members and governments can confirm their safety, sources said. The planned system is expected to be available as early as fiscal 2015, according to the sources. The system will also provide disaster and evacuation information in about 20 languages, including English, Chinese, French and Arabic, to e-mail addresses preregistered by visitors from overseas.  The development of the system is part of the government’s efforts to double the number of visitors to Japan to 20 million by 2020 compared to this year by giving them a sense of safety. Many foreigners have the impression that Japan is disaster-prone due to earthquakes and typhoons, sources said. The government and Secom, a major security company, plan to cooperate with foreign embassies in Japan on the development of the system. Such an endeavor is said to be a world first, the sources said. To use the system, foreign visitors must preregister their e-mail addresses before arriving in Japan. They will be able to preregister when they apply for a visa, or directly on a website. Should a disaster strike during their visit, they will receive text messages written in their native language on smartphone or tablet devices, among others.

 

The visitors also will be able to post information concerning their whereabouts and health status on the safety confirmation website. Their families in their home countries will also be able to confirm the safety information on the website. Visitors can be informed about the website before coming to Japan. The government is to offer free access to the system in principle—aside from e-mail or data transfer expenses. In the case of a disaster, it is essential to send disaster information in the user’s native language. When the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in 2011, many people in foreign countries had trouble connecting to the mobile phones of people in Japan—which made it difficult to confirm their safety. For development of the envisaged system, the government and Secom plan to use services that have already been introduced by Secom for domestic companies. They plan to prepare several hundreds of fixed phrases for all anticipated disasters in each language by the end of this fiscal year, in cooperation with universities that accept many foreign students.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/26/2014

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SOUTH KOREA: E-Government Tops UN Survey for Third Time

 

Korea's system of online government services has earned the top ranking in this year's United Nations e-Government Survey. The biannual survey has now given Korea the top spot in 2010, 2012 and 2014. The U.N. body announced on June 23 that Korea ranked first in both the e-Government Development Index, which gauges how advanced online government services are, and the e-Participation Index, which evaluates the level of citizens' online engagement with their government. The U.N. survey has been carried out since 2003 among 190 countries in order to enhance global cooperation between online government services and to improve national competitiveness. For this year's survey, the U.N. stressed the value of open government data. Korea was recognized for its "Government 3.0" policies, a range of efforts aimed at sharing data, openness, communication and cooperation.

 

Korea provides its citizens with integrated public services online, through which people can register personal information, such as dates of birth and death, employment status and address changes, all necessary for any type of civil service. People do not need to pay a visit to each of the relevant organizations. In addition to such online services, the Korean government has also made an effort to expand communication with the public via mobile devices by offering government services aimed at both daily life and for emergencies. From June 23 to 27, the 2014 U.N. Public Service Forum was held with 1,861 attendees from 126 countries at the KINTEX convention center in Goyang. Conversation ranged widely in the "Innovating Governance for Sustainable Development and Well-being of the People" discussion session.

 

Participants in the public service session agreed that we are in need of innovation in public services in order to improve the quality of life of the people, wherever they are. During the e-government session, attendees agreed that innovation in e-government would improve the efficiency and transparency of government. For this, technological advances and the active participation of citizens must come first. Also, in a modern society, an e-government should focus more on creating value instead of looking at simply reducing expenses. The four-day forum wrapped up with the adoption of the Seoul Joint Communiqué. It stated that, "The innovation plan should center around citizens. They should be allowed to participate in the whole process of designing, developing policies and providing services. "Civil participation can be a useful tool to improve regional development from both the functional aspect and democratic aspect. Korea's incredible development experience, as showcased through the Saemaul Undong, or New Community Movement, a program in which people participated spontaneously, is worth sharing and studying in other countries."

From http://www.korea.net 06/30/2014

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Science Ministry to Help Foster Local R&D Centers

 

South Korea's science ministry said Thursday it will nurture private research and development (R&D) facilities in a bid to boost their competitiveness in the sector dominated by foreign institutions. A draft legislation proposed by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said its minister and local governments would establish a basic road map every five years on promoting the sector and set up annual implementation plans based on the road map.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/03/2014

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INDONESIA: New President-elect Prepares New Gov't

 

Indonesia's new president-elect Joko Widodo took quick moves to prepare his upcoming government by setting up a camp, called transition office. The 52-year-old president-elect said that selection of the eligible candidates for post in ministerial offices would intensively be carried out in the next two and half months. Joko also said that talks on possible alliance with parties joining in his rival's coalition is underway at the moment. He hinted that at least three more parties have showed their interests to join his government. Joko Widodo's party coalition secured 207 of a total 560 seats in the parliament's, lesser than 353 held by party coalition of his contender Prabowo Subianto. Supports from legislators were essential for a president in Indonesia to assure implementation of his government's programs. In the meantime, Joko Widodo, who is the active governor of the capital city, carries out his gubernatorial jobs. Citing his phone conversation with Obama, Joko said that U.S. government was eager to continue the existing comprehensive partnership ties with his government, adding that they would meet in APEC summit slated for November this year in China. Indonesian incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has conveyed his greeting shortly after Joko was qualified as the winner of the election by the KPU on Tuesday night.

 

In his official remarks as the president-elect Joko Widodo called on people, who have been polarized to support each president candidate in the last few months, to restore relationship with each other and stick together as a nation. "Let's return to our historical fate as a united nation, the nation of Indonesia. We are strong because we unite. We unite because we are strong," Joko Widodo said in a modest president- elect remarks ceremony held onboard a fishing vessel docked in Sunda Kelapa seaport on Tuesday. Rivalry between the two presidential candidates was intense prior to the election. It was marred with rampant smears and black campaigns denouncing credibility of each candidate conducted by their supporters in social media. The populist governor Joko Widodo, popularly called with his nickname Jokowi, raised to presidency after the General Election Commission (KPU) announced that he and his pairing gained 53.15 percent votes nationwide, brushing aside his rival pairing Prabowo Subianto and Hatta Radjasa who gained 46.85 percent from July 9 election. The ex-general Prabowo Subianto rejected results of the election held by the KPU due to the occurrence of what he claimed as massive, structured and systematic frauds in the election. Prabowo planned to lodge a complaint to the Constitution Court (MK) with regard to his fraud claim, possibly seeking a re-voting.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/23/2014

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MYANMAR: Open Emergency Monitoring Center in Riot-hit Northern City

 

Myanmar authorities have opened an emergency monitoring center in Mandalay hit by sectarian riot early this month, to enable the public to report incidents, state media reported Friday. According to Mandalay Region Information and Public Relations, the emergency center will coordinate with authorities concerned and carry out emergency tasks once incidents take place. The emergency center will be opened 24 hours round, especially to be effective during the curfew. Sectarian riot broke out in Mandalay, the country's second largest city in the north on July 1 over an alleged rape case in which two people died and 17 others injured. In connection with the riot, 16 people have so far been charged. Following the riot, all seven townships in Mandalay have been placed under curfew since July 3. A total of 346 people were arrested and charged for violation of curfew order. Of them, 145 people have been released, and the remaining still held. Myanmar President U Thein Sein has called on people to cooperate with the government in exposing instigators of the recent communal riot, saying the unrest was designed on purpose by a particular group to create hatred between the two communities and to destroy the society. He praised Mandalay residents of different faiths for being able to stop the riot as Mandalay possesses a tradition of peaceful coexistence among residents of different religions. The president warned that media freedom, gained out of political reform, should not endanger state security, or would be dealt with in a strict way.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/11/2014

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MALAYSIA: Government Drops Overall, but Strong for Digital Inclusion, Online Service Delivery - UN E-Government Rankings 2014

 

Malaysia has dropped in the overall 2014 UN E-Government Rankings, but has a strong performance in online service delivery and digital inclusion relative to its income level. The Malaysian Government is doing well in delivering services to citizens in the lower socioeconomic strata who are less digitally connected, even compared to countries with higher income per capita. 86% of its services can be accessed by “disadvantaged and vulnerable groups” - the highest proportion among Southeast Asian governments. It has performed as well as Singapore, whose citizens enjoy income per capita more three times higher than Malaysians. The report explained that although income is a major contributing factor, digital inclusion also depends on “government priority, policy and focus on e-inclusion”. Malaysia has also been good at delivering public services at the national level using ICT, relative to its income and compared to other countries in Southeast Asia. The report has named Malaysia as having “high online service performance relative to [its] income” - it has the fourth best online service delivery amongst middle income countries globally. It also has the second highest online service performance in Southeast Asia, behind Singapore. Last month the government announced that it aims to have “zero face-to-face interactions” with citizens by 2020, with all citizen-facing services to be migrated online. This year, 80% of government services will be taken online.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/27/2014

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PHILIPPINES: President to Focus on Inclusive Growth in Last 2 Years of His Term

 

Marking his fourth year in office on Monday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III believes that a change in attitude toward government is one of his biggest achievements, according to a Palace official. Elected to office by 15 million Filipinos saddened by his mother’s recent death, Aquino took his oath as the country’s 15th President on June 30, 2010. “The President has been asked that question. For him, the change in attitude is a big deal,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told state-run dzRB radio. From the apathy that he said marked the years before Aquino took over from the Arroyo administration in 2010, Lacierda claimed Filipinos had become more hopeful during the past four years. “Now, it’s possible for them to believe that everything is possible, anything is possible. We’ve seen the change in our countrymen,” he said. There has been a “rising appreciation” for government, he said. According to Lacierda, the President would focus on making economic growth more inclusive in the last two years of his term.

 

“Our advocacy, our belief is that we would like to have inclusive growth for all, and so, we would like to make sure that as we leave—as the President leaves after 2016—he has laid the foundation for an economy that will provide equitable growth for all,” he said. “What we want to instill in our countrymen is that ‘let’s not go back anymore to where we were before.’ We have elevated the level of governance. People expect better from the government,” he said. Still, the Palace is leaving it to historians and political analysts to judge Aquino’s legacy, Lacierda said.

“History, I believe, will judge what would be the President’s biggest achievement. In the meantime, we still have two more years to go, and every year there will always be achievements and it will be up to the historians and the political analysts to decide for themselves what would be the single biggest achievement of this administration,” he said. Lacierda was not that forthcoming about what accomplishments of the past 12 months the President would be reporting in his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 28. “Let’s just wait for his State of the Nation Address,” he said.

 

But based on what issues that come out of the Palace public affairs and communications mill in the past year, people can make out the bare bones of what the President will likely claim in his report on July 28. Aquino last year ordered the abolition of the pork barrel Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) in the 2014 national budget following the discovery of the scandalous misuse and theft of P10 billion in rural development funds. Senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, the alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles and several officials have been indicted for plunder and graft over the scam. The President also presided over the signing of a peace agreement with Moro rebels that will see the creation of a new, autonomous Bangsamoro region in southern Philippines, drawing international praise. But Aquino has not been spared criticism over disclosures that the executive department suspiciously distributed additional pork barrel funds to senators under the questionable Disbursement Acceleration Program soon after the Senate convicted ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona in May 2012 for dishonesty in the disclosure of his assets.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 06/29/2014

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The Philippines Connecting 160 Government Offices to Improve Efficiency, Allow Shared Services

 

Government agencies in the Philippines’ national capital region will soon be able to collaborate and access core services such as email, online security and web hosting with a new high-speed communication network. The government has almost completed interconnecting 160 offices in Metro Manila with fiber optic technology, Louis Napoleon Casambre, Executive Director of the ICT Office, Department of Science and Technology, announced this week. “A slow, weak and inefficient system of government services will soon be a thing of the past,” the department said. The connected government agencies will be able to collaborate on projects, share resources and save money in the process. It will also connect them to vital services like web hosting, document and records management, email and online security, Casambre said. This initiative is part of the national e-government project: Integrated Government Philippines. The PHP 470 million (US$ 10.8 million) project is scheduled to be fully operational by early 2015, the department said. The projects aims to integrate all functions of government agencies and simplify their processes via ICT, with a goal to create government transparency and economic progress. A similar network will connect 12 government agencies in Cebu and is expected to be online before the end of 2014.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/16/2014

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THAILAND: Expected Reform Council to Represent 11 Groups

 

Thailand's national reform council, which is expected to start operation in October, will consist of 250 members to represent 11 social groups, the military junta leader said Friday. Each of the 11 groups will nominate 50 candidates while 76 other representatives will be chosen from 76 provinces, and then the 626 people will vote among themselves to fill the 250 seats in the council, Prayuth Chan-ocha said in his weekly televised address. The voting has to comply with the condition that the 11 groups will be represented in the council, the chief of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) stressed. Prayuth also said an interim charter that was expected to be promulgated this month would have 50 articles. The charter will balance the power of the NCPO and an interim government that will take shape in September, he said. The NCPO will stay on to handle security affairs while the government will be in charge of administering the country, he said. Prayuth added the provisional charter would have certain restrictions for the purpose of solving the country's problems, but did not elaborate.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/11/2014

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Thailand's Interim Charter Disclosed

 

The Thai military junta, or the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), on Wednesday disclosed details of a royally-endorsed interim constitution which grants amnesty to coup makers and empowers the NCPO chief to give orders when deemed necessary. The 48-section interim charter was endorsed by the king and then promulgated on Tuesday, granting amnesty to NCPO members who staged the May 22 coup to depose a civilian government and those who have acted on NCPO orders. The charter also stipulates the establishment of a national legislative assembly (NLA), an interim cabinet, a national reform council, as well as a committee that will draft a permanent constitution. It stipulates that the NLA, consisting of not more than 220 members, be set up to assume the responsibilities of the House of Representatives and Senate. The NCPO will select resourceful and experienced figures from various sectors of the society to become NLA members, who will then be endorsed by the king. The members should age above 40 and serve no posts in any political parties for the past three years.

 

The NLA will nominate an interim prime minister, who will then be appointed by the king. The interim PM will select 35 cabinet members at most. The provisional premier and cabinet members are required to age above 40 and join no political parties in the past three years. According to the interim charter, which will remain in effect until a new permanent constitution is promulgated, a national reform council comprising not more than 250 seats will be set up to implement reforms in politics, economy, legal system and other fields. Members of the reform council will be nominated by the NCPO and appointed by the king, who are required to age above 35 and serve no posts in any political parties in the past three years. Meanwhile, a 36-member committee will take shape to draft the permanent constitution, with the chairman nominated by the NCPO and most members by the reform council. The drafting of the permanent constitution is expected to be wrapped up in about half a year. The provisional charter also empowers the NCPO chief to give orders or intervene when deemed necessary, and the orders and obeying the orders are both regarded as legal, according to the charter.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/23/2014

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VIETNAM: Ministry of Construction Projects Per Capita Living Areas to Rise by 2020

 

Average per capita living areas would reach 25 square metres in 2020, of which the rate would be 29 square metres in the urban areas and 22 square metres in the rural areas, according to the Ministry of Construction's draft on real estate market development strategy by 2020. Between 2015 and 2020, there will be a total floor area of 425 million square metres to meet the basic demand of people. Under the development strategy, the domestic property market would have stable development, ensure structure of the market was suitable with the demand and complete the legal formalities for the property market.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 07/19/2014

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INDIA: Keen to Set Up National Judicial Commission - Minister

 

This announcement comes in response to protests in the Parliament demanding an inquiry into the controversial appointment of a high court judge under the previous UPA govt. New Delhi: The Indian Government on Tuesday said the ‘clock can't be put back’ in the alleged appointment of a judge to the Madras High Court ten years ago, but stressed that there is an urgent need to improve the system for appointment of judges and that it was keen to set up a National Judicial Commission at the earliest to prevent such cases. Responding to members who expressed concern in the Lok Sabha over the disclosure by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju that three former Chief Justices of India (CJIs) -- R C Lahoti, Y K Sabharwal and K G Balakrishnan -- had made "improper compromises" in allowing the judge to continue, Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the house that the judge in question was no more. Prasad’s announcement came in response to noisy protests by AIADMK members in the Lok Sabha demanding an inquiry into the controversial appointment of a high court judge under the previous UPA government.

 

Citing former law minister HR Bhardwaj's interview to a news channel, AIADMK member M Thambidurai said DMK ministers and MPs had clearly interfered with judicial appointments. Prasad said he had taken note of the concerns raised by the member and "the imperative need to improve the system of appointment of judges. Therefore, our government... is quite keen to ensure that the National Judicial Commission system is appointed". Prasad said in 2003, the collegium had certain reservations and had made some enquiries and decided that the case of this judge should not be taken up. But later during the UPA rule, a clarification was sought by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) as to why he should not be recommended, the minister said in the Lok Sabha. The collegium again said he should not have been recommended at all, he said. Later, the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry wrote a note to the collegium following which it said that his case can be considered for some extension, Prasad said, adding the matter stood there thereafter.

 

"...on July 16, 2005 to be precise, again a note went from the then Department of Justice with the approval of the then Law Minister indicating about certain sensitivity. Thereafter, a call was taken by the collegium that his case can be considered for some extension and he was made permanent," he said. The Law Minister said the judge has since retired and was no more now. The judges of the collegium have also retired. Quoting Supreme Court's observation in Shanti Bhushan case, he remarked the "clock cannot be put back". The concern raised by the AIADMK members was well appreciated and there is imperative need to improve the system of judges appointment, Prasad said, adding the government was quite keen to appoint a National Judicial Commission for making such appointments.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 07/23/2014

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ARMENIA: PM Receives Pension Fund Manager

 

Prime Minister of Armenia Hovik Abrahamyan on Thursday received a delegation led by Ernst-Ludwig Drayss, Chairman of the Board of “C-QUADRAT Ampega Asset Management Armenia” Company, which is a pension fund manager in the country.  The parties discussed the course of the ongoing pension reform in Armenia, and the new legislative package that stems from the Constitutional Court (CC) decision on April 2.  The PM noted that with the Armenian National Assembly’s passing of the new law that regulates the funded pension system in the country, a resolution was given to the respective matters which the CC had raised.  Abrahamyan also presented details on the system envisioned by the new legislative regulation.  Drayss, for his part, underscored the amendments made in the Law on Funded Pensions, and expressed willingness to assist the Armenian government in the successful implementation of this process.  The interlocutors highlighted the need to raise public awareness concerning the pension reform in Armenia.  “We will demonstrate a political will to implement the reform until the end,” Hovik Abrahamyan noted, in particular.  The parties also reaffirmed their readiness to continue the effective partnership.

From http://news.am/ 07/17/2014

 

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KAZAKHSTAN: New Chairman Appointed to Finance Ministry’s Public Procurement Committee

 

A new chairman has been appointed to the Public Procurement Committee of Kazakh Finance Ministry. "Abdullayev Kappila Nasurlayevich has been appointed the chairman of the Public Procurement Committee of the Finance Ministry in accordance with the Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister - Finance Minister Bakhyt Sultanov's order dated July 3," according to a press release from the ministry. Abdullayev previously served as the deputy mayor of Mangistau Province, and also headed the tax departments of the Mangistau, Pavlodar, North Kazakhstan and Kostanay provinces. He also worked as an acting chairman of the Public Procurement Committee. Abdullayev holds a doctorate in economic sciences.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/03/2014

 

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TAJIKISTAN: President Makes New Appointments

 

President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon on July 12 made several new appointments to National Guard, Drug Control Agency, Ministry of Industry and New Technologies and Committee for Youth, Sports and Tourism Affairs, "Avesta" reported. According to the presidential press-service, Talbidagi Davlatov, Fozil Rahimov and Qiyomiddin Samarzoda were appointed the deputy commanders of the National Guard of Tajikistan. Murtazo Haidarzoda was appointed the head of the Drug Control Agency in the Gorno-Badahshan Autonomous Region. Zarobiddin Fayzulloyev was appointed the First Deputy Minister of Industry and New Technologies. Also the heads of large industrial enterprises: "Korgohi Moshinsozi", "Transformator" and "Jamast" were replaced. Emomiddin Aslov is the new appointed Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources. Mavsumahon Muinova was appointed the First Deputy Chairperson of the Committee for Youth, Sports and Tourism Affairs, and Qiyomiddin Miraliyev was appointed the Deputy Chairman of the Committee.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/14/2014

 

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UZBEKISTAN: New Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population Appointed

 

Aziz Abdukhakimov has been appointed Uzbekistan's Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population in accordance with the government's decision. Abdukhakimov served as chairman of the state committee on privatization, de-monopolization and development of competition from November 2012, up to the new appointment. The previous Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population, Aktam Khaitov was appointed to this post in March 2010. No information was provided about the new position of Khaitov.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/10/2014

 

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New Head Appointed to Uzbek State Committee

 

A new chairman has been appointed to the Uzbek State Committee for Privatization, Demonopolization and Development of Competition. Davron Khidoyatov has been appointed to this post by a decree of the Uzbek President Islam Karimov, according to a message from the committee. Prior to his appointment, Khidoyatov served as the director general of the Uzbek-German joint venture 'JV MAN Auto-Uzbekistan', the committee said in its message. Earlier, it was reported that Aziz Abdukhakimov, who served as the head of the state committee since November 2012, was appointed the Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population of Uzbekistan in early July, 2014. Uzbek State Committee for Privatization, Demonopolization and Development of Competition under the Cabinet of Ministers is a governmental body. The committee's main objectives include the development and implementation of systematic measures to deepen privatization processes, introduction of new forms and methods of government property divestment, improvement of corporate governance system. The state committee also monitors the execution of investment commitments by the investors, increasing the efficiency of antimonopoly regulation and the creation of a real competitive environment. The state committee is also engaged in implementation of the restructuring and bankruptcy of insolvent enterprises, and takes measures for the pre-trial and trial reorganization, and for the external management of bankrupt enterprises.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/21/2014

 

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AUSTRALIA: Government Preparing Open Data ‘Toolkit’ to Guide Agencies

 

The Australian Government is preparing an Open Data Toolkit to consolidate policies and guidance for agencies managing and sharing government data. “This Toolkit will consolidate policy, guidance, case studies and technical advice on how to manage, publish and share government data more effectively and efficiently for greater benefits to the public service, industry and the broader community. The Toolkit will be updated on a regular basis as new information, guidance, best practices and policies emerge, and you can subscribe to wiki updates there,” the data.gov.au team wrote in its latest blog. At the state level, the South Australian Government is developing an Open Data Toolkit, it announced in its Action Plan to Advance Open Data in November 2013. “The Office of the CIO will publish material that will form an Open Data Toolkit designed to assist agencies to discover, classify and publish data using open data standards.”

 

The data.gov.au team is also looking to integrate the portal with other government data portals. This will include “metadata sharing with….. the new national spatial map index (FIND at find.ga.gov.au) and integration with the upcoming National Map,” it said. The functionality of data.gov.au has been improved “for easier discoverability and comparability of data”, the team wrote. The Finance Department is also working with other agencies so that users can find data more easily. It has “been in touch with other jurisdictions about sharing search metadata to make data across jurisdictions more discoverable across portals. We’ll announce more about that soon,” the team added. The data.gov.au team is also preparing for its upcoming hackathon, GovHack. On 11-13 July, the event will bring together government, businesses and citizens to reuse and mashup government data in 11 locations across Australia.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/03/2014

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Coping with the myGov Crash: How Australia Is Fixing Its Tax System Glitches

 

The Australian financial year started this week and the country’s online tax system, myGov, was overwhelmed with users - causing it to crash. FutureGov has exclusively caught up with the team working on the system to understand how the problem occurred, and what has been done to fix it. This year was the first time that users had to sign in to myGov - a single platform for people to conduct all of their business with government - to file their taxes, and the surge in users showed. “Since the start of the month over 155,000 new myGov accounts have been created, compared to a previous average of 5,800 new accounts per day,” explained Hank Jongen, General Manager in the federal government’s Department of Human Services. The system had 129,783 people trying to use it on 1st July alone, and it couldn’t cope with the volume of demand. The government has applied a software patch to fix disruptions to its myGov service, and the myGov system can once again be used for taxes, as well as for healthcare, disability insurance, veterans’ issues and its other various tasks.

 

There will also be ongoing work to iron out remaining glitches, Jongen said. His team routinely improves its systems to meet changing levels of demand: “regularly implementing new features, and constantly reviewing and updating its systems to meet the expanding demand for services through myGov”. “We apologise for any inconvenience to those who had difficulty accessing their online accounts during that time,” he added. MyGov was created last year to allow a greater focus on users’ transactional needs and to meet increasing user demand. Since its launch in May last year, over 3 million new myGov accounts have been created, allowing people to link to a wide range of government services using a single username and password.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/04/2014

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NEW ZEALAND: Government Departments Report Efficiency Gains from Open Data

 

72% of government departments in New Zealand have become more efficient by reusing other agencies’ data, according to the latest progress report on open government in the country. The 2014 Report on Agency Adoption of the New Zealand Declaration on Open and Transparent Government was published last week and shares progress on open government in New Zealand over the last one year. In particular, 28% of the departments saw “direct cost savings” from the reuse of their public data, the report said. Departments experienced gains from not having to collect the data again, improvements in data quality, less time taken to further analyse the data, and having direct access to the data instead of making separate requests, the report said.

 

Departments are also releasing restricted datasets in secure environments to authorised users - an “unexpected consequence” of the government’s 2011 Declaration on Open and Transparent Government, the report noted. There is greater demand from authorised agencies and external researchers to use such data for analytics and evidence-based policy development. “Six departments are making changes to enable other departments and authorised users to use restricted data,” it added. The report also said that “departments need to be more vigilant about….applying the required Creative Commons licensing statements to their open data and publications to allow innovative third party re-use”. Currently, only a quarter of all departments place the default Creative Commons license on all their online and paper publications, it said. It added that 78% of new data released in 2014-15 will have more appropriate reuse licensing statements.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/15/2014

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Prevention and Preparedness Can Reduce Impact of Disasters Says New Report

 

While not all disasters can be avoided, effective planning and preparedness can help mitigate their impact. These are among the key findings from Learning from Megadisasters, a joint report by the World Bank Group and the Government of Japan released today that focuses on the disaster and risk management lessons learned from Japan’s megadisaster: the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. This was the first disaster ever recorded that included an earthquake, a tsunami, a nuclear power plant accident, a power supply failure, and a large-scale disruption of supply chains – with global consequences for several industries. Over the last 30 years, natural disasters are estimated to have caused $4 trillion in economic losses. Poor communities are often hit the hardest and take the longest to recover from disasters. The report points out that, given the prospect of more extreme weather events, the world must shift from a tradition of response to a culture of prevention and resilience.

 

According to Sanjay Pradhan, the World Bank Group’s Vice President of Leadership, Learning and Innovation, “Risks of all kinds, from natural disasters to the financial crisis, have the potential to cause huge devastation to communities worldwide. However, research has shown that societies that successfully adapt to these risks are able to show dramatic gains. We believe, therefore, that learning from disasters and crises is relevant to all of us.” Alongside the report, University College London (UCL) and the World Bank Group’s Leadership, Learning and Innovation Vice Presidency will launch a new research project, ‘Learning from Crisis,’ based on the report and going beyond natural disasters to consider financial crises, crime and security and other crises scenarios. The research will be conducted in cities to see how city leaders learn from disasters and how they incorporate this learning into future planning.

 

Dr. Michele Acuto, UCL’s Research Director of the Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy, notes “This project responds to the growing awareness of the roles city leaders in the developed and developing world have in responding in a systematic way to sudden crises with very urban effects as with Typhoon Haiyan or the London riots. By working with the World Bank Group, we hope to understand whether and how cities learn from crises, aiming to develop a toolkit for city leaders going forward.” The next few decades will see billions of dollars go to infrastructure investments in the rapidly growing cities of the developing world. The quality of infrastructure and systems being planned today will determine the resilience of those cities and their citizens tomorrow.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 07/03/2014

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Global Value Chains Offer Opportunities for Growth, Jobs and Development, but More Must Be Done So All Countries and Firms Can Participate Equally, According to a New OECD-WTO-World Bank Group Report

 

Global Value Chains (GVCs) are a dominant feature of the world economy that impact growth, jobs and development, but numerous challenges remain to ensure that all countries and all firms have the opportunity to participate and benefit, according to a new joint report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and World Bank Group (WBG). Global Value Chains: Challenges, Opportunities and Implications for Policy, presented on the eve of the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting in Sydney, argues that success in international markets depends as much on the capacity to import high-quality inputs as the capacity to export: in an increasingly inter-connected global economy where more than 70% of trade is in intermediate goods and services, integration into GVCs today will determine future trade and FDI patterns as well as growth opportunities.

 

The report outlines how the rise of GVCs has produced a new "trade-investment-services-know-how nexus" encompassing  trade in intermediate inputs, the movement of capital and ideas and the growing demand for services to coordinate dispersed production locations. It highlights how interconnected economies are today, while pointing out the risk of policies which inhibit participation in GVCs, such as various forms of trade and investment restrictions. It also underscores the need for complementary policies, such as those that boost education and skills, to improve the ability of firms, and in particular those in less developed economies, to participate in and benefit from GVCs.

 

"Trade, investment and the development of GVCs are constrained by barriers in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, a lack of progress in opening service markets, a range of behind-the-border restrictions and the still-unfinished work on trade facilitation," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said during the launch of the report with Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb. "Australia's G20 Presidency has set a challenging objective of boosting GDP growth by two percentage points above trend over five years. We must put trade at the centre of structural reforms in order to meet these ambitious yet attainable goals," Mr Gurría said.

 

The report identifies a number of priority actions for G20 governments:

Implement and ratify the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, reached during the late-2013 ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia, as quickly as possible. OECD work on Trade Facilitation shows that simpler, speedier and more reliable border processes making it easier for goods and services to cross international borders will drastically reduce trading costs. Every 1% reduction in trade costs would generate benefits of 40 billion USD, with 65% of these gains accruing to developing countries. Improve services sector efficiencies, in recognition that services are essential elements in competitive manufacturing sectors, and thus vital links that forge GVCs. The new OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index allows the world's major services suppliers to benchmark their performance and to identify opportunities to improve it.

 

Reinforce the standstill commitment against protectionism and wind back any restrictive measures implemented since the crisis, with a particular focus on non-tariff barriers. The OECD-WTO Trade in Value Added database clearly illustrates how much firms rely on access to world-class inputs to improve productivity growth and competitiveness. Continue structural reforms and well-designed complementary policies to accompany trade and investment opening. Participation in GVCs is not automatic: some less-developed countries and smaller firms worldwide are at risk of being left behind. Effective flanking policies will vary by country, by stage of development, by resource endowment and other factors. In all cases, however, countries should focus on investments in people, in education and skills, in active labour market policies that match labour supply and demand, and in adequate social safety nets for those facing difficulties adjusting.

 

"Getting the policies right on GVCs is an essential step toward building a strong, balanced and sustainable framework for more inclusive growth, jobs and development,” Mr Gurría said. The new OECD-WTO-World Bank Group report is the latest in a series of reports requested by G20 leaders as part of wider efforts to analyse the functioning of GVCs and their relationship with trade and investment flows, development and jobs. The OECD hosted a G20 stocktaking seminar on GVCs in May 2014 in Paris.

From http://v.youku.com/ 07/17/2014

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Waste Management Schemes Helping Boost Public Health in Pacific - ADB

 

Innovative solid waste management systems being pioneered in the Pacific are helping to boost public health and environmental preservation, according to a new publication series from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The brochure series analyzes and identifies solid waste management practices and challenges in the ADB’s 14 developing member countries in the Pacific. The brochure series provides a country snapshot of the management, financing, technology and institutional arrangements involved in solid waste management and offers policy recommendations. The Barumi dumpsite, Papua New Guinea.“In the face of urbanization and rising consumption levels, the Pacific is struggling to manage growing volumes of solid waste,” said Allison Woodruff, an ADB Urban Development Specialist. “No one country has perfected their own solid waste system, but there are some success stories we share in the publication series.”

 

Most local councils in the Pacific struggle to finance solid waste collection services, and some countries have piloted user pay systems. Kiribati’s user pay “Green Bag” scheme supported by the Government of New Zealand is an example of how solid waste management service delivery may eventually become self-financing. Other countries in the region have also successfully upgraded previously unmanaged open dumps that contribute to groundwater and air pollution to well-functioning semi-aerobic sanitary landfill facilities known as “Fukuoka-style” landfills, referring to the city where this technology was pioneered, with assistance from the Government of Japan. The Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, and Palau have successfully embraced recycling schemes where a deposit of a few cents is charged on aluminum and plastic drink containers, a portion of which can be redeemed when the empty containers are returned to recycling depots. In Kiribati, largely due to this scheme, aluminum cans have been almost entirely diverted from the landfill.

 

The ADB publication series also highlights private sector involvement in improving solid waste management service performance. In Fiji, a private sector operator has been successfully contracted to manage the Naboro landfill facility that serves the Greater Suva Area. In Samoa, solid waste collection services have been contracted out to private sector operators who cover the whole island of Upolu. Despite these achievements, a number of challenges remain. Illegal dumping and burning of waste remains common, particularly in growing urban informal settlements such as in Honiara and Port Moresby, where residents are not provided with adequate solid waste collection services. This situation poses a public health risk, such as outbreaks of dengue fever. Urban centers in smaller countries such as Marshall Islands simply do not have enough physical space for locating new landfills, once existing facilities have reached full capacity. Also, relatively small volumes generated and high costs of transporting materials to processing centers overseas makes recycling costly.

From http://www.adb.org/ 07/02/2014

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Greater Employment Challenges Loom in the Pacific - ADB Report

 

Economies across the Pacific region will face rising challenges in generating needed jobs for their rapidly growing working-age populations in coming years, according to the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) latest Pacific Economic Monitor launched today. The Pacific’s working-age population is projected to increase from its current 6.6 million to 9.6 million by 2030. However, only about a third of new workforce entrants in the region can expect to find wage employment if recent years’ job creation trends do not improve. “The relatively small size and remoteness of many Pacific economies makes job creation especially difficult in the region,” said Xianbin Yao, Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department. “Attracting investment and growing businesses in sectors that can create productive and sustainable job opportunities requires investments in infrastructure to enhance economies’ connectivity and reforms to improve their business environments.”

 

This issue of the Monitor features five policy briefs that explore the Pacific’s job creation challenges with contributions from researchers from the World Bank, the International Labour Organization, and the East-West Center’s Pacific Islands Development Program. The briefs highlight important characteristics of labor markets across the diverse economies of the region, and discuss policy options for creating improved employment opportunities in the region. The Monitor also provides an update on regional economic trends, reporting a slightly weaker growth outlook for the Pacific region due to the impacts of flooding in the Solomon Islands and slower than expected credit and consumption growth in Timor-Leste.

 

Regional growth is now projected at 5.2% for 2014—down from ADB’s 5.4% forecast reported in the Asian Development Outlook last April. The report forecasts that Pacific growth will surge to 13.2% in 2015 as a result of the first full year of liquefied natural gas exports from Papua New Guinea (PNG). However, sluggish growth in the rest of the Pacific’s economies is expected to continue, with average growth in the Pacific economies other than PNG and Timor-Leste expected to run at 2.8% in 2015. Inflation in the region is forecast to remain stable at 4.5% through 2014 and 2015. The Pacific Economic Monitor is a bi-annual review of economic developments in ADB’s 14 developing member countries in the Pacific region. Each issue includes policy briefs on a subject of current importance to the region. Contributions from outside authors and institutions are encouraged.

From http://www.adb.org/ 07/03/2014

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Funds Passport to Create 170K Jobs, Save USD20 Bln: Study

 

The implementation of a multilateral framework that facilitates the cross-border marketing of managed funds across participating Asia-Pacific economies is likely to create a significant number of new jobs and channel more of the region’s savings into investments that promote economic growth and prosperity, at lower cost, according to a new study. An economic cost-benefit analysis of the Asia Region Funds Passport was conducted by the APEC Policy Support Unit and shared with regional business leaders this week in Seattle. The passport is intended to reduce regulatory inconsistency and overlap which makes it difficult for collective investment scheme operators to offer products such as mutual funds to retail customers in multiple economies in the region.

 

"There is a strong business case for introducing a funds passport in Asia,” said Quynh Le, an APEC Policy Support Unit analyst and lead author of the study. “By improving efficiency within the sector, the passport could save the region’s investors USD20 billion annually in fund management costs and offer higher investment returns at the same or lower degree of risk.” “Once the passport is fully up and running, it will encourage the establishment of locally domiciled funds which could create 170,000 jobs in APEC economies within five years,” Le added. “The passport will also help to steer capital from markets where it is in surplus to those where it is in short supply and, in the process, recycle savings into investments that fuel commercial innovation, productivity and long-term growth.”

 

Finance Ministers from Australia, Korea, New Zealand and Singapore signed a Statement of Intent on the Asia Region Funds Passport when they met in in Bali, Indonesia in September last year during the annual APEC Finance Ministers’ Meeting, and set out a process to implement it by 2016. The Philippines and Thailand have since joined these four economies in a working group that is developing technical arrangements for the passport. “Most Asian mutual funds are assembled, distributed and administered in a given economy but with limited transferability across borders,” Le noted. “When implemented, the passport will allow operators of collective investment schemes based in participating economies to offer their products to retail customers in other participating economies while limiting the need to meet different licensing requirements and avoiding investment restrictions.”

 

A public feedback period opened in April allowing interested parties to submit their views on the proposed details of the passport, outlined in a consultation paper, to the six existing participants in the passport working group. The period closes on Friday. Membership in the passport remains open to other APEC economies. Entry criteria are described the consultation paper. “The market for a funds passport in the Asia-Pacific and its potential benefits for economies around the region are quite significant,” explained Dr Alan Bollard, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. Strong Asian growth has contributed to a substantial increase in private wealth in the region in recent decades and is a trend that is expected to continue. It is forecast that Asia will account for 63 per cent of the world’s private wealth by 2017.

 

“Ultimately, the passport could even facilitate the marketing of Asian funds in Europe through an Asian-European mutual recognition agreement and contribute to greater global growth,” Dr Bollard added. “Like any cross-border financing solution, the passport carries the risk that shocks in one market will be amplified and transmitted to others, and is something that policymakers need to address,” he concluded. “The key is striking the right regulatory balance to achieve industry efficiency while ensuring that proper investor protections are in place.” Finance Ministers from APEC economies will have an opportunity to review working-level progress in advancing the passport’s development and chart the next step when they meet in Beijing on 21-22 October. The next passport working group meeting is scheduled to take place in late August in Seoul.

From http://www.apec.org/ 07/10/2014

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Asia Pacific Business Leaders to Urge APEC to Intensify Work to Realize the FTAAP

 

Asia Pacific business leaders have expressed concern that, unless APEC stays committed to meeting the Bogor Goals of free and open trade by 2020, accelerate infrastructure development and promote innovation, the growth and prosperity ambitions they share in the region would not be realized. The business leaders who comprise the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) wrapped up their third meeting in Seattle as they prepare to present their recommendations to APEC Leaders when they meet in Beijing in November. "It has been seven years since APEC Leaders adopted our recommendation that Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) would be the most effective means for achieving the Bogor Goals "said Ning Gaoning, ABAC Chair 2014." It’s about time that APEC takes greater strategic leadership to bring the FTAAP into reality starting with a roadmap. We are ready to be part of the process and provide business inputs." ABAC believes that the full benefits of an FTAAP, particularly now that the global value chain is the dominant business model, cannot be realized without robust infrastructure to connect the region more efficiently. The private sector has the capacity to help bridge the infrastructure gap but governments can spur private investment by creating a better policy environment, developing more public private partnerships (PPP) and mobilizing long-term savings. Multilateral institutions also have a vital role to play and in this respect, ABAC welcomes and supports the expansion of multilateral financing facilities for infrastructure development.

 

On innovation, ABAC expressed support for APEC in setting "Promoting Innovative Development, Economic Reform and Growth" as one of the main priorities for 2014. "Innovation will address the recent decline in productivity growth and will boost inclusiveness as it will help small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) access market opportunities and new channels of financing and also enhance the role of women in the economy," Ning said. "ABAC also believes that this approach will enable APEC to more effectively address issues such as urbanization, food security, health and green growth." ABAC is also developing recommendations in the areas of regional economic integration, infrastructure and connectivity, SMMEs, sustainable development and finance. These and other ABAC recommendations will comprise the ABAC Report to Leaders which will be presented to each Leader prior to the Beijing summit. ABAC was created by APEC Leaders in 1995 to be the primary voice of business in APEC. Each economy has three members who are appointed by their respective Leaders. They meet four times a year in preparation for the presentation of their recommendations to the Leaders in a dialogue that is a key event in the annual Leaders Meeting.

From http://www.apec.org/ 07/11/2014

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Leverage on Technology

 

The Asia ICT Summit 2014 saw the gathering of many of the region’s highest profile ICT leaders held last June 25 at the Dusit Thani Manila. The event was part of a series of activities of the Asia CEO Forum, one of the most esteemed business events held in Asia Pacific Region organized by Filipinos and international business people with the objective to promote the country as a premier business destination. The summit concentrated on the importance of Information Communications Technology and how adapting to it impacts all sectors of society.

The speakers explored the role of Information Technology in the current business landscape and how it has evolved from being a role player to a key business decision.

 

The role of the CIO

Jovy Hernandez, first vice-president and head of PLDT ALPHA enterprise, used the World Cup as an example on how the world is now becoming more dependent on technology. “Thirteen percent tuned in to the World Cup via television, 33 percent on laptop and desktop, 22 percent on tablet, and 11 percent on mobile,” he says. With an evolving business landscape where the Internet is so readily accessible anytime and anywhere, across different platforms and devices, it begs the question of whether businesses can keep up with the digital evolution where the role of CIO is crucial. In reference to a survey by Gartner in 2014, Hernandez points out that 65 percent of respondents say that their current IT cannot respond to digital opportunities, as opposed to the 35 percent of businesses who say that their current IT can meet new challenges. However, with the increasing dependence of businesses on technology, Hernandez quotes Patrick Gray: “Will the role of the CIO become a technical plumber? Or someone who can provide value to the business?” A business that understands the importance of transitioning information, through cloud computing from traditional servers, will have a CIO who concentrates more on being an innovation partner than a troubleshooter.

 

Connectivity is key

“Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) comprise 99.6 percent of total enterprises in the Philippines, which contributes 61.2 percent of total employment, making SMEs a source of innovation,” says Noya Terrado, undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Management Services Group. The generation of employment from these SMEs is instrumental in eradicating poverty and improving the business climate. It is how these businesses compete that will drive its performance. “We live, work and play where connectivity is key,” explains Terrado. However, the country still suffers from such weaknesses as infrastructure, innovation and technological readiness. In her presentation, Terrado shows that for the year 2013 to 2014, the Philippines only ranked 77th out of 148 countries in terms of technological readiness. This presents that there are still many challenges that the Philippines still has to face in the digital age. Terrado stresses on the importance of competitiveness in moving the country forward, and this is where investment in ICT plays a vital role. “There are three things that IT innovation should enable: competitiveness; education, which sustains our people; and doing away with overregulation and streamlining the process to make it delightful for citizens and businesses,” she points out, adding that the mass adoption of ICT could produce a dramatic opportunity for those who would like to tap it, “but it needs to be managed well or else it will be out of focus.”

 

Cloud as a business decision

“The emergence of cloud is an opportunity for businesses to move up the value chain,” explains Darren Rushworth, managing director of SAP Philippines. This is further emphasized by Shobhit Dubey, director for Infrastructure Services-ASEAN of Accenture. Dubey points out the value that cloud can add to businesses, such as providing access to information as new devices are easily accommodated, enabling collaboration to easily connect people, businesses and industries, and also knowledge as it provides real time analytics. “Enabling cloud in your organization requires a clearly defined and comprehensive strategy to obtain the benefits that cloud can deliver,” explains Dubey. This requires a stable and intelligent infrastructure, as shown by the partnership between PLDT and Accenture, which offers a value proposition driven by unique cloud offerings. Dubey also points out that realizing the importance of cloud will enable a business to preserve its legacy. “Data center transformation capabilities help you get more value out of your legacy environment while also taking advantage of emerging technologies.” Dubey also emphasizes the need for companies to realize that their ICT needs should now be handed to IT companies. This gives businesses an opportunity to concentrate on their core. “It’s not IT, it’s all about your business,” he explains.

From https://ph.news.yahoo.com/ 07/13/2014

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Asia Pacific Wastewater Treatment and Management Industry Outlook to 2018

 

The industry research publication titled ‘Asia Pacific Wastewater Treatment and Management Industry Outlook to 2018 – Increasing Government & Private Investments to Drive the Future Growth’ provides a comprehensive analysis of the various aspects such as market size, segmentation, trends and developments and future projections of the Wastewater treatment market of major countries in Asia Pacific. The report also entails a detailed description of the prominent and emerging geographic markets of the region including Japan, China and India. With the increasing population growth and high urbanization rates in the region, the stress on Asia Pacific’s water resources rapidly intensifies. As the fresh water resources are depleting, the requirement for clean, potable water is imperative and immediate. Asia Pacific suffers from water stress and insufficient water infrastructure, in particular for wastewater treatment which is poorly maintained. The wastewater treatment market in the region has substantially expanded in recent years.

 

Asia Pacific wastewater treatment and management industry, in view of alarming water pollution and use of novel technologies for treating wastewater, generated revenues worth USD million in 2013 and has escalated at a CAGR of % during the years of 2007-2013. The countries in the region are trying to reduce their environmental footprint by opting for superior and novel wastewater technologies or equipments. The market, on account of increased researches for novel technologies for treating wastewater, elevated at a CAGR of 13.9% during the period of 2007-2013 and clocked revenues worth USD million in the year 2013. Japan, owing to its latest technologies and wide coverage of wastewater treatment plants, was the largest contributor to the market revenues with a share of % in the year 2013.The Japan wastewater treatment market can be bifurcated on the basis revenue from treatment of wastewater generated from municipal and industrial sources. The scope for domestic wastewater has been shrinking, which has led to decline in its revenue contribution. On the other hand, the share of industrial wastewater treatment has been rising moderately from % in 2007 to % in 2009 and % in 2011. The numbers of patents for water and sludge treatment technologies have showcased a prominent increase. Industrial equipments are the dominating segment of wastewater market in Japan with a share of % in 2013, which has inclined from a share of % in the year 2007.

 

The Wastewater Treatment market in China is the second largest market in Central and Asia Pacific region accounting for a share of % in the overall market in 2013. The country witnesses greater amounts of untreated wastewater emissions. At present, China observes a large number of private sector foreign players and a diverse range of companies involved in the sector or the ones looking to enter it. The market generated proceeds worth USD 27,988.5 million in 2013. The market has evolved at a CAGR of 16.7% over the span of 2007-2013. Membrane bio reactors, owing to their low cost, have been the preferred technology/equipment in the China market. India held the next leading position in the market with a share of % respectively in 2013. As the growing population in India continues to exert pressure on depleting water resources, the process of wastewater treatment is indispensable. The Wastewater treatment and management Industry in India is booming and presents several opportunities to the players who wish to enter the market. The India wastewater treatment market is broadly categorized on the basis of revenues from treatment of municipal and industrial wastewater generated in the country. The contribution of Municipal wastewater treatment to the entire revenues of wastewater treatment has increased from % in 2007 to % in 2013 and witnessed highest contribution in the year 2012 wherein it held a share of %. The Indian wastewater treatment industry is estimated to escalate with a phenomenal CAGR of % during 2013-2018 and is estimated to reach USD million in 2018.

 

Philippines wastewater market as compared to Japan is privatized; wherein the wastewater treatment market is majorly operated by the government. The wastewater market in the Philippines has become both considerably better and more lucrative. The government’s initiative to invest in the infrastructure supporting the wastewater treatment in Philippines has further fuelled the market for wastewater treatment in the country. The Municipal wastewater treatment segment is expanding rapidly in Philippines given the lack of adequate drinking water and sanitation facilities. There will inevitably be huge investment by government and foreign players in improving the Filipino wastewater infrastructure and treatment facilities.

From http://www.prweb.com/ 07/22/2014

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CHINA: Premier Stresses Targeted Controls

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has demanded more attention on targeted controls while keeping the country's economic growth within a proper range.Targeted controls are innovative macro-control methods, as well as key parts of controls that aim to keep economic growth within a proper range, Li said on Thursday.Targeted controls aim to tackle problems in key sectors and weak links, relying more on market power and reforms, and aim not only to stabilize economic growth, but also adjust economic structure, the premier said.The latest targeted control was taken by the central bank on June 16 to cut the reserve requirement ratio by 0.5 percentage points for banks engaged in proportionate lending to the farming sector or small and micro-sized enterprises.Li made the remarks while chairing a meeting in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, with officials and business leaders from provinces including Hunan, Fujian, Shandong and Henan.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/04/2014

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Chinese Vice Premier Highlights Effective Investments

 

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli has called for more efforts on effective investments and unleashing market vitality through reforms amid economic downside risks.Chinese economic growth was within a proper range up to date and positive results of economic restructuring have emerged despite downside risks, Zhang said during a research tour in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Gansu Province from July 2 to 5.China needs to streamline administration and delegate more power to lower-level governments, carry out measures to stabilize economic growth, promote reforms, enhance restructuring and benefit people, and support investments, consumption and exports, he said.

 

Priority should be given to invigorating market vigor through reforms and targeted controls, increasing effective and reasonable investments, supporting the real economy as well as small and micro-sized enterprises, in an effort to contribute to steady economic growth this year and development in the future, Zhang stressed.Zhang also urged efforts on implementing the strategy for development of the western regions and pushing forward the building of the Silk Road Economic Belt, the modern international trade network proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.He encouraged northwestern localities to rely on their own strengths and create new economic growth drivers, noting that stress should be laid on new industries, new technology and new products and the relationship between economic development and environmental protection should be handled in an appropriate way.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/05/2014

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Li Stresses Innovation-Driven Economic Upgrading

 

China needs to use innovation and intelligence as well as diligence to support its economic upgrading and job creation, Premier Li Keqiang has said.China has abundant human resources, a huge market and deep-rooted culture, so there is much potential to develop its creative industry, Li said during an inspection tour of Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, and Zhuzhou City in Hunan on Thursday and Friday.China should improve its products through intelligence and bolster job creation and industrial development through innovation to create a better Chinese image on the global stage, he said.Li encouraged college students to unleash their potential through employment and running businesses, saying the government needs to create a platform for them and the whole society should encourage innovation and be tolerant of failures.

 

The size of market for Chinese products depends on the potential of creativity. To make Chinese-manufactured equipment flourish on the global market, its competitiveness should be giving clients most bang for the buck and its lifeline lies in the high quality, Li stressed.Key projects conducive to economic restructuring including railway building in central and western China are important targeted controls measures, Li said.China needs to continue streamlining administration and delegating more power to lower-level governments to spur market vitality. Governments need to create a fair competition market environment and enhance their efficiency to help enterprises increase profits, he added.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/06/2014

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China to Prepare for Aging Society

 

Ten ministerial-level departments, including the ministries of civil affairs and education, on Monday jointly released a circular calling for the country to prepare for the coming aging society.The circular stressed the importance of building an elder-friendly society as the percentage of the senior population is rising quickly.China's aging citizens reached 200 million at the end of 2013 and will account for more than 30 percent of the country's total population by 2042, according to the circular.Government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should carry out more voluntary services for the elderly and encourage the young generation to be more aware of seniors' needs and concerns.The circular also called for accelerating development of industries serving the demands and convenience of the elderly, such as nursing homes and adult education classes, the circular said.Elderly citizens should not be regarded as burdens but valuable human resources for the sustainable growth of the economy, according to the circular.The public sector will encourage the elderly to participate in various social activities, such as teaching in schools or helping with scientific research, in order to give them a sense of satisfaction while also promoting social harmony and the economy.The circular also emphasized establishment of a national elderly care system, strengthening social security for the elderly and improving laws that protect the rights and interests of senior citizens.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/08/2014

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China Names and Shames Wayward Law Enforcers

 

Details of 12 cases involving violations by police officers, judges and prosecutors were released Wednesday by the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.In the northwestern province of Gansu, Guo Zhongde, a former deputy chief prosecutor in Longnan City, took bribes of 738,000 yuan (about 120,000 U.S. dollars), accepted an illegal gift of an off-road vehicle and had improper earnings of 7.66 million yuan from companies he operated with others. Already dismissed from his post, Guo was sentenced to 11 years in prison.Two police officers in the central province of Hubei were accused of taking bribes of 100,000 yuan to allow illegal casinos in their jurisdiction. The two have been dismissed from the police force, and their case transferred to the judiciary.The commission will intensify investigation of similar cases, no matter who is involved, and better manage law enforcers.In February, the commission publicized 10 other typical cases involving law enforcers.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/09/2014

 

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China Promotes Transparency in Corruption Cases

 

China's top procuratorial authority has ordered the promotion of information transparency in the investigation and prosecution of senior officials' corruption cases and other duty-related crimes.The Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) on Wednesday published a circular urging procuratorial agencies at all levels to make public information about major cases of suspected offenses by officials.The move is expected to make information disclosure about such cases a regular practice instead of case-by-case discretion.The public will be informed in a timely manner of cases such as suspected duty-related violations by provincial-level officials and those behind serious accidents or major food and drug safety scandals, according to the circular.Information to be published should include the suspects' identities, the crimes they are suspected of, basic facts and latest developments in cases during investigation, arrest and prosecution.Such information will be available in various forms, including text, statistics, photos and videos, it said.However, the circular also stressed that information about state secrets or personal privacy shall not be disclosed.The SPP said that starting in March this year, it launched microblog accounts on some major Chinese websites such as Sina.com and Xinhuanet.com.To date, 6,700 pieces of information about prosecutors' work have been released by these accounts, attracting a total of 8.5 million followers and subscribers.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/10/2014

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Reform Brings Independence to China Judiciary

 

China is moving toward a mature socialist court system, one with more independence and less influence and protectionism from local officials.A judicial reform blueprint rolled out on Wednesday by the Supreme People's Court endowed judges with the right to make independent rulings without the approval of court heads.In the current Chinese judiciary, rather than having judges try cases, court decisions are made by a judicial council which does not participate in the trial.The "try but not judge" practice has always been a key part of China's judical reform and has been criticized over the years for impairing court fairness.At a key meeting of the Communist Party of China in late 2013, the central authorities urged that trial judges should make and be responsible for their own rulings.During the legal procedure, a fair judgement can be expected only from a judge who has listened to the defendants, accusers and witnesses and checked the evidence himself.

 

The separation of trial and ruling only leads to inefficiency and unfairness.The reform plan make it clearer that trial judges' decisions will no longer need to be signed off by court heads and that the function of the judical council is mainly to "discuss the legal measures for a case," so henceforth, judges' independence can be largely guaranteed.But independence doesn't mean complete freedom. Sound supervision from the court heads must be in place to keep judges' power from inflating. In some cases, they may also need to cooperate with the judicial council to make rulings.The latest reform outline also considered cutting links between courts and local governments to reduce officials' judicial interference.At present, local courts are generally subjected to local governments in terms of human and finance management, thus local officials can often influence court decisions in their jurisdictions.

 

In some incidents, big companies have avoided legal sanctions for environmental pollution as they bring revenues to local governments and offer jobs to local citizens.The plan asked for the establishment of judicial selection committees at provincial-level courts to promote professional selection of the bench as well as reduce nepotism within local governments.Moreover, local courts' finances will be put under uniform administration by provincial authorities and the money and property they collect as litigation fees, fines and forfeitures will be rendered to the provincial treasury.The de-localization of the court system is a big step forward. It solves the worries of judicial authorities and enables them to handle cases strictly in accordance with the law, safeguarding judical fairness.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/11/2014

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Second-child Policy Having Limited Effect

 

The family planning policy is unlikely to be further loosened anytime soon, experts suggested at a news briefing held by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Thursday.An estimated 140 to 150 million couples in China have only one child, and about 65 percent of them may want to have a second child, said Zhai Zhenwu, dean of the School of Sociology and Population Studies of Renmin University of China.About 90 million babies would be born if all of these couples had a second child.Zhai said that these babies, if born, are likely to be born within five years.Such a spike in births may put great pressure on China's population control and affect the country's socioeconomic development, said Yang Wenzhuang, director of the family planning grassroots guidance department under the National Health and Family Planning Commission.The news briefing was held more than six months after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed a resolution to allow couples, of whom one is an only child, to have two children.

 

So far, 29 provinces have implemented the new policy, according to the commission.About 11 million couples are eligible to have another child as a result of the new policy, and the number will keep growing, Yang said."Right now the number of couples that meet the standard of the policy is not very large," he said, adding that most of the couples able to enjoy the policy are located in large and medium-sized cities, and the less strict family planning policy has been applied more in rural areas.By May 31, about 270,000 couples had applied for permission to give birth again, of whom about 240,000 couples have been approved, he said.Zhejiang, the first province to implement the policy, is said to have seen much less impact than it had expected.The province estimated in 2013 that about 80,000 babies will be born in the first year because of the policy.However, from Jan 17, when the policy took effect, to the end of May, only 2,444 babies had been born under the policy.

 

With another 16,600 babies expected, only about 20,000 babies will be born under the policy this year, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission."Some may choose not to give birth this year. Others may be too busy with work to give birth to another one. Some may be too old to give birth," said Wang Guojing, deputy director of the province's Health and Family Planning Commission."Many people may not have been well prepared right after the policy came out, and they need to think through the decision," said Yang Yunyan, director of the Health and Family Planning Commission of Hubei province, which had also seen only a small proportion of eligible couples give birth again.Zhai expected the number of babies born under the policy to increase in the next two years.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/11/2014

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China's Power Data Point to Positive Signs, Pressure

 

Slightly higher power consumption in the first half of 2014 indicated China is still battling to arrest a slowing economy, analysts said.China's power consumption, an important indicator of economic vitality, rose 5.3 percent from a year ago to reach 2.63 trillion kwh, according to the National Energy Administration on Tuesday."Although changes in power consumption were not big, they kept the momentum of steady growth," said Liu Zhu, an electricity analyst at China Credit Rating.In June alone, power use increased 5.9 percent from a year ago, up 0.6 percentage points from the growth in the previous month.Liu expects power consumption to continue its slow growth in the short run as the economy needs to gain steam further.Other indicators, including the purchasing managers' index (PMI) and exports, show signs that the economy is consolidating, even if the signs are still weak.The Chinese economy expanded 7.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014, insignificantly lower than the year's growth target of 7.5 percent.

 

Wednesday will see release of a string of broad economic indicators, including GDP.The power consumption data in the first half of the year fell short of a 6 percent projection by the China Electricity Council, which in May maintained its forecast of 7 percent growth for the whole year."The latest data are in line with the general economy," said Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University.Lin warned that the economy is still under pressure as the electricity consumption growth was still lower than the full-year GDP growth target.During the January-June period, electricity use by primary industries dropped 4.6 percent year on year. Power consumption by the industrial sector rose 5.1 percent while that by tertiary industries went up 6.9 percent.In the first half, private homes and the service sector contributed more to the entire electricity use, indicating that economic restructuring has gained traction, Lin said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/15/2014

 

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China Sets Timetable to Reform Gov't Vehicle Use

 

China's central authorities on Wednesday released a guideline to reform the supply and use of government vehicles in an effort to cut hefty spending in the area amid mounting public complaints over misuse of public money.China will scrap the supply of vehicles for use in regular government affairs, while keeping those for special services such as intelligence communication and emergencies, according to the guideline.The central government will instead allocate a "proper amount" in subsidies to public servants to allow them to choose their own means of transportation.The move will affect officials below the ministerial level, and subsidies will range from 500 yuan to 1,300 yuan per month depending on their positions, said the guideline.The guideline also urged related authorities to properly relocate drivers or other staff who may be laid off during the reform, and auction the spare vehicles in an open procedure to avoid losses of state-owned assets.

 

The aim is to finish reform in the central government organs by 2014 and in local governments by the end of 2015 to accomplish comprehensive reform in two to three years, said the guideline.In China, officials above a certain level have usually been provided a driver and car for their work, but many have used the vehicles for private purposes, causing massive waste of public funds and widespread complaints.Jia Kang, head of the Research Institute for Fiscal Science of the Ministry of Finance (MOF), estimates the latest round of reform will involve around 800,000 government vehicles and will see related expenditures drop by 7 percent.In the long run, if factoring in the maintenance costs of the vehicles and other administrative fees, expenditures on government vehicles will be cut by half, according to Jia.Spending on government vehicles accounts for around 60 percent of the so-called "three public consumptions," namely expenditures on overseas visits, vehicles and receptions.The central government announced earlier this year it plans to use 7.151 billion yuan on such items in 2014, slightly down from last year's actual spending of 7.154 billion yuan.

 

This year's budget includes 4.127 billion yuan for the purchase and maintenance of government vehicles, 126 million yuan less than the figure a year earlier, according to the MOF.The latest reform in the sector comes amid the country's ongoing frugality campaign that aims to build a cleaner and more transparent government.In December 2012, the central authorities issued the "eight-point rules," requiring government officials to strictly practice frugality and clean up undesirable work styles, including formalism and extravagance.Since then, formerly unchecked official activities, such as dining in high-end restaurants and receiving luxury gifts, have gradually ebbed.While the public generally welcomed Wednesday's announcement, some have expressed doubts whether the move will have the desired effects."Hope it will not end in officials having both the cars and the subsidies," commented a netizen on the social media platform Weibo.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/16/2014

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Ministry Orders Enhanced Security in Public Transportation

 

China's Ministry of Public Security on Wednesday held an emergency national meeting, calling for better security on subways, buses and other public transportation.In a circular issued after the meeting, the ministry required that security staff should be present on every subway train and every bus with necessary protection and safety gear.Police forces should work with transport authorities to manage security and the public should be mobilized, said Vice Public Security Minister Huang Ming.Huang urged decisive measures against violent crime on public transportation, including arsons and explosions.The circular orders police to upgrade risk monitoring and prevention, intensify patrols by armed and plain-clothes police, and reinforce management and monitoring of dangerous items and people. It requires security personnel are trained to identify illegal objects and organize emergency escapes.The public should be encouraged to report suspicious items, the circular said, promising to reward informants who help stop crimes.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/16/2014

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China Boosts Security on Buses

 

China is stepping up security in the country's bus systems, which have been dogged with safety issues.The city government of the southern metropolis of Guangzhou on Thursday ordered tightened police patrols and inspections in the city's bus stops and subway stations.Xie Xiaodan, vice mayor of Guangzhou, said that departments will enhance supervision and control over flammable and combustible materials on public transportation.The move came on the heels of a blast that tore through a public bus in Guangzhou on Tuesday evening. Two people died at the scene and 32 were taken to hospitals.Following the incident, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) on Wednesday demanded that all buses and subway trains in the country be equipped with security supervisors.A number of other localities in the country are rolling out measures to improve security.

 

On Wednesday, Beijing police said that they will increase the number of bus security supervisors in the capital city and equip them with portable security inspection scanners, according to the Beijing News. The city currently has some 2,000 security supervisors in its bus system.In Hangzhou City in east China's Zhejiang Province, local authorities have required all bus drivers to bring a "life hammer" escape tool to work with them, while the driving cabin will be equipped with another hammer.China has been struck by a number of fires and explosions aboard commuter buses in recent years.On July 5, a 34-year-old man allegedly set a bus ablaze in Hangzhou, injuring 30 people.Last year, a bus in the east China coastal city of Xiamen burst into flames, leaving 47 people dead and 34 others injured.In 2009, a bus in Chengdu caught fire, leaving 25 passengers dead. Police concluded the fire was deliberately set by an unemployed man who died in the blaze.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/18/2014

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Huge Embezzlement in China's Housing Projects

 

Billions of yuan was embezzled or swindled from large-scale affordable housing construction projects last year, China's auditing authorities have uncovered.The National Audit Office (NAO) said in a statement on Friday that a nationwide auditing campaign revealed 7.83 billion yuan (1.27 billion U.S. dollars) was appropriated in 2013 to fund non-affordable housing projects like construction of infrastructures and industrial parks.The campaign carried out from December to March also detected that 38 organs and individuals defrauded 1.54 billion yuan in shanty town renovation projects by falsifying documents.In addition, some 47,500 ineligible families benefited from affordable housing as approval procedures were slack in some regions, according to the statement.The NAO has told related authorities to rectify wrongdoing, and police have started to probe alleged crimes.China turned to affordable housing projects to improve people's livelihood as well as spur investment as the country is trying to stabilize its economy in a slowdown.But many are worried that some people in power may take advantage of these billion-dollar projects.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/18/2014

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JAPAN: Social Welfare Service Corporations Must Step Up Role as Local Entities

 

Criticism has surged recently against social welfare service corporations for failing to sufficiently fulfill their roles, despite having an easier time engaging in almost the same services as ordinary private-sector companies as a result of such measures as preferential tax treatment. To reform social welfare service corporations that run such facilities as nursing homes for the elderly and child care centers, an expert panel of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has worked out a draft report containing a set of recommendations. The proposed report should be seen as a good opportunity to enhance the quality of their services. Social welfare service corporations are nonprofit private-sector organizations based on the Social Welfare Law. They number about 20,000 nationwide. While being subject to strict regulations and supervision by administrative authorities, the corporations are entitled to receive preferential treatment in various areas, such as exemption from corporate tax and other public dues, and eligibility for subsidies to improve their facilities.

 

Bodies authorized as social welfare service corporations have played pivotal roles in the nation’s social welfare programs since the 1950s, but recently an increasing number of businesses and nonprofit bodies from various fields have been entering the field of social welfare services. The environment surrounding social welfare service corporations has been changing drastically. Because of such phenomena as the rapidly aging society and the instability of employment, tasks that cannot be fully handled through the existing government-run social welfare programs have been brought to the fore, such as the need to provide care for elderly citizens living alone and supporting hikikomori youths who have withdrawn from society. As things stand, however, few social welfare service corporations have actually been meeting these new challenges in local communities. The draft report by the health ministry panel has rightly pointed out the need to make it obligatory for social welfare service corporations to engage in activities for the benefit of local communities. It is undoubtedly one of the principal duties of such corporations to address tasks in their fields that cannot be undertaken by profit-pursuing businesses.

 

The draft has also deemed it problematic that tokuyo homes, which are operated by social welfare service corporations for elderly people who require around-the-clock nursing care, have amassed as much as ¥300 million on average in profits. It was quite reasonable for the draft report to stress as it did that the raison d’etre of the corporations would be called into question if they fail to make good use of such funds to provide their localities with better welfare services. To make their activities more effective for the good of local communities, it is necessary to take such steps as expanding the scale of the corporations and facilitating joint operations by a larger number of corporations. Worthy of note in this respect are social welfare service corporations in Osaka Prefecture, which have been cooperating with each other by pooling funds to jointly offer counseling support services for people in need. They have also provided people in straitened circumstances with livelihood expenses and food. Their activities can serve as a positive model for other social welfare service corporations.

 

Effective from fiscal 2015, the administration of some publicly run nursing care insurance services will be transferred to city, town and village entities. The law for helping disadvantaged people become self-reliant will also be put into force at the beginning of the next fiscal year, with city, town and village governments taking charge of providing the low-income residents with livelihood counseling and helping them find employment. Social welfare service corporations are expected to be major bodies to be entrusted with such operations. This means that corporations must play even larger roles. Some chief executives’ practice of treating social welfare service corporations like their exclusive property has become an issue. To ensure public trust, it is essential to enhance the transparency of their operations. Only half of such corporations have disclosed their financial statements. As stated in the draft report, it is imperative to make it obligatory for the corporations to make them public.

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

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Japan Announces Roadmap for Hydrogen Introduction

 

The Hydrogen/fuel Cell Strategy Council (chaired by Tokyo Institute of Technology Prof Takao Kashiwagi), which was set up by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), has announced the “Hydrogen/fuel Cell Strategy Roadmap.”   The roadmap describes three steps in the introduction of hydrogen-based technologies using, for example, fuel cells and sets a goal for each step. Phase 1, which is expected to last until about 2025, is defined as a period in which the use of hydrogen will rapidly expand. The goal set by the roadmap for this phase is to increase the number of residential fuel cell units in Japan to 1.4 million in 2020 and 5.3 million in 2030 and the number of hydrogen stations for fuel cell vehicles to 100 in 2015. Also, the council aims to commercialize a fuel cell vehicle in 2015, fuel cell bus in 2016 and commercial/industrial fuel cell system using SOFCs (solid oxide fuel cells) in 2017. Phase 2, which is supposed to begin in the mid-2020s and end in about 2030, is defined as a period in which hydrogen-based power generation will be introduced on a full scale and large-scale hydrogen supply systems will be established.

 

The goal for this phase is to purchase hydrogen from foreign countries at a price of about ¥30/m3, expand the domestic hydrogen distribution network for commercial purposes, manufacture/transport/store hydrogen derived from unused energy in foreign countries on a full scale, fully utilize hydrogen for power generation business, etc. Phase 3, which will begin from about 2040, is defined as a period for the establishment of CO2-free hydrogen supply system. The goal for this phase is to realize the full-scale production/transportation/storage of hydrogen that does not emit CO2 by collecting and storing CO2 (CCS: carbon dioxide capture and storage) and combining domestic and foreign renewable energies. As a technical challenge in achieving this goal, the roadmap cited the verification of (1) a low-cost, stable and high-efficiency water electrolysis technology in accordance with the output fluctuations of wind and solar power generation systems and (2) a system that absorbs the temporal and geographical unevenness of wind/solar power generation by using the water electrolysis technology.

From http://www.japantoday.com 07/05/2014

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Govt Support of Scientific Research Should Lead to Fruitful Innovations

 

With the government’s new research-support program, we should nurture the seeds of science and technology that will, hopefully, lead to the development of society and the growth of the economy. The government has launched the Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies (ImPACT) Program, which will support research that may involve considerable risk of failure but is expected to be very fruitful if successful. The program includes research and development programs on eco-friendly IT devices that can be used for a long time without a charge, a mechanical brain linked to a quantum computer network and advanced robotics for nursing care. Twelve researchers are to participate in the ImPACT Program, including those in their 30s and women. They belong to universities or private businesses and have been chosen out of about 180 applicants. They are expected to assume leadership in their respective research programs, recruiting talented staff and producing tangible results. Over the next five years, the government will extend a total of ¥55 billion in support to the 12 researchers.

 

Until now, this sort of large-scale government support was mainly given to research projects considered highly likely to bring about tangible results or to prominent researchers. It is significant that the government will support high-risk research as one of the central pillars of its science policy. This can be said to reflect the government’s high hopes for improving society through scientific and technological innovation. We hope such research will bear fruit and contribute to society as much as possible. In the global rankings of competitiveness in innovation, Japan remains in a slump, falling from 4th in 2007 to 22nd last year. Meanwhile, scientific research papers published in Japan account for a dwindling fraction of the number published in the world. We must say that Japan is losing much of its momentum as a scientific and technological powerhouse. In this sense, it is quite reasonable for the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to make efforts in innovation, as part of its growth strategy, so Japan can regain lost ground. This fiscal year, the government has established a cross-ministerial research-support project aimed at bringing about sure results, earmarking about ¥50 billion in the budget for the program.

 

The government is being realistic by differentiating research expected to achieve results within several years and that expected to take a longer time and to entail risks of ending in failure, and to support both kinds of research. It is important that the government implements these different types of research in a balanced way so they can both promote its science and technology policy. The prototype of the Internet, which is used globally today, was born out of a project to support scientific research by the U.S. Defense Department. It took more than 20 years for the Internet to become popular after such research began. Long-term support is needed for any ambitious goal. The Council for Science, Technology and Innovation will be the headquarters of science and technology policy that will lead to innovation, while the headquarters for Healthcare and Medical Strategy Promotion will be responsible for medical science policy. Cooperation and coordination within the government is vital so bureaucratic sectionalism will not hinder research development.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/08/2014

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Arrest in Benesse Data Breach Case Must Lead to Tighter Info Management

 

The leakage of personal information on children has developed into a criminal case. The Metropolitan Police Department has arrested a systems engineer in charge of database management at education service provider Benesse Corp., on suspicion of copying customer information in violation of the Unfair Competition Prevention Law. The man is suspected of abusing the ID he received from Benesse for logging into a customer database. He held a supervisory position among the staff in charge of maintenance and management of the database. The suspect has reportedly admitted to police that he approached a name-list broker many times to sell customer information and received ¥2.5 million in total. He is said to have debts of several hundred thousand yen due to gambling and living expenses. His conduct must be denounced as an extremely malicious act that took advantage of his position at work.

 

The Unfair Competition Prevention Law defines name lists and other useful information that have been handled as secret and not made public as “trade secrets,” and bans their copying and disclosure. Following its revision in 2009, the law also began to be applied to cases in which such secrets are leaked by individuals to illegitimately obtain benefits. Police believe the engineer’s acts constitute illegal copying of trade secrets. The revelation of the Benesse breach has heightened anxiety that children’s personal information will be abused. The MPD has decided to arrest the engineer, as it takes a serious view of his alleged crime. The MPD’s action may also be intended as an example to deter others from similar violations. Benesse bears a heavy responsibility over its database management, which failed to prevent the exposure of personal information. The compromised data has already been resold among name-list brokers and is believed to have been passed to more than 10 companies. The Unfair Competition Prevention Law prohibits the purchase of trade secrets for the purpose of obtaining illegitimate profits.

 

It is problematic, however, that name-list brokers do not face charges if they obtain information without knowing it was illegally acquired. In the Benesse case, a name-list broker reportedly said it obtained the information “without knowing that it had been illegally leaked.” It is not clear which government offices are in charge of name-list companies. Even the number of such companies has yet to be confirmed. The provisions of the Personal Information Protection Law are not particularly effective. The law bans name-list brokers who handle personal information on more than 5,000 people from providing information to a third party without obtaining approval from the individuals to whom the information pertains. But the brokers are permitted to sell information if they disclose the titles of lists and other information at shops or on homepages. In the wake of the leakage case at Benesse, calls have been growing louder for strengthening control of name-list agents. It is imperative for the government to study measures to prevent the diffusion of illegally leaked personal information.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/18/2014

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Urgent Measures Needed to Counter Adverse Effects of High Energy Prices

 

With the prices of crude oil and other energy resources hovering at high levels, it is feared that their soaring costs will have an adverse effect on the nation’s economy. If a surge in energy costs depresses corporate profits and scuttles efforts by companies to make capital investments and offer wage hikes, it will be difficult for the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to achieve its goal of putting the Japanese economy onto a virtuous economic cycle. The government, therefore, must do its utmost to secure a stable supply of energy and stop energy prices from soaring further. Due to the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East, crude oil has been trading at around $100 per barrel, more than double the lowest figure posted after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Rising crude oil prices have pushed the nation’s average regular gasoline price upward for 12 consecutive weeks and they are now edging closer to a high of ¥170 per liter. Coupled with the April consumption tax hike, higher gasoline prices have surely dealt a heavy blow to household finances.

 

Accordingly, the prices of light and heavy oils have surged, raising costs for various sectors including the transportation and fisheries industries—both of which use a large volume of fuel—and the laundry industry, which uses organic solvents made from crude oil. There have been significant ramifications from the steep increases in the volume of liquefied natural gas imported as fuel for thermal power plants substituting for the idled nuclear power plants. The additional fuel cost for thermal power generation is tagged at ¥3.6 trillion a year, draining a huge amount of national wealth out of Japan. Compared with pre-disaster levels, when nuclear reactors were in operation, electricity charges for households have increased 20 percent, while those for businesses have risen 30 percent. If the situation remains unchanged, further hikes will be unavoidable. A possible acceleration of the hollowing-out of industry is worrisome as more companies could opt to move their production bases abroad due to high utility costs. Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant, which has been deemed to have met new safety standards, should resume operations as soon as possible, while the Nuclear Regulation Authority should smoothly conduct safety screenings of other nuclear power plants so that they can be steadily restarted.

 

Simultaneously, Japan should make efforts to lower the prices of fuel it procures from abroad.

The prices of LNG that Japan imports from the Middle East and Russia are pegged to the price of crude oil, making them about four times higher than that from the United States, where exploration costs have plunged thanks to the so-called shale gas revolution. The government and the private sector alike must strongly call on LNG-producing countries to change the way gas prices are set. Major electric power and gas companies are jointly purchasing LNG in a bid to leverage their negotiating power. It is hoped that such a move will spread beyond such firms. The nation’s self-sufficiency rate in the area of energy, including nuclear energy, has dropped from about 20 percent before the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake to about 6 percent, a level lower than that during the first oil shock in the 1970s. From the viewpoint of energy security, the nation is undeniably in a dangerous situation. It is also urgent to diversify the countries from which the nation procures energy resources by linking up private businesses and the government’s energy diplomacy.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/21/2014

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Utmost Efforts a Must to Secure Transport in Underpopulated Areas

 

Decentralization of administrative power must be promoted to help secure and maintain transportation essential for local communities. Starting next April, the Infrastructure, Land, Transport and Tourism Ministry will transfer to municipalities clerical work on registration, guidance and supervision in connection with a system under which automobiles registered as private vehicles would be allowed to transport fare-paying passengers in underpopulated areas. This type of transportation would be provided depending on regional conditions. The planned transfer of clerical work is in line with the fourth package of laws on decentralization of administrative power that was enacted in May. The ministry will hold explanatory meetings for municipalities this summer. The system to permit the transportation of fare-paying passengers by private vehicles was introduced in line with the revised Road Transportation Law, which was enforced in 2006. The system calls for municipalities and nonprofit organizations to engage in the transportation business in sparsely populated communities where there are no bus and taxi services, and to transport wheelchair users and other disabled persons in areas without adequate transport service. About 3,000 organizations have registered with the system, about 80 percent of them welfare-related. About 19,000 vehicles have been registered. Users of the system made about 26.84 million trips in fiscal 2011.

 

It is indispensable for the elderly and nondrivers to secure transportation to go shopping and visit hospitals. Municipalities are required to maintain so-called community transportation means, while making up any deficits and relying on the help of nonprofit organizations. Transfer of clerical work on registration and other functions would not be carried out uniformly across the country, as it would only be possible for municipalities that apply. For villages, towns or cities that do not apply, clerical work will be transferred to the relevant prefecture if it applies. This “voluntary participation formula” is a new method of administrative decentralization adopted for the first time in the latest package of laws promoting decentralization. The municipalities to which clerical work is transferred would not be required to deal with regional offices of the transport ministry, making it possible for them to respond swiftly to regional needs. This would also leave room for municipalities to promote original and innovative projects, such as providing microbus services linked to town planning. By taking over clerical work on guidance and supervision to ensure safety, municipalities would have to accept responsibility when accidents occur. Therefore, the motivation and determination of municipalities would be tested. The system could become a model for the transfer to local governments of clerical work and administrative power on other matters.

 

In a survey of local governments conducted by the transport ministry in autumn last year, a paltry 6 percent of respondents expressed a desire for such a transfer. The percentage did not exceed 17 percent even when government assistance and other conditions were attached. A 51 percent majority “do not wish for a transfer,” while another 43 percent said they “don’t know.” The survey results indicate that municipalities are extremely worried about how much their clerical work would increase after such a transfer and what they would actually have to do. To promote the transfer to local governments, it is imperative for the transport ministry’s regional offices to instruct municipalities on how to carry out the clerical work on guidance and supervision and support their personnel training programs. Prefectural governments also must play major roles in this regard. In addition to undertaking clerical work on behalf of small municipalities, they will have to provide indirect support for establishing community-wide transportation networks.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/22/2014

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SOUTH KOREA: Science Ministry to Cut Telecom Costs for Households

 

South Korea's science ministry said Monday it will have mobile carriers slash their enrollment fees and smartphone prices and offer more diverse service plans to help lower telecommunications costs for households. In measures that precede detailed policy guidelines due in November, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said it will first slash the enrollment fee of carrier service by 50 percent in the third quarter, and also cut the price of universal subscriber identity modules (USIM) by 10 percent.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 06/30/2014

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Researchers Develop World's Most Efficient Solar Cell

 

Scientists at the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT) have developed a structure for and the manufacturing technology for a mineral and organic hybrid Perovskite solar cell, the most efficient photovoltaic cell design in the world. It is expected to pave the way for the mass production of solar panels as efficient as currently existing silicon-based products. A Perovskite structure is a unique combination of chemically synthetic mineral and organic materials. It has characteristics of both nonconductors and semiconductors, and is a superconductor. It was named after the Russian scientist Lev Perovski who discovered the material. Existing silicon-based solar cells have a maximum efficiency of 20 percent, but due to their complicated manufacturing process and high production costs, electricity generation from solar energy is less economical than electrical power generation from fossil fuels. In early 2013, the KRICT researchers developed a new mineral and organic hybrid Perovskite platform technology. Recently, they succeeded in defining the structure for a Perovskite solar cell and developed the related manufacturing technology, both of which are needed to produce a thin film, one of the core elements for the cell.

 

The scientists then formed a printed circuit board with cheap mineral and organic materials and coated the board with the Perovskite-based thin film, thereby developing a Perovskite solar cell with an efficiency rate of 17.9 percent, currently the world's highest. The U.S.-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has now officially confirmed the solar cell's efficiency for two years in a row: 16.2 percent in 2013 and 17.9 percent this year. The research was made possible by financial support from the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the results were published online in Nature Materials, a scientific journal, on July 6. "We had difficulty in improving the efficiency level of the solar cells. This time, however, we succeeded in both dramatically enhancing the efficiency and in developing the associated manufacturing technology that will now cut production costs to one third that of existing silicon-based cell production costs," said a researcher at KRICT. "When mineral and organic hybrid Perovskite solar cells are commercialized, along with the development of the manufacturing process and large-surface coating technologies, as well as related material, it will be as economical as generating electricity from fossil fuels."

From http://www.korea.net 07/21/2014

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S. Korea Evokes National Image of Cutting-Edge Technology: Survey

 

Foreigners consider South Korea as a country with cutting-edge technology, but only a small portion of them are aware of Korean pop culture, known as hallyu, a survey showed Friday. According to the survey, the respondents most frequently come up with technology after being asked to present the word that first pops up in their mind when thinking of South Korea.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/25/2014

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S. Korea Boasts Highest R&D Intensity: Report

 

South Korea's research and development (R&D) budget made up the highest percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013 among advanced nations, a report showed Sunday. According to the report by the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Evaluation and Planning (KISTEP), the country's R&D intensity, or R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP, came to 1.14 percent, hovering above the 1.12 percent and 1.03 percent posted by Iceland and Finland, respectively. It marked a giant leap from 2004, when Asia's fourth-largest economy held a comparable figure of 0.74 percent. The report is based on the Main Science and Technology Indicators (MSTI) as released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in June. South Korea spent US$13.7 billion last year for governmental R&D projects, the sixth-largest among the countries tallied. The United States held $133.5 billion, followed by Japan, Germany, France and Britain with $36.8 billion, $33.3 billion, $19.9 billion and $14.1 billion, respectively. The portion of R&D for defense took up 16.3 percent of the combined R&D budget for South Korea in 2011, the third-largest amount compared with the 53.1 percent held by the U.S. in 2013 and 16.5 percent posted by Britain in 2012.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/27/2014

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INDONESIA: Having ‘Potential for Quick Advancement’, Says UN E-Government Survey 2014

 

Indonesian e-government has the potential for “quick advancement” through the creation of a national ICT policy and e-government strategy, and by the strengthening of public servants’ capacity, according to the 2014 United Nations (UN) E-Government Survey. “There is potential for quick advancement of countries like… Indonesia,” the report said, adding that some countries have “significantly advanced their e-government development ranking” despite low national incomes. It further notes that Indonesia has “not reached the level of e-government development as… other countries in the same income group” (see chart below). Indonesia can move up the rankings by strengthening its national ICT and e-government policies, and training public servants, the report said. “The main enabler of good e-government progress is often putting in place an effective governance framework to support and manage a citizen-centric service delivery model, including a national ICT policy and e-government strategy, as well as strengthening institutions and building the capacities of public servants.” Countries that have advanced in e-government despite their low national income, include India the Philippines and Vietnam, the report noted.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/30/2014

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Indonesia Will Manage Poll Tensions Without Foreign Help

 

Indonesia will keep election tensions in check on its own, without foreign intervention, president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said, just days before the result of the presidential election is formally announced next Tuesday. His comments yesterday, at the start of a cabinet meeting, came as the National Police chief warned rival camps not to turn up that day with large groups of supporters. Dr Yudhoyono told his ministers that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon raised the subject of the election during their telephone conversation on Palestine on Wednesday night. "Ban Ki Moon knew there was a dispute and it would be resolved on July 22," recalled the president, whose term ends on Oct 20. "I said: God willing, Indonesia will manage it well." Drawing a comparison with the ongoing presidential election dispute in Afghanistan, which needed US Secretary of State John Kerry to intercede, he told ministers: "It is our resolve to break any impasse on our own." His remarks precluding outside intervention, a sensitive subject, came as Prabowo Subianto's camp charged that former US president Bill Clinton's visit to Indonesia this weekend is aimed at shoring up support for his rival Joko Widodo. Also yesterday, National Police chief Sutarman urged both presidential rivals to rein in their supporters and not take crowds to the Election Commission (KPU) next Tuesday.

 

Meanwhile armed forces commander Moeldoko has reminded soldiers, who will be equipped with rubber bullets, that their main task is to protect the people. With both candidates declaring victory after the polls closed on July 9, there has been growing concern that the election result might spark violence from the losing camp. While many observers expect Joko to be declared the winner, several point to a second scenario, where Prabowo is declared the winner. As the KPU will tally up counts from provincial election bodies only, this could see tallies amended as they move up the chain. Achmad Sukarsono of The Habibie Centre, a think-tank, noted that these documents pass through the hands of poorly paid officials, some of whom are vulnerable to corruption. Even if there is no unrest next week, the battle is set to shift to the Constitutional Court. The losing side has three days to file a legal challenge. The hearing will start around Aug 4 and the court has to rule within 14 working days. In a bid to calm tensions, 49 public figures and civil society leaders got together yesterday to urge both camps to meet and agree to accept the KPU result. "We believe people, including both candidates and their supporters, will preserve the peace and reject violent acts," they said.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 07/18/2014

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SINGAPORE: Government Takes Joined-up Approach to Tackle Climate Change

 

The Singapore government is taking a whole-of-government approach in addressing climate change and this week has committed to publish its long-term plans to increase the country’s resilience to climate change by 2016. The efforts will be coordinated by the Resilience Working Group (RWG), the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) told FutureGov. The RWG is an inter-agency led by the MERW and the Ministry of National Development. It is responsible for assessing Singapore’s physical vulnerabilities to climate change. Speaking at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Regional Outreach Event this week, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, highlighted the importance of adaptation, because “it is likely that the world will not do enough to stop the progression of climate change”. For example, he said that around 20% of Singapore’s land has been reclaimed and will need to grow from 1.25 metres to 2.25 metres above the highest recorded tide level to prepare for sea levels rising. Climate change adaptation and risk assessment were added to Singapore’s resilience framework in May, which is used to guide RWG’s work. Local media reported that every government ministry and statutory board will be involved in the country’s effort to deal with climate change.

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 07/10/2014

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Singapore Government Showcases 3D Urban Mapping on Newest Commercial District

 

The Singapore government is using a smart 3D mapping tool to run large scale simulations to guide the planning, design and development of its newest commercial area, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) told a gathering of 15,000 geospatial professionals yesterday. Using the Jurong Lake District, an up and coming 70-hectare largest commercial area outside the city center, as an example, Eugene Lau, Executive Architect, Conservation and Urban Design Group and Victor Chua, Senior Systems Analyst of the Information Systems and Geospatial Group showed how simulations can help city planners visualise different building forms and their impact to surrounding environment. For instance, planners can conduct shadow studies on proposed developments to determine how public spaces can be shaded for better comfort. “We can map population density and render it like a heat map over the district, or simulate traffic to see how the development will affect traffic in the entire region,” said Lau. “We plan to preserve a number of views and the 3D city model helps us check if these views are obstructed as we plan new buildings in the area. For example, the pagoda should remain visible from the train station. The line of sight is shown as the yellow area on the map so buildings in between these landmarks do not exceed the required height,” he continued. Lau and Chua were speaking at the 35th annual Esri User Conference in San Diego USA yesterday, demonstrating how URA is using Esri’s CityEngine to transform 2D town planning data into interactive 3D city models.

 

In a separate press statement, URA’s Director of Information Systems, Applications, Goh Siow Chong said, “As the land use planning authority of Singapore, URA constantly seeks new ideas, innovative technologies and smart solutions to make better planning decisions and overcome challenges.” “Our collaboration with Esri Inc. and Esri Singapore is a fruitful experience. Esri brings on board their expertise in advanced 3D geospatial technology, enabling us to create 3D simulations of various planning scenarios to better plan for a more liveable and inclusive environment.” Esri Singapore CEO Thomas Pramotedham said using GIS technology to enable a greater understanding of future developments is key to ensuring Singapore remains one of Asia’s most dynamic urban centres. “As one of the world’s fastest growing cities, it is important that Singapore leverages smart technologies to ensure ongoing developments can meet the needs of citizens now and in the future,” said Pramotedham. “URA’s approach to using 3D GIS technology is incredibly progressive, and serves as a benchmark and inspiration for other countries around the world.” “The fact the URA was invited to deliver a presentation to more than 15,000 of the world’s leading GIS professionals is testament to the outstanding and industry-leading work they are achieving in this field.” URA and Esri will continue to develop the software’s localised rules and building templates to build up the 3D model base, overlay rich GIS layers and over time, create a rich 3D city information model that could be useful for multiple purposes beyond urban planning.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/16/2014

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VIETNAM: NA Wants New Laws on Citizens' Data Management

 

The National Assembly's National Defence and Security Committee has proposed that the draft law on Citizen Identification includes a chapter with regulations on developing, managing and using the national citizens' database. The chapter should also deal with the links between this database and other "specific" databases, the committee said at a meeting of National Assembly's Standing Committee yesterday. The proposal was made after the committee reviewed the draft law and received comments from deputies. Nguyen Kim Khoa, Chairman of the National Defence and Security Committee, said that the national citizens' database would be the combination of all specific databases compiled by various ministries and sector. It can be shared by ministries, sectors and agencies, thus allowing for more efficient and effective use of resources in collecting and exploiting the data, he said. Khoa also announced that his committee, which was assigned to the review the draft law, agreed that every Vietnamese citizen would be issued a personal identity card with a 12-digit code.

 

The ID card would be issued as soon as a baby is born and would replace the birth certificate, Khoa said, adding that the move would ensure equality among citizens regardless of their age in accordance with Constitution 2013 approved last year. At present, only citizens who are above 14 years of age are eligible to have ID cards. As citizens under 14 are yet to have stable identifying characters like fingerprints, their cards will carry the names of parents. The cards will be changed once they turn 14. After the birth of a child is reported to the commune or ward administration, authorised officers will collect the needed information including name, gender, date of birth, place of bird, nationality and parents' information. The information will be transferred to the police for issuance of an ID card for the baby that will carry lifetime validity for administrative transactions. Truong Thi Mai, Chairwoman of the NA's Committee for Social Affairs, said that the citizen identification cards with codes are expected to reduce administrative paperwork, as citizens would be required to report their basic personal information only once, after which they can use their ID code when working with administrative agencies. She asked for an estimate on the number of administrative papers that would be removed and the number that would be retained.

 

Mai also wanted to know if information that is likely to change frequently, like health insurance and social insurance, would be included in the database for the ID card. Tran Van Ve, a member of the draft law board from Ministry of Public Security said that the ID card would carry information from 16 fields, so some paperwork would remain. Dao Trong Thi, chairman of the NA's Committee for Culture, Education, Adolescents and Child Affairs, said that it was necessary to clarify mechanisms for updating and accessing the national citizen database. "There will be no simplifying of administrative procedures or application of information technology if officials at communes or wards collect and transfer citizens' information manually to the police for ID card issuance," Thi said. Later in the afternoon, the NA Standing Committee also discussed several issues related to the revised People's Court Organisation Law. The deputies asked for more clarity on certain terms like "judicial power" or "judicial precedent" to ensure their consistent application. They also discussed the tenure of judges at different levels, agreeing that judges for the Supreme People's Court should be entitled to work until retirement without a limit on their tenure unless they take up other work. They also agreed that judges at lower levels should have five-year tenures, which, once completed, can be extended by a 10-year tenure.

From http://vietnamnews.vn 07/15/2014

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INDIA: Bracing for Technology Driven 2nd Green Revolution

 

The Indian government also announced to finance 5 lakh joint Farming Groups of ‘Bhoomi Heen Kisan’. New Delhi: India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley while presenting his maiden budget said that the Government is committed to sustain a growth of 4% in agriculture. He said that for this government will bring technology driven second Green Revolution with focus on higher productivity and include ‘Protein revolution’ as an area of major focus. The Finance Minister said that as a very large number of landless farmers are unable to provide land title as guarantee, institutional finance is denied to them and they become vulnerable to money lenders’ usurious lending. The Finance Minister has proposed to provide finance to 5 lakh joint farming groups of “Bhoomi Heen Kisan” through NABARD in the current financial year. Jaitely also proposed to set aside a sum of Rs 50 crores for the development of indigenous cattle breeds and an equal amount for starting a blue revolution in inland fisheries.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 07/10/2014

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Indian States Told to Undertake Drought Mitigation Works

 

States have been instructed to implement drought mitigation works like renovation of traditional water bodies, said India’s Minister of State for Rural Development Upendra Kushwaha. New Delhi: The Indian Government has advised the States and Union Territories to take up a large number of labour intensive works under MGNREGA keeping in view the anticipated drought like situation due to less than normal rainfall. In a written reply to question in the Lok Sabha, the Union Minister of State for Rural Development Upendra Kushwaha said that States have been instructed to implement drought mitigation works like renovation of traditional water bodies including desilting of irrigation tanks and ponds, micro and minor irrigation works and creation, renovation and maintenance of irrigation canals and drains. He said, States can also undertake drought proofing works such as avenue plantation, development of barren/ fallow lands and nursery raising . Similarly water conservation and water harvesting structures can augment and improve ground water situation like underground dykes, earthern dams, stop dams, check dams, etc.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 07/18/2014

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Four New CR Stations Set to Go On-air in India

 

The Indian government has set an ambitious target of moving towards the goal of attaining 600 Community Radio stations in Phase-I. The Community Radio world in India is all set to get bigger with four new stations going on air by the end of next month. Spread across the country, these four stations are enthusiastically looking forward to serving the local community. BBD Community Radio, a Community Radio station by Babu Banarasi Das University, Lucknow, is all set to serve the community. The Community Radio station is expected to be operational by the end of August, 2014. While indicating towards the diverse population of Lucknow, Amit Kumar, member of the BBD Community Radio said that their station would be expected to address a wide range of problems. Besides health, education, and other development related issues, it would make special progrmmes on legal advisory for those who are unaware of their rights. Finding the licensing process cumbersome, he said it took them two around years to obtain the license. Appreciating the work of Community Radio Facilitation Centre, he said that it helped them at every step in procuring the license.

 

To meet the challenge of the station’s financial sustainability, he further suggested that the DAVP rates should be increased. Another CR station is being operationalised by the NGF College of Engineering and Technology (NGFCET), Palwal, Haryana. The station will be titled as ‘Radio NGF Palwal’.‘Radio NGF Palwal will help the community to raise their issues, to increase the level of knowledge and awareness’, said Sharat Kaushik, Director, NGFCET. Our primary concerned area will include women development, education, poverty and health, Kaushik elaborated. Taking a step towards its commitment to community development, Jayoti Vidyapeeth Women’s University is also going to start its own Community Radio station. Kerala, which already has seven Community Radio stations, is all set to get the eighth one by Global Educational Net, Alapi. With the inclusion of these four stations, there will be a total of 175 Community Radio stations in the country.

From http://southasia.oneworld.net/ 07/22/2014

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SRI LANKA: President Opens First Medical Reference Laboratory

 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa opened Sri Lanka’s first-ever Medical Reference Laboratory at the Lanka Hospitals, in Colombo yesterday (July 16). After opening the new laboratory, President Rajapaksa went around the lab observing its various facilities and talking to the staff.

With the opening of this new medical reference laboratory Lanka Hospitals Diagnostics, a subsidiary of Lanka Hospitals, fulfils the long felt need for an advanced medical laboratory in the country with cutting edge technology to improve and speed up the process of diagnostics. The inauguration of the Lanka Hospitals Diagnostics Reference Laboratory marks a significant milestone for medical specialists and doctors as a whole. The advanced testing facility will provide a complete solution based laboratory commencing from sample collections, transportation of the same, data entry, testing, histopathological examination and on time delivery of laboratory reports. The new Reference Laboratory offers over 300 new tests which are not offered by any other laboratory in Sri Lanka thus far. This will eliminate the need for sending samples for testing overseas, thereby significantly reducing the medical expenses currently incurred by a patient.

 

The state-of-the-art laboratory will have over nine departments such as Haematology, Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Flow Cytometry, Cytogenetics, Histopathology, Immunology, Liquid based Cytology and Bio Chemistry. Further, the facility will be manned by trained professionals. The laboratory will have dedicated and qualified staff for each of these units. The Reference Laboratory performs daily calibration of laboratory instruments, which is generally not a practice by other laboratories in Sri Lanka. Committed to excellence, Lanka Hospitals Diagnostics Reference Laboratory has six Pathologists who will be dedicated to the service of all tests that are carried out in the laboratory. Prime Mininster D M Jayaratne, Chief Minister Prasanna Ranatunga, Deputy Minister Lalith Dissanayake, Defence Secretary and CEO of the hospital Dr Wimal Kannagara were also present.

From http://www.priu.gov.lk/ 07/17/2014

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Sri Lanka Ranks Top Among South Asia

 

Sri Lanka ranks first among South Asian countries in the latest E-Government Development Index conducted by the United Nations. “Sri Lankan government has made a substantial effort to develop its online portal which now ranks 74th in the world”, the UN said. Sri Lanka ranked 115 in 2012. The online portal offers A-Z government web indexes, 108 e-services for citizens, 51 e-services for businesses and 10 non-residence related e services. The portal also offers extensive mobile and SMS services, an e-participation portal, government forms easily accessible online, a developed open data portal with data available in various formats, as well as a whole-of-government strategy. According to the Government Information Center (GIC) Sri Lanka’s e-government policies have been geared towards including all segments of the population and offering services to everyone, regardless of their IT literacy levels or access to the internet. With mobile usage rates in the country exceeding 100 per cent and even the poorest people today having cell phones, albeit basic, Sri Lanka offers many m-government services.

 

The GIC is now providing more than 65 online services through basic phone calls, such as train schedules, job opportunities abroad, flight schedules, exam results, economic indicators, medical services and contact details. Even though the IT literacy rates jumped from 9.7 per cent in 2004 to 40 per cent in 2012, the numbers are still not high enough to allow maximum utilization of the e-services the government provides. With the GIC, all-inclusive e-services can be delivered to the rich and poor alike and hence everyone can become a beneficiary of the digital advancement in government.

From http://www.priu.gov.lk/ 07/18/2014

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ARMENIA: Large-scale Work Needed in Yerevan to Strengthen Buildings

 

Seismic resistance of the 80 percent of Armenian capital city Yerevan’s buildings is unreliable.  “Armproject” OJSC President and Director Grigor Azizyan stated the above-said at a press conference on Wednesday. In Azizyan’s words, a large-scale work needs to be carried out to strengthen Yerevan’s buildings, and there is a huge shortage of such programs.     According to him, although similar work was carried out in Armenia following the devastating earthquake that hit the country in 1988, not all apartments were included in these activities, and the individual repairs of houses does not solve the problem. “After the 1988 earthquake, there are fears that some buildings may collapse even after not-so-strong jolts,” Grigor Azizyan concluded.

From http://news.am/ 07/09/2014

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AZERBAIJAN: Securities Transaction Be Held in New Order

 

A new method of settlement of the securities transactions, concluded in the organized market will be introduced in Azerbaijan from July 1 at the National Depository Centre with the support of the State Securities Committee, the SSC reported.  Primary market transactions with government securities and repo-operations will be carried out during the trading day (T) by blocking the securities and funds prior to bidding. At the same time, the settlement on transactions with corporate securities in the primary and secondary markets is planned to held by blocking of securities prior to trading, as well as on the T +1 (extra time) instrument. The application of new principles will create conditions for the improvement of the settlement in the securities market, to bring them into line with international standards, increase the volume of transactions in the market, attract new foreign and local investors to the market.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/07/2014

 

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KAZAKHSTAN: New Tech Park for Development of Innovative Projects to Be Opened in Astana

 

A new tech park, which will engage in innovative projects will be opened on the territory of "Nazarbayev University" in Astana on July 18, according to the press-service of the university.  The tech park with the total area of over 2,000 square meters, is a successful continuation of the implementation of the development plan of intellectual innovation cluster and it presents new opportunities for the development of science and business. Furthermore, the opening and development of the tech park will facilitate interaction of education system, business and science in Kazakhstan.  A presentation of the Science Park of Nazarbayev University "Astana Business Campus" will be held during the opening ceremony, the report said.

From http://en.trend.az/ 07/18/2014

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4 Tips to Improve Government Contact Centres - Genesys

 

Some officials may think that contact centres are too costly, but many governments are now prioritising these organisations. This is because they are normally the first touch points between citizens and the government, Bruce Eidsvik, Managing Director Asia Pacific, Genesys told FutureGov. Eidsvik and his team has been working closely with the Australian government to improve citizen experience at contact centres. He summarises the biggest opportunities for public sector organisations:

 

1. Focus on answering the question instead of the call

Most contact centres operate on a 80/20 or 90/10 principle, said Eidsvik: “They target to answer 80 per cent of all calls within 20 seconds. To achieve that goal, they hire many agents to manage that call volume.” However, that is not the best way to manage a contact centre, he believes. “In a recent study, we found that customers are willing to wait as long as when they finally speak to an agent, he/she can answer the question or solve the problem.” “When you are focused on answering the call, you often have to transfer, and the customer experience worsens with each transfer,” he added.

 

2. Use analytics to improve service & training

If citizens are unable to find information on a website, they will have to contact a call centre. “By reviewing the citizen’s transactional history and online behaviour, Genesys’ analytics solution will assign the call to the agent with the most suitable skills to help,” Eidsvk said. Analytics can also be used on the massive volume of verbal and written interactions - calls, emails, chat - to identify areas of improvement. “Besides knowing where your service chain is breaking down, you can also spot challenges that your agents are facing. For example, you can find out if a particular agent is not handling a certain inquiry well. One of our partners found out that 500 of their agents were simply transferring calls instead of resolving the issue,” he said.

 

3. Get visibility so you can manage

Some organisations are setting up ‘Command and Control Centres’ so they have full visibility over all interactions across multiple contact centres. “It looks almost like a network operation centre with all interactions mapped out on the screen in real-time, so the management can make informed decisions to improve operations,” said Eidsvik. “It is common for governments to outsource their contact centre operation. The unified dashboard gives you a full view of activities, including these outsourced contact centres, so you can re-direct traffic if one site is struggling with its call volume, or look into a site if their citizen service rating is going down,” he noted.

 

4. Great customer experience = cost-efficient experience

Unlike the hospitality industry where customers are looking to be pampered and showered with attention, citizens just want their problem fixed when the ring the contact centre, according to Eidsvik. “Some of the best services our government customers provide are the least expensive. Citizens want a knowledgeable agent who can answer the question and they get on the way.” He recommended that governments assess their service interaction using the Customer Effort Score Audit, a measure that helps them identify where citizens are using the greatest effort. The principle is to reduce the effort citizens have to take when dealing with the government, and that will improve the overall experience. As government budgets continue to shrink, governments need to look at these opportunities to see how they can deliver greater efficiency while enhancing citizen services. “The return on investment in many of the projects we’ve worked on is unbelievable. Ministry of Justice New Zealand, for example, implemented a workload management solution which increased revenue by NZ$20 million (US$17 million) and reduced operating costs by NZ$2 million (US$1.7 million) per annum,” concluded Eidsvik.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/04/2014

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Building Capacity for Resilient Development

 

Pacific Island countries are amongst the most disaster prone in the region, exposed to natural hazards such as floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, which all pose a significant challenge to development in the Pacific region. A single disaster event can result in losses in the millions of dollars and can undo progress in areas such as infrastructure, agriculture, healthcare and education. Despite recognition of the importance of disaster resilient approaches to development, many countries face challenges in identifying ways to effectively mainstream risk reduction considerations into national development planning processes. To address this, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, in partnership with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre is holding a one week training workshop which focusses on how to mainstream Disaster Risk Reduction into development. The training, in Nadi from 14-18th July, includes participants from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu with representatives of National Disaster Management Offices and ministries responsible for national planning and finance. Representatives from the Pacific islands Forum Secretariat, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and United Nations Development Programme will also participate in the training workshop.

 

A mixture of theory, case studies and exercises will be used to increase participants’ knowledge and skills in areas such as risk assessment, understanding the links between development and disasters, selecting appropriate risk reduction options and identifying and entry points to mainstream risk reduction in development. The training workshop will further build capacities of government planning officials in the Pacific Region to plan and implement disaster resilient development through enhancing their understanding of the integration of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) considerations in the development planning process. The training workshop is supported by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. The Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) works in a number of countries in the Asia Pacific region to strengthen disaster resilience at all levels. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community is an international organisation that works in public health, geoscience, agriculture, forestry, water resources, disaster management, fisheries, education, statistics, transport, energy, human rights, gender, youth and culture to help Pacific Island people achieve sustainable development.

From http://www.pina.com.fj 07/15/2014

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ITU, UN Women Announce New Global Awards for Outstanding Work in Technology for Gender Equality

 

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and UN Women are partnering to launch a new global technology award that recognizes outstanding contributions from women and men in leveraging the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to promote gender equality. The annual GEM-TECH Awards will be conferred on seven winners from government, the private sector, academia and civil society at ITU’s Plenipotentiary Conference, which will be held in Busan, Korea, from 20 October - 7 November. Winners will travel to Busan to accept their award and join a global celebration on 21 October promoting the power of ICTs to transform lives. Online nominations are open until 11.59 p.m. CEST on 5 September, 2014 at www.itu.int/gem-tech-awards, with winners to be notified by 5 October. ITU encourages men and women working in the ICT sector to nominate their colleagues – or themselves – with the final seven winners to be selected by a committee of experts from ITU and UN Women. The awards will be presented by ITU Secretary-General Mr. Hamadoun I. Touré and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as part of a day-long programme of activities centered around gender issues.

 

The initiative comes in the wake of the disclosure of ‘diversity’ figures by major tech companies, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo and LinkedIn, which reveal that, across the board, the number of women in tech jobs is well under 20 per cent, with the percentage of women in leadership roles not much better – reflecting a global lack of women coming into the ICT field. “ICTs are the most powerful tool we have ever had to make a difference to the lives of today’s and tomorrow’s women, and to build a more equitable world for all,” said ITU Secretary-General Mr. Touré. “This new award will provide much-deserved global recognition for some of the many outstanding gender champions – both female and male – who are driving exciting, innovative and effective ICT and gender initiatives.” The 2015 GEM-TECH awards have been launched in the context of commemorations for the 20-year anniversary of the UN Beijing Platform for Action, which emphasized the importance of ICTs for women's empowerment and the achievement of gender equality. The awards are one of the first results of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ITU and UN Women that provides for increased cooperation between the two UN agencies in areas including improving women’s access to, and engagement with, ICTs; enhancing women’s involvement in ICT policy-making; and promoting the power of ICTs in future UN priority action areas, including the post-2015 framework for sustainable development.

 

“ICTs can and should be a game-changer for girls and women around the world, providing them with avenues for empowerment and for exercising their rights,” said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “We must be deliberate in making this happen and these awards celebrate those that are leading this charge.” ITU is already active in the field of gender and technology, particularly through its global ‘Girls in ICT Day’ event, which takes place annually on the fourth Thursday in April, raising awareness of the advantages and opportunities offered by tech careers to a new generation of girls and young women. Prominent actor and advocate Geena Davis serves as ITU Special Envoy on Women and Girls in ICT. ITU estimates a global skills shortfall of over two million ICT jobs in the coming 10 years. With digital technologies now pervading every business sector, girls and young women who learn coding, apps development and computer science will have a significant advantage over their non-tech-trained peers, regardless of the field they eventually choose to work in. “Empowering girls and young women to fulfil their potential through ICTs will benefit not only young women and girls themselves, but entire societies and their economies,” said Mr. Touré.

 

UN Women, the lead UN agency on gender equality and women’s empowerment is pursuing ICTs as a critical cross-cutting issue across all areas of its work. In the tech field, results can already be seen in combatting violence against women through mobile apps that map unsafe spaces; providing improved access to employment, markets and financing through digital literacy and ICT skills development, information systems and online banking; promoting knowledge and training opportunities through the Knowledge Gateway on Women’s Economic Empowerment; and increasing women’s political participation and advocacy for through social media mobilization.

From ITU/UN WOMEN 07/15/2014

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AUSTRALIA: Government to Build Online National Vocational Education & Training Database

 

The Australian government will develop an online national database to record students’ vocational education and training (VET) qualifications by next year, it has been announced. The system will provide a unified database of VET records for students and companies. “At the moment, it is not possible for students to obtain a complete record of their VET enrolment and achievements from a single online source,” said Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane. From 1 January 2015, all Australian students will be able to apply for a unique number to build an online record of their qualifications. Training providers will also supply updated information to the national VET database. “This scheme will be very helpful to students when they are applying for jobs, updating their resumes, or applying for training credit,” Macfarlane added.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 06/25/2014

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OK to Store Data Offshore, Says Government

 

The Government has signalled an end to its policy of requiring government departments and agencies to get permission before storing information offshore. Analyst group Ovum has welcomed the finding in the Federal Government’s Commission of Audit that there is too much red tape around storing data offshore, and that current policies are impeding the implementation of cloud computing. “The Commonwealth Government has been slow to adopt cloud computing. A reliance on bespoke, legacy systems, concerns about the security and privacy of placing public data in the cloud, and general risk aversion all impede progress,” said the report. Now, as part of its reduction of red tape policy, and possibly to satisfy the desires of US based IT companies, the Federal Government seems set to end the policy, announced last August under the previous Labor Government.

 

The policy requires government CIOs to seek the permission of both their own minister and the Attorney-General before storing citizen information outside of Australia. Kevin Noonan, research director at Ovum, said it was an ‘odd’ policy to start with. “It created significant bureaucratic impediments to the use of public cloud, even though the government’s own cloud policy encouraged government agencies to do otherwise. “The red tape involved in gaining approval created frustrating problems for both industry and CIOs. It was a friendless strategy that helped nobody. The Government’s policy even made it more difficult for privacy advocates, because the policy focused too much attention on bureaucratic process, and not enough attention on efficiency and good quality outcomes. Noonan said that the policy had created an environment where state governments have become Australia’s thought leaders in cloud implementation. “We hope the change of policy will now assist Federal Government CIOs to make real and demonstrable progress.”

From http://www.itwire.com 06/25/2014

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Australian Government Publishes Interactive Map of National Statistics by Region

 

The Australian government has released an online interactive map of national statistics, including population, birth rate, average income, number of businesses, broken down by each geographical region. The ‘Data by Region’ map, developed by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), allows users to search and browse data using a map interface, instead of sifting through tables of data. It currently provides five years of data from the National Regional Profile, so users can track changes in their region over time, according to the ABS. “Our aim is to eventually enable users to find more data on any region within Australia, by migrating other online map-based data published by the ABS to this one tool,” said Todd Sweeting, Director of Web Publishing at the ABS.

 

How does it stack up?

FutureGov looked at other countries’ statistical services in the region and only found two others - New Zealand and Japan - that use interactive maps besides the ABS.

 

Here is our breakdown:

Statistics Bureau of Japan: The Bureau’s interactive site, available only in Japanese, allows users to select a variety of data, including age, gender, household, home ownership, occupation and employment, and view them on the map.

Statistics New Zealand: The New Zealand site does not have as many data types and historical data as the ABS map. It focuses on census data, splitting the information over several maps, such as people’s age and income per region, ethnicity and home ownership. As a result, it loads faster and looks a little less intimidating to users. The Singapore and Hong Kong governments do not have interactive maps. Instead, they present statistics using interactive infographics and other visualisation tools, allowing users to view selected data on a chart, or view how the data changes over time.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/08/2014

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Government Delivers on Commitment to Abolish the Carbon Tax

 

The Coalition promised to abolish the Carbon Tax and today the Government has delivered on our promise. Australian families and businesses will no longer be slugged by Labor’s Carbon Tax. Scrapping the Carbon Tax is a foundation of the Government’s Economic Action Strategy. Scrapping the Carbon Tax will save the average Australian household $550 a year. Scrapping the Carbon Tax will take a cost burden off Australian businesses. It will make it easier for them to compete and create more jobs. The Carbon Tax was a $9 billion a year hit on the Australian economy. Australian businesses either had to absorb the costs or pass it on the consumers. Labor implemented the world’s biggest Carbon Tax and today Bill Shorten confirmed he will campaign for a Carbon Tax at the next election. Despite what they say, Labor never supported scrapping the Carbon Tax. They voted against its repeal at every single opportunity.

 

Labor betrayed the Australian people when they introduced the Carbon Tax, and they have continued to betray the Australian people ever since. Australian consumers and businesses will benefit from the repeal of the Carbon Tax. The Government’s consumer watchdog, the ACCC, has been given the funding and power to ensure that savings are passed on to consumers. These requirements are in addition to the ACCC’s strong price monitoring powers and will ensure that the Carbon Tax hit on every Australian family and business is removed. The Government remains committed to taking action to tackle climate change but we’ll do it without Labor’s $9 billion Carbon Tax hit on the economy. At the election, the Coalition made a pledge: to scrap the Carbon Tax, to stop the boats, to get the Budget back under control and to build the roads of the 21st century. We are honouring our commitments to the Australian people and building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.

From http://www.pm.gov.au 07/17/2014

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Start Small and Build Up: Australia Shares Successes in Public Sector Innovation

 

Government should start small and then build up their innovation, so that there’s a safety net in case of failure, said Alexis Diamond, Director, Policy Capability, Strategic Capability, Department of Education, Australia. “Do it small - it’s safe to fail. Then build it up,” she said. Diamond was speaking in an Australian Government showcase of recent innovations and the lessons learnt (see full video below) as part of the government’s ongoing Innovation Month 2014. The Education Department is using an online policy toolkit to help its employees become more policy-capable and reduce duplication of effort, she shared. “It’s an online database of essentially tools and techniques that people can use to apply to their policy work,” shared Alexis Diamond, Director, Policy Capability, Strategic Capability. “So rather than duplicating efforts by trying to work out materials to use for your work, you can come to the policy toolkit first.” The Department of Finance talked about the success of the National Collaboration Framework (NCF) in helping agencies across federal, state and local level to collaborate on projects. Prior to the NCF being developed, there was a “big inconsistency in terms of quality” of the agreements being used for agencies to collaborate, Helen Knight, Assistant Director, Australian Government Information Management Office said.

 

The NCF is “a comprehensive framework that guides people through the development and collaborative process from beginning to end”. It is currently being used as the collaboration mechanism to deliver a whole of government parliamentary workflow solution by the Departments of Finance and Education. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) created a free strategy game using 2011 census data to raise citizen awareness on the census. Although government is using census data to inform decision-making, “the general public doesn’t have a great level of awareness of what it is used for. Without full participation, we cannot get an accurate snapshot of the nation,” explained Michelle Howe, Director of ABS Communications. ‘Run That Town’ has now been downloaded by over 70,000 people, with 800 new users per month.

From http://www.futuregov.asia 07/18/2014

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NEW ZEALAND: Digital Literacy in the Developing World - A Gender Gap

 

In the pervasively connected world of the 21st century, creating and sharing knowledge has never been easier. But the fact remains that many people still lack the skills required to access this information and an inequity gap is growing. Consider this quote: "You know you're from the '90s if you remember being disappointed when the CD's leaflet didn't have the lyrics to the songs. How else were you going to learn that damn line on track three?" For those of us with smartphones in our pockets, we simply Google the lyrics and voila! The answer materialises in less than a second. Yet this is a privilege available only to those who have access to the internet and the means to use it.

 

Inequality of access

Two-thirds of the world's population do not have access to the internet, many of whom are women. These 4.6 billion people rely on the lyrics in the CD case to learn that song, assuming they have a CD player at all. This is a representative issue on the far side of the great digital divide between the technically literate and illiterate. The benefits of digital technology can only be realised if people are empowered with the knowledge and skills to access and use them. In developing countries, women are 25 percent56 less likely than men to be online. This gap soars to 45percent in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. By way of comparison, in both France and the US, women's internet use exceeds that of men. Illiteracy is a barrier to online access that affects women more than men. Averaged across all developing countries, 75% of women are literate compared to 86% of men. In India, as few as 51% of women are literate compared to 75% of men.

 

Internet-based economic activity in India accounts for more than 5 percent of GDP growth. Without access to the internet, and the fundamental skills required to use it, women cannot benefit from the tools, resources and opportunities that the internet affords. Bringing women into the mainstream of the digital revolution can empower them with access, information, choices and opportunities that they have never had before. Not just for themselves, but for their families, communities and nation. But what might this look like? Being digitally literate means more than simply knowing how to operate a computer. Digital literacy means having the ability to find resources, critically evaluate and create information, and to do this by using digital technology. UNESCO considers it a necessary life skill.

 

Technology is knowledge and power

Digital literacy promotes democracy by giving access to a vast repository of knowledge. It also provides a platform from which to speak out and make your views heard. An Iranian woman, for example, who posted a scarf-less photo of herself on Facebook, now has over 230,000 followers who are supporting her crusade of bareheaded subversion. These women want to voice their opposition to the compulsory hijab. Facebook gives them the means. Social networking sites greatly increase women's understanding of what is possible, giving them a powerful tool that can be used to change their situation. For women in developing countries, the internet is an open doorway to tangible benefits; education and employment opportunities. According to Plan UK, an extra year of education increases a woman's income by 10-20 percent. It is a necessary step on the road to breaking the cycle of poverty.

 

A number of worthy initiatives are underway to develop women's digital literacy skills. The Women's Annex Foundation was established to train women in digital literacy so they can create a viable economic model for themselves and their families. The She Will Connect project, an initiative by Intel, is similarly committed to improving the digital literacy skills of women in developing countries. Intel recognises the role that technology plays in improving the quality of and access to education.

 

Closing the gender gap

There is a recognised link between a woman's level of education and the size of families. The more educated she becomes, the fewer children she is likely to have. With over-population being one of the principle difficulties faced by developing countries, digital literacy has the potential to give women access to education and the means to begin reversing the trend towards ever-expanding populations in the developing world. The inequality of internet access around the world is compounded by where you live and your gender. If you are a woman in a developing part of the world, you are likely to be coming up very short on access to the kinds of digital resources that are readily available elsewhere. This can make a big difference to the quality of life for your whole family.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 07/08/2014

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Aussie Govt Report Eyes Potential to Copy NZ's RealMe Online ID Service, Mutually Recognise IDs on Both Sides of Tasman

 

The New Zealand Government's RealMe identity verification service is cited as something Australia could copy in an interim report from the Australian government's Financial System Inquiry. The potential for mutual recognition of online identities between the trans-Tasman neighbours is also highlighted. Issued yesterday, the report notes Australia lacks a single government identity credential. Instead there are 20 government agencies managing more than 50 million core identity credentials. This decentralised model is described as a federated identity system, which emphasises market-based solutions where multiple identity credentials are produced by government and private sector providers to give access to both public and private sector services. In contrast under a syndicated model, a single identity credential is issued, generally by government, providing single sign-on access to public and private sector services. A joint venture between the Department of Internal Affairs and Kiwibank's parent New Zealand Post, RealMe launched last July. It was touted as the new and secure way for New Zealanders to access services and prove their identity online, and was developed with tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money. Banks using it to date include BNZ, Kiwibank and TSB.

 

"If Government was the default provider of digital identities to Australians, there would be economies of scale and other potential benefits, such as ease of access to Government information sources. This approach is reflected in New Zealand’s RealMe service, in which the government conducts high-integrity identity verification, including biometric capture, equivalent to passport application processes, before issuing individuals with their government digital identity," the report says. "Equally, Government could help guide and stimulate a commercial market of digital identity products and services. It could work with industry to establish minimum standards in more of a federated ‘trust framework’ model. In this approach, similar to that of the United Kingdom and United States, consumers could choose between government and commercially issued identity credentials. Allowing people to use multiple trusted credentials would have privacy benefits. It would also help reduce the potentially severe consequences where an individual only has a single digital identity, which is then compromised."

 

Trans-Tasman recognition of online IDs?

The report goes on to say Australia’s approach to developing trusted digital identities needs to take into account a wider international context. "This will help Australian businesses compete in a global identity services market and benefit Australian consumers by facilitating wider acceptance of their digital identities. The Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers have recently recognised these benefits and agreed to investigate options for mutual recognition of trusted online identities in both countries." The mutual recognition reference stems from a joint statement issued by John Key and Tony Abbott in February that said; "Many New Zealanders and Australians today validate their identities securely, using a range of online identity services, for sensitive transactions such as accessing social services and bank and health records . They (Key and Abbott) agreed to investigate the option of a mutual recognition agreement to enable trusted online identities to be accepted in both countries." The interim report asks for feedback on the costs, benefits and trade-offs of developing a national Australian strategy for promoting trusted digital identities, in consultation with financial institutions and other stakeholders.

From http://www.interest.co.nz 07/17/2014

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SAMOA: Government Urged to Help Farmers

 

“We have a stimulus package for planting koko and coconuts. Why can’t we have one for the ava industry again? There is a big market for us in Europe and if farmers are not assisted by the government, we would struggle and we will not be able to meet the needs of the market," according to one of Samoa's biggest ava (kava) growers in the country, Mau’u Siaosi Pu’epu’emai, of Samamea Fagaloa. And he has urged the government of Samoa to develop the industry into something that would benefit Samoa in the future. The call follows a decision by a High Court in Germany to lift the nation’s 12-year ban on ava products. The decision opens an opportunity for famers in Samoa to once again pursue this revenue stream. Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Mau’u welcomed the lifting of the ban on kava. He congratulated the Chairman of the International Kava Executive Council’s (IKEC), Tagaloa Eddie Wilson, for his relentless campaign to remove the ban. But Mau’u said the government must urgently begin the process of encouraging ava farmers to get back into growing the crop. “Now we have the market back on track, the question is do we have enough to supply the market,” he said. “The answer to this question depends on the growers and farmers.” At the moment, Mau’u said there are not enough ava plants in Samoa if there is a sudden demand for ava products. It should not stay that way forever, though, Mau’u says.

 

“The only way that I think would be effective and would help the industry get back on its feet is for the government to offer a bonus for ava,” he says. “We have a stimulus package for planting koko and coconuts. Why can’t we have one for the ava industry again?" More than ten years ago, the ava business in Samoa was booming. Mau‘u said many families in Fagaloa depended on the herb for income. Businessman Tagaloa Eddie Wilson agrees that the lifting of the ava ban is great news. “It is a huge export market and that was back in the late 1990s, 2000, imagine what it would have grown to if it was left to continue,” he said. “So the potential is there for the Pacific Island farmers. For something that they can grow quite well in their back yard. It is a bit like koko, the synergy is similar to koko. Samoans are passionate about growing koko for one reason is that we love drinking the stuff, we drink it every day." Overwhelmed by the enormity of the Court’s decision, Tagaloa said it was a hard fought battle. “The pharmaceutical industry actually developed ava products that were eventually used,” he said. “At the time of the ban there were about 1.5 million people in Germany alone who were on an ava prescription, said Wilson.

From SAMOA OBSERVER 07/11/2014

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Boosting Productivity Key for Developing Economies to Close Income Gap with Advanced Countries, Says OECD Development Centre

 

Income levels in most developing and emerging countries will not catch up with advanced economies for many decades without efforts to boost productivity, according to a new report by the OECD Development Centre. Perspectives on Global Development 2014 shows that while China, Kazakhstan and Panama are on track to reach OECD levels of average income by 2050, a number of middle-income countries - including Brazil, Colombia, Hungary, Mexico and South Africa - will take much longer at current growth rates. Labour productivity in most developing and emerging countries is well below half the level of OECD countries, the report shows. Diversification into higher value-added areas in agriculture, manufacturing and services along with economic reforms and a greater focus on innovation could help remedy this.

 

“Many of the upper middle-income countries we expected would be catching up with advanced economies by the middle of the century will not do so at today’s growth rates,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the report at the Organisation’s 6th Global Forum on Development. “Boosting productivity would help enhance growth and narrow the gap in living standards relative to the advanced economies more quickly.” The slow pace of economic convergence comes despite high growth rates in developing and emerging countries in recent years that have increased the weight of non-OECD countries in the world economy. Non-OECD countries' share of global economic output overtook that of the OECD countries in 2010.

 

The report notes that the service sector can be a key driver of value-added growth in emerging countries. For example, developing high-end services for a growing middle class and value-added services for both domestic and foreign businesses, such as consulting, engineering services or medical analysis, would create jobs with higher returns per worker. Achieving this kind of diversification will require equipping workers with better education and skills and encouraging innovation. The report recommends countries work to develop new products and processes domestically that would offer a competitive advantage but also that they import the best ideas from other countries. The report examines overall productivity in more than 40 countries as well as looking more closely at up to 18 manufacturing and 16 service sectors using industry-level data.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 07/02/2014

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Global Growth to Slow as Wage Inequality Rises over Coming Decades, Says OECD

 

A slowdown in global economic growth and a continuing rise in income inequality are projected for the coming decades, according to a new OECD study which looks beyond the crisis at what the world could look like by 2060. Ageing populations in many OECD countries and the gradual deceleration from current high rates of growth in the large emerging economies will bring global rises in GDP down from an annual average 3.6% in the 2010-2020 period to an estimated 2.4% in 2050-2060. Innovation and investment in skills will be the predominant drivers of growth. Policy Challenges for the Next 50 Years says unless CO2 emissions are reduced, climate change could curb global GDP by 1.5% by 2060 and by nearly 6% in South and South-East Asia. Technical advances will raise demand for high-skilled workers. Without a change in policy, OECD countries would face a further large increase in earnings inequality by 2060, bringing them close to the level seen in the United States today. Rising inequalities threaten growth, most notably by blocking economic opportunities.

 

In the OECD’s scenario, shrinking income gaps between advanced and emerging economies will lower incentives for economic migration into advanced countries. A fall in immigration will add to demographic pressures caused by ageing populations. This double pressure could reduce the labour force compared with the baseline of current trends by 20% in the US and by 15% in the Euro area by 2060. The report shows shifting patterns of trade and industrial specialisation. The share of trade with and among the emerging economies will increase dramatically. Technological catch-up and better skills will help emerging economies develop high value-added manufacturing and services activities. Faced with such challenges policies-makers will need to inject dynamism into labour and product markets and sustain innovation, productivity and employment. Widening inequalities will require effective redistributive policies, a strong focus on equality of opportunity and a review of the funding systems of public services and of tax structures.

 

The report says rising economic interdependence will require international cooperation in areas such as basic research, intellectual property rights, competition policy and climate change mitigation. Cooperation will also be crucial in the area of taxation, particularly to combat corporate tax avoidance. Presenting the report in Tokyo, OECD Deputy-Secretary General and Acting Chief Economist Rintaro Tamaki said “The OECD’s Policy Challenges for the Next 50 Years highlights three areas: sustaining strong growth, tackling rising income inequality and reducing climate change costs” “The study shows we face a globalisation paradox – countries will be more integrated than ever before, but it may become increasingly difficult to organise the required international cooperation in a more complex multipolar system.”

From http://www.oecd.org/ 07/02/2014

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Global Warming, Aging to Hit Global Growth: OECD

 

An aging population combined with a slowdown in emerging markets and pressure on the environment will lead to lower global growth and rising income inequality, a new OECD report warns. The organization expects global growth is to slow from 3.6 percent in 2010-2020 to 2.4 percent in 2050- 2060. Such growth rates will still mean that global economic output will more than quadruple over the coming 50 years. Current "deep-seated" trends such as an aging population, skill-biased technological change, globalization and rising environmental pressures are likely to have a profound impact on the world economy – with global warming expected to curb global growth by 1.5 percent on average – and raise difficult policy challenges. "OECD countries will be hit by a double demographic shock", the OECD writes. As the global economic balance shift towards the non-OECD area, the demand for high-skilled workers will start to harmonize and the income gap between developed and emerging economies will continue to shrink. With less incentive for economic migration, work-related immigration towards the OECD area will slow and, coupled with the aging trend already observed in advanced and many emerging economies, will lead to a reduced labor force.

 

By 2060, the OECD estimates that the labor force in the euro area will be 20 percent lower than it is today, while in the U.S., a 15 percent decline is anticipated. At the same time, economic interdependency between OECD and non-OECD countries is likely to increase, the report states, with about 50 percent of world trade taking place among current non-OECD economies, up from today's 25 percent. Asian and African economies should be major beneficiaries with GDP per capita expected to increase sevenfold in India and some African countries by 2060, while China's GDP per capita should be comparable to the current U.S. levels. As a result, the think tank says, the "share of non-OECD countries in world GDP will significantly exceed that of the current OECD members". However, with global growth increasingly driven by innovation and investment in skills, the growing importance of skill-biased technological progress will lead to "continued polarization " on earnings growth. The group estimates that with unchanged redistributive policies, pre-tax earnings inequality in the average OECD country will have risen by 30 percent which could "backlash on growth, notably if they reduce economic opportunities available to low-income talented individuals".

 

To curb the negative effect of the "double demographic shock" facing OECD economies, the think tank encourages countries to postpone the retirement age and provide the work force with "stronger work incentives at old age". "Learning strategies" should be supported to ease transition from job to job and keep the work force flexible and more able to cope with structural change. Economies should implement policies to support the knowledge-based growth, such as easy entry for new firms but also easy exit for ailing companies by, for instance, reforming bankruptcy laws, the OECD advises. The keys to tackle the widening earnings inequalities, says the OECD, are better redistributive policies, enhanced focus on equality of opportunities and reviewing both funding mechanisms (for education) and tax structures, according to the rich-country club. But most importantly, cooperation on trade policy "will become most important" as international coordination and cooperation could enhance research and spur technological innovation. Multilateral trade liberalization should be encouraged, according to the think tank, as it will "bring the greatest global GDP and welfare gains by 2060".

From http://www.cnbc.com/ 07/02/2014

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ICT Courses in Local Varsities Don’t Serve Industry Needs, Say Experts

 

The curriculum of ICT programmes in universities will be revised to reflect industry needs in an effort to tackle the perennial problem of skills mismatch among graduates. With only 10% of new entrants to the workforce directly employable while the rest require training before they can start work, Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) is working with universities, the National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom), the education ministry as well as other industry players to breathe new life into the current syllabus to make it more reflective of the industry's needs. "The curriculum was revised six years ago but with technological changes, you really need to revise it," said MDeC talent division director Muhammad Imran Kunalan Abdullah. While he did not mention when the new curriculum is expected to take off, Muhammad Imran said there are already some efforts put in place ways to improve the employability of ICT students. These include getting industry players to lecture in universities, introducing short-term professional courses and engagements between the universities and industry players to match employee-employer needs.

 

"Universities should not be teaching about products. Students should be taught about disciplines and analysis such as techniques of programming as opposed to learning about certain products. "Unfortunately, a lot of universities today are training ICT students on products because these certain products are widely-used in the market, which is fine but when they graduate, it does not give them the overall skill set of a computer science graduate," said Pikom's research committee chairman Woon Tai Hai. The National ICT Association of Malaysia's (Pikom) ICT Job Market Outlook 2014 revealed that fresh ICT graduates are still struggling to command higher salaries due to a mismatch of skills and higher employer expectations, with salaries only recording an average amount of RM2,344 between 2011 and last year. The survey found that the salary gap between the freshies and their more experienced counterparts had widened from 2.83 times in 2012 to 2.92 times last year.

 

It also noted that fresh graduates saw a slim salary rise of RM2,238 in 2011 to only RM2,451 last year. In contrast, wages for ICT executives with one to four years experience went up from RM3,151 to RM3,439 in the same period, while those with more than five years experience saw their salaries bumped up from RM5,039 to RM5,744. Semiconductor and water fabrication industries paid the highest salaries to fresh graduates at RM3,280 a month in 2013, but the percentage has not changed much since the year before. The automotive and heavy industries manufacturing sector registered a 27% rise in the monthly salary for fresh graduates, from RM2,175 in 2012 to RM2,763 last year, followed by the construction and building industry from RM2,023 to RM2,394 for the same corresponding period and education (from RM1,983 to RM2,305). – July 4, 2014.

From https://my.news.yahoo.com/ 07/04/2014

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Global Passenger Information System (Display, Announcement, Emergency Communication, Infotainment, Mobile Applications, Devices and Components, Services) Market Report - Forecast to 2019

 

Passenger information systems are solutions from IT vendors to transport service providers which helps these operators to provide real time scheduling information to the passengers. These solutions act as a medium for interaction between transport service providers and the passengers. In this report passenger information systems refer to the IT solutions and systems which are used to provide real-time information on arrival and departure, and other features such as news broadcast, emergency communication, and in-transit entertainment. With the evolution of new telecommunication technologies and increased adoption of smartphones, the demand for in-transit connectivity also increased. Technologies such as 3G and other higher generation communication fuelled this demand. On the other hand transport service providers are readily accepting the smart transport/traffic solutions being offered from IT vendors. The deployment of these solutions also distinguishes one service providers from others. Requirement of such solutions is significantly high in cities which are observing very high growth in urbanization. As the urban population is increasing the requirements for public transport is also increasing.

 

In the airways segment, the adoption was very high in early stages but later the adoption was observed quite high in railways and now in roadways. Railways segment accounts for highest revenue generation but the growth rate is significantly high in roadways segment. The same trend will be followed for next few years. In 2014 railways segment is the highest contributor in passenger information systems market revenues and it will remain on top for the next 5 years. As mentioned above, high growth in urbanization is one of the prime factors driving this market. In the geographic regions, such as Asia Pacific and Latin America, which are observing high growth in urbanization, adoption and deployment of passenger information systems will be significantly higher than other regions. In terms of revenue, North America and Europe will lead the chart and remain on the top during the forecasting period.

 

Major challenges in this market include legacy systems, and poor infrastructure. The cost of replacing old legacy systems or up gradation will be high which hamper the overall adoption rate of passenger information systems. On the other hand, there are region which still lacks the basic networking and communications infrastructure which is backbone for passenger information systems. In near future, both of these factors will affect significantly the adoption rate but with time the impact of these two factors will be diminished. For the market sizing and forecasting, several assumptions have been taken into consideration such as economic, regulatory, and technological. For instance, exchange rates, one of the economic factors, are expected to have a moderate rating of impact on this market. Therefore, dollar fluctuations are expected to not seriously affect the forecasts in the emerging APAC regions.

From http://finance.yahoo.com/ 07/11/2014

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World Bank Group to Help Developing Countries Reap Maximum Benefits from Implementing WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement

 

The World Bank Group today launched a new program which will help developing countries reduce costs and improve speed and efficiency of trade at their borders by simplifying their customs procedures. The Trade Facilitation Support Program, supported by Australia, the European Union, the United States, Canada, Norway and Switzerland, will make $30 million available in assistance for developing countries to help them devise and implement large scale reform programs, leading to increased trade, investments, and job opportunities. Speaking in Sydney, ahead of the weekend’s G20 Trade Ministers’ meeting, Anabel Gonzalez, World Bank Group Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice Senior Director, said the new global program would focus on overcoming existing bottlenecks to trade, so providing predictability, simplicity, transparency and uniformity for traders.

 

“Our experience supporting trade facilitation and logistics reforms across the globe has shown that improved customs procedures can have a dramatic impact on a country’s economic and overall competitiveness,” Gonzalez said. “The Trade Facilitation Support Program will provide very practical assistance to developing and least-developed countries to help them effectively implement reforms consistent with the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.” Ahead of a meeting with Anabel Gonzalez, the Australian Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, reiterated Australia’s support for the World Bank Group Trade Facilitation Support Program, which demonstrates the ongoing commitment to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

 

“It is estimated that the implementation of this agreement could increase global GDP by $1 trillion per annum and create 21 million jobs, of which 18 million would be in developing countries” Minister Robb said. “Making the movement of goods more efficient, transparent and uniform will help reduce the time and costs of trading – core themes of Australia’s G20 trade agenda.” The WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement was reached at the 9th WTO Ministerial Meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2013. It is designed to streamline border procedures, increase transparency, reduce inefficiencies and improve national competitiveness. The World Bank Group is a major provider of trade related technical assistance and financing throughout the developing world. The OECD estimates that significant trade facilitation reforms could cut trade costs by almost 14.5 percent for low income countries, 10 percent for high incomes countries and lead to the generation of millions of new jobs. In East Asia Pacific alone, it is expected that a 10 percent reduction in time to export will lead to a 4.1 percent increase in exports.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 07/17/2014

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Global Economy Starts Second Half on Solid Footing

 

China's factory activity expanded at its fastest in 18 months in July as new orders surged while the euro zone's private sector also perked up, suggesting the global economy started the second half of 2014 on a solid footing. While China is relying on increased government stimulus to steer its economy away from reliance on exports and towards consumer spending, Europe has taken the opposite approach, combining fiscal austerity with near-zero interest rates. The latest HSBC/Markit Flash China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index suggested that government stimulus was working, rising to 52 in July from 50.7 in June, and beating the consensus forecast of 51 in a Reuters poll.  

 

That was the highest reading since January 2013, and well above the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction for the second consecutive month. A comparable survey of private sector activity in the euro zone also rose more than expected, to 54.0 from 52.8, even without signs of the resurgence in inflation from dangerously low levels that the European Central Bank is trying to engineer. Taken together with data pointing to a solid expansion for the United States, and with most stock markets rallying or near record highs, the reports suggest the world economy is in a brighter spot. "The strength of this morning's data from China and the euro zone offers some encouragement that there is some momentum building for the global economy at the start of the third quarter," said Mark Wall, European economist at Deutsche Bank.  

 

"We still don't have second quarter growth numbers for the US or euro zone. And although the Bundesbank said earlier this week that German growth could stagnate in the second quarter, what's at least encouraging from the PMI data is it seems any disappointment yet to be published might well be temporary." Markit's manufacturing PMI for the United States is due later on Thursday and is also expected to show improving activity, rising to 57.5 from 57.3 last month. CHINA OUTLOOK STILL SHAKY The PMI data coincided with the latest Reuters poll on the outlook for Asia, which suggested China will struggle to maintain these rates of growth into next year, partly because of risks a property market downturn might threaten the economy.   Analysts polled by Reuters expect the world's No. 2 economy to expand by 7.4 percent this year, slightly below the last reported rate of 7.5 percent. That would be its weakest growth in nearly a quarter of a century.  

 

Some analysts say that more stimulus may be needed to offset any downdraft from falling property prices and activity. There are also increasing risks in the financial system, such as deteriorating credit quality. Mainland China stocks jumped after the PMI report while shares in the rest of Asia edged higher. The Australian dollar hit a three-week high on prospects of stronger exports to China. For the euro zone, where forecasters are even more gloomy about growth prospects, the latest PMI data were a bright spot and triggered a rally in the euro from an eight-month low. Markit said the data suggest quarterly economic growth of 0.4 percent in the current quarter if a similar pace is maintained over the next two months. Lagging economies like Spain performed even better, with the largest monthly increase in business activity recorded since August 2007 accompanied by a similar surge in new orders growth.   Separate official data showed Spain's jobless rate tumbled to its lowest in two years, although nearly a quarter of the labour force is still out of work.

From http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ 07/24/2014

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Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) Market in the APAC Region 2014-2018

 

PSIM is a software platform that integrates multiple security systems. PSIM software collects data from multiple security systems, which it collates and analyzes. The software can be used to integrate security and non-security systems, and can be customized as per user requirements. PSIM is also termed a situation management tool as it enables end-users to make quick decisions and take follow-up action with respect to a certain situation or event. The analysts forecast the PSIM market in the APAC region will grow at a CAGR of 42.15 percent over the period 2013-2018. This report covers the present scenario and the growth prospects of the PSIM market in the APAC region for the period 2014-2018. To calculate the market size, the report takes into account revenue generated through sales of the following products: Software (PSIM software) and Services (consultation, integration, software upgrades, software patches, and others)

 

The report also considers the revenue received by the PSIM market in the APAC region from the following end-user segments: Critical Infrastructure (ports and airports, utilities (water, electricity, steam, and others)), Energy, Oil, and Gas Industry, military, and mining); Public Services (police and law enforcement bodies, homeland security, Transportation industry, Healthcare industry, road and rail networks, and Education sector); Commercial (BFSI industry, Retail industry, Manufacturing and Distribution industry, and corporate enterprises and bodies) The report, the PSIM Market in the APAC Region 2014-2018, has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis with inputs from industry experts. The report covers the PSIM market in the APAC region landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years. The report also includes a discussion of the key vendors operating in this market.

From http://finance.yahoo.com/ 07/14/2014

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ADB Maintains Developing Asia Growth Forecast

 

Developing Asia remains on track toward steady growth in 2014 despite slower-than-expected growth in the United States (US) in the first quarter, says a new Asian Development Bank (ADB) report. The Asian Development Outlook (ADO) Supplement, released today, maintains ADB’s April forecast of 6.2% growth in 2014 and 6.4% in 2015 for the region’s 45 developing economies. “Developing Asia as a region continues to perform well,” said ADB Deputy Chief Economist Juzhong Zhuang. “The pace of the growth moderation in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is in line with our expectations while the stage is set for India to pursue reform that could unlock its growth potential.” The major industrial economies are anticipated to expand by 1.5% this year, a downward revision from the 1.9% forecast in April’s ADO 2014. Softer US growth has been somewhat offset by Japan’s robust first quarter performance while the euro area has generally met expectations.

 

In East Asia, quarterly growth in the PRC met ADB expectations with steady consumer demand, targeted government measures to stabilize investment, and a pickup in external demand in the second quarter of 2014. Both retail sales and industrial production have been picking up pace. Overall, the PRC is on track to meet ADO 2014 forecasts of 7.5% growth in 2014 and 7.4% in 2015. Improving prospects in India have buoyed South Asia’s growth outlook somewhat. The new government—the first to hold a single-party majority in the lower house since 1984—outlined a 10-point plan to revive the Indian economy prioritizing infrastructure and investment reforms, faster resolution of inter-ministerial issues, efficient policy execution, and policy stability. While detail on the structural reforms remains limited, it is expected that greater political certainty will support a pickup in infrastructure investment. ADB maintains its growth forecast at 5.5% for fiscal year (FY) 2014 but upgrades its FY2015 forecast by 0.3 percentage points to 6.3% as anticipated reform bears fruit.

 

Pakistan’s growth for the fiscal year that ended in June surprised on the high side—4.1% compared to the ADO 2014 forecast of 3.4%—and Nepal’s growth was seeing a strong finish to its fiscal year. Overall, South Asia’s 2014 forecast is nudged up 0.1 percentage points to 5.4%. The improved outlook in India pushes up the subregional forecast for 2015 from 5.8% to 6.1%. The outlook for Southeast Asia has softened as growth prospects falter in Indonesia, Thailand, and Viet Nam. In Indonesia, first quarter 2014 growth slowed to 5.2% as soft external demand, low commodity prices, and the temporary ban on select mineral exports undermined the recovery of net exports. Thailand’s economy contracted by 0.6% in the first quarter as the political deadlock affected domestic demand and tourism. Viet Nam’s growth forecast has been slightly adjusted to account for the effect of tensions with the PRC on economic activities including recent factory riots. The 2014 forecast for the subregion is downgraded by 0.3 percentage points to 4.7%. As the factors slowing growth in 2014 are expected to be temporary, the forecast growth of 5.4% in 2015 has been maintained.

 

Growth in Central Asia is gradually moderating, with many economies affected by the deteriorating outlook of the Russian Federation. Revised projections reflect weaker-than-expected performances in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan so far in 2014. Aggregate growth projections for the region are revised down to 6.3% in 2014 and further to 6.1% in 2015, from 6.5% forecast for both years in ADO 2014. A devastating tropical storm in Solomon Islands and weaker-than-expected indicators for Palau and Timor-Leste are holding back growth in the Pacific. Overall, Pacific GDP is expected to grow 5.2% in 2014, a 0.2 percentage point decline from the ADO 2014 forecast. The pace of growth is expected to soar to 13.2% in 2015 led by a one-time growth surge in Papua New Guinea from its first full year of liquefied natural gas exports. The Asian Development Outlook is ADB’s main economic forecasting product. It is published each April with an update published in September and brief supplements published in July and December. All materials are available at www.adb.org/data/publications/main.

From http://www.adb.org/ 07/18/2014

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Credit Outlook in Asia Pacific Stable, Says Moody's

 

The credit outlook in Asia Pacific is stable although regional economic growth is constrained by the slowdown in China's expansion, rising interest rates, and lacklustre growth in advanced countries. According to Moody's Investors Service, all eyes will be on whether the new governments in India (Baa3 stable) and Indonesia (Baa3 stable) will take policy steps to further address the vulnerabilities that drove negative market sentiment. The market sentiment then was impacted by the US Federal Reserve's move toward a monetary stimulus exit last year, the ratings agency said on Tuesday. "In each of these countries, the narrowing in their respective current accounts and the consequent stabilisation of the overall balance of payments may not be sustainable in the absence of tough fiscal reform," it said.

 

In Thailand (Baa1 stable), too, political developments will be key. While the recent coup d'état has provided some relative stability, growth now is significantly weaker than it was in 2006 when the military last took administrative matters into its own hands. These views were expressed by Moody's Asia-Pacific sovereign analysts at conferences in Hong Kong and Singapore entitled "Credit Differentiation Matters in a Basel III World." "Of 22 sovereigns in the Asia-Pacific region, most have stable outlooks, indicating our broad expectation of steady credit conditions over the next 12 to 18 months. Malaysia (A3) and the Philippines (Baa3) are on positive outlook, while Mongolia (B2) is on negative outlook," it said. Moody's said a focal point for investors has been the extent to which activity in China (Aa3 stable) will cool as authorities wean the region's largest economy off its dependence on public-backed and credit-fueled investment for growth.

 

"Moody's takes the view that policymakers will be able to achieve a soft landing, with GDP expanding between 6.5% and 7.5% this year and next," it said. However, it cautioned large commodity exporters such as Australia and Indonesia would be most exposed if there was a steeper downturn in demand. In contrast, among Asean countries, the Philippines could be the best insulated against a further slowing in Chinese growth given its reliance on domestic demand, services exports, and overseas workers' remittances. Moody's also pointed out signs that Japan's (Aa3 stable) economy is on the road back to healthier rates of growth also bode well for the region as a whole. In the Japanese government's update to its growth strategy last month, the ratings agency noted Tokyo was serious about revitalising its economy.

 

However, it cautioned that further implementation of structural reforms will be crucial if the administration is to sustain the momentum provided by monetary and fiscal stimulus measures and achieve its budgetary consolidation goals in 2015 and 2020. "In a number of countries in Asia Pacific, interest rates have started to rise from extraordinarily low levels. "At the same time, trends in global liquidity conditions will be the key driver of capital flows, especially as the US Federal Reserve navigates its exit strategy. Consequently, tighter funding conditions may have differing impacts on sovereign creditworthiness depending on countries' respective reliance on external financing," it said.

From http://www.thestar.com.my/ 07/22/2014

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CHINA: Releasing Documentary on Online Terrorism

 

The Chinese government on Tuesday released a television program about online terrorist propaganda by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).According to the documentary, audio and video files promoting terrorism are directly linked to terrorism and violence, including the attacks in Urumqi on April 30 and May 22 that killed three and 39 people respectively.The program says that such audio and video materials have been a feature of almost every terrorist attack, with a police investigation finding that some of it had been published by the ETIM.The State Internet Information Office (SIIO) said the amount of audio and video materials put online by the ETIM, which is listed by the United Nations Security Council as a terrorist group, has shot up in the past few years.In 2013, police tracked 109 terror-related audio and video files produced by the movement, compared with 32 in the previous year. The recordings were matched by a surge in attacks.

 

Besides promoting terrorism, ETIM videos also offer tutorials on how to make explosives and how to use weapons, according to the documentary.It indicates that the videos are produced outside China, with many uploaded on Turkish servers."International terrorist forces are influencing the ETIM, which has embraced the ideology of violent Jihad," Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert told the documentary."Members of the ETIM outside China are active in Syria. They have worked with Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria," Li added.As the Internet and mobile phone technologies grow, cyberspace has become a new battleground as the ETIM increases online publication of propaganda, images designed to incite violence, and terrorist training manuals, said the the SIIO.According to the documentary, the ETIM is also active on social media, and on content sharing sites.

 

Many of the videos were transmitted via mobile phones, Fang Nan, an official in charge of the Internet emergency response department of the SIIO, told Xinhua.Li Sheng, a professor with the Xinjiang Development Research Center under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said, "People involved in East Turkestan terrorist acts must have seen videos inciting violent Jihad and separatism."The Chinese government has vowed to strengthen its management of the Internet, telecommunication market and illegal publications.The authorities are working to prevent terrorist materials produced overseas from being spread in China, delete such information online, punish website servers hosting it and urge Internet companies to meet their responsibilities.More than 30 websites including Sina, Tencent, Baidu and Taobao signed a letter of commitment on Friday to meet their responsibilities in the campaign.Waging a people's war against terrorism, the SIIO encouraged the public to provide it with tip-offs regarding online terrorist information and promised rewards of up to 100,000 yuan (16,260 U.S. dollars) for those who offer important clues.

 

According to Fang, the Chinese government has also been promoting international cooperation on stemming online terrorism. The SIIO has reached consensus on cracking down on terrorist and violent videos with more than 10 major overseas websites, the official added.The documentary by China Central Television was made with the support of the SIIO, the Ministry of Public Security and the State Council Information Office.Filled with graphic footage of terrorists' training episodes and their terrorist killings, it was released to educate Internet users on the consequences of spreading terror and violent videos.It is also aimed at reminding Internet companies of their responsibilities in the battle against such material.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/24/2014

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Report Underlines China's Cyber Security Challenges

 

Cyber security is the most important issue that China has to address in developing its new media, according to a report released Wednesday by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.After the whistleblowing of former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, the think tank believes that cyber security is relevant to a country's political and cultural safety, more than just information security.The United States is the world's sole power to adopt an offensive strategy in the cyber world, while China and Russia can only resort to a defensive strategy, meaning the defense of their cyber space will become a strategic priority, according to the report.The think tank advised Chinese authorities to raise their capacities in self-defense and formulate an effective defensive strategy.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/26/2014

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China to Develop High-standard Farmland to Ensure Output

 

China is to develop 800 million mu (53.3 million hectares) of drought and flood resistant farmland by 2020 in an effort to ensure output, agriculture minister Han Changfu has disclosed.Restrained by land and water resources, China should rely on technology and new varieties of seed to extract maximum yields, Han emphasized at a training session on grain output.With shrinking arable land and widespread land pollution, ensuring output to meet the demands of over a billion people is a very high priority.A red line guarantees that arable land shall never shrink to less than 120 million hectares, and in 2013, grain output increased by 2.1 percent to hit more than 600 million tonnes, the 10th straight year of increased production.Earlier this month, Han said China is poised for a record bumper harvest this summer.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/28/2014

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60% of Mobile Internet Users Are Male: Report

 

The number of Chinese Internet users who use their mobile phones to get online hit 686 million by June 2014, up 5 percent from December, consultancy EnfoDesk said Monday in a statistical report.Of all the 686 million mobile Internet users, 60.2% are male, said the statistical report on China's mobile Internet for the first half of 2014.People under the age of 30 account for 61 percent while the ratio of the young and middle aged users is on the rise.33.2 percent of male users have a high school education and 22.5 percent serve in the manufacturing or service industry. It was also discovered that 20.6 percent are without a stable income.Instant messaging services are the most preferred among China's mobile Internet users, who spent 84.1 percent of their online time using them.The latest data from EnfoDesk also shows that active WeChat users numbered at 359.87 million by May, finally surpassing QQ Mobile (307.33 million users). By the end of 2013, QQ Mobile enjoyed the highest number of active users among all mobile apps.

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

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Online Terror Info Traced to Overseas Websites

 

Chinese authorities have received 230 effective reports about online terrorist propaganda, with 70 percent of the material they have located being hosted by websites operating overseas.Since the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) launched a campaign to rid the Internet of audio and video materials that promote terrorism and violence on June 20, the authorities have received 1,538 tip-offs, 230 of which were confirmed effective, the office said in a statement on Monday.Suspects used the information to propagate religious extremism and Jihad, display bloody sites of terrorist attacks, and sell guns.Some websites disseminated "guidelines" for violent terrorist attacks in Russian, Arabic and Uygur. Chinese terrorists were organized through the websites to get training overseas and returned to China to conduct violent attacks, according to the SIIO.Some sites, with their servers operating overseas, featured information about the so-called "East Turkestan," criticizing China's ethnic policies as well as laws and regulations. Some even taught how to make explosives.The SIIO has set up an emergency response mechanism and ordered the websites in question to delete terrorist-related content. Some Internet companies have been given warnings and been urged to improve management and strengthen monitoring against terror information."Terrorist video and audio products have become a major instigator of the high incidence of terrorist activities at present," it said in an earlier statement.The SIIO encouraged the public to provide it with tip-offs regarding online terrorist information and promised rewards of up to 100,000 yuan (US$16,260) for those who offer important clues.

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

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Li Vows Steps to Maintain Growth

 

Market forces and more reforms, in addition to targeted policy fine-tuning, should be the measures used by policymakers to help the world's second-largest economy achieve its annual growth target, Premier Li Keqiang said during a visit to central China that ended on Friday."China's economic growth is overall smooth and remains at a reasonable level," Li said at a meeting with leaders from four provinces and entrepreneurs on Thursday afternoon.He said higher employment numbers and the booming service sector, as well as the robust economic data in the second quarter, are all evidence that the government's pump-priming measures have borne fruit.China's GDP growth is estimated to have accelerated to 7.5 percent in the second quarter from 7.4 percent in the first three months, Switzerland-based financial services firm UBS AG said in a recent report, on the back of robust manufacturing activities and a more relaxed credit market. Official GDP figures are expected to be released on July 16.Li, however, said that there are still uncertainties in the global market and some structural problems in the domestic economy.

 

"Therefore, we should not ignore downward pressure," he said.Local government officials, who were present at the meeting with the premier, expressed concerns about regional economic development."The aluminum, coal and steel sectors are still suffering heavy losses. ... Lending rates, especially for smaller businesses, have grown by at least 20 percent on average," said Xie Fuzhan, governor of Henan province. He suggested that the central government further boost credit support to the real economy and let investment play a bigger role in driving growth.Su Shulin, governor of the coastal Fujian province, where footwear and textile exporters are struggling with weak foreign demand, called for greater supportive measures including faster export tax rebates to assist foreign trade growth.

 

This is the second time within a month that the premier has had such a meeting with governors. In June, Li met top officials from eight provinces, including Beijing, Guangdong and Zhejiang, to discuss problems in the country's regional economic growth."While maintaining steady economic growth, we should also continue to push forward structural adjustments to the economy, so as to benefit short-term and long-term development," Li said during Thursday's meeting.The premier called for more private sector participation in urban renovation and railway projects in central and western regions, as well as energy and environmental protection projects. He also urged the private sector to introduce more healthcare and pension service products.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/05/2014

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China Still Top Choice for Foreign Investors

 

China's economic restructure will usher in a new era of German investment featuring automation, digitalization, environmental technology and renewable energy, according to the German Chamber of Commerce in China.German businesses operating in China are performing robustly and remain relatively optimistic despite the economic slowdown, according to the Business Confidence Survey 2014 conducted by the chamber between May 12 and June 6.The survey drew responses from 417 companies, which accounted for 17.4 percent of the chamber's members."Its importance as a global market has, despite slower economic growth in China, continued to increase for both turnover and profit. This indicates that the Chinese market remains a key growth driver for German companies," Lothar Herrmann, chairman of the northern division of the chamber, said during the release of the survey.The importance of the Chinese market has continued to increase, with more than three fourths of respondents identifying domestic demand in China as the most important market for their local operations.

 

German companies operate in China to participate in economic growth and development within the country and they invest in China to satisfy domestic demand, according to the survey.In contrast, the 2014 European Business in China Business Confidence Survey, released on May 29, found that 46 percent of 552 surveyed businesses believed the "golden era" for multinationals in China has ended, amid tougher business conditions in a slowing economy.Herrmann said that the structure and knowledge base of German industry "fits very, very well with the reform agenda of China for the next few years."German companies in China believed that economic conditions remain fairly stable compared with 2013 and they were "cautiously positive", the survey found.The automotive sector in particular maintained a largely positive outlook.A key point in the report was that, this year, there was a jump in the portion of companies expecting to exceed business targets compared with 2013. The survey suggested this indicated the Chinese economic slowdown was not as severe as anticipated.In late March President Xi Jinping visited Germany, which is the nation's largest trade partner in the European Union.

 

 It was the first trip by a Chinese president to Germany in eight years.Michael Clauss, German ambassador to China, said that the success of China's economic reforms "depend, to a large extent, on foreign investment in China and the country needs to continue to create a level playing ground for investment inflows".Problems related to human resourcesrising labor costs, finding and keeping qualified staffhave consistently been the biggest challenge for German companies in China."However, a comparably smaller share considers them to be major business challenges," Herrmann said. "German companies are getting more mature."For the first time, more than 50 percent of companies have operated in China for over a decade. They have invested in their people, brought new training methods into China."Slow Internet speed has become the biggest non-personnel business challenge confronting German companies, according to the survey.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/08/2014

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China's Internet Society Proposes Good Faith

 

China's Internet industrial association on Thursday issued a proposal on credit building and good faith in the cybersphere.The proposal by the Internet Society of China and 22 Chinese websites called on Internet businesses and netizens to use the Internet and operate their websites in accordance with law, honestly and in good faith, while resolutely opposing the fabricating and spread of false information, malicious libel, fraud, piracy and other online mischievousness.It also urged the websites not to provide a platform for illegal and discredited activities.The proposal is said to be part of the industry's efforts to implement a State Council plan released last month for building social credit system, the country's first special national plan in this area.Major news portals and commercial websites should take the lead in promoting the value of good faith and credibility and enhance their self-discipline, said Ren Xianliang, vice director of State Internet Information Office.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/11/2014

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CPPCC Discusses Water Diversion Project

 

China's political advisors discussed quality of water in the south-to-north water diversion project at a bi-weekly consultation session on Thursday.The session, presided over by Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the political advisory body, concentrated on the central route which will start flowing this year.According to a statement issued after the session, water in Danjiangkou Reservoir is of good quality, but the environmental impact and supporting projects need be evaluated. Follow-up projects should be included in the next five-year program for social and economic development.The advisors also suggested industrial restructuring for local economies to protect reservoir water and surrounding ecology, that discharge of pollutants be capped and agricultural pollution treated.Last year, the CPPCC conducted fieldwork at the reservoir.The water diversion project is designed with eastern, central and western routes. It will carry around 45 billion cubic meters of water annually from the wet south, mainly the Yangtze River reaches, to the dry north, including Beijing.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/11/2014

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Chinese Incomes Continue to Rise

 

Average incomes of China's urban and rural residents continued to rise steadily in the first half of 2014, official data showed on Wednesday.The average disposable income rose 10.8 percent year on year to 10,025 yuan (1,629 U.S. dollars) in the first six months, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). With inflation deducted, the growth rate stood at 8.3 percent.The income gap between urban and rural residents narrowed, with actual income growth in rural China 2.7 percentage points higher than that in urban areas in the January-June period.Urban residents pocketed an average disposable income of 14,959 yuan in the first half, up 7.1 percent year on year with inflation deducted. The average rural resident's cash income was 5,396 yuan, with year-on-year growth of 9.8 percent after inflation adjustment.About 174.18 million rural migrant workers were working outside their hometown by the end of June, up 1.8 percent from a year earlier. Their average income was 2,733 yuan per month, up 10.3 percent year on year, according to the NBS.In November 2012, the Chinese government included per capita income in the country's blueprint for a moderately prosperous society, vowing to double its 2010 GDP and per capita income for both urban and rural residents by 2020.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/16/2014

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Universities to Guarantee Admission Equality

 

Top Chinese universities are taking new steps to improve transparency and equality during the admission period.Renmin University of China has launched a series of new initiatives to welcome supervision from outside the university, such as opening a publicity platform on the university's recruitment website and renewing and tightening undergraduate student recruitment policies.The school has particularly increased transparency in this year's independent recruitment, during which students enroll on the basis of a comprehensive assessment that includes sports achievement and artistic talent as well as performance on standard college entrance exams, said university spokesman Wang Hongwei. It is doing this by publicizing these students' exam scores and the preferential policies to which they are entitled, Wang said.He also said that new students enrolled under the independent recruitment system will face re-examination within three months of the new semester's start in September.

 

Li Xiangqian, director of the university's admission office, said that 10 to 15 percent of freshmen will be re-examined randomly in the new semester, in an effort to guarantee recruitment transparency and fairness.Other than offering preferential treatment to promising athletes and artists, key universities also have tilted their policies toward students from low-income rural families, a move encouraged by the central government to help address education inequality.Renmin University of China has started a program called "Fulfill Your Dream", offering 90 places to students from rural areas in 2014. Fifty such places were offered last year.Tsinghua University, another prestigious Chinese university, also launched similar initiatives to boost transparency during the recruitment session.In the independent recruitment process, Tsinghua designed a special plan to select more students from rural and low-income families.By doing so, the university tried to reduce the education gap between cities and rural areas, encourage social mobility and balance the use of the nation's education resources."

 

Tsinghua sent an admission team including professors and discipline inspectors to rural areas, talking to teachers, students, family members and neighbors to select prospective students in a comprehensive way," said Yu Han, director of the admission office at Tsinghua.To tackle corruption in the college admission process, the Ministry of Education in 2005 launched "Recruitment Under Sunshine", a plan to increase transparency in recruitment.However, nearly a decade after the plan's release, questions still remain about universities' equality in recruitment."We opened our recruitment session for two days, inviting media, parents and prospective students to observe our admission process, aiming to unveil the mystery of university admission," said Wang Peng, director of the Admission and Career Guidance Office of Renmin University, adding that the university, beginning this year, also has used discipline inspectors to monitor the admission process.

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/16/2014

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JAPAN: Mobile Phone Carriers Must Stop Corralling Customers with SIM Cards

 

If cell phone subscribers can receive services from other mobile phone carriers without changing their actual phones, the convenience of using mobile phones will be greatly improved. In using mobile phones, including smartphones, customers insert a subscriber identity module (SIM) card containing their subscription information into the phone before using it. Each mobile phone company puts “SIM locks” on the handsets so that subscribers cannot use their cell phones with other firms’ SIM cards, with the aim of preventing customers from switching to other companies. If customers transfer to other companies, they have to buy new phones from the companies to which they want to switch. The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry intends to oblige mobile phone carriers to remove SIM locks for handsets from fiscal 2015 as corralling customers with the locks narrows the range of customers’ choices for phones and service providers. Each time customers change to other mobile phone companies, they have to also stop using phones which they had long used, a situation with which many mobile phone users may not be satisfied. It is natural that mobile phone carriers are being ordered to remove the SIM locks. The three major mobile phone carriers—NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank—have monopolized the market with an almost uniform set of services and rates. In other countries, such as the United States and European nations, mobile phone carriers, in many cases, are obliged to remove SIM locks after a certain period of time after a subscription begins.

 

In 2010, the communications ministry asked mobile phone firms on a voluntary basis to remove their SIM locks, but there has been limited success. It can be said that the mobile phone industry has not changed its negative approach to the ministry’s request, resulting in the ministry resorting to ordering them to do so. Mobile virtual network operators, which offer communication services at a low rate, have recently appeared, but they hold only a 4 percent share in the market. In taking advantage of the removal of SIM locks, it is expected that the number of new entrants into the market will increase, which will lead to the diversification of rates and communication services. If mobile phone companies do not take a user-unfriendly approach to the order, such as by setting a high fee for removing the locks, the effectiveness of having the locks removed will not be seen. We hope each mobile phone company will respond actively to the ministry’s move.

 

In some cases, voice telephone communication did not work well when customers changed to other companies’ SIM cards. Mobile phone companies are required to explain the possibility of such trouble to customers in an earnest manner. It cannot be denied that corralling customers with SIM locks has fostered a fruitless competition for customers. In the mobile phone industry, a business practice continues wherein mobile phone companies pay sales agents an incentive so that the agents can largely discount the smartphones, which are originally priced at tens of thousands of yen, and entice customers of other companies’ phones to change to their subscription. The business practice is beneficial for those who often change their smartphones. However, the incentive money is covered by communication fees paid by users. If long-time subscribers are ignored in such a manner, many of them will express their discontent. Mobile phone companies need to become aware of the stern look coming from their customers.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/10/2014

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SOUTH KOREA: Global Reactions Flow in as Korea’s Internet Speed Ranks First

 

Korea has the fastest Internet speed in the world. According to the latest quarterly report “State of the Internet” on July 1 from Akamai Technologies, a cloud services provider in the U.S., Korea topped all other countries in the last quarter in terms of average Internet connection speed, with a speed of 23.6 megabits per second, or Mbps, and a year-on-year increase of 145%. The new report suggests that average Internet speeds have been steadily increasing internationally, and among those in the top ten, Korea has seen the biggest jump in the first quarter of 2014. Rounding out the top ten are Japan, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Netherlands, Latvia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland and Ireland. On top of that, the nation has recorded an “average peak connection speed” of 68.5 Mbps, taking over top spot from last year’s winner Hong Kong. The nation also comes in at No. 1 in terms of high-speed Internet and high broadband adoption rates, up 146% and 25% year-on-year, respectively. Since the report was made public, reactions have flooded in from all around the world.

For example, a British Internet user reacted with, “I pay $30 every month for this snail-slow 4 Mbps connection. Having at least 20 Mbps speed would feel like being in heaven, I believe.” Another user said, “Korea [the people] does not ‘surf’ the Internet, as things come up with just one quick click. And it will get faster, no doubt.” A Canadian commented that, “We [Canadians] usually don’t complain about the status on the Internet, but these results make some difference to the way we think.” Meanwhile, an American user said, “We have thought only about movies, games and music when we are on cyberspace. But the Korean government takes into consideration economic effects. They must think that increasing the speed of data transmission is just like establishing the national infrastructure such as highways and railways, which, they think, plays a pivotal role in the national development. I think it is such a wise and brilliant idea.”

There was a flood of reactions from China, too. “I feel envious. I’m eager to emigrate to Korea,” “Living in a small country is good, as you can get the fastest Internet lines at such a low cost. We [China] still have a long way to go until we keep up with the speed,” and “With that speed, I could download a movie in a twinkle,” to name just a few. The first access Korea had to the Internet world dates back to 1982. Later, in 1994, PC communication services by the names of Hitel and Chollian came out in Korea for the first time, and were hugely popular. Since then, the government has made an all-out effort to set up the Internet infrastructure by putting in place a variety of public internet services, including e-commerce, electronic civil services and electronic news & broadcasting. As a result, life has become a lot more convenient as the government has computerized all administrative procedures and transformed itself into an “e-government.” Thanks to these efforts, it ranked first among U.N. member countries from 2010 until 2012 on the e-Government Development Index and e-Government Participation Index of the United Nations e-Government Survey. The efficiency and rapidity of information use across the Internet has helped the nation open a new chapter in information and communications technology (ICT).

From http://www.korea.net 07/08/2014

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S. Korea's ICT Exports Surge to Record High in H1

 

South Korea's exports of information-communication technology (ICT) products climbed to a new high in the first six months of the year on growing shipments to China and southeast Asian countries, the government said Wednesday. In the six months ended June 30, outbound shipments of ICT products came to US$83.83 billion, up 3.2 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/09/2014

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3 in 10 S. Korean Teens Victimized by Cyber Bullying: Study

 

Nearly three out of 10 South Korean teenagers have been bullied in cyberspace, but few have sought help, a study showed Thursday. According to the study by the National Youth Policy Institute, 27.7 percent of middle and high school students surveyed said they had been "cyber bullied." Types of bullying ranged from leaking of private information, which was most common at 12.1 percent, to bullying while playing online games, which followed with 10.2 percent.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/17/2014

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Carriers Invest Over 5 Tln Won Per Year for Faster Network: Report

 

South Korean mobile carriers spent an average 5.15 trillion won (US$5.01 billion) every year since 2011 into developing faster mobile networks, raising concerns that excessive competition may erode profit, a report said Monday. The investment in what is called long-term evolution (LTE) network between 2011 and 2013 is nearly 55 percent more than the yearly 3.33 trillion won the carriers put into the previous 3G network in the 2006-10 period, according to the report by DigiEco, a research arm of KT Corp.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/21/2014

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Korea Tops Connectivity, E-Trade Lists

 

Korea has recently been assessed as having the most developed international trading environment and Internet environment among the Group of Twenty (G20) economies, according to the “e-Trade Readiness Index,” published on July 15 by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a research institute that is part of the British weekly The Economist. In the report, the EIU assessed the G20 countries' e-trade readiness across five categories: investment climate, Internet environment, international trading environment, regulatory and legal framework and e-payment systems. In the report, Korea came first in two categories: the international trading environment and the Internet environment. The country was ranked fifth in terms of e-payment systems, eighth in the regulatory and legal framework and 12th, tied with Russia, in terms of investment climate.

The report stated that, “Developed countries exhibit mature and efficient international trade mechanisms which place them near the top of this category in the e-Trade Readiness Index.” It mentioned Korea, which took the top spot in this regard. The EIU praised Korea by saying that it is, “one of the top three countries for customs efficiency for imports and exports in both cost and the time it takes,” the other two being Australia and the U.S. The report also highly valued Korea’s international trade environment, saying that, “South Korea, which ranks at the top of the Internet environment category, exemplifies the link between policy efforts to get people and businesses online in the first instance and then to encourage them to use the Internet.” “The top three countries in the Index -- Australia, South Korea and the US -- generally score well across the five components of the Index,” said the EIU. The report said that these countries have “wealthy middle classes with good broadband access and skilled Internet usage.” In regard to e-commerce, the report said that the three countries have, “strong infrastructure and efficient customs administration,” and a competitive environment for e-payments with high usage.

From http://www.korea.net/ 07/21/2014

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S. Korea, Romania to Join Forces in IT Industry

 

South Korea's science ministry said Wednesday it has opened an information technology research center with its Romanian counterpart to conduct a handful of IT projects in the Eastern European country over the next three years. Under the deal signed between South Korea's Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and Romania's Ministry of Communications and Information Society, the Bucharest-based center will map out pilot projects regarding the IT industry and push ahead with them.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/23/2014

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NORTH KOREA: Doubling Number of Cyber Warriors Over 2 Years

 

North Korea has nearly doubled the number of elite hackers over the past two years in an effort to step up cyberattacks, military sources said Sunday. "North Korea appears to have some 5,900 personnel for cyberwarfare, up from around 3,000 two years ago," a military source said.

From http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr 07/06/2014

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INDONESIA: Expect Undersea Cable Project to Be Completed in 2017

 

The Indonesian government forecast the country's giant undersea cable project, designed to connect the main islands of Java and Sumatra, will be completed in 2017, a minister said here on Monday. Economic Chief Minister Chairul Tanjung said that abundant coal reserves in Sumatra could be used to generate power at low cost, and electricity generated could be sent to Java through the high- voltage direct current cable facility. "The cost for building electricity facility is cheaper in Sumatra due to vast array of coal reserve," he said at the State Palace. "When the mega project is completed, the connectivity of Sumatra and Java can be set up," Chairul noted. Over 80 percent of Indonesian population live on the two main islands. The project, estimated to cost nearly 2.13 billion U.S. dollars, will be constructed in four phases. Accelerating economic growth and declining oil production have pushed the Indonesia's state utility firm PT Perushaan Listrik Negara (PLN) to boost its capacity to meet growing energy demand. The Indonesian economy expanded by more than 6 percent in 2010, 2011 and 2012, before easing somewhat to over 5 percent in 2013. Energy experts have said that PLN has to multiply its capacity in the future as the growth of power demand is going to be higher than the growth of economy.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/30/2014

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Singapore’s Success - The Inside Story on Its 2014 UN E-Government Rankings Rise

 

Singapore has shot up 7 places in the UN E-Government Rankings 2014, from 10th place in the world to 3rd - and 1st in Southeast Asia. What has made Singapore rise so suddenly? And what lessons can be drawn from the city state’s success? Investment is one answer. The United Nations noted that Singapore has a high Human Development Index (HDI) - which measures life expectancy, education and income - and Gross National Income (GNI). These have allowed “the government sufficient resources to develop its online portal and offer its citizens, businesses and visitors, advanced e-services and extensive information.” In particular, the UN highlighted its “one-stop shop delivery portal” - countries with integrated e-services received a higher rating. The eCitizen Portal, built by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, provides cross-agency, citizen-centric information and services to help citizens get information and complete transactions conveniently with the government as a single unified entity. Another answer is Singapore’s efforts to make information accessible to people on mobile devices. The report praised its seamless “mGovernment” application, allowing faster, easier and more convenient use of available online resources; especially accessing forms and conducting government-to-citizen and government-to-businesses transactions.

 

The United Nations report highlighted several other initiatives from Singapore as examples of good e-government projects, including:

Ÿ     Joined-up government - The Alliance for Corporate Excellence (ACE) is a multi-agency programme run by the Ministry of Finance that groups together systems and operating environments for human resources, finance and procurement into a shared system. This enables government agencies to share knowledge, data and best practices in a more straightforward and timely way.

Ÿ     Open data - The National Environment Agency (NEA) provided real-time information to other agencies and the wider public to engage and promote environmental ownership in the country. It contributed to the development of 86 environment datasets and 17 spatial datasets for the Singapore government data hub for inter-agency sharing, and contributed 75 datasets and 8 map layers to www.data.gov.sg. The UN has just started to prioritise environment information within its e-government rankings.

Ÿ     Digital inclusion - Singapore launched an SMS text service (SMS70999) in 2008 for members of the deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired community to reach emergency services. In another initiative to improve access for older persons and the illiterate, ‘CitizenConnect Centres’ are set up in all residential estates to assist them to use government transactions online, find information from government websites and contact government agencies on their behalf.

Ÿ     Connected government - Singapore implemented ‘OneInbox’ last year, which is the official government platform for individuals and businesses to receive all government-related correspondences electronically. This addresses the challenge of meeting increasing expectations for easier and secured unified communication with the government, the report said.

 

An IDA spokesperson said: “We are humbled that our efforts in e-government, such as expanding our e-government service offerings and service delivery channels, has gained recognition. As we continue to innovate and set high standards for ourselves, we also hope to learn from other nations to further improve the public service delivery in Singapore. We look forward to a productive journey together with the citizens we serve and continue to deliver world class digital government services.”

From http://www.futuregov.asia/ 06/27/2014

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Singaporeans Underestimate Retirement Needs, Survey Says

 

The emerging affluent in Singapore are not hitting their retirement goals because they underestimate their retirement needs and start saving late, a new survey has found. The survey's findings, released by DBS Bank on Wednesday, showed that 73 per cent of the 800 respondents polled plan to retire at between 55 and 65 years old and have average savings of S$571,715 (US$457,903) More than 85 per cent expect to live on a retirement income of S$3,500 (US$2,803) per month, for the next 15 to 20 years and more. The bank said: "This reflects a gap as the retirement fund would last them for 13 years, which falls short of the average life expectancy in Singapore." The survey noted that for Singapore residents born in the 1980s, the average life expectancy is 70 to 75 years, while those born in the 2000s have an even longer life expectancy of 80 to 84 years. The emerging affluent are defined as Singapore residents aged 18 to 29 with a personal monthly income of more than S$2,000 (US$1,602), and those aged 30 to 59 with a personal monthly income of more than S$5,000 (US$4,005). The survey also found that while providing for retirement is a priority for 76 per cent of respondents, only 49 per cent have a financial plan.

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 07/03/2014

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Singapore Boosts Security Measures in Response to Foreign Worker Riot

 

Singapore government has accepted recommendations made by a committee to enhance security measures in response to a rare riot involving foreign workers in December last year, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said on Monday. Speaking in parliament, Teo said that 300 officers will be added to the Special Operations Command (SOC) over the next two to three years, doubling its current strength of deployable frontline troopers. The approval process for activating the Special Operations Command has been shortened, said Teo, who is also home affairs minister and coordinating minister for national security. The authorities will also upgrade their facility, equipment and communications system. The police have also started trials for body-worn and vehicle-mounted cameras. All fast response cars will be equipped with cameras by the end of 2015. The police are studying how the Combined Operations Room can make good use of publicly posted messages and images on the Internet or social media, to clarify or dispel rumours or untruths.

 

The police have also enhanced its employment terms for its officers to attract and retain good officers. The committee of inquiry (COI) into the Little India Riot released its report on June 30, making eight recommendations, largely covering measures to strengthen the home security team and those to manage foreign worker congregation areas. Teo said that the government agencies will continue to improve infrastructure and enhance safety in Little India, where the rare riot involving some 300 foreign workers from South Asia broke out after an Indian worker was killed in an accident on the evening of Dec. 8 last year. More police officers have been deployed to manage anti-social behavior, while the number of police cameras in Little India has more than doubled from 113 to 250 since the riot, with another 88 cameras to be installed by December 2015. "We have also not waited for the COI's report to act, but have implemented various improvements since the riot on Dec. 8, some in the days immediately following the incident," Teo said.

 

Some of the measures are being extended in other foreign worker congregation areas, such as Geylang, too. Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in parliament on Monday that the government is acting to help local companies reduce their reliance on low-cost foreign labor while improving facilities for the foreign workers and decentralizing the foreign worker dormitories. Singapore has not had a riot in decades before the riot last year. The rare incident in Little India, a neighborhood known for its distinctive Indian culture and shops, left 39 officers injured and 25 emergency vehicles damaged. Twenty-five foreign workers have been charged in relation to the riot, with some sentenced to weeks or months in jail. Teo acknowledged that improvements were needed for emergency response protocols, but nevertheless said that the "commanders and officers that night did the best they could in the circumstances they faced, with the information they had on hand." The report by the committee of inquiry identified alcohol as a major factor to the riot. Teo said that legislation would be introduced within the next six months before temporary measures expires in March next year.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/07/2014

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Singapore Amends Copyright Law to Address Online Piracy

 

Singapore's parliament passed an amendment to the Copyright Act on Tuesday to allow copyright owners to obtain blocking orders against infringing websites. Under the amendment, copyright owners can apply directly to the court for such blocking orders without having to first establish liability on the part of the network service provider for copyright infringement. Previously, copyright owners need to send a take-down notice to the network service provider requesting them to disable the access or remove the copyright infringing material. Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah said the amendment will give copyright owners greater ability to protect their rights in the online space. She said that online piracy is a global issue. "The prevalence of online privacy in Singapore turns customers away from legitimate content and adversely affects Singapore's creative sector," she said. "It can also undermine our reputation as a society that respects the protection of intellectual property.”

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/08/2014

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Singapore's Jobs Banks Kicks Off with 16,000 Positions

 

The national Jobs Bank has been officially launched with more than 16,000 open positions, a strong start comparable to some private employment websites. About half of the jobs advertised thus far are for professionals, managers and executives (PMEs). These include marketing executives, restaurant managers and director-level positions at educational institutes. "We are creating many job opportunities in our economy, but we need a better, more systematic way to match job seekers to vacancies," said manpower minister Tan Chuan-Jin at the launch at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar yesterday. While the listings volume falls short of those of market leaders like JobStreet, with more than 51,000, the portal's manager, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), was encouraged. An agency spokesman said it is pleased with the warm response and expects more users to come on board www.jobsbank.gov.sg First announced last year, the free service matches employers exclusively with local job seekers. The portal, added Tan yesterday, will "provide another avenue for Singaporeans to explore and apply for job opportunities, as well as allow employers to access a larger pool of local candidates". Its Singaporean focus is its unique selling point, said experts. "On private job portals, sometimes more than 50 per cent of the applications received can come from foreigners, so it's good that there is this exclusive gateway helping Singaporeans," said recruitment specialist David Leong.

 

Under the Fair Consideration Framework, which kicks in on Aug 1, employers with businesses of more than 25 people must post job vacancies on the website for at least 14 days before applying for an Employment Pass. The manpower ministry said S Pass and work permit applications are excluded from the rule for now as there are other tools, such as levies and dependency ratio ceilings, that spur firms to search for suitable Singaporeans before applying for the passes. Human resource expert Paul Heng said the current Jobs Bank listings "could do with more senior-level roles" to make them more realistic. But the WDA stressed that the service is for all types of jobs and not just for PMEs. Since the beta version of the site was launched in May, 4,300 employers and 12,900 people have signed up for accounts. Bosses and workers said the website is easy to use. For example, it even provides resume templates. Justina Lee, 45, was hired as a project manager at credit bureau DP Information Network within a week after posting her resume on the portal last month.  Said the firm's senior general manager, Ong Siew Kim: "It's been a challenge to get local hires, so we were surprised at the pool of good-quality candidates."

From http://www.asianewsnet.net/ 07/15/2014

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VIETNAM: Encouraging More Use of Bio-Fuel

 

Bio-fuel will be sold in all localities in Vietnam in 2015, local Vietnam News daily reported on Thursday, quoting sources from the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT). According to the ministry, large petrol dealers, including the Vietnam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) and PVOil, have prepared facilities for selling 5 percent bio-ethanol (E5) fuel in seven provinces and cities beginning in 2014. These areas include capital Hanoi, southern Ho Chi Minh City, northern Hai Phong city, central Da Nang city and Quang Ngai province, and southern Can Tho and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces. Petrolimex said it will sell biofuel E5 RON 92 in the central province of Quang Ngai as of September 1 of this year, three months earlier than in other provinces and cities. Vietnam selected seven cities and provinces to begin using E5 as of 2013, but the initial schedule was delayed one year because of consumer habits and the demand for bio-fuel on the domestic markets being low. Besides, bio-fuel plants have not operated efficiently and have not actively invested in obtaining materials, and the state has no mechanisms to encourage enterprises to enter the domestic bio-fuel market.

 

To date, three out of 10 petrol dealers are selling bio-fuel products at 169 petrol stations, out of 13,000 petrol stations throughout the country. Consumption of bio-fuel is estimated to be one-eighth of the consumption of traditional fuel products. Insiders said one of the main difficulties that have prevented enterprises from investing in bio-fuel stations is the high investment for converting petrol stations to selling bio-fuel products. According to the MoIT, production costs of E5 bio-fuel are not lower than production costs of traditional petrol, because of the high investment for petrol stations selling bio-fuel. But, over a long period, bio-fuel could compete with traditional petrol products because of the low price of cassava, which is the material used in processing bio-fuel, and preferential policies on tax and fees by the government. Vietnam has six plants producing bio-fuel, with a capacity of 535 million litres of ethanol per year. Based upon this capacity, the plants could meet the nation's demand for bio-fuel by 2015. Currently, the price of E5 RON 92 is the same as the price for traditional RON 92, based on market rules, the ministry said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com 07/03/2014

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Vietnam to Build HCM City Region by 2030

 

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved the master plan to build the Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City Region by 2030 with a vision to 2050, local Vietnam News daily reported Monday. Accordingly, the master plan will connect the country's largest city with key economic regions in the South Central Coast and in the context of climate change and rising sea levels. The planning area includes HCM City and the regional provinces of Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Long An, Ba Ria -Vung Tau and Tien Giang, a total area of 30,404 square km that had a population of just over 18 million in 2013. The plan will also develop rural areas that suit traditional culture and production conditions and establish hi-tech agriculture zones, urban agriculture zones and specialized agriculture zones. In order to preserve natural landscapes and ecological features, national- and international-level tourism centers will be established. Currently, HCM City is Vietnam's largest economic hub. In 2013, the city's GDP grew 9.3 percent, with GDP per capital reaching 4, 500 U.S. dollars, as compared with the country's 5.4 percent and 1,960 U.S. dollars, respectively. As the end of 2010, HCM City's population reached nearly 7.4 million people, according to the Vietnam General Statistics Office.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/07/2014

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Fighting Corruption Vital to Sustainable Development in VN

 

Four inspection teams would be established to oversee the investigation and prosecution of serious and complicated corruption cases in eight provinces across the country, according to the Central Steering Committee on Corruption Prevention and Fighting. Speaking at the committee's fifth meeting yesterday in Ha Noi, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong stressed the need to improve capacities and co-ordination among agencies responsible for corruption prevention. The meeting was held to review the committee's performance in the first six months of this year and identify tasks for the remaining six months. At the meeting, the committee's Permanent Vice Chairman Nguyen Ba Thanh reviewed the investigation and trial of major corruption cases, particularly 12 serious and complicated cases which are being dealt with under the direct instruction of the committee. He also highlighted several other cases that required investigation.

 

In the first six months of the year, there were more than 3,500 administrative inspections and 78,000 inspections in specific sectors, with over VND10 trillion (US$471 million) in bad money uncovered, the committee's report said. Some 102 cases with 198 defendants accused of corruption were prosecuted nationwide. Party General Secretary Trong, who is also chairman of the committee, said preventing corruption was vital to the sustainable development of the country and the regime. The Party leader praised the committee's performance in the first six months of 2014, saying that it had performed its role and validated its position through practical activities. However, he also pointed out that besides positive progress, anti-corruption work also faced shortcomings that needed to be improved in the future. Stopping corruption and wastefulness was an urgent and long-term task, requiring initiative from all Party members, Trong noted, adding that more focus should be put on completing Party regulations on the prevention and eradication of corruption, while continuing to adjust the legal system to better manage the problem.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 07/10/2014

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E-Gov't Targets Increased Satisfaction

 

Online electronic services run by the public service departments, such as Customs, are expected to be able to provide 60 per cent satisfaction by the end of next year and 80 per cent by the year 2020. The target was proposed at the Viet Nam e-Government Symposium 2014 in the central city yesterday. The symposium, e-Government Development: Strengthening Information Infrastructure and Modernising Public Administration to Increase Citizen satisfaction, drew representatives from 42 information and communications departments and 21 speakers. In terms of e-Government, Viet Nam ranks thirteenth in the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) and Asia Pacific region, and fifth in South-east Asia, according to an international survey by the Institute of e-Government at Waseda University, Tokyo. The results were generated through assessment of the e-Government system based on network preparedness, management optimisation, online services, national portal/homepage, Government CIO, e-Government promotion, e-participation/digital inclusion, open government and cyber security.

 

"Information and communications technology (ICT) development is a driving force to boost socio-economic development and globalisation. It helps businesses and local government improve the competitive index and administrative reform," vice chairman of the central city's People's Committee, Phung Tan Viet said at the opening ceremony. "The event is a major forum for leaders of provinces and cities to share experiences and discuss how to create more favourable conditions for development of ICT and smooth operation of the e-Government plan," Viet said. Nguyen Quang Thanh, deputy director of Da Nang City's information and communications department, said the central city had provided 1,196 on-line administration procedures. "We have been building ICT strategy since 2006. The city has developed six IT centres and a software park employing 15,000 staff working for 500 businesses," Thanh said. "As many as 95 per cent of public servants can now work online. The city plans to complete e-Government by 2015 and Smart city by 2020," he said.  Thanh said IT applications had been applied to various services, including one-stop shops, residential management, public transport and water supervision. He said the city had accelerated administrative reform by moving public services online, from 10 services for city agencies to 489.

 

"And we're aiming to apply more digital procedures to 1,200 public services for the city's 56 communes, precincts and departments." Tong Viet Trung, deputy general director of the military telecommunications giant (Viettel Group) said the group had been developing e-Government to serve Smartphone users and other mobile devices. "Previously, e-Government on mobile phones had been limited to message services," he said. "The mobility application is also set for education and health services as well as online payments and digital invoices. This will save applicants time and money." Thai Vinh Lieu, deputy secretary of Quang Tri Provincial Party, said leadership was a key role in accelerating IT applications and e-Government in some provinces. Do Ngoc Nam, deputy director of Quang Ninh Province's information and communications department, said IT applications and on-line services rapidly boosted administrative reform. We have seen quicker administrative procedures develop in many agencies. Local people and businesses only wait a day or an hour instead of three or four days in previous years," he said.

From http://vietnamnews.vn 07/18/2014

 

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Viet Nam Rises in Tech Rankings

 

Viet Nam has been ranked 81st in the ICT Development Index for 2013, up five places from the previous year's index, according to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC). The country was ranked 4th in Southeast Asia and 12th among 27 countries in the Asia Pacific region, said the ministry at the E-Government Symposium 2014 held in the central city of Da Nang on Thursday. Meanwhile, the country's e-government index climbed three positions to 34, thanks to the government's effort to push the development of the ICT sector in Viet Nam. At present, all 22 ministries and 63 local governments in Viet Nam have official information portals. Ninety-five per cent of ministries and departments, 98 per cent of provincial governments, and 54 per cent of district governments used document management software and online management systems. By 2015, the country is targeted to have 10 per cent of public services at level 3 (online information provision, online procedure filling, submission and acceptance), with half of all tax reports, pilot e-