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June 2017, Issue 187

unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

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Remote Pacific Regions Set for Broadband Internet Under New World Bank Projects

Global Economic Outlook to Be Released at OECD Forum

Statement from the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on the 70th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan

As Natural Disasters Rise, Countries Call for Action on Resilient Crisis Recovery Planning

Reform Services Trade Policies to Boost the Global Economy, OECD Says

OECD to present Agricultural Policies: Monitoring and Evaluation 2017 on 21 June 2017 in Brussels at the Centre for European Policy Studies

Global Forum on Productivity – 2017 Annual Conference

Agricultural Policies Should Shift From Price Support to Greater Emphasis on Encouraging a Resilient and Sustainable Food Sector

 

 

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CHINA: Releasing Guidance on Government Websites

China's Top Legislator Stresses Law Enforcement on Pollution Management

China Pushes Fertilizer-replacement Program

New Regulation Aims to Ensure Reliability of Statistical Data

China Considers Changes to Public Interest Litigation Rules

China Issues Rules on Overseas Investment in Mainland Interbank Bond Market

Draft Intelligence Law Highlights Citizen's Legal Rights Protection

JAPAN: Civil Code Revised for Claims, Contracts

Passive Smoking Bill Stalls over Eateries

Civil Code Must Undergo Constant Review to Meet Changes in Society

Japan Enacts Law to Allow 1st Abdication of Emperor in 200 Years

'Conspiracy' Law Enacted Through Rare Diet Tactic

Use Tougher Law to Prevent Sex Crime Victims from Suffering in Silence

SOUTH KOREA: Constitutional Court Upholds Law Restricting Subsidies on Mobile Devices

Korea Unveils Road Map to Upgrade Robot Technology

Korea, Russia Cooperate on Science, Technology

 

 

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CAMBODIA: Passing New Law on Senate Election

MYANMAR: Gov't Working on National Climate Change Policy

SINGAPORE: To Introduce Legislation to Tackle Fake News - Minister

THAILAND: New Strategy to Focus on Service Business

Cabinet Acknowledges Draft Strategy for Protecting Youths Online

NLA Passes 20-Year National Strategy and Reform Bills

VIETNAM: Ministry Proposes Green Protection Fuel Tax Hike

NA Deputies Discuss Technology Transfer Law

Vietnam Mulls Approving Special Economic Zones Scheme

NA Passes Law on Supporting SMEs

Vietnam Issues National Plan to Cope with Radiation, Nuclear Incidents

NA Adopts Changes to 2015 Penal Code

 

 

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INDIA: Citrix Rolls Out New Secure Digital Workplace Services

Three Years of Modi’s Digital India

Cabinet Apprised of India-Bangladesh Agreement on IT Ties

UP Govt to Formulate Separate Cybercrime Law

Hy-Fi Project Launched in Hyderabad

India Needs Legal Infrastructure to Lead in Artificial Intelligence

 

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Needs Law on Protection of Creditors’ Rights

Gov't Drafts New Strategy for Managing Debt

TURKMENISTAN: Parliament Adopts Law on Environmental Safety

Law on Refugees Updated in Turkmenistan

Law on Environmental Security Comes into Force in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan Adopts Law on Environmental Safety

UZBEKISTAN: Provision of Electronic Services Discussed in "Ipoteka-bank" JSCIB

 

 

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AUSTRALIA: Data-Retention Legislation Sending Australians into the Arms of VPN Providers

Turnbull to Push Parole Plan at COAG

Abbott Warns of Adopting Low Emissions Target

Australian Parliament Passes eSafety Expansion Bill

Government Looks to Have School Plan Support

FIJI: PM Urges Sustainable Development

NEW ZEALAND: Labour Policy Targets Residency 'Backdoor'

Govt's Gun Law Plans Put Public at Risk - Police Association

NZ First in Line for Latin and South American Trade Deal

 

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Michael O'Rielly: Foreign Governments Want Control over the Internet

Satisfaction with E-Government Rising, but Usability Issues Persist

Internet Governance for Sustainability

APEC Nurtures Women’s Economic Participation

 

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CHINA: White Paper Hails "Great Progress" of Human Right Protection in Xinjiang

China's Efforts to Strengthen Implementation of Reform

China to Enhance Transparency of Government Information

Central Government Solicits Information, Suggestions on Reform

Chinese Economy on Right Development Path Under CPC Leadership

China to Enhance Grassroots Community Governance

Chinese Wisdom Contributing to Global Governance

20 Years Prove Success of "One Country, Two Systems": Official

China Increases Transparency of Welfare Lottery Funds

JAPAN: Bureaucrats’ Postretirement Career Moves Require Greater Transparency

SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Set Up Public-Private Council to Counter Ransomware Attacks

Seoul to Revive Trade Bureau, Create Ministry for Small Firms

ICT Ministry to Spearhead 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' in Moon Administration

Korea's Spy Agency Launches Reform Committee

 

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CAMBODIA: Nearly 86 Pct Cambodian Eligible Voters Cast Ballots in Local Polls - Election Committee

Cambodian King Appoints New Governor of Capital Phnom Penh

SINGAPORE: Civil Servants to Get 0.5-Month Mid-Year Bonus

THAILAND: Cabinet Set to Consider Four Election Questions

Independent Panel Set Up for Education Reform

Thai King Appoints New Member to His Privy Council

Thailand's Parliamentary Body Votes to Set Up New Election Commission

VIETNAM: Establishing New Department for Labour Relations

Judicial Reform Committee Reviews Operation

Public Citizens Can Observe NA Meetings

Minister of Health Grilled on Health Care and Medicine Price Control

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INDIA: Digital India Corporation to Be Set Up for Promotion of E-governance 

Good Governance Creating Cheer in Public

US Based DigitalOcean to Open Data Centre in Bengaluru

SRI LANKA: Exploring Digital Identity Council for Citizen Data

 

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AZERBAIJAN: To Introduce New Mechanism for Managing State Funds

JORDAN: Monitoring and Incentives Key to Improve Health and Education Service Delivery

TURKMENISTAN: Berdimuhamedov Appoints Head of Turkmenhimiya

Turkmenistan Names Vice-Speaker of Parliament

 

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AUSTRALIA: We Need Taxpayer Trust

Labor Opposes Media Reform Plans

Labor Pushes for Increased ACCC Powers

Govt Boosts Aid on World Refugee Day

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World Bank Group Statement: Our Commitment to Action on Climate Change

Tackle Child Well-Being, Tax Systems and Urban-Rural Divides to Fight Inequality and Foster Inclusive Growth

Jobs Gap Closes but Recovery Remains Uneven

OECD to Launch First International Report Comparing Early Childhood Education and Care

ADB Supports Energy Reform, Clean and Renewable Energy in Pacific

 

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CHINA: On the Way to Cut Corporate Cost by 1 Trillion Yuan

Political Advisors Discuss Building Accessible Society

China Is Cutting Licensing Red Tape for Industries

China Releases First Report on Science Popularization Capacity

China's Overcapacity Cuts Progressing Smoothly

Global Coatings Giant Opens Asia Pacific Technology Center in China

China's Home Prices Show Signs of Cooling on Tough Controls

China's S&T Innovation Delivering Global Benefits

China to Build More Demonstration Bases for Mass Entrepreneurship, Innovation

China's 3rd Exascale Supercomputer Prototype Set for 2018 Launch

China Cuts Retail Fuel Prices

Xi Stresses Reform, Development, Stability During Inspection Tour

Chinese Premier Stresses Innovation-Driven Development

JAPAN: LDP Calls for Free Education Among Other Areas of Constitution Change

General Public Tests Out ‘5G’ Technology

New Growth Strategy Must Bring About Creation of New Industries

Young People Mount Campaign to Raise Minimum Wage, End Poverty

Use Nagoya Protocol Ratification to Help Preserve Our Ecosystems

SOUTH KOREA: Macrogen to Build Big Data System to Predict Diseases for Population

Korea Urged to Focus on Connected Car Tech Development, Standardization: Report

VR Event in Busan to Showcase Latest Technologies

ICT Ministry Gains Control over Tech Innovation, R&D Investment

Gov’t to Actively Respond to Air Pollution

Study Shows Low Retention of Jobs Created by Public Subsidies

Moon’s Push for Telecom Market Intervention Faces Hurdles

Korea Permanently Shuts Down Oldest Commercial Nuclear Reactor

Korea's Economic Policymakers Vow to Create More Jobs, Spur Investment

 

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SINGAPORE: Government May Pilot New Contracting Models for Public Sector Building Projects

THAILAND: National Park Chiefs Moving to Digital-Based Management to Boost Efficiency

Lower House Value Tax Trigger Sought

Prayut Orders Probe into ‘Ploy to Manipulate Facebook Likes’

Govt Website Opened to Receive Public Opinion on Amendment of Official Information Act

VIETNAM: Plans Interactive, Open-For-All Web Knowledge Base

Energy Efficiency Database Compiled

 

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INDIA: EcoCentric- Processing Electronics Waste in an Eco-Friendly Manner

IL&FS Technologies: Integrating Smart Technologies with Infrastructure

Digital Revolution Playing Key Role in Development Process

Hyderabad to Host National Waste Management Summit

India Climbs Six Spots to 60th on Global Innovation Index

SAP India Launches 'Code Unnati' to Impart Digital Literacy

India Top Exporter of Information, Computer, Telecom Services

Polycom Providing Innovative ICT Solutions in Education

Technology Based PPP Model Key to Transforming India

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Growth Trend Partners Talks Main Factors of IT Risk Management

TURKMENISTAN: To Keep Benefits Only for Socially Vulnerable People

UZBEKISTAN: Improving Training of IT Specialists

IT Ministry Receives More Than 5.1 Million Appeals

 

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AUSTRALIA: Welfare Drug Tests Considered for a Year

Govt to Crackdown on Foreign Donations

Govt Can End 'Climate Wars': Shorten

Govt Called on to Modernise Elections

FIJI: Bid to Further Strengthen Biosecurity Relations

NEW ZEALAND: Hundreds of Dairies to Get Govt-Funded Security Boost

Labour Calls for Audit of Police IT Projects

NZ Scientists in Ambitious Project to Probe Spain-Sized Ice Shelf

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International Trade Statistics: Trends in First Quarter 2017

26% of Media Consumption Will Be Mobile in 2019

Global Growth Set to Strengthen to 2.7 Percent as Outlook Brightens

Better but Not Good Enough: New Approaches Are Needed to Make Globalisation Work for All, OECD Says in Latest Economic Outlook

Fight Terror with Global Internet Censorship

What Does the Future of the Internet Look Like?

Countries Are Progressing Too Slowly on Green Growth

Sending a Strong Signal on Global Internet Freedom

Improve Early Education and Care to Help More Children Get Ahead and Boost Social Mobility

ADB Promotes Harmonized Food Safety, Market Access in GMS

Closing Gender Gaps for a More Inclusive Asia

APEC Solidifies Tourism Growth amid Digital Disruptions

 

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CHINA: Divergent Manufacturing Data Point to Economic Stabilization amid Contraction Pressure

China Supports Belt and Road Initiative with Capital Market Reform

Chinese Mobile Payments Up in Q1

China Employment Stable Despite Slower Economy

China Has Potential to Sustain Strong Growth in Medium Term: IMF

China's Big Investment, "Brain Gains" Lead to Scientific Breakthroughs

China to Foster Healthy Development of Sharing Economy

China's Sharing Economy Facing More Market Competition, Government Support

JAPAN: Govt Urges Manufacturers to Use IoT

Govt to Use ICT to Boost Space-Related Industries

SOUTH KOREA: IT Firms Showcase Latest Industrial Innovation in Seoul

BOK Chief Calls for Measures to Bridge Digital Divide

Top Offline Life Insurers Emerge as Major Online Market Players: Data

Posco Provides AI Education for Disadvantaged Youth

Trade Agency Taps into Big Data for Business Advice

ICT Ministry Pushes to Expand Discount Rate of Mobile Fees

 

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MYANMAR: Gov't Returns Some Confiscated Land in Yangon to Original Owners

SINGAPORE: New Online Portal to Help Senior Citizens Pick Up IT Skills

More Than 550,000 Mobile Devices Equipped with SGSecure App to Date: MHA

THAILAND: Focus on Internet of Things and Thailand 4.0 at Two-Day Bangkok Event

Cut Red Tape to Spur Digital Economy: BOT Chief

Thailand Launches Website to Promote Thai Products

VIETNAM: E-Commerce Fraudsters Go on Trial

E-Hailing Cab Projects Not Stopped, Says Ministry

HCM City Brings More People into Social Insurance Net

World Bank Helps Việt Nam Improve Transport Connectivity, Forest Protection

VN Ditching Leather for E-Wallets

 

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INDIA: Hybrid Cloud Is the Way to Go

Indian E-Commerce: The Future of the World's Fastest Growing Market

Indian Online Education Industry to Hit $1.96 Bn by 2021

Samsung to Help India Become $1 Trillion Digital Economy

Internet Users in India to Double by 2021

India Post Resolves 32,000 Complaints via Twitter Seva

India’s 4G Data Speed Lower Than Pakistan

National Cyber Security University – Need of the Hour

TRAI Net Neutrality Stance to Benefit Startup India, Digital India

Atos Strengthens Presence in Secure communications with Orange Cyberdefense

Reliance Jio to Boost Digital India with Eight Global Carriers

Smart Cities Should Contribute to Common Man’s Growth

e-Pragati: An Initiative of Orissa (India) Government to Connect Anganwadis in the Cyberworld

Schneider Electric — Game Changer for Smart Cities

Smart Cities Need of the Hour for India’s Rise

 

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AZERBAIJAN: AtaBank Eyes Online Services’ Development

Azerbaijan's Digital Signature May Be Used by GUAM States

Additional Services Providing New Opportunities

Steady Increase Recorded in Tourist Numbers

Azercell Supports Development of Education and Students

Azercell Continues Its Role in Development of IT Sector

Get E-Visa to Enter Azerbaijan Just in 3 Hours

UN Forecasts Azerbaijan’s Population to Further Grow

IRAN: Foils Cyber Attacks on Its Official Websites

UZBEKISTAN: Included in List of Countries with Fastest Growing Economies

Uzbekistan to Approve Programme to Stimulate Establishment and Development of National Content on Internet

Development of Medical Services to Draw 373.5bn Soums and $100mn

Uzbekistan to Cancel "Mobile Slavery"

 

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AUSTRALIA: Govt's Cyber Security Faces Growing Threats

Australian Government Is Not Interested in Encryption Backdoors: Turnbull

PM Announces Gas Export Restriction

It's Not All About Coal

Migrants Could Face 15 Year Pensions Wait

FIJI: Industry 'Critical to Economy'

NEW ZEALAND: Government to Explore Auckland Transport Pricing amid 'Rising Congestion Tide'

NZ Economy Growing, but House Prices a Risk - OECD Report

NZ Optimistic of Free Trade Deal with US

NZ Exports Rise to 3-Year High in May, as Dairy Prices Increase

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Increased International Co-Operation on Financial and Corporate Issues Essential to Making Globalisation Work for All

New World Bank Project in Djibouti to Fund Electricity Connections for 14,000 of the Poorest Households

Ground-Breaking Multilateral BEPS Convention Signed at OECD Will Close Loopholes in Thousands of Tax Treaties Worldwide

ICT Investment in Government Market to Reach $654.73 Billion by 2025: Grand View Research, Inc.

Reason to Refinance: 4 Million Homeowners Are Leaving $1 Billion on the Table

Global Infrastructure Funds

ADB, World Bank Group Ready to Help Pacific Island Countries Maximize Benefits from Increased Trade, Investment

 

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CHINA: Development Bank to Issue B&R Project Loans in Three Years

China Stands Firm on Monetary Stance, Unmoved by Fed's Rate Hike

JAPAN: To Reduce Paperwork, BOJ Eyes Paying Banks More for Electronic Treasury Transactions

BOJ's Balance Sheet Tops Y500 Trillion; On Cusp of Overtaking Fed

Secure Adequate Finances for Investment in Human Resources

Govt Pledges to Increase Human Resources Investment

Japan's Free Education Plan Requires Fiscal Balancing Act

BOJ Holds Fire as It Faces Calls for Exit from Monetary Easing

SOUTH KOREA: Public Sector Net Lending Hits Record W44tr in 2016

 

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MYANMAR: IFC Helps Firms to Improve Information Disclosure for Fundraising

SINGAPORE: NWC Proposes Raising Basic Wage Threshold, S$45-S$60 Pay Hike for Low-Wage Workers

THAILAND: SMEs Keen on Government-Subsidised Loans

VIETNAM: Finance Ministry Updates Registration Fees for Autos, Motorbikes

WB Approves ĐÀ Nẵng Infrastructure Fund

State-Owned Banks to Be Allowed to Keep Dividends

WB Approves US$53 Million to Improve Urban Infrastructure in LÀO Cai, Phủ Lý

 

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INDIA: Project Signing - Government and World Bank Sign New Agreement to Strengthen Fiscal Performance of Himachal Pradesh

Digital Adoption to Boost Retail Profit for Financial Services by $3.5 Bn

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Over 170 IT Projects Claim for State Financing

UZBEKISTAN: Assets of Uzbek Bank Up by Almost 30%

Insurance Company Kafolat Pays 7.6 Billion Soums of Insurance Compensations in IQ

Media Representatives Improve Knowledge in Financial Sector

 

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AUSTRALIA: Spotlight on $2.8b University Funding Cut

After Failures We're Ready for Tax Time: ATO

Australian Government Invests AU$500m to Improve Space-Based Intelligence

Extra Money Put into Minister Pay Packets

SA Budget Described as 'Sexy'

NEW ZEALAND: Budget 2017 - More Funding for Mental Health

Budget 2017: Health, Housing Problems 'Haven't Been Answered'

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party Explains How Marijuana Could Add $1b to NZ's Economy

'Teenager Tax': Kiwi Families Lose Out Under Budget, Labour Claims

Govt Sent Aid Money to North Korea - Brownlee Confirms

Govt Proposes Changes to Tax Returns Process

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IDA Aims to Boost Togo’s Economy, Support a Vibrant Private Sector

Good News for the GOP: Small Businesses Are Hungry for Tax Reform

 

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CHINA: To Provide More Opportunities to Private Companies for Space Exploration

China Starts Building Large Private Coal-to-liquid Project

China Encourages Private Investment in Key Projects

Alibaba's Jack Ma in U.S., Aims to Attract More Businesses

SOUTH KOREA: SMEs Led Consumer Goods Exports in 2016 - Report

SKT Plans World's First Underwater IoT Network

Mobile Carriers Enhance Focus on Home IoT Business

SME Exports to Help Create More Jobs

SME Loans from Nonbank Lenders Grow at Fast Pace

 

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INDONESIA: Google Seals Deal with Indonesia on Tax

MYANMAR: To Invite Private Companies to Build Pedestrian Overpasses in Yangon

VIETNAM: Eyes More Healthcare PPPs

SME Support Won’t Be in Cash

Việt Nam Looks to Private Sector to Fund Infrastructure

SMEs, Banks Clash over Tech Capital

City to Support Infrastructure PPP’s

Level the Field to Foster Private Sector, Vietnam Forum Hears

 

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INDIA: Bilaspur Municipal Corporation - Crusading the ‘Smart Cities Mission’

India Poised to Lead IoT Industry: IT Secretary

SRI LANKA: PC Ownership Dips, Usage of Smartphones and Tabs Up

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Huawei to Help in Training ICT Specialists

More State Objects Privatized at Auction

TURKMENISTAN: President Instructs to Support SMEs

UZBEKISTAN: Tashkent Establishes Small Industrial Zones

"Uzpromstroybank" Conducts Large-Scale Work to Support Entrepreneurial Initiatives

ICD to Support SMEs in Uzbekistan

 

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NEW ZEALAND: Mark Zuckerberg's New Mission for Facebook

Tesla Wants to Develop Its Own Music Service

Google Will Stop Reading Your Email to HelpSell Ads

Apple Working with Car Company Hertz to Manage Small Autonomous Fleet

Grant Dalton Delivers a Masterclass in Business Leadership

 

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Remote Pacific Regions Set for Broadband Internet Under New World Bank Projects

 

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$36 million in grants to help provide reliable fiber optic broadband internet to approximately 80,000 people in Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).The grants, including US$20 million for Kiribati and US$16.26 million for FSM, will finance the installation of a submarine cable system connecting Tarawa (Kiribati) to Nauru, and Kosrae state (FSM) to Pohnpei state (FSM), which is connected to global networks. The Asian Development Bank is preparing finance to support Nauru’s participation in the cable system.“We have already seen the benefits high-speed, reliable and affordable internet can bring to countries across the Pacific, and we look forward to working with Kiribati and Micronesia to bring faster and cheaper connectivity to the North Pacific,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “These connections will play a crucial role in linking families, creating economic and employment opportunities, reducing transaction costs, providing remote education and healthcare, and boosting national and international coordination.”

 

The projects are part of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program, which aims to bring more reliable and affordable internet to the majority of countries in the Pacific Islands. Kiribati and Micronesia are two of the world’s most remote island nations, covering six million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean, making access to information, services and economic opportunities a massive challenge.In Kiribati, the internet capacity will be sold by the wholesaler on an open access basis to ensure equal access for all fixed and mobile networks operated by local retailers in Tarawa and nearby islands, accounting for more than two-thirds of the country’s population. A complementary project, supported by the World Bank, Australia and New Zealand will also help deliver mobile broadband services to more distant outer islands.

 

“High-speed internet will connect Kiribati to the rest of the world, bringing new opportunities into our homes and offices and promoting overall economic integration. This is crucial for our development,” said DrTeataoTira, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communication, Transport & Tourism, government of Kiribati. “The government has already taken important steps to reduce the cost and improve the quality of services and this cable will take those achievements to the next level.”In the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), both Yap and Chuuk states are already part of the Pacific Regional Connectivity Program through the Palau-FSM Connectivity phase. The underwater cable systems for Yap and Chuuk states are set for installation late 2017 and are expected to be ready for service by early 2018. With this additional funding, all four states in Micronesia will have access to broadband internet.This accomplishment will complete a key objective of the FSM Government’s National Development Strategy, which aims to connect all four states to fiber optic cable systems to ensure equality of access.

 

“Just a few short years ago, no one would have believed such a project was possible. Through vision, persistence and with the mutual support of our regional and donor partnerships we are now on the verge of achieving our dream of connecting our small island state communities to the world,” said Vice President Yosiwo P. George of the national government of the Federates States of Micronesia (FSM). “This project will provide all four states with access to good quality and affordable internet connections. We look forward to being able to overcome some of the challenges our remoteness creates.”In addition to laying the fiber optic cable, the grants will fund technical assistance provided to relevant government ministries and help develop the regulatory framework needed to promote competition and keep costs as low as possible for consumers.The US$36.26 million grants are provided through the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for countries most in need.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 05/31/2017

 

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Global Economic Outlook to Be Released at OECD Forum

 

The OECD will publish its latest Global Economic Outlook, containing analysis and projections for its member countries and other major economies, at 10.30 a.m. Paris time (08.30 GMT) on Wednesday 7 June 2017.OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and Chief Economist Catherine L Mann will present the Outlook (in English with French interpretation) at 10:30 a.m. on the second day of the annual OECD Forum, at the OECD Conference Centre, 2 rue André Pascal, Paris 16ème.Versions of the Outlook will be available in English, French, German and Spanish on the OECD's password-protected website from 10:30 a.m. (CET) for immediate release.A summary of the Economic Outlook and key data will be freely accessible in pdf format (in English and French) on the OECD’s web site at www.oecd.org/eco/economicoutlook.htm from 10:30 a.m.You are invited to include this Internet link in reports on the Outlook.OECD experts will brief journalists on the Outlook (under embargo) on Wednesday 7 June, prior to the formal launch:

 

Catherine L. Mann will present the Outlook to the international press (in English) at 9:00 a.m. (7:00 a.m. GMT).OECD Senior Economist Randall Jones will present the Outlook to the Japanese press (in Japanese) at 8:00 a.m. (6:00 a.m. GMT).Christian Kastrop, head of the policy studies branch of the OECD Economics Department, and Andres Fuentes, senior economist on the Germany desk, will present the Outlook (in German) at 9:00 a.m. (7:00 GMT). Alvaro Pereira, head of the country studies branch of the OECD Economics Department, will present the Outlook (in Spanish and Portuguese) at 4:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. GMT).A special chapter in the Outlook analyses the backlash against international trade and globalisation, which is one of the key themes of the OECD Forum and Ministerial Council Meeting (see media agenda).

 

The Global Economic Outlook is the latest in a series of OECD reports looking at different aspects of globalisation, including the Business and Finance Outlook and the Employment Outlook (13 June).Journalists must register via e-mail for events during OECD Week, including the presentation of the Global Economic Outlook and embargoed briefings: PAC.MediaRegistration@oecd.org stating name, media, job title and national press card number.There will be heightened security during OECD Week, so journalists are advised to arrive early for all events to ensure access.Requests to receive the Economic Outlook under embargo ahead of release time, or to obtain a password to access the website, should be sent by e-mail to embargo@oecd.org. Journalists requesting an electronic version in advance of the release time agree to respect OECD embargo conditions.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 06/01/2017

 

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Statement from the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on the 70th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan

 

Seventy years ago, at Harvard University, U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall launched a European Recovery Plan that would soon be known by his name.The Marshall Plan was radical not only in its generosity but in its break with the world order that predated it. Seventy years later, it still shines as one of history’s most successful examples of forward-looking vision and international solidarity and collaboration. After two devastating wars, Marshall’s insight was that the only way to avoid future conflicts was to strengthen international co-operation – and that nations with the means and the resolve to restore prosperity must lead the way.Among the fruits of that insight was the establishment of the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC) in 1948, later transformed in 1961 into the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which for more than 56 years has worked with governments to promote international co-operation and improve their economic and social policies. The world has changed a lot since that 5 June 1947, and the OECD has evolved with it. Today we are more global, more inclusive, more plural and more relevant. But we are still faithful to our original mission: to safeguard the well-being of our citizens, through “economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace,” in Marshall’s very own words.On this special date, I would like to draw from the wisdom that inspired the Marshall Plan and pledge to work hand-in-hand with our Member and Partner countries to address the many problems that our societies confront. No solution will come in isolation: collectively, we can bring about a more inclusive, rules-based globalisation that works for all.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 06/05/2017

 

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As Natural Disasters Rise, Countries Call for Action on Resilient Crisis Recovery Planning

 

Twenty million people across Africa and the Middle East are currently facing famine from a prolonged drought. Some affected countries, including Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen, have more in common than vulnerability to recurring natural disasters and a changing climate – they also struggle with fragile political systems ravaged by conflict.Disasters like this can cripple any country and erase hard-fought development gains. To prevent such devastation, whether social or economic, an effective framework for recovery must be in place before a disaster strikes. Such provisions are even more important in conflict-affected states, and are the focus of the third edition of the World Reconstruction Conference (WRC3) starting today and running through June 8, taking place in Brussels in conjunction with European Development Days 2017.

 

“For the World Bank, preparing countries to ably address risk and ‘build back better’ from disasters and conflict is central to our goal of sustainable development,” said Cyril Muller, Vice President of the World Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region. “The World Reconstruction Conference is an important event for the World Bank to help further cement this shift toward planning for crisis situations and strengthening recovery systems in advance of a disaster.”Ethiopia is an example of resilient crisis recovery planning.  A country no stranger to drought, Ethiopia is acknowledging the importance of preparation and has a plan to fight famine before it starts. Armed with hard-learned lessons from previous droughts, the government, with World Bank support, has established one of the world’s largest safety-net programs, alongside other mechanisms, and can quickly expand coverage in times of crisis, protecting even its poorest residents.

 

Committed to action on disaster and conflict recovery, development partners including the World Bank-managed Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), the European Union (EU), and the United Nations (UN) established the World Reconstruction Conference (WRC) in 2011.Since the forum was first established, there has been a shift in how the international community, including GFDRR and the World Bank, approaches recovery. Rather than focusing on reconstruction alone, governments now integrate reducing disaster risk into long-term planning.Furthering this work, the second WRC helped bring sharper focus on resilient recovery and "building back better" of the Sendai Framework to reduce vulnerabilities.

 

“The fragility situation in many parts of the world is becoming seriously exacerbated, and the impact of disasters due to natural hazards is increasing in magnitude and severity,” said SamehWahba, World Bank Director of Urban and Territorial Development, Disaster Risk Management, and Resilience. “From 2012 to 2014, 994 disasters affected more than 326 million people across the globe. Costs of physical damage caused by disasters are rising – from an estimated US$20 billion on average per year in the 1990s to about US$100 billion per year in the first decade of this century.” Wahba added that “The World Reconstruction Conference is a call for action to prepare in advance for better disaster and crisis recovery, especially in fragile countries, and to up our game given the high stakes in terms of saving lives, livelihoods, and reducing economic impact. The World Bank and GFDRR are committed to supporting countries in focusing on this agenda.”

 

Alongside partners like the EU and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank has performed post-disaster needs assessments in more than 40 countries, 26 of them fragile – an important first step in understanding how to implement recovery programs. Last year alone, GFDRR supported 17 fragile and conflict-affected countries’ resilience efforts through 35 grants worth $29 million.Efforts like these are at the heart of WRC3, which convenes more than 500 practitioners from around the world to promote the resilience of countries when faced with disasters. As in previous years, it aims to ensure lessons from the field yesterday are applied to the recovery work of tomorrow. This year, many of those lessons are being shared on the online Recovery Hub platform, launched at the conference. This interactive online tool hosts knowledge documents from across five sectors, sharing insights from past recovery operations.

 

In addition, WRC3 provides an opportunity to discuss the initial version of a new Local Disaster Recovery Framework (LDRF) Guide, which aims to help local governments set up frameworks for recovery before a disaster strikes. The Guide, which draws on past examples from countries like Colombia, India, and Serbia, will be further refined based on input from WRC3 participants.These tools serve as important repositories of knowledge, especially as the international community is still looking at how recovery can be implemented most successfully, and how disasters large and small affect countries in the long term.“A disaster of any size is devastating for the people affected,” emphasized Muller, “but it is also a moment to correct processes that have created vulnerabilities, to ‘build back better’, and, ultimately, to ensure a more resilient future.”

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 06/06/2017

 

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Reform Services Trade Policies to Boost the Global Economy, OECD Says

 

Better services trade policy can stimulate inclusive economic growth by promoting access to the information, skills, technology, funding and markets needed for success in an increasingly digital global economy, according to a new OECD report.Services trade policies and the global economy shows how reforming policies relating to the trade in services can strengthen global value chains, boost economic performance and bring important benefits for consumers worldwide.  It notes that manufacturing competitiveness relies on access to state-of-the-art services suppliers at the best prices, and underlines the links between favourable and transparent regulatory environments and attractiveness for foreign direct investment. Services generate more than two-thirds of global GDP, employ the most workers and create the most new jobs globally.  The OECD-WTO Trade in Value Added (TiVA) database reveals that services represent more than 50% of the value added in gross exports, and over 30% of the value added in exports of manufacturing goods. But services trade remains subject to restrictions in sectors such as telecommunications, financial services, transportation, logistics and professional services, according to the report.

 

New OECD analysis reveals that the costs of services trade and investment barriers remain high, largely exceeding the average tariff on traded goods.  Consumers and business pay the cost of these restrictions. In sectors such as transport, logistics and construction, prices are estimated to be about 20% higher on average than they would be in the absence of restrictions, and in some countries are nearly 80% higher than otherwise, imposing substantial additional costs on manufacturing enterprises and eventually on final customers. Red tape across services markets also creates additional costs for exporters seeking to enter multiple markets - the ad valorem tariff equivalent of regulatory differences is estimated at about 40%.Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) would benefit from more open and better regulated services markets. SMEs often find that identifying the regulatory requirements of each country, adapting production methods and documenting compliance is beyond their capacity. Reducing the costs of market entry would help improve the inclusiveness of services trade by allowing more SMEs to take up global opportunities.“Open and well-regulated services markets are the gateway to global value chains,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.  “Services trade policy reform can boost SMEs, reduce trade costs, strengthen the digital economy and help make globalisation work for all.”The report monitors reform of services policies from 2014-2016, identifying a general policy shift towards liberalisation but revealing that some sectors have, on balance, been subjected to greater restrictions. All countries covered have sectors and policy areas where there is scope for reform, and all countries have areas of good performance that could be a model for others.

 

The report recommends that countries pursue co-ordinated services trade policy and regulatory reforms by:Scaling back restrictions on foreign entry and barriers to the movement of professionals that discriminate against foreign services providers.Adopting strategic reforms across a spectrum of trade, investment and competition policies to facilitate trade in services.Targeting bottlenecks in transportation and logistics services to reduce trade costs.The OECD records, quantifies and analyses services trade policies.  The OECD Services Trade Restrictiveness Index (STRI) is a unique, evidence-based tool that provides information on regulations affecting trade in services in 22 sectors across 44 countries, which represent more than 80% of global trade in services.The STRI database compiles up-to-date information on requirements to enter foreign markets in unprecedented detail, providing transparent and readily accessible insights into the measures that hamper services trade.  The STRI is an important reference for policy makers, international services providers and a source of data for academic research on drivers and impediments to services trade.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 06/08/2017

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OECD to present Agricultural Policies: Monitoring and Evaluation 2017 on 21 June 2017 in Brussels at the Centre for European Policy Studies

 

The OECD will present its most recent work on measuring agricultural support and monitoring farm policy developments during a panel discussion at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels on 21 June 2017, starting at 1:15 p.m.Agricultural Policies: Monitoring and Evaluation 2017 covers the 35 OECD members as well as the 6 non-OECD EU member states and 11 key emerging and developing economies (Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine and Viet Nam). Overall, the 52 countries covered by the report account for about two-thirds of global agricultural value added.This year’s report provides new data showing continuing convergence between average levels of support to agricultural producers in OECD countries and those in emerging economies, although in both groups there is considerable divergence among countries.  It discusses ways countries can put more effort into refocusing agricultural policies, including moving away from market price support to ensure a well-functioning domestic market and international trading system, and to enhance food security of the poorest.The new OECD work will be presented by Frank van Tongeren, head of division at the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate, and OECD senior agricultural policy analyst Martin von Lampe, with discussion led by Johan Swinnen, associate senior research fellow at CEPS.

 

Media registration is possible directly via the CEPS website.The report will be available to registered journalists on the OECD's password-protected website at 11:15 GMT (13:15 CET) on Wednesday 21 June, for immediate release.Information and data from the report, including the main conclusions, will be freely accessible on the OECD’s web site at: http://www.oecd.org/tad/agricultural-policies/monitoring-and-evaluation.htm. You are invited to include this Internet link in reports on the Survey.For further information on Agricultural Policies: Monitoring and Evaluation 2017, or to arrange interviews with OECD officials, contact Lawrence Speer (+33 1 4524 7970) in the OECD Media Office (+33 1 4524 9700).Journalists will be allowed advance access to the electronic version of the report, by e-mail and under embargo, the day before release.The report will be sent by e-mail on request only. In asking to receive the Survey under embargo, journalists undertake to respect the OECD’s embargo procedures. Requests to receive the Survey by e-mail under embargo or to obtain a password to access the website should be sent to embargo@oecd.org.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 06/14/2017

 

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Global Forum on Productivity – 2017 Annual Conference

 

Global value chains (GVCs) have become a critical feature of the global economy, influencing unprecedented changes in trading patterns, regional integration and productivity. Public policy can play a critical role as countries seek to derive the potential productivity benefits from participation in GVCs and ensure that these gains are widely distributed across the economy, and to all citizens.These issues will be central to discussions during the 2017 Conference of the Global Forum on Productivity, which will be organised by the OECD and the Government of Hungary on 26-27 June in Budapest. The Conference will bring together senior policy-makers, experts and academics to address some of the most pressing questions on the GVC-productivity theme, including:

  What are the actual productivity effects stemming from GVCs?

  What are the productivity consequences of the changing structure of GVCs?

  How can policy actions improve the productivity spill-overs to domestic firms?

  How do changes in globalisation, digitisation and regional integration impact supply chains, and how should policymakers react?

  What can be done to ensure that productivity gains from participation in global networks are widely distributed across the economy?

  How can productivity-enhancing institutions address the challenges raised by the expansion of GVCs?

 

Media are invited to participate in the morning session on 26 June, from 9 AM – 1 PM.The event launches with an Opening Ceremony featuring OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and MihályVarga, Minister for National Economy of Hungary. This will be followed by a public dialogue between OECD Chief Economist Catherine L. Mann  and Karolina Ekholm, State Secretary to Sweden’s Minister for Finance, who will discuss in detail the links between trade, GVCs and productivity.The morning will be concluded by a panel discussion on “The Benefits from Openness and GVCs for All” featuring:  Manuel Caldeira Cabral, Minister of Economy, Portugal; Peter Kažimír,  Minister of Finance, Slovak Republic; MihályVarga, Hungary; as well as representatives from the German Ministry of Finance, the World Bank, the European Commission and the European University Institute of Florence.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 06/19/2017

 

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Agricultural Policies Should Shift From Price Support to Greater Emphasis on Encouraging a Resilient and Sustainable Food Sector

 

Countries should continue shifting farm policy away from direct support for the market price of agricultural products toward programmes that promote sustainable productivity growth and improve resilience to climate change and market-related shocks, according to a new report from the OECD.Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation finds that the 52 countries studied – representing all OECD and EU countries, and 11 key emerging economies – provided on average USD 519 billion (EUR 442 billion) annually to support agricultural producers during the 2014-16 period.  Sixty percent of this support is provided by maintaining prices on domestic markets higher than those on international markets.Government farm supports as a whole represented 16% of producer receipts in the countries studied, compared with 21%  twenty years ago.  The reductions in support levels reported in some OECD countries contrast with increased support levels in some emerging economies.

 

Support for general services to agriculture – including investments in people as well as innovation, knowledge and information systems, physical infrastructure, and in biosecurity services – was USD 90 billion (EUR 77 billion) in 2014-16. These services help create an enabling environment that allows agricultural and food production to be responsive, sustainable and resilient to external shocks, and are preferable to price support.“Supporting market prices harms consumers, particularly the poorest, and reduces the food industry’s competitiveness,” said Ken Ash, Director of the OECD Trade and Agriculture Directorate. “Governments need to focus on agricultural policies, and particularly investments, that better align with their economy-wide goals.”

 

The OECD underlines the need to reduce the use of output payments and input subsidies, which are generally an inefficient use of government funds, fail to achieve desired policy objectives and often inadvertently contribute to the unsustainable use of resources. These policies should be replaced with those better tailored to achieving resilience, competitiveness and sustainability to forthcoming climate change.While direct payments to farmers are increasingly being used to support farm incomes, the report shows that the funds are often not well targeted to those most in need. Rather than boosting such payments, countries should address the factors behind persistently low farm incomes.While direct payments are increasingly used to encourage farmers to produce non-market goods or services, the OECD suggests that governments take steps to  better target this form of support. The report calls for greater efforts to develop risk management tools that distinguish among normal business risks, risks amenable to market solutions and the catastrophic risks that require public engagement.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 06/21/2017

 

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CHINA: Releasing Guidance on Government Websites

 

China's State Council published a guideline Thursday to improve the management of the government websites. To establish a clean, innovative and service-oriented government ruled by law, websites should be open, clear, informative and convenient for the public, said the document issued by the general office of the State Council. According to the guideline, ministries of the State Council and government offices above county level should each have one official website. The guideline also stressed Internet security, urging government offices to set up stable, reliable and safe websites by having online security warning systems and emergency response systems.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/08/2017

 

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China's Top Legislator Stresses Law Enforcement on Pollution Management

 

China's top legislator Zhang Dejiang has called for better law enforcement on pollution management during an inspection tour of northwest China's Shaanxi Province from Tuesday to Thursday. Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, headed a team to provincial capital Xi'an, Xianyang and Hanzhong to inspect solid waste management. During his visit to a village in Hanzhong, Zhang urged the local authority to accelerate the work of domestic garbage classification and management in rural areas. Zhang also visited industrial parks and high-tech enterprises, where he stressed the importance of hazardous waste management, recycling and reuse of solid waste. He said that the local authorities and enterprises should step up efforts to prevent and control solid waste pollution.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/08/2017

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China Pushes Fertilizer-replacement Program

 

China's Ministry of Agriculture Wednesday launched a program to replace chemical fertilizes with organic alternatives in 100 counties and districts. The central government will earmark a fund to support the fertilizer-replacement plan which targets tea, vegetables, and fruit, said Yu Xinrong, vice minister of agriculture. The ministry will provide subsidies for farmers who use organic fertilizers and encourage social capital to participate in the program, he said at an implementation meeting held in the central China province of Hubei. Some rules will be amended and new policies unveiled to stay in line with the green development of agriculture, he added. Last year, China's use of agricultural fertilizers saw almost zero-growth for the first time since the country's reform and opening-up, said the vice minister. Yet fruit, vegetables, and tea still face problems in quality and excessive use of inputs in production. The replacement program is necessary to increase the supply of quality and green agricultural products, said Yu. According to a Chinese plan, key growing areas for fruit, vegetables, and tea should cut chemical fertilizer use by at least 20 percent by 2020. Currently, less than 50 percent of China's 3 billion tonnes of livestock excrement each year undergoes proper treatment.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/14/2017

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New Regulation Aims to Ensure Reliability of Statistical Data

 

A new regulation on the implementation of the revised Law of Statistics was issued to improve the authenticity and reliability of official data, according to an official document. A statement jointly issued by the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council and the National Bureau of Statistics explained that a previous bylaw on statistics law implementation, which was issued in 1987 in accordance with a 1983 law, had some inconsistencies with the latest revised Law of Statistics, which took effect in 2010. The new regulation, issued last month and made public Monday, will become effective in August. The statement noted that the new regulation is intended to improve authenticity and reliability of official data so as to better serve the country's decision making, macro control and economic and social development. According to the statement, the new regulation stipulated measures to improve the efficiency and quality of statistical work and to reduce the burden for the objects in statistical surveys. The regulation also provided specifications on how to organize and carry out surveys as well as rules to ensure transparency of relevant data. It stipulated severe penalties for violations in statistical work, such as failure in carrying out effective supervision, intervening in statistical work and manipulating or fabricating data.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/21/2017

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China Considers Changes to Public Interest Litigation Rules

 

China has drafted amendments to the administrative and civil procedure laws to allow prosecutors to institute public interest litigation. The draft amendments were given a first reading at the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which opened Thursday. Prosecutors are to be allowed to file an administrative lawsuit for abuse of power or nonfeasance in cases concerning protection of environment and resources, food and drug safety, preservation of state assets, and transfer of state-owned land use rights, according to the draft. They may also file civil lawsuits against any act that compromises public rights and interest in cases related to protection of environment and resources, as well as food and drug safety. These areas have a direct bearing on national and public interest, said procurator-general Cao Jianming while explaining the draft amendments to lawmakers. The draft amendment to the Administrative Procedure Law stipulates that prosecutors should make suggestions to government departments and push them to fulfil duties before taking them to court.

 

In July 2015, the Supreme People's Procuratorate began a two-year pilot program allowing prosecutors in 13 provincial divisions to institute public interest litigation in administrative and civil cases. By the end of May 2017, procuratorates had handled 7,886 public interest lawsuits and filed 934 cases in the pilot reform. In 4,358 cases, administrative departments took the initiative to correct the wrongdoings. In all the cases that eventually went to the court, judges have ruled in 222 cases, all in favor of the prosecutors. Prosecutors in the pilot areas helped restore 128,000 hectares of arable lands, forests, wetlands and grasslands, urging more than 1,400 companies to rectify their behavior, and retrieved state assets worth 6.5 billion yuan (950 million U.S. dollars) in the past two years. The practice of engaging prosecutors in public interest litigation has proven to be feasible, and is of great significance to promote rule of law and improve the socialist judicial system with Chinese characteristics, said Cao.

 

"Prosecutors push government departments to perform their duties lawfully by making suggestions before filing a public interest lawsuit against them, which will promote the law-based administration of government," Cao said. Prosecutors' engagement in public interest litigation will safeguard the authority and credibility of law enforcement, he added. Public interest litigation is fairly new in China. For years plaintiffs have been strictly confined to citizens, corporations, and organizations whose interests are directly related to a lawsuit. An amendment to the Civil Procedure Law in 2012 first allowed agencies or organizations to bring litigation against those who undermined public welfare by polluting or infringing on consumers' interests, which was considered a major step forward in creating a public interest litigation system in China. The revision to the Environmental Protection Law in April 2014 continued the process, allowing environmental organizations to institute public interest litigation. Engaging prosecutors in public interest litigation was included in a comprehensive legal reform plan adopted at the fourth plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee in 2014.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/22/2017

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China Issues Rules on Overseas Investment in Mainland Interbank Bond Market

 

China's central bank has issued rules on overseas investment in the mainland interbank bond market via the mainland-Hong Kong bond connect program. Qualified overseas investors can buy bonds in the interbank bond market either with Chinese yuan or foreign currencies, according to the rules released by the People's Bank of China (PBOC), which took effect on Wednesday. Those qualified investors include foreign central banks, sovereign wealth funds, international financial organizations, Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (QFII), RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (RQFII), and financial agencies including commercial banks, insurance companies, securities brokerage houses, and fund management companies, the PBOC said in a separate statement Thursday. China approved a bond connect program between the mainland and Hong Kong earlier last month, allowing investors from both sides to trade bonds on each other's interbank markets.

 

Overseas investors should register the bonds they purchase under qualified overseas trusteeship bodies, which have accounts in mainland counterparts. They can invest in bonds that are tradable on the mainland interbank bond market, including treasury bonds, local-government bonds, policy bank bonds, commercial bank bonds, corporate bonds, and asset-backed securities, among others, the PBOC said. The PBOC and other regulatory bodies have the right to access the data of overseas investors investing in the mainland interbank bond market, according to the rules. The PBOC will supervise the process and work with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and regulators in other countries and regions to protect investor interests and counter money laundering, according to the rules.

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/22/2017

 

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Draft Intelligence Law Highlights Citizen's Legal Rights Protection

 

Lawmakers Thursday deliberated a draft national intelligence law that contains measures to protect the legal rights and interests of individuals and organizations. The draft was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the second reading at the start of its bi-monthly session. China will protect and honor individuals and organizations who support or coordinate with national intelligence staff, and award those who have made "great contributions" to national intelligence work, it stated. The draft stipulated that national intelligence agencies and their staff are not allowed to take advantage of their positions to seek personal benefits, and anyone found to have done so will be held accountable in accordance with the law. In addition, national intelligence agencies should help individuals and organizations report information to intelligence authorities, while those who attempt to deceive (the public) in the name of national intelligence interest may face criminal charges, it said. A national intelligence law is needed to improve national intelligence work and safeguard national security, lawmakers agreed. The law was first read and deliberated at the top legislature's bi-monthly session in December 2016.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/22/2017

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JAPAN: Civil Code Revised for Claims, Contracts

 

The Diet enacted Friday revisions to clauses related to claims and contracts in the Civil Code for the first time in about 120 years. The revisions were approved by a majority vote at a plenary meeting of the House of Councillors mainly with the support of the Liberal Democratic Party-led ruling camp and opposition parties including the Japanese Communist Party. It cleared the House of Representatives last month. The revised Civil Code sets new rules for uniformly clarifying the terms and conditions of commercial services indicated to a number of customers and those on security deposits paid for rental housing. It will enter into force possibly in 2020 after a three-year period to introduce it to the public. The claims-related sections underwent the first drastic change since the Civil Code was established in 1896. The revisions are intended to protect consumers amid the spread of internet transactions and other changes in economic and social situations. The terms and conditions of commercial services are widely used by insurance companies, mail-order businesses and public transportation operators, among many others, but are prone to problems. Under the new rules, terms and conditions will be regarded as valid if business operators show them to customers in advance as the basis of contracts. But one-sided clauses that infringe on consumer interests will be invalid.

 

For apartment lease contracts, the revised clauses of the Civil Code oblige property owners to refund security deposits when tenants move out. They also stipulate that tenants do not need to shoulder repair costs arising from age-related property deterioration. In response to numerous cases in which cosigning individuals end up facing enormous business loans, the revised clauses require third-party individuals not involved in businesses to express to notaries public their intention before becoming loan guarantors. For the reform of the statutory interest rate system, the revised clauses call for lowering the legal rate used to set damages for late debt repayment or for traffic accidents to 3 percent from the current 5 percent. The rate will later be left to float, with reviews every three years. The Civil Code previously stipulated that claims expire after one year for unpaid restaurant and hotel bills and three years for unpaid medical treatment fees. These will be brought together with a uniform period of five years in principle. The revised law also includes rules to invalidate contracts concluded with people without capacity for judgment, such as dementia sufferers, and rules to set collateral for accounts receivable.

From http://the-japan-news.com 05/27/2017

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Passive Smoking Bill Stalls over Eateries

 

The government has decided not to submit to the current Diet session a draft revision to the Health Promotion Law that would strengthen measures against passive smoking, the inhaling of other people’s cigarette smoke by nonsmokers, it has been learned. It is because the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Liberal Democratic Party are not expected to be able to bridge a gap over regulations for eating and drinking establishments. The ministry and the party will continue deliberations, aiming to submit and enact the draft bill during the extraordinary Diet session this autumn. The Prime Minister’s Office has not actively coordinated the differences between the ministry and the party regarding the draft bill. Multiple sources related to the government and the party indicated the prospect that it is difficult for the two sides to reach an agreement even if the ordinary Diet session due to end on June 18 is extended. Regarding eating and drinking establishments, which are a focal point, the health ministry unveiled in March a proposal to ban smoking, in principle. Under the proposal, smoking would be allowed only in small-size bars and Japanese-style pubs, and in the case of izakaya restaurants and other ordinary restaurants, smoking would be allowed only in a room set up exclusively for smoking.

 

On the other hand, the LDP unveiled a proposal that would allow smoking in eating and drinking establishments under a certain floor size regardless of their types of business on the condition that signs are posted in front indicating whether smoking is permitted or not. After that, the health ministry unveiled a revised proposal that would allow smoking in izakaya smaller than a certain size for some years after a revision of the law on the condition that they show such signs. But the LDP did not accept it, and the two sides failed to reach an agreement. Due to the postponement of the submission, the draft bill can be enacted no earlier than during the extraordinary Diet session this autumn. The government aims to realize the smoking ban before the Rugby World Cup, which is scheduled to start in September 2019 in Japan. To achieve that aim, the familiarization period of the law, which was initially planned to last about two years after enactment, must be shortened. Operators of restaurants and the like may not be able to complete preparations, depending on the details of the draft revision.

From http://the-japan-news.com 06/06/2017

 

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Civil Code Must Undergo Constant Review to Meet Changes in Society

 

It is natural to flexibly reexamine laws that are deeply connected to people’s lives, in keeping with social changes. The revised Civil Code has passed the Diet. Provisions related to the law on claims and contracts have been revised drastically. The distinguishing feature of the revisions is their emphasis on the protection of consumers. The revised law, the enforcement of which is aimed for 2020, will apply to contracts related to everyday life. The pillar of the revisions is to make legal arrangements that conform to the changes in socioeconomic affairs in recent years, including the spread of online transactions. Its provisions on contracts had remained almost intact since the Civil Code was enacted in the Meiji era (1868-1912). For example, the current law does not contain any provisions on the terms of contracts that are often used in such transactions as online shopping, and has therefore caused many problems over whether those contracts are valid.

 

The revised Civil Code establishes a new provision, stating that contract clauses unilaterally harming the interests of consumers are invalid. Even under the current Civil Code, contracts that work against public order and morals are deemed invalid. But it is highly significant that the legal framework for the proper form of the terms of contract has been concretely established. Even if a contract formally puts businesses and consumers on equal terms, in many cases businesses are in an advantageous position over consumers in such aspects as negotiating power. It is important to make the revised law function effectively so consumers are not put at a disadvantage. A notable point is that a contract is valid if its terms state it is a contract between firms and consumers, even if consumers do not understand the contents of the contract. So consumers must be self-aware that they are parties concerned. Businesses, for their part, need to make the content of contracts as clearly understandable as possible. Disputes that could not be handled under the current law have been resolved through past court precedents and interpretations. In the recent revisions, regulations have been established also on cases that involve matters other than the terms of contract.

 

Contracts concluded by people who have no capacity for judgment, including elderly people suffering from serious dementia, have been judged invalid in past judicial precedents. This has been reflected in the provisions of the revised law. Regarding key money on rental housing, the revised law makes it mandatory for landlords to return key money when tenants leave. The fact that no basic rules of social life are set down will be a source of trouble. The provisions that have been made represent a major step forward, but there is no denying that the government’s actions were one step behind. The revisions cover about 200 points. In light of the recent ultralow interest rates, the statutory rate has been lowered. The term for the expiration of claims for such things as tabs at drinking and eating establishments has been set at a uniform five years from the time creditors know they can claim payment. To avoid confusion at the time of enforcement of the revised law, the government must make its content thoroughly known among the public. The Civil Code is applied to wide-ranging fields such as ownership and family relations. It is essential to continuously examine whether its provisions are appropriate for the changing times.

From http://the-japan-news.com 06/07/2017

 

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Japan Enacts Law to Allow 1st Abdication of Emperor in 200 Years

 

The Diet enacted a law Friday that clears the way for Emperor Akihito to step down, in what would be the first imperial abdication in more than two centuries. The popular 83-year-old monarch shocked the country last summer when he signalled his desire to take a back seat after nearly three decades on the Chrysanthemum Throne, citing his age and health problems. The unexpected move presented a challenge since there was no law to deal with an emperor retiring from what is usually a job for life. The one-off rule was passed in the last-stage upper house on Friday in a unanimous decision after the lower chamber gave its stamp of approval last week. The abdication must take place within three years of the new law taking effect or it expires -- and it only applies to Akihito. Japanese media have said the government is eying the end of 2018 as a likely timeline for his retirement. The status of the emperor is sensitive in Japan given its 20th century history of war waged in the name of Akihito's father Hirohito, who died in 1989.

 

Some scholars and politicians worried that changing the law to allow any emperor to abdicate could put Japan's future monarchs at risk of being subject to political manipulation. Akihito, who has been treated for prostate cancer and had heart surgery, is expected to step aside in favor of his eldest son, Crown Prince Naruhito. There have been abdications in Japan's long imperial history, but the last one was more than 200 years ago, so politicians had to craft new legislation to make it possible. "The one-off law is a result of political compromises, but it will become a precedent for future abdications," said Setsu Kobayashi, a constitutional expert and professor emeritus at Japan's Keio University. Akihito was born in 1933 just as Japan was embarking on its militaristic sweep across Asia, and was 11 when the war ended in defeat. His father was allowed to remain on the throne after Japan's defeat, but his status was downgraded from semi-devine sovereign to a figurehead with no political power. Akihito embraced the role and tried to use it to help heal the scars of the war while remoulding one of the world's oldest monarchies for a democratic age.

 

"The emperor prefers the more casual image of himself as a 'symbol' of the Japanese people," Kobayashi said. Even before he assumed the throne, Akihito broke with tradition when he married the daughter of a wealthy flour magnate in 1959, becoming the first imperial heir to wed a commoner. The emperor and his wife Empress Michiko are seen as being the more accessible face of a monarchy that largely remains in the shadows, unlike the British royals. The couple have frequently attended public events and consoled victims of natural disasters, including Japan's 2011 quake-tsunami disaster. Akihito is officially barred from commenting on politics, but he has over the years hinted at his own anti-nationalist views. Speaking at a memorial marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender, Akihito expressed "deep remorse" for the country's actions in World War II. Some saw this as a rebuke to nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has pushed to change Japan's pacifist constitution and prevent Japanese from having to apologise again for the nation's warring past.

 

Akihito's pending abdication had reignited concerns about a potential succession crisis. There are no more eligible male heirs after the 10-year-old son of Crown Prince Naruhito's younger brother Akishino. Japan's centuries-old succession would be broken if that son, Hisahito, does not have a male child. In response, the Diet has called for a debate on giving women a bigger role in the male-dominated monarchy. The idea -- including the possibility of letting women ascend the throne -- is popular among ordinary Japanese, but it is vehemently opposed by traditionalists including the current prime minister and like-minded conservatives. Female imperial family members lose their royal status upon marriage to a commoner, a point highlighted by recent news that one of Akihito's granddaughters, Princess Mako, plans to marry her college sweetheart.

From https://japantoday.com 06/09/2017

 

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'Conspiracy' Law Enacted Through Rare Diet Tactic

 

The Diet on Thursday enacted contentious legislation to criminalize the planning of serious crimes, which the government says will help thwart terrorism but opponents claim could lead to the suppression of civil liberties and excessive state surveillance. The amendment to the law on organized crime cleared a vote in a plenary session of the House of Councillors, or upper house, after the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito took the unorthodox step on Wednesday of bypassing an upper house committee vote. The choice to circumvent the normal legislative process effectively allowed the coalition to avoid having to extend the current Diet session, set to end on Sunday, at a time when corruption allegations against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have prompted heightened scrutiny of the Abe administration. Opposition parties have said documents shared in the education ministry imply that Abe had a hand in a decision to approve a university project in a specially deregulated economic zone so as to benefit one of his close friends.

 

"Is it that you don't want (the allegations) to be covered any more than this? Is that why you've embarked on the ultimate form of railroading (by bypassing the committee)?" Democratic Party leader Renho said while speaking against the amendment. Under the new law, members of "terrorist groups or other organized crime groups" can be punished for carrying out specific actions in preparation for 277 different crimes. The Abe administration framed the law as an essential tool for thwarting terrorist attacks, of particular importance as Tokyo prepares to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and as necessary to allow Japan to ratify the 2000 U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. But opponents, including legal experts, warned it could pave the way to suppression of free speech, invasive state surveillance and arbitrary punishment of civic groups and labor unions.

 

Opponents called it the "conspiracy bill" in a reference to three similarly worded bills that had sought to introduce a conspiracy charge. None of those bills had made it through the Diet. Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda insisted Thursday the law has been designed to dispel concerns brought up about those previous bills, as it "is expressly limited to organized criminal groups, the applicable crimes are listed and clearly defined and it applies only once actual preparatory actions have taken place." The law serves as a fundamental shift in Japan's penal code, which previously applied penalties only after crimes had actually been committed. Joseph Cannataci, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy, warned last month that the law could lead to undue restrictions of privacy and freedom of expression due to its potentially broad application. The Abe administration publically dismissed his concerns. The ruling parties' tactic of bypassing a committee vote and taking a bill straight to a session of a whole Diet chamber is rarely used, while it is technically allowed. The Democratic Party and three other opposition parties had agreed to pursue all possible means of impeding the bill.

 

They submitted Wednesday evening a no-confidence motion against the Abe Cabinet, which was eventually rejected in a plenary session of the House of Representatives early Thursday. A censure motion against Justice Minister Kaneda and a motion to dismiss the head of the upper house judicial affairs committee were both voted down on Wednesday. The struggle between ruling and opposition parties over the enactment of the law, which began Wednesday, continued throughout the night, with the final upper house vote taking place in the early morning. A less controversial amendment bill that would strengthen the penal code's punishment of sex offenses is likely to pass a vote in an upper house committee later Thursday and be enacted in a plenary session on Friday, removing the remaining justification for an extension to the current Diet session. The committee bypass tactic has been used four times in the lower house and 18 times in the upper house, including in June 2007, during Abe's first stint in power, to revise the law on public servants to combat the entrenched practice of bureaucrats landing post-retirement jobs in sectors they used to oversee.

From https://japantoday.com 06/15/2017

 

 

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Use Tougher Law to Prevent Sex Crime Victims from Suffering in Silence

 

Tragedies must be eliminated through the revision of the Penal Code, so that victims of despicable sex crimes do not have to suffer in silence. A bill to revise the Penal Code was passed by a unanimous vote at a House of Councillors plenary session. The stipulations regarding sex crimes have been drastically reviewed for the first time since the law’s establishment 110 years ago, toughening penalties. Revision of the law was finally realized in the wake of lessons learned from the great deal of harm arising from sex crimes. It might have come too late, but it is a significant advance. The pillar of the revised law is a repeal of the requirement for a complaint to be filed for a sex crime. To indict a perpetrator for rape or forced indecency, a complaint from the victim, which was indispensable before the revision, is no longer needed. This is expected to be effective in preventing sex crime victims from remaining silent. A victim who has suffered deep psychological and physical wounds has to recall the incident when they file a complaint. This mental burden was one of the reasons for making many victims invisible. In incidents with young people, who may have found it difficult to file complaints, it may become easier to establish a case.

 

Provisions for the punishment of parents and other “custodians” who sexually abuse children younger than 18 under their guardianship have also been newly established. This should help victims in families whose suffering is hidden from society. Now that victims’ complaints are no longer necessary, the protection of their privacy should be kept in mind. There will certainly be some victims who do not actively want to pursue a case, due to fears about what people might think or retaliation. Closer attention should be paid to the investigation process and trial procedures to prevent secondary damage that a victim may suffer during court testimony and on other occasions. The crime of rape has also been renamed as “forcible sex and other acts,” and anyone, regardless of gender, can be classified as a victim. The minimum statutory penalty has been raised from three years to five years imprisonment. There had been many questions about the fact that the minimum punishment on rape charges was less than the five years imprisonment for robbery. In lay judge trials, the sentence for sexual offenses apparently tends to be heavier. It can be said this revision is in keeping with the actual state of society.

 

“Assault or intimidation,” which makes it extremely difficult for a victim to resist a perpetrator, is needed to establish a crime of rape. The revised law maintained this concept in principle. Among the victims of sex crimes, there are persistent voices calling for a relaxation of this requirement or its abolition, because in a hierarchical workplace relationship, for example, there can be cases where victims cannot clearly fight back. The House of Representatives revised a supplementary provision that read, “Measures to be taken under the law will be reexamined, based on the harm to victims, three years or so after the enforcement.” Further consideration should be made while paying attention to perpetrators’ right to defend. The government has set a goal of establishing “one-stop support centers” in all prefectures. The centers will accept consultations for victims and serve as a bridge to connect victims with medical institutions and the police. Improvement of the environment in which victims can easily file complaints must further be promoted.

From http://the-japan-news.com 06/17/2017

 

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SOUTH KOREA: Constitutional Court Upholds Law Restricting Subsidies on Mobile Devices

 

The Constitutional Court on Thursday upheld a law that restricts subsidies on the purchase of smartphones and other mobile devices. The regulation, which sets the legal limit of subsidies at 330,000 won ($295), was adopted to bring transparency and stability to the market long distorted by subsidies as telecom carriers vie for customers.  Eight plaintiffs filed a petition with the court three days after the law took effect on Oct. 1, 2014, saying it infringes upon consumers' rights. In a unanimous decision, the eight-member panel said the law actually prevents excessive competition in giving out subsidies and protects consumers by establishing a transparent distribution order. Regardless of the ruling, the legal ceiling will be abolished from October as it was adopted from the beginning with a three-year limit. The revocation could be moved forward that was one of President Moon Jae-in's pledges. The National Assembly could pass a revised bill during its extra session next month, at the earliest.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 05/25/2017

 

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Korea Unveils Road Map to Upgrade Robot Technology

 

The South Korean government Friday unveiled a road map to develop robot technologies and utilize them in various industrial sectors, the industry ministry said. The plan was a follow-up of the government-led project to upgrade the country's robotics sector set up in November last year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The ministry and state-run research centers, including the Korea Institute of Science and Technology and the Korea Institute of Robot and Convergence, have participated in mapping out the road map for the past six months. Under the plan, related technologies have been categorized into eight core sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture, medical services, safety and software, which can allow for a more efficient research and development process, the ministry said. Earlier, the South Korean government said it would invest 500 billion won ($445 million) in the coming five years to foster the domestic robot industry as a new growth engine for Asia's fourth-largest economy.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 06/09/2017

 

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Korea, Russia Cooperate on Science, Technology

 

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) celebrated the first Korea-Russia Science and Technology Day, setting out news ways for the two countries to cooperate on science and technology, in Moscow on June 5. Specialists from aeronautics, astronomy, nuclear energy, brain sciences and AI attended the ceremony, and participated in forums, lectures and consultations aimed at increasing Korean exports. They agreed on the need for active exchanges of information and human resources among educational and research institutions in the two countries, in order to better trigger collaboration on many fields, such as AI and cognitive sciences. In particular, Korean and Russian aerospace scientists discussed ways to jointly develop launch vehicles and rocket engines.

“It’s a chance for us to learn from and to cooperate with Russia, a leading nation in terms of rocket engines, to improve the engines in Korean launch vehicles, to reduce production costs of launch vehicles, and to learn how to reuse used engines,” said Professor Yoon Young Bin from Seoul National University. “The two countries can also collaborate on liquid rocket engines and supersonic engines,” said Professor Alexander Kozlov from the Moscow Aviation Institute. “Korea has been cooperating with Russia, a leading country in terms of basic sciences, on aerospace and nuclear energy,” said Director Choi Won-ho of the International Cooperation Bureau, part of the MSIP. “Taking this first Korea-Russia Science and Technology Day as an opportunity, I hope our two countries will expand cooperation on establishing a network to develop innovative technologies that will be ready for the fourth industrial revolution.”

From http://www.korea.net 06/09/2017

 

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CAMBODIA: Passing New Law on Senate Election

 

The National Assembly of Cambodia on Tuesday approved the new Law on Senate Election which adds a provision that allows Senate seats to be stripped from any political party that boycotts Senate after an election. Ninety-seven out of 108 lawmakers in attendance adopted the law. Ouk Bun Chhoeun, senator from the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) and chairman of the Senate's legislation commission, said under the new law, any political party that boycotts the first Senate session after the king convenes would see its Senate seat(s) taken away and redistributed to other political parties. He added that the new legislation also increased the number of the Senate seats from the current 61 to 62 in the Senate election on Jan. 14, 2018, and the campaign period for the Senate election was reduced from three weeks to two weeks. He said the new law replaced the old one that was made in 2005. Held every six years, the Senate election will be voted by lawmakers and commune councilors across the country. The current Senate, or the Upper House, has 61 seats, including 46 from the ruling CPP, 11 from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, and two each from the king's institution and the National Assembly. The Sam Rainsy Party merged with the Human Rights Party in late 2012 to form a new party called the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which is now the country's main opposition party.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/20/2017

 

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MYANMAR: Gov't Working on National Climate Change Policy

 

Myanmar government is working towards the adoption of a national climate change policy, expecting to announce the launch of the policy soon. The policy, formulated in collaboration with civil society, private sector and experts from across all sectors, will be launched along with a new national climate change strategy and action plan, President U Htin Kyaw disclosed at a ceremony celebrating the World Environment Day in Nay Pyi Taw on Monday. The president encouraged Myanmar people to appreciate and help preserve the beauty of the country, one of the most ecologically diverse countries in Asia, urging people to take forward the call of the theme of the World Environment Day to connect with the nature. World Environment Day is a United Nations-led annual event since 1972, aimed at bringing awareness to the destructive effects of natural resources extraction pollution and the need to protect biodiversity. Myanmar is blessed with impressive landscapes that extend from the snow-capped mountains in the north to the southern coastal region of Tanintharyi. The variety of Myanmar's ecosystem is cherishable.

 

The country's terrains are home to over 18,000 species of plants, some 1,100 species of birds and almost 300 species of mammals. Of them, 61 species of plants and 44 species of mammals are globally classified as endangered or critically endangered species. The species of Golden Deer and six species of bird in the global endangered species list can only be found in Myanmar. Myanmar, a signatory to the Paris Climate Change Agreement, has voiced commitment to preserving and protecting the environment which includes combating the effects of global warming. The government is working to conserve and protect its precious forest land, natural parks and wildlife sanctuaries. However, Myanmar's many natural forests are being depleted at a rapid rate with air quality and fresh water resources being threatened.

In recent times, the country has experienced an unprecedented increase in temperature and extreme weather events more than ever before. Some major storms struck the country in 2008 and as recently as a week ago, towns and villages in western Rakhine state were impacted by the powerful cyclone Mora. Up to present, communities in Myanmar are still recovering from the impact of cyclone Nargis, the worst natural disaster in the country's history which occurred nearly a decade ago.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com 06/06/2017

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NA Adopts Changes to 2015 Penal Code

 

Teenagers between 14 and 16 will bear criminal liability for very serious crimes under amendments and supplements to the 2015 Penal Code adopted by the parliament yesterday. The National Assembly approved amendments and supplements to some articles of the 2015 Penal Code with 434 deputies, or 88.39 per cent, voting yes. Under the amended law, persons aged 14 to 16 will have to bear penal liability for very serious crimes or extremely serious crimes of intentionally inflicting injury or causing harm to the health of other persons, rape and kidnapping in order to appropriate property. People in this age group will not be charged with criminal liability for less serious or serious crimes related to the three charges. The law also narrows down the scale for penal liability for non-denunciation of crimes. Specifically, the grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, offspring, grandchild, sibling, wife or husband of an offender will not bear penal liability for failing to denounce the offenders’ crimes, excepting for those related to national security or extremely serious crimes. The law has a new article on violations of regulations by multi-level businesses, fixing the highest penalty at VNĐ5 billion or five years in prison. With 89.41 percent of votes, the parliament also approved a resolution saying that the enforcement of the amended 2015 Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Law on Organisation of Criminal Investigation Agency, and Laws on Custody and Temporary Detention, will start from January 1, 2018. Meanwhile, the dates mentioned in regulations stated in the NA Resolution 110/2015/QH13 on November 27, 2017 on the implementation of the 2015 Penal Code, will be changed from “July 1, 2016” to “January 1, 2018”, and “January 1, 2019” to “January 1, 2020”.

 

State compensation, legal aid

Also yesterday, deputies approved the revised laws on State compensation liability and Legal Aid with 92.46 percent of the vote. The revised draft Law on State Compensation comprises nine chapters and 78 articles, stipulating the State’s liability to compensate individuals and organisations suffering damage caused by officials on duty. It defines rights and obligations of sufferers, compensation-liable agencies, procedures to settle compensation claims, and responsibilities of State-run agencies in the field. The revised Law on Legal Aid received 93.28 per cent of yes votes. It comprises eight chapters and 51 articles, stipulating those who are subject to legal assistance, legal aid activities, and responsibilities of agencies, organisations and individuals in the sphere. It states that legal aid is the provision of free legal services for eligible people, contributing to ensuring human and citizen rights in access to justice and equality. Some lawmakers proposed reviewing regulations on children, people with disability, and victims of human trafficking, as well as supplementing some subjects to the group of those receiving legal aid, like people living on or under the poverty line, those completing prison sentences, and overseas Vietnamese. Head of the NA Committee for Legal Affairs, Nguyễn Khắc Định, said the scope of people receiving legal assistance in the draft law increased to 14 groups from the previous seven. The NA Standing Committee asked the legislature to continue expanding legal assistance for all children and ethnic minority people living in particularly disadvantaged areas.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 06/21/2017

 

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SINGAPORE: To Introduce Legislation to Tackle Fake News - Minister

 

Singapore will introduce new legislation to tackle fake news next year, said the Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam on Monday. The Straits Times quoted Shanmugam as saying that the government has to maintain a strong climate of trust, and be able to counter misinformation spread online as well. He said the authorities must be equipped to deal with current challenges, and the society, the media and internet companies also have a role to play. The minister made the statement during his keynote speech at a conference titled "Keep It Real: Truth And Trust In The Media." According to Shanmugam, Singapore has been "particularly vulnerable" to foreign influences harnessing fake news for their own ends. An early survey showed that 91 percent of Singaporeans supported stronger laws to ensure fake news is removed or corrected.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/19/2017

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THAILAND: New Strategy to Focus on Service Business

 

THE COMMERCE Ministry will propose a strategy to develop service businesses to the Cabinet soon so that potential service businesses in health and spa, electric vehicle, and robot, which are grouped under the New S Curve industries, will be fully supported by government agencies and help drive the country’s growth. Bangjongjitt Angsusingh, director-general at the Business Development Department, said the department will soon complete the service business strategy and plan under the government’s New S Curve, and present it for approval to the Cabinet in June so that the targeted service industries will have a clear-cut strategy and be supported by all related government agencies and the private sector. The targeted service businesses that will be developed include health and spa, electric vehicles, and service business that involves use of robots. The draft strategy will be proposed next month to Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn and Deputy Commerce Minister Sonthirat Sonthijirawong before it is passed on to the Cabinet for ratification.

 

Bangjongjitt said the strategy needed Cabinet approval, as the department could not solely support service business development from upstream to downstream. Other involved agencies such as the Public Health Ministry, the Commerce Ministry, and the Industry Ministry must link all business support strategies so that targeted industries will be developed and supported in keeping with the government’s vision. Under the draft strategy, there will be plans to develop human resources in each targeted industries, the setting of standards and rules and regulations for each service industry development. She said that after the strategy is prepared, service businesses would play a more significant role in the Thai economy from the current level to more than 50 per cent of Thai gross domestic product. Moreover, after the development of those industries, other related industries such as herbs and pharmaceuticals, laboratory service, and others will also be promoted under the supply chain.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 05/29/2017

 

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Cabinet Acknowledges Draft Strategy for Protecting Youths Online

 

The Cabinet on Tuesday acknowledged the draft strategy drawn up for the protection of youths when using online media. The five-year-strategy is aimed at setting up a clear system and mechanics to promote and protect youths in regard to using online media safely and constructively, assistant government spokesman Colonel Athisit Chainuwat said. The five strands of the strategy are: to develop efficient mechanics, or a network, including the establishment of a subcommittee; to enforce laws related to the protection and compensation of youths and controlling inappropriate and harmful online content; to create a body of knowledge to raise awareness in using online media; to enhance youths’ potential and support individuals and organisations to get to know the media better; and to raise public awareness and promote safe and constructive media production.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 06/06/2017

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NLA Passes 20-Year National Strategy and Reform Bills

 

The National Legislative Assembly (NLA) passed both the national strategy and reform bills in the second and third readings on Thursday. Both laws are expected to have a significant effect shaping public policies over the next 20 years. The NLA had a small debate about including the presidents of the lower and upper houses of Parliament and excluding the head of the judicial branch in the strategy committee but resolved to maintain the original stipulations. NLA member Somchai Sawangkarn raised a concern whether the heads of the legislative branch could be trusted, giving the example of the previous elected Parliament’s passage of a blanket amnesty bill at 3am. NLA member Jade Siratharanon said the committee should include all branches of government including the judiciary to ensure balance. Borwornsak Uwanno, a member of the vetting committee, countered that including the heads of Parliament was essential because they would be elected by the people and should be part of the national strategy. Regarding the exclusion of judges from the high courts, Bowornsak said some issues regarding national strategy would have to considered by the courts, implying that the judiciary’s inclusion on the committee would be redundant. The NLA passed the draft in the third reading in a vote of 217 to zero with three abstentions after two hours of deliberation. The NLA also passed the reform bill by 216 to zero with four abstentions after deliberations lasting one hour without major debate.

 

Key points in the National Strategy draft bill

– The bill has been written taking into account Article 65 of the 2017 Constitution, which requires the state to come up with a national strategy to set out a long-term goal for sustainable development based on good governance as well as providing an integrated framework for the country’s development plans.

– The National Strategy Committee is appointed, chaired by the prime minister. All top brass will sit along with representatives from other sectors in the committee of 35 members.

– The committee must create a national strategy, which is a common goal for all government agencies to pursue for at least 20 years.

– The National Strategy consists of the country’s vision, long-term goals, the assessment criteria or indicators, and strategies or master plans. The strategies or master plans must be in line with the national reform plans set under another the draft bill on national reforms.

– The National Strategy must be reviewed every five years by the committee and should be revised corresponding to the changing circumstances.

– The National Strategy binds all government agencies and officials legally. Those failing to accomplish the set goals or follow the plans will be subject to examination by the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

– During the five-year transitional period, the junta-appointed Senate will be responsible for ensuring that the government is obliged to report progress on the strategy to the Senate every quarter. It could face similar examinations for failing to comply with the strategy.

– There is a provisional chapter to kickstart the process.

– The National Strategy Committee must set up all the necessary panels to work on strategies for different areas within 30 days.

– All the committees must complete national strategies in all areas within 120 days after taking office.

– The strategy must be submitted to the Cabinet after an opinion-gathering process (within 45 days)

– The Cabinet must forward it to the National Legislative Assembly in 30 days.

– The NLA must pass it within 30 days before resubmitting it to the PM for seeking further royal endorsement.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 06/22/2017

 

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VIETNAM: Ministry Proposes Green Protection Fuel Tax Hike

 

The Ministry of Finance wants to increase environmental protection tax on petrol and oil to ensure sufficient budget collection, as the country has to cut import taxes to fulfil international commitments. The proposal is part of the draft Law on Environmental Protection Tax, which is scheduled to be submitted to the National Assembly for revision in October. At a conference held late last week, Nguyễn Đình Thi, director of the ministry’s Tax Policies Department, said that as per the draft law, the environmental protection tax on petrol would be raised from the current VNĐ1,000-4,000 (US$0.04-0.18) to VNĐ3,000-8,000 per litre. For kerosene, the proposed tax is VNĐ2,000 from VNĐ300. Tax hikes are necessary amid Việt Nam’s rapid international integration, for which it has to fulfil international commitments, and that include cutting import taxes, Thi said, adding that the move is aimed at protecting national interests. Petrol and oil prices in Việt Nam are lower than in 136 countries, including many ASEAN countries such as Laos, the Philippines and Singapore. In Việt Nam, taxes (including special consumption, environmental protection and added value taxes) on petrol make up 37.5 per cent of the price, much lower than in countries such as Korea (70 per cent), Thailand (67 per cent), Laos (56 per cent) and Cambodia (40 per cent). “The hikes will help us cope with the significant oil price fluctuations in the global market,” Thi said.

 

The tax is also aimed at increasing awareness on the need to protect the environment and encouraging the use of eco-friendly products. The ministry said the tax hike would be based on a roadmap on the country’s socio-economic development and evaluation of the impact on businesses and living so as to prevent a shock for the economy. If passed by the National Assembly, the law will take effect in 2018 at the earliest, so it will not affect petrol and oil prices this year, the ministry said. As per ministry’s statistics, environmental tax collection totalled VNĐ106 trillion ($4.7 billion) in the 2012-16 period, accounting for 1.36 per cent to 4.27 per cent of the total collection budget each year. Money spent for environmental protection was around 2 per cent of the State budget. The Việt Nam Petrol and Oil Association supported the environmental protection tax increases at a recent conference, stating that domestic taxes on petrol and oil should be raised to ensure budget collection. Retail prices will hardly see any changes as the decrease in import tax will make up for the rise in environmental protection tax, the association said. However, domestic businesses are concerned that the hike will translate in a rise in the retail price of petrol, which will affect prices of other products and burden the economy, especially local enterprises.

 

Nguyễn Đức Hùng Linh from Saigon Securities Inc argued that the environmental protection tax should not be raised, given the current economic situation. The budget has run a surplus in the first four months of this year, driven by improved collection of personal income tax, import-export taxes, VAT and corporate income tax, Linh pointed out. Environmental protection tax should not be raised as long as the purchasing power remains low, he added. If it is not raised, consumers will likely spend more on necessary products such as food and food stuff. “This will ensure a better living standard, while promoting consumption,” Linh said, adding that the hike would impact the low-income group. Nguyễn Tiến Thỏa, former director of the finance ministry’s Prime Management Department, said it was important to do a comprehensive, careful evaluation on the impact of a hike in environmental protection tax as it will have an effect on many economic sectors. “The tax must be at a reasonable level to nurture budget collection,” Thỏa said, adding that a reasonable tax level would stimulate production, business and consumption, and collection of other taxes would rise while jobs are created. In the draft law, the ministry has also proposed to raise tax on hydrochlorofluorocarbon liquids and plastic bags, in an effort to limit the use of these environmentally harmful products.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 05/30/2017

 

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NA Deputies Discuss Technology Transfer Law

 

Deputies of the National Assembly spent the whole morning yesterday discussing a draft revision to the Law on Technology Transfer. Most deputies agreed that the proposed changes will create favourable conditions for technology transfer and raise the level of the country’s technology. They also expressed hope that new technology will help Việt Nam produce high quality products that can compete in both domestic and international markets. Lê Hồng Quân, from Hà Nội, hoped that the Law on Technology; the draft Law on the Management of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises; and the Law on Technology Transfer will speed up the process of technology transfer and application from developers to end users. In his opinion, K. Nhiễu, from Lâm Đồng Province, asked the committee drafting the law to work on a legal system that encourages scientific research institutes, universities and Departments of Science and Technology nationwide to share or transfer their scientific expertise to enterprises. He also asked the NA to develop a special mechanism for technology transfer in the field of rural agricultural development.

 

Lê Quang Trí, from Tiền Giang Province, proposed the inclusion of an article on giving priority to technology transfer in the context of climate change. This would ensure that the Government develops policies addresses the impact of climate change. Delegate Nguyễn Phi Long, from Bình Dương Province, complained that as it stands the draft law is very general and contains no breakthrough policies that encourage the transfer of new technologies, including clean and advanced technologies in the production of key products, particularly for national defence and security. During the discussion, many delegates also raised the idea of giving preferential treatment so as to attract talented Vietnamese citizens who were educated abroad to return and work for the country. “We should adopt policies to attract human resources specialised in advanced science and technology and educated abroad to return home to work at universities or research institutes. This is an effective way to transfer advanced technology to our country”, emphasised Nguyễn Thị Lan, a delegate from Hà Nội.

 

During their discussion, the delegates all agreed on the necessity to streamline administrative procedures in order to avoid waste and lessen spending for enterprises in the course of acquiring new technology for production. Regarding the transfer of technology licences, delegate Tạ Văn Hạ, from Bạc Liêu Province raised his concerns about transfers which may bring about detrimental impacts to national security, the environment or the health of the community. “That’s why the technology transfer procedures must be transparent and accountable”, Hạ said. Sharing the same view, delegate Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Lan, from Bắc Ninh Province, asked the draft committee to clearly specify the concept of “backwards technology” which is included in the draft law revision. Delegate Lê Minh Thông, from Thanh Hóa Province underlined the need to have a thorough appraisal of the project to ensure technology transfers would not be detrimental to the environment. All delegates agreed on the need to impose due sanctions on enterprises which had deliberately imported outdated technology and called for responsibility from agencies assigned the task of technology appraisal. In the afternoon, the National Assembly delegates discussed a draft Law on the management and use of weapons, explosives and supporting tools.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 06/03/2017

 

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Vietnam Mulls Approving Special Economic Zones Scheme

 

Vietnam's top legislature will consider approving a scheme or a draft law on special administrative-economic zones which specifies preferential treatment for investors in the zones in terms of currency, land, manpower, tax and other fields. Enterprises in the first three special economic zones, to be built in northern Quang Ninh province, central Khanh Hoa province and southern Kien Giang province, will enjoy tax exemption for four years, tax reduction for 30 years, low land rentals, flexible policies on human resources, and convertible currencies besides Vietnamese dong, the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment said on Tuesday. Late last year, the Vietnamese government decided to build three special administrative-economic zones, including Van Don in Quang Ninh, Bac Van Phong in Khanh Hoa, and Phu Quoc in Kien Giang. Covering an area of 66,000 hectares, Bac Van Phong is expected to become an international hub of seaport, financial, tourism, medical and educational services, according to Kien Giang authorities. The three special economic zones are expected to annually contribute billions of U.S. dollars to gross regional domestic product (GRDP) from 2020, and raise an average annual income of each resident in the zones to 12,000-13,000 U.S. dollars from 2030, said the ministry. Vietnam's per capita gross domestic product (GDP) was 2,215 U.S. dollars in 2016, up 106 U.S. dollars against 2015, according to the country's General Statistics Office.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/06/2017

 

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NA Passes Law on Supporting SMEs

 

With 83.5 per cent of approval votes, the National Assembly on Monday passed the Law on Support for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). The law, with four chapters and 35 articles, regulates principles, contents and resources to support SMEs, as well as responsibilities of agencies, organisations and individuals relating to the support for SMEs. Under the law, SMEs include micro-enterprises and small- and medium-sized enterprises with the average number of employees with social insurance being less than 200 per year. Also, these enterprises must meet one of the following two criteria, including the total investment capital not exceeding VNĐ100 billion (US$4.4 million) and the total revenue of the previous year not exceeding VNĐ300 billion; or the enterprises must be as defined in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and industry and construction, as well as trade and services. The law requires that the support for SMEs must respect the market rule and fall in line with international treaties of which Việt Nam is a member. The support must be done transparently and openly in terms of contents, beneficiaries, procedures and processes, besides resources, support level and support results, according to the law. The law will take effect from January 1, 2018. SMEs accounts for around 97 per cent of the firms in Việt Nam.

 

Supervision work

Earlier the same day, the NA approved a Resolution on the NA’s supervision work in 2018 with 88.8 per cent of approval votes. In 2018, at the fifth session of the 14th NA, the NA will review the Government report on the results of the implementation of the socio-economic development plan and State budget of 2017; the implementation of the socio-economic development plan and State budget of early months of 2018; and report on the State budget balance in 2016 and other related reports. At this session, the NA will supervise the implementation of policies and laws on managing and using State capital and assets at State enterprises, and the equitisation of State-owned enterprises during the periods between 2011 and 2016. 

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 06/12/2017

 

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Vietnam Issues National Plan to Cope with Radiation, Nuclear Incidents

 

The Vietnamese prime minister has issued a national plan to cope with radiation and nuclear incidents, ensuring preparation of technical infrastructure, equipment, tools and human resources for timely and effective response to the incidents. Vietnam will establish a national-level network which consists of the National Committee for Responding to incidents, natural disasters, and search and rescue, a site command station, national organizations engaging in the incidents, and technical supporting teams directed by the committee, Vietnam News Agency reported on Tuesday. An information collecting system, to be run by the Ministry of Science and Technology, will gather information on incidents happening outside Vietnam and posing risks to people and the environment in the country through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as information exchange channels among countries. The ministry will verify the accuracy of the information and evaluate the nature and danger level of the incidents, thus seeking measures to respond to them and request for international help. Scrapping its first nuclear power plant project, Vietnam is strengthening applications of nuclear energy and technologies in various spheres, especially healthcare, agriculture and industry.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/20/2017

 

 

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INDIA: Citrix Rolls Out New Secure Digital Workplace Services

 

NEW DELHI: Aiming to make enterprises more secure in the wake of the recent global 'WannaCrypt" ransomware attack, leading IT company Citrix on Tuesday announced new secure digital workspace offerings.The new innovations include a new secure digital workspace, Cloud services and a new product called Citrix Analytics.Citrix also introduced a new intelligent security framework geared to secure and simplify access and control of the apps and data people need to work."With these, we are providing a wealth of protection to defend our customers and users against future cyber attacks that are definitely going to come sooner than we expect," Kirill Tatarinov, President and CEO, Citrix, told reporters here at the 'Synergy 2017' event being held at Orange County Convention Center here.Companies and governments will spend close to $1 trillion on cyber security by 2021 and 80 per cent worry about data breaches."We did not have any incident of 'WannaCrypt' hitting our customers. Today, 66 per cent of our customers see Citrix as a secure option," he added.The new Citrix enhanced secure digital workspace user experience unifies access and management of mobile, SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), web and Windows apps and documents, and consolidates access, control and workflows in one, easy-to-use solution.The Citrix secure digital workspace is designed to be contextual, ensuring employees have the optimal balance of security, productivity and performance based on location, device, identity and other analytics.

 

From directly within the secure digital workspace, users can create, edit and collaborate on Microsoft Office 365 online documents.The uesrs can then initiate a custom workflow and approval process with colleagues - all without leaving the workspace, and without having to re-authenticate as they switch between SaaS applications.Citrix Analytics is a security and behaviour analytics offering that extends the capabilities of the proven Citrix NetScaler Management and Analytics System (MAS) with new behaviour detection, insights and proactive risk resolution capabilities.This new offering leverages machine learning and analyses data sets across Citrix product portfolio to enable IT organisations find and quickly troubleshoot application infrastructure performance issues."We also announce Citrix Security Practice -- a focused group who understand the domain of security and will work with our customers to safeguard data and systems," Tatarinov added."To be efficient and successful, organisations need to provide their people with a simple, unified and consistent user experience on any device with intelligent security that's designed to deliver the workspace of the future," noted PJ Hough, Senior Vice President, product, Citrix.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 05/28/2017

 

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Three Years of Modi’s Digital India

 

With the BJP-led NDA government completing three years at the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been at the helm of all key reforms. The Government’s prominent initiatives like Digital India, e-governance, and Aadhaar enablement have drawn much admiration as his favourite schemes. Innovations in Digital Payments have made India the only country in the world with a fingerprint-based payment system (bio-metric system). According to government’s statistics, digital transactions have increased to Rs 865.9 crore in 2016-2017 from Rs 254.5 crores. As a step to raise the internet connectivity, the Modi government has been able to increase the Optical Fibre Broadband Network to 2,05,404 km this year. In 2013-14, the network was spread over an area of 358 km only. Demonetisation, a bold move by the Modi government, introduced the country at large to the process of digitisation in a major way. The recent state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur, and Punjab were largely viewed as a statement on this demonetisation push which declared Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as invalid last November. After initially leaving most of the people flabberghasted, demonetisation later received a rousing welcome in various quarters of society. In 2016-17, a total of 722.2 million transactions were recorded through mobile banking as compared to 94.7 million transactions recorded in 2013-14.

 

Modi government has also used Aadhaar as a source of one’s identification. The government has achieved 600 crore authentications through Aadhaar so far. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has started training sessions for digital payments. Till now 2.04 crore people have registered for such courses, according to government statistics. The Government also started Unified Payments Interface (UPI)—a payment system that allows mobile-enabled money transfers between bank accounts. A mobile app by the name of BHIM was also recently launched for a less-cash economy. Under Modi government dispensation, rural electrification has increased in the country. The number of electrified villages swelled to 6,015 in 2016-17 from 1,197 villages recorded in 2013-14. The central government is also encouraging increased usage of electric vehicles. There is a focus to use clean and renewable energy generation. Modi’s government’s flagship programme — Swachh Bharat Mission — focuses on cleanliness.  In 2013-14, the number of toilets constructed across the country were 49.76 lakh. In 2016-17, it surged to 2.09 crore.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 06/01/2017

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Cabinet Apprised of India-Bangladesh Agreement on IT Ties


NEW DELHI: The cabinet was on Wednesday apprised of a bilateral agreement that seeks closer ties between India and Bangladesh in IT and electronics sectors and explores investment opportunities from that country.The cabinet was briefed about the Memorandum of Understanding the two countries signed in April when Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was on a visit to India.The MoU focuses primarily on cooperation in e-Governance, m-Governance, e-Public services delivery, cyber security and capacity building."It aims to explore business opportunities, IT and electronics market in Bangladesh by Indian IT companies and attract investment in Indian electronics and IT sectors in India which would indirectly generate employment opportunities," an official statement said.

From http://www.siliconindia.com 06/15/2017

 

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UP Govt to Formulate Separate Cybercrime Law

 

Considering the recent rise in cybercrime cases in the state, Uttar Pradesh government is planning to make a separate cybercrime law for the state. Azam Khan, Parliamentary Affair Minister, told that the Uttar Pradesh state government has instructed the Ministry of Home Affairs to make a separate cybercrime law so that the rising cases of cybercrime could be controlled.He said that he wants the law to be made by consensus. There is a uncontrolled use of abusive language and due to the lack of a strict law, nothing much could be done against them. UP police department has developed a software which can show all the details only on typing a special word, he added. It will help to grab those who pass provoking and abusive comments on social media.He also discussed the initiatives taken by the government to build cyber police stations and controlling cybercrime in the state.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 06/19/2017

 

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Hy-Fi Project Launched in Hyderabad

 

Taking forward the promise of providing world-class IT facilities, Telangana Government has launched the “Hyderabad City Wi-Fi Project”, also known as Hy-Fi, with over 1,000 hot-spots in the state capital.Inaugurated by Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Mayor Bonthu Rammohan, the ambitious project will eventually cover 3,000 hotspots in various locations of the city.Many senior state government officials and dignitaries including Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Department of IT, Electronics, and Communications, Government of Telangana, and Dr B Janardhan Reddy, Commissioner, GHMC were present during the launch ceremony.Addressing the gathering on the occasion, GHMC Mayor Rammohan said that being the newest state of the country, “Telangna aspires to be the best state” in all aspects.He said Hyderabad has been an inspiration for other cities in IT, business and living standards, and “this city will continue to adopt new technologies” for uplifting each citizen’s lifestyle.“Hy-Fi will set another example making Hyderabad a truly connected city even on the digital front,” the Mayor added. Under the Digital Telangana umbrella, Telangana launched Hyderabad City Wi-Fi Project (Hy-Fi) pilot version during June 2015.

 

This pilot version witnessed the government partner with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide free Wi-Fi for half-an-hour at about 100 public category locations across Hyderabad. These locations include malls, tourist spots, public offices, police stations, government schools and colleges, etc.In last two years, the number has more than doubled to cover about 250 locations. Considering the tremendous success the pilot project has witnessed, the State Government has decided to scale up the project to cover over 3,000 locations across Hyderabad.A separate Government Order has been, in fact, brought out to enable smooth execution of the programme for ISPs. The Government has agreed to take a two-phased approach. It is meant to complete the Wi-Fi project which is a unique example of government and industry participation for enriching community life and enhancing public safety.Currently, over 1,000 hotspots are being installed with an assured bandwidth of 5-10 Mbps offering 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi.Speaking at the occasion and announcing the launch of second phase of the programme, Jayesh Ranjan, Principal Secretary, Department of IT, Electronics and Communications, Govt. of Telangana said that Digital India is the future and “Telangana is marching ahead to achieve this dream.”

 

“Hy-Fi is another pro-people initiative where citizens will avail free Wi-Fi to do their work. Businessperson, shopkeepers, entrepreneurs, students, women and tourists will benefit from this essential service.” Dr B Janardhan Reddy, Commissioner, GHMC said Hy-Fi is another major achievement for the city with the citizens being the major benefactors of the service.“With the high penetration of smartphones, free Wi-Fi will be a boost for the people. It will surely enhance the lifestyle of the citizens.”Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the apex industry association of telecom services providers, mobile and internet companies, the technical advisor to Telangana Government in this ambitious project, was represented by Rajan S Mathews, Director General, COAI on the panel.Mathews was joined by several leaders from the telecom industry including Venkatesh Vijayraghavan, Circle CEO – Bharti Airtel, Bala Malladi, CEO – ACT Fibernet and Sujit Sen, Circle CEO – Indus Towers.Mathews, Director General, COAI said with successful completion of the Hy-Fi project, Hyderabad and Telangana will emerge as an example for rest of the country.“It is a proud moment for the state and the telecom industry as well. As partners in this ambitious project, the telecom industry will partner in the timely completion of the project. This will provide high speed internet access connecting citizen with education, commerce and opportunities,” Mathews added.

 

“COAI represents the leading telecom and technology companies across the country and Hyderabad is the city of choice for everything IT. We look forward to working closely with government of Telangana and are proud to be consultants of the government in its endeavour for a fully connected Digital India,” he added.The programme will also be viewed as an example of the expertise from government and industry coming together for the larger good of the massesHighlighting the significant role of the telecom industry, Venkatesh Vijayraghavan, Circle CEO – Bharti Airtel said, “Airtel has been a partner in the Government’s Digital India vision and we are delighted to support Hy-fi, the country’s largest and fastest public Wi-Fi network.With this digital initiative, Hyderabad has further cemented its reputation as one of India’s technology capitals. Together with the Telangana Government and the industry we are committed to demonstrate endless possibilities of new digital experiences to the citizens of Hyderabad.Another unique aspect of the programme is the participation of private players who provide the last mile or home connectivity from Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

 

Bangalore-based Atria Convergence Technologies has been selected for bridging the last mile gap in the project.Bala Malladi, CEO – ACT Fibernet, while addressing the gathering said: “With the growing number of citizens moving towards digital economy, our partnership with the Telangana government will bolster the internet connectivity in Hyderabad.”“With more than 1,000 hotspots to be installed in the coming months across the city will enable users to access high-speed internet both inside their homes and on the go throughout Hyderabad.”Speaking about the project, Sujit Sen, Circle CEO – Indus Towers said, “We are committed to ensure a robust infrastructure for deploying this project and hope that this will act as the foundation stone for other programs driving Digital India in the state.”The Hy-Fi project is a successful example of how the government and the industry can collaborate for a meaningful partnership together which benefits all stakeholders.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 06/21/2017

 

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India Needs Legal Infrastructure to Lead in Artificial Intelligence

 

NEW DELHI: In order to become a frontrunner in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), India should take the lead in establishing a legal infrastructure on its application, a study said here on Thursday.According to a recent Assocham-PwC joint study titled "Leveraging artificial intelligence and robotics for sustainable growth", an early public sector interest could trigger a spurt of activity in the AI field in India, instead of waiting for technology to reach a level where regulatory intervention becomes necessary.The study said a range of applications for AI techniques in large-scale public endeavours like "Make in India", "Skill India" and others could range from crop insurance schemes, tax fraud detection, detecting subsidy leakage and security strategy."If investments are made in the two initiatives without due cognisance of how Industry 4.0 (the next industrial revolution driven by robotic automation) may evolve with respect to demand for workforce size and skill sets, there is a possibility of ending up with capital-intensive infrastructures and assets that fall short of being optimised for automated operations and a large workforce skilled in areas growing beyond the need for manual intervention only," it added.Information technology (IT), manufacturing, agriculture and forestry are certain sectors that are expected to experience shrinkage of employment demand as robotic systems and machine learning algorithms take up several tasks, the study said.

 

Highlighting how AI can be effectively used in execution of government schemes, the study pointed out that "deep learning", a part of AI, can be employed to tackle prevalent issues."It is essentially a process that can be used for pattern recognition, image analysis and natural language processing (NLP) by modelling high-level abstractions in data which can then be compared with various other recognised contents in a conceptual way rather than using just a rule-based method," it said.The study added that in comparison to the West and frontrunners of AI adoption in Asia, such as China and Korea, the culture and infrastructure needed to develop a base for the adoption of AI in mainstream applications in India is in need of an impetus."As such it is imperative in India to foster a culture of innovation and research beyond the organisation as is common in global technology giants," it added.

From http://www.siliconindia.com 06/21/2017

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Needs Law on Protection of Creditors’ Rights

 

Azerbaijan needs to adopt a law on protection of creditors’ rights, Zakir Nuriyev, head of Azerbaijan Banks Association (ABA), told reporters in Baku May 31. “It is very difficult to achieve active development of crediting without this law,” he said. Nuriyev noted that currently, the interest rates on deposits accepted by banks are very high, and this affects lending rates. It is difficult for small and medium enterprises, and even large businesses, to attract loans with high interest rates, and adopting such a law would help develop lending in Azerbaijan.  

From http://en.trend.az/ 05/31/2017 

 

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Gov't Drafts New Strategy for Managing Debt

 

The Azerbaijani Parliament [Milli Majlis] adopted a law on the execution of the state budget for 2016 at a plenary meeting on May 31.  The revenues of Azerbaijan’s state budget amounted to 17.5 billion manats [$10.3 billion] in 2016 (104.1 percent fulfilled), expenses - 17.75 billion manats [$10.4 million] (96 percent fulfilled). The deficit of the state budget amounted to 245.6 million manats [$144.3 million], which is lower than the forecast by 1.67 billion manats [$981.2 million].  Finance Minister Samir Sharifov, addressing the meeting, said that despite the difficult year, it was possible to achieve important social and economic tasks, under the leadership of the head of state.  Sharifov noted that currently, important projects are being implemented with a view to reduce dependence of the national economy on oil.  “All this will ultimately allow us ensuring stability of the economy and neutralizing external shocks,” the minister added.  The minister further said that the 2017-state budget is being realized, while preparations underway to draft the state budget for next year. 

 

The Law on 2017 State Budget projects the state budget revenues for 2017 at 16.255 billion manats [$9.537billion] and expenses at 16.9 billion manats [$9.91 billion].  The upper limit of the budget deficit is expected at the level of 645 million manats (1.05% of the GDP) in 2017.   The budget for 2017 predicted $40 oil, $10 less the average price in the first months of the year. In 2016, the Azerbaijani government originally based its budget on an average price of $50 oil, and later revised it given the price of oil at $25 per barrel.   The minister went on to say that the Azerbaijani government is preparing a strategy for public debt management.  As of January 1, 2017, the volume of Azerbaijan’s external public debt hit $6,913.2 million [12,241.3 million manats], which is 20.4 percent of the country’s GDP.  External public debt consists mainly of credit programs and infrastructure projects of international financial institutions and valuable securities placed on international financial markets.  

From https://www.azernews.az 05/31/2017 

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TURKMENISTAN: Parliament Adopts Law on Environmental Safety

 

The Turkmen Parliament has approved and adopted the draft law “On Environmental Safety”, the Turkmen government said in a message. The new law regulates relations in the field of environmental safety during implementation of economic and other activities by legal entities and individuals and is aimed at ensuring vital interests of a person and society, as well as protecting the environment, the message said. It was earlier reported that mandatory environmental insurance was introduced in Turkmenistan for institutions, enterprises and organizations that carry out environmentally hazardous activities.  

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/05/2017 

 

 

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Law on Refugees Updated in Turkmenistan

 

The Turkmen Parliament has approved and adopted an updated version of the law “On refugees”, the Turkmen government said in a message June 5. “Being a permanent member of the Executive Committee of the Program of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, our country [Turkmenistan] is making significant contribution to the efforts of the world community by holding purposeful work and taking effective steps to assist refugees and protect their rights,” the message said. The law “On refugees” in Turkmenistan was adopted in 1997.  

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/05/2017

 

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Law on Environmental Security Comes into Force in Turkmenistan

 

A law on environmental security came into effect in Turkmenistan on June 15.  The law is aimed at ensuring the vital interests of people and society, protecting the environment from the dangers posed by anthropogenic and natural impacts.  The creation and maintenance of a national system of environmental security is defined in the law as a mandatory condition for implementation of the state strategy for sustainable social and economic development.  The law proclaims environmental security as an integral part of the security of an individual, society and the state, the right of citizens to a favorable environment for life and health and to reliable information on the state of environmental security in their places of residence.  Meanwhile, the state support for entrepreneurial activity in the field of environmental security is guaranteed through the establishment of tax and other benefits.  A number of articles of the law are dedicated to the state examination of environmental security, certification of products of chemical and petrochemical industries, engineering and power industry, processes, work and services.  Moreover, the products of this group imported by Turkmenistan, which have trademarks and certificates of environmental security of the producing country, must pass through the procedure of certification of conformity.

From http://en.trend.az/ 06/15/2017

 

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Turkmenistan Adopts Law on Environmental Safety

 

The law on environmental safety, aimed at ensuring the vital interests of human and society, protecting the environment from the dangers posed by anthropogenic and natural impacts, came into force in Turkmenistan.  The creation and maintenance of a national system of environmental safety is defined in the law as a mandatory condition for the implementation of the state strategy for sustainable social and economic development.  The responsibility of bodies of state power and local self-government, public associations for ensuring environmental safety in the corresponding territory has been established.  A new legal act stipulates compulsory insurance of civil liability of enterprises and industries that are a source of increased environmental danger.  The independence of the environmental audit of economic and other activities, as well as the compulsory compensation of damage caused as a result of damage to the environment and public health are stipulated in the law.  The law proclaims environmental security an integral part of the security of the individual, society and the state, the right of citizens to a favorable environment for life and health and to reliable information on the state of environmental security in the places of their residence.  The state support of entrepreneurial activity in the field of environmental safety is guaranteed through the establishment of tax and other benefits.  A number of articles of the law are devoted to the state examination of environmental safety, certification of products of chemical and petrochemical industries, engineering and electric power industry, processes, works and services.

From https://www.azernews.az 06/15/2017

 

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UZBEKISTAN: Provision of Electronic Services Discussed in "Ipoteka-bank" JSCIB

 

The development of information technology positively influences the processes taking place in society and raises the effectiveness of reforms and serves the interests of the population. Today, the use of "Electronic Government" not only facilitates our daily life but also helps to save time. In particular, it plays an important role in providing high-quality banking services to the public. The effectiveness of state electronic services and their opportunities were discussed during a seminar organized by Shaykhantahur branch of Ipoteka Bank. The event was organized jointly with the Development Center of the Electronic Government System. To date, the e-government system has been used effectively in such countries as the United States, Britain, Germany, Australia, South Korea and Singapore. In these countries many banking services can be used online without leaving home. Such services include carrying out various payments, sending electronic signatures and others. The seminar focused on BPR - business process reengineering. - Moreover, we raised questions on rendering bank electronic services, business processes engineering at the seminar. In addition, the issues of the Unified Identification System were discussed, which is related to the databases of individuals and legal entities on reliability of the information provided," said Zhasur Umarov, the head of the Electronic Government System Development Center. Today's meeting with representatives of the Development Center "Electronic Government" is of great importance for Shaykhantahur branch of the bank. We received a lot of important and useful information. The introduction of e-government in all areas of activity, especially in banking, will save time and allow receiving important information without leaving home," said Aziza Shergalieva, the head of the Economic Analysis and Securities Department of Shaykhantahur Branch of “Ipoteka Bank" JSCIB.  During the event, they talked about the Single Portal of Interactive State Services, its advantages.

From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 06/06/2017

 

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AUSTRALIA: Data-Retention Legislation Sending Australians into the Arms of VPN Providers

 

NordVPN has reported a doubling of customers thanks to Australia's data-retention laws.NordVPN has reported a 100 percent increase in users since April 13, 2017, thanking the federal government's mandatory data-retention laws for sending those concerned about their privacy straight to the arms of the virtual private network (VPN) provider."It's common for people to turn to VPNs when anti-privacy laws are passed," said Marty P Kamden, CMO of NordVPN. "Collecting metadata undermines Australians' privacy -- and the benefits of data collection are still not clear. Additionally, any kind of data retention is known to attract hackers, lured by huge amounts of personal data stored in one place."The data-retention legislation, the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Act 2015, passed by the Australian government in March 2015, came into effect in October 2015 and sees customers' call records, location information, IP addresses, billing information, and other data stored for two years by telecommunications carriers, accessible without a warrant by law-enforcement agencies.

 

"When faced with surveillance by government, internet service providers (ISP), large companies, and advertisers, people still have some power in their own hands to protect their privacy," NordVPN claims, urging people to regularly delete cookies, use privacy-oriented browser plugins, install anti-virus and anti-tracking software, and make sure not to enter personal passcodes and credit card information when using open Wi-Fi networks.A VPN encrypts user data and routes it through a secure tunnel to the VPN provider before accessing the internet. It protects information about a user's location by essentially hiding an IP address, with the only information visible to an ISP being that the user is connected to a VPN server. The VPN provider may still be able to see all traffic or none, depending on its setup.While a VPN protects people's privacy, it only goes so far, and will not save users from all government surveillance.

 

On April 13, 2017, the day flagged by NordVPN, the Australian government announced the decision to prevent civil litigants from using telecommunications data being stored under data-retention legislation in court proceedings, saying its review into the matter found there was "insufficient reason" for allowing exceptions.The government had conducted a review into whether it should prohibit access by parties to data retained by telecommunications providers or whether retained telco data could be used in civil proceedings following a recommendation from the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) on the matter."Personal data of millions of Australians is kept in vast, not necessarily well-encrypted databases, posing a major security and privacy threat in case of a data breach," NordVPN added. "Similar laws have been adopted in multiple countries -- however, based on their experience, metadata cannot effectively help in fighting crime."

 

It isn't just the government that NordVPN is warning users against, naming Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple as tech giants it wants people to be wary of."Data has recently become the most valuable commodity in the world, and it stays in the hands of a few giants," the company explained."Facebook knows who are user's friends, which interactions they did, which sites they visited, what they bought, and much more. Google collects a user's name, email address, telephone number and credit card -- if entered. It also uses different types of cookies to track one's interaction with other websites, device used, search queries, and so on."It's a sentiment echoed by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web."As our data is then held in proprietary silos, out of sight to us, we lose out on the benefits we could realise if we had direct control over this data, and chose when and with whom to share it," he said previously. Berners-Lee proposes the idea of personal "data pods" to strike a balance that puts a fair level of data control back in the hands of people."I imagined the web as an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries," Berners-Lee said. "In many ways, the web has lived up to this vision, though it has been a recurring battle to keep it open."

From http://www.zdnet.com 06/02/2017

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Turnbull to Push Parole Plan at COAG

 

Malcolm Turnbull says there will be serious discussions with the states at COAG about parole decisions for people on terror watchlists. The prime minister's comments come after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said parole decisions involving people on terror watchlists should be a 'national issue' and have the involvement of ASIO and federal police. Melbourne gunman Yacqub Khayre was on parole at the time of Monday's attack in Brighton and it's understood he was part of an official deradicalisation program run by the Islamic Council of Victoria. Mr Turnbull said it was a 'toxic combination' if people had links to terrorism and a violent criminal history, like Kharyre did. 'We certainly want to make sure that people like Khayre are not released on parole and we are going to have a very serious discussion about this at COAG,' he told 3AW on Wednesday. 'I don't want to make this a partisan or a political issue, this is a question of national leadership and national responsibility.'

 

Mr Andrews says the Commonwealth must have a role in parole decision relating to people with known terror links. 'I want ASIO and the Australian Federal Police not just to be providing advice, but to be directly involved in any decision to grant parole to anybody on that watch list,' Mr Andrews told ABC News on Wednesday. 'We need to make sure all of our agencies aren't just sharing information, but sharing responsibility to keep Australians safe.' Opposition leader Matthew Guy said ASIO and the AFP should have been involved in parolee decisions 'from the very start.' 'The government appears to be, as far as I can see, panicking about a system it's had two and a half years to fix,' he told reporters at parliament. Mr Andrews said he has received advice from Victoria Police that there are 20 Victorians currently part of a deradicalisation program, including people who have served their sentences but are not on parole, some who never went to prison and some that are currently behind bars. None in the program are in community as parolees, he said. The COAG meeting with the prime minister and other premiers is being held in in Hobart on Friday.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 06/07/2017

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Abbott Warns of Adopting Low Emissions Target

 

Tony Abbott says the federal government will make a big mistake if it adopted a low emissions target that made it hard to build new coal-fired power stations. The former prime minister expressed his 'anxiety' around reports concerning chief scientist Alan Finkel's review of the national energy sector. His worry is that the Finkel report, due to be delivered on Friday, will recommend a scenario whereby renewable energy is at 70 per cent by 2030. 'And coal, which is by far the cheapest source of baseload power ... goes from currently 65 per cent to 25 per cent total energy generation,' he told Sydney's 2GB radio on Wednesday. 'Anything that makes it impossible for us to bank new, efficient coal-fired power stations I think is a big mistake.' Mr Abbott said Australia's electricity system primary objective was to provide affordable reliable energy, not to reduce emissions. The Liberals needed to be the party of cheap power, and let the Labor party be the ones who send prices up. He stopped short of saying the government should follow Donald Trump's United States and withdraw from the global Paris agreement but noted its targets were merely aspirational and not binding.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 06/08/2017

 

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Australian Parliament Passes eSafety Expansion Bill

 

The eSafety Commissioner's remit has been expanded beyond children to provide reporting and supporting mechanisms for all Australians online.The Australian Parliament has passed legislation to improve the reporting and supporting mechanisms of online safety issues by expanding the role of the eSafety Commissioner to be responsible for the online safety of all Australians.The Enhancing Online Safety for Children Amendment Bill 2017, passed by Parliament on Tuesday, widens the remit by renaming the Children's eSafety Commissioner as the eSafety Commissioner.Julie Inman Grant was appointed eSafety commissioner by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in November last year, with the government at the time saying the office would develop an online reporting platform in which it had invested AU$4.8 million in October.

 

Inman Grant is set to collaborate with Australia's states and territories to deliver consistent penalties for distributing non-consensual intimate images and videos online, colloquially known as "revenge porn".The platform, which is slated to be launched this year, will allow cases where a photo or video of a sexual nature or one that depicts nudity has been shared or distributed without consent to be reported, as well as providing access to support. The Department of Communications has announced that it is now also seeking feedback on whether to implement civil penalties for those who are responsible for sharing revenge porn.Minister for Women Michaelia Cash in November said that while criminal penalties are available, the process to obtain them is difficult and time-consuming."The civil penalty regime is more attractive in terms of getting a more prompt response for those involved," Cash said at the time.

 

The South Australian government in October announced stricter punishments for those partaking in revenge porn, with laws saying anyone who sends or threatens to send "indecent" or "invasive" images of anyone under the age of 17 can face a two-year maximum jail sentence or a AU$100,000 fine, and anyone over the age of 17 a one-year jail sentence or a AU$5,000 fine.Inman Grant at the time also said the key to combating revenge porn is both education and an online safety tool."These education efforts need to start as early as in the nursery and be reinforced in the classroom, lounge room, bedroom, and ultimately the boardroom to have the kind of societal and systemic impact we need to make," Inman Grant said.The eSafety Commissioner is an independent office that sits under the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).Created by the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act, the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner was launched in 2015, with the aim of removing cyberbullying content online and dealing with complaints about offensive and illegal content.

 

"Since its establishment by the Turnbull government in 2015, the eSafety Commissioner has resolved more than 450 serious cyberbullying complaints; conducted over 19,000 investigations into illegal or offensive online content; educated more than 217,000 people via Virtual Classrooms and face-to-face presentations," Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said in a statement on Tuesday.Fifield added that it has also launched initiatives to raise awareness about reporting cyberbullying, launched the eSafetyWomen site using AU$2.1 million in funding from the Women's Safety Package, and provided training to 2,000 professionals across the country to help women.The eSafety commissioner has the authority to force social media companies that operate in Australia, including Twitter and Facebook, to remove content deemed to be online bullying, or face fines of AU$17,000 per day.The office has now also been tasked with improving the digital skills of senior Australians.

From http://www.zdnet.com 06/20/2017

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Government Looks to Have School Plan Support

 

The government appears to have secured enough Senate support to pass its Gonski 2.0 school funding package. Independent senator Jacqui Lambie says she is leaning towards supporting the plan. Pauline Hanson has confirmed her One Nation bloc of four senators will support the government's plan. Senator Hanson accused Labor of opposing the package for its own political agenda instead of considering what was best for the nation, conceding she had her own reservations about the $18.6 billion plan but was willing to give it a chance. The three Nick Xenophon Team senators are expected to vote for the package, as will Derryn Hinch and Lucy Gichuhi. Together the 10 crossbench senators make up the numbers the government needs to pass its plan without the support of the Greens. Labor MP Anthony Albanese has told SKY NEWS LIVE the government is yet to outline its schools package in detail.

 

'Surely what we need here is a bit of openness and the government has refused to do that, it's beyond belief that the senate crossbenchers would vote for a system without knowing what the outcome was,' he said. 'But I think that is what's happened it appears that the government has the numbers to get the across the line.' The Greens won major concessions from the government, but have confirmed they will not support the package. 'We're disappointing the government has stitched up a last minute deal with the crossbench,' Greens leader Richard Di Natale said. 'It's a deal that continues to have special carve outs for particular sectors. 'We can't support any legislation that isn't faithful to Gonski's original formula.' Senator Birmingham said the government wanted to secure the best deal and was not concerned where the support came from. 'It's not about preferring the Greens versus the crossbench, it's about preferring the best policy outcome,' Senator Birmingham told Sky News.

 

Senator Xenophon told parliament on Wednesday the government had agreed to shortening the rollout of funds from 10 to six years, an independent watchdog and measures to ensure the states do not withdraw their funding as more commonwealth funding flows into the system. Senator Xenophon said this would mean $23 billion in extra funding to schools, delivered faster than originally planned by the government. 'It's not the full Gonski but it's still Gonski,' he said. If Labor wanted to continue its insistence that schools will be short-changed by $22 billion it could take it to the next election, he said. The Australian Education Union changed tack on Wednesday, calling for a delay in passing the legislation rather than outright blocking it. And Labor leader Bill Shorten, who visited a Catholic school in Canberra on Wednesday, issued a challenge to the prime minister. 'I say to Mr Turnbull as we approach the end of this sitting week of Parliament - scrap your cuts to schools, go back to the drawing board.'

From http://www.skynews.com.au 06/22/2017

 

 

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FIJI: PM Urges Sustainable Development

 

"NO development on land or at sea must take place if there is any risk to the environment whatsoever."Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said this was a principle that Fiji embraced.He made this call to the 52 member states of the Commonwealth Nations in his opening remarks at 'A Blue Commonwealth', a high-level roundtable at the Ocean Conference yesterday in New York."We may be powerless to prevent the degradation of our seas and coastlines by other nations," Mr Bainimarama said."It is a central tenet of our green growth framework and national development plans."Mr Bainimarama also acknowledged the work of the Commonwealth in ensuring that it binds nations together and promotes fairness, equity and the empowerment of women. He told the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries high level breakfast meeting in New York on unlocking the potential of blue economy for the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States that putting the health of the environment first in any way threatened development. He said Fiji's stance on this was clear."On the contrary, maintaining the pristine quality of our natural surroundings is front and centre of every development decision we make," he said.Mr Bainimarama also stressed that protecting the environment does not mean sacrificing development."The key phrase is sustainable development. And embracing the 'blue economy' represents an opportunity to realise the great economic potential of the oceans as well as ensuring their long-term sustainability," he said.

From http://www.fijitimes.com 06/08/2017

 

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NEW ZEALAND: Labour Policy Targets Residency 'Backdoor'

 

The Labour Party is vowing to close what it says is a backdoor to residency created by government policies encouraging low-skilled work and low-level study.Labour leader Andrew Little announced the party's immigration policy in Auckland this afternoon and promised to cut immigration numbers by 20,000 to 30,000 a year.He said Labour would also create a new KiwiBuild Visa targeted at builders."The KiwiBuild Visa will allow building firms to bring in skilled workers as long as they also train the same number of New Zealanders and will be additional to construction work visas issued under existing rules," MrLittle said.MrLittle said while migrants enrich the country, it was time New Zealand took a breather and ensured immigration levels were sustainable.MrLittle said the government had failed to plan for the record immigration, and couldn't offer new arrivals the life and opportunities they were expecting.

 

"When our cities are groaning under the pressure of share numbers, when housing costs are rocketing, our roads are clogged, our schools are bursting at the seams and our public services at breaking point."He said that was putting huge pressure on cities."After nine years, National has failed to make the necessary investments in housing, infrastructure, and public services that are needed to cope with this rapid population growth," MrLittle said."It's contributed to the housing crisis, put pressure on hospitals and schools, and added to congestion on roads."MrLittle said a Labour-led government would stop issuing student visas for courses below bachelor level, unless they were assessed by government education agencies to be of high value."Low-value courses have become a back door to immigration," he said."A third of international students on low-level courses plan to stay here, that's twice the level in other countries. Labour will close the door on these routes to residency."

 

The party would also stop people working during and after low-level study courses, he said."We will end the culture of exploitation and corruption that's grown up to prey on people using this route to come to New Zealand."Other parties attack new policyPrime Minister Bill English said Labour's immigration policy would have a big impact on economic growth."The policy you've seen today reflects a view among the opposition parties that the best way to deal with these challenges is to shut down the growth."So choke the internal education industry, deprive the construction industry of the skills that it needs, don't worry about the impact on everything else because they think New Zealand isn't up to it - well we simply disagree with that," Mr English said.

 

"We think the best way to deal with sustained success is to deal with the challenges of finding the people, making the investments, grappling with the complexities of getting infrastructure and housing in place - rather than saying let's have a breather and a cup of tea."ACT leader David Seymour warned however that New Zealand could find itself without the skills it needs if there was an immigration crackdown.Speaking at the CHT St John rest home in Epsom, Mr Seymour said the challenge for any party wanting to slash immigration would be figuring out exactly who will be cut."Are they going to start cutting people who work at places like CHT St John - because we already have a major shortage," he said."The fact of the matter is ... St John already have major problems with immigration, their problem with immigration is they cannot get enough labour to look after their residents.

 

"They find that somebody who has been looking after a resident, formed a relationship with residents, cannot get their visas processed quickly enough in order to come back and be doing good work."Mr Seymour warned that Labour's announcement would put further pressure on organisations like St John.St John area manager Stuart Manning said it was already very frustrating that migrants who were trained as care workers were then asked to leave the country because their visas were not being reviewed."The situation is only going to get worse as the new policy changes ... come into play, which will only be compounded by the increase in the number of residential facilities and beds required over the next five years which is estimated to be somewhere in the region of 20 percent."We are very reliant on the migrant workforce, we train them so that they provide great care and they do provide great care and it's frustrating that we find that they can't stay in New Zealand." In April, the government unveiled new immigration settings it planned to introduce this year.It planned to make changes to the high skilled-migrant category - and people would have to earn $50,000 a year to qualify.Anyone earning under that amount, would only be allowed in the country for up to three years and would have to go through a stand-down period before being eligible for another work visa.Mr Manning said the policy would have a big impact on CHT St John.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 06/12/2017

 

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Govt's Gun Law Plans Put Public at Risk - Police Association

 

The government is putting peoples' lives at risk by rejecting new recommendations around gun laws, the Police Association says.Police Minister Paula Bennett yesterday rejected 13 of a select committee's 20 recommendations, including stricter rules - such as a requirement to have a firearms licence - for the sale of ammunition.She said there would be tougher penalties for offences, and rules would be introduced to block gang members or prospects from getting a firearms licence.Police Association president Chris Cahill told Morning Report the minister had made a mockery of the select committee process."Currently, as it stands, I can get a firearms licence, I'll have my security check when I ask for that license, I can then go and purchase 100 other firearms and no-one would know I'd even purchased those firearms, and it would be 10 years before I went for renewal and anyone would inspect whether my security was appropriate. We don't think that's good." He said gun serial numbers should be recorded and people should need a permit to purchase a gun.Despite the criticism, the ACT Party is backing the government's stance on gun laws.Leader David Seymour said the police wanted to restrict people's freedoms by cracking down on gun rules."The real problem is criminals that get guns."The things that the minister has accepted out of this report that are worthwhile is that you can go on a gun prohibition list if you do break gun laws."So we're punishing people that break the laws, rather than people that follow them."Mr Seymour said gun registries would be costly and had not worked overseas.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 06/15/2017

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NZ First in Line for Latin and South American Trade Deal

 

New Zealand hopes to take another step this week towards being the first country to sign up to a trade deal with a group of Latin American and South American countries. Trade Minister Todd McClay heads to Cali, Colombia today for talks with the Pacific Alliance, a trading bloc made up of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. New Zealand is one of 49 observer countries in the alliance, but is seeking associate membership status. If successful, it will be the first country to do so. McClay told the Herald he would be "making the final case" in Colombia for a free trade deal between New Zealand and the four countries, which would pave the way for New Zealand becoming a member of the alliance. The minister has been laying the groundwork over the last year, travelling to Peru and Chile twice, and engaging with Mexico and Colombia. "The indications I've received from all of those countries are extremely positive and supportive," he said.

 

Asked why New Zealand could be first in line for associate membership, McClay said this country was a stepping stone to Southeast Asia, which the Pacific Alliance is targeting for increased trade. "New Zealand is a good country to do a first FTA with to set the framework for them engaging with others, similar to what happened with China. "Auckland is also the easiest way to get to Southeast Asia from South America or Latin America. So we're a pivotal point for them." Two-way trade between New Zealand and alliance countries is $1.1 billion, compared to around $22b between New Zealand and its biggest trading partner China. But McClay said there was huge potential growth in Latin and South America because their governments were becoming more outward-looking. New Zealand last year announced plans to open an embassy in Bogota, Colombia. That decision was questioned by the Labour Party at the time, who pointed out that two-way trade with Colombia was tiny, at around $43m.

 

McClay, however, said there was "huge scope to grow" in the country, partly because of recent peace deals with guerrillas after decades of conflict. An FTA with the Latin American bloc is part of the National-led Government's goal of having 90 per cent of exports covered by free trade agreements by 2030, up from current levels of around 50 per cent. That target has been slightly undermined by the United States' withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership following the election of US President Donald Trump. Along with Japan and Australia, New Zealand is trying to negotiate a deal with the 11 remaining countries. Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee will also attend the Pacific Alliance talks in Cali. He is travelling to Colombia via Cuba, which he described as an important partner in providing support to small island states in the Pacific and Caribbean.

From http://www.nzherald.co.nz 06/27/2017

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Michael O'Rielly: Foreign Governments Want Control over the Internet

 

An ongoing, global debate has been swirling for years over whether the future of the internet — the greatest man-made technology of our lifetimes — should be determined by governments or the internet community itself. More succinctly, the central question has been whom do we trust deciding how the internet works and what content should be available: authoritarian governments of the world pursuing international regulation, or internet companies and users favoring a wide-open platform?For most people, it’s like asking, calories aside, would you rather eat a bushel of kale or big bowl of ice cream. And yet, due to the American government’s recent decision to step away from internet governance, the rest of the world feels emboldened to pursue its internet regulatory agenda.The internet flourished for years under a governance structure known as a multi-stakeholder model, whereby private sector companies, academia and users form solutions to internet technical issues and policies. This also included the U.S. government having a very limited oversight role via a contractual relationship with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN,) the group that hands out domain names.

 

Notwithstanding the amazing innovation and capabilities brought forth during this arrangement, it was routinely criticized by so-called experts who argued that even a minimalist U.S. government role, designed to preserve internet freedom, was upsetting to foreign nations, and therefore no longer sustainable in the global community.Instead, they said that if the U.S. terminated involvement in ICANN and ceded our sound principles a bit, authoritarian governments would back off their continued push for more internet government regulation and control. These views eventually won the day, leading to the U.S. government terminating its ICANN relationship in October 2016.At the time, those who challenged the ICANN deal — of which I was one — were in favor of a true multi-stakeholder approach, not the questionable one being adopted. We argued that there were insufficient mechanisms to prevent authoritarian governments from filling the void in ICANN when the U.S. relinquished its former role. Equally important, every indication cried out that the transition was being rushed, and highly unlikely to dissuade the efforts of other governments seeking more control over the internet in other settings.Since a reconstituted ICANN was approved, it only seems appropriate to assess whether the appeasement strategy worked. Not shockingly, it doesn’t seem to have done so. Foreign governments have, in fact, renewed their disturbing calls for government control of the internet via a number of forums, such as the United Nations.

 

Consider just three recent instances:

At the end of October, member states at the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-16) in Tunisia, held by the UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU), took the unnecessary and inappropriate step of seeking to set technical standards for the Internet of Things. Not only did this inject foreign governments where they didn’t belong (i.e., key internet standards and governance matters,) but some members decided to promote a specific technology — Digital Object Architecture — that could be used to register devices and users in centralized databases, thereby making fees and taxes and even government surveillance much easier.In early March, China released a paper with much fanfare titled “International Strategy of Cooperation on Cyberspace” that includes its detailed road map for internet rules and principles within the framework of the United Nations. This is the same government that limits the rights of its citizens on the internet, such that they cannot discuss anything that would be considered “subverting state power and jeopardizing national unification; damaging state honor and interests,” among others. It’s also the place mandating every internet activity be availed for review by thousands of human “fact checkers.”

 

Finally, at ITU study meetings in April, Russia and some African countries put forth a recommendation to define and potentially regulate over-the-top (OTT) content providers. Presented as a means to encourage competition, innovation and investment, it really was a veiled attempt to expand ITU jurisdiction to the internet, as well as to get its grips into popular consumer uses, such as Netflix, Skype, and WhatsApp.In the short time since ICANN was transitioned to its new structure, there have been multiple plans and proposals by governments to directly involve UN entities in internet governance. It is fair to say that we got the short end of the stick, as our fancy strategy didn’t appease anyone.Going forward, the United States should learn from the ICANN aftermath and redouble our efforts to quash continuous and systemic assaults on the internet by foreign governments, using all appropriate means.Michael O’Rielly is a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.

From http://www.unionleader.com/ 05/27/2017

 

 

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Satisfaction with E-Government Rising, but Usability Issues Persist

 

Users of online government services in the UAE report high levels of satisfaction, but three quarters are suffering from usability problems, according to a survey by Boston Consulting Group.The 2016 Digital Government Survey showed that the UAE ranked fourth overall worldwide in satisfaction with online government services, and that there has been a 39.5% growth in the number of users accessing government services at least once per week over the past two years.Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they used government online services once per week or more, and 29% said they used them daily.However, 73% of UAE users faced a problem while using e-government services. The most pressing concerns for surveyed citizens were that the service they needed was not available online, the overall process was too long or difficult and they could not find what they needed.In Saudi Arabia, usage of government services has increased by 33% since 2014, with 61% of people surveyed saying they used services once per week or more. Saudi ranked seventh, out of 21 countries, for overall user satisfaction with government services.The survey, gather responses from 13,570 individuals across 21 countries and 26 digital government services, with the aim of benchmarking citizen perspectives on their use of digital channels for government services.The 2016 survey addressed digital government user access, adoption, satisfaction, privacy and security concerns.

 

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In terms of user satisfaction, the US ranked highest, followed by Australia and the UK. The survey showed an increase in the use of wearable devices to access government services. Globally, information, taxation, and employment services are most widely used digital government services, and significant improvement in service satisfaction has been noted over the past two years.

 

Millennials, full-time students, lower income brackets and urban dwellers are the least satisfied with e-government services, and concerns over privacy are a leading deterrent for adoption.In the UAE, accessing real time information on government services, e-gates and applying for ID cards showed highest rates of satisfaction, while submitting court documents, applying for ‘permits' and making payments into government pension schemes ranked lowest.In terms of usability, the main problems reported were that services users needed were not available online, the overall process was too long or difficult and they could not find what they needed. Users also reported problems with lack of paperwork or information, lack of online help and lost passwords or login details.

 

UAE citizens are comfortable sharing personal information on government digital channels, motivated by efficiency benefits and improvement of services. Theft or loss of information and its misuse are seen as the biggest risk of sharing information digitally. UAE users generally agree with three privacy expectations - there should be an independent regulator enforcing standards around collection and use of personal data,  visibility on personal information access by organizations and the ability for citizens' to seek compensation from organizations who misuse their information.

 

"The proliferation of technology and digitalization of UAE citizens is evident, by the substantial increase of frequency of usage in digital government services when compared to 2014. The adoption of internet services has seen a particular high growth in wearable devices, which mirrors global trends. This points towards the need to advance and increase channels for citizens to access government service," said Rami Mourtada, Principal and Digital Transformation Lead at BCG Middle East."UAE must put forth key actions for the immediate future to improve its digital government offerings to citizens, and there are four key imperatives to consider. The first is to review the government digital strategy and develop a roadmap to meet demands for digital services; second, develop common standards for digital services across government bodies; third, establish a clear approach to improve satisfaction and perception of digital services across key user segments; and finally, strengthen and promote the regulatory environment overseeing the national digital infrastructure to build digital capabilities across citizen-facing government entities."

From http://www.itp.net/ 06/14/2017

 

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Internet Governance for Sustainability

 

Sustainability is a difficult term to avoid these days. With that in mind, it's somewhat surprising that last week's European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG), now in its tenth year, featured one of its first workshops looking at the subject. But while the workshop focused on issues of energy usage and e-waste, the concept of sustainability raises some much broader and likely difficult questions for the Internet governance community.The one thing that is abundantly clear after two days of workshops and sessions at EuroDIG is that "Internet governance" is hard to pin down — in one session you'll be talking social policies for employment, in another, international trade arrangements, another will delve into industrial and manufacturing policy, while in the next room you'll find a multistakeholder discussion on law enforcement practices. This is a natural reflection of the fact that the Internet has effectively infiltrated all spheres of human activity. But what then is Internet governance?

 

Practically, these kinds of Internet governance events are about sharing and consolidating knowledge and information — everyone comes away better informed and more able to contribute in venues where policymaking actually takes place (whether it's national government, international standards organisations or elsewhere). But as participants share information across such diverse range of topics, we also see the emergence of a broader consensus on themes, approaches or priorities — not solid policy outcomes or even recommendations, but rather approaches for governance relating to the Internet. And sometimes it can be about changing dominant paradigms.When we think about the Internet, we think of growth. More than perhaps any other area of human activity, the Internet has been defined by growth, graph lines racing "up and to the right" as we marvel at the speed with which the Internet has developed, spread and transformed our societies. Internet governance has reflected this — one of the primary motivations for the initial World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) discussions was that the Internet grows so quickly and dynamically that new processes and structures were needed for its governance.

 

That growth is also an underlying premise of the Internet governance community's focus on "development", an effort to address the inescapable fact that despite the rate of growth, the benefits of Internet access have not been evenly spread. "IG4D" (Internet governance for development), prioritising efforts to steer growth and development towards under-served populations, has been one of IGF community's most important contributions to the global Internet governance discussion.Looking at Internet governance in this way, and reflecting on the EuroDIG session on e-waste, I wonder if it's time to consider a new paradigm, parallel, but separate to the idea of development: Internet governance for sustainability. At the mention of sustainability, people immediately think of issues like e-waste, Internet energy consumption and environmental impact. But an Internet governance sustainability paradigm could (and must) go beyond these relatively straightforward environmental concerns to larger questions of how we can ensure the continued viability of the Internet and its benefits, based on finite resources. In doing so, it would inevitably raise deeper questions about the limits of "growth" in the Internet context.Is our current approach to the Internet and its governance sustainable? A model that focuses on growth may not immediately appear unsustainable, but even based on the discussions at EuroDIG last week, I think there are some troubling indicators visible in the current trends. Consider just two:

 

In discussions on the Internet of Things, many people have noted the problematic market dynamic whereby consumers demand (or applications require) cheap devices and manufacturers cut production costs in response, often at the expense of device security. The IoT continues to grow, but in doing so it jeopardises the security of all Internet-connected technologies. Meanwhile...With the exhaustion of the IPv4 address pool (and the slower-than-hoped uptake of IPv6), operators are increasingly turning to Carrier-Grade NAT, a technology that allows them to connect multiple users via a single IPv4 address. Growth of the user base can continue, but only via increasingly expensive and complex systems which have the added effect of making attribution and evidence collection more difficult for law enforcement (as discussed in another EuroDIG workshop).

 

In both cases, stakeholders from various sectors have raised the possibility of government regulation as a means to overcome these concerns — enforce security standards in IoT device manufacture, legislate to limit the degree of NAT usage by operators. But this leaves unanswered questions about whether such a "hand on the tiller" approach is the only means to ensure a sustainable approach. When placed alongside the kinds of concerns raised in relation to the proliferation of e-waste, the rapidly increasing energy usage of Internet technologies and even the rapidly growing number of applications chewing up radio spectrum for vital (or not-so-vital) communications, it's clear that there is a need for all Internet stakeholders to "bake in" considerations of long-term sustainability to their development and growth strategies.

 

The overall question is this: should Internet governance foster an awareness across stakeholder groups of the need to consider long-term sustainability as a primary issue for any Internet-related development? This would be a paradigm of Internet governance for sustainability.The question is broad, and deliberately so, and the operational, strategic or policy outcomes of such awareness would differ radically across the different kinds of areas mentioned above. But, as in the case of "development", Internet governance can perhaps play its strongest role in setting such broad, thematic paradigms. How venues like the IGF will follow up on this question remains to be seen, but this should be something of concern to all Internet stakeholders.

From http://www.circleid.com/ 06/20/2017

 

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APEC Nurtures Women’s Economic Participation

 

As technology becomes integrated throughout all corners of the economy, the importance of skilled labor in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has increased over time. However, there is still a significant gender gap in these fields that needs to be addressed within APEC’s 21 member economies. “We know from the data that there is an under-representation of women in STEM fields – not only as students and researchers, but also as managers, leaders and entrepreneurs – which significantly hinders sustainable economic growth and prosperity throughout the region,” said Ann Katsiak, ‎Chief of Party for US-APEC Technical Assistance to Advance Regional Integration. APEC’s Policy Partnership on Women and the Economy aims to narrow this gender gap and facilitate women in STEM by implementing a framework it designed that addresses barriers for women to excel in this field.

 

“The heart of economic growth and prosperity depends so much on science, innovation and technology. Even more, that growth is contingent upon our ability to reduce barriers and to nurture women’s economic participation,” explained Lisa Brodey, Acting Chair of APEC’s Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation. The multifaceted APEC Women in STEM framework encompasses four key areas for improving the representation of women in STEM fields: an enabling environment, education, employment and entrepreneurship. Each area spotlights other issues that require more attention such as culture, diverse experience and history, access to capital and recruitment, as well as laws and regulation. The framework also contains an analysis of current conditions and nuances of women’s participation in STEM, describes barriers and recommends what economies can do to better facilitate and expand women in STEM across all areas of engagement.

 

Government officials, academics and practitioners are taking steps toward implementing these recommendations. This includes encouraging companies to publicly commit to gender-inclusive recruitment policy and advocate for the development of public policy agendas that call for the public and private sectors to actively encourage women’s participation in STEM fields. It also inspires girls from an early age to envision themselves in STEM careers and welcomes the establishment of non-profit organizations that provide skills training to girls and women. “With the right policies that support inclusivity, economies can help women to strive in STEM fields. In Malaysia, we have increased the number of women researchers by putting in place policies that allow women to excel in STEM education and careers,” noted Dr Halimaton Hamdan, a renowned chemistry researcher and Professor at Malaysia’s Academy of Sciences. “More than putting policies in place, if we want to push women to go ahead and excel in STEM fields, we have to build motivation, tell more success stories, give more role models to look up to and create a strong community that can support other women,” concluded Supapan Seraphin, Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Arizona in the United States.

From http://www.apec.org/ 06/22/2017

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CHINA: White Paper Hails "Great Progress" of Human Right Protection in Xinjiang

 

A white paper issued by China's State Council Information Office on Thursday lauded "great progress" in the protection of human rights of people of various ethnic groups in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. According to the white paper, titled "Human Rights in Xinjiang - Development and Progress," Xinjiang's economic and social development has entered a new historical phase since China launched its epoch-making reform and opening-up drive in 1978. The white paper expounded on the development and progress in the region in eight parts -- political rights, civil rights, economic rights, social rights, cultural rights, environmental rights, right to freedom of religious belief and rights of women, children, the elderly and disabled. It said that before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, ethnic groups of Xinjiang were at the bottom of the social ladder and deprived of basic human rights. Over the years, the Chinese central government has taken effective measures to develop the economy, improve people's living standards, enhance the well-being of the public, promote ethnic unity and progress, and safeguard the basic rights of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

 

PROTECT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION, POLITICAL PARTICIPATION

Xinjiang has made efforts to protect the public's right to freedom of expression in the region, it read. The region has created a wide range of Internet infrastructure and websites, while continuing to promote traditional media, such as radio, television, newspapers and magazines, it said. "As a result, the citizens' right to information, right to participation, and right of scrutiny are guaranteed," the white paper said. It said the number of netizens in Xinjiang rose from 448,000 in 2002 to 12,960,000 by the end of 2016. This growth rate ranked third in China, with a rate of penetration of 54.9 percent, which ranked first in the western region. According to the white paper, over 40 percent of the civil servants in Xinjiang are of ethnic minority origins in 2016. There were 91,076 ethnic minority civil servants in Xinjiang in 2016. More than 66 percent of them were women, it said. The figure represented a huge increase from just about 3,000 in 1950, it said. In 1955, some 46,000 civil service officials were of ethnic minority origins.

 

PROTECT FREEDOM OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF

China has fully implemented the policy of freedom of religious belief, protecting normal religious activities and ensuring the public's freedom of religion in Xinjiang. To satisfy normal religious needs of local people, Xinjiang has published translations of the religious classics of Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity in multiple languages, the white paper said, adding 1.76 million copies of the Quran and Selections from Al-Sahih Muhammad Ibn-Ismail al-Bukhari have been printed and distributed. Religious organizations have organized training courses on religious knowledge and etiquette for citizens with religious beliefs. Xinjiang has 112 religious organizations, which receive help from the government to improve their conditions and allow them to play a broader role, it said. "Legitimate rights of religious organizations have been effectively safeguarded," the white paper read.

POVERTY REDUCTION

The incidence of poverty had dropped to 10 percent or less by the end of 2016, said the white paper. It said that the region has implemented targeted and effective measures in poverty alleviation, and further improvement has been made in the quality of life and daily living conditions of the impoverished. Since the launch of China's reform and opening-up drive in 1978, Xinjiang's GDP has soared from 3.9 billion yuan (about 570 million U.S. dollars) to 961.7 billion yuan in 2016. In the same period, the per-capita disposable income of urban residents rose from 319 yuan to 28,463 yuan and that of rural residents from 119 yuan to 10,183 yuan. The white paper said the autonomous region has directed a considerable effort to infrastructure construction in tap water, power and gas. It added that Xinjiang has also given priority to promoting equal employment opportunities, and encouraged different sectors to create more jobs.

 

LIFE EXPECTANCY SOARS AS HEALTHCARE IMPROVES

According to the white paper, the average life expectancy has increased from 30 years in 1949 to 72.35 years in 2016 while the mortality rate dropped from 20.82 in 1949 to 4.26 per thousand in 2016 in Xinjiang. "There is marked improvement in ensuring access to healthcare," it said. The white paper said Xinjiang's medical services were in a poor state before 1949; there was a shortage of doctors and medicines, and epidemics of diseases, such as the plague, smallpox, and cholera, were commonplace. After more than 60 years of development, a basic medical care system has been established, with medical institutions covering urban and rural areas. By the end of 2016, there were 15,721 medical institutions of various kinds, including 707 hospitals with 144,500 beds, and 51,000 doctors, and 56,000 nurses, the white paper said, adding Xinjiang is now above the national average in terms of medical service capacity.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/01/2017

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China's Efforts to Strengthen Implementation of Reform

 

The Chinese leadership has stressed the role of supervision in implementing reform on various occasions, especially at meetings of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform. In the public reports of all 35 meetings of the group, the word "implement" has appeared 219 times, and the word "supervision" showed up 69 times. All departments and localities should attach greater importance to delivering reforms and devote more efforts to examining reform effects, President Xi Jinping said on April 18, 2017 during the 34th meeting of the leading group, which he heads. "We need to gather enough people to strengthen the supervision force in order to supervise the implementation of major reform programs. Supervision goes wherever reform goes," said Xi on the fifth meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform on Sept. 29, 2014. Over the past three years, the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has regarded supervision as a key part of work that should constantly be improved.

 

-- During the group's 21st meeting on Feb. 23, 2016, the leadership highlighted improved supervision and evaluation of reform, stressing that all departments should ensure plans are well documented, and any mistakes or deadline breaches are dealt with accordingly. It noted that only truly effective reform will boost social and economic development and give people real benefits. -- On July 22, 2016, a report on supervision of reform efforts in all departments was approved at the 26th meeting of the leading group. Supervision should target major reform tasks, progress and effectiveness. It should also supervise officials' awareness of reform, their division of duties and work styles, said a statement issued after the meeting. -- On March 24, 2017, the leadership emphasized the importance of implementation, urging leading officials to keep in mind the overall situation while pushing forward with reform at the group's 33rd meeting.

 

At the meeting, senior officials reported on the progress made in reforms in environmental protection, the judicial system, poverty relief, rural affairs, the Shanghai FTZ, state-owned enterprises and others. Leading officials must refine the implementation process to ensure results, improve coordination between various reforms and focus on the most important and difficult issues, according to the meeting. -- At the group's 34th meeting, the leadership stressed the role of supervision in implementing reform, demanding such work be carried out with a wider and deeper scope to detect and solve problems. Authorities should review the results regarding major reforms and "intricate matters," according to a statement issued after the meeting. The group called for timely corrections to problems uncovered during supervision, and those found to be making insufficient efforts should be called to account. Leading departments and local authorities were also ordered to regularly track reform implementation and report the effects.                      

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/04/2017

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China to Enhance Transparency of Government Information

 

China will gradually increase the publishing of government information to enhance government transparency, according to a draft amendment on the issue Tuesday. The draft was released by the State Council to gather public opinion on the amendment. According to the draft, administrative bodies at all levels should publish a guide on government affairs and catalogue more information. The guide should feature the categories and compiling methods of government information as well as how to get it, and should include basic information and contacts of bodies that publish on government affairs, for public supervision purposes. The catalogue should have the references, names, overview and date of the government information shown to the public, according to the draft. Publishing government information should become normal, the draft added. The draft serves as an amendment to a set of rules on publishing government information that took effect on May 1, 2008.                     

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

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Central Government Solicits Information, Suggestions on Reform

 

The State Council is accepting information and suggestions as part of a nationwide inspection on reform. The public can report issues with government services or offer suggestions through gov.cn before July 31. The portal identified six major issues and pledged to "strictly protect" web users' privacy. The State Council launched a nationwide inspection in late May, which covers supply-side structural reform, economic expansion demands, development of new growth engines, living standards and prevention of financial risks. The central government will review the cutting of overcapacity, property market destocking, tax reduction for enterprises, the development of service consumption and major engineering projects. Meanwhile, the State Council will inspect the promotion of mass entrepreneurship and innovation, poverty alleviation progress and efforts in containing risks in fields such as bad loans and Internet finance.

This is the fourth nationwide inspection since 2014.                     

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

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Chinese Economy on Right Development Path Under CPC Leadership

 

As a key meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) draws near, the large Asian country it has been leading over the past nearly seven decades is attracting more and more global limelight. In the economic dimension, observers from across the world agree that under the leadership of the world's largest political party, the world's largest developing country has scored tremendous achievements and is on the right development path toward the future. Particularly, they point out that since the incumbent CPC leadership took office five years ago, China, now the world's second largest economy, has been pushing for comprehensive reform and has further consolidated the foundation for future development.

 

REFORM IS MAIN KEYWORD

Reform has been a main keyword of China's economic policy for decades, and in recent years it has been assigned even higher priority. In late 2013, the CPC set up the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, an institution chaired by General Secretary Xi Jinping -- who is also Chinese president -- and tasked with steering forward China's reform endeavors. Among various specific policies, the major reform in the economic realm China has been pushing forward with full resolve in recent years is the supply-side structural reform. Launched in 2015, the effort carries the recognition that China's economic growth model over the last three decades -- mainly driven by investment, exports and consumption -- has played its due role and now needs to be adapted to the new circumstances. China's supply-side structural reform shifts the focus from demand to the other side of the lever -- supply. It is aimed at five major goals: cutting overcapacity, destocking, deleveraging, lowering costs and improving weak links. Guo Shengxiang, dean of the Academy of APEC Creative Finance, an Australian think tank, said specific measures related to the five major goals have raised equality and efficiency of the Chinese economy, as manifested by the rise of domestic consumption, expansion of the services sector and surge in high-end products.

 

Alongside the supply-side structural reform, the Chinese government has also rolled out corresponding monetary, financial and fiscal reforms, as well as industrial policies and regional planning. The reform and related measures, added Guo, have together laid a solid foundation for China to step across the so-called middle-income trap, a situation where a country's economic growth slows after reaching middle-income levels as it loses the original competitiveness. Guo also highlighted the poverty alleviation efforts of China, which has pledged to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020. That entails lifting all its poor population out of poverty. Speaking highly of the progress China has made, Guo noted that relevant work has been executed with great efforts, appropriate methods and unwavering confidence. Beijing's determination not to leave anyone behind, he stressed, has shown the advantage of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

 

DEVELOPMENT ON RIGHT PATH

Another shift of the Chinese economy in the past five years, experts say, is that the government has continuously lowered the growth target for the gross domestic product (GDP) in a bid to gain healthy development. Following a target range of 6.5-6.7 percent for the previous year, in which the actual growth rate ended up to be 6.7 percent, Beijing has set the GDP growth rate for 2017 at 6.5 percent, the lowest for China in 25 years. Yet even with growth rates between 5.5 and 6.5 percent in the coming years, China will still outpace the developed countries, which have realized much more moderate rates averaging 2-3 percent during the past five years, noted Gerishon Ikiara, a senior lecturer of international economics at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. He estimated that with an annual growth rate of around 6 percent, China could replace the United States as the world's largest economy in just several years.

 

Perhaps more importantly, he added, China can continuously infuse new vigor into the world economic development, offsetting the headwinds from Washington's slide towards an "inward-looking, protectionist and anti-globalization" posture. "China's economic development and its rising international status have proven that the country is on the right development path," said David Fleischer, a professor of sociology at University of Brasilia in Brazil. Noting that the CPC is to hold its 19th national congress in the second half of this year, he commented that the party congress plays a decisive role in setting the direction of China's future development. China's governance ideas "are unique and suits the country's national conditions," he said.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 06/11/2017

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China to Enhance Grassroots Community Governance

 

China will set up a community governance system led by grassroots Communist Party of China (CPC) organizations by 2020, according to a guideline released by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council Monday. Local governments will play a guiding role in the community governance system which also feature public participation. Governance capacity in both urban and rural communities will improve significantly by that time, as public services, management and security will be effectively ensured, the guideline said. Within another five to ten years, a more mature and comprehensive community governance system will offer strong support for the CPC at a grassroots level, while consolidating local governments, the guideline noted. Issues such as the basic role of autonomous organizations, the participation of social groups and the functions of communities are also included in the guideline. According to the guideline, on major issues relating to community public interests as well as those that matter to the residents' immediate interests, the community residents' role in the decision making and dispute resolution processes should be enhanced.

 

Also, community services that are closely related to the residents' interests, such as employment, social security, health, education, housing, public security as well as legal and arbitration services, should be made more widely available, the guideline said. The guideline called for increased efforts to resolve disputes within communities. Party congress delegates, legislators, political advisors and CPC members and officials should maintain contact with communities and their residents via proper channels, it said. It urged more support for groups in need, such as the poor, children in difficulty, mentally-challenged people, left-behind children, senior citizens as well as people who have been convicted of crimes or released from prison. The guideline also requires infrastructure improvements and better environmental management in communities. To enhance community governance, the guideline pledged more financial investment in this regard. It also encouraged the public to contribute via channels such as charity donations and community foundation endowments.   &nbs