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July 2017, Issue 188

unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

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Top Smart City Projects to Watch in 2017

New Open Source Tool a “Breakthrough” in Electrification Planning

APEC-G20 Align Trade and Growth Priorities

GMS Agriculture Working Group Finalizing Strategy on Agro-Based Value Chains

Top Digital Nations Named

 

 

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CHINA: Taking More Measures to Reduce Logistics Costs

China Publishes Draft Regulation on Key Information Infrastructure Protection

Financial Reform Plans Unveiled to Serve Real Economy in Sustainable Manner

China Launches Demonstration Areas to Boost Made in China 2025

JAPAN: Anti-Conspiracy Law Takes Effect

Electoral Reform Law Comes into Force

SOUTH KOREA: Measures to Separate Subsidies for Device, Service Plans Likely This Year

New Korean Govt. to Pursue 'Good Growth': Official

Korea Aims to Generate 20% of Electricity with Renewables by 2030

President Moon Unveils Five-Year Policy Agenda

Parties Reach Agreement on Govt. Reorganization Bill

 

 

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CAMBODIA: National Assembly Amends Law on Political Parties

MYANMAR: Plans to Modernize Police Force

Myanmar Announces 10 Prioritized Areas for Investment

Agricultural Development Strategy Introduced

PHILIPPINES: Duterte Unveils Plan to Beef Up Army, Police

SINGAPORE: To Launch Program for Urban Solutions

Singapore Tops UN Ranking on Cybersecurity Strategy

THAILAND: EEC Public-Private Partnership Regulations Approved

Plan to Record All Court Proceedings Approved

VIETNAM: Hi-Tech Agriculture Needs Better Credit Policies

Vietnamese Gov't Approves Rice Export Strategy

PM Okays Vân Đồn EZ Development

 

 

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INDIA: Hy-Fi Project Launched in Hyderabad

Making India’s e-Governance Mission a Success

Future of E-Governance in India

 

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Reducing Its Anti-Terrorist List

UZBEKISTAN: President Approves Measures to Improve Tax System

 

 

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AUSTRALIA: Climate Policies Poor - Experts

Last G20 Statement to Recognise Climate Split

Government to Review Space Policy

Family Law Inquiry Inadequate

NEW ZEALAND: Student's Mental Health Plan Approved by Government

Govt Plans Major Changes to Social Support Payments

Labour Reveals Its $4 Billion Education Plan

 

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Smart City 2.0: Shifting the Focus from Infrastructure to People

Blockchains, Personal Data and the Challenge of Governance

ADB, South Pacific Stock Exchange Partner to Empower Professional Women

New ADB Director General for Pacific Assumes Office

 

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CHINA: Environmental Audits to Decide Official Promotions

Chinese People Expect Further Enhancement of Government Transparency

Xi Urges Faster Opening Up, Better Business Environment

New Committee to Coordinate Financial Reform, Regulation: Central Bank Official

Supply-Side Structural Reform Sustains China's Growth

President Xi Urges Solid Efforts to Advance Reform

China's Energy Structure Continues to Optimize

Chinese Leadership Stresses Stability, Progress in Economic Work

JAPAN: Govt to Help Transportation Services Introduce Reforms

Provide Multilayered Support System for Elderly Who Care for Other Seniors

Govt Eyeing Push to Export Waste Systems

SOUTH KOREA: To Boost Public Sector Hiring of Young People

New ICT Minister Vows to Push Forward Tough Reform

Korea to Launch New Ministry Dedicated to SMEs

 

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MYANMAR: Aung San Suu Kyi Voices Commitment to Building Up Capacity of Civil Servants

SINGAPORE: Public Consultation on Proposed Cybersecurity Bill Starts

Public Servants Barred from Using Unauthorised USB Drives

THAILAND: PM Insists on Constitutionality of Key Bills as Extensive Public Hearings Held on Them

Army Ready for Public Hearings on ‘Social Contract’

Judicial Commission Breaks with Tradition over Appointment of Supreme Court President

Pop-Up Centres to Register Migrant Workers

VIETNAM: PM Appoints Council for HCMC Metro Line No 5

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INDIA: How IoT Can Enable Better Governance

Government Likely to form All India Medical Service Cadre

Govt Depts Must Modernise Systems Using ICT: President

Mobile Manufacturing Unit to Be Set Up in Naya Raipur 

Data Security Council of India Holds Global Meet on Cloud Data Governance

eGov Excellent Platform for News and Views from Across the Country

Punjab Way of eGovernance: Transforming Governence 

Centre Sets E-payment Target for Ministries and States

e-Governance: Making Service Delivery System Inclusive & Efficient – Saket Agarwal, Global CEO, Spice Digital

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Ambassador to China Named

UZBEKISTAN: Olimjon Umarov Appointed First Deputy of IT Ministry

Deputy Head of Agency for Science and Technology Approved

Jahangir Yunusov Appointed Deputy Head of State Competition Committee

Jamol Makhsudov Gets Appointed as Deputy Minister for IT and Communications Development

First Deputy Minister of Finance Dismissed

Uzbekistan Reforming Its Tax System

 

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AUSTRALIA: PM Dismisses Labor GST Document as 'Waffle'

Dual-Citizen Clause Doesn't Need Changing: PM

Government Support Increases in Sky News Poll

PM Wants to Keep Australians Safe: Dutton

Abbott Welcomes PM's Support for Party Reform

Govt Puts Super Opt Out on the Table

Govt Threatens Mandatory Airbag Recalls

NEW ZEALAND: Labour Promises Boost to Minimum Wage, Living Wage for Public Services

'I Want Greens and NZ First in My Govt' - Andrew Little

Labour Pledges to Move Government Departments to the Regions

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ADB, USP Sign Cooperation Agreement to Strengthen Knowledge Collaboration

APEC Enhances Disaster Resilient Trade

Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning Workshop a Success

Forum Highlights New Technology and Financing for Future Energy

APEC Fosters Climate Change-Fighting Buildings

 

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CHINA: Important AI Professionals' Destination - Report

China Wraps Up Combustible Ice Mining Trial, Setting World Records

Chinese Embrace Science and Technology Achievements

China to Further Promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship

China Leads Global Efforts in Clean Energy Expansion

Senior Official Stresses Use of Big Data, AI in Policing

China Stresses Work Safety, Flood Control

Chinese Bike-sharing Pioneers Go Global

China Establishes Green Manufacturing Alliance

High Costs Challenge China's Agricultural Competitiveness: Report

China to Reform State Assets Management System

Modern China's Innovations Set to Shape the World

Xi Stresses Green Development

JAPAN: Inc Scrambles for Job-Hoppers to Cope with Labor Shortages

Japan Vows to Ramp Up Efforts to Export Renewable Energy Technology

Govt Wants Solution to Subscribers’ Overpayment for Smartphone Data

To Eradicate Poverty, Japan Should Offer Assistance in Its Own Way

Govt Says AI Can Boost Wages Through Productivity

5G Set to Revolutionize Tech Industry

SOUTH KOREA: Cooperation Trumps Restrictions for Sustainable Reform

Deregulation Crucial for Korea to Foster Innovative Startups

 

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INDONESIA: Ministry, Moovit Team Join for Public Transport App

Indonesia Blocks Telegram Messaging Service Facilitating Terrorism

SINGAPORE: Manpower Ministry Defends Call for Partners to Develop Mobile App for Foreign Workers

Singtel Launches Cyber Education Portal for Students, Mid-Career Professionals

Singapore Explores Possibility of Building a High-Rise, Green Data Centre

VIETNAM: Exams to Be Held to Select Potential Leaders, Managers - Pilot Project

PM Pledges Action to Build Facilitating Government

Ministry Launches Online Services for Medical Equipment Management

Việt Nam Seeks Way to Boost Online Travel Market

Tax Authorities Expanding IT Use

More Doctors Trained to Work in Disadvantaged Areas

 

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INDIA: Next Wave of Programme Management for Digital India – Creating Stakeholder Collaboration Culture

India Leads in Asia on Customer Retention via Technology

Enhancing Citizens’ Welfare with Effective Scheme Management, Writes Arpan Bansal of Newgen

Airtel’s Rs 2,000 Crore ‘Project Next’ to Focus on Digital Innovations

EMC All Geared Up for Giving Technology Push to Smart Cities

How Would Technology Change Governance in India in the Next Decade?

Government Claims Biggest Global Conference on Cyber Security

Embracing Emerging Technologies

 

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TURKMENISTAN: OSCE Consulting in Mass Media Sphere

UZBEKISTAN: Preparing to Mark 26th Anniversary of Independence

Experts Discuss Advantages of Innovation Center of Uzbekistan

Tashkent Holds Round Table on "Mobile Communications: Technology, Quality, Safety"

Ministry of Economy Collects Proposals For Business Climate Improvement

 

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AUSTRALIA: Abbott Defends His Criticism of Govt

ATO Website Shuts Down amid Maintenance

PM Should Move Faster on Republic

We've Got to Get Behind Turnbull

NEW ZEALAND: Remedy for Treated Timber in Landfills

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How ‘Digital Hygiene’ Can Beat the Hackers

Internet of Things Declaration to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Why Do Cities Get Smarter? Learn from These Smart City Examples

Population Increase and the Smart City

Roads to a Digitally Connected Smart City

More Inclusive Global Value Chains Can Advance Productivity and Growth in Developing Countries

OECD and FAO See Slower Growth in Demand Keeping World Food Prices Low

Why Smart Cities Need to Be Happy Ones, Too

Data Infrastructure to Make Our Cities 'Smart'

UNESCO and World Bank Collaborate on Culture, Urban Development, and Resilience

Clean Energy Transition Will Increase Demand for Minerals, Says New World Bank Report

Smart City a City That Never Sleeps…

Reliability of National Internet Segments

Open Data and Smart City KPIs

ADB Sees Improved Growth Prospects for Developing Asia

 

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CHINA: Home Market Continues Stabilizing on Purchase Curbs

China Heads for Slower, Stable Growth, More Balanced Structure

China's Foreign Trade Gains Momentum, Uncertainty Remains

AI Development in China "Colossal Market": People's Daily

China Moves to Boost Home Rental Market in Large, Medium Cities

China's Economic Growth to Stay Constant in Next Quarters

China Raises Retail Fuel Prices

Property Loans See Slower Growth in China

China Sees Improving Employment Conditions in Q2: Report

China SOE Deleveraging on Fast Track

JAPAN: Nation’s Poverty Rate Well Above OECD Average

New Center to Promote Info-Sharing on Cyber-Attacks

Labor Shortage Poses Challenge to Japan's Economic Growth: Report

SOUTH KOREA: Online Shopping Vendors on Rise - Data

Korea Ranks No. 1 in Online Grocery Shopping

Korea Is Good Bait for Cybercriminals: Experts

Korea’s Smartphone Penetration Rate Ranks World’s 6th

Korea Has OECD’s Highest Proportion of Low-Paid Women

IoT Service Subscribers Near 6 Million in Korea

Scientists, Engineers Debate Ways to Capitalize on 4th Industrial Revolution

Over 200m Personal Info Leaked Since 2011: Report

Korean Economy to Grow 2.7% in 2017: ADB

 

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INDONESIA: WB Urges to Double Investment in Infrastructure

SINGAPORE: Invest in Digital Infrastructure to Ease Burden on Fast-Growing Cities

THAILAND: Gov't Units Offer to Buy Rubber to Help Contain Price Falls in Domestic Market

VIETNAM: PM Pledges All Possible Support to Workers

Vietnam to Use New Int'l Submarine Communications Cable System This Month

Mobile Operators Compete to Reduce Roaming Rates

Information Technology Key to Alleviating Poverty: Seminar

One Third of Vietnam's Population Plays Online Games: Survey

E-Commerce Dominates Purchasing Habits

 

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INDIA: Needs Legal Infrastructure to Lead in Artificial Intelligence

Indian CIOs to Ride High on Cloud

Smart Cities Should Contribute to Common Man’s Growth

Passport Centres at 800 Head Post Offices to Come Up Soon

President Launches ‘Swayam Prabha’, Calls Improvement in Higher Education Satisfactory 

Railways Recruitment Process Goes Digital 

Changing Role of ICT in India’s Growth Spectrum

eGov Magazine Playing an Important Role in Creating Awareness on Digital India Programme

eGov Magazine Which Covers a Number of Issues Related to the Development of the Country

E-Governance in Healthcare Sector – Opportunities and Challenges

Changing Role of ICT in India’s Growth Spectrum 

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

The Global Need for Smart Cities and Its Rrise in India

Now Birth Certificate Not Mandatory for Passport Applicants5

 

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AZERBAIJAN: To Submit Report on E-Commerce to European Commission

Azercell Subscribers to Be First Users of Teorem.az Education Platform

Azerbaijan’s Big Step in Issuance of E-Visas

Azerbaijani Business Sector Using Artificial Intelligence

President Aliyev Highlights Nation's Socio-Economic Growth

CBA to Prepare Program for Development of Non-Cash Payments

Internet Banking Gets Simpler with Unibank!

UZBEKISTAN: Commodity Exchange Develops Electronic Logistics Portal

Tashkent and Seoul Sign MOC in ICT

IT Ministry and SAP Sign MOU

Rewritable Paper Can Be Reused Up to 80 Times

 

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AUSTRALIA: Penalty Rates Go Before Commission

Car Carbon Tax 'as Likely as Elvis Comeback'

Australia Must Keep Our Economy Open: PM

Welfare Hikes Won't Fix Poverty

Organisations Must Empower IT Staff to Mitigate Cyber Threats

FIJI: Food, Water Security

NEW ZEALAND: Opportunities Party Promises Universal Basic Income for Youth

Labour Plans to End School Donations

'I Don't Know Why People are Complaining' About Homeless Spending - Bill English

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World Bank Launches First-Ever Pandemic Bonds to Support $500 Million

World Bank Announces End of Fiscal Year Investigative Outcomes

ICT Spend to Reach $5,5trn by 2020

Governments Should Address Fall in Public Investment as Costs Stabilize

Nearly $59 Billion in World Bank Group Support to Developing Countries in Fiscal Year 2017

ADB Invests B1,968M in B. Grimm Power to Develop Renewable Energy in ASEAN

 

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CHINA: Outbound Investments Shift from Energy to Technology

China's Financial Market to Become More Market-Based in 2017: PBOC

China Injects Liquidity into Market Through MLF

JAPAN: Bank of Japan to ‘Cut Inflation Forecasts, Hold Off on Easing’

BOJ to Revise Down Forecast for Inflation

Japan to Give $1 Bil. in Assistance to Help Children

SOUTH KOREA: 30% of Senior Citizens Received Pensions in 2016 - Report

BOK to Take Action to Cope with Foreign Monetary Policy Changes

Govt. Mulls System to Supervise Banks over Service Charges

State Pension Fund Management Assets Surpass 600 Tln Won for First Time

 

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World Bank Funds Growth in 3 Nations

Central City, ADB Ink Deal on Waste Treatment

INDONESIA: WB Urges to Double Investment in Infrastructure

SINGAPORE: Invest in Digital Infrastructure to Ease Burden on Fast-Growing Cities

THAILAND: Gov't Units Offer to Buy Rubber to Help Contain Price Falls in Domestic Market

VIETNAM: PM Pledges All Possible Support to Workers

Vietnam to Use New Int'l Submarine Communications Cable System This Month

Mobile Operators Compete to Reduce Roaming Rates

Information Technology Key to Alleviating Poverty: Seminar

One Third of Vietnam's Population Plays Online Games: Survey

E-Commerce Dominates Purchasing Habits

 

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INDIA: Govt Allocates Rs 775 Crore to Combat Cyber Security Threats

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Banking Sector Capitalization Hits 2.76B Manats

Average Monthly Pension Increases by 6.4pct

Main Directions of 2018 Public Budget Determined

Azerbaijan Earns over $125B from Its Biggest Oil Project

TURKMENISTAN: Tax Service Transferred to Finance Ministry

UZBEKISTAN: Uzbektelecom Cuts Tariffs for Internet Services Providers Up to $64.46

Uzbekistan to Introduce New Inflation Calculating Method

Fund for Stabilization of Prices in Domestic Market Established

Uzbekistan and IFIs Sign Loan Agreement for $413,04mn

 

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AUSTRALIA: Extra $49m for Buses as Sydney Metro Built

Govt Wants Tariff Reduction in Trade Deals

NEW ZEALAND: $1b Fund Expected to Support 60,000 New Homes Across NZ

2.2 Million Kiwis Miss Tax Cuts Under Labour's Package

Government Announces $50 Million to Support Unemployed Youth

Government Spends $12.6 on Emergency Housing in Three Months

Labour's Alternative Budget Adds Up – Economist

Govt Spending $140,000 a Day on Motels

NZ Hopes to Seal Post-Brexit Free Trade Deal

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Private Sector Infrastructure Investment Commitments in Developing Countries Fell in 2016

New World Bank Group Facility to Enable More Than $1 Billion for Women Entrepreneurship

How Google Connects with the Smart City Movement

Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet and Alibaba to Gobble Up the Public Cloud Market: Morningstar Report

States Have Established Secure Role in Helping Private Sector Workers Save for Retirement, NCPERS Finds

 

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CHINA: Baidu Unveils Plans for Open AI Ecosystem Development

Chinese Telecom Giants to Pilot 5G Technology

China Has Become Important Market for Walt Disney International

Top Political Advisor Urges Concerted Efforts to Boost Private Economy

And So It Begins - Robo-shops Taking over China's Retail Sector

JAPAN: Companies Take Out Cyber Insurance

Improved Business Confidence Must Serve as Engine for Growth

3 Major Insurers See Cyberattack Insurance Contracts More Than Triple

SOUTH KOREA: To Set Up Social Service Corporations to Create 340,000 Jobs

Gov’t to Support Smaller Companies: Prime Minister

 

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SINGAPORE: OCBC Launches S$100,000 Fund to Support Environmental Sustainability Projects

More Than 100 SMEs Adopt IMDA's Go Digital Programme

THAILAND: eBay Strategy to Help Users Sell Their Products

Coaching for Small Retailers

VIETNAM: Over 500 Startup Projects Launched

VN Mobile Operators Compete to Reduce Roaming Rates

Vietnamese Telcos Race to Roll Out Attractive 4G Plans

Ministry Orders Stricter Inspections of Private Health Clinics

 

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INDIA: Huawei Opens 17 New Service Centres

Uber Completes 500 Crore Trips Globally

Most Indian Firms Aim to Move to Cloud Infrastructure

L&T’s Centre of Excellence to Focus on Industrial IoT

Microsoft to Offer Cloud Services to Punjab Government

Juniper Introduces Cloud-enabled Branch for Office Networking Services

IBM, Reliance Communications Tie Up to Offer Cloud Services

PAKISTAN: NTC, Telenor to Ensure 3G/4G, Data Services in Remote Parts

Pakistan IT Companies to Improve Healthcare Facilities Worldwide

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Zaqatala’s Cocoon Plant Privatized at Latest Auction

21 State Objects Privatized at Latest Auction

TURKMENISTAN: Second Local Mobile Operator Being Created

Turkmenistan Boosting Gas Chemical Industry

 

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AUSTRALIA: Canonical Asks Users' Help in Deciding Ubuntu Linux Desktop Apps

Civica to Be Acquired by Partners Group for over £1 Billion

Enterprise Mobile Apps Are Still Treated as Second-Class Citizens

IoT Adoption in the Enterprise Gaining Momentum in Australia

Microsoft Deepens University of Sydney Quantum Research Partnership

Optus to Switch Off 2G Next Month

Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant Are Just the Beginning: Voice Is the Future

NEW ZEALAND: BBC's Pay Release Prompts Eyeballing at NZ Companies

 

 

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Top Smart City Projects to Watch in 2017

 

"Smart city" became another buzzword in recent times, but we are going to be hearing a lot more in the coming years. By 2020, we will be spending $400 billion a year building smart cities.Let’s start with the smart city landscape to see the trend and then look at the absolutely amazing smart city projects that may change our life, make it better! I think we've really reached the point where most everyone cares about the planet and where most everyone is conscious about the environmental and social problems we have. I really hope that this article will inspire others to do something for the planet, for the cities, and citizens, and at the same time earn money! I will also give you a list of big players and key startups that work on smart city projects the most.

 

Smart City Landscape

Smart cities are no longer the wave of the future. They are here now and growing quickly as the Internet of Things expands and impacts municipal services around the globe.The smart city industry is projected to be a $400 billion market by 2020, with 600 cities worldwide. These cities are expected to generate 60% of the world’s GDP by 2025, according to McKinsey research. By 2050, about 86 percent of people in developed countries and 64 percent of people in developing countries are expected to live in cities. This is a huge change and in a very short period of time! Now it is crucial to use resources more efficiently and come up with new ways of how to live smarter.Smart cities currently have a very strong positive image around the world. Even in the third world countries, where they have other problems and lack of support, people are willing to contribute to do something good for the planet. They just need tools and resources for it. Globally, regardless of the country, smart cities are buzzing.

 

Cities all around the world work with big data specialists, developers, strategic thinkers, and innovators to make city living better, whether it’s improving the timing of traffic lights or creating a useful app, which becomes more powerful as smartphone penetration continues to increase. Cities worldwide can become smarter by using technology to make public transport more efficient, sustainable, and effective at meeting the mobility needs of their residents. Apps and other smart technology can help governments save money and, be more efficient.Large companies such as Cisco and IBM are working with universities and civic planning authorities to develop data-driven systems for transport, waste management, law enforcement, and energy use to make them more efficient and improve the lives of citizens.Smart city projects can definitely help municipal governments operate more efficiently and improve quality of life for residents. Public safety and public services are key elements of a smart city, and if you attend a smart city event, you will be impressed by what has been already done and what projects are in the development stage now.Here are some of the inspiring smart city projects that are used in smart cities around the world and that will be vital in 2017.

 

List of Top Startups and Technologies Every Smart City Should Have

Schneider Electric, Siemens, Microsoft, Hitachi, Huawei, Ericsson, Toshiba, Oracle and many other big companies work on smart city projects. But let’s take a look at promising startups that revolutionize the way we live, making this world better place to live.

 

Waste Management

Let’s start with companies that work on waste management as nowadays every city has this issue on their priority list. Bigbelly is a smart waste and recycling system that has been implemented in main cities of the US and in more than 50 countries around the globe. Bigbelly provides a solar-powered compacting waste bin that allows for up to five times the amount of waste as a traditional bin. What is also good about it, and I would say the best and the most demanded feature of it, is that it alerts the appropriate city department when it needs to be emptied. This means that the number of trash bins in a city can be reduced by 70-80%, which makes the streets more aesthetically appealing. Also, it reduces traffic jams and ensures that the cars take full rubbish bins instead of coming twice for half-full bins. Another interesting company that also works on waste management is Zerocycle, which collects and analyzes garbage and recycling data to determine recycling rates for each neighborhood in a city. The company shares those insights in customized Neighborhood Waste Reports, which are sent to every household in the service area. Personally, I think this is a great initiative because it motivates others to pay more attention to recycling.

 

Security

ShotSpotter is a company that works on reducing the crime rate in the cities. Gunfire is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous aspects of urban life. When a gunshot is heard, it’s not always reported because people get scared or are not sure if this is a gunshot or something else. But sound sensors, whether standalone, from a company such as ShotSpotter, or added to a smart streetlight, can detect gunshots and automatically report it to a police department without depending on citizen involvement. The software can also determine how many shots were fired, and how many shooters are present, which can really help police officers who respond to the call.

 

Digital Kiosks

Now we live in a world where almost everything can be controlled by phone and we don’t want to waste our time standing in a queue to get tourism information. We can just use our phones and Google it or find some info on Tripadvisor, Foursquare, etc. But sometimes, we have problems with the battery or we don’t want to spend too much time on a research or sometimes we just have unexpected trips and digital kiosks on the streets with information about the city are always a good idea. Digital kiosks give information about restaurants, retail stores, and events in the immediate area. It also provides mapping for visitors, and can sync with a mobile phone to give additional data as needed. For example, Citymapper pulls in public transport information and provides multi-modal transport options to get users to their chosen destinations. It really saves time and makes it easy for travelers to find information without actually reading many articles and visiting many sites.

 

Smart Streetlights

LED streetlights have numerous benefits. One of the main benefits is reduced crime, because the lights automatically brighten when there are multiple people in the area, and dim when no one is around. ROI and savings is another important point, with the LED lights just in few years you get ROI and then notice monthly savings on street lighting. Just to give you an example, In Los Angeles, the city saves nearly $9 million annually on utility costs as a result of its decision to spend $57 million to convert nearly 80% of its 215,000 old sodium-vapor streetlights to LED versions.There are other benefits of LED streetlights, for example Danish company DOLL – new platform for developing future LED-lighting solutions aims to create energy efficiency and intelligent indoor and outdoor lighting solutions and to generate jobs.DOLL supports municipalities, regions, and private companies, in cooperation with scientists, with the development of new and improved lighting solutions. It is a promising technology that leads to cost reductions; focusing on quality, the end-user, and energy efficiency.

 

Parking Sensors

If you live in a city, you probably experience problems with parking. Now, a lot of companies actually work on solutions that would simplify our process of parking a car. Nowadays, mobile apps became very popular in this question. They tell you when a parking spot is available, using parking sensors. European cities were early adopters of this technology. For example, in Paris, France, the average resident spends four years of their life looking for a parking spot, according to Cisco. With widespread use of parking sensors, traffic in Paris has dropped dramatically. This technology really simplifies our lives by indicating the nearest available parking spot. It saves time, gas, emissions, and money while also easing the flow of traffic and overall satisfaction of living in a city where it is actually convenient to live. If we talk about companies that work on these solutions, the first company that comes to my mind is ParkWhiz, which aims to help anyone find a parking spot from a web browser or mobile phone. Public and private parking garages list available spaces and pricing on ParkWhiz. This app also allows people to instantly reserve a spot with a credit card. Very convenient!

 

Open Data Initiatives

Every city should support open data initiatives and hackathons. In New York City, they organize BigApps competition, which produces useful and resource-saving apps to improve cities and keep citizens informed. Things like air quality, restaurant sanitation scores, building inspection scores and impending legislation should be readily available for all citizens.

 

Air Quality Sensor

Unfortunately now living in a city has some side effects like for example problems with health, etc. Living in a city means having a lot of stress and rarely breath fresh air. TZOA uses internal sensors to measure your air quality, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ambient light, and UV – all in one wearable device. In other words, TZOA is a wearable enviro-tracker that helps you stay healthy and explore your environment. It takes data from your environment in real-time and turns it into actionable recommendations to keep you healthy. Having data and a smartphone app, you can know if you need to open a window in your home, take a bike and choose a different route to work, or get more or less sun. These recommendations help to change behaviors and improve your quality of life.

 

Climate Monitoring

EverImpact discovers the origins of greenhouse gas emissions in your city. It is the climate monitoring app for cities, which measures and monetizes Cities’ CO2 emission by combining Satellites and Ground Sensors’ data. Cities get a real-time map of their emissions at street and building level. It really helps to control the environmental situation in the cities.

 

Social Impact

A success story of digital services developed from open data in Helsinki is the mobile GPS app BlindSquare that helps the blind and visually impaired people navigate through the city by describing the environment, announcing points of interest and street intersections to users, and telling them where to go.

From https://dzone.com/ 07/14/2017

 

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New Open Source Tool a “Breakthrough” in Electrification Planning

 

Governments and others planning how to reach more households with electricity have a powerful, new open source tool that estimates the optimal way to do so, now available on the recently launched ENERGYDATA.INFO.The Electrification Pathways tool considers a variety of open, geospatial data to determine the least-cost options for bringing electricity to areas as granular as 1 square km in size. An innovative web-based application developed by the World Bank, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, it launches publicly this month with data on three countries –  Tanzania, Zambia, and Nigeria – and can be adapted for more.“We have 1.06 billion people who lack access to electricity. We know this will change in the future and the only questions are how, how fast, and at what cost,” said Dimitris Mentis, a lead researcher with KTH’s Energy Systems Analysis division and the developer of the tool. “This tool can help countries move faster, and make more cost-effective decisions, when it comes to ensuring access to sustainable energy for all.”

 

Governments and other planners are already relying on the geographic information system (GIS)-based application to inform their investments. Zambia used the tool to design a plan for expanding electricity access nationally.“Tools that offer this level of analysis historically have been proprietary and therefore costly. The Electrification Pathways application is open source, designed in such a way that others can easily adapt the code and datasets for their needs. It also pulls from open data sources to inform its analysis, helping planners to save time on resource-intensive data collection and allowing policy makers to get key answers faster,” said Rahul Kitchlu, a senior energy specialist at the World Bank. “This tool represents a breakthrough in electrification planning, leveraging GIS technology and open data to provide no-cost, open source analysis that will accelerate our progress on sustainable energy for all.”

 

In developing impactful electrification strategies, officials need to know where people are, what kind of electricity access they may already have, and how to best provide them with electricity access in short timeframes. This is difficult and costly analysis in countries where utilities providers do not have a good picture of their electricity network, and where population and other data are hard to come by.The new tool’s powerful data analytics relies on the best available datasets, including those from the World Bank, on population density, distance from existing and planned transmission infrastructure, proximity to road network, night-time light, as well as energy resources availability, among others. For each 1 km square location, seven electrification technologies are compared, such as grid, renewable and hybrid minigrids, and individual systems.

 

Based on the geographic data and the level and quality of electricity supply sought, the lowest-cost system is selected. Results are available for each 1-by-1 km settlement, while summaries including universal electrification costs are provided in national, state and district level. Notably, the Electrification Pathways’ algorithm incorporates ESMAP’s Multi-tier Framework, an approach to defining, monitoring, and evaluating energy access.This project was made possible thanks to financial contribution from ESMAP. The tool is now available at ENERGYDATA.INFO, a new open data and analytics resource for governments, investors, companies, development organizations, and others working to accelerate affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. With more than 280 datasets and 14 partner organizations so far, the growing online platform is a place to both share and make use of energy-relevant data and analytics for greater impact.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 07/20/2017

 

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APEC-G20 Align Trade and Growth Priorities

 

Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, representing APEC during the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Hamburg, delivered a strong message of support for international cooperation to address trade and growth challenges in the unsettled global environment. Invited by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to join the summit in Viet Nam’s capacity as APEC chair for 2017, Prime Minister Phuc underscored the alignment of APEC and the G20’s policy priorities and vowed to take new and impactful actions to advance them leading up to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Da Nang in November. “Creating a new and more powerful momentum for growth from innovation is essential to maintain dynamic development,” declared Prime Minister Phuc, in his remarks to G20 leaders. Prime Minister Phuc noted that APEC economies and G20 countries are both working to realize deeper, next generation economic integration and trade. This includes efforts to promote regional connectivity, limit protectionism and strengthen the global trading system while ensuring that greater benefits reach all corners of society. Recognizing concerns about the unintended consequences of globalization, Prime Minister Phuc explained that APEC economies are actively pursuing measures to foster more inclusive and sustainable trade and growth while helping those displaced by competitive and technological change.

 

“The fourth industrial revolution and global network connections have boosted labor productivity and created new industries and jobs, and also posed many challenges,” said Prime Minister Phuc. “We believe that the G20 and APEC can coordinate and share ideas and good practices for a multidimensional approach, in all global, regional and domestic aspects, on this matter.” This includes APEC initiatives to open up channels that can enable small businesses to modernize and participate in trade and global markets.“Governments need to provide a favorable institutional and financial environment for small and medium enterprises, especially to encourage innovative startups, application of digital business models and participation in global value chains,” Prime Minister Phuc said. APEC is taking parallel steps to enhance employment prospects across workforces as demand for new skills evolves as well as improve labor protections to mitigate the effects of market competition, automation and sectoral change. This includes helping those hurt by job losses and empowering people to take advantage of new opportunities as economies look to the future.

 

Members are also having intensive discussions on inclusive economic, social and financial development, and are working closely in promoting sustainable growth and tackling the impacts of climate change.Nearly half the G20 are also APEC member economies. Viet Nam joined the G20 members to draft the declaration endorsed at the conclusion of the G20 leaders’ summit. Trade and sectoral officials from all 21 APEC economies, which together account for half of global trade and 60 per cent of world GDP, will convene in Ho Chi Minh City from 18-30 August to press ahead with implementation of the region’s policy priorities. It will be followed by key sectoral ministerial meetings in Viet Nam, Korea and Papua New Guinea to build on this progress and culminate with the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week hosted by Viet Nam from 6-11 November in Da Nang to provide directives on moving forward.

From https://www.apec.org/ 07/10/2017

 

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GMS Agriculture Working Group Finalizing Strategy on Agro-Based Value Chains

 

A senior level working group meeting is finalizing a 5-year strategy for promoting safe and environment-friendly agro-based value chains (2018-2022) for the Greater Mekong subregion (GMS). The 14th Annual Meeting of the Working Group on Agriculture (WGA AM-14) of the GMS takes place on 13-15 July attended by senior agriculture officials, key private sector players, and development partners, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB).“The GMS Strategy and Action Plan would pave the way for the subregion to become a global player in safe agri-based food products that are produced through sustainable and climate resilient means,” said Pavit Ramachandran, an ADB Senior Environment Specialist. “The focus will be on inclusiveness and impacting the small-scale farmers and micro and small agri-enterprises in the subregion.”At the meeting, the WGA members will agree to submit the final draft of the Regional Strategy and Action Plan for endorsement by the six Ministers of Agriculture at the Second GMS Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting on 6-8 September 2017, also to be held in Siem Reap.

 

Members will discuss achievements in the implementation of the GMS Core Agriculture Support Program Phase II (CASP2) and the preparatory work for the follow-through ADB technical assistance that will support the ensuing Strategy and Action Plan.They are also set to discuss the highly successful GMS one-stop market pavilion and the policy forum organized at the recently concluded THAIFEX — World of Food Asia 2017 in Thailand. The GMS market event in THAIFEX attracted more than 17,000 visitors, and negotiated about 350 business deals for more than 200 GMS agriculture products. An issues paper on “Increasing the safety and quality of food products from the Greater Mekong Subregion” was developed, which will be the basis for a public-private dialogue at the GMS Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting.The WGA officials will conduct a public-private dialogue on mutual recognition of geographical indication products within the GMS. A prototype of a new agriculture information network services online portal will also be showcased.The GMS includes Cambodia, the People's Republic of China (specifically Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

From https://www.adb.org/ 07/13/2017

 

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Top Digital Nations Named

 

Singapore, Hong Kong, Estonia and Japan have been named some of the ‘stand out’ nations in the newly released Digital Evolution Index (DEI) 2017. The executive summary of the report said: “The DEI 2017 is a data-driven holistic evaluation of the progress of the digital economy across 60 countries, combining more than 100 different indicators across four key drivers: supply conditions, demand conditions, institutional environment, and innovation and change.” Compiled by Mastercard and the Fletcher School at Tufts University, the index assessed progress in digital and connectivity across 60 countries. It split the markets into four categories: stand out, stall out, watch out and break out. The UK and New Zealand were also in the stand out category. While nations including South Korea and Australia fell into stall out; Russia and China into break out; and South Africa Greece into watch out. “Adoption, the quality of digital infrastructure and institutions, and innovation collectively shape a country’s digital competitiveness, but governments also play a key role. The report also found that consumers’ trust in digital technologies correlates with digital competitiveness,” said Bhaskar Chakravorti, senior associate dean of international business & finance at The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and founding executive director of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context.

From https://www.innovatorsmag.com/ 07/13/2017

 

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CHINA: Taking More Measures to Reduce Logistics Costs

                        

China is set to reduce logistics costs and improve logistics efficiency to spur the real economy, according to a guideline approved at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. One focus is placed on better road transportation through improving traffic administration and law enforcement to enable better services and less red tape. Tax policy will be overhauled and toll charges will be set at reasonable levels to reduce the burden on companies. "The logistics sector is the groundwork of strategic importance for the development of market economy. Lowering logistics costs and raising the efficiency should be prioritized this year," Li said. Statistics from the National Development and Reform Commission showed that the cost of logistics in China took up about 14.9 percent of the GDP in 2016, down by 1.1 percentage points from the previous year. Although the ratio had dropped for four years in a row by 2016, it is not only significantly higher than some developed economies, but also higher than some developing economies. China is ranked 27th in the 2016 Logistics Performance Index created by the World Bank and covering 160 countries and regions. "China's logistics costs are still on the higher end in the world. We should promptly respond to the shared concern of businesses with well-designed measures to make the sector travel light and perform better.

 

That will be of great help to the real economy," he said. According to the guideline, support will be provided in terms of urban planning and land use. A number of logistics centers at national level will be developed. Logistics infrastructure will be reinforced, and rail freight service improved and integrated with other means of transportation. More means of financing will also be made available to companies in the logistics sector. The country aims to establish an integrated nationwide cargo clearance system and to cut cargo clearance time by one-third by the end of this year, according to the guideline. The logistics sector will benefit from greater integration with the manufacturing sector, while more efforts will go to core technology and equipment development and management upgrading. The government will actively press ahead with the reform agenda to break regional protectionism and industry monopoly. "We must take actions to drive China's logistics costs toward the lower end among developing countries," the premier said.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/06/2017

 

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China Publishes Draft Regulation on Key Information Infrastructure Protection

                        

China's Internet regulator started to solicit public opinion on a draft regulation on key information infrastructure Tuesday. The draft was published on the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) website and will be open for suggestions until August 10. According to the draft, the key information infrastructure is that which would jeopardize national security and the public interest in case of malfunction, damage or data leakage. Operators include government offices, financial organizations, transportation organizations, public communications and information services, research institutions of national defense technology, food and drugs, and news services. The draft requires operators to ensure the stability and continuity of their infrastructure. Industry authorities and supervisors shall establish offices to oversee information infrastructure, and technicians should be appropriately qualified, said the draft. Zuo Xiaodong, vice president of the China Information Security Research Institute said that to protect key information infrastructure is to protect the economy, society, the public interest and national security. The public can email their opinions to security@cac.gov.cn by August 10.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/11/2017

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Financial Reform Plans Unveiled to Serve Real Economy in Sustainable Manner

                        

China unveiled reform plans Saturday to improve the financial sector's capabilities to serve the real economy while guarding against systemic risks. China must strengthen the leadership of the Communist Party of China over financial work, stick to the basic tone of seeking progress while maintaining stability, and respect the rules of financial development, said President Xi Jinping, at a two-day National Financial Work Conference that ended Saturday. The conference has been convened every five years since 1997 and is widely considered to set the tone for financial reforms. Three tasks are highlighted in the meeting, including making the financial sector better serve the real economy, containing financial risks and deepening financial reforms. Serving the real economy is the bounden duty and purpose of the financial sector and the fundamental way to guard against financial risks, Xi pointed out. The financial sector should improve service efficiency and quality and channel more resources into major and weak areas of economic and social development, he said. Developing direct financing will be prioritized while indirect financing structure should be optimized by accelerating strategic transformation of state-owned major banks and developing small and medium-sized banks and private financial institutions, according to Xi.

 

The reiteration of the role of the financial sector points out the development direction of the financial sector and emphasis on direct financing is also quite reassuring for the stocks and bond markets, according to Li Huiyong, a senior analyst with Shenwan Hongyuan Securities. Xi also said that guarding against systemic financial risks is the eternal theme of financial work and the government should take stronger initiative to monitor, warn against and deal with risks in a timely manner. China will accelerate developing laws and regulations governing the financial sector, improve macro prudential management and emphasize functional as well as behavioral regulation, according to Xi. The government will continue to deleverage the economy by firmly taking a prudent monetary policy and prioritizing reducing leverage in state-owned enterprises, Xi said. The country will also resolutely deepen financial reforms including improving financial regulation coordination and shoring up weak links in supervision. China will set up a committee under the State Council to oversee financial stability and development and the central bank will play a stronger role in macro prudential management and guarding against systemic risks, according to Xi.

 

The introduction of the State Council financial stability and development committee will help improve regulation effectiveness and address regulation challenges brought by increasingly mixed financial services, according to Lian Ping, chief economist with Bank of Communications. Reforms of the financial regulation framework should be based on China's domestic conditions and all financial businesses will be put under supervision, according to Premier Li Keqiang. The world's second largest economy will further open up its financial market to promote the internationalization of the Chinese yuan and capital account convertibility in a steady pace, Xi added. China will also increase efforts in improving legal framework, credit mechanism and talent development for the financial sector to help Chinese economy expand steadily, Premier Li said.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/15/2017

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China Launches Demonstration Areas to Boost Made in China 2025

                        

China is buttressing the Made in China 2025 strategy with new national-level demonstration areas to spur the development of smart, green and service-oriented manufacturing. The decision is made at a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. One focus is to foster the development of emerging industries and upgrade traditional sectors by furthering the integration of manufacturing sector and the internet. Market-oriented reform, supporting policies will be rolled out to ensure that businesses of all origins can receive the same national treatment. "We need to select some cities or city clusters in China's eastern, western and central regions for the demonstration areas. The key is to support their piloting in system and policy innovation, and to develop an innovative atmosphere and industrial clusters for smart manufacturing," Li said.

 

"We must enable the manufacturing sector to become smarter, greener and more service oriented, boost the transition from traditional to new growth engines and the economy climbing upwards the value chain," he said. Made in China 2025 was first unveiled by the premier in his Government Work Report in 2015. Two years on, the country has seen increasingly stronger industrial capabilities, smart manufacturing, innovation, product quality and branding. Average productivity was up by 38 percent for China's first 109 pilot projects in smart manufacturing, while operating costs dropped by 21 percent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The meeting on Wednesday decided that the government will take advantage of a variety of government and industry funds to spur innovation and entrepreneurship, and guide more social capital to support advanced manufacturing.

 

In the demonstration areas, the government will offer stock incentives in State-owned enterprises. The government will also further cut red tape and streamline approval procedure, improve business environment, and make bigger efforts in attracting foreign investment. The use and protection of intellectual property rights will be strengthened and government compliance oversight will be reinforced. "Local authorities are highly motivated after the unveiling of the Made in China 2025 strategy. Many countries are also upgrading their manufacturing sectors right now," Li said. "The Chinese economy has shown a buoyant momentum, but the weakness lies in the manufacturing sector, which requires quickened expansion.

 

We need to focus our efforts on strengthening the sector, which is the foundation of the real economy," he said. Li highlighted the importance of opening-up and international cooperation and absorbing experience worldwide. The meeting also decided to step up the development of innovation centers for manufacturing and technology and to establish a number of public service platforms for entrepreneurship and innovation. The demonstration areas will also receive support in talent development, and encourage researchers and Chinese talents overseas to set up businesses in the demonstration areas. Land supply in the demonstration areas will receive extra support, with pilot measures to transform old business and storage facilities, idle buildings and excessive commercial real estates into incubating centers for entrepreneurship.

 

"The innovation in system and mechanism should be on par with technological innovation. Main constraining factors for the manufacturing sector still are in the system and the mechanism, as the access threshold for manufacturing is still too high," Li said. "The organizational structure of enterprises has changed profoundly. With the help of entrepreneurship and innovation platforms, enterprises of different sizes are developing in an integrated manner. We need to draw on experience learned and see the reform through," he said. The premier said funding support to the demonstration areas should be in line with market principles. The government should explore new paths of development, encourage competition, play an enabling role in building platform and drawing talents, he added.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/19/2017

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JAPAN: Anti-Conspiracy Law Takes Effect

 

A Japanese law penalizing the planning of a range of crimes took effect Tuesday, with the government insisting that it will help thwart terrorism even as concerns linger among the public that enhanced police power could lead to suppression of civil liberties. Under the law, which the ruling parties rammed through the Diet last month, terrorist groups or other criminal organizations will be punished for planning and preparing to commit 277 crimes. It brings a major change to Japan's criminal law system that had basically applied penalties only after crimes had actually been committed. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has framed the law as an essential tool for tackling terrorism in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and necessary to ratify a U.N. treaty on international organized crime. Japan is the only country among the Group of Seven countries that has yet to ratify the convention despite signing it in 2000. But opponents including legal experts have warned that the definition of terrorist groups and other organized criminal groups is vague, leaving room for anyone to be punished. They also criticized that the law's application on offenses included those that seem to be unrelated to organized crimes, such as forestry product theft.

 

The government has denied arbitrary punishment by investigative authorities, saying that what constitutes a crime is specified under the law and is also checked by courts. The bill deliberated at the Diet was more commonly known as the "conspiracy bill" in a reference to three similarly worded bills that had sought to introduce a conspiracy charge. None of those bills made it through the Diet in the face of strong criticism, and the Abe government made the latest challenge by renaming the charge to "preparatory crime of terrorism and others" and narrowing the scope of application than the previous bills. But the government has continued to face difficulty in winning broad public support on the bill to revise a law on organized crime amid lingering concerns it could lead to increased wiretapping and other surveillance for investigations. Toward the end of the Diet deliberation, the bill faced questions even from outside the country, with a U.N. special rapporteur on the right to privacy saying it could lead to undue restrictions on privacy and freedom of expression due to its potentially broad application.

 

Criticism from the public also mounted as the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito party took an unorthodox step of bypassing an upper house committee vote to push the bill through. The bill passed the Diet on June 15 following a vote in a plenary session of the House of Councillors. Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda, whose explanations on the bill had often stirred controversy at the parliament, said in a recent interview he sought to work hard to win public support on the issue. He also said the law will "not be applied to civic groups and labor unions that are engaging in legitimate activities" and that he finds no need to allow police to use wiretapping for investigation over the planning of serious crimes. According to the law, two or more people who plan, as part of activities of terrorist groups or other organized criminal groups, serious crimes will be all punished if any of them take preparatory acts, such as preliminary inspections of relevant locations. The 277 crimes include those directly related to terrorism, such as arson, as well as those on the use of drugs, human trafficking and fraud.

From https://japantoday.com 07/11/2017

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Electoral Reform Law Comes into Force

 

The revised Public Offices Election Law came into force on Sunday, redrawing the electoral map for the House of Representatives to narrow disparities in the weight of votes between constituencies. The revision affected a total of 97 constituencies in Tokyo and 18 prefectures. The rezoning, which followed Supreme Court rulings that found the past three elections for the lower chamber of parliament to have been held in “a state of unconstitutionality,” paves the way for a decision by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to dissolve the all-important lower house for a snap election. The number of single-seat constituencies was cut by one each in six prefectures — Aomori, Iwate, Mie, Nara, Kumamoto and Kagoshima.  Electoral districts were also revamped in Tokyo and 12 prefectures — Hokkaido, Miyagi, Fukushima, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Aichi, Osaka, Hyogo, Ehime, Fukuoka and Nagasaki. As a result, a record 105 municipalities each have two or more constituencies. The legislative revision reduced the maximum vote-value gap between constituencies to 1.999 to one on the basis of the population estimate for 2020. The number of lawmakers elected under the proportional representation system will be cut by one each in the Tohoku, northern Kanto, Kinki and Kyushu regional blocs. Overall, the number of lower house seats was reduced by 10 to a post-World War II low of 465, consisting of 289 for single-seat constituencies and 176 for regional proportional representation blocs.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/16/2017

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SOUTH KOREA: Measures to Separate Subsidies for Device, Service Plans Likely This Year

 

Among measures being considered by the South Korean government to help reduce the burden of mobile costs on households, the separation of subsidy costs paid by mobile phone manufacturers and telecom companies and expansion of the “blacklist system” on all mobile phones are highly likely to be implemented this year. The two measures were mentioned during the confirmation hearing of Yoo Young-min, the nominee for minister of science, ICT and future planning earlier this week, with the candidate showing firm determination to push measures to cut overall mobile costs for Koreans. As part of the efforts, the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee announced last month a package of measures to cut a total of 4.63 trillion won ($4.06 billion) worth of mobile costs, including shaving off the 11,000 won base rate per month for senior citizens aged 65 or above and expanding the current optional 20 percent discount for monthly bills to 25 percent for purchasers of new phones. In addition to the plan to cut mobile bills, the government is considering overhauling the current subsidy system and expanding the blacklist system.

 

In Korea, most phone purchases are made at mobile carriers’ shops, which usually result in complicated calculations of how much should be paid for devices and calling plans. Device manufacturers and telecom firms often co-develop calling plans specialized for some new phones. The blacklist system allows people to buy devices at electronics shops on their own and subscribe to plans that they want. It was introduced in 2012, but it is not in full operation. Under the current subsidy law for mobile devices, enacted in 2014, phone manufacturers and telecom companies are allowed to subsidize purchase prices by up to 330,000 won. But the law does not obligate them to reveal the exact details of the subsidy. Upon every debate to cut mobile costs in the past, disclosing subsidy payments by each phone maker and telecom firm was raised, but both parties strongly opposed the plan because the disclosure was expected to directly hit their sales and profits. However, LG Electronics last month suggested the Korea Communications Commission legalize the disclosure, starting talks about revamping the current subsidy system. Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone provider, has long been opposed to the issue, but seemingly changed its official stance Wednesday.

 

“Samsung was concerned about price competitiveness in overseas markets, since more than 95 percent of our businesses are operated overseas,” said Kim Jin-hae, a senior vice president at Samsung Electronics. “But if the government implements the policy, we would have to follow.” It was the first official remark by a Samsung official about the issue. Expanding the blacklist system is also under serious consideration by the minister nominee. “Separating phone purchases from subscription to mobile services may cause inconvenience for some consumers, but if the system helps cut overall mobile costs, it should be considered as a measure,” Yoo said. Meanwhile, telecom companies that claimed they were forced by the government to cut the prices of their mobile plans are welcoming both measures. “Telcos led by SK Telecom are advocating the blacklist system, because it will be much easier for them to avoid further pressure to cut their prices,” said Kim Hong-sik, an analyst at Hana Financial Investment. But the upcoming regulatory moves by the government are expected to further worsen the prospects of profits for the mobile network business of the country’s three mobile carriers, SKT, KT and LG Uplus. For the first six months of this year, they showed a combined 6.8 percent drop in new subscriptions compared to the same period last year, according to data from the Korea Telecommunications Operators Association.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 07/06/2017

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New Korean Govt. to Pursue 'Good Growth': Official

 

South Korea's new government will seek both growth and fairer wealth distribution under the main theme of "good growth," a presidential official said Tuesday, hinting it will also break from the country's longstanding preoccupation with numerical targets. "The new government will pursue good growth," the official told reporters, declining to be named. "This means we will no longer follow the pattern of putting forward growth targets and pushing for growth-centric policies." The central theme is expected to provide orientation for President Moon Jae-in's much-publicized "income-led" growth formula aimed at addressing income disparities and boosting growth by creating jobs and increasing household revenue, observers said. "Good growth pursues both growth and distribution," the official said. "The thrust (of the Moon government's policy) is that we can address social issues with growth in the upper 2-percent range."

Seoul's finance ministry has estimated that Asia's fourth-largest economy would expand 2.6 percent in 2017, down 0.2 percentage point from the previous year's 2.8 percent, while many think tanks and global investment banks revised up their forecasts to around 2.8 percent, citing brisk exports led by recovering global demand. The presidential official also pointed out that the government would not announce a specific target growth rate as the past governments did. For instance, the Lee Myung-bak administration pushed for the "747" scheme aimed at increasing annual growth to 7 percent, doubling the country's per capital income to $40,000 and making the country the world's seventh-largest economy. "If we set an excessive target and push for a growth policy (based on it), this could lead to a problem," the official said.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 07/12/2017

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Korea Aims to Generate 20% of Electricity with Renewables by 2030

 

South Korea aims to generate 20 percent of its electricity with clean, renewable energy by 2030, while reducing its reliance on fossil fuel and nuclear power plants, the new Moon Jae-in administration said Wednesday. In a policy report to President Moon Jae-in, who took office in May, the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee said it will encourage big companies and small merchants to use renewable energy by offering financial incentives and other promotional packages. By 2023, the government will require power utility firms with a generation capacity of 500,000 kilowatt or more to generate 10 percent of their electricity using eco-friendly, renewable sources, according to the policy outline. The so-called Renewable Portfolio Standard system mandates power utility firms to generate a certain amount of electricity with renewable energy. Under the RPS system, the proportion of electricity generated by renewables could rise to as high as 28 percent by 2030, the report said. For small-sized power generators, the government will purchase electricity from them at a fixed price, the advisory committee said.

 

By 2020, all government and public organizations will be required to build in-house solar energy storage systems that can make better use of electricity generated by the sun. In addition, Asia's fourth-largest economy will make a determined push to build infrastructure for an environmentally sustainable, "smart" energy supply. To transform the nation's low-cost and high-efficiency energy policy into something geared to better preserve the global ecosystem while also being highly efficient, the government will move to strengthen energy-efficiency standards for industrial machines equipment starting next year. Last year, renewable energy accounted for just 3.6 percent of the nation's electricity. Moon had campaigned to suspend construction of new nuclear reactors and coal-fired power plants, saying he would take steps to transform South Korea into a nuclear-free country. Public perception towards nuclear power soured here after the partial nuclear meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in March 2011. The incident caused vast areas of land around the nuclear power plant to be abandoned with environmentalists claiming the incident is the worst disaster to occur on the planet in decades.

Speaking at a ceremony in June marking the closure of the 40-year-old Kori No. 1 nuclear reactor, Moon said, "Nuclear power generation was the choice of our energy policy at a time when Korea was developing and had to import most of its energy needs." "However, now is the time for a change. The country's level of development and its structure has changed, and there is growing awareness in regards to the importance of the environment. An understanding that the lives and safety of the people are more important than anything else has been firmly established as a social consensus," Moon stressed. Last month, the government also suspended construction of two partially completed nuclear reactors, despite opposition from critics who have voiced concerns that getting rid of nuclear power will adversely impact the heavy industry-centered economy and raise electricity bills going forward. The decision to halt construction is seen as a reflection of resolve by the government to transform South Korea into a nuclear-free state.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 07/19/2017

 

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President Moon Unveils Five-Year Policy Agenda

 

“The five-year policy for the Moon Jae-in administration of state affairs” has been unveiled. President Moon Jae-in announced to the nation from Cheong Wa Dae on July 19 that, “The five-year plan that the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee announces today will serve as a blueprint and a compass that will lead us toward a new Korea.” “The policy tasks for our new government have been decided with the active engagement of the people of the nation,” said President Moon. He then outlined the tasks being carried out by his new administration: eliminating deep-rooted irregularities and corruption, creating jobs, and changing the inter-Korean relationship, to name just a few. The president pointed out that the agenda, with 100 specific policy items, was the outcome of months of discussion and consideration among the people, the government and the National Assembly. He called them challenges that his new administration would have to accomplish over the next five years. “The policy tasks that are part of the plan represent many more promises that the government will have to keep over the next five years. We will make sure to keep these promises by having each government body fine-tune its specific policy items and thereby making them more feasible,” the president explained.

 

After the president spoke, Kim Jin-pyo, chief of the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee, came to the podium to explain the slogan "A nation of the people, a Republic of Korea of justice." He said that this embodied the five main policy goals that form part of the government's new national vision: a government of the people, an economy pursuing co-prosperity, a nation taking responsibility for individual lives, well-balanced development across every region, the Korean peninsula of peace and prosperity. The heads of each department on the committee, specializing in policy & administration, the economy, society, diplomacy & security, and policy planning, then each gave a presentation about their strategies and the 100 policy items. The two vice chairmen of the committee -- Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination Hong Nam-ki and lawmaker Kim Tae-nyeon -- explained how the government plans to implement the plan, including securing financial resources and enacting and revising related regulations.

From http://www.korea.net 07/19/2017

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Parties Reach Agreement on Govt. Reorganization Bill

 

Rival parties agreed Thursday to pass a bill on government reorganization after an intense tug of war, giving a much-needed boost to President Moon Jae-in's efforts to complete his nascent administration. A parliamentary committee handling the issue endorsed the bill soon after the agreement. The National Assembly is set to hold a plenary session later in the day to vote on it. The agreement followed days of grueling negotiations and was announced by the vice floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party, main opposition Liberty Korea Party, People's Party and Bareun Party. Under the agreement, the Small and Medium Business Administration will be elevated to a ministry supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises, venture startups and micro-businesses. A new vice-ministerial trade negotiations bureau will be installed in the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, while the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning will be given a new name, roughly translated as the Ministry of Science, Technology, Information and Communications.

 

The renamed science ministry will have a vice-ministerial "science innovation headquarters." As proposed in the original bill, the Ministry of Public Safety and Security will be dissolved while the Coast Guard and the fire service under the ministry will be separated to function as independent bodies. The currently vice-ministerial chief of the Patriots and Veterans Affairs Ministry will be elevated to a minister, while the presidential security office will be retooled into the vice-ministerial organization. During the negotiations, the major bone of contention was a proposal to have the environment ministry take control of all water-related functions held by the land ministry. Critics say that under the proposal, all water projects would be viewed from an "environmentalist standpoint." The parties decided to form a special parliamentary panel to further discuss the issue by the end of September. Meanwhile, the parties have yet to narrow their differences on an 11.2 trillion-won ($9.9 billion) extra budget bill, with opposition parties rejecting the proposal to use state coffers for creating public-service jobs.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 07/20/2017

 

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CAMBODIA: National Assembly Amends Law on Political Parties

 

The Cambodian National Assembly on Monday amended the Law on Political Parties. The legal changes bar political parties from "using voice, images, documents in writing or activities of anyone convicted of felony or misdemeanor." The changes also bar political parties from "conspiring" with convicts for their political benefits. Those found in violation will be prohibited from political activities for up to five years and banned from competing in elections, or entirely dissolved. Also, the amendments prohibit political parties from supporting or organizing plans with anyone to undertake actions against the interest of Cambodia. Ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the changes aimed to prevent political parties from associating with convicts to destroy peace, security and people's livelihood.

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

 

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MYANMAR: Plans to Modernize Police Force

 

Myanmar has planned to equip the country's police force with modern weapons and firearms for use in suppressing riots, said Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Major General Aung Soe, Myanmar News Agency reported Tuesday. Aung Soe told the House of Representatives on Monday that the outdated weapons, currently used in the police force, are being replaced in three steps with modern weapons, communication equipment, vehicles, oil, uniforms and other set-up needs under annual budget request raised to the parliament. He disclosed that budget allotment for the current fiscal year 2017-18 has been granted to buy 816 units of communication equipment under seven titles. In addition, purchase of portable X-ray machines which can detect images in social forensic, scent detective machines for explosives, drone-hunting machines, video pole cameras and bullet catcher collection chambers are to be sought, he added. Established in 1995, the Myanmar police force is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs. With a strength of 75,000 men and women, the force is headquartered in the capital Nay Pyi Taw. Myanmar is divided into seven states and seven regions, each with its own local police force.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/27/2017

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Myanmar Announces 10 Prioritized Areas for Investment

 

Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) has announced 10 areas which will be prioritized for investment by both local and foreign entrepreneurs, Myanmar News Agency reported Wednesday. The 10 prioritized areas for investment include agriculture, livestock and fishery, export promotion, import substitution, power, logistics, education, health care, affordable housing construction and establishment of industrial estate, said a statement of the MIC. Myanmar's new Investment Law was enacted in October last year by the parliament and the cabinet approved the related investment rules and regulations in March this year aimed at giving easier access to business activities in the country. The rules and regulations comprise 238 chapters defined as land use, tax exemption, arbitration and financial transaction. The law, which was drafted in 2013 based on suggestions from experts and businessmen with the help of International Finance Corporation (IFC), combines the Foreign Investment Law drafted in 2012 and the Citizens' Investment Law drafted in 2013. The new law stipulates that tax breaks are enjoyed by those who invest only after the new law comes into effect. According to official statistics, total foreign investment in Myanmar hit 70.35 billion U.S. dollars in 1,246 projects up to March this year since late 1988 whereas Myanmar people's domestic investment reached 13.191 trillion kyats (9.69 billion U.S. dollars) as of the same date. The country expects over 6 billion U.S. dollars of annual foreign investment in fiscal year 2017-18 which began in April.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/28/2017

 

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Agricultural Development Strategy Introduced

 

A strategy for the agricultural development is underway, according to deputy chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Deputy chairman Ye Min Aung said the strategy would be implemented based on three pillars: management, productivity and competency. He said the strategy would include 42 programmes and 363 tasks. “We reviewed and adopted decent policies from the old schemes like the framework on economic and social reform and the national export strategy. We have corrected the flaws to improve the policies,” he said. He added that the strategy would be publicised in August and aims to promote the farming sector and living standards of farmers by 2030. “The strategy needs cooperation among the government, private firms and farmers. Our vision is to achieve quality farming businesses that can withstand climate changes and produce products that can compete in global markets,” said the deputy chairman.

From http://www.elevenmyanmar.com/ 07/18/2017

 

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PHILIPPINES: Duterte Unveils Plan to Beef Up Army, Police

 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that he will beef up the country's military and police force to meet "the future threats coming our way from within and outside the country." He also bared the Philippines' plan to buy at least two spy planes and "lots" of high-altidute drones that the security forces can use against the extremists and other insurgents. "I will build a credible armed force that can fight at all fronts everywhere. I really do not know how many (enemies) will sprout up, but we have the ISIS and the NPAs," Duterte told a news conference after delivering his second State of the Nation Address before a joint congress, referring to the IS militants and the New People's Army rebels. He said the Philippine government needs to recruit up to 40,000 new soldiers to "replace and to strengthen" the military force. He stressed the need to beef up the forces because of the deaths of more than 100 soldiers in the ongoing war in Marawi City and attacks launched by rebels. "I will prepare more armed forces on war footing. There's war, that's why," Duterte said. Duterte said there is a need to re-train the armed forces and the police in urban warfare, especially in military tactics using new military equipment. "(The military and police) are back to the drawing board. There is a need for the soldiers and police to reconfigure," Duterte said, vowing to destroy the rebel forces. The military is fighting the extremists linked with IS fighters still holed up in the southern Marawi City. Duterte said the IS militants are still holding 300 hostages in Marawi, delaying efforts to retake the rest of the city. "That's why we cannot launch an assault, and if possible we'll just wait it out. I do not want these innocents to be slaughtered," Duterte said.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/25/2017

 

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SINGAPORE: To Launch Program for Urban Solutions

 

Singapore's Ministry of National Development said on Thursday it will set aside 150 million Singapore dollars for an initiative aimed at building a highly liveable, sustainable and resilient city of the future. The Cities of Tomorrow Program's vision will be achieved through integrated development of research and development (R&D) in four key verticals - advanced construction, resilient infrastructure, new spaces, and greater sustainability. It will be a collective effort where stakeholders from industry, research community, and government will come together to work in tandem to develop innovative R&D solutions to address key challenges, such as climate change, aging infrastructure, resource constraints and demand for space, according to the ministry.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 06/29/2017

 

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Singapore Tops UN Ranking on Cybersecurity Strategy

 

GENEVA: Singapore has a better overall cybersecurity approach than the US and other wealthy countries, a UN survey showed on Wednesday (Jul 5). The survey by the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) rated Singapore as top in the world based on its legal, technical and organisational institutions, educational and research capabilities and cooperation in information-sharing networks. "The island state has a long history of cybersecurity initiatives. It launched its first cybersecurity master plan back in 2005. The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore was created in 2015 as a dedicated entity to oversee cybersecurity and the country issued a comprehensive strategy in 2016," the report noted. Meanwhile, many other rich countries have holes in their defences and some poorer countries are showing them how it should be done, the survey found, noting that wealth breeds cybercrime, but it does not automatically generate cybersecurity. "There is still an evident gap between countries in terms of awareness, understanding, knowledge and finally capacity to deploy the proper strategies, capabilities and programmes," it added. The United States came second in the ITU's Global Cybersecurity Index, but many of the other highly rated countries were small or developing economies.

 

The rest of the top 10 were Malaysia, Oman, Estonia, Mauritius, Australia, Georgia, France and Canada. Russia ranked 11th. India was 25th, one place ahead of Germany, and China was 34th. "Cybersecurity is an ecosystem where laws, organisations, skills, cooperation and technical implementation need to be in harmony to be most effective," the survey said. "The degree of interconnectivity of networks implies that anything and everything can be exposed, and everything from national critical infrastructure to our basic human rights can be compromised." The crucial first step was to adopt a national security strategy, but 50 per cent of countries have none, the survey said. Among the countries that ranked higher than their economic development was 57th-placed North Korea, which was let down by its "cooperation" score but still ranked three spots ahead of much-richer Spain. The smallest rich countries also scored badly - Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino were all well down the second half of the table. The Vatican ranked 186th out of 195 countries in the survey.

But no country did worse than Equatorial Guinea, which scored zero.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 07/06/2017

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THAILAND: EEC Public-Private Partnership Regulations Approved

 

Regulations related to the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) fast track public private partnership projects (PPP) have been approved by the corridor’s policy committee, Ekniti Nitithanprapas, director-general of the State Enterprise Policy Office said today. The new regulations, designed to speed up the launch of investment projects, will shorten the time frame to 8-10 months from the current average of 40. Under the new rules, the project preparation and proposal phase is to take about 3.54.5 months and selection of private firms would take approximately 4.55.5 months. So far, four projects have been chosen: Utapao Aerotropolis (expected to cost Bt310.4 billion), high speed rail (Bt215.1 billion), the Laem Chabang seaport extension (Bt155.8 billion) and Map Ta Phut seaport extension (Bt 10.2 billion). Ekniti says the EEC is on track to meet the goals of its 5C’s: certainty, consolidation, concurrence, checks and balances and commitment.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 07/06/2017

 

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Plan to Record All Court Proceedings Approved

 

The National Reform Steering Assembly (NRSA) has approved a report suggesting the use of an audio-visual recording system during court proceedings. At its meeting on Tuesday, the NRSA voted 125-1, with nine abstentions, to approve the report proposed by the committee on legal and justice system reform for the adoption of visual and audio recording systems in all courts. In the report, the committee said it hoped that the measure would ensure fairness and enhance efficiency in the delivery of justice to the people. Committee chairman Khemchai Chutiwong told the meeting that the current process of transcribing court proceedings could miss points made in witnesses’ statements, which may result in limited information being brought before the Appeals Court or the Supreme Court to consider later. He said that audio and visual recording would enable judges to obtain all available  facts, while helping ensure transparency in the courtroom and making it easire for court clerks to efficicently classify and keep records of all proceedings. Many NRSA members voiced their support for the recommendation, although some noted that care must be taken to ensure the conficentiality of all information.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 07/19/2017

 

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VIETNAM: Hi-Tech Agriculture Needs Better Credit Policies

 

Better credit policies and higher consumption of farming products are necessary to ensure efficient use of funds borrowed for high-tech agricultural projects, experts said at a seminar in Hà Nội yesterday. These are tasks for the Government and enterprises respectively, they added. The seminar was organised by the Việt Nam Farmers’ Association, the State Bank of Việt Nam and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. According to the State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV), total outstanding loans for hi-tech agriculture have reached nearly VNĐ32.34 trillion. The loans have been given to 4,125 customers, 3,957 individuals and 168 enterprises. Nearly VNĐ27.74 trillion (about 86 per cent) of these loans were given to high-tech agricultural projects and the remaining VNĐ4.602 trillion to clean agriculture projects. There was no bad debt, the central bank said. A number of large-scale high-tech projects have begun operations, involving the breeding of cows, horticulture and fruit and vegetable exports.

 

The Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development has committed to a VNĐ50 trillion soft loan package for hi-tech and clean agriculture programmes and projects. Loans under this package will be given at interest rates 0.5-1.5 per cent lower than normal lending rates. Despite this, the reality was that encouraging high-tech and clean agriculture was fraught with risk, especially without stable consumption markets, the experts said. They added that there were not enough tools in the country to distinguish and protect high-tech and clean agriculture projects from normal ones. There was also a lack of guidance on the granting of ownership certificates for assets on agricultural land, including greenhouses and other facilities, the seminar heard. Nguyễn Đức Hưởng, chairman of the Lien Viet Post Commercial Joint Stock Bank (LienVietPostBank), said that hi-tech agriculture was often associated with high production costs and there was not enough consumer confidence in clean farming products. He also noted that investment in agriculture carried greater risks because it depended on many uncertain factors like the weather.

 

The State should have policy incentives for businesses to consume farmers’ products, Hưởng said. He also said co-operation among farmers, and between farmers and enterprises would help them expand production, improve processing and consumption, thereby fostering stable production, increase in product quality and the building of recognisable brands. Lê Thành, Director of the Institute of Organic Agriculture Economics and General Director of the Kết Nối Xanh Joint Stock Company, said that hi-tech agriculture was a mode of production, not an economic model, so it must be closely linked to new value chains. For instance, "if an enterprise has an investment of VNĐ3-4 trillion for high-tech agriculture projects without a market, this will turn into a debt for banks, businesses and investors," he said. "The value chain will only succeed if farmers can frequently access transparent, accurate, updated market information," he said. Thành also said the State should pay attention to building mechanisms and creating conditions for investors for developing supply chains. This would create the benefits of tax collection and job creation, he added.

 

Phạm Thị Huân, General Director of Ba Huân Co, Ltd, said many businesses wanted to produce clean farm products but they couldn’t afford the large capital that was required. The State should, therefore, issue support policies for clean agriculture production and improve the quality of agricultural development. To support the development of adequate distribution systems, the agriculture ministry co-operated with other agencies and sectors to develop policies on credit, commercial infrastructure, land, tax, production, processing and post-harvest preservation, said Hoàng Anh Tuấn, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Domestic Market Department. Economist Võ Trí Thành said the market would eventually promote high-tech agricultural production, but the initial development phases would carry risks and instability. To develop hi-tech agriculture, the state should also perfect the insurance schemes for the sector. This would be a key factor in having businesses and farmers share risks inherent in agricultural production, he said.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 07/05/2017

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Vietnamese Gov't Approves Rice Export Strategy

 

The Vietnamese government has approved a national strategy to gradually lower volumes of rice for export but increase its value in the 2017-2020 period. According to the strategy, Vietnam will annually export 4.5-5 million tons of rice worth 2.2-2.3 billion U.S. dollars from now to 2020, and 4 million tons worth 2.3-2.5 billion U.S. dollars between 2020 and 2030, the country's Ministry of Industry and Trade said on Tuesday. Among types of rice for export from 2017 to 2020, some 45 percent will be white rice, 30 percent fragrant, special and Japonica rice, 20 percent sticky rice, and 5 percent value-added rice such as nutrient-enriched rice and organic rice. Regarding markets, in the 2017-2020 period, 60 percent of Vietnamese rice for export will go to Asia, 22 percent to Africa, 8 percent to America, 5 percent to Europe, 2 percent to the Middle East and 3 percent to Oceania. Vietnam shipped abroad nearly 3 million tons of rice totaling over 1.3 billion U.S. dollars in the first six months of this year, seeing respective year-on-year rises of 13.5 percent and 11.9 percent, said the country's General Statistics Office.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/11/2017

 

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PM Okays Vân Đồn EZ Development

 

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has given the northern province of Quảng Ninh the go-ahead to develop the Vân Đồn Economic Zone as a special administrative-economic unit. The province has been asked to use the local budget and other sources to fund and implement the project. The PM has also agreed in principle to selecting and hiring foreign consultants for the project, in line with the Law on Bidding and Decree 30/2015/NĐ-CP, dated March 17, 2015. The Quảng Ninh People’s Committee will discuss and negotiate the contract value and payment with foreign consultants. Vân Đồn District comprises over 600 islands, and is located around 175km from Hà Nội, 80km from Hải Phòng City and 50km from Hạ Long City. The district encompasses the World Heritage site Hạ Long Bay. It covers a total area of 2,171sq.km, of which natural land is 551sq.km. The district is sparsely populated and its total population is 41,645 people. With the variety and uniqueness of the archipelago, rich ecosystems and beautiful beaches, the islands have the potential to become a world-class maritime tourism destination. Its favourable transport infrastructure, much better compared to the country’s 14 coastal economic zones, is an added benefit.

 

The province’s leaders have also asked the government to promulgate the circular on casinos, which will lay guidelines for Vietnamese citizens, and contribute towards attracting more investments into Vân Đồn, where luxury resort complex projects and a casino are being planned. Quảng Ninh is working towards developing the required infrastructure for the special administrative-economic unit, even as it draws up detailed plans of the project. The unit will also help in the development of the Móng Cái-Hải Hà border economic area and Đình Vũ-Cát Hải Economic Zone. Vân Đồn (Quảng Ninh), Bắc Vân Phong (Khánh Hòa) and Phú Quốc (Kiên Giang) are all to be developed as special administrative-economic units, once the draft law is passed by the National Assembly (NA), according to the Government Office. Special administrative-economic units are magnets for investment, high technology and advanced management, becoming high-growth areas that generate more resources and motivation and accelerating the development and economy of the province, the region and the country. The Ministry of Planning and Investment expects that the three special administrative-economic units of Vân Đồn, Vân Phong, Phú Quốc will contribute billions of dollars annually to the local GDP from 2020. The average income per capita in the units will be $12,000 to $13,000 per person per year after 2030.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 07/22/2017

 

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INDIA: 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 06/29/2017

 

 

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Making India’s e-Governance Mission a Success

 

On the occasion of eGov’s historical 150th magazine issue, wishes from Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of State for Minority Affairs (I/C) & Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India. I am pleased to know that eGov Magazine is coming up with its 150th edition. eGov Magazine has played an important role in creating awareness on e-Governance initiatives in the country. I congratulate eGov Magazine for completing its 12 years of journey and for coming up with the 150th edition. Over the years, eGov Magazine has documented initiatives across India and also highlighted the initiatives taken by industry to make India’s e-Governance mission a success. I wish the entire team of eGov Magazine good luck and many more success and also congratulate all the readers of this magazine.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/20/2017

 

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Future of E-Governance in India

 

E-Governance relates to safeguarding the legal rights of all citizens, an equally important aspect is concerned with ensuring equitable access to public services and the benefits of economic growth to all. It also ensures government to be transparent in its dealings, accountable for its activities and faster in its responses as part of good governance. However, this would require the government to change itself – its security processes, its outlook, laws, rules and regulations and also its way of interacting with the citizens. Most primarily it is important to have a strong security system in order to function smoothly. Today, many government departments have started using information and communications technology to automate their works because of ease of access to computer technology and the numerous developments in the field of information and communications technology. There has also been an increased efficiency in the functioning of the government services because of digitalisation of services like ration cards, income certificates, building licences, Passport/VISA, Pensions, Road Transport, Property Registration, Railway services, land records, and income tax payments etc. and the use of biometrics which has made life convenient, efficient and transparent for citizen. The latest digital India initiative, which is being coordinated and implemented by the Department of Electronics and IT, aims at transforming the country through leveraging information and communication technologies in every sphere of economy requires a lot of cyber security measures in order to be implemented.

 

Currently, with the use of biometrics like fingerprint scanner there are loopholes due to which the identity of a citizen is compromised. Technology plays a critical role in enhancing security at all levels. Various government sectors in India provide public services and welfare schemes for the benefit of people in the society. Iris recognition is increasingly employed for large scale applications, especially in the government supported projects. Like Aadhaar initiative which was taken by the government, IRIS recognition can be used in the pension as well as in PDS. By doing so it can be rest assured that the right person is getting the welfare benefits with this beneficiary authentication method. Aadhaar card has always been a hot topic in the country and it has become hotter now because of the central government's recent decision to link all bank accounts with it. An Aadhaar-based identification initiative of the government is increasingly changing the security system infrastructure E-Governance applications have humungous scope for the iris technology. Aadhaar UID is becoming the tool for identity verification when it comes to beneficiary authentication. In E-Governance, G2C relation includes the services provided by the Government to the Citizens. These services include the public utility services i.e. Telecommunication, Transportation, Post, Medical facilities, Electricity, Education and also some of the democratic services relating to the citizenship such as Certification, Registration, Licensing, Taxation, Passports, ID Cards etc. Therefore, citizen authentication in E-Governance application in G2C, C2G, G2G, G2B relationship is imperative in controlling misuse and freezing loopholes.

 

For example in India, nearly 70 per cent population is into agriculture and other manual activities. Fingerprints of farmers and manual labourers tend to get worn out over a period of time. Thus, establishing identity and accountability can become a challenge. Iris on the other hand remains intact throughout the life of an individual. The human retina is a thin tissue composed of neural cells that is located in the posterior portion of the eye. Because of the complex structure of the capillaries that supply the retina with blood, each person’s retina is unique.The application of the product is in the field of administration rather e-governance to be precise. It can become very useful tool in the expert hands of law enforcement, vigilance, security and allied agencies. Security solutions of the highest standards should not be a matter of luxury. Instead it should be treated as a necessity The Government of India has adopted Iris technology in the UID programme and become the largest biometric data holder in the world. After UID programme, the State Government is the next major vertical to adopt Iris technology on large scale for beneficiary authentication in various welfare schemes and BFSI vertical is also in the line of adoption for eKYC. Pension process, PDS, MNREGA, logistics, Airport, Reality, Government, micro ATMs etc. For e-governance initiatives to be truly successful government support at the highest-level is required and next application of biometrics, cyber security etc should be upgraded only then there can be a smooth functioning of e-governance among citizens.

 

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/20/2017

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AZERBAIJAN: Reducing Its Anti-Terrorist List

 

Financial Monitoring Service of Azerbaijan’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority has removed three Algerian citizens (Ahmad Zerfaoui, Dhou El-Aich and Hacene Allane) due to their death from the list of persons subject to international sanctions for their support of terrorism, said a report of the service posted on its website. They were wanted for their support of the Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) terrorist group, according to the report. This is the 16th change made to the list in 2017. The list is updated in accordance with the UN Security Council’s decisions and the information received from regional organizations. According to an order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan, the international list is approved and updated by the Financial Monitoring Service based on the information received from the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Financial Monitoring Service of Azerbaijan was established Feb. 23, 2009.

From https://www.azernews.az 07/08/2017 

 

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UZBEKISTAN: President Approves Measures to Improve Tax System

 

President Shavkat Mirziyoev signed a Decree "On measures for radical improvement of tax administration, increase tax collection and other obligatory payments. The Decree notes that the country has formed a tax system that provides a consistent reduction of the tax burden and creating a favourable climate for business development and attracting foreign investment.  However, certain problems in the field of tax administration, including tax collection and other obligatory payments, expanding the tax base and improving the legal culture of taxpayers have a negative impact on sustainable sources of financing of programs of socio-economic development of the country. Objectives defined in the Action Strategy for 2017-2021 provide for the gradual simplification of the tax system, reducing the tax burden by expanding the tax base, the introduction of modern methods of tax administration, increasing the collection of tax and other obligatory payments.

 

Following the above mentioned, the Decree has defined the below as the most important directions in the reforming of the state tax service:  first - widespread introduction of modern information and communication technologies and advanced automated analysis methods in the process of tax administration, a full transition to contactless electronic service for taxpayers, primarily businesses;  second – ensuring timely and accurate accounting of objects of taxation and the tax base, strengthening the responsibility of officials of the competent authorities and organizations for the timely provision of reliable information related to tax matters;  third – providing all-round assistance to taxpayers in fulfilling tax obligations, developing effective mechanisms of prevention of tax offences and increasing the legal culture of taxpayers, the introduction of modern methods of tax control;  fourth - implementation of effective measures to ensure the full inclusion of objects of taxation and expanding the tax base through a systematic analysis of the dynamics of macroeconomic variables and tax potential of regions;  fifth - expanding the tax base by providing comprehensive assistance in the restoration of non-functioning enterprises, improvement of the financial condition of low-margin and loss-making enterprises, strengthening the settlements, preventing the growth of tax arrears;  sixth - further expansion of cooperation with financial authorities, concerned ministries and departments and state authorities in tax matters, including by identifying additional reserves of increase in incomes of the Republican and local budgets.

From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 07/19/2017 

 

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AUSTRALIA: Climate Policies Poor - Experts

 

A group of international experts has criticised the federal government for not being ambitious enough on climate policy and its continued support of coal. In an analysis of G20 countries' transition to being low-carbon economies ahead of this week's summit in Germany, Australia's performance was rated 'low' despite slight improvements. 'Australia has made some progress in supporting the deployment of renewable energy schemes and enhancing energy efficiency, particularly in the residential sector,' says Climate Transparency's 2017 Brown to Green report, released on Monday. 'However, experts claim this is insufficient given Australia's high emissions and its large potential for the deployment of renewables.' It warns Australia will fall well short of meeting its proposed Paris Agreement targets - a reduction in emissions of 26-28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 - based on existing policies.

 

Of particular concern is the reversing trend of falling carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations after the carbon tax was repealed in 2014. 'As a consequence, emissions from electricity production, which had been covered by the scheme, are rising again while the federal government continues to create political uncertainty on the future of renewable energy,' the report says. On the bright side, after a year of record investment and with coal on the decline, it notes Australia is gearing up to maintain its renewables target and also ensure grid stability through increased storage. But with 35 per cent of its energy supplied by coal in 2014, Australia still has one of the highest coal shares in the G20. G20 countries account for 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/03/2017

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Last G20 Statement to Recognise Climate Split

 

Malcolm Turnbull and other G20 leaders are set to unveil a final communique which acknowledges a split over climate policy and US President Donald Trump's 'America first' stance on trade. The prime minister will head to Paris at the end of the Hamburg summit, which on Saturday is focusing on innovation, women, jobs, refugees and African development. It is understood the summit's final statement, to be delivered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday afternoon local time (11pm AEST), will reflect strong support for the Paris climate agreement and note Mr Trump's decision to pull out. One paragraph, in a draft seen by Reuters, says the US will 'work closely with other partners to help their access to and use of fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently'.

 

The statement would also be helpful for Mr Turnbull, who has pledged a technologically neutral approach to cutting emissions and taking pressure off the cost of electricity with possible investment in clean coal power in Australia. The section on trade will, as G20 communiques traditionally have done, underline the importance of free trade but say members have the right to defend themselves against uncompetitive practices. Chancellor Merkel has described the last-minute negotiations as 'very difficult', with Mr Trump taking an 'America first' position on trade and describing deals between countries as entrenching winners and losers. A key meeting during the day will be between Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will discuss North Korea, steel exports and America's sale of arms to Taiwan.

 

The leaders enjoyed a performance of Beethoven's ninth symphony at Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie concert hall on Friday night and a dinner at which Melania Trump sat next to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who had a much-watched first meeting with Mr Trump on Friday. Mr Turnbull will be hoping to hit some positive notes of his own in bilateral meetings with the leaders of the Netherlands and South Korea on the sidelines of the summit on Saturday. The prime minister hailed as a success an agreement with Indonesian President Joko Widido to finalise an economic pact by the end of the year. As well, the G20 members included in a statement on terrorism his call for the rule of law to be applied to tackle extremists using encrypted communications apps and social media. The statement called for work with industry to provide 'lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information where access is necessary for the protection of national security against terrorist threats'.

 

Mr Turnbull told reporters in Hamburg that Australia plated a key role in discussions. 'I'm very pleased Australia has played such a leading and influential role in ensuring we are bringing together one mind... to defeat terrorism', he said. 'Strong language now enables us to say to the tech companies.... you've got to work with us to solve this problem. 'We cannot allow the internet to be an ungoverned place', he said. Extra police are being brought in to handle what is expected to be protest rallies involving 100,000 activists, some of whom have been setting fire to cars and looting stores across Hamburg.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/08/2017

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Government to Review Space Policy

 

A review of building Australia's space industry has been announced by the federal government. The review, to develop a long-term plan to grow the sector, will be chaired by former CSIRO chief Megan Clark, Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos said on Thursday. "This review is timely, given the current pace of change in the international space sector and advances in technologies that provide an environment that encourages commercial investment in space activities," he said in a statement. Senator Sinodinos expects through developing the technical knowledge for the space sector, Australia will develop skills to grow other manufacturing industries. Australia is currently one of just two OECD nations without a space agency. Scientists and industry figures have told Sky News a space agency is needed, and could have massive economic and social benefits.

 

'I'm very excited about the timing, I'm very excited about the vote of confidence in the industry,' Dr Tim Parsons of Delta-V Space Alliance said. 'It's been estimated in Canada for example, each dollar that their space station spends, generates between seven and 11 dollars.' Australia's first and only astronaut, Andy Thomas, has also welcomed the move. 'This is an important sector that defines the modern economy. You need to be an enthusiastic player in this sector. The review will start later this month and is expected to wrap up by the end of March 2018.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/13/2017

 

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Family Law Inquiry Inadequate

 

High profile campaigners Rosie Batty and Hetty Johnston say they're settling for a 'third-best solution' after the prime minister rejected their calls for a royal commission into the family law system. The pair gave evidence at a federal parliamentary inquiry on Monday, insisting nothing but a royal commission will help improve a system which is 'broken at every turn'. They labelled the inquiry 'a second or third best solution' that is not going to solve the problems plaguing the system. Ms Johnston continued her attack on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who told her a royal commission into the Family Court of Australia isn't possible. 'Our prime minister has betrayed these children and exposed them to harm that could be prevented,' she told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

 

In a letter Ms Johnston said she received from Mr Turnbull in April, the prime minister explained there were significant constitutional limits on an executive inquiry into the courts. She labelled that response as deceptive and alarming after receiving advice from legal experts. 'It wasn't until we got lied to by the prime minister that we agreed to co- operate with the parliamentary inquiry because we thought that was all that we could get.' Curtin University Law School's Gerard Carney said on Friday there were no constitutional limitations preventing the establishment of a royal commission to how best protect children from abuse. 'Such an inquiry, however, would need to be conducted with appropriate regard to maintaining public confidence in the judicial system,' he said.

 

Ms Batty added the 'cloak of secrecy' around the family law court matters left the public with 'no idea how broken and damaged it is'. 'If the prime minister was to receive all of the emails and desperate pleas for help - and have to face people on a daily basis - he could not but be incredibly moved,' she said. The former Australian of the Year praised the Victorian government for agreeing to implement every recommendation from the landmark Royal Commission into Family Violence and for putting forward $1.9 billion in the state budget to tackle the problem. But she agreed with Ms Johnston and said the issue needed a national response. National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/24/2017

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NEW ZEALAND: Student's Mental Health Plan Approved by Government

 

The loss of five friends to suicide has prompted one student to develop a programme to save the lives of his peers. Now he's not only managed to get the Government on board to fund it - he's brought about a reconciliation between mental health campaigner Mike King and the Minister of Health. Four years ago, Ezekiel Raui was sitting in a school hall listening to Mr King's first ever mental health seminar. Having lost five friends in recent months, it prompted him to come up with a plan of his own. "I liaised and talked with a lot of my peers and we came up with, well, we're more comfortable talking to each other as opposed to talking to our counsellors, to our teachers [and] to our parents." He drew up that plan on one and a half pages of A4 refill paper. Now, after four years of hard graft, it's this: The Tu Kotahi programme, sitting in Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman's office, signed off to be piloted in four schools across the country.

 

New Zealand has the developed world's worst teen suicide rate. Tu Kotahi trains teens to offer mental health support to their peers. "It says to me that these five young deaths weren't senseless... that something good is coming out of this, something positive so to those families... I just have nothing but love for them." But something else positive may have come from it. Mr King quit the Government's mental health panel, but is now partly back on side. "Does this mean we're going to be in a cuddling contest? I don't think so, but you know I've got to give credit where credit's due - so thanks." And for the next generation there's a challenge for everyone working in mental health. "Target zero - so zero suicides throughout the country in any given year," Mr Raui says. "And if we can't achieve that then we're not really doing our job." Tu Kotahi will be run in four very different parts of the country for a year to get an idea of how it works and what it will cost. King and Raui would like to eventually see it across all schools, but the government is saying: watch this space.

From http://www.newshub.co.nz 07/06/2017

 

 

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Govt Plans Major Changes to Social Support Payments

 

The Government is planning major changes to the way IRD makes social support payments, and is proposing child support payments be deducted from the wages or salary of all liable parents. Ministers say the tax credit scheme Working for Families is very complex and inefficient, and want to introduce the changes over the next two years. Finance Minister Steven Joyce said he was surprised to discover more than 40 percent of people were underpaid while 25 percent were being paid too much and ended up owing money to IRD. He expects the changes will be cash neutral - while IRD will save on administration costs, more people will receive their Working for Families entitlements. Revenue Minister Judith Collins says under the proposed new system IRD will base its payments on better information, which means they will be more accurate payments.

 

"As well as lifting family incomes, this year's budget began the process of simplifying people's taxes and entitlements so they can easily see what they should be receiving," she said on Monday. "These proposals are the next step in creating a more straightforward tax and transfer system which responds quickly and simply as people's circumstances change." Along with Working for Families changes, the policy document that's just been released contains proposals for improving processes for child support and student loans. It proposes child support payments be automatically deducted from the wages or salary of all liable parents. Student loans changes are designed to avoid large end-of-year bills. The ministers want feedback on the proposals by September and changes will be introduced over the next two years after legislation has been passed by Parliament.

From http://www.newshub.co.nz 07/17/2017

 

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Labour Reveals Its $4 Billion Education Plan

 

Labour will pour an extra $4 billion dollars into the education sector over the next four years if it's voted into Government this election. It's promising to pump $1.8 billion into the industry to deliver more teachers and resources, provide better professional development and help the sector meet rising costs. Labour leader Andrew Little said "After years of underfunding for education including a funding freeze there's no question that the teaching profession, the schools, the education system is under pressure." As part of the party's education manifesto early childhood centres would get more funding and schools would get an extra $150 per student if they don't ask parents for donations. The party would give extra funding to early childhood centres that have 100 percent qualified teachers, and by the end of its first term in Government, all early childhood education centres would be required to have at least 80 percent qualified staff.

 

A plan is also being developed to ensure all students have access to mobile digital devices, and to ensure that all schools have modern classrooms by 2030. Tertiary education is also set for a bump, with Labour's plan to progressively introduce three years of free post-school education, encourage employers to hire apprentices and reinstate funding for adult learning programmes such as night classes. Labour would get rid of national standards for years 1 to 8 and develop a new system, and undertake a review of the NCEA assessment load on teachers and students. It would also get rid of charter schools, but has dropped its policy from 2014 to reduce class sizes. National's campaign manager Steven Joyce said Labour's education policy is "almost in every sense identical to their 2014 one".

 

"It appears that Labour's "fresh approach" is largely re-running their 2014 campaign with David Cunliffe's name twinked out and replaced with Andrew Little. It all amounts to the familiar Labour trifecta of more spending, more debt and higher taxes for hard working Kiwis." Labour's education spokesperson Chris Hipkins said "There's a lot from our policy form last election that's very similar. I think we had a really good policy on education going into the last election campaign and you'll see many of those things carried forward." He said what had changed was "We're being a little bolder on restoring the principle of free education at all levels and specifying what our first steps toward that will be." The party is promising $4 billion more for the sector above what National has committed to, and it'll be funded by scrapping tax cuts and using unallocated funds from each Budget.

From http://www.newshub.co.nz 07/21/2017

 

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Smart City 2.0: Shifting the Focus from Infrastructure to People

 

AUSTIN, Texas — 19,519. That is the number of cities that exist in the United States. Over the past decade, each one of those cities experienced major shifts brought on by changes in technology, business and overall consumer behavior. And this week, the Smart Cities Connect Conference kicked off to unpack the latest trends, technologies and tools that cities are using to tackle some of these shifts. In fact, a major topic of conversation was what the next generation smart city — or Smart City 2.0 — will look like. Looking back, the smart city movement has been focused on the core infrastructure needed to support it (think broadband and sensors). This week, however, the conversation began to shift to an even more important element — people. Austin Mayor Steve Adler, alluded to this shift in his opening remarks when he explained Austin’s definition of a smart city. “At its very core, a smart city is a city that has been able to look inside and identify what its challenges are — what its people and residents need to have the quality of life they want to have — and to craft unique solutions that enable the city and the community to deal with those challenges," he said. "That truly is what a smart city is.”

 

Additional validation of this approach came from Salesforce Chief Digital Evangelist Vala Afshar, who stressed that cities can look to the private sector for inspiration. “Companies that are growing and obtaining market share have the customer at the center of their design thinking principles," he said. "And as you [the government] think about building and evolving smart cities, you have to have citizens at the center.” Even with that knowledge, one of the biggest challenges for government is trying to identify what citizens' expectations are. And again, Afshar said, juridictions can look to the private sector to see that “citizens expect engagements that are personalized, immediate and intelligent.” The math seems simple, companies incorporate those elements to keep customers and survive, and government agencies can use those same elements to more effectively serve and engage their citizens.

http://images.centerdigitaled.com/images/Smart-City-SCCC-03.jpg

 

Take the town of Cary, N.C., where Innovation and Analytics Manager Reid Serozi is leveraging this people-centric approach with One Cary, an omni-channel government strategy for its citizens. Whether delivering citizen information through its Amazon Echo skill or through its main website, the town is focused on building the experience of government around its people and their needs. Technology will remain a vital aspect of the smart cities conversation, and the backbone of how much of it will be delivered, but cities that focus and design technology around their people will be more prepared for the inevitable future. Afshar’s closing words sum it up best: “Companies don’t disrupt, cities don’t disrupt," he said. "People disrupt.”

From http://www.govtech.com/ 07/02/2017

 

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Blockchains, Personal Data and the Challenge of Governance

 

This post offers some thoughts on the opportunities and challenges of blockchain technology, with particular reference to the DECODE project.DECODE is a pan-European effort to research and pilot new approaches to how people manage their personal data. Here I’ll describe what a blockchain is, why blockchains are relevant to personal data management, and what difficulties might arise as the technology becomes implemented more widely.

 

Blockchain 101

Put simply, blockchain is a way of getting a diverse set of untrusted actors to agree on a single record of events. Its first implementation was in the digital currency bitcoin, a peer-to-peer method of exchanging digital money that removes reliance on a trusted intermediary like a payment processor or a bank.The bitcoin blockchain is a publicly accessible ledger of every digital transaction that has ever happened across the network, so when person A tries to pay person B, the data can be inspected by anyone, to either prove or disprove that person B has those bitcoins.All these transactions, including individual senders and receivers, appear on the blockchain as ever growing list of alphanumeric gobbledygook - lines of text known as cryptographic ‘hashes’. With this, the blockchain cleverly balances a radical approach to transparency with user pseudonymity: anyone can check the record to verify that their money has arrived at the intended recipient’s wallet, but the record provides just enough anonymity that people can use bitcoin without being easily identified (and ransomeware hackers are willing to be paid in it).

 

All of this gets really interesting when you consider that no single entity owns or controls the maintenance of these digital records. Thousands of computers across the network process and store the transaction data. Because of this, it’s very difficult for anyone to erase, censor, or tamper with the data without everyone else in the network finding out.In short, bitcoin is an attempt to achieve a decentralised network, a system of exchange with no single locus of authority. This means that all responsibility over the ownership of bitcoin is left to individual users. No customer service, no regulatory oversight - whoever holds bitcoin is the sole bearer of all ownership and responsibility over that asset.The question everyone’s asking is what else could this be useful for besides digital currency?Blockchain is tipped to transform a whole range of sectors, though here I want to raise one specific example, namely digital identity and personal data management.

 

A new anchor for digital identity?

There are a number of dominant internet platforms (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.) that hoard, analyse and sell information about their users in the name of a more personalised and efficient service. This has become a problem.Consumers feel they are losing control over how their data is used and reused on the web. 500 million adblocker downloads is a symptom of a market which isn’t working well for people. As Irene Ng mentions in a recent guest blog on the Nesta website, the secondary data market is thriving (online advertising is a major player), as companies benefit from the opacity and lack of transparency about where profit is made from personal data.It’s said that blockchain’s key characteristics could provide a foundational protocol for a fairer digital identity system on the web. Beyond its application as digital currency, blockchain could provide a new set of technical standards for transparency, openness, and user consent, on top of which a whole new generation of services might be built.

 

While the aim is ambitious, a handful of projects are rising to the challenge.Blockstack is creating a global system of digital IDs, which are written into the bitcoin blockchain. Nobody can touch them other than the owner of that ID. Blockstack are building a new generation of applications on top of this infrastructure which promises to provide “a new decentralized internet where users own their data and apps run locally”.Sovrin attempts to provide users with “self-sovereign identity”. The argument is that “centralized” systems for storing personal data make it a “treasure chest for attackers”. Sovrin argues that users should more easily be able to have “ownership” over their data, and the exchange of data should be made possible through a decentralised, tamper-proof ledger of transactions between users.Our own DECODE project is piloting a set of collaboratively owned, local sharing economy platforms in Barcelona and Amsterdam. The blockchain aims to provide a public record of entitlements over where people’s data is stored, who can access it and for what purpose (with some additional help from new techniques in zero-knowledge cryptography to preserve people’s privacy).There’s no doubt this is an exciting field of innovation. But the debate is characterised by a lot of hype. The following sections therefore discuss some of the challenges thrown up when we start thinking about implementations beyond bitcoin.

 

Blockchains and the challenge of governance

As mentioned above, bitcoin is a “bearer asset”. This is a necessary feature of decentralisation -- all users maintain sole ownership over the digital money they hold on the network. If users get hacked (digital wallets sometimes do), or if a password gets lost, the money is irretrievable.While the example of losing a password might seem trivial, it highlights some difficult questions for proponents of blockchain’s wider uses. What happens if there’s a dispute over an online transaction, but no intermediary to settle it? What happens if someone's digital assets or their digital identity is breached and sensitive data falls into the wrong hands? It might be necessary to assign responsibility to a governing actor to help resolve the issue, but of course this would require the introduction of a trusted middleman.Bitcoin doesn’t try to answer these questions; its anonymous creators deliberately tried to avoid implementing a clear model of governance over the network, probably because they knew that bitcoin would be used by people as a method for subverting the law. Bitcoin still sees a lot of use in gray economies, including for the sale of drugs and gambling.

 

But if blockchains are set to enter the mainstream, providing for businesses, governments and nonprofits, then they won't be able to function irrespective of the law. They will need to find use-cases that can operate alongside legal frameworks and jurisdictional boundaries. They will need to demonstrate regulatory compliance, create systems of rules and provide accountability when things go awry. This cannot just be solved through increasingly sophisticated coding.All of this raises a potential paradox recently elaborated in a post by Vili Lehdonvirta of the Oxford Internet Institute: is it possible to successfully govern blockchains without undermining their entire purpose?

 

Far more than a technical fix

In response to this conundrum, blockchain advocates might argue that the technology in fact comes hand in hand with innovative new models of social organisation.Some say, for instance, that blockchains might be an appropriate technology to inspire a new generation of cooperative or commons-based digital platforms, where all the users are stakeholders with equal democratic influence over how the technology is used.There is a further trend towards shared governance models. Blockchain innovators are forming consortiums, like Sovrin, the Interplanetary Database and R3, which help to earn users’ trust by spreading the ownership and management of the technology across multiple actors.A further example, more tangentially related to digital identity, is the Mediachain project which aims to create a globally shared database of intellectual property for music. A number of previous attempts to create a centralised solution have failed due to the political friction associated with one actor storing and managing all of the information in one place.

 

Instead, the blockchain aims to help enforce a collaborative agreement between the different stakeholders to share control over the process of record-keeping.The issue here is that fostering these kinds of cooperative relationships in practice is difficult and often messy. It’s far more than a technical challenge, but a social, political and legal one too. It will also require new business models, where new sources of value can be found in companies collaborating and opening up their internal processes across organisational boundaries.This should come as a dose of reality to a blockchain debate dominated by an assumption that all the world’s complex problems can be written away by software alone.If blockchain advocates only work towards purely technical solutions and ignore real-world challenges of trying to implement decentralisation, then we’ll only ever see flawed implementations of the technology. This is already happening in the form of centrally administered, proprietary or ‘half-baked’ blockchains, which don’t offer much more value than traditional databases.

 

Finally

Over the coming months DECODE will publish a number of research outputs scoping the literature of new economic models, governance models, and technologies for decentralisation and privacy in the personal data economy. Keep up to date on our website. You can also follow the project on Twitter @decodeproject, or find me @theo_bassThanks to Tom Symons, John Davies and Katja Bego for useful discussions and comments.

From http://www.nesta.org.uk/ 07/09/2017

 

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ADB, South Pacific Stock Exchange Partner to Empower Professional Women

 

A training program to help more Fijian women reach leadership and board positions in South Pacific Stock Exchange-listed (SPSE) companies was launched in Suva today.The Women in Leadership program will provide training for 26 women nominated by 17 Fijian companies on topics such as governance, risk management, effective communication, constructing support systems, and the transition to leadership roles. The program has been developed by the SPSE with support from the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI).“It is now widely recognized that a lack of gender diversity in leadership positions and on boards hinders both economic and social development,” said Krishika Narayan, SPSE Acting Chief Executive Officer. “This training program, developed in partnership with ADB, will address the gender gap on boards and in key management positions by improving skills and fostering the leadership potential of professional women.”Ms. Narayan added that having more women in leadership positions would capture the valuable contributions they can make to productivity, organizational performance, and economic growth.

 

“Empowering women to fill more roles on boards and in leadership roles will show the contribution that women can make in both the private sector and public life,” said Emma Fan, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office. “We are pleased to be part of SPSE’s efforts to improve gender diversity in the leadership of Fijian companies.”The first of three two-day training sessions hosted by PSDI consultants opened in Suva today, with the remaining sessions to be held within the next four months.The program was launched by SPSE Chairperson NurBano Ali at a reception following the close of the first day’s training.PSDI is a technical assistance facility undertaken in partnership with the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, and ADB. It supports ADB's 14 Pacific developing member countries to improve the enabling environment for business and to support inclusive, private sector-led economic growth.ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in co-financing.

From https://www.adb.org/ 07/10/2017

 

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New ADB Director General for Pacific Assumes Office

 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has appointed Ma. Carmela Locsin as the new Director General for its Pacific Department (PARD). Ms. Locsin, who assumed office today, is the first woman to head the department. Ms. Locsin will lead the implementation of the Pacific Approach 2016-2020 which serves as ADB’s overall country partnership strategy for the Cook Islands, Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. ADB has individual partnership strategies for the three larger Pacific developing member countries — Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Timor-Leste. The Pacific Approach prioritizes ADB assistance to the Pacific through a three-pronged approach to help reduce the cost of doing business, manage risks of climate change and economic shocks, and create a more enabling environment for the private sector.

 

“During ADB’s 50 years of partnership with the Pacific, we have learned that the region faces many development challenges due to the countries’ remoteness, fragility, and high exposure to natural disasters,” said Ms. Locsin. “I look forward to serving the Pacific region and working closely with government counterparts, development partners, and the private sector to help our 14 Pacific developing member countries meet these challenges.” ADB’s operations in the Pacific focus on transport, information and communication technology, and renewable energy to get goods to and from markets, create opportunities for electronic delivery of health and other services, and improve access to power supplies. ADB is also helping the Pacific region address climate change risks and reduce the costs of doing business by modernizing tax systems, boosting access to credit, and reforming state-owned enterprises.

 

Prior to Ms. Locsin’s appointment to PARD, she was the Director General for ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department (SDCC); Head of the Office of Cofinancing Operations; Deputy Director General of the South Asia Department; and Deputy Director General for the Regional and Sustainable Development Department (now known as SDCC). Before joining ADB in 1997, Ms. Locsin worked at the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank. She has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of the Philippines.

 

Ms. Locsin replaces the outgoing Director General Xianbin Yao, who served the Pacific Department since 2012 and is currently a Special Senior Advisor to ADB President Takehiko Nakao. ADB’s Pacific portfolio is composed of 65 active projects valued at more than $2.5 billion. ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

From https://www.adb.org/ 07/18/2017

 

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CHINA: Environmental Audits to Decide Official Promotions

                        

More Chinese officials are to face audits of the environmental impact of their work, as the central government deepens reform to promote officials with strong environmental awareness. The new reform was endorsed at the 36th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform on June 26. The regulation stated that if negative environmental impact was found in the audit, it would be taken into consideration even after officials leave their posts, as such audits would affect future promotions. The assessment includes both environment and ecological damage and the local consumption of natural resources, which must be supervised within official duty. Xinyu city, eastern China's Jiangxi Province, is among a few cities in China that have piloted the reform. Zeng Changsheng, deputy head of the municipal auditing bureau, said since the reform started in March 2015, four officials had been audited for their work on the environment.

 

He said the assessment results were sent to the organization department of the city committee of the Communist Party of China, which is in charge of official appointments. "We have set up a new department to explore the assessment method, which requires complicated work. We have adopted satellite remote sensing solutions and big data technology to obtain evidence for auditing," he said. Zeng said the auditing of one official took auditors five-months work. "It is difficult to obtain evidence linking to officials' direct obligations. Concerned departments lack records on real-time data reflecting natural resource quality and quantity," Zeng said. According to the audit office, a head of a district government and the city's former environmental bureau chief were among those audited. The auditors collected forest, water and soil monitoring data during their tenures, and trace their performance and local economic data to analyze how government actions and policies affect the data.

 

Zeng disclosed that the district government official was believed to be responsible for shrinking forest coverage and ineffective protection of good arable fields. There were also issues in his work approving businesses, which had negative impact such as on the use of water resources and environmental problems. Zeng said auditors also widely listened to public tip-offs on such matters. Zhang Liping, head of the administration committee of Xiannu Lake Scenic Area, was one of the four audited officials. She said the auditing regulation has grabbed the attention of grassroots officials, enhanced their environmental awareness and pushed them to comply with the central government's call on green development.                      

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/06/2017

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Chinese People Expect Further Enhancement of Government Transparency

                        

According to a recent survey conducted by China Youth Daily, 90.6 percent of the 2,009 people surveyed expect the government to take the initiative to disclose information. Zhang Zhihong, associate professor of Zhou Enlai School of Government at Nankai University, observed that openness of information is necessary to fight corruption within the government, and information should be released truthfully and in a timely fashion. "With the increasing highlighting of information disclosure, the quality of information openness and governance will improve dramatically," Zhang added. The public expectation is based on a focus on government information releases, as the survey also showed that 81.8 percent of the respondents said they pay attention to that information. Over 60 percent of interviewees were concerned about policy explanation, while another 45.5 percent said they read public consultations for policies.

 

"I usually keep an eye on information concerning policies and regulations, especially public consultations in decision-making and policy explanation after implementation," said Li Han, college lecturer in Beijing. However, the disclosure of government information also raises concerns. Up to 45 percent of the interviewees said they had to wait too long before receiving information. A total of 61.4 percent hoped the government will improve its efficiency in making information public. A set of regulations on the disclosure of government information, put into effect in 2008, was revised last month and the time period for public opinion closed on July 6. The draft of the revised regulations includes a principle which requires information publicity to be the normal practice.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/11/2017

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Xi Urges Faster Opening Up, Better Business Environment

                        

China should improve its investment and market environment, accelerate opening up to the outside world and lower operating costs, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday. The country should "create a stable, fair, transparent and predictable business environment, and speed up efforts to build an open economy in a bid to promote the sustainable and healthy development of the Chinese economy," Xi said at a meeting of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economic Affairs. An important goal of building an open economy is to stimulate improvement of domestic institutions and laws for higher efficiency and greater competitive strength in the global market, said the president. Foreign investment has played a significant role in China's economic development, promoting reasonable allocation of resources and driving market-oriented reforms, he told the meeting.

 

China should continue to make good use of foreign investment to advance supply-side structural reforms, upgrade the economy, and catch up with global technology development, Xi said. He urged faster efforts to lift restrictions on foreign access to and ownership in sectors such as child care, elderly care, architectural design, accounting, auditing, commerce, logistics, e-commerce, general manufacturing and services. The "negative list" approach on foreign investment management, which has been adopted in the country's pilot free trade zones, should be expanded to the whole nation as soon as possible, he said. A negative list approach identifies sectors and businesses that are off-limits or restricted for investment. Xi also called for faster work to unify laws and regulations on domestic and foreign businesses and make new fundamental laws on foreign investment.

 

Laws, rules, and policies out of tune with the overall direction and principle of opening up should be abolished or revised within a time limit, and national treatment in laws and policies should be granted to foreign-funded companies after they enter the market, the president said. Xi urged megacities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen to take the lead in improving business environment, demanding moves to reduce inspections and fines on companies and ban illegal fee charging. He stressed the importance of protecting intellectual property rights (IPR), calling on authorities to better laws and regulations, improve the quality and efficiency of intellectual property examinations, and speed up institutional improvement for IPR protection related to emerging sectors and new business types. Wrongdoing should be punished more severely so that IPR infringers will pay heavy prices, said the president.

 

Speaking of the financial sector, Xi said those areas that help protect consumers' rights and interests, promote orderly competition, and prevent financial risks should be opened up faster. He demanded efforts to advance opening-up of the capital account in an orderly manner, and steadily push the yuan to become an international currency. The yuan's exchange rate formation mechanism should be improved, and the currency's value should be kept basically stable at a reasonable and balanced level, Xi said. To keep up with the pace of financial opening up, China must have a strong regulatory capability, the president noted. He urged financial regulators to learn from international experience, address weak links and improve the way of regulation. On foreign trade, Xi stressed expanding imports while stabilizing exports to promote balance of payment under the current account.

 

He demanded measures to make foreign trade more liberalized and convenient, saying institutional costs of import should be lowered, quarantine and custom clearance be streamlined, and that companies' complaints be better addressed. Authorities must study reducing tariffs on certain consumer goods and encourage the import of specialty products, Xi said. A market environment featuring fair play should be created in the country, giving businesses equal treatment in tariff collection, import quarantine and marketing to let consumers and the market have the say, according to the president, who is also head of the leading group. The meeting was also attended by Premier Li Keqiang, who is deputy head of the group, and Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli, a member of the group.                      

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/17/2017

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New Committee to Coordinate Financial Reform, Regulation: Central Bank Official

                        

China's newly announced cabinet committee on financial stability and development will mainly be responsible for the coordination of the country's financial reform, development and regulation, according to a senior central bank official. To make regulation more effective, the new regulatory body will work to ensure coherence between China's monetary, fiscal and industrial policies, Lu Lei, head of the financial stability bureau of the People's Bank of China (PBOC) told the People's Daily, a leading newspaper in China. China announced that it will set up a committee under the State Council to oversee financial stability and development during a two-day National Financial Work Conference that ended Saturday. China's systemic financial risks are generally under control, but risks such as bad assets and liquidity issues are still alarming, and regulation has become uncoordinated, inadequate and outdated in the face of innovation and development of cross-market financial products, Lu said. The new committee will target weak links in supervision and guard against systemic risks to ensure the sound development of China's financial system and help it better serve the real economy, he said.

 

Specifically, the committee will improve regulatory methods such as risk monitoring and early warning mechanisms, coordinate risk prevention work, deepen financial reform and opening-up, and correct the structural and systemic issues in the sector, he said. The weekend's conference highlighted three tasks in the financial field, including making the financial sector better serve the real economy, containing financial risk and deepening financial reforms. The conference, which has been held every five years since 1997 and is widely considered to set the tone for financial reforms, also stressed that the central bank will play a stronger role in macro prudential management and guarding against systemic risks. Echoing the message from the conference, Lu said the central bank will maintain a prudent monetary policy and shore up weak links in supervision to eliminate financial risk at an early stage. The PBOC will also enhance coordination and connectivity between financial infrastructure and promote the opening-up of the financial sector, especially financial innovation under the Belt and Road Initiative, he said.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/18/2017

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Supply-Side Structural Reform Sustains China's Growth

                        

China's ongoing supply-side structural reform is creating positive effects for economic growth, said a senior official on Tuesday. Thanks to supply-side structural reform, the interaction of supply and demand in markets has improved significantly in the first six months, said Yan Pengcheng, spokesperson with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) at a press conference on Tuesday. In the first half of the year, the efficiencies of industrial enterprises increased rapidly, said Yan. Profits of large industrial enterprises increased 22.7 percent year on year in the first five months, with particularly robust growth in May of 16.7 percent, according to Yan. The official manufacturing PMI rose to 51.7 in June, accelerating from 51.2 in May, marking a three-month high. June's official non-manufacturing PMI also improved for the second month in a row to 54.9, from 54.5 in May, evidence of a better economic structure.

 

China has been trying to shift its economy toward a growth model that draws strength from consumption, services, and innovation. The nationwide overcapacity reduction campaign has helped improve the performance of major industries, with impressive progress in the steel and coal sectors, Yan said. During the first half, substandard steel production capacity was removed and the newly increased capacity was strictly controlled. About 111 million tonnes of outdated capacity was forced out of the market, completing 74 percent of the annual target. While excessive capacity is eliminated, new growth drivers are gaining momentum. Consumption and services, together with innovation-driven new economic sectors, are playing a larger role in the economy, according to official data. In the first half, the contribution of final consumption to GDP growth stood at 63.4 percent, slightly down from 64.6 percent for 2016. About 2.9 million new companies were established nationwide, up 11.1 percent from a year earlier.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/18/2017

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President Xi Urges Solid Efforts to Advance Reform

                        

Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday called for solid moves to advance reforms. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at the 37th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, which he heads. All localities should be devoted to delivering reforms, shouldering their due responsibilities and making concrete and pioneering efforts, Xi said. The group called for green and sustainable development of agriculture. Relevant departments should properly deal with the relationship between green development and ecological protection, grain safety, and raising farmers' income, according to a statement released after the meeting. Agricultural development should be compatible with the environment and resources, and should stay coordinated with production and people's livelihoods to achieve sustainable growth. The group urged the establishment of a national technology transfer system, with a focus on strategic industries of far-reaching significance. Technology transfer should play a better role in upgrading technological innovation and boosting economic and social development, the statement said.

 

Reforms should be made to promote corporate governance structures in public cultural institutions to improve management and services, and to inject vitality into these institutions, according to the statement. Boards of directors should be the main form of corporate governance structure in these institutions, such as libraries and museums. Representatives of the industry, professionals and people from all walks of life would also be invited to participate in the management of these institutions, it said. The conference stressed efforts to enhance and improve people-to-people communication with other countries, emphasizing confidence in the path, theories, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics. In an effort to raise the professional level of civil servants, the appointment system should be introduced in recruiting personnel to posts with special expertise requirements, according to the statement. To protect consumer interests and ensure good quality is the bottom line, it said.

 

The group called for the establishment of a safety monitoring and quick response system for imports and exports. The meeting highlighted the importance of ensuring good quality drugs and medical equipment. The drug approval system should be improved to enhance innovation and research capabilities of medical businesses. Regarding the national park system, the group urged priority to be given to ecological protection. Legal protection and oversight should be put into place to establish a natural reserve system of which the national parks play a major part. Since the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee was held, a package of pilot reforms have been implemented. They are replicable and applicable, as a role model and a breakthrough in the comprehensive reform agenda. Relevant departments should review the progress of the reform and correct the wrongdoing in a timely fashion. To deal with difficult reform agenda, officials should push and track the reform progress in person. Pioneering efforts are needed to break major barriers and well implement the pilot reforms, the statement said.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/19/2017

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China's Energy Structure Continues to Optimize

                        

China's energy structure continued to improve in the first half of 2017 as the country consumed more clean energy amid a government campaign for greener growth. Coal consumption, which stood at around 1.83 billion tonnes in the first six months, accounted for 59.8 percent of the overall energy use during the period, down 0.6 percentage points from the same period last year, according to Li Fulong, an official with the National Energy Administration. In contrast, the share of natural gas and non-fossil fuels in the mix rose 0.3 percentage point to 20 percent. Li noted that emerging industries and consumption-related sectors are contributing more to power use growth compared with traditional industries, which reflected the effects of China's structural reform. In the latter half of the year, China's energy use will continue to expand, Li predicted. The push for clean energy came as the government has intensified efforts to fight pollution.

 

According to the energy sector's five-year plan for 2016-2020, China aims to bring the share of coal in the country's energy mix down to below 58 percent. By 2020, China's total energy consumption will be capped at 5 billion tonnes of coal equivalent, representing an annual rise of about 2.5 percent between 2016 and 2020. The share of non-fossil fuels will rise to more than 15 percent and the share of natural gas should reach 10 percent, according to the plan. A World Bank report released last month showed China ranked 21st in sustainable energy regulation, with its renewable energy score well above the global average and close to OECD countries in many respects. China scored 81 on the first Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE), a policy scorecard covering energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy in 111 countries.                    

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/22/2017

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Chinese Leadership Stresses Stability, Progress in Economic Work

                        

China will continue "seeking progress while maintaining stability" for its economic work in the second half of 2017, according to a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Monday. The meeting, presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, stressed that China will implement a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy with supply-side structural reform as the main theme in the latter half of the year. Authorities will maintain the continuity and consistency of policies to ensure stable and healthy economic development, push forward supply-side structural reform and guard against systemic financial risks, according to a statement released after the meeting. The meeting affirmed China's economic performance in the first half of this year, which has been running in a proper range with expectation-beating economic indicators and steady improvement in urban employment.

 

Yet there are still contradictions and problems within the economic operation, and authorities should stay sober-minded and maintain strategic focus to address hidden risks and promote sustained and sound development, according to the meeting. For the second half of this year, leaders at the meeting called for better handling of the relationship between stability and progress, as well as the balance, timing and intensity of the country's economic work. At a separate meeting Friday, Xi also spoke of the positive changes taking place in the economy, saying the fundamentals of economic and social development are sound. There are substantial changes in the relations between economic supply and demand, while companies' expectations and market confidence are improving gradually, he told a symposium attended by representatives of non-Communist parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, as well as non-party individuals.

 

The momentum of economic development is getting stronger in China, which plays a significant role in driving the global economic recovery, according to Xi. Speaking of economic stability and progress, Xi said stability is the key, and progress should be pursued on the precondition of keeping overall stability. However, that does not mean authorities should stay in a state of inertia or seek stability in an aggressive or mechanical way, he noted. Instead, they should make a difference while walking a fine line, he said. Authorities should "maintain strategic focus" and "do the right things at the right time," he urged. To resolutely promote the supply-side structural reform, Monday's CPC meeting pledged measures to push for progress on excess capacity cuts, inventory reduction, deleveraging, relieving corporate burdens and fixing weak links. The handling of the "zombie enterprises," or unprofitable firms burdened with debt, mismanagement or overcapacity, is the key to the reform, the statement said.

 

Work should also be done to defuse local government debt risks in a more active yet prudent manner, regulate financing activities of local authorities and curb the growth of hidden debt, it said. Disorders in the financial sector should be corrected, while financial coordination should be strengthened to make the financial sector better serve the real economy, it said. The meeting also urged efforts to stabilize the property market, encourage domestic private investment, boost employment and improve the business environment to attract foreign investment. The Chinese economy continued steady expansion in the first half of this year with GDP up 6.9 percent year on year to about 38.15 trillion yuan (5.6 trillion U.S. dollars), data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed. In the second quarter, GDP held steady at 6.9 percent year on year, flat from the first quarter, according to the NBS.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/24/2017

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JAPAN: Govt to Help Transportation Services Introduce Reforms

 

The government plans to help the transportation industry resolve labor shortage problems, having established a cross-ministry and agency study panel at the end of June to tackle the issue. This autumn, the government aims to compile an action plan that will include measures to improve conditions for drivers of transportation firms, who often have to work excessively long hours. The government hopes the efforts of the panel will lead to a reform of labor practices in the industry. Chaired by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kotaro Nogami, the study panel includes members from the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry; the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry; and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The study panel will examine two major industry issues: how to secure human resources and how to improve productivity. The government aims to introduce policies put forward by the panel, possibly within the next five years.

 

Currently, the percentage of female drivers in the transportation industry is only about 2 percent, so there is scope to attract more women to the labor force. The action plan will include practical measures to make it easier for women raising children to work as drivers. For example, establishing day care centers for children in transport company office buildings and encouraging firms to hire more short-haul drivers. In reality, the many small and midsize companies in the industry do not have the resources to train drivers. To secure labor, the government will consider subsidizing the costs of getting a driver’s license for large vehicles that carry passengers for business purposes. The government will also provide financial aid to companies that reduce staff workloads by having multiple drivers share duties on long-haul journeys. Firms that jointly operate transportation services to carry cargo more efficiently will also benefit from subsidies. If time spent packing or sorting items for delivery in warehouses and other facilities is prolonged, drivers sometimes have idle periods while they are waiting for their cargo to be prepared.

 

Therefore, the government will promote the use of information technology that would allow transportation firms to accurately monitor processes in facilities, such as warehouses, with the aim of reducing standby time. The study panel will discuss assistance measures for not only trucking companies but also bus transportation and taxi companies. If new or revised legislation is necessary to implement the measures, the government will aim to submit related bills in next year’s ordinary Diet session. With the proliferation of online shopping services, cargo volumes handled by home delivery service companies have been increasing sharply. The number of parcels handled by Yamato Transport Co. — the nation’s largest home delivery company — reached about 1.9 billion in fiscal 2016, its highest level ever. The company entrusted transportation of parcels it could not handle to other delivery companies. Yamato Transport and Sagawa Express Co. have taken steps to address these changes, including raising their transportation service fees.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/01/2017

 

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Provide Multilayered Support System for Elderly Who Care for Other Seniors

 

An elderly person taking long-term care of another elderly person — a phenomenon called rorokaigo in Japanese — is becoming increasingly common. Putting in place a multilevel support system to help both the care recipient and provider in every aspect of their lives is an urgent task. The 2016 Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions has revealed that in 55 percent of all cases of at-home nursing care, the person requiring care and the caregiver are both aged 65 or older. Both were aged 75 or older in more than 30 percent of cases. Both figures have increased by more than 10 percentage points in the past decade. This is because the number of households with only elderly residents has increased due to the graying of Japanese society and the trend toward nuclear families. Rorokaigo does not only involve care given by elderly spouses. It is not unusual to have a combination of a child aged 65 or older looking after their elderly parent or parents.

 

Many of these elderly caregivers also suffer from their own health problems or a decline both physically and mentally. It is easy for them to become severely exhausted by taking care of someone, and there is a constant risk that both could end up falling into poor health. There has been an unending stream of tragic cases in which a caregiver pushed to the breaking point ends up abusing or killing the person they were caring for. This reality must be seriously taken to heart. The most common principal cause for requiring nursing care was dementia, which accounted for 18 percent of cases. Many observers believe both the care recipient and the caregiver have dementia in a significant number of cases. This makes it difficult to maintain their daily lifestyle and can easily result in the careless handling of fire in the home or neglecting to provide care. But they cannot call for support, so such a situation can be difficult for people around them to notice.

 

The most pressing issue is enhancing and improving at-home nursing care services. In particular, it would be effective to expand 24-hour visiting care and nursing services, and have more small, multifunctional facilities that can handle visits, dispatch staff and provide temporary accommodation services. It also is important to provide meticulous daily living support that regular services provided under nursing-care insurance cannot fully cover, such as taking out garbage, meal deliveries and keeping watch over a care recipient. The government aims to create “societies of regional coexistence,” in which residents support each other in taking care of elderly people who need assistance. As part of this plan, in fiscal 2015 the government shifted some operations for people who require low-level nursing-care insurance services to local governments. This is designed to realize flexible, diverse assistance that meets the actual conditions of each region. Local governments should actively nurture providers of such care, including volunteer groups and nonprofit organizations, and provide support for the management of such groups.

 

Having members of a community look out for and support each other will be useful in detecting cases of dementia at an early stage. Nursing-care insurance is based on providing nursing care to those who need it, but the importance of giving support to caregivers also is increasing. To prevent caregivers from becoming isolated, the establishment of places where people in similar positions can get to know each other, take a breather and seek advice and other measures should be promoted. It also might be a good idea to consider a system that can assess a caregiver’s “ability to provide care” based on their sense of burden, physical condition and other factors, and then have local governments and other entities provide support that fits their level of need. Even so, it is possible they might become unable to continue providing at-home nursing care. A multifaceted policy, which includes steadily establishing special elderly nursing homes and other facilities able to accept people needing care, is necessary.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/16/2017

 

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Govt Eyeing Push to Export Waste Systems

 

The government is planning to further promote exports of environment-related infrastructure projects — including Japan’s already widely used waste collection and treatment systems — to developing countries facing waste problems, according to sources close to the government. The government hopes to simultaneously contribute to international society and see Japanese companies expand overseas. The government previously mainly supported incinerator exports, but now plans to expand its support to cover exports of efficient waste-collection systems — including for separated waste — that have since been developed by local governments. The government is also planning to promote other waste-related expertise developed in Japan. It hopes to support the development of laws for recycling in developing countries, and also support the development of human resources in relevant fields by inviting trainees from those countries to Japan. The government aims to provide waste management expertise in Japan as a package that includes the construction of advanced waste treatment facilities by Japanese companies.

 

The Environment Ministry hopes to stipulate relevant policies in a national strategy planned to be compiled this summer, the sources said, adding that the funds to achieve the policies will be sought during budget requests for fiscal 2018.  The government will seek the cooperation of other organizations, such as the Japan International Cooperation Agency, in order to raise the funds for these policies. Developing countries in Asia and Africa have had problems with large amounts of waste caused by sharp population increases and water contamination. Many of these countries prioritize economic growth ahead of measures to preserve the environment. In Addis Ababa, a landslide at one of the Ethiopian captial’s largest garbage sites buried dozens of houses in March. The accident is said to have killed more than 110 people. Many of the victims, including children, had been scavenging for items to sell. Japan’s waste collection systems have apparently gathered attention in many countries where the need for efficient waste treatment is believed to be getting stronger.

 

“Expanding expertise for solving waste and public health problems can be a new way for Japan to contribute to international society,” a source close to the government said.  Developing countries that lack adequate sewage systems are also interested in Japan’s septic tanks, which are used to treat household wastewater. Japan exported 700 septic tanks in 2014, but exported 3,100 in 2016. The government considers exports of infrastructure projects as a main pillar of its national growth strategy, and has promoted the sale of projects such as nuclear power plants and high-speed railways. The government has set a goal of increasing annual infrastructure orders to about ¥30 trillion by 2020. Exports of infrastructure projects ordered outside of Japan, including for the construction of road and communication facilities, came to about ¥20 trillion in 2015, according to government statistics. An increase in waste treatment orders would help the government achieve its goal.

From http://the-japan-news.com 07/18/2017

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SOUTH KOREA: To Boost Public Sector Hiring of Young People

 

President Moon Jae-in's policy advisory panel said Tuesday that the government will expand hiring of young people in the public sector, the latest in a series of efforts to create jobs. Currently, public companies and other public agencies are required by law to employ a set number of unemployed youths each year. The government will raise the mandatory ratio of hiring of unemployed youths in the public sector to 5 percent, beginning next year, the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee said. The move underscored South Korea's efforts to create jobs for young people amid a high jobless rate. The unemployment rate for young people, aged between 15 and 29, was 9.3 percent in May, much higher than the overall jobless rate of 3.6 percent, according to government data. Job creation is one of the top priorities by President Moon Jae-in. The government will push to provide incentives to big private companies in case of the additional hiring of young people, the committee said, without elaborating. It said the government will provide up to 60 million won ($52,000) to a small firm in promising sectors so they can pay for the wages of their employees for three years. An official handing the issue at the Ministry of Employment and Labor said the government is considering providing wages for up to three employees in case a firm hires nine young people, though no final decision has been made yet. He asked not to be identified, citing policy.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 07/04/2017

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New ICT Minister Vows to Push Forward Tough Reform

 

South Korea's new chief ICT policymaker said Tuesday that he will push forward tough reforms as the country must deal with various challenges under the fourth industrial revolution. "The Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning should be reborn so that the ministry that can prepare for the future amid the changes," You Young-min said during his inauguration ceremony. The government has been engaged in various projects to cope with the latest revolution that is characterized by a fusion of cutting-edge technologies, such as big data and the Internet of Things. "In order to make good use of the fourth industrial revolution, the ministry needs patience and devotion from its members," the 66-year-old You said. Earlier, the State Affairs Planning Advisory Committee announced that the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning will be the main government body to coordinate plans for the next five years.

The new minister said he will work with other related agencies while operating the budget for research and development in the science and technology field. The ministry earlier announced that it will spend 1.52 trillion won ($1.3 billion) in 2018 on various science and technology R&D projects, subject to parliamentary endorsement later this year, up from 1.26 trillion won allocated for this year. You, with nearly 30 years of experience in the software sector, said he plans to transform the country so it will become a leader in this critical field. Born in the southern port city of Busan, he started his career at major tech firm LG Electronics Inc. in 1979. He is one of the first to be tapped as a chief information officer at a local tech firm, when the title was new to the business community as a whole. After working for 25 years at LG Electronics, he was appointed the vice president of LG CNS. He was then tapped as the ICT chief of major steelmaker POSCO, before serving as chief executive officer of the POSCO Research Institute in 2010.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 07/11/2017

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Korea to Launch New Ministry Dedicated to SMEs

 

South Korea will set up a new ministry in charge of small and medium-sized businesses that will be dedicated to supporting smaller companies and creating more jobs, the government said Thursday. After long-drawn-out negotiations, the National Assembly passed the bill which included elevating the Small and Medium Business Administration to a Cabinet ministry supporting SMEs, venture startups and micro-businesses, as was pledged by President Moon Jae-in during the election campaign. The SMBA is currently headed by a vice-minister level official. Some of the key issues that will be tackled by the new ministry are assisting small businesses who will be hit by next year's minimum wage hike and creating new jobs by encouraging startups. On Saturday, the tripartite commission of the government, labor and management reached an agreement to raise the hourly minimum wage to 7,530 won ($6.68) in 2018, up 16.4 percent from the current 6,470 won.

 

The president has promised to increase the minimum wage to 10,000 won per hour before his five-year term ends in May 2022. While the decision was hailed by the labor circle and part-time workers, small business owners immediately expressed concerns, saying it will force many of them to go out of business or cut back on people they can hire. The government is planning to inject some 3 trillion won to relieve the smaller businesses of the financial burden from the wage increase, with a task force to come up with detailed support measures to be reflected in next year's budget proposal. The new administration also views the SMEs and startups as a solution to resolve the country's high youth unemployment rate. Despite record high youth jobless rates, local SMEs continue to face a chronic shortage of laborers. South Korea's jobless rate stood at 3.8 percent in June, but the unemployment rate for young people, aged between 15 and 29, was 10.1 percent.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 07/20/2017

 

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MYANMAR: Aung San Suu Kyi Voices Commitment to Building Up Capacity of Civil Servants

 

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi has voiced the government's commitment to building the capacity of civil servants, equipping them with skill and expertise in a few years. Aung San Suu Kyi made the pledge at the launch of a four-year civil service reform strategic action plan in Nay Pyi Taw Monday, official media reported Tuesday. The plan, which sets out a vision for change over 2017-2020, is a blue print for extensive reform to ensure that the civil service is more ethical, better reflects the diversity of the country and is effectively able to help address the complex challenges of peace, national reconciliation, corruption and development that confronts Myanmar, she said. Suu Kyi called for avoiding perception of favoritism or nepotism, saying promotion must be determined through objective and transparent criteria with no place for discrimination in any form.

Highlighting corruption as one of the challenges that the government must overcome on the path to civil service reform, Suu Kyi said the strategic action plan sets out a number of initiatives including strengthening the civil service code of conduct, training on ethics and anti-corruption, enforcing asset disclosure requirement for senior position and introducing new technology into administrative process to minimize opportunities for bribe. Noting that there will be no immediate solution for low salaries, Suu Kyi said the raising of salaries must be an incremental process carried out responsibly and sustainably in accordance with the resources available under the national budget. She further said that at the beginning, the government will upgrade the existing housing facilities and build new homes for retired civil servants to live in security and dignity after long years of service to the nation. She also said the civil service reform strategic action plan will involve change to civil service management across all government institutions and its implementation will be led by the Union Civil Service Board and co-chaired by the General Administration Department and Anti-Corruption Commission with the cooperation of the UN Development Program. The launching ceremony of the civil service reform strategic action plan was also attended by First Vice President U Myint Swe and parliament speakers.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 07/11/2017

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SINGAPORE: Public Consultation on Proposed Cybersecurity Bill Starts

 

SINGAPORE: The public are invited to provide feedback on the proposed Cybersecurity Bill, which aims to provide the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) with the powers to manage and respond to cybersecurity threats, and sets out the responsibilities for owners of critical information infrastructure (CII) in key sectors. In a joint press release on Monday (Jul 10), the Ministry of Communications and Information and CSA said the recent Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attacks targeting the country's two universities and global ransomware incidents which reached Singapore serve as "stark reminders" of its vulnerability to online threats. They added that attacks on systems that run utility plants, transportation networks,  hospitals and other essential services are "growing", so the protection of the country's CII in 11 key sectors is a "cornerstone" of the proposed bill. The 11 key sectors are: Government, security and emergency, healthcare, telecommunications, banking and finance, energy, water, media, land transport, air transport and maritime.

 

The proposed bill will specifically:

²  Provide a framework for the regulation of CII owners. This formalises the duties of these owners in ensuring the security of their computer networks, even before an incident occurs.

²  Provide CSA with powers to manage and respond to cybersecurity threats and incidents. The powers of the Bill shall be vested in a Commissioner of Cybersecurity, and this position will be held by the CSA's chief executive. 

It would also give the Commissioner the ability to investigate the threat or incident, with the objectives to (i) determine the impact or potential impact of the threat or incident (ii) prevent further harm from arising from the same incident and (iii) prevent further cybersecurity incidents from arising from the threat or incident.

"The level of intrusiveness of powers that may be exercised will depend on the severity of the situation," according to the consultation paper.

²  Establish a framework for the sharing of cybersecurity information with and by CSA officers, and the protection of such information. Under the Bill, CSA officers will be able to receive and share information with relevant parties for the purpose of "preventing, detecting, countering or investigating any cybersecurity threat or incident", the press release said.

²  To introduce a lighter touch licensing framework for the regulation of selected cybersecurity service providers. For a start, the Bill proposes licensing the provision of penetration testing and managed security operations centre (SOC) services and there will be two types - imvestigative cybersecurity service and non-investigative cybersecurity service.

 

There were also penalties proposed for various cybersecurity incidents. For instance, the maximum penalty for Section 20, which applies to "all cybersecurity threats and incidents" was proposed to be S$5,000 or jail of up to six months. The penalties for "serious cybersecurity threats and incidents" was proposed to be S$25,000 or imprisonment of up to two years, according to the consultation paper.  "In many cases, the people that CSA will be dealing with during cybersecurity threats and incidents will likely be the “victims” – these are the owners of computer systems that have been compromised. The penalties are not intended to penalise these owners for cybersecurity breaches," it elaborated. "Rather, the penalties will be levied only in cases of wilful non-compliance of instructions or wilful refusal to provide information." MCI and CSA said the public consultation paper is available on the REACH portal and CSA's website. Submissions of the feedback can be sent from Monday and is to reach either agency no later than Aug 3 at 5pm, they added.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 07/10/2017

 

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Public Servants Barred from Using Unauthorised USB Drives

 

SINGAPORE: Starting Jul 25, all public servants in Singapore can only use USB storage drives that have been authorised, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) said. Public agencies will tap on a bulk tender which has a list of portable storage devices that meet the Government’s security requirements, and will distribute them to its officers on a “working need basis”, said GovTech, the agency behind tech transformation in the public sector. Several IT solutions such as file transfer tools have also been deployed to agencies, GovTech added. The move comes after Internet access was cut from the work computers of all 143,000 public officers earlier this year, in a bid to prevent cyberattacks. Officers are still able to surf the Internet, but only on mobile devices or computers that are not connected to the office network. In its statement on Friday, GovTech said IT security policies are reviewed in response to emerging cyber threats to ensure that the Government’s IT networks and data remain secure. “USB storage devices continue to be a means to introduce malware and exfiltrate data, especially as they have the potential to be easily misplaced,” it said. “We will continue to educate all public officers on the evolving cyber-risks and stay responsive and alert to the cyber threat landscape.” A public servant, who declined to be named, told Channel NewsAsia that he was surprised when he received an email on Tuesday informing employees of the new measure. "Work will be disrupted," he said. "Not everyone is issued one (an encrypted USB drive). We have to share, and check (it) in and check out." He acknowledged that the move would lead to "increased cybersecurity", but said that there is a need to balance efficiency, feasibility and security.

From http://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 07/14/2017

 

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THAILAND: PM Insists on Constitutionality of Key Bills as Extensive Public Hearings Held on Them

 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday insisted that the two crucial draft bills on national strategy and national reforms were constitutional, as public hearings required under the new charter had been extensively held by concerned agencies. The PM said he had consulted with the government’s legal arm over proceeding with the bills, while agencies including the National Reform Steering Assembly had extensively conducted public hearings before the bills were submitted to the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) for deliberation and endorsement. The bills were passed by the NLA last week, paving the way for long-term national development and strategy. Some political observers have criticised the bills as tying the hands of future governments, with little flexibility provided. The Democrat Party, and some figures from Pheu Thai, have said they plan to file complaints against the bills’ constitutionality. Prayut urged people not to politicise the issue, saying his government was more open to hearings than was the case with previous administrations. He said was not bothered by people filing complaints against the bills, but urged them to let the concerned parties get on with their important work.

 

The issues of ongoing legal enactment, he said, were sometimes too politicised despite the fact that the concerned parties were not in conflict and political, as was viewed by many as being the case. This included the emerging opposing views on the question of primary voting, as stipulated in the recently passed organic law on political parties, the premier said, insisting that the bodies working on the political party bill were not in conflict. The PM said the government was sticking to its roadmap and that concerned parties should also follow and try every means in their own work to get the roadmap on track. It was not any of his business if they were unable to find common ground to end their differences, but he was not giving them a signal to drag out the issue, he said, alluding to the ongoing opposing views on the issue of primary voting. The Council of State on Tuesday insisted that the two bills on national strategy and national reforms that would pave the way for long-term development had been subject to sufficient public hearings in line with what was required by the new charter.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 06/28/2017

 

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Army Ready for Public Hearings on ‘Social Contract’

 

The Army is ready to hold public hearings on the so-called “social contract” draft once the supreme committee on reform, reconciliation, and national strategy, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, approves it, possibly at the meeting next week, Army chief General Chalermchai Sitthisart said on Thursday. Chalermchai said the hearings would be arranged by the Army’s internal security officers in all regions before the opinions from the forums are gathered and used to fine-tune the contract draft. The draft, developed by the reconciliation sub-panel he chairs based on synergies of views shared by political parties and groups, has been submitted to the government’s reconciliation committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan. Chalermchai said the contract is not legally binding but expresses the government’s commitment to the people. His working group would group opinions into three subjects – those being implemented immediately, those that need reform, and those that need the supreme body’s approval.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 06/29/2017

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Judicial Commission Breaks with Tradition over Appointment of Supreme Court President

 

The Judicial Commission will consider the appointment of a new president of the Supreme Court again within a 15-day time frame, after it resolved on Monday not to appoint the most senior judge to the post on the grounds of “unsuitable” management skills. The commission voted unanimously not to appoint Sirichai Wattanayothin, president of the Appeal Court – and the most senior judge – to replace Veerapol Tungsuwan, president of the Supreme Court, who retires this October, in a rare decision that runs counter to the official tradition of promoting the most senior judge to preside over the court. Suebpong Sripongkul, spokesman of the Courts of Justice, said in a press release that the Judicial Commission’s sub-panel had scrutinised every aspect of Sirichai’s qualifications and submitted its opinion to the commission via the office’s secretary in line with the law concerning the appointment of judges. The commission had considered the candidate’s qualification for the post, not only his seniority status but also his management skills, in line with the regulations, he said. The commission had debated widely on the promotion before voting unanimously not to appoint Sirichai, citing unsuitable management skills, and despite his being the most senior judge, the spokesman added. In line with the law on judges, the process now starts all over again, but it bars the same person from being nominated for the position again. The second-most-senior judge is the vice president of the Supreme Court, Cheep Jullamon. The Judicial Commission is next scheduled to meet on July 11.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 07/04/2017

 

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Pop-Up Centres to Register Migrant Workers

 

The Department of Skill Development (DSD) has set up 100 temporary centres nationwide for employers to register migrant workers. These service points – including 11 in Bangkok alone – will be manned by 1,572 officials and operate every day for the 15-day period from today until August 7, said DSD chief Theerapol Khunmuang on Sunday. Each centre would have enough computers to accommodate the registrations, officials said. The DSD branch in Samut Prakan had already prepared 15 computers, with 50 in Chon Buri, 40 in Rayong and 30 in Ratchaburi. The Royal Decree on Managing the Work of Aliens 2017, which has been in effect since June 23, has kept many employers and workers on their toes as they attempt to legalise their activities, Theerapol said. Labour Minister General Sirichai Distakul implemented the new measure to allow the legalisation of existing migrant workers, he said.  Employers are advised to download a migrant worker employment request form via the Department of Employment’s website, www.doe.go.th/alien, and fill it in before going to one of the centres.  Employers must submit a photocopy of their Thai national ID card or business registration document, along with three two-inch photos and a completed form for each worker. Those wanting more details should call the hotline 1694. The new Royal Decree cancelled and replaced the two previous laws regulating foreigners working in Thailand, by upholding main requirements and principles and updating the provisions to address issues in the country at this time.  The new law’s hefty fines – Bt400,000 to Bt800,000 for employing illegal foreign workers – had led to many employers to lay off their workers, resulting in thousands of people heading back to their home countries of Myanmar and Cambodia.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 07/23/2017

 

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VIETNAM: PM Appoints Council for HCMC Metro Line No 5

 

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has decided to establish a State Appraisal Council to appraise the first phase of HCM City’s metro line No 5 between Sài Gòn Bridge in Bình Thạnh District and District 8 and report to the Government. Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Chí Dũng will be the head of the council. Its members will be from the Government Office, the State Bank of Việt Nam, ministries, and the city People’s Committee. They will appraise the necessity of the project and its impact on the city’s socio-economic development besides the builders’ experience and financial capability. The project’s developers have been told to provide all necessary documents and information to the council. The council will be disbanded when it completes the task. In the first phase, line No 5 will intersect line No 1 at Sài Gòn Bridge and line No 2 at the Bảy Hiền intersection in Tân Bình District. It is expected to begin operation in 2025, linking outlying districts with the city centre. The city will have six lines in all.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 07/12/2017

 

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INDIA: How IoT Can Enable Better Governance

 

In the last couple of years Internet of Things (IoT) has been established as one of the most prominent emerging technology. IoT has caught up in several sectors and research firms predict that this potential trillion-dollar market will grow progressively. The benefits of IoT are relevant for both private and public sectors, observes Jitender Sandhu, M2M Director, ASEAN & India, Gemalto. With the increase in economic growth and all round development, the needs of the people have grown, and consequently the services necessary for a growing society. IoT technology can prove very useful in delivering key citizen services such as healthcare, education, public safety, transportation and security. With reference to case studies around the world, IoT is helping different governments deliver services on real-time and situation-specific conditions. India is also gradually improving its usage of IoT enabled solutions and devices for public service with the aim to accomplish the Digital India vision that includes digital literacy, financial inclusion and widespread adoption of e-governance services across platforms. The government has pledged to create an IoT industry in India worth $15 billion by 2020 with a possible share of 5-6 per cent of the global IoT industry. Capacity building initiatives for IoT, specific skill-sets and for the development of IoT products are also being undertaken in agriculture, mhealth, water quality, transportation, security, automotive, supply chain management, smart cities, automated metering and monitoring of utilities, waste management, oil & gas, etc. The government has recently launched Public Services System powered by M2M solutions that will facilitate real time e-governance across the country and will cover areas such as agriculture, energy, traffic, health (mhealth) and public distribution system (PDS).

 

With better infrastructure, IoT can be a major bonus. Given the current internet penetration in India, which is roughly at 9 to 12 percent, strategic deployment can help internet proliferation substantially. This, along with steady connectivity will result in better response time. Health is another sector where IoT technologies are proving useful. Hospitals in the U.S. are already utilizing IoT solutions to safeguard patient medical information by authenticating the identity of the patient to reduce administrative time, cost and paperwork, improving the overall quality of care. To fully embrace the benefits of IoT, the government needs to build a high level of confidence in the system of connectivity and information sharing these services will demand. A secure and reliable system is required to manage citizen information before they fully commit to the change. A framework for security in IoT should be developed at the beginning of the design process rather than an afterthought. Safeguarding the information shared and the data that will be created in the course will be imperative for IoT to grow and reach different sectors. Along with a road map for optimising the current ICT environment for IoT, it is also important to identify essential check points to manage effective adoption. Further, these risks cannot be addressed in isolation. Most infrastructure is owned by the private sector, making effective public-private cooperation essential. Many of the big players, which are also global companies have developed IoT solutions based only on their expertise and requirements of the private sector, due to the lack of standard compliance norms. Cooperation and standard compliance norms improve the effectiveness of risk management by improving the sharing of information and experience. Particular efforts are needed to foster trust and avoid legal obstacles that may hinder it. These steps will help all in the joint effort that is needed to protect such a system and prevent, mitigate and respond to risks.

 

Additionally, in IoT environments, data security becomes critical as there are multiple touch points where there are likelihood of breaches. First and foremost security is critical in protecting the physical assets of IoT network infrastructure or IoT enabled devices. Secondly, there could be possible threats to each individual IoT enabled device from malware and Trojans that are available to hackers. And thirdly, when it comes to interlinking devices and services that form the platform of IoT architecture; is where the threats are more likely to happen. It has happened with developed economies in vital services- nuclear facilities, steel mills, energy grids, water supplies, hospitals, oil rigs, firearms, building infrastructure, airplanes and several others. Unless risks in potential IoT deployments are covered and service providers adhere to global compliances, they could be the biggest source of data thefts and pilferage issues. The idea of “Internet of Things” is not just to make devices smarter, rather collect and use the vital data in a secure way to develop and improve the future with existing resources. The time is just right to build and scale IoT applications, as the internet services are getting better with improved speed, security and suitability for data exchanges. With greater collaboration between government and innovation-led IoT ecosystem players, IoT can bring a much needed positive impact to our lives. And, establishing best practices for IoT will help ensure that the citizens and businesses are able to take advantage of these services to the fullest without compromising with their privacy.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/03/2017

 

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Government Likely to form All India Medical Service Cadre

 

The Central Government has moved a proposal for the creation of All India Medical Service Cadre. The recommendation for this cadre was given by a central committee 56 years ago, but till now no work has been done in this regard. Now, the Union Health Secretary has written to the Chief Secretaries of the State asking for their feedback on the same. “The creation of an All India Medical Service under the All India Service Act 1951, like IAS, IPS, etc. for creating a body of professional doctors across the country has been under the consideration of the government for quite some time. Considering the fact that health is a state subject and the major requirement of health professionals is at the state level, it has been decided to solicit the views of all state governments on this issue,” the letter stated. The letter, written on June 9, also stated that the new Medical Service Cadre will help in bridging the gap between doctors of the Central Health Service and the States. Central Health Service is a Group A service under the Health Ministry dealing with monitoring of various health programmes/schemes. This will also help in improving technical leadership and management both at the centre and the states. The Health Survey and Planning Committee, better known as the Mudaliar Committee, which submitted its report in 1961 had recommended the formation of a Central Health cadre whereby senior posts in the Central and state health ministries would be included. Before independence, a similar cadre existed. It was called the Indian Medical Service (IMS) but it was abolished in August 1947. The report of the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (NCMH) of 2005 also stated that it was necessary to constitute an All India Cadre of Public Heath Services, on lines like the IAS and IPS.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/06/2017

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Govt Depts Must Modernise Systems Using ICT: President

  

pranab-mukherjeeGood Public Financial Management System (PFMS) is the key to good governance, as organised accounting services help in building and maintaining a strong and robust system of financial management, President of India Pranab Mukherjee has said. The President was addressing the probationers of Indian Defence Accounts Service, Indian Civil Accounts Service, Indian Railway Accounts Service and Indian P&T Finance & Accounts Service as they called on him at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday, according to a government press release. “In almost all countries of the world today, there is a move towards developing ‘Integrated Financial Management Information Systems’ (IFMIS) and towards setting up Standards in Accounting, Auditing and Budgeting. The Government of India is also moving towards such a system. In India today, this is a necessity in view of the increasing quantum of public expenditures which require a sound system of tracking, monitoring and reporting to be in place. In developing such a system, we need to learn from best global practices and build upon them,” President Mukherjee said. He went on that there are rising expectations amongst the public for greater efficiencies in service delivery accompanied by transparency and accountability in government processes. “In order to address these concerns, it is imperative for the Government Departments to modernise systems by making best use of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) and to make such systems citizen-centric, secure, efficient, economical and transparent. The Tax Information Network, OLTAS and the National Pension System are all extremely fine examples of pan-India systems, which have simplified life for the ordinary citizen and have introduced greater efficiency and transparency in key areas of Government’s functioning.”

 

The President also emphasised that this trend shall only intensify in the future, so he urged all officers to take part in the development of such pan-India systems, as and when they have the opportunity to do so. He further said that he has been informed that the National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), apart from a multitude of on-campus activities, also organises attachments for probationers with various offices and organisations of relevance where they are exposed to practical aspects of governance. He expressed happiness that probationers are also taken to the USA for exposure to financial management practices at the federal and the provincial government levels. He urged the probationers to assimilate the learnings that they gather from such important exposures and apply them appropriately in the Indian context. The President said that keeping pace with the fast-changing world of ICT also requires constant up-gradation of systems and processes. “We need to examine how best we may use technology to make our payment and accounting systems seamless, as also progressively use IT tools in auditing to not only unearth frauds but also to evaluate and monitor the processes and outcomes of various government schemes. The challenges are many and the opportunities are vast and immense. But I am sure that all of them will rise to the occasion and live up to the expectations of their countrymen,” he added.

 

President Mukherjee said that the Government of India decided to establish NIFM in 1993 to train the newly recruited officers of the Finance and Accounts Services. The idea behind setting up NIFM was not only to train probationers in subjects related to financial management but also to inculcate a sense of camaraderie and esprit d’ corps amongst service officers. “The opportunity of staying and learning together with officers from the different accounting services shall prove to be extremely beneficial to them in the years to come.”

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/10/2017

 

 

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Mobile Manufacturing Unit to Be Set Up in Naya Raipur 

  

The Government of Chhattisgarh has signed 4 MoUs which would bring in an investment of Rs 386 Cr across electronics and food processing sectors. This investment would create over 2,800 employment opportunities in the State and would give new employment avenues to the local youth. MoUs with Smartron India Pvt. Ltd., Forstar Techno Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Wattson Electronics have been inked by the Government of Chhattisgarh for investment in electronics sector. These companies will establish manufacturing units in EMC, Naya Raipur and will bring cumulative investments of around Rs 286 Crores in the State. These projects will employ highly qualified professionals and highly skilled manpower in the state. The project is a fervent endeavour to bring the enabling electronics manufacturing ecosystem in Chhattisgarh. ‘Make in India’ has been key catalyst for attracting new investments in the State. Government of Chhattisgarh has taken focused approach which includes ease of doing business, development of world class industrial infrastructure and enacting business friendly policies to facilitate business and investment in the State. Chhattisgarh has always been one of the preferred states in the country for business and investment but so far most of the investments have been made in core sectors like mining, steel, aluminium, cement etc. Chhattisgarh has a huge potential for non-core sectors like electronics, food processing, engineering, solar equipment etc. which are to being promoted as strategic sectors in the State.New sectors like electronics have got new boost with approval of Electronics Manufacturing Cluster (EMC) in Naya Raipur.

 

Government of Chhattisgarh also had recently launched Sanchar Kranti Yojana (SKY) in which 45 lakhs smart phones will be distributed to youth and women in the State. Under SKY 1700 mobile towers will also be set up for providing mobile connectivity to all parts in the State. Smartron India Pvt. Ltd. will manufacture smart phones, other smart devices based on tronX and AI powered IOT platform. The agreement will bring smart technology and product ecosystem to help transform the technological infrastructure of the State. Forstar Techno Solutions Pvt. Ltd. will establish assembly plant for tablet PC, Desktop PC, Smart phone, Biometric devices, netbooks and notebooks whereas Wattson Electronics shall manufacture consumer and Industrial electronics products manufacturing unit in Naya Raipur. Demonstrating State Government’s commitment to develop food processing sector in the state, an MoU has been signed with ArkasBiocon India Pvt. Ltd. (BEC Foods) to establish liquid glucose and derivative manufacturing unit in Chhattisgarh and will bring investments of Rs 100 Cr. These MoUs have been signed in the esteemed presence of Dr. Raman Singh, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh; N Baijendra Kumar, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Commerce & Industries; Chhagan Lal Mundra, Chairman, CSIDC, Alarmelmangai D, Director Industries, Department of Commerce & Industries; Sunil Mishra, Managing Director, CSIDC and V K Chhablani, Special Secretary, Department of Commerce & Industries.

 

Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Commerce & Industries N Baijendra Kumar signed the MoU on behalf of Government of Chhattisgarh while Mahesh Lingareddy, Chairman, Smartron; K P Roy, Whole Time Director, Forstar; VikramDewangan, CEO, Wattson Electronics and Arvind Jain, Director, ArkasBiocon Pvt. Ltd. have signed the MoUs on behalf of their firms. Chief Minister highlighted that Chhattisgarh SKY scheme has given a big boost and created huge opportunity in electronic manufacturing in the State. Also, Dr. Singh congratulated entrepreneurs for becoming a partner in the development of electronics, food processing manufacturing in the State and expected these units to begin their production at the earliest. Mahesh Lingareddy, Founder and Chairman, Smartron said, “Smartron is building India’s first global technology OEM brand with focus on innovation led product ecosystem around tronX, an AI powered IOT platform delivering intelligent experiences through range of smart devices to various verticals. Smartron is founded with a vision to build Apple or Samsung of India. We are glad to be associated with the Government of Chhattisgarh’s vision to be at the forefront of digital India. We strongly believe that this association will bring in number of smart technologies, jobs and manufacturing and product ecosystems to the state. With our strong R&D led product portfolio that includes the tphone, tbook, the srtphone and a number of smart devices from tabs to wearables to laptops to smart home devices in the pipeline, we look forward to partnering with the Govt of Chhattisgarh to transform the state’s technological infrastructure and deliver highly intelligent and personalized services in the areas of health, home, education, governance, infrastructure, agriculture and energy.”

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/12/2017

 

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Data Security Council of India Holds Global Meet on Cloud Data Governance

 

With an aim to delve deeper into data governance and data classification, the Data Security Council of India (DSCI)  organised a workshop on Cloud Data Governance on 18 March 2016 at the Habitat Centre in New Delhi. The workshop focused on ways to help government departments and related agencies get acquainted with guidelines, international best practices, strategies and techniques for Cloud adoption. The workshop also focussed on ways to formulate a powerful framework, which could help the government agencies adopt the most suitable Cloud-based solutions. The key speaker, Ian McCormack, was an expert and Technical Director for Applied Risk, CESG, UK. He has also helped formulate the Data Classification strategy for the UK Government, which enables the government agencies there select the appropriate Cloud solution. This workshop was supported by Microsoft India. With ‘Megharaj’—Government of India’s Cloud initiative—encouraging adoption of Cloud technology, challenges related to management of data, usability, integrity and security can easily be overcome. The workshop informed the attendees about the importance of taking an appropriate Cloud service. It also highlighted the importance of implementing critical controls and safeguarding data, which can easily be misused  in the absence of appropriate data governance and data classification frameworks. Data classification helps Cloud service providers offer services and safeguard information, depending on the sensitivity of data. Besides panel discussions, the uniquely creative format of the workshop encompassed an assessment of policy and guidelines, white-board exercises, consultation on draft papers, a checklist preparation and an eventual Cloud Decision Matrix. It was attended by over 60 key stakeholder from government, defence, industry, public sector and consulting organisations. The outcome of this workshop will be utilised to develop a framework that will help government organisations choose the most suitable cloud service for them.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/16/2017

 

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eGov Excellent Platform for News and Views from Across the Country

 

On the occasion of eGov’s historical 150th magazine issue, wishes from Sanjay Deshmukh, Secretary, Medical Education and Drugs Department , Government of Maharashtra. “I attended two events organised by Elets Technomedia Pvt Ltd – Smart and Sustainable City Summit, Nagpur and 7th Healthcare Leaders’ Forum, New Delhi. Both the events were well organized. These conferences are good platform for different stakeholders to assemble under one roof and discuss issues which are significant. Besides, magazines published by the organization are also important as they include news and views from across the country. I congratulate Elets for bringing 150th issue of the magazine. Best of luck!”

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/20/2017

 

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Punjab Way of eGovernance: Transforming Governence 

 

Former Chief Secretary and presently Special Chief Secretary cum Director General, Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration, Punjab, Chandigarh. Happiness of citizens is the foremost objective of a welfare state. It is the fulcrum on which rests its other goals. Driving its fulfilment calls for good governance that has such sacrosanct elements as adherence to rule of law, participatory decision- making, equity, inclusiveness, responsiveness, transparency and accountability. Technology is an enabler for good governance and is an empowering tool for the citizen and an accountability medium for the government, highlights Sarvesh Kaushal, Former Chief Secretary and presently Special Chief Secretary cum Director General, Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration, Punjab, Chandigarh. Dramatic developments in the IT sector have transformed the society. It has created an ecosystem for the Government to tap technology-enabled solutions for deployment in the area of governance for the benefit of the common man. Information Technology opens up tremendous opportunities to provide basic government services to a much broader segment of the population at the optimal quality, time, place and cost. An important step for good governance is simplification of procedures and processes in the Government so as to make the entire system transparent and faster.

 

The push towards self-certification in place of affidavits and attestations is another indicator of the relationship of trust between the citizens and the Government. Punjab State was awarded with Prime Minister Award in public administration for its initiative on abolition of affidavits. Now, this initiative has been replicated by almost all the Ministries in Government of India and other States. The common man is the focus of our e-Governance programmes and schemes.Citizens have been immensely benefitted with the setting up of these centers as they are able to get services of various departments from these single- window centers. Punjab State derives its e-Governance mission from Digital India programme launched by Prime Minister of India which shall ensure that government services are available to citizens electronically. It would also bring in greater accountability through mandated delivery of government’s services electronically. Punjab State has been using ICT as an effective tool towards good governance and Punjab is a frontline State in the country for implementation of eGovernance projects. Our e-District project which is the backbone of e-Governance in the State has been rated No.1 in the country consistently by Ministry of Information and Technology (IT), Government of India.

 

The e-Government strategy for the State consists of a portfolio of ICT applications that will electronically deliver services of the highest quality to citizens (G2C), businesses (G2B), government functionaries (G2G) and government employees (G2E). The State Government is committed to provide transparent and effective governance to the citizens of the State. The common man is the focus of our e-Governance programmes and schemes. State of Punjab has established State of Art single window front-end delivery channels like Sewa Kendras, Fard Kendras (Land Records), Saanjh Kendras (Police services) which have been instrumental in providing across the counter citizen services. Citizens have been immensely benefitted with the setting up of these centers as they are able to get services of various departments from these single-window centers. Punjab has implemented many e-Governance programmes like backend computerisation of various departments, online service delivery using State Portal and State Service Delivery Gateway, e-Sarkar, e-District, etc. which have improved the functioning of the government to provide all services in an efficient and hassle-free manner and identified services on an online basis.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/20/2017

 

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Centre Sets E-payment Target for Ministries and States

 

In a bid to gear up the promotional activities pertaining to “Digital India”, the Central Government has allotted e-payment targets to the ministries and states. Aiming at setting up a cashless economy soon, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced a mammoth target of 25 billion transactions by March 2018, i.e. the end of this financial year. For fulfilling this target in a balanced manner, the government has now allotted targets to specific ministries and states depending on their on-ground reach. Reportedly, ministries with higher social and physical reach have been entitled to higher responsibilities as per the decision. Under the plan, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) have to generate over 5 billion electronic payments in 2017-18. Adhering to the guidelines, FASTag lanes across 360 of the 375 toll plazas on national highways are being installed to enable electronic payments. The Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, and the Ministry of Labour and Employment are chasing a target of  1.5 to 3 billion transactions each. Centre has divided the target among 35 ministries, 29 states, and 7 Union territories. “For the petroleum ministry, the point of interface will be the petrol pump network; for human resource development it is the educational institutes, and for railways, it will be the stations or the booking counters,” said a government official. Further, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have to envision a target over 3 billion transactions by March 2018. Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Gujarat will be contributing over 1.5 billion transactions each. The Ministry of Electronics and IT, which is supervising this entire exercise, has created an online dashboard to monitor the progress in real-time.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/23/2017

 

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e-Governance: Making Service Delivery System Inclusive & Efficient – Saket Agarwal, Global CEO, Spice Digital

 

We live in a democracy and the defining feature of this setup is the interaction afforded between the government and the people of the state or the citizens. The citizens choose a government and entrust them to build an appropriate service delivery system that includes dissemination of services like healthcare, education, economic development, infrastructure and more. This appropriate service delivery system that we are talking about here is however changing in the digitally charged environment that we are a part of, writes Saket Agarwal, Global CEO – Spice Digital. India is going digital, and the government set up is matching up to this digital movement. The concept of e-Governance is quickly getting its deserved pace and place with some well placed and planned initiatives from the government. The physical barriers of reach and delivery are increasingly being broken by the penetration achieved by smart devices and internet. As Aadhaar was launched the reach of the benefits and subsidies extended by the government reached the intended beneficiaries directly, instead of the beneficiaries going through complicated paperwork and processes to get them. According to the World Bank, as the world’s largest biometric based identification system – Aadhaar would be saving $ 1 Billion per year for the Indian government. The recent beta version launch of mAadhaar app is a notable step to help expand the reach of m-Governance.

 

By registering the mobile numbers with their Aadhaar, one can use mAadhaar app and download their Aadhaar number profile on their smartphones thus eliminating the need to carry the hard copy of their card. Linking your mobile number with Aadhaar brings to you a plethora of services like GST registration, e-Verification of ITR, link PAN with Aadhaar, Digilocker, eSign, online Aadhaar updates and more. mAadhaar enables you to store your Aadhaar profile on your mobile, lock or unlock your biometric data from anywhere, generate T-OTP for Aadhaar services, view & share your updated Aadhaar profile via QR code, and share your eKYC information with any service provider while protecting the same with a password. The bottom of the Indian economical pyramid was thus far undocumented and disorganized, with most of the citizens being underserved by even the government policies and benefits or subsidies like DBTL, MNREGS, fertilizer subsidies, PDS and more. Prime Minister Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) made it possible for the lowest stratum of the economy or the weaker sections to finally hold an account of their own. Facilities like overdraft of INR 5,000 and an accidental insurance cover of INR 1 lakh has encouraged opening of Jan-Dhan accounts. With this economic support made available through PMJDY initiative, account holders have actually been able to escape the clutches local moneylenders and the mounting debts. According to an RTI filed by a PTI correspondent, the total number of PMJDY accounts on June 14, 2017 stood at 28.9 crore of which 23.27 crore accounts are held in public sector banks. The total deposit amount in these accounts, as declared by the Finance Ministry is INR 64,564 crore of which INR 50,800 crore are deposited in public sector banks and INR 11,683.42 crore in regional rural banks. These figures are strongly indicative of the traceability and accountability of cash and debts through the cross section of the Indian economy. The interesting thing to note is that between November 16, 2016 and June 14, 2017, INR 311.93 crore have been added to Jan-Dhan accounts which is a figure worth noting.

The policies and subsidies designed for the benefit of the Indian citizens are many and well intentioned; however during the disbursement from the Government of India to sub-national governments or other implementing agencies, these funds tend to get diluted or delayed. Tracking these funds from their disbursement to the final recipient has been enabled through Public Financial Management System (PFMS) earlier known as Central Plan Scheme Monitoring System (CPSMS). Transparency, clarity and efficiency have definitely improved with this initiative and the beneficiaries have developed a stronger faith in Government. The significance of this is better understood when we see the budget (2017-18) and see an allocation of INR 300 crore for the restructuring of CPSMS to PFMS. The aim is to bring in at least 90 percent of the Pension Accounting Offices (PAOs) and 20 percent of the Drawing & Disbursing Officers (DDOs) under it for receipt and payments by the end of this fiscal. As PFMS sets out to integrate all the State Treasuries and implement DBT for welfare and scholarship scheme the inclusion of the mobile platform increases the traceability of funds throughout the process of disbursement. There is a continuous effort from the Government to provide a liveable space for its citizens with safety, medical care, and apt infrastructure. In this direction Smart Cities Mission was launched by the government of India for proliferation and establishment of effective e-Governance.

 

On 23 rd June, 2017, the government announced 30 new names to be developed as smart cities including Ahmedabad, Karnal, Aligarh, Jhansi, Patna, Bengaluru, Puducherry and more. With the launch of this list the total number of cities selected by the government of India under their flagship urban modernisation program reaches a total of 90 and another 10 would be joining them in the year ahead. The Smart Cities Mission will work to revive the crammed up areas, offer a lot more housing prospects for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), enhance safety in the neighbourhood, uphold e-governance, revivify the financial centres, generate best-in- class infrastructure amenities and extend integrated urban mobility options in the newly revamped city. This mission would cast its impact on a total urban population of 95,955,046. As one of the most recent e-Governance initiatives Goods & Services Tax (GST) rolled out, Goods & Services Tax Network (GSTN) – a unique & complex IT infrastructure firm would be managing millions of invoices filed by around 8 million indirect tax payers. This initiative has continuously been bringing in more and more number of businesses under the indirect tax radar. This is exhibited by the 1.6 lakh new GST registrations in 4 days (25th to 29th June 2017). This number is only of those businesses that had by far not registered for VAT, excise or service taxes. GST has effectively increased the ease of doing business by eliminating the need for multiple taxes across India. As Aadhaar is linked with GST and mobile devices, there is an accountability & traceability in the economy inducing a refreshing transparency in the whole system.

 

A cashless economy should not be limited to just the urban areas and there is a conscious effort at the Government’s end for inclusion of the rural areas in a digital economy. Aadhar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) is one of the most effective initiatives in this regard. AEPS is essentially a bank led model that is suited to m-Governance as much as it is to e-Governance. Currently, there are 131 live AEPS entities which were responsible for a total of 10,19,62,503 AEPS transactions in the month of June 2017 alone. As AEPS brings the remote areas closer to the government extending directly the benefits intended for them, m-Governance establishes deeper roots. As e-Governance is delving deep into the Indian landscape, m-Governance is shaping up to be a key tool here. Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is one such mobile application that extends payment and transactional services through Unified Payment Interface. The monthly transactions on UPI crossed the one crore mark in a mere 11 months since its launch and BHIM had a considerable role to play in it. UPI volume including BHIM and SMS transactions was 72 lakh in April 2017, 93.6 lakh in May 2017, and in June 2017 it stood at 1.03 crore. There are 49 banks (from both private and public sector) that are live on BHIM. The multilingual feature on BHIM is one of the reasons that it is proving to be an extremely effective m-Governance tool. The number of downloads for BHIM is 15.38 million on android (as on June 30, 2017) and 0.63 million on IOS (as on July 1, 2017).

 

Currently, there is a multiplicity in the number of apps for various government and non-government services. To avail any of these services there is a need for a number of apps to be installed on your mobile device. m-Governance maybe the theme for today, but this multiplicity makes it cumbersome and sometimes confusing. Looking at the launch of Unified Mobile Application for New-Age Governance (UMANG) a master app to be launched by the government of India will offer a single portal access to 200 different apps with 1200 different services.. Taking m-Governance on a path of efficiency and convenience UMANG will completely eradicate the need to remember and install multiple apps and bring in the concept and convenience of one stop shop. An enabler for PFMS, PayGov India is aimed to ease out the process of disbursement of benefits directly to the beneficiary with traceability and transparency without the involvement of a third party service provider. In this regard, as of April 2017, 84 departments and agencies were already live with transactions worth INR 5159.02 crore. Agencies like Commercial Taxes, Transport and Generic Portal (Jharkhand), CSC (Kerala), Delhi Jal Board, MahaOnline, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, NIELIT, Centre for eGovernance (UP), M-One (Karnataka), etc. are just some of the recent ones to have joined in.

 

As of January 2017, the number of smartphone users in India crossed the 300 million mark. According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm IMRB International of the estimated 444 million already has 269 million using the internet. However, in case of 906 million strong rural populations only 163 million are internet users. The report also mentions that 77% of urban users and 92% of rural users use mobile phones primarily to access Internet, which is essentially due to the availability and economic viability of smart phones. The reach of smart phones and devices is a lot more when compared to desktop or laptop computers, hence the trend of e-Governance is naturally evolving into m-Governance, where initiatives like PFMS, UMANG, BHIM, UPI, and others are emerging to gain importance and acceptance. The response of citizens belonging to the remote areas of the country is considerably greater when compared to traditional modes of governance or even e-Governance. Even though e- literacy might not be as high as we would like it to be, the usage, access, and convenience of smart phones is promising for the m-Governance to take effect.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 07/24/2017

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Ambassador to China Named

 

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree July 19 appointing Akram Zeynalli as the country’s extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador to China.

From https://www.azernews.az 07/20/2017 

 

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UZBEKISTAN: Olimjon Umarov Appointed First Deputy of IT Ministry

 

In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan №ПП-3102, dated June 29, 2017, Olimjon Umarov Muhamedjanovich was appointed first Deputy Minister for development of information technologies and communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Prior to this, Olimjon Umarov held the position of head of the Department of information and communication technologies.

From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 06/29/2017 

 

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Deputy Head of Agency for Science and Technology Approved

 

The decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan appointed Olimjon Tuychiyev Deputy Director General of the Agency for science and technology. Olimjon Tuychiyev will coordinate the activities of the Department of technology transfer and the innovation fairs of the Department of international technical and scientific cooperation, Department of information and communication technologies and the division for coordination of activities of postgraduate education. Olimjon Tuychiyev is 25 years, he is a student of Turin Polytechnic University in Tashkent.

From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 07/03/2017 

 

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Jamol Makhsudov Gets Appointed as Deputy Minister for IT and Communications Development

 

In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated July 12, 2017, Jamol Makhsudov was appointed Deputy Minister for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Jamol Makhsudov was born in 1972 in Peshkun district of Bukhara region. In 1994 he graduated from Tashkent Electrotechnical Institute of Communications in "Telecommunications Engineer" specialty, continued his postgraduate studies and five years later received his Ph.D. In 1996-1997 he worked as a leading engineer of planning, modernization and development of communication networks of "Uzbektelecom". In 2000-2002 he was chief specialist of consultative group of "Uzimpeksaloka" JSC. Prior to 2008, he held the post of the head of the department of information technologies and services of Uzbek Agency for Communication and Informatization. He worked as first deputy general director of JSC "Uzbektelecom" since 2008, later he moved to the position of director of the branch "Center for Telecommunications and Personnel Development" of "Uzbektelecom".

From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 07/13/2017 

 

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Jamol Makhsudov Gets Appointed as Deputy Minister for IT and Communications Development

 

In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated July 12, 2017, Jamol Makhsudov was appointed Deputy Minister for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Jamol Makhsudov was born in 1972 in Peshkun district of Bukhara region. In 1994 he graduated from Tashkent Electrotechnical Institute of Communications in "Telecommunications Engineer" specialty, continued his postgraduate studies and five years later received his Ph.D. In 1996-1997 he worked as a leading engineer of planning, modernization and development of communication networks of "Uzbektelecom". In 2000-2002 he was chief specialist of consultative group of "Uzimpeksaloka" JSC. Prior to 2008, he held the post of the head of the department of information technologies and services of Uzbek Agency for Communication and Informatization. He worked as first deputy general director of JSC "Uzbektelecom" since 2008, later he moved to the position of director of the branch "Center for Telecommunications and Personnel Development" of "Uzbektelecom".

From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 07/13/2017

 

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Jamol Makhsudov Gets Appointed as Deputy Minister for IT and Communications Development

 

In accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated July 12, 2017, Jamol Makhsudov was appointed Deputy Minister for Development of Information Technologies and Communications of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Jamol Makhsudov was born in 1972 in Peshkun district of Bukhara region. In 1994 he graduated from Tashkent Electrotechnical Institute of Communications in "Telecommunications Engineer" specialty, continued his postgraduate studies and five years later received his Ph.D. In 1996-1997 he worked as a leading engineer of planning, modernization and development of communication networks of "Uzbektelecom". In 2000-2002 he was chief specialist of consultative group of "Uzimpeksaloka" JSC. Prior to 2008, he held the post of the head of the department of information technologies and services of Uzbek Agency for Communication and Informatization. He worked as first deputy general director of JSC "Uzbektelecom" since 2008, later he moved to the position of director of the branch "Center for Telecommunications and Personnel Development" of "Uzbektelecom".

From http://news.uzreport.uz/ 07/13/2017

 

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AUSTRALIA: PM Dismisses Labor GST Document as 'Waffle'

 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has dismissed as 'complete and utter waffle' West Australian federal Labor MPs' submission to an inquiry into the GST. Mr Turnbull says there is no detail in the Productivity Commission submission, which states 'the Western Australian federal parliamentary Labor party seek an outcome to the situation but one that doesn't negatively impact other states and territories'. 'It is just pages of waffle,' he told 6PR radio in Perth on Wednesday. One of the MPs behind the submission, Tim Hammond, said Mr Turnbull's comments were 'really sad'. 'It really articulates why we are entitled to feel so disappointed with this prime minister,' Mr Hammond told the broadcaster. 'He's so focused on the other side, he forgets he's the one in the top job at the moment, with the capacity to fix this right now and he's failing to do so.'

 

Opposition leader Bill Shorten is under pressure to state his position on how to change the GST distribution. Currently WA receives 34 cents in every dollar, while most other states get in the range of 89 cents to 181 cents. 'He's making it very very clear that he's committed to sorting out the disparity for the fair share for Western Australians,' Mr Hammond said. Mr Turnbull said he also recognised WA wasn't getting a reasonable slice of the carve-up. 'I am the first prime minister to actually acknowledge there is a problem here...to offer to do something about it,' he said. The Productivity Commission is due to report to the government by the end of January.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/19/2017

 

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Dual-Citizen Clause Doesn't Need Changing: PM

 

Malcolm Turnbull doesn't believe a clause in the constitution that bans dual-citizens running for office needs changing. The clause has cost Scott Ludlam and Larissa Waters - co-leaders of the Greens - their Senate seats. Mr Ludlam, born in New Zealand, and Ms Waters in Canada, were ineligible to have been elected because they hadn't renounced their foreign citizenship. Asked whether the clause was out of date, the prime minister told Neil Mitchell on 3AW radio: 'I don't think it is unreasonable for the constitution to require if you want to be a member or a senator in the Australian parliament you should be a citizen of only one country and that's Australia.' As he looks to replace his deputy leaders, Greens leader Richard Di Natale is seeking documentation that confirms he is not an Italian citizen. Senator Di Natale is confident his remaining colleagues, including Singaporean-born Peter Whish-Wilson and Nick McKim, who was born in the UK, have checked their citizenship status. A spokesman told The Australian, Senator Di Natale renounced his Italian citizenship over a decade ago and he will provide the documentary evidence when it is received from appropriate officials.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/20/2017

 

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Government Support Increases in Sky News Poll

 

A Sky News/ReachTEL poll shows the Coalition trails Labor 49 points to 51 on a two-party-preferred basis. The Liberal Party's primary vote sits at 30 per cent while Labor's has stayed consistent at 34 per cent, with the Greens polling at eight per cent while One Nation on 11 per cent support. The two-party-preferred result is within the margin of error, with the last Sky News/ReachTEL recording a 52-48 split in Labor's favour. Malcolm Turnbull is ahead of Bill Shorten in the preferred prime minister stakes, leading his rival 54.5% compared with the Labor leader's 45.5%. Renewable energy continues to enjoy widespread public support, with 75 per cent of respondents urging the government to support clean energy over coal. A majority of Liberal voters also endorsed renewable energy. More than half of those polled (56 per cent) nominated power and gas prices as the biggest cost of living expense. Less than half of those contacted (47%) upport a change to the constitution that would create an Indigenous advisory body, with the majority either opposed or undecuded on the matter.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/20/2017

 

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PM Wants to Keep Australians Safe: Dutton

 

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has defended the prime minister's decision to form a super home security portfolio which has been criticised as a 'captain's pick'. Mr Dutton, who will take over the broad security portfolio, says since federation the prime minister has had the right to make government arrangements. 'In the end what was Malcolm Turnbull's intention, what was his desire here, was to do everything within our power to keep the Australian public safe,' Mr Dutton told Sky News on Sunday. Bill Shorten has insisted Labor does not want to see people smugglers back in business and the party's policy is still to 'never, ever' settle asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia. Debate over the opposition's policy reignited in the past week after former prime minister Kevin Rudd claimed asylum seekers held in offshore detention, under an agreement he initiated in 2013, should have been resettled in Australia after a year.

 

At the time he signed the deal, Mr Rudd said they would never be resettled in Australia. Mr Shorten says Labor has been clear in its policy. 'The government wants to say that Labor wants to see the people smugglers back,' the opposition leader said in a TV interview. 'We absolutely don't.' Asked twice if that meant refugees would never, ever settle in Australia, Mr Shorten said: 'That is part of it, yes.' But he understood disquiet among Labor members and the community about the government so far failing to send refugees to third countries. 'What I do respect is the legitimate concerns ... that this government has been so derelict that there's still a lot of people in these facilities in what is now seemingly indefinite detention,' Mr Shorten said. 'I, for one, want to see this government succeed in its arrangement with the United States and I would like to see them do more to tie up arrangements with other nations.'

 

On Friday Mr Dutton accused the Labor leader of not having the guts to call out his predecessor and instead sending his 'henchmen' to do the deed. 'This was a re-write of history,' Mr Dutton told Sky News on Sunday of Mr Rudd's recent comments. 'Labor is still all over the place when it comes to border protection polices.' When asked whether he would change his mind on allowing people on Manus coming to Australia, Mr Dutton said: 'No, people will not be coming to Australia, I have said that consistently.'

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/23/2017

 

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Abbott Welcomes PM's Support for Party Reform

 

Tony Abbott has welcomed Malcolm Turnbull's in-principle support for his reform plan to give grassroots Liberal Party members more say. And he warns if the party's state council doesn't tick off on the changes, it won't only be defying a former prime minister but a sitting prime minister as well. A special meeting over the weekend approved the so-called Warringah motions, which will allow grassroots members to vote in preselections of candidates in federal and state elections. Mr Abbott praised the work of campaigners and said the victory for people power was a test of the 'factional operatives'. 'If the state council tries to sabotage this (and) tries to play silly games with what was the overwhelming will of the party membership yesterday they will do our party and our governments ... massive damage,' he told Sydney radio 2GB host Ray Hadley on Monday.

 

The former prime minister said it was good to talk to Mr Turnbull, who addressed the gathering on Saturday ahead of the vote. 'Now I think we can go forward as a united party on this,' he said. 'If the factional operatives try to get in the way they won't just be as it were defying the former prime minister they'll be defying the current one too.' Treasurer Scott Morrison said he supported plebiscites and increased democratisation of the party but would not say if he was behind the full extent of the Warringah motions. 'I support the party organistion sorting it out and implementing things and I certainly support the treasurer not being distracted by it. 'I just don't get involved in organisational politics,' he told Sky News.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/24/2017

 

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Govt Puts Super Opt Out on the Table

 

Working Australians will soon be able to opt out of the life insurance component of their superannuation fund. Flagging a suite of changes, Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer said super savings were being eroded because of default arrangements such as insurance. 'Right now it is very difficult for people to opt out of insurance,' she told Sky News on Monday. 'It can be a very big problem, particularly for young Australians who might have more than one fund as a result of having part-time work and being forced into multiple fund arrangements.' The federal government is also giving the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority new intervention powers while requiring more transparency by funds and applying criminal penalties when they do the wrong thing. The super industry, valued at $2 trillion, needed integrity in the system, Ms O'Dwyer said. 'It needs to be managed properly and simply can't rely upon on old foundations and structures that were set up 25 years ago,' she said.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/24/2017

 

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Govt Threatens Mandatory Airbag Recalls

 

The Australian government could impose mandatory recalls on faulty airbags linked to 18 deaths around the world if it's not satisfied major car manufacturers are doing enough voluntarily. A competition watchdog investigation was launched after consumer group Choice warned some car companies were replacing faulty Takata airbags with the same potentially-deadly devices. Following the revelation, the federal government said it had jointly written to all automotive manufacturers implicated in the massive worldwide recall demanding a 'comprehensive status' on their progress. In a statement on Monday, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack said he wielded the power to trigger a mandatory recall on advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

 

Toyota and Lexus confirmed they used the same airbags and would need to refit some vehicles, while Choice also said Mazda, Lexus, BMW and Subaru had made the same mistake. Nissan said it had been replacing faulty airbags, but in May last year it was revealed the replacements would also be captured under a recall that covered airbags without a chemical drying agent. The newer version would not present any 'unreasonable risk' for at least six years, the company said. The airbags' fault involves the ammonium nitrate used to trigger inflation. The chemical can deteriorate over time and cause a metal canister to explode too forcefully, projecting shrapnel. More than 2.3 million vehicles in Australia were subject to the recall originally issued back in 2009, but only 850,000 have had their Takata airbags replaced. A 58-year-old man who died in a Sydney car crash last week is suspected to be the 18th person globally - and the first in Australia - to have been killed as a result of the faulty product after police said he was struck by fragments.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 07/25/2017

 

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NEW ZEALAND: Labour Promises Boost to Minimum Wage, Living Wage for Public Services

 

Labour is promising a living wage for the core public service, a boost to the minimum wage and an end to the 'fire-at-will law' as part its employment policy unveiled on Wednesday. "After nine years of National, working people's share of the economy is falling," said Labour leader Andrew Little. "Less than 40 percent of economic growth under National has gone to working people through higher pay." As part of its workplace relations package, the party will also double the number of labour inspectors, and introduce 'fair pay agreements' that will "lay out the basic pay and working conditions in an industry, and prevent a race to the bottom". The living wage would initially apply to the core public service, and be extended to contractors over time. The minimum wage would rise to $16.50 per hour. Over time, Labour wants to minimum wage to be two-thirds of the average wage. The party is addressing what it calls National's 'fire-at-will' law, and making changes to the current 90-day-trial period. "Most employers use trial periods fairly, but National's fire-at-will law has encouraged abuse by a small number of employers," Mr Little said. Labour would replace the law with trial periods that include better options for employees to act if they feel their dismissal is unjustified.

From http://www.newshub.co.nz 06/29/2017

 

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'I Want Greens and NZ First in My Govt' - Andrew Little

 

Andrew Little has revealed publicly for the first time that he wants and needs both the Greens and New Zealand First to form a government. "We can form a good government and I want the Green Party to be part of that and the New Zealand First party to be part of that," he told Newshub. "We have a lot of common ground with the Green Party, we have a lot of common ground with New Zealand First. I think our three parties offer New Zealand the best chance of fixing the problems we know New Zealanders want us to fix." It's a change in language for Mr Little when it comes to working with New Zealand First. He has always said he'd like to lead a Labour-Greens government, adding Winston Peters in is new. "I'm totally confident that I am capable of putting together if the numbers fall our way a government that will have a good solid programme of change involving up to three parties," he said.

 

Mr Peters will not negotiate with any party until the election results are in - so Mr Little appears to be publicly coaxing him. "Well I'm very confident that Winston wants to change things that at the moment need to be changed that are not changing and won't change under a National led government." Mr Little even coyly mentioning what he'd done for Mr Peters lately. "I nominated him to be on the Intelligence and Security Committee that's a reflection of the seniority that he has and the experience that he has. He knows of his standing and how he is seen by the Labour Party." But that doesn't mean he's leaving the Greens for dust - Mr Little is all but promising to honour the Memorandum of Understanding he signed with the Greens, even though it expires on election night. "I wouldn't be working closely with another party in opposition to change the government without an expectation that they would be part of a new government," he said.

 

He needed to clarify that after Green MP Barry Coates spoke out of turn and publicly said the Green Party caucus had discussed refusing to support a Labour-NZ First Government, and even indicated the Greens would be prepared to force another election to stop it. Greens co-leader James Shaw was forced to go into damage control: "Barry really overstepped the mark and said something that he was not authorised to talk about and of course he's apologised and retracted," Mr Shaw said.

From http://www.newshub.co.nz 07/13/2017

 

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Labour Pledges to Move Government Departments to the Regions

 

Moving government departments to regions such as South Canterbury could be on the agenda if Labour is elected, the party's state services spokespeople say. But just what services could make the region their home remains unclear. Labour State Services spokeswoman Annette King and spokesman Trevor Mallard visited South Canterbury on Wednesday, checking out businesses such as Heartlands Potato Chips and DB Breweries. Haack fills in Luxton, King, and Mallard in on how the brewery operates. MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/STUFF Haack fills in Luxton, King, and Mallard in on how the brewery operates. The pair both touted the importance of regional development, and said Labour's economic development policy included decentralising government departments from Wellington to the regions. It followed a similar pledge from New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, which he made during a recent campaign speech in Timaru.

 

"I think it's very realistic, and I'm pleased Winston agrees with us," King said. "Particular government departments could be just as effective in the regions." However, she stopped short of outlining what departments could be relocated to South Canterbury. "It all depends what's on offer, is someone ready to put their hand up." Mallard said a shift to online services meant there was reason for departments to be centralised. The pair also touched on the just-announced plan to cut thousands of jobs from Inland Revenue, with Mallard calling the move "premature". The tax department currently employs 5647 staff, but expects to employ only 3700 people by 2021, department documents supplied to a select committee show. "The move seems premature, they haven't got their computer systems up and running," Mallard said. "It seems quite prejudicial to have this decision." The changes stem from its $1.9 billion Business Transformation (BT) programme, which will see Inland Revenue replace its aging computer systems and ensure individuals and businesses are taxed more accurately through the year, reducing the need for additional tax payments and annual tax refunds.

From https://www.stuff.co.nz 07/19/2017

 

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ADB, USP Sign Cooperation Agreement to Strengthen Knowledge Collaboration

 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and The University of the South Pacific (USP) have signed a cooperation agreement to boost knowledge collaboration between the two organizations. ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono and Professor Rajesh Chandra, USP Vice-Chancellor and President, participated in the signing ceremony at the ADB Headquarters in Manila today. “ADB’s extensive practical experience and knowledge from its investment operations together with the technical expertise of USP will foster more innovative and sustainable knowledge solutions. This will in turn improve timeliness and efficiency in sharing development experiences and lessons within ADB’s developing member countries in the Pacific,” said Mr. Susantono. The agreement identifies how ADB and USP will collaborate to share the common objective of improving the capacity of policy analysis, public sector management, and quality education in the Pacific. It will focus on capacity development in designing climate and disaster resilient infrastructure projects, while facilitating regional cooperation and integration through knowledge sharing. The agreement will also contribute to the search for practical and sustainable knowledge solutions to various development issues in the Pacific.

 

“The agreement represents the ongoing long-term spirit of cooperation between USP and ADB, providing enhanced cooperation and partnership through a mutually agreed upon joint work programs,” said Mr. Chandra. “Our knowledge collaboration agreement will also encourage the exchange of experience and knowledge of best practices." The agreement supports the Pacific Approach 2016-2020 which guides ADB’s work in the region, and strengthens ADB’s and USP’s shared strategic partnership priorities. ADB and USP’s partnership began in 2009 when the Government of India provided USP with a $1 million grant through ADB’s Regional Technical Assistance to improve information and communication technology-based education in the Pacific region by upgrading the university's network. The partnership was strengthened in 2012 through the approval of a $19 million loan from ADB and a $1.5 million grant from the Clean Energy Fund under ADB’s Higher Education in the Pacific Investment Program.

 

USP is a leading provider of tertiary education in the Pacific, and an international center of excellence for teaching and research on all aspects of Pacific culture and environment. Founded in 1968, USP is one of only two regional universities in the world, and is supported by 12 Pacific island countries — Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu. ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

From https://www.adb.org/ 07/05/2017

 

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APEC Enhances Disaster Resilient Trade

 

A string of costly earthquakes and extreme weather, including the acceleration of the Pacific typhoon season, has prompted new action in APEC to enhance economic security in the world’s most natural disaster-affected region. APEC member economies experience 70 per cent of all disasters globally and sustain over USD100 billion in related losses annually. Emergency management officials from the region have joined forces with affected sectors to promote more disaster-resilient trade. Emphasis is on helping businesses integrated in cross-border production and supply chains limit disruptions to their operations in an emergency—safeguarding jobs and growth in the Pacific Rim. Convening in the industrial center of Nagoya, officials and representatives from auto, electronics, insurance and finance firms assessed vulnerabilities and fleshed out strategies for encouraging wider, more effective business continuity planning in APEC economies to mitigate risks. They drew on lessons from disasters like the two magnitude-7 earthquakes in southern Japan in April 2016 that halted auto and semiconductor facilities still facing residual temblors. The increasing frequency of extreme weather compounds the urgency of this effort. Typhoon Nanmadol which struck Japan and Korea this week disrupted flights, rail service and shipping production networks depend on. It adds to supply chain challenges posed by recent flooding in New Zealand, Peru and Thailand, record heatwaves in Australia and severe drought in Papua New Guinea, as well as the start of the hurricane season in Mexico and the United States.

 

“Increasingly advanced production processes and new distribution patterns of raw materials, parts and services from global suppliers power modern manufacturing but are exposed to high risks including shocks caused by natural disasters,” explained Dr Li Wei-Sen, Executive Director of the APEC Emergency Preparedness Capacity Building Center. “If a plant in Japan that makes irreplaceable car-control chips or shiny pigment used in auto paint cannot continue its normal operation due to an earthquake, for example, it can impact car production all over the world through the influence of global supply chains.” “Personnel and capital shortages, damages to production equipment and infrastructure, power outages and elevated cybersecurity threats are among the challenges that can hamper business operations in a disaster,” Dr Li continued. “We are boosting public-private policy coordination and development to ensure businesses – and the trade and communities they support – have proper planning in place to operate as seamlessly as possible during an emergency.”

 

Delegates examined the business continuity planning of companies such as Nissan and Fujitsu, and the importance of routine checks and random, unannounced drills for it to be effective. They also explored the potential for firms to transfer risk through disaster risk financing as well as the rating of business continuity plans to create financial incentives for their adoption. Small and medium enterprises that are assuming a greater role in production and supply chains are a particular target. The aim is to reduce their acute preparedness gaps manifested during Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 which led to severe operational delays, inventory losses and declining sales within the sector.

 

Failure to achieve progress could lead to more mass closures and bankruptcies such as those that followed the earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan, and historic flooding in Thailand in 2011—wiping out suppliers of goods ranging from hard-drives to component parts used in autos, cameras, copiers and refrigerators. “Public sector involvement in business continuity management is crucial to shielding local economic platforms such as business operations, employment and corporate tax revenues from disruptions after a disaster,” concluded Professor Kenji Watanabe of the Nagoya Institute of Technology and Vice-Chair of the Business Continuity Advancement Organization. “Collaboration in APEC is setting new and welcome standards for securing livelihoods and sustainable growth in disaster-affected areas and beyond.” APEC emergency management officials will meet in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam in August to gauge implementation of the region’s disaster-resilient trade initiative and determine the next steps.

From https://www.apec.org/ 07/07/2017

 

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Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning Workshop a Success

 

More than 80 Pacific Islanders working in early childhood education and readiness came together this week in Port Vila, Vanuatu, to discuss best practice, and share experiences and responses to address the challenges commonly experienced in implementing, monitoring, and evaluating education programs and policies in the Pacific. The workshop was supported by the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning (PEARL) Program. Representatives from Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Fiji were welcomed by the Vanuatu Minister of Education, Hon. Jean-Pierre Nirua, who spoke about the importance of early childhood readiness and the workshop’s contributions to it. “I wish to take this rare opportunity to commend and extend a profound gratitude with special acknowledgement to the World Bank for the strong interest and visible actions that the Bank has taken to support education; in particular the Global Partnership for Education for the financing of this workshop that is aimed at raising the level of consciousness and the importance on the need to raise and sustain competency levels in literacy for our children at young age for first internally or locally, before they venture out into the region and beyond to face the withstand sporadic challenges,” said Minister Nirua.

 

The program included visits to local preschools and primary schools. Vanuatu has recently implemented a multi-lingual policy, which has seen a shift to using the common language spoken by children (i.e. a vernacular-language medium of instruction) for years 1-3, before introducing a second or third language. Multi-lingual teaching is a common challenge for many Pacific Island countries, so exploring different options for educating in multi-lingual environments was seen as a particularly welcome part of the workshop for many participants. “This workshop was a great opportunity to hear from others in the region, and for all participants to see first-hand early childhood care in Vanuatu,” said Roy Obed, workshop participant and Director of Education and Services at the Vanuatu Ministry of Education and Training. “We were able to learn about new initiatives taking place and I’m excited to take some of these ideas home with me.”

 

The workshop also included sessions on community-based play activities and awareness raising about the importance of reading with children from an early age. Each country’s participants also worked through their own program objectives and outlined a plan for moving forward and introducing initiatives such as sounding out words, policy changes and promoting an increased focus on learning during a child’s first years of life. “Birth to 5 are some of the most important years of a child’s life. What happens then can influence a child’s physical, mental and cognitive development, and later on their learning outcomes, career prospects and life-span,” said Binh Vu, Senior Education Specialist at the World Bank. “PEARL works across the Pacific to share knowledge and support countries implement school readiness and early grade reading that works best in each country’s context.”  

 

The PEARL program works with Pacific Island countries to improve child readiness and learning, as well as teacher training for the early years of school. In Tonga, the program is supporting communities to organize play-based activities so children are better prepared for school, while helping teachers improve the learning outcomes of their students in the first grades of primary education. Recently, an awareness campaign aimed at encouraging parents to spend 10 minutes each day reading with their very young children was rolled out across Tonga, which included a TV series and a song, Tu'o taha 'i he 'aho (Once a day). Radio talkback programs have had enthusiastic participation from parents and teachers, and nearly 80% of parents in the main islands of Tonga have engaged with the campaign. PEARL is funded by the Global Partnership for Education and implemented by the World Bank. PEARL has two key goals: to support children to develop key skills that will be useful at school, and to help more children learn to read and write well in their first years of primary school, which has knock-on effects throughout their education.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 07/14/2017

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Forum Highlights New Technology and Financing for Future Energy

 

Officials from the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) countries, experts from international financial institutions, and private sector representatives gathered today for a 2-day forum in Astana to discuss financing and leapfrogging technologies for the region to tackle climate change. The second CAREC Energy Investment Forum, which seeks to increase investment in clean energy in the CAREC countries, is jointly organized by the Government of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Energy and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) within the framework of the EXPO 2017 international exhibition: Future Energy. “Central Asian economies identified energy infrastructure investment needs of $93 billion to 2023. The countries also face an urgent need to invest in climate-resilient infrastructure and clean energy sources. Close collaboration among the governments, development partners, and private sector is vital to mobilize resources and support green economic growth in the region,” said Sean O’Sullivan, ADB’s Director General for Central and West Asia.

 

The main topics that will be discussed at the Forum include how developing countries can lead the world to a fossil fuel free future by leapfrogging technologies, attract private sector financing for these projects, ways to innovative financing, vision for future of energy by multilateral donors, and credit enhancement options offered by export credit agencies and export-import banks. Participants will also share experiences on securing financing for energy projects, including renewable energy opportunities in Pakistan, solar manufacturing in Kazakhstan, and a case study from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on attracting investment through green financing platform.

 

The CAREC Program is a partnership of 11 countries — Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the PRC, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — supported by 6 multilateral institutions, working together to promote development through cooperation. CAREC helps Central Asia and its neighbors realize their significant potential by promoting regional cooperation in four priority areas: transport, trade facilitation, energy, and trade policy. ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2016, ADB assistance totaled $31.7 billion, including $14 billion in cofinancing.

From https://www.adb.org/ 07/18/2017

 

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APEC Fosters Climate Change-Fighting Buildings

 

The spiking environmental and economic costs of energy inefficient homes and offices, exacerbated by soaring temperatures and cooling needs, are prompting new action in APEC to break ground on next generation building development.Buildings account for about a third of energy use and a fifth of energy-related carbon emissions globally. With 80 per cent of the APEC region’s 3 billion people forecast to live and work in cities in the next 30 years, the consequences of inefficient buildings will only grow in significance—raising energy costs for consumers and tripling building emissions by 2050.“The Asia-Pacific is leading the way when it comes to building construction but energy efficiency standards are not keeping pace,” explained Dr Jyuung-Shiauu Chern, Lead Shepherd of the APEC Energy Working Group. “Overall, we’re most concerned about increasing demand for cooling linked to rising temperatures and rapid development in the region.”“We are taking new steps in APEC to help our member economies optimize local building codes needed to phase in more energy efficient projects,” continued Dr Chern, who is also Chief of Energy Affairs at Chinese Taipei’s Energy Bureau. “Improving these codes will ultimately reduce energy costs for residents and businesses while tackling emissions to fight climate change.”

 

Energy consumption in buildings in developed economies is in many cases needlessly inefficient and wasteful due to continued use of outdated technologies and standards, according to APEC energy officials and sustainable building experts from the private sector who convened in Singapore to lay the groundwork for performance improvements. Adding to concerns is the fact that building projects in developing economies are largely following suit.“There is a correlation between energy demand and economic growth, and increasing floor area and energy demand,” said Prof Peter Graham, Executive Director of the Global Buildings Performance Network and Deputy Director of the Centre for Urban Transitions at Swinburne University. “Significant changes within the building sector are urgently needed and require bridging knowledge gaps and aggressive policy measures.”APEC is enabling public-private collaboration to assess building efficiency challenges and facilitate technical solutions to curb energy demand growth rates as quickly as possible. This includes identifying areas of agreement on energy efficiency and energy requirements in building codes, and supporting their deployment across the region.

 

“The building sector is very fragmented and the majority of construction activity is being conducted by small to medium enterprises,” noted Prof Graham. “Building codes can be innovation platforms to raise the minimum performance requirements of an industry that has very little time or capacity to innovate.”“These businesses are mainly small companies that don’t have huge R&D or training budgets. They have to be on the job to make money,” Prof Graham added. “By adopting best practices in building code development, we can signal in advance where new performance requirements will be set. We are then able to educate and prepare them to meet higher efficiency standards,” he concluded.Energy officials from APEC member economies will meet in Jakarta in August to take next steps to enhance commercial building energy performance and in Honolulu in September to boost nearly zero energy building development.

From https://www.apec.org/ 07/21/2017

 

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CHINA: Important AI Professionals' Destination - Report

                        

Over 50,000 AI professionals in China were registered on LinkedIn at the end of Q1, seventh globally, according to the survey by the social networking website with a total of over 1.9 million registered AI professionals. The United States has the largest number at over 850,000, most of whom are software or hardware developers. China's AI professionals focus more on technology and applications, said a report based on the survey. Some Chinese AI professionals working overseas have chosen to return to China, especially from the United States, according to the report. China has growing appeal for them thanks to its Internet penetration, huge data pool, diverse application scenarios and capital support, according to Wang Di, head of engineering with LinkedIn China. LinkedIn began to help Chinese firms recruit AI professionals overseas in 2016 and has supported firms including Baidu and Didi to recruit from the United States, attracting over 500 AI technicians from overseas.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/06/2017

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China Wraps Up Combustible Ice Mining Trial, Setting World Records

                        

China on Sunday completed a 60-day trial of mining gas hydrates, commonly known as combustible ice, in the South China Sea, marking breakthroughs in human's search for alternative clean energy sources. Started from May 10, the mining operation in waters near the Pearl River estuary has beaten previous expectations and set world records in both the length and total amount of extraction, according to the China Geological Survey Bureau. The trial exploration produced over 300,000 cubic meters of gas - mainly methane, with an average daily extraction of more than 5,000 cubic meters of high purity gas, and a highest daily output of 35,000 cubic meters, said the bureau. Meanwhile, 6.47 million sets of experimental data were recorded. China declared its first success in collecting samples of combustible ice in the South China Sea on May 18, which usually exists in seabed or tundra areas with the strong pressure and low temperature necessary for its stability.

 

The substance can be ignited like solid ethanol, which is why it is called combustible or flammable ice. One cubic meter of combustible ice, a kind of natural gas hydrate, is equal to 164 cubic meters of regular natural gas. China Geological Survey Bureau's deputy director Li Jinfa said combustible ice will play a vital part in China's energy security and economic development. "It is considered a strategic alternative to oil and natural gas in the future," Li said. "Not just China, the world at large sets eyes on it." He said other countries like Japan had also begun mining combustible ice, but operations were suspended due to a significant amount of sand entering the production wells. Chinese scientists this time invented a new technique to prevent sand from disrupting the exploration. Other adjustments were also made to ensure commercial explorations.

 

Environmental tests showed that there were no methane leaks. Neither did geological hazards occur. China began research in combustible ice in 1998. The latest exploration showcased a number of breakthroughs. "China is leading the world in combustible ice exploration, whether it is about theory, techniques, machinery, or engineering," said Ye Jianliang, director of Guangzhou Marine Geological Bureau. "The trial will have a big impact on the world's energy sector," he said. Li said his bureau will double the efforts on research to prepare for combustible ice's commercial production, with emphasis on ocean ecology protection and "green" exploitation of the new energy. Regulations on exploitation management and industrial policy are also being drawn up.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/09/2017

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Chinese Embrace Science and Technology Achievements

                        

Chinese have been inspired by recent landmark achievements in science and technology that have increased convenience in everyday life and boosted the national economy. Lian Yawen, 22, is excited about a new high speed railway linking the city of Baoji in northwest China's Shaanxi Province with Lanzhou, capital of neighboring Gansu Province, which began operating Sunday. As a Lanzhou native, Lian travels to Beijing for college, and the new high-speed train has reduced her journey from 20 hours to just nine. "The new high-speed railway really makes a difference to my life," said Lian. The 401-kilometer Baoji-Lanzhou high-speed railway has operating speed of 250 km per hour. Construction began in 2012 on the route that opens up northwest China's Gansu and Qinghai provinces as well as Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which are now connected to the national high-speed rail network. The new railway line is also part of China's efforts to boost connectivity along the Belt and Road, where transportation demand is surging as regional ties and cooperation continue to strengthen. Over the weekend, Chinese also expressed expectation online for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which will open at the end of the year.

 

The bridge will slash travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai from three hours to just 30 minutes, further integrating cities in the Pearl River Delta. The main structure of the bridge was completed on July 7, and electric vehicle charging stations will be built on an artificial island off the bridge, according to local authorities. In an effort to connect Beijing and Xiongan New Area, which was established in April, high-speed trains started running between Beijing and the city of Baoding, near the proposed area, on July 6. A one-way 190-km trip takes 80 minutes. "In the past when I returned home to Baoding from Beijing, I had to transfer in Tianjin," said Wei Xian, a passenger who travels between the two cities weekly. "Now with direct trains, it will be much easier." Located some 100 km southwest of downtown Beijing, Xiongan will cover Hebei's Xiongxian, Rongcheng, and Anxin counties.

 

China Global Television Network (CGTN) Monday triggered discussion online with reports of Beijing-based biotech company Sinogene's announcement that they had created a genetically-engineered cloned dog. On CGTN's account on WeChat, the country's leading social network, one commenter wrote "This is naturally seen as progress in biological science, but we must be cautious as we still know very little about what we are playing with." China has always prided itself on innovation and the best is yet to come. The completion of a 60-day trial in mining gas hydrates, commonly known as combustible ice, in the South China Sea, marked breakthroughs in the search for alternative clean energy sources. "Combustible ice is considered a strategic alternative to oil and natural gas," China Geological Survey Bureau's deputy director Li Jinfa said.

 

"Not just China, but the whole world is looking towards it." The ARJ21, China's first domestic regional jet, began commercial operations in June 2016 and has just won approval to be mass produced. A project to create 50,000 tonnes of high purity silicon and its supporting new energy began in southwest China's Sichuan Province recently. It is expected to relieve China's heavy dependance on imported polycrystalline silicon, which is used primarily in producing products for the photovoltaic industry including silicon chips and battery pieces and packs. China has set innovation as the core of its 13th five-year plan (2016-2020), with the aims to become an "innovation nation" by 2020, an international leader in innovation by 2030, and a world powerhouse in scientific and technological innovation by 2050. Such efforts will help the country improve the convenience of transport, raise the standard of living, resolve a shortage in energy resources, and boost economic development.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/10/2017

 

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China to Further Promote Innovation, Entrepreneurship

                        

China will go further on innovation-driven development and entrepreneurship, with more policy incentives to entrepreneurship from overseas. A guideline is approved at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday to further enhance the support for innovation and entrepreneurship. China will establish an integrated digital business license registry, and enable one-stop registration for foreign enterprises and their domestic counterparts within a given timeframe for due procedures. The government will simplify procedures of work and residential permit application for high-calibre foreign talents, and pilot integrated service in housing, schooling and medical care. Overseas students in China who start new businesses can also apply for residential permit with their diplomas. "Mass entrepreneurship and innovation has been an effective driver for both economic growth and the consistent transition between traditional and new growth engines. It has also significantly contributed to creation of new jobs and increase in income," Li said.

 

The push for mass entrepreneurship and innovation was first put forward by the premier during the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2014 in Tianjin. Statistics by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce shows that the country saw the registration of more than 13 million new enterprises between March 2014 and February 2017, 94.6 percent of which are in the private sector, adding an average of 15,600 new enterprises on a daily basis in the first five months of this year, giving employment a major boost. The country will also put in place programs to support Chinese students overseas to return for business startups and innovation, and enable overseas Chinese entrepreneurs, including those from Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, enjoy the same public services as local residents, according to the guideline. More efforts will go to the protection of intellectual property rights, while invigorating technology markets and explore a mechanism that can ensure timely commercialization of research findings with fiscal support in some areas.

 

The country will also expand the funding channels for enterprises, including measures to enhance the credit support and relevant services and reform on rules for state capital to take part in venture capital investment, according to the guideline. The upgrading of the real economy will get a boost from enhancing the development of innovation and entrepreneurship platforms, the sharing economy and the development of digital economy. The development of industrial Internet and advanced manufacturing and the land use for innovation and entrepreneurship purposes will be given priorities. "We should keep promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, and give full play to the initiative and creativity of the public. The R&D outcomes should be put to full use so that we can better draw on the wisdom of the public," Li said. "The internal strength of the new growth drivers should be fully converged into new growth engines of the Chinese economy," he added. The State Council executive meeting on June 7 decided to set up more high-level demonstration bases for mass entrepreneurship and innovation covering all provincial-level areas.

 

The country established 28 such zones last year, playing a pivotal role in helping the transformation and upgrading of local economy, the China Association for Science and Technology said in a report. The government will also innovate its ways of administration to further promote fair competition, step up prudent and tolerating oversight, widen market access, improve tax services and create an enabling environment for entrepreneurship and innovation. Li said the country need to ensure that different policies can be fully implemented. Entrepreneurship and innovation within major enterprises is of great significance as it gives rise to customized production and a change in production organization, he said. It also enables them to better adapt to the personalized demand in the information age, the premier added.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/12/2017

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China Leads Global Efforts in Clean Energy Expansion

                        

As the development of clean energy hit new records, China, the world's largest energy investor and innovation center, has made stronger-than-expected efforts to accelerate the process.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), on Tuesday lauded China's efforts in the research and development of clean energy, saying "China takes once again the leadership."

 

CHINA'S CONTRIBUTION

On Sunday, China completed in the South China Sea a 60-day trial of mining gas hydrates, commonly known as combustible ice, marking a breakthrough in the search for alternative clean energy resources. It was announced that the exploration produced over 300,000 cubic meters of gas, mainly methane, with an average daily extraction of more than 5,000 cubic meters of high-purity gas, and a highest daily output of 35,000 cubic meters. China began its research on combustible ice in 1998, as one cubic meter of combustible ice, a kind of natural gas hydrate, equals 164 cubic meters of regular natural gas. "What we are seeing is that the natural gas industry is in transformation," Birol said. "We are seeing more and more unconventional gas being part of the total gas mix."

 

The IEA said Tuesday in its report at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress held in Istanbul that as the world's largest energy investor, China saw a 25 percent decline in coal-fired power investment last year and is increasingly driven by clean electricity generation and networks, as well as energy efficiency investment. The agency expects China to overtake Europe within a few years in terms of energy-efficiency investment, as the Asian country has replaced Japan as the world's top investor on energy research and development as a share of the GDP. Meanwhile, a BP report said China has topped the world in renewable energy production. "China continued to dominate renewables growth, contributing about 40 percent of global growth -- more than the entire OECD (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) -- and surpassed the United States as the largest producer of renewable power last year," BP chief economist Spencer Dale said in the report.

 

Global hydro power rose 2.8 percent in 2016 from a year ago, with more than 40 percent of growth from China, according to the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy released Monday. In the meantime, global nuclear power went up by 1.3 percent, or 9.3 million tons of oil equivalent, with China contributing almost all the growth, the report said. The BP data showed carbon emissions in the world rose slightly by 0.1 percent in 2016, while in China, the emissions fell 0.7 percent from a year ago. "China's carbon emissions are estimated to have actually fallen over the past two years, after growing by more than 75 percent in the previous 10 years, and some of the improvements reflect structural factors that are likely to persist," Dale said. "Today China is number one in terms of the wind, number one in terms of the solar and number one in terms of the energy-efficiency effort as well as in nuclear power," Birol told Xinhua.

 

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT

Energy investment around the world amounted to 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016, accounting for 2.2 percent of global GDP, the IEA report said, noting that spending on the electricity sector worldwide exceeded the combined spending on oil, gas and coal supply for the first time. "The share of clean-energy spending reached 43 percent of total supply investment, a record high," the report said. The spending on energy declined for the second year in a row, as increased spending on energy efficiency and electricity networks was more than offset by a continued drop in upstream oil and gas spending, it added. "Our analysis shows that smart investment decisions are more critical than ever for maintaining energy security and meeting environmental goals," Birol said in the report.

 

"As the oil and gas industry refocuses on shorter-cycle projects, the need for policymakers to keep an eye on the long-term adequacy of supply is more important," he said. The report expects global upstream oil and gas investment to stabilize in 2017. "However, an upswing in U.S. shale spending contrasts with stagnation in the rest of the world, signaling a two-speed oil market," it noted. "At the same time, the oil and gas industry overall is transforming itself by delivering large cost savings and focusing more on technology development and efficient project execution," the report said.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/12/2017

 

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Senior Official Stresses Use of Big Data, AI in Policing

                        

A senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official has called on the country's police force to make full use of big data technology and artificial intelligence (AI). Meng Jianzhu, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks during a two-day inspection in southwest China's Guizhou Province, which concluded Wednesday. Guizhou has been a pioneer of the application of big data technology in various sectors including police work. Meng asked public security authorities nationwide to improve coordination and innovate case investigations and command system to curb new types of crimes and trans-regional crimes. He also urged increased efforts on social management and judicial reforms to create a sound social environment for the 19th CPC National Congress scheduled for later this year. In a separate occasion, Chief Justice Zhou Qiang also called for development of big data applications in the country's court system.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/13/2017

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China Stresses Work Safety, Flood Control

                        

Chinese officials Thursday urged increased efforts in work safety supervision and the prevention of floods during rainy season. China will continue to carry out nationwide inspections on workplace safety to prevent major accidents, according to a video and telephone conference held by the Work Safety Committee of the State Council. Vice Premier Ma Kai attended the conference. While progress has been made in improving work safety, frequent tragedies still occur and there are safety hazards which officials should focus more closely on, according to the meeting. Ahead of the rainy season, local authorities should implement measures to guard against flood risks and prevent accidents caused by natural disasters, the meeting stressed. In a separate meeting Thursday, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters also called for measures to cope with heavy rain, especially in the country's northern regions. Coordinated efforts should be made to ensure accurate forecasting of strong rainstorms, providing support for flood relief measures, it said.                     

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/20/2017

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Chinese Bike-sharing Pioneers Go Global

                        

Ofo and Mobike, China's two largest bike-sharing companies, have sought global expansion and spread smart-commuting to more cities in the world. Ofo has branched out to 150 cities and registered 2 billion journeys so far. It has spread its service out of China to the United States, Britain, Singapore and Kazakhstan, the company told Xinhua. Company founder Zhang Siding said he planned to expand to 20 countries by the end of the year. "Our trial run in some overseas cities went rather well. Many communities, for example in Cambridge in Britain, were found to be satisfied with the performance of the bikes," Zhang told Xinhua in an interview. Since Ofo launched its service in Singapore in February, users have reached 100,000, and daily orders are at 20,000, he said. "The bike is like a globally recognized language.

 

Shared bikes represent freedom and convenience in riding, which is what many people need, not only in China but also globally," he said. Ofo's arch-rival Mobike has also joined the race for global expansion. Mobike has reached 100 cities globally, including Manchester and Salford. Founder Hu Weiwei has huge ambitions to expand its service to 200 cities in 2017. The company said its services were now available in Singapore, Britain and Japan. Mobike has set up a company in Japan to oversee business there, Hu said. "Mobike has put 1,000 smart bikes in Manchester and Salford in Britain, and will increase its volume in the future," Hu said. In Manchester, a deposit for the bikes is 49 pounds and fully refundable. Usage is charged at 50 pence per 30 minutes. Using specially designed bikes equipped with GPS and proprietary smart-lock technology, Mobike enables users of its smartphone app to find a bike near them, reserve and unlock it.

 

After reaching their destination, the user parks the bike by the roadside and locks it, automatically making the bike available to the next rider. Steve Pyer, Mobike's manager in Britain, said Manchester would be a window to show the changes that bicycles can bring to a city and to see how city planners can benefit from data generated by smart cycling. He said Mobike was discussing business with many cities in Europe. "Chinese companies make smart and cool bikes, and now is a good time to promote cycling culture globally with the support of mobile technology," said Hu. "When developing the overseas market, the most important thing to do is to gain understanding from the government and persuade them not to put a ban on the cycling model," said Ofo's Zhang. "In the overseas market, we usually start tests in a small area to fully understand user habits, and obtain trust and support from government supervisors." Both companies have devised individualized services for different cities.

 

"Ofo makes modifications in the size of bike frames and lights, and arranges additional sockets for drinking bottles," Zhang said. Some countries require riders to wear helmets, and the companies need to properly warn their users before they use the bikes. As bike-sharing pioneers, both companies said there was no existing model to copy and they must address challenges as they meet them. To prevent bikes from being stolen, Mobike uses a customized design for bicycle parts and installs GPS positioning device. "Mobike is a Chinese brand. Going out to other countries, we should optimize service to the best of our abilities, by fully understanding local transportation and traffic rules, user habits and needs," Hu said. "We also work closely with traffic supervisors to improve operations, and minimize hindrance to pedestrians."                    

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/21/2017

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China Establishes Green Manufacturing Alliance

                        

A green manufacturing alliance was inaugurated Saturday to better support the country's green and sustainable development, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). Led by the ministry, members of the Green Manufacturing Association of China (GMAC) are from China's leading scientific research institutions and manufacturing enterprises, covering such industries as iron and steel, building material, energy, textile and finance. More than 400 representatives from multinational enterprises, international institutions and foreign embassies attended the inauguration ceremony. "China should eliminate backward production capacity with high energy consumption and high pollution and stick to the path of sustainable development," said Xin Guobin, vice minister of the MIIT. According to the ministry, the alliance will serve as a platform for China's green manufacturing businesses to cooperate with financial institutions and multinational enterprises.                    

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/22/2017

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High Costs Challenge China's Agricultural Competitiveness: Report

                        

High costs in grain production are posing challenges to China's agricultural competitiveness, a report said. Rapidly-growing labor and land costs have boosted prices of homegrown farm produce to levels near or even higher than imported grain, according to a report by the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The report said domestic agri-businesses are losing ground while products from their foreign peers are securing more market shares. The combined costs per mu (around 0.07 hectare) of rice, wheat and corn hit 1,090 yuan (more than 160 U.S. dollars) in 2015, 2.27 times that of 2007. Also weighed on by rising costs, many producers of industrial crops ranging from soybeans to rapeseeds have suffered from losses or falling profit margins. The report said the phenomenon has pointed to the low efficiency of China's agricultural operations, calling for efforts to promote mechanization and improve rural governance. As the world's major grain producer and importer, China is striving to modernize its agriculture, with supply-side structural reform to enhance quality and efficiency.                    

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/22/2017

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China to Reform State Assets Management System

                        

China will make its state assets management system more flexible and balanced, the country's state assets supervising authority said Monday. Authorities will continue to improve the existing state assets management system with a view to preserving and increasing the assets value, according to a statement on the website of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC). Efforts will be made to unleash the vitality of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and while safeguarding state asset security, said the statement. It also underscored Party leadership in SOE management, saying this would ensure the reform follow the correct political direction. With specific goals and a clear timetable, China is determined to improve the efficiency of SOEs this year. The country will have completely restructured SOEs by the end of this year, according to the 36th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform.

 

According to the SASAC, over 90 percent of subsidiaries of central SOEs and enterprises supervised by provincial-level state asset regulators had already been restructured by the end of 2016. China has 102 central SOEs, which manage the bulk of the country's state assets. But their monopolies in many sectors shut out smaller market entities and lead to low efficiency and poor service. Mixed-ownership reform appears to be the most significant means to improve the efficiency of central SOEs. The reform is taking off in the second half of the year.                    

From http://www.news.cn/ 07/24/2017

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Modern China's Innovations Set to Shape the World

                        

Ancient China boasts four era-defining inventions -- papermaking, printing, gunpowder and the compass -- that fundamentally changed human history. Over past four decades, the Middle Kingdom has been largely known as the world's factory floor, as cheap labor fueled its breath-taking economic growth and sold made-in-China products to every corner of the world. But those who believe China will remain the world's factory floor and "steal" jobs may need to think twice. In the last five years, the pace of innovation across China has notably sped up. The nation's creativity is leading the world once again. What follows are just a few of China's recent innovations:

 

SHARING ECONOMY

"China used to copy the Silicon Valley, but now Silicon Valley copies China," said Li Le, who runs Zhubaijia, the Chinese version of Airbnb. Zhubaijia started the practice of combing homestays with travel services, a business model that Airbnb soon followed. But the real stars in the sector are bike-sharing companies. Orange or yellow two wheelers first appeared on China's streets in 2015 when the two bike-sharing companies Mobike and Ofo were established. Now more than 50 bike-sharing startups run a total of 15 million bikes in China, according to Shanghai Bicycle Association. Mobike and Ofo each have 100 million registered users and more than 5 million bikes in 100 cities worldwide, with more than 20 million completed rides every day. By the end of this year, they expect to reach at least 200 cities worldwide. Eager investors from China and abroad have injected 600 million and 700 million U.S. dollars respectively into the two companies this year. The market value of Mobike has reached 3 billion dollars. The bike-sharing sector is the epitome of China's booming sharing economy, which saw deals worth some 3.45 trillion yuan (512 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016, according to a report released by the Sharing Economy Research Center under the State Information Center.

 

MOBILE WALLET

The Chinese began using e-wallets amid an online shopping craze about a decade ago. Today, technological advancement has enabled China to lead the way as an emerging cashless society. The Chinese now use their phones to buy food, pay bills, ride buses, invest in stocks, purchase insurance