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December 2017, Issue 193

unpan-ap@sass.org.cn

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Mapping the World’s Wind Energy Potential

Privacy International's New Cybersecurity Framework

World Bank Pilot Auction Facility Unlocks Capital Markets for Climate Action

APEC to Detail Next Steps for Trade in 2018

New Policy Approach Needed for East Asia and Pacific to Achieve Inclusive Growth

Officials Preview APEC’s Digital Development, Inclusion Targets

 

 

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CHINA: Must Accelerate Implementation of Big Data Strategy

China Stresses Modern Agriculture Development

China's Steady Economic Growth Creates Room for Policy Maneuver

China to Fight Major Risks, Poverty, Pollution in Next 3 Years

China to Address "Public's Well-Being"

China Adjusts Rules as Beijing Opens Wider to Foreign Investment

China's Top Legislature Starts Bi-monthly Session, Supervision Law on Agenda

Draft Law Highlights Int'l Cooperation in Hunting Corrupt Fugitives

Reform, Opening up and Risk Control--China's Bit to Stabilize Global Growth

China to Adapt Policies to Housing Needs: Official

JAPAN: Govt Focuses on Improving Relations with China

Gov't Draws Up Y2 Tril Package for Education, Child-Care Support

Innovative Efforts Needed to Embody Goals in New Economic Policy Package

Properly Discuss ‘Stipulating SDF’ in Top Law to Gain Public Understanding

SOUTH KOREA: Unveiling Measures to Tame Cryptocurrencies

Korea to Embrace Next Key Technology Trends for Growth

 

 

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INDONESIA: All Cities and Regencies to Get 4G Network in 2019

All Papuan Villages to Receive Electricity in 2018

CAMBODIA: Targets Digital Economy by 2023

MYANMAR: Strives for Malaria-Free Country by 2030

Myanmar to Introduce New Companies Law Next Year

Myanmar's VP Calls for Legal Protection to Migrant Workers

PHILIPPINES: Privacy Regulator Says Local Users Affected by Uber Data Breach

Philippines' Duterte Signs Tax Reform Pact into Law

THAILAND: Utility Bills Next in Line for Welfare Subsidies

VIETNAM: President Urges Action on Child Care

New Resolution an Action Plan to Advance Corruption Fight

HCM City Issues New Land Division Regulations

E-Visa Programme Proves Huge Success

Law on Exhibition Okayed as NA Sets Date for Next Sitting in 2018

 

 

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INDIA: Government Plans Revamping of Special Economic Zones

Prime Minister Inaugurates Hydropower Project in Mizoram

Inter-State E-way Bill Compulsary from 1st June, 2018

UP Govt to Formulate Separate Cybercrime Law

 

 

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AZERBAIJAN: To Join WIPO Patent Law Treaty

ADB to Develop New Strategy for Azerbaijan

TURKEY: To Adopt New Law on Cybersecurity – Ministry

UZBEKISTAN: Intends to Abolish Individual Incentives for Certain Economic Entities

39 Standard Contracts Launched at Uzbek Commodity Exchange

Administrative Procedures Act Approved in Uzbekistan

 

 

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AUSTRALIA: Draft Newcastle Metro Plan Released

Govt Launches Endometriosis Action Plan

Live Sport Gambling Ad Limits from March 2018

New Terror Financing Laws Pass Senate

PM Introduces Draft Home Affairs Legislation

Australia Drops Plans to Charge Kiwis More for Tertiary Education

Digital Sourcing in ACCC's Sights over Suspected Consumer Law Breach

NEW ZEALAND: PM Rejects Criticism of Student Allowance Policy

National Standards Ditched by Government

Copyright Law Confirmed for an Overhaul

eDay Trust Wants Government Ewaste Action

Govt Unveils Medicinal Cannabis Legislation

 

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Call for Comments on Reforms to the Global Audit Standard-Setting Process

How National Governments Can Help Smart Cities Succeed

Disrupting Democracy

Digital Rights Are Human Rights

 

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CHINA: Will Intensify SOE Reform to Boost Quality and Efficiency

China Encourages Enterprises to Cooperate with Educational Institutions

China Stresses "Fair, Transparent, Predictable" Legal Environment for Business

CPC Targets Corruption in Poverty Alleviation Projects

China Improves Entry-exit Service

SOUTH KOREA: To Form New Body for Discussing Fair IT Policy Direction

 

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MALAYSIA: PM Urges Ruling Party to Gear Up for Polls

SINGAPORE: New Senior Judge Appointed to Supreme Court

THAILAND: New Cabinet Set for Oath of Office

Apply Wide Definition of ‘Security’ in Governing, King Tells New Cabinet

VIETNAM: PM Agrees to 1% Salary Rise

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INDIA: Upendra Prasad Singh Takes over as Union Water Resources Secretary

24X7 Power Is a Fundamental Right of the Citizen: Union Power Minister

Hindi E-mail IDs to Improve E-governance in Rajasthan

Major Reshuffle in Odisha Administration

Citizens Playing Key Role in Aligarh Development

Better Urban Governance Require Enhanced and Active Citizen Participation

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Another Adviser of Azerbaijani Taxes Minister Appointed

UZBEKISTAN: ‘Safe Tourism’ System to Be Introduced

New Ministry to Be Created in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan Makes Changes to Employment Procedures

 

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AUSTRALIA: Government Announces 5G Working Group Members

NEW ZEALAND: No Pay Cut to Top Public Servants' Existing Salaries

Curran to Create Digital Economy Advisory Group

Lack of Staff, Funding Leads Dunedin Social Service to Ruin

Applications Open for ‘Critical Role’ of Government CTO

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New Aesthetics and Discourses of Resistance

These Are the 25 Most High-Tech Cities in the World

World Bank Announces Settlement with Oberthur Technologies SA

How the Internet of Things Can Prepare Cities for Natural Disasters

World Bank Approves Credit to Support Livestock Development

Statement by Drago Kos, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery

World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) Receives a Royal Award for Innovations in Reducing Traffic Fatalities

The ISOC Feasibility Study: Will the Internet Society Find Its Way?

Analyses of a Connected Youth

 

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CHINA: Xi Welcomes Countries to Ride Fast Train of Internet, Digital Economy

China Now a Major Player in Digital Technology: Report

China to Further Promote Government Information Sharing and Disclosure

President Xi Urges Innovation in Manufacturing Sector

China to Improve Mechanisms for High-quality Development

China to Ease Market Access Controls on Foreign Investment

Innovation Contributes More to China's Growth: Official

JAPAN: Enhance Technology Created, Including Quantum Computers

Japan to Join Lunar Probe Project in Chance to Burnish Space Technology

Japan’s Robots Stepping Up to Fill Worst Labor Shortage in 40 Years

Govt to Develop Stadium Evacuation App

Scrutinize Profitability of Public Works Projects to Avoid Wasteful Spending

Revising Medical, Nursing Care Fees Should Make Services More Efficient

SOUTH KOREA: Ranking No. 7 in Per Capita Mobile Data Usage Last Year - Report

Korea to Use AI to Better Combat Money Laundering

Korea to Start Digitizing Hospital Prescription Forms Next Year

Korea to Shift Toward Renewable Energy, Natural Gas

SKT, KT's 5G Technology Selected as Korean Standards

Gov't Mulls Introducing Punitive Damages to Tech Extortion

S. Korea Has Third Most Patents on Artificial Intelligence After US, Japan

 

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INDONESIA: Toll Road Agency to Pilot New Tollgate Payment System in Early 2018

PHILIPPINES: Duterte Brings Back Police in His Anti-Drug War

THAILAND: Government Pledges Greater Effort on Road Safety

VIETNAM: ĐÀ Nẵng Fines Polluting Project Owner

Vocational Training for Rural Labourers to Centre on Businesses’ Needs

Digital Banking Needs Framework

Officials Fined for Management Failures

 

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INDIA: Nashik Gets Future-ready with Advanced Technologies 

ASSOCHAM Ranks Odisha as No 1 in Investment Implementation Rate

Smart Tourism Practices Delved upon at National Tourism Conclave in Chandigarh

Atos Strengthens Presence in Secure Communications with Orange Cyberdefense

Polycom Providing Innovative ICT Solutions in Education

Tech-led Transformation of Traffic Management in Karnataka

Aligarh Leveraging ‘Indigenous Technology’ in Smart Cities Mission

Government for Big Overhaul of Airports with UDAN

West Bengal Taking Giant Strides in Adopting Technology

 

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AZERBAIJAN: To Hold Innovative Contest Annually

TURKEY: To Strengthen Positions in Developing New Technologies

UZBEKISTAN: To Hold Population Census Every 10 Years

 

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ADB to Help Strengthen Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu's Resilience to Disasters

AUSTRALIA: Government's Recklessness with Medical Data Is Symptom of Deeper Problems

NEW ZEALAND: Govt Moves Towards Banning Microbeads

Govt Inquiry into Country's Fuel Supply

Govt Unveils $9.5m Package to Tackle Teacher Shortage

Govt Should Help with Toxic Waste Cleanup - Gore Mayor

Ministry for Primary Industries Reprimanded over OIA

Action Needed to Address Growing Digital Skills Shortage

Govt Ups Efforts to Battle Kauri Dieback

Report into Electrocution Initiates Call for Safety Devices

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The Digital Revolution Is Not (Only) the Fourth Industrial Revolution

G20 Merchandise Trade Growth Accelerates to Highest Pace in Six Years

The Inconvenient Truth About Smart Cities

Pensions Reforms Have Slowed in OECD Countries but Need to Continue

Wild Fisheries Landings Decline While Aquaculture Surges

More Efforts Needed to Help Children from Disadvantaged Families Succeed

World Bank and WHO: Half the World Lacks Access to Essential Health Services, 100 Million Still Pushed into Extreme Poverty Because of Health Expenses

How Data and Cities Can Shape the Future of Mobility

How to Create a Smart City with IoT and Big Data

UNICEF Highlights Child Online Safety at World Internet Conference

The City Taking the Commons to Heart

Media Activism in the Digital Age

 

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CHINA: Sharing Vision for Bridging Digital Divide

China Counting Down to 5G Commercialization

China, Canada Finish Feasibility Study on Free Trade Agreement

China Moves to Boost 3D Printing

China Reports Increase in Foreign Direct Investment

China's Fixed-asset Investment Growth Eases Further

Quarter of Chinese Villages Have E-commerce Distribution Sites

Xi Steers Chinese Economy Toward High-quality Development

China to Boost Imports for Balanced Trade

Chinese SOEs Maintain Double-digit Profit Growth

Beijing Property Prices Remain Stable

China Can Double 2010 GDP with 6.3-pct Growth in 2018-2020

SOUTH KOREA: ICT Ministry to Construct SW Job Models

Govt. to Pump in W2.2tr Through 2022 for 4th Industrial Revolution

State Pension Fund to Adopt 'Stewardship Code': Welfare Minister

‘Fever Coach’ Eyes Data-Driven Flu Forecasting

Naver CEO Pledges to Improve Communication Between IT Sector, Government

Korea’s Internet Business Body Regrets US Decision to Kill Net Neutrality

Korea Files Third-Largest Number of AI Patents in the World

 

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INDONESIA: President Urges Youths to Expand Entrepreneurship Through Digital Economy

PHILIPPINES: Government's Infrastructure Expenditure Increases 17.8 Pct in October

SINGAPORE: More Youth Tends to Postpone Entry into Labor Force

'We Were Just Lucky': Cybersecurity Chief on Attacks in Singapore in 2017

Getting Singapore’s Rail Network Back on Track in 2018

THAILAND: Experiences Jobless Recovery

Opportunities Open Up for People with Disabilities

VIETNAM: Smartphone Users Cover 84% of VN Population

Agriculture Urged to Automatise with IoT

PM Requests Active Preparation for Key Socio-Economic Tasks in 2018

Vietnam's E-Commerce Market Grows 35 Pct Annually

 

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INDIA: By 2022, Metro Cities to Be Interconnected by High Speed Trains 

e-Payment of Road Tax in Haryana

Nashik on Road to Development 

Transforming the Urban Transport in Pune

International Cargo Terminal at Paradip Port to Be Operational from February 

Now File Court Cases Online

Govt Gears Up to Thwart Cyber Attacks with NIC CERT

Sidhu Promises Better Tourism Infrastructure for Punjab

The Trust Factor for Digital Payments to Proliferate in India

In the World of Digital, a Sense of Direction Will Take You a Long Way

TRAI Net Neutrality Stance to Benefit Startup India, Digital India

Key Trends in the Indian Information Management Domain for 2018

Fortinet Predicts Highly Destructive and Self-learning “Swarm” Cyber Attacks in 2018

Reliance Jio to Boost Digital India with Eight Global Carriers

Governance 3.0-Satish Mugulavalli

Odisha Pacts with German Agency for Urban Infrastructure Development

The Next ‘Smart’ Destination of Maharashtra

Chhattisgarh’s Tryst with Digitisation

 

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AZERBAIJAN: SOCAR Considers Ensuring Cybersecurity of Industrial Facilities

Mobile Connection Worsens in Some Azerbaijani Districts

System of E-Signature Certificates’ Integration into New IDs to Be Presented in Baku

TASIM Is One of Largest Projects in Azerbaijan’s ICT Sphere: Minister

ICT Minister: Iran, Azerbaijan Capable of Co-Op in Startups Field

UN: Azerbaijan's GDP to Grow by Almost 2% in 2018

Minister Talks Safety of Social Networks' Users in Azerbaijan

Over 20 Baku Parks Covered by Free Wi-Fi

UZBEKISTAN: Number of Domain Names Registered in .UZ Domain Zone Grows

Obtaining E-Signature in Short Time to Be Possible in Uzbekistan

 

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AUSTRALIA: Penalty Rates Reversal Unlikely to Pass

Report Finds Water Prices Set to Double

The Government 'Does Not Need to Pull the Export Trigger'

Universities Critical to Productivity Says Universities Australia CEO

NEW ZEALAND: Driverless Cars Rollout Likely Slow Going – Report

Clean Water: 'It's the Communities That Have to Pay'

Number of Children in Poverty Dropping, but Still Severe – Report

Housing Need 'Not Going to Be Fixed Overnight'

NZ Has Always Dealt with Foreign Influence

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Participatory Budgeting: Does Evidence Match Enthusiasm?

Global Covenant of Mayors and World Bank Announce Partnership, Securing Billions in Technical and Financial Assistance for Cities Executing Aggressive Climate Action Programs

Government of Japan to Invest US$50 million in Global Financing Facility to Accelerate Progress on Universal Health Coverage

World Bank Approves Additional Financing for Post-Earthquake Housing Reconstruction

Smart Cities Will Save us $5 Trillion Per Year: But We Have to Build Them First

World Bank Supports Togo’s Efforts to Strengthen Fiscal Framework, Energy and ICT Services

Joint IDFC-MDB Statement: Together Major Development Finance Institutions Align Financial Flows with the Paris Agreement

Trade Lifting Developing Asia's Growth as ADB Upgrades GDP Forecast

ADB Bolsters Microfinance Program with $100 Million in Additional Financing

Ardshinbank Signs $25 Million Trade Finance Facility with Citi and ADB

 

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CHINA: Central Bank Defends Financial System Stability After IMF, World Bank Assessments

JAPAN: Take Long-Term Perspective to Win Over Public on Income Tax Reform

Fairer Revenue Allocation Needed for Local Consumption Tax Reform

BOJ to Continue Monetary Easing While Gauging Economic Effects

Local Government Finances Should Be Reformed with Eyes on Their Future

Coalition Tax System Reform Outline Result of Insufficient Consideration

FY2018 Budget to Total Record High Y97.7 Tril

BOJ Keeps Monetary Policy Steady

SOUTH KOREA: State Pension Fund Grows Sharply over 30 Years

Korea to Spend More on Public Homes, City Renovation Next Year

Govt. Set to Pay W16tr in Compensation for Land Expropriation in 2018: Report

 

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INDONESIA: Selling 4 Bln USD Global Bonds to Finance 2018 Budget

Government Cancels Plans to Double Village Fund in 2018

Govt Allocates Rp 4.5t to Subsidize Low-Income Mortgages in 2018

CAMBODIA: Angkor Earns Over 95 Mln USD from Ticket Sales in 11 Months

Improved Urban Planning Improves Life Quality, Offers Opportunities in Cambodian Capital: World Bank

PHILIPPINES: Duterte to Ease Foreign Capital Limits

SINGAPORE: Ministry of Finance Seeks Public Feedback on Budget 2018

VIETNAM: PM Approves VNĐ30 Trillion for Tourism Infrastructure in 2016-20

Traditional to Digital: New Wave in Retail Banking

NA Approves More Money to Shore Up Rice Reserves

 

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INDIA: First Post-GST Budget to Come on February 1 Next Year  

PayPhi Powers Cashless Payment for LPG Delivery   

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Volume of Off-Exchange Transactions Up

Azerbaijan Discloses November Inflation Rate

Azerbaijani Banks to Render Investment Services

Investment Bank to Appear in Azerbaijan

KYRGYZSTAN: Ratifying Deal with Uzbekistan on Tax Cooperation

UZBEKISTAN: Imposing Penalties for Officials of Tax and Financial Authorities

Uzbekistan Introduces New Procedure for Financing State Development Programs

 

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NEW ZEALAND: 2017 Budget to Tackle Poverty

Treasury Expects Higher Growth in Two Years

Ministry Demands Explainer over School Spending

ACC Claimants Losing Millions Under Tax System – Lawyer

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OECD Sees Global Economy Strengthening, but Says Further Policy Action Needed to Catalyse the Private Sector for Stronger and More Inclusive Growth

OECD Welcomes Outcome of Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity Ministerial

‘X-Ray Fashion’ Wins the Uniting for Climate Virtual Reality Pitch Competition

 

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CHINA: Alibaba Nominates 2,100 New Taobao Villages

Kenya, Chinese Firms Partner to Launch Faster, Cheaper Internet

China's Industrial Output Maintains Steady Growth in November

Internet Firms Zoom into Smart Vehicle Market

Small, Micro-sized Enterprises Get Most Attention from Banks: Survey

JAPAN: No Delay Should Be Allowed in Turning Agriculture into ‘Aggressive’ Industry

SOUTH KOREA: Biz Sentiment Gap Widens Between Conglomerates and SMEs - Data

Moon Vows All-Out Support for SMEs, New Businesses

Pres. Moon Gov't Will Place Small Bizs at Center of Economy

Pres. Moon Vows Cooperation for SMEs' Exports

Korea Aims to Become Global Player in Drone Sector by 2030

Venture Minister Hong to Meet SME Leaders over Wage Hike, Work-Hour Reduction

 

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INDONESIA: Jakarta Enterprises Must Implement E-Parking Systems Next Year

MYANMAR: Local Telecom Company to Trade on Yangon Stock Exchange Approved

MALAYSIA: Airasia Announces Senior Leadership Changes for Digital Transformation

SINGAPORE: Calls for Stronger Partnership Between Public, Private Healthcare Providers

More Mature Workers Joining Singapore's Healthcare Sector

Singaporean Company Agrees to Pay 420 Million-US Dollar Fine in Bribery Probes

VIETNAM: Nearly 11,000 New Firms Established in November

98% of HÀ Nội Enterprises Pay Taxes Online

Private Firms Contribute More to Vietnam's Economic Growth

Vietnam to Develop Private Sector into Economy's Important Impetus: PM

 

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INDIA: Cisco Takes over Cmpute.io to Boost Its Cloud Solutions

Alibaba Cloud Services to Begin in India in New Year

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Volume of Soft Loans Received by Entrepreneurs Revealed

Necessary to Attract Private Azerbaijani Companies to Mandatory Health Insurance – Expert

Reps of Int’l Organizations Ink Document to Support Azerbaijani Family Business Facilities

Business Licensing Services to Be Fully Integrated - Azerbaijani Deputy Minister

UZBEKISTAN: Over 60 Companies Become Residents of Innovation Center

Uzbek President Outlines Positive Changes in Healthcare Sector

Uzbekistan Committed to Improve Country’s Business Environment

 

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AUSTRALIA: Bureau of Statistics Ditches Cisco for Skype

TPG to Compensate Customers for Slow NBN

NEW ZEALAND: Electricity Companies Pushing Up Prices, Govt Told

Amazon Signals Intent to Take Down Google

Focus Softnet Opens in NZ, Via Franchisee

 

 

 

 

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Mapping the World’s Wind Energy Potential

 

The World Bank and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) today launched new Global Wind Atlas, a free web-based tool to help policymakers and investors identify promising areas for wind power generation, virtually anywhere in the world. It will also provide commercial developers with an easily accessible platform to compare resource potential between areas in one region or across countries. The new tool is based on the latest modeling technologies, which combine wind climate data with high-resolution terrain information—factors that can influence the wind, such as hills or valleys—and provides wind climate data at a 1km scale. This yields more reliable information on wind potential. The tool also provides access to high-resolution global and regional maps and geographic information system (GIS) data, enabling users to print poster maps and utilize the data in other applications. The Global Wind Atlas was unveiled at an event at the Wind Europe Conference in Amsterdam, following the successful launch of the Global Solar Atlas earlier in the year.

 

These tools will help governments assess their resource potential and understand how solar and wind can fit into their energy mix. An example of how good data can help boost renewable energy is Vietnam where solar maps from the Global Solar Atlas laid the groundwork for the installation of five solar measurement stations across the country. “There is great scope in many countries for the clean, low-cost power that wind provides, but they have been hampered by a lack of good data,” said Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director and Head of the World Bank’s Energy & Extractives Global Practice. “By providing high quality resource data at such a detailed level for free, we hope to mobilize more private investment for accelerating the scale-up of technologies like wind to meet urgent energy needs.” The work was funded by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), a multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank, in close partnership with DTU Wind Energy.

 

“The partnership between DTU Wind Energy and the World Bank allows us to reach a broader audience, especially in developing countries while remaining at the forefront of wind energy research. We are excited by the scientific advances that the new Global Wind Atlas incorporates, and look forward to seeing how this data can enable countries to advance wind projects,” said Peter Hauge Madsen, Head of DTU Wind Energy. While the data powering the Global Wind Atlas is the most recent and most accurate currently available, it is not fully validated in many developing countries due to the lack of ground-based measurement data from high precision meteorology masts and LiDARs. ESMAP has funded a series of World Bank projects over the last four years to help fill this gap, with wind measurement campaigns under implementation in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nepal, Malawi, Maldives, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and Zambia. All measurement data is published via https://energydata.info, a World Bank Group data sharing platform.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 11/28/2017

 

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Privacy International's New Cybersecurity Framework

 

As part of its new “Thorsec” software for civil society, Privacy International (PI) has identified and shared a framework for effective cybersecurity policies. As PI noted in a recent article, cybersecurity is often a difficult challenge for civil society to address, which prompted the organization to build “Thorsec” and create an open framework for the public to use. The framework includes five steps that activists can take to improve their cybersecurity summarized below.

Step 1: Fail safely - “Failing safely means that when a system crashes or stops working altogether, it is better that the system and the data held within it are destroyed altogether and rebuilt from scratch, so there is no risk of data being stored insecurely.”

Step 2: Change the perception of cybersecurity - “Cybersecurity, like public health, involves collective efforts. We understand how germs spread in the physical world, but do we understand how different kinds of bugs spread between computers?”

Step 3: Regularly install software updates - “Patching means regularly installing software updates for operating systems. Patches fix bugs in code that make services vulnerable to hacking.”

Step 4: Be mindful of the important role routers play – “PI’s technologists did not want to trust the router supplied by the ISP . . . so, they put another router between it and the organization’s internal services, which essentially works like a firewall and segregates traffic.”

Step 5: Monitor and control the permissions of connected devices – “Devices and services ‘talking’ to each other to collect data, often unnecessary to carry out their functions, is making us vulnerable by creating a large attack surface."

From http://www.i-policy.org/ 12/02/2017

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World Bank Pilot Auction Facility Unlocks Capital Markets for Climate Action

 

The World Bank has made the second repayment of bonds issued under an innovative pilot program that uses auctions and price guarantees, delivered in the form of bonds, to promote private sector investment in climate action. The program, known as the Pilot Auction Facility (PAF), is first-of-its-kind in using these instruments to encourage investments that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The value of bonds repaid—US$ 9.6 million—is linked to the performance of private sector projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Bond holders have the option to redeem bonds in exchange for carbon credits they receive by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The payment value reflects the equivalent of 3.4 million metric tons of reduced carbon dioxide emissions. More than 95% of the bonds in the second repayment were redeemed, demonstrating the ability of the PAF to create incentives to achieve climate results from the private sector.

 

When businesses reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere, they receive credits which they can sell. But due to falling prices of carbon credits, businesses have fewer incentives to invest in climate-friendly projects. Supported by donor funding, the PAF creates incentives for continued investments in projects that combat climate change by guaranteeing a minimum price on carbon credits. The price guarantees are delivered in the form of specialized bonds issued by the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or IBRD). The bonds pay zero interest and redeem annually, providing a redemption amount for each eligible carbon credit delivered. Since the PAF was launched in 2015, the World Bank has issued $54 million in these bonds. The most recent bond redemption was on November 29, 2017. The carbon credits came from projects such as landfill gas-to-energy projects in Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Thailand, and Uruguay; wastewater treatment and biogas utilization projects in Thailand; and a nitrous oxide abatement project in Egypt.

 

The bonds will continue redeeming until 2020. Over 60 firms from around the world bid for the bonds through auctions, with 24 firms winning price guarantees. Companies compete by bidding the least amount of incentive they need to run their operations in a climate-friendly way. In this way, the auctions determine the price guarantees, and PAF rewards only the most efficient companies. Because the price guarantee is delivered in the form of a bond, bond holders have flexibility in how they redeem the guarantees: should they have less credits to redeem than allowed by the bond, they can sell the bonds to other firms, incentivizing continued climate action. Some investors chose to use this flexibility and traded bonds or carbon credits among themselves, enabling the redemption of over 95% of the value of options expiring this year. The Pilot Auction Facility demonstrates that we can support global climate goals by using capital market instruments in innovative ways," said Arunma Oteh, Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank. "The World Bank bonds supporting the facility are social impact bonds in the truest sense, because they are directly linked to the performance of projects in fostering important carbon emission reduction results on the ground."

 

“Auctions maximize the reach of limited public funding and leverage private investments in clean technologies,” said James Close, World Bank Director for Climate Change. “The World Bank Group stands ready to assist countries to achieve their Paris Agreement goals through innovative finance mechanisms like climate auctions.” “The PAF has enabled us to invest in technologies that convert waste to clean energy in two cities in Mexico, powering up to 40 percent of public lighting in the city of Juarez and 15 percent of public lighting in the city of Chihuahua,” said Héctor Rangel, Director of Gases de Metano S.A. de C.V. “This has offered additional benefits to the local community, such as improved air quality and jobs. It has also made it feasible for us to invest in expanding the collection of methane gas from the municipal landfills in both cities.” Building on the pilot phase, the World Bank is expanding into a broader Climate Auctions Program. The World Bank is also exploring how to use auctions to help countries to implement their goals under the Paris Climate Agreement.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 12/07/2017

 

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APEC to Detail Next Steps for Trade in 2018

 

Senior Officials from the APEC member economies will convene on 5-6 December in Port Moresby to detail their priorities areas of cooperation during Papua New Guinea’s inaugural APEC chairmanship in 2018. They will build on the vision for trade and growth agreed upon by APEC Leaders in Da Nang, intent on sustaining the momentum of APEC economies and opening up new opportunities for people back home as the region becomes more integrated and digitally developed. The proceedings will set the stage for APEC economies to follow through on their Leaders’ commitment to work towards a successful World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires on 10-13 December, having underlined APEC’s crucial role in support of a rules-based, free, open, fair, transparent and inclusive multilateral trading system. “All APEC economies must be inclusive and not leave people behind in a changing world,” explained Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in remarks in Da Nang. “There is real concern, in many communities around the region, that globalization brings a lot of negatives.” “APEC needs to keep building a bridge to ensure that people, both in developed and developing economies, are empowered to take advantage of the positives of globalization, so they can be a part of positive change and build better lives for their families.” Papua New Guinea is home to more than 8 million people and a gateway to the Pacific islands. The economy is also a significant agriculture, fisheries, mining and liquefied natural gas producer, and will host APEC for the first time since becoming an APEC member a quarter century ago. Its per capita GDP has more than doubled over that span.

 

As Chair, Papua New Guinea will guide the next steps in APEC to boost economic integration and trade, and equip workers and businesses of all sizes, in all parts of the region, to confront profound changes underway in market competition, automation and skills demand. Enabling infrastructure development, digitally driven trade and reforms in education, training and social safety nets will be among the policy issues on the table. The aim is to improve business conditions, job prospects and wages needed to foster inclusive and sustainable growth. “As an emerging economy, we are coming out of a very traditional society into a modern economy in a space of one generation, which gives us great challenges and also opportunity,” said Prime Minister O’Neill. “Our aim is to build the technology infrastructure that will give people the opportunity to participate in the global market, through employment and business opportunities,” he continued. “We all live in a global community that is changing very fast. No country can go it alone. We must engage through APEC and other important regional and global fora.” Addressing climate change and its effects on lives and livelihoods across APEC and neighboring islands will be a complementary focus. “There are real challenges before all APEC economies in dealing with climate change,” said Prime Minister O’Neill. “In Papua New Guinea, we have the world’s first climate change refugees, people who were displaced from their traditional land because of rising sea levels.” “We must address the causes of climate change and also strengthen defenses against extreme weather,” concluded Prime Minister O’Neill. “Those are things that we would like to highlight.”

From https://www.apec.org/ 11/29/2017

 

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New Policy Approach Needed for East Asia and Pacific to Achieve Inclusive Growth

 

The countries of developing East Asia and Pacific – among the most successful in the world in reducing poverty and improving living standards – need to adopt a new thinking if they are to achieve inclusive growth going forward, says a new World Bank report. Growth that is inclusive – one that reduces poverty while providing upward mobility and economic security for all – will require countries to go beyond its successful “growth with equity” model, reports Riding the Wave: An East Asian Miracle for the 21st Century. Prospects for upward mobility are seen as increasingly elusive, reflecting a sense that income and wealth are becoming more concentrated while access to basic social services remains limited and often of poor quality. Achieving economic security for all is more difficult, particularly as the region faces newer challenges: rapid aging, less certain growth prospects, and greater urbanization. Inequality is a growing concern to citizens across the region. Over 90 percent in China and over half in the Philippines think that income differences in their countries are too large. In Indonesia, almost 90 percent of the population thinks it is urgent to address inequality, while eight in ten urban residents of Vietnam worry about disparities in living standards.

 

“It’s a historic achievement that nearly a billion people in East Asia moved out of extreme poverty in just one generation,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific. “But for the region to sustain inclusive growth, countries will need to address the challenges of fully eliminating extreme poverty, enhancing the prospects for economic mobility, and assuring economic security for all.” The region has transformed from being comprised of mostly poor countries in the 1980s to a group of middle-income countries made up of varying economic classes. By 2015, almost two-thirds of the region’s population were either economically secure or middle class – up from 20 percent in 2002. The share of the extreme and moderate poor has fallen dramatically, from almost half the population in 2002 to less than an eighth in 2015. But the percentage of individuals vulnerable to falling back into poverty – those who live with US$3.10 to US$5.50 a day – has remained constant between 2002 and 2015, at about a quarter of the population.

 

Policies for inclusive growth need to recognize and address the varying constraints faced by different economic classes. Policies for the remaining extreme poor need to ease their barriers accessing economic opportunities, as well as sustain broad-based growth, so as to help them move up the income ladder.  Access to services such as healthcare and infrastructure, as well as mechanisms to manage risks, will need to be improved to help the economically vulnerable. The priority for the economically secure and the middle class is to improve the provision and quality of public services, such as housing, water and sanitation. Three pillars can underpin the policy agenda. The first – fostering economic mobility – requires closing gaps in access to jobs and services, improving the quality of jobs, and promoting financial inclusion. The second pillar -- providing greater economic security -- includes bolstering social assistance systems, expanding social insurance, and increasing resilience to shocks. Strengthening institutions is the third pillar, and includes progressive taxation policies to raise resources and improvements in the effectiveness of inclusive spending programs. Better management of rapid aging and urbanization as well as enhancing competition will also help.

 

“The policy agenda for inclusive growth can constitute a new social contract for governments across the region,” said Sudhir Shetty, World Bank Chief Economist for the East Asia and Pacific region. “Its elements would address the needs of each economic class while remaining fiscally responsible and raising revenues in an efficient and equitable manner.” The report uses a five-part grouping of countries and recommends tailored policies for each. Malaysia, and Thailand – ‘Progressive Prosperity’ countries that have largely eliminated extreme poverty and fostered a large middle class – can prioritize meeting the growing aspirations of the middle classes while mobilizing and using resources to address remaining disparities. China and Vietnam – ‘Out-of-poverty-into-prosperity’ countries with large swaths of their populations now economically secure or middle class – should also address the aspirations of their middle classes as well as the needs of their vulnerable populations, while also preparing for rapid aging.

 

Indonesia, the Philippines, and Cambodia, are described as ‘Out-of-extreme-poverty’ countries which have low levels of extreme poverty but also still small middle classes; they can prioritize improving economic mobility and integrating social protection programs. ‘Lagging progress’ countries such as Lao PDR and Papua New Guinea, with still high levels of extreme poverty, can strive to reduce poverty more quickly by investing in basic education and promoting financial inclusion while also strengthening social assistance and resilience. The Pacific Island countries are distinct and will need to focus their policies on exploiting existing economic opportunities such as tourism and fishing, leveraging labor migration opportunities, and investing in disaster mitigation and prevention. Developing East Asia has led the world in showing how rapid and broadly shared growth can lift millions out of poverty. With these policies, countries across the region can effectively confront the new challenges they now face and achieve inclusive growth.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 12/04/2017

 

 

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Officials Preview APEC’s Digital Development, Inclusion Targets

 

APEC is set to put digitally-driven growth and employment opportunities within greater reach across the Asia-Pacific in 2018, boosted by APEC member economies’ capacity to adapt to trade and economic policy disruptions demonstrated over the past year. Officials, speaking at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, the APEC Study Center for Singapore, previewed measures to be taken forward during Papua New Guinea’s APEC chairmanship to promote digital development that equips workers and businesses in all parts of the region to thrive. It came on the heels of a strategic planning meeting of APEC Senior Officials in Port Moresby that confirmed the priorities for policy collaboration between APEC economies in 2018. “We are going to focus on growth, connectivity and the changing needs of our labor forces and employers in the digital environment,” explained Ambassador Ivan Pomaleu, 2018 Chair of APEC Senior Officials (VIDEO: Ambassador Pomaleu on APEC’s 2018 policy priorities). “We recognize innovative technologies can act as future catalysts for growth in APEC and provide the means for more people to share in the benefits.” “Improving infrastructure, skills, open markets and high quality regulatory regimes in the region will be key to fully harnessing the benefits of digital development and are issues we want to address next year,” Ambassador Pomaleu continued. “If APEC as a whole does its best to meet these challenges, there are real opportunities that could be gained by all of us.” APEC members will seek to facilitate industry innovation and growth by promoting clear governance arrangements and interconnectivity in the digital marketplace. This includes confronting rising concerns about the rules of trade, cybersecurity, hacking and ownership and privacy of data as it moves across borders in larger volumes with the expansion of e-commerce.

 

Parallel efforts in APEC will center on broadening participation in digital trade and supply chains in high growth sectors like agriculture, tourism and the sharing economy as middle class demand in the region rises. Particular attention will be on access and training to open the digital space for small firms, women, youth and disadvantaged people in urban and rural communities. “More and more, we are focused on the possibilities of digital search, marketing, branding, intellectual property, payment and, increasingly, services delivery,” said Dr Alan Bollard, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat. “We see room for local entrepreneurs and micro enterprises to use these tools to tap into drivers of growth in quite revolutionary ways.” “We have a long way to go to realize the region’s digital potential given the complexities involved but the incentives for action are high,” Dr Bollard concluded. “The flexibility of APEC’s voluntary, non-binding approach to policy innovation that has kept economic integration and free trade moving in this age of disruption puts us in a good position to achieve new breakthroughs.” Implementation work will proceed when trade and sectorial officials convene for a cluster of policy development meetings in Port Moresby beginning on 24 February 2018 and culminating with the First APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting to decide the next steps.

From https://www.apec.org/ 12/14/2017

 

 

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CHINA: Must Accelerate Implementation of Big Data Strategy

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the country to accelerate implementation of big data strategy to better serve social and economic development and improve people's lives. Efforts should be made to advance national big data strategy, improve digital infrastructure, promote integration and sharing of digital resources, and safeguard data security, Xi said during a collective study session of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee's Political Bureau on Friday. "We should target cutting-edge technology and mobilize prime resources to make breakthroughs in developing core big data technology, and accelerate building an independent and controllable industrial chain, value chain and eco-system of big data," said Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. He called for building high-speed, mobile, ubiquitous and safe information infrastructure, integrating government and social data resources, and improving the collection of fundamental information and important information resources in key areas.

 

The market should play a key role in the mission, and data must work as a bridge to integrate production, study and research. A group of pioneering companies and a varied and diverse talent workforce should be established, he said. Xi underscored the importance of building a digital economy with data as a key factor, highlighting the fact that research on and use of big data is indispensable in building a modern economy. The Internet, big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the real economy should be interconnected. Industrialization and the use of information should be integrated deeper, according to Xi. Xi also emphasized the necessity of using big data to improve governance. A nationwide information-sharing platform should be set up with the use of e-government and smart city systems. He also ordered efforts to improve Internet governance and clean up cyberspace. Xi urged better use of big data in improving people's wellbeing, calling for the advancement of "Internet plus education," "Internet plus medical treatment" and "Internet plus culture" to further ensure citizens' equitable access to public services.

 

He stressed solving problems, especially prominent problems concerning people's wellbeing, urging the widespread use of big data in areas such as education, employment, social security, medicine and the healthcare system, housing and transportation. Big data should also be used extensively in implementing targeted poverty reduction and environmental protection, he added. Efforts should be made to safeguard the nation's data security, Xi said, urging strengthened ability to protect the nation's crucial data resources, speed up relevant legislation, and improve protection of data property rights. Protection of technical patents, digital copyrights and individual privacy should be enhanced to safeguard people's interests, social stability and national security, said Xi. He stressed increasing research on international data governance rules. He urged leading officials at all levels to intensively study big data and improve their ability to use big data in their work.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/09/2017

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China Stresses Modern Agriculture Development

 

China's State Council Wednesday called for more efforts to foster new types of agricultural businesses in the country. Projects will be launched to support diverse business entities that integrate different industries and link to the Internet Plus strategy, said a statement released after a State Council meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. Training plans will be started to cultivate new types of professional farmers to spur entrepreneurship and innovation in rural areas to lift more people out of poverty, the statement said. The State Council also promised preferential financial, tax, land and power use policies to encourage businesses to process agricultural products. Financial services will be innovated to facilitate the leasing of large agricultural machinery, the statement said. 

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/13/2017

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China's Steady Economic Growth Creates Room for Policy Maneuver

 

China's economy has held steady in the first 11 months of 2017, on track to reach this year's growth target and creating room for policy makers to step up efforts on risk control, poverty relief and pollution next year. Data released Thursday showed fixed-asset investment (FAI) climbed 7.2 percent for January-November period, down from 7.3 percent in the first 10 months. The pace of growth has declined for eight consecutive months. Investment in property development rose 7.5 percent from a year earlier, edging down from 7.8 percent in the first 10 months, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). As the government maintains property purchasing curbs to contain speculation, housing sales measured by floor area recorded a slower growth of 7.9 percent in the first 11 months. Infrastructure investment, which accounts for more than 20 percent of the total FAI, surged 20.1 percent for January-November period year on year, the pace of growth accelerating from 19.6 percent for January-October. Industrial output also softened due to tighter environmental rules, rising 6.1 percent last month, down from October's 6.2 percent increase. Lifted by the Singles' Day (Nov. 11) online shopping promotion, retail sales grew 10.2 percent in November, up from 10 percent the previous month. Sales at Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce platform, hit a record high of 168.3 billion yuan (25.5 billion U.S. dollars) on Nov. 11. "Consumption will stay robust on the back of higher incomes and is expected to stay a pillar for economic growth next year," said Li Huiyong, an analyst at Shenwan Hongyuan Securities.

 

Thursday's data confirmed the trend of stable and sound economic growth, as conveyed by previous statistics, including the purchasing managers' index, foreign trade and new loans. "The country's economy has continued steady and sound development, and will maintain the trend in 2018," NBS spokesperson Mao Shengyong said. The country's GDP grew 6.9 percent in the first nine months, above the government's target of around 6.5 percent for the year. Wen Bin, a researcher with China Minsheng Bank, expects the country's GDP growth to be 6.8 percent this year. Major international institutions and investment banks, including the IMF and the World Bank, both raised their forecasts for China's 2017 growth. Analysts said the steady economic growth will give policy makers more leeway to control risks, reduce poverty and tackle pollution, which the central authorities have called "the three tough battles" for 2018. Tighter rules on polluting factories might weigh on production, while higher borrowing costs amid enhanced financial regulation and deleveraging efforts could also have an impact on economic activity.

 

UBS economist Wang Tao expects more of the impact from the ongoing clean air campaign to come in December and the first quarter of 2018, which along with a softening of infrastructure investment amid tighter local government financing rules and other supply-side structure reforms, should dampen GDP growth to 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter and 6.5 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Earlier in the day, both the country's money market rates and the central bank's open market operation rates increased, hours after the U.S. interest rate hike. The central bank's open market operation rates were 5 basis points higher, after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points, the third increase in 2017. In the money market, the one-month Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate, a benchmark, rose 2.94 basis points to 4.5534 percent, the highest level since June 26.

 

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.32 percent to 3,292.44 Thursday. A document released last week after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, which offers a glimpse into the 2018 economic work, prioritized high-quality development, which it said was "the fundamental requirement for determining the development path, making economic policies and conducting macro-economic regulation for the present and in the period to come." With current growth still robust, Wang Tao expects macro economic policy to stay unchanged in the next few months with no additional tightening policies.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/14/2017

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China to Fight Major Risks, Poverty, Pollution in Next 3 Years

 

Preventing major risks, targeted poverty alleviation and pollution control will be the "three tough battles" for the next three years, Chinese authorities said Wednesday. Progress should be made in fighting the "three tough battles" for securing China's goal of becoming a "moderately prosperous society in all respects," said a statement issued after the Central Economic Work Conference concluded. Attendees of the meeting called for significant progress in forestalling major risks, intensified efforts in targeted poverty reduction and better results in pollution control in 2018. To defuse major risks, China will maintain a hard-line stance on irregular and illegal activities in the financial industry to forestall risks, the meeting pledged. China's rapidly expanding financial industry is being placed under greater regulatory scrutiny as authorities step up efforts to curb widespread malfeasance in the sector to guard against risks. While addressing risks in major areas, policymakers will also strengthen regulation of weak links, according to the statement.

 

In the coming three years, the country will work to ensure the quality of poverty reduction efforts under current standards, and focus on helping special groups and eradicating abject poverty, it said. Pollution control will also be a key battlefield, with targets of a significant reduction in major pollutant emissions and improvement in the overall environment. Efforts should be focused on adjusting industrial and energy structures, eliminating outdated capacity and making the skies blue again, according to the meeting. The three-day annual conference, held in Beijing from Monday to Wednesday, saw Chinese leaders review the economic performance in 2017 and map out plans. China has set 2020 as the target year to finish building a moderately prosperous society and completely eradicate poverty. To realize the goal, risk prevention, poverty alleviation and pollution control have all been high on the government's agenda.

 

China has lifted more than 60 million people out of poverty in the past five years, with the poverty rate dropping from 10.2 percent to less than 4 percent. As of the end of 2016, there were 43.35 million Chinese living below the national poverty line. In the first ten months of 2017, China's banking regulatory authorities imposed administrative penalties in 2,617 cases of irregularities in the industry, covering state-owned banks, joint-equity banks and city commercial banks. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has also incorporated "Beautiful China" into its two-stage development plan for building a great modern socialist country, according to the report delivered at the 19th CPC National Congress in October. The government has passed its toughest-ever environmental protection law, and introduced a "river chief" system to protect water resources. Ecological "red lines" will also be drawn in certain regions to strengthen environmental protection, according to earlier planning.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/20/2017

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China to Address "Public's Well-Being"

 

China will take targeted measures next year to improve the public's overall well-being, according to a statement issued after the Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded Wednesday. It is a significant move to include people's well-being as one of the eight key tasks at the country's most important annual meeting on economic work. The country must focus on solving problems in improving people's well-being, do its best to identify the crux of problems and take steps wisely, the statement said. The statement singled out problems including those related to childhood education, employment, pension insurance, medical treatment and online scams. "Problems related to infant care and childhood education should be solved properly." The importance of the policy has caused discussion among academics.

 

"It is the first time for the annual economic work conference to raise the topic of addressing problems related to infant care and childhood education services, which shows the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government attach great importance to problems the public are concerned most about," said Lyu Ping, director of childhood public policy research center of Zhejiang Normal University. "Demand of such services is rising, as China in 2015 allowed couples to have two children, but the supply of services is lacking." Lyu said that China "badly needs" a childhood education integrated service network, advising the government to take a leading role in pushing forward supply-side structural reform in childhood education. The statement said that prominent problems in education should be dealt with, such as heavy extracurricular burdens for primary and middle school students, "school-selecting fever" among parents and overcrowded classes in some schools.

 

"The key to easing extracurricular burdens is to promote supply-side structural reform in education, encouraging schools to develop personalized education resources, make resource integrations and improve student learning efficiency," said Chen Yongmei with Beijing Bayi High School. The Central Economic Work Conference statement also said the government would pay attention to structural unemployment and workplace discrimination based on gender and identity. It also said the country would reform and improve basic pension schemes, and bring pension schemes under national unified management. China will continue its efforts to solving the difficulty and expense of seeing a doctor in China, and encourage the private sector capital to invest in health care and elderly care. Regulators should spare no effort to solve prominent problems like online scams and selling personal information, according to the statement. The three-day conference outlined the country's economic work for 2018.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/21/2017

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China Adjusts Rules as Beijing Opens Wider to Foreign Investment

 

China's cabinet has ordered temporary adjustment of state regulations in Beijing as the country's capital opens its service sector wider to foreign investment. The move came after the central government approved a pilot program in June to ease market access for foreign investment in Beijing in such areas as science and technology, culture and education, financial services, business and travel, and health and medical services. A State Council document said authorities will adjust rules on administrative approvals and market access, including those on entertainment performances and venues, foreign-funded banks and foreign investment in civil aviation in Beijing. The changed rules will allow foreign investors to set up firms operating performance venues with no ownership restrictions. Foreign investment will also be permitted in air transport service sales agencies. China will push for nationwide implementation of a pre-establishment national treatment system as well as a negative list that determines where foreign participation is prohibited or limited, according to the Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded Wednesday. The negative list will become shorter, while laws and regulations on foreign investment will be improved, and protection of intellectual property rights will be enhanced, said a statement released after the annual tone-setting conference.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/22/2017

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China's Top Legislature Starts Bi-monthly Session, Supervision Law on Agenda

 

China's top legislature opened its bi-monthly session Friday to review bills including draft laws on supervision, the prevention and control of soil pollution, and a draft revision to the law on farmers' specialized cooperatives. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), presided over the opening meeting Friday morning. The NPC Law Committee suggested the draft revision to the law on farmers' specialized cooperatives as well as the draft laws on tobacco leaf tax and ship tonnage tax be put to vote at the session. Legislators continued to review the draft supervision law. The draft has included major revisions to standardize the new detention system, which is designed to replace the practice of "shuanggui" to ensure the rights of detained suspects. The families and work units of detained suspects should be notified of their detention within 24 hours.

 

Exceptions can only be made when there is danger of collusion, evidence or witness tampering or other forms of obstruction to the investigation, according to the draft. The draft clarifies the previous provision, which vaguely stated that exceptions could be made under "circumstances that could obstruct investigation." Shuanggui is an intra-party disciplinary practice, exercised by Party disciplinary officials, in which a CPC member under investigation must cooperate with questioning at a set time and place. A report on the draft law protecting heroes and martyrs was submitted to and heard at the session for first review. Departments including public security, culture, press and cyberspace have a responsibility to protect the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs in their supervision, while it is the duty of Internet operators to handle online information that infringes on heroes and martyrs in a timely manner, according to the draft law.

 

The draft law bans the illicit appropriation of land and facilities near memorials of heroes and martyrs, as well as any damage or contamination of such memorials. Those who appropriate, damage or contaminate memorials, and insult or slander heroes and martyrs, may receive administrative penalties from public security or even criminal sanctions, the draft reads. The Standing Committee of the NPC also heard a report on the draft revision to the Law on Farmers' Specialized Cooperatives, which grants the cooperatives equal legal status with other market entities, and the right to invest in enterprises in accordance with the law. Two draft revisions to laws on judges and prosecutors were discussed to legislate judicial reforms. Compared with the current law, the draft revision to the Judges Law adds stipulations about the establishment of selection committees responsible for examining the professional competence of judge candidates in the Supreme People's Court and provincial-level areas.

 

According to the draft revision to the prosecutors law, a similar selection mechanism for prosecutors has been introduced. It states that committees should be established to select prosecutors in the Supreme People's Procuratorate and provincial-level areas. Legislators also heard reports on draft laws on basic medical care and health promotion, international judicial assistance in criminal matters, people's juries and others, which will be further deliberated. Several reports, including one on the implementation of the cybersecurity law and the protection of online information, will be discussed during the six-day session, according to the agenda.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/22/2017

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Draft Law Highlights Int'l Cooperation in Hunting Corrupt Fugitives

 

China's top legislature on Friday heard a draft law on international criminal judicial assistance, which will promote international cooperation in hunting fugitives and recovering assets. The draft was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the opening of its bi-monthly legislative session for a first reading. Fighting transnational crime and hunting corrupt fugitives has become an important area of cooperation between China and other countries and international organizations, said Fu Ying, chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NPC, explaining the draft. Effective punishment for transnational crimes requires close cooperation between countries, Fu added. China has acceded to international conventions covering criminal judicial assistance, such as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption and the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. It has also approved 54 bilateral treaties related to criminal judicial assistance. "However, systemic barriers exist in cooperation between China and other countries to crack down on transnational crimes," Fu said, adding that the draft law will offer a legal basis for China to implement international conventions. The draft, which is based on experience in international criminal judicial assistance for more than 30 years, stipulates procedures for requests for investigation and evidence collection generated by China or a foreign country, she said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/22/2017

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Reform, Opening up and Risk Control--China's Bit to Stabilize Global Growth

 

In a world confronted with risks and uncertainties, China remains unwavering in opening up to the rest of the world, while domestically persisting in reform and tackling financial challenges. Despite a continued recovery, the global economy will be clouded by more uncertainties, according to a report jointly released by the China Center for International Economic Exchanges and the State Think Tank of Xinhua News Agency at a forum Saturday. The report cited a weak recovery foundation, rising protectionism, fragile financial markets and inequality. "The list of Black Swan events and 'Gray rhinos' has become longer."

 

DOOR OPENS WIDER

Opening up should be China's strategic choice, Xinhua News Agency deputy editor-in-chief Zhou Zongmin said when briefing the report at the forum. "We suggest accelerating pushing for a new pattern of all-round opening up, building a 'circle of friends' with new partnerships, continuing to promote the Belt and Road Initiative, and defending an open global economic system," Zhou said. China's open stance was reiterated at the Central Economic Work Conference at which economic work was mapped out for the next year. The country will increase imports and cut import tariffs on some products, expand free trade zone pilots, guide and support outbound investment, and push for a shorter negative list for foreign investment, according to a statement released after the meeting. 2018 will be the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up policy, and Chinese leaders have said its door to the world will only become more open. "We will further bring in foreign investment, and make full use of opening up to stimulate reform and development...Coastal areas have taken a new step in opening up and transformation," Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said at the forum.

 

INNOVATION-POWERED REFORM

Technological improvement will play a bigger role in China's economic growth this year, Wang Zhigang, vice minister of Science and Technology, said and estimated the contribution ratio would rise to 57.5 percent in 2017, up from 56.2 percent last year. Breakthroughs have been made in transformation of scientific achievements including high-speed rail, UHV power transmission, hybrid rice, satellite navigation, and electric cars. "We can grow rice in seawater with lower density...and Huawei's polar coding has become part of international 5G standards." Wang said. China has become the world's second largest investor in R&D, with 1.57 trillion yuan (nearly 240 billion U.S. dollars) poured in the area last year, accounting for more than 20 percent of the world's total. Its R&D-to-GDP ratio was 2.11 percent, generally at the same level with that of European countries.

 

Supply-side structural reform is building a new economic engine and higher quality development. "China will briskly foster new growth drivers, improve technological innovation, push for upgrades of traditional sectors..." according to the Central Economic Work Conference. Yang Weimin, deputy head of the office of the central leading group on financial and economic affairs, said the reform will continue to be the main theme of China's economic work in 2018. "It was supply-side structural reform that helped the economy hold steady amid downward pressures in the fourth quarter of 2016."

 

RISK CONTROL TOUGHENS UP

Growth of China's leverage ratio slowed substantially in the first three quarters, Yi Gang, vice governor of the People's Bank of China, said. "Primary calculation showed the increase was 9.6 percentage points lower than the average growth rate from 2012 to 2016." The slowdown came after measures from regulators to rein in debt growth, with bank lending more cautious, online financing strictly regulated, and businesses and individuals breaching financial rules severely penalized. The task of dealing with overall leverage ratio in the economy should be the first priority in risk prevention and control, Yi said. "We will put more emphasis on deleveraging of state firms, address both symptoms and root causes of implicit government debt, crack down on financial irregularities, and step up supervision," Yi said. Throughout 2017, Chinese leaders have taken real steps to curb widespread malfeasance in the financial markets and the hardline stance will continue. At the Central Economic Work Conference, senior leaders agreed to maintain the crackdown on irregular and illegal activities in the financial sector.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/23/2017

 

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China to Adapt Policies to Housing Needs: Official

 

Different policies on different housing will support first-home buyers and upgraders in China and curb speculation in 2018, an official said Saturday. "We should stick to the principle that housing is for living in, not for speculation, and improve the long-term mechanism to promote a steady, healthy housing market," Wang Menghui, minister of housing and urban-rural development, said at a meeting. Market monitoring and analysis should be improved to ensure the accuracy of policies, he added. "We should move faster to put in place a housing system that ensures supply from multiple sources, provides housing support through multiple channels, and encourages both house purchases and rental," he said. Large and medium-sized cities with net population inflow should step up the development of housing rental market and set up state-owned home renting companies, according to the minister. China will support home renting companies and build government-led rental management and service platforms. Third- and fourth-tier cities and counties should continue to reduce unsold housing, Wang said. China will also improve housing market order with a hardline stance on the violations by developers and property agencies, he added. A statement released Wednesday after the Central Economic Work Conference said that China will maintain policy consistency and continuity and adopt differentiated property policies.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/23/2017

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JAPAN: Govt Focuses on Improving Relations with China

 

The government’s consideration of supporting projects conducted by Japanese and Chinese companies in areas along the China-proposed Belt and Road mega economic zone is prompted by its belief that China’s role is crucial in solving the issue of North Korea. The Japanese government pictures a scenario where the entire international community maximizes pressure on Pyongyang to bring the country, which has repeatedly conducted nuclear tests and launched ballistic missiles, to the table for dialogue. The key to realizing the scenario is whether China, which accounts for 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, fully implements the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions resolutions on that state. At the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Monday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pointed out that China has an extremely important role in the North Korean issue. “We will continue efforts on various levels to change North Korean policies, urging China to play a responsible, constructive role,” Abe said. The Japanese government intends — by using Japan-China economic cooperation as a driving force — to call for China to respond more appropriately to the North Korean issue.

 

There are also expectations that the cooperation could expand business opportunities for Japanese companies. Many Japanese firms are eyeing the Belt and Road initiative, which is being promoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, as a business opportunity. A record high of about 250 people participated in the Japan-China Economic Association’s latest delegation to China, which visited Beijing and Guangzhou on Nov. 20-26. They were able to meet with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. However, supporting the Chinese economic policy also involves risk. China has significantly improved its defense ability and technology by allocating a great deal of funding to build up the military. In the northeastern African country of Djibouti, China has started operating its first overseas military base. India, which has cooperative ties with Japan and the United States, is also apprehensive about the Chinese moves. Taking these circumstances into account, the Japanese government plans to support, for a certain period of time, joint projects between Japanese and Chinese companies to be conducted in the Belt and Road areas, instead of the government taking the initiative in bilateral economic cooperation.

From http://the-japan-news.com 11/28/2017

 

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Gov't Draws Up Y2 Tril Package for Education, Child-Care Support

 

The government has drawn up a 2 trillion yen stimulus package to assist children of low-earning families in receiving higher education and expand the scope of free child-care services, according to a draft plan compiled by Monday. The package is a pillar of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's initiative to foster human resources and improve the country's productivity as aging Japan battles to keep its competitiveness. Targeting students from low-income households which are exempted from paying their residence tax, the government aims to start giving financial support in April 2020 if they wish to go to universities, vocational schools or other institutions, according to the draft plan. Tuition at public universities, for instance, will be exempted, according to the plan. Expanded child-care support is another key piece of the package that the cabinet is expected to approve Friday after consultations with the ruling bloc.

 

Children aged between 3 and 5 will become eligible for free education at nursery schools and kindergartens regardless of household income. Child-care services will be provided for free if children aged 2 and younger come from low-income households that are relieved of paying their residence tax, the draft plan shows. To fund the 2 trillion yen scheme, the government is aiming to secure 1.7 trillion by using revenue from a planned consumption tax hike in 2019 from 8 percent to 10 percent, while the corporate sector will contribute the remaining 300 billion yen. The upcoming package is expected to call for raising pay for nursery school teachers by around 3,000 yen a month, at a time when the administration has yet to eliminate waiting lists for nursery schools. The Komeito party, the Liberal Democratic Party's junior coalition partner, has been calling for free education at private high schools, a pledge that it made during campaigning for the lower house election in October. The government is expected to agree to Komeito's request, even though it needs to find a funding source.

From https://japantoday.com 12/05/2017

 

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Innovative Efforts Needed to Embody Goals in New Economic Policy Package

 

Further innovative efforts are required to design detailed systems for achieving intended policy effects. The key, in this regard, will be proper focus, while rejecting a handout policy approach. The government has adopted a new economic policy package. It intends to promote the so-called human resources development revolution and a productivity revolution with the aim of facing up to an aging society and declining birthrate. In the human resources development revolution, social security policies mainly targeting elderly people will be shifted to target all generations, including child-rearing households. It is appropriate to improve the treatment of childcare workers and nursing care workers — of which there is a serious shortage — because this is a pressing issue. Childcare workers will get a pay raise of ¥3,000 per month from April 2019. Nursing care workers who have worked for at least 10 years will see their pay raised by an average of ¥80,000 per month. These measures must be steadily implemented.

 

Conspicuous inconsistencies under severe fiscal conditions regarding measures for free education — a pillar project in the package — are problematic. Is it not the case that the Liberal Democratic Party’s campaign pledges in the House of Representatives election in October have been merely listed in the policy package? There is a strong impression that the measures simply aim to appeal to all the public without close examination. Kindergartens, certified day care centers and so-called nintei kodomoen certified childcare facilities will be made free uniformly for children aged 3 to 5. Making services at these preschool facilities entirely free will significantly benefit high-income earners because a system to exempt or reduce fees in accordance with the income level of children’s guardians already exists. The plan to provide free university and other forms of higher education needs more careful consideration. Low-income households exempt from residential tax will be exempt from tuition at national universities, and private university tuition will also be mitigated for those households.

 

The government plans to compile guidelines on how such systems should be applied, in light of such matters as ensuring the quality of university education and students’ individual academic achievements after university enrollment. Educational achievements at university are largely affected by the contents of class curricula, as well as the aspirations and suitability of students. The application of the guidelines must not end up as a mere formality. The effectiveness of the measures is going to be tested. Regarding measures to cope with the declining birthrate, strong voices have called for the problem of children waiting to be enrolled at day care centers to be solved before providing free education. The package has the goal of expanding the total capacity of childcare centers by 320,000 children by fiscal 2020. The government should promote this measure as a top priority, tackling issues including how fiscal resources should be allocated.

 

Regarding the productivity revolution, the period from 2018 to 2020 is set for intensive investment. The package includes such measures as reducing the corporate tax for companies that meet certain requirements in raising employees’ salaries and expanding capital investment. Support measures for small and midsize companies to invest in information technology are also included. To steadily improve productivity, it is necessary to effectively combine these measures with others, such as deregulation that benefits growing industries. It is far from satisfactory that the package does not give much reference to the work-style reforms pushed by the government. It is important to establish labor markets that facilitate employment fluidity and thereby support the supply of human resources to growing companies, and also help women and elderly people to play active roles.

From http://the-japan-news.com 12/09/2017

 

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Properly Discuss ‘Stipulating SDF’ in Top Law to Gain Public Understanding

 

If concrete plans are laid out for the discussion on amending the Constitution, it will draw public attention and help deepen public understanding. That the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has organized the points at issue so as to build a broad consensus deserves credit. The LDP originally planned to work out its own draft amendment focusing on four points within this year. But the party was unable to reach agreement on issues such as whether or not to stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Forces — one of the central issues — and instead it went only so far as to organize the key points for discussion. From the standpoint of gaining wider approval, though, it makes sense not to coerce the drawing together of various opinions, but rather to move ahead carefully with due procedures within the party. With regard to stipulating the SDF in the top law, the party has included two different opinions in the key points. One proposal is to add to Article 9 a new clause that provides a constitutional basis for the SDF, while maintaining the article’s Paragraph 2, which prohibits having armed forces, as well as other war potential. The other proposal is to delete Paragraph 2 and then to define the purposes and character of the SDF.

 

Either idea would carry great weight in sweeping away arguments against the constitutionality of the SDF. The idea of deleting the article’s Paragraph 2 would be easier to understand, as it would clarify the consistency of the top law. On the other hand, however, it would give rise to arguments over whether or not the SDF should be recognized as war potential, which might intensify objections from opposition parties and elsewhere. Opinions approving of the idea of adding a new clause to Article 9, as proposed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, hold the preponderance of support within the LDP. But can that position win approval from a number of opposition parties? Given the high hurdles amendments must clear — being initiated by both houses of the Diet and then receiving a majority of the votes in a national referendum — it is necessary to advance the discussion prudently.

 

Two ideas were also presented regarding a clause to deal with emergencies in the event of a large-scale disaster: To approve the extension of Diet members’ terms at a time when severe damage would make it impossible to hold a national election; and to concentrate government authority for rescue operations and relief measures. As a crisis management system for Japan — a disaster-prone nation — the creation of a clause to deal with emergencies is important. Even at a minimum, such provisions as one to extend Diet members’ terms would be required. Learning from experience, in which law revisions became necessary when various unexpected situations developed in the wakes of the Great Hanshin Earthquake and the Great East Japan Earthquake, the issue of reinforcing the government’s authority should also be thoroughly discussed. Regarding the elimination of integrated constituencies for House of Councillors elections, the party’s key points contained the idea of adding to the top law a stipulation that at least one member be elected from each prefecture when the election for half the members takes place every three years. This is a self-centered proposal and is deemed questionable.

 

What is reasonable is also to take up for discussion the division of roles to be assumed by both houses and to tackle such issues as lowering the requirements for the House of Representatives to pass bills for a second time — when they are rejected by the upper house — so as to rectify the situation of “too much power being held by the upper house.” On education, the party avoided using the expression “free education,” but instead compiled a proposal for the “improvement of the educational environment,” obliging the state to strive hard while reducing the financial burden on the people. The idea of making all higher education free of charge is unreasonable in consideration of the massive financial resources required and of fairness. It can be said the party’s proposal has shifted to a more realistic one. Abe called on every other party to come up with its own concrete proposals. It is hoped that parties other than the LDP will also actively take part in the discussion to amend the top law.

From http://the-japan-news.com 12/21/2017

 

 

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SOUTH KOREA: Unveiling Measures to Tame Cryptocurrencies

 

South Korea rolled out plans Wednesday to curb speculation on cryptocurrencies, including trade bans for minors and ways to impose taxes on investment returns, in its resolve to tame the country’s bitcoin craze without completely shutting it off. Banks in Korea that provide virtual bank accounts for cryptocurrency trades will have to verify the identification of account holders when creating new ones and prohibit minors from opening accounts, according to the plan. The regulators will also bar financial institutions from investing in or obtaining cryptocurrencies. The authorities will also review ways to oblige cryptocurrency exchange operators to verify users’ real names, strengthen storage security of encryption keys and disclose purchase price and order volumes. Imposing taxes on returns from the investment will also be “discussed in-depth,” while harsher punitive actions will be taken against cryptocurrency-related scams, the government added. Such issues were discussed in a closed-door emergency meeting Wednesday in Seoul presided over by Hong Nam-ki, minister of the Office for Government Policy coordination, organized by a pangovernmental task force.

The meeting was joined by relevant government representatives, including Vice Minister of Justice Lee Keum-ro, Vice Chairman of the Financial Services Commission Kim Yong-beom, Vice Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning Kim Yong-soo and Bank of Korea Senior Deputy Gov. Yoon Myun-shik. Cryptocurrency exchanges expressed relief from the news that the regulation was not seen as an all-out ban on the industry.  Had the ban been implemented, the government would have “put the cryptocurrency industry in the dark,” making it harder to control cryptocurrency coin buyers, a source who declined to be identified told The Korea Herald. Some investors, meanwhile, also viewed the latest measures as a way of fostering the industry by protecting “constructive investors” and warding off “indecent ones.” The measures came in the wake of bitcoin price volatility, as well as cryptocurrency-related crimes. The de facto key cryptocurrency bitcoin traded at 18.6 million won ($17,000) at around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, down 25 percent from an intraday high on Dec. 7, when it hit 24.7 million won, according to coin price tracker Coinass. Bitcoin trade volume in Korea shrank one-fourth on Tuesday, compared to Sunday.

Bitcoin traded at below 1 million won in January, but since surpassing 10 million won on Nov. 26, the bitcoin price has suffered severe ups and downs. Since late November, Korea has looked to impose regulations on trading cryptocurrencies in the nation’s exchanges -- including Bithumb, Coinone and Korbit -- through state-sponsored bills. In line with the move, top policymakers have voiced objections against the industry as a whole. In a Cabinet meeting on Nov. 28 Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon urged the government to take stringent measures, which would otherwise “plague the nation with severe disturbance.” He pointed to the cryptocurrency transaction volume that surpassed that of the second-tier stock market Kosdaq. On Monday, FSC Chairman Choi Jong-ku, Korea‘s top financial regulator, said in a luncheon with the press that cryptocurrency exchange business nurtures “zero utility to the national economy.” Lawmakers have set a bill in motion in July to license cryptocurrency exchanges here to bring them within legal boundaries, but fell short of passing it.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 12/13/2017

 

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Korea to Embrace Next Key Technology Trends for Growth

 

South Korea will step up investment in the next key technology trends to create quality jobs and improve an industrial structure heavily reliant on large conglomerates and the manufacturing sector, the commerce ministry said Monday. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy submitted the industry development plan to parliament, which aims to create over 300,000 jobs with increased investment in innovative industries by 2022. "The industrial structure's heavy dependence on certain industries, companies and regions could create the illusion of growth, which poses limitations in fostering new growth drivers," the ministry said in the report. "We will overhaul industry policy to create quality jobs and boost income." In the era of the fourth industrial revolution, the ministry put a priority on raising mobility and networks and improving energy efficiency in Asia's fourth-largest economy. The government said it plans to put self-driving cars on the highway by 2020 and increase the number of electric vehicles to 350,000 by 2022. To help reach the goal, the government and the private sector will create a fund worth 300 billion won ($275 million) to develop technologies for autonomous cars and the Internet of Things.


It will also expand investment in establishing decentralized energy infrastructure to raise the ratio of renewable energy resources, such as solar, wind and steam power plants.  "The government plans to create half of the new jobs in the renewable energy sector, including solar panels as well as nuclear reactor decommissioning, while the rest will be created in other emerging industries and modernization of existing business areas," Jung Dae-jin, an industry policy official at the ministry, said in a briefing. The goal is line with a new energy roadmap, which aims to raise the ratio of renewable energy to 20 percent by 2030 by reducing reliance on nuclear and coal power plants. Under the nuclear phase-out plan, the nation's 10 oldest reactors will be retired by 2030 as their operational life cycles expire one by one, which would have to take steps for the decommissioning process. In the face of rising global protectionism, the ministry said it will expand the global network to create a united front on major issues and actively file complaints against unfair practices at the World Trade Organization. The government said it will come up with detailed implementation plans for each sector by the first quarter of 2018.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 12/18/2017

 

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Korea to Embrace Next Key Technology Trends for Growth

 

South Korea will step up investment in the next key technology trends to create quality jobs and improve an industrial structure heavily reliant on large conglomerates and the manufacturing sector, the commerce ministry said Monday. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy submitted the industry development plan to parliament, which aims to create over 300,000 jobs with increased investment in innovative industries by 2022. "The industrial structure's heavy dependence on certain industries, companies and regions could create the illusion of growth, which poses limitations in fostering new growth drivers," the ministry said in the report. "We will overhaul industry policy to create quality jobs and boost income." In the era of the fourth industrial revolution, the ministry put a priority on raising mobility and networks and improving energy efficiency in Asia's fourth-largest economy. The government said it plans to put self-driving cars on the highway by 2020 and increase the number of electric vehicles to 350,000 by 2022. To help reach the goal, the government and the private sector will create a fund worth 300 billion won ($275 million) to develop technologies for autonomous cars and the Internet of Things.


It will also expand investment in establishing decentralized energy infrastructure to raise the ratio of renewable energy resources, such as solar, wind and steam power plants.  "The government plans to create half of the new jobs in the renewable energy sector, including solar panels as well as nuclear reactor decommissioning, while the rest will be created in other emerging industries and modernization of existing business areas," Jung Dae-jin, an industry policy official at the ministry, said in a briefing. The goal is line with a new energy roadmap, which aims to raise the ratio of renewable energy to 20 percent by 2030 by reducing reliance on nuclear and coal power plants. Under the nuclear phase-out plan, the nation's 10 oldest reactors will be retired by 2030 as their operational life cycles expire one by one, which would have to take steps for the decommissioning process. In the face of rising global protectionism, the ministry said it will expand the global network to create a united front on major issues and actively file complaints against unfair practices at the World Trade Organization. The government said it will come up with detailed implementation plans for each sector by the first quarter of 2018.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 12/18/2017

 

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INDONESIA: All Cities and Regencies to Get 4G Network in 2019

 

Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara said in Jakarta on Wednesday that the government planed to provide cellular phone users in all cities and regencies across the country with fourth generation ( 4G ) broadband cellular networks in 2019. “The Palapa Ring project (a national fiber optic project) will be completed in 2019. We will also introduce 4G technology in all cities and regencies,” he said as reported by kompas.com, adding that the completion of the project was urgent because there were many regions in Indonesian without internet connections. As an example, Rudiantara pointed to the fact that only 80,000 of 226,000 schools – elementary, junior high and senior high schools – had access to the internet. In schools where internet was available, he added, it was often not used optimally, only being used for the computer-based National Exams. “They do not use the internet for teaching purposes,” the minister said. Meanwhile, he added that only 3,000 of the roughly 10,000 Society Health Centers (Puskesmas) across the country had internet connections. Rudiantara also said internet connections were needed at military and police district offices as well as at village offices.

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 12/13/2017

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All Papuan Villages to Receive Electricity in 2018

 

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said his government will electrify villages across Papua and West Papua provinces in 2018. “I have instructed the Energy and Mineral Resources Minister [Ignasius Jonan], helped by PLN (state-owned electricity firm), to make all land in Papau bright in 2018,” Jokowi said in Nabire Regency, Papua on Wednesday when officiating the operation of the 50-megawatt (MW) feed gas-fired plant (PLTMG) and 20-MW PLTMG in Jayapura. The President said that currently, about 3,000 villages across the country had not received electricity, 2,000 of which were villages in Papua. Jokowi explained constructing electricity plants in Papua was more expensive than constructing the plants in other areas due to the geography of the two provinces, which were mostly mountainous. However, the government will construct such infrastructure for the sake of social justice for people living in the provinces. “I have been informed that electrifying one village in Papua requires Rp 2 billion (US$140,000), while in other areas, it only requires Rp 1 billion. But the cost is not an issue for the realization of social justice for all Indonesian people,” said the President in a statement issued on Thursday. Jokowi also promised that his government would also push down the prices of fuels and basic commodities in the province and develop infrastructure such as roads, as well as improve the quality of healthcare facilities and education. (bbn)

From http://www.thejakartapost.com/ 12/21/2017

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CAMBODIA: Targets Digital Economy by 2023

 

Cambodian Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Tram Iv Tek said Tuesday that the Southeast Asian country aimed to transform itself toward a digital economy by 2023. He said the country was working to formulate strategy and policy on Tech Startup, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Go For Digital, Online Crowdfunding Platform, and Digital Skills. "These are deemed as important supportive pillars for transforming Cambodia toward a digital economy by next five years," Tram Iv Tek said in an opening speech of the 2017 forum on the Tech Startup and MSMEs. The minister said Cambodia was committed to connecting the country and ensuring that the benefits of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) reach the remotest corners as well as the most vulnerable communities. "About 40 percent of our (15 million) population is still offline by end of 2017," he said. "To address this challenge, we have the 2020 targets of 100 percent broadband coverage in urban areas and 70 percent in rural areas." Thomas Hundt, chief executive officer of Smart Axiata, said his telecoms operator was ready to support and grow future economies of cashless societies, smart cities, borderless application services and digital inclusion. "As we enter into the fourth industrial revolution with increased focus on digital and ICT, the opportunities for building a digital economy and society in Cambodia are very promising," he said at the one-day forum. The forum was attended by some 200 MSME representatives, officials, business mentors, telecoms experts, and researchers. It was intended to increase awareness of Cambodia's digital economy and help prepare MSMEs to go digital.

From http://www.xinhuanet.com/ 12/19/2017

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MYANMAR: Strives for Malaria-Free Country by 2030

 

Myanmar is striving for becoming a malaria-free country by 2030 and a campaign for the target is underway under the sponsorship of Asia-Pacific Malaria Elimination Network, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday. Myanmar claimed that the rate of outbreak of Malaria has remarkably decreased in the country with mortality rate being 0.04 percent in 100,000 people. The country is striving to reduce the outbreak rate by 85 percent and mortality rate by 95 percent to achieve the target. In the past, there were nearly 600,000 patients suffering from malaria. The National Malaria Elimination Project manager said all the townships are to be designated as places likely to be affected by malaria so that the disease can be uprooted, placing emphasis on Kachin and Rakhine states and Sagaing region which are most affected regions. Meanwhile, a health ministers meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is set for Friday in Myanmar. Moreover, in the world health assembly to be held in May 2018, all GMS health ministers will sign a declaration against malaria.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 12/06/2017

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Myanmar to Introduce New Companies Law Next Year

 

Myanmar authorities will introduce a new Companies Law from Aug. 1 next year, U Aung Naing Oo, director-general of the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) told a press briefing Wednesday. The promulgation of bylaws and application of the law as well as working on the operating manual for online registration will be done in last week of July next year, he said. The new law will facilitate rapid registration for companies due to the online registration system. In accordance with the new law, foreign investors are allowed to take up 35 percent in local companies. The new Myanmar Companies Act is enacted to replace Companies Act of 1914, which is currently practised in the country.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 12/13/2017

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Myanmar's VP Calls for Legal Protection to Migrant Workers

 

Myanmar Vice President U Myint Swe has called for giving legal protection to migrant workers, especially women and children, when laws and policies are drawn for migrant rights, Myanmar News Agency reported Tuesday. Observing the 2017 International Migrants Day in Nay Pyi Taw Monday, U Myint Swe stressed the need to produce more skilled workers in Myanmar who can meet the changing requirements of the labor market. Citing Myanmar's join-in signing of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers at the 31st ASEAN Summit held in the Philippines in November 2017, U Myint Swe voiced Myanmar's commitment toward social protection of migrant workers in the region, obtaining justice, health protection, humane and fair treatment of migrant workers. He urged for ensuring a safe and secure method of transferring money by migrant workers to their homes, saying that money remitted by migrant workers from developing countries to their families is a major source of GDP for their home countries. He called for cooperation in establishing a complete and successful society where migrant workers, who contribute towards the economic development of both the host country and country of origin, have a safe way of migrating, while being accorded protection and full rights. There are 261 employment agencies including one government-operated one in Myanmar systematically sending migrant workers to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan and some Middle East countries which are popular destinations of Myanmar migrant workers.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 12/19/2017

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PHILIPPINES: Privacy Regulator Says Local Users Affected by Uber Data Breach

 

The personal information of Philippine Uber users was among those exposed in the massive breach last year that affected 57 million Uber clients around the world, the Philippine National Privacy Commission (NCP) said on Tuesday. NPC Chairman Raymund Liboro said in a statement that "Uber confirmed that personal information of Filipinos was exposed in the data breach" that attacked Uber's "third party cloud-based storage accounts" in October last year. "As such, the NPC has jurisdiction over the data breach insofar as it affects these Filipino citizens," Liboro said. Unfortunately, Liboro added that Uber "failed to provide the level of detail that we expect from personal information controllers about data breach notifications, such as the actual number of Filipinos affected, and the scope of their exposure." He said Uber informed the commission that two individuals outside Uber "inappropriately accessed user data stored on a third-party cloud-based service that Uber uses." Moreover, he said the two Uber employees who led the response to the data breach are no longer with Uber.

 

Uber chief executive officer Dara Khosrowshahi acknowledged in a blog post on the company's official website on Nov. 24 that a year ago two hackers broke into a third-party cloud-based system that contained the private information of its customers. Khosrowshahi admitted that sensitive information had been illegally downloaded, including names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers of 57 million Uber users around the world, and the names and license numbers of 600,000 drivers in the United States. Nevertheless, Liboro said under the principle of accountability, the NCP requires personal information controllers within its jurisdiction to provide detailed information on the nature of the incident, the scope of the exposure, and the remedial measures taken. "While Uber has repeatedly asserted that there has been no evidence of fraud or misuse tied to the incident, the concealment of a data breach bears serious consequences under the Data Privacy Act of 2012," Libooro said. If so qualified, Liboro said those responsible for the concealment of the breach and for the exfiltration of the data may face serious civil and criminal liability. "The investigation continues. We are also cooperating with the data privacy authorities of Australia and the United States on this matter," Liboro said. Uber, the ride-hailing giant, has around 66,000 active units in the Philippines.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 11/28/2017

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Philippines' Duterte Signs Tax Reform Pact into Law

 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed on Tuesday the tax reform bill into law, calling it the administration's "biggest Christmas gift to the Filipino people." The Tax Reform for Inclusion and Acceleration (TRAIN) law, which will come into effect by January next year, is expected to lower the personal income taxes of Filipinos while raising duties on certain items like fuel, cars, coal and sugar-sweetened drinks. TRAIN is the first package of the government's proposed Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), which seeks to correct several deficiencies in the tax system and to generate additional revenue to fund the country's investment requirements. Duterte said during the signing ceremony at the Malacanang presidential palace that the tax reform law is the administration's "biggest Christmas gift to the Filipino people as 99 percent of the tax payers would benefit from the simpler, fairer and more efficient tax system."

 

Duterte said "one of the TRAIN's most significant breakthroughs" is that it will exempt those earning an annual taxable income of 250, 000 pesos (4,960 U.S. dollars) and below from paying the personal income tax. To make up for the loss of revenue due to the reduced personal income tax, the law imposes higher taxes on cars, fuel, cosmetic surgery, tobacco, and some sweetened beverages. "Revenues from the TRAIN will fund our priority projects to ensure a quality education, including free tuition in state universities and colleges, equally, quality health care, social protection and conditional cash transfers, improved infrastructures to the Build, Build, Build program and the reconstruction of Marawi," Duterte said. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the TRAIN will provide hefty personal income tax cuts for the average taxpayer. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the TRAIN, together with the complementary measures to be passed early in 2018, will yield more than 120 billion pesos (2.38 billion U.S. dollars) in revenue. Philippine government projection shows that, with the tax reform, real gross domestic product level will be higher by 0.5 to 1.1 percent by the year 2022.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 12/19/2017

 

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THAILAND: Utility Bills Next in Line for Welfare Subsidies

 

Mr Apisak says the Finance Ministry will equip 5 million low-income earners with fishing rods to let them sustain their income. Utility subsidies will be an integral part of the third phase of the government's welfare scheme for poverty, aimed at further alleviating the living costs of the poor. Details of subsidising electricity and tap water bills for the poor will be considered after the second phase of the welfare and subsidy scheme goes before the cabinet on Jan 3, said Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong. At present, the Metropolitan Electricity Authority and the Provincial Electricity Authority subsidise power bills for homes installed with a 5-amp power meter size and using not more than 50 units of electricity a month for three consecutive months, while the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority and the Provincial Waterworks Authority also subsidise up to a certain amount. Once the utility subsidy is included in the government's welfare and subsidy scheme, it will be funded by the Pracha Rat Fund for Low-Income Earners, which has capital of 46 billion baht, Mr Apisak said.

 

The fund takes responsibility as the government's tool in providing subsidy and welfare to recipients of the state scheme. In late August, the cabinet approved the first phase of the aid package, worth 41.9 billion baht, for 11.7 million low-income earners -- 5 million of whom have income below the poverty line of 30,000 baht a year. Under the scheme, the government transfers 200-300 baht a month to each welfare smart card. Recipients earning less than 30,000 baht a year get a monthly allowance of 300 baht, while those with annual earnings of 30,000-100,000 baht receive 200 baht to buy discounted goods at Thong Fah Pracha Rat shops and other designated stores. Each cardholder also receives 1,500 baht a month to subsidise transport and 500 baht for inter-provincial public buses, third-class trains, and local public buses and electric trains. The second phase includes accessibility to the government's financial sources and non-compulsory education such as training courses to improve career skills, jobs and the four basic needs of living: food, home, clothing and medicine.

 

Mr Apisak said the second phase is designed to create fairness to help 5 million low-income earners (those earning below the poverty line) sustain their income. "The Finance Ministry is ready to spend money to equip them all with fishing rods to let them sustain their income," he said. Training projects are expected to kick off in January. Recipients who are called for training but do not turn up may have their subsidy docked. "Disparity is not limited only to the aspect of money," Mr Apisak said. "We have a duty to provide opportunity for all of them equally." To radically address the root causes of poverty, the Finance Ministry will have officials visit the scheme's recipients again to find out their needs and means. "I've told officials that we want measures that can be put into practice," Mr Apisak said. "We don't want to write a thesis that cannot turn into practice. I don't want it to be like that."

 

The Finance Ministry will propose a draft law to turn the Pracha Rat Fund for Low-Income Earners into a revolving fund that will allow it to receive a government budget or donations for spending that is in line with the fund's objectives, the finance minister said. When the public sector adopts the technology that enables authorities to analyse data on welfare recipients' electricity and tap water consumption, those found with income exceeding the scheme's criteria will have their subsidy cancelled automatically. These recipients will not be allowed to register for the programme in the future. Registration is done at branches of state-owned banks. Criteria for the scheme this year require applicants to be unemployed or to have had an income of 100,000 baht or less last year. Applicants' savings, savings certificates and bond holdings must be worth less than 100,000 baht in total. In related news, Mr Apisak said the Finance Ministry is considering adopting the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives model, which encourages farmers to upgrade as agricultural small and medium-sized operators to create supply chains and boost income.

From https://www.bangkokpost.com/ 12/25/2017

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VIETNAM: President Urges Action on Child Care

 

President Trần Đại Quang has requested an extensive examination and inspection of the observance of law provisions at preschools, kindergartens and children’s groups throughout the country so as to prevent and strictly handle violations against children. He also asked for effective solutions to ensure that children throughout the country live in a safe, healthy and inclusive environment both physically and mentally. The request was issued yesterday following a series of cases of violence, abuse and murder involving children in some localities. An official letter, No 1581/VPCTN-TH, was sent from the President’s Office to the National Committee for Children, Central Committee of the Việt Nam Fatherland Front, Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuracy and people’s committees of the cities and provinces.

 

The letter noted that recent media reports had highlighted many incidents of violence against children, causing psychological pain, anxiety for families and concern among the public. As a result, President Quang asked all relevant ministries, sectors and localities to intensify the inspection, examination and supervision of the implementation of the Party’s undertakings and guidelines as well as the State’s policies and laws on children, especially Direction No 20-CT/TW dated November 5, 2012 of the 11th Politburo on strengthening the leadership of the Party for the care, education and protection of children in the new situation as well as the 2016 Law on Children. Within just one week, a series of cases of child abuse, kidnapping and even murder have been reported in the media. On Sunday morning, a video posted online showed the owner and two teachers from a private kindergarten in HCM City slapping toddlers aged 3-5 on their faces, heads and backs, and throwing the children in the air.

 

Last week, three videos were posted online by a mother in northern Hà Nam Province showing a domestic helper slapping a one-month old infant on her face, head and back, throwing the girl in the air and putting a towel in her mouth. Three days ago, a seven-year-old girl in the southern province of Kiên Giang’s Châu Thành District was allegedly tortured by her stepmother with a hot iron rod, leaving her scarred. Alarmingly, a six-year-old boy was killed by a man in HCM City’s Tân Phú District on Sunday evening. On Monday, a 20-day-old infant in Thanh Hóa Province was found dead by a rubbish dump after being kidnapped from her home two days earlier. All cases stirred anger and concern among the public about the care and protection of children.

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 11/29/2017

 

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New Resolution an Action Plan to Advance Corruption Fight

 

A new anti-corruption resolution targets greater control over the assets and income of officials, public employees and civil servants, and requires relevant agencies to perform their tasks in a transparent manner. Resolution 126/NQ-CP is an anti-corruption action programme that will run until 2020. It seeks to consolidate the apparatus, functions and tasks of agencies and units in charge of corruption prevention and control. It is a detailed plan to implement the national anti-corruption strategy and abide by the United Nations Convention against Corruption. It also forms a basis for anti-corruption action by ministries, sectors, localities and other agencies. The resolution defines eight main groups of tasks to be performed by 2020. These include improving the role and sense of responsibility of officials, public employees and civil servants, especially the heads of agencies, organisations and units.  It also seeks to improve the management and supervision of officials, public employees and civil servants by fine-tuning and strictly enforcing regulations on personnel work. Relevant agencies will have to exert greater control over assets and income of officials, public employees and civil servants, and perform their duties more transparently. It asks ministries, sectors and localities to perfect the management of socio-economic institutions. They will strengthen inspections, examinations, supervision, auditing, investigations and prosecutions to ensure the effectiveness of corruption prevention and control. Public awareness and society’s role and responsibility in fighting corruption will be fostered. Under the progamme, Việt Nam will incorporate provisions of the UN Convention against Corruption into local law, expand the scope of the Law on Anti-Corruption to the non-State sector, and co-operate with foreign partners in tackling corruption.

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

 

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HCM City Issues New Land Division Regulations

 

HCM City People’s Committee has issued new land division regulations which allow large plots of land to be divided into smaller plots, including land plots that have been part of delayed plans that have yet to be implemented. The new regulations take effect on January 1. Under the new Decision 60, which was issued on December 5, the criteria for the area and minimum width will vary depending on three zones.   For zone 1 (inner city), including districts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, Gò Vấp, Bình Thạnh, Phú Nhuận, Tân Bình and Tân Phú, the divided land plots must each have a minimum area of 36 sq.m and width of at least three metres long. For Zone 2, (districts experiencing fast urbanisation), including district 2, 7, 9, 12, Bình Tân and Thủ Đức, the divided land plots must each have a minimum area of 50 sq.m and width of at least four metres long. For Zone 3 (outlying districts), including districts Bình Chánh, Củ Chi, Hóc Môn, Nhà Bè and Cần Giờ, the land plots must have a minimum area of 80 sq.m and width of at least five metres. The new regulations on land division require a minimum area of 500 sq .m for a plot of farmland with annual crops, and at least 1,000 sq.m for farmland used for industrial plants, aquaculture and salt-marsh.

 

Under the new regulations, land users have the power over land, as stipulated in the Land Law 2014, for plots in areas not suited for agricultural production and for plots in areas that will not be restored under zoning plans. With the new regulations, people in HCM City, especially those living on land plots that have been part of long-delayed plans, can now legally divide their land plots into smaller plots, which they were not allowed to do in the past because of planned projects on that land (which have been delayed). According to Decision 60, if there is no plan to develop the land after three years, residents living on land under delayed projects can move on to divide their land plots. People in Hoàng Đạo Thúy Street in An Phú Tây Commune in outlying Bình Chánh District, for example, which have been waiting for 24 years for plans to be developed on their land, will now be allowed to divide their land plots.  “We now can divide land plots for our children for them to build temporary houses to live while waiting for the planning to be carried out,” said Cao Thanh Bùi, 50, of Bình Chánh District. The new regulations replace Decision 33 which was issued by HCM City People’s Committee in 2014. Under the latter, each new plot of land had to be at least 50 sq.m and four metres wide.

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

 

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E-Visa Programme Proves Huge Success

 

The trial use of online visas for the last 10 months has been deemed a success, with the number of visitors applying increasing month by month, the Department of Immigration said yesterday. Department director Major General Lê Xuân Viên told a press conference that up to 96,478 foreigners were granted e-visas since February 2 when the scheme started. Of these, 93,266 applied for the e-visa themselves while another 3,212 used organisations in Việt Nam. Việt Nam is currently granting single entry e-visa to citizens of 46 countries, with Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, United Arab Republic, Canada and India the latest added to the list. “The issuing of e-visas is simple, easy and guarantees transparency,” Viên said. He said that most of the e-visa applications were handled within one to two working days, faster that the three-day time frame required in regulations. He added that there were no incidents regarding e-visa checks at 28 ports where they were allowed, thanks to smooth data connection, which also ensured security against hackers.

 

The department head said that e-visas were open for all foreigners wanting to enter Việt Nam, especially those with no guarantors in the country. In response to a question from the Canadian Embassy regarding procedures for those who had an e-visa but had lost their passports during their time in Việt Nam, Viên said that they should first contact and report to the diplomatic mission of their home country to renew the lost passports. They then should get in touch with the Department of Immigration to get a new visa granted. Meanwhile, foreigners who enter the country by e-visa and want to extend their stay or switch to a multiple entry visa can apply for a new visa at the Department of Immigration if they have a domestic guarantor, for example, a tour agency, Viên said. Any further questions regarding e-visas can be asked in English, French and Spanish on the immigration department’s official website at xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn

From http://vietnamnews.vn/ 12/13/2017

 

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Law on Exhibition Okayed as NA Sets Date for Next Sitting in 2018

 

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Wednesday agreed in principle on the Government’s regulations on galleries and exhibitions as well as the establishment of Ninh Cường township in the northern province of Nam Định. The Government’s report, based on partial data from 44 of 63 provinces and direct-controlled municipalities, showed that in 2013, 499 galleries and exhibitions were held nationwide. The number rose to 589 in 2014 and 694 in 2015. Last year’s estimated figure was 385, as only 27 out of 63 provinces and cities recorded this data. Currently, regulations on galleries and exhibitions are contained in several legal documents, for example, the Law on Commerce regulates market fairs, the Law on Heritages provides for provisions on exhibitions and galleries in museums, in addition to several others concerning print publications gallery, photography exhibitions and art galleries.

 

The committee agreed that as Việt Nam deepens international integration, more diverse galleries and exhibitions – in terms of forms, content and organisers – have emerged, necessitating regulations. The proposed decree regulating exhibitions and galleries contains 20 items in four chapters. Tòng Thị Phòng, NA Vice Chairwoman, asked the Government to be more specific about State management in the decree and who is responsible for managing and monitoring exhibition and gallery activities. In Wednesday’s session, the NA Standing Committee also unanimously voted for the establishment of Ninh Cường township, Trực Ninh District of Nam Định Province. The township of Ninh Cường is set to be the new name for the current Trực Phú commune. However, the changes will not be too disruptive, as the ‘Ninh Cường’ epithet is familiar with Vietnamese people as Trực Phú commune used to be the capital of Ninh Cường ‘tổng,’ (tổng is an administrative unit between commune and district, used in feudal Việt Nam). Some 99 per cent of Trực Phú commune’s voters have voted in favour of the new name. According to the NA Standing Committee’s legal committee, Trực Phú commune has met the three criteria required to set up a township, namely population, urban classification (area, political importance, urban infrastructure, etc.) and development. NA Vice Chairwoman Phòng asked that more qualified officials with at least bachelor degrees be appointed in the new township’s administration, or more training be given to current ones so they are “able to handle urban affairs management.”

 

NA’s 5th session set for May 2018

The NA Standing Committee on Wednesday also heard that the fifth session of the 14th National Assembly (NA) is scheduled to take place from May 21 to June 18, 2018. At the fifth session, the NA will debate and adopt seven bills, one draft resolution and discuss 11 other bills, including the revised Anti-Corruption Law and a law on amendments and supplementations to some articles of the Law on Environmental Protection Tax. NA deputies will discuss reports on socio-economic development and the State budget, while conducting supervision and approving resolutions on the supervision programme and the formation of a NA thematic supervision group in 2019. They will also decide on several important issues of the country. On Wednesday, the NA Standing Committee’s members reviewed the outcomes of the 14th NA’s fourth session. They agreed that the session completed a lot of work, making important decisions to drive national socio-economic growth. They said that the decisions helped deal with urgent matters, contributing to boosting the country’s development and international integration. However, they also pointed to some shortcomings of the session, including limitations in preparing documents.

From http://vietnamnews.vn 12/14/2017

 

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INDIA: Government Plans Revamping of Special Economic Zones

  

Special Economic ZonesThe Government is planning to revamp Special Economic Zones (SEZs) so as to boost manufacturing under Make in India scheme. There are also plans to exempt factories located in SEZs, from  Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) as it has been identified as one of the main reasons for the stunted growth of these zones. At present factories have to pay MAT at the rate of 18,.5 per cent since 2012. Minimum area requirement for smaller and special category States will also be reduced. A panel comprising  of Noida SEZ development Commissioner LB Singhal and his counterparts at Kandla SEZ, Santacruz Electronics Export Processing Zone (Seepz) and Madras Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) has been set up by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to suggest changes in the framework to align it with the GST regime. The panel has also recommended incentives for setting up overseas banking units in these zones. Also, the panel has sought to reduce the  the minimum area needed to 4 hectares from 25 hectares for establishment of sector-specific SEZs such as biotechnology, non-conventional energy equipment, agro-based food processing and services in the North-Eastern states, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and the Union Territories.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 12/11/2017

 

 

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Prime Minister Inaugurates Hydropower Project in Mizoram

 

Hydropower project in MizoramPrime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the hydroelectric power project in Tuirial in Mizoram. With this project, Mizoram has become the third power-surplus State in the North East after Sikkim and Tripura. “Today, we celebrate a significant milestone in the history of Mizoram with the completion and dedication of the 60-MW Tuirial hydropower project,” the Prime Minister said, while addressing a public meeting here after inaugurating it. The hydropower project would generate 251 million units of electrical energy annually. “The completion of this project is a reflection of our commitment to completing the ongoing projects and ushering in a new era of development in the north-east,” he added. Announced in 1998, the  Tuirial project, was the first major central project to be successfully commissioned in Mizoram, the prime minister said.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 12/18/2017

 

 

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Inter-State E-way Bill Compulsary from 1st June, 2018

 

To make movement of goods across States easy and fast, the Government has decided to make the Inter-State e-way bill  mandatory from 1st June, 2018. This was decided in the 24th meeting of the GST Council held  in Delhi through video conferencing under the Chairmanship of the Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley. Till now, the States are authorised  to continue their own separate e-way Bill systems. Traders and transporters have conveyed to the Council that they are facing hardship in the Inter-State movement of goods. Therefore, bringing in an early all India system of e-way Bill has become a necessity. The e-way Bill syatem will be rolled out on a trial basis latest by 16th January, 2018. Trade and transporters can start using this system on a voluntary basis from 16th January, 2018. The Rules for implementation of nationwide e-way Bill system for Inter-State movement of goods on a compulsory basis will be notified with effect from 1st February, 2018. This will bring uniformity across the States for seamless inter-State movement of goods. There are certain States which are already having system of e-way Bill for intra-State as well as inter-State movement and some of those States can be early adopters of national e-way Bill system for intra-State movement also.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 12/18/2017

 

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UP Govt to Formulate Separate Cybercrime Law

 

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

From http://egov.eletsonline.com 12/19/2017

 

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AZERBAIJAN: To Join WIPO Patent Law Treaty

 

Azerbaijan will join the Patent Law Treaty (PLT), the administrative functions of which are handled by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Niyazi Rahimov, deputy chairman of the country’s State Committee for Standardization, Metrology and Patent, told reporters in Baku Nov. 28.  Rahimov noted that the legal compliance of Azerbaijan’s law “On Patents” with the legal norms of the PLT was studied jointly with the WIPO.  “At present, a project of initiatives is being prepared related to the relevant changes in Azerbaijan’s legislation, and the project will be submitted to the government in the near future,” he added. “After these processes are completed, it will be possible to talk about Azerbaijan’s joining the PLT.”  First of all, it is envisaged that an applicant, having applied for a patent for an invention, will receive a temporary priority, Rahimov said.  “If earlier, when submitting an application, an applicant was also required to submit a number of documents and pass a number of procedures, the PLT makes it possible to define among countries a single standard that simplifies these procedures,” Rahimov noted. “In particular, this standard will simplify getting information when an application for a patent was filed for the first time. This, on the one hand, eliminates bureaucratic aspects encountered by an inventor, and on the other hand, minimizes the work carried out by the national patent structure.”

From https://en.trend.az 11/28/2017 

 

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ADB to Develop New Strategy for Azerbaijan

 

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will start developing a new strategy for operations in Azerbaijan next year, Aziz Haydarov, senior portfolio management specialist at ADB’s Azerbaijan Resident Mission, told Trend.  He said the new strategy will cover 2019-2023, adding that ADB is in constant contact with the government of Azerbaijan regarding new projects.  Touching upon the spheres of further cooperation with Azerbaijan, Haydarov noted that along with traditional spheres, new directions could be included in the strategy.  "At the moment, our areas of partnership with Azerbaijan include transport, water supply and sewerage, energy and public administration, I think we will continue and even intensify cooperation in these areas, and we do not exclude the possibility of cooperation in the social sector, given that in this direction there is interest from the relevant structures," said Haydarov.  "In particular, we are interested in working in the field of vocational education.We are also actively discussing the preparation pilot projects on public-private partnerships," he said.  ADB approved previous country strategy for Azerbaijan in 2014.  In September 2017, ADB approved a business plan for operations in Azerbaijan for 2018-2020, according to which Azerbaijan will receive funds from ADB only in the form of ordinary capital resources. The estimated cost of the ADB lending program for three years is $1.6 billion. The total cost of projects, taking into account the share of the Azerbaijani government, is 1.985 billion dollars.  ADB was founded in 1966 and 67 states are its members. The bank’s headquarters is located in Manila, Philippines.  Azerbaijan became an ADB member in 1999. Since joining ADB, Azerbaijan has received grants and loans amounting to $4.1 billion.

From https://en.trend.az 12/11/2017 

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TURKEY: To Adopt New Law on Cybersecurity – Ministry

 

A law on cyber security will be adopted in Turkey, that will allow strengthening the fight against cybercrimes, the country’s Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications told Trend Nov. 30. “Cyber crime is a threat to the world and all countries must join efforts in the fight against cyber crime, said the ministry. Three state bodies are involved in ensuring cyber security in Turkey: the Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority and the Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK).

From https://en.trend.az 12/03/2017 

 

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UZBEKISTAN: Intends to Abolish Individual Incentives for Certain Economic Entities

 

Uzbekistan intends to abolish individual customs, tax and other benefits, as well as other preferences for certain economic entities to import food products from February 1, 2018.  The Uzbek president’s draft decree on "Measures of further ensuring food security" has been published on the www.regulation.gov.uz portal for broad discussion and will be discussed till January 5, 2018.  "Some importers in the market are provided with individual privileges and preferences,” the document said. “Exclusive working conditions are created for them. As a result, they have dominant position in the market, while other business entities fail to enter the market.”  "The current situation in this sphere reduces the business activity and investment attractiveness of Uzbekistan, causes damage to the country's reputation in the international arena," the document said.  According to the document, the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan is prohibited from making decisions implying the provision of some economic entities with individual customs, tax and other benefits, as well as other preferences for the import of food products into the country.

From https://en.trend.az 12/19/2017

 

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39 Standard Contracts Launched at Uzbek Commodity Exchange

 

The listing commission of the UzEx JSC, the Uzbek Republican Commodity Exchange, last week (Dec. 11-15) launched 39 standard contracts for construction materials, oil and agricultural products, the UzEx JSC said in a message.  The list of goods put up for the auction included fittings, bitumen, petroleum oils, barley, cotton lint and others.  These goods were included in the exchange quotation list on the basis of applications of 29 traders (12 of them - small business entities), including Almalyk MMC JSC, Bukhara Oil Refinery LLC, Akbar Central Asia LLC, Smart Oil Trade LLC, Inter Auto Line LLC and Bahromjon Nur Savdo LLC.  Earlier, a stock exchange contract No. 9631 was launched at the UzEx for the export of first grade Urta-class cotton fiber of fourth type (2017 crop). Bukhara Seed Company JV was the trader of this product. One contract lot corresponds to one ton of cotton fiber with a starting price of $1,702. The product should be delivered on FCA (free carrier) terms to Bukhara Trans Terminal Production Trade Company LLC.

From https://en.trend.az 12/20/2017

 

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Administrative Procedures Act Approved in Uzbekistan

 

Uzbekistan's Senate has approved the Administrative Procedures Act.  The act will enforce law and improve transparency in relations between public agencies and citizens and legal entities; it will serve toward better public services based on modern technology.  The document was looked into by the plenary session of the upper chamber of the parliament.  According to the Parliament Information Service, the senators stressed that the act goes for implementation of modern organization and legal framework in the activities of the executive authorities, improved techniques of inter-departmental control, elimination of formalism and abuse in public administration.  The act will boost efficiency of public services, integration of modern procedures of enforcement of rights and legal interests of individuals and legal persons.  The act sets the general regulations of administrative procedures, particularly the main principles of execution of administrative procedures reflecting cooperation between public agencies, citizens, and organizations.  The act sets the order of administrative proceedings and decision-making, framework for cancellation, change, or invalidation of administrative acts, general principles of appeal.  The act provides for jurisdiction of administrative cases, inter-departmental cooperation, representation, legal succession, evidence, periods, and charges of administrative procedure.  The act details categories of participants of administrative procedure, and those involved in resolution of administrative cases, their rights and obligations..

From https://en.trend.az 12/21/2017

 

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AUSTRALIA: Draft Newcastle Metro Plan Released

 

The NSW Government has released a Draft Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan. It sets out urban strategies to 2036 for Newcastle City, Cessnock, Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Port Stephens. The plan was released on 30 November by NSW chief planner Gary White. It is at this stage a draft plan, with the NSW Government’s Department of Planning and Environment seeking comment until February 2018. The plan mentions a Hunter Special Infrastructure Contributions Fund, but no details were released. “The Hunter Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC) will set out the State infrastructure and development contributions to support the growth and development of Greater Newcastle and the wider Hunter Region. The Hunter SIC will help deliver the goals of the Hunter Regional Plan 2036 and this draft Metropolitan Plan, and will replace the draft 2011 Lower Hunter Special Infrastructure Contribution Plan.”

 

The plan has been welcomed by the Hunter Business Chamber. CEO Bob Hawes said the Chamber will now prepare a response to the plan, as part of the submission process. It has also been welcomed by developer lobby group Urban Taskforce, which says it  includes a positive set of strategies to balance housing and jobs growth with infrastructure provision. “The plan sets out a strong framework for growth that improves on the Sydney Metropolitan Plan,” says Urban Taskforce CEO Chris Johnson. “Urban renewal corridors, new housing encouraged in strategic centres and support for mixed use catalyst areas give clearer directions than in the Sydney Metropolitan Plan. “The Newcastle plans supports housing diversity and choice but it does not propose extra levies for affordable housing which is another difference from the Sydney version.

 

The focus on the delivery of new housing in strategic centres, urban renewal corridors and priority release areas provides a good balanced approach for where new housing should be located. The plan identifies 13 strategic centres across Greater Newcastle, including seven strategic centres in the city core. “This polycentric structure is the way many cities are developing, including Sydney and London,” said Mr Johnson. “Importantly, the plan stresses the need to improve the connections between the strategic centres through public transport. “A potential high speed rail corridor to Sydney is proposed which could lead to the linking of the urban areas north and south of Sydney through a modern fast transport route.”

From https://www.governmentnews.com.au 12/04/2017

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Govt Launches Endometriosis Action Plan

 

Efforts to improve the lives of women living with endometriosis have been boosted, with the Turnbull government announcing the development of an action plan for the painful and often misunderstood gynaecological condition. Endometriosis affects an estimated one in 10 women and diagnosis of the condition takes on average about eight to nine years. 'This condition should have been better acknowledged and acted upon long ago but today we are taking action so the struggle that women face will no longer be silent or their battles private,' Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement. 'We will work with the medical community and key stakeholders to look into what gaps might be present in training, support and care.' The action plan will be developed in collaboration with the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis and members of the Parliamentary Friends for Endometriosis Awareness. Also announced on on Wednesday was a research grant of $160,000, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, for Professor Grant Montgomery to use genomics to investigate better treatments for women with endometriosis.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 12/06/2017

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Live Sport Gambling Ad Limits from March 2018

 

Live sport broadcasts will no longer be interrupted by gambling advertising under draft laws introduced to federal parliament. Under the legislation tabled in the Senate on Wednesday, gambling ads will be banned from five minutes before the start of play until five minutes after the conclusion of play or 8.30pm, whichever is sooner. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield told parliament the government intended for the restrictions to come into place from March 30 next year. The ban will apply to commercial free-to-air TV, SBS, pay TV, commercial radio and online content services. Senator Fifield said the government had listened to community concerns about gambling promotions and their impact on children. 'The announced gambling restrictions will establish a clear safe zone during which parents and caregivers may have confidence that children will not be exposed to gambling promotions by viewing live sports,' he said on Wednesday.

From www.skynews.com.au 12/06/2017

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New Terror Financing Laws Pass Senate

 

Legislation cracking down on counter-terrorism financing and money laundering has cleared the federal parliament. Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament the measures will strengthen protections against Australian businesses being misused for money laundering or the financing of terrorism. The bill had bipartisan support, but Labor senator Deb O'Neill said the changes didn't go far enough. Senator Brandis said any suggestion the legislation was piecemeal was ill-conceived. 'Counter-terrorism financing is a complex area. This bill deals with certain particular aspects of the problem,' he said on Thursday. 'The government has introduced other legislation earlier in the year to deal with other aspects.' The new regime will strengthen AUSTRAC' s intelligence sharing and enforcement powers. The changes also clamp down on the use of digital currencies such as Bitcoin for money laundering and terrorism financing.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 12/07/2017

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PM Introduces Draft Home Affairs Legislation

 

Malcolm Turnbull is a step closer to setting up a new super security department to keep Australians safe. The prime minister introduced draft legislation to the lower house on Thursday evening to establish a home affairs portfolio. Under the plan, which would come into force next year, the umbrella department headed by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton would cover a bevy of agencies including the Australian Federal Police, domestic spy agency the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Border Force. Mr Turnbull says the new arrangements will help counter evolving threats - from terrorism, drug trafficking, criminal syndicates and weapons smugglers to pedophile rings. "This is how we will keep Australia safe," he told parliament. The attorney-general will retain oversight of ministerial authorisation and warrants for ASIO and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, and the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor will transfer to that department.

From http://www.skynews.com.au 12/07/2017

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Australia Drops Plans to Charge Kiwis More for Tertiary Education

 

The Australian government has dropped its plans to make New Zealanders studying at Australian universities pay higher fees. The government had proposed legislation which would have removed access to government subsidised fees for New Zealanders and permanent residents. But without the support of many Australian MPs, the government did not have the votes in the senate to pass the bill and has scrapped the legislation. Australia will still go ahead with some reforms that were part of its higher-education reforms, but none that required legislation, such as student fee increases, and changes for New Zealanders and permanent residents. Lobby group Oz Kiwi says it is pleased by the backdown, but adds there are many other concerns for its members. Deputy chairperson Joanne Cox said they were taking the government's backdown on higher fees as a win.

 

"Obviously the access to higher education is very important for young New Zealanders, so this is a good thing that they're not being penalised." But she said there were other issues for New Zealanders living across the Tasman that still needed to be addressed, such as a lack of access to student loans, and the inability to access Australia's national disability insurance scheme - which is similar to ACC - because they were not citizens or permanent residents. She said many of the issues for New Zealanders in Australia stem from the decision by the John Howard-led government in 2001 to change the visa status for Kiwis from what was effectively a permanent resident on arrival to a temporary resident on a 'special category visa', which had no pathway to citizenship itself. Ms Cox said Oz Kiwi was not getting far on these issues with the current coalition government, which was unlikely to roll back any of the Howard reforms.

 

"We've met with some backbenchers and some of the lower rank members of the coalition government, but we don't get any traction with any ministers or any senior members of the government." She said there was a general lack of awareness - and even apathy - from New Zealanders in Australia about the issues, and Oz Kiwi was working hard on educating them on changes with visas and access to education. "It is an ever-changing playing field out there. These things just come along, and they announce that things will change. And even with the student loan issue - which has been a major issue over the calendar year - has left a whole cohort of New Zealanders who live in Australia with their teenage children about to finish high school, not knowing if their child will be able to access a student loan to go to university." She said many families were considering returning to New Zealand so their children could afford to access higher education. "There are many families in that situation, families who have considered returning to New Zealand because their children need to go to university and they can't afford to pay their fees up front." More than 10,000 Kiwis are currently studying at tertiary institutions in Australia.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 12/19/2017

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Digital Sourcing in ACCC's Sights over Suspected Consumer Law Breach

 

The competition watchdog, the ACCC, has warned that overseas based online retailer Digital Sourcing ApS (Digital Sourcing) is suspected of breaching Australian Consumer Law by misleading consumers and asserting a right to payment for unsolicited goods. According to the public warning, issued on Wednesday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, it has received hundreds of complants about Digital Sourcing – formerly Lux International Sales ApS (Luxstyle). “This year, the ACCC received over 1600 complaints about Luxstyle and Digital Sourcing, which advertise beauty products on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. These ads direct people to a website that does not display prices unless the customer enters mailing and email addresses,” deputy chair Delia Rickard said. “Many people have complained that they are then sent a goods package by this company after they entered their details, despite not making an order or entering payment information. The package contains an invoice with the products demanding payment. If not paid, people then receive letters of demand threatening legal action.”

From https://www.itwire.com 12/21/2017

 

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NEW ZEALAND: PM Rejects Criticism of Student Allowance Policy

 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there won't be a problem with the government's policy to increase student allowance payments by $50 a week. The opposition seized on the initiative, arguing it will give incentive to people on benefits to move into tertiary education without a genuine intention to study. National Minister Paul Goldsmith told Morning Report that if beneficiaries moved into tertiary education and training, "everybody will celebrate." However, he is concerned that some who shift from benefits to tertiary education might not be "genuine students". Mr Goldsmith said the student allowance and the jobseekers allowance had previously been aligned so there would not be an incentive for people on the benefit to become students or vice versa. The Prime Minister has rejected the idea the initiative could be exploited. She told Morning Report there are already protections in place to make sure people going on the allowance are genuine students, such as pass rates. Ms Ardern said a range of education options would be available to beneficiaries and it would be a good outcome if people on jobseekers sought extra training.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 12/01/2017

 

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National Standards Ditched by Government

 

This year's achievement rates in the national standards in reading, writing and maths will remain a mystery after the government began the process of ditching the standards. Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced schools would not have to report their 2017 results to the Education Ministry and would not be required to use or report on the standards next year. The previous government has used the annually reported figures to track changes from year to year in national standards' achievement rates. Mr Hipkins said the government would develop a new system to replace the standards next year in consultation with teachers and principals. Former Education Minister, National Party MP Nikki Kaye, said the government had taken a "nuclear approach" in moving so quickly to abolish the benchmarks. "It's a very sad day for New Zealand. We've got the minister making a decision that affects hundreds and thousands of children and their parents without consulting with parents," she said.

 

Ms Kaye said the decision would leave a gap in national information about children's performance at school and parents would not know how their children's achievement would be reported next year. But Mr Hipkins said parents and teachers were expecting the announcement. "I don't think anyone will be surprised that we are ditching a failed experiment," he said. Mr Hipkins said the standards had created an enormous amount of work for teachers, with no discernible gain. "We want teachers focused on less testing and more teaching because that's the way we're going to improve students' progress." Mr Hipkins said teachers would still be expected to make overall judgements about children's achievement and parents would get better information about children's progress. He said schools could continue to use the standards if they wanted to. New Zealand children's performance in international tests had declined since the standards were introduced in 2010, and reporting results to the Ministry of Education was little more than a compliance exercise, Mr Hipkins said.

 

The standards took a hit at the start of December with the publication of results that showed 10-year-olds' reading achievement had declined since their introduction. New Zealand's average score in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study had been steady for 15 years, but dropped sharply in testing conducted at the end of 2015, plunging New Zealand from 23rd to 33rd out of 50 countries. Treasury recommended retaining the standards until replacement ready A Cabinet paper published today said the new system would measure children's progress and focus on "key competencies for success in life, learning and work". It said in the meantime the government would require schools to report on children's progress as well as achievement with an emphasis on good quality information from a range of sources. "This will help reassure parents and whānau that the removal of Nga Whanaketanga Rumaki Māori and National Standards will not reduce the information available to them," the cabinet paper said.

 

The paper showed Treasury supported the plan to measure children's progress against a wider range of subjects, but warned that dumping the standards would create a gap in national information about children's achievement. It recommended retaining the standards until the replacement system was ready. "Systems level information on primary school performance is critical to the Ministry and the ERO to identify whether there is a need for changes in education policy settings, as well as to identify which schools may need additional support or intervention. Without this intervention, systematic issues may not become visible until NCEA, which is too late for effective intervention," Treasury told the government However, Mr Hipkins responded that national standards had not been providing reliable national-level information because they were "neither national nor standard".

 

The paper showed the government had asked the Education Ministry to redesign a computer system that helped teachers make accurate judgements about children's achievement against the standards so that it could instead be used to measure children's achievement and progress against curriculum levels in "foundational learning areas". It said the government was also stopping the transfer of responsibility for teachers' professional development courses and training to the Education Council. The paper said the Education Minister wanted to consider instead the development of a national advisory service to oversee all centrally-funded training. An education professor says scrapping national standards is a good turn of events for schools as they were flawed and poorly developed. Martin Thrupp, a professor of education at Waikato University, said there was an enormous amount of work for teachers in justifying their assessments and in senior staff moderating them under national standards. "It's a very busy system. It has a kind of simplistic, crude four point scale - children are labelled well below, below, at or above but behind that is an enormous amount of work," he said "The amount of time that teachers put into shoring up the overall teacher judgements to make those determinations was a distraction from teaching and learning I think. "Testing or having some sort of assessment of children twice a year every year and that being reported nationally - even in places like Australia it's only at 3,5, 7 and SAT testing the UK is not every year." He said there were many other measures available to teachers and the government should consult properly on what it did next in monitoring student achievement.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 12/13/2017

 

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Copyright Law Confirmed for an Overhaul

 

The country's copyright law is to get its first overhaul in a decade. The government confirmed on Friday it would carry on with the previous government's plan for a review, and it would start in April next year. It is likely to look at the issues of fair use, safe harbours and illegal downloading. In a high-profile case recently, the National government was found guilty of using music that sounded too similar to American rapper Eminem's song "Lose Yourself". New Zealand Screen Association managing director Matthew Cheetham said the rights and revenue of rights holders were "gradually being whittled away". The association represents film and television content and distribution companies in New Zealand, including major Hollywood companies. "In New Zealand piracy is almost an accepted thing, because no one's really doing anything about it, because no one actually can do anything about it." Mr Cheetham said.

 

"As new technologies have evolved, the law has struggled to keep pace with those new technologies and to make sure that the law is fit for purpose in the digital age." He said the law should allow for websites responsible for illegal file-sharing to be blocked, as is the law in Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom. "If the site is infringing [a court] can order internet service providers to block access to that site. Forty-two countries around the world have recognised that blocking access when it's carefully defined is a perfectly legitimate avenue for rights holders to protect their rights." That would not solve piracy issues, but would be a start, said Mr Cheetham. He said Pirate Bay was the 22nd most popular website in New Zealand, as listed last week. "It's an indication that piracy continues to be a major problem here. The easiest thing would be to block access to that site."

 

Three strikes law little used – INZ The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Act 2011 - also known as the "three strikes law"- came into force in September 2011. Internet account holders can be fined for illegally downloading and uploading copyright material, after being warned three times. Mr Cheetham said the amendment had been too expensive to use and hadn't done anything to stop piracy "It's $25 a notice, and when you've got tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people infringing per month, the cost of $25 a notice quickly becomes prohibitive." The handful of fines under the law, the biggest of which was around $1000, weren't going to act as any kind of deterrent, he said. Internet New Zealand deputy chief executive Andrew Cushen had "no doubts" piracy would be up for debate, but it was not as rampant as it used to be.

 

"We've seen a huge explosion in paid-for content models. I'm pretty sure that if you look at the stats around music piracy, thanks to services like Spotify and their compatriots, the amount of music that is actually being stolen is far less than before." He said the three-strikes law had sought to give content-owners the legal means to protect their rights, but was hardly being used. "We have an entire regime that allows copyright holders to seek and send notices to users that are committing piracy and actually have a process in a court-based system that allows remedies to be pursued. None of them are using it. Why would we now look at a wholly different solution that none of them are going to use as well." He said site-blocking was not reasonable. "It's just against the way the internet works. Site-blocks are actually a really poor solution because they can be evaded by pretty simple technological tools."

 

'iPod law in a smartphone world' Mr Cushen said New Zealand should also consider its fair use which was not in current New Zealand copyright law. "We think New Zealand is out of step with the rest of the world. When I look around the majority of OECD countries there is some form of fair use provision and it, frankly, makes the law far clearer and far easier to implement. "We're seeing the ramifications of not having a fair use provision play out in New Zealand right now with various parties taking each other to court over whether or not they can use footage from things like the Olympics, and that seems a bit silly to us." Mr Cushen said technology had outpaced the law and it needed to be principles-based instead of too specific about certain technologies. "The current law is not a good match for the current world that we live in now - it's an iPod law in a smartphone world."

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 12/18/2017

 

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eDay Trust Wants Government Ewaste Action

 

The eDay Trust — a community initiative to raise awareness of ewaste hazards and the benefits of recycling computers —has called on the new Government to make a national ewaste recycling scheme a priority. Its call follows publication of the International Telecommunication Union’s Global E-waste Monitor 2017, which the trust says has identified New Zealand as one of the world’s largest generators of electronic waste and the only OECD country without any national ewaste regulations. eDay Trust chair, Laurence Zwimpfer, said: “In 2016, research by the Wellington Waste Forum (a collaborative initiative of local authorities in the lower North Island), revealed that 63 percent of New Zealanders would be happy to pay as much as $30 extra for new electronic equipment if there was an assurance the equipment would be recycled responsibly at end of life.

 

“Given this consumer preference and the high cost to government of supporting short-term recycling initiatives, we can’t understand why the previous Government did not want to work with industry to solve this problem once and for all.  We look forward to the new Government making this a priority. According to the report, in 2014, the Ministry of Environment contracted a private organisation to develop a product stewardship framework for managing ewaste in New Zealand. “This organisation undertook a comprehensive stakeholder engagement and consultation, together with collection and analysis of e-waste data, to develop recommendations for an ewaste stewardship option for New Zealand,” the report said. “It is understood that the New Zealand government is still considering these various options to decide on a particular scheme. They are also closely monitoring the success of the Australian scheme.

 

“In addition to the above task, the New Zealand government has developed comprehensive guidelines for collection, reuse, and recycling of the waste of electrical and electronic equipment. These guidelines are targeted towards good management of health, safety, and environmental issues when reusing or recycling e-waste.” Zwimpfer said the ITU’s ‘naming and shaming’ of New Zealand “is not only embarrassing, but also challenges the clean green image we like to promote to the world. Our Trust has been promoting ewaste solutions for over ten years but this is a reality check about little progress we have actually made.” According to the report every New Zealander generates around 20kg of ewaste each year and the official collection rate is zero percent.

 

“While some other countries have slightly higher per capita volumes, this is mitigated by the existence of national ewaste collection and recycling schemes. For example, Europe leads the world, achieving a 49 percent recycling rate for ewaste in 2016,” Zwimpfer said. He added: “Being given a score of zero percent in the [ITU] report is a bit unfair as there are some New Zealand recyclers who are doing a fantastic job diverting ewaste from landfills. But these are typically charities or recyclers with a social conscience. Remarkit in Wellington is a good example. “Nine years ago the Government legislated a framework for product stewardship schemes as part of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, but has failed to progress any sustainable scheme for consumer ewaste.

 

“The one exception has been for mobile phones. Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees have joined together for the RE:Mobile product stewardship scheme; these companies accept unwanted mobile phones at their retail stores and then arrange for the phones to be refurbished or recycled. The scheme is so successful that profits from the sale of equipment are helping to support Sustainable Coastlines, an NGO promoting clean water.” Since 2006, the eDay Trust (and its predecessor, the Computer Access New Zealand Trust) has advocated for a sector-wide product stewardship scheme for all ewaste to be put in place. This, it says,  would mean that the cost of recycling is built into the price of new products so that New Zealanders can recycle responsibly at no extra cost when the equipment reaches end of life.

 

“This is effective in all OECD countries except New Zealand,” said Zwimpfer. “As a country, we have dropped the ball, as the ITU report points out. What we need is a permanent and sustainable solution, and this now needs some urgent action by Government.” The Government has supported a number of short-term ewaste collection and recycling initiatives. These have included the annual eDay computer collection events from 2006 to 2010, the RCN e-Cycle scheme from 2010 to 2014 and the TV Takeback programme from 2012-2014. According to the eDay Trust these activities over 10 years have diverted around 800,000 electronic devices from landfills at a cost to the Government of around $20 million (or $25 per device). But during the same 10 years an estimated 10 million new computers and TVs were sold in New Zealand. “None of these initiatives has resulted in a long-term sustainable solution. The volumes of new electronic equipment are expanding at 10 times the rate of current recycling efforts,” said Zwimpfer.

From https://www.computerworld.co.nz 12/18/2017

 

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Govt Unveils Medicinal Cannabis Legislation

 

Terminally ill people who possess and use illicit cannabis will be protected from prosecution under legislation introduced today. The government has unveiled its Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill to make medicinal cannabis more available to people with terminal illness or chronic pain. Under the legislation, domestic cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products will be allowed. An advisory committee will be established to review the rules for prescribing medicinal cannabis and to set minimum product quality standards. The government said this was to improve patient safety and boost confidence among doctors. As an interim measure, the law would create a legal defence for possession and use of illicit cannabis for those in their last year of life. However, the Drug Foundation said the changes did not go far enough. Health Minister David Clark said making medicinal cannabis more readily available would help relieve the suffering of people who were dying in pain.

 

He said legislation would, in time, result in greater supply of quality medicinal cannabis, including products made in this country. Based on the Australian experience, that was likely to take up to two years to happen. "However, there will be people who can't wait. As an interim measure the legislation will create a legal defence for possession and use of illicit cannabis for people who are expected by their doctors to be in their last year of life. This does not make it legal for the terminally ill to use cannabis, but it means that they will not be criminalised for doing so." It will remain an offence to supply cannabis to such terminally ill people without a valid prescription from a doctor. Changes were not being considered to the general possession law for cannabis under the scheme, however, Dr Clark said the law may be reviewed after the planned referendum on recreational cannabis use.

 

Dr Clark said there was increasing evidence to support the use of medicinal cannabis, including the World Health Organisation noting last week that cannabidiol, one of at least 113 active cannabinoids found in cannabis, "could have therapeutic value and did not carry any addiction risks". Currently, a person must have a doctor's prescription, and for products containing THC [tetrahydrocannabinol], the doctor must apply to the Health Ministry for approval to prescribe. The exception was the drug Sativex for multiple sclerosis. There are two combination THC and CBD [cannabidiol] products available, according to extra information supplied by Dr Clark. One was Sativex and the other a non-approved product. If an alternative product was required, the doctor or a wholesaler or pharmacist must import it under the planned changes, and an import licence from the ministry would be needed. No product was currently funded, and whether that changed would be up to the drug-buyer Pharmac.

 

When the new scheme was operational, patients with a prescription would be able to access medicinal cannabis at a pharmacy. The committee to be established under the legislation would advise on prescribing, and whether pre-approval from the ministry should continue. Dr Clark said 9000 people died from cancer each year but it was not known how many terminally ill people would want to use cannabis. Bill should go further - Drug Foundation The Drug Foundation said a legal protections in the bill does not go far enough and must be fixed. It said while it welcomed the legislation, the two years it would take to be fully operational was too long. "The bill simply does not go far enough to cover people with chronic pain and any terminal illness and needs to be fixed by the select committee," foundation executive director Ross Bell said. In the meantime, all patients needing medicinal cannabis, and its suppliers, should be protected from prosecution, not just the terminally ill, it said.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 12/20/2017

 

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Call for Comments on Reforms to the Global Audit Standard-Setting Process

 

The World Bank Group is a member of the Monitoring Group, a group of international financial institutions and regulatory bodies committed to advancing the public interest in areas related to international audit standard setting and audit quality. The Monitoring Group has today issued a consultation paper, Strengthening the Governance and Oversight of the International Audit-related Standard-setting Boards in the Public Interest. The paper sets out various options to enhance the governance, accountability and oversight of the international audit standard-setting process. The consultation is part of the Monitoring Group’s mandate to promote high-quality international auditing and ethical standards. Further details are on the work of the Monitoring Group are available here.

 

The Consultation Paper reflects the Monitoring Group’s commitment to ensuring the effectiveness of the standard-setting process and includes options that would change the number of standard- setting boards, their composition, their strategic focus, geographical balance and remit; the process to nominate their members; and their current oversight arrangements, among other elements. The report requests stakeholder views on which of those options would best achieve the Monitoring Group’s objectives to enhance their independence and public accountability. As a member of the Monitoring Group, the World Bank Group encourages all stakeholders to provide feedback on the options for reform. Comments on this Consultation Report should be submitted on or before February 9, 2018 to the following email address:  MG2017consultation@iosco.org

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 11/29/2017

 

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How National Governments Can Help Smart Cities Succeed

 

Cities around the world are undergoing two important transformations. First, they are growing. For the first time in history, a majority of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Second, they are beginning to evolve into “smart cities”—cities capable of collecting and analyzing vast quantities of data to automate processes, improve service quality, provide market signal feedback to users, and to make better decisions. While city governments can and should manage much of this transformation, national governments have an important role to play in accelerating and coordinating the development of smart cities. Indeed, the long-term success of smart cities in any particular nation will likely depend on whether the national government supports their development.

 

Cities of all sizes are beginning to use an array of technologies, including low-cost sensors, wireless communication systems, data-actuated devices, and advanced data analytics to operate more intelligently. Cities can use these technologies to address many key challenges, such as traffic congestion, crime, and pollution, as well as to improve the quality and reduce the costs of a vast array of government services. The emergence of smart cities is a marked departure from the past when most urban systems—roads, transit, waste-removal systems, the electric grid, and buildings—had few, if any, built-in capabilities to measure and act on their performance, particularly in real time. With the development of new technologies to collect, analyze, act on, and share municipal data, urban infrastructure and services no longer need to be static and unresponsive, but can instead adapt to changing needs. However, cities cannot complete the evolution into smart cities on their own. There are five key challenges limiting smart city development that even the most capable of cities will likely not be able to overcome on their own. These are:

 

Too Much Risk: Cities have little incentive to be early adopters of new smart city technology when that means they bear all of the risk of failure. Instead they have an incentive to wait until others have worked out the challenges. Similarly, while public research and development (R&D) will be critical to the success of smart cities, such as improving cyber security and establishing demonstration projects, a city cannot be expected to take on the costs of R&D in exchange for only a small share of the total benefits it will generate. Lack of Focus on Smart Infrastructure: Many national governments’ infrastructure funding focuses almost exclusively on enabling cities to build and maintain traditional “concrete and steel” projects. This leaves little opportunity for more capable and innovative cities, which rely on national government funding, to pursue smart infrastructure built around “concrete and chips.” The Need for Interconnected Smart Cities: If cities can share and compare data with one another, governments can reduce costs, as well as analyze larger pools of data, enabling more accurate and actionable insights. However, cities are not equipped to develop interoperable systems and share data across their jurisdictional boundaries.

 

Lagging Communities of Practice: Building and operating smart cities will require a significant change from the normal way of managing cities, and local leaders need to be able to easily share their successes and failures and learn from their peers. If every city experimenting with smart city technology would share what they learn, every other city would benefit. But without an initial critical mass of cities capable of developing and sharing these insights, overall learning and action will remain limited. The Need to Ensure Equity: Smart city technologies have great potential to help address the needs of underserved communities, however these technologies can also exacerbate inequalities if applied or adopted unevenly, which simultaneously limits the efficacy of these technologies. Municipal governments can enact policies to help ensure the equitable distribution and application of smart city technologies, but historically efforts to promote equity have been supplemented by national government efforts, suggesting municipal actions alone would be insufficient.

 

Fortunately, national governments can provide solutions to all these challenges. Cities will rightly make the majority of investments and decisions related to their evolution into smart cities. However national governments have a key role to fill in addressing the problems cities cannot resolve on their own, particularly in the early stages. Importantly, large portions of the role of national governments will be temporary. While national governments should always be involved in supporting innovation, their main goal with smart cities is to enact policies that set in motion significant shifts in how cities operate that will allow this evolution to be self-sustaining. Thus, some of the roles for national governments in smart cities will be temporary—for example, once robust communities of practice arise for smart cities, national governments do not need to heavily encourage their development—while others, such as promoting equity, may be ongoing. National government solutions include:

 

Supporting shared projects in at least four areas: 1) R&D on key technical challenges, such as cyber security; 2) research and demonstration projects that develop and test particular new smart city applications; 3) shared applications and tools that make cities better equipped to work with smart technology and data; and 4) demonstration projects to establish a few comprehensive smart cities to test system-wide applications. Allocating a share of infrastructure investments to specifically target smart infrastructure, such as intelligent transportation systems and smart grid systems. Developing policies and common standards for smart city technologies that encourage interoperability and data sharing to increase the effectiveness of smart city applications and increase the value proposition for smart technologies. Fostering collaboration and coordination in the smart city ecosystem to facilitate inter-city learning and reduce knowledge-sharing barriers. Ensuring that efforts to support smart cities, such as through pilot programs, infrastructure investment, or support for public-private partnerships, address the needs of underserved communities.

From E-Strategies 12/03/2017

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Disrupting Democracy

 

Beginning January 2017, the Bertelsmann Foundation embarked on a journey to explore how digital innovation impacts democracies and societies around the world. From the rival capitals of Washington and Havana to the bustling streets of New Delhi; the dynamic tech startups in Tel Aviv to the efficient order of Berlin, Disrupting Democracy focuses on key challenges that have emerged as a result of technological disruption and offers potential lessons to other nations situated at various points along the technological and democratic spectra.

From http://www.bfna.org/ 12/18/2017

 

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Digital Rights Are Human Rights

 

Not long ago, the internet connoted progress, connection, exploration, innovation. But what trends do you associate with the net today? Disinformation? Hatred? Surveillance? Censorship? Monopoly? Child exploitation? The dark mood about the digital age, while understandable, is also dangerous. The internet still offers enormous value as a tool for freedom of information and expression. But in attempting to fix its very real problems, we are concerned that governments—often with public support and encouragement—risk undermining its core benefits. Repressive governments have long criminalized criticism of officials or institutions, often disguised as seemingly content-neutral measures such as laws on defamation, blasphemy, or lèse majesté (offending the dignity of a sovereign or the state, perhaps most often associated with Thailand). Now, in many countries, a Facebook post or a tweet can lead to a visit from the security services, an investigation, or worse. Cases span from India, where a young man was detained for irreverent posts on Facebook, to Zimbabwe, where, in November, an American woman was arrested after having insulted (now former) President Robert Mugabe on Twitter.

 

Even governments that have typically protected and promoted freedom of expression are taking steps that, while not in the same category of repression, could nonetheless lead to restriction on space for expression and association. For instance, Western European governments concerned about the problems posed by social media are adopting policies that undermine the protections offered to free speech in offline space. Earlier this year, Germany legislated against online “hate speech,” encouraging internet platforms to engage in what in essence would come down to online censorship. The United Kingdom’s Investigatory Powers Act—dubbed by opponents the “snooper’s charter” and adopted in 2016—provides security services and police with the power to hack into computers and phones and collect bulk communications data, severely endangering, among other things, the ability of journalists to protect their sources. Spain’s attempt to counter Catalonian separatism this fall has led to significant interferences with the flow of online information. And the U.S. immigration enforcement agency has called upon software developers to help it design algorithms allowing for continuous monitoring of the social media activity of visa-holders.

 

Next week’s Internet Governance Forum in Geneva is one of the few global arenas available to advocate for an internet safe and secure for freedom of expression, privacy, and other fundamental rights. An annual global meeting organized by the U.N., it provides a critical place for governments, internet companies, and civil society to re-emphasize the core human rights values at the center of the digital age. The IGF does not itself make decisions, but its very existence promotes an open, secure, and participatory internet, emphasizing its decentralized nature. From our different perspectives—as the U.N.’s principal monitor for freedom of expression worldwide and as a lawyer who has litigated freedom of expression cases around the world—we both have seen how IGF promotes a vision of internet governance that runs counter to the state-centralized management pursued by censorship-heavy governments. China and Russia, for instance, have pressed to “multilateralize” internet governance, effectively locking out civil society in favor of a state-dominated approach. China’s series of Wuzhen conferences have been a kind of counterpoint to IGF, reflecting the aggressive approach China takes toward uses of the internet that Western users take for granted.

 

This year, more than at any other of IGF’s 11 earlier sessions, participants must resist statist management of digital spaces. Instead, they need to celebrate and advocate for approaches that involve not only governments but also individual users, NGOs, private companies, technologists, and academics. These types of multi-stakeholder processes tend to argue that the best way to counter the ills of the digital age is to protect user autonomy and expression and to adopt solutions that have buy-in from all those using—and building and protecting—the internet. IGF arrives at a critical moment, and participants should aim, at a minimum, for three things. The best way to counter the ills of the digital age is to protect user autonomy and expression. First, IGF should celebrate and protect the internet’s role in facilitating the exercise of human rights. Governments are obliged under international law to protect the rights to freedom of expression, privacy, free assembly and association. Instead, governments regularly assault them, arguing—as they often do in times of terrorism and other threats—that compromise is necessary. We have seen this especially in the efforts by law enforcement, at national and local levels, to undermine encryption (a fundamental safeguard for user security), privacy, and expression. France sought to criminalize merely visiting websites deemed to encourage terrorism, which the Constitutional Council recently declared unconstitutional.

 

Unfortunately, compromise often involves a one-way ratchet, giving more power to states and few rights to individuals. IGF should stand for the principle that, where governments restrict online rights, they must also—as in offline space—demonstrate that the restrictions are necessary and proportionate to protect legitimate interests. Online or off, governments have an obligation to protect human rights. Second, IGF should promote diversity and inclusion online. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s vote to repeal net neutrality is just one example of policies that threaten free speech online, placing more power in the hands of big telecom companies worldwide. Equal access means more information available to individuals, something that should not be left only to corporate actors. That said, governments and companies alike must better address issues such as online harassment, which prevent equal participation online. Online harassment disproportionately targets women and minorities, facilitating a less diverse and less democratic online space. Governments and private actors need to find mechanisms that restrict online harassment and hold perpetrators accountable, within a framework of laws that does not undermine freedom of expression or privacy. This is easier said than done, but one way to start is to train law enforcement to understand how online abuse can constitute harassment and threats already criminalized under much domestic law.

 

Finally, IGF should encourage broad participation. Indeed, the need for public participation in global internet governance has never been more important. The IGF’s model of governance represents the most advanced effort at giving everyone a seat at the table when it comes to defining the future of the internet. IGF and other forums, like the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the Internet Engineering Task Force, are where the future of the internet is being considered, its architecture and governance agreed. Public participation makes the case that the most important open communications platform ever invented should remain open, pluralistic, and democratic. We encourage everyone to take advantage of opportunities to engage. For instance, the European Union offers public platforms to engage on major internet issues, such as its current one on fake news and disinformation. Individuals and organizations can engage through mechanisms such as the IGF’s “dynamic coalitions.” Don’t be intimidated by the language or by the forums—we need your voice. The internet can still be saved. But we all need to make a serious effort to do so. This article is part of Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.

From http://www.slate.com/ 12/23/2017

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CHINA: Will Intensify SOE Reform to Boost Quality and Efficiency

 

China will press ahead with the reform of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to provide a greater driving force for high-quality economic development with state capital, according to a decision made at the State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. The meeting, which heard a report on the reform, supervision and inspection of central SOEs by the Supervisory Board of Key Large State-owned Enterprises, decided that the management system of state-owned assets will be improved, and a list of powers and obligations on state assets supervision and management will be formulated to enable precise by-category supervision. Enterprises will be given effective autonomy in their operations as the government deepens the reform to streamline administration, enhance compliance oversight and provide better services. Solid steps will be taken to cut outdated excess capacity, and the issue of "zombie enterprises" will be handled in a timely fashion. Deleveraging the SOEs and reduction of corporate debt will be prioritized to keep risks under control.

 

China's SOEs registered a total business revenue of over 41.9 trillion yuan (6.32 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first ten months of this year, up by 15.4 percent year on year, and made 2.39 trillion yuan of profits, up by 24.6 percent, according to the Ministry of Finance. The meeting decided to bring forward the improvement of sectoral distribution, structural optimization and strategic reorganization of the state-owned sector. State capital will be mainly channeled into key sectors and areas that are vital for national security, the overall economy and people's livelihood, as well as major infrastructure development. Another focus of the reform is to develop a corporate legal person governance structure with effective checks and balances and establish a flexible and efficient market-oriented management mechanism. The reform to introduce shareholding system into the central SOEs will be pushed forward, and investors of various types will be brought in to enable stock rights diversification.

 

For the SOEs whose main business portfolios are in fully competitive sectors, efforts will be made to explore the introduction of the mixed ownership structure. "The reform has enabled SOEs, especially central SOEs, to achieve an upturn in their business revenues, which reached the highest level in five years," Li said. He added that the SOEs must earnestly address the problems identified in the supervision and inspection process. The oversight on the operation of state capital will be reinforced, as well as the inspection of overseas state assets, and stringent accountability will be enforced, the meeting decided. "Relevant State Council departments must actively support the SOE reform, and further pursue the streamlining of administration, enhanced compliance oversight and provision of better services to help enable the high-quality development of SOEs and ensure the security and good turns on state assets." Li said.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/13/2017

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China Encourages Enterprises to Cooperate with Educational Institutions

 

China will allow more enterprises to cooperate with vocational schools and higher educational institutions to further integrate businesses with education, according to a guideline issued by the State Council. The guideline said that China should make transparent entry criteria and streamline administrative approvals for enterprises to work with schools. China will encourage more enterprises to recruit students as interns, the guideline said, proposing that enterprises act as the main body to promote innovation and transform basic research into industrial technology. Leading enterprises should take the lead in integrating enterprises and educational institutions, and state-owned enterprises will be supported by the country to cooperate with vocational schools. In a move to promote the integration of vocational schools and enterprises, practical teaching courses should account for at least half of the total courses, according to the guideline.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/19/2017

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China Stresses "Fair, Transparent, Predictable" Legal Environment for Business

 

A senior Party official on Thursday pledged that judicial and law enforcement agencies will try to create a "fair, transparent and predictable" legal environment for sustainable economic growth. Guo Shengkun, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a meeting here to set the priorities for judicial and police work next year. One of the priorities is to help control financial risks, safeguard the order of the socialist market economy and people's interests, Guo said. Judicial agencies and police will work to better protect citizens' property rights so that people will have more confidence in the market economy, he said. Efforts against organized crime, fraud, human trafficking, prostitution, gambling, drug use and trafficking will also be priorities, in addition to a serious crackdown on leaking and trading personal information and online fraud. "We would like our people to have a stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness, and security," he said. Zhou Qiang, president of the Supreme People's Court, and Cao Jianming, procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, attended the meeting.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/21/2017

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CPC Targets Corruption in Poverty Alleviation Projects

 

China's anti-graft chief pledged to crack down upon corruption and malpractice in poverty relief projects. Zhao Leji, head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks during his inspection tour to southeast China's Fujian Province from Thursday to Saturday. Officials will face severe punishment for embezzlement and misuse of poverty relief funds, bribery and nepotism, Zhao said when visiting poverty-stricken families in a village of Ningde city. He also urged local officials to curb bureaucracy and red tape and enhance leadership when implementing poverty relief projects. Zhao reiterated the importance of punishing corrupt officials at lower ranks, particularly those who shelter and collude with local criminal organizations. In Zhangzhou and Ningde cities, he talked with local discipline inspection officials to gather first-hand information on the progress of the supervisory system reform. He urged local Party organizations to strengthen leadership over the reform to ensure a smooth transition, adding supervisory commissions at the county level must be empowered to step up supervision over local civil servants. During the trip, he also presided over a symposium attended by central, provincial and local discipline inspection officials to hear their opinions on the supervision work.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/23/2017

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China Improves Entry-exit Service

 

A total of 901 police stations in China's 15 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have set up entry-exit service windows, according to the Ministry of Public Security (MPS). People can have their travel certificates for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan endorsed at 7,600 self-service devices in over 950 entry-exit administrative departments nationwide, the MPS said. Electronic travel permits for commuting between the mainland and Taiwan replaced the booklet-like Taiwan pass in April. Holders of electronic exit-entry certificates may use the self-service channel. Entry-exit administrative departments nationwide have issued 199 million electronic entry and exit certificates, according to the MPS.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/24/2017

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SOUTH KOREA: To Form New Body for Discussing Fair IT Policy Direction

 

South Korea’s media regulator said Wednesday it would form a new body to oversee key policy issues affecting the internet business sector, including the establishment of equal regulations for Korean and foreign firms alike. They will also discuss deregulation to support firms seeking to introduce novel technologies and business models to the market. The Korea Communications Commission met with the heads of Korea’s eight representative internet companies, including Naver, Kakao, Google Korea, Facebook Korea and Woowa Brothers, to discuss the regulator’s key policy agendas. During the meeting, KCC Chairman Lee Hyo-sung announced the formation of a new entity designed to mediate opinions from the government, industry and the public on how Korea’s internet business regulations should be formed. The KCC Chairman called on the major internet companies operating in Korea to actively participate in the discussions that will be hosted by the entity. The move comes after repeated controversy over enacting fair and equal regulations for both Korean and foreign companies in the sector in order to forge a fair competitive environment in the fast-changing internet industry.

Korean internet companies, most notably Naver, have argued that foreign players like Google and Facebook should be obligated to follow the same set of regulations enforced on Korean firms. This includes mandating foreign firms to publicly disclose their annual revenues and corporate taxes paid in Korea, as Korean firms do, in order to increase transparency. Most foreign firms, including Google and Facebook, operate in Korea in the form of limited liability companies, or LLCs, which are not legally obliged to such fiscal disclosure duties. Local players have also brought up the issue of network usage costs. Korean internet-based service providers claim that unlike them, foreign internet firms do not pay fees proportionate to the amount of data traffic they generate. On the other hand, foreign companies like Google and Facebook have argued that their business practices, including payment obligations, are in accordance with local internet and communications laws.

In addition to ironing out such issues, the KCC chairman pledged to push for a “negative regulation” framework for the internet sector, providing a clearer and more predictable guideline for businesses operating in the space. Korea’s current “positive regulation” system acts like a whitelist, laying out what it permits and in theory banning anything not covered. A negative system, on the other hand, acts like a blacklist, banning certain items. Using this approach, new businesses or services are considered legal as long as they are not expressly banned. Adopted by countries like the US, the negative system is touted as a more open regulatory framework that offers more freedom to businesses in developing and introducing entirely new technologies and services currently unavailable in the market. Meanwhile, Korea’s major internet companies have asked the KCC to take a more active role in mediating and solving the industry’s grievances in the future and to adopt appropriate policies to allow for the constructive growth of the internet business ecosystem.

From http://www.koreaherald.com 12/13/2017

 

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MALAYSIA: PM Urges Ruling Party to Gear Up for Polls

 

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Thursday urged his ruling United Malays National Organization (UMNO) to be ready for the upcoming general elections which he said would be critical for his country. Speaking at UMNO's annual general assembly, the last one before the general elections due mid-2018, Najib urged UNMO members to be united to fight in the upcoming poll. Najib warned against the risk of country falling into the wrong and irresponsible hands. "In our hand is the choice that would decide the fate of this nation," he said. Najib, as the president of UMNO and the head of the ruling coalition, listed the government's achievements since he became prime minister in 2009. UMNO has led a multi-party coalition to govern Malaysia since its independence in 1957. However, the opposition has steadily gained ground in the past two general elections, depriving the ruling coalition of its long-held two-third majority in the parliament. Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's longest serving prime minister and Najib's former mentor, has quitted UMNO to join the opposition in a bid to unseat the incumbent government.

From http://news.xinhuanet.com/ 12/07/2017

 

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SINGAPORE: New Senior Judge Appointed to Supreme Court

 

SINGAPORE: Justice Chao Hick Tin has been appointed as a senior judge of the Supreme Court by President Halimah Yacob. The Supreme Court of Singapore said in a statement on Friday (Dec 22) that Justice Chao will assume the position on Jan 5 next year for a period of three years. Justice Chao, who will be sitting in the Court of Appeal, recently retired as a Judge of Appeal after more than 50 years of public service. He was previously appointed Attorney-General in 2006 and returned to the Supreme Court as a Judge of Appeal and vice-president of the Court of Appeal in 2008. A swearing-in ceremony on Jan 8 next year will take place at the Istana, according to the statement. The statement also announced that Justice Andrew Ang, Justice Tan Lee Meng and Justice Lai Siu Chiu will be reappointed senior judges of the Supreme Court also for a period of three years. Meanwhile, Justice Chan Sek Keong and Justice Kan Ting Chiu will complete their terms as senior judges on Jan 4 next year. With the new appointment, reappointments and completion of terms, the Supreme Court will have a total of 4 senior judges, the statement added.

From https://www.channelnewsasia.com/ 12/22/2017

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THAILAND: New Cabinet Set for Oath of Office

 

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday led his fifth Cabinet to take the oath of office before King Rama X at the Amphorn Satharn Villa in the Dusit Palace. They arrived at Government House in the afternoon for their identity and group photos before travelling together to the palace in the evening. Some ministers vowed to start working on their first day in office on Friday with a determination to pursue government policies, while others said they would outline their priorities. The Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry is under the spotlight because of changes in personnel. Prayut had said earlier he wished to see them steer his “phase two” work, referring to changes in farm foundations started by former Agriculture Minister Chatchai Sarikulya, who is now the deputy PM.The new Deputy Agricultural Minister, Luck Wajananawat, a noted banker for the poor, said he had not yet spoken to the new minister, Krisada Boonrat. He said, however, that government policy was clear in its intention to help farmers amid plunging farm prices, and listening to their plight is a priority. New Commerce Minister Sontirat Sontijirawong said his ministry would from now on work more closely with the Agriculture Ministry, besides pursuing the economic policies initiated by the government’s economic team led by Deputy PM Somkid Jatusripitak. The new Cabinet reshuffle, the fourth under Prayut, took place ahead of elections scheduled for late next year. Some political observers see it as an attempt to boost the popularity of the government among people as there is speculation the junta may seek a political role in the future. Prayut said on Tuesday during the mobile Cabinet meeting in the South that his ministerial reshuffle was aimed at bringing in new faces to help boost the government’s image. “The purpose of reshuffling the Cabinet is that I want new faces to make people realise that there is a change. People should then realise and acknowledge that there has been a [genuine] reshuffle,” he said.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 11/30/2017

 

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Apply Wide Definition of ‘Security’ in Governing, King Tells New Cabinet

 

His Majesty the King on Thursday blessed the fifth Cabinet of the Prayut government, asking them to pay attention to security as well as culture. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Thursday night led his fifth Cabinet to take the oath of office before King Rama X at the Amphorn Satharn Villa in the Dusit Palace. Deputy Education Minister Udom Kachintorn said His Majesty the King told the Cabinet members to help take care of security beyond political stability. The security mentioned by the King, he added, included every aspect of people’s lives, including food security, public safety, as well as happiness. King Maha Vajiralongkorn told them to use wisdom to guide their acts, something that the deputy minister said he has adopted and would adapt to his work at the ministry. “It’s something that we will look back on, whether we taught our people to develop and possess it throughout their lives,” said Udom. Science and Technology Minister Suwit Maesincee said His Majesty the King blessed all Cabinet members, wishing them success in working for the country. The Cabinet members embraced his speech and will adapt it to their work, he said. Suwit said the country is now moving towards the Thailand 4.0 policy and he as the science and technology minister would steer it toward tangible results in technology and innovations. Agriculture Minister Krisada Boonrat, said His Majesty the King gave guidance to be determined to work for the country, while having security and people’s happiness in mind.

From http://www.nationmultimedia.com/ 12/01/2017

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VIETNAM: PM Agrees to 1% Salary Rise

 

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has agreed to increase the monthly basic salary for civil servants from VNĐ1.3 million (US$57.2) to VNĐ1.39 million ($61.16), or a one per cent increase, starting from 2018 July. The basic salary applies to officials and public employees working in agencies, civil-service providers in the Việt Nam Communist Party or the Government, State-funded socio-political organisations and the armed forces. Meanwhile, the minimum wage – or in reality, the regional minimum wage, which differs if the region is urban or rural, developed or less developed – is meant as a starting point for negotiations by labourers in the private sector. The minimum wage is usually adjusted on a yearly basis. There is no opredicting when the next change in the basic salary will take place as it depends on the capacity of the State budget. The Prime Minister also asked all public sector organisations, from the central to local level, to plan their expenditure ahead based on this basic salary gauge. The Government also asked them to strive for increased revenue and promote workforce streamlining to ensure a balanced budget when the rise in salary starts to take effect. In addition, according to the Government Office, to cover this increase in salaries and wages, the budget will be sourced from the 10 per cent saving from the Government’s regular expenses (except salaries for its workforce), a 50 per cent increase in collected local revenue and unused budget money from the 2017 reform process, if any.

 

The increase in the basic salary was approved by the National Assembly in November. It was aimed at addressing complaints related to the low and stagnant wages. The Government has been prudent about the increases as it currently employs about three million workers, not to mention the vast number of other beneficiaries, such as pensioners and social benefit recipients. The Government has often re-affirmed its commitment to implementing measures to trim excesses in the public workforce, frequently condemned as too large and not efficient enough. The increase in the basic salary is part of the Government’s State budget estimate plan for 2018, which ministries, ministry-level agencies, Government agencies, State-owned enterprises and directly-controlled municipalities are supposed to execute. According to this plan, the Ministry of Finance has the job of funnelling 100 per cent of VAT and special tax on oil and gas products from the State-owned Nghi Sơn to the State budget and 72 per cent of Việt Nam’s share from the Việt Nam-Russia joint venture’s 2018 profits to the State budget, while the remaining (28 per cent) goes towards State-owned PetroVietnam (PVN) as re-investment. Provinces in the northern region, central region and Central Highlands are expected to spend 60 per cent and the Mekong Delta region and southwestern localities will spend 50 per cent of the revenues from the national lottery on education, training and healthcare development. All localities have also been told to allocate at least 10 per cent of their revenue to achieve national targets on new rural development.

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

 

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INDIA: Upendra Prasad Singh Takes over as Union Water Resources Secretary

  

Upendra Prasad SinghUpendra Prasad Singh, a 1985-batch IAS officer of Odisha cadre has assumed the charge of Secretary Ministry of Water Resources, River Development in New Delhi. He has been given an additional charge of CEO, National Mission for Clean Ganga. Originally hailing from Bihar, he has a degree in mechanical engineering. He has served in various Ministries such as Ministry of Steel, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and also as MD of Oil India Ltd. He has succeeded Dr Amarjit Singh, a  1982-batch IAS officer of Gujarat cadre, who superannuated on November 30, 2017. Smita Nagaraj, a 1984-batch IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre, has taken oath of office and secrecy as Member, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), in Delhi. The oath was administered by Prof David R Syiemlieh, Chairman, UPSC. Nagaraj, during her career spanning over 33 years, has held several important positions in the Central Government as well as in the Government of Tamil Nadu. She served as Executive Director of the Central Social Welfare Board, Director in the Department of Personnel and Training, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and prior to her joining the Commission, she was working as Director General (Acquisition) in the Ministry of Defence. In the State also, she held various important positions in the Energy, Finance, Health and Small Industries Department.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 12/4/2017

 

 

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24X7 Power Is a Fundamental Right of the Citizen: Union Power Minister

   

The Minister of State (I/C) for Power and New and Renewable Energy, Raj Kumar Singh addressing a press conference, in New Delhi. Stating that 24×7 Power is a Fundamental Right of every citizen of the country, Union Minister of State (IC) for Power and New and Renewable Energy, Raj Kumar Singh said that all the States will have to ensure that by March 2019. “Without power there can be no development. We are on our way towards becoming a developed country and power reforms are top priority. Industrialisation and job creation is not possible without affordable and quality power for all. We are about to add 40 million new consumers by December 2018 and expected economic growth of 8 to 9 per cent in the next five years, power demand would increase manifold. Further, electricity will edge out other forms of energy in the coming future as it is more efficient and easy to transport. Electricity will take place of fossil fuels for mobility, cooking etc. and will decrease the imports of petroleum products. Becoming self-sufficient in Power is essential for our strategic autonomy on the global stage. In addition to this, renewable energy will take place of fossil fuels in the near future as storage systems become viable,” the Minister said while inaugurating the conference of Power and Energy Ministers of States/Union Territories (UTs) in Delhi. The Government of India is already providing Rs 85,000 crores to the States for strengthening their power infrastructure. The Government is also planning to reduce human interface in meter reading and billing of consumers for power consumption.  “Mandatory installation of prepaid meters for small consumers and smart meters for large ones, with every connection in the future in each State, would prevent corruption and increase compliance in bill payments,” the Minister stated. A total of 17 States and 1 Union Territory attended the conference and held discussions on issues including progress on Union Government flagship schemes at the State level and reform measures that need to be brought about at both Union and State levels to ensure 24×7 affordable and quality Power for All. The Minister further added  that the Government of India is focusing on Make in India and the future industrialisation and employment generation in the country has to be indigenous.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 12/10/2017

 

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Hindi E-mail IDs to Improve E-governance in Rajasthan

  

In a bid to ease residents’ electronic communication for residents who are not fluent in English, Rajasthan government has launched a Hindi e-mail service. It has been started under the facility – name@rajasthan.bharat (in Devnagari script). The move has turned Rajasthan as the first State to offer vernacular e-mail service to its residents. It may be noted that the State IT department worked in partnership with private IT companies to  bring out the service. “The vernacular e-mail, in Hindi, was launched on December 3. Rajasthan is the first, and currently the only state, to have a vernacular e-mail,” a senior official told media. The first Hindi e-mail id to be created under the service was that of the Chief Minister, Vasundhara@rajasthan.bharat. All state government personnel are also expected to receive an e-mail id in Hindi soon. Though BSNL had launched a similar service in eight Indian languages in December 2016. However, BSNL’s initiative was not available for all internet users unlike the Rajasthan government’s service, BSNL’s initiative was unavailable for all internet users.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 12/13/2017

 

 

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Major Reshuffle in Odisha Administration

 

OdishaThe Odisha State Government has effected a major reshuffle in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) cadre, in which 17 senior officers were entrusted with new assignments. According to a notification issued by the Government, Managing Director (MD) of National Health Mission (NHM) Shalini Pandit has been posted as Special Project Director of Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA) with additional charge of Aadarsh Vidyalaya. Mrinalini Daswal on repatriation from inter-state deputation has been posted at New Delhi as the Odisha’s Additional Resident Commissioner. Archana Patnaik, who was also on an inter-state deputation, has been posted as NHM’s MD and entrusted the additional charge of MD, OSMCL. OSMCL’s MD Ravindra Pratap Singh has been appointed as the Director of Agriculture Marketing and Member Secretary of OSAM Board. Additional Secretary of Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment Department, Purusottam Sahoo has been posted as Additional Secretary H, T &H Department. Director of Agriculture and Food Production, Hari Ballav Mishra has been posted as Additional Secretary Health and Family Welfare Department with an additional charge Food Safety Commissioner. The current Additional Resident Commissioner, Tribikram Pradhan has been posted as Registrar of Cooperative Societies. Premananda Khuntia, Director of Agriculture Marketing has been posted as Additional Secretary of the Commerce and Transport Department. Rasid Khan, Additional Secretary, Science and Technology Department, has been posted as Joint Secretary of Science and Technology Department.

 

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s Additional Secretary Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra on appointment to the IAS, has been promoted as Joint Secretary in situ. Similarly, Jajpur Collector, Ranjan Kumar Das and Cuttack Collector, Susanta Mohapatra, on their appointment to the IAS, have retained their respective posts. Director Municipal Administration, Sangramjit Nayak has been given an additional charge of Mission Director, Swachha Bharat Mission (Urban). Additional Secretary Steel and Mines Department, Biswanath Acharya on appointment to the IAS has been promoted as the Joint Secretary in the same department. Additional Secretary, H and FW Department, Bijay Nayak has been posted as Director, Culture. Horticulture Director, M Muthukumar has been given additional charge as Director, Agriculture and Food Production. Prafulla Kumar Rout, Additional Secretary of Finance Department has been posted as Director of Small Savings in the same department.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 12/19/2017

 

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Citizens Playing Key Role in Aligarh Development

 

Shivpujan YadavAligarh Municipal Corporation (AMC) has launched a public awareness camp through school children, NGOs and others. In this, the Municipal Corporation officials visit every cultural and social programme and try to educate people about the new Swachhta app, says Shivpujan Yadav, Joint Municipal Commissioner, Aligarh Municipal Corporation, in conversation with Gautam Debroy of Elets News Network (ENN). Having been inducted into the Smart Cities Mission, what is the next move of Aligarh? We are trying to meet the criteria set up by the Government of India. Drainage, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Open Defecation Free (ODF) schemes come under it. We are working on all these things simultaneously. We want to complete everything within the timeframe. We also want Aligarh to be ranked higher in the ‘Swachhta Sarvekshan’ (cleanliness survey). How are you going to implement the Smart City projects in Aligarh? We are already working on multiple projects. There are certain issues like waste management, transportation, and water management etc. We are doing door-to-door collection of waste and have been turning it into compost with the help of A2Z company. They are collecting waste and recycling it. We are trying to make the waste portable. We have installed dustbins all over the city. For the transportation, we will soon make Detailed Project Report and then work accordingly. We are way ahead in solving the waste management problem in the city. About 80 per cent of the waste is being being recycled. How did Aligarh make it into the Smart Cities Mission? We made it to the list because all the criteria set by the Central Government was met by us. We are trying to grab spot in top 10 in Government’s cleanliness survey.

 

How are you going to integrate the citizen participation in Smart City projects? We have already started an awareness camp through school students, NGOs etc. We gather a crowd in the morning and try to educate them on various projects. The officials of Municipal Corporation go to every cultural and social programme and try to educate people about the new swachhta app. People are being made aware about the Swachhta Sarvekshan (or, cleanliness survey) and how their participation is important. What are the challenges in implementing Smart City projects in Aligarh? We need to work at the basic level on many projects. This time public’s feedback percentage has gone up while making DPRs of various projects. A city cannot me made smart till its citizens become smart. Putting dustbins all over the city is not the key to cleanliness. Citizens should be made aware that they have to throw garbage in the dustbins and before that dry and wet waste should be segregated by them, only then a city can become clean. If a dustbin is not there, people should keep their waste outside their house so that waste collection van can collect it in time. How are you making Aligarh digital? The Government agencies are making people aware about the benefits of digitisation every day. We have made revenue collection online online. Birth and death certificate are also issued online now and many other such important services will be made online in Aligarh. Do you think events like the Aligarh Smart City Summit, help local agencies? Events like these are necessary because collective experience is shared on a single platform. Through learning from others, we can rectify our mistakes. It is a two way communication channel. Smart City summits, organised by Elets Technomedia, are a major contributor to the development of Smart Cities all over the country.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 12/22/2017

 

 

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Better Urban Governance Require Enhanced and Active Citizen Participation

 

In a meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, held in April, 2017 and chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of the discussions was on challenges and opportunities associated with emerging urban population, expected to grow by nearly 70 per cent, to reach 60 crore by year 2031. Urbanisation is a reality accompanied with unique challenges such as migratory populations, slums, increased healthcare needs, difficulty in water supply and sanitation, with a limitation of insufficient financial resources and lack of role clarity amongst multitude of agencies delivering civic services. The struggle of major metropolitan cities to provide basic amenities to emerging and diverse urban population seems to lies in, and can arguably be attributed to the functional inability of the elected institutions of the State Government and civic bodies and therefore, demands for an increased and proactive citizen engagement. The idea of citizen engagement is not new for India and other countries. Rather, it was this idea which led to the formation of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) in most urban settings. However, the success of RWAs in ensuring civic amenities for residents has been partial and limited. Invariably, people complain that the RWAs are controlled by politically motivated individuals, undermining the essential purpose of independent citizen voice and failing to bring accountability to the local councilors and officials of civic bodies. The young and educated residents rarely show interest in the activities of RWAs and at times lack understanding and clarity on the roles and responsibilities of these RWAs and maintain distance from their activities.

 

In Delhi, this led to one origin of the idea of more proactive Mohalla Sabhas, propounded by a political party which formed the Government in 2015. Mohalla Sabhas have been propounded as an alternate mechanism (these Sabhas are still pending for approvals from the competent authorities). How a good political idea gets traction from even opposition political parties was reflected when two years later, in April 2017, the leading opposition party, in run up to Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), proposed mandatory meetings of councilors, MCD officers and RWAs, adding a new dimension to citizen engagement. These points reflect the emerging consensus and understanding for increased citizen participation in urban governance. Though, the ground level implementation of these ideas is far from satisfactory. However, it can be said with reasonable confidence that future of urban governance will depend upon level of citizen participation. Earlier it is embraced, better could be the outcome. This increasing understanding implicitly underscores the need for RWAs to be effective and regain trust and confidence of the people. However, any proposed mechanism should not solely focus on ‘participation’ only and should have inbuilt responsibilities and accountability. Citizens/associations should make decisions, facilitated by elected representative and implemented by officials of civic bodies. The first step could be the revamping and formation of new RWAs as soon as possible that should have mechanisms to enhance transparency in functioning and decision making. The RWAs should volunteer to put citizen charter and names of members of executive committee on public notice board, their audited accounts are available for public scrutiny, and elections and meetings are held regularly. Meaningful citizen engagement goes beyond decision making and should be linked to facilitate implementation by the Government. In fact, it would require all agencies working together with citizens for common objectives and purpose. They can collaborate to deliver social services (including health, education and water etc, to list a few) in a coordinated and effective ways. This would contribute to better outcomes on all fronts. 

 

To supplement, community members need to develop innovative approaches (good, if through RWAs) for addressing civic challenges such as parking issues, collection and safe terminal disposal of waste etc. The information, communication and technology (ICT) could be used for innovation and accountability. The Government agencies may start recognition/awards for these innovative solutions. There has to be capacity amongst RWAs, so that when workers of civic agencies go on strike, the communities can manage and take care of their own needs. People can be a part of the process and solution. There is lack of knowledge amongst most citizens about roles and responsibilities of RWAs, civic bodies and State Governments. People are not aware of whom to hold accountable for keeping parks clean, for construction of road or for non-functioning streetlight. Citizen should be made aware of their entitlement from various agencies by public campaigns. Such awareness would ensure accountability in assuring and demanding for civic services from appropriate agencies, to achieve vibrant social and democratic institutions. The entitlement literacy has to find an important place in democratic system where people know their entitlement form different agencies. It would and should influence the way people vote for, ultimately, should be able to influence the election outcomes.   Urban governance is comparatively new to India, a country which is known for its rural images (introduced after 74th constitutional amendment in 1992), which will become increasingly relevant as number and population of cities increases in the country. However, the livability of the cities can be improved only with enhanced participation and engagement of people with Government institutions and elected representatives and through entitlement literacy. The experience from metro and major cities in the country, could guide emerging cities in other parts of the country, to be prepared for urbanisation in India.

From http://egov.eletsonline.com/ 12/25/2017

 

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AZERBAIJAN: Another Adviser of Azerbaijani Taxes Minister Appointed

 

Vugar Ismayilov has been appointed as adviser to Azerbaijan’s taxes minister for preliminary investigation of tax crimes, says a message posted on the Azerbaijani Taxes Ministry’s website on Nov. 30. Earlier, Ismayilov served as director general of department for internal security. Thus, the number of the taxes minister’s advisers has reached 14. Along with Ismayilov, Alakbar Mammadov, Riyad Huseynov, Ilham Amiraliyev, Tariyel Guliyev, Elchin Mammadov, Rashad Habibov, Firuz Hasanov, Aflatun Mammadov, Ilgar Ahmadov, Habil Mammadov, Gudrat Seyfullayev, Mahir Rafiyev and Rahim Efendiyev.

From https://en.trend.az 11/30/2017 

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UZBEKISTAN: ‘Safe Tourism’ System to Be Introduced

 

The concept of safe tourism in the cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva and Shahrisabz has been approved by a decree of Uzbekistan’s Cabinet of Ministers.  The concept includes four main directions, according to the norma.uz portal.  Firstly, this is improving the structure and methods of organizing the activities of the internal affairs bodies to ensure safe tourism.  Special centers will operate at the Department of Internal Affairs of Bukhara, Samarkand, Khwarezm and Qashqadaryo regions.  Their tasks are the monitoring of the state of safe tourism, informing tourists about potential threats in real time, and also helping to protect their rights and legitimate interests.  The second direction is to ensure the safety of tourists in the period of arrival, use of transport and movement.  Thirdly, the security of the places of residence, accommodation and tourism services will be ensured.  And the fourth direction will be the ensuring safety of tourists, official foreign delegations when visiting tourist attractions and organizing evening leisure.  The decree also approved the Program of organizational measures for implementing the concept of safe tourism in the Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva and Shahrisabz cities for 2017-2020.

From https://en.trend.az 11/29/2017 

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New Ministry to Be Created in Uzbekistan

 

President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev approved the decision on establishment of the Ministry for Innovative Development, reads a message on the website of the president. One of the main tasks of the ministry will be the introduction of science, high technologies and modern innovative developments into practice. This will allow to activate the comprehensive development of Uzbekistan, to raise the level and quality of life of the people. "Our generous country has terrestrial and underground resources, human resources, highly qualified personnel, but, unfortunately, this enormous potential is not being realized efficiently and rationally," Mirziyoyev said, commenting on the creation of a new ministry. Currently, 17 ministries operate in Uzbekistan. Recently, the Ministry of Preschool Education was established.

From https://en.trend.az 11/29/2017 

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Uzbekistan Makes Changes to Employment Procedures

 

Uzbekistan's public organizations, namely the Youth Union and the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan, as well as local self-government bodies - citizens' gatherings will now be engaged in the process of job placement.  The change is reflected in the new resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers.  The document approved the procedure for interaction of citizens' self-government bodies with the district (city) subdivisions of the Youth Union of Uzbekistan, the Women's Committee of Uzbekistan and labor authorities in issues of promoting employment, primarily of youth and women.  Also agents of the Automated Information System (AIS) "Employment" need to provide information about the vacancies received from employers.  Also, a single information database will be created, and employment agents will enter the necessary data there, including: info of people living on the territory of citizens' self-government bodies and in need of employment; potential employers, small and private businesses.  All bodies of self-government of citizens, units of the Youth League and the Women's Committee will be equipped with computers with Internet access.  The changes will take effect from the beginning of 2018.

From https://en.trend.az 12/13/2017 

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AUSTRALIA: Government Announces 5G Working Group Members

 

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and Huawei have all been included in the government's 5G working group, which will meet twice yearly with five government departments. The Australian government has this week unveiled the terms of reference and initial membership of its 5G working group, with the group to meet twice annually and be reviewed by June 2019. Across industry, mobile carriers Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone Australia have been included, along with the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) -- which was responsible for setting up Australia's industry 5G Group last year. The equipment vendors in the group are Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung; while the Communications Alliance and Internet of Things Alliance Australia have also been included.

 

In terms of government departments, the Department of Communications and the Arts will be taking part due to its interest in infrastructure including spectrum; the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for smart cities and digital transformation discussions; the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development for autonomous vehicles activities; the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science for the digital economy strategy; and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for "precision agriculture". The deputy secretary of Infrastructure and Consumer Group under the Communications Department will chair the group. "Subject matter experts may be invited to participate in the working group on an issue-by-issue basis," the government added. "Subject matter experts include academics and peak consumer or industry bodies from other sectors (such as the National Farmers Federation and the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition)."

 

The terms of reference document [PDF] identifies the group's four roles as being to "identify enablers and barriers to the deployment and effective use of 5G in Australia, including at the sector and industry level; examine how the Commonwealth regulatory settings in sectors, including but not limited to communications, can be optimised for 5G networks and technologies; provide a platform for collaboration across government and industry on 5G matters; [and] engage, with the input of subject matter experts, in ongoing strategic dialogue about 5G matters." The government had in October outlined its 5G policy, including the establishment of a working group to collaborate with industry. The 5G: Enabling the future economy paper [PDF] listed its immediate actions on 5G as making spectrum available in a timely manner; actively taking part in the international standardisation process; "streamlining arrangements" to enable telcos to deploy infrastructure in a more time- and cost-efficient manner; and reviewing telco regulations to ensure they are fit for purpose for 5G.

 

"Efficient rollout of 5G and uptake of the services it supports has the potential to produce far-reaching economic and social benefits and support growth of Australia's digital economy," the paper says. "The communications sector will lead the rollout of 5G networks in Australia. However, the government can create the policy and regulatory environment to support a more efficient rollout, given its potential benefits to the economy." A new spectrum management framework will be in place by 2019, the paper says, and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will bring the 3.6GHz spectrum band -- which it has been investigating for 5G use -- to auction in 2018. The government will then "ensure strong participation" by Australia in international discussions on spectrum harmonisation, the paper says.

 

Enabling a faster deployment of infrastructure by telcos will involve the government implementing a tranche of changes to carrier powers and immunities following consultation with industry. The government is lastly working to "modernise" telco regulatory arrangements, as well as assessing security issues. It said it would continue working through other issues via the 5G working group. "The government recognises that as 5G continues to develop, other issues relating to the technology will likely emerge which may require future government action. In particular, while there are opportunities for 5G to create economy-wide transformation, this will require a broader examination of sectoral regulatory frameworks," the paper says. "To that end, the government will work collaboratively with industry to foster an ongoing dialogue on 5G beyond the launch of this paper to identify and remove sectoral barriers to its successful and timely rollout. "The working group will create a platform for this strategic dialogue with a mandate to seek out opportunities and emerging issues on 5G. This will provide better coverage across government of the evolving policy and regulatory challenges associated with 5G."

From http://www.zdnet.com 12/20/2017

 

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NEW ZEALAND: No Pay Cut to Top Public Servants' Existing Salaries

 

The Minister of State Services, Chris Hipkins, says he won't cut top public servants' existing salaries but will limit pay increases. Yesterday, for the first time, the State Services Commissioner, Peter Hughes, named the Superfund, ACC, and Telarc as crown entities that were paying their chief executives more than recommended. The Superfund spurned Mr Hughes' recommendation of a 6 percent pay rise for chief executive Adrian Orr and boosted his pay by 23 percent, to just over a million dollars. ACC increased the salary of chief executive Scott Pickering by 2.8 percent to more than $830,000 when Mr Hughes had recommended a 1 percent rise. Telarc, which certifies systems, boosted its chief executive Philip Cryer's salary 19 percent to about $250,000. The Minister of State Services, Chris Hipkins, said those in the wider state sector do not have to follow the advice of the State Services Commissioner and he wants to change that. "It would allow us to exercise a greater degree of restraint [in salaries]," he said. But Mr Hipkins said while the Superfund made billions of dollars of return, ministers who serve the public and handle large amounts of wages have smaller wages. "I'm not at all convinced that we couldn't recruit and retain good people with smaller salaries or more modest salaries," he said.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 12/14/2017

 

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Curran to Create Digital Economy Advisory Group

 

The Government has announced plans to set up a group to advise it on how to build the digital economy and reduce digital divides, with the aim of making ICT the second largest contributor to the economy by 2025. The Government has announced plans to set up a group to advise it on how to build the digital economy and reduce digital divides, with the aim of making ICT the second largest contributor to the economy by 2025. Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Government Digital Services Minister, Clare Curran has called for expressions of interest saying such group would “bring immediate focus and a plan to ensure all Kiwis have affordable access to digital services, and the motivation, skills and trust to fully participate in our digital world.” She foreshadowed creation of the group in her speech at NetHui on 9 November, along with one to look at broadcasting and digital media and ICT/ Communications, and one to focus on open government.

 

The digital divide group’s first task will be to provide advice to the Government on the development of a blueprint for digital inclusion and digital enablement. Curran said she was also keen for the group to consider possible future scenarios and identify what is needed from government to enable businesses and individuals to take advantage of the opportunities provided by digital technology.” “There’ll be up to 15 people in the group, with the ability to bring in additional members or expertise to address particular issues,” she said. “I’m particularly keen for it to reflect New Zealand’s diverse communities and to include all age groups and ethnicities, including perspectives from Māori. Curran said she had not predetermined the group’s membership and was seeking the best thinkers across the community with the aim of achieving “genuine collaboration … about increasing productivity, growing the digital economy and reducing the digital divides.”

From https://www.computerworld.co.nz 12/18/2017

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Lack of Staff, Funding Leads Dunedin Social Service to Ruin

 

Dunedin's social services umbrella organisation has collapsed, causing shock in the sector. Connect South, formerly known as the Dunedin Council of Social Services, has been the umbrella group for the social sector for almost 40 years, and has about 140 member organisations. The board broke the news by email to its 140 member organisations, saying it was dropping its contract to run Dunedin's Community House and moving out. Chairperson John Nelson has since confirmed all six of its staff had quit in the past month, and the organisation's finances were running low. Mr Nelson said Connect South had been trying to move with the times and change itself into a social enterprise, but the effort had failed after not getting enough support from funders. He said he was very disappointed. "It's really frustrating to see that something that was close to working just didn't quite make the distance." Mr Nelson said the organisation had hired subcontractors to carry out its contracts for now and would decide whether to wind up in the New Year. Dunedin Community House chairperson Debbie Webster said she was shocked a well-performing organisation could collapse so quickly.

From http://www.radionz.co.nz 12/20/2017

 

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Applications Open for ‘Critical Role’ of Government CTO

 

The Government has opened applications for the role of chief technology officer, with responsibility to prepare and oversee a national digital architecture for the next five to ten years. The new role was announced by communications minister Clare Curran in mid November. Commenting on the opening of applications, Curran said the role would be critical to ensuring New Zealand could use and develop digital technologies for social prosperity, economic productivity, and for the good of all New Zealanders. “This Government intends to close the digital divides by 2020, and to make ICT the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025,” she said. “The internet and digital tools are fundamental to us achieving these goals.

 

She said the role would “suit someone who has a high level of expertise in the digital technology industry, who is passionate about the issues, who carries the influence needed to stimulate public discussion, and who wants to take action with government and other stakeholders to deliver and support meaningful change.” Curran added: “In particular, I see the chief technology officer working on issues such as improving digital equality, protecting citizens’ rights online, and building a connected nation, alongside the Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Advisory Group and the other Advisory Groups that I have already signalled I will be establishing. The chief technology officer will be accountable to the prime minister and to the minister for broadcasting, communications and digital media, and Government Digital Services, and will provide independent expert advice to ministers and senior leaders on digital issues.

 

Curran said: “Although the role sits within the government context, the chief technology officer will require a collaborative way of working across government, with ministers and officials, and with a range of other stakeholders to shape and drive New Zealand’s digital agenda. Also, according to the application page on the MBIE web site “It is likely that the influence of the chief technology officer will be greatest if the successful applicant remains outside the technology industry for the duration of his or her term of appointment. According to the cabinet paper authorising the creation of the CTO role, the aim is to have the CTO in place ahead of the Digital 5 (D5) Ministerial Summit on 20-21 February 2018. D5, is a network of “the world’s most advanced digital nations,” with a shared goal of strengthening the digital economy. It was founded in London in late 2014 by Estonia, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom.  New Zealand was appointed chair in December 2016 and will host the February 2018 summit. The cabinet paper also anticipated difficulty in filling the role saying: “It will be a challenge to find a person for a role of this size and complexity and … an interim appointment may be made initially.”

From https://www.computerworld.co.nz 12/21/2017

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New Aesthetics and Discourses of Resistance

 

From the emergence of digital protest as part of the Zapatista rebellion, to the use of disturbance tactics against governments and commercial institutions, there is no doubt that digital technology and networks have become the standard features of 21st century social mobilisation. Yet, little is known about the historical and socio-cultural developments that have transformed the virtual sphere into a key site of political confrontation. This book provides a critical analysis of the developments of digital direct action since the 1990s. It examines the praxis of electronic protest by focusing on the discourses and narratives provided by the activists and artists involved. The study covers the work of activist groups, including Critical Art Ensemble, Electronic Disturbance Theater and the electrohippies, as well as Anonymous, and proposes a new analytical framework centred on the performative and aesthetic features of contemporary digital activism. Fidèle A. Vlavo is Assistant Professor in Digital Communication at Universidad Iberoamerica, Mexico, and a IAMCR member.

From https://iamcr.org/ 11/27/2017

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These Are the 25 Most High-Tech Cities in the World

 

Cities are the way of the future. In less than 35 years, the World Health Organization estimates that two-thirds of the world population will be living in urban areas. That's an additional 2.5 billion people. The cities that will flourish the most are those that rely on cutting-edge technologies and create opportunities for people to develop new ones. To get a sense of which cities do that the best, Business Insider consulted 2thinknow, a research firm that specializes in analyzing innovative cities, to rank the most high-tech cities in the world. The firm chose 10 factors related to technological advancement — including the number of patents filed per capita, startups, tech venture capitalists, ranking in other innovation datasets, and level of smartphone use — weighted them, and ranked a list of 85 cities accordingly. If you want to know what the future will look like, these are the cities to keep an eye on.

 

25. Washington, DC

The US capital has been rapidly expanding its tech scene over the last decade, growing its overall number of tech-related jobs by 50%. In addition, more than 1,000 startups call DC home. The proximity to the federal government mixed with the deep pockets of nearby venture-capital firms makes starting a world-changing company an appealing prospect in the city.

24. Barcelona, Spain

The Spanish city cracked the top 25 for the first time since last year's ranking, in particular for its growing population of industrial designers and prominent smartphone use. Smartphone infrastructure is so sophisticated, in fact, that electrical boxes strewn around Barcelona contain computers that capture noise levels, traffic patterns, and how many selfies people take.

23. Copenhagen, Denmark

What Copenhagen lacks in startup culture and venture capital, it makes up for with innovative urban planning and a strong contingent of industrial designers — factors that 2thinknow praises as signs the city prioritizes smart manufacturing. By 2025, the city plans to sever its dependence on fossil fuel, due in large part to harnessed wind energy. Its robust bike culture and fleet of architecture firms allow Copenhagen to be a city that's not just green, but beautiful.

22. Hong Kong, China

Rather than excel in one particular category, Hong Kong hits just about every box in terms of its advancement. The city devotes enormous amount of moneytoward research and development and city-wide innovation, boasting some of the fastest Internet speeds in China. Its high-tech exports total $243 billion, or 51% of the total exported goods.

21. Berlin, Germany

Not to be outdone, Germany's capital city boasts a strong start-up culture and has some of the highest rates of venture capital investment in Europe. Berlin is also the locus for much of Europe's automobile industry. It is the only city in the world where all of the major automative brands are represented.

20. Shenzhen, China

Patents are flying out of Shenzhen, a city in southern China that boasts a population of 11 million. As part of the country's push toward manufacturing, Shenzhen has grown significantly over the last several years as a hub for factories and robotics. Multiple telecom and electronics giants have found a home base in the city.

19. Bangalore, India

No other city in 2thinknow's ranking climbed as far compared to 2016's ranking as Bangalore, which moved from 49th place to 19th. The change is due to an influx of IT companies and the city's enormous population of programmers. Half of India is under 25, and many are entering the growing tech space, creating a virtuous circle of growth.

18. Montreal, Canada

If you want to be an industrial designer or programmer, you should consider moving to Montreal. If you want to work in wearable technology (or virtual reality), even better. Montreal is home to Vrvana, a VR headset manufacturer, and the companies Hexoskin and OMSignal, which both make clothes that measure wearers' biometric signals. The city also has a fairly strong startup culture.

17. Shanghai, China

The closest Shanghai has to Silicon Valley is the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park. It houses more than 100,000 workers split between thousands of tech companies. Like most of China's high-tech cities, Shanghai excels in patents and venture capital. That may be because manufacturing has become a top priority in China, and companies are eager to protect (and invest in) their intellectual property.

16. Beijing, China

Though it may lack the startup culture of other high-tech cities, Beijing is renowned for its city-wide use of smartphones and the number of patents filed per capita. It venture capital scene has also grown rapidly over the past several years. The city climbed 15 spots since the 2016 rankings.

15. Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam's combination of financial technology, energy efficiency, and startup culture make it a powerhouse in Europe, despite being much smaller than its neighbors. (It has only a third of Berlin's population, for example.) In April, lawmakers announced they wanted to ban gas and diesel cars by 2025 in favor of electric vehicles — perhaps the city's most visible sign of its look toward the future.

14. Vancouver, Canada

In 2014, the CBC called Vancouver "Silicon Valley North" in recognition of its strong start-up culture. There are more than 600 digital media companies that generate more than $2 billion in revenue. Tech-focused universities and low corporate tax rates, meanwhile, make the city attractive for both up-and-coming engineers as well as established executives.

13. Stockholm, Sweden

With missions to go cash-free and oil-freewithin the next five years, Stockholm is fully embracing the digital and environmental revolutions. The city also has the most billion-dollar startups in Europe and the world's second-fastest-growing market for venture capital investments. It's no wonder that programmers are flocking to the Swedish capital.

12. Tokyo, Japan

The largest city in the world doesn't achieve that feat without impressive levels of infrastructure — transportation in particular. Tokyo's subway system, for example, is used by 2.3 billion people every year. Tokyo excels in venture capital investments, and is home to a dizzying number of tech giants, many of which are already preparing for the 2020 Olympic Games.

11. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Just within the last couple years, Dallas has established itself as a startup hub. In 2thinknow's analysis, the Texas city climbed from 28th in 2016 to just outside the top 10 because of its rapid growth in the number of venture capitalists and integration of technology into the city landscape.

10. Chicago, Illinois

You might not think of the Midwest as a startup magnet, but Chicago is quickly proving that assumption false. A recent report found Illinois was among the top five in high-tech jobs in the US, with the Windy City making up a big chunk of those spots. Brookings Institute also finds Chicago is a hotbed for urban planning innovation, driven largely by City Digital, a project designed to solve problems related to energy transfer and transportation.

9. Toronto, Canada

Rife with startups and innovative infrastructure, stemming from places like the Cisco Innovation Center, Toronto is home to 30% of Canada's IT firms, the majority of which have fewer than 50 employees. That means there's a crop of young companies poised to make an impact in the next decade. Overall, the city's firms account for approximately $52 billion in yearly revenue.

8. Singapore

Aside from being a giant, rain-absorbing sponge, Singapore boasts an extremely high number of programmers and venture capitalists. The city-state is constantly introducing new infrastructure and high-tech high-rises, including one with an entire forest in the atrium. It has partnered with MIT to build smarter transportation that relies less on private carsand more on public trains and light rail.

7. Boston, Massachusetts

A huge number of exciting technologies have been coming out of Boston over the last several years from STEM elites like MIT, Harvard, Tufts, and Northeastern — many of them in the biotech and robotic fields. The city has a handful of venture capital firms (Battery Ventures, Atlas Venture, Bessemer Venture Partners, Matrix Venture Partners) that pour money into innovation labs and university startups. And big-name companies like Facebook and Amazon have set up R&D offices in Boston to pull from this growing pool of talent.

6. Taipei, Taiwan

According to 2thinknow's analysis, Taipei is the far-and-away leader when it comes to industrial design. This has been the case for years — the city much prefers to delve into hardware rather than software. Some of the largest PC companies call the city home, including Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, and Acer. According to 2thinknow, the city also scores highly in its number of venture capitalists.

5. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul has been called the city of the future, and rightfully so. Innovation is practically baked into its design, as its metro system may even have New York's subway beat. According to 2thinknow, Seoul files more patents than just about any city in the world. It has developed technology that is already ubiquitous — such as the LTE beamed to our smartphones — as well as tech still in its infancy, like virtual stores where you scan pictures of items to be delivered later.

4. Los Angeles, California

Film isn't the only industry in LA. In 2014, a report by the LA County Economic Development Corporation suggested that LA had more high-tech sector jobs than any other region in the US. The report also found the total wealth output hovers around $58 billion. When 2thinknow performed its analysis, it found the same: Startups and venture capital play a major role in LA's tech sector boom.

3. London, England

London has become a public transportation dream over the last year with the introduction of its Crossrail project. By 2018, 10 new train lines will connect 30 existing stations with brand-new tunnels. At $20 billion, it's the largest construction project in Europe. 2thinknow finds London has more startups and programmers than almost any other city in the world. By some estimates, there may be more IT jobs in London than all of California. Some estimates say there will be 11,000 new tech jobs added within the next decade.

2. New York, New York

New York is a special kind of tech heavyweight. It is both extremely dated in its infrastructure, but at the same time, unbelievably progressive. According to the state comptroller's office, nearly 7,000 high-tech companies in New York City provided more than 100,000 jobs during the third quarter of 2013. In addition to starting companies, the city also launches integrated, citywide technology: LinkNYC, a free Wifi service, has over 500 kiosks around Manhattan available for public use, and many experts believe the city is just getting started.

1. San Francisco, California

If every city claims to be the "Silicon Valley" of its particular home country, you can guarantee Silicon Valley is the gold standard for tech. Since 2thinknow defines the region by its largest neighboring city, San Francisco takes the top spot. It is the undeniable epicenter of all things tech, from its gigantic startup culture to its venture capital scene to its population of designers and programmers. Silicon Valley wins in just about every category because the supply chain of innovation has made its home there, even as smaller contenders claw at the title.

From https://www.weforum.org/ 11/28/2017

 

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World Bank Announces Settlement with Oberthur Technologies SA

 

The World Bank Group announced the debarment for 2.5 years of Oberthur Technologies SA (Oberthur), a French digital security company (now part of a company called Idemia). The sanction relates to corrupt and collusive practices under the Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services Project (IDEA), a project designed to establish a secure, accurate and reliable national ID system in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. The sanction is part of a Negotiated Resolution Agreement (NRA) following the company’s acknowledgment of improper payments to a sub-contractor and collusive misconduct to obtain and modify bid specifications to narrow competition and secure the award of the contract. The sanction reflects Oberthur’s extensive cooperation with the World Bank investigation, its voluntary acknowledgment of misconduct and the company’s proactivity in pursuing corrective action, including an internal investigation, while holding individuals connected with the misconduct accountable. The company also took preliminary steps to improve its governance and compliance procedures. Under the terms of the NRA, Oberthur will not be eligible for any World Bank-financed contracts for the length of the sanction. The company commits to implementing an integrity compliance program that is consistent with the principles set out in the World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines, and agrees to continue its cooperation with the World Bank Group Integrity Vice Presidency. The debarment of the company qualifies for cross-debarment by other MDBs under the Agreement of Mutual Recognition of Debarments that was signed on April 9, 2010.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 11/30/2017

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How the Internet of Things Can Prepare Cities for Natural Disasters

 

When a disaster strikes, federal, state, and local governments need a coordinated strategy, accessible data, and a skilled workforce to manage the response. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods have devastating effects on communities across our country. Since 1980 the U.S. has sustained more than 200 weather and climate disasters, with cumulative costs exceeding $1.1 trillion. Government agencies should consider leveraging the internet of things (IoT) and other web-driven technologies to obtain timely and accurate data that can better inform decisions and actions. Using the most current technology could help them more efficiently and safely address these costly disasters. However, this type of progress will require more than just employing the IoT to improve emergency preparedness and response; response teams have to be ready to receive, interpret, and take action on the data.

 

Gathering Data Before a Disaster Strikes

Today, disaster responders gain reliable, timely information only when they reach an emergency zone and take stock of the situation. In the case of hurricanes and major weather events, physical and technical roadblocks often prevent response teams from obtaining critical data to track damages, prioritize response needs, and keep the public informed so that people know how to stay safe. Ineffective communication channels, overburdened response systems, satellite disruptions, and internet blackouts further impede people from getting the help they need.

 

That’s where the value of IoT sensors that collect data and systematically broadcast signals from emergency areas comes into play. These sensors can relay information about their surroundings directly to government agencies and emergency teams. For example, sensors can measure temperature, water quality, pressure, level, smoke, and humidity, to name just a few uses. In the case of wildfires, sensors can detect how far and how fast is the fire spreading. For hurricanes or tsunamis, sensors can monitor water levels to send alerts at the first sign of flooding. Sensors can also be used to detect the presence of harmful gases or chemicals emanating from a storage tank, factory, or plant in the path of destruction. These devices can be critical for urgent decisions like whether to evacuate an area at risk of flooding, or how to guide residents to the safest exit routes ahead of an emergency. In practice, this starts with establishing systems that connect local data to government responders. Technical teams could deploy sensors that send web-linked data to a digital command center that government officials can access remotely while at the scene. Drones could surveil disaster areas during the search-and-rescue phase and then move to data collection to support the recovery effort once the immediate danger has passed.

 

In order to optimize effectiveness, agencies should place web-linked sensors on physical assets such as levees, bridges, and utility poles to monitor risk factors such as rising water levels in low-lying areas and to alert authorities when there’s an issue with critical infrastructure. In areas vulnerable to flooding, for example, response teams should arrange sensors in various locations so that one device going down won’t take down the entire network. Establishing a stream of data from sensors in at-risk areas can also help pinpoint and prioritize which neighborhoods need to be reached first. Response teams can gain an even clearer picture of the emergency situation if the sensor data is combined with Census-verified demographic and relevant third-party data. Increased socioeconomic and demographic data would be useful to informing outreach tactics, for example in a community where people speak many different languages. Analytics-backed information would enable local, state, and national teams to geotarget messaging to neighborhoods at most risk — a neighborhood with high concentrations of elderly populations who might not have access to transportation, for example.

 

Connecting People and Information During a Disaster

In order to respond with precision, government agencies and emergency response teams should establish communication systems between the mobile devices of an at-risk area’s residents and IoT sensors in the field. Doing so can help facilitate and expedite a local response during the disaster. The system should respond to incoming information based on data it receives from the IoT sensors and signals from citizens’ mobile devices. For example, if a citizen messages a public emergency text line to ask where to go to avoid local flooding, the system could provide a recommendation based on water level data it receives from deployed sensors. An data-backed automated response can ensure information reaches the people who need it most. This data should be collected centrally, monitored regularly by response officials, and proactively used to inform automated alerts that are broadcast to citizens’ mobile devices within a certain radius of the hazard area.

 

Response teams can also use the sensor data for coordination, analytics, outreach strategies, and on-the-ground tactics. These actions will vary from case by case. In the case of a food stamp program, government officials could use the information to decide (1) how and when to reach out to the affected population, (2) where to set up temporary benefit distribution centers, because the primary centers (supermarkets, convenience stores, and so on) may not be functional, and (3) how to ensure benefits are distributed correctly. Emergency response organizations must also know which communication channels work best to reach the affected citizens. For instance, if the at-risk population is predominantly Spanish-speaking, then preparedness messaging should be done in Spanish. When dealing with an elderly population, the outreach can be done through television, newspapers, and radio rather than tech-driven channels like text alerts and apps. This targeted communication is a shift from the conventional “one size fits all” approach. Agencies will need both a thorough change management process to describe the benefits and efficacy of the IoT-based approach and appropriate training in how to adopt it.

 

We’re seeing the early stages of IoT-based response happen already with the Department of Homeland Security’s Consolidated Asset Portfolio and Sustainability Information System (CAPSIS) system. Responders to the hurricanes in Texas and Puerto Rico and the wildfires in California used field data streaming to CAPSIS at DHS headquarters to take stock of the damage. At the state-level, Wyoming’s Department of Transportation has rolled out a pilot program to use vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, and infrastructure-to-vehicle connectivity to improve monitoring and reporting of road conditions to drivers along I-80. Timing is everything in a disaster situation. By incorporating IoT data into emergency response plans, public sector agencies and responders can use real-time information to make plans and reach the citizens who need help.

From https://hbr.org/ 12/03/2017

 

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World Bank Approves Credit to Support Livestock Development

 

The World Bank has approved a credit of US$80 million for a Livestock Sector Innovation Project. The project will support the objectives of the Government of Nepal’s Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS, 2015) which underpins the role of livestock for sustained agriculture and economic growth, poverty reduction, and improving food and nutrition security. 200,000 livestock producers across 271 Municipalities will directly benefit from the project. At least 45 percent of the primary beneficiaries will be women.  In addition, about 500 small and medium-sized agro-enterprises will benefit from production and post production value chains. Of Nepal’s population engaged in agriculture, 70 percent keep livestock. But productivity remains low. The demand for livestock and livestock products, particularly milk and meat, has outstripped supply.  Nepal’s average annual imports correspond to a bill of about US$40 million. The project will channel its support through three main channels: (i) creating an enabling regulatory and institutional environment; (ii) enhancing livestock productivity by improving the quality and quantity of livestock services; and (iii) strengthening key strategic livestock value chains and improving access to business development services.

 

“4 in every 5 Nepalis who work the farms are women," said Takuya Kamata, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Nepal. “But women are often short-changed when it comes to ownership of assets, decision-making and economic gains.  This new project will encourage women to participate in all aspects of planning, implementation and monitoring,” he said. The project will also help address poor practices in the livestock sector that lead to high greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts.  It will also support an emphasis in the ADS on increased resilience to climate change as a cornerstone for improved productivity of land and labor. “High animal mortality rates, poor feeding and manure management, inefficient use of water and nutrient loading all contribute to high greenhouse gas emissions,” said Purna Bahadur Chhetri, Senior Agriculture Specialist at the World Bank. “The impact of climate change is visible in large annual variations in crop and pasture production, impacting of the availability of livestock feed,” he said.

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 12/07/2017

 

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Statement by Drago Kos, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery

 

Corruption facilitates some of the most important global threats of our time, such as terrorism, climate change and the refugee crisis. It’s vital that we ramp up our fight to contain this threat to our economies and societies. In the 20 years since the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention was established, the 43 member states have all adopted the legislation needed to fight foreign bribery. These include the laws of liability on legal persons; making bribes non tax deductible; having effective, and sometimes specialised, anti-corruption agencies in place; and we have started to reach the companies many previously considered untouchable. Since the entry into force of the Convention, 443 individuals and 158 entities have been sanctioned under criminal proceedings for foreign bribery. We have seen some particularly strong signs of progress in recent years. In 2016, around 500 investigations were underway in 29 countries, an increase of around 100 on 2015. In addition to the positive example set by leading countries like Germany and the United States, we have also seen others, namely France, Italy and the Netherlands, step up their efforts in the past two years. But too many countries are still lagging behind in investigating, prosecuting and enforcing their laws around foreign bribery and corruption. Of the 43 parties to the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention, 23 have yet to conclude a single foreign bribery enforcement action.

 

A new report released at today’s event in Paris to mark the 20th anniversary of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention, The Detection of Foreign Bribery, outlines other critical areas where improvements are needed. Whistleblowers have an important role to play in revealing foreign bribery cases and often provide pivotal evidence for a successful prosecution. Yet two thirds of adhering countries still do not provide satisfactory protection. This needs to change and will become a priority issue in the upcoming Working Group on Bribery country evaluations. Tax authorities also have an important role to play and countries need to ensure that their tax authorities are able to share information with law enforcement authorities. Adherence to the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention is growing but we still need all major economies on board if we are ever to achieve a truly global level playing field. Working together, we are stronger than working alone and that is why we will seek ways to enhance the involvement of the business sector and civil society in our efforts. I remain confident that we will continue making progress to contain corruption.

From http://www.oecd.org/ 12/12/2017

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World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) Receives a Royal Award for Innovations in Reducing Traffic Fatalities

 

Each year, 1.3 million people lose their lives on the world’s roads while another 20-50 million are injured. More than 90% of fatalities occur in low and middle income countries (LMICs), although they are home to only 54% of the world’s vehicles. Road traffic crashes are the number one cause of death among young people. As a champion in the fight against this predictable and preventable pandemic, the World Bank-hosted GRSF has just received the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award, the highest international award for promoting effective road safety management practices in LMICs. Through funding, knowledge, and technical assistance, the GRSF is helping countries make their roads safer not only for vehicle users but for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. Presenting the award, HRH Prince Michael said: “The Global Road Safety Facility has been behind many of the most successful programmes in the developing world and has set a fine example of what international institutions can do to reduce the number of road deaths.” The GRSF was selected for its impressive track record of implementing successful interventions that closely integrate the different aspects of road safety management, from road and vehicle safety standards to crash data analysis, roadway design, and police enforcement. Every $1 in grant funding that the GRSF has endowed has generated on average $39 worth of direct road safety commitments. The GRSF has also helped lead the global debate on the advancement of the road safety targets of the Sustainable Development Goals, which call for halving the number of road traffic deaths by 2020, as well as in the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020). Both international milestones have been supported by Prince Michael of Kent himself.

 

“The World Bank is very pleased that the Global Road Safety Facility has been recognized for helping low and middle income countries improve their road safety management practices,” said José Luis Irigoyen, World Bank Senior Director for Transport and ICT. “Safe mobility is a hallmark of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the GRSF is actively working with governments and partners on sustainable solutions that save lives. This would not have been possible without the strong support of our donor partners, and in particular UK Aid, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the FIA Foundation,” he added. The Prince Michael Awards are presented each year to those who demonstrate outstanding sustainable and innovative international road safety initiatives. The award ceremony brings together approximately 400 international road safety delegates and industry leaders, including the British road safety minister. Prince Michael has been a determined and influential sponsor of the road safety movement from its start. The award was established 30 years ago, first as a national road safety award and then made global in 2001, and has helped bring the socio-economic costs of road crashes and injuries in LMICs to the world’s attention. About the GRSF: The Global Road Safety Facility is a donor-funded global road safety partnership program and fund hosted by the World Bank. Since its creation in 2006, the Facility has supported projects in more than 60 countries and worked with a wide range of stakeholders, including national governments, UN partner organizations, the private sector, and NGOs. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org/grsf  About Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards: The Prince established his awards scheme in 1987 in the UK and now fully international, the Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards recognize achievement and innovation in road safety worldwide. For more information, please visit www.roadsafetyawards.com

From http://www.worldbank.org/ 12/12/2017

 

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The ISOC Feasibility Study: Will the Internet Society Find Its Way?

 

The Internet Society (ISOC) has released a new report on expanding multistakeholder approaches for Internet governance. The feasibility study was completed by Larry Strickling and Grace Abuhamad, who each played instrumental roles around the IANA transition while at NTIA and ICANN, respectively. In this post, we provide a brief synopsis of the study and what it proposes, we then analyze the recommendations and situate them in the broader Internet governance landscape.

 

Study background and proposal

The report starts with the authors asserting that the successfully completed IANA transition is an indicator of the “understanding and acceptance” of multistakeholder governance. It then argues that there is a failure of governance occurring among traditional, state-based multilateral organizations to solve public policy problems. The authors claim that the “challenges and conflicts of increasingly cross-border issues contrasted with the rise of nationalist policies and digital sovereignty further undermine the ability to resolve issues in traditional processes.” Based on this rationale, the study asks what is “the possibility of establishing an initiative that can convene stakeholders to find and implement concrete consensus solutions to these important issues?” To get at this question, the authors conducted interviews with more than 120 individuals, including civil society, business, technical experts, academia and government actors, spread across geographical regions. The list of organizations that individuals were affiliated with (including IGP) looks extremely familiar to anyone involved in Internet governance. These are organizations you would expect to support a multistakeholder governance initiative. But what about the populations not reached by their interviews?  Certainly there are some where interest in establishing a new multistakeholder initiative might not exist. Understanding their concerns will be instrumental to the viability of the idea.

 

Nonetheless, the authors found substantial interest in “an initiative to expand and enhance the use of the multistakeholder model beyond its current use in existing organizations and fora such as ICANN, IETF, the RIRs and IGF.” They identify three areas on which an initiative should focus. First, on convening stakeholders to solve problems and develop norms on a consensus basis. Second, training stakeholders around the world on how to be effective in multistakeholder discussions. Finally, building and promoting academic research and writing on the multistakeholder approach. Operationally, the authors suggest beginning with a small two person staff, and holding in-person plenary sessions held every two or three months, supplemented by online small-group intersessional work. There would be proactive steps to include underrepresented groups and address problems faced by new entrants to multistakeholder processes. They claim “strong support for the Internet Society serving as the incubator for this project,” giving the initiative necessary legitimacy and suggesting initial funding of $4M over two years, “with the hope that it will also attract additional funding from foundations and other sources.”

 

Analysis

In our view, the study is correct in recognizing demand for institutional innovation in Internet governance. That it advocates for a multistakeholder, rather than multilateral, governance structure is not surprising given the study’s funder and the participants interviewed. But the proposal fails to adequately deal with some recurring (but resolvable) operational problems in governance organizations. More importantly, we think it (and ISOC) may be underestimating the potential role for such an initiative in the larger Internet governance landscape. The authors suggest tackling “cutting edge issues of the digital economy such as privacy, cybersecurity, and the rights and responsibilities of customers and entrepreneurs” using a generic, multistakeholder platform to facilitate “discussions to develop concrete and actionable outcomes that could be implemented by the parties to the discussions”. This purposefully under-specifies what issues might be addressed by the platform and provides no clear problem statement. One can easily imagine specific issues that require all stakeholder groups to accomplish anything meaningful, e.g., attribution in cybersecurity, using the platform to foster discussion and develop actionable recommendations. But, generally, how would these issues be identified and scoped for consensus-building in this nascent platform? In other words, how would this platform set its agenda?

 

In ICANN and the RIRs, their defined missions ensure and limit certain policy agendas there. The solution to set an agenda in this new platform would be for actors to collectively determine what issues they want to pursue, perhaps with minimal requirements to ensure that any effort meets the overall stakeholder-driven, open, transparent, and consensus-based objectives of the initiative. This would be similar to how the IGF’s workshops or ICANN’s cross community working groups operate (in their best instances). But might there be issues too controversial for some? Or what if there are multiple, competing candidate issues? One imagines some sort of gatekeeping function might emerge similar to the IGF MAG, ARIN Advisory Council, etc. to deal with selection, scoping and resource management. In this case, would the ISOC Board of Trustees, its Advisory Councils, or the actual Organizational and Chapter members “approve” issues to be explored? One needs to look no further than the early days of the IANA transition to understand how institutions themselves shape agendas for the better or worse. A closer look at how issue identification, scoping and resource allocation would be operationalized needs to happen.

 

Speaking of scope, the initiative seeks to bring together activities already undertaken in numerous places, and does so on a relatively tiny budget. Convening stakeholders and developing and promoting “recommendations” occurs in many places, from IGF workshops to trade associations and groups like the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS), the Hague Center for Strategic Studies and our own Internet Governance Project. There are numerous “capacity building” efforts, from the ICANN and RIR Fellowship programs to many Schools of Internet Governance (SIGs) of varying quality. And in terms of academic research occurring in the field, the number of university-based centers and projects focused on some aspect of Internet governance has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade. In sum, the amount of resources being applied to convening, training and research is not insignificant. It is vastly larger than the budget being proposed for this new platform. Nonetheless, such a platform makes sense for ISOC strategically. Convening and training stakeholders, as well as engaging researchers in support of new forms of Internet governance would all be consistent with ISOC’s purposes as described in its articles of incorporation. But practically, one wonders how much impact the initiative could have in the three areas of focus as proposed. In this regard, the proposal’s thinking may be too small.

 

We are curious to see what ISOC does with the proposal. Since the completion of the IANA transition ISOC seems rudderless. It’s arguably spread over too many campaigns and initiatives and punching far below its weight. In our view, the proposed initiative should be viewed as an opportunity to renew ISOC’s purpose. Focusing energy on this proposal would be completely consistent with ISOC interests in facilitating and supporting the development, use and application of the Internet. With a little imagination one can see how it, with improved governance, deeper and direct connections to ISOC’s global membership, and more resources, might make a significant, lasting contribution to Internet governance. It (and ISOC) could serve as an exemplar of a stakeholder-driven, open, transparent, and consensus-based transnational decision making, providing much needed ongoing operational support to develop answers to pressing issues that originate within the organization’s membership and elsewhere. These answers could then be implemented in various market, networked and hierarchical governance structures.

 

What would need to be sorted out is how to effectively prevent ISOC from being susceptible to conflicts of interest (ISOC does receive the bulk of its revenue from PIR’s operation of the .org TLD) and remain focused on developing independent, credible principles, norms and recommendations to be applied in any governance structure. For instance, could ISOC offer unbiased, effective support for doing competition analysis of Internet-based name systems? Similarly, ISOC support for a robust, interdisciplinary research agenda and data driven analysis, should be directly focused on transnational governance solutions and less interested in promoting any specific governance structure. A non state-actor based “multistakeholder model” is appropriate for Internet governance primarily because it is non-national or transnational and not because it is multistakeholder per se.

 

Together, a reinvigorated and refocused ISOC could be a formidable institutional component of global Internet governance, transcending domestic borders and coalescing stakeholders in what my colleague Milton Mueller called a “global Internet polity” in Will the Internet Fragment? This polity, or associative cluster of organizations and individuals around the platform operated by ISOC, would bring existing and new stakeholders into discourse, realigning them to conform not with domestic political economies but transnationally. In so doing, ISOC could alter the demand structure for policies, and have lasting impact on the global political economy of communication and information. We encourage you to comment on the proposal. ISOC is accepting the submission of your ideas at multistakeholder@isoc.org.

From https://www.internetgovernance.org/ 12/16/2017

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Analyses of a Connected Youth

At the 12th Internet Governance Forum, held in Geneva, the Youth Observatory released the Portuguese and English versions of its first book, "Analyses of a Connected Youth: Internet Governance". The project is the result of an open call that selected articles from 23 Latin American youths, mostly women, from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. In 19 texts - academic and opinion articles, essays and interviews - they address some of the main topics of discussion in Internet Governance today, such as digital rights, cybersecurity, gender, cultural goods and content, and digital inclusion. The Spanish edition of the book had already been released in YouthLACIGF, held on the occasion of LACIGF10, in Panama City, in August of this year. The book was made possible by the collaborative and voluntary work of young people engaged in the ecosystem of Internet Governance, both the authors and the editorial and evaluation Committee. Through the project, we seek to show the power of youth to reflect, discuss and propose solutions to the challenges we face today when we talk about the relationship between technology and society. Our thanks also go to Internet Society and SaferNet Brazil, who sponsored the project and helped us to carry it out. The book is available under a Creative Commons license and can be downloaded through the links:

From http://obdjuv.org/ 12/19/2017

 

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CHINA: Xi Welcomes Countries to Ride Fast Train of Internet, Digital Economy

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping said China hopes to encourage countries around the world to take a ride on the express train of internet and digital economic development. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks in a congratulatory letter to the Fourth World Internet Conference, which opened Sunday in the east China town of Wuzhen. The conference, which runs from Sunday to Tuesday, has the theme "Developing digital economy for openness and shared benefits -- building a community of common future in cyberspace." In his letter, Xi expressed a sincere welcome to government representatives, heads of international organizations, experts, scholars, and entrepreneurs who are attending the conference. He expressed hopes that the delegates will draw on collective wisdom and enhance mutual understanding so as to deepen exchanges and cooperation on the internet and digital economy, and make the development of the internet better serve the well-being of all people worldwide.

 

Xi pointed out that the development of the internet has posed many new challenges for the sovereignty, security, and development interests of the world's countries. "Building a community of common future in cyberspace has increasingly become the widespread common understanding of international society," he said. Xi said China hopes to work with the international community to respect cyberspace sovereignty and carry forward the spirit of partnership to commonly advance development, safeguard security, participate in governance, and share the benefits. "China's door to the world will never close, but will only open wider," he said. Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and member of the CPC Central Committee Secretariat, delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony.

 

Wang said China is willing to conform to the historic opportunities brought by the development of the internet and use the digital economy as an important driving force to promote the openness, cooperation, exchange, and sharing in cyberspace and build a community of common future in cyberspace. "We should promote security, construct a fine order, and build a secure, stable and prosperous cyberspace," Wang said. He also met with guests at the conference and visited an internet expo. Over 1,500 guests from more than 80 countries and regions, including government representatives, heads of international organizations, leading figures of internet companies, online celebrities, experts and scholars, attended the conference.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/03/2017

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China Now a Major Player in Digital Technology: Report

 

China is now a major player in digital technology with enormous growth potential, according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) released Monday. As digital forces shake the status quo and restructure value chains, an even more globally competitive Chinese economy, and dynamic firms can emerge, the report said. It said that China's e-commerce transactions were estimated to be larger than those in FranceGermanyJapan, the United Kingdom and the United States combined. The value of China's individual consumption mobile payments was 790 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, 11 times that of the United States, according to the report. Meanwhile, China is in the global top three for venture capital investment in virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, robotics, drones and artificial intelligence. One-third of the world's 262 unicorn companies (private startups valued at more than 1 billion U.S. dollars) is Chinese, commanding 43 percent of the global value of those companies, the report said.

 

A large and young market that enables rapid commercialization of digital business models, a rich digital ecosystem expanding beyond a few giants, and the government allowing space for digital companies to experiment and being an investor in and consumer of digital technologies, are three key factors suggesting a huge upside for China, according to the report. The report also predicted that digital technology might shift and create between 10 and 45 percent of industry revenues in China by 2030. Jeongmin Seong, MGI senior fellow, said that digitization could make China's economy more dynamic and enable more Chinese businesses to compete globally and even export "Made In China" digital business models.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/04/2017

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China to Further Promote Government Information Sharing and Disclosure

 

China will further integrate government information systems and enable more information disclosure on the allocation of public resources, according to a decision made at the State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. The government will work to consolidate and integrate the national data sharing and exchange platform to enable connectivity across networks, data and administrative services, the meeting has decided. This move is part of the government effort to streamline administration, enhance compliance oversight and provide better services, with the aim of delivering greater benefits to the public with easier and faster access to administrative services. Chinese leaders have stressed the importance of integration, sharing and disclosure in the running of government information systems on multiple occasions.

 

President Xi Jinping said that the integration of information resources should be pushed forward to break information silos and develop a national information resources sharing system. Premier Li Keqiang said that the integration and sharing of government information systems should be accelerated to deliver better administrative services. According to a decision at the meeting, the contents and modality of data sharing across State Council departments will be clearly defined to ensure public access to information that can be released. The 40 vertical information systems run by the State Council bodies will be made open to governments at various levels by the end of this year, which will enable the sharing of service information on some 500 data items, including the identity verification of natural persons and enterprises, tax payment certificate, real estate registration, and diploma certification.

 

The government will encourage multi-purpose service stations to raise efficiency and cut the legwork of the public and businesses in seeking government services from different departments. The security of information sharing will also be a priority, with measures set to be introduced to enhance the security management system and risk assessment. In the establishment of any new government information system, sharing shall be a guiding principle to prevent duplication and new information silos. The government will also step up technical safeguards for such public infrastructure as the National E-Government Network and the national data sharing and exchange platform. "We should use the integration of government information systems to achieve connectivity of data and government services, and break the barriers to our reform to streamline administration, enhance compliance oversight and provide better services.

 

Such integration will also help spur social creativity, foster a more favorable business environment and bring greater conveniences to our people. This effort meets the public expectation and will help strike a proper balance between the government and the market," the premier said. A new guideline, which specifies a set of requirements for government information disclosure on the allocation of public resources, was also approved at the meeting. The guideline, issued as part of the plan by the Communist party of China Central Committee and the State Council to push forward government information disclosure comprehensively, has identified a number of key areas for information disclosure, including housing, transfer of state-owned land use rights, transfer of mining rights, government procurement, transaction of state-owned property rights and tendering of engineering construction projects.

 

Information disclosure in these areas will be conducted through government portal sites, mobile Internet platforms, or the press by the competent government departments or the state bodies, government-affiliated institutions or enterprises that undertake the allocation of these public resources. "More transparency in the allocation of public resources can help reduce corruption and unfair distribution. It can also lower cost, raise efficiency and enhance government credibility." Li said. The use of high and new technology should be prioritized in integrating government information systems and releasing government information on public resources allocation on the basis of ensuring information security, he added.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/06/2017

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President Xi Urges Innovation in Manufacturing Sector

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for more innovation in the equipment manufacturing sector to accelerate China's drive toward becoming a manufacturing powerhouse and bolster the real economy. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks during a two-day inspection tour in Xuzhou, eastern China's Jiangsu Province. Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group Co., Ltd. (XCMG), a leading homegrown manufacturer, was his first stop on Tuesday. "Innovation is the source of business core competitiveness," Xi said after being briefed about XCMG's intelligent assembly lines and big data platform. Thanks to self-developed heavy-duty machines, XCMG is swiftly increasing its share in the global market. China should ramp up investment and channel more energy into research and development to spur the development of the equipment manufacturing sector, Xi said. "Many core technologies cannot be bought."

 

Xi urged a shift from "Made in China" to "Created in China," stressing more emphasis on quality rather than speed, and encouraging homegrown manufacturers to build their own brands. Highlighting the role of state-owned enterprises, Xi said they should serve as a major force in the supply-side structural reform, aiming for international standards and leading domestic industries to move up global value chain. Founded in 1943, XCMG is the world's fifth largest construction machinery producer. Xi said he hopes the company will expand its technological advantage to grab a bigger market share and generate more social benefits. After leaving XCMG, Xi visited a wetland park which used to be a subsidence coal mining area. Ecological restoration has transformed the abandoned mine into a popular scenic area. Xi stressed economic restructuring in regions running out of natural resources and said the new concept of green development should be strictly followed.

 

TRIP FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT, REVOLUTIONARY SPIRIT

While inspecting Mazhuang Village near the wetland park, Xi encouraged Party members to play an active role in studying and implementing the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress. Party organizations at grassroots levels should be strengthened to promote the Party's policies and decisions, lead the governance at the primary level, unite the masses and facilitate reform and development, said Xi. During the inspection, Xi bought a hand-made sachet from an elderly villager and asked officials to improve the transparency of village affairs and information services. Impressed by the villagers' clapper talk performance, Xi stressed the cultural-ethical development in rural areas. Promoting material wellbeing and raising cultural-ethical standards are both essential to the implementation of rural revitalization strategy, according to Xi. On Wednesday afternoon, Xi visited a memorial for martyrs and the Museum of the Huaihai Campaign (November 1948 - January 1949), which was among the decisive campaigns in the War of Liberation.

 

The campaign showed that winning a war may not only depend on the weaponry or manpower, but also on troop strategy and tactics, confidence and courage, as well as the support and assistance from the people, which often serve as more important factors, said Xi. "By cherishing the memory of the revolutionary martyrs, we will carry on their unfinished work, emulate their spirit, remain true to our original aspirations and keep our mission firmly in mind," Xi noted. Xi also called on the armed forces to pass on the fine tradition and train revolutionary officers and soldiers of a new era with faith, ability, courage, and integrity, and see that the forces forever preserve their nature, purpose, and character as the forces of the people.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/13/2017

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China to Improve Mechanisms for High-quality Development

 

China must build and improve mechanisms for pushing forward high-quality development, according to a statement released after the Central Economic Work Conference that concluded Wednesday. "High-quality development is the fundamental requirement for determining the development path, making economic policies, and conducting macroeconomic regulation at present and in the period to come," according to the statement. China must create the indicators, policies, standards, statistical and performance assessment systems that can push ahead high-quality development. "As socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, China's economic development has also entered a new era. The basic feature is that China's economy has transitioned from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development," the statement said. Realizing high-quality development is a must for sustaining healthy economic and social development and adapting to China's new principal contradiction between unbalanced development and the need for a better life, it added. Quality development is also crucial for becoming a moderately prosperous society in all respects and building a modern socialist country in all respects, and for complying with economic laws. The document listed eight major tasks centering around pursuing high-quality development, including deepening supply-side structural reform, stimulating the vitality of market entities and seeking wider opening up.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/20/2017

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China to Ease Market Access Controls on Foreign Investment

 

China will work to ease market access restrictions on foreign investment and push the opening of the manufacturing, producer services and financial sectors, the Ministry of Commerce said Thursday. The country will push for nationwide implementation of a pre-establishment national treatment system as well as a negative list, which determines industries in which foreign participation is prohibited or limited, the ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a press briefing. The country will also improve its mechanism for foreign investors to file complaints and protect their legal interests, Gao said. Efforts will be made to attract more foreign investment into the country's central and western regions, while improving the quality of investment, he said. Foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland rose 9.8 percent year on year to reach 803.62 billion yuan (around 122 billion U.S. dollars) in the first 11 months. The growth was much faster than the 1.9-percent year-on-year increase registered in the first 10 months. Chinese leaders have reiterated that the country will not close its door to the world, but rather the door will only open wider.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/21/2017

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Innovation Contributes More to China's Growth: Official

 

Technological improvement will contribute more to China's economic growth this year, a senior official said Saturday. Wang Zhigang, vice minister of Science and Technology, estimated the contribution would rise to 57.5 percent in 2017, up from 56.2 percent last year, at a forum. Wang cited breakthroughs in transformation of scientific achievements including high-speed rail, UHV power transmission, hybrid rice, satellite navigation, and electric cars. "We can grow rice in seawater with lower density...and Huawei's polar coding has become part of international 5G standards." China has become the world's second largest investor in R&D, with 1.57 trillion yuan (nearly 240 billion U.S. dollars) poured in the area last year, accounting for more than 20 percent of the world's total. Its R&D-to-GDP ratio was 2.11 percent, generally at the same level with that of European countries. Wang said more efforts will be made in innovation, including employing technologies such as big data to upgrade traditional industries, increasing tax breaks to support tech firms, and stepping up protection of intellectual property rights.

From http://www.news.cn/ 12/23/2017

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JAPAN: Enhance Technology Created, Including Quantum Computers

 

New technologies that originated in Japan should be utilized for the development of society. To also win the competition over international development in the field of information technology, it is important for the public and private sectors to join forces. NTT Corp., the National Institute of Informatics and others have developed a prototype quantum computing system. It will be made available for researchers and others via the internet for free starting this week. Quantum computers employ the principles of quantum mechanics, which involve the physical phenomena of molecules and atoms. There are also data showing that when dealing with problems in specific fields, quantum computers can calculate at speeds 100 million times faster than ordinary computers. It can be considered one of the promising “dream technologies.” In particular, quantum computers are strong at deriving the most suitable combination out of various options. They are expected to be useful for resolving traffic congestion in highly traveled urban areas, automated driving, improving efficiency in the physical distribution network and even for the development of new medicine.

 

NTT has taken advantage of the optical fiber technology it has fostered in the telecommunications business. The new technology is said to excel at mathematical computing and to help reduce power consumption by a large margin. Operation of the prototype should be utilized to accelerate the development of a versatile quantum computing system for practical use. There are well-known theories regarding the realization of a quantum computer, including one formulated by Hidetoshi Nishimori, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Although it was originated in Japan, Japanese researchers lag behind their foreign counterparts in the development of quantum computers. A Canadian company that applied Nishimori’s theory has gone ahead with practical use of a quantum computing system. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration has also started using the system. China has been investing an enormous sum of money into research and development of quantum computers. NTT has taken part in a government-sponsored research project called “Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies Program,” or ImPACT, and has promoted the development of its system, while winning public financial assistance.

 

The K Computer, a supercomputer developed by RIKEN and Fujitsu Ltd., won first place in the November 2017 world ranking of supercomputers in terms of their practical performance. Further industrial-academic-public cooperation is essential to steadily link the most-advanced research results to practical use. There has been conspicious growth in moves to utilize information technologies in business, such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT), which is the interconnectivity of different kinds of products via the internet. In the ranking of the world’s most technologically innovative countries, Japan has fallen over the past 10 years from 4th in 2007 to as low as 14th this year. There is no denying that Japan’s presence as a science and technology power has weakened. Japan has demonstrated its prowess in manufacturing high-quality products, with a high level of productivity, such as automobiles and electric appliances. From now, this country is urged to take the lead in various technological development, such as IT, and to develop new business models. Using flexible ideas, solutions to diverse social problems should be presented.

From http://the-japan-news.com 11/27/2017

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Japan to Join Lunar Probe Project in Chance to Burnish Space Technology

 

Will this become a foothold with which Japanese astronauts can land on the moon? It has been decided that Japan will also aim to take part in the U.S.-planned scheme to build a space station to orbit the moon. The government’s Committee on National Space Policy has incorporated this objective into a revised time schedule of its basic plan on space policy. Keeping a lunar mission by a Japanese astronaut in view as well, the revision schedule also makes clear that Japan “will aim at realizing moon-landing and lunar surface activities through international cooperation.” This is a revision plan replete with potential. It could lead to fostering the next generation, who will take on the challenge of space development. As participation enables Japan to learn at close hand the current state of nations advanced in space technology, it could become a good opportunity for this country to enhance its basic technological strength. As to specific fields that Japan should realize under the space station project, the government lists such tasks as the purification of air and water within the station and a technique to drill the surface of the moon.

 

While leaving tasks such as the development of a manned space vehicle up to the United States, which is close to realization, Japan will assume other roles also considered essential for the scheme, with the aim of promoting Japan’s presence in the project. If Japan can advance its space technology, this country will be able to improve its credibility to win orders to manufacture artificial satellites or to launch rockets, thus strengthening its international competitiveness. The participation will also contribute to vitalizing this country’s wide range of support industries, such as those related to the development of materials and remote-controlled technology. Japan’s space-related annual budget is about ¥300 billion. For Japan to aim for lunar exploration under such severe financial conditions, it is realistic to pursue efficient development through international cooperation. To take part in the scheme, the private-sector’s power of development is indispensable. In the United States, government-led space development has been on the decline. As the costs of rocket launches have fallen markedly, two private companies will start operating new manned space vehicles next year. It’s time for Japan, too, to review the existing system under which the government furnishes all the funds necessary.

 

International cooperation in lunar exploration is also significant from the viewpoint of security. Russia is pursuing lunar exploration as the key project to follow the International Space Station (ISS), which has been se