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TOP HEADLINES 24 April 2014
1. VIET NAM: Aims for first debt sale amid bank cleanup
2. INDONESIA: Calls for more PPPs in aviation sector
3. CAMBODIA: Industry urged to go green
4. MYANMAR: Tender for upgrade of domestic airports
5. PHILIPPINES: Mapping out poverty
6. THAILAND: Traditional economic buffers undermined
7. BANGLADESH: Creating business-friendly environment
8. VIET NAM: FDI attraction comes under scrutiny
9. INDONESIA: Challenges facing the economy
10. PRC: To push urbanization reform
IN DEPTH
1. VIET NAM: Aims for first debt sale amid bank cleanup
Source: Thanhnien News

"Viet Nam's state asset management company aims to start selling bad debt from banks in the third quarter, stepping up efforts to overhaul lenders and spur economic growth. The asset manager, known as VAMC, was set up last July to acquire non-performing loans and enable banks to lend again. It has bought about 45 trillion dong ($2.1 billion) of bad debt and plans to purchase about 15 trillion dong more between now and the end of June, Vice Chairman Nguyen Quoc Hung said.

Viet Nam's policymakers are trying to bolster an economy that the World Bank estimates will expand 5.4 percent this year, a seventh straight year below 7 percent. While the central bank has cut its policy interest rates, the push to rejuvenate credit growth has faced challenges including enticing foreign buyers to acquire bad debt, according to Hung."



2. INDONESIA: Calls for more PPPs in aviation sector
Source: Jakarta Globe

"Indonesia needs to increase its spending on aviation infrastructure by six-fold over the next five years to fully accommodate the nation's increasing air traffic in the future, highlighting the need for more public-private partnerships (PPP) in the aviation sector, a state development official says.

Airports have struggled to keep up with the rising demand from passengers, and according to estimates from the National Development Planning Agency, improving the nation's aviation infrastructure to ideal conditions would cost more than $15 billion between 2015 and 2019. By comparison, the government has only been able to allocate approximately $2.6 billion to improve facilities between 2009 to 2014, according to Bastary P. Indra, the director for public-private partnership development at the agency."



3. CAMBODIA: Industry urged to go green
Source: Phnom Penh Post

"Small and medium-size enterprises (SME) were urged by the Cambodian government to employ more environmentally friendly practices at a recent green industry workshop in Phnom Penh. Cham Prasidh, minister for the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, said SMEs and handicraft producers' reliance on fossil fuels such as diesel and coal continue to emit dangerous amounts of carbon into the air and contribute to global warming.

Prasidh called for companies to investigate alternative, renewable energy sources, which will in turn reduce energy costs, strengthen production capacity and promote value added industries -- industries that go beyond producing only raw materials without incurring additional costs."



4. MYANMAR: Tender for upgrade of domestic airports
Source: Irrawaddy

"The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) said it will issue a tender in the last quarter of this year inviting local and foreign companies to upgrade 39 underdeveloped domestic airports in Myanmar. In November last year, the DCA called on companies to register their interest and proposals for improving 30 of Myanmar's 69 domestic airports.

The process, which was completed in January, was not a formal bidding process but served to inform the government agency of the interest and plans of potential airport developers. DCA announced in November that it plans to use local and foreign private investors to upgrade domestic airports in a bid to improve the country's underdeveloped airport capacity and infrastructure."



5. PHILIPPINES: Mapping out poverty
Source: Business World Online

"The latest poverty report of the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) showed that in 2012, some 25.2 percent of Filipinos were poor, or 23.7 million people. This meant that they fell below the poverty threshold of about P19,000 to P20,000 per capita per year. Assuming a family size of five, the total income needed to move out of poverty would be P95,000 to P100,000 per family per year.

What about the distribution of the poor? Metro Manila had a poverty incidence of only 3.9 percent in 2012, or only 461,000 people out of 11.8 million. The 'less poor' regions (those with less than 20 percent poverty) are in Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Calabarzon. The rest of the regions and their component provinces have poverty incidence of over 25 percent."



6. THAILAND: Traditional economic buffers undermined
Source: The Nation

"At a glance, Thailand's economy remains resilient to political turmoil that has led to five months without permanent government and no sign of an election date to bring an end to the power vacuum. Moody's, which rates financial health around the world, says that Thai economic fundamentals are strong enough to withstand political fallout. Yet, this optimism could be easily upended.

In its emerging markets series report, Moody's notes that the ongoing political crisis is slowly undermining some of Thailand's traditional buffers. 'The currency depreciated more than 10 percent over the course of 2013. Foreign reserves declined to $158 billion in early January to their lowest level since September 2010, but have stabilized since then. Meanwhile, growth will be negatively affected in 2014, primarily because planned public investment will be further delayed with some negative spillover into private investment."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
The first batch of tablets for the second phase of the Thai government's One Tablet per Child scheme have started being delivered to Mathayom 1 students after a 10-month delay, says a source. Computer maker Supreme Distribution (Thailand) is the first company to deliver the first batch of 78,714 out of 426,683 tablets after it won a bid to supply tablets in Zone 3 covering the central and southern provinces.

7. BANGLADESH: Creating business-friendly environment
Source: Financial Express

"There is no alternative to raising the level of investment if Bangladesh is to attain the status of a middle income country by the year 2021. Moody's projection of a stable outlook for Bangladesh's credit rating should encourage all stakeholders to look forward to more investment activities taking place in the country. Such a rating is thus expected to give some positive signals across the world for prospective investors to choose Bangladesh as the new location for their business operations.

The growing interest of foreign investors has lately been indicated by the UK-Bangladesh Catalysts of Commerce and Industry (UKBCCI). The UKBCCI, as a promoter, can serve as matchmaker among prospective investors in both Bangladesh and the United Kingdom. However, the leader of the team sought, as a first step, a business-friendly environment in the country for investors to set up 100 percent foreign investment projects or joint venture ones."



8. VIET NAM: FDI attraction comes under scrutiny
Source: Voice of Vietnam

"Although Viet Nam has attracted large amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI) for more than 20 years, it has yet to master managerial skills and optimally absorb technology transfer from FDI projects. In 2013 Viet Nam lured more than $20 billion in FDI -- a desirable figure for many developing countries in the context of the global economic slowdown.

However, many economists are not impressed with this new record, arguing the quality of FDI is the crucial factor. They say since the Foreign Investment Law was first introduced in 1987, Viet Nam has only marginally improved upon its managerial skills and has not reaped major benefits from the transfer of technology from FDI projects as expected, and this is a matter of particular concern."



9. INDONESIA: Challenges facing the economy
Source: Jakarta Post

"Despite the occasional hiccup, Indonesia's economy has performed well in recent years. Economic growth, at around 5.8 percent in the past 10 years, has made Indonesia one of the world's fastest growing large economies. Its macro-economic management has been commendable, with fiscal deficits down to less than 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and external debt has fallen from a worrying 87 percent of GDP in 2000 to just 28 percent.

Foreign investment has been rising, reflecting growing confidence in the economy among the world's biggest corporations. Nevertheless, Indonesia can do better. The country's growth rate still under-performs the impressive rates that China has enjoyed and is still well below what the country itself achieved in the late 1980s up to 1997. Indonesia can and should grow by 8 percent a year, a pace of growth that would deliver good jobs and rising incomes to common folk."



10. PRC: To push urbanization reform
Source: China Daily

"China will enhance reforms in the management of population data, land, funding guarantees, housing and environmental protection to boost the urbanization process, according to a senior official from the country's top economic planner. Xu Shaoshi, minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said that the rapid urbanization process in China has created problems, such as a huge population transfer from rural to urban areas and low efficiency in urban land use.

The NDRC will push forward reforms in the management systems for population, land, capital, housing and ecology to upgrade the urbanization path. The work in population management will accelerate household registration system reform, improve basic public services and build a nationwide population database, Xu said. The standard of urban land use and planning will be strictly complied with, while the NDRC will explore incentives for increasing and redeveloping urban construction land."



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