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TOP HEADLINES 18 September 2014
1. ASIA: Full regional integration still far off
2. NEPAL: Development-orientated relief
3. INDONESIA: Ensuring insurance growth
4. PRC: Textile firms set for sustainable development
5. PHILIPPINES: Legal hurdles, continuity hound PPP program
6. INDIA: Businesses make the best out of waste
7. MYANMAR: Sees foreign investment topping $5 billion
8. VIET NAM: Commences electronic tax claim system
9. THAILAND: To push for a digital-based economy
10. INDIA: Revise priority sector lending
IN DEPTH
1. ASIA: Full regional integration still far off
Source: Business World

"ASIAN business leaders said that the coming Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic integration by end-2015 may take years longer to be fully implemented, as many countries still need to address concerns such as non-tariff barriers hampering free trade in the region. Egmidio S. Jose, chairman of the Philippines-Japan Economic Cooperation Committee, said that the expected end-2015 implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is just the 'starting point' of the region's integration.

'The full implementation of the AEC is maybe some more years ahead,' Mr. Jose told reporters. The AEC seeks to establish a seamless, single competitive market and production base across ASEAN economies through the elimination of import duties and non-tariff barriers, as well as the strengthening of small and medium enterprises in the region."



 ADBI What's New

Asia Pathways:
Can president-elect Joko Widodo transform Indonesia's economy?
Indonesia's president-elect Joko Widodo has declared he aims to push the growth rate of the economy above 7 percent a year. The recent slow growth comes at the tail end of the resource boom. To keep inflation under control and avoid a balance of payments crisis, Indonesia's fiscal and monetary authorities have been engineering a slowdown and demand-side consolidation.


2. NEPAL: Development-orientated relief
Source: Himalayan Times

"Disaster has manifested as a double-headed hydra in the form of floods and landslides throughout Nepal since the last few months. Whilst the mountains and the hills have been rocked by the landslides, the Terai has been submerged in deep flood waters. This has put the country in general and the Home Ministry, the umbrella agency for disaster risk reduction, virtually in a state of despair.

As the proposed Disaster Risk Reduction Act has been stalled in Parliament, the country is being governed by the Natural Calamity Relief Act, 1982, which is by its very name confined to the narrow realm of relief distribution. It does not encompass the most important elements of disaster risk reduction, namely preparedness and reconstruction."



3. INDONESIA: Ensuring insurance growth
Source: Jakarta Post

"As Indonesia's economic development advances steadily to a higher level with rising per capita income, the demand for a wider variety of insurance products will increase as well. As both domestic capital and risk-management expertise are still inadequate and the payback (gestation) period on investments in the insurance business is quite long, the role of foreign insurance firms will remain important for accelerating the development of the local industry.

As the insurance industry also plays an important role as a major source of long-term funds, this business could help stimulate more robust development of infrastructure, which has been designated as one of the new government's top priority programs over the next five years."



4. PRC: Textile firms set for sustainable development
Source: China Daily

"Many labor-intensive manufacturing industries in China have declined with the country's economic slowdown. But China's textile and apparel industry is determined to resist the trend by becoming more efficient, innovative and environmentally friendly, according to the industry's 2013-2014 social responsibility report.

The growth in sales and exports of China's textiles and apparel industry from January to July decelerated by 1.5 percentage points and 1.2 percentage points, respectively. But the industry's net profit in the first seven months hit 58.69 billion yuan ($9.83 billion), up 14.29 percent year-on-year. Last year, China implemented binding environmental protection codes and higher standards on wastewater and waste gas discharged from reeling, wool and flax spinning, dyeing and printing enterprises."



5. PHILIPPINES: Legal hurdles, continuity hound PPP program
Source: Business World

"The Philippine's public-private partnership (PPP) program needs reforms that will help market the country as a potential destination for investors keen on developing national infrastructure projects, an Asian Development Bank (ADB) official said. Juan Miranda, managing director general at the ADB, said that the country's PPP thrust 'is not bad but can be better.'

'To be better, Manila's PPP (program) needs changes that will do away with legal hurdles, which are causing delays in building better infrastructure. The private and public sectors should have a very level-playing field, which will invite investors to deliver better services to the public,' Mr. Miranda explained."



6. INDIA: Businesses make the best out of waste
Source: Hindu Business Line

"Recycling has become the mantra for Indian businesses. Prices for scrap steel as well as sugarcane waste are nearing the rates of the actual commodity itself. According to BIR World Recycling Association, 'Indian mills bought significantly more scrap toward the end of May and in early June this year, although this is said to have more to do with domestic iron ore availability rather than strong demand for steel.'

Nearly 45 percent of India's steel manufacturers do not require iron ore as their furnaces depend on scrap metal. For a commodity like sugarcane, the price of the waste product has already reached as much as the commodity itself."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
Engineering students in Adelaide, Australia, have developed a simple water treatment system using foil chip packets and glass tubing, hoping they can save lives in the developing world. Globally, polluted water is blamed for an estimated 1.5 million deaths annually. The design is effectively half a cylinder of reflective material and all the light that hits that reflective material is directed at a glass tube, which is about a meter-and-a-half long. Inside that glass tube is water that's flowing at a fairly slow rate and a particular part of the sunlight spectrum, the UV-A radiation, goes into the water and reacts with the water to produce oxygen radicals and these then kill the pathogens.

7. MYANMAR: Sees foreign investment topping $5 billion
Source: Jakarta Globe

"Myanmar has revised its forecast for foreign direct investment to more than $5 billion for the fiscal year that began in April, a senior official said on Tuesday, surpassing earlier expectations and led by new ventures in energy and telecoms. The figure exceeds an earlier estimate of $4 billion, with investments in the first five months of this fiscal year worth $3.32 billion, said Aung Naing Oo, secretary of the government-run Myanmar Investment Commission.

That sum was more than half of the annual target set earlier and up 113 percent over the corresponding period a year prior. Aung Naing Oo said 31 percent of the investment received by the end of August was in the telecoms sector, with 23.8 percent in oil and gas and 18.4 percent in real estate. Hotels accounted for 13.3 percent and 8.1 percent went into manufacturing, primarily garments."



8. VIET NAM: Commences electronic tax claim system
Source: Voice of Vietnam

"Ho Chi Minh City has launched an online tax filing service for businesses in a bid to reduce bureaucratic delays and improve tax management. Taxpayers with bank accounts at BIDV, Vietcombank, Vietinbank, Agribank and MB Bank can use the service. All the documents will be verified via digital signatures. This year, BIDV is offering the service for free.

Businesses are required to register online at http://kekhaithue.gdt.gov.vn. Once they have set up an account, they need to sign in and follow the instructions. The initiative moves Viet Nam one step closer to a modern e-government, whilst also reducing costs, said Deputy Director of the municipal Taxation Department Tran Ngoc Tam."



9. THAILAND: To push for a digital-based economy
Source: The Nation

"The Thai government plans to push for a digital-based economy for long-term economic development and expects to see concrete results within one year, Deputy Prime Minister MR Pridiyathorn Devakula said. The digital-based economy was a very difficult part of government administration but it was vital, given its fundamental role for sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, services, finance and banking.

It might be late for Thailand to push for a digital base, but it is not too late to start it, he said. The moves will focus on government policy to enhance the country's economic capability, and accelerating the disbursement of the rest of the fiscal 2014 state budget and the 2015 budget efficiently. The ministry plans to review applications for private enterprises and investors, help farmers generate proper income, reduce obstacles to exports, search for new export markets, and persuade more foreign tourists to come to Thailand."



10. INDIA: Revise priority sector lending
Source: Hindu Business Line

"The banking sector needs to question the categories under priority sector lending, according to RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan. 'Select special sectors need ease of credit ... the biggest need for agriculture is long-term money while farmers don't get long-term loans because short-term loans are subsidised,' Rajan said at a banking conference.

Interest subventions and loan waiver schemes can distort prices and lead to unhealthy borrowing practices, Rajan said while addressing the bankers. The priority sector lending requirement currently is at a minimum of 40 percent, including sectors such as agriculture, education, rural housing, micro and small sector enterprises, among others. Prices of not just food but also other items need to come down to reduce interest rates, according to Rajan."



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