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TOP HEADLINES 30 October 2014
1. CAMBODIA: Poor electricity and labor force hurting economy
2. PAKISTAN: Finance minister unveils 14-point economic roadmap
3. PHILIPPINES: Still Asia's No. 1 in gender equality
4. SOUTH ASIA: Challenge of urbanization
5. MYANMAR: UN to help move from least developed country
6. PHILIPPINES: On track in poverty reduction
7. INDIA: Moves up 8 places on Global Hunger Index
8. INDONESIA: Food self-sufficient in 2018
9. PRC: Moves to expand, upgrade consumption
10. INDONESIA: Capping coal while demand grows
IN DEPTH
1. CAMBODIA: Poor electricity and labor force hurting economy
Source: voacambodia.com

"The World Bank and Asian Development Bank issued a report on Tuesday, urging Cambodia to improve its electricity supply and workforce in order to be competitive. The Investment Climate Assessment also says Cambodia needs to improve its financial payment structures.

Intermittent electricity, informal payments and a low-skill labor force are all major constraints to doing business in Cambodia, the report says. However, Cambodia has seen a recovery in foreign direct investment, as it integrates more deeply into regional value chains for industries like garment and textiles."



2. PAKISTAN: Finance minister unveils 14-point economic roadmap
Source: dawn.com

"Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced on Tuesday a 14-point 'future roadmap' aimed at achieving over seven percent growth by 2018 and making Pakistan globally competitive with particular emphasis on macroeconomic stability through inclusive growth. The finance minister said that to achieve over 7 percent growth by 2018 it was necessary to address poverty incidence and unemployment while improving socio-economic indicators, including health and education.

Other main features of the roadmap include containing inflation to single digits, bringing down the fiscal deficit to 4 percent, and increasing foreign exchange reserves to $22 billion. The finance minister said the government was focussing on improving investment climate in the country through implementation of Investment Strategy 2013-17 that hinged upon main pillars of public-private sector dialogue for policy formulation, FDI generation and promotion campaign, investment facilitation, development of special economic zones and coordination networks with stakeholders."



3. PHILIPPINES: Still Asia's No. 1 in gender equality
Source: gmanetwork.com

"The Philippines remains on top of the gender equality game in Asia, with the country being the only nation in Asia and the Pacific that has fully closed the gender gap in both education and health, according to the Global Gender Gap 2014 report of the World Economic Forum (WEF). While the country fell 0.02 points from last year's standing, the Philippines remains the best performing country in Asia in terms of closing the gap on gender disparity, the Philippine Commission on Women said Wednesday.

According to the report, the Philippines is second only to Norway in terms of women's ability to rise to positions of leadership and enterprise. The Philippines is also the country with the highest percentage of firms with female participation in the ownership. Despite being the leader in gender equality in Asia, however, the report showed that the Philippines fell from the last year's 5th place among 136 countries to land in 9th place out of 142 countries in 2014."



4. SOUTH ASIA OP/ED: Challenge of urbanization
Source: thenews.com.pk

"Economists and sociologists are now of the opinion that many less developed countries that house mega-cities are not able to adequately manage fast paced and rapid urbanization, especially in South Asia. For example, issues around urban poverty, inequality, deprivation, poor governance and crimes, under-employment, congestion, pollution, and risks associated with disasters and accidents are just showing the tip of the iceberg.

Urban planning in South Asia is like a spaghetti bowl of conflicting priorities and policies. Such polices need cohesion and a better focus towards integrated development efforts. For example, urban poverty unlike rural poverty is not only an issue of employment or income. While cities in South Asia typically contribute around three quarters of economic output, 80 percent of the workers are in the informal sector without any social security system safeguarding their economic and social rights."



5. MYANMAR: UN to help move from least developed country
Source: business-standard.com

"The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) vowed to provide technical assistance to Myanmar to help lift it out of the least developed countries (LDC) list, the president's office said Wednesday. Vice President U. Nyan Tun and UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi focused on technical assistance from UNCTAD for implementation of the procedures on gross national income, human assets index and economic vulnerability for graduation of Myanmar from LDC status.

In its efforts to meet with the three criteria, in line with the 2015 UN Millennium Development Goals, Myanmar set up a national-level committee in July. The UN listed 25 countries as the LDC in 1971 and the LDC countries have since risen to 48. Myanmar has been part of the list since 1987."



6. PHILIPPINES: On track in poverty reduction
Source: baguiomidlandcourier.com.ph

"The Philippines' Department of Budget and Management Sec. Florencio Abad assured the economy is in good shape and is doing well on its poverty reduction target. Abad said based on the World Economic Forum's latest global competitiveness index, the Philippines has the most improved economy with its 52nd place ranking, which is seven places up from the 59th ranking last year.

Abad added the country is also on track with its poverty reduction target. Based on the report of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, the country's poverty incidence improved to 24.9 percent in the first semester of 2013 from 27.9 percent during the same period in 2012. With the continuing economic reforms coupled with the convergence of programs for social services, Abad assured a good economic prospect until 2016."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
A total of 12.1 million Filipino families considered themselves poor in September, while 9.3 million families said they were food-poor, according to a Social Weather Stations report. The nationwide survey, conducted from Sept. 26 to 29, found 55 percent of the respondents said they were poor, the same as in the previous quarter.

7. INDIA: Moves up 8 places on Global Hunger Index
Source: thehindubusinessline.com

"One-third of India's women and children under the age of five are underweight and face micronutrient deficiencies. The country, however, is making progress against hunger, as India moved up eight places from last year on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) to rank 55th out of 76 nations.

The reason for the decline was steady economic growth due to which numerous social sector programs were initiated, even if the implementation has been shaky, according to Purnima Menon, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI and Co-Director, POSHAN. The report mentions that the underweight children data it used for India was provisional, based on a survey conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development with UNICEF support in 2013-14. The national underweight estimate -- the first in eight years and at 30.7 percent -- was a substantial fall from 43.5 percent in 2005-06."



8. INDONESIA: Food self-sufficient in 2018
Source: thejakartapost.com

"Newly installed Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman said on Tuesday that Indonesia would again reach food self-sufficiency in the next three to four years, by 2018 the latest. The ministry is prioritizing increasing the production of rice, corn, soybean and sugar cane because Indonesia still imports these products. Land expansion is another issue the ministry is prioritizing. Amran said market guarantees played an important role in ensuring the market could absorb crops during harvest time.

Indonesia was recognized as a food self-sufficient country by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1988. Entering the reform era, however, agriculture was no longer considered attractive and agricultural land was converted for other functions such as industry and housing."



9. PRC: Moves to expand, upgrade consumption
Source: chinadaily.com.cn

"The Chinese government announced measures on Wednesday to boost and upgrade domestic consumption in a bid to raise the quality and efficiency of its economy. The government is set to roll out supporting measures and detailed policies for deepening its income distribution reform, raise farmers' incomes through diversified means and ensure that residential incomes grow at the same pace as the country's economy.

It will also improve the social security network to free people from worries during consumption, and also build better consumption environment to make people willing to spend. The announcement pinpointed some major fields for boosting consumption, including information-related products (such as mobile Internet), green and energy-saving products, housing, tourism and leisure, education, as well as elderly care."



10. INDONESIA: Capping coal while demand grows
Source: Jakarta Globe

"Southeast Asia faces an immense challenge to meet that demand in a cost-efficient manner that doesn't cause serious air and water pollution and drive up health costs. Electricity generation is forecast to nearly triple in Southeast Asia between 2011 and 2035, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says, with fossil fuels providing most of the energy. For Indonesia, energy demand could mean extra funds from royalties, money it needs to develop its economy and provide jobs.

It also risks being a curse through increased environmental damage and social conflict if not carefully managed. The IEA says demand for coal in Southeast Asia will rise 4.8 percent per year, with Indonesia in the geographic sweet spot to be the region's main supplier. In the wider Asia Pacific, demand for coal will increase by 52.8 percent from 2010 to 2035, according to the Asian Development Bank."



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