Change Font: A A A A Contact Us      What's New      FAQs      Sitemap      E-Notifications      Help           ADB.org home
Home E-mail Notifications ADBI E-Newsline

ADBI E-Newsline

TOP HEADLINES 5 March 2015
1. MYANMAR: Aims for public transport revolution
2. INDIA: Women farmers find success with SIM cards
3. PRC: Banks urged to speed up loans for agriculture
4. PHILIPPINES: Aims to expand financial inclusion
5. THAILAND: Looks to boost trade with Lao
6. INDONESIA: Gas-supply woes hamper investment in Papua
7. VIET NAM: Warnings over power price hike
8. PAKISTAN: Reach out to small farmers
9. INDIA: A positive roadmap for growth
10. PRC: Plans five-year air pollution control project
IN DEPTH
1. MYANMAR: Aims for public transport revolution
Source: The Nation

"Trains chug around Yangon's circular railway barely faster than a brisk walk, but this creaking relic of colonial times is at the heart of plans for a public transport revolution in the traffic-choked metropolis. Built under British colonial rule, the railway winds a 50-kilometer loop around Yangon, ferrying some 100,000 people a day from sleepy rural suburbs into the heart of Myanmar's main city.

Its ponderous pace -- just 15 km/hour -- has for years made the link the last resort of those too poor to afford a car or wearied by the city's sweaty and dangerously speedy buses. But moves to revive the service have seen travelers return to rail. New air-conditioned carriages were added shortly before the launch of a new Yangon tram that now trundles along the city's riverfront road."



 ADBI What's New

Asia Pathways:
Potential gains from closer cooperation between South Asia and Southeast Asia
Economic integration across South Asia and Southeast Asia is still very low, even if the value of cross-subregional trade has been growing over time. A forthcoming ADB/ADBI study considers what the bottlenecks to economic integration have been, including those related to transport infrastructure, policy-related barriers, trade-facilitation issues, and institutional constraints, and how the two subregions might address them. We estimate the potential benefits (and costs) of closer integration using a Computable General Equilibrium model under several policy scenarios.


2. INDIA: Women farmers find success with SIM cards
Source: IPS

"Jawadi Vimalamma, 36, looks admiringly at her cell phone. It's a simple device that can only be used to send or receive a call or a text message. Yet to the farmer from the village of Janampet, located 150 km away from Hyderabad, it symbolizes a wealth of knowledge that changed her life. Her phone is fitted with what the farmers call a GreenSIM, which sends her daily updates on the weather, health tips or agricultural advice.

Three years ago, a single message on this mobile alerted Vimalamma to the benefits of crop rotation. 'My profits have increased from 5,000 to 20,000 rupees ($80-$232) each season,' says the smallholder farmer, who now grows rice, corn, millet and peanuts on her three-acre plot, instead of relying on a single crop for her livelihood. Vimalamma is a member of Adarsh Mahila Samakhya, an all-women collective that helps empower smallholder women farmers through modern technologies."



3. PRC: Banks urged to speed up loans for agriculture
Source: China Daily

"China urged its banks to speed up lending to agriculture, the country's banking regulator said on Tuesday, in an effort to bolster a sector that employs almost one third of its 1.4 billion people, but remains in desperate need of funding. Policymakers have cut interest rates, increased lending targets and freed up banks' reserves to lend more, but this has done little for farming, which produces some 9 percent of China's GDP, though with low productivity.

Current farming techniques have been blamed for causing major soil and water pollution and food scandals, and economists say the sector needs investment from banks that have so far been reluctant to lend, despite repeated demands from Beijing. China's 'number one' planning document, issued by state media in February, listed modernizing farms as a key priority for 2015, including plans to encourage private investment and cheaper financing."



4. PHILIPPINES: Aims to expand financial inclusion
Source: Rappler

"Expanding financial inclusion to reach the most vulnerable low income households and small enterprises is the goal of the Philippine government as it officially opened the 2015 Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion on Tuesday, March 3, in Tagaytay City. The forum will push the progress made by the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Finance Ministers' Process to build inclusive financial systems.

According to the central bank, financial inclusion is a state where there is effective access to a wide range of financial services for all Filipinos. The forum will discuss legal, policy, and regulatory frameworks to expand access to finance for the poor and small enterprises. The forum will also examine how financial inclusion can further accelerate the growth of small businesses and enterprises with more access to credit."



5. THAILAND: Looks to boost trade with Lao
Source: The Nation

"The Thai government is targeting increasing bilateral trade with Lao PDR by 150 percent in the next three years through closer cooperation between border provinces in the two countries, as well as a plan to develop a special economic zone (SEZ) in Mukdahan. Commerce Minister General Chatchai Sarikulya said Thailand and Lao would cooperate more closely on trade and investment under the Asean Economic Community (AEC), with two-way trade increasing by 1.5 times over the next three years.

This weekend, Chatchai will lead a group of Thai businesspeople to Savannakhet province in Lao to firm up trade cooperation and conduct business matching. In 2014, Thai-Laotian bilateral trade rose by 14.32 percent year on year to Bt151 billion, with Thailand holding a trade surplus of Bt96 billion. Chatchai said more trade could be seen under the AEC, as well as through the planned SEZ in Mukdahan province, which borders Savannakhet province."



6. INDONESIA: Gas-supply woes hamper investment in Papua
Source: Jakarta Post

"Uncertainty over gas supply for planned industrial development in the eastern part of Indonesia, particularly Papua and West Papua, has hampered the government program aimed at accelerating the realization of investment in the area, says the head of the Investment Coordinating Board.

A German firm previously said that it had planned to develop a petrochemical plant in West Papua with an estimated cost of $900 million. The company initially planned to start construction in 2013 and would have finished the project by 2016. However, the planned project is now stalled. Papua and West Papua hold natural resources that can support energy for industrial development in the country."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
Sri Lanka has better health outcomes than its neighbor India and the 20 million people living in this small tropical island have great trust in their public health service. As new President Maithripala Sirisena takes charge, Sri Lanka's health service can demonstrate achievements but faces challenges. Medical care is free for all, but long waiting lists for emergency treatment remain a problem. This audio slideshow shows the struggle of a tsunami-stricken Sri Lanka to rebuild a reliable, effective public health service.

7. VIET NAM: Warnings over power price hike
Source: Thanhnien News

"Viet Nam is set to increase prices of electricity, which is selling under cost, in a bid to attract investors in the power sector, but experts warn such a move will jeopardize all recovery chances for the economy. The Ministry of Industry and Trade is now reviewing a proposal from the state-owned Electricity of Vietnam, often known as EVN, to raise power prices by 9.5 percent, from the current average of VND1,508 (7 US cents) per kWh.

EVN has been increasing prices every year, and its new proposal has been backed by Deputy Minister Do Thang Hai, who said power price hikes will benefit the government, businesses in the sector and even the public. He said that compared to other countries, Viet Nam is charging less for power than the production cost, which discourages investors. But economist Ngo Tri Long said the government is not being objective. He said that auditors should look into EVN's staffing and production process to see if the giant has made any real efforts to reduce costs."



8. PAKISTAN: Reach out to small farmers
Source: Dawn

"Agro-based industries in Pakistan have minimal direct linkages with small-scale farmers, and a paradigm shift in approach of the industrial sector has now become vital to cultivate a relationship with the farming community, which produces raw material for them, Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan said.

Bosan emphasized that agro-based industries should be set up in major agricultural producing areas. At the same time, the industrial sector should also develop linkages with agricultural research and development and play a role in the transfer of technology and knowledge to the farming community, he said."



9. INDIA: A positive roadmap for growth
Source: Hindu Business Line

"Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was expected to spell out a path-breaking Union Budget that would rev up the engines of the Indian economy with 'Make in India', the mantra expected to drive manufacturing and jobs. He may not have introduced 'big bang' reforms, but he has definitely cracked open the sluice gates for economic benefits to flow over the next few years.

The budget will improve business sentiment and spur investments by domestic as well as overseas players in the country through easier regulations and an improved tax regime. The reduction of corporate tax from 30 percent to 25 percent and the rationalization of various tax exemptions over the next four years is significant and is likely to encourage private investment."



10. PRC: Plans five-year air pollution control project
Source: China Daily

"China's Ministry of Science and Technology has started planning for a five-year air pollution prevention and control project, the ministry announced on Tuesday. According to the draft, the focus of air pollution control in China should be shifted from simply responding to heavy smog to a coordinated scheme to prevent both PM2.5, or airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter, and ozone.

Air pollution monitoring and management practices will be shifted from the city level to a regional scale, the draft said. Authorities will promote joint scientific and technological research and sharing of achievements to support air pollution control efforts, the document said. The research will focus on the cause and spread of pollution, its impact on health, monitoring and warning systems, as well as pollution management and air quality improvement technology and strategy."



Please share this e-newsline with others interested in the development of Asia-Pacific.

For questions, comments, complaints please visit our online contact form

To change your email address or to unsubscribe from ADBI e-newsline please visit:
http://www.adbi.org/e-newsline/subscribe.php

Sign-up for ADBI's free e-notification service to ensure you receive an e-mail when we post new publications and opportunities.

Follow us on Twitter

Visit ADBI's blog ASIA PATHWAYS

The stories and links selected and the views expressed in e-Newsline are those of the authors and editors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the ADB Institute. The Institute does not endorse them and accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any consequences of their use. Original name usage is retained in quoted articles, although it may not necessarily follow ADB naming conventions.

Back to Top 
©1998-2015 Asian Development Bank Institute. All rights not expressly granted herein are reserved.