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TOP HEADLINES 29 August 2014
1. INDIA: Huge job in giving bank accounts to all
2. PACIFIC: Outlook for island states is perilous
3. SE ASIA: More firms relocating to Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia
P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
PHILIPPINES: Time to start fighting poverty
4. MYANMAR: Opens doors wider to foreign capital
5. PAKISTAN: Polio funds will run out in two months
6. PHILIPPINES: Economy rebounds, joins Asia top performers
7. BANGLADESH: Set to build exclusive tourist zone
8. ASIA: Trash burning causes serious health problems
9. CAMBODIA: Work permits now required for foreigners
10. ASIA: Delay in WTO pact leaves countries worried
IN DEPTH
1. INDIA: Huge job in giving bank accounts to all
Source: thedailystar.net

"India's Premier Narendra Modi has put a pledge to give bank accounts to all Indians on a war footing, but experts say taking banking to rural areas where many people have no identity papers will be a huge challenge. In developed nations, bank branches are everywhere. But banking services in India leave out nearly half the 1.2 billion population, putting poor people at the mercy of moneylenders who charge usurious interest for emergency loans for sickness or routine purchases such as buying seeds.

Just 145 million of India's 247 million households have access to a bank account, census figures show. According to the World Bank, 73 percent of farmers have no formal source of credit. While the drive for universal banking access dates back decades, India is still far from its goal. Modi is pushing to transform India into a modern economy where money goes from account to account rather than pocket to pocket. Under his scheme, each account-holder would also get a debit card and a 100,000-rupee ($1,600) sickness insurance policy."



2. PACIFIC: Outlook for island states is perilous
Source: islandsbusiness.com

"Small island developing states in Asia-Pacific are at a development crossroads. Some have achieved middle-income status. However, many of them have weak economies that are heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture, fisheries, remittances and aid. This dependence makes them highly vulnerable to climate change-related natural disasters, global economic shocks and aid volatility.

Low life expectancy is a major issue, linked to high infant and adult mortality rates. This is also linked to high rates of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart problems. Low and volatile growth has made job creation difficult, many live below the poverty line, and female and youth unemployment remain high. The average unemployment rate in the large and growing youth population is 23% compared with a global average of 13%. Next week, the third international conference on small island developing states, in Apia, Samoa, will focus global attention on the development challenges confronting Pacific island countries."



3. SE ASIA: More firms relocating to Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia
Source: thejakartapost.com

"More companies are seen relocating to the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia to tap these countries' young and educated talent base amid rising labor costs in China, according to a global workforce solutions provider. In a report titled 'The Next Big Thing in Southeast Asia,' ManpowerGroup said that major companies, including Fortune Global 500s, were starting to locate their operations in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, the way they once flocked to China.

The report noted that the three Southeast Asian countries have large populations, high productivity and significant market potentials given their educated workforce. Also, the average wages in these countries are 'relatively low,' whereas labor costs in other Asian countries -- including China -- have been rising to the point that relocating to, or remaining in these markets may no longer be as financially appealing."


P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
PHILIPPINES: Time to start fighting poverty
Source: ucanews.com

"Reggie is the human face of poverty in the Philippines. He and his family lived on the edge of hunger before Typhoon Haiyan pushed them into the abyss. Reggie is 17 years old, unemployed and homeless. His home was taken away by the 245 kph typhoon in November. With the strong wind, the boy's dignity was also taken away from him by human traffickers who forced Reggie and six others into unpaid labor on a fishing boat. The boys were later abandoned, hungry and unpaid.

In a country with about 100 million people, there are 29 million Filipinos living below the poverty line according to government statistics. This was almost the same figure seven years ago. Meanwhile, in a desperate effort to meet the UN millennium development goals, the government has been implementing the Conditional Cash Transfer Program. This handout project, despite its shortcomings, is helping to stop poor urban families from falling into abject poverty. The program is a temporary life jacket to keep the poor afloat in an ocean of deprivation and hunger. What is needed is a pro-poor economic policy change that will put job creation for the poor and land distribution (with support), at the center of economic policy."


4. MYANMAR: Opens doors wider to foreign capital
Source: Nikkei

"Myanmar's government has halved the number of industries with restrictions on investment from abroad, fully opening up retailing and other areas in what could prove a watershed moment for the country's long-isolated economy. The move is likely to embolden foreign multinationals on the fence about entering one of Asia's least-developed markets.

Under the new directive, foreigners can wholly own businesses in tourism, warehousing, and other industries in which they previously had to enlist local partners. A ban on foreign-operated banks is expected to be lifted as early as next month. But not everything about doing business in Myanmar has become crystal-clear. Foreign companies still need permission to move into the country. And when it comes to importing goods -- a must for retailers -- the Ministry of Commerce weighs each application individually."



5. PAKISTAN: Polio funds will run out in two months
Source: firstpost.com

"Pakistan's health ministry has said that if new funds are not arranged for the delayed anti-polio campaign, it is likely to halt after two months, Dawn online reported on Thursday. A health official said that the ministry was running out of funds. The Economic Coordination Council was supposed to approve funds for the campaign in the second week of August, but it has not been allocated owing to a political crisis.

In November, the World Health Organization (WHO) will review the temporary travel restrictions it imposed on Pakistan in May, on the recommendation of the International Health Regulations, which made it mandatory for every person intending to travel abroad to produce a polio vaccination certificate at the airport. For now, it is obligatory on the government to vaccinate each person going out of the country, the official said. A total of 115 polio cases has been registered in Pakistan this year."



6. PHILIPPINES: Economy rebounds, joins Asia top performers
Source: brecorder.com

"The Philippine economy rebounded to post 6.4-percent growth in the second quarter and regain its status as one of the strongest in Asia, authorities said Thursday. The private sector took the lead as the economy recovered from a relatively modest expansion of 5.6 percent in the first quarter, which was partly due to the impact of devastating natural disasters, economic chiefs said.

Independent economists gave guardedly optimistic assessments for the Philippines, a nation of 100 million people which in recent years has seen its economy surge after long lagging behind most of its Asian neighbors. The Philippine economy grew 6.8 percent in 2012 and 7.2 percent in 2013, but there are concerns about the sustainability of such strong numbers."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
The Infoladies program, which aims to facilitate the broader dissemination of information technology in the country, appears on track to expand dramatically in the years ahead. According to Laura Mohiuddin, who leads the Infoladies program, the number of Infoladies is set to rise to 4,500 by the end of 2016 and expand nationwide in September. The program is an extension of the 'Mobile Ladies' program, launched in 2004, through which women carrying cellphones connected villagers in remote parts of Bangladesh. The women, who range in age from 18 to 35, ride bicycles and carry a variety of light equipment, such as laptops, blood-pressure monitors, pregnancy tests and other supplies. They charge nominal fees for their services, which include everything from filling in online forms, to checking blood types, providing information about government benefits.

7. BANGLADESH: Set to build exclusive tourist zone
Source: bdnews24.com

"Bangladesh will build an 1165-acre exclusive zone for tourists in Teknaf with hotels, night clubs, park and convention hall. The government has given the go-ahead to two public-private partnership (PPP) projects in Cox's Bazar for development of tourism sector.

Under one project, an exclusive tourist zone will be developed in Sabrang area under Teknaf Upazila. The 1165-acre exclusive tourist zone will have hotels, cottages, beach villas, night clubs, a convention hall and an amusement park. The government has already given permission to the ministry to use 135 acres of land in the beach for the project."



8. ASIA: Trash burning causes serious health problems
Source: Time

"More than 40% of trash produced around the world today is burned without regulation or oversight in a process that damages public health and contributes to climate change, according to a new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a type of particle created during burnings, are among the potent materials released from unregulated burnings that have been linked to health problems like neurological disorders, cancer and heart problems.

While garbage burning happens across the globe, it's particularly rampant in developing countries with limited access to controlled methods of trash disposal. More than 20 percent of large-particle pollutants in China come from trash burning."



9. CAMBODIA: Work permits now required for foreigners
Source: cambodiadaily.com

"Cambodia's Labor Ministry has begun to enforce a long-neglected law that requires foreigners employed in Cambodia to have work permits, according to ministry officials. Teams of inspectors have begun scouring the country to ensure that foreign employees and businesspeople have the proper documentation, with employers and workers facing hefty fines in the event that they are not certified.

A 1995 proclamation entitled 'The Management of Foreigners' Work Permits,' which states that all foreigners employed in the country should possess either a temporary or permanent work permit. To obtain a permanent work permit, foreigners must present at a provincial or municipal police station with a valid passport, three extra passport photos and proof of a deposit into a local bank."



10. ASIA: Delay in WTO pact leaves countries worried
Source: business-standard.com

"The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday expressed concern over delay in implementing the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that seeks to smoothen global customs rules, as was agreed during the during the Bali Ministerial last year. Members also agreed to expedite talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

It is learnt that a three-hour negotiation between India and other countries ensued while firming up the joint statement. Apparently, India did not want TFA to be mentioned in the statement. As a result, neither TFA nor public stockholding were inducted in the statement in an effort to satisfy all. However, it seems the US had yielded substantial pressure tactics to include TFA as part of the statement calling for its early closure."



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