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TOP HEADLINES 30 January 2015
1. CAMBODIA: Capital's rapid urban migration
2. INDONESIA: Delivery is key to economic growth
3. KOREA: Elderly grapple with poverty
P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
INDIA: Delhi's waste site story
4. PHILIPPINES: Getting around financial inclusion hurdles
5. PRC: Myanmar crude pipeline opens
6. VIET NAM: Small business saddled with debt
7. KAZAKHSTAN: Straining reserves to allow gradual devaluation
8. INDONESIA: Strict monetary policy needed
9. PRC: Yuan now world's 5th payments currency
10. SE ASIA: Banking panel agrees transparency principles
IN DEPTH
1. CAMBODIA: Capital's rapid urban migration
Source: phnompenhpost.com

"Cambodians are flocking to Phnom Penh for work. So much so, in fact, that the city's size has increased at a faster rate than most other East Asian cities, the World Bank says. The capital's population grew from 900,000 to more than 1.4 million during the 10-year period, according to a 180-page study.

Phnom Penh's expansion has resulted in an extra 49 people residing in every square-kilometer block and an additional eight districts being formed since 1997, encroaching on provinces like Kandal and Kampong Speu. Phnom Penh's 2013 construction and transport master plan envisions a network of roads connecting the city to the outer districts by 2020, catered for by up to 18 new pubic bus routes."



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2. INDONESIA: Delivery is key to economic growth
Source: Jakarta Globe

"The Indonesian government expects to save $18 billion in its annual budget this year following a significant reduction in fuel subsidies. About 50 percent of these savings will be re-allocated toward infrastructure development. In the revised 2015 budget, capital expenditure will make up about 21 percent of the overall central government budget. For the first time in 10 years, capital expenditure spending will exceed energy subsidies.

While the House of Representatives has not approved the revised 2015 budget, markets have run up in anticipation of the focus on infrastructure. Delivery on the fiscal policy front is crucial. Having greatly reduced fuel subsidies, the real challenge for President Joko Widodo's government now is to show real progress on the infrastructure front. Financing from the central government will make up about 40 percent of the total $450 billion worth of projects by 2019."



3. KOREA: Elderly grapple with poverty
Source: channelnewsasia.com

"They have dedicated their lives to building their country into the world's 14th largest economy. But rather than enjoy a comfortable retirement, many senior citizens in Korea continue to struggle to survive. According to the government, 50 percent of those above 65 years old live in poverty -- the highest figure in the industrial world.

In the past, Korean children took care of their parents. But these days, societal attitudes have changed. According to government data, 90 percent of Koreans in 1998 said family members should support their aging parents. But by 2012, the number fell to about 30 percent. Old-aged homes have mushroomed across the country. Even though the government covers up to 80 percent of costs, tenants still have to fork out about $500 per month -- excluding meals. This is prohibitive for many who live in poverty."


P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
INDIA: Delhi's waste site story
Source: scidev.net

"Delhi now has 25 million residents, making it the second most populous city in the world. Every day, its inhabitants generate about 10,000 tonnes of rubbish -- and waste management is one battleground in how the city approaches development. A booming population, urban sprawl and technology transfer failures are some of the factors adding pressure on the government to manage solid waste sustainably. For incineration to work properly, household waste must first be segregated so the right components get burned.

Thousands of Delhi's poor inhabitants already separate out the waste dumped on landfill sites -- although they do this not in relation to incineration, but to find items they can sell. Such 'rag pickers' have traditionally been part of the informal recycling system in Delhi. Even under unhealthy conditions, their work earns them enough to support their families. And in the absence of a municipal recycling system and segregation of waste at source, such as people's homes, they play a key part in the city's waste management."


4. PHILIPPINES: Getting around financial inclusion hurdles
Source: manilatimes.net

"The Philippines is well behind its regional peers when it comes to financial inclusion, according to a recent study by the Asian Development Bank. The Philippines ranked 120th, while its neighboring countries such as Singapore ranked 25th and Malaysia at 41st. The scoring was based on several indicators, which included the ratio of automated teller machines (ATM) per 100,000 adults and domestic credit to gross domestic product ratio.

Technology as a tool for financial inclusion offers great potential for it allows banks to reach even the farthest area at a lower cost. For rural banks, the shift to electronic banking is starting to unfold. Central bank data showed that the number of ATMs of rural banks jumped to 463 as of September 2014 from 288 in the same period last year."



5. PRC: Myanmar crude pipeline opens
Source: nationmultimedia.com

"A pipeline pumping oil from Myanmar to China started a trial operation on Wednesday, Chinese state media reported, Beijing's latest step to diversify energy imports into the world's second-largest economy. The 771 kilometer pipeline will connect the world's top crude buyer with a deep-water port in western Myanmar.

Myanmar is still a key part of China's bid to diversify its energy imports and reduce its reliance on oil transported through the piracy hub of the Straits of Malacca. Another pipeline pumping natural gas more than 2,500 kilometers from western Myanmar to southwest China went fully operational in 2013. China also signed agreements worth $7.8 billion with Myanmar, state media reported in November, including deals to build power plants fueled by natural gas."



6. VIET NAM OP/ED: Small business saddled with debt
Source: thanhniennews.com

"Many small enterprises, a vital link in Vietnam's aspirations to become a global manufacturing dynamo, are uncompetitive, poorly managed and sunken by debt. Shunned by banks, many SMEs are stuck in a credit trap. A record 67,800 companies were shut last year. It's a headache for the state, which injected stimulus of $9 billion to rescue firms in 2009, with limited success.

Vietnam is climbing out of a half-decade slowdown but manufacturing and exports of the $184 billion economy are largely driven by multinationals and state-owned energy and textile firms. Supportive industries are woefully weak and few firms have the capital or expertise to join a supply chain. Such weaknesses could expose Vietnam as it braces for an influx of investment once a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is agreed that will slash tariffs among 12 countries worth 40 percent of global GDP, including Japan and the United States."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
Community drug outlets are sprouting across the Philippines to provide affordable access to essential medicines for the poor. A program of the government's Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), 'Botika ng Barangay' (or village pharmacies) now has 16,350 outlets located in underserved and remote areas of the country. An accredited community organization and/or a local government unit manage each outlet, with a trained operator and a supervising pharmacist. The outlets are licensed to sell or distribute low-priced generic and essential medicines for common diseases, including popular prescription antibiotics like amoxicillin and cotrimoxazole.

7. KAZAKHSTAN: Straining reserves to allow gradual devaluation
Source: silkroadreporters.com

"Kazakhstan is allocating billions of US dollars to ensure the devaluation of its national currency, the tenge gradual, and to reduce inflationary risks resulting from the sliding ruble, observers say. Kazakhstan has been experiencing a crisis that has sent the ruble tumbling by 50 percent against the US dollar since the beginning of last year.

The National Bank of Kazakhstan devalued the national currency by 19 percent in February 2014 to limit speculative pressure on the forex market, save reserves and stimulate economic growth through propping up exporters. The bank is now spending billions of US dollars out of its gold and foreign currency reserves, analysts and former officials note. They said the central bank is using currency swaps with commercial banks which flatter the currency reserve figures."



8. INDONESIA: Strict monetary policy needed
Source: antaranews.com

"Indonesia is in need of a strict monetary policy because there is still a possibility of surging inflation and global economic pressure in 2015, Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Agus Martowardojo said. A year-on-year comparison shows that inflation in 2015 would still be high at 8 percent. He pointed out that inflation in January had, indeed, declined due to a fall in the price of oil and control of food prices.

Martowardojo predicted that the rate of inflation in January would remain below 1 percent. He further noted that BI predicted high inflation could also result from the threat of floods, which leads to an increase in the price of food and transportation services. In a meeting in January, the board of governors of Bank Indonesia decided to maintain the BI rate at 7.75 percent."



9. PRC: Yuan now world's 5th payments currency
Source: thedailystar.net

"China's yuan has become the world's fifth most widely used payments currency, with the value of cross-border deals settled in it more than doubling in 2014, data from transactions organization SWIFT showed Wednesday. The data comes as China looks to make the yuan used more internationally in line with its standing as the world's second-largest economy, while at the same time keeping its value tightly controlled.

The yuan overtook the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar to enter the top five of world payment currencies in November, according to a SWIFT statement. Total yuan payments rose 102 percent last year, dwarfing the overall annual rise of 4.4 percent for all currencies. Some analysts predict the yuan will one day rival the US dollar in international markets."



10. SE ASIA: Banking panel agrees transparency principles
Source: nationmultimedia.com

"The ASEAN Central Banks' Working Committee on Payment and Settlement Systems has adopted principles for product transparency and disclosure on cross-border trade settlements. The principles are designed to ensure that customers have clear, timely, easily accessible and comparable key information to make informed decisions when settling cross-border trade transactions.

Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand will be the first to implement the principles by next month, while Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam will adopt the principles later in the year. These principles are aimed at improving the efficiency of cross-border trade settlements between ASEAN economies. To strengthen regional economic integration further, the committee is also undertaking a study on establishing key enablers to promote the use of local currencies for cross-border trade settlements."



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