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TOP HEADLINES 18 April 2014
1. PRC: Factories face new challenge as growth slows
2. BANGLADESH: Extreme poverty can be eradicated
3. INDIA: Petty entrepreneurs face uncertain future
P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
INDONESIA: Legal marriage age contributes to mortality
4. PRC: Managing urbanization is critical
5. ASIA: How mobile money is changing the region
6. VIET NAM: Victim of corporate tax evasion
7. BANGLADESH: State-owned banks lack effective controls
8. MYANMAR: Yangon switches on the gas
9. VIET NAM: Rising unemployment among graduates
10. PAKISTAN: Long awaited 3G, 4G auction draws dismal response
IN DEPTH
1. PRC: Factories face new challenge as growth slows
Source: AP

"As China's growth inexorably slows, manufacturers are discovering that being an efficient low-cost producer is no longer enough to prosper. Factories that had thrived by using cheap migrant labor to churn out inexpensive clothing, electronics and toys for export now face changing government priorities as a growth engine based on investment and trade loses its momentum after more than a decade of double-digit expansion.

At the same time, China's labor costs are rising and global demand is still weak, putting pressure on manufacturers to move into more advanced production, consolidate into bigger entities or shift to cheaper inland regions to survive. Growth in the world's second-largest economy eased to 7.4 percent last quarter, the lowest since a mini-downturn in late 2012, government figures showed Wednesday."



2. BANGLADESH: Extreme poverty can be eradicated
Source: Daily Star

"Bangladesh has the capacity to eradicate extreme poverty by 2021, well before other countries in the subcontinent, according to analysts at an inter-ministerial meeting in Dhaka. To achieve this, Bangladesh needs to bring one million extreme poor families out of poverty each year until 2020.

Prioritizing the needs of the extreme poor and promoting institutional and policy reforms are vital to addressing extreme poverty. Bangladesh has 25 million extreme poor people, according to Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2010. Extreme poverty is often chronic and lasts for years affecting generation after generation."



3. INDIA: Petty entrepreneurs face uncertain future
Source: ft.com

"Millions in emerging markets have in the past 30 years moved from poverty into the consuming middle classes. But with growth slowing, their fates are now one of the biggest challenges confronting governments. A study of India by the McKinsey Global Institute concludes that in addition to the 267 million Indians living below the poverty line, there are a further 413 million below the 'empowerment line' that means fulfillment of basic needs such as sanitation, schooling and housing.

According to McKinsey, the difference between being just above the poverty line and being 'empowered' in India is just Rs462 ($8) per person a month. It takes only a bit of bad luck -- an accident perhaps, or the death of a relative -- to plunge an entire family into desperate poverty. In the absence of the type of large-scale manufacturing jobs that abound in China, Indians emerging from rural poverty must make their own way as petty entrepreneurs or service sector workers."


P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
INDONESIA: Legal marriage age contributes to mortality
Source: Jakarta Post

"Indonesia has one of the highest percentages of child marriage cases in the world and the second-highest in ASEAN after Cambodia. The National Commission on Violence against Women has called on the government to raise the legal minimum age for marriage from 16 to 18 years old for females. The number of married females aged between 10 and 14 years has reached more than 22,000, while married females aged between 15 and 19 account for 11.7 percent.

Young brides are also vulnerable to domestic abuse, which can cause pregnancy complications. A study in Finland found that women who experienced domestic abuse had weaker immune systems, and their chances of surviving labor also significantly decreased. The 2012 Indonesia Demographic and Health Survey found that the maternal mortality rate in Indonesia stood at 359 per 100,000 live births, up from 228 per 100,000 live births in 2007."


4. PRC: Managing urbanization is critical
Source: nextbigfuture.com

"Land has a special status in China. According to the Constitution, urban land is owned by the state and rural land by collectives. Reforms over the past three decades have already created land-use rights for individuals and enterprises, but rural land rights reforms have lagged behind that of urban rights. Stronger property rights on land for farmers and stricter limits on local governments to requisition land for urban growth would lead to more compact, efficient cities that require less energy to run. Better-defined property rights on farmland will help in consolidating that land and facilitate better farming techniques.

Land reforms can also improve the distribution of income and wealth, because rural land prices are likely to rise with stronger property rights. One estimate is that the total compensation that farmers received on their land in the past 20 years was about 2 trillion yuan ($321.34 billion) below market value, or 4 percent of China's GDP in 2013. If this money had made a return equal to China's growth rate, it would now add up to 5 trillion yuan, or almost 10 percent of GDP."



5. ASIA: How mobile money is changing the region
Source: moneycontrol.com

"For emerging Asia, paying your friends, family and retailers from your mobile is set to explode thanks to the region's heavy smartphone usage and an ever-increasing number of companies looking to tap into the action. Asia has been a world leader in mobile usage for three straight years. The region was home to more than half of the world's mobile phone subscriptions in 2013.

In rural areas with little access to banks, platforms that offer money transfer and payment services are rapidly gaining traction. About 67 percent of the population is unbanked, making the region one of the world's top potential growth areas for the mobile commerce industry. Indian lenders have been among the quickest to embrace a mobile-first strategy. Last year also saw Indonesia's central bank inviting commercial banks and mobile network operators to introduce hybrid products in certain rural areas."



6. VIET NAM: Victim of corporate tax evasion
Source: Thanhnien News

"Vietnam hoped foreign investment will bring benefits like economic growth and more jobs, but tax evasion by creative accounting is what it is getting. A nationwide investigation into tax evasion found 83 percent of foreign companies used various tricks to minimize their tax liability last year.

The most common form of profit shifting was by manipulating transfer pricing to overstate costs when importing from units belonging to the same company in other countries and understate export values. The inspectors said the firms were overcharged for equipment and inputs by their parent companies who also bought their products and services at very low prices. This way, they have been reporting losses for a long time."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
For the first time in history, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) issued late on Wednesday a survey that measured the level of happiness among Indonesians. Indonesia scored 65.11 percent on a scale of 100 on the BPS' 'Happiness Index', which measures happiness in relation to the growing level of equality in the country. The BPS expects the future administration to use the survey as a benchmark of its governing success as a lower happiness index would be evidence of failure.

7. BANGLADESH: State-owned banks lack effective controls
Source: The Economist

"Poor oversight and imprudent lending, often to well-connected firms or individuals, are a hallmark of state-owned banks everywhere. Bangladesh is no exception: in December the central bank estimated that 166 billion taka of loans at the four big state-owned banks were in default -- roughly 20% of the total.

The government injected 41 billion taka into them that month, 20 billion taka of which went to Sonali Bank. That is only half of the additional capital the central bank thinks they need, and a quarter of what the World Bank deems necessary. The government has promised to raise underwriting standards and institute more effective controls, but observers, both foreign and domestic, doubt its will and ability to do so."



8. MYANMAR: Yangon switches on the gas
Source: irrawaddy.org

"There are signs Myanmar is gaining ground in its struggle against the chronic energy crisis that held back its people, and its economy, for years. Less than a quarter of the estimated 60 million population has access to electricity, and those businesses brave enough to set up here despite an unreliable power supply are forced to buy and run their own generators.

Gas is set to contribute more to Myanmar's energy mix, especially as the amount of gas coming onshore increases. Although existing projects controversially send the majority of the gas extracted from Myanmar's seabed abroad, a proportion stays in Myanmar. The government has promised to keep more of the gas from future developments for domestic use. Nationwide, gas accounts for about 550 MW, compared to 930 MW from hydropower."



9. VIET NAM: Rising unemployment among graduates
Source: shanghaidaily.com

"There is now an increasing number of unemployed college graduates in Vietnam, which shows a wide gap between the number of graduates and the actual manpower requirements of Vietnamese business establishments. A total of more than 72,000 Vietnamese with bachelor and master degrees nationwide are under the 'unemployment' status, which is 1.7 times more than the figure recorded in late 2012.

Many graduates cannot find jobs for which they are trained due to their lack of soft skills and practical experience. HCM City has 54 universities, 25 colleges, 11 vocational training schools, and nearly 450 vocational training centers. Nearly 80 percent of the graduates could find jobs but only half are suited to their training in schools."



10. PAKISTAN: Long awaited 3G, 4G auction draws dismal response
Source: Reuters

"A dismal response in this week's auction for next-generation cellphone spectrum licenses means cash-strapped Pakistan will struggle to fund its budget this year. Pakistan is set to hold long-awaited auctions for 3G and 4G network licenses on April 23, a step the government projects will raise $2 billion to boost foreign reserves.

But officials said there has been scant interest in Monday's bidding process and estimate Pakistan will raise no more than $850 million. Pakistan is the only major country in the region that still does not offer 3G services. Its neighbor, war-ravaged Afghanistan, switched to 3G services in 2012."



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