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TOP HEADLINES 22 October 2014
1. INDIA: Improving water accessibility in slums
2. TAJIKISTAN: Launches fresh land reform project
3. PRC: New strategies for big cities
4. INDONESIA: Revive sluggish economic growth
5. PHILIPPINES: Plans for waste-to-energy plant
6. MYANMAR: Steps to revive Dawei SEZ
7. THAILAND: More e-commerce firms to enter tax system
8. VIET NAM: Retailers revving up competitive edge
9. AFGHANISTAN: Turning new IDP policy into reality
10. ASIA: Growth prospects remain solid
IN DEPTH
1. INDIA: Improving water accessibility in slums
Source: One World

"Water dispensers, known locally as water ATMs, may improve accessibility, affordability and the quality of drinking water in slum areas in India. In the absence of piped water supply, several far flung areas in Delhi continue to remain inaccessible to safe drinking water supply. The problem is more serious when it comes to unauthorized localities, slum areas and resettlement colonies in the city, where drinking water remains a scarce resource.

The current civic infrastructure doesn't have the capacity to provide for the growing demand of water in the city and what the situation urgently needs is innovations in water supply and usage. While NGOs and funding agencies are trying innovative models to ensure access to safe water in most difficult conditions, the journey will not be complete and sustainable without the full involvement of government departments providing support, in terms of financial, land permits and infrastructure."



 ADBI What's New

Asia Pathways:
Securing energy for low-carbon Asia: What needs fixing?
Some 640 million people lack electricity in Asia. So how do we provide energy to keep the lights on, decarbonize the energy system, and attain energy security?


2. TAJIKISTAN: Launches fresh land reform project
Source: Central Asia Online

"A land reform project under way in Tajikistan is meant to generate economic opportunity and farm production. In Sughd Oblast, the government recently carved out 27,700 farm plots for short-term, long-term or lifelong use, depending on farmers' wishes. Oblast officials launched the reform with support from Dushanbe. They're implementing the plan over two years.

The reform comes as officials generally declare the 1996 nationwide land reform project a disappointment. That effort disbanded the country's Soviet-era collective farms and state farms, but it failed to launch an agricultural boom, scholars who recently conducted research in Sughd Oblast found."



3. PRC: New strategies for big cities
Source: China Daily

"PRC needs a new prescription for growth: cram even more people into the megacities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. While this may sound like a recipe for disaster, failing to expand and improve these urban areas could be even worse. That's because the biggest cities drive innovation and specialization, with easier-to-reach consumers and more cost-efficient public transport systems, according to Yukon Huang, a former World Bank chief in China.

He estimates China's leaders' seven-month-old urbanization blueprint, which aims to funnel rural migrants to smaller cities, will slice as much as a percentage point off gross domestic product growth annually through the end of 2020. A strategy that supports the biggest cities' expansion would add $2 trillion to China's output in 10 years, according to Shanghai-based Andy Xie, a former Morgan Stanley chief Asia-Pacific economist."



4. INDONESIA: Revive sluggish economic growth
Source: Jakarta Globe

"As Joko Widodo assumes the presidency, there are many issues competing for his attention. One of the most urgent is reviving the country's sluggish rate of economic growth, which has sunk below 6 percent a year, low by historic standards and that of other developing countries.

Generating the growth needed to lift millions more people into the ranks of the middle class requires the president to help restore Indonesia's status as an attractive investment destination; developments in recent years have prompted foreign investors to think twice about the country."



5. PHILIPPINES: Plans for waste-to-energy plant
Source: Inquirer

"A $15.6 million waste-to-energy facility, which would produce up to two megawatts of power a day, is scheduled for completion in Tagum city in 2015. On Monday, holding firm Metro Pacific Investment Corp. (MPIC) signed a memorandum of agreement with city officials for the construction of the facility.

The energy-to-waste facility would utilize up to 80 tons of waste for conversion to bio-fuel, according to MPIC President Jose Ma. Lim. The bio-fuel that would come out of the process could then be used to fire up diesel-fed generators to produce two megawatts of power each day, he said. The facility will use a technology called pyrolysis, which breaks down organic materials using high temperatures to produce bio-fuel."



6. MYANMAR: Steps to revive Dawei SEZ
Source: Irrawaddy

"Japan is to carry out several studies on how the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in southern Myanmar can be revived, after the massive project stalled last year, government sources said. The research is expected to start at the end of this month and conclude in March next year, sources said.

Deputy Minister of Transportation Han Sein said one of the studies would research how the Dawei SEZ could become an infrastructure and industrial hub that would boost trade between South India and the Mekong region due to its strategic location on the Bay of Bengal and the Southeast Asian mainland."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
About 200 kilometers of electric fencing has been installed across Bhutan in the past year and a half, indicating the popularity and success of the latest measure to protect crops from wild animals. According to agriculture officials, it is the only viable solution to managing the human wildlife conflict and, rightly so, the villagers have realized its benefits.

7. THAILAND: More e-commerce firms to enter tax system
Source: The Nation

"About 20-30 percent more e-commerce operators that have not yet entered the formal tax system in Thailand are expected to do so in fiscal year 2015 after they understand the penalties for non-compliance, says the Revenue Department, referring to 200-percent retrospective tax payments plus monthly fines of 1.5 percent.

Director-general Prasong Poontaneat said his department had been providing knowledge and information about such issues and persuading e-commerce operators into the formal tax system. At present, about 90,000 of them are outside the system, all in retail. Last year, there were about 900,000 e-commerce operators, or which 145,000 were in retail businesses. About 90,000 have not been included in the formal tax system yet."



8. VIET NAM: Retailers revving up competitive edge
Source: Voice of Vietnam

"In a move certain to unleash fierce competition, Viet Nam will fully open its retail market to foreign firms in January 2015, in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments. Tens of thousands of goods from ASEAN member countries will be duty free, which is certain to lead to intense price competition as competitors jockey to get the lion's share of the country's 90 million strong consumer market.

However, in the lead up to January next year, foreign retailers seem to be revving their engines preparing for the race while domestic enterprises seem to be idling, downsizing and cutting back. A number of foreign retailers have been rapidly expanding their operations throughout the country."



9. AFGHANISTAN: Turning new IDP policy into reality
Source: IRIN

"Afghanistan's internally displaced persons (IDP) policy is a landmark document. Heavily inspired by the UN's Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the policy is thought to be the first of its kind in Asia. It grants a whole swathe of rights to those forced from their homes by conflict or disaster, but who have not crossed an international border. Under the policy many IDPs, who often face poor services and limited access to clean water, will be given new rights, including long-term security of tenure.

Crucially, it declares that IDPs have three routes to ending their displacement -- returning to their former territories, moving to a third site or, controversially, settling where they are, including on private land. Previously they had been encouraged to return to their former areas, despite over 75 percent wanting to remain permanently in their newly adopted homes. Now the challenge is to turn policy into reality."



10. ASIA: Growth prospects remain solid
Source: China Daily

"China's economic reform process will benefit from solid growth in the Asian region. According to the latest Regional Economic Outlook Update (October 2014), Asia's near-term growth prospects remain solid even as other world regions slip slightly. Despite a mild slowdown earlier this year, Asian economies are expected to grow at 5.5 percent in 2014 and 2015, broadly in line with the pace of the last couple of years.

Yet further action is needed to strengthen policy buffers and address medium-term challenges to stability and growth. And inflation should remain benign across most of the region. So, what is driving Asia's solid growth outlook? First, stronger global growth should help propel exports across most of the Asia and Pacific region. Second, global financial markets have rallied, helped by a greater appetite for risk amid expectations of higher growth."



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