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TOP HEADLINES 4 February 2011
1. INDIA: The decade in poverty
2. PRC: Coming green boom
3. MYANMAR: Cyclone survivors hurt by aid crunch
P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
CAMBODIA: Families face grave situation
4. BANGLADESH: The other side of poverty's assessment
5. ASIA: Indian Ocean needs maritime law as interests intersect
6. SE ASIA: Design study done for Asean trading link
7. PRC: $608 billion injection for water projects
8. ASIA: Call to ensure women's right to property
9. BANGLADESH: Monetary policy, capital market and inclusive growth
10. ASIA: Healthcare sector needs to consult a doctor
IN DEPTH
1. INDIA: The decade in poverty
Source: livemint.com

"How many poor people are there in India? There's no easy answer, with poverty estimates ranging from single digits by Surjit Bhalla, 26% according to the Lakdawala committee, 37% by the Suresh Tendulkar committee, 42% by the World Bank, 77% by the Arjun Sengupta committee and around 80% by Utsa Patnaik using the calorie measure. But why do we have so many estimates?

There has been dissatisfaction with the old official poverty estimates based on the Lakdawala committee and the differences in the perception of poverty. There are also the more fundamental questions of what constitutes the poverty line and, in turn, what normative requirements this should meet. The Tendulkar committee recognized that what kept a large majority of the population poor was a lack of opportunity to participate in the growth process, with education and health being the biggest obstacles to access such opportunities."



2. PRC OP/ED: Coming green boom
Source: The Diplomat

"China's central government is currently thrashing out details of how best to steer towards greener growth as part of closed-door discussions aimed at finalizing the country's 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015), which will be announced in March. The plan is expected to become China's first national plan to shift the development agenda decisively toward a pattern of green growth, accelerating the country's efforts at green modernization.

With a limit to the amount of fossil fuel it can access, and with these fuels anyway creating significant environmental damage and associated socioeconomic problems, China's top leadership seems to be realizing that the old 'growth at all costs' model that has previously been followed threatens not only the country's energy security, but its very survival. A green development pathway based on low energy consumption and low carbon emissions is essential if China is to find a sustainable path to growth."



3. MYANMAR: Cyclone survivors hurt by aid crunch
Source: trust.org

"A massive shortfall in funding means more than 100,000 people are still homeless three months after Cyclone Giri hit Myanmar, and thousands are in debt with bleak prospects of recovering their income, aid officials say. Although emergency relief was swiftly distributed and covered the most basic needs after the category four storm struck, aid agencies say they are facing an uphill struggle to help survivors rebuild their lives and find jobs.

Of the $57 million needed for the period February 2011 to June 2012, donors have provided $22 million. $13 million is required to provide housing for 20,000 families who are stuck in emergency shelter -- rickety huts covered with tarpaulins -- or staying with host families in dire, overcrowded conditions. Another 30,000 families who need help with their damaged houses will have to do the repairs themselves, which they can ill afford."


P O V E R T Y   S P O T L I G H T
CAMBODIA: Families face grave situation
Source: Phnom Penh Post

"In a village only a 20-minute drive south of Phnom Penh, hundreds live among and around decades-old tombs. Prak Vanna moved next to a graveyard about six years ago. 'From the first day that I moved in to my new house, I felt scared and dreamed about ghosts,' she said while chopping firewood. Houses crowd the area, leaving it hard to tell where the cemetary ends and the neighborhood begins. People can often be seen sleeping in hammocks between the tombs.

'I am sickened by them, but I don't have a choice to move from here because I am poor,' the 46-year-old grandmother said. When she first moved in, she became sick. It took her about a year to get over her fear of the ghosts, and she even went to a local church to pray for help. Prak Vanna used to live along the Bassac river, but she said her house collapsed in 2005 after sand-dredging eroded the bank. She then bought a house for about $500 in the village."


4. BANGLADESH: The other side of poverty's assessment
Source: Financial Express

"Bangladesh has been consistently producing a steadily rising output of foodgrains in recent years. This would otherwise lead to a conclusion that the rate of consumption of basic food, rice or wheat, is rising or remains at a reasonably satisfactory level. However, recent findings suggest that nearly 60 percent or 36 million people, out of those who are regarded officially as the non-poor in the country, actually suffer from food poverty.

In Bangladesh, inflation or higher prices have progressively been putting more pressure on family budgets. The price of ordinary types of rice used to be Taka 22 to Taka 25 per kg only about one year and a half ago. The same rice is now selling for over Taka 40 or even more. The solution lies in inter-related activities on many fronts. The purchasing power of the rural and urban poor must be aided to improve many sectors."



5. ASIA: Indian Ocean needs maritime law as interests intersect
Source: Jakarta Post

"Indonesia and other countries with interests in the Indian Ocean should work together to set up a comprehensive policy as the ocean is becoming increasingly important, a seminar concludes. The archipelago's Ocean Council is still working on the policy with no clear sign of completion in sight, a government official says.

Indonesia sees the Indian Ocean as the future in its development policy. More than 70,000 vessels passed through Malacca Strait every year with about $1 trillion worth of goods and services. Transportation of 30 percent of the world's trade goods and about 80 percent of Japan's oil needs to use Malacca Strait. And with India set to double its economy in the next 10 years, the role of the Indian Ocean will become even more important."



6. SE ASIA: Design study done for Asean trading link
Source: The Star

"Four Asean exchanges Bursa Malaysia, the Philippine Stock Exchange, Singapore Exchange and the Stock Exchange of Thailand said the design study of the technology framework for the Asean Trading Link has been completed. They said in a joint statement that shortlisted vendors that were able to provide the infrastructure had been invited to tender.

The Asean Trading Link aims to electronically interconnect the participating markets and allow seamless cross-border order trading. Depending on the selected vendor, the link was expected to go live toward the end of 2011. The four exchanges signed a letter of intent with New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Technologies to design a technology solution for the Asean Trading Link in February last year."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
Historically, reform and development in Asean has been extremely slow. After it was created in 1967, it took a full nine years before it was able to convene its first summit-level meeting. Recently Asean has seen gains from widening their direct engagement with other Asian tigers. China is making individual countries nervous with its increasingly confident interactions, and Asean has proven to be a stronger negotiating partner than each of the members individually.


7. PRC: $608 billion injection for water projects
Source: China Daily

"Efforts will be intensified to promote water conservation in China as well as the sustainable use of the precious resource, and the task will be a multi-trillion yuan national priority, a central policy document said. The country will invest 4 trillion yuan ($608 billion) into projects during the next decade to improve water conservation.

The country aims to double its average annual spending on water conservation over the next 10 years, according to the document, also known as the No 1 document. This is the eighth consecutive year that the No 1 document has addressed rural issues, but it is the first to focus on water conservation. The document also said more efforts would be made to improve water quality and farmland irrigation."



8. ASIA: Call to ensure women's right to property
Source: myrepublica.com

"Speakers at a three-day regional workshop pushed for the legal rights of women to own property in order to secure access to financial resources and expand opportunities for entrepreneurship in South Asia. The workshop also stressed on the need for ensuring women's access to capital and raising economic empowerment of women through knowledge and skills.

The aim is to help improve women's access to financial resources and services, enhancing skills and entrepreneurial capacity, improving connections to markets and expanding employment opportunities with decent work conditions. Efforts to reduce poverty and attain inclusive growth require addressing women's needs to enable them avail of equal economic opportunities as men."



9. BANGLADESH OP/ED: Monetary policy, capital market and inclusive growth
Source: Financial Express

"Lately, we have been hearing about 'accommodative monetary policy' in Bangladesh, focusing more on a balance between taming price spiral and supporting growth imperatives. Under such a policy, we see relatively quick shifts from expansionary to contractionary measures and vice-versa, to fine-tune growth in an economy prone to inflationary pressures. Bangladesh Bank seems to be panicked with inflationary pressure and huge credit growth in the unproductive sectors, while money is mostly being diverted to real estate and capital markets.

Monetary policy in a transition economy like Bangladesh should be able to draw a balance between inflationary pressure and investment growth, thereby creating jobs in a labor surplus economy. It is said, if we err, it is better to err with growth than inflation. An evolving economy needs growth acceleration, adequate inputs and wealth to support that growth."



10. ASIA: Healthcare sector needs to consult a doctor
Source: FT.com

"Private healthcare is the hot new thing in emerging Asia, with more than half a dozen countries targeting it as a powerful source of economic growth. The fundamental problem, though, is that there are too many countries trying to do the same thing, with too few substantial players. That suggests that the sector needs a rapid bout of consolidation to reduce competition and create companies with sufficient scale to operate across national borders.

Healthcare has become a strategic priority, especially in south-east Asia. Malaysia, for example, has made the sector one of 12 main economic areas. Singapore has also built a large medical tourism sector, the Philippines has a big 'Medical City' in Manila, and Indonesia and Vietnam have both been identified by Kuala Lumpur as potential rivals. India is set to achieve medical tourism growth of more than 30 percent a year by 2012."



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