Search | Poverty Spotlight | Past Editions | Print
TOP HEADLINES 29 March 2012
1. PRC: More support needed for elderly
2. INDIA: Farm crisis root cause of inequality
3. MALAYSIA: Weighs minimum wage policy
4. INDONESIA: Infrastructure reform crucial to growth
5. VIET NAM: Commissions a symptom of diseased health care system
6. AFGHANISTAN: Less aid good news?
7. PAKISTAN: Seeing the light on solar power
8. INDONESIA: Thirsty for clean water
9. THAILAND: Fix vat uncertainty in tax free zones
10. INDIA: Dangers of a diesel car boom
IN DEPTH
1. PRC: More support needed for elderly
Source: China Daily

"By the end of 2011, the number of Chinese residents above the age of 60 had reached 185 million, 13.7 percent of the country's total population. At the same time, there were about 40,000 homes for the elderly providing about 3.15 million beds, enough for only 1.77 percent of the elderly population. The development program of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) aims to increase the number of beds so that they will meet the needs of 3 percent of the elderly population. This is still far behind the nation's actual needs.

The country's development strategy for taking care of the elderly presupposes that the majority of elderly people will spend their remaining years in their own homes with a convenient and ample supply of community services to provide support. Such a community-based strategy is the most realistic given the serious deficiency of homes for the elderly. However, this strategy is hardly feasible unless there is adequate community support for the elderly."



 ADBI What's New

New post on Asia Pathways ponders if the Eurasian Union has a future
The idea of a Eurasian Union has cultural, economic, and political components. If realized, the Union will have serious implications for Russia and other states and societies concerned. The first targets of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's proposal, smaller states such as the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, may be easily convinced to support the creation of the Union. It may be harder to convince bigger states such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, which have more capacity and resources to pursue independent foreign policies.



2. INDIA: Farm crisis root cause of inequality
Source: Hindu Businessline

"Much of the increase in income inequality in India is on account of the poor being dependent on agriculture. The agriculture and allied sector, which supports the livelihood of around 60 percent of the population, gets a paltry 14 percent of the total national income. On a per capita basis, an agricultural worker earns much less than those working in the services and the manufacturing sectors. Factors aggravating distribution of income are of two kinds: Those specific to agriculture and those pertaining to the farm sector's linkages to industry and services.

India is one of the largest producers in the world of many agricultural products, such as rice, wheat, sunflower oil, tea and coffee. However, if one looks at productivity, India is way down the ladder. China has much less arable land in comparison with India, but its yield per hectare is almost twice that of India's. In India, 70 percent of the landholding belongs to tenant farmers. They have all but abandoned their traditional occupations, so farm productivity is not a priority for them anymore."



3. MALAYSIA: Weighs minimum wage policy
Source: Asia Times

"Malaysia plans to introduce a national minimum wage for its workers against stiff opposition from employers and manufacturers who warn that such a policy would shut down nearly 200,000 small- and medium-enterprise (SME) units. The government is caught between having to shore up votes in an election year and meeting the demands of manufacturers.

The Malaysia's Employers Federation warns that the closure of 200,000 SME units would mean the loss of four million jobs in a population of more than 28 million people. Adding to the pressure, the opposition-ruled state of Selangor declared a Malaysian ringitt 1,500 ($487) minimum wage for its employees, starting January 1. But Selangor has had to set aside $97.5 million to assist state-owned companies that are unable to pay the new wages."



4. INDONESIA: Infrastructure reform crucial to growth
Source: Jakarta Globe

"Though the Indonesian economy has been one of the best performers in the region in recent years, it faces a number of challenges -- poor infrastructure, good governance and access to basic education -- to progress to a high-middle income economy,h said Asian Development Bank chief economist Changyong Rhee.

The government plans to spend Rp 4,000 trillion ($436 billion) in the next few years to boost the country's infrastructure, such as airports, seaports and toll roads, to create jobs and help reduce poverty. Lawmakers approved a land acquisition reform bill last year that was expected to help pave the way for land clearance for those kind of infrastructure projects. Rhee said that because Indonesia was rich in biodiversity as well as vulnerable to environmental changes, it should incorporate a green growth agenda by promoting the development of new technology."



5. VIET NAM: Commissions a symptom of diseased health care system
Source: Thanhnien News

"Poor patients are being squeezed out of the health care system as doctors accept significant commissions from the pharmaceutical industry and more affluent patients. Experts have blamed the lucrative commissions offered by pharmaceutical companies and the acquiescence of patients willing to give 'gifts' to doctors and medical workers who in turn supply profit-driven medical services, increasing the financial burden of poorer patients.

According to a report released on March 12 by the Hanoi Medical University, more than 76 percent of obstetric and surgical doctors admitted to receiving 'support' from pharmaceutical and medical equipment firms. Jairo Acuna-Alfaro, policy advisor on anti-corruption for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Viet Nam, said the practice has decreased the quality of the service and forced the low income patients, who have few resources to pay, to buy medicines they do not need."



6. AFGHANISTAN: Less aid good news?
Source: Integrated Regional Information Network

"While donors have poured $57 billion into Afghanistan since 2001, much of it into the volatile southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand as part of the international forces' 'hearts and minds' strategy in their fight against insurgents, residents of northern Afghanistan complain they have not benefited fairly from development aid. 'In the south, there is fighting; many people have been killed; and millions of dollars go there,' Najibullah told IRIN at the edge of a graveyard. 'But we keep calm and support our government, so no development projects come here. People are unhappy about this.'

The World Bank predicts the reduction in aid flows will have little impact on poverty levels in Afghanistan, because much of the aid was never targeting the poorest to begin with. In 2008-09, the Canadian International Development Agency, for example, spent half of its development funding in Kandahar Province, where Canadian troops were stationed for five years."



 DEVBlogs ROUNDUP
For adolescents and young adults in developing countries, road traffic injury is now the single biggest cause of death. In countries lacking accessible health systems and social welfare safety nets, a road traffic injury is all too often a one-way ticket to poverty. Putting people before cars isn't just about saving lives. It's about heading off a social, ecological and economic disaster. Cars account for one-fifth of CO2 emissions (and rising). Air pollution from vehicles contributes to almost 1 million deaths annually. Gridlocks paralyzing major cities like Delhi and Shanghai are wiping out 2 percent to 3 percent of their GDP annually.


7. PAKISTAN: Seeing the light on solar power
Source: Dawn

"Pakistanis are increasingly realizing that year-round sun may be a cheap if partial answer to an enormous energy crisis. There is a 2.4 million megawatt potential for solar energy alone in Pakistan. Abundant and free sunshine is seen as the answer to the country's energy woes. 'It's the best thing I bought this winter,' says Sardar Azam, a former civil servant retired to a river-side home in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, showing off his water-heating solar geyser installed on the terrace. 'The biggest advantage is that you spend money once and it runs on sunlight which is free,' Azam added.

Pakistan needs to produce 16,000 megawatts of electricity a day but only manages 13,000 megawatts, according to the Pakistan Electric Power Company. The shortfall means that millions endure electricity cuts for up to 16 hours a day, leaving them freezing in winter and sweltering in summer while hitting industry hard, exacerbating a slow-burn recession."



8. INDONESIA: Thirsty for clean water
Source: Jakarta Globe

"Like other countries pursuing large projects to meet rising demand for drinking water, Indonesia will set up solar-powered desalination units across the archipelago, with the assistance of an Australian firm, F Cubed. The company, with a planned investment of $10 million, will produce low-cost portable units to purify drinking water from turbid, polluted water.

This is heartening, as there are millions of marginalized Indonesians who have no access to clean water. Agung Laksono, the coordinating minister for people's welfare, said earlier this month that there were at least nine million families throughout the country still in need of running water in their homes. Even metropolitan Jakarta cannot sufficiently supply clean water to its citizens. Of the 21,000 liters per second required to fulfill the residents' needs, city-owned water company PAM Jaya, which in 1998 outsourced the management of the city's piped water system to two foreign companies, can only provide 18,000 liters per second."



9. THAILAND: Fix vat uncertainty in tax free zones
Source: Bangkok Post

"With the Asean Economic Community (AEC) drawing close, a long list of tax matters must be improved or modified to strengthen Thailand's economy prior to the freer flow of trade. One of the facilities that have been used to support manufacturing and exports is the 'tax-free zone.' Goods imported into one of these are exempt from import duties and value-added tax (VAT). Duties are imposed only if the imports are brought from outside the zone into a local area not qualified for exemption, called a 'normal area.' Otherwise, duties are exempt on exported goods and no VAT is applied.

While the concept of the tax-free zone is clear, complexities occur regarding VAT, especially on transactions between a free zone and a normal area. In some cases, Thailand's Revenue Department has ruled that double VAT, which was once eliminated for normal drop shipments, should apply."



10. INDIA: Dangers of a diesel car boom
Source: Hindu Businessline

"Recently Petroleum Minister Mr Jaipal Reddy ruled out any possibilities of diesel price deregulation, while Maruti Suzuki, traditionally a petrol maker, made known its intent to invest Rs 1,700 crore ($333 million) in a diesel engine plant. What does this add up to? The line for diesel cars is just going to get longer while petrol continues to be dearer. The price difference between the two fuels is already Rs 25/liter, which will only increase to Rs 30 once petrol prices are hiked in the coming days.

Demand for petrol cars is already on the wane and this will be down to a trickle eventually. Diesel will emerge the winner in this uneven tug-of-war though the same cannot be said for its retailers -- IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation -- which are losing over Rs 13/litre on the fuel. In this grim background, the government just cannot afford to leave diesel prices untouched."



Please share this e-newsline with others interested in the development of Asia-Pacific.

For questions, comments, complaints please visit our online contact form

To change your email address or to unsubscribe from ADBI e-newsline please visit:
http://www.adbi.org/e-newsline/subscribe.php

Sign-up for ADBI's free e-notification service to ensure you receive an e-mail when we post new publications and opportunities.

Follow us on Twitter

Visit ADBI's blog ASIA PATHWAYS

The stories and links selected and the views expressed in e-Newsline are those of the authors and editors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the ADB Institute. The Institute does not endorse them and accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any consequences of their use. Original name usage is retained in quoted articles, although it may not necessarily follow ADB naming conventions.

ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK INSTITUTE, TOKYO
3-2-5 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-6008
Tel (813) 3593-5490 Fax (813) 3593 5571
Website: http://www.adbi.org/