Prime Minister tightens amity with Cambodian royal family

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc visited Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni upon his arrival in the country yesterday. At the meeting, PM Phúc expressed his pleasure to visit Cambodia when the two countries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations. He lauded socio-economic achievements Cambodia has made under the reign of King Norodom Sihamoni, particularly elevating its position in the region and the world. Highlighting the King’s contributions to consolidating the partnership between Việt Nam and Cambodia, PM Phúc said he hopes the King’s will continue enhancing the ties. 

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Deputy PM urges central localities to complete compensation to locals

Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình has urged the four central coastal localities affected by last year’s environmental incident to complete compensation by June 30 this year. He made the request at the seventh meeting of the Steering Committee on stabilising the lives and production of people in four central provinces – Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, and Thừa Thiên – Huế, which were ravaged by the incident caused by Taiwanese firm Formosa in April 2016. According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Vũ Văn Tám, the People’s Committees of the four affected provinces have distributed the third prepayment (paid out of the State budget before receiving full compensation from Formosa) of compensation to all districts and locals.

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Squatters in Sittwe township relocated to new homes

Illegal residents in Set Yone Su ward, Sittwe township, Rakhine State have been resettled to Min Gan ward following arrangements by the regional government, said Set Yone Su ward administrator U Nyunt Win.“The squatters were previously living in the old cemetery. Now, the government has issued land grants for the veterans’ staff housing,” he said.

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Second 21st-century Panglong conference to begin on May 24

The Joint Implementation Coordination Meeting between the government and signatory groups, participants agreed to hold the Second 21st Century Panglong Conference beginning on May 24. The agreement was reached during a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on April 24 between the government, Tatmadaw officials and armed ethnic groups, who are signatories to the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement. State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who is the chair of National Reconciliation and Peace Centre that serves as a peace secretariat for the incumbent administration, urged representatives from ethnic armed organisations to speak openly, but carefully so as not to fight.

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Myanmar prepares for Math Olympiad

Myanmar will be competing in the 58th International Mathematical Olympiad this July in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Mathematical Society of Myanmar announced last Saturday. Its secretary U Htin Aung said MSM had just finished testing 40 students in Yangon and Mandalay to select the best contestants to represent the country.

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Free children’s paper published in honour of journalist Win Tin

A 10-page free children’s newspaper titled “Zar Ti Man” was published in Mandalay on April 21 to mark the 3rd year of commemoration of the late renowned journalist U Win Tin. “It was published in 3rd year commemoration of Sayagyi Hantharwady U Win Tin. The newspaper contains the works of 50 children – cartoons, descriptive pictures and paintings. News stories, interviews and editorials were also written by the children,” said Zar Ti Man Youth Readers Club chair, U Hla Min Oo. Zar Ti Man Youth Readers Club started giving journalism training to children aged between 10 and 15 years since September 2014, and has already trained 50 children.

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Open Development Cambodia publishes new research briefing: Budget and public procurement

Open Development Cambodia  has published a briefing with data visualizations on Cambodia's budget and public procurement. In the last three years, Cambodia’s national budget has seen significant growth of around US$ 1.6 billion, from US$ 3.4 billion in 20141 to US$ 5 billion in 2017.2 This is an average annual increase of almost 14%. The increase can be partly attributed to the country’s fast economy growth, typically around 7% or more annual GDP growth over several decades, and partly to the government’s efforts around tax collection. For this year, to meet the target state revenues, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, through the Customs Department and Tax Department, is committed to collect the equivalent of 8.29% and 7.74% of GDP respectively.

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Which countries are achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals fastest?

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The ultimate aim of the Sustainable Development Goals, which replaced the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, is to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for everyone. Each goal has specific targets that need to be met by 2030.

So how close are countries to meeting them? To find out, non-profit organization Bertelsmann Stiftung and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network have created a prototype index that measures their performance.

The SDG Index measures 149 countries, comparing their current progress with a baseline measurement taken in 2015.

Across all 17 goals, Sweden tops the list of countries surveyed. It is, on average, 84.5% of the way to achieving the targets envisaged for 2030.

Following closely were Scandinavian neighbours, Denmark and Norway, with Finland in fourth place. Western European countries, plus Iceland (ninth), took the remainder of the top 10 slots and four of the top 20.

Also in the top 20 were Canada (13th), the Czech Republic (15th) and Slovenia (17th). Asia-Pacific’s top performers Japan, Singapore and Australia rounded off the list at 18th, 19th and 20th, respectively.

A full report with data is available to download; or there is a compact version.

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EITI releases progress report 2017: ending company anonymity – the key to fighting corruption

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The Extractive Industries Transparency Index (EITI) has released its 2017 progress report, highlighting issues such as 'Tackling hidden ownership in the extractives sector', recommending 'Policy steps towards tackling a trillion dollar challenge', and 'Mainstreaming EITI disclosures'. You can view an interactive version of their report or access the report sections in PDF format

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An overview of large-scale investments in the Mekong Region

Investments in the Mekong

Focus on the Global South has released a new report on large scale investment in the Mekong region. Read their release below, and download the report here.

Across the Mekong region, ‘development’ has become synonymous with rapid economic growth, to be achieved through predominantly large-scale, private investments. The development model promoted by the region’s governments prioritizes trade and investment liberalization, and privatization. Private investment is sought in virtually every sector of the economy from energy, oil, minerals, agriculture and food processing to education, health, tourism, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, transportation and urban infrastructure.

This paper presents an overview of these investment trends in the Mekong region, the regulatory and policy changes designed to facilitate large-scale foreign and domestic investment, and the impacts of such investment on the living and working conditions of workers in Special Economic Zones (SEZs). It offers a critical perspective on the scale and range of large-scale investments in the region, and how these investments privilege large investors over local populations and public interest.

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MRC announces Mekong Day event to celebrate signing of Mekong agreement

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Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. It is a founding agreement on regional collaboration on water management that established the Mekong River Commission.

The MRC will celebrate the Mekong Day tomorrow with the launching of a photo exhibition in the MRC lobby, which will last until 5 May.

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SDG16 Initiative

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An exciting new project has been launched to track progress against Sustainable Development Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. The SDG16 Data Initiative is a collective project by a consortium of organizations seeking to support the open tracking of the global commitments made by more than 194 countries on peace, justice, and strong institutions.

Access the tool at the SDG16 Data Initiative's web portal, and read more about the project here.

 

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