Asian cities need sustainability

Environment, productivity and work hours are all big issues

Asia is home to some of the largest urban centres in the world.

Jakarta, in Indonesia, is home to some 25 million people. Manila is huge. Tokyo and Seoul are both large. Smaller Hong Kong and Singapore are large by any standard. High urbanisation rates are making these cities even larger, but not necessarily more sustainable.

As Cornelia Zou reports in China Daily Asia Pacific last week the challenges are quite significant, but so are the opportunities for Asian cities to start taking issues of sustainability seriously and make significant leapfrogs in terms of the environments, quality of life, education, even work hours and governance.

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Cheap oil helps Indonesia

Lower subsidies cut government costs and could help build infrastructure

Cheap oil has helped Indonesia eliminate punishing subsidies and while the move is likely to bump inflation up, it will also free up a about US$21 billion that the government can now spend on infrastructure or social programs.

All this is good news for the economy, which is still making a comeback from a mini-crisis in 2013. Growth this year is expected to be in the 5.5% range, around the same level as Malaysia. Inflation could average out to 4%.

Speaking during the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, the deputy governor of Bank Indonesia Perry Warjiyo said the country’s central bank is more likely than not to keep its policy rate steady at 7.75%. As this piece in Asia Insight, a Market News International publication, points out things are looking good for the largest economy in Southeast Asia.

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Malaysian rate hike signals new trend

Looking ahead, inflation is, however, expected to remain above its long-run average. — Bank Negara Malaysia

Malaysia’s central bank welcomed Ramadan fasts and celebrations through July and August by raising the country’s interest rate for the first time in three years.

As many economists expected, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) announced after a routine meeting at the beginning of July that it decided to raise its overnight policy rate by 25 basis points. The new interest rate is 3.25 percent with floor and ceiling rates raised to 3 percent and 3.5 percent accordingly.

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