Philippines likely to post strongest growth in ASEAN this year

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Philippine Star

Louise Maureen Simeon – The Philippine Star January 17, 2022 | 12:00am MANILA, Philippines — The Southeast Asian region is expected to continue its recovery this year, with the Philippines seen registering the strongest growth, but new COVID-19 variants remain a threat in the region’s rebound. In its weekly economic preview, market intelligence firm IHS Markit said strong economic expansion is expected in most of the Southeast Asian nations except for Myanmar. But such a positive outlook still has risks with the continued emergence of new variants, especially the rapid spread of the highly tra… Continue reading “Philippines likely to post strongest growth in ASEAN this year”

Huge Tonga volcanic eruption caused ‘signifcant damage’

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The Bangkok Post

WELLINGTON: A massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific caused “significant damage” to the island nation’s capital and smothered it in dust, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday. The eruption Saturday was so powerful it was recorded around the world, triggering a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the United States. The capital Nuku’alofa suffered “significant” damage, Ardern said, adding there had been no reports of injury of death but a full assessment was not yet possible with communication lines down. “The tsunami… Continue reading “Huge Tonga volcanic eruption caused ‘signifcant damage’”

Huge Tonga volcanic eruption caused ‘significant damage’

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Wellington (AFP) – A massive volcanic eruption in Tonga that triggered tsunami waves around the Pacific caused “significant damage” to the island nation’s capital and smothered it in dust, but the full extent was not apparent with communications still cut off on Sunday. The eruption on Saturday was so powerful it was recorded around the world, triggering a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the United States. The capital Nuku’alofa suffered “significant” damage, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding there had been no reports of injury or death but a full ass… Continue reading “Huge Tonga volcanic eruption caused ‘significant damage’”

Fisheries Ministry designates two marine conservation areas

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry has designated two marine conservation areas in the provinces of West Java and West Sumatra, covering some 45 thousand hectares of marine area.

“One instrument of natural resource management by the Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is the designation of an area as marine conservation area,” acting Director General of Marine Spatial Management of the ministry Pamuji Lestari said in a statement here on Sunday.

The two conservation areas are Pangandaran waters in West Java and West Pariaman waters in West Sumatra.

Marine conservation area has become a crucial instrument in the management of marine and fisheries resources as it will preserve the habitat and give the benefit to the ecosystem as well as people living in the coastal area.

Lestari said, as of 2021, the ministry has set 81 conservation areas covering a total 13.93 million hectares of marine area.

The ministry has targeted to increase the marine conservation area by two million hectares in 2022, she said.

The conservation area would be located in 19 provinces namely West Java, West Sumatra, Maluku, North Kalimantan, Riau Islands, Yogyakarta, West Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, East Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara, Riau, Bengkulu, Lampung, Bangka Belitung Islands, East Nusa Tenggara, Central Kalimantan, Southeast Sulawesi, West Sulawesi, and West Papua.

“The designation of marine conservation area is in accordance with the global commitment in the Convention on Biological Diversity (Aichi Target 11) and Sustainable Development Goals 14,” she remarked.

Meanwhile, Director of Marine Conservation and Biodiversity Andi Rusandi said the designation of the 38,810 hectares of Pangandaran waters as a marine conservation area is aimed at protecting sea turtle and lobster habitat.

Rusandi cited a study showing that four out of six sea turtle species in Indonesia can be found in Pangandaran. They are green turtle, olive ridley sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle and flatback turtle.

“The designation of a conservation area in Pangandaran waters under the category of marine park will preserve and improve the quality of biodiversity in the area, especially the protected sea turtle,” he said.

Moreover, the marine conservation area of West Pasaman covering 6,122 hectares of marine area is set to protect coral reef and sea turtle habitat.

Coral reef ecosystem in West Pasaman has covered an area of 79.74 hectares hence it should be protected to benefit the local fisheries and tourism industry, he added.

West Java has already had two marine conservation areas — Penyu Pangumbahan Beach in Sukabumi District and Biawak Island in Indramayu District — while West Sumatra has five marine conservation areas. They are Bunga Laut Strait in Mentawai Islands District, Pesisir Selatan District, Padang City, Pariaman City and Batang Gasan in Padang Pariaman District.

Source: Antara News

Indonesian gov’t encourages MSMEs to penetrate global market

The Cooperative, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises Ministry has encouraged MSMEs to improve competitiveness to penetrate the global market and increase their contribution to Indonesia’s export.

“This is one of our priorities to encourage micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to enter global market,” the ministry’s Deputy for SME Hanung Harimba Rachman said in a statement here on Sunday.

Rachman made the statement at the launching of 150 containers of MSME’s soap export to six countries in Africa and the Middle East on Saturday (Jan 15, 2022).

The government, he continued, has targeted to increase the MSMEs’ contribution to 17 percent to the total export by 2024, from currently 15.6 percent.

To reach the target, MSMEs would need to have cheaper logistical cost and faster administrative services for export.

According to Rachman, one main problem for the MSMEs is related to limited availability of containers that makes the transportation cost jump by 300 percent, while the risk of product damage has also increased due to the long period of storage.

Another problem is the absence of market intelligence that makes the MSMEs hard to map product potential and capacity, get international certificate and export funding for them.

“The contribution of our MSMEs to Indonesia’s export is still lagging behind China’s MSMEs that have 68 percent of contribution and logistic performance index of 3.61 (in the scale of 1-5), and India with 40 percent of contribution and logistic performance index 3.18,” he said.

The ministry has developed some programs to establish a conducive export environment for MSMEs, including the establishment of SMESCO eastern hub for MSME products from the eastern regions of Indonesia.

It also established the SMESCO Labo to improve MSME’s capability.

Source: Antara News

Gov’t pushes for sport tourisms in Bali to revitalize economy

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno has expressed hope for the revitalization of Balinese people’s economy by pushing more sports tourism-based activities to take place in the resort island of Bali.

“We have just participated in the revival of Bali’s tourism and economy. We also contributed to the Governor’s Charity Golf Tournament, and saw the enthusiasm of creative economy players in which 70 percent of them are from outside Bali,” he said in Nusa Dua, Badung District, on Saturday.

He said the event was held as part of the government’s care for more sports-based events or sport tourism to be organized, especially in the resort island.

The Bali provincial government is also preparing for the development of a sprint rally and speed rally circuit on a 150-200 hectare land, managed by the Sangiang Regional Plantation Company in Jembrana District.

The development of sports tourism-based infrastructure facilities in Jembrana takes into account Bali’s beautiful scenery and rich, unique culture. The mix offers good potential, he said.

“Sport tourism is not only presented in Badung, but also in Jembrana, because we have initiated a circuit that will use our Special Allocation Funding (DAK). We will build it together in Jembrana District, and this will hopefully become a cue for economic revival,” Uno said.

One circuit was estimated to employ some 300 workers. The number of people that could be employed was necessary during the pandemic for the government’s efforts to revitalize the economy, and prepare for the G20 Summit, he added.

“I have also been informed that the Oceanman will be back in the title in June in Sanur. But, most interestingly I am also informed on the World Cup For Ocean Open Water Swimming at the end of the year. This is the world class (event) and it is possible to be present in Bali. So, it will be part of the economic revival for Bali along with better control of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Source: Antara News

Development of indigenous COVID-19 vaccine big challenge: BRIN

Developing the Merah Putih COVID-19 vaccine is a big challenge as no single country has experience in developing such a vaccine from scratch, chief of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) has said.

“Actually, what is more important is to give opportunities to our researchers to gain experience in developing vaccines,” Laksana Tri Handoko said in Jakarta on Saturday.

The COVID-19 pandemic has offered momentum and challenge to researchers to create COVID-19 vaccines to meet domestic needs, he said.

Hence, the Indonesian government has continued to support and facilitate the accelerated development of the indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, he informed.

The development of the Merah Putih (Red and White) COVID-19 vaccine can be considered a form of knowledge investment for allowing Indonesia to produce a variety of vaccines to meet demand in the future, he said.

In general, it takes up to dozens of years to develop a vaccine, he noted. In fact, the development of a vaccine is not automatically fruitful as expected, he said.

Although researchers are required to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines during the pandemic, the vaccines must pass through all processes, in accordance with the required standards, in order to secure emergency-use authorization from the Drug and Food Control Agency (BPOM), Handoko added.

All parties or institutions responsible for developing vaccines are striving to create a COVID-19 vaccine candidate to help meet domestic demand, he said. However, they will all need process and joint efforts to achieve their aim, he added.

Earlier, Handoko had said that, in general, the challenge facing researchers developing the vaccine is not easy because a lot of trials are needed to obtain the most optimal formula to get vaccine seeds.

Producing drugs from vaccine seeds must involve the prescribed procedure, in accordance with the regulation, he added.

The vaccine development process needs deep and complex research and development, Handoko said. Normally, no single research will automatically produce a potential vaccine candidate, he added.

After a vaccine candidate is found, there are still a series of trials such as in vivo trials on animals, and first, second, and third phase clinical tests, production scale, and immunization, he noted.

If a vaccine candidate does not give the desired result when it is tested on animals, then it is reformulated to obtain a vaccine candidate which is really effective in arousing an immune response, he said.

Source: Antara News

E Java’s Malang records three Omicron cases

Three residents of Malang District in East Java Province have been exposed to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Deputy District Head Didik Gatot Subroto informed on Saturday.

According to Subroto, the three residents are currently undergoing self-isolation.

“Three residents have tested positive in Banjararum. We have sent them to the isolation site,” he added.

He said he sent a COVID-19 handling task force team to Banjararum Village to monitor the activities of local residents after the Omicron infections were detected in the village.

The team will restrict the mobility of local residents to reduce the potential for the spread of the Omicron variant, Subroto said. The strict restriction on public mobility will only be limited to the red zone, or area with a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, he added.

“We have imposed a local lockdown in the area. We have also readied officers to monitor the mobility of the people,” he said.

Officers of the Malang District Health Service are tracing local residents who have come in close contact with the three residents, he informed. Hopefully, the tracing will be completed in two to three days, he said.

The three confirmed Omicron patients are currently undergoing self-isolation at the government-owned isolation center in Kepanjen Sub-district, Malang District, he added.

Subroto did not elaborate on whether the three patients had traveled to other regions. The Omicron cases are the first to be detected in Greater Malang (Malang District, Malang City, and Batu City), he said.

Overall, Malang District has recorded 14,579 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 24 active cases. Meanwhile, 13,592 people have recovered and 963 people have succumbed to the virus in the district.

Source: Antara News