Early insights into ADB’s priority sectors for 2018-2020

Monitoring operations in Lahendong Geothermal Plant, which provides clean and sustainable energy to the residents of Manado, North Sulawesi Province, Indonesia. Photo by: Asian Development Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

MANILA — In 2017, the Asian Development Bank merged its lending windows so as to allow it to increase and expand its lending portfolio amid growing resource needs of its member countries and in the face of competition from emerging sources of infrastructure funding in the region. But where might the bank allocate those resources?

The data isn’t complete yet, but available information from the bank’s 2018-2020 country operations business plans for 37 developing member countries — which Devex examined over the past few weeks — provides early indications on priority sectors and how much money is expected to flow to countries. It also provides insights on some of ADB’s biggest projects for climate financing, which plays a central role in the bank’s upcoming strategy.

The data reveal that indicative ADB commitments — which can change in the course of discussing or negotiating projects — to the 37 member countries will reach more than $75 billion over the next three years. The bulk of the money is likely to come from the bank’s lending windows, with less than 5 percent forming grants and technical assistance.

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A large part of that funding is projected to cover projects in the transportation sector, followed by projects related to energy, and governance and institutional development.


‘Made in India’ iPhone SE 2 to Launch in Early 2018: Report

'Made in India' iPhone SE 2 to Launch in Early 2018: Report

Apple at its earnings call earlier this month revealed that the iPhone SE had a big hand in the double digit growth in iPhone sales in India this last quarter. Now, a fresh report claims Apple is preparing to launch the iPhone SE’s successor in early 2018, corroborating a much earlier report. The new model, said to be called the iPhone SE 2, will reportedly be manufactured by Taiwanese original design manufacturer (ODM) Wistron at its Bengaluru factory that already produces the original iPhone SE.

As per a fresh supply-chain report by Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, Apple will launch the iPhone SE 2 in the first quarter of next year. The reported launch schedule appears to be in line with the original iPhone SE that was debuted in March last year. Further, the new low-end iPhone model is reportedly already in the initial stages of production at Wistron’s facility in Bengaluru. The facility was established for assembling iPhone SE models earlier this year, allowing Apple to enjoy reduced tariffs by adhering to the Make in India and thereby reduce prices on the smartphone.

The local manufacturing process is already helping Apple maintain an affordable price of the iPhone SE in India. This trend would continue with its refresh version. According to the FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) policy, foreign companies producing goods in the country need to source 30 percent of their components locally. Therefore, the iPhone SE 2 is likely to be marketed as a new “Made in India” iPhone by the Cupertino company.

The report adds that the iPhone SE 2 will be targeted at markets like Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia, apart from India. It is also said to cost roughly $450 (roughly Rs. 29,200) – which if true would be significantly cheaper than the original iPhone SE’s launch price.

If we believe some recent reports, the second-generation iPhone SE will have Apple’s A10 Fusion chip that was debuted on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last year, coupled with 2GB of RAM as well as 32GB and 128GB storage options. The iPhone SE 2 is also rumoured to have a 12-megapixel rear camera sensor, a 5-megapixel front camera, and a 1700mAh battery. Moreover, the display of the new iPhone SE model is likely to be identical to its predecessor that has a 4-inch panel.

Apple can be expected to announce the iPhone SE model in March, if going by last year’s launch. Meanwhile, we can expect a series of rumours and leaks pointing towards the new hardware.


FCA warns it may intervene as millions take pension cash early

Many savers are apparently moving money out of pension pots into other savings vehicles, which could be ‘disastrous’. Photograph: Andrew Brookes/Getty Images/Cultura RF

The TUC has warned that millions of workers risk being “plunged into insecurity in old age” after an official report revealed a surge of people grabbing their pension cash early without taking advice.

More than two years after the government brought in a range of pension freedoms, the Financial Conduct Authority concluded that accessing pension pots early had become “the new norm”. The regulator warned that early intervention may be needed to ensure this multibillion-pound market worked well.

The FCA’s study of the retirement market also found that in more than half of the cases where all the money was taken out of a pension pot, the cash was not spent on cars or holidays, etc; instead it was shifted into other savings or investments, partly because of a “mistrust of pensions”.

For many people the freedoms introduced in April 2015 effectively abolished the requirement to convert a pension pot into an annuity – a product that provides an income for life. Instead, older people are free to do whatever they like with their retirement cash – although those withdrawing large sums may well incur a considerable tax bill. Earlier this year it emerged that the reforms had raised five times more tax for the Treasury’s coffers than was originally forecast, suggesting that people were withdrawing larger sums than expected.

The FCA found that almost three-quarters (72%) of the pots accessed since the freedoms came in were held by people under 65. Most are choosing to take lump sums rather than a regular income. Meanwhile, more than half (53%) of the pots accessed had been fully withdrawn.

“Several factors motivated consumers to access their savings early, including a perception that ‘everyone is doing it’ and a general climate of mistrust,” stated the report. Meanwhile, moving cash from a pension into another savings or investment vehicle “can result in consumers paying too much tax, missing out on investment growth or losing out on other benefits”.

The report also found that income drawdown, which allows savers to take out regular amounts of money while the majority of their savings remain invested, had become much more popular. However, the proportion of drawdown plans bought without advice leapt from 5% before the freedoms to 30% now. “Drawdown is complex … There is a question about whether further support and protection is needed to manage drawdown effectively,” said the FCA.

Responding to the findings, Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, said: “This is a damning verdict on so-called ‘pensions freedom’. Workers who are facing insecurity in their working lives now risk being plunged into insecurity in old age. Savers are increasingly dipping into their pots early. And others are following the path of least resistance and risk buying rip-off products.”

Moving retirement cash into other investments “can have disastrous long-term consequences”, said investment firm Old Mutual Wealth. Another firm, Retirement Advantage, said that to do this was “frankly bonkers”.


5 Reasons Why the LG G6 Could Be the Phone to Beat in Early 2017

5 Reasons Why the LG G6 Could Be the Phone to Beat in Early 2017

LG went in a bold new direction last year with the modular design of the G5. Unfortunately, it didn’t exactly pay off. Going the exact opposite way this year, the G6 is looking to be a more conventional smartphone that can compete with Samsung and Apple at every turn.

Thanks to the fact that Samsung has moved its S8 release way back to May, LG is left with a wide open slot at Mobile World Congress (MWC). That means for the Spring, the LG G6 really has plenty of time to make a splash in the industry and convince people to upgrade their S7’s to a G6, rather than wait for the S8.

We know that a lot of the rumored features in the G6 could very well be included in phones such as the S8 and the iPhone 8, but because G6 will be out of the gate first, it will can make all sorts of claims about the technology it presents. The LG G6 will be announced at MWC 2017 on February 26.

But not only is it going to be able to compete, the LG G6 has a lot on its side this time around. Here are five reasons why the LG G6 just might be the smartphone to beat this year.

1. Samsung’s Fall

One of the biggest advantages LG has this year has to do with its closest rival: Samsung. The Note 7 and its exploding batteries was one of the biggest news stories of 2016. Samsung didn’t just lose a lot of money with its battery failure, it also has undoubtedly lost quite a bit of favor in the eyes of the public.

As much as Samsung wants the public to quickly forget the Note 7, it might not be as easy as it hopes—and LG should be able to capitalize off of that in a big way this year.

2. Display

This year is going to be all about bezel-less devices. As stated above, LG will be the first company to be able to show off its button-less, bezel-less, massive screen phone. The G6 is rumored to have a QHD 5.7-inch display with a screen-to-body ratio of 90 percent.

More than that, the G6 will have a 2:1 aspect ratio, which is a trend we may see other smartphone manufacturers follow. Overall, this beautiful new display is going to be the big feature that LG pushes.

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3. Headphone Jack

In a world that is rapidly running out of headphone jacks, the G6 could make a big marketing push with keeping the old analogue intact. Companies from Samsung to Motorola has followed Apple’s lead, to the disappointment of pretty much everyone.

It might seem like a very small thing on the surface, but it could be the final straw in convincing frustrated people to jump aboard the LG train.

4. Battery Life

LG will be pissing off plenty of people this year as it finally moves to a non-removable battery, unlike every other LG smartphone that’s come out. That’ll probably mean that the G6 will be waterproofed, to compete with the other phones in the market.

However, the good news is that LG is rumored to be including a massive 3,200 mAh battery in the back, while the Galaxy S8 is rumored to have a 3,000 mAh battery. This could give the G6 better full-day experience, which it’ll probably need to power the massive display this device is rumored to have.

5. Software

Lastly, we have to mention that LG has released a new video that teases its new UX for the G6. In addition, rumors have been pointing toward the fact that LG is going to be using its additional screen real estate to improve multitasking, though we’ll have to wait to see exactly what the company has up its sleeve.

While it’s true that we don’t know much about what Samsung will be doing, both LG and Samsung have always stumbled with its software skinning. So far, it looks like LG could be finally making a turn on this with the G6.