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Immigration minister promoted in Australia cabinet reshuffle CANBERRA: Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison was Sunday chosen to head up the social services ministry in a major cabinet reshuffle, a move widely seen as a promotion following his handling of controversial asylum-seeker policies.Defence Minister David Johnston, under fire for saying last month that a government shipbuilding firm could not be trusted to "build a canoe", was dumped from the front bench.Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the reshuffle would "reset and refocus" his government for 2015, following a challenging year that has seen it lose support in opinion polls amid community disquiet over a tough cost-cutting budget.He told reporters in Canberra the changes were a signal that his government "wants the economy and the budget to be front and centre in the coming year"."In the end, nothing is achieved without a strong economy."Abbott had tried to rein in a federal deficit forecast to balloon to Aus$40.4 billion (US$33.2 billion) ...

China arrests US aid worker on North Korean border: lawyer BEIJING: China has arrested an American Christian aid worker based near its border with North Korea, his lawyer said Saturday, as authorities deepen an apparent crackdown on religious groups in the region.Peter Hahn, a North Korean-born naturalised US citizen, was formally arrested on Friday on charges of embezzlement and counterfeiting receipts, his attorney Zhang Peihong said.Many Christian groups, mostly run by South Koreans, are active along the border. But they are forced to operate underground ...
Philippines orders crackdown on privileged jailbirds MANILA: Philippine authorities have given privileged inmates in the country's main prison until Christmas Eve to turn over their hidden guns, drugs and other contraband or the notorious facility will face a major shakedown.Justice Secretary Leila de Lima issued the ultimatum after two surprise searches of the Bilibid prison this week uncovered a horde of prohibited items including firearms, drugs, stashes of US dollars -- and even a jacuzzi and a stripper bar.Revelations that drug ...
Cambodian parliament raises rank of opposition leader PHNOM PENH: Cambodian lawmakers voted Friday to elevate opposition chief Sam Rainsy to the rank of "minority leader", a first for a rival to premier Hun Sen who has enjoyed unassailable parliamentary power throughout his near three-decade rule.The status -- which awaits royal endorsement -- means Rainsy enjoys the same rank in the lower house as the prime minister.Rainsy hailed it as political "turning point" for his Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) which has laboured ...
Vietnam rescues 12 trapped by tunnel collapse HANOI: Twelve people trapped in a collapsed tunnel were freed Friday after a four-day ordeal which saw rescuers pass oxygen and food through a small hole while they pulled away debris, state media reported.The 11 men and one woman were in good health after being led from the tunnel, according to state-run Vietnam Television.Part of the tunnel of Da Dang-Da Chomo hydroelectric power plant collapsed in Lac Duong district in the Central Highlands early Tuesday ...
Indonesia closes island airport after volcano erupts JAKARTA: Indonesia temporarily closed a domestic airport Friday after a volcano in the country's east erupted, spewing plumes of ash hundreds of metres into the air, officials said.The volcano, Mount Gamalama -- which forms the entire island of Ternate in North Maluku province -- erupted late Thursday and was still coughing up ash the following day.While no one in the area has yet been told to evacuate, an airport in Ternate town at the mountain's ...
China's Li visits Bangkok with Thai junta craving allies BANGKOK: Chinese premier Li Keqiang is set Friday to sign agriculture and transport agreements on a visit to Bangkok, as Thailand's junta seeks diplomatic support after their coup was given short-shrift by US and European allies.A dual-track railway through Thailand, part of a 1,400 kilometre (870 mile) vision of linking China's southwestern hub city of Kunming with Asia's second busiest port of Singapore, will be the centrepiece of Li's visit, a Thai government spokesman told ...

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ICT 2014

Foreign Debt $61.805bn
Per Cap Income $1,386
GDP Growth 4.14%
Average CPI 8.6%
Trade Balance $-2.309 bln
Exports $1.957 bln
Imports $4.266 bln
WeeklyDecember 18, 2014
Reserves $14.04 bln