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Neighbourhood Scan

Neighbourhood Scan

Have more children, urges PM
As the Year of the Dragon beckons, it is as good a time as any for young couples to try for babies, said PM Lee Hsien Loong in his annual Chinese New Year message. On its part, the government will support the marriage and parenthood aspirations of Singaporeans, and build a “Singapore made for families”, he added. Singapore’s birth rate — the number of births per 1,000 people — has been declining since the 1960s but increases were recorded in the years that fell under the Chinese zodiac sign of the dragon: in 1976, 1988, 2000 and 2012. The country’s total fertility rate has also been coming down over the years, hitting a low of 1.04 in 2022 — far below the replacement level of 2.1.

The Straits Times

Warmer, drier Himalayan winter
This year’s winter has been warmer and drier in Nepal than in the previous four decades, with temperatures climbing higher than the winter average while precipitation was lower than average. The climatic data for two months in November and December 2023 was published by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. The country receives an average of 60 mm of rain during the three coldest months. However, just 2.7 mm of rain in Kathmandu has been recorded so far. The production of wheat, barley, mustard, lentils, citrus and vegetables is significantly affected. Also, the rivers are running low, leading to a decline in the country’s hydropower generation capacity, and the consequent shortfall has to be met by power import from India.

Nepali Times

Reduce, rehabilitate drug addicts
To effectively deal with the country’s drug problem, the government has shifted its focus on arresting drug pushers and rehabilitate drug addicts, government spokesperson Kenikar Oonjit has said. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has instructed all government agencies to work together to protect Thai youth from the scourge of drugs, he said. The drug suppression and prevention plan for 2024 is to reduce violence among people with mental problems caused by drug abuse; reduce the number of drug addicts, suppress the pushing of drugs in communities and villages; and reduce factors contributing to drug abuse and trafficking.

The Nation

Tk 100 cr daily illegal currency trade
Bangladesh is being deprived of dollars equivalent to Taka 100 crore (Rs 75.6 crore) every day due to illegal buying and selling of foreign currency at the airport, said Mahbub Hossain, secretary of the Anti-Corruption Commission. The ACC has found evidence that some money changers inside the airport are involved in money laundering. Thousands of expatriate workers and tourists arrive here every day through the airport. Bank booths and money changers buy foreign currency and give them taka in return. As per the rules, they are supposed to give foreign currency encashment vouchers to the customer. But some do not adhere to it. This foreign currency is not added to the central bank’s vaults and is sold in the black market. Daily Star


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