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Global financial woes take heavier toll on export-reliant Asia (3)
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19:40, February 11, 2009

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The gloomy figures and forecasts prompted Asian authorities to unveil their fresh set of recession-fighting measures, ranging from rate cuts, bailout plan to stimulus packages.

In late January, the Singapore government announced the 20.5 billion Singapore dollars (about 13.7 billion U.S. dollars) Resilience Package for fiscal year 2009, aiming at saving jobs to the maximum extent and helping local viable companies stay afloat during the downturn.

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) announced on Feb. 3 that it would buy 1trillion yen (about 11.2 billion U.S. dollars) worth of shares held by financial institutions in the hope that the purchase will help improve their balance sheets hurt by plunges in stock prices.

The emergency measure would be effective until the end of April2010. Between 2002 and 2004, the BOJ adopted a similar policy and bought bank-held shares worth 2 trillion yen (about 22.4 billion U.S. dollars).

"Japan's economy is worsening rapidly, led by exports," Prime Minister Taro Aso told a lower house budget committee. "The degree of downturn is extremely severe compared with the past."

On the same day, the Australian authorities announced a new stimulus package, promising 42 billion Australian dollars (about 26 billion U.S. dollars) in spending. Its central bank also slashed the benchmark cash rate by a full percentage point to 3.25percent, which sent money market rates to their lowest since 1964.

"This plan today, as part of a broad strategy on which we embarked last year, provides a basis to see Australia through this economic crisis," said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

In early February, Thailand approved a plan of massive domestic and foreign borrowings to finance investments of state enterprises and new public projects to stimulate the economy.

The domestic borrowing would amount to 200 billion baht (about 5.9 billion U.S. dollars), which represented a short-term credit facility to ease the liquidity problem among the state enterprises.

China's State Council, or the cabinet, issued a notice Tuesday that urged governments at all levels to make every possible effort to expand employment.

The notice said that the deepening global financial crisis makes it more difficult to offer jobs for new labor force and unemployment risks continue to increase. In response, governments should adopt a more vigorous employment policy to maintain stable employment and social order.

Governments at all levels should give priority to employment of enterprise staff, college graduates, laid-off and migrant workers and demobilized officers, said the notice, which also required China's tax authorities to offer exemptions, including turnover tax and individual income tax, to laid-off workers who started their own business and extend the exemption approval deadline to the end of 2009.

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