Bahamas Ranked Low On Response

THE Bahamas is ranked 182 out of 184 countries in the COVID-19 recovery index, according to one Global COVID-19 Index (GCI).

The country has been given a score of 17.83 out of 100 indicating that it is “struggling to cope with the crisis and…may need to consider maintaining stringent non-pharmaceutical measures.”

The country received 67.23 on the index’s latest severity index, indicating it “may be overwhelmed by the crisis with a high percentage of infections and resulting deaths per population.”

GCI’s forecast for The Bahamas is that the “situation may improve”.

“The GCI Model indicates that the solution has a small probability of recovery but there is insufficient evidence to suggest that the recovery trend will improve significantly in the near future,” the researchers say.

The recovery index considers active cases per population, recoveries per confirmed case, tests conducted per confirmed case and tests conducted per population. The severity index considers confirmed cases per population and proportionate death rate due to COVID-19.

The index was developed by PEMANDU Associates in collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Sunway Group.

This comes as Dr Sabriquet Pinder-Butler, head of the Consultant Physicians Staff Association, said yesterday that public health facilities are managing as best as they can under the strain of COVID-19.

“We’ve kind of been in strain mode for a little while with the hospitals being over capacity and so everything is pretty much filled up and they’re just trying to make the best with the space situation,” she said. “It’s not just COVID, and that’s what we’re trying to get everyone to understand. We already had challenges with spacing and staffing before COVID.

“With us having additional persons with COVID, that certainly adds to a system that was already trying to make best with what was there. Everything is pretty much at over capacity mode. Once someone goes in, you have someone already waiting for that space. Everyone is trying their best.”

Asked if the situation is manageable, Dr Pinder-Butler said: “Manageable is relative in terms of, if you know this is the hands you are dealt with but you’re still going to try your best, then you manage as best as you can. Things can certainly be much better, but we don’t have an ideal situation in the country.”

The Bahamas has had more than 6,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Most of these cases were recorded after July 1, when the country reopened its borders to commercial international travel.

On July 28, the GCI Index ranked The Bahamas last among 184 countries on its COVID-19 recovery index.


By Rashad Rolle
Source: The Tribune

Read the full article here.


World’s First Holistic and Comprehensive Index on COVID-19


  • Sunway University is collaborating with PEMANDU Associates and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) Malaysia on the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI).
  • The GCI is the world’s first holistic and comprehensive index on COVID-19, consolidating data on the pandemic from verified sources of 184 countries into a comprehensive index to which governments, businesses, and communities can reference.

With the slew of news, data and opinions scattering around COVID-19, Sunway University joins forces with PEMANDU Associates and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia (MOSTI)  to develop a dynamic dashboard that consolidates COVID-19 data from 184 countries into a comprehensive Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) to which governments, businesses and communities can reference.

Updated daily, the database ranks 184 countries based on how well they respond to the pandemic. At a glance, the GCI dashboard displays top 10 countries on the recovery index, countries with the highest increase in new cases, highest reduction in active cases, a recovery rating map with a rating guide for recovery and severity, a lockdown level map, global infection trend graph and a country comparison matrix.

World’s First Holistic and Comprehensive Index on COVID-19

The GCI pulls and analyses data from various credible sources such as the Johns Hopkins University, Our World in Data, World Bank, Oxford COVID19 Government Response Tracker and the Global Health Security Index.

The GCI allows countries to gauge one another’s performance levels to better identify best practices and efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

World’s First Holistic and Comprehensive Index on COVID-19


Researchers from Sunway University’s School of Healthcare and Medical Sciences are currently deriving data to produce insights that would help governments and societies identify emerging trends from the GCI.

“For example, we have identified that countries that have high-ambient temperatures and low latitudes appear to have low COVID-19 case fatality rates which can serve to inform policy decisions and epidemiological research,” explained Professor Peh Suat Cheng, Professor of Pathology and Dean, School of Healthcare and Medical Sciences at Sunway University

World’s First Holistic and Comprehensive Index on COVID-19

Professor Peh Suat Cheng, Professor of Pathology and Dean, School of Healthcare and Medical Sciences and Professor Serge Demidenko, Dean of the School of Science and Technology at Sunway University are working closely with Woody Ang, Executive Vice President at PEMANDU Associates to identify and derive relevant data for the index.


According to the researchers at Sunway University, the existing framework of the GCI is replicable for future pandemics as it records datasets that are commonly analysed when outbreak tracing is carried out. Non-dynamic data will be regularly updated on a yearly basis, making it more responsive to battle unprecedented pandemics that may arise in the future.

According to Professor Serge Demidenko, Dean of the School of Science and Technology at Sunway University, his researchers have been interested to provide specialist support in Computer Database Technologies and application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Data Analytics aiming to not just analyse past data, but also forecast and model future trends.

“During this COVID-19 time, AI and Analytics will allow us to use available data to understand the impact of the pandemic better and thus to assist to propose appropriate solutions. Our academics are available to team up with collaborators both locally and internationally to explore new recovery solutions for the post-COVID-19 world”, he said.


Key learnings from the GCI have been compiled into a comprehensive 118-page report titled ‘Global Lessons in Tackling COVID-19 – The Global Pathfinder Initiative’, published just this month. The report focuses on five main areas; investment protocols in high scale testing, extensive contact tracing, well enforced movement controls, transparent and strong communication and finally, strong leadership from the top with the hopes of informing policy and decision-making for future global health crises.

Source: Sunway

Read the full article here.

Thailand ranks second in the world and first in Asia for COVID-19 recovery

WHETHER  it’s the tropical heat, the custom of wearing facemasks courtesy of its the air pollution, or the swift lockdown measures, on a global scale Thailand has done remarkably well in coping with the COVID-19 crisis.

As of mid-June, the country recorded 3,135 confirmed cases and 58 fatalities, ranking it second in the world, after Australia, among the countries with the highest COVID-19 recovery index and first in Asia, according to a report issued by the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) on June 11, 2020.

Government spokesperson, Professor Narumon Pinyosinwat said Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha was grateful to all the Thai people for their discipline, strength, and patience in fighting COVID-19, so that everyone could get through the difficult situation together.

The GCI has been developed by PEMANDU Associates in collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) and the Sunway Group.

It is driven strongly by big data, and the index scores and ranks 184 countries on how well they are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the ranking of countries by recovery index, Australia receives 86.34 from 100 points. Thailand receives 83.29, followed by Denmark, 81.75; Taiwan, 79.55; South Korea, 79.25; New Zealand, 79.08; Lithuania, 77.06; Slovenia, 76.12; Iceland, 76.06; and Latvia, 75.46.

Among the 20 countries with the highest recovery index, five are in Asia. They include Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Key dynamic parameters used by the GCI include confirmed cases per population, the proportionate death rate due to COVID-19, and static scores derived from the Global Health Security Index, which was developed to assess a country’s readiness to cope with and handle any epidemic.


By Ellen Boonstra
Source: Business Acumen

Read the full article here.

Malaysia Launches World’s 1st Index To Track COVID-19 Pandemic Control

On 4 June, Malaysia launched the world’s first comprehensive, data-based pandemic response tracker, Global COVID-19 Index (GCI)

It is a publicly available website that processes approximately 3,000 points of data daily from verified open-source databases, such as the the World Bank and the Global Health Security Index, to accurately rank 184 countries based on how well they are coping with the pandemic.

The GCI assesses the true severity and recovery progress of countries based on factors including a country’s healthcare system and other socio-economic factors.

At the time of writing, Malaysia ranked 15th among 184 countries in recovery rates.

Photo credit: MHTC

Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin hopes that the GCI will help governments around the world make informed decisions about how best to face the pandemic

In his keynote speech, the minister discussed the importance of the GCI in deploying an effective and globally coordinated response.

“While there are varying degrees of severity and recovery across the world, no one country has managed to get everything right,” he said.

With the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) collaborating with local and international experts from Universiti Malaya, Akademi Sains Malaysia, the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and the World Health Organization (WHO), and referring to global databases, Khairy notes how the GCI could act as a singular yet comprehensive point of reference.

The website contains graphs and lists reflecting recovery and severity rates

It also has colour-coded maps which depict whether a country can safely relax its restrictions based on the WHO’s six requirements and calculations made using the collected data.

This, Khairy says, can help guide the actions of governments, universities, and research institutes, as well as the private sector.

Khairy also spoke of the need for greater collaboration across the globe

As part of his opening speech, the minister said, “While we have been focused on saving lives within our respective borders, we now need to reach out and share what each country has learnt so that we can create an internationally crowdsource playbook of best practices in handling the pandemic.”

This, he adds, is why the GCI was created.

“The partnership [between the MOSTI and PEMUDA Associates] will aim to make the GCI a catalyst to enhance international cooperation and research against all pandemics. This is Malaysia’s humble commitment to the fight against COVID-19.”

Following the launch of the GCI, it was announced that MOSTI will also be working on an in-depth qualitative analysis of best practices(of coping with COVID-19) around the world. Khairy hopes this project, called the Global Pathfinder Initiative, will be publicly available with the approval of participating governments.

The minister ended the presentation with an urgent plea

“Apart from sharing the GCI with you tonight, the message that we would like to send is that we need to build a global alliance of international organisations, governments, cooperations, civil society organisations, and individuals, to commit to open science and push for the vaccine to be a global public good that would be made available openly and equitably.”


Source: MHTC

Read the full article here.

Nepal government sets roadmap to improve investment climate reforms

Nepal was ranked 94 out of 190 economies on the Doing Business 2020 ranking, marking a significant shift for the country into the Top 100 Economies on the Ease of Doing Business. As a part of the government’s ongoing efforts to improve the country’s investment climate reforms, the Office of the Prime Minister & Council of Ministers (OPMCM) and Ministry of Finance, with the support of the World Bank Group, organized a workshop to develop institutional arrangements for the newly formed Coordination Centre in OPMCM and put together an implementation plan for Doing Business reforms.

“A new Nepal is in the making. We are a private sector dominated economy, and the role of the public sector is to unlock bottlenecks for the private sector. Public-private partnership is the key strategy for doing business in Nepal,” stated Honorable Minister of Finance, Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada.

“The international best practices that we are learning today need to be customized based on the context of Nepal,” stated Dr. Teertha Raj Dhakal, Secretary, OPMCM. “Implementation and delivery are the areas where the country needs to improve, and we also need to change our behavior and culture to make Nepal more private-sector friendly.”

The workshop organized on 24-25 February looked at global best practices from leading delivery unit practitioners from PEMANDU Associates, Malaysia and Government Partnerships International, UK on the catalytical role of the delivery unit in supporting the Doing Business reforms.

“We need to encourage private sector participation in all sectors,” stated Dato’ Sri Idris Jala, President and CEO of PEMANDU Associates. “This can only happen if we implement radical changes in government regulations to facilitate investors and eliminate cumbersome procedures involved in doing businesses in the country.”

Nepal climbed 16 spots in the global Doing Business 2020 rankings. Four major positive reforms in a single year – construction permits, access to credit, trading across borders and contract enforcement – were a record for Nepal and accounted for a third of all reforms recorded by Doing Business in the last 10 years. At the same time, two reforms that made it difficult to do business – starting a business and property registration – were also recorded for Nepal.

The major outcomes of the workshop included the development of the Coordination Center’s institutional structure based on the global best practices of international delivery unit practitioners tailored to the Nepali context, and agreement with the core ministries and private sector on the short (until April 2020 – the closing window for Doing Business 2021 report), medium (next 15 months) and long-term (next 2 years) investment climate reforms and implementation strategies. These initiatives are intended to mobilize increased private investment in support of equitable growth and job creation.

“The Government of Nepal is playing a critical role in establishing a conducive climate in which businesses operate and is taking the needed steps to strengthen the environment for private sector businesses and investments,” stated Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Manager for Nepal. “The experience of the international experts from Malaysia and the UK provides a springboard for Nepal’s next steps. Their success stories and lessons learnt can help inform the design of appropriate institutional structures and operational framework for the Coordination Center.”

The workshop was actively attended by representatives from the government, regulatory bodies, private sector and development partners.


Source: The World Bank.

Read the full article here.

Forced Labour: Issues & Mitigation Conference

Unethical labour practices are a risk to business viability. Consumers and governments across the world are demanding higher standards of labour protection, punishing companies who are suspected of bad labour practices. Recently, a Malaysian glove company faced an import ban by the US on allegations of labour law violation.

In light of this issue, PEMANDU Associates, in collaboration with its strategic partner Bluenumber, organised the Forced Labour: Issues & Mitigation conference to enhance the appreciation of labour protection issues in Malaysia. The event featured industry experts sharing their insights on labour protection implications for businesses, the global best practices and possible data-centric solutions for workers’ rights.

The conference, held on 14 November 2019  at Sunway Putra Hotel, was attended by corporate representatives from various industries as well as non-profits with a common interest in improving labour practices in the country.

To find out more on how the Bluenumber Digital ID can assist your organisation to effectively monitor labour protection, contact us at [email protected].

PM’s Ministry initiates strategy for accountable results-based public service

Based on Cabinet proposal put forward by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a programme was initiated to launch and mainstream the strategy for Managing for Development Results (MfDR)/Results-Based Management (RBM) for the public service.

The programme was initiated by the Ministry of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement & Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development and Youth Affairs, which comes under the purview of the Prime Minister.

A  High-Level Forum on MfDR was held at Hotel Taj Samudra on August 31,  with the participation of Senior Government Officials, Development Partners, Non-Governmental sector and Academia to discuss and formulate an implementation strategy for MfDR.

This initiative was supported by Strengthening Democratic Governance and Accountability Project (SDGAP) under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Grant.

Sagala Ratnayaka, Minister of Ports & Shipping & Southern Development and Chief of Staff to Prime Minister, Kabir Hashim, Minister of Highways & Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development, Alaina B. Teplitz, Ambassador, US Embassy in Sri Lanka, Dr.Indrajith Coomaraswamy, Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Ms. Hanaa Singer, Resident Coordinator, United Nations Sri Lanka and Mr. V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary to the Ministry of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement & Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development and Youth Affairs addressed the High-Level Forum on the importance of MfDR with international and national experiences.

Minister Ratnayaka noted that MfDR, as a modern public management tool and is an approach to ensure effective public service delivery in the government. The need for measuring performance to make public service more accountable was also asserted. He further added that the National Audit Act and the Right to Information Act (RTI) have contributed to create accountability in the public sector.

Minister Hashim added the need to complement RBM with the National Evaluation Bill and the need for both accountability and learning was also emphasised. US Ambassador to Sri LAnka Alaina B. Teplitz, stressed on the need for mainstreaming MfDR as a governance tool to improve the public service delivery in order to fulfil the citizens’ needs.

Further, Dr.Indrajith Coomaraswamy, Governor of the Central bank of Sri Lanka set out the importance of performance management through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as a process to improve accountability for results and performance measurement. Ms. Hanaa Singer, Resident Coordinator of the United Nation Sri Lanka, stated the need to align the results target of the Ministries with the National Development Plan and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Mr. V. Sivagnanasothy, Secretary of the Ministry explained best practice models namely, Minnesota Milestones of the United States of America (USA), Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit of the United Kingdom (UK) and Performance Management and Delivery Unit  (PEMANDU) of Malaysia, and noted the importance of the shift of focus from ‘Compliance Oriented Accountability towards Accountability for Results’.

The MfDR process was recognised as a planning and budgeting tool to achieve results and also identified as a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) tool to measure achievements and results. Selecting SMART KPIs at the outcome level with a baseline target was considered as an effective process for results-based planning and outcome-focused budgeting.The High-Level Forum endorsed the piloting of these strategies in (5) five key Ministries carrying important subject areas such as Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Health, Water Supply, Agriculture and Tourism and (2) two Provinces covering North and Uva.

Source: The Sunday Times, Sri Lanka

Read the full article here.

Foresight and innovation for #NextGenGov champions in Sri Lanka

Similar to other countries in the region, Sri Lanka has experienced rising urbanisation, technological innovation, deepening inequality, vulnerability to disasters and dramatic environmental risks. A new generation of government leaders is imperative in ensuring Sri Lanka can effectively respond to the challenges of our time.

The ‘Foresight & Innovation for #NextGenGov Champions’ program responds to this need by equipping a new generation of public sector officials with the tools necessary to implement creative solutions to complex challenges in our country. Following the success of the pilot program conducted in 2018, two capacity-building workshops for two more cohorts were launched this week with participants from over 35 public institutions in Sri Lanka along with international participants from Maldives, Bhutan, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Turkey, Gambia and Tanzania.

The program is co-developed as a joint initiative between Citra Social Innovation Lab, the Presidential Secretariat, the Ministry of Public Administration, and the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA).

Speaking on the added value of the program Minister of Public Administration and Disaster Management Ranjith Madduma Bandara stated, “A strong and efficient public service is a crucial segment of the enforcement of policies for an effective nation. The Ministry of Public Administration and Disaster Management is pleased to have worked with Citra Social Innovation Lab and the Presidential Secretariat and SLIDA to co-develop a comprehensive program on ‘Foresight and Innovation for Public Sector Excellence’, being conducted for the second time, having had a very successful pilot run. Building on the conversations around improving the efficiency of the public sector, this workshop will equip the selected officials with the tools required to approach challenges in an innovative way. We look forward to continuing our engagement with Citra to further strengthen the public sector of Sri Lanka.”

As Sri Lanka’s first social innovation lab, Citra is a proven leader in using foresight and innovation tools in prototyping and testing development solutions to ensure they are agile and holistic. As a joint initiative between the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research, and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Citra facilitates creating an environment that is conducive to looking at problems from different perspectives, building capacities, and strengthening institutions.

Speaking on the program, Minister of Science, Technology and Research Sujeewa Senasinghe stated, “Public sector officials are the backbone of any government and have a crucial role to play in ensuring countries achieve the targets they set for themselves. This year we’re happy to welcome over 55 public sector officials from Sri Lanka along with their counterparts from several other countries for the #NextGenGov program. The 2019 cohort of this workshop is a testament to the global significance of these tools for public sector excellence.”

The five-day residential workshops require participants to implement these tools in their offices and departments within a three-month mentorship period and report back on their experiences. The continued engagement of the ‘#NextGenGov Champions’ will contribute towards a sustained, long-term integration of foresight and innovation for public sector excellence in Sri Lanka.

Source: Daily FT

Read the full article here.

IMF lauds Oman’s Tanfeedh programme

The National Programme for Enhancing Economic Development (Tanfeedh) — the Sultanate’s signature initiative for sustaining economic growth amid the ongoing global downturn — has come in for praise from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Executive Board of the specialised UN agency, which had concluded Article IV consultations with Oman last month, noted the Tanfeedh programme’s contribution to the Sultanate’s national developmental objectives.

“(The) Directors commended the ongoing implementation of the Tanfeedh Programme with a focus on economic diversification and job creation,” said the Washington DC-headquartered multilateral institution in a summary of its discussions with Oman’s authorities.

Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. A staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies.

While lauding the Tanfeedh initiative, the Executive Board nevertheless called for “further reforms to address labour market rigidities including by better aligning public sector compensation with that of the private sector and by addressing skills mismatches through higher quality education and training”. The Board “also encouraged further SME development including through better access to finance, to raise productivity”.

Initially unveiled in 2016, the Tanfeedh programme is a government initiative that links the strategies of vital business sectors, such as Manufacturing, Tourism, Transport & Logistics, Energy, Mining, Fisheries, Financial Services, and Labour, with each other with the aim of diversifying national income resources. A series of ‘labs’ focusing on each of these sectors have generated a substantial portfolio of projects and initiatives that are currently in various stages of implementation and operation. The Implementation Support and Follow-up Unit (ISFU), set up under the auspices of the Diwan of Royal Court, is tracking the speedy delivery of these projects.

The IMF Executive Board also noted Oman’s policy efforts since the 2014 oil price shock which, it said, have aimed at strengthening the fiscal position, enhancing private sector-led growth and employment, and encouraging diversification. “Economic activity started to recover last year, and the overall fiscal and current account deficits improved somewhat, reflecting mainly higher oil prices,” it stated.

The report noted in particular growth in real non-oil GDP in 2018 – an uptrend that reflected “higher confidence” driven by the rebound in oil prices. “Non-hydrocarbon growth is projected to increase gradually over the medium term, reaching about 4 per cent, assuming efforts to diversify the economy continue,” it said, noting that an uptick in oil and gas production had also boosted hydrocarbon GDP growth in 2018.

Oman’s overall fiscal balance had also improved last year, according to the report. “The fiscal deficit is estimated to have declined to about 9 per cent of GDP from 13.9 per cent of GDP in 2017, reflecting higher oil revenues. However, gross government debt increased by 7 per cent of GDP last year (to 53.5 per cent of GDP),” it noted however.

Also accentuating the brightening economic picture for Oman was the “substantial pickup in exports, primarily hydrocarbons”, said the IMF. This growth, combined with an estimated decline in imports, “helped reduce the current account deficit by about 10½ percentage points of GDP (to 4.7 per cent of GDP)”, the report said.

Source: Oman Observer

Read the full report from IMF here.

Malaysia, Kazakhstan to further boost constructive cooperation under Tokayev’s leadership

Dato’ Sri Idris Jala, CEO of PEMANDU Associates, extended his heartiest congratulations to Mr Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on his election as the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

“The people of Kazakhstan have entrusted Mr Tokayev with the responsibility of continuing the successful economic path and stability in Kazakhstan. I am confident that our countries will further boost constructive and mutually beneficial collaborations at the bilateral and commercial levels under his able leadership,” he said.

Dato’ Sri Idris Jala added that his country looks forward to be a part of this strengthened tie between Malaysia and Kazakhstan in the years ahead.

Source: Kazinform

Read the full article here.

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