Newsletter No. 93/ July 30, to August 05, 2018

Islamabad:

Post elections, Stock market gains 3.8 percent:

General election 2018 triggered bullish sentiments in KSE-100 index as it inched up by 3.8 percent WoW to close at 42,786 points. The week also witnessed increase in volumes where average daily turnover touched 235 million shares, marking a change of +7 percent WoW, while value traded jumped by 6 percent WoW to $70 million. Despite successful conduct of general elections, foreign investors continued their selling spree with another net sell of $0.3 million recorded during the week. However, overall selling remained lower than last week where outflows of $21 million were recorded. Selling was witnessed in the heavy-weight sectors, remaining tilted towards the Exploration and Production (E&P) companies and banking sector. On sector-wise front, increase in steel prices towards the end of last week continued its positive spell where the engineering sector ended 11 percent WoW higher. Apart from that, other key performers contributing towards index performance during the week were (1) cements (+9.1 percent WoW), (2) pharmaceuticals (+6.9 percent WoW), (3) fertilizers (+3.7 percent WoW), (4) Oil Marketing Companies (+4.7 percent WoW) and (5) refineries (+2.2 percent WoW). (Nation: July 30, 2018)

Rupee grows against Dollar:

Panic in open currency market compelled the banks to devalue US dollar by 3.1 per cent, or Rs. 4, per dollar on Monday, July 30. However, the greenback has lost over 11 per cent in the Kerb Market since the general elections held on July 25. The US dollar was traded as low as Rs. 124 in the interbank market while some said the banks bought at Rs. 122 during the day. Bankers said the dollar was closed at Rs. 123.50. However, the open market witnessed a high degree of exploitation by the exchange companies as they bought dollar as low as Rs. 115-16 but sold in the range of Rs. 120-22. This margin of profit never witnessed before. Just after the general elections, the exchange rate quickly changed in favour of the rupee which sharply appreciated against the dollar on a day-to-day basis. (DAWN: July 31, 2018)

Caretaker government to leave decision on Oil and Gas prices to new government:

The caretaker government has passed on the responsibility of increasing gas tariffs — by an average of 46 per cent, determined by the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) — to the incoming elected government. According to a Government letter to OGRA, Revision/increase in gas sale prices is a major policy decision which has to be taken by an elected Federal Government. The letter added that the matter would be placed immediately before the incoming government for a well-informed decision. The order also instructed OGRA to maintain the existing gas sale prices till further advice in the matter. OGRA had forwarded, on June 21, two proposals concerning gas rates — for the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) and the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) — to the federal government for advice on any cross subsidy before a formal notification could be made. According to the law, gas rates must be revised biannually. Section 8(3) of the act that governs OGRA, requires the federal government to advice — within 40 days of the OGRA proposal — if it wants any change in the gas rates for any category worked out by the regulatory authority. Under clause 4 of section 8, OGRA is required to announce, on its own, the higher gas rates for each category determined by it — in case the government fails to advise on the price adjustment within the stipulated timeframe. (DAWN: August 04, 2018)

Punjab:

Punjab IGP announces Rs. 124 million for dams:

Punjab IGP Dr. Syed Kaleem Imam, on Friday August 03, announced about Rs. 124 million donation from the side of Punjab Police Officers and Officials for construction of dams while launching a campaign ‘save water’. Keeping in view the intensity of the problem, the IGP said 184,000 employees of Punjab Police would deposit their two-day pay while officials their one-day salary to the accounts opened by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar for construction of Bhasha and Mohmand dams. He said the police had always been taking initiatives for public service in times of terrorism, floods, earthquakes or other natural calamities. He said professionals from all the fields should contribute to resolve the water issue so that new dams could be constructed as soon as possible. He directed the officers to avoid the wastage of water in police lines, training colleges, police stations and other offices by ensuring the smooth implementation of ‘save water’ campaign. (DAWN: August 04, 2018)

RMC funds lapse:

Due to non-utilisation, Rs. 250 million of the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation’s (RMC) funds lapsed in July and the civic agency has now requested the Punjab Government to give the money back. The former PML-N led Punjab government had secured a loan worth $150 million from World Bank in 2013 for improving public infrastructure in five large cities of the province- Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Gujranwala. The former provincial government provided money to these cities as a grant-in-aid and the loan will be returned by the Punjab government. RMC received its share of the loan, Rs. 250 million, in early 2018 and with this money, it started to construct the community hall and improve the infrastructure of the Municipal Public Library, Pirwadhai General Bus Stand and the Slaughter House. (DAWN: August 04, 2018)

Sindh:

Okara district council approves budget worth Rs. 1. 5 billion:

The District Council in its annual budget session for 2018-19 approved annual estimated budget worth Rs. 1.5 billion, including expected income of Rs. 800.34 million as well as previous year’s balance of Rs. 250 million. These estimates also comprise provincial grant worth Rs. 480.8 million under Provincial Finance Commission (PFC) Award and local income of Rs. 272.5 million. The annual expected expenditures is Rs. 1.3 billion, including salaries of District Council employees, allowances and the honoraria to Chairman, Vice Chairmen and Chairmen of Union Councils worth Rs. 122.5 million. The contingency expenditures included utility bills and purchase of machinery worth Rs. 76.8 million. These expenditures also included payment of pension, grant on death of staffers and share amount of election expenditures worth Rs. 72 million. (DAWN: July 31, 2018)

 

Advertisements

Newsletter No. 91/ June 11, to June 17, 2018

Islamabad:

Simly Dam does not help with water shortage in Capital:

Despite increasing the amount of water supplied by Simly Dam to the city, the capital’s administration has failed to resolve the shortage of water in Islamabad. The Metropolitan Corporation (MCI) recently increased the supply of water from Simly Dam to 24.5 million gallons per day (MGD) from 19.5MGD, but there has been no decrease in public complaints in this regard. MCI officials told that hundreds of new connections from the main water line in Union Councils such as Pind Bagwal, Bhara Kahu and Kot Hatyal had resulted in a shortage of water in the urban areas. The shortage has particularly affected residents of G-6, G-7, G-8, G-9, G-10 and F-6, as well as sectors that rely on tube-wells for the water supply, such as I-10, I-9 and I-8. MCI officials told Dawn that around 30 tube-wells are currently out of order, and the supply of water to the I-Sectors will improve once the tube-wells have been fixed. (DAWN: June 11, 2018)

Senate Body recommends increase in the budget for Ministry of Science and Technology:

The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology recommended increasing the annual budget of the Ministry and the 16 departments working under it. The committee echoed the Ministry of Science and Technology’s concerns over the alarmingly low 0.00025pc of the gross domestic product (GDP) spent on this sector and called for reforms and bringing the percentage to four. The committee, which met for a briefing on the performance of the Ministry of Science and Technology and its departments, was told that for the year 2017-18 the ministry was given a total of Rs. 6.394 billion in the head of non-development budget and Rs. 2.497 billion as development budget. The government’s reluctance to fund research and development seems to also continue in 2018-19 budget as it has allocated about Rs. 2.7 billion, about Rs. 870 million more than that of last year. (DAWN: June 13, 2018)

Pakistan signs $565 million agreements with the WB:

Pakistan signed two loan agreements worth $565 million with World Bank to support the projects in Energy and Water Sectors. The World Bank would give loan worth $425 million for the National Transmission Modernisation (Phase-I) Project and $140 million for Sindh Barrages Improvement Project. Syed Ghazanfar Abbas Jilani, Secretary Economic Affairs Division (EAD), signed the loan agreements on behalf of Pakistan while representatives of government of Sindh and National Transmission Despatch Company signed the project agreements of their respective projects. Patchamuthu Illangovan, country director WB, signed the agreements on behalf of the World Bank. The $425 million loan will be used to modernise the national transmission system by rehabilitating selected 500kV and 220kV substations and transmission lines. The total cost of the project is $536.33 million. The World Bank will finance $425.0 million and $111.33 million will be borne by the NTDC. The government had decided to modernise the national power transmission to provide an immediate relief to the overall national transmission and dispatch system, which is under stress due to inadequate transformation capacity. Pakistan had sought financing from the World Bank for the modernisation of power sector. The first phase will involve upgradation and extensions to existing substations, modification to transmissions towers and lines, and the construction of new substation sites across the country. (Nation: June 14, 2018)

Government challenges court orders for increasing the salaries by 20%:

A Division Bench of Islamabad High Court (IHC) allowed government’s appeal against the orders of a single bench which had directed to increase 20 per cent salaries of all the federal government employees on account of ‘special allowance’. The Division Bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani accepted government’s appeal against the orders of a single IHC bench of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui who had ordered 20 per cent increase in the salaries of employees of attached department and corporations of federal ministries on account of ‘special allowance’ in accordance with the employees of secretariat on June 18, 2013. Federal government through a Deputy Attorney General (DAG) challenged the June 18 orders of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui saying that the allowance would cost Rs. 50 billion per annum to the national exchequer which the government could not afford. The DAG contended before the division bench that the 20% special allowance was approved for those employees of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat who perform late sitting and are frequently asked to work on their weekly off days. (Nation: June 14, 2018)

Punjab:

PWDP approves flood protection plan:

The Provincial Development Working Party approved implementation of National Flood Protection Plan-IV (Umbrella PC-I) costing Rs. 332.25 billion. The scheme was approved in the 74th meeting of the PDWP of the current fiscal year 2017-18 presided over by Chairman of Planning and Development Department, Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan. The P&D Secretary, members of the Planning & Development Board, respective Provincial Secretaries, Assistant Chief (P&D Coordination-II) and other senior representatives of the relevant departments also attended the meeting. (DAWN: June 13, 2018)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:

TQK announces to challenge FATA Interim Governance Regulation:

Takrah Qabailee Khwenday (TQK) has announced to lobby for challenging the FATA Interim Governance Regulation 2018 that was promulgated before merger of tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on May 25 by President Mamnoon Hussain. TQK, a network of women rights activists hailing from tribal areas and its founding member Rukhshinda Naz, heading the Women Action Forum, in a consultation with civil society representing KP and FATA discussed some of the clauses of the newly-promulgated Regulation after the previous National Assembly passed the law to merge the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Rukhshinda Naz, who discussed the regulation section wise and gathered the meaning from each section in comparison to the old law prevailing in the tribal areas, called it ‘old wine in a new bottle’. (DAWN: June 13, 2018)

Sindh:

Caretaker CM orders registration of police cases against water theft:

Sindh Caretaker Chief Minister, Fazul-ur-Rehman, has directed Irrigation Department to take strict action against water theft by registering FIR so that water could be provided to the tail-enders. He took this decision while presiding over a joint meeting of Agriculture & Irrigation Departments at the CM House. The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary, Rizwan Memon, Minister for Irrigation, Khair Mohammad Junejo, Minister Irrigation Mushtaq Shah, Principal Secretary to CM, Sohail Rajpout, Secretary Irrigation, Jamal Shah, Secretary Agriculture, Sajid Jamal Abro, and others. Secretary Irrigation Jamal Shah said that the water position which was 35,000 cusecs in the last week has reached 41457 on Sunday and it goes on improving day by day. (Nation: June 12, 2018)

Newsletter No. 92/ July 09, to July 15, 2018

Islamabad:

SC orders analysis of oil import mechanisms:

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, on Sunday July 8, ordered a thorough analysis of import mechanism of the petroleum products in the country by examining that the prices at which they reached end-consumers were true and not doubtful due to the involvement of hidden commission and kickbacks. In order to realise the objective, a three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar, ordered Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan, the Managing Director of the Pakistan State Oil (PSO), and Chairperson of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), Uzma Adil Khan, to get in touch with the experts on oil pricing and renowned chartered accountants for forensic audit of prices. (DAWN: July 09, 2018)

PIMS to get Multi-Organ Transplant Centre under CPEC:

The Pakistan Institute of Medical Science (PIMS) is hoping to get a multi-organ transplant centre, worth over Rs. 10 billion, under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). To be established under a soft loan, the project will make it possible to transplant all kinds of human organs in Pakistan and the transplants will also cost less. The PIMS management is hoping to conduct the first liver transplant surgery by the end of the current year. PIMS Executive Director, Dr. Raja Amjad, told media that a Chinese delegation headed by Vice President Medical Group of Qingdao University, Dr. Yunjin Zang, has been visiting Pakistan and during the meetings it has been decided that a Chinese team will train PIMS staff and that the transplants will be cheaper or even free for Pakistani citizens. However, foreigners including patients from the Gulf and neighbouring countries, will be charged. (DAWN: July 09, 2018)

VCs demand 4% allocation for Education in new government:

Vice chancellors and Rectors of a large number of universities, on Sunday July 08, demanded that the new government allocate 4% of the GDP for education with at least 1% for higher education to increase access to university education. This demand was made during the 22nd Vice Chancellor’s Committee meeting which was held with Prof Dr. Masoom Yasinzai in the chair. The Vice Chancellors said almost all major parties have pledged in their manifestos to increase the education budget. Dr. Yasinzai said that this is a good announcement but we want implementation. He said there is a need for increasing the education budget and bringing improvements in the sector. The meeting was also attended by Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman, Dr. Tariq Banuri. who assured participants of his support in improving the country’s higher education sector. Mr. Banuri also underlined his vision for bringing improvement. (DAWN: July 09, 2018)

ECP suspends Local Governments till General Elections:

In an unprecedented move, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has suspended all the local government functionaries across the country till the July 25 elections. A notification issued on Tuesday July 10 read that the provincial governments shall ensure that the normal functions of sanitation and cleanliness may not affect during the period of suspension. It points out that the ECP is charged with the constitutional duty to organise and conduct elections in terms of Article 218 of the Constitution, and to make such arrangements that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law and corrupt practices are guarded against. The notification further read, “It has become imperative that the Commission may take all necessary steps under the law to prevent any action on the part of the local government institutions that amounts to influence the results of upcoming general elections by depriving the candidates of level playing field”. (DAWN: July 11, 2018)

Senate for reactivating Pakistan-Iran Investment Company:

Acting Chairman of the Senate, Saleem Mandviwalla, said on Tuesday July 10 that Pakistan was keen to see rapid progress on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and the government would pursue the project as it was in the interest of the country. He expressed the hope that the project would soon see the light of day. Talking to Ambassador of Iran, Mehdi Hunardost, at the Parliament House, Mr. Mandviwalla underscored the need for increasing volume of trade and investment between the two countries. He also stressed the need for reactivating the Pakistan-Iran Investment Company as it was in the interest of both countries to have a proper channel for bilateral trade and investment. (DAWN: July 11, 2018)

Provinces to get amnesty revenue:

Tax amnesty scheme will benefit all the provinces equally, as the Federal Government will distribute the amount generated from the scheme among four provinces under National Finance Commission (NFC) Award. According to Finance Ministry, the amount generated from tax amnesty scheme is coming under the head of income tax, as it is provided under Income Tax Ordinance 2002. Therefore, it will be distributed among the provinces and federal government under the divisible pool. As per 7th NFC Award, the Federal Government would retain 42.5 percent and would have to transfer 57.5 percent resources to all the four provinces from the federal divisible pool. As per the current award, Punjab is allotted 51.74% share, Sindh 24.55%, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 14.62% and Baluchistan 9.09%. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has so far generated Rs. 97 billion through the tax amnesty scheme out of which around Rs. 36 billion have been collected on foreign assets and Rs. 61 billion on domestic assets. The government is expecting to generate additional Rs. 60 to Rs. 80 billion in remaining twenty days of the scheme, as people are taking interest to declare their hidden assets by paying nominal tax.  The tax amnesty scheme has given good response so far, as 55,225 declarations have been filed in which declared value of foreign assets is around Rs. 577 billion and that of domestic assets is around Rs. 1, 192 billion. In addition, $40 million has been repatriated. The scheme would expire by end of July. (Nation: July 13, 2018)

Punjab:

ICMPD for establishing three new resource centres in Punjab:

An eight-member delegation of International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) called on Punjab Chief Secretary Akbar Durrani at his office on Monday July 09. The meeting discussed the ICMPD plan to establish three new resource centres in Punjab, employment opportunities abroad, measures to stop human trafficking, and collaboration in the field of technical and vocational education. Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Secretary said that skilled labour as well as educated human resource would be needed in Pakistan after completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He mentioned that Punjab is 60 percent of total population of the country and people from Gujranwala, Sialkot and South Punjab go abroad for employment. He said that ICMDP’s plan to set up resource centres in Gujrat, Mandi Bhaud Din and Rahim Yar Khan is a positive step.  Additional Chief Secretary Home, and Secretary Labour were also present on the occasion. (Nation: July 10, 2018)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:

KP launches new medicines for Hepatitis C:

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Department is likely to approve a new medicine to provide effective treatment to the patients suffering from chronic hepatitis C. Dr. Kalimullah Khan told media that the tablet ‘Velpatasvir’ has been approved by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) last month and the KP Hepatitis Control Programme will hold a meeting with the gastroenterologists within a fortnight to introduce the drug officially for free availability to the patients. Dr Kalim, who is head of the programme, said that the new pill was very effective in the treatment of hepatitis C patients with damaged liver. (DAWN: July 09, 2018)

KP NAB launches enquiry against FDMA and OGDCL:

National Accountability Bureau Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa authorised inquiries against officials of FATA Disaster Management Authority, OGDCL Karak, Health and Education Departments, and the TMA Town-III Peshawar for corruption and corrupt practices. The inquiries were approved in a regional board meeting of the NAB KP chaired by Farmanullah Khan, Director General of the Bureau. The meeting was attended by Directors, Deputy Prosecutor General, Case Officers and the concerned investigation officers. The board authorised an inquiry against officials of the FDMA regarding corruption. The accused are alleged to have made illegal appointments and embezzled funds in gross violation of laws. The board also authorised an inquiry against officials of TMA Town-III Peshawar regarding corruption. The accused are alleged to have violated building by-laws in construction of high-rise buildings in the posh University Town, Peshawar. The regional board authorised inquiry against officials of OGDCL Karak regarding corruption and misuse of authority. The subjects are alleged to have illegally awarded contract of gas processing, LPG recovery plant and allied facilities at Nashapa Oil Fields at District Karak. The board also authorised inquiry against owner/administration of Doctor’s Colony, Mardan regarding corruption and corrupt practices. The subjects are alleged to have cheated public in the garb of illegal housing scheme in Mardan. The regional board also authorised inquiries against officials of KP Health and Education Departments regarding corruption and corrupt practices. The subjects are alleged to have embezzled funds allocated for installation of biometric machines in education and health departments. (Nation: July 10, 2018)

Sindh:

KMC announces 25% relief on bill payment:

Rather than taking any stern action against bill defaulters, City Mayor Karachi, Wasim Akhtar, has offered an ‘incentive’ of 25% relief to subscribers who pay their bills. The 25% relief has been given to citizens who are using the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s municipal utility service, but have not paid their bills to the KMC for a long time. Some citizens said that the incentive was tantamount to rubbing salt into the wounds of law-abiding citizens who used the KMC’s municipal utility services and regularly paid their bills, and if they failed to pay their bills once the KMC in their next bills would impose a fine of substantial amount on them and they paid their bill with the fine. Meanwhile, a KMC statement issued on Sunday July 08, said that the mayor had offered all municipal utility service users a concession of 25% if they paid their total bills with all the arrears, up to September 2018. (DAWN: July 09, 2018)

$10 billion freight corridor to be built by KPT:

A freight corridor at an estimated cost of around $8-10 billion would be developed alongside the sea front from Karachi Port to Port Qasim for quick movement of all categories of cargoes including liquid bulk cargo. This was stated by chairman Karachi Port Trust, Rear Admiral Jamil Akhter, while addressing media along with Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs and Foreign Affairs, Abdullah Hussain Haroon, in KPT on Friday July 13. The KPT chairman acknowledged that the South Asia Pakistan Terminal (SAPT) was surrounded by thickly populated localities and has no direct link with any major road network of Karachi for quick movement of port traffic. Sharing details, he said the freight corridor would have a railway track and road network along with LNG and POL pipelines. (DAWN: July 14, 2018)

GB/AJK:

Court strikes down GB Order 2018:

The Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court, on Friday July 13, struck down the Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018 and restored the GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009. A two-member bench, comprising Chief Judge Rana Mohammad Shamim and Justice Javed Iqbal, heard a petition filed by GB Council Member Saeed Afzal, challenging the GB Order 2018 introduced by the PML-N. Mr. Afzal had filed the petition in April under article 61 of the GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, 2009, pleading the court to declare the GB Order 2018 illegal and issue a stay order. He had stated that he was elected among others as the GB Council member, who took the oath under Article 33 of the GB Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009 and was entitled to hold the office till 2020. He had contended that the Former Prime Minister had intended to repeal the law in order to introduce a new law, GB Order 2018, in the name of constitutional and administrative reforms. He had requested that the respondents to be directed not to abolish the membership of the petitioners as members of GB Council till completion of their tenure. (DAWN: July 14, 2018)

Newsletter No. 90/ June 04, to June 10, 2018

Islamabad:

Gas allocated during last days of the Federal Government is under scrutiny:

At least two leading investigation and accountability agencies are examining gas allocations made during the last few days of the PML-N government allegedly in violation of the Gas Allocation Policy and without concurrence of the provinces. The gas allocations had come under scrutiny after the Petroleum Division of the Ministry of Energy had on May 31 — the last working day of the PML-N government — pointed out that 75 million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcfd) had been dedicated to Pak-Arab Fertiliser on almost round-the-year basis. This was done without bidding like in the previous case of Engro Fertiliser that secured domestic natural gas through bidding from the same Mari Gas Field. Gas has been given to two fertiliser units of the same group, instead of domestic consumers of Sui Gas utilities which have top priority in the gas allocation policy and have been facing decline in gas supply, particularly in winter. The provinces have already been protesting over the dismantling of Mari Petroleum’s pricing formula approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet during the PML-N tenure which, they claimed, caused a loss of more than Rs. 50 billion to the provinces on account of gas development surcharge. Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have also been insisting that allocation of gas was in fact a domain of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) after the 18th Amendment. (DAWN: June 04, 2018)

OGDCL signs agreement with KUFPEC for strategic cooperation:

Oil & Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) and Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) announced a strategic cooperation initiative for evaluating future potential business opportunities in international upstream exploration and production. The MoU for strategic cooperation was signed between Nawwaf S. Alsalem, South Asia Regional Manager for KUFPEC, and Zahid Mir, Managing Director of OGDCL. The strategic cooperation between the two oil exploration companies envisages exploring opportunities jointly in Pakistan, the Middle East and other overseas blocks. Pursuant to the MoU, KUFPEC may offer OGDCL joint venture opportunities in its international assets and blocks. OGDCL has also agreed for a reciprocal arrangement in Pakistan with KUFPEC. Both OGDCL and KUFPEC will cooperate and collaborate in upcoming domestic and international opportunities. (Nation: June 05, 2018)

There is zero water shortage for Kharif crops:

The water shortage for Kharif season has dropped to zero as the temperature increase in catchment areas has improved the water inflows and Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has started providing water to the provinces according to their demand. Due to increase in temperature in the catchment areas, water flows in river Indus and river Kabul have increased by almost 50400 cusecs during the past four days. Punjab and Sindh are currently getting 93,200 and 85,000 cusecs respectively and they are facing no water shortage. IRSA’s spokeperson, Khalid Rana, said that on May 28 the water situation had worsened so much that storage came down to 0.22 MAF and resultantly water shortage for the provinces at canal head after conveyance losses of Punjab and Sindh had reached 65 to 70 percent. Since June 1st, the inflows in river Indus at Tarbella increased by 25,600 cusecs from 77,000 to 95,600 cusecs. In the backdrop of substantial increase in river inflows as a result of increase in catchments temperatures, IRSA has reviewed the water situation. On Monday, he said Skardu temperature touched 32 degree Celsius which a record in first week of June. (Nation: June 05, 2018)

ECP names Justice Dost Muhammad as caretaker CM for KP:

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has named retired Justice Dost Muhammad Khan as caretaker Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The decision was taken with consensus at a meeting presided over by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza and attended by all four members of the commission. Addressing a press conference outside the ECP office here, the Commission’s Additional Secretary, Dr. Akhtar Nazeer said the KP government and the opposition had sent four names for consideration as the caretaker chief minister. The matter was referred to the ECP after a Parliamentary Committee comprising three representatives each from the government and opposition Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) failed to finalise a name for the post of caretaker Chief Minister at a meeting held on June 2. Both sides stuck to their nominees. (DAWN: June 06, 2018)

Caretaker Cabinet takes oath:

A six-member caretaker cabinet took the oath on Tuesday, June 05, to run the day-to-day affairs of the Interim Government. President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to the cabinet members. Caretaker Prime Minister, (R) Justice Nasirul Mulk was present at the oath-taking ceremony held at the presidency. The six-member cabinet comprises former governor of the State Bank of Pakistan Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, senior lawyer Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United Nations Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Educationist Muhammad Yusuf Shaikh, Educationist and Human Rights Expert Roshan Khursheed Bharucha and Former Federal Secretary Azam Khan. Two out of six members of the cabinet have also served during the tenure of former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharaf: Dr Akhtar as SBP Governor and Ms. Bharucha as Senator. (DAWN: June 06, 2018)

SC restores investigation powers of FBR:

The Federal Government on Tuesday, June 05, restored power of Directorate General Intelligence & Investigation of Inland Revenue to initiate proceedings against the people who had possibly laundered tax-evaded money under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) 2010. The power was originally extended to the Directorate General Intelligence & Investigation (DG I&I) of Inland Revenue through a Statutory Regulatory Order 611 in September 2016, which was struck down by the Single bench of Lahore High Court (LHC) in January on the plea that it was issued by a Federal Ministry without the express approval of the Federal Cabinet. It was alleged that SRO611 of 2016 has been issued without the due approval of the Federal Cabinet. Consequently, the impugned notification was declared as ‘ultra vires and unlawful’. (DAWN: June 06, 2018)

Punjab:

Harand Fort is to be restored at a cost of Rs. 90 million:

The Punjab Government is all set to restore and rehabilitate the historical Harand Fort in district Rajapur which faced a long period of neglect. Malik Ghulam Muhammad, In-charge of the Archaeology Department, Multan, said that the initial restoration and rehabilitation of the fort will be done with the estimated cost of Rs. 90 million and the scheme has been included in the Punjab Annual Development Programme 2018-19. The work will start as soon as the funds are released. Protected under the Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance 1985, Harand Fort is located on the footsteps of Sulaiman Range. It is spread over 50 acres with 16 bastions to support its wall. The outer wall of the fort is made of thin red baked bricks. Researcher and scholar, Mehboob Tabish, said that located near the town of Harand, the fort was constructed by a Hindu Raja Harnacus and his son, Lok Bhagat, on the pattern of Mohenajo Daro. The Muslim conquerors from Muhammad Bin Qasim to Ahmed Shah Abdali invaded the fort. The fort witnessed periods of Hindu, Macedonian and Muslim rulers. (DAWN: June 04, 2018)

LCCI urges Government for representation of Private Sector in OGRA and IRSA:

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has urged the government to ensure adequate representation of private sector in all important bodies whether it is Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) or Indus River System Authority (IRSA). LCCI President, Malik Tahir Javaid, said that being the major stakeholder of the country, business community should have representation in Senate and all important bodies but it is not anywhere and being used as a money making machine. He question as to how policies, conducive for trade and industry, can be formulated without participation of the main stakeholder. He said that POL prices should not be an option to overcome the trade deficit or to bear the huge non-productive expenditure of the state. Likewise, water should not be sacrificed to the political will of a few selfish and disloyal elements. He said that OGRA raises the summary for increase in POL prices and generally government accepts the proposals. He said that POL is the major raw material and unjustified raises in its prices have increased the cost of doing business. He said that this issue can be controlled if business community has at least 50 per cent representation in OGRA. (Nation: June 05, 2018)

PDWP approves development schemes:

The Punjab Provincial Development Working Party (PWDP), on Wednesday June 06, approved development scheme of road sector with an estimated cost of Rs. 1210.813 million. Presided over by P&D chairman Muhammad Jahanzeb Khan, the 73rd meeting of PDWP for the current Fiscal Year 2017-18 gave approval of the scheme. The approved development scheme include Construction of 2nd bridge over River Ravi near Saggian at Lahore (revised) at the cost of Rs. 1,210.813 million. (Nation: June 07, 2018)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:

PESCO load-shedding may damage Golden Gol Power Plant:

The generating machinery of the first unit of Golen Gol Hydropower Station commissioned to work recently is prone to damage due to unwarranted load-shedding by Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO), leading to fall of load on it below the bare minimum possible required limit. A technical source in the project told that for each running generator of a hydropower station there was a fixed minimum power load which must be maintained on it in order to keep it safe from heating besides abnormal increase in its amplitude of vibration causing structural damage. He said that in case of Golen Gol powerhouse whose first unit of 36MW capacity had been inaugurated in February last, the minimum load limit was 2MW which approached to zero when PESCO made load-shedding, pushing the machinery to hyper risk. (DAWN: June 04, 2018)

GB/AJK:

GB unveils budget:

The Gilgit-Baltistan government, on Thursday June 07, unveiled over Rs. 63 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2018-19 amid protest by members of opposition benches. The major portion of the budget is allocated for non-developmental expenditures. The budget session of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly was chaired by Deputy Speaker, Jaffarullah Khan, while the budget was presented by Finance Minister, Akbar Taban. In the budget, Rs. 28 billion and Rs. 26 million have been allocated for non-development expenditures and Rs. 18 billion for development, Rs. 7 billion for food subsidies and Rs. 8 billion PSDP projects. The members of opposition benches including Leader of Opposition Mohammad Shafi, PPP member Javed Hussain, PTI member Raja Jahanzeb and BNF’s Nawaz Khan Naji tore the copies of budget and chanted slogans against the government. Taban said that the Public Sector Development Programme has an outlay of more than Rs. 7.9 billion and the development budget includes Rs. 6.59 billion for education. GB government has set aside funds for construction of new school buildings, provision of necessary facilities including drinking water, walls and provision of furniture and upgradation of schools. The government has also allocated Rs. 4.23 billion to health under which new centres would be established, hospitals and basic health centres would receive machinery, medicines and other necessary facilities.  (DAWN: June 08, 2018)

 

Newsletter No. 89/ May 28, to June 03, 2018

Islamabad/FATA:

CCI holds up approval of census results till next government is formed:

The Council of Common Interests (CCI) deferred the approval of the final results of the 2017 National Census until after general elections without post-enumeration audit of five percent census blocks. Since two provincial assemblies — Sindh and KP — would stand dissolved on Monday, it would be more logical that a reconstituted CCI, after the upcoming elections, should take a final decision on the census results. It was also highlighted that the CCI had approved provisional results of the census on the basis of which the parliament had made changes in the law to facilitate the election commission for the upcoming polls. (DAWN: May 28, 2018)

CCI constitutes body to probe water shortage issue:

Amid drought-like conditions in the country, the Council of Common Interests (CCI), on Sunday May 27, constituted a committee headed by the Attorney General to examine whether the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) is providing irrigation water to the provinces in accordance with the 1991 Water Apportionment Accord. The decision was taken at a meeting of the CCI presided over by Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and attended by Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, and Balochistan Chief Minister, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, provincial chief secretaries and senior officials. The Sindh Chief Minister complained that his province was not being given its due water share set in the 1991 Water Accord and because of this it was facing a drought-like condition and its farmers were suffering a lot. (DAWN: May 28, 2018)

Dr. Tariq Banuri made HEC Chairman:

Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on Monday May 28, appointed educationist Dr. Tariq Banuri chairman of the Higher Education Commission (HEC). Mr. Banuri is a former professor at the University of Utah and holds a PhD in Economics from Harvard University. He completed his Masters in Development Economics from Williams College after finishing his bachelors in Civil Engineering from the University of Peshawar. He has authorized 20 books and 30 research papers, and was at the top of the list of four candidates who had been selected by a committee for the post. His name was followed by Dr. Mukhtar – Former Vice Chancellor of Islamia University, Dr. Iqbal Chaudhry and Anwarul Hasan Gilani. The committee shortlisted the candidates after interviewing over 90 people. (DAWN: May 29, 2018)

President signs FATA Interim Governance Regulation, 2018:

Pakistan’s north-western borderlands’ people have been rid of the century-old draconian law, Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), as President Mamnoon Hussain signed the new set of rules for the region – FATA Interim Governance Regulation, 2018. The FATA Interim Governance Regulation, 2018 is a set of interim rules that apply to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) until it merges with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa “within a timeframe of two years”. However, the President will have the jurisdiction over FATA and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) until he signs Constitution (Thirty-First) Amendment Bill, 2018, which proposes abolishment of Article 247 of the Constitution. As per Article 247, the executive authority of the federation shall extend to FATA and PATA. However, as soon as the President signs Constitution (Thirty-First) Amendment Bill, 2018, the mandate to administer and implement FATA Interim Governance Regulation, 2018 would be handed over to the KP Government. (Nation: May 29, 2018)

Cabinet approves Internal Security Plan:

Just two days before the expiry of its five-year term, the government on Tuesday, May 29, took several important decisions, including approval of the National Internal Security Policy (NISP) 2018-23 to address terrorism, extremism and other crimes effectively. The policy was approved at a meeting of the federal cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The NISP is based on six approaches — reorient, reimage, reconcile, redistribute, recognise and regional. The NISP 2018-23 was a continuation of the previous policy which was announced in 2013. He said that 120 actions had been recommended in the policy to improve the internal security situation in the country. The six approaches provided a detailed implementation plan as to how security forces could overcome the menace of terrorism, extremism and street crimes, besides their own capacity building. The National Internal Security Policy (NISP) released for the first time focuses on ‘mosque reforms’ which will be initiated from Islamabad. The reform programme includes an audit of all funds raised for setting up, maintenance or expansion of mosques by the government to ensure transparency. Deputy Commissioner Islamabad retired Capt. Mushtaq Ahmed expressed the confidence that the policy would be successfully implemented.  (DAWN: May 30, 2018) (DAWN: June 01, 2018)

Government unveils National Food Security Policy:

The Federal Government unveiled the National Food Security Policy — calling it the second most important issue after the National Security Policy. The government’s official policy was announced by the Federal Minister for Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Bosan on Tuesday, May 29, who claimed that the Food Security Policy was interlinked with the National Water Policy and National Zero Hunger Programme. The policy not only focuses on the development of crops and enhancing farm produce but also addresses the issue of food wastage which accounts for one-third of the food produced in the country. (DAWN: May 30, 2018)

President signs FATA-KP merger bill:

President Mamnoon Hussain on Thursday, May 31, signed the 31st Constitutional Amendment that completes the process of historic merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The President, who signed the bill to make it a law during a simple ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, congratulated the people of the tribal region on becoming part of the province. The President expressed confidence that the merger of FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would lead to stability in the region. The signing ceremony was also attended by Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Special Assistant to Prime Minister, Barrister Zafarullah, and National Security Advisor, Nasser Khan Janjua. The move comes hours before the incumbent government is scheduled to end its five-year term. After securing two-thirds majority from both the National Assembly and the Senate, the bill was also passed by KP Assembly on May 27 with 92-7 votes amid protests. Proposed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the bill aims at speeding up of mainstreaming the tribal areas. The bill received staunch opposition from the ruling party’s strongest allies, Jamiat Ulema-e Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP). (Nation: June 01, 2018)

ECC approves tax exemptions for former FATA and PATA:

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet approved tax exemptions and other incentives for the next five years for the people of erstwhile FATA and PATA after the landmark 31st Constitutional Amendment. Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a meeting of the ECC at PM Office. The ECC has approved tax exemption for erstwhile FATA and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA), which have become part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province after President Mamnoon Hussain signed the 31st Constitutional Amendment. Speaker of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly, Asad Qaiser, early this week voiced concerns over the issue of tax exemption enjoyed by the people of Malakand Division. Qaiser wrote a letter to the National Assembly, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, informing him about the objections raised by lawmakers belonging to the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA – the Malakand Division) over the omission of the tax exemption enjoyed by the people of PATA before the 31st Constitutional Amendment Act 2018. (Nation: June 01, 2019) (DAWN: June 01, 2018)

Government approves Transport Policy:

The Federal Cabinet of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in its farewell meeting, approved the National Transport Policy that seeks to upgrade and overhaul the country’s transport modes — including air, land, water, as well as urban systems. Covering both travel and logistics, the policy envisages the overall development of the Transport Sector in the mid to long-term with the objective of meeting growing challenges as Pakistan hopes to make its jump into the top 25 global economies by 2025 and top 10 by 2047. It talks about rail, air, trucking, mass transit, pipeline network, urban transport, maritime business etc. Sectoral master plans for each sector would flow out in line with the policy. According to the policy, developed by a task force led by the Planning Commission’s member infrastructure and comprising experts from the Asian Development Bank, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and other development partners, the price of transport services shall reflect their true costs, including environmental and social externalities. Taxes, levies and excise duties on procurement, usage and decommissioning of transport assets shall be reviewed in light of this principle. (DAWN: June 02, 2018)

Punjab:

Punjab signs two green projects with WB:

The Federal Government and Punjab Government, on Tuesday May 29, signed two financial agreements worth $400 million with the World Bank for accelerating climate resilience development in Punjab. The two projects are aiming to improve the environment and quality of life in cities of Punjab. These include Punjab Cities Programme ($200m) and Punjab Green Development Programme ($200m). Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Syed Ghazanfar Abbas Jilani, signed the financing agreements on behalf of the Government of Pakistan, while representatives of Punjab government signed their respective programme/operation agreements. Country Director, Patchamuthu Illangovan, signed the financing and programme/operation agreements on behalf of the World Bank. An official statement issued said that Punjab Cities Programme aims to strengthen the performance of participating urban local governments in urban management and service delivery. (DAWN: May 30, 2018)

PWDP approves schemes worth Rs. 37 billion:

The Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP) approved the release of Rs. 37 billion for seven schemes in its 69th meeting of the fiscal year. The meeting approved Rs. 13.342 billion for revamping of 24 district headquarters hospitals, Rs. 2.390 billion for the prevention and control of Non-communicable Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cancers (Revised), Rs. 9.882 billion for Integrated Reproductive Maternal New-born & Child Health Nutrition Programme (July, 2016 to June, 2019), Rs. 35.6 million for the development of a master plan for the Bahawalpur City (PC-II), Rs. 8.771 billion for making a two-way Khanewal-Lodhran Road, Rs. 600 million for the capacity building of P&D Department for improved policy planning and monitoring development process (Phase-II, Revised) and Rs. 2.199 billion for the construction of Government College Women University in Sialkot (Revised). (DAWN: May 30, 2018)

Punjab Cabinet approves IT Policy:

Punjab’s first ever IT Policy 2018 was approved by the Provincial Cabinet in its last meeting on Thursday, May 31, which is focused to bridge the digital divide across gender, region and economic classes. Talking to journalists on Thursday, Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Chairman, Dr. Umar Saif, said that it proved government’s commitment to use Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an enabling tool for improving governance, efficiency, transparency and accountability. The policy document consolidates all initiatives taken in the sector and also sets a future roadmap that will take the province to its ultimate destination which is making Punjab the hub of Information Technology. He said that it would establish Punjab as the preferred destination for local and international investment in the IT/ITES industries, enable the entrepreneurial ecosystem to flourish in the field of IT/ITES, increase financial inclusion and incentives investment in innovative ICT technologies to promote e-commerce in the province, create an enabling environment for IT technologies and their safe usage through policy reform and improvements in legal framework. (Nation: June 01, 2018)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:

KP Assembly approves FATA-KP Merger Bill:

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly passed the landmark Constitution (Twenty-Fifth Amendment) Bill, 2018 on Sunday May 27, 2018. With the passage of the bill, the KP Government’s administrative authority will be extended to the newly merged 27,220-square-kilometre territory. Amendment to Article 246 of the Constitution provided that FATA shall stand merged with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. With over a two-thirds majority, the assembly passed the amendment bill, which was presented by KP Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Imtiaz Shahid. (DAWN: May 28, 2018)

Formation of Public Safety Bodies in KP faces delay:

The snail-paced formation of the Public Safety and Police Complaints Commissions in 14 districts is likely to take one more year as the Peshawar High Court has stopped the local judiciary from naming their independent members over litigation. Such bodies are already functioning in the other 12 districts. In Jan last year, the KP Assembly had passed the Police Act, 2017, which provides for the establishment of safety commissions at district and provincial levels and complaint resolution authorities at regional level to check the police’s excesses. The high court’s register recently wrote to the district and sessions judges across the province asking them to hold the scrutiny committees’ formation in abeyance until the final decision of a case about it. (DAWN: May 30, 2018)

KP Government points out flaws in merger bill:

The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has raised a number of legal, constitutional and financial issues with the Federal Government regarding merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with the province and identified their possible fallout on Fata’s transitioning and mainstreaming. In a letter addressed to the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), the Chief Secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Muhammad Azam Khan, recalled that the Federal Government had announced a financial package of Rs. 1 trillion over ten years for Fata, out of which Rs.200 billion was to be provided during the first three years with the assurance that the funds would not lapse and would only be used in Fata. There is no consensus for provision of finances. Federal government and provinces disagree on provision of funds. No reforms could be implemented. The three-year plan cannot be undertaken. Transition without money is only paperwork. (DAWN: June 02, 2018)

Sindh:

NICVD establishes Chest Pain Unit at Lyari in collaboration with Sindh Government:

National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), in collaboration with the Sindh Government, has established its 7th Chest Pain Unit in Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Institute of Cardiology at Sindh Government Lyari General and Teaching Hospital.  It was inaugurated and opened for general public on Monday, May 28. Lyari Chest Pain Unit comprises 10-bed Emergency Unit, Consulting Clinics and Facility of Echocardiography. NICVD had introduced a new era of heart healthcare with the launch of its first chest pain unit almost a year back. Till date, NICVD Chest Pain Units under flyovers at Gulshan Chowrangi, Gulbai Flyover, Malir Halt, Qayyumabad Chowrangi and Nagan Chowrangi, and at a clinic near I. I. Chundrigar Road have been serving people successfully and treating hundreds of patients on a daily basis. (Nation: May 29, 2018)

Sindh Government makes a commission to allow access to information:

After a lapse of more than a year to the passage of the Sindh Transparency and Rights of Information Act by the Provincial Assembly — now dissolved— the Sindh Government on Wednesday notified a three-member information commission to provide transparency and access to information to every citizen in matters of public importance. The right to information act is for “promoting transparency in the working of every public authority by setting out a practical regime for every citizen to secure access to information under the control of public authorities”. A notification issued by the provincial information and archives ministry, the provincial government had established the Sindh Information Commission “with immediate effect”. It said consequent upon establishment of the Sindh Information Commission (SIC), the Sindh government had appointed Shahid Gulzar Shaikh as the chief information commissioner. Besides, Gul Munir Shah and Sikandar Huliyo had been appointed commissioners. (DAWN: May 31, 2018)

Gender disparity prevails in Punjab:

Some positive trends have been recorded in the Punjab Gender Parity Report which includes a 13% rise in female voter registration from 2013 to 2017 and that labour force participation in Punjab (28%) is higher than the national average (22%) and the female literacy rate of 54% is higher than the national average of 48% (2015-16). The report, launched at an event on Wednesday, states that despite significant steps taken to prevent violence and protect women in 2016, there are 7,678 reported cases of violence against women in 2017, an increase of 5% from 7,313 cases in 2016. Punjab Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson, Fauzia Viqar, said the report would allow policy makers to identify and address institutional gaps that cause gender inequality and prevent women’s empowerment. However, challenges to women’s participation in employment and decision-making remain. Status of women revealed in the report depicts the vulnerabilities faced by women due to gender inequality, discrimination, lack of adequate education and economic opportunities. (DAWN: May 31, 2018)

Balochistan:

Balochistan approves Cloud Seeding Plan to overcome drought:

In a bid to overcome drought in some districts of the province, the Balochistan Government has decided to use cloud seeding and artificial rain technology, a practice successfully used in drought-hit regions of the world. Initially, the project will cater to needs of an area of 10,000 square kilometres in Gwadar district, where the catchment of four dams is located. The provincial cabinet was informed about the provincial government’s decision in its last meeting on Tuesday, which was presided over by Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo. (DAWN: May 30, 2018)

Balochistan approves Health Policy:

The Balochistan Cabinet on Wednesday, May 30, approved of the first Balochistan Health Policy. It also gave green light to the Balochistan Drugs Rules 2018 which would be sent to the Balochistan Assembly for approval. The outgoing provincial cabinet’s last meeting was presided over by Chief Minister, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, where the cabinet also approved of an amendment made to the Balochistan Civil Servant Act 1974. During the meeting, the cabinet decided to enhance per tonnage fee on ships being brought for scraping in the ship-breaking yard and approved of an amendment in the Ship Breaking Rules 1979 under which the fee per ton on the ships will be Rs. 800 instead Rs. 50. In view of the provincial government’s vow to increase its provincial resources, the cabinet also approved the Balochistan Revenue Authority Amendment Bill, 2018. (DAWN: May 31, 2018)

BHC nullifies delimitation to 8 constituencies:

The Balochistan High Court (BHC) nullified new delimitation of constituencies announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan for eight of Quetta’s nine Balochistan Assembly seats and ordered the ECP to revisit the areas and make fresh delimitation of constituencies. A Balochistan High Court bench comprising Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Justice Abdullah Baloch heard several petitions filed in the court against the new delimitation of the constituencies announced by the ECP and asked the commission to review flaws and redress them. Several people belonging to political parties and would-be independent candidates had expressed their concern over new delimitations of constituencies in Quetta’s several provincial assembly seats. (DAWN: June 02, 2018)

Balochistan signs agreement with NBP for automation of tax collection:

The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) signed an agreement with the Excise, Taxation and Anti-Narcotics Department, Balochistan for automation of tax collection system across the province. The agreement was signed by Executive Vice President NBP (Payment Services and Digital Banking Group) Muhammad Farooq and Director General Excise, Taxation and Anti-Narcotics Balochistan Fateh Muhammad Khajak on behalf of their respective organisation. NBP President Saeed Ahmad and Balochistan Secretary Excise and Taxation, Zafar Ali Shah Bukhari were also present at the signing ceremony. The NBP president said automation and digitisation of all government procedures, payments and tax collection is one of the primary objectives all federal and provincial governments for achieving complete E- governance. NBP is assisting all the provincial governments in digitising their various payments, fee and taxes collection systems. (DAWN: June 02, 2108)

GB/AJK:

Government is ready to accommodate more demands of GB people; PM Abbasi:

Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, has said that the newly promulgated Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018 has transferred all the powers to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, who will enjoy similar rights which the people of other provinces have without any discrimination. He said it was amazing that some opposition parties were protesting against the law. If they had listened, they would have noticed that all powers had already been transferred to local representatives under the Gilgit-Baltistan Order 2018, which did not need legislation through the parliament. (DAWN: May 28, 2018)

AJK Assembly approves budget:

The Legislative Assembly of Azad Jammu and Kashmir unanimously approved Rs. 108.2 billion budget for the fiscal year 2018-19. Minister for Finance, Dr. Najeeb Naqi presented 32 demands for grants for the next year which were approved by the house. The budget was unveiled by the minister, on Tuesday May 22, and the house had started debate on it. During the debate, the house witnessed fiery speeches delivered not only by almost all opposition members but also by one of the treasury members – Chaudhry Ismail Gujjar. The minister informed the house that while earlier the AJK Government would have to seek prior approval of the Federal Finance Division for creation of posts and some other expenditures, the situation had changed after financial independence. Now the government can accord such approvals itself. (DAWN: May 28, 2018)

Joint sitting of AJK Legislative Assembly and Council approves amendment to the Constitution:

The PML-N dominated joint sitting of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and the AJK Council on Friday, June 01, approved amendments to the AJK Constitution abolishing the council’s administrative and financial powers and reducing it to an advisory body. The opposition walked out in protest before the bill was put to a vote by Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir. The process had started on Monday, when the 13th constitutional amendment bill was tabled by the government in the Legislative Assembly amid objections by the opposition that under section 33 of AJK’s interim constitution, no amendment could be made in sections 31, 33 and 56 without the prior approval of the government of Pakistan. On its part, the AJK government was hopeful of getting the requisite approval from the federal cabinet by Tuesday, which was why it had summoned the joint sitting for Wednesday. (DAWN: June 02, 2018)

Newsletter No. 88/ May 21, to May 27, 2018

Islamabad:

Provincial Police Officers call for integrated database:

High ranking police officers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan said that there should be one Police Law across the country and databases of criminals, vehicles and weapons should be integrated. The officers were gathered in a committee room at the Ministry of Human Rights, where a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights had been scheduled. The meeting was delayed because most of the committee members could not reach the room. Although four members are required to complete the quorum, Chairperson, Munaza Hassan, and MNAs, Musarat Rafique Mahesar and Aliya Kamran, decided to discuss the agenda items since Police Officials had travelled from Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to attend the meeting. (DAWN: May 22, 2018)

ECNEC approves projects of worth Rs. 775 billion:

Almost a week before transfer of power to a caretaker set-up, the Executive Committee of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), on Tuesday May 22, approved nine development projects worth Rs. 775 billion. The ECNEC meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, approved revised costs of two major Water Sector projects worth Rs. 523.47 billion. It approved the fourth revised PC-1 of the Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project at an updated cost of Rs. 506.808 billion. The cost estimates for the project have been jacked up four times since 2002 when the plant was projected to be completed at a cost of Rs. 84.5 billion. The estimated cost was revised to Rs. 277.5 billion in 2012 to accommodate changes in design and geography caused by the 2005 Earthquake. This was followed by approval of a revised cost of Rs. 404 billion in 2015. (DAWN: May 23, 2018)

Nine of Science Ministry’s 14 ancillary departments a burden on exchequer:

Members of a parliamentary committee were told, on Wednesday May 23, that nine of the Ministry of Science and Technology’s 14 ancillary departments are a burden on the exchequer. They were also told that only 0.0005% of the GDP is allocated for research work in Pakistan when 2 to 4% should be set aside for research. The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology was meeting in-house, with Mushtaq Ahmed in the chair and seven other members attending, to work out the future plan and to consider the work carried out by the committee in its last tenure of 2015-18. One of the members, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Azam Khan Swati, who was Minister of Science and Technology in 2008-09, said that most of the departments are not working at all so they should be closed and the private sector should be encouraged to undertake their work instead. (DAWN: May 24, 2018)

Centre transfers Rs. 1.65 trillion to provinces under NFC Award:

The federal government has transferred Rs. 1.65 trillion to the four provinces under National Finance Commission (NFC) Award that enabled the provinces to give surplus budget during nine months of current financial year. The provincial governments have recorded budget surplus of Rs. 174.2 billion during July-March mainly due to the revenue received from the federal government under NFC. The provinces expenditures remained at Rs. 2010.4 billion as compared to the revenues of Rs. 2184.6 billion. The provincial governments’ surplus budget of Rs. 174.2 billion helped the federal government to restrict the budget deficit at 4.3%of the GDP.  According to the documents of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the federal government projected the provincial governments to provide Rs. 347 billion surplus over the full fiscal year. The federal government had transferred 71% of the revised annual estimated amount of Rs. 2.316 trillion during nine months to the four provinces. In the first nine months, the provinces were supposed to receive 75% (around Rs. 1.74 trillion) of the total revised estimated amount of Rs. 2.31 trillion from the Centre. However, the government transferred almost Rs. 88.12 billion less to the provinces despite healthy growth in tax collection. The federal government had already slashed the provinces share under the NFC Award by Rs. 68.2 billion during ongoing fiscal year due to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR)’s inability to meet tax collection target.  The federal government would transfer Rs. 2.31 trillion to the four provinces under NFC Award during FY2018 as against the budgeted amount of Rs. 2.384 trillion. (Nation: May 24, 2018)

National Assembly passes bill to merge FATA with KP:

Despite having a rare agreement over the draft of the bill, the defection-hit ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and opposition parties — the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) — had to labour for ensuring the presence of at least 228 members (two-thirds of the 342-member house) that is mandatory for passing a constitutional amendment bill. The bill seeks an amendment to Article 1 of the Constitution which defines the country’s territory and mentions FATA as a separate entity along with four provinces. The bill also amends Articles 51 and 59 which specify the number of seats allocated to each of the federating units in the national and provincial assemblies. Another daunting task for the political leadership is to get the bill passed with a two-thirds vote in the KP Assembly before the expiry of its term on May 28, three days before the National Assembly’s dissolution. As per Article 239(4) of the Constitution, the president cannot assent a constitutional amendment bill which affects geographical boundaries of a province without approval by the assembly of that province. The Senate also passed the 31st Constitutional Amendment Bill seeking the merger of FATA with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a two-thirds majority vote of opposition and treasury benches amid some concerns from PkMAP and JUI-F, contending the landmark bill was not an initiative of the parliament, but that of the military establishment. (DAWN: May 25, 2018) (Nation: May 25, 2018) (Nation: May 26, 2018)

Punjab:

Bhikki Power Plant starts generation:

Quaid-i-Azam Thermal Power Private Limited (QATPL), Harbin Electric International Company Limited (HEI) and General Electric (GE) Power have announced the completion of combined cycle commissioning activities and the start of full-fledged commercial operations at the Bhikki Power Plant. The facility is now adding up to 1,180 megawatts (MW) of power to the national grid – the equivalent power needed to supply up to 2.4 million Pakistani homes. The plant is owned by QATPL, HEI is the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the project, responsible for setting up the power plant and all commissioning activities and GE has supplied two advanced HA heavy-duty gas turbines, associated equipment and technical advisory services for the facility. (Nation: May 22, 2018)

Punjab Government yet to fill the vacancies of seven educational board chairs:

The Punjab government is yet to fill vacancies of chairmen of the seven boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISEs) with permanent incumbents with few days to go in the expiry of its five-year term. Officials say the chairmen of boards will be appointed soon as the process is under way. The Higher Education Department (HED) had advertised the posts of chairmen of BISEs of Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan, Rawalpindi, Sahiwal, and Sargodha and set May 8 deadline for receiving the applications. The department received more than 100 applications for the posts and started the scrutiny of the candidates. The Punjab government had earlier planned to seek services of bureaucrats to run the education boards by offering them MP-1 scale. It had twice advertised the posts of chairmen of the BISEs but could not bring in bureaucrats during the past 10 months. (DAWN: May 25, 2018)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:

Councillors accuse Nazims of usurping their powers:

The councillors of village councils have accused Nazims of usurping their rights. They voiced their concern at a meeting of the Councillors Ittehad held on Sunday May 20, with its president Umer Khan in the chair. The meeting was attended by councillors in a large number. Speaking on the occasion, Umer Khan complained that the village Council Nazims bypassed the councillors in all decisions and distribution of funds. He said the Nazims had established offices in their private guesthouses (hujras) but were receiving rent from the government regularly. He said the Nazims were taking Rs. 60,000 rent and other expenditures per month from the funds of the village councils. He added that Nazims and engineers had made an alliance against the councillors as they were usurping the uplift funds of the village councils through mutual agreement. (Dawn: May 21, 2018)

KP fears cut in its NFC share:

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government has formally complained to the Federal Government about the recent readjustment in federal taxes fearing the move will reduce the province’s share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award. Chief Minister, Pervez Khattak, has written a letter to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, on May 22, protesting the unilateral tax readjustments in the federal budget. The letter was also dispatched to the National Assembly Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Senate Opposition Leader Sherry Rehman. In the letter, he said it was unfortunate that the federal government had made readjustment in various taxes and levies without consulting the provincial governments. (DAWN: May 24, 2018)

Sindh:

Sindh is getting 50% less water than last year:

Sindh is getting 50% less water than what it received during the corresponding period last year at Guddu Barrage upstream, the first barrage on Indus after the river enters the province, dealing a serious blow to cultivation of Kharif season crops of rice and cotton. All right bank non-perennial canals of three barrages are now to be getting water for crops but due to acute water scarcity, irrigation authorities could release water into the canals only for drinking purposes. Non-perennial canals of Guddu and Sukkur barrages were to be provided water for Kharif from May 15 but given available flows, irrigation authorities would only provide water to Sukkur Barrage’s right bank canals of North Western, Dadu and Rice canals and Guddu’s Begari Feeder. (DAWN: May 21, 2018)

Sindh seeks Centre’s help to register Chinese nationals:

The Sindh Government has sought the Federal Government’s help to make relevant laws enabling the provincial authorities to get registered the Chinese nationals entering the province through land routes. The proposal first emerged in March when the Sindh Government had noticed an “alarming” increase in ATM frauds in the provincial capital and decided to approach the Federal Government for the same legislation. The proposal was formally conveyed to the Prime Minister in the last meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) held recently in Islamabad. Law Minister, Ziaul Hasan Lanjar, told Dawn that the Chief Minister Sindh formally put this case before the last CCI meeting. (DAWN: May 21, 2018)

Sindh Assembly passes Rs. 1.144 trillion budget:

With no finance bill on offer by the government, the Sindh Assembly on Friday passed  Rs. 1.144 trillion tax-free budget for financial year 2018-19 with a deficit of Rs. 20.46 billion. On the request of the chief minister, the house authorised the government for expenditures of the first quarter of the financial year 2018-19, leaving it to the assembly after the next general elections to issue authorisation for the rest of the remaining three quarters. In the budget, priorities were given to improvement in infrastructure development and social sector including education, health and law and order. The total receipts of the province are at Rs. 1.124 trillion. This include Rs. 665.08 billion federal transfers; Rs. 243.08 billion provincial receipts, Rs. 75.789 billion capital receipts; Rs. 61.91 billion others and Rs. 23.12 billion net public accounts. The total expenditures have been estimated at Rs. 1.144 trillion, including current revenue expenditures of Rs. 773.23 billion, current capital expenditures of Rs. 27.3 billion and development expenditures of Rs. 343.91 billion. This shows a deficit of Rs. 20.457 billion. (DAWN: May 23, 2018)

Sindh Government launches Youth Policy:

Sindh Youth Minister, Abid Hussain Bhayo, while speaking at the launch of the much-awaited Sindh Youth Policy prepared with technical support of Bargad, an organisation for youth development and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said that Student Unions will be revived and remodelled to promote pro-peace, women-friendly and student-centred activities on campus. Five per cent seats will also be reserved for young people in local bodies. Some 600 participants, including Provincial Ministers, Government Officials, International Donors and members of Civil Society, attended the event. The Youth Minister announced that under the policy, a Youth Development Commission and a Youth Venture Capital Fund would be established by the government. The minister said under the policy youth would be engaged in decision-making at the Municipal and Provincial levels. (DAWN: May 27, 2018)

Balochistan:

CM Balochistan accuses Centre of spending Balochistan’s funds on Punjab:

Balochistan Chief Minister, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, while talking to reporters at the Quetta Press Club, has said that the next year’s budget of the province suffers from a huge deficit because the federal government has failed to fulfil its promise of giving the province its due share under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). He deplored that the Centre had also failed to announce the new National Finance Commission (NFC) Award over the last four years. He said that with the passage of time the financial condition of the province was worsening and if the situation was not reversed and the federal government did not change its attitude towards the province, no resources would be left with the Balochistan government for its Annual Development Programme (ADP) in the next three years. (DAWN: May 21, 2018)

Balochistan Assembly approves budget 2018-19:

The Balochistan Assembly has approved a provincial budget of over Rs. 308.33 billion for the fiscal year 2018-19, including Rs. 88.24 billion for developmental sector and Rs. 220.8 billion for non-developmental expenditure. The session was chaired by Speaker Raheela Hameed Khan Durrani. Speaking in the House, Chief Minister, Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, said his government has presented an exemplary budget for next year, which would address problems of the people of province. He said that the main focus in the budget was on health, education and provision of clean water. The approved budget included an amount of Rs. 71.46 million for provincial vegetation, Rs. 4.38 million for stamps, Rs. 20 billion for pensions, Rs. 1.80 billion for judicial management, Rs. 32.72 million for legal services and legal matters, Rs. 15.16 million for the Provincial Ombudsman, Rs. 29.11 million for Department of Prosecution, Rs. 18.62 billion for Police Department, Rs. 4.45 billion for Police Constabulary, Rs. 8.91 billion for Levies, Rs. 12.78 million for Civil Defence, Rs. 8. 95 billion for Civil Works (including establishment charge), Rs. 3.82 billion for health services, Rs. 88.53 billion for higher education, and Rs. 43.87 billion for secondary education. (Nation: May 22, 2018)

GB/FATA/AJK:

GB Order 2018 promulgated:

GB government on Monday formally promulgated Gilgit Baltistan Order 2018 which provides for devolution of greater administrative authority and financial powers to it. Addressing a press conference, Provincial Law Minister, Aurangzeb, and Information Adviser, Shams Mir, said it was a historic and consensus initiative which would bring the Gilgit Baltistan region on par with other provinces of the country in terms of socio-economic development. Referring to the opposition, they said political orphans took to social media to do propaganda against such measures and mislead masses through bogus documents but finally they got exposed and the GB Order 2018 was enforced which features reforms on judicial, legislative and administrative levels. They said these drastic reforms had been basic demands of people of the area and now they were witnessing the same materialising in the shape of GB Order 2018 which guaranteed all fundamental rights to the people of the area. (Nation: May 22, 2018)

AJK unveils annual budget:

The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Government on Monday presented 2018-19 budget with a historic outlay of Rs. 108.2 billion. Finance Minister, Dr. Najeeb Naqi, presented the budget in the special budget session of Azad Jammu Kashmir Legislative Assembly, which met in the state’s capital city with Speaker Shah Ghulam Qadir in the chair. With Rs. 25.2 billion allocation for development, the budget proposals show Rs. 2.3 billion increase in development budget against Rs. 23.28 billion in the fiscal year 2017-18. The government proposed Rs. 82.70 billion for non-development expenditures that include an increase in the salaries of government employees and raise in the pension of retired employees. The finance minister announced 10% increase in the basic salaries of government employees and 50%increase in their house rent while retired employees or families will get 10% raise in the pensions. The budget document shows that Rs. 53.37 billion will separately be provided by the federal government to execute different development projects being implemented by Kashmir Affairs and other ministries. (Nation: May 22, 2018)

Newsletter No. 87/ May 07, to May 13, 2018

Islamabad:

Centre blames provincial governments for power theft:

On Tuesday May 08, the Centre asked the four chief ministers to extend their personal support to address the menace of electricity theft in their provinces that had caused over Rs. 50 billion losses to the distribution companies in the first nine months of the current financial year. In identical letters to the chief ministers, Federal Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Leghari complained that the provinces had not been responsive to his efforts to minimise electricity theft and none of the four chief ministers had agreed to meet him over the past few months to resolve the long-standing issue. The minister recalled that he had sought the chief ministers’ support on March 20 over the “dire need of support from law enforcing agencies for safeguarding staff and installations of power distribution companies during crackdown operation on pilferers and prompt registration of FIRs for curbing the theft and proceeding against the culprits”. (DAWN: May 09, 2018)

NA passes the Transgender Rights Bill:

The government set a rare example by holding private members’ day during the budget session with an agenda of 130 items and passed nine bills of the opposition members and three presented by the government. Apart from the agenda items, the National Assembly also discussed the issues of load-shedding in Sindh, a recent clash in Karachi between workers of the Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, proposed merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and facilities given to suspended police officer Rao Anwar, who is facing a case of extrajudicial killing. The house passed the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2018, aimed at ensuring the rights of transgender persons. The bill, which had already been passed by the Senate, was moved by Syed Naveed Qamar of the PPP. (DAWN: May 09, 2018)

Sindh misreporting water losses:

Sindh Irrigation Department is misreporting the water losses and has reported a huge loss of 124,700 cusecs in just nine days of the current month. Indus River System Authority (IRSA) has showed serious concern over the excessive losses of up to 43 percent in some sections of Taunsa Guddu area, being reported by Sindh Irrigation Department, and has warned that it may cause unrest between the provinces. According to IRSA official, Sindh Irrigation Department is showing excessive loss to pressurise the water regulatory body and the federal government for extra favour. There are some water loses all over the country as forecasted by the IRSA’s Advisory Committee but showing such a huge loss in the water supplies to non-perennial/rice cultivated canals of Sindh and Balochistan is because of misreporting of the Sindh government. In the first 9 days of the current month (May 1 to 9), the Sindh government has reported a cumulative loss of 124,700 cusecs water from Taunsa to Kotri Barrage which is abnormal. On one single day of May 9, the losses were 16,400 cusecs. (Nation: May 10, 2018)

JPSM and PTI vow to make new province in South Punjab:

Junubi Punjab Suba Mahaz (JPSM) merged with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). PTI released a list carrying the names of 20 JPSM leaders, including five members of National Assembly and 13 members of the Punjab Assembly, and claimed that they had agreed to join the PTI. The merger is said to have taken place on the basis of a demand for a separate province comprising cities and areas of southern Punjab though the development is quite significant with general elections just around the corner. While addressing the joint conference, PTI chief Imran Khan and JPSM President, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, had announced the merger between the two sides. Mr. Khan categorically said his party would not make alliance with any other party except Maulana Samil Haq’s Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI). The merger is said to have taken place on the basis of a demand for a separate province comprising cities and areas of southern Punjab though the development is quite significant with general elections just around the corner. Both sides also pledged that they would work under the PTI umbrella to give due rights to the people of southern Punjab. (DAWN: May 10, 2018)

Senate passes bill for establishment of Healthcare Regulatory Authority:

The Senate on Friday, May 11, passed the Islamabad Healthcare Regulatory Authority (IHRA) Bill and one for granting university status to the Health Services Academy (HSA). Both bills have already been passed by the National Assembly and will become law as soon as they are signed by the President. Due to the IHRA bill, the federal government will for the first time have legal power to hold private hospitals and testing laboratories to account. The bill will also empower patients to seek compensation against negligence by private medical facilities. The IHRA will not only regulate medical facilities, it will also award licenses for particular services they offer, such as for conducing caesarean sections. (DAWN: May 12, 2018)

Punjab:

Saaf Dehat Project hits a snag due to funding issues:

The Punjab government’s much-trumpeted Saaf Dehat (Clean Villages) Programme has hit a snag owing to “over-budgeting” by the Local Government Department and eventual ban slapped by the Election Commission of Pakistan on funding the ongoing development schemes and projects. As per official sources, the political wrangling for more and more funds for national and provincial assemblies’ constituencies and the Local Government and Community Development (LG&CD) Departments’ inability to put forward a “realistic” demand for budget has resulted in uncalled for delay in release of funding for the last quarter of the ongoing financial year 2018-19. It is reliably learnt that the LG&CD Department had been seeking a sum of Rs. 2.3 billion for the last two months of the current fiscal year, besides re-appropriating funds from one scheme to another, while the Finance Department continued telling it that there were only Rs. 1.57 billion allocated for the purpose. By the time the discrepancy was rectified, it was too late. (DAWN: May 07, 2018)

Cabinet restores 20% job quota for South Punjab:

A meeting of the provincial cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, approved restoration of job quota for three divisions of southern Punjab. The 20% quota in government jobs has been restored for Bahawalpur, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions in addition to districts of Bhakkar and Mianwali. The meeting also approved renaming the Punjab Coal Mining Company as Punjab Mineral Company. Addressing the meeting, the chief minister said that public welfare and development of South Punjab was his priority and the PML-N government had taken unprecedented steps for development in the region. He included that provision of 36 percent of resources for 31 percent of population is part of this commitment. He said that people of the region were fully benefiting from the mega projects completed at a cost of billions of rupees and this will continue in the future as well. Provincial ministers, advisers, special assistants, Chief Secretary and the Inspector General of Police attended the meeting. (Nation: May 08, 2018)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:

Nazims threaten to protest if ECP orders suspension for General Elections:

The Local Council Association (LCA) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on Tuesday May 08, rejected the possible suspension of local government representatives by the Election Commission of Pakistan during the upcoming general elections. The members of LCA threatened to take to the streets if ECP suspended them. During a meeting of the Board of Governors of LCA here on Tuesday, the participants rejected the prospect of suspension of the local government representatives for a term of 90 days. However, a senior official of ECP, when contacted, ruled out suspension of the representatives of the local bodies. (DAWN: May 09, 2018)

PHC declares non-applicability of labour laws on Private Schools illegal:

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has declared the provincial government’s move to end the applicability of labour laws, including the one about the minimum wages, to the private educational institutions in the province through amendments to them illegal. Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim accepted a petition filed by lawyer Saleem Shah Hoti challenging the end of applicability of labour laws to privately-owned schools and colleges. The petitioner claimed that several lawmakers, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly’s speaker, owned educational institutions and therefore, the laws were amended to end their applicability to private schools and colleges. (DAWN: May 12, 2018)

Sindh:

SEPA raises concern over unsafe coal project:
In a letter to the chairman of the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) and the project developer, Huaneng Fuyun Port and Shipping (Pvt) Ltd, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has raised objection that the Port Qasim Authority (PQA) has allowed major coal handling operations in its jurisdiction with complete disregard for public health and environmental safety, and without waiting for a decision by the SEPA on the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report.  It is the third time SEPA has raised concerns over this project whose EIA it did not get approved in 2016 and the project developer was asked to remove ‘deficiencies’ identified in the report. The letter included that SEPA is further disappointed by the fact that instead of receiving a response from Huaneng Fuyun Port and Shipping (Pvt) Ltd and PQA, they have rushed through the project in utter disregard for the provisions of Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014. (DAWN: May 07, 2018)

Sindh government to fund AKTU for Hepatitis Control Programme:

The Sindh government has announced winding up of its Hepatitis Control Programme and said it would now provide funds to Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of Hepatitis C patients in the province. Health Secretary Dr. Fazlullah Pechuho said that they have signed an agreement with Aga Khan University Hospital, under which the government would provide Rs. 219 million to the network for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of thousands of Hepatitis C patients, initially in the Larkana and Nawabshah districts of Sindh. Earlier, Dr. Pechuho had signed the agreement with AKUH Chief Executive Officer Johannes (Hans) Theodorus Kedzierski. Dr. Pechuho added that the funds which used to be allocated for the programme in the Annual Development Programme (ADP) would now be given to the AKUH for the eradication of the disease from the province. (Nation: May 08, 2018)

Sindh Cabinet approves creation of private education board:

The Sindh cabinet approved, in principle, the creation of a private education board to conduct examinations of higher secondary education, as well as draft laws to refer to the assembly to carry out amendments to relevant acts for ensuring due rights to home-based workers, environmental protection bodies, laws for ensuring right of way for ambulances and regularisation of contract doctors, and other paramedical staff, veterinary doctors, and 2,601 work-charged employees of Left Bank Outfall Drain (LBOD). The cabinet, which met here on Tuesday May 08 at the secretariat with Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah in the chair, took some important decisions, including appointing executive director of NICVD Prof Dr. Syed Nadeem Rizvi, who was retiring soon, for another four years, on the recommendation of the selection committee. The draft laws as approved by the cabinet include creation of the Ziauddin University Board of Higher Secondary Education recalling that the cabinet in its meeting on December 11, 2017 had decided that there should be some essential requirements for private education boards. The cabinet approved organisational, legal, financial and other related formalities and requirements. (DAWN: May 09, 2018)

Sindh government presents budget:

Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday May 10, presented a Rs. 1,144.448 billion tax-free budget with Rs. 343.90 billion development outlay for the financial year 2018-19. He requested the house to authorise expenditure for only three months — from July 1 to Sept 30. Mr. Shah said that the provincial development budget included Rs. 252 billion for ADP 2018-19 out of which Rs. 202 billion (80%) had been allocated for 2,226 ongoing schemes, while new schemes of all departments would be accommodated under the block provision of Rs. 50 billion, being 20% of the development budget, earmarked separately as ‘Block Allocation’ for new schemes to be decided by the next government for all sectors in the ADP. In addition, Rs. 30 billion have been allocated for district level ADP. The revised estimates for total receipts of the province for the current financial year are Rs. 966.6 billion as against budget estimates of Rs. 1,028.9 billion. Revenues are expected to increase by 13%, even though the budget contains no new tax measures. The additional Rs. 107 billion is largely coming from an expected increase in federal transfers and sales tax collected by the provincial revenue authorities, as well as a slew of miscellaneous “other taxes”, such as on electricity, property and stamp duty. Revenue from agricultural income remains negligible at Rs. 1 billion. The Sindh government has allocated Rs. 208.23 billion, or 27%of the 2018-19 budget, for the education sector, against the health sector’s Rs. 96.38 billion. The amount for education includes allocation for higher education, technical education, special education and medical education. This allocation is an increase of 14.6% over last year’s allocation of Rs. 181.5 billion. (DAWN: May 11, 2018) (DAWN: May 11, 2018) (DAWN: May 11, 2018)

Cuts in Federal transfers obstacle in Sindh’s development; CM Sindh:

Chief Minister Sindh, Murad Ali Shah on Friday May 11, said that delays and reduction in federal transfers had been gravely affecting development works in Sindh as Islamabad slashed Rs. 34 billion during last fiscal year and had to transfer Rs. 175 billion in the coming two months as per its promises. Mr. Shah, while addressing the post-budget press conference at the auditorium of the New Sindh Assembly Building, said that the federal government had promised Rs. 627 billion for the current fiscal and revised it to Rs. 598 billion, yet, Sindh has received only Rs.429bn so far. He said Islamabad had provided Rs. 34 billion less than what had been promised to Sindh for fiscal year 2016-17. He questioned claims of the Federal Finance Ministry and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) that they had met the targets of tax collection. (DAWN: May 12, 2018)