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State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra has said that the SBP and the Central Bank of Iran will sign an agreement soon that will allow Pakistani and Iranian exporters to settle their claims through the SBP and the Central Bank of Iran, respectively. Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Friday, he said that the cabinet committee had accorded approval to the agreement between the two banks. “Trade with Iran is very close to my heart. I am pursuing since my appointment without wasting any moment,” he added. LCCI President Abdul Basit, Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan, Minister for Industries Sheikh Alauddin, MNA Pervez Malik and top officials of the SBP, including Deputy Governor Saeed Ahmad, also spoke on the occasion. The governor said that the agreement would help boost mutual trade volume. He said that in Pakistan and India, credit to GDP ratio was correlated to tax-to-GDP ratio that is around 11 percent and 26 percent in Pakistan and India, respectively.


Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif Friday presided over a high-level meeting to review progress on the provision of standardised and top quality medical facilities to the public, source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. Addressing the meeting, the chief minister said quality medical facilities were the basic right of all citizens and the Punjab government was carrying out every possible effort to improve the healthcare system in line with the wishes of the people. He said support of Turkey to improve the healthcare system in Punjab was praiseworthy and the Punjab government would get benefit from the Turkish expertise and experience in the health sector. He said that provision of the standardised health facilities at hospitals was his prime objective. Health experts from Turkey briefed the chief minister on the recommendations for the improvement in the healthcare system. Provincial ministers Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, Khawaja Slaman Rafique, Khawaja Imran Nazir, Adviser Dr Umer Saif, additional chief secretary, secretaries of the departments concerned and health experts from Turkey attended the meeting. Separately, the chief minister chaired a high-level meeting to review progress on the Health Reforms Programme and efforts to improve healthcare system, source added to him.


The Sindh High Court was informed on Friday that all wine shops across the province were sealed following its orders. Ghulam Mustafa Mahesar, the provincial law officer, submitted the compliance report of excise and taxation department’s director general to the division bench headed by Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. He told the judges that all wine shops throughout the province were sealed in compliance with its orders and the record about their sale and stock was taken into custody. Earlier on Thursday, the court had directed the excise and taxation department’s DG to immediately seal all the liquor shops operating in violation of the Hudood Ordinance 1979 and submit compliance report. The court gave the Sindh government 30 days to come up with a mechanism in consultation with the stakeholders, including members of non-Muslim communities and wine shop owners, to ensure that a practical, transparent and viable mechanism is put forward, so that only the licensed wine shops will sell wine and liquor to non-Muslims locals and foreigners in limited quantities on occasion of their religious ceremonies. Plea for initiation of Contempt Proceedings: Another bench directed the provincial authorities to respond to an application seeking contempt proceedings against them for failing to take steps to include human rights as a subject in the secondary curriculum.


The World Wildlife Day was observed on Friday, and for the day this year the theme was set “listening to the young voices” highlights the vital role of youth in tackling conservation issues. It also provides an opportunity to engage and empower the youth who can make a significant contribution towards species conservation in the country. In a message on the World Wildlife Day 2017, Hammad Naqi Khan Director General, WWF-Pakistan on World Wildlife Day 2017 claimed that between 1970 and 2012 nearly 58 per cent of all vertebrates including fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals have been wiped out directly as a result of human appetite and activities. If the prevailing trend continues by 2020, the planet will have lost two-thirds of its wildlife species. This can only be reversed if we accelerate and intensify our actions and investments which support wildlife conservation in the long run, he added. Human activities and the accompanying use of non-renewable natural resources have grown so dramatically that since the mid-20th century, environmental conditions that fostered our development and growth are beginning to deteriorate, he added. In Pakistan, the endangered wildlife species particularly freshwater and marine cetaceans, Indus river dolphins, turtles, gyps vultures, and snow and common leopards are suffering due to different threats.



Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bosan Friday told the Senate that the government allocated Rs 27.96 billion in current budget for subsidy on fertilizer, source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. During question hour in the House, the minister said the government was providing cash subsidy to farmers on fertilizers in order to bolster agriculture growth. He said the subsidy was allocated for the entire subsidy scheme, including Rs 17.16 billion for Urea and Rs 10.80 billion for DAP fertilizer on the basis of equal sharing of federal and provincial governments. He said despite the exhaustion of these funds, the scheme was continuing on the direction of Prime Minister, Muhammed Nawaz Sharif. Sikandar Bosan said the government had reduced sales tax to seven percent from 17 percent on imported machinery and equipment for agriculture sector. The minister said customs duty on import of agriculture related machinery had also been reduced from five percent to two percent to promote use of machinery in agriculture sector. He said the ministry was mainly responsible for policy formulation, economic coordination and planning for food security in the country. The main task also included procurement of food grains, fertilizer import and price stabilization of agriculture produce, international liaison, and economic studies for framing agricultural policies, source added to him.


Tea import into the country during first seven months of current financial year reduced by 6.33 percent as compared to the corresponding period of last year, Kamal Hayder-Research Analyst-PAGE said. During the period from July-January about 124,765 metric tons of tea valuing US$ 305.414 million imported to fulfill the domestic requirements of the commodity. Tea import into the country during first seven months of last finance year was recorded at 105,941 metric tons valuing US$ 326.53 million. On month on month basis, tea import into the country in January, 2017 increased by 4.14 percent as against the import of same month of last year. About 19,522 metric tons of tea valuing US$ 48.9 million imported in month of January, 2017 as compared the import of 14,886 metric tons worth US$ 46.100 million of same month of last year. Meanwhile, spices import in 7 months also decreased by 7.71 percent and reached at 93,016 metric tons valuing US$ 75.959 million as against the import of 89,633 metric tons worth US$ 82.309 million of same period of last year. On month on month basis, spices import into the country decreased by 19.4 percent in January, 2017 as about 16,103 metric tons of spices worth US$ 11.10 million imported as compared the import of 12,478 metric tons valuing US$ 13.71 million of same month last year. It may be recalled that over all food group import into the country during last 7 months increased by 11.68 percent and reached at US$ 3.444 billion against US$ 3.83 billion of same period of last year, he added.


Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO) Asadullah said power theft was the main reason of loadsheding and this problem could not be effectively controlled until the culture of electricity theft was completely curbed. He expressed these views while talking to the media at Hyderabad press club on Friday. It’s not possible to stop the power outages unless power theft and kunda system doesn’t end, he said. The CEO informed that since he assumed the charge in August, 2016, the crackdown against the defaulting consumers and electricity thieves had been expedited. As many as 48,000 connections of the consumers who had defaulted payment of their utility bills as well as 38,000 illegal connections had been cut off since then, he added. We are also taking stringent action against the HESCO employees who are found involved or colluding with the electricity theft, he said and added that 12 employees had been fired in that regard so far. Responding to a question, Asadullah informed that the areas with high percentage of default were earlier facing either extended hours of outages from the feeder or their transformers were removed. He acknowledged that such a punitive action adversely affected the consumers who regularly pay the bills. Therefore, he added, the company had started to provide small transformers in such areas so that the genuine consumers were not affected. The CEO informed that the company owes over Rs. 71 billion in payables from its consumers including both the government and private consumers. He added that the Sindh government had to pay Rs. 29.3 billion to HESCO while the unpaid bills of the private consumers had accrued to Rs39.84 billion.


Provincial Minister for Specialized Healthcare & Medical Education Khawaja Salman Rafique on Friday said the government and private sector could jointly cope with health challenges. He said the government was promoting cooperation with private hospitals for providing quality medical facilities to the people. Besides upgradation of hospitals, new hospitals were being constructed, he added. He stated this while addressing the inaugural session of second 3-day conference held in connection with cardiac and respiratory diseases at Gulab Devi Hospital. Chairman Gulab Devi Hospital Syed Shahid Ali, MS Dr. Hamid, Prof. Ashraf, Prof. Zubair and a large number of local and foreign delegates were present on the occasion. Kh. Salman Rafique said that Gulab Devi Hospital had an excellent history and it had rendered invaluable services for providing treatment facilities to the poor patients. He said that the recommendations of 3-day international conference would prove to be fruitful regarding treatment of cardiac and respiratory diseases and added the government would consider recommendations of the conference. He said that on the instructions of Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, implementation had been started on revamping project for equipping all DHQ and THQ hospitals of the province with modern medical equipments and other facilities. He said that increasing population and as a result, load of diseases was a great challenge for the government and the experts, for which, the experts would have to come forward to cope with it. He said that 40 hospitals would be revamped up to August 2017. Kh. Salman Rafique said that increase of many hundreds of beds had been made during the last three years in teaching hospitals and added that presently four hospitals comprising 500-bed each were under construction.

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