RELATIONS WITH PAK DEEPENING: TAJIKISTAN
President of the Republic of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon expressed his satisfaction with the strengthening and expansion of the multilateral ties with Pakistan since the establishment of diplomatic relations. In a meeting with Federal Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif, the Tajik leader stressed that the relations between the two countries have grown rapidly in the field of energy and security. Both sides highly appreciated the results of Pak-Tajik cooperation in the field of security and defense to combat challenges and threats in the region as well as the fight against terrorism and extremism. Both the leaders discussed the issues of cooperation in the areas of mutual importance, including energy, oil and gas, use of transport and transit opportunities. The two leaders deemed it reasonable to revitalize the Joint Working Group on Energy and Infrastructure Issues and the effective work of its Joint Subgroup on Oil and Gas Cooperation in the field of implementation of CASA-1000 power project. In order to increase the volume of trade turnover between the two countries, taking into account the great opportunities in this direction, it was suggested to use the effective activity of the Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation. Meanwhile, Khawaja Asif met with Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirojidin Aslov. Both leaders discussed matters of mutual interest. Khawaja Asif is in Dushanbe to discuss progress on CASA-1000 and other issues in order to cement relations between the two countries. Ambassador of Tajikistan to Pakistan Sherali Jononov is also in Dushanbe to facilitate visit of Pakistani delegation to Dushanbe.
ISHAQ REVIEWS CDA DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
Finance Minister, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar on Friday called upon senior officials of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to put in their best for development of the federal capital, besides ensuring an attractive and serene environment for the residents, source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. The minister was chairing a meeting with the officials to review different development activities in Islamabad and adjoining areas. Minister of State for CADD, Dr. Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Mayor Islamabad and senior officials of Ministry of Finance, CADD and CDA participated in the meeting. The chairman CDA briefed the minister about the ongoing development programmes of CDA. The meeting was informed that CDA was making all out efforts to make Islamabad a modern metropolis. He also informed the minister about the arrangements in place for maintenance and upkeep of the capital. The minister said the government would fully support CDA in its efforts to develop Islamabad into a model capital, with all basic amenities and facilities for its citizens, under the guidance and leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. The finance minister also asked CDA to develop housing sector for overseas Pakistanis to provide them profitable, safe and secure investment and residential opportunities. He further said full use of latest available information technology be made for maximum facilitation of overseas investors with respect to registration, land records and all documentary processes related to purchase of properties in the proposed sector by overseas Pakistanis, source added.
FDI IN PAKISTAN DROPS 21PC IN FEBRUARY
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Pakistan decreased 21% to $123 million in February, compared with the same month of the previous year when it amounted to $155 million, Kamal Hayder-Research Analyst-PAGE said. However, cumulative FDI increased 6% to $1.285 billion in the first eight months (Jul-Feb) of the ongoing fiscal year 2016-17, compared with $1.212 billion in the same period of the previous year. Pakistan has been recording low levels of foreign investment since 2008. Many foreign investors especially from western countries have pulled out because of a persistent energy crisis, poor governance and security challenges. Pakistan received $5.4 billion in fiscal year 2008, which was the highest FDI in the country’s history. Kamal further said that at a time when western investors are withdrawing their investments from Pakistan, Chinese investors are pouring cash mainly due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. However, the Netherlands leads the list of leading foreign investors in Pakistan in the first eight months (Jul-Feb) of 2016-17 – its pole position comes on back of the $448-million Engro Foods’ acquisition that FrieslandCampina completed during the ongoing fiscal year. Overall, FDI inflows from the Netherlands touched $455 million in the first eight months (Jul-Feb) of the current fiscal year 2016-17 compared with just $38 million in the same period of last year. China came at second place with total FDI inflows of $274 million in the first eight months, down by a massive 49% compared with $538 million in the same period last year. France came at number three with $140 million in the first eight months of 2016-17 compared with $60 million in the same period of last year. Turkey was at number four as it brought investments of $131 million in the eight months of 2016-17 compared with just $8.3 million in the corresponding period of last year. Construction sector attracted $156 million in the first eight months of fiscal year 2016-17, up by a significant 346% compared to just $35 million in the same period last year. The power sector attracted $258 million in the first eight months, down 52% compared with $533 million in the same period of last year, he added.
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT WILL PUSH AHEAD WITH PAKISTAN TEXTILE CITY PROJECT’
The Sindh government has decided to continue Pakistan Textile City Limited in partnership with Port Qasim Authority (PQA), said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while presiding over a special meeting on the project. Despite some quarters trying to adversely affect Pakistan Textile City Limited, the government is working hard to bring in investment. The chief minister said that the textile city has a huge potential and his government would make all-out efforts to launch it with all the facilities like water, gas and drainage among others. Industries Minister Manzoor Wassan said that the chief minister has personally visited the project site, which stretches over 1,250 acres at PQA. PQA Chairman Agha Jan Akhtar also said that the project was viable if all the issues being faced by the project are resolved. Briefing the chair, industries secretary said that the paid-up capital of the company is Rs1,250 million, out of which the federal government has contributed Rs500 million and has 40% shareholding. Further, federal and provincial governments have contributed Rs199 million and Rs271 million respectively for a water supply line from Dhabeji being constructed by the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board. The chief minister constituted a committee with Akhtar and Industries Secretary Raheem Soomro to visit the project and review the facilities so far developed and required.
RUPEE WEAKENS AGAINST DOLLAR
The rupee weakened against the dollar at 104.5/104.7 in the inter-bank market on Friday compared to Thursday’s close of 104.45/104.65, Kamal Hayder, Research Analyst-PAGE said. The currency market has fluctuated regularly in recent months with hefty rises and falls on some occasions. In the long run, however, the rupee has stood firm after experiencing extensive volatility, when it weakened from around Rs98 to a dollar to above Rs103 in the wake of political impasse over alleged election rigging. Earlier, the rupee remained glued to the Rs98 level for months, recovering from the historic low of Rs110. It came under pressure following heavy debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other creditors, which ate into the central bank’s foreign currency reserves. In 2013-14, the reserves, however, swelled more than 50%, thanks to IMF and other assistance and growing remittances sent home by overseas Pakistanis, he added.
SINDH WILL ACHIEVE SDGS, MINISTER TELLS
Minister Planning and Development Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani said that Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2000-2015 are still pending due to inconsistent policies and weak institutional structure. However, he said the present Sindh government is fully committed to achieving the targets set in sustainable development goals (SDGs) 2030. Therefore, a support unit is being created in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to obtain said targets. He said this while speaking at a seminar identifying priorities for Sustainable Development Goals 2030 frame work for Sindh jointly held by UNDP and Planning and Development Sindh. According to Bijarani, eradication of poverty and hunger, provision of basic health facilities, standard education, clean drinking water, energy and environment are the top priorities of the Sindh government included in SDGs 2030. Bijarani informed that from procedural planning to resource management, all necessary preparations to achieve the SDGs have already been finalised by the Planning and Development Department Sindh. He lauded the role of UNDP for their genuine cooperation and support in various projects. UN resident coordinator Paul Martin, renowned economist Kaiser Bengali, Secretary Planning and Development Rehana Memon and many others participated in the seminar.
FILM PRODUCTION & BROADCAST STRATEGY ON CARDS TO ENCOURAGE INDIGENOUS ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY: MARRIYUM
Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb on Friday informed the National Assembly that the government was going to launch film production and broadcasting policy to encourage indigenous entertainment industry in the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, , source said to Research Analyst-PAGE. The minister said that Pakistan’s Film Industry was one of the largest film industries of Asia in the early sixties and late seventies. She informed the House that around 160 to 180 films were being produced annually by the industry; however the number of films nosedived to almost zero by 2007. Most cinemas of the country had been closed and converted into shopping plazas, she added. Regarding foreign content, particularly Indian, the minister said the government has a very strict censorship policy in that regard under the Motion Picture Ordinance 1979.
Marriyum Aurangzeb said that indigenous industry flourished whenever alternative entertainment was developed and the present government was focusing on how to control the foreign content. The Minister said there was no official ban on the state-censored and regulated public exhibition of Indian feature films at the cinema houses under the Motion Picture Ordinance, 1979. She said the existing policy framework of the federal government to all exhibitions of foreign cinematographic films in Pakistani cinemas was consistent with the policy approved by the then Prime Minister in 2007. She said the Central Board of Film Censors has the power to censor the contents which are against our social norms and national interests. Replying to another question, Marriyum Aurangzeb said the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) still enjoyed ascendency over other TV channels with respect to country-wide outreach.
TWENTY NINE MEMBERS CHINESE BUSINESS DELEGATION VISITS ICCI
A 29-member delegation of Chinese companies visited Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), led by Yin Lin Bing, Secretary General, Worldwide Business Culture Exchange Centre. Wang Zihai, President, Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also accompanied the delegation. The delegation was representing various sectors, including power generation, manufacturers of transformers and electrical equipment, hydropower construction, transport, automobile, textile and clothing, food processing, mechanical and electrical trade, construction and real estate development, ship management services, mining machinery, pharmaceuticals, service industry and others. Speaking on the occasion, Yin Lin Bing, Secretary General, Worldwide Business Culture Exchange Centre (WBCEC) of China said that in pursuit of Chinese president’s One Belt One Road strategy, WBCEC was taking Chinese business delegations to various countries. He said so far WBCEC has taken Chinese delegations to 29 countries and signed contracts and MoUs of more than $50 billion.