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PUNJAB GOVT TO SLAP BAN ON IMPORT OF TYRE SCRAP

Punjab Minister of Industries, Commerce and Investment Sheikh Alauddin has emphasised that the government will ensure the application of environmental laws and more compliance by the industries in an effort to tackle pollution in the province. “Plastic industry is being relocated to other areas (and) we are now going to impose a ban on the import of tyre scrap,” he said while talking to media at the 3P+FT Pakistan 2017 – the 13th International Plastic, Printing & Packaging and FT Food & Technology Pakistan Exhibition that commenced at the Expo Centre Lahore on Friday.

COTTON FARMERS SWITCHING TO MAIZE, SUNFLOWER CROPS

The decision of the Punjab government to ban cotton sowing before April 15 has forced farmers in many districts to shift to planting other crops, which has sparked fears that the country may miss the cotton production target in the new season. According to Cotton Ginners Forum Chairman Ihsanul Haq, the Punjab government has put restrictions on cotton sowing before mid-April under Section 144 believing that it will save the crop from pink bollworm. Owing to the curbs, farmers in the cotton producing districts of Sahiwal, Multan and Faisalabad have decided to plant maize, sunflower and potato on idle arable land, which may hurt current season’s cotton production target. In the 2015-16 season, cotton production had gone down by around 30 percent. However, in the current season, the harvest has so far been up 10 percent.

HERE’S HOW MUCH MORE PAKISTANI OIL CONSUMERS ARE PAYING THAN WORLDWIDE PRICES

Following the dip in global crude oil prices, the government has burdened petroleum consumers with heavy taxes, especially those relying on petrol and high-speed diesel, which are widely used in cars, heavy vehicles and agriculture machinery. Consumers have been paying up to 38 percent higher price for petroleum products compared to prices prevailing in the international market as the government struggles to make up for the revenue shortfall. Among petroleum products, diesel is consumed the most and it is extensively used in the agriculture and transport sectors. Its high price hurts farmers and triggers an increase in inflation as passenger travel and goods transportation becomes expensive. According to a report prepared and sent by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority to the Economic Coordination Committee, the previous fiscal year was the worst for Pakistan’s oil consumers during which they paid the highest rate of general sales tax (GST) on diesel. Consumers paid up to Rs29.57 in GST on every litre of diesel during 2015-16 along with Rs6 in petroleum levy, the report revealed. They also paid up to Rs15.22 in GST on per litre of petrol, Rs13.18 per litre on kerosene oil and Rs12.21 per litre on light diesel oil (LDO), which were the highest tax rates charged for a few months.

K-ELECTRIC: GOVERNMENT, NOT CONSUMERS, TO BENEFIT FROM TARIFF CUT

The federal government will be the ultimate beneficiary of the recent cut in power tariff of K-Electric, and not end-consumers, while the power utility takes a financial hit. The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has recently reduced K-Electric’s multi-year tariff by Rs3.5 per unit to an average of Rs12.07 for the next seven years.

A senior Nepra official told to Kamal Hayder, Research Analyst-PAGE that a uniform power tariff was imposed on end-consumers across the country and different tariffs set for power companies were not actually charged from the end-users. “Tariffs for end-consumers are kept uniform across the country by (either) paying a subsidy or collecting surcharges from them,” he said.

INDIA’S MODI GREETS PM ON PAKISTAN DAY

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the occasion of 77th Pakistan day which was marked on Thursday, March 23. Citing sources, the local and Indian media said the Indian premier conveyed his felicitations via a letter written to Prime Minister Sharif. The letter read that the Indian government holds maintaining strong ties with all neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, as its top priority. India wants such relations in an atmosphere free of terrorism and enmity. It is pertinent to mention that, The 77th Pakistan Day was celebrated under tight security across the country with national zeal. The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salutes in the provincial capitals. The important feature of the day was the joint military parade, which was held at the Parade Ground near the Shakarparian hills. This is the first time that tri services of People’s Liberation Army of China, contingents from Saudi Special Force and the Turkish band, popularly known as ‘Mehteran’ participated in the military parade. Prime Minister Sharif, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sohail Aman and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also witnessed the parade. Chief of South African National Defence Force General Solly Zacharia was also present on the occasion. The ceremony commenced with the singing of the national anthem, after which President Mamnoon Hussain inspected the parade from a jeep. Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, led the flypast of the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy aviation in an F-16 plane. Later, the formations of F-16, JF-17 thunder, Mirage, AWACs, P3-C Orion and F-7 presented salute to the chief guest by flying over the dais during the ceremony. Troops which took part in the parade included contingents of the Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, 18 Punjab Regiment, 21 Frontier Force Regiment, 10 Northern Light Infantry Regiment, 760 Mujahid Battalion, Frontier Corps Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan Rangers Punjab, paratroopers, Pakistan police (represented by the Islamabad Police), Tri Services Lady Officers, Tri Services Armed Forces Nursing Services, Boy Scouts, Pakistan Girl Guides, Special Services Group (SSG) and bodyguards of President.

RS79,119.948MN RELEASED FOR MANY POWER, WATER PROJECTS SO FAR

The Planning Commission has released Rs 79,119.948 million against total allocation of Rs 161,816.37 million in annual Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2016-17 for various power and Power projects so far. According to the data of Planning Commission, a sum of Rs 69,814.400 million was released for power sector against total allocation of Rs. 130,100 million while Rs 9305.548 million was released against total 31,716.370 million for water projects. An amount of Rs.9676 million was released for construction of Diamer Basha dam, Rs.30,000 million each for 1200 MW LNG based power plants Baloki and Haveli Bahadurshah, Rs78.400 million for 132 KV Pasinzai Grid station with transmission line (Quetta) and Rs.60 million for 132 KV Sub Statio at Deep Sea Port Gwadar. Similarly, a sum of Rs 1000 million for Darwat dam, Rs.350 million for construction of small storage dams, Rs.1000 million for Kachi Canal Project (Phase-1), Rs.1200 million for Naji Gaj Dam, Rs.500 million for Lining of Irrigation Channels (Punjab), Rs 630 million for Remodeling of Warsak Canal, Rs.400 million for Raising of Mangla dam project and Rs.334 million for re-construction of Shahdi Kour dam.

PTDC: PIA TO SOON RESTORE ITS FLIGHTS TO SAIDU SHARIF

Managing Director Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Ch. Abdul Ghafoor on Friday said that Pakistan International Airelines (PIA) considering to restore its flights to Saidu Sharif, Swat which would increase tourists flow to the valley. Talking to PAGE-source, Managing Director PTDC said that people of Swat are very hospitable and ready to welcome tourists from all over the world. He said that he recently discussed the issues related to PIA flights restoration to Said Sharif and it is hoped that flights will be started soon. Ch. Abdul Ghafoor said the Swat valley was as ‘the Switzerland of Pakistan’, where one of the oldest civilizations thrived with beautiful natural scenic spots. He said that after restoration of peace there is great movement of tourist in the area. He expressed hope that a day is not far when tourists from all over the world will prefer to visit Swat valley. He said PTDC has three Motels and One Restaurant located in Saidu Sharif, Miandam, Kalam and Chakdara respectively these Motels and Restaurant were built for promotion of tourism when the private sector was shy to invest in this area. He said that these Motels and Restaurant are providing high standard facilities to tourists for the last many decades.

PARTICIPATION OF FRIENDLY COUNTRIES IN PARADE SHOWS CONFIDENCE: SAIRA

Minister of State for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar says on Friday participation of friendly countries in the parade shows confidence and cooperation between countries. Talking to PAGE-source she further said, March 23 was a spacious day in the history of Pakistan and they would make progress under the leadership of Prime Minister. We stand united against all internal and external enemies, she added. Minister highlighted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wanted to enhance relations with Central Asian States, neighboring and regional countries.

ECP INKS PACT FOR BIOMETRICS VERIFICATION OF VOTERS

Election Commission of Pakistan has signed a contract with Secure Tech Consultancy (Pvt) Limited for supply of biometrics verification system of voters to elect the members of national and provincial assemblies. The contract required the delivery of the biometrics verification system and 100 devices to be used as pilot project in the next bye-election to validate the accuracy and efficacy of the system. The findings of the pilot will form the basis of the strategy to implement this system during the next general election.

CHINA READY TO WORK WITH PAK TO MOVE FORWARD CPEC: CHINESE FO SPOKESPERSON

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday that China stood ready to work with Pakistan to move forward the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) so as to benefit the peoples of the two countries. The CPEC is a new cooperation framework set up by China and Pakistan to pursue long-term development. It is also an important project of the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said during her regular briefing. She said, it was important, not only in promoting common development for China and Pakistan, but also in promoting regional connectivity and common development and prosperity of regional countries. In advancing the CPEC, both China and Pakistan adhered to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, she added. The Spokesperson said, the dividends and benefits brought by the CPEC would be shared by people in China and Pakistan and in the region. Responding to a question, she rejected apprehensions that once the CPEC trade routes officially opened, Pakistan would be flooded with cheap Chinese products, which would make it hard for local Pakistani companies to survive. About participation of the Guards of Honor of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the military parade marking Pakistan’s Day, she said, at the invitation of the Pakistani military, honor guards of the three services of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army sent a formation to march in the military parade marking Pakistan’s Day. “China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners, and the Chinese and the Pakistani military maintain traditional friendship”, she added. Hua Chunying informed, in 2015, Pakistan sent a formation to take part in China’s military parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War.

Joining the Pakistani side in its military parade this time was another vivid testament to epitome of the high-level strategic mutual trust and friendly relations between the two countries and the two military, she added.

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