WORLDWIDE FIRMS COMPETE TO SET UP CONVERTER STATION IN PAKISTAN
The four countries that are part of the Central Asia-South Asia (Casa) 1,000-megawatt power supply project have opened for evaluation the technical bids received from international companies interested in providing and setting up converter stations for electricity transmission through an energy corridor. According to officials aware of the development, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan met in Dubai recently and opened technical bids filed by German, French, US and Chinese companies for the installation of converter stations under the Casa-1,000 project. The Central Asia-South Asia regional electricity market is planned to be developed in a phased manner through institutional arrangements and infrastructure building that will utilise Central Asia’s power resources to tackle energy shortages in South Asia. In a fresh tender, two Chinese companies, US-based General Electric, French firm Alstom, Siemens of Germany and Swedish company ABB submitted bids, expressing interest in providing converter stations, a senior government official said. One converter station each will be set up in Tajikistan and Pakistan. A year ago, bids had also been sought for the converter stations, which convert high-voltage direct current into alternating current or the reverse, but they were cancelled due to the high price offers made by Chinese companies.
BALOCHISTAN WANTS CHINESE HELPING HAND FOR ITS MINING SECTOR
Resource-rich Balochistan province wants Chinese companies to kick-start a boom in its mining industry by including the sector into Beijing’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, said a senior provincial mining official. Beijing has pledged $57 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship OBOR project that first focused on Chinese firms building roads and power stations but is now expanding to include setting up industries. Mineral extraction is a deeply contentious issue in Balochistan, where many indigenous people are angry that the province remains Pakistan’s poorest despite its vast mineral wealth. It has a significant natural gas industry but large-scale mining has failed to take off. Foreign firms have been put off by security fears and a high-profile litigation case with Canada’s Barrick Gold and Chile’s Antofagasta over Reko Diq, one of the world’s biggest undeveloped gold and copper mines, in the province. Saleh Muhammad Baloch, the province’s top mining official, said the plan is for Chinese companies chosen by Beijing to team up with local firms to mine marble, chromite, limestone, coal and other minerals and set up steel mills and other plants. They will come as partners and technically support us, Baloch, who is the province’s secretary for mines.
NAB INTRODUCES CITIZEN FRIENDLY NAB FOR BETTER INTERACTION WITH CITIZEN: QAMAR
National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has introduced Citizen Friendly NAB (CFN) initiative to reach out complainants and cater their complaints about corrupt and assure better interaction with citizen. Chairman NAB, Qamar Zaman Chaudhry Friday chaired a meeting and said in line with his vision the existing Monitoring and Evaluation System (MES) will generate a complaint registration acknowledgement system to share information with complainant and Unique Identification Number (UIN). This system based complaint registration acknowledgement initiative will facilitate for complaint registration date at NAB and to track the latest progress of complaint by providing a MES generated Unique Identification Number (UIN). The UIN can be referred to NAB Headquarter and NAB Regional Offices as a case number to know the latest status of the complaint. NAB is a complaint driven organization, the main purpose of “Citizen Friendly NAB” initiative will not only help the complainants to track down the latest status of their complaints submitted to NAB in effective manner but will also enable NAB to be more transparent and responsive in term of interaction with complainants and tracking the complaint progress by using modern technology for better interaction with citizen.
ISHAQ URGES FBR TO MEET TAX COLLECTION TARGET FOR CURRENT FISCAL YEAR
Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar on Friday urged the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take all necessary measures to meet the tax collection target for the current fiscal year, ending on June 30, 2017. The Finance Minister said this while chairing a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on the matters relation to FBR. Chairman FBR briefed the Minister on the progress of tax collection during the current fiscal year, and the targets for FY 2017-18. Ishaq Dar said that the tax measures, which have been proposed in the budget for FY 2017-18, are based on extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders. He expressed the confidence that the measures announced in the budget will enhance the welfare and prosperity of the general public, and enable Pakistan to achieve higher, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. He added that the government will welcome all constructive and positive suggestions regarding the budget from parliamentarians during the ongoing budget session in Parliament. The Finance Minister directed FBR to finalize a tax revenue collection strategy for the next year in a timely manner in order to effectively pursue the tax collection targets for FY 2017-18 . Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue, Mr. Haroon Akhtar Khan, Finance Secretary, Secretary EAD, Chairman FBR, and senior officials of the Ministry of Finance and FBR attended the meeting.
PKR 135 BILLION ALLOCATED FOR ADP 2017-18
The Punjab government has earmarked Rs 635 billion for Annual Development Programme 2017-18. The highest priority has been given to the social sector with 32 per cent of the ADP allocations, while 27 per cent has been given for infrastructure development. More than Rs 201 billion has been allocated for the social sector with major focus on education (82.61 billion, 13%), health (Rs 51.80 billion, 8%) and clean drinking water (Rs 52 billion, 8%). An amount of Rs 172,164 million has been allocated for infrastructure development including roads (Rs 90700 million), irrigation (Rs 41033 million), energy (Rs 9000 million), public buildings (Rs 15,000 million) and urban development (Rs 16,433 million). Prioritising the agriculture sector, the Punjab government has earmarked Rs 15 billion under the Khadim-e- Punjab Kissan Package this year to revive the sector as more than 40 per cent of Punjab’s labour is engaged with this key sector. The Punjab government has earmarked a huge amount of Rs 88,350 million for special initiatives including Safe City Project (Rs 49,850 million), Special Development Package (Rs 21,000 million), Local Government Development (Rs 15,000 million) and package for other provinces (Rs 2500 million). Human dvelopment will be paid special attention this year keeping in view the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. Also special focus would be on the production sector, modern infrastructure, development, SMEs development, devising a comprehensive industrial policy and domestic commerce strategy for initiating a long-term engagement as joint ventures with Chinese companies. Adequate funding will be provided for flagship programmes of the provincial government including Khadim-e-Punjab Rural Roads Programme, dualisation of Khanewal-Lodhran Road and DG Khan-Muzafargarh Road, Punjab Police Integrated Command, Lahore Knowledge Park, Punjab Kidney Liver Institute and Saaf Paani projects.
GOVERNMENT ALLOCATES PKR 95.597 BILLION FOR POLICE
The Punjab government has allocated Rs 95.597 billion for police in the budget 2017-18. According to the budget documents, Rs 80.654 billion will be spent on salaries of employees while the remaining amount of Rs 14.942 billion has been reserved for non-salary expenditures. An amount of Rs 201.561 million has been reserved for Border Military Police, DG Khan whereas Baloch Levy, DG Khan, will receive Rs 156.739 million. An amount of Rs 69.261 billion has been allocated for district police whereas special branch will receive Rs 3.674 billion while the Punjab Constabulary will get Rs 4.659 billion. An amount of Rs 365.039 million is reserved for Qaumi Razakar Organization while the Police Training Institute will get Rs 2.294 billion and the Counter-Terrorism Department will receive Rs 4.675 billion. Elite Police Force will receive Rs 5.110 billion and Border Military Police Rajanpur will get Rs 110.699 million.
GOVERNOR DISTRIBUTES LAPTOPS UNDER PM’S LAPTOP SCHEME
Sindh Governor Friday gave away laptops to students of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed University Lyari under the laptop scheme of the Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif. Addressing the laptop distribution ceremony, the Governor said that the purpose of the distribution of laptops to students was to help them in education and research. He said that in this era of technology, higher education, research and ideas, laptops keep much importance. He said that without the innovation it was not possible to be successful in the run for development. Zubair said that one could thrive on the path of development with the help of higher education. He further said that this university was named after a great leader and that is why it was pride of us. The Vice Chancellor of Benazir Bhutto University Lyari Prof Akhtar Baloch, Citizens Police Liaison Committee chief Zubair Habib and others were also present. Under the PM’s Laptop scheme 151 students were distributed laptops.
PUNJAB HIKES SPORTS BUDGET BY PKR 2.542 BILLION
The Punjab government has attached greater importance to sports and youth affairs by allocating Rs 8.507 billion in the fiscal year 2017-18 budget, increasing it by Rs 2.542 billion compared with the allocation made in the last year’s budget. In the ADP 2016-17, Rs 5.965 billion were allocated for this sector and the Punjab Government has given it a tremendous rise by allocating funds for 116 ongoing as well as 133 new schemes in sports and youth affairs sector. Punjab Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha presented the budget for financial year 2017-18 at the 30th session of the Punjab Assembly on Friday, with special focus on promotion of sports and youth affairs. The major targets and new initiatives for sports and youth affairs sector are youth exchange programme, youth events and publication of youth awareness and development, development of playground, fields in the province, uplifting of existing sports infrastructure, construction of sports stadium, sports complexes and playgrounds, up-gradation of sports facilities in school and college grounds. The vision of the department (sports and youth affairs) is creation of a pool of talented Pakistani youth, contributing towards economic and social development, to realise the dream of a moderate, progressive and prosperous nation and to provide sports infrastructure of international standards at all tehsil and district headquarters, divisions and serve the nation through sports and healthy activities. The department also aims to create a critical mass of talented youth for the development of society, engage youth in healthy activities and equip the unemployed youth in productive skills to obtain better employment opportunities. In the budget 2017-18, Rs 3.559.700 billion has been earmarked for the ongoing schemes, which include development of playgrounds, cricket grounds, establishment of E-libraries, establishment of a sports complex, establishment of gymnasiums, provision of missing facilities in gymnasiums and youth affairs. While for the new schemes, Rs 8.507 billion has be reserved for development of playgrounds and cricket grounds, establishment of a sports complex, Prime Minister’s sustainable developmnt goals (SDGs) programme and Youth Affairs.
PKR 21,005 MILLION ALLOCATED FOR AGRICULTURE
The Punjab government has earmarked Rs 21,005 million for agriculture sector in the provincial budget 2017-18. According to the budget documents, the amount has been allocated with the vision to transform agriculture sector into a diversified, sustainable, modern and market-driven sector through knowledge-based empowerment, efficient resource utilisation and revamping of the existing practices. An amount of Rs 7,965 million has been set aside for 34 ongoing schemes of agriculture, Rs 2,940 million for 23 new schemes and Rs 10,100 million for other development programmes.