Posts Tagged ‘Flood’

CJP tells govt to generate funds for dams through water pricing

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar has asked the government to generate funds for construction of future dams through water pricing and contended that 25 per cent funds required for a major reservoir could be ,acquired from people,.

“Water pricing mechanism should be improved to get revenue for construction of dams,” the chief justice conveyed, according to minutes of a recent meeting, to the ministries of planning, water resources, energy, law and justice, climate change and the cabinet division, besides professional and technical agencies and provincial governments.

Presiding over the meeting of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) attended by senior representatives of the ministries, Indus River System Authority, National Engi­neering Services Pakistan, Water and Power Develop­ment Authority (Wapda) and Indus Water Commis­sion and private experts, the chief justice said the issue of water scarcity had reached an alarming level that was fatal to the lives and livelihood of the citizens of Pakistan.

He said resolution of the issue was “responsibility of the executives and failure to discharge this responsibility has resulted in taking up of this issue by the superior judiciary as breach of fundamental right i.e. right to life”.

The Planning Commission told the meeting that the national water policy approved by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had identified 30-40 areas for urgent works that would take four to five years to achieve all goals. It recommended a six-month action plan and noted that Pakistan had limited water resources of its own as all water was coming from neighbouring countries.

“It is the need of the time to devise a strong mechanism to defend our water resources to get our fair share out of trans-boundary water,” the commission quoted the water policy as saying and added that Pakistan was losing each and every case at the forums of World Bank and international arbitrations due to wastage of water and hence construction of dams was being prioritised.

It was argued that wastage of available water was the main cause of its scarcity which had to be addressed by improved water administration, pricing and punishments. “It is equally important to fix the price and tax water and take necessary legal action against the violators and defaulters,” the commission said.

Chief Justice Nisar asserted that the judiciary would find a solution to the water shortage in the country. He said it was very crucial because he had been told by experts during the course of hearing of a related case that Pakistan could not survive in this situation of water scarcity and that all research reports showed Pakistan was going to face severe shortage of water or even out of water by 2024.

Therefore, the CJP told the participants, new dams had to be constructed without further overburdening the nation with the curse of debts and the “apex court will also extend financial support but subject to submission of action plan”. He contended that “1/4th expenses on construction of a dam can be acquired from the people of Pakistan”.

He said every construction settlement and housing societies should have water sewerage systems and asked for an action plan to address the issue of waste water management.

Former Wapda chairman and provincial minister Shamsul Mulk reported that 60-70 million acre feet (MAF) of water was going to the sea due to non-availability of dams and the country would have no water in future if this continued. He called for building small, medium and large dams to save water and asserted that Kalabagh dam was crucial to the country and its importance could not be overlooked.

Mr Mulk contended that if Kalabagh dam was not constructed, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would not be able to get its share of water in future and reiterated that this dam “is the only cheapest power generation source in the country and due to its non-construction, Pakistan is losing Rs196 billion every year”.

He explained that one MAF of water contributed $2bn to the United States economy while in Pakistan it contributed $600 million. “Therefore, if 60 MAF water is wasted, this results in $36bn losses annually and if the average is taken for 70 years then it equals $2.520 trillion,” the former Wapda chief said.

The LJCP meeting’s minutes revealed that the chief justice, Shamsul Mulk and all other stakeholders “unanimously resolved that Kalabagh dam, without any doubt, is indispensable to meet water and electricity needs of the country”.

Former director of Kalabagh dam Engineer Mumtaz Ahmed criticised the performance of the Indus Water Commissioner for Pakistan for “underperforming” and being “a mud of corruption” and requested the CJP to constitute a judicial commission for a probe into the matter. He alleged that black sheep and traitors were working in the system as Pakistan had lost the case against construction of Kishanganga dam and could be defeated again.

Syed Mehr Ali Shah, the Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters, said the country had suffered $19bn losses over the past six years due to floods and $38bn losses since 1950. He said that 1.3 million tube wells had drastically reduced the groundwater level while 40pc of extracted water was hazardous to health. He suggested that tube well be brought under the legal framework and taxation and pricing system.

Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2018

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Encroached drains, poor waste management put Karachi at risk of urban flooding

KARACHI: Massive encroachments over all major drains, including their outfall points, and the absence of a system to manage solid waste that finds its way into these channels continue to be Karachi’s Achilles’ heel, putting the city at the risk of flooding in monsoon, experts warned on Saturday.

Sharing their concerns over the city’s vulnerability to flooding, they said that Karachi’s weak infrastructure could not withstand heavy downpour and it might face a far more serious situation than what was recently experienced in Lahore where rain-related incidents not only caused extensive damage to infrastructure, but also led to 15 deaths.

“Lahore had 177mm rain but Karachi can’t withstand even 100mm of rain. There would be deluge everywhere,” said Mohammad Yunus representing the Urban Resource Centre.

According to him, Karachi’s main civic problem remains a lack of waste management and heavy encroachments over all major drains.

“Over the past decade, all major storm-water drains of the city [over 40 in number] have been encroached upon and concrete structures, including housing colonies, banks, shops and even markets, have been built over these channels,” he said.

A proper mechanism is needed for waste collection and disposal to save drains from clogging

He referred to encroachments on the land owned by the Karachi Port Trust and development of infrastructure by the Defence Housing Authority as well as by the KPT that resulted in closure of discharge points of city’s natural drains.

Most flyovers and underpasses in the city, he said, lacked a drainage system and the local municipality had to use motor pumps to drain out accumulated rainwater.

“Local officials often argue that rainwater will follow its natural route and discharge on its own. But, this is not how things work. You have to design the infrastructure in a way that helps prevent accumulation of water,” he said.

Drains’ cleaning brings no major improvement

Replying to a question about a recent drive of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to clean up drains, he said so far it couldn’t bring a significant improvement.

One reason was the absence of relevant machinery with the KMC.

Salim Alimuddin, an expert on city’s drainage system who is associated with the Orangi Pilot Project, was of the view that while the government had done some work and laid new drainage lines where there was a need, the actual problem was that the outfall points of drains remained either encroached or clogged.

“No work has ever been done to clear drains’ outfall points. The major outfall points are located in KPT’s jurisdiction. Besides, the construction of markets and other establishments over drains is a serious obstacle in clearing passage of rainwater as these channels couldn’t be de-silted,” he said, adding that the government should have bound project developers to keep a few outlets for the purpose of removing sludge while they were constructing raised infrastructure over drains.

Mr Alimuddin was also critical of prolonged delays shown by the government in cleaning up drains which, he said, should be done at least two to three times in a year.

“Also, it’s time a proper mechanism is developed for collection and disposal of solid waste, most of which presently ends up in drains and clogs them,” he said.

He also suggested immediate removal of construction material/debris lying along the routes of Orange and Green line bus projects that could aggravate public inconvenience in monsoon.

Prof Raza Mehdi of the NED University of Engineering and Technology’s urban and infrastructure engineering department said Karachi’s civic conditions were as poor as they were last year and apparently no work had been done to address rain-related issues.

“There is no short-term solution and a holistic approach is required to bring improvement in civic conditions, including efforts to create awareness on proper waste collection and disposal,” he said.

KMC gets Rs500m to clean 23 drains

When contacted, KMC’s senior director (coordination) Masood Alam explained that the civic body had started cleaning drains and the work was going on at a fast pace across the city.

“We are focusing on 23 major drains with the help of maximum human and financial resource available to us,” he said, adding that though the total amount requested for the work was Rs1.28 billion, the KMC had received Rs500 million.

Mr Alam, however, warned that the purpose of the whole exercise would be defeated if the connecting distributaries feeding the big drains remained clogged.

“Those come under the jurisdiction of respective district municipal corporations. Having said that, meetings are being held with all stakeholders and the KMC is doing its best despite heavy encroachments,” he claimed.

He rejected an impression that the drains were only cleaned in the monsoon season and said that they were periodically cleaned but the matter attracted media attention only in the context of the rainy season.

According to him, proper management of solid waste can help minimise risk of flooding. Right now, 60 per cent garbage ends up in drains.

“Garbage is constantly being dumped into drains. If this waste is managed and recycled, we can also reap a lot of other benefits,” he said.

All storm-water drains in the city had turned into sewage drains and there were no channels left carrying only rainwater, he said.

KPT to install sewage treatment plant

A KPT spokesperson said that the port authorities were not responsible either for managing drains or the waste coming through them.

“We are directly being affected by this waste [though we are not generating it]. However, the KPT has committed to a Supreme Court-mandated commission to install a plant to treat the waste coming from three drains into the sea,” he said.

He declined to comment on encroachment and infrastructure over KPT’s land.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2018

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Death toll from heavy monsoon rains in Lahore rises to 15

The death toll from ,two days of heavy monsoon rains, in upper parts of the country has risen to 15, officials said on Wednesday.

The heaviest rains seen in Lahore since 1980 continued into Wednesday, flooding streets and causing some residents to join small demonstrations against local authorities.

Rescue officials and police confirmed the death toll, saying most deaths were caused by electrocution and homes caving in.

The city’s submerged stre­ets and widespread power breakdowns exposed the lack of preparedness of civic departments to deal with the monsoon downpour.

A portion of The Mall, near the recently dug underground station of the Orange Line Metro Train, caved in on Tuesday because of heavy rainfall, forming two large craters on a newly-constructed stretch of Mall Road, near the General Post Office intersection.

Rainwater kept draining into the yawning gaps that opened up, threatening the foundations of the multi-billion-rupee underground rail station and the adjacent historic buildings.

The Flood Forecasting Division in Lahore said the rain spell was likely to subside today (after 24 hours) in upper parts of the country and after 48 hours in south Punjab. Scattered winds and thunderstorms, with isolated heavy rainfall, are expected over upper catchments of all major rivers along Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan divisions over the next 24 hours.

Pakistan has long struggled to cope with the annual monsoon rains, which trigger flash floods and mudslides that destroy homes.

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Caretakers not taking care of rains: Shahbaz

LAHORE: PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif has said the caretaker government does not appear to be ready to deal with torrential rains.

“In my tenure we used to manage the city during such rains. Drains have to be cleaned ahead of rainy season,” Sharif said asking where had been the Punjab government’s machinery during the last 24 hours.

“It is the duty of the caretaker government to manage things,” he added.

Take a look: ,Heavy downpour causes streets to flood in Lahore,

Talking to reporters here on Tuesday, the PML-N president said those who did nothing in their province (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) during the last five years were criticising the PML-N.

He said during his tenure he would make a comprehensive plan to ,deal with monsoon season,.

Sharif also started election campaign at his constituency NA-132 in Lahore. He visited different areas of NA-132 and addressed the party workers.

Speaking on the occasion, the PML-N president claimed that his party would win the July 25 polls. He said the election would be between those who performed in five years and who only did politics of allegations.

PML-N spokesman Marriyum Auranzeb criticised ,PTI chairman Imran for doing political point scoring, over the rain issue. She expressed her grief over the rain-related deaths.

PERVAIZ ELAHI: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid senior central leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi has said defective planning of the Shahbaz’s administration had turned Lahore into a ‘river’.

Mr Elahi said Shahbaz’s false claim in Karachi about turning Lahore into Paris had been exposed. “The difference between show-off schemes and plans for welfare of the people is visible. Today’s rain has exposed Shahbaz’s defective measures in Lahore and other parts of Punjab. Rescue 1122 did a commendable job,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2018

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NDMA sends out monsoon alert, expects more urban flooding in Lahore, Rawalpindi

At least six people have lost their lives in monsoon downpours that have caused the streets of Lahore to flood, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said on Tuesday.

Of the six who died in Lahore, four passed away due to electrocution while two others lost their lives after being buried under the debris of collapsed buildings.

A large sinkhole has also appeared on the Mall Road near DPO Chowk. It has filled with rainwater and it is feared that the water may affect the underground Orange Line Metro station nearby.

The destruction has been caused by heavy downpours that dumped 177 millimetres of rainwater on the city over the past 24 hours.

A view of the Gaddafi Stadium after the heavy downpour. — Abu Bakar Bilal

A view of the Gaddafi Stadium after the heavy downpour. — Abu Bakar Bilal

In light of the situation, the NDMA has also sent out a monsoon alert, warning that more rainfall is expected in the next 48 to 72 hours.

According to the NDMA, there may be flooding in the River Ravi and areas connected to it. The alert has also said that there may be some urban flooding in Rawalpindi as well.

Reactions to flooding

According to DawnNewsTV, citizens are unable to leave their houses due to heavy flooding on streets and main roads.

Irked citizens were quick to remind former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif about his claims that his government has turned Lahore into Paris.

One user said:

“Finally Shahbaz Sharif succeeded in making Lahore into a European city. But its Venice, not Paris.”

Finally Shahbaz Sharif succeeded in making Lahore into a European city.
But its Venice, not Paris 😐 ,,

— Sabena Siddiqi (@sabena_siddiqi) ,July 3, 2018,

Shahbaz Sharif, on the other hand, tweeted that he would be cancelling his meeting with the workers convention in Kasur due to “incessant rain” and that that the he hopes “that the caretaker administration is taking care of you in such torrential rains.”

Have had to cancel today's Workers' Convention in Kasur due to incessant rain. It will be rescheduled at some other date. Please stay safe wherever you are and I hope that the caretaker administration is taking care of you in such torrential rains. God bless you all!

— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) ,July 3, 2018,

Punjab Caretaker CM Hassan Askari, while visiting affected parts of Lahore, told the media that a committee will be formed to find out what caused the sinkhole at DPO Chowk.

“Whoever is found responsible will be held accountable,” CM Askari said while adding that the previous government is responsible for the chaos that has ensued because of the rains.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan also visited the affected area and said that “[politicians] should know that they cannot face the people when they haven’t spent their money properly.”

He also reminded the public that this election is the time for them to decide “if they still want to be ruled by these pharaohs who have taken turns to ruin this country in the past 30 years”.

Chairman PTI Imran Khan Short Media Talk Lahore (03.07.18) 3/3,#PMLNExposed, ,#AbSirfImranKhan, ,,

— PTI (@PTIofficial) ,July 3, 2018,

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UN chief hears of ‘unimaginable’ atrocities as he visits Rohingya camps in Bangladesh

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he heard “unimaginable” accounts of atrocities during a visit Monday to ,vast camps in Bangladesh that are home to a million Rohingya refugees, who fled violence in Myanmar.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrived for his visit accompanied by the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim. ? AFP

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres arrived for his visit accompanied by the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim. ? AFP

Guterres described the situation for the persecuted Muslim minority as “a humanitarian and human rights nightmare”, as he prepared to tour makeshift shelters crammed with people who escaped a huge Myanmar army operation last year that the UN has likened to ethnic cleansing.

“In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, I’ve just heard ,unimaginable accounts of killing and rape, from Rohingya refugees who recently fled Myanmar. They want justice and a safe return home,” Guterres said on Twitter.

“The Rohingya are one of the most discriminated against and vulnerable communities on Earth,” he said in tweet before his visit to the camps in southern Bangladesh.

Accompanied by the head of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, he called it a “mission of solidarity with Rohingya refugees and the communities supporting them. The compassion & generosity of the Bangladeshi people shows the best of humanity and saved many thousands of lives”.

The bulk of the Rohingya in Bangladesh, or some 700,000 people, flooded across the border last August to escape the violence.

They are loathed by many in Myanmar, where they were stripped of citizenship and branded illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite calling Rakhine their homeland.

A UN Security Council delegation visited Myanmar and Rakhine state in early May, meeting refugees who gave detailed accounts of killings, rape and villages torched at the hands of Myanmar’s military.

Myanmar has vehemently denied allegations by the United States, the UN and others of ethnic cleansing.

Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed in November to ,begin repatriating the Rohingya, but the process has stalled, with both sides accusing the other of frustrating the effort.

Fewer than 200 have been resettled, and the vast majority refuse to contemplate returning until their rights, citizenship and safety are assured.

Around 100 Rohingya staged a protest just before Guterres’s visit, unhappy about a preliminary UN deal with Myanmar to assess conditions on the ground for their possible return home.

The United Nations has said, however, that conditions in the persecuted minority’s home state of Rakhine in western Myanmar are not conducive for the refugees’ safe, voluntary and dignified repatriation.

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Asif Zardari promises one govt job for every family

NAWABSHAH: Pakistan Peoples Party-Parliamentarians (PPP-P) president Asif Ali Zardari, who ,previously served, as the head of state, has said that every family without a member in government service would be given the chance to have at least one member in state service if his party came to power again in the next general elections.

He was speaking to delegations of traders and other notables of Nawabshah who called on him at his residence, Zardari House, here on Tuesday. He said PPP would create employment opportunities for a maximum number of jobless people.

Mr Zardari said that agriculture was the backbone of the national economy and, as such, its uplift was of utmost importance. He said farmers and peasants would be provided all essential resources on a priority basis to ensure a boost to the agricultural sector.

He noted that the country was facing an acute shortage of water at the moment. To overcome it, dams should be built so that water could be conserved, he said. It’s the need of the hour, he added.

He held the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government responsible for the multiple crises being faced by the country, saying that its flawed policies had totally ruined the national economy.

He said the PML-N government put the masses in a tight spot by resorting to raising fuel prices on a monthly basis.

Speaking about development works in Shaheed Benazirabad (previously Nawab­shah) district, Mr Zardari said that [a future] PPP government in Sindh would focus more on health, education, communication and development which would bring about a rapid change in this part of the province.

“We will also work on a project of generating electricity with sewage,” he told the delegations.

The PPP supremo further said that sugar mills and other industrial units functioning in Nawabshah would be shifted outside the city under a plan to transform it into a model city. He stressed that the general elections must be held on time.

SUKKUR: Former leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, who is contesting on NA-206 Sukkur seat, on Tuesday rebutted his opponents’ claim that he and his party had practically done nothing for the uplift of Sukkur division.

Speaking to party workers at an Eid Milan gathering in Rohri late on Monday evening, Mr Shah said it was he who had actively worked for the strengthening of one of the vital protective bunds, the Ali Wahan bund, near Rohri after it had sustained considerable damage during the 2010 super floods.

“Had it not been strengthened, the situation may have led to a disaster,” he said, adding that he and many of his party colleagues had to spend several sleepless nights to ensure timely and proper completion of the work. The repair work had been continuing day and night, he recalled.

“No one of those levelling such allegations against me and the PPP were seen anywhere in those difficult days,” he said.

Mr Shah specially mentioned the Sukkur bypass scheme and said it was approved back in 1989 but later shelved by the PML-N government. “We revived it after coming to power and executed it,” he said, and added that Sukkur city might have remained a small city of narrow lanes disconnected from several other cities had the scheme not been executed. “People would have the only option of boats as the transport means to travel to and from Sukkur till today in the absence of this bypass,” he said.

Mr Shah also rejected as ridiculous his opponents’ allegation of land grabbing against him, and said he would withdraw from the elections if such an allegation against him or any of his family members was proved.

“Rather, we acted as defenders of state-owned lands … we retrieved such properties worth over Rs9 billion from encroachers in Sukkur and protected them from being grabbed again,” he added.

The PPP stalwart referred to the party manifesto and said that it promised no tax be levied on agriculture income. Moreover, he said, it pledged doubling the salaries of government employees and financial assistance for the needy families through the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).

Mr Shah said it was the PPP that ensured provincial autonomy through constitutional amendment, and said provinces would be given greater autonomy if the party came to power again.

Khursheed Shah also attended separate Eid Milan parties organised by the Hindu community in Kandhra town near Rohri and by a seminary, Madressah Ghousia, in Sukkur.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2018

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Floods kill over 30, displace one million in India, BD

DHAKA: Flash floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains in South Asia have killed dozens of people and displaced more than a million, mostly in north-east India and Bangladesh, authorities said on Tuesday.

The Brahmaputra river, which flows from the Himalayas down to India and then through Bangladesh, has burst its banks, swamping more than 1,500 villages in India’s Assam state in the past week.

“The flood situation remains critical,” Assam’s Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta told Reuters, referring to at least 10 of the state’s 32 districts. “The weather office is forecasting more rain and thundershowers in the next 48 hours,” Mahanta said, adding that the state was on maximum alert and the army had put helicopters on standby, in case they were needed for rescues. The floods have killed nearly 20 people and displaced about 800,000 in the Indian states of Assam, Tripura and Manipur.

The water level in the Brahmaputra is expected to rise until the end of the week and then level off, in the absence of more heavy rain, India’s Central Water Commission said.

Downstream in Bangladesh, 11 people have been killed and more than 250,000 have been displaced or affected by the flooding, officials there said.

Last week, landslides and other mishaps triggered by rains killed at least 12 people in southeast Bangladesh, including two Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar living in camps near the border.

The camps, thrown up after an estimated 700,000 Rohingyas fled from a Myanmar military crackdown on insurgents that began last August, are believed to be particularly vulnerable to storms in the rainy season, which has just begun.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2018

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Dollar rises to Rs122 in open market

KARACHI: The US dollar was traded at a record price of Rs122 in the open market on Tuesday, a day after the 3.8 per cent devaluation of the local currency by State Bank.

The interbank market also witnessed a fluctuation in prices, with the dollar trading at Rs121.50 but finally settling at Rs120.

Rupee devaluation for the third time during the current financial year has greatly weakened trust on the local currency, resulting in hoarding of dollars by corporate sector — including banks — as well as the common man.

Due to hoarding, dollar was not available in the market, except in ‘A’ category exchange companies. It was also noted that other currencies including euro, pounds and riyals were rarely available for buyers in the open market.

Exchange companies said common people were not selling dollars. Only those who badly needed money were exchanging the greenback for Pak rupee in extremely small quantities.

Exchange companies — who issue average rate of dollars — reported dollar prices between Rs121 to Rs122. In fact, the dollar was even higher than Rs122 in the market for buyers.

The open market is the only source of foreign currencies for travellers, health tourists and students.

This is the first Ramazan when the dollar appreciated against the rupee. Traditionally inflows of foreign currencies increase during Ramazan for celebration of Eidul Fitr, charity donations and Zakat.

Currency dealers said it was not possible to believe that no more devaluation would be made in the near future which means exchange rate will remain vulnerable.

They also said the vulnerable exchange rate has opened flood gates for illegal business of foreign currencies as the rate is higher than the legal open market.

The State Bank has recently put more restriction on buying and selling of dollars in the open market as any person who wants to buy or sell $500 or more would have to produce a copy of the Computerised National Identity Card.

Currency dealers in the interbank market said the dollar has settled at Rs120 after fluctuations but the market is shaky due to the third devaluation in seven months.

Dealers said that banks have earned big money with the sudden rise in dollar rates on Monday, given that banks’ holdings of dollars have been increasing.

Another report of the State Bank shows that scheduled banks’ holdings of dollars have started increasing despite shortage in open market and reached $6.378 billion.

Within a month from May 4 to June 1, the holdings of scheduled banks increased by $255 million.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2018

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Trump pulls out of joint G7 statement, attacks Trudeau as ‘dishonest and weak’

The G7 summit ended in farce and a renewed threat of global trade war as US President Donald Trump abruptly rejected the text of a consensus statement and bitterly insulted the Canadian host.

Just minutes after a joint communique that had been approved by the leaders of the Group of Seven allies on Saturday was published in Canada’s summit host city Quebec, Trump launched a Twitter broadside from aboard Air Force One.

The US leader left the meeting early en route for Singapore and a ,historic nuclear summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un,, only to take exception to comments made by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a news conference.

“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our US farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our US Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the US Market!” Trump tweeted.

“PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that … he ‘will not be pushed around.’ Very dishonest & weak.”

It was an unprecedented attack on the leader of the US neighbour and ally.

Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) ,June 9, 2018,

PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our ,@G7, meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) ,June 9, 2018,


Earlier, Trudeau had told reporters that Trump’s decision to invoke national security to justify US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports was “kind of insulting” to Canadian veterans who had stood by their US allies in conflicts dating back to World War I.

“Canadians are polite and reasonable but we will also not be pushed around,” he said.

Trudeau said he had told Trump “it would be with regret but it would be with absolute clarity and firmness that we move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that the Americans have unjustly applied to us,”

After Trump’s angry tweets, Trudeau’s office issued a brief response: “We are focused on everything we accomplished here at the G7 summit. The Prime Minister said nothing he hasn’t said before — both in public, and in private conversations with the President.”

The outburst against Trudeau, and by association the other G7 members, is only the latest incident in which Trump has clashed with America’s closest allies, even as he has had warm words for autocrats like Kim and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Also read: ,EU ripostes as Trump kicks off transatlantic trade war,

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office reacted Sunday by saying that “international cooperation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks”.

Reneging on the commitments agreed in the communique showed “incoherence and inconsistency”, it said in a statement.

Shortly after Trump tweeted, respected Republican Senator John McCain responded.

“To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values.

“Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t,” he tweeted.

‘Creative babbling’

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in China on Sunday for a summit with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, dismissed G7 calls for Moscow to stop what the group described as attempts to undermine democracy and support for the Syrian regime.

“I believe it’s necessary to stop this creative babbling and shift to concrete issues related to real cooperation,” Putin told reporters.

The G7 also endorsed Britain’s accusation that Moscow was behind the poisoning attack in England on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter – but Putin said they had “again” failed to provide evidence that Russia was behind the attack.

Russia was kicked out of the group in response to its 2014 annexation of Crimea. Trump earlier said that the club would be better off if it brought Russia back.

World’s ‘piggy bank’

When Trump left Quebec it was thought that a compromise had been reached, despite the tension and determination of European leaders Macron and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to push back on Trump’s assault on the world trade system.

Officials from European delegations quickly leaked copies of the joint statement, and it was published online moments before Trump tweeted.

On board Air Force One an AFP reporter was told that Trump had approved the agreement, only to be told later of the tweets. A senior US administration official said that Trump had been angered by Trudeau’s comments.

The outburst suggested that any deal had collapsed and his threat to impose sanctions on car imports will outrage his ostensible allies — especially Germany and Canada, major exporters to the US market.

Trump claimed that tariffs were necessary because the US has been exploited as the world’s “piggy bank” under existing arrangements, but his counterparts were determined to protect “rules-based” international trade.

‘The gig is up’

The joint communique that was thrashed out over two days of negotiations vowed that members would reform multilateral oversight through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and seek to cut tariffs.

“We commit to modernise the WTO to make it more fair as soon as possible. We strive to reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies,” it said, reflecting the typical language of decades of G7 statements.

A German government spokesman said that his country “stands behind the communique which was collectively agreed upon”. But Trump had already said he would not hesitate to shut countries out of the US market if they retaliate against his tariffs.

“The European Union is brutal to the United States… They know it,” he insisted in his departing news conference. “When I’m telling them, they’re smiling at me. You know, it’s like the gig is up.”

European officials said Trump had tried to water down the language in the draft communique on the WTO and rules-based trade. In the end, that language stayed in and it was only on climate change that no consensus was reached.

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‘Only want to address the water crisis’: SC takes a step back on Kalabagh

The Supreme Court on Saturday clarified that it is not pushing for the construction of Kalabagh Dam, but is rather looking into how the water crisis in the country can be tackled.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, while hearing cases on water shortage and Kalabagh dam at SC’s Karachi Registry, asked Zafar Mahmood, a former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), what the alternative to the controversial project was as “four brothers do not agree over it”.

Mahmood instead painted a dire picture of Pakistan’s water woes, telling the apex court that climate change has increased incidence of floods in the country while glaciers are also melting faster than before. He claimed that underground water had also reached dangerous levels, especially in Quetta, where it would take 200 years for groundwater to be restored to safe levels.

He said that the city would become uninhabitable in the near future because of its water crisis.

He also said that the people need to be made aware of ways to conserve water and that the practice of dumping untreated industrial waste should also be curbed.

Holding all past governments responsible for “criminal negligence”, the former Wapda chief said Pakistan was far behind India in building dams. He noted that India, which controls three rivers flowing into Pakistan, increases outflow of water towards Pakistan during floods.

The chief justice noted that despite being told by the court to take measures to address water crisis, the Punjab government had not done anything.

After a lawyer claimed all provinces were against the construction of Kalabagh dam, the chief justice said that no one should feel threatened by the apex court because it was not going to enforce its construction and was rather trying to find ways of dealing with the crisis.

“Yesterday when we asked Musharraf to return, that also threatened everyone. What threat could Pervez Musharraf possibly pose to anyone?” the chief justice asked, clarifying that no one should feel threatened by the former dictator’s return to Pakistan and him facing the law.

He further noted that the capability of good lawmaking in the country had ended and asked Mahmood to present his suggestions which could be forwarded to the parliament after being drafted into a law through the Law and Justice Commission.

He said that the court had decided to focus on the water crisis and the Law and Justice Commission would hold a seminar on the issue after Eidul Fitr to gather suggestions to deal with it.

Meanwhile, Justice Faisal Arab questioned why the dams which are not controversial have also not been built.

Justice Nisar, in Thursday’s hearing of the same cases in Islamabad, had noted that consensus should be developed over Kalabagh and that he would want to hear reservations of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over it.

Water commission to continue work until Jan 2019

The apex court extended the tenure of single member commission on water quality in Sindh until January 2019 after Shahab Osto, the petitioner who had moved the court over provision of contaminated water, claimed that progress was being made in the province because of the commission.

The chief justice also appreciated the Sindh government for progress on water projects and asked Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar to ensure that all storm water drains are cleared within one month.

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Supreme Court takes notice of water scarcity across country

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday took suo motu notice of a report by the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) regarding acute ,water scarcity, in Pakistan.

The report says that Pakistan had become water stressed in 1990 and crossed the water scarcity mark in 2005. It warns that the country may suffer absolute scarcity of water by 2025.

Of the 142 million acres feet (MAF) of water available in the country, only 42MAF was used, while the rest went to waste, the report says.

According to experts, the scale of the impact of water scarcity may not gaugeable, but the situated calls for a water emergency in the country, and multifarious measures under a national water management policy.

A report by Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources warns that the country could suffer acute water scarcity by 2025

On Wednesday, Wapda Chairman Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain told a Senate body that the country could conserve 12MAF water through efficient use, and provinces could save another 11MAF of water by managing the demand for it. A further 12MAF could be saved by lining canals and another 35MAF of water could be conserved by constructing dams in the country, he added.

Mr Hussain told the senators that Pakistan had 155 dams, while India had 5,102 dams. Pakistan had water reserves to last 30 days, while India could save water for 170 days.

Taking notice of the PCRWR’s report, the chief justice clubbed the case with another petition requesting a referendum for the construction of Kalabagh Dam. The court will take up the matter in Karachi on Saturday.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party had filed a petition in the Supreme Court requesting orders to the caretaker government to hold a referendum for the construction of Kalabagh Dam, along with managing the general elections.

The petition had requested directions to the government to take steps to develop additional water reservoirs, like the Kalabagh Dam, in light of the waters accord of 1991 and its follow up in 1998 by the Council of Common Interest (CCI).

The petitioner regretted that 35.5MAF of water drained to the sea each year instead of being stored in water reservoirs. If the Kalabagh Dam had been built, it could have saved 6.5MAF water annually during rainy season. He added that building the dam could help control floods and save water for use in Rabi crops during winter when there is acute shortage of water. Pakistan only stores 10 per cent of the annual flows of its rivers, even though the world average for storing water is 40pc.

The petition added that water disputes between provinces could be solved that way because everyone in the country needed water. It also highlighted that because of water scarcity, people may be forced to consume contaminated water, which could lead to a disease epidemic. It said that most people did not consume bottled water, and it was not an option that could save a majority of the people from dehydration.

In a separate case, the chief justice took notice of terminally ill prisoners confined in the country’s jails. He took the notice in the backdrop of an earlier visit to the Karachi Central Prison on May 12, where he visited several patients with various terminal illnesses.

A few of them were released on the spot, and the jail superintendent was told to request early release for such prisoners in accordance with prison rules. Some of the prisoners were advised to seek remedy from the courts where their cases were pending.

The chief justice asked for reports on 91 terminally ill prisoners in various prisons, and issued notices to Advocate General Ashtar Ausaf, chief secretaries of the four provinces, respective home secretaries, health secretaries and inspectors general (Prisons) for hearing on June 12 in Lahore.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2018

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Call to make Indus waters treaty part of foreign policy

Ramsha Jahangir

Ramsha Jahangir

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan must change its cropping patterns, water usage habits and planning mechanisms, and develop multiple storages and make the ,1960 Indus Waters Treaty, part of an aggressive foreign policy if it intends to avoid a disastrous future.

This was the crux of a detailed briefing by retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain to a Senate body on Wednesday. The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) chairman also criticised the resettlement plan for the Diamer-Bhasha dam prepared by the government led by Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2006, and said that it was causing problems to this day.

Stressing the importance of the Kalabagh dam, the Wapda chief proposed to give its operations and management to Sindh given the province’s genuine concerns that it would dry out. He said the country should now graduate from decades-old planning processes, time-consuming approval processes and execution of projects through innovative financing solutions for major development projects.

Lamenting that Pakistan had become hostage to a group of five international consulting firms, Mr Hussain said a professional organisation like the National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak) had been reduced to a parking place with more than 921 incompetent and unqualified inductions made on political grounds.

Wapda chairman says resettlement plan for Diamer-Bhasha dam made by Musharraf-led government in 2006 is causing problems to this day

He said the capacity and the quality of local companies and consultants had to be enhanced to meet the growing future needs of agriculture, irrigation and energy.

In his remarks, he observed that 60 per cent of the country’s population was directly engaged in agriculture and livestock and despite being named in the 15 most water scarce countries — with a per capita availability of about 903 cubic metres — Pakistan had one of the most water intensive agricultural sectors in the world. He said the country had the fourth highest rate of water use internationally. The chairman said that 90pc of the country’s water was used in agriculture and the matter must be taken up in the Council of Common Interests to figure out a way to reduce water usage for irrigation and domestic use.

He said Pakistan had a total of 155 dams compared to the 5,102 in India. Pakistan can only store water for 30 days compared to the 170 days’ capacity of India. Pakistan needs to narrow the gap between the growing population and its needs and the number and capacity of water reservoirs. There is need to reduce the cultivation of sugarcane and other water intensive crops.

The Wapda chief said the population is set to grow by 50 per cent to 312 million by 2050, which would push demand for water considerably. Therefore, the country is destined for disaster unless it changes its planning, practices and governance methods quickly.

For this, he said parliamentarians and political leaders must play a major role. He said about 12 million acre feet (MAF) of water could easily be conserved through efficient use, another 11MAF could be saved by provinces through better managing the demand. A further 12MAF could be saved through lining of canals, and 35MAF could be made available through construction of dams.

He said Wapda was working on adding one MAF storage by 2023 through small dams while about 9MAF storage would become available by 2030 on the completion of the Diamer-Bhasha, Mohmand, Kurram Tangi and Chiniot dams. Plans were also underway for the development of Kalabagh, Shyok, Dudhial, Akhori, Skardu and Rohtas dams to provide additional storage of another 25MAF by 2050.

The three-phased development plan would need a cumulative financing of Rs5 trillion in more than three decades. With public sector financing of 30pc, the remaining funds could be arranged through public-private partnerships and commercial arrangements, he said.

Responding to questions from senators, the Wapda chairman said Sindh had some genuine concerns over the Kalabagh Dam, which is otherwise technically a sound project, and on which construction could begin in a day — realizing enormous benefits.

He said maximum river flows were available over three months and more than 25MAF water went down the sea excluding the 8.6MAF allocated for downstream Kotri for environmental needs. This meant water downstream kotri could be maintained round the year with the Kalabagh dam instead of just for a few weeks.

Responding to another question, he said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) objections over the Kalabagh dam were not valid because the dam’s objectionable height had been reduced by 10 feet while now under construction Mohmand dam would completely alleviate any dangers of flooding in the Peshawar and Nowshera valleys. He said it was for the political leadership to create a consensus on the project.

Mr Muzammil said they were facing problems over the Bhasha dam due to KP and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) not cooperating and despite a land acquisition worth Rs80 billion, authorities have been unable to start the project. The land owners were also creating problems, as he added that about a dozen people have lost their lives due to firing on land on the boundaries of KP and GB.

Talking about the Indus Cascade, he termed it the most precious asset of the country. He said that the Indus enters Pakistan at an altitude of 8430 feet and gives us a drop of 7030 feet till Kalabagh at an altitude of 1400 feet giving us multiple sites along the stretach for building reservoirs and run-of-the-river projects.

He said due to the contentions between Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Board (PEDO) and the federally-run, Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO), Chitral was not getting the required power supply, getting only seven megawatts of electricity from a plant of 36 megawatts.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2018

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Powerful cyclone strikes Oman, Yemen; 5 dead, 30 missing

SALALAH: A ,cyclone more powerful than any previously recorded, in southern Oman slammed into the Gulf country and neighbouring Yemen on Saturday, deluging a major city with nearly three years’ worth of rainfall in single day. The storm killed at least five people while more than 30 remain missing, officials said.

Cyclone Mekunu caused flash flooding that tore away whole roadways and submerged others in Salalah, Oman’s third-largest city, stranding drivers. Strong winds knocked over street lights and tore away roofing.

Rushing waters from the rain and storm surges flooded typically dry creek beds. The holiday destination’s now-empty tourist beaches were littered with debris and foam from the churning Arabian Sea.

Three people, including a 12-year-old girl, died in Oman, and another two bodies were recovered from the Yemeni island of Socotra. More than 30 people were still missing in Socotra, including Yemeni, Indian and Sudanese nationals.

Yemeni officials also reported damage in the country’s far east, along the border with Oman. Rageh Bakrit, the governor of al-Mahra province, said on his official Twitter account late Friday that strong winds had blown down houses and taken out communication lines and water services. He said there were no fatalities in the province.

India’s Meteorological Dep­artment said the storm packed maximum sustained winds of 170-180 kilometres per hour with gusts of up to 200 kph. It called the cyclone “extremely severe.” Portions of Salalah, home to some 200,000 people, lost power as the cyclone made landfall.

Branches and leaves littered the streets. Several underpasses became standing lakes. Some cars were left abandoned on the road. Electrical workers began trying to repair lines in the city while police and soldiers in SUVs patrolled the streets. On the outskirts of the city, near the Salalah International Airport, what once was a dry creek bed had become a raging river.

The airport, closed since Thursday, will reopen early Sunday, Oman’s Public Authority for Civil Aviation said. The Port of Salalah a key gateway for the country and for Qatar amid a regional diplomatic dispute remained closed, its cranes secured against the pounding rain and winds.

Omani forecasters said Salalah and the surrounding area would get at least 200 millimetres of rain, over twice the city’s annual downfall. It actually received 278.2 mm, nearly three times its annual rainfall.

Authorities remained worried about flash flooding in the area’s valleys and potential mudslides down its nearby cloud-shrouded mountains. In nearby Wadi Darbat, the storm’s rains supercharged its famous waterfall.

Police and others continued their rescue efforts even as the winds and rains calmed. Capt. Tarek al-Shanfari of the Royal Oman Police’s public relations department said there had been at least three fatalities in the storm, including the death of a 12-year-old girl who was hit in the head by a door flung open by the wind.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2018

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Bringing Rao Anwar to justice first goal: PTM

KARACHI: Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen on Sunday said that bringing Rao Anwar, a police officer charged with killing Naqeebullah Mehsud in a fake encounter, to justice was the first goal of his movement.

“In the next phase, Taliban leader Ehsanullah Ehsan and military dictator Pervez Musharraf will be taken on,” he said at a rally.

The participants were predominantly Pashtuns. However, people belonging to other communities also attended the public meeting as did relatives of missing persons.

The meeting was flooded with white flags symbolising the PTM’s assertion that their movement was non-violent.

Mr Pashteen said his peaceful movement to bring peace to their tribal lands and reunion of missing persons with their families would continue till they achieved their objectives. The journey to justice was arduous and long, yet they would continue it until achieving their destination, he added.

“Our first target is Rao Anwar. After we get him punished for killing Naqeebullah Mehsud, we’ll struggle peacefully for the same goal to get Ehsanullah Ehsan and Pervez Musharraf punished,” he said.

“We’ll do this all by adhering to the Constitution and law of the land,” he said.

Earlier, speakers claimed that a number of their supporters had been picked up in the city over the past few days. Besides, they added, several others were not allowed to attend the meeting.

The security cordon was tangible around the meeting place with police and Rangers personnel deputed to ensure it concluded peacefully.

As speeches by other leaders dried up with everyone waiting for Mr Pashteen, the organisers kept playing PTM’s theme song.

Mr Pashteen reached the place late in the night after he was reportedly denied air ticket by a number of airlines and was, as his colleagues claimed, obstructed several times during his journey by car to Karachi.

Earlier, in a charged atmosphere at the rally, the PTM leaders and supporters asserted that they would not disperse until Mr Pashteen joined them.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2018

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Rain, windstorm batter KP, Fata; 14 dead

KHAR / LANDI KOTAL /PESHAWAR: At least 14 people were killed and 22 others injured as heavy ,downpour and windstorm lashed parts, of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) on Saturday.

Officials of the Bajaur Agency administration said that nine people were killed and 13 others suffered injuries in incidents of wall and roof collapse after a windstorm hit the area in the evening.

According to the officials, most of the dead and wounded belonged to Mamond and Khar tehsil. Heavy rain, accompanied by strong windstorm, started at about 5pm and continued for at least two hours in Bajaur.

Heavy rains also triggered flash floods in different areas. Strong winds uprooted trees and signboards. A dust storm struck Peshawar and adjacent areas, reducing visibility, which was followed by heavy rain.

Reports suggested that three people were killed and nine others injured in the rain-related incidents in Khyber Agency. Khasadar officials said that the accidents occurred due to poor visibility on road near Sadukhel as the area was hit hard by strong winds and torrential rain.

Hospital sources said that a car driver Mohammad Wakil died on the spot while a medical representative Riaz Khan died at the hospital. The injured also included two soldiers of Frontier Corps.

Medical staff at the Agency Headquarters Hospital faced difficulties in providing emergency treatment to the injured due to suspension of power supply at its OPD.

Relatives of the injured had to arrange for mobile phone lights to enable the medical staff to stitch their injuries.

Assistant medical superintendent of the Agency Headquarters Hospital Dr Naseeb Gul told Dawn that five bodies and 13 wounded were brought to the hospital.

However, he said that two wounded persons were later referred to a hospital in Peshawar due to their precious condition.

In reply to a question, he said that the condition of almost all the wounded persons was stated to be stable after they received first aid.

In another incident, a 10-year-old boy identified as Ibrahim drowned in a strom-water drain in Landi Kotal. Two more children were rescued.

In Nowshera, lightning killed one person in the Pir Sabaq area, according to Rescue 1122. An official said that a signboard along the road collapsed due to windstorm in Nowshera that caused injuries to a pedestrian. He was taken to a local hospital.

The rooftop of a warehouse also collapsed on the Ring Road, Peshawar, injuring a person. Bad weather also disrupted power supply to many areas of the city.

Earlier in the morning, heavy rain and hailstorm started across the Swat valley, causing flashfloods in Mingora and Saidu Sharif.

The main GT Road connecting district Swat with the rest of the country remained blocked for hours due to flashfloods and ponds on the road.

According to residents, the main reason of the flashfloods was the blockage of the drainage system for which they blamed the newly established Water and Sanitation Services Company.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2018

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Miftah commits to reimburse Rs100bn tax refund before govt term ends

KARACHI: Illegal money exchanges are operating near the Pak-Afghan border, said Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr Miftah Ismail on Saturday, adding that the government will restrict ,illegal movement of foreign currency,.

During his day long engagements with business leaders at FPCCI Brand of the Year Award ceremony and a meeting with Council of All Pakistan Textiles Association (CAPTA), the finance minister informed that the government is going to present tax amnesty bill before the National Assembly for approval on Monday.

The finance minister informed business leaders that the government is going to present the tax amnesty bill before the National Assembly for approval on Monday.

When his attention was drawn towards Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s observation on the tax amnesty scheme, Mr Ismail said the Supreme Court on its right have the powers to take up the matter. However, he was quick to add that a committee set-up by the CJP had already given its observation which upheld government’s view point on the tax amnesty scheme.

He assured business leaders that before the government’s tenure ends, it will disburse up to Rs100 billion towards outstanding refunds belonging to export trade. The government is also going to announce an export package within the next four to five days, he added.

Giving more details about the illegal mini money exchanges near Pak-Afghan border, the minister said that most of these exchanges are operating near Parachinar and US dollars are being smuggled.

He further said the government is working on plans to put restriction on free movement of foreign currency. The world has changed and free movement of funds and currency are being monitored, he said.

The world over, Pakistani banks are facing lot of hardship and disclosed that recently a penalty of $0.7 million was imposed on National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in France and Habib Bank Ltd had to pay a penalty of $2.5m in United States, he added.

Points to illegal money exchanges, misdeclaration of trade

The finance minister regretted that heavy revenue losses are being suffered by the national exchange due to unbridled under-invoicing of up to $4bn on imports from China and up to $2.5bn on imports from United Arab Emirates (UAE).

When his attention was drawn towards Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s observation on the tax amnesty scheme, Mr Ismail said the Supreme Court has the right to take up the matter.

However, he was quick to add that a committee set-up by the CJP had already given its observation which upheld government’s view point on the tax amnesty scheme.

He further said that most of the under-invoicing is being done by commercial importers and that the government is determined to bring this menace to an end because this was having double impact on the economy which includes revenue loss and injury to domestic industry.

During his meeting with the leaders of CAPTA two major issues has to be confronted by the finance minister relating to huge outstanding amount of up to Rs300bn towards refunds on account of sales tax, income tax and Duty on Local Taxes and Levies (DLTL).

The business leaders insisted that if the government fails to payback their funds the exporters who are facing liquidity crunch will collapse because already small and medium sized set-up are closing down.

The other irritant vigorously taken up with the finance minister by these leaders was related to payment against Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) because it was also causing liquidity crunch for export trade.

Dr Ismail said the government has its own challenges related to huge trade deficit and current account deficit upon this business leaders said that since the amount of refunds belongs to export trade it should be park somewhere in government accounts.

The business leaders insisted that a mechanism be evolved wherein refunds against which Release Pay Orders (RPOs) have been issued be allowed to get payments from commercial banks because the government was already getting loans for different purposes.

The finance minister assured business leaders to look into the issue of 6 per cent minimum tax imposed in the budget 2018-19 after withdrawing the same as full and final tax. Under new arrangement 6pc would be minimum tax which would mean that tax officials could impose more tax.

The FPCCI leaders were of the view that this will open up flood gate of corruption because tax officials even in the past had been twisting the arms of commercial importers and this caused corruption.

However, demand for reducing the tax rate to 3pc on sales to unregistered persons from 2pc was rejected by the minister.

Similarly, the minister rejected FPCCI’s demand for removal of the NTN (national tax number) condition on purchase of property. However, he assured to look into a way out for overseas Pakistani who would like to purchase property in Pakistan by either using their passport or NICOP.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2018

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