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‘PPP will take highest number of seats in 2018 elections’

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:34

KARACHI: Party leaders have been trying to make Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) one of the biggest political forces in Karachi in the upcoming elections in 2018 by taking the highest number of seats from the city, said Senator Saeed Ghani on Sunday.

Addressing a press conference at Bilawal House media cell, Ghani said that during the past many months, people have been joining the PPP.

On the occasion, a Sunni Tehrik Rabita Committee member, Zahir Hussain, joined PPP, apart from 12 other members of the party. Hussain claimed that PPP is the only party that has been doing good work because of which they have joined the party. PPP Karachi division general secretary Waqar Mehdi said that they will give everyone a surprise in the near future when more people will join the party. Ghani was of the opinion that Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz used to have a presence in Sindh but not anymore. Talking about the issue of advisers, Ghani said that Chief Minister (CM) Murad Ali Shah can appoint three advisors as per the Constitution of Pakistan. According to the rules of business, the CM can use his powers in appointing advisers, he maintained.

“The judgments are either in our favour or against us and we have always accepted them,” he said. The court had defied the rule of law in order to remove Murtaza Wahab from the post of adviser to CM, he claimed. The CM has the authority to appoint advisers, Ghani said, adding that the court gave its verdict without listening to them. “I resigned due to the court’s stance and I had written in my resignation that I’m unable to work due to the court’s judgments,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

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Busted: Mehndi artist’s cousin arrested in murder case

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:31

KARACHI: In less than a week, police officials investigating the murder of a young female Mehndi artist claimed to have arrested a suspect on Saturday.

The body of a 17-year-old girl, S*, was found from an under-construction plot at Sector 4-D in Surjani Town at around 11am on February 2 after some locals informed the police.

The body was later shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for an autopsy where doctors declared that the teenage girl was strangled to death after being subjected to rape.

A special police team was formed, headed by Surjani DSP Sohrab Meo, to investigate the case and arrest the culprit(s).

“The victim was missing for a day before her body was found,” said DSP Meo, adding that the girl was a resident of Khawaja Ajmer Nagri area and went missing Tuesday afternoon after she left the beauty parlour near her residence, where she worked as a Mehndi artist.

While investigating the case, police officials said that they found involvement of the victim’s cousin in the murder. “Our informer told us that she [the victim] was seen on a motorcycle with someone,” said Meo during a press conference at his office on Saturday.

“Finally, we traced the owner of the motorcycle,” he said, adding that the police later arrested the accused, Rizwan alias Raja.

The accused also confessed to the crime. “She was my cousin,” revealed Raja. “We had illicit relations, too, and I killed her over her claims of pregnancy.”

The family of the girl demanded justice, saying that the accused should be punished with an iron hand.

Although the police have probed the killing of the Mehndi artist, they have yet to inquire into the kidnapping-cum-rape case of a minor girl who was found from a stream in Korangi last month.

Police have failed to make any major breakthrough in the case despite the passage of at least two weeks.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

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Assuming charge: New Karachi University VC all for revival of student unions

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:29

KARACHI: The new vice-chancellor (VC) of Karachi University (KU) wants to restore student unions, which have been banned for the last 32 years.

Talking to The Express Tribune, the newly appointed VC, Prof Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan, said that he encourages open debate and discussion in the premises. “The decision [to revive unions] is not mine but if I was to be asked, I want the unions to be revived as it gives power to the students,” he said.

“Universities are democratic institutes.” He added that he encourages open debate and discussion in the premises.

According to him, student political wings are acceptable in the university as long as they do not turn it into a war zone. He added that everyone has the right to express their point of view but using the university for politics and involvement in administrative matters will not be tolerated.

Reforms

Having taken charge of one of the largest public-sector universities in Karachi, Dr Khan has geared up to introduce reforms in the university. He said that his first priority is to introduce an electronic and computerised system in the varsity.

In the first phase, administration, accounts and admission system will be the priority for computerisation. According to him, the idea is to ease the problems of students and make the system efficient and transparent. “Right now, it is just an idea that will take time as we will have separate meetings with the departments concerned on how to introduce this system in every part of the university from the entrance gate till mark-sheet issuance,” said Dr Khan.

The university faces a lot of issues in issuance of certificates and verifications of degrees. The Higher Education Commission has also submitted many complaints regarding enrolment check procedures and slow process of system. According to Dr Khan, the computerised system will save time and help enhance efficiency. “We are working to make that a process of days, which [earlier] took weeks,” he added.

According to the VC, it has yet to be decided whether integrated software will be incorporated or separate modules will be made for different departments. He said technicalities will be decided after meetings of officials.

Imparting knowledge

Dr Khan said the main aim of the university will be to create and dispense knowledge instead of creating vacancies and generating profits from it. “The university has issues from financial crisis to the quality and training of faculty members,” he said, adding that he has been listening to the problems affecting different sectors of the university from morning till evening for the last few days. He said he will devise a proper strategy to cater them.

Commenting on the corruption cases of university officials that are reported every now and then, he said that some of them are genuine but some have also been exaggerated. He added that he will fight against this menace and has started working to lessen it if not eliminate completely.

“I am a science person and have spent my whole life in research and assessment,” he said. “I will work the same way here, too.”

Recalling how people were discouraging him when he was applying for the post of the VC, he said he believed that this university has given him a lot since his affiliation with it from 1971 as a student, teacher and director of the institute. “I think by doing any positive thing for this institute, I can repay a bit of [the debt],” said the VC, adding that it is difficult to move forward but the effort is to stop the decline in the status of the university.

Stepping up security

Meanwhile, a meeting was held at KU on Saturday, presided over by the VC, to discuss the ongoing security situation of the varsity and devise a comprehensive security plan. According to the security plan, CCTV cameras will be installed on entrance and exit points, for which a central control room is being established at the campus and is in the final stages.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

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Civic issues: Karachi needs more water, says PSP chief

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:27

KARACHI: Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chairperson Mustafa Kamal demanded once again on Sunday that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah give due powers to Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar.

He said the city’s problems could not be solved without doing this.

Addressing a press conference at the PSP headquarters Pakistan House, he said that the city, having an approximate population of 23 million people, needs at least 1.24 billion gallons of water per day. “Even the K-IV project cannot cater to this need upon its completion,” he said.

Work on the Karachi Bulk Water Supply Scheme, commonly known as K-IV, is under way and it is estimated to add approximately 260 million gallons per day (MGD) of water. The Rs25.5-billion project was expected to be completed by this summer but has yet to be completed.

The former city nazim said that he had already completed the planning for the coming 50 years during his tenure and asserted that work on phase II of the K-IV project should start immediately.

“Another 1.2 billion gallons of water should be allocated [for Karachi],” he said.

According to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, the megacity needs 1.1 billion gallons per day while the supply stands at around half of this, not to mention theft by illegal hydrants. The two phases of K-IV are supposed to overcome this shortage.

Urging that the authorities should eliminate illegal water hydrants, he spoke about the Greater Karachi Sewerage Plan, known as S-III, and raised his suspicion over the project’s cost swelling from Rs7.9 billion to around Rs43 billion.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

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Blatant violation: CBF collecting parking fees despite SHC ban

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:19

KARACHI: The parking mafia seemed to have entered the Cantonment Board Faisal’s jurisdiction and, despite the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) order restraining all the cantonment boards of the city from collecting charged parking fees, the CBF continues to collect the charge.

Recently, a few boards have been put up on footpaths opposite Darul Sehat Hospital in Gulistan-e-Jauhar, which is purely a residential area, featuring parking fees of Rs30 for cars, Rs20 for motorcycles and Rs40 for heavy vehicles. However, the Supreme Court has already ordered that there is no law permitting the installation of boards in public spaces.

Just a little further from those boards, a banner has been placed by the residents of Gulistan-e-Jauhar’s Block 13, terming the parking fees ‘illegal’ and a bid to mint money from residents.

According to a local resident, Masqoor Qazi, the collection of parking fees in a residential area is just out of the question. “I parked my car outside a bakery for no more than five minutes and the charged parking collector immediately came and handed me a Rs30 slip,” he said. “If I refuse to pay the fees, the fee collector starts abusing and threatening me. Who would want to indulge in arguments when with families?” He lamented that most people just pay the fees to get rid of the fee collector.

According to one of the shopkeepers in the area, Aslam, people have stopped coming to their shops to avoid the hassle of paying the parking fee. “I wonder how the CBF is charging parking fees in residential areas,” he said.

The act of levying such a fee and awarding the contract to a private party for its recovery is considered illegal, unauthorised and in violation of the Cantonments Act, 1924, and the subsequent by-laws.

Dr Syed Raza Gardezi of non-profit organisation Shehri – Citizens for a Better Environment, told The Express Tribune that the cantonment boards are collecting parking fees without any parking by-laws. The SHC has asked these cantonment boards to draft their by-laws and gazette them in a newspaper.

“Shehri had asked the cantonment boards to issue their parking by-laws but they never did,” he said. When asked if it was legal to collect parking fees in a residential area, he responded that initially there should be a parking by-law, only then the question of parking fees in residential or commercial areas could spring up. However, he said that there shouldn’t be any parking fees in residential areas.

Meanwhile, CBF’s law officer, Muhammad Qaim, said that under Section 60 of the Cantonment Act, 1924, they can collect parking fees. Regarding the SHC’s restraining order, he said that was only for the Cantonment Board Karachi and it did not apply to them. He said that the Rs30 fee for cars and Rs20 for motorcycles are legitimate fees, as the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) is also collecting a similar amount. However, the KMC is collecting Rs20 for cars and Rs10 for motorcycles.

Qaim also said that if the residents are facing any problems due to the parking fee, they can always file a complaint, which will definitely be addressed.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

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Final touches: All set for Cholistan desert rally

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:06

BAHAWALPUR: The arrangements for four-day Cholistan desert rally, being held under the auspices of Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP), have been finalised. The rally would start from Derawar Fort on February 9.

Commissioner Bahawalpur presided over a meeting to finalise the arrangements for the rally. The meeting was attended by TDCP, General Manager Operation, Asjad Ghani, 4×4 Club, president Mehmood Majeed, Bahawalpur Deputy Commissioner, Ehtasham Anwar Mahaar, District Police Officer Ashfiq Ahmad, TDCP, Manager Event, Fayyaz Ahmad, while deputy commissioners of Bahawalnagar and Rahimyar Khan joined the meeting through video link.

Bahawalpur commissioner directed all officials concerned of TDCP and administrative officers of divisional administration to give final shape to all the arrangements to hold this highly significant sports and cultural event in a befitting manner. Bahawalpur deputy commissioner proposed a special code of conduct for the drivers of the desert rally to protect the natural environment of Cholistan. The meeting was also apprised that section 144 would be imposed on the route of the desert rally while congested public places along the rally would be covered with barbed wire.

Four major forts falling along in the route of desert rally; Derawar Fort; Nawan Kot; Khair Garh Fort and Jam Garh Fort would be beautifully decorated to highlight the cultural glory of Cholistan.

The rally would start from camel ground Derawar and would also end on that spot. The facility to provide an introduction to the route of the rally would be held on February 10.

One of the major features of TDCP rally would be the cultural night which would be held on February 11 while prize distribution ceremony would be held on February 12.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

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United we stand: Concerted efforts to end culture of lawyers’ strikes

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:04

LAHORE: It is encouraging to see the bar and bench holding talks to end the culture of strikes and boycotts of court proceedings that take place every now and then.

The judiciary, being the custodian of the constitution and public rights, has been trying for a long time to convince the bar to end unnecessary strikes as the litigants suffer unnecessarily. And concerted efforts of Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah seem to be bearing fruits now.

Last week, representatives of the Supreme Court Bar Association held a meeting with Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar to solve the issue.

Representatives of the Pakistan Bar Council, Supreme Court Bar Association, Punjab Bar Council, Lahore High Court Bar Association and Lahore Bar Association gave their assurances to the CJP that they would not boycott court proceedings unnecessarily anymore. They also condemned the irresponsible behaviour of the lawyers towards judges of the subordinate judiciary.

If the bar representatives succeed in convincing their colleagues of ending the strike culture, it will be a great service to society as the boycotts are a major hurdle in the way of dispensation of justice.

No judge can take up a case on the day the bar announces strike. Some incidents like police raid at some lawyer’s house, killing of a lawyer, arrest of a lawyer or non-fulfilment of a lawyer’s demand by any judge can be a reason for lawyers’ strike.

These strikes have undoubtedly lowered the status of the prestigious institution in the eyes of public. It will be appropriate to say that due to the presence of a handful of black sheep in the bars, the whole institution is now considered a pressure group.

It is the right time for the representatives of the bars to take some effective steps to end the culture of strikes. But it is easier said than done as it will be a bitter pill to swallow for some elements at the bar. Persistency may quell this culture.

In the meeting with lawyers on Saturday, the CJP along with the LHC chief justice ensured the lawyers of his cooperation to uphold morality and professionalism. He added that every issue could be solved through dialogue.

The bar representatives need to take advantage of this opportunity and quell the culture of strikes and revive the status and prestige of the bar. The bar is the institute which always said no to dictatorship and struggled for democracy and supremacy of law even more than the political parties.

In this way, services of the bar are far more superior than those of the political parties to ensure the provision of basic rights to people.

Having rendered these remarkable services for society, the bar should initiate a movement to restore its own prestige by discouraging the elements bringing a bad name to it.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

 

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Undue delays: 12 years on, dental college stands unfinished

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 16:58

LAHORE: About 12 years ago, the then Punjab chief minister laid the foundation stone of the Fatima Jinnah Institute of Dental Sciences. The complex, whose foundation stone was laid on July 31, 2005 and was scheduled to be functional by 2009, still stands unfinished.

The fate of the ‘state-of-the-art’ dental college – a brainchild of Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi – remained undecided until recently when the authorities decided to merge the institution with either the Ameeruddin Medical College or the Allama Iqbal Medical College’s dental section.

Once complete, the institution’s infrastructure spread over 100 kanals in Lahore’s Jubilee Town will house a teaching college, postgraduate training and research centre, a teaching hospital, separate hostels for boys and girls and residence facility for the staff.

The educational facility was supposed to be the first dental college and teaching hospital to offer dental healthcare facilities at par with international standards.

Punjab Health Minister Khawaja Salman Rafique told The Express Tribune the chief minister along with the health secretary and department officials paid a visit to the site and called for starting the college as soon as possible.

The minister was, however, reluctant to give a tentative date of the start of operations.

“We have held several meetings with the medical superintendents of Ameeruddin Medical College and Allama Iqbal Medical College,” he said. “The exact time of its inauguration would be made public after consultations of all other stakeholders.”

Salman added that it would be beneficial for dental students and patients that Ameeruddin Medical College could be merged with such a large facility.

Political tussles

The 12-year delay in starting the dental college reflects the government’s tussle with the then government led by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, most senior doctors in Lahore believe.

Several other healthcare projects completed by the Punjab government led by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat – Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and his cousin Pervaiz Elahi under Pervez Musharraf – are on hold across the province.

An official requesting anonymity said millions of rupees were spent on building the project but dental students were still getting education elsewhere and facing immense difficulties. “The Fatima Jinnah Institute of Dental Sciences also raises questions about the efficiency of the Punjab government,” he said.

Only one public hospital, the Punjab Dental College, caters to hundreds of thousands of patients of the entire province. “Making this facility functional is inevitable,” the officer said.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

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Varsity teachers: Staff development academies on the cards

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 16:50

LAHORE: The Punjab Higher Education Commission (PHEC) has planned to establish state-of-the-art staff development academies in Lahore, Multan and Rawalpindi to provide well-designed, capacity-building training to the teaching faculty of public sector higher education institutions.

This information was shared by Punjab Higher Education Minister Syed Raza Ali Gillani.

He was speaking at a meeting of PHEC on Sunday to review the process of interventions to improve the quality of higher education.

The minister said that provision of all the necessary facilities in the higher education institutions was essential to raise their academic standards.

“Similarly, an institutional mechanism of career counselling should be established to educate the students about choosing future targets,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

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 20 sent to jail over ‘gambling, depravity’

Sun, 02/05/2017 - 16:48

LAHORE: A judicial magistrate remanded 20 suspects in judicial custody for 14 days who were accused of gambling and committing immoral activities in the Faisal Town police precincts.

Police produced the suspects before the magisterial court, alleging they were caught red-handed. The suspects ‘ counsel submitted police arrested them merely to show efficiency.

The judge sent the accused to jail on remand.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2017.

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Pm’s Biography: PPP submits adjournment motion  

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 15:48

LAHORE: The Pakistan Peoples Party submitted on Saturday an adjournment motion in the Punjab Assembly secretariat against directions issued to libraries to stock up on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s biography. The adjournment motion submitted by PPP lawmaker Faiza Ahmed Malik stated the government should recommend books that are useful for students to be kept in libraries rather than suggesting them to purchase ‘Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Dastan-e-Hayat’. In the adjournment motion, Faiza requested that her proposal be fixed for debate in the legislative house.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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Police Encounter: Two robbers killed in Okara  

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 15:42

OKARA: At least two robbers were killed in police encounter in the jurisdiction of Saddar Police Station, Okara. The deceased were identified as Muhammad Asif and Muhammad Usman. Two persons, including a police personnal were injured in the encounter.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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World Cancer Day: Minister urges corporate sector to come forward 

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 15:33

LAHORE: The corporate sector should play an effective role in eradicating diseases and illiteracy, said Punjab Minister for Specialised Health care and Medical Education Khawaja Salman Rafique.

He was speaking at a seminar held on Saturday in connection with the World Cancer Day on February 4 across the world. The day also marked the 3rd anniversary of a joint venture of the Punjab government and Novartis Pharmaceutical to help cancer patients.

The minister said the government was providing free treatment facilities to blood cancer patients and in the past three years medicines worth Rs13 billion have been provided to them.

Four centres at Jinnah Hospital Lahore, Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi, Allied Hospital, Faisalabad and Nishter Hospital, Multan are working to facilitate registered patients.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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Agriculture sector: 750 field assistants to be recruited

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 15:28

MULTAN: Punjab Agriculture Secretary Muhammad Mehmood said 750 field assistants would be recruited to promote agriculture sector in the province.

The induction of new field assistants would help improve agriculture commodities in the province. He said this while speaking to different delegations of farmers on Saturday.

The secretary informed the department had written a letter to Public Service Commission for recruitment of staffers.

He hoped the process of field assistants recruitment would be completed soon.

He said the revenue department had been instructed not to collect agriculture income tax.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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Child labour: Eight children handed over to protection bureau

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 15:27

SIALKOT: Additional District and Sessions Judge Arshad Hussain ordered to hand over eight children to Child Protection Bureau on Saturday. Besides, eight other children were handed over to their parents in bonded child labour.

The court also issued warning to the parents against bounded child labour. Earlier, different police stations managed to rescue 16 children who were used in bounded labour.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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Kashmir Day: ‘India should end atrocities in Kashmir’

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 15:02

LAHORE: India should end atrocities on innocent Kashmiris and let them exercise their democratic right by holding free and impartial plebiscite for their independence.

This was said by Lahore Cathedral Dean Shahid P Mehraj on behalf of the Christian community of Lahore on Saturday.

“All Christians in Pakistan are in favour of independence of Kashmir and the issue must be resolved through dialogue,” he said.

Mehraj added there was a big question mark on the goodwill, prestige and authority of the United Nations because of the Kashmir issue.

He maintained, “Kashmiri people are demanding nothing but what was pledged to them by the United Nations. The United Nations has to tell the world why it has failed to implement its own resolutions.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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Global trade: China accuses US of violating WTO rules

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 14:46

BEIJING: Beijing accused Washington of “protectionism” and violating global trade rules on Saturday, Chinese media reported, after the United States imposed hefty tariffs on certain Chinese steel imports.

The US Department of Commerce on Thursday imposed duties ranging from 63% to 190% on Chinese exporters that it accuses of selling their products at below fair value or of being unfairly subsidised.

“The United States has violated World Trade Organization rules by neglecting the abundant proof offered by Chinese companies and has treated them unfairly simply because of their state-owned-enterprise status,” Wang Hejun from China’s Ministry of Commerce was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.

“The root cause for current challenges facing the steel sector is the sluggish world economy and shrinking demand, which calls for global cooperation instead of protectionism.”

The US tariffs follow a similar move last month by the European Union, which unveiled taxes of between 30.7% and 64.9% on certain Chinese steel products as it seeks to protect struggling steel makers in Europe.

China makes more than half the world’s steel but a slowdown in its economy and sagging global demand has left the industry with huge excess capacity.

It has been accused of dumping its production on world markets, sinking prices and violating international trade agreements.

US President Donald Trump had previously threatened to impose 45% import tariffs on Chinese goods, saying the world’s second biggest economy had abused the US through currency manipulation and illegal subsidies.

In the face of criticism, Beijing has vowed to eliminate 100-150 million tonnes of steel capacity – out of a total of 1.2 billion tons – by 2020.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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FPCCI, Bahawalpur chamber: Meeting discusses women empowerment

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 14:46

LAHORE: Women are an integral part of our society and the Lahore regional office is there to support and encourage women empowerment, said Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Vice President and Regional Chairman Manzoorul Haq.

Addressing a meeting with a delegation of the Bahawalpur Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said that without economic empowerment women empowerment would not be possible.

Also speaking on the occasion, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) CEO S M Muneer said that TDAP always facilitates men and women on merit without any gender discrimination.

TDAP will facilitate Bahawalpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry in organising expos in Faisalabad and Sialkot as per the norms of TDAP, he added.

SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik said that FPCCI always remained in touch with businesswomen to provide a platform to safeguard the interest of women entrepreneurs, adding, “We are here to assist the women at the national and international levels for the development of women entrepreneurs in Pakistan.”

There should not be any discrimination in gender in assigning jobs and authorities, he further added.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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Govt looks to improve low-income strata’s awareness

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 14:44

MULTAN: The government has successfully piloted a Nationwide Financial Literacy Program (NFLP) to improve the financial well-being of the low income strata through enhanced flow of financial education, said State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Ashraf Mehmood Wathra

However, he conceded that such efforts needed to be complemented with information and guidance from opinion leaders who have an influence on mass behaviour.

He said that the government was introducing a new law to amend the mandatory section of mortgaging the property of debtors for advancing loans from banks and financial institutions. A bill in this regard has already been approved.

Addressing a meeting of the Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), chaired by President Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi, Wathra said that Pakistan Mortgage Refinance Company is being formed to promote housing finance market with greater participation by the banks and financial institutions.

The refinancing facilities will be for long-, medium- and short-term periods to banks and financial institutions against their existing conventional and Islamic housing finance portfolios. He said that the shortcomings of house building laws were being removed to ensure the recovery from the defaulters.

The central bank is also formulating Prudential Regulations for the SMEs, including setting up of Credit Information Bureau, enabling commercial banks to finance SMEs, said Wathra.

“SBP will facilitate the SMEs in the best way possible,” said the governor adding that it is pursuing a three-pronged strategy to achieve the goal of 50% financial inclusion by the year 2020.

“SBP is creating a favourable regulatory environment for the microfinance sector, while providing cheaper financial resources and building infrastructure to reduce the cost of delivery of funds.”

Microfinance Country Forum 2016

Equitable economic growth and financial inclusion is the key to progress, said Wathra while addressing the 10th Microfinance Country Forum 2016.

He underlined the need for an inclusive growth in the country at an accelerated pace, and said that all segments of the economy must contribute towards this goal.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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Power production: Govt claims 10,000MW to be added this year

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 14:43

KARACHI: The Ministry of Water and Power has made a tall claim that the government will be able to add 10,000 megawatts of electricity to the system in the current calendar year.

“The ministry is making every effort to generate an additional 10,000 megawatts before the end of 2017,” Water and Power Secretary Younus Dagha said in a meeting chaired by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

This increase in power production is more than double the capacity of new projects the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (PPIB) expects to see in 2017.

According to the PPIB, the country will see the launch of six power projects having cumulative capacity of 4,907MW in the current calendar year.

These included three imported gas-fired power plants of 2,780MW, two coal-fired plants of 1,980MW and one hydroelectric power plant of 147MW, it said.

However, the expected increase of 10,000MW is approximately double the existing shortfall of 5,000 to 6,000MW. Total demand for power consumption in the country stands at around 25,000MW.

The Ministry of Water and Power had been working hard to generate maximum electricity with the most efficient energy mix, a Ministry of Finance statement quoted Dagha as saying. The liquefied natural gas (LNG)-based power projects were an efficient option to cater to the increasing energy demand, he said.

“Progress on the under-construction LNG power plants has been closely monitored by the ministry; these are progressing at a smooth pace as per the time frame,” the secretary stressed.

According to the statement, the meeting between the two ministries was aimed at reviewing the progress on LNG-based power plants.

Federal Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said they also discussed how to improve performance of the power distribution network. Generation and distribution areas were being improved to provide better services for the consumers, he said.

“The government not only wants to improve energy supplies, but also wants to find solutions for the future,” Dar commented.

According to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), the share of re-gasified LNG-fired power generation stood at 4.12% (or 2,962MW) in the system in December 2016.

The tariff for LNG power plants was 33% higher than the power produced with the help of locally produced natural gas during the month.

The LNG plants produced power at Rs7.04 per unit compared to the tariff of Rs5.28 per unit for the plants based on local gas, Nepra added.

The government kick-started test power generation from the 1,200MW LNG-based project in Sheikhupura, Punjab in November last year.

The plant will start adding 750MW to the national grid by March this year and will utilise its full capacity by December. This is one of the three LNG-based projects that will become operational in 2017.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2017.

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