NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD JANUARY 11TH TO JANUARY 17TH, 2016
US COMMITTED TO PROVIDE ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE TO PAKISTAN
The News, January 14, 2016
KARACHI: The United States is determined to continue providing economic assistance to Pakistan in 2016 to help the country improve security and development in the border areas, its senior official said on Wednesday.
“We are committed to provide economic assistance…We are currently awaiting a decision from the congress to see what next year  allocation will be,” said John Groarke, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director for Pakistan.
Groarke, talking on the sidelines of the inaugural session of a three-day conference on ‘Non-Banking Finance and Capital Markets’, said Pakistan is one of the two largest recipients of US government economic assistance in the world.
“Over the last 10 years, the United States has invested around $7 billion in Pakistan. That reflects how important Pakistan is to us,” he said. “The United States has been a close partner of Pakistan in its development for not only the last 10 years, but for decades.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, in partnership with USAID, organised the conference.
Groarke said there is a need to promote stability in Pakistan to commence development and foster economic growth.
The USAID is financially helping various sectors, including financial, agriculture, energy, health and education to Pakistan. It’s rendering efforts towards the development in the federally administered tribal areas.
USAID has invested around one billion dollars to improve security and bring stability in the tribal areas. Much of the funds have been used to develop small infrastructure, including roads, bridges and dams.
The funds were also utilised to help the internally displaced people return home and for their economic livelihood.
Groarke, addressing the inaugural session, said development of the non-banking financial sector is a must to facilitate the private sector, particularly micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, to have an access to capital for starting new businesses or expansion.
“The non-banking financial sector is terribly underutilised,” he said, citing a SECP’s report that said non-banking financial companies, excluding insurance business, accounts for only 4.9 percent of the total assets of the financial industry.
“Future of Pakistan is with the private sector, which generates jobs people need,” he added.
USAID’s upcoming small and medium enterprises activities will increase the access of small and medium-sized enterprises to all forms of financing, such as equity, venture capital and credit finance.
Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra at the State Bank of Pakistan said the conference will support efforts to promote non-banking financial sector and capital markets as an alternative source of funding for businesses and diversify investment opportunities for the savers.
“Public-sector NBFCs (non-banking financial companies), such as State Life Insurance Corporation and National Investment Trust have played a significant role in catering to the investment need of the public,” Wathra said.
He said the share of NBFIs in the industry’s asset base has been stagnant at 11 percent for the last few years.
The SBP’s chief said the integrated Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) will provide a level-playing field to local as well as foreign investors. “PSX will enhance the culture of saving and investments and provide a tool for the growth of businesses and the economy,” he said.
Chairman Zafar Hijazi at SECP said NBFIs have been growing at a slow pace during the last 15 years. —Salman Siddiqui
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM DECEMBER 21st TO DECEMBER 27th 2015
CHINESE BANK TO PROVIDE RS162BN LOAN FOR ORANGE LINE
Dawn, December 22nd, 2015
LAHORE: An agreement was signed between the federal government and Exim Bank of China here on Monday for provision of funds for the Orange Line Metro Train project.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif was chief guest at the ceremony.
Under the agreement, Exim Bank would provide Rs162 billion as soft loan for the metro train. Federal Economic Affairs Secretary Tariq Bajwa and Exim Bank Vice President Sun Ping signed the documents.
Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the chargé d’affaires of Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Khalid Masood, provincial ministers, lawmakers, chief secretary, prominent industrialists, bankers, intellectuals, columnists and senior officers were present.
Shahbaz said: “Today is a historic day towards provision of a most modern transport system in Pakistan. This project is a milestone in Pak-China friendship.”
The project, he said, would facilitate 250,000 commuters daily and their number would gradually increase.
To be completed within 27 months, the project would result in transfer of Chinese technology as its civil works contract had been given to the Punjab government.
The chief minister hoped that China Railway and the China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) would subcontract electrical and mechanical works to Pakistani companies. He said the agreement for metro train had been signed in May last year but sit-ins delayed the project.
Finance Minister Dar congratulated the chief minister on the signing of an agreement for funding of a big project for infrastructure. He lauded Shahbaz’s efforts for development of the province.
Minister Iqbal hoped the mega project would help boost the economy as well as confidence of foreign investors. He said projects such as the Orange Line would be seen in other major towns in the future.
Sun Ping said no effort would be spared for completion of the project within the stipulated period.
USAID DISTRIBUTES TEACHING, READING RESOURCES AMONG 1,460 SINDH SCHOOLS
The News, December 25, 2015
ISLAMABAD: The USAID has completed the distribution of 120,520 teaching and reading resources in 1,460 schools in seven districts of Sindh including Sukkur, Larkana, Dadu, Qambar Shahdadkot, Jacobabad, Khairpur, Kashmore and five towns of Karachi under $165 million government-to-government initiative.
The project is being implemented under Sindh Basic Education Programme (SBEP), which is the US government’s direct support to Sindh Education Sector Plan 2014-18.
As an integral component of SBEP, Sindh Reading Programme is in line with Sindh’s educational priorities to advance primary education and contribute to USAID’s global education target of 100 million children with improved rudimentary learning and literacy skills.
These reading and teaching collaterals, consisting of lesson plans, read-alouds and leveled readers, have been distributed under the USAID-funded Sindh Reading Programme (SRP), which is working in collaboration with provincial government to reinforce foundational reading skills of children in grade-I and Grade–II.
The format of teachers’ lesson plans is activity based and implementation-friendly. It inspires greater level of interaction between teachers and students, thus having a positive impact on student-teacher relationship.
The material development is based on an absorbing consultative and review process led by the Material Review Committee appointed by government of Sindh and comprising language and curriculum experts from public and private institutions.
“USAID is striving for quality assurance of teaching and learning practices in schools by creating avenues that empower teachers in the classroom and also holds them accountable.
We want to ensure that every child in our target district is able to realise his/her potential through cutting edge reading and learning resources,” said Dr Randy Hatfield, Programme Manager, Sindh Basic Education Program, USAID.
Keeping in view the continuum of special education needs vis-à-vis classroom materials, SRP’s teaching and reading resources are a set of highly specialised aids, which are introducing public school students to read-alouds and leveled readers for the first time in Sindh province.
A key feature of these read-alouds and leveled readers is that they are methodically aligned with scripted lesson plans, providing students and teachers with an integrated and coherent learning experience.
The teaching and reading materials developed and distributed by USAID Sindh Reading Programme is a major intervention that ensures the creation of low-cost education tools to improve reading scores of early grade students.
We welcome and appreciate these strategic interventions by US government, which are facilitating fulfillment of Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan which stresses upon free and compulsory education for children between the ages of 5-16 in Pakistan.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM DECEMBER 14TH TO DECEMBER 20TH, 2015
EU to give €653m in aid to Pakistan
The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2015.
ISLAMABAD: In an effort to reduce economic inequality to address one of the reasons behind extremism, the European Union will spend more than half of its €653 million or Rs104 billion in aid to Pakistan on the country’s rural areas, and possibly initiate welfare projects in South Punjab in particular.
Pakistan and the EU on Tuesday signed a multi-year Indicative programme for €653 million to be spent over the 2014-2020 period. Economic Affairs Division (EAD) Secretary Tariq Bajwa and EU Ambassador to Pakistan Jean-Francois Cautain signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU).
The aid will be given for rural development, education, governance reforms and improvement of human rights, according to the finance ministry. However, due to limited size of the envelope and huge sectoral requirements, the EU may not be able to make any major impact in these areas.
For the first time, the EU has signalled its intent to reach out to South Punjab – a neglected and undernourished area that is appearing on the radar of foreign powers due to its vulnerability to the extremist elements. So far, the focus of the donors community has largely remained on the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and to some extent on Balochistan.
“The EU is open to broadening its support to reform agendas beyond Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Sindh especially into Balochistan, Fata and possibly South Punjab,” an EU document stated.
Under its multi-year programme, the EU also plans to increase interaction with Pakistan’s provincial governments by reducing reliance on the federal government, which the EU believes is in line with the country’s ongoing devolution process.
The EU would give €340 million or 52% of its total six-year aid package for spending in rural areas of the country. The EU stated that the rural development programme is aimed at promoting full integration of structurally poor and backward regions into the mainstream national development agenda of Pakistan by enhancing opportunities for economic growth and sustainable livelihoods in rural areas.
“The support aims at widening access to basic public services, reducing social and economic inequality between households and communities and improving resilience, increasing income generating activities and contributes to peace building and consolidation of political stability in insurgency affected areas”, it added. The spending will be largely in K-P, Fata, Balochistan, Sindh and possibly in South Punjab.
An amount of €210 million or roughly one-third of the total aid is earmarked for improving equitable access to education and completion of quality basic and secondary education for children, including reducing gender and regional disparities. The assistance in education sector is aimed at accelerating human development and achieving related Sustainable Development Goals.
The EU would also give €97 million or 15% of the aid for governance reforms and improving human rights. The amount is planned to be used for strengthening the capacity of civil society, social partners and social dialogue, media and other independent organisations.
The €653 million programme sets out the EU’s development strategic objectives in support of a stable, democratic and pluralistic Pakistan, said EU Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM DECEMBER 7TH TO DECEMBER13TH, 2015
Intel, USAID to train trainers
The News International, December 11, 2015
LAHORE: Intel Pakistan will train at least 100 master trainers for USAID Pakistan Reading Project (PRP) to enhance their competencies in the effective use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in school education / literacy and daily life through Intel Education Initiative.
A statement said Thursday that Intel Pakistan and USAID PRP will collaborate for better access to and enhanced quality of education in the lesser developed regions of Pakistan.
Naveed Siraj said Intel Pakistan was also committed to support PRP field staff in order to improve the quality of reading and other education activities.
The USAID funded PRP is a five year initiative, which is supporting Pakistan’s provincial and regional departments of education to improve reading skills of children in grades one and two. PRP is promoting the adaptation and implementation of policies that promote quality teaching and ensure the sustainability of the initiatives over time through permanent policy changes.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD NOVEMBER 30TH TO DECEMBER 6TH, 2015
USAID TO HOST INVESTMENT CONFERENCE ON CLEAN ENERGY
Dawn, November 30th, 2015
WASHINGTON: The US Agency for International Development will host a two-day conference in Washington next week to highlight business opportunities in Pakistan’s clean energy sector.
A USAID spokesman told journalists here that the Dec 1-2 conference would encourage American, international and Pakistani clean energy project developers and investors to invest in Pakistan. The conference will be held at the US Institute of Peace in Washington.
Launched earlier this year, the US-Pakistan Clean Energy Partnership seeks to advance energy sector reforms, improve Pakistan’s investment framework, and ultimately add 3,000 megawatts of clean energy by 2019.
USAID’s Assistant to the Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs Larry Sampler, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani will provide opening remarks on Tuesday before participating in a press conference.
Following the introductory remarks, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olson, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will address the participants.
Senior Pakistani officials from the energy sector, private sector project developers and investors involved in the full-range of clean and renewable technologies and natural gas projects in Pakistan will also participate in the discussions.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD NOVEMBER 23RD TO NOVEMBER 29TH, 2015
GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP OTHERS
The News, November 23, 2015
Mian Saifur Rehman
God helps those who help others. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should stop struggling and start depending only and only on help from others, just doing nothing at your own end.
Applying this theme to Pak-America ties, signs are now visible to prove that this proverbial relationship has gained quite a momentum between the two countries. Had it not been so, the difficult, nay hard-to-please Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif would not have worn the USAID hat while inaugurating the Muzaffargarh Thermal Power Station’s (MTPS) rehabilitation ceremony and likewise, he would not have raised the slogan ‘US-Pak friendship Zindabad’ during the International Business Opportunities Seminar organized by Punjab Board of Investment & Trade (PBIT) the other day in the provincial capital. And then we have before us the CM’s background of ‘external aid bashing’ for which he had been repeatedly rejecting help from ‘Aghiaar’ (foreign masters, in fact).
Probably this reinvigorated US-Pak friendship is free from the element of ‘foreign master mindset’ as it appears to be a help from the US to make us stand on our feet and not something like charity that Shahbaz had been denouncing off and on. Even during my recent talk with Mr Zachary V Harkenrider, the US Consul-General, Lahore, the latter told me that the US wanted to promote trade, not aid, with Pakistan. What I’ve inferred out of this statement is that even in cases of grants or aid, the emphasis is on helping others (Pakistan in the instant case) with equal concern for keeping the recipients’ dignity and self-esteem intact. If that is the case, then ‘Long Live US-Pakistan friendship.
Additional good news in this friendship context has of late come to the fore the other day that USAID has practically helped Pakistan in finding huge reserves of shale gas and oil (gas reserves touch more than a trillion cubic feet figure). And the American company, GE, is already helping us in meeting the energy deficiency. As regards the rehabilitation of MTPS, it will restore some 500 megawatts of energy to Pakistan’s grid that, according to the US Consul-General, would benefit 4.5 million people.
According to the American diplomat, “This project is one example of the ways in which the United States and Pakistan government have worked together closely to meet this country’s energy needs. To that end, we have committed more than $1 billion to energy sector investments and reforms in cooperation with the Government of Pakistan and the Government of Punjab province”.
So, given these endeavours in general and combined efforts in particular, can we now conclude that Pakistan, especially Punjab has embarked on E-governance or Energy governance? The other day, a TV anchor asked me during a current affairs programme, whether good governance has come to the country? In all earnest I advised the anchorperson to forget about good governance. “Unless there is governance, how can we rate it as good or bad?” In Punjab, the chief has got rid of this debate and girded up his loins to make the province energy-sufficient without getting embroiled in good-bad debates. It is perhaps in this backdrop that Mr Zach, the US Consul-General, has described the CM as true leader in the energy sector “who is working tirelessly to bring new energy on line, and to attract investment to Punjab’s power sector as I can attest from my experience here in Punjab. And these efforts i.e. our investments, public as well as private, are bearing fruit that include state-of-the-art General Electric turbines and equipment for three new combined-cycle LNG power plants at Bhikki, Haveli Bahadur Shah and at Balloki.
Meanwhile, U.S. government investments are helping build and renovate dams and hydropower plants such as Gomal Zam, Satpara, Tarbela, and Mangla, as well as thermal power plants at Muzaffargarh, Guddu, and Jamshoro but we are not going to rest as we are committed to continuing this cooperation. In April, the United States and Pakistan announced the Clean Energy Initiative, in which U.S. investment will help Pakistan add another 3,000 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to the grid over the next three years”.
All these sincere American moves might illuminate many parts of our land but shouldn’t we emulate discipline, honesty and efficiency of the successful economic giants to combat the devastation unleashed on our system by some junior and middle-tier staffers of Discos who are working day and night to eclipse the energy-generation efforts by facilitating massive power thefts for a petty price? It is not a matter of remote past when some senior citizens pinpointed deceptive techniques employed by one or two Lesco staffers but no heed was paid by Ministry of Water and Power, Lesco CEO and even the Workers Federation that happens to be the union of electricity department employees.
‘USAID PROGRAMME HELPED IMPROVE MEPCO’S PERFORMANCE’
The News, November 27, 2015
MULTAN: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has helped in preventing overbilling complaints and unscheduled loadshedding through installation of 40,000 smart meters and setting up a centralised IT centre, said Mepco Chief Executive Officer Fazalullah Durrani.
Talking to newsmen on the successful completion of the USAID power distribution programme here on Thursday, he said that the smart meters had been installed in Multan, Vehari and Khanewal circles in the first phase. The smart meters had ensured 100pc removal of overbilling complaints, he added. He said that the smart meters would be installed in the remaining circles till December because the Mepco was facing shortage of staff and smart meters.
Giving details of the USAID multiple initiatives and projects, he said that the PDP established the state-of-the-art IT infrastructure and installed 40,000 smart meters on all the high-end industrial and commercial customers and on tube-wells of Multan, Khanewal and Vehari areas, besides installing a new billing system.
To improve planning and engineering functions, new computers centres had been established at all the circle offices and headquarters with geographic information system (GIS) mapping and power system analysis tools, he said, adding that these were helping in improving the area planning and making plans for expansion, loss reduction and rehabilitation and in optimising investment.
To overcome unplanned loadshedding, the USAID had installed a modern and innovative automatic monitoring and control system and had established a new power distribution control centre the Mepco CEO added. He said that it had tremendously improved the load management and given relief to the public. He said that 48,000 capacitors had been installed on tube-wells, which resulted in improved supply to the tube-well customers and saving 70 megawatt.
Similarly, on selected feeders, switched capacitors and automatic voltage regulators had been installed, which would reduce losses and improve power supply to the tube-well customers in the rural areas, he added.
The Mepco CEO said that for the first time, single-phase smart transformers had been introduced in congested areas of Multan and bare-conductor LT lines had been replaced by 600km aerial bundled cable (ABC), which had improved power supply and reduced complaints. He said that the USAID had trained the Mepco employees and provided special vehicles and tools to the line staff.
The senior managers had been trained locally and abroad, he added.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD NOVEMBER 17TH TO NOVEMBER 22ND, 2015
THE DEBT TRAP
Dawn, November 14th, 2015
IMAGINE a world in which there is no foreign aid, and no multinational institutions to prop up faltering economies. The only way to get foreign capital is by borrowing from banks at commercial interest rates.
Actually, this is not such a stretch as this is pretty much how the world was before the Second World War. It was only with the American Marshall Plan aimed at reviving war-ravaged European countries that foreign aid gradually became a feature in the budgets of developed countries, as well as those of the recipients.
The Cold War saw both superpowers vying for influence by doling out military and economic assistance to their clients. Over time this bred dependency, and allowed the rulers of developing — and often dysfunctional — countries to divert domestic resources to grandiose projects and shiny new weapons that kept their armed forces happy.
Pakistan’s early admission to Cento and Seato, two American-led military pacts, has generated much debate and criticism. However, we don’t have to look far for the reason. I was told by a retired three-star general that when Ayub Khan visited Ankara, he saw the brand new American weapons the Turkish forces had been supplied with, and his “mouth started watering”. He was advised to join the American alliances if he wanted similar weaponry.
This influx of modern weapons — and the overconfidence they produced — shaped Pakistan’s policy towards Kashmir and India. Had we been forced to equip our armed forces with our own limited resources, it is doubtful Operation Gibraltar — the ill-judged attempt to cause an uprising in Kashmir — would have taken place. And the 1965 war would never have happened.
These are the ifs and buts of history, but it is a fact that military aid has seldom led to peace. Take Israel as an example. Had it been forced to stand on its own feet and pay for its own military hardware, it would have been forced to make peace along its borders and arrive at a settlement with the Palestinians. As it is, scores of billions in American grants and loans have encouraged it to act as the bully on the block, launching wars and extending its oppressive occupation.
Even when assistance is of a purely social and economic nature, it allows rulers to divert internal resources away from these sectors for other, less useful, purposes. Among donors, aid has created a vast bureaucracy whose purpose is to dole out and monitor large amounts. To justify its existence, it churns out endless reports and evaluations that few read. Consultants on obscene contracts fly around the world — usually business class — and stay at five-star hotels. All these costs are naturally part of the ‘aid’ being transferred to a developing country.
Much has been written about the way foreign aid is used, and the wastage inherent in the system. In fact, it can be argued that in many cases, aid has been counterproductive by allowing corrupt and inefficient rulers to hang on to power by providing them with a lifeline. Despite their mismanagement of the economy, they are still able to channel a trickle of development funds to their beleaguered citizens thanks to foreign aid.
But as ever, there is no such thing as a free lunch. By taking on a vast amount of loans, they burden future generations with the responsibility of repaying them. Currently, Pakistan uses nearly half its budget to service its foreign and domestic debt. And every year, we have to borrow to pay the interest and instalments on past loans, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars of loans written off after 9/11. This is known as the debt trap.
Apart from the financial costs, aid imposes political costs as well, and these are perhaps even more damaging. During the Cold War, Washington and Moscow handed out vast sums to prop up their proxies, orchestrating coups when it suited them. In most cases, these chosen leaders were despots who hung on to power, thanks to the external support they received. Obviously, the policies they followed — often dictated from afar — were not designed to benefit the countries they ruled.
So the question to be addressed is whether the world is a better place as a result of foreign aid. Obviously, humanitarian aid has saved countless lives in the aftermath of natural and manmade disasters. But military assistance, in particular, has made the world a less safe place as it enables recipients to adopt more aggressive policies than they otherwise might have done.
It can be argued that military aid can enhance security for weaker states that are confronted with more powerful adversaries. But at the end of the day, geography is one thing we can’t change, and smaller powers have to make accommodations and compromises.
And when the gravy train stops, aid-dependent states won’t know how to cope.
PAKISTAN HAS 10,159 TRILLION FEET RESERVOIRS OF SHALE GAS: STUDY
The News, November 20, 2015
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has a massive potential of 10,159 trillion cubic feet shale gas and 2.3 trillion oil resource, several times higher than the initial estimates of US Energy Information Administration (USEIA), reveals latest study conducted with the help of USAID.
USEIA had reported in April 2011 presence of 206 TCF shale gas in place in lower Indus Basin out of which 51 TCF were technically recoverable.
However, in June 2013, USEIA revised shale gas resource in Pakistan as 586 TCF in place out of which 105 TCF were tipped as risked technically recoverable and also included 9.1 billion barrel shale oil risked technically recoverable out of 227 billion barrel shale oil in place.
In an interaction with media persons here on Thursday Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that shale gas study was initiated with support of USAID in January 2014 which had been completed in November this year. He said that study had confirmed that Pakistan had 10,159 trillion cubic feet shale gas resource and 2,323 billion shale oil.
“Risked technically recoverable resource is 95 trillion cubic feet shale gas and 14 billion barrel shale oil resource,” Abbasi said adding that recoverable data of 1,611 wells was collected and shale formation of 1312 wells through drill was done. He said that 70 per cent of wells data was used to develop this study.
He said that samples were sent to New Tech laboratory in Houston to verify shale gas and oil resource in place. He said that study confirmed that Pakistan had potential of shale gas and oil which was more than expectations.
The minister further said that technology available in Pakistan for exploring conventional oil and gas could be used for exploiting shale oil and gas. However, country requires more technology for the purpose on a larger scale. He said that real challenges were environmental issues, provision of water and higher cost of drilling. He said that one well required 3-8 million gallons water. The minister said that OGDCL has been asked to initiate one pilot project for exploring the shale gas well.
“We have water but real issue is disposal of water,” he said adding that shale gas would cost $10 per Million British Thermal Unit (mmbtu).However, he said that cost would come down further in case more recovery of shale oil. He said that world was exploring shale gas and oil and Pakistan wanted to utilise this potential also. “We have assigned OGDCL and PPL to explore shale gas and oil from one well to determine cost of extracting this resource,” he said adding that shale resource policy would be formulated following cost of drilling by these two companies”.
Petroleum Advisor to Petroleum Ministry Zaid Muzaffar said that OGDCL was working on one well to find out shale gas and oil. “We are hopeful to find results in next two to three months,” he said adding that one well needs $2 to $3 million additional cost to explore shale resource.
Petroleum minister said that country had 20 trillion cubic feet conventional gas reserves and 385 million barrels oil.” The gas is enough to meet requirements for 15 years at existing level of production,” he said.
The minister said that gas would be available for domestic consumers in Punjab only. He said that power plants and fertiliser units would be run on LNG. “CNG sector may also get LNG if supply is available,” he said adding that captive power plants would also be switched to LNG. He further said that transparent process was followed in awarding LNG contract. He said that Petroleum Ministry had also provided all required information to National Accountability Bureau (NAB). “I have been engaged personally in process of LNG and therefore, I take the responsibility,” he said adding that Transparency International had also declared LNG process transparent. He said that LNG import was open to everyone. In principle, we should not involve in this business,” he said.
He said that Petroleum Ministry had moved a summary to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) to deregulate oil prices but the proposal was not approved. ”We are looking at petroleum situation again whether it should be deregulated or not,” he said.
He said that a summary had also been moved to Council of Common Interests (CCI) to approve regulation of LPG prices to provide relief to the consumers.
USAID LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER MATERNAL, CHILD HEALTH IN SINDH
The Express Tribune November 04, 2015
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Tuesday launched a campaign aimed at increasing awareness regarding maternal and child health in Pakistan.
The campaign includes two TV commercials, a communication toolkit and a pictorial booklet that would help people, particularly mothers, better understand matters related to pregnancy and childbirth. Speaking at the launch, US Consul General Brian Heath expressed concern over the high number of women and newborns who die during pregnancy and childbirth each year in Pakistan and said that proper identification of danger signs and presence of skilled birth attendants during delivery could prevent many of these tragic deaths.
“Maternal and newborn deaths can be prevented if women and their families have better knowledge of nutrition, immunisation, and prenatal care. In essence, timely identification of complications can saves numerous lives,” said Heath.
The Centre for Communication Programs (CCP) and Jhpiego — affiliates of Johns Hopkins University in the United States — worked together with the Sindh Health and Population departments as part of USAID’s Maternal Child Health Programme to achieve these aims, he added.
Sindh Health Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar expressed gratitude for the US government and its initiative. “USAID and its efforts have been instrumental in improving maternal and child health services in Sindh,” said the minister.
Also present at the launch ceremony were Saleem Raza, secretary, Sindh Population and Welfare Department; Saeed Mangnejo, secretary, Sindh Health Department; Shuaib Khan, CCP party chief; and Farid Midhet, country director, Jhpiego; as well as representatives from USAID, international organisations and Sindh government officials.
USAID AGRIBUSINESS PROJECT HELPED 27,000 FARMERS
The News, November 7,2015
Islamabad: The US Agency for International Development (USAID) held a ceremony on Friday showcasing a successful agricultural programme that shared modern techniques with 27,000 farmers and helped to increase agricultural exports by $34 million.
USAID’s Agribusiness Project worked with both small farmers and larger producers to increase productivity and quality while reaching new domestic and international markets. The four-year programme, which ends this month, created jobs for 14,000 Pakistanis.
“The farmers of Pakistan have tremendous potential, and USAID is committed to supporting farmers in adopting modern best practices and technologies,” USAID Mission Director John Groarke said at the ceremony.
Some of the program’s achievements include a 300-percent increase in income for 800 women who process apricots in Gilgit-Baltistan, an improvement in the quality of chilies from Pakistan, and improvements in cuts of meat for the international export market.
USAID is continuing to support market-led growth in the horticulture and livestock value chains through a recently launched US-Pakistan Partnership for Agriculture Market Development.
US assistance has reached more than 800,000 rural households and financed irrigation initiatives for more than 480,000 acres of farmland in Pakistan. The United States helps Pakistani agribusinesses access financing, form partnerships, and tap into more lucrative markets, with the goal of linking thousands of local producers nationwide to major commercial firms by the end of 2016. More than 26,000 new jobs can be attributed to USAID programming in the last four years. Through USAID efforts, the incremental sales for Pakistani businesses in the past five years have increased by more than $144 million, and the revenue generated by the exports for the targeted commodities, a large part of which is agricultural produce, has increased by $57 million.
UN FUND OKAYS FIRST CLIMATE AID FOR POOR NATIONS
Dawn, November 7th, 2015
PARIS: The UN’s Green Climate Fund announced on Friday that it has approved finance for its first projects to help developing countries fight global warming, three weeks before a crucial world summit to ink a climate rescue pact.
Finance is a divisive issue as rich and developing nations negotiate a global agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and conference host France has said firm money commitments will be key to getting an agreement in December.
The GCF said in a statement its board had approved $168 million (155m euros) for eight projects in countries including Peru, Malawi, Senegal, Bangladesh, Fiji and the Maldives.
“The fund is now truly up and running, and I am confident the board will go on to… fund much bigger projects in the near future,” the board’s co-chairman HenrikHarboe said. Developing nations are looking to rich countries to show how they intend to meet a promise made in 2009 to mobilise $100 billion (92bn euros) per year in climate finance from 2020.
The money is to help them make the shift from cheap and abundant fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, and to shore up national defences against climate change-induced superstorms, drought, floods and sea-level rise.
Developing countries also want compensation for “loss and damage” suffered as a result of such events, for which they say rich nations are mainly to blame as they have polluted the atmosphere for longer.
In September, President Francois Hollande of France, which will host the November 30-December 11 UN climate conference, said forging a pact hinged on “firm commitment on finance” for developing nations.
“With climate finance being a critical element of global climate talks, the approval of the first project proposals marks a major trust-building measure between developing and developed countries,” the fund said on Friday.
The GCF board, which met in Livingstone in Zambia this week, approved initial funding for three projects in Africa, three in Asia-Pacific and two in Latin America.
They include boosting climate early warning systems in Malawi, managing fresh water shortages in the Maldives, and a wastewater management scheme in Fiji.