Enhancement of banks’ capacity to meet CPEC requirements urged

The Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) Friday called on the government to help local banks in enhancing their capacities to meet the requirements of mega project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“The government should ask banks to increase their strength and invite big foreign banks to step into Pakistan’s promising market”, said President PBIF Mian Zahid Hussain in a statement issued here.
Mian Zahid Hussain, who is also senior vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FPCCI) said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has started implementation of establishing 41 buildings on the economic corridor to handle tax related issues.
The business leader said that government should ensure that all the project initiated by the FBR should be completed without any complication leading to delay.
He noted that the current administration has started giving incentives to the staff of the FBR which will have a positive impact on the overall performance.
The decision of the government to resolve the longstanding disputes between taxpayers and tax collectors is laudable which will reduce the burden on the tax agency, he said.
But during resolving issues of tax payer, it must be ensured that no tax payer got harassed as it will discourage Business Fraternity, he added.

Foreign navies’ participation in AMAN-17 reflects trust in Pakistan

KARACHI, Feb 14 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Tuesday said that the participation of a large number of foreign navies at Multinational Naval Exercise AMAN-17 was reflective of confidence of world navies in Pakistan.
The AMAN-17 came to its conclusion with spectacular sea maneuvers and Fleet Review in the North Arabian Sea on Tuesday amid a joint resolve of 37 countries – ‘Together for Peace.’
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was the chief guest on the occasion, said a Pakistan Navy press release issued here.

Expressing his satisfaction, the Prime Minister lauded the strenuous efforts of Pakistan Navy for the successful conduct of Exercise AMAN-17, which is a manifestation of Pakistan’s policy of constructive engagement with the comity of nations for peace and stability in the maritime commons.

The Prime Minister said with this state of operational readiness, Pakistan Navy is fully prepared and committed to ensuring seaward defence and safeguard maritime interests of Pakistan.
Thirty-seven countries participated in the Multinational Naval Exercise, AMAN-17 which was conducted in two phases; the harbour phase spanned from February 11 to 12 and the sea phase from February 13 to 14.

Upon arrival onboard Pakistan Navy Ship NASR, the Prime Minister was received by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Zakaullah.

KARACHI: February 14 – Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Naval Chief Admiral Zakaullah and Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif witnessing multinational Naval Exercise (AMAN- 17) in deep sea water at a ship of Pakistan Navy. APP Photo by Sahib Zaman

Defence Minister, Secretary Defence, Governor Sindh, Chief Minister Sindh, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Chief of the Army Staff, Chief of the Air Staff, Sri Lankan Naval Chief, National Security Advisor to PM, Ambassadors, Consul Generals, Diplomats and other high ranking civil and military officials were also present on the occasion.

The Prime Minister was briefed on the overall conduct and operational perspective of the exercise and was given a detailed account of the sea based activities.
The chief guest witnessed different operational serials of the exercise conducted at sea by participating naval ships, aircraft, helicopters and PAF fighter jets. These serials comprised replenishment of men and material from one ship to another, Rockets Depth Charge (RDC) firing and surface to surface firing on pre-determined targets.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was also presented an impressive fly past by various aircraft and helicopters of Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force and participating countries including Japanese P3C Orion aircraft.

In the end, all participating ships of different countries skimmed past PNS NASR in a column formation and presented salute to the dignitary.

All the coalition ships also formed up for traditional ‘AMAN Formation’ to signify unity and harmony amongst the participating nations against seaward crimes and maritime terrorism.
The harbour phase comprised International Maritime Conference, seminars, table talks, cross ships visits, call ons, International Band Display and Maritime Counter Terrorism Demonstration. Whereas, the sea phase included practical execution of operational plans and activities finalised during harbour phase.

Aman 17 kicks off: Russia makes its debut in multinational naval drill

KARACHI: Pakistan formally kicked off the fourth Aman-17 exercise at Pakistan Navy Dockyard on Friday.

The fourth multinational exercise formally commenced, under the aegis of Pakistan Navy with a colourful flag hoisting ceremony with the Navy band playing national songs.

“Though a total 36 countries are participating this time, nine of these countries are participating with their assets including ships, aircraft, special operating forces with Russia participating for the first time,” an official of the Pakistan navy told The Express Tribune.

“Even Sri Lanka’s naval chief is in Pakistan to attend the exercise.”

There will be three warships from China, four from the US, two from Russia and one each from Indonesia, Australia, Turkey, Sri Lanka and United Kingdom while two P-3C Orion aircraft from Japan are participating in the exercise.

The five-day drill will continue till February 14 while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will also attend the concluding ceremony.

One of the key features, other than the sea exercise, is the international maritime conference spread over three days, organised by National Maritime Policy Research Centre.

“We are here for a common purpose, for a common goal to ensure security, to make this world safe for us, for the rest of humanity so that there is peace which brings prosperity and progress that is what our constitution mandates us to do,” Commander Pakistan Fleet Vice Admiral Arifullah Hussaini said.

“We believe in inclusive policy and we think that if the world stands together, there will be great benefits for all of us.”

The admiral said that the region is experiencing swift geo-strategic changes, which have provided Pakistan with diversified challenges but also many opportunities that mandate a secure environment not only within Pakistan but also in the region at large.

He reiterated that Pakistan Navy has always been a consistent security contributor in the Indian Ocean region.

“Being a lead nation, Pakistan’s maritime forces are actively participating with other navies in combating Narcotics trade, human smuggling, gun running, terrorism and piracy at high seas. We need to make collective efforts to eliminate these threats for lasting peace in the region,” he added.

The importance of this collaboration will enhance with the complete operationalisation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Gwadar Port meant to bring in prosperity not only to Pakistan but the region and beyond.

“Multinational exercise Aman 17 is an effort which will surely improve response, tactics and procedures among various maritime forces operating in the region,” the admiral added.

“The concept of the exercise is to promote understanding which will be developed through formal and informal interactions. The exercise is expected to further refine the concept of ‘collective and collaborative’ security among the participants. Pakistan in general and Pakistan Navy in particular takes immense pride in leading these efforts.”

Commander Pakistan Fleet extended warm welcome to the participating Navies and hoped that their presence or togetherness will forge a cooperation, yet brotherhood which will prevent conflicts and should there be one, we will quickly resolve it to establish and maintain lasting peace. He also valued participating nations for supporting Pakistan’s resolve for ensuring peace in the region.

ADB lauds Pakistan’s economic turnaround

ISLAMABAD – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has appreciated Pakistan’s economic turnaround due to the reforms agenda implemented during the past three and half years.

ADB Country Director Werner Liepach called on Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in Islamabad on Sunday and briefed him on the progress of various ongoing projects under Bank’s Country Operation Business Plan for Pakistan. Liepach reiterated ADB’s commitment for supporting development initiatives in Pakistan.

The minister stated that the government will continue to work closely with development partners on initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life of the people of Pakistan. He praised the role of ADB as a development partner for Pakistan. He expressed satisfaction on the progress of the development projects being implemented with ADB’s support.

Dar said that both ADB and the government of Pakistan must work together to further strengthen this relationship and to achieve further efficiencies in the implementation of projects undertaken in collaboration by both parties.

PM says Pakistan strategically placed to be Asia’s principal trade corridor

ISLAMABAD:Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan’s strategic location gives it the potential to become Asia’s premier trade, energy and transport corridor on Wednesday.

He was talking to Netherlands Royal Friesland Campina Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Roelof Joosten, in Islamabad.

The premier said that the government is extensively working on various infrastructure, energy and communication projects to facilitate trade and investment in diverse sectors.

Nawaz noted that the government recently extended the subsidy on fertilisers to facilitate farmers and propagated laws for Special Economic Zones to attract Foreign Direct Investment.

Joosten said Pakistan offers the Netherlands the opportunity to invest in the region.

The CEO further remarkedthat Pakistan was becoming an investment destination due to the improved security environment, rapidly expanding quality infrastructure and marked reduction in energy shortages.

He said that his country was planning to bring in an additional 100 million dollars investment to Pakistan in the next couple of years.

Gov’t releases Rs 363.980 bln under PSDP

ISLAMABAD, Jan 30 (APP): The federal government has released over Rs 363.980 billion for different social sector developmental projects under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2016-17 as against the total allocations of Rs 800 billion.
The government released 13.669 billion till January 27 for Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) against its total allocations of Rs. 27.690 billion, according to latest data released by the Planning Ministry.
The government also released Rs 111.4124 billion for infrastructure and development projects under National Highway Authority (NHA) against its total allocation of Rs 188 billion for FY 2016-17.

Under PSDP Rs 60.2638 billion have been released for Water and Power Development Authority (Power Sector) and other power sector projects as against the total allocation of Rs 130 billion for current fiscal year to overcome the shortage of energy in the country.

Meanwhile, a sum of Rs 6.8905 billion has been released for Water and Power Division (Water sector) projects for building the mega water reservoirs as compared to total allocations of Rs 31.716 billion in federal PSDP 2016-17.
About Rs 8.548 billion have been released for Higher Education Commission as compared to its total allocation of Rs 21.486 billion for the year 2016-17.

Similarly an amount of Rs 2.604 billion has been provided to Housing and Works Division against the allocations of Rs 7.687 billion while an amount of Rs 2.343 billion has been released for Finance Division out of total Rs 9.4337 billion.

According to the data, the government released Rs 9.43 billion for Interior Division against its total allocations of Rs 11.568 billion while an amount of Rs 9.7596 billion has been released for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division out of its total allocations of Rs 24.951 billion.
The government has released Rs 49.241 billion for Special Federal Development Programme for Temporary Displaced Persons (TDPs) and Security Enhancement under current year’s development programme for the rehabilitations of TDPs.
The government also released Rs 12.584 billion for Azad Jammu and Kashmir (Block and other projects), Rs 4.740 billion for Gilgit-Baltistan (Block and Other Projects) and Rs 8.9697 billion for SAFRON/FATA (Block and Other projects).
The Planning Commission of Pakistan has been following a proper mechanism to release funds.
The commission releases 20 percent funds in first quarter (July-September), 20 percent in second quarter (October-December), third quarter and 30 percent each in third quarter (January-March) and fourth quarter (April-June).

CPEC improves tourism in Pakistan, World Bank extends support to industry

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to promote Pakistan’s tourist attractions, the World Bank has pledged its support to the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC).

The bank is committed to developing tourist facilities and resorts in the country by sponsoring different projects.

These assurances came in a meeting held between PTDC officials and a World Bank delegation on Monday.

World Bank, AIIB to give $720m for power and governance projects

PTDC Managing Director Abdul Ghafoor said the World Bank was also supporting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), besides several other development projects, which would benefit over three billion people in the region.

The PTDC will develop tourist facilities and resorts along the CPEC route through joint ventures and private investments.

After restoration of peace in the country, a remarkable increase in foreign tourists has been recorded compared to previous years.

The planned projects include a bus terminal at Nankana Sahib, one motel each at Hawks Bay (Karachi), Moenjodaro and Baran Kalay as well as tourist facilitation centres in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Muzaffarabad, Gilgit, Peshawar and Quetta.

11 tourist attractions to visit in Pakistan

Ghafoor told the delegation that PTDC land was open for investment specifically meant for tourism projects.

Delegation head, private-sector specialist and tourism expert Wouter Schalken said Pakistan’s tourist destinations were worth more than any other part of the world. “All we lack is appropriate publicity and promotion.”

“We recommend the PTDC to promote tourist destinations of the country over national and international media aggressively to bring more foreign tourists to Pakistan,” Schalken said. APP

Seafood of $183.451 mln, meat $105.690 mln exported in 6 months

ISLAMABAD, Jan 30 (APP): Fish and fish preparations worth of
$183.451 million exported from the country during first half of
current financial year as against the exports $166.286 million of
the corresponding period of last year.

Seafood exports from the country during the period from July-
December, 2016-17 witnessed 10.32 percent increase as compared to
same period of last year, according the latest data of Pakistan
Bureau of Statistics.

About 58,519 metric tons of fish and fish products exported in
last six months as against 63,114 metric tons exported during the
same period of last financial year (2015-16), it added.
On month on month basis, about 10,644 metric tons of fish and
fish products exported in December, 2016, which was recorded at
13,397 metric tons of same month last years, hence showing decline
of 18.11 percent.

Meanwhile, 27,805 metric tons of meat and meat preparations
exported during first half of current financial year as compared to
the exports of 38,103 metric tons of same period of last year.
The country earned $105.690 million by exporting the meat and
meat preparations during last six months of current financial year
as compared to earnings of 131.865 of same period of last year.
During the month of December, 2016 about 4,125 metric tons of
meat and meat products exported as compared to 7,212 metric tons of
meat and meat preparations exported in same month of last financial

The country earned $18.124 million by exporting the meat and
its products as against the earning of $ 23.765 million of same
month of last financial year.

It may be recalled that food commodities worth $1.659 billion
exported during the first half of current financial year as compared
to the exports of $1.862 billion of same period of last year.

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