No water scarcity in country: Ahsan Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, June 28 (APP): Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said on Friday that there is no water scarcity in the country but water resources are not managed properly to overcome water related issues.”Pakistan has water storage capacity of only seven per cent of total available water in the country, which needs to be improved”, Ahsan Iqbal said while addressing a two-day International Conference on Water for Life and Development here on Friday. The conference is organized by Pakistan Water Partnership in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), UNESCO and International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

 The minister said that Pakistan is going to face critical water management crisis.
He said when Pakistan was created, the per capita water availability in the country was 5000 cubic meters while in near future it would be as low as 800 cubic meters per capita.”Pakistan’s dependent upon single river system is vulnerable”, Ahsan Iqbal said adding we will have to enhance water storage capacity in order
to meet water related issues.Problems relating to water have critical impact on a country’s development.
These problems are inter-linked. During last few years Pakistan faced drought followed by heavy rains and devastating floods”, he added.
He said in 21st century the world would face the major issues relating to water.
I hope that with the help of experts we can help solve these problems,Ahsan Iqbal added.

(Courtesy: Associated Press of Pakistan)

Circular debt to be cleared in time, reiterates Dar

ISLAMABAD, June 28 (APP): Minister for Finance and Revenue, Ishaq Dar on Friday reiterated that the government would clear all the circular debt before the deadline of August 20 as the transaction of over 322 billion debt return to private companies was continuing. “Transaction of returning Circular Debt to the private sector companies is continuing and banks are paying off Rs.322 billion to these companies,” he told the National Assembly. He expressed the hope that with this about 1700 megawatt electricity would come into the national grid system and help mitigate load-shedding immediately.
The Minister apprised the National Assembly that the Economic CoordinationCommittee has decided to procure another 100,000 tons of sugar and the TradingCorporation of Pakistan (TCP) has been directed to procure and release the saidquantity of sugar to the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) to meet requirement inthe holy month of Ramadan.
Speaking on a point of order, the minister informed the house about thedecisions made by ECC and said that the committee has approved Ramadan Packageworth Rs.2 billion.
He said that essential items including flour, ghee, oil gram pulse, bhasin,dates, rice, sugar, pulses and other such items would be available at all outletsof utility stores on reduced rates.
“10% to 30 % concession would be provided on these products as compared tothe market prices,” he added.
Meanwhile,the finance minister also laid before the parliament the papersof schedule of authorized expenditure 2013-14, supplementary schedule ofauthorized expenditure 2012-13 and also laid excess schedule of AuthorizedExpenditure 1990-91, 1992-93, 1994,95, 1997-98 and 2001-02.

(Courtesy: Associated Press of Pakistan)

Interior Ministry directed to set up hotline for public complaints

ISLAMABAD, June 28 (APP): Minister for Interior and Narcotics Control Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday reiterated that the government was committed to ensuring a culture of honesty and hard work in all the attached departments and directed to set up a hotline for public complaints. The minister was chairing a meeting of attached departments of the Interior Ministry here. Chaudhry Nisar said all the ministry officials were prohibited from keeping linkages with foreigners unless with prior official approval. He put a ban on foreign tours by the ministry officials for the next six months unless highly obligatory.

The minister said there would be zero tolerance on open display of arms within the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
He said a ban had already been imposed on issuance of fresh arms licences and only those cases would be processed whose fee had been deposited before June 20, 2013.
He directed CDA and Chief Commissioner Islamabad to ensure removal of encroachments from Islamabad after forewarning the residents, improvement of roads, removal of professional beggars and uplift of all major parks.
The minister said non-registered vehicles within the Federal Capital should be totally prohibited and emphasized that traffic rules strictly followed on the roads of Islamabad starting with the three model roads – Airport Expressway, Jinnah Avenue and Murree Road.
He also asked the ICT to embark upon a massive drive against food and drug adulteration with media support.
He said only officers with good reputation be posted in the ministry and its attached departments.
The minister was informed that CDA and ICT administration had set up joint teams to check food adulteration. One bakery and a fake mineral water factory in the city had recently been seized while a godown of adulterated spices sealed.
He noted with satisfaction that action had been taken against four drug stores selling expired and misbranded medicines.
Ch Nisar directed the Islamabad police to complete the registration of domestic servants and Katchi Abadis in the Capital and adjoining areas.
He said the computerization of police stations as well as revenue record within the city be completed in minimum possible time.
The minister directed for putting up feasibility for setting up e-toll system at major entry and exit points in Islamabad to facilitate the commuting residents of the twin cities.
The Secretary Interior was asked to coordinate formulation of the National Security Policy after due input from the ministry and the security forces.
The minister said that emphasis should be laid on greater coordination between the federal and provincial governments, between civil and military intelligence agencies and between the intelligence agencies and the security forces for better implementation. Proposals should also be made to improve the working environment in which the security forces are operating.
Compensation for the families of the Shuhada and injured should be raised.
Their children and families be well looked after by the state and their tenure in difficult and strife-torn areas should be limited, he added.
He directed that the formulation of the National Security Policy be completed within the month of July.
Secretary Interior, Joint Director Anti Narcotics Force, DG FIA, DG National Police Academy, DG Civil Defence, Chairman NADRA, Chairman CDA, Deputy National Coordinator NACTA, Chief Commissioner ICT, IG police Islamabad and SSP traffic attended the meeting among senior ministry officers.

(Courtesy: Associated Press of Pakistan)

Sacked journalists issue to be raised with concerned authorities: Pervez Rashid

ISLAMABAD, June 28 (APP): Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervez Rashid on Friday assured the journalists community that the issue of BBC sacked reporters would be raised with the concerned authorities. Speaking on the floor of the House he said “we will discuss the issue withconcerned department and regulatory authority and would also convey them the feelings and sentiments of the journalist community”.The Minister assured that justice will be done with the journalists and no one would be allowed to make injustice with this community.
Pervez Rashid said sacking of nine reporters by BBC-Pakistan without anyreason is totally unjustified.
“The whole journalist community in Pakistan is in sorrow, grief and angerover the action of the BBC-Pakistan management” he added.
The Minister said Pakistan’s laws and the country of broadcasting organization do not allow such a practice.
He was of the view that the journalist community should be given jobsecurity to help them perform their duties without any fear.
Earlier, the journalists staged walkout of the press gallery.

(Courtesy: Associated Press of Pakistan)

PM to announce new energy policy shortly

ISLAMABAD, June 28 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Friday said that new energy policy would turn out to be the panacea of Pakistan’s energy ills.“People and economy have suffered badly at the hands of crippling power crisis. It is high time that prudent and consistent policies were pursued to come out of this morass,” said the Prime Minister chairing a high level meeting to give final touch to the new power policy here at the Prime Minister’s Office.The meeting not only discussed the broad contours of new energy policy but also analyzed the minute details threadbare.The meeting also decided that the new power policy would be announced shortly by the Prime Minister.

Those, who attended the meeting, included Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervez Rashid, Minister for Petroleum Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, SAPM Dr Musaddiq Malik,Shaukat Fayaz A.Tarin and other stakeholders from private and public sectors.

(Courtesy: Associated Press of Pakistan)

Prime Minister to visit China in first week of July

ISLAMABAD, June 28 (APP): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will undertake his first ever official visit to China from July 4 to 8 at the invitation of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by a high-level delegation for his first official visit abroad after assuming his office, said Foreign Office spokesman. Taking place immediately after the visit of Premier Li Keqiang in May this year, the visit signifies the closeness and warmth which characterizes Pakistan China relations. High level visits are the hallmark of the strong Pakistan ­ China relations. To prepare for the visit and to ensure follow-up on Prime Minister’s discussion with Premier Li Keqiang in Islamabad,a Task Force led by Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning and Development visited China on 24-26 June 2013.
A number of proposals and initiatives were discussed which would be concretized during the Prime Minister’s visit.
Besides official talks with the Chinese leadership, the Prime Minister’s engagements include meetings with leaders of Chinese financial and corporate sector, interaction with media, visit to major industrial centers and Special Economic Zones.
The traditionally close, cordial, cooperative and friendly ties between Pakistan and China are based on shared principles and mutual interests entailing cooperation in diverse fields.
Economic cooperation between Pakistan and China has expanded significantly in recent years. Under a comprehensive framework Pakistan and China have bilateral economic cooperation in the form of Joint Economic Commission, Economic Cooperation Group, Joint Energy Working Group and a Joint Investment Company,besides several other mechanisms.
A Free Trade Agreement as well is operational since 2008, covering tradein goods, investment and services.
Trade volume last year crossed the figure of US$12 billion with Pakistan exports increasing by 48%. More than 120 Chinese companies are engaged in Pakistan and Chinese investment touched the figure of US$ 2 billion in 2012.
We are confident that the Prime Minister’s visit will provide further impetus to enhancing the existing strategic partnership between Pakistan and China.

(Courtesy: Associated Press of Pakistan)

Conference on Water for life and Development

OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER

MINISTRY OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT

GOVERNMENT OF PAKISTAN

**********

Islamabad, the 28th June 2013

PRESS RELEASE

Ministry of Planning and Development organized International Conference on Water for Life and Development. Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Palnning and Development was the Chief Guest. Confernce was organized by the help of UNESCO and JICA. Representatives of different international organizations along with experts participated in this conference. Purpose of this conference was to address the water related issues, flood management, early warning system, climatic change, droughts and water management issues.

Addressing the conference Prof. Ahsan Iqbal Said how Planning Commission was taking the issue of Water Management. He said There was absolutely no doubt that problems related to water and environment had a critical impact on the development and prosperity of this country. He said, “The problems are complex and interlinked.

 

In view of the global warming and climate change, I feel it is vitally important for Pakistan to review its gaps in whole exercise of flood management starting from its warning system to institutional arrangements, to adaptation, coordination, community resilience and post-event rehabilitation arrangements. I am sure that this conference would look into all these aspects and update all the SOPs for an effective flood management plan taking into consideration the climate change impacts. I hope the experts would keep in mind the climate change impacts as Pakistan is already facing it and the recent events of 1997-2002 droughts followed by exceptional floods of 2010 are testimony to it.

 

Flood management is one of the sub-sets of Integrated Water Resources Management which is a global challenge. These water challenges were identified by the Panel of International Experts commissioned by the Secretary General, United Nations and it was the consensus decision of the experts that the major challenge that world would face in the 21st century would be scarcity of water. It was also predicted that future wars would not be on borders but on waters. The experts were of the opinion that water availability on the globe is a finite element and there is no technology available to add additional water in the system”.

·        He further added, “Even from regional perspective, it is the distortion of uneven water quantum that offers biggest challenge. So it is not the scarcity of water, it is the management of water over the globe”.

While quoting some figures he said,”I would now return to see how we are managing our water resources in Pakistan.Pakistan is one of the most arid countries in the world. Over 75% of it receives rainfall less than 250 mm annually and 20% of it less than 125 mm. The population and economy are heavily dependent on an annual influx into Indus River System of about 154.88 MAF of water mostly derived from snow and glacier melt”.

While taking the issue of water security he said,”Pakistan is going to face water management challenges. Population growth by the year 2025 Pakistan would have a population of 225 million i.e. 45 million more than what we have today – what does that means – it simply means to accommodate this additional population, Pakistan has to establish 8-more mega cities each having population equivalent to Lahore. From where we are going to get water for these cities?

We have been diverting 104 MAF of water for irrigated agriculture. This amount is continuously reducing due to sedimentation of the reservoirs. To date we have lost almost 4.6 MAF of live storage in our reservoirs which is slightly more than the existing live storage of Mangla Dam.

Another major issue is the per capita availability of water. At the time of partition water availability per capita was more than5,000 cubic meters  which would decline to around 800 cubic meters in near future, a situation where human survival becomes difficult and economic development also come to a halt. In addition we also have serious issue of water logging and salinity”.

He said “These are the serious issues and challenges that we have to address without waste of further time. In spite of the bleak water situation, we keep on using water recklessly. Let me highlight some of the uses and the returns we get out of these uses:

Pakistan’s productivity per unit of water and per unit of land is one of the lowest in the world. Similarly Pakistan’s return to GDP of one cubic meter is also lowest in the world. Against world average of US$ 8.6, Pakistan’s one cubic meter of water contributes only US 34 Cents to its GDP.

Similarly storage per person in Pakistan is 73 cubic meter as against America’s 6,150 cubic meter per person and Australia’s5,000 cubic meters per person.

The carry over capacity in Pakistan has now depleted to 18 days as compared Egypt’s 1,000 days and India’s 220 days.

For better water management, 40% of total water availability is required for storage, Pakistan’s storage capacity is only about 7% of total available water.”

He further said, “How are we going to survive under such conditions is a big question mark. Pakistan’s dependence on single river system is highly vulnerable and has little flexibility as compared to most of the countries that enjoyed by virtue of multiple river basins and diversity of water resources. If the water/sediment/salt system of the Indus Basin goes badly wrong, that’s it – and unfortunately we are very close to it.

There is no additional water to be injected into the system and there is no feasible intervention which would enable Pakistan to appreciably mobilize more water that it now uses. Pakistan uses more than 90% of water for irrigation. Non-agricultural water uses are going to increase manifold in future”.

While addressing the conference he said that they we seriously looking towards the issue of overpopulation and impending threat faced by it. And that planning comminssion was looking at a single drop of water to make best use of it for coming generations.  He said that they were planning to convert Planning Commission into a highly professional body of  expert by turning it into a think tank.

 

He further said ,”I can assure you that the recommendations which would emerge out of two days of this conference would help us to get more prepared to handle floods with reduced damages and enhanced benefits. I feel we should work to conserve flood waters for their utilization in water scared areas by storing in surface reservoirs on recharging ground water aquifers.

The outcome of this international conference is not the recommendations you made. It is the value addition and improved efficiency brought into the system by software solutions emerging from your recommendations. Therefore, I alert the Pakistani counterparts to work hard to translate these activities into a reality”

In the end he also appreciated Mr. Naseer Gillani, Chief Water Planning Commission, who was the main organiser behind this conference.

Computerisation of land record to complete next year: CM

CHIEF Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday said that the programme of land record computerisation would be completed by 2014 in the province and it would facilitate the people in acquiring ownership and transfer deeds of their properties as well as rid them of Patwari and Tehsildar culture.

The chief minister said that a programme had been evolved to launch Aashiyana housing schemes throughout Punjab to provide shelter to the poor. He said that time to deliver speeches was over and now it was time to work. He said that load-shedding problem would have to be resolved by utilizing all energies and resources on war-footing. He said that relief would be provided to the people by changing public problems into opportunities and an era of progress and prosperity would be ushered in Punjab.

He was talking to Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Barjees Tahir, Minister of State for Housing Usman Ibrahim, Minister for Industry and Production Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, Member National Assembly Hafiz Abdul Karim and Provincial Minister for Education Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan who met him at the Chief Minister’s Office.

The chief minister said that the federal government was facing a circular debt of more than Rs.500 billion while there was electricity theft of Rs.207 billion per year.

The nation was under a burden of 60 billion dollars but some influential persons were involved in the theft of electricity, natural gas and furnace oil worth billion of rupees per month, he lamented. He said that the government would take indiscriminate action against the elements involved in the theft of electricity and gas.

Shahbaz Sharif said that, undoubtedly, energy crisis had posed a threat to the survival of the country and availability of electricity was essential for its bright future. He said that controlling energy crisis was a big challenge but the PML-N government had accepted it and it would definitely succeed in resolving this problem through collective wisdom and tireless efforts. He said that the Punjab government would continue to struggle to change the traditional Thana culture as the people were still afraid of visiting police stations. He said that the historic mandate given to the PML-N demanded that immediate measures should be taken for controlling load-shedding and the people are rid of Thana and Patwari culture.

The CM said that the responsibility given to the present government with the grace of Allah Almighty would be discharged efficiently. He said that the people had rejected those elements in general elections who were involved in corruption, loot and oppression and reposed confidence in an honest, hardworking and capable leadership. He said that the PML-N government would spare no effort for the promotion of good governance and elimination of corruption while no compromise would be made on merit and transparency.

Shahbaz Sharif said that corruption was weakening the foundations of the country and all-out effort was needed to root out this scourge. He said that a major portion of the country’s population comprised of youth and the destiny of the nation could be changed by providing them opportunities of development. He said that the Punjab government was launching several projects for the development and welfare of the youth, including provision of interest-free loans, internship programme for graduates and other projects.

The chief minister said that, in view of the historic mandate, elected representatives should utilize all their energies for solution of people’s problems and set examples of public service. He said that relief should be provided to the masses through honesty and hard work.

(Courtesy: The News)

On Musharraf case, govt acting on Supreme Court directions: Ch. Nisar

ISLAMABAD, 27 June (APP): Interior Minister, Ch. Nisar Ali Khan Thursday clarifing government’s stance on high treason case against Musharraf said no double standards were adopted and it was following only Supreme Court’s instructions in this regard. Responding to various questions raised by the opposition members in the parliament here, the Interior Minister said that the government did only what the Supreme Court of Pakistan had directed it to do. He said the Supreme Court had asked the government to give its opinion only over a case against Pervez Musharraf for abrogating the Constitution and detaining judges of the higher judiciary after imposing emergency on November 3, 2007.”There was no question of abrogating the Constitution from 12 October 1990 or from 1956 or so on,” he added.
He was of the view that if anybody wanted to open the high treason cases from beginning, they have no objection.
He opined 99.9 percent of the army had nothing to do with the imposition of Martial Laws, rather a few people were involved in such practices, damaging the image of the whole army.
The interior minister made it clear: “We will not accept any insult against Pakistan army,” saying Pak army jawans have been giving huge sacrifices for the nation, so they are ‘the bravest of the brave’.
He said that a person who has been brought to justice now may not be seen as general or military man, but an offender. “Linking the activities of an individual with the whole institution is unjustified,” he remarked.
He criticized the opposition for politicising the issue.
He informed the house that government has constituted a four-member committee of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to investigate the high treason issue.On the issues of Karachi violence, the interior minister said the federal government’s help was always available to provincial government in maintaining peace and it was ready to take onboard all the political parties to resolve the issue.
The political parties of Sindh should develop consensus among themselves and the provincial government should also come with clear stance on the issue,he said.
The minister urged the provincial government to call a special session to debate on the current situation of Karachi and come with consensus policy, which would be supported by the federal government.
Nisar said that he would visit Karachi next month and hold meetings with Governor Sindh, Chief Minister and political parties to help find solution to the issues available within the ambit of constitution.
He made it clear that federral government will not interfere in the matters of the provincial government.
The Interior Minister stressed the need to make a comprehensive and proactive policy to check militancy in the country and said federal government would call a meeting soon to discuss the security situation and come up with a joint strategy to drive the country out of security crisis.
He apprised the House that there was no national security policy on ground, so we have to prepare overhaul policy to tackle menace of terrorism and law and order situation.
In response to Swiss cases, the interior minister said that the Supreme Court (SC) has taken notice of the matter and government’s reply would be submitted according to the law.
He said that facts should not be mutilated and clarified that PML-N excused for including a section proposed by PPP in the Charter of Democracy (CoD) to ensure that both the parties would withdraw cases against each other after coming into power.

(Courtesy: Associated Press of Pakistan)

No new tax to be imposed for IMF bailout package: Ishaq Dar

ISLAMABAD: Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar made it clear on Thursday that the government would neither make any compromise nor impose any new tax to avail itself of the IMF bailout package. Responding to the points raised by the opposition members during their speeches on the Finance Bill, 2013 in the National Assembly, Ishaq Dar said the government had already rejected the IMF condition for imposition of more taxes. “Even if the IMF does not give us a loan, we will not impose new taxes but demonstrate that we can achieve the revenue collection targets,” he said. Dar categorically told the House that the government would achieve the Rs2,475 billion revenue collection target by enhancing the tax net without imposing any new tax. “Programme or no programme with the IMF, we will not impose any new tax and have rejected would be in the interest of Pakistan and no condition against national interest would be acceptable. “Tax collection target is a ‘tall order’, but we shall achieve it by increasing tax net and stopping tax theft,” he said, adding that the government had also increased the fine amount and imprisonment period for tax evaders. He also clarified that the government had not introduced any mini-budget and said the proposals in the bill were not passed as it is because its final shape was created after inclusion of members’ recommendations as well as those coming from the Senate.He said at present the tax collection rate was even lesser than the inflation rate and this was the failure of the economic policies of the previous government. The minister said the government honoured the SC decision on collection of GST from June 13. But this tax, he said, still collected from the consumers was not coming to the national kitty. He also rejected the notion that the increase of one percent had resulted in four to five percent additional tax collection. Dar clarified that the perks and privileges of the NA speakers and the Senate chairmen as well as the members were being adjusted to the same level as were before 2010 and 2012 respectively. Dar said no new tax had been imposed on the pilgrims saying that it was introduced by the PPP government last year on operators. “We are increasing this from Rs2500 to Rs3500 and there will be no burden on the pilgrims,” he said. He asked the opposition not to do politics and stop playing to the gallery on the budget. “The country is in a serious financial crisis; we need not play politics,” he said. He also clarified that a number of kitchen items were already exempted from tax to facilitate the poor in the country. Ishaq Dar said in the budget proposal the rebate on income tax for educationists had been brought down from 75% to zero but on a proposal from opposition the rebate was taken to 40%.. (Courtesy: The News)