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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

5 April 2020, Sunday

IMF may delay third tranche’s release



Sugar crisis report leaves ruling alliance weather-beaten; SHC’s Pearl murder case verdict to be challenged, FM to US; Sindh halts wheat to Punjab; Coronavirus: 50,000 may be infected by 25 April

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

DAILY BRIEFS
by Lakshmi V Menon


IMF may delay third tranche’s release
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), under the existing $6 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF), may delay the second review’s completion and the $450 million worth third tranche’s release for Pakistan, owing to the coronavirus outbreak and macroeconomic developments. However, IMF will consider Pakistan’s request for $1.4 billion under Rapid Finance Instrument (RFI) to battle the pandemic. Sources say third and fourth tranches may probably be released in July 2020 after revisiting major targets. (The News International, 5 April 2020)

Sugar crisis report leaves ruling alliance weather-beaten
As per PM Imran Khan’s directives, Special Assistant on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar made public the much-awaited inquiry reports by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general Wajid Zia on wheat and sugar shortages on 4 April, 2020, exposing PTI’s Jahangir Tareen and PML-Q’s Monis Elahi and federal Food Security Minister Khusro Bakhtiar or their kin among beneficiaries of the scam. PML-N’s Chaudhry Munir of Omni Group was also named. Mirza added that stern action would be taken 'irrespective of their status and party affiliation’. (Dawn, 5 April 2020)

The report analyses first, the sugar crisis – the price hikes and subsidies awarded to sugar barons during 2016-2020; and second, the wheat flour crisis – causes and persons involved. The report revealed that Mr. Tareen’s JWD group (of which Makhdoom Syed Ahmed Mehmood is a partner) received an export subsidy of Rs3.058 billion during 2015-18; and RYK group belonging to Khusro’s relative Makhdoom Umar Shehryar, Monis Elahi and PML-N’s Chaudhry Munir avaioled an export subsidy of Rs3.944bn during 2015-18. Also, the productions were much higher than estimated domestic consumption. Additionally, the report observed the incapability of the Sugar Advisory Board regarding the timely ban of sugar export.

SHC’s Pearl murder case verdict to be challenged, FM to US
On 3 April 2020, the United States was assured by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi that the Sindh High Court’s overturning of death penalty of journalist Daniel Pearl’s murder’s main accused would be challenged. However, it is up to the apex court to set aside or uphold SHC’s verdict. Previously, in 2002, a Hyderabad anti-terrorism court had awarded death penalty to the primary accused Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. On 1 April, SHC overturned this verdict after 18 years (during which period Sheikh was in prison), awarding a seven years sentence for kidnapping and acquitted three other accused in the same case - Salman Saqib, Sheikh Adil and Fahad Naseem (who were earlier sentenced to life imprisonment). US has criticized SHC’s decision. (Dawn, 5 April 2020)

Sindh halts wheat to Punjab
On 2 April, without stating a reason Sindh stopped transportation of its private-sector purchased wheat to Punjab. Asim Raza, chairman of Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA) said trucks carrying wheat for 10 mills in Punjab were stopped by the Sindh Food Department in Larkana. On 1 April, Sindh had allowed these mills to purchase 1500 metric tonnes of wheat in light of the permits issued for inter-provincial and inter-district movement of wheat in the harvest period. This could lead to flour shortages in Punjab, considering the coronavirus panic-purchasing. Center expects a total wheat output of 27.03 million tonnes and aims to procure 8.5 million tonnes to ensure food security nationally. (Dawn, 5 April 2020)

Coronavirus: 50,000 may be infected by 25 April
On 4 April, the Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination (NHSRC) submitted the National Action Plan for COVID-19, an indicative report, to the Supreme Court projecting around 50,000 people to be infected by 25 April – 41,482 of which may be mild, 7, 024 severe and 2,392 critical. The report contended that in comparison with European states, Pakistan’s confirmed cases were low. The report’s financing requirement, approved by the Planning Commission, was prepared in consultation with the provinces.

Relief efforts may be affected by Centre-Sindh Conflict
Amidst Sindh completing two weeks of the lockdown, resources and patience are running thin among middle and lower classes. A joint strategy between federal and provincial governments is crucial. Presently, three district-level programmes have been announced – one formulated by federal government while the other two were envisaged by the Sindh government. Meanwhile, Sindh government announced the Corona Emergency Ration Package releasing Rs580 million for food distribution to daily wagers and allocating Rs20 million per district, and released Rs569.604 million from Sindh’s Zakat Fund Account ensuring Rs6,000 each to 94,934 families. (The News International, 5 April 2020)

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