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Daily Briefs


Photo : Dawn

20 June 2020, Saturday, Vol 1, No.53

Budgets presented in KP, and in Gilgit-Baltistan



Budgets presented in KP, and in Gilgit-Baltistan, opposition parties and the government to the ruling of SC on Justice Isa's case, violence in Sindh and Dawn's editorial on the court's verdict on Imran Farooq case.

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus

KP presents its budget for 900 plus billion rupees. And, Gilgit Baltistan for 68 billion.

KP BUDGET 2020-21
On 19 June, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Minister for Finance Taimur Saleem Jhagra announced KP’s tax-free budget 2020-21 worth Rs923 billion focusing on tax relief for pandemic hit businesses and health sector improvements. The minister told the Pakistani dailyDawnthat anchoring fixed governmental costs (such as unfunded pensions that have risen to 15 per cent) posed the biggest challenge during the Covid times. He also mentioned the plan to borrow “Rs47bn for development or social service spending”. (“BUDGET 2020-21: Rs923bn KP budget focuses on health, tax relief,” Dawn, 20 June 2020) (“KP govt announces Rs923 billion 'tax free' budget for 2020-21,” Geo News, 19 June 2020)

Expenditure Estimates and Allocations
Reports say that budget documents estimate KP’s total expenditure at Rs923bn (Rs184bn for merged and Rs739bn for settled districts); federal transfers at Rs477.5bn; current revenue expenditure at Rs593b; current capital expenditure at Rs12bn; development outlay at Rs318bn (Rs100bn more than FY2019-20); salary and pension expenses at Rs360bn; merged districts’ current expenditures at Rs88bn. The budget earmarks Rs39bn for education; and Rs318bn for uplift projects. The budget does not introduce any new taxes or include any salary increases for government employees. Additionally, the expenditure budget of Rs593bn is 12pc higher than FY 2019-20’s Rs526bn; and pension bill will increase by 23 per cent. (“No Enhancement of Pay as per Budget Speech Copy 2020-21 KPK,” Galaxy World, 19 June 2020) (“Integrated Budget Call Circular 2020-21,” Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Finance Department, 19 June 2020)

Health and Pandemic Earmarks
The Minister said the budget allocates Rs124bn for health and Rs24bn emergency fund for combating Covid-19. He added that KP’s healthcare personnel would be expanded by 30,000 and that KP would be Pakistan’s first province to provide universal health coverage to all citizens. The budget allocates Rs10bn for the related contract that will be signed in July 2020.

Also read:
KP presents Rs923b budget for FY 2020-21,” The Nation, 20 June 2020
KP Govt presents Rs 923 bn tax free Budget 2020-21,” Dunya News, 20 June 2020
 


GILGIT BALTISTAN BUDGET 2020-21

Gilgit-Baltistan’s Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Aurangzeb Khan revealed the tax-free budget for FY2020-21 on 19 June. The proposals have an outlay of more than Rs68 billion. The budget proposals earmark Rs6bn for wheat subsidy; and Rs1.8bn for transportation. (“Budget presented for fiscal year 2020-21 in Gilgit-Baltistan assembly,” ARY News, 19 June 2020) (“GB budget with total outlay of over Rs 68 billion presented,” The Nation, 20 June 2020)

Salary hikes
The budget includes a 15 per cent rise in grade 1 to 16 government employees’ salaries and 10 per cent rise from grade 17. (“Gilgit Baltistan 15% increase in Salaries Budget Speech 2020-21,” Galaxy World, 19 June 2020)

Education and Development Programme
The proposal allocates Rs1.59bn for education and over Rs25bn for the Public Sector Development Programme. Funds have been allocated for construction of new departments in schools, drinking water facilities, furniture, and up-gradation of some schools.

Food, Forest Department, Wildlife, energy and Tourism sectors
Minister Aurangzeb said 98.6 million has been allocated for Environment, Wildlife and Forest Department; Rs2.73bn for power generation; 114 million for the tourism industry; Rs90.80m for agriculture and livestock; and Rs19.42m for the food sector. (“GB presents tax free budget for 2020-21,” MM News, 20 June 2020)

GB’s Agriculture minister Haji Janbaz Khan succumbs to Covid-19
Initially, GB’s budget proposal was scheduled for 18 June, but got delayed by a day due to the demise of Agriculture minister Haji Janbaz Khan. Minister Haji is the first GB Assembly member to lose his life to the coronavirus pandemic. Opposition members including opposition leader Mohammad Shafi Khan; members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Jaffarullah Khan, Mohammad Amin and Barkat Jamil; members of Pakistan Peoples’ Party Javed Hussain and Engineer Mohammad Ismail; and Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen’s Rizwan Ali paid tribute to the late Minister for his contribution to the development of the region and called his death an irreparable loss. This will be the present GB government’s last budget as their tenure will expire on 24 June. (“BUDGET 2020-21: Rs68bn Gilgit-Baltistan budget unveiled,” Dawn, 20 June 2020) (“GB budget for FY2020-21 with outlay of over Rs68b announced,” Radio Pakistan, 19 June 2020)

Also read:
GB Budget With Total Outlay Of Over Rs 68b Presented,” Urdu Point, 19 June 2020
Read the Budget Speech (Gilgit-Baltistan),”Pamir Times, 20 June 2020

Image Source: The News

 

In Brief

ON JUSTICE ISA
Supreme court calls the presidential reference unconstitutional
The Supreme court in the case against Justice Isa for non-disclosure of foreign properties suppressed the presidential reference and directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to inquire tax proceedings and determine to apply misconduct reference or not. The short order stated that “the Reference No 1 of 2019 declared to be of no legal effect whatsoever, and stands quashed, and in consequence, thereof, the proceedings pending in the Supreme Judicial Council (“Council”) against the Petitioner in CP 17/2019 (including the show-cause notice dated 17-07-2019 issued to him) stand abated.” It also added, the proceedings to be ended before the commissioner within 60 days of the date of receipt and the order to be issued within 75 days of the date of receipt. “There shall be no adjournment or extension in time whatsoever shall be given as affects or extends the aforesaid periods.”(Sohail Khan, “Justice Isa case: reference, show-cause notices dismissed, final verdict on properties lies with SJC,” The News International, 20 June 2020)

The dismissal of the presidential reference has invoked the opposition party asking for the Prime Minister to step down for an unconstitutional case. They applauded the judiciary for upholding the law and the constitution. (“Opp asks President, PM to step down,” The News International, 20 June 2020)

On Justice Isa: Govt and opposition express their satisfaction over the SC ruling
On 29 June, both the government and opposition expressed their satisfaction over the Supreme Court decision to reject the presidential reference against the Justice Isa. While addressing a joint press conference the PTI core committee declared that they would not file an appeal against the SC decision, further stating, “the judiciary is respected by us and they are the guardians of the Constitution. There are no winners or losers in this case.” The opposition parties welcomed the SC short order as statements were stating “United Opposition welcomes Supreme Court’s decision to quash the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faiz Isa.” (“Govt, opposition hail SC ruling in rare accord,” Dawn, 20 June 2020)

INTERNAL
PM signs 1.5 billion dollars loan agreements to fight the virus
PM Imran Khan witnessed the signing ceremony of 1.5-billion-dollar loan agreements with three international financial institutions for combating the Covid-19 crisis. The agreements were signed with the World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ABB), and Asian Infrastructure Development Bank (AIIB). The AIIB has extended a 500-million-dollar agreement relating to the COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme (CARES) which is aimed at supporting the Pakistan government’s efforts to strengthen the health system and mitigate socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic. The loan amount will be disbursed in the next few days. (Syed Irfan Raza, “$1.5bn loan agreements signed to fight virus,” Dawn, 20 June 2020)
 
Three attacks in the Sindh province
In Ghotki, Karachi and Larkana, four people and two rangers were killed and around 10 were injured in the attacks on Friday. A Sindh based militant organisation that was banned has claimed responsibility for the attacks while the police forces have said it to be part of Muttahida Qaumi Movement. The Prime Minister has condemned the attacks and asked for reports. (Imtiaz Ali, “Two Rangers men among four martyred in three attacks across Sindh,” Dawn, 20 June 2020)
 
Editorial on the MQM leader case
The Anti-terrorism court sentenced three men for the murder of Imran Farooq on Thursday. As per the editorial, it was a delayed investigation but it brought out the suspect behind the curtains of running a criminal organisation under Hussain. It brings out how the leadership of Hussain has kept its members mute and how his speech in 2016 had affected the party. (“Imran Farooq case,” Dawn, 20 June 2020)
 
CPEC
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) towards its second phase
The second phase sets its focus on the development of SEZ, the agriculture sector and socio-economic development. Although Phase-I has faced criticism for lacking transparency, this has assured that. This has not only added tensions between the US and China but large foreign loan deficits on Pakistan. (“Moving Forward,” The Nation, 20 June 2020)
 
ECONOMY
FDI falls to 120 million dollars in May
Data released by the State Bank of Pakistan showed that Foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country fell for the third consecutive month in May to 120 million dollars, from 133 million dollars in April and 278 million in March, mainly due to investors’ aversion for emerging markets in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. The declining trend of foreign investment in the last three months is a clear indicator to show that the inflows would fall further in the coming months. Further, they warned that remittances will remain depressed in the coming fiscal year due to the falling price of crude oil which could further cause large layoffs for foreign workers in the Gulf region including Pakistanis working in those countries. (Shahid Iqbal, “FDI falls for third consecutive month in May,” Dawn, 20 June 2020)
 
COVID-19
National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) launches helpline as Covid-19 cases rise
The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) launched a helpline in association with Digital Pakistan to support the frontline health workers fighting against the pandemic. The complaints will be received by NCOC and the relevant authority will decide on the action needed. So far, the total number of deaths have reached 3,295 with confirmed cases rising to 168,728 and 4,944 new cases. The confirmed cases in Punjab is at 61,678 and the virus has spread to urban, sub-urban and low-lying areas. The virus spread has been unanimous across society. (“Death rate spikes as 136 die in a day,” The News International, 20 June 2020)
 
EXTERNAL
Peace talks between Pakistan and Taliban in Doha
The foreign ministry announced peace talks with the Taliban in Doha. According to the special representative, Pakistan appreciates the commitment of Taliban for implementing US- Taliban peace agreement. He also said that the release of prisoners as per the US-Taliban peace agreement will take forward to re-start of Intra-Afghan negotiations. So far, Pakistan has been vital in the Afghan peace process especially in bringing the US. (Shafqat Ali, “Pak, Afghan Taliban discuss peace in Doha talks” The Nation, 20 June 2020)

Reopening of the western border
On 19 June, the Interior Ministry notified the opening of three border crossings on Pakistan’s western border for trade traffic. Three border crossings, Torkham, Chaman, and Ghulam Khan border terminal have been ordered to be opened for 24 hours, six days a week. The notice further stated that an “unlimited number of trucks will be allowed per day for both Afghan transit and bilateral trade: while ensuring all COVID-19-related standard operating procedures and protocols are being followed.” The border crossings had been closed on 1 May as part of the larger lockdowns being implemented across the country. (“Western border reopened for trade,” Dawn, 20 June 2020)

ON INDIA
FM warns India against any misadventures
On 19 June, Foreign Minister warned India against any misadventure, stating that any such move by India would prompt a telling response from Pakistan, the minister stated: “Beware, beware, remember February (2019) and be ready for a quick retaliation while casting an evil eye on us.” Further, regarding the Kashmir issue he stating that there was complete unanimity in the country over this matter. Responding to the opposition remarks on India’s non-permanent membership of the UNSC, he said that Pakistan did not abstain but voted against the non-permanent membership of India, rejecting the claims no walkover was given to India during UNSC election. (Iftikhar A. Khan, “FM warns India against any misadventure,” Dawn, 20 June 2020)
 
Webinar on China- India Standoff
The Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS) hosted a webinar titled “China-India standoff: Implications for Regional Security” to discuss the situation on China-India border and risks of further escalation. The session was chaired by Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat (retd), president CASS while Shashank Joshi, Prof Shen Dingli, Lt-Gen Naeem Khalid Lodhi (retd) and Jalil Abbas Jilani. The panellist looked into the crisis and stating that the current level of escalation resulted due to the extremely worrying deterioration of protocols on both sides. Another reiterated the stand of both China and India’s stand on the LAC. Further insights on the military and operational significance of the crisis and the strategic consequences of the matter were discussed. The discussion concluded with the CASS President's concern that India may direct its misplaced anger towards Pakistan, however that would not solve India’s China problem. (“Webinar on evolving China, India border situation,” The News International, 20 June 2020)

India has fallen into its own trap
An opinion in the Nation titled " Bereaving hearts of Galwan heights" by Samson Simon Sharaf is critical of the recent clash between the Chinese and Indian forces in the Galwan valley. He states that no soldier deserved such a hike into the valley of death, which the Indian brave hearts went through. While addressing how the clash took place, he states that it was foolish to send unarmed soldiers into hostile territory. Further, he states that the entire build-up on the Ladakh by the Indian military highlights the political and strategically entangle that India has caused for itself, further stating that the BJP government has caused this strategic imbalance. (Samson Simon Sharaf, "Bereaving hearts of Galwan heightsThe Nation, 20 June 2020)
 
Kashmiri women in the view of International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict
According to the Pakistan Foreign Office, 11,000 women have been prone to sexual violence in J&K. It has requested the UN to investigate the violence and hold India responsible for its disregard of law and human rights. According to FO “These repugnant acts of violence against women are enabled through a pervasive culture of impunity, reinforced by draconian laws such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that shield the Indian security forces from prosecution from their crimes of sexual violence” (Mariana Baabar, “International Day for Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict: Pakistan draws world’s attention to sexual violence in IOK,” The News International, 20 June 2020)

An opinion accuse of Violence against women in J&K
A column in the Nation titled “Sexual Violence in Indian Occupied Kashmir” accuses the Indian army and paramilitary forces of human rights violations. According to the author, Armed Forces Special Powers Act provides powers to soldiers, including the power to shoot to kill in certain situations and to arrest people without warrants which have caused grave human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, rape and torture and ill-treatment of the people in the region. (Malik Muhammad Ashraf, “Sexual violence in Indian-Occupied Kashmir,” The Nation, 20 June 2020)

 


"There are lessons in MQM’s rise and fall. Indeed, the party sent members of Sindh’s urban middle class to the assemblies in a political landscape that had been dominated by the landed elite and members of traditional political families. Yet its penchant for criminality and violence proved to be its undoing, and now it appears to be a spent force."

- Editorial by Dawn, On the verdict against Altaf Hussain in Imran Farooq murder case (Dawn)

 

In Focus and In Brief sections are prepared by Lakshmi V Menon, Abigail Miriam Fernandez, A Padmashree and P Harini Sha.

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