Home Weekly Reviews Economic and Political Weekly 08-03-2020

Economic and Political Weekly 08-03-2020

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World 

Politics

·WHO warns governments ‘this is not a drill’ as corona virus infections near 100,000 worldwide

The director-general of the World Health Organization has warned governments that the continued international spread of the novel corona virus is “not a drill” and will require significant action if public health authorities are to contain the deadly outbreak. The call to action comes as the global number of people infected by the virus nears 100,000 — a grim milestone that now appears inevitable with self-sustaining clusters continuing to expand in South Korea, Japan, parts of Europe, Iran and the United States. WHO chief said that although public health authorities across the globe have the ability to successfully combat the spread of the virus, the organization is concerned that in some countries the level of political commitment does not match the threat level.

· United States and Taliban sign Afghanistan peace deal

The United States signed a historic deal with Taliban insurgents on 29 February that could see a full withdrawal of foreign soldiers from Afghanistan and an end to the 18-year-war. While the agreement paves the way for the United States to gradually pull out of its longest war, many expect that talks to come between the multiple Afghan sides will be far more complicated.

·   Islamic State claims gun attack in Afghanistan in which 32 killed

Islamic State gunmen opened fire at a ceremony in Kabul on 6th March, killing at least 32 people in the first major attack in the city since the United States reached an agreement with the Afghan Taliban on a phased withdrawal of US troops. A top Afghan political leader, Abdullah Abdullah, was present along with other key political figures and escaped unharmed.

·  At least 24 people killed as tornadoes sweep across Tennessee

The number of deaths from a series of devastating tornadoes in Tennessee in the United States has risen to 24. The twisters that struck in the hours after midnight destroyed more than 140 buildings and buried people in piles of rubble and wrecked basements. The storms moved so quickly that many people in their path could not flee to safer areas. State emergency officials, who initially reported at least 25 dead, revised the toll to 24 fatalities after determining one death counted earlier was not storm-related. “It hit so fast, a lot of folks didn’t have time to take shelter,” Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter said. “Many of these folks were sleeping.”

· North Korea launches two short-range missiles, South Korea says

North Korea launched two short-range projectiles off its east coast on 2nd March in the country’s first weapons test in three months, the South Korean military said. The projectiles were launched near Wonsan, a port town east of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, South Korean military officials said. They flew 240km before landing in the waters between North Korea and Japan, the officials said, adding that they were analysing data to determine the type of projectiles used in the launch.

·  Turkey shot down a Syrian fighter jet in Syria’s Idlib province on 3rd March, marking the third such incident in as many days, as steady clashes between the two national armies continued over a Russia-backed Syrian government offensive near the Turkish border.

State-run Syrian media said troops shot down a Turkish drone, keeping up a clash in the skies over the northwestern province that has gone on for days and signaled a new stage in the nine-year-old war. Ahead of a much-anticipated summit later this week between the presidents of Turkey and Russia, the two main power brokers in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov again laid the blame for the escalation squarely on Turkey. Keeping up the pressure on the battlefield, Turkey’s military downed a warplane belonging to Syrian government forces the third time they have done so since IST March.

·Chile’s capital experienced its worst night of anti-government violence in weeks after stone-throwing protesters clashed with police in running battles across the city, forcing public transport to shut down.

Demonstrators returned to Santiago’s Plaza Italia on 2nd March to rally against economic inequality and condemn the government of right-wing billionaire president Sebastian Pinera. By nightfall a group of hooded men clashed with riot officers in nearby streets, hurling rocks and firing projectiles with slingshots. One protester was run over by a police vehicle during the clashes, police Captain Juan Chevy told local media.

· Israel appeared headed into another political stalemate on 4th March after nearly-complete results indicated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had failed to secure a clear majority for a right-wing bloc in parliament, despite his claim of victory.

With 99pc of votes counted, Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party was seen taking 35 of parliament’s 120 seats, down from 36 initially projected after Monday’s election. His centrist challenger, Benny Gantz, was seen holding steady at 32 seats for his Blue and White party. Israeli premiers generally need a coalition commanding 61 seats for their governments to survive. Wednesday’s tally suggested that, with like-minded parties, a Netanyahu coalition could now expect to garner only 58. The four-term leader has been hamstrung by corruption cases in which he denies wrongdoing. Gantz has cited Netanyahu’s unprecedented indictment in refusing to join him in a coalition.

· Dubai ruler had daughters abducted, London court finds

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the billionaire ruler of Dubai, orchestrated a campaign “aimed at intimidating and frightening” his former wife Princess Haya that included leaving a gun on her bed on two occasions, London’s high court has ruled. The court, which is hearing a case concerning the welfare of their two children, accepted evidence from Princess Haya that she had been left “terrified” and “in a position of great fear” with no option but to flee from Dubai with the children last April. The ruling also found that Sheikh Mohammed, who is deputy president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, had on previous occasions “ordered and orchestrated” the abduction of two of his other daughters from an earlier marriage: Sheikha Shamsa, who was taken from the UK in 2000 and Sheikha Latifa, who tried to flee Dubai by yacht two years ago, but was returned to the UAE after the boat was boarded by Indian commandos. The high court ruling, which was published on 5th March, is highly embarrassing for Sheikh Mohammed (70), who has overseen the development of Dubai into the region’s dominant trade, finance and tourism hub.

· Last Ebola patient leaves hospital in DR Congo

Health workers danced and cheered as the last Ebola patient in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo left hospital this week. The scene took place in Beni, North Kivu, eastern DRC, which was one of the epicenters of a devastating 18-month outbreak that killed more than 2,200 people and infected more than 3,400. Ebola is a deadly virus that causes muscle pain, headaches, vomiting, bleeding from orifices and possible death from organ failure or dehydration. It is transmitted through bodily fluids. Unlike the Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016, which killed more than 11,000 people, medical developments enabled hundreds of thousands of Congolese people to be vaccinated against Ebola during this outbreak.

·Arabia on 5th March emptied the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site, for sterilization over fears of the new corona virus, an unprecedented move after the kingdom suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage.

State television relayed stunning images of an empty white-tiled area surrounding the Kaaba — inside Makah’s Grand Mosque, which is usually packed with tens of thousands of pilgrims. The move was a “temporary preventive measure” but the upper floors of the Grand Mosque were still open for prayers, a Saudi official told AFP. He called the measure “unprecedented”.

  • At least 32 people have died since 1st March in southeastern Brazil as heavy rainshave swamped the states of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, with more rain predicted and mudslides possible, authorities said 5th  March.

Dozens are still unaccounted for, and more than 5,000 have been displaced, according to the Sao Paulo Civil Defense Authority and the governor of Rio de Janeiro.

Economy

  • The Federal Reserve on Tuesday took the emergency step of cutting the benchmark U.S. interest rate by half a percentage point under Jerome H. Powell, the governor of the Federal Reserve, an attempt to limit the economic and financial fallout from the corona virus. Other Central Banks may follow FED in this respect

The U.S. central bank has not made a cut like this since late 2008, shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Fed leaders believed it was wise to move quickly as concerns mount about the plunging stock market and a severe disruption in every major economy. Recession fears in the United States have spiked in recent days. The Fed’s action reduced the U.S. interest rate to just below 1.25 percent, down from about 1.75 percent. The Fed’s move is one of several that policy makers have discussed in recent weeks. Congress is preparing a $7.5 billion emergency funding package to help with the costs of fighting the epidemic. President Trump on Tuesday called for new tax cuts and an even bigger Fed rate cut to stimulate the economy. Earlier Tuesday morning, global finance ministers held a call to discuss the economic unrest, but they stopped short of announcing any joint steps. In the 2008 financial crisis, G-7 finance ministers announced “urgent and exceptional action” to bail out the banks. Shortly after the Tuesday call, however, the Fed made its announcement. Other central Banks like ECB, BOE, Australian and New Zealand Central Banks, Central Bank of China may also join FED by cutting its interest rates.

GLOBAL INDICES AS OF 8th March 2020

As compared to IST March 2020

Global indices as of 8th March 2020
Name Current Value Prev.Close
US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Mar 06) 8,575.62 8738.60
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Mar 06) 6,462.55 6705.43
 CAC (Mar 06) 5,139.11 5361.10
 DAX (Mar 06) 11,541.87 11944.72
ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Mar 07) 10,814.00 10902.00
 NIKKEI 225 (Mar 06) 20,749.75 21329.12
 STRAITS TIMES (Mar 06) 2,960.98 3018.27
 HANG SENG (Mar 06) 26,146.67 26767.87
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Mar 06) 11,321.81 11514.82
 KOSPI (Mar 06) 2,040.22 2085.26
 SET COMPOSITE (Mar 06) 1,364.57 1390.83
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Mar 06) 5,498.54 5638.13
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Mar 06) 3,034.51 3071.68

 

Global indices as of Ist March 2020
Name Current Value Prev.Close
US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Feb 28) 8,567.37 8566.48
EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Feb 28) 6,580.61 6796.40
 CAC (Feb 28) 5,309.90 5495.60
 DAX (Feb 28) 11,890.35 12367.46
ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Feb 29) 11,225.00 11167.00
 NIKKEI 225 (Feb 28) 21,142.96 21948.23
 STRAITS TIMES (Feb 28) 3,011.08 3111.70
 HANG SENG (Feb 28) 26,129.93 26778.62
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Feb 27) 11,292.17 11433.62
 KOSPI (Feb 28) 1,987.01 2054.89
 SET COMPOSITE (Feb 28) 1,340.52 1395.08
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Feb 28) 5,452.70 5535.69
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Feb 28) 2,880.30 2991.33

 

Pakistan

Politics

  • At least 17 people have been killed and over 30 injured in rain-related incidents since 4th March in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to a situation report released by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) on 7th March.

The report said that some 47 houses have been partly damaged while two houses have been completely destroyed by the recent heavy rains and thunderstorms in the province. Relief items have also been distributed among those affected by the rains in Charsadda and Mardan after special directives were issued by KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, according to the PDMA. It added that cheques were also given to the relatives of two children who had died in rain-related incidents in Nowshera by the district administration. The PDMA said that it is in close contact with the administration in all districts of the province and relief efforts are ongoing.

  • Entities involved in theft, not to spare them’

The Chief Justice has said that all institutions were involved in theft, including the Revenue department. He said they would not spare anybody. The CJP said buildings in the city were constructed as if lands were personal property. He said constructions in Karachi are risky which will collapse as all projects are just a heap of dust. He asked were those who were removed not encroachers. He said the Keamari bridge could fall down. Many people died in building collapse in Karachi on 5th March, but people slept peacefully. When you get pressure from above, then you work. “If a family member of a foreign ruler spent billions, what can we do.” He said the court will have to follow the law.

  • During a discussion surrounding Aurat March, writer and director Khalil-Ur-Rehman Qamar, known for his intolerance of women, is preaching his views. He is angry that the court has denied the petition to halt the movement, and women will now march for their rights.

Amidst this very anger, he blatantly abused guest Marvi Sirmed on the show, shredding the same izzat he advocates for, through the use of repulsive and obnoxious slurs. While losing his cool, he says, *what’s in your body? Who the hell are you, go look at your body and face; no one even wants to spit on it. Don’t talk in the middle; don’t talk in between the lines. What is your body, bibi? Don’t talk no bloody nonsense. You bloody shut up. B**ch!”

Sirmid, simply chants “mera jism, meri marzi” (my body, my choice) in the background, repeatedly, with determination, unmoved. The man is then triggered and proceeds to call her a ghatiya (vile) and badtameez aurat (disrespectful woman) as well as ullu ki pathi. For Mr. Rehman and anyone who believes mera jism, meri marzi is a “ghatiya naara” (disgraceful chant), let me break it down for you one last time. The slogan represents bodily autonomy. It urges women all around the world to reclaim the rights to their own bodies. To stand up against marital rape, forced pregnancies in constant hope of birthing a boy, and female genital mutilation that takes place behind closed doors. It means that women should have the freedom to walk on the streets, stand in tandoor lines, and use public transport without having their body parts groped or touched. That they should not be blamed for ‘inviting’ rape because their breathing has suddenly aroused a frustrated man around them. If someone thinks the slogan is equated to parading naked in the streets, it is transparent that the actual nudity lies in one’s own thoughts. Please Purify it.

  • At least 20 people were killed while lot were injured as a five-storey residential building in Karachi’s Gulbahar area — formerly known as Golimar — collapsed on 5th March.

Karachi Metropolitan Cooperation Director Medical and Health Services Dr Salma Kauser said that more than 20 people were killed in the collapse, while  others that were injured were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. Police and Rangers reached the area as a large crowd from neighboring buildings had gathered in the streets.

Economy

  • The Inter­national Trade (INTA) Com­mittee of EU Parliament has extended the Generalized System of Preferences-Plus (GSP-Plus) status for Pakistan, enabling the country to continue to enjoy preferential duties on exports for the next two years.

While the GSP-Plus facility has been available to Pakistan since January 2014, its continuation is an award for Islamabad’s progress in enacting new laws and developing new institutions for implantation of 27 core conventions of GSP-Plus, especially the National Action Plan (NAP) for human rights. Pakistan’s third biennial assessment report, which was published by the Euro­pean Commission on Feb 10, was discussed by the INTA on Feb 19 and by the GSP Working Party of the European Council a week later. The European Commi­ssion and External Action Service has recommended at both the forums to continue the GSP-Plus scheme and stated their monitoring priorities for the next biennial monitoring cycle, which are given in the report. There is a clear indication that the EU authorities are satisfied with the results of the third biennial assessment of GSP-Plus and are focused on the next biennial monitoring cycle.

  • State Bank governor briefs PAC: Inflation to drop in coming days

Governor State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Reza Baqir foresees a downward trend in inflation in the coming days saying the recent rise in inflation is temporary due to supply disruptions and rupee devaluation. He said in the current fiscal year the average inflation will be about 11 percent to 12 percent. Briefing the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the central bank’s monetary policy, he said the Large Manufacturing Sector had witnessed growth and increase in domestic consumption of cement. Baqir told the committee that the SBP’s main task was to protect the foreign exchange reserves which had registered an increase. He said increase in foreign exchange reserves promised an improved economy. “Economy was not stable some time back but with stability in the exchange rate, it is moving towards stability.

Nausheen Javed from FBR told the committee that the IMF had agreed to lower the tax collection target. She said one new million filers had added to the tax list last year depositing Rs4 billion into the state kitty. She told the committee that Rs307 billion shortfalls in tax revenue were due to reduction in imports.

  • Cotton production fell by 20.3 per cent to 8.6 million bales till March 1 this season against 10.7m bales in the same period last year, the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) said on 3rd March.

In its fortnightly report, the PCGA noted that the production of cotton bales went down by 2.2m in the current season. According to the PCGA figures till March 1, Punjab suffered cotton production losses by up to 22.8pc, followed by Sind with 16.3pc. Punjab produced 5.9m bales against last year’s 6.5m bales – highlighting a shortfall of 1.6m bales. Sind produced 3.5m bales against last year’s 4.2m bales — a fall of 0.8m bales.

  • Pakistan’s economy can suffer a maximum of 1.57pc gross domestic product (GDP) losses on account of agriculture, business and trade, tourism and health in case of an outbreak of the novel corona virus (COVID-19) in the country, according to an assessment by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

However, the impact of the prevailing outbreak on the country’s economy is estimated between $61m and $16.23m losses depending on how the situation evolves ranging from the worst to the best possible scenario. The Manila-based lending agency clarified that such an analysis was for illustrative purposes and should not be interpreted as predictions that an outbreak would actually occur. Rather they were meant to guide policymakers in determining how costly an outbreak might be so that they could properly evaluate the benefits and costs of prevention and early response, it explained.

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 8th March 2020 as compared to  Ist March 2020
Countries PKR rate as of  Ist March 2020 PKR rate as of   8th  March  2020
U.S.A. $ 154.35 154.50
U.K. Pounds 200.00 200.50
Euro 170.00 174.00
Japan Yen 1.42 1.44
Saudi Arabia Rial 41.05 41.05
U.A.E. Dirham 42.00 42.0

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 8th March 2020 As Compared

To Ist March 2020

 

Position as of 8th March 2020
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 67 (Curr) Current 38219.67 Current 17891.48
Decline 251 (High) High 39382.11 High 18402.30
Unchanged 24 (Low) Low 38122.96 Low 17856.25
Total Change 342  -1162.44  -510.82

 

 

Position as of Ist March 2020
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 161 (Curr) Current 37983.62 Current 17447.56
Decline 154 (High) High 38307.07 High 17644.91
Unchanged 27 (Low) Low 37758.57 Low 17345.76
Total change 342  -103.70  -37.68

 

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