Economic and Political Weekly 14-07-2019

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World

Politics

  • More than 20 reportedly killed in Papua New Guinea violence

More than 20 people including pregnant women and children have been killed in recent tribal violence in Papua New Guinea, according to media reports. The death toll and dates of the violence in the remote highland province of Hela varied in reports by Australian Broadcasting Corp and the Post-Courier newspaper.

  • UAE to cut troop numbers for ‘peace-first’ strategy in Yemen

The United Arab Emirates is cutting troop numbers in Yemen and shifting from a “military-first strategy” to a “peace-first strategy” for the war-devastated country. An unidentified senior Emirati official said on 9th July that the decision to reduce troop numbers was “tactical”, notably in the western Red Sea port city of Hodeidah and the southern port of Aden. The UAE denies the redeployments are related to rising tensions between the US and Iran.

· It is our duty’: The rise of militant aggression in Buddhism

The Buddhist abbot was sitting cross-legged in his monastery, fulminating against the so-called evils of Islam, when the petrol bomb exploded within earshot. But the abbot, the Venerable Ambalangoda Sumedhananda Thero, barely registered the blast. Waving away the mosquitoes swarming the night air in the southern Sri Lankan town of Gintota, he continued his tirade: Muslims are violent, he said, Muslims are rapacious. “The aim of Muslims is to take over all our land and everything we value,” he said. “Think of what used to be Buddhist lands: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Indonesia. They have all been taken by Islam.”

·US and Taliban move closer to peace deal in latest talks

The US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan wound up on 9th july the seventh round of talks he has held with the Taliban in Qatar, after signs of progress in efforts to end the longest war the United States has ever fought. The US envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, met Taliban officials briefly a day after a delegation of Afghan citizens and the militants agreed on a “roadmap for peace”, in particular a joint call to end civilian casualties in the 18-year war.

· Hong Kong protesters vow to step up efforts despite leader’s climb-down

Protesters in Hong Kong vowed to escalate their efforts on 9th July after the city’s leader said the controversial extradition Bill was “dead” and her government’s efforts were “a complete failure”, but she continued to reject a raft of key student demands. At her first public appearance since a pre-dawn press conference after protesters had stormed the legislature a week ago, chief executive Carrie Lam refused to step down but admitted there were “still lingering doubts as to the government’s sincerity”.

·Boris Johnson under fire after UK ambassador to US resigns

Boris Johnson has come under furious criticism at Westminster after Kim Darroch resigned as ambassador to Washington over the fallout from his leaked criticism of Donald Trump. MPs in all parties blamed Mr. Johnson’s failure to stand by Sir Kim in 9th July Conservative leadership debate for the ambassador’s decision to resign. Foreign office minister Alan Duncan, who is backing Jeremy Hunt for the leadership, accused Mr. Johnson of throwing Sir Kim under the bus to serve his own personal interests. “I’m upset and angry. And there are a lot of people here in the Commons who are very, very angry and feel he has lost so much respect for having done what he’s done. His disregard for Sir Kim Darroch and his refusal to back him was in my view pretty contemptible, but also not in the interests of the country he’s trying to lead,” he told the BBC. Mr. Trump said this week he would no longer deal with Sir Kim after the Mail on 5th July published extracts from leaked diplomatic telegrams in which the ambassador described the president as insecure and his White House as dysfunctional. Theresa May defended Sir Kim and in Tuesday’s debate Mr. Hunt said he would leave him in Washington as ambassador until his scheduled departure at the end of this year.

  • Where Do The Richest Americans Live?

 

Have you checked the Full List of The Richest People in America” yet? Surprise, Bill Gates, with a net worth of $81 billion, is ranked No. 1 for the 23rd year running. Meanwhile, his friend Warren Buffett fell to third place for the first time in 15 years with a net worth of $65.5 billion. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bozos gained $20 billion to boost his net worth to $67 billion, making him the second-richest person in the U.S. Face book CEO Mark Zuckerberg jumped into fourth place, his highest rank ever, with a net worth of $55.5 billion. However, Oracle founder Larry Ellison landed at No. 5 for the first time since 2007. His net worth is $49.3 billion. Standing on the No. 6 spot is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, CEO of the eponymous firm Bloomberg L.P., who has a net worth of $45 billion.

These six richest multi-billionaires have a combined $363.3 billion at their withdrawal, most of which is still held as stakes in the companies they founded. However, part of their fortune is vested in real estate. However they live in modest houses.

  • The world’s population is nearing 8 billion. That’s not great news

It took thousands of years for the global population to hit 5 billion, which happened in 1987. Some 32 years later, we’re closing in on 8 billion. This explosive growth concerns leaders at the United Nations, who created World Population Day in 1989 to raise awareness about the problems caused by overpopulation. The holiday is observed annually on July 11. The planet’s population today is 7.7 billion. How mind-bogglingly huge is that number? If you started now and ticked off 7.7 billion seconds, you wouldn’t be done until the year 2263. And by 2050, the world is projected to add another 2 billion people. If we have issues with overpopulation now, just image the future impact on the planet. Here’s a closer look at some global population trends. According to the UN, 27 countries or areas have seen their populations shrink by 1 percent or more since 2010. This drop is caused by sustained lower levels of fertility, most notably in countries like China and Japan. In fact the global fertility rate fell from 3.2 births per woman in 1990 to 2.5 in 2019 and is projected to decline further. But these shrinkages are dwarfed by population booms in other regions. The population of sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is projected to double by 2050. Nine countries — India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt and the United States — will make up more than half the projected growth of the global population between now and 2050, according to a 2018 study.

·Battle between Syrian army and jihadi units escalates sharply

The battle between Syria’s army and jihadi forces escalated sharply this week in northwestern Idlib province and neighboring government-held provinces. Syrian and Russian aircraft have stepped up bombardment of Idlib, where three million people live under the rule of al-Qaeda’s Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. Villages, towns and strategic locations on the edge of Idlib change hands frequently. Scores of fighters on both sides have been killed and wounded. Syrian opposition groups have reported more than 500 civilians killed, 300,000 displaced and villages devastated and deserted. The battle for Idlib is a bloody and destructive stalemate. Turkey, determined to topple the Syrian government, supports jihadis and rebels. Russia, the government’s ally, provides air cover for the Syrian army.

Russia delivers missile system to Turkey in challenge to Nato.

Russia began delivery of an advanced missile defense system to Turkey on 12th July, a move expected to trigger US sanctions against a NATO ally and drive a wedge into the heart of the Western military alliance. The first parts of the S-400 air defense system were flown to a military air base near the capital Ankara, the Turkish defense ministry said, sealing Turkey’s deal with Russia which Washington had struggled for months to prevent. The United States says the Russian military hardware is not compatible with NATO systems and that the acquisition may lead to Ankara’s expulsion from an F-35 fighter jet program.

Economy-

·   West African countries choose new ‘ECO’ single trade currency.

As part of its plans to make Africa a more integrated continent, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have adopted the name ‘ECO’ for a planned single currency to be used in the region. The 15 member group announced at the end of an ECOWAS summit in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on 6th July. Six member countries, including Nigeria, Liberia, and Ghana, could be swapping their currencies for a new one – the ECO. Eight ECOWAS countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo) currently jointly use the CFA franc. Originally intended to be launched in 2000, the ECO has been postponed multiple times, and the newest target date is 2020.

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on 10th July strongly hinted at a potential rate cutlater this month, citing unresolved trade tensions and worries over the weakness of the global outlook.

In prepared testimony ahead of his first appearance on Capitol Hill, Powell told House lawmakers that since the Fed’s last interest-rate policy-setting meeting in June; two of the major forces that have the potential to drag down the US economy remain a concern. “It appears that uncertainties around trade tensions and concerns about the strength of the global economy continue to weigh on the US economic outlook,” Powell will say at the hearing, according to his prepared remarks. His testimony before the House Financial Services Committee marks the first of two appearances before Congress this week as President Donald Trump continues his relentless public pressure campaign on the Fed to cut interest rates to juice the US economy. He will appear before the Senate Banking Committee a day later.

GLOBAL INDICES AS OF 12th and 13th July 2019

As compared to 5th and 6th July 2019

 

Global indices as of 12th and 13th July 2019
Name Current Value Open

Close

US MARKETS
 NASDAQ (Jul 12) 8,244.14 8209.20

8196.04

EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Jul 12) 7,505.97 7509.82

7509.82

 CAC (Jul 12) 5,572.86 5559.16

5551.95

 DAX (Jul 12) 12,323.32 12318.50

12332.12

ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Jul 13) 11,568.50 11556.50

11546.50

 NIKKEI 225 (Jul 12) 21,685.90 21720.14

21643.53

 STRAITS TIMES (Jul 12) 3,357.34 3354.78

3350.45

 HANG SENG (Jul 12) 28,471.62 28401.87

28431.80

 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Jul 12) 10,824.35 10855.16

10843.42

 KOSPI (Jul 12) 2,086.66 2083.53

2080.58

 SET COMPOSITE (Jul 12) 1,731.59 1744.73

1740.45

 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Jul 12) 6,373.34 6414.20

6417.07

 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Jul 12) 2,930.55 2915.34

2917.76

 

 

Global indices as of 5th and 6th July 2019
Name Current Value Open

Prev

Close

 NASDAQ (Jul 05) 8,161.79 8123.28

8170.23

EUROPEAN MARKETS
 FTSE (Jul 05) 7,553.14 7603.58

7603.58

 CAC (Jul 05) 5,593.72 5613.92

5620.73

 DAX (Jul 05) 12,568.53 12632.12

12629.90

ASIAN MARKETS
 SGX NIFTY (Jul 06) 11,791.00 11810.00

11817.50

 NIKKEI 225 (Jul 05) 21,746.38 21703.61

21702.45

 STRAITS TIMES (Jul 05) 3,366.81 3376.93

3372.25

 HANG SENG (Jul 05) 28,774.83 28785.53

28795.77

 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Jul 05) 10,785.73 10785.85

10775.90

 KOSPI (Jul 05) 2,110.59 2111.00

2108.73

 SET COMPOSITE (Jul 05) 1,731.23 1725.45

1724.37

 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Jul 05) 6,373.48 6373.32

6375.97

 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Jul 05) 3,011.06 3004.74

3005.25

 

Pakistan

Politics

  • The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on 12th July decided to remove accountability judge Arshad Malik from his post, officials said, following a controversy revolving around the ‘leaked’ video tapeof the judicial officer.

Judge Malik, on Dec 4, 2018, had handed ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif seven years in jail in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference. He, however, had acquitted him in a second reference related to Flagship Investments. On July 6, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz opened a Pandora’s Box with a startling claim that the judge “confessed” he had been “pressurized and blackmailed” to convict her father in the Al-Azizia reference. A video containing the judge’s alleged confession during his conversation with a ‘sympathizer’ of the PML-N, Nasir Butt, was screened during a hurriedly called presser at the party’s provincial headquarters in Model Town. The next day, the judge had denied being under any pressure, but admitted that Nasir Butt was an acquaintance.

Minister for Law Dr Farogh Nasim, addressing a press conference following Judge Arshad Malik’s removal by the Islamabad High Court on 12th July, said that no sentence can be overturned unless the high court finds the verdict was issued under duress by the accountability judge. “The law ministry has stopped Arshad sahab from working [as a judge] for now. In the affidavit, the judge has said that he issued the verdict without any pressure or intimidation,” said Nasim, referring to the affidavit submitted by Malik to the IHC acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq.

  • The opposition’s ‘Rehbar Committee’ on 11th July agreed to name Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo as the opposition’s joint candidate for the position of Senate chairman.

The decision was taken in a committee meeting held under the chairmanship of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) leader Akram Khan Durrani in Islamabad. The meeting was attended by senior members of opposition parties, including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Farhatullah Babar, Nayyar Bukhari, Usman Kakar and Ahsan Iqbal, among others. Bizenjo later met PML-N leaders in the opposition leader’s chambers in Parliament House to express his gratitude for the nomination.In response PTI has decided to bring no confidence motion against Dy Chairman Mandviwala of PPP.

An interview of Maryam Nawaz Sharif, vice president of the PML-N, was “forcefully” taken off air soon after it was run; it was reported on 11th July.

Hum News, the channel on which the interview was aired for a few brief moments, released a statement shortly after the incident, saying: “Hum News believes in a free and responsible media. Protecting freedom of expression is one of our core values. At the same time, we stand for the respect and dignity of [the] judiciary in line with our ethical values and the Constitution.” Hum News firmly believes in a free & responsible media. Protecting Freedom of Expression is one of our core values.

  • Dawn editorial on Train accident on 11th July at Sadiqiabad where 24 killed and 85 injured

 

“Many, like the one in which a passenger train crashed into a stationary cargo train near Sadiqabad early 11th July morning, resulting in a number of deaths, could have been avoided if the authorities had paid more attention to improving passenger safety protocols and investing money in the decaying railway infrastructure, including the replacement of weak tracks and an erratic signal system. Instead, they prefer to launch new routes for political gains.

The fact that the latest tragedy has occurred in less than one month of a similar accident in which three people lost their lives in a collision between a passenger train and a freight car near Hyderabad should be enough to awaken the railway authorities from their deep slumber. But will it? Train accidents are common in Pakistan and rarely shock the authorities. Apart from major incidents, the railways suffer hundreds of minor accidents every year that are either not reported at all or find very little space in prime-time news bulletins. Take the example of a locomotive ramming into a car at an unmanned level crossing and killing two in Rajanpur or the seven coaches of a running express train getting detached from the other rakes near Khanewal the same day, that is, 10th July. Even major accidents make headlines only for a day or two; cash compensation is announced for the injured or the family of the deceased, and inquiries that never see the light of day are ordered. The accident is then forgotten until there is another similar event.

The government and the railway authorities know very well why accidents take place and what needs to be done. However, they have never bothered to fix the problem. Governments often succumb to populism and spend the little money available on new train projects and on-board services, instead of maintaining and revamping the aging overused infrastructure or training railway personnel. This approach costs human lives.

Prime Minister Imran Khan too, who took to twitter shortly after 11th July accident, blames “ageing, poorly maintained rail infrastructure that has fallen into disrepair due to chronic underinvestment and poor maintenance”. He has also asked the railway minister to take emergency steps to counter decades of neglect and to ensure safety standards.

The question is: will his government walk the talk and allocate enough funds for proper maintenance of railway infrastructure, and hold to account the officials responsible for neglecting the safety of passengers?

But many, like the one in which a passenger train crashed into a stationary cargo train near Sadiqabad early 11th July morning, resulting in a number of deaths, could have been avoided if the authorities had paid more attention to improving passenger safety protocols and investing money in the decaying railway infrastructure, including the replacement of weak tracks and an erratic signal system.”

  • PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz on 10th July shared two more video clips on Twitter to corroborate her claim that Accountability Judge Arshad Malik allegedly met a PML-N ‘sympathizer’ to confess that he had been “pressurized and blackmailed” to convict her father, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in the Al-Azizia reference.

On 6th July, a video purported to be about the conversation between Judge Malik and PML-N supporter Nasir Butt was played on a screen projector during a hurriedly called presser at the PML-N’s provincial headquarters in Lahore. In a press release issued a day later, Judge Malik acknowledged to have met Nasir Butt in the past, but rejected Maryam’s allegations that he had convicted Nawaz under any sort of pressure, saying that the former premier was convicted on the basis of evidence.

  • A global media watchdog has slammed the local authorities over the removal of three television channels from the country’s airwaves, saying the move was “indicative of disturbing dictatorial tendencies” as pressure mounts on journalists in Pakistan.

The statement from Reporters without Borders (RSF) comes days after AbbTakk TV24 News, and Capital TV all had their broadcasts cut, after screening a press conference with opposition leader Maryam Nawaz. Authorities say the channels were unavailable due to “technical issues”, but RSF described the outage as an act of “brazen censorship”. “The RSF is appalled to learn that three Pakistani TV news channels have been suspended from cable networks at the behest of the authorities in reprisal for broadcasting an opposition leader’s news conference,” the watchdog said late on Tuesday.

 

Economy

  • The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Karachi on 10th July arrested the president of Sind Bank and two other senior officials in the fake accounts case in which former president Asif Ali Zardari and his business partners are co-accused.

Tahir Ahsan, the president of Sind Bank, was arrested in the fake accounts case from Karachi, according to a brief statement issued by the anti-graft body. Other suspects, namely Syed Nadeem Altaf, who is the executive vice president of Sindh Bank and Bilal Sheikh, a former president and current director of Sind Bank, were also apprehended.

  • Pakistan has received the first tranche of $991.4 million of the $6 billion bailout package International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, the chief spokesperson for the State Bank of Pakistan said on 10th july.

This is equivalent to a special drawing right (SDR) of $716 million. An SDR is an IMF unit for a financial transaction, which includes a mixed basket of currencies. On July 3, the IMF executive board approved a $6 billion bailout package for Pakistan and immediately released $1bn to ease a sustained pressure on the country’s foreign exchange reserves.

  • The amount of foreign currency travelers leaving Pakistan can carry without having to declare it has been capped by the age of the traveler, a new advisory issued by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) says.

According to the FBR advisory, issued on 9th July, travelers aged less than 5 years can carry $1,000 (or an equivalent amount in other foreign currencies) on a single visit. If they travel abroad multiple times a year, they can carry a maximum of $6,000 in one year. Passengers aged 5-18 years can carry $5,000 on a single visit and up to $30,000 over a year in case of multiple visits. Similarly, travelers who are above 18 can carry $10,000 on a single visit and up to $60,000 over a year in case of multiple visits. Importantly, all travelers leaving Pakistan have been forbidden from carrying more than Rs3, 000 on their person under the new rules.

  • Prime Minister with regards to taxation in Pakistan.

The prime minister, who was addressing a press conference at the Governor House in Karachi, said, “I appeal to everyone. It’s time to change our mindset. The segments of the society who don’t pay taxes [need to realize their importance]. Let’s contribute together.” The remarks came after reports that groups of traders, business persons and transport operators had decided to go on strike against the tax measures taken in the federal budget for 2019-20.”We are 210 million people; our small contributions will make a big difference. The tax target [Rs5.5 trillion] is nothing — we can collect at least Rs8 trillion.”

           

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 12th July 2019 as compared to 5th July 2019
Countries PKR rate as of 5th  July 2019 PKR rate as of 12th July 2019
U.S.A. 157.75 160.00
U.K. 200.00 203.00
Euro 180.0 182.50
Japan 1.48 1.48
Saudi Arabia 42.00 43.00
U.A.E. 43.00 43.80

Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices

As of 12th July 2019 As Compared

To 5th July 2019

Position as of 12th July 2019
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 61 (Curr) Current 33672.49 Current 15713.83
Decline (High) 198 High 34001.76 High 15853.60
Unchanged (Low) 25 Low 33599.48 Low 15680.72
Total change 284  -202.91 -110.49
Position as of 5th July 2019
Symbols KSE100 Index PSX-KMI All Shares Index
Advance 71 (Curr) Current 34190.02 Current 16023.76
Decline (High) 191 High 34570.62 High 16184.50
Unchanged (Low) 13 Low 34062.98 Low 15985.62
Total change 275  -380.60  -160.74

 

 

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