Economic & Political Weekly 21-04-2019

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Politics

· Twenty-eight dead in Portugal tourist bus plunge, says official

A bus carrying tourists in Madeira has crashed killing 28 people, an official has said. Local mayor Filipe Sousa told a Portuguese news channel the victims included 17 women and 11 men. He said most of those on board were German tourists, and it has not yet been confirmed whether any other nationalities were involved. The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of the case and stands ready to offer assistance, but so far it is not thought that Irish persons are involved in the crash.

·         France’s attention turns to rebuilding of Notre Dame

Bells rang all over France in a magnificent homage to Notre Dame Cathedral at 6.50pm on 17th April, 48 hours after a devastating fire broke out in the attic of the mother of cathedrals. The positive, forward-looking tone set by President Emmanuel Macron in a televised address on 16th April night has taken hold. The words “reconstruct” and “rebuild” recur in all official pronouncements and in most news headlines. The weekly cabinet meeting was entirely devoted to Notre Dame. Mr Macron formally launched the reconstruction of the cathedral at a later meeting with the prime minister, six cabinet ministers, the head of Unesco, the mayor of Paris, the archbishop of Paris and officials in charge of architectural heritage. More than €1.1 billion has already been raised. Mr Philippe said 75 per cent of contributions of up to €1,000 will be tax exempt, while donations of more than €1,000 carry a 66 per cent deduction against tax. An earlier law, which gives a 60 per cent deduction for patronage of the arts, will apply to large corporations.

·         Omar al-Bashir moved to Sudan prison, say relatives.

Deposed ex-Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has been moved to Khartoum’s grim high-security Kobar prison from the presidential residence, family sources said on 17th April, and transitional military rulers announced steps to crack down on corruption. Sudan’s military ousted Mr Bashir after weeks of mass protests that climaxed in a sit-in outside the defense ministry compound. Protests are continuing and their leaders say the unrest will not cease until the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) hands power to a civilian-led authority ahead of elections. The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), leading the revolt, has called for sweeping change to end violent crackdowns on dissent, purge corruption and cronyism and ease an economic crisis that worsened during Mr Bashir’s last years in power. In initial moves to tackle graft, the TMC ordered the central bank to review financial transfers since April 1st and to seize “suspect” funds, state news agency SUNA said on 17th April.

 

·      Ex-president of Peru takes own life shortly before arrest

Peru’s former president Alan Garcia has died after deliberately shooting himself when police tried to arrest him in connection with a multibillion-dollar Latin American corruption scandal. “I am saddened by the death of former president Alan Garcia,” tweeted the country’s current president, Martin Vizcarra, confirming the news. “I send my condolences to his family and loved ones.” Earlier, Garcia’s lawyer, Erasmo Reyna, told local media his client “took the decision to shoot himself” early on 17th April after officers arrived at his home in the capital, Lima, to place him under preventive detention. Peru’s interior minister, Carlos Moran, told journalists Garcia had told police officers he was going to call his lawyer and had “shut himself in his bedroom” before a shot was heard. The 69-year-old politician – who is facing accusations of taking bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht during his 2006-2011 presidency – was admitted to a nearby hospital soon after, at about 6.45am, suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.

· Shelling kills seven in Tripoli as Haftar’s offensive continues

Libyan women shout slogans during a demonstration to demand an end to Khalifa Haftar’s offensive against Tripoli, at Martyrs’ Square in the capital on 17th April. Shells slammed into a densely-populated district of Tripoli overnight on 16th April, piling misery on civilians from a two-week assault by Commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces to take Libya’s capital from an internationally-backed government. About 10 Grad rockets hit the southern residential area of Abu Salim just before midnight on Tuesday, witnesses and authorities said, killing at least seven people, mainly women, and wounding 17. Some of them lost limbs.

·         Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo looks set for second term

Indonesian president Joko Widodo appeared set for a second term as “quick count” results from Wednesday’s election rolled in, but his challenger claimed he had won the popular vote and urged supporters not to let his victory be snatched away. Data from private pollsters based on counts of vote samples were in line with opinion polls that had predicted a win for Mr Widodo, a former furniture businessman and low-key reformist.

·       ANC races to clean up its candidates list amid fear of losing voters

South Africa’s ruling party has internally reviewed its list of candidates for the next government over fears voters will abandon it in May’s crucial election because dozens of its nominees are accused of serious crimes. Senior African National Congress (ANC) leaders tasked the party’s integrity committee in early April with removing the delinquent candidates in response to voter disgruntlement over its make-up, directing it to review the suitability of everyone on the 200-strong list to serve in parliament.

·         Opposition candidate the official winner in tight Istanbul vote

Turkish election authorities on 17th April confirmed opposition candidate Ekrem Imamoglu’s win over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP candidate after a recount of last month’s disputed Istanbul election. Thousands of cheering supporters greeted Imamoglu outside the Istanbul town hall after he received his mandate certificate, though electoral authorities must still rule on an AKP appeal for a rerun over alleged irregularities in its narrow Istanbul defeat. “This is a new dawn for Istanbul,” Imamoglu told the chanting crowds from the roof of a campaign bus. “Istanbul is proud of you.” He urged Istanbul residents to set grudges aside, promising to be “everybody’s mayor”. “The people granted me the honor of leading the most beautiful city in the world… I pledge that I will repay my debt.” Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won the most votes nationwide in the March 31 election, but the loss of Ankara and Istanbul to the Republican People’s Party (CHP) was a stinging setback after a decade and a half in control.

·         Mali’s prime minister and his entire government resign

 

Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga and his entire government have resigned, said the country’s secretary general in a statement. The mass resignation was accepted by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, who offered thanks for “loyalty” and “high sense of duty,” said the statement released on 18th April. After stepping down, Maïga took to Twitter to express his gratitude to the president for having permitted him and his government to “serve our country and our citizens” in a “crucial time in history.” The resignations took place in accordance with Article 38 of the Malian Constitution, which states that the president “shall put an end to the Prime Minister’s functions on presentation by the Prime Minister of the resignation of the Cabinet.” A new prime minister is expected to be named soon and a government installed once consultation with all political forces in the country takes place.

  • Xi Jinping is determined to end all poverty in China by 2020.

The dream of eradicating widespread poverty in China didn’t begin with Xi. It dates back to the Communist Party’s rise to power in 1949. “The reason for the existence of the Chinese Communist Party in the beginning is because of injustice and poverty among farmers,” Donaldson said. Chairman Mao Zedong’s economic experiments, however, actually set the country back, according to Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the University of London. “In 1949, Shanghai was still a richer city than Hong Kong. In 1949, any coastal province was richer and more developed than Taiwan. In 1979, Hong Kong and Taiwan were way, way ahead,” Tsang said. Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward, beginning in 1958, was ostensibly an attempt to transform a mainly agrarian society through industrialization and collectivization. Instead, it helped create a famine that cost tens of millions of lives and aggravated poverty across the country. Things began to change after Mao’s death. In 1978, then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping began liberalizing China’s economy and one of his first reforms was to let struggling farmers sell excess produce to make a profit. China’s efforts to combat poverty since then have been staggering. In 1990, there were more than 750 million people living in poverty across the nation, according to the World Bank — over60% of the population. Almost 30 years later in 2019, Beijing says that number has dropped to just 16.6 million.

Economy-

 

GLOBAL INDICES AS OF 18th and 19th April 2019

As compared to 12th and 13th April 2019 

Global indices as of 18th and 19th April 2019
Name Current Value Prev.

Close

US MARKETS      
 NASDAQ (Apr 18) 7,998.06 7996.08
EUROPEAN MARKETS      
 FTSE (Apr 18) 7,459.88 7471.32
 CAC (Apr 18) 5,580.38 5563.09
 DAX (Apr 18) 12,222.39 12153.07
ASIAN MARKETS      
 NIKKEI 225 (Apr 19) 22,200.56 22090.12
 STRAITS TIMES (Apr 18) 3,347.58 3348.64
 HANG SENG (Apr 18) 29,963.26 30124.68
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Apr 19) 10,968.50 10962.02
 KOSPI (Apr 19) 2,216.15 2213.77
 SET COMPOSITE (Apr 19) 1,674.10 1675.00
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Apr 18) 6,507.22 6481.54
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Apr 19) 3,270.80 3250.20
 SGX NIFTY (Apr 20) 11,811.00 11808.00

 

Global indices as of 12th and 13th April 2019
Name       Current Value Prev.

Close

US MARKETS    
 NASDAQ (Apr 12) 7,984.16 7947.36
EUROPEAN MARKETS    
 FTSE (Apr 12) 7,437.06 7417.95
 CAC (Apr 12) 5,502.70 5485.72
 DAX (Apr 12) 11,999.93 11935.20
ASIAN MARKETS    
 NIKKEI 225 (Apr 12) 21,870.56 21711.38
 STRAITS TIMES (Apr 12) 3,331.98 3330.82
 HANG SENG (Apr 12) 29,909.76 29839.45
 TAIWAN WEIGHTED (Apr 12) 10,805.30 10808.77
 KOSPI (Apr 12) 2,233.45 2224.44
 SET COMPOSITE (Apr 12) 1,660.45 1659.09
 JAKARTA COMPOSITE (Apr 12) 6,405.87 6410.17
 SHANGHAI COMPOSITE (Apr 12) 3,188.63 3189.96
 SGX NIFTY (Apr 13) 11,676.00 11691.50

 

Pakistan

Politics

·         PM Imran launches 141,000 residential units in first phase of the NPH Scheme

 

Prime Minister Imran Khan launched Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme Wednesday under which one hundred and forty-one thousand residential units will be constructed in the first phase.
Addressing a launching ceremony of the project in Islamabad, PM Khan said 25,000 housing units will be constructed in the federal capital, 1, 10,000 in Baluchistan and 6,000 in Azad Kashmir. The first phase will see the construction of 135,000 houses across the country and five million low-cost houses in the next five years. The Prime Minister said a revolving fund of five billion rupees has been established to grant microcredit to poor people enabling them to have their own house. He said high rise residential buildings will be constructed for people living in katchi abadis across Pakistan. He said commercial buildings will also be constructed on city slum so that economic activity can be generated.

  • PPMA to slash prices of 395 essential medicines

In order to provide due economic relief to masses, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) on 16th April announced to curtail prices of 395 essential medicines whose prices had been reduced by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) but not implemented by the pharmaceutical industry and also announced to slash prices of 464 medicines voluntarily by 10 to 15 per cent, says a Press release.
PPMA Chairman said they were forced to lower down the prices of medicines with heavy heart on the pressure from the health minister as well as Commerce Advisor Abdul Razzaq Dawood as increase in cost of production of medicines had made doing business very difficult in Pakistan.
Recently, government of Pakistan allowed increase in prices of around 45000 medicines by 15 percent following a suo moto taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan but in some hardship cases, prices of 464 medicines were increased over 15 percent because their cost of production had become unbearable for the industry and production of many of these drugs had been stopped by the pharmaceutical manufacturers. “It is very painful and challenging decision for pharmaceutical industry since hardship cases were decided in Nov 2018 where rupee were priced 138 against the US dollar. Today it is 143”, locally produced medicines in January this year to ensure the very survival of the pharmaceutical industry of the country facing serious economic challenges in its strive to produce quality drugs at affordable prices for the patients in Pakistan. Increase in prices of medicines had been in conformity with the several directions of the apex judiciary on the issue, he said and added that in case the government had not allowed the much-needed relief to the Pakistani medicines’ manufacturers in the form of 15 percent increase in locally produced drugs, public healthcare system of the country would have been in sheer shambles due to unavailability of medicines.

  • Prominent Urdu writer and scholar Jamil Jalibi passed away today after a long illness. He was 89.

While he enjoyed a diverse career, Jalibi is most known for his contribution to the Urdu language through his research and literary works. Jalibi’s literary works spread over numerous fields and span about 70 years, but his Tareekh-i-adab-i-Urdu, or the history of Urdu literature, in four volumes, is the kind of work that has eclipsed almost all other literary histories of Urdu and has made Jalibi a legendary figure in the history of Urdu literature. His research on the earliest literary pieces of Urdu, especially the ones written in Deccan in the 15th and 16th century, has pushed back the history of Urdu literature by one-and-a-half century. His discovery of Urdu’s first literary work, Masnavi Kudam Rao Padam Rao and some other classical works, such as Divan-i-Hasan Shauqi and Divan-i-Nusrati, have earned him the reputation as one of the most celebrated research scholars of Urdu.

·         Gunmen kill 14 people after kidnapping them from buses on Baluchistan coast

The passengers were travelling on a coastal highway from the financial hub of Karachi towards Gwadar. Unidentified gunmen have killed 14 people in southwestern Pakistan after pulling them from several passenger buses, sifting through their identity cards and kidnapping them, a Pakistani official said on 18th April. A Baluch insurgent group claimed responsibility in a statement emailed to reporters and newspaper offices.

 

  • Reshuffles in the PTI Government

 

The portfolio of information minister has been taken away from Fawad Chaudhry, who has been named as the federal minister for science and technology. Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has been named the adviser on finance in place of Assad Umar who has left the government. Minister of state for interior Shehryar Afridi has now been named the Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron). The PTI government has also announced a federal interior minister for the first time, with the portfolio — earlier held by the PM himself — going to retired Brig Ijaz Ahmed Shah, who was appointed the federal minister for parliamentary affairs just last month. Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who previously was the petroleum minister, has now been named the federal minister for aviation. Sarwar, according to informed sources, had threatened to quit the party if removed from the cabinet. He was, therefore, given the Aviation Division portfolio which was until then held by Federal Minister for Privatisation Muhammad Mian Soomro. Azam Swati, who had resigned as the federal minister for science and technology last year, has been appointed as the federal minister for parliamentary affairs. His resignation had come after he was accused of using his influence in the transfer of a former capital police chief in the wake of his family’s altercation with a family of slum dwellers. The prime minister, according to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division, has also appointed a trio of Special Assistants to the Prime Minister (SAPM). The notification states that Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has been made the SAPM on Information and Broadcasting Division, while Dr Zafarullah Mirza has been assigned the portfolio of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination. Meanwhile, Nadeem Babar will serve as the SAPM on Petroleum Division.

 

Economy

·         IMF finalizes bailout package for Pakistan

An agreement for an economic bailout package has been agreed upon in principle between the Fund and the Government of Pakistan. The sick economy is only out of the critical care unit, and needs more time for consolidation. The IMF staff mission would visit Islamabad this month to conclude various technical tables that would then be shared with the NA committee. All the principal issues have been settled and documented. Pakistan has also dispatched a compliance report to the Financial Action Task Force that would be reviewed by the Paris-based agency. The IMF has `agreed upon in writing and Pakistan has an agreement on all policy matters. These subject included exchange rate, fiscal deficit, energy, and public finance and public sector entities. The exact size of the fund program had not been yet concluded. It would be between $6 billion and $8 billion. Principal Major Flows would now come from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. This had been stopped due to inadequate import and the lack of IMF cover. Pakistan`s financing space was around $15billion while $7-8billion from the World Bank, $6-8billion from IMF and ADB would be available while the process for launch of international bonds had already been initiated.  Consequently the conditions are much diverse now than the government was deliberating with the IMF in October-November past year.

  • Reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) plunged by $1.028 billion to $9.244bn during the week ended on April 12.

The decrease in dollar stock came amid external debt servicing, including principal repayment of $1bn against Pakistan Sovereign Bond, said a press release from SBP. Meanwhile, holdings of the commercial banks stood at $6.952bn while total liquid reserves of the country amounted to $16.2bn during the period under review.

  • The country’s current account deficit during March climbed by 196 per cent month-on-month compared to February, according to latest data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on 18th

The central bank reported that the current account deficit in March was at $822 million compared to $278m in February. Cumulatively, the current account deficit has seen a gradual decrease of around 29pc during the first nine months of the fiscal year mainly due to import compression. The deficit during July-March fell by 29.4pc or $4 billion to $9.58bn against $13.589bn in the same period last year. However, despite shrinking current account deficit, the size of trade deficit remained as large as $23.84bn. The incumbent government, despite offering multiple incentives to the export-oriented sector, during the ongoing fiscal year, has failed to improve the country’s exports. The data provided by the SBP shows that exports increased by a meager $267m during the nine months under review.

                                               

F.C Exchange Rates of PKR as of 19th April 2019 as compared to 13th April 2019
Countries PKR rate as of 13th April 2019 PKR rate as of 19th April 2019
U.S.A. 142.50 142.20
U.K. 186.00 185.00
Euro 160.50 160.00
Japan 1.2900 1.2800
Saudi Arabia 38.00 37.80
U.A.E. 38.90 38.80


Pakistan Stock Exchange Indices As of 19th April 2019 As Compared

To 12th April 2019  

 

Position as of 19th April 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 214
37334.89
17918.36
Declined (High) 73
37729.12
18097.99
Unchanged (Low) 13
36811.86
17774.03
Total (Change) 300
523.03
144.33

 

Position as of 12th April 2019
Symbols KSE100 PSX-KMI
Advanced (Curr.) 253
37337.87
17950.32
Declined (High) 63
37420.92
17982.62
Unchanged (Low) 16
36741.70
17629.35
Total (Change) 332
550.23
266.39

 

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