Month: June 2011

Gilgit-Baltistan: Senate Recommends to invoke Taxation Laws in Gilgit-Baltistan, FATA and PATA

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ISLAMABAD: The senate on Monday finalised 66 recommendations for incorporation in the finance bill and annual budget statement 2011-12, calling upon the government to bring consistency in economic policies and improve law and order and security situation in Pakistan.

Out of the total recommendations presented by the Senate Committee on finance, revenue and economic affairs, the House approved 66 recommendations unanimously. The senate recommended the government to check fiscal deficit and address the challenges of deficit financing that will enable it to review the existing monetary policy and tackle the menace of inflation.

The House proposed that taxation laws might be invoked in Gilgit-Baltistan, FATA and PATA to eliminate discrimination between different parts of the country, which in turn would broaden the tax base leading to lower tax rates. It was suggested that the government may remove injustice and discrimination in the taxation system so that available resources could be optimised.

It recommended that the government may prevent the misuse of Afghan Transit Trade, curb smuggling under invoicing and use railways for regional transportation of goods.

The state-owned entities including Pakistan International Airlines, Water And Power Development Authority, Pakistan Electric Power Company, Pakistan Steel and Pakistan Railways may be restructured and operated under public-private partnership strictly by professionals selected on merit, it recommended. The House recommended the government might encourage compliant taxpayers by issuing tax compliant cards whereby cardholders will be given priority in tax refunds, concessions in tax rates, quota allocations and speedy processing of cases at appellate forums.

Besides, the government may introduce FBR privilege cards for compliant taxpayers who pay over Rs 5 million as income tax so that they can get incentives in investments and processing of utility connections.

All the administrative expenses except salaries be reduced by 25 percent, it recommended, besides giving proposals that the industrial and agriculture machinery imported or locally manufactured be exempted from all taxes and duties.

It recommended introduction of agriculture reforms to incentivise small farmers and rural women, promoting micro-financing and small and medium enterprises besides establishment of value addition and labour intensive industry.

It recommended that minimum wage may be raised to at least Rs 8,000 per month while the limit of taxable income may be raised to Rs 400,000 per year.

The senate recommended that all allocations for official foreign visits may be curtailed including foreign tours of the president and the prime minister.

It proposed that the government might adopt austerity measures, reduce non-development expenditures and eliminate VIP and VVIP cultures.

It recommended that all international loans and economic agreements may be rectified by the parliament and proposed that the State Bank of Pakistan may accelerate its efforts towards promotion of Islamic banking and finance in the country in order to eliminate Riba as stipulated in Article 38 (f) of the constitution.

The Upper House recommended that funds may be allocated in the budget 2011-12 for the provision of gas to those districts of Balochistan, which were not supplied gas so far. It also proposed that Rs 57 billion be allocated to Balochistan for water preservation.

It proposed the government may announce subsidised long-term fixed interest loans to set up new industrial units. Road link between Taxila and Haripur which passes through Hattar Industrial Estate may be upgraded. It recommended that sufficient funds might be allocated in Public Sector Development Programme for Bara Dam, CRBC, Daraban Dam, Munda Dam, Dasu Lawi, Khayal Khwar, Chore Nala, SPAT Gah Hydro power project and Tarbela Forest Extension Hydro Project. APP

Gilgit-Baltistan:Babusar Festival will start in July 2011

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Diamer—The Babusar festival would be celebrated by the end of July this year, said the Chief Secretary (CS) Gilgit-Baltistan Saif Ullah Chatta. In a telephonic conversation with APP on Monday the Chief Secretary said directives had been issued to the concerned departments to make necessary arrangements in this regard. He said the federal government had released Rs. 550 million for repair and maintenance of Babusar-Naran road while the remaining funds would also be issued once the project started.

The Chief Secretary said the festival could not be celebrated last year due to rain, land-slides and floods but this year it would be celebrated with great zeal and zest. Different polo teams from all the districts of Gilgit- Baltistan would participate in the festival while a number of national and International dignities would also be invited to the event, he added.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Shandur Festival to be Organized Jointly

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GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will jointly organise the Shandur festival this year, Gilgit-Baltistan’s Chief Minister Mehdi Shah said on Thursday.

This indicated that his government intended to end the boycott that has eclipsed the event for the past two years. “We will take part this year in the event,” Shah announced in a press conference held in his residence on Thursday. He added that modalities have been settled between the two parties, according to which both the regions will have equal share in the festival’s management. “The deputy commissioners of Ghizer and Chitral will jointly make arrangements for the Shandur tournament,” said Shah, who was flanked by Law Minister Wazir Shakil and others.

The chief minister said that both the chief ministers of G-B and K-P will address the opening and closing ceremonies. The free-style Shandur polo tournament attracts a large number of foreign as well as domestic tourists each year, boosting the region’s economy which mostly depends on tourism in the absence of industries. The concluding ceremony of the event is usually attended by the head of state or a prominent dignitary designated by the president or the prime minister.

The territory of Shandur is situated at midway between Ghizer district of G-B and Chitral district of K-P – resulting in a dispute. Commenting over the budget, Shah said that G-B’s budget has been doubled this year. He said that Rs7.26 billion have been allocated for the region and added that projects worth Rs28 billion will be completed. Shah said that the increase of Rs2096.6 million has been spent on the payment of outstanding land compensation (Rs600 million) and the remaining amount has been released to clear matured liabilities of the ongoing approved projects, thus clearing contractors liabilities. To another question, he denied developing any consensus with the PML-Q over alliance and power sharing in the region.

Courtesy:The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan: Rs19.2 Billion Allocated for Various Projects in GB

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The federal government has earmarked over Rs19.214 billion for various development projects in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2011-12. These projects are in addition to the funds allocated through the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and G-B.

The funds will be spent on five projects in the water and power sector, seven projects of the information ministry and eight of the interior ministry. The major chunk of the fund, Rs18 billion, has been allocated for the construction of Diamer-Basha dam. Besides that, Rs650.956 million have been set aside for Bunji hydro-power project, Rs50 million for Phander hydro-power project, Rs50 million for Basho hydro-power project and Rs20 million for the Harpo hydro-power project in Gilgit.

The  funds earmarked for the Higher Education Programme, which amount to Rs115 million, will be spent on the construction of three hostel blocks for the Karakoram International University in Gilgit.

The interior ministry has allocated funds to Northern Areas (NA) Scouts, 113 Wing, for construction of residential units in Gilgit. About Rs24.397 million have been set aside for the construction of residences for both single and married JCOs (junior commissioned officers) and officers at their Headquarters (HQ). The ministry has earmarked Rs23.375 million for the construction of quarter guard’s wing office, JCOs Mess and officers’ mess in Gilgit. Force headquarters and NA Scouts will be provided Rs15 million for construction of residential units and Rs20 million for non-residential buildings and other facilities.

Funds have been allocated for various projects in Skardu as well. A sum of Rs45.735 million has been allocated for the construction of a mosque and other allied facilities. About Rs20 million have been allocated for the construction of residential and non-residential buildings for NA Scouts of 112 Wing.

In Chilas, Rs30 million has been allocated for headquarters of the NA Scouts 114 Wing and Rs30 million has been set aside for their accommodation. An amount of Rs13.333 million will be spent on the construction of a hospital building for NA Scouts garrison at Minawar on the outskirts of Gilgit.

The ministry of information has earmarked funds for setting up rebroadcasting stations in various districts in G-B, out of which Rs25 million have been allocated for Chilas, Diamer District, Rs20 million for Gahkuch in Ghizer District, Rs29 million for Khaplu in Ghanche District, Rs3.269 million for Joglot in Gilgit District, Rs5 million for Astore District, Rs 3.47 million for Aliabad/Karimabad  and Rs24 million for Shigar in Skardu District.

 Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan: GB Assembly Resolutions

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The Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed two bills on the second day of the house’s proceedings.

Law Minister Wazir Shakir tabled the Civil Servants Act 2011 bill in the house which was unanimously approved by the members. He also responded to questions on behalf of Chief Minister Mehdi Shah, who was not present in the House.

PML-Q Member Amina Ansari criticised the government for not repairing Alam Bridge. She explained that business activity in Baltistan District has been severely affected due to protests by locals against the chief minister’s negligence.

Speaker Wazir Baig took note of the case and ordered the reconstruction of the bridge on an urgent basis.

The newly elected member of the assembly Nawaz Khan Naji, who was sworn in on Monday after winning the by-election from Ghizer District, complained about the lack of health facilities in his district. “There is not a single surgeon in the whole valley and people are depending on private hospitals,” he remarked.

The house also passed a resolution tabled by lawmaker Ayub Shah condemning all attempts aimed at defaming the armed forces. After the approval of the resolution, Naji remarked that the army had the full support of the House, but every institution must be answerable to the democratic institutions under the law. Naji also criticised the government for providing Rs230 million to Governor Karam Ali Shah during Monday’s session. However, his claim was rejected by the chief minister, who said no such amount had been paid to anyone.

Also on Monday, Mutabiat Shah a member from Gojal complained that the work on the Attabad spillway was extremely slow. He said only 10 per cent of the work had been completed thus far and road access to Gojal Valley has been blocked since January 2010.

Finance Minister Muhammad Ali Akhtar assured the house on Monday that the ban on recruitment to fill nearly 400 vacant posts will be lifted by June 30.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune

Gilgit-Baltistan:Celebrating Bio-Diversity

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GILGIT (Press Release): International Biodiversity Day and World Wildlife Week are celebrated from May 22 – 28, every year, all over the world, to foster awareness about biodiversity and its role in social, economic and ecological stability of the Mother Earth. This year’s IBD celebration was dedicated to “Forest Biodiversity” as a contribution to the International Year of Forests (2011). The ‘celebrations’ intended to help recall the central role that biodiversity plays in underpinning sustainable development, and in protecting humanity from the consequences of unexpected shocks, like water scarcity, extreme weather events, emergence of infectious diseases and the genetic vulnerability of crops and livestock.

Loss of biodiversity threatens our life support systems and the livelihood of the poor. Reduction in this biological variability affects the ecosystem services. Clean water, fresh air, pollination, soil formation and protection, crop pest control, and provision of food, fuel, fibers and drugs, worth billions but bestowed freely are all products of the complex ecosystem interactions on earth. If these vital ecological services are damaged, the physical conditions maintained by the world’s species and ecosystems will ultimately be jeopardized. So losing biodiversity is a bit like losing the life support system that we, and other species, so desperately depend upon.

There is no denial that the mountain environs cover about 27% of the Earth’s surface, and many species adapt and specialize in these ecosystems, providing essential goods and services to people living in the mountain regions, like ours but the shrinking of glaciers modifies the water-holding capacities of mountains, affecting the quantity of freshwater available to both humans and biodiversity. And so, the conservation of mountain biodiversity is a key option for the adaptation to climate change, which may include establishing additional protected areas, managing mountain watersheds and establishing migration corridors, both horizontal and vertical. In order to commemorate the International Day for Biological Diversity, WWF-Pakistan jointly with CKNP partners and UNAN organized an “Environmental Film Festival” at Gilgit on May 28, 201, wherein CESVI and WWF documentaries on Biodiversity, conservation and eco tourism were shown to the audience.

Mr. Babar Khan, Head WWF-Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan) welcomed the participants and gave a brief orientation on IBD 2011. CKNP, SEED project and GBFWD representatives also gave presentations on CKNP, SEED and Wildlife Biodiversity of Gilgit-Baltistan. Through skits, the artists from Karakorum Arts and Culture Council presented issues related with forest and wildlife conservation in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The event, dedicated to CKNP, gathered around 200 people from various walks of life including representation from government, non government, private and community organizations. WWF and CESVI resource materials were also displayed on the occasion. The purpose of celebration was to foster environmental awareness about ever increasing threats to biodiversity, their habitats and mountain ecosystems and their conservation values for social, economic and ecological stability and development of Gilgit-Baltistan. The event also helped sensitize people about their anticipated role in protection and management of fragile ecosystems and biodiversity through environment friendly actions, individually as well as collectively.

Secretary Forest, Wildlife and Environment (Gilgit-Baltistan), Mr. Abdul Hameed chaired the ceremony. While speaking on the occasion, he appreciated WWF for organizing events that help raise public awareness about biodiversity related conservation issues. Mr. Zafar Khan, Manager WWF Baltistan thanked participants, partners and organizers for their interest, efforts and contributions.