These 2 Pakistanis made it to Times’ 30 Most Influential Teens of 2016

The world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and gamer Sumail Hassan have now made it to Times’ 30 Most Influential Teens of 2016.

Sumail Hassan, now 17, won his team Evil Geniuses the Defense of the Ancient 2 (Dota 2) Asian championship in China last year when he was just 15 years old. The team bagged $1.2 million in prize money at the competition.

“Hassan has become the youngest person ever to earn $1 million playing competitive video games, making him a phenomenon in the rapidly growing world of ‘e-sports’,” states the publication’s website.

The child prodigy moved to the US in 2014 and spent some of his winnings – now at $2.3 million and counting – to buy a house for his family.

Nobel laureate, Malala Yousafzai has been fighting for girls’ right to education for almost a decade now. Her organisation The Malala Fund has received funding from famous personalities worldwide. Currently, the 19-year-old is working towards urging “world leaders to set aside $1.4 billion this year toward educating young refugees,” says Times.

Malala was shot by Taliban when she was 11 years old for braving against the ban on girls’ education in her hometown Swat.

The Times’ annual list includes children from the tender age of 14. The criteria to be a part of this list, Times shares, is: ‘we consider accolades across numerous fields, global impact through social media and overall ability to drive news.

Here’s the complete list:

Maddie Zielger, 14

Skai Jackson, 14

Logan Guleff, 14

Gaten Matarazzo, 14

Sasha Obama, 15 and Malia Obama, 18

Rachel Zietz, 16

Laurie Hernandez, 16

Kiara Nirghin, 16

Chloe Kim, 16

Yara Shahidi, 16

James Charles, 17

Gavin Grimm, 17

Amandla Stenberg, 17

Ben Pasternak, 17

Zara Larsson, 18

Yusra Mardini, 18

Jaden Smith, 18

Shawn Mendes, 18

Luka Sabbat, 18

Katie Ledecky, 19

George Matus, 19

Maisie Williams, 19

Simone Biles, 19

Camila Cabello, 19

Chloe Grace Mortez, 19

Barbie Ferreria, 19

Kylie Jenner, 19


Second quarter revenue target raised to bridge shortfall

ISLAMABAD: To avert a possible setback to the PML-N government, the tax machinery has evolved a comprehensive strategy involving regulatory measures for bridging the revenue shortfall of Rs59 billion witnessed in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.

The shortfall was mainly driven by Inland Revenue that consists of income tax, sales tax and federal excise duty (FED).

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is said to have taken notice of the shortfall in revenue and asked the FBR top management to achieve the original target at any cost.

A two-step strategy has been evolved to deal with the shortfall: a change in the top management of the large taxpayers units (LTUs) and regional tax offices (RTOs) that did not perform well in July-September and the identification of steps needed for improving the collection of sales tax, income tax and FED to recover the earlier shortfall.

In the first step, top taxmen of LTUs and RTOs were transferred, with a few exceptions, who did not achieve their revenue collection targets for the first quarter.

The target for the Inland Revenue was Rs587bn while the actual collection was Rs528bn for July-September, which left a shortfall of Rs59bn. For the second quarter (October-December), the target for the Inland Revenue is Rs790bn.

Mr Dar headed a meeting at the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday to review the proposed revenue measures for recovering the shortfall in the second quarter of 2016-17.

An official source told Dawn that these steps will help bridge the shortfall in the revenue collection. “We have to register growth of 19.6pc instead of 16.6pc in the second quarter to bridge the shortfall of the first quarter,” the source said.

This will help the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) collect additional Rs20bn per month in the next three months. Year-on-year growth of 23pc was witnessed in the second quarter of 2015-16.

Six withholding taxes were identified as ones that need extra efforts and better enforcement to collect revenue in the second quarter. Several small measures in income tax, sales tax and FED will also be taken to boost the revenue collection.

In the first quarter, a major loss was witnessed in the payment against tax demands. About Rs391bn of income tax was stuck in court litigation. Usually the settlement of such cases takes at least four months.

“We have made a strategy to clear at least Rs15bn per month through court settlements,” the source said, adding that even the settlement of Rs5bn per month will be a realistic figure to cover the shortfall.

The FBR admitted it took Rs18bn to Rs20bn as advance tax in 2015-16 to show favourable tax collection figures. Most of the advance tax collected in the last fiscal year was adjusted in the first quarter of 2016-17. “Our focus on advance tax in the second quarter will help generate Rs4bn to Rs5bn additional revenue per month,” the source claimed.

A dedicated team has been tasked to monitor transactions of contractors with the AG Office and civic bodies. “We are expecting Rs5bn from this account because of better enforcement and close monitoring,” the source added.

Another area with a revenue shortfall was the withholding tax collected on banking transactions. The only reason for the shortfall was a slowdown in property transactions because of the upward revision in valuation tables. “We are expecting the resumption of property transactions in the months ahead,” the source said.

A whopping Rs18bn loss occurred in the sales tax collection for not increasing petroleum prices in the first quarter of 2016-17.

Two new automation systems in sales tax have been introduced to plug loopholes that caused a revenue loss of billions of rupees. As a result of the introduction of the Sales Tax Real-Time Invoice Verification System with the beginning of the current fiscal year, 50pc growth was recorded in the tax payment of power distribution companies (Discos).

According to the source, Rs400m to Rs500m per month was received from Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco), but the collection reached Rs1.5bn in September. “We are expecting similar growth from other Discos as well,” it said.

The per-month additional revenue from Discos was projected at Rs5bn in the second quarter of the current fiscal year. As many as 70pc contractors pay just 3.5pc sales tax instead of 17pc by showing fake sales tax numbers at the AG Office. “We have introduced a better system at the AG Office to plug this loophole,” the source said, adding that it will generate sizable tax for the national exchequer.

“We have also identified top 100 traders who did not file sales tax returns this year along with a payment of Rs7bn,” the source said, noting that the sales tax department already started a recovery drive from October. According to the source, Rs8bn to Rs10bn can potentially be collected from these traders.

Arthur warns of West Indies backlash in Abu Dhabi

5807d5f06a3d3ABU DHABI: Seasoned Pakistan batsman Younis Khan in action during a practice session at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP

ABU DHABI: Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur on Wednesday expected a strong response from the West Indies in the second Test in Abu Dhabi after the tourists came close to pulling off a remarkable comeback in Dubai.

Pakistan were forced to ward off a challenge from Darren Bravo, whose pugnacious 116 gave the West Indies hopes of an upset before ultimately losing by 56 runs in the last hour on the fifth and final day.

That gave Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, but Arthur urged his team not to lose their edge ahead of Friday’s second Test.

“I think West Indies will come down hard on us considering their exceptional fight in Dubai,” Arthur said during the team’s practice session at the Sheik Zayed Stadium. “I am really impressed with their fight and Bravo was outstanding so we have to play exceptionally well next Test.”

Pakistan had amassed 579-3 declared in their first innings, with opener Azhar Ali smashing 302 not out, but were then dismantled by leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo whose 8-49 bundled them out for a mere 123 second time round.

Arthur said Pakistan allowed the West Indies to claw their way back in the Test, just the second ever day-night Test played with a pink ball.

“I am disappointed with the batting in the second innings,” said Arthur. “We allowed West Indies to come back into the game but sometimes it’s good that you learn and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Arthur, formerly coach of his native South Africa and Australia, said he was satisfied with the progress of the team.

“I am confident that if we keep growing and keep learning then it’s good,” said Arthur, who replaced former Pakistan fast bowler Waqar Younis as coach in May this year.

“We have won 10 games since the Cardiff match [ODI] and if you include the Test at The Oval that is in three different formats and that gives you confidence, and players are learning and that’s a real good feeling in the dressing room,” said Arthur.

Arthur said fast bowler Mohammad Amir — who returned to international cricket in January after a five-year ban for spot-fixing — has a role to play in all formats.

“His return has been steady and I think he is getting better and better. His pace was up and I am comfortable that he is going to play a massive role going forward,” Arthur said of Amir, who took 3-63 in the second innings in Dubai.

Arthur also said Pakistan are improving their fitness, an area regarded as the weakest at international level.

“I am really happy with the fitness of the players,” said Arthur. “We still have a lot of work to do and that’s good.”

The coach added that selection headaches, with a number of players waiting on the sidelines, could serve the team well.

“It’s excellent for any team that you have a good bench strength. We want competition to be created within the team because it’s challenging the players and I don’t want comfort zones in the team, so we are heading in the right direction.”

CPEC snags on solar

ONE of the more exciting of the CPEC power projects to be undertaken on priority in Pakistan was the giant solar park to be built in Bahawalpur. It was part of the Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park and was part of what they call the ‘early harvest’ projects, meaning the first to come online.

5808700ec8e30.jpgThe first MoU for the project was signed in August 2013 between the governments of China and Punjab. The provincial government owned the project, and in the first solar power plant that was inaugurated under it, the provincial government was also a joint venture partner with a Chinese contractor.

Later in July 2014, another MoU was signed between the government of Punjab and private Chinese developer that expressed an interest in setting up a 900MW solar plant in the same park. This MoU was signed in the presence of the prime minister in Beijing.

And then the problems began. Their first application for a generation licence was rejected by Nepra.

Things moved fast initially, due to interest in the project at the top. The Project Commitment Agreement was signed a week later, again witnessed by the prime minister and both sides agreed to a tariff of Rs14 per unit outside of taxes, along with the timeline. In August it was placed on the early harvest list and prequalification documents were submitted, and a letter of interest from the Punjab Power Development Board was issued in September.

On Jan 22, 2015, the power regulator and tariff setting body Nepra announced a revised upfront tariff for solar projects at Rs14 per unit for the first 10 years of operation, and this tariff was notified in the official gazette on July 1, 2015, with the stipulation that this offer would be valid for a period of six months, until December 2015. The project sponsors applied for a generation licence under this tariff regime.

Meanwhile, land allotment had already been done in April, for the first batch of 300MW worth of solar power, and in May, the second batch of 600MW also received its allotment. In May the feasibility studies were done for the first batch, and June saw the feasibility for the second batch of 600MW approved.

Grid interconnection studies for both projects were completed by the sponsors in July, and submitted for approval to the National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), which is a requirement for all private power projects. On July 4, the prime minister met the project sponsors and asked them to move the timelines of the project further up, to April 2016. Right around that time, the company applied for a generation licence from Nepra, so it could begin with lining up the financing and placing the orders for the equipment

And then the problems began. Their first application for a generation licence was rejected by Nepra on July 14, 2015, on the grounds that a duly approved grid interconnection study has not been included. The sponsors pressed NTDC to expedite its approval of the study, and on July 24 received a reply that their study has been ‘vetted’, that concerns of NTDC have been addressed, but the report should be sent to the Central Power Purchasing Agency and the Multan Electric Power Company (Mepco), whose transmission facilities would be used to evacuate the power.

The approval from NTDC was received on Aug 17, and three days later, the company again sent an application for acceptance of the tariff and grant of permission to proceed with project execution.

Then things started to go from bad to worse. To cut a long and detailed story short, when Nepra received the NTDC grid interconnection approval, it objected that this had been issued without a final report of the consultant on renewable energy in the national grid. Therefore, Nepra said in a letter dated Oct 5, 2015, the NTDC certification of the grid interconnection study is “not adequate and useful for the Authority” and asked for the grounds on which these certificates had been given in the absence of an overarching study on the induction of renewable energy. In all previous communications with the project sponsors, Nepra had made no mention of this.

I will surmise that this letter fell like a bombshell on the sponsors. A few more letters were exchanged, where NTDC explained that issuing a certification on grid interconnection for a specific project was a different matter from an overarching study on the role of renewables in the total energy mix of the country. But on Oct 28, Nepra demanded “complete detail of all the solar projects awaiting approval” before proceeding. On Nov 4, NTDC wrote back that the details demanded were being prepared, and that “approval as well as certificates for power evacuation in respect of above mentioned three solar projects already given be considered withdrawn”.

In December, the tariff expired, and Nepra determined a new, lower tariff for solar energy. The project sponsors went into litigation, and won an order from the Lahore High Court that Nepra should hold another round of tariff hearings for this particular project, which was approved to enter under the old tariff regime, and that the grounds on which its application was rejected were baseless. The sponsors are now waiting for a date when Nepra will hold the next hearing, and matter will begin all over again.

This is the tale of one CPEC project. It’s easy to assign blame when reading the simple facts of the story, but it must be remembered that the original upfront solar tariff that Nepra had granted was one of the highest in the world, and was based entirely on cost structures provided by one party — the QAS (Pvt) Ltd, which is a joint venture between the government of Punjab and a Chinese group.

That party is now enjoying the benefits of an extraordinary Rs17 per unit tariff, where the competitive price of solar in the world today is closer to Rs4. Meanwhile, all the other parties that were in the queue for that tariff are today licking their wounds.

By: Khurram.husain

Twitter: @khurramhusain

Imran, Faryal, Hamza performed badly on MNAs’ scorecard

ISLAMABAD: Performances of PTI head Imran Khan, head of PPP Women Wing Faryal Talpur and Hamza Shahbaz Sharif of PML-N have been declared poorest, with 20pc performance and 39th positions, during third parliamentary year from June 2015 to May 2016.

PTI chief Imran Khan, PPP Women’s Wing head Faryal Talpur and PML-N MNA Hamza Shahbaz have been found to be the worst-performing lawmakers in the third parliamentary year of the current National Assembly.

Prepared by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat), the ‘MNAs Scorecard’ focuses on three main aspects of a parliamentarian’s role: oversight, legislation and representation.

In the report, 308 MNAs have been graded between 1 and 39, but the prime minister, speaker and deputy speaker, federal ministers, ministers of state and the leader of the opposition have not been included in the assessment since their powers and functions differ from other members of the National Assembly.

JUI-F MNA Naeema Kishwer Khan has been declared ‘MNA of the year’ with the highest score of 70pc.

MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar attained an overall score of 22pc and was graded on 38, the second-worst grade in the scorecard. Former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza of the PPP also attained an overall score of 22pc. Former prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali attained an overall score of 27pc, putting him in the 35th grade.

Former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi of the PML-Q also attained an overall score of 27pc, while JUI-F chief Maulana Fazalur Rehman attained an overall score of 35pc, putting him in the 30th grade. PkMAP President Mehmood Khan Achakzai attained an overall score of 36pc and the 29th grade, which he shares with PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed attained an overall score of 39pc and a grade of 26, alongside PTI’s Shafqat Mehmood. PTI’s Dr Arif Alvi attained an overall score of 43pc, which puts him in the 22nd grade, while PPP’s Shazia Marri received an overall score of 46pc putting her in 19th grade.

MNAs who attained a top-10 ranking included JUI-F’s Naeema Kishwar Khan, MQM’s Muzammil Qureshi, JI’s Sher Akbar Khan, MQM’s Nikhat Shakeel Khan, PPP’s Shahida Rehmani, JI’s Aisha Syed, PPP’s Shazia Sobia, JI’s Sahibzada Tariqullah, PML-N’s Mian Abdul Manan and Tahira Aurangzeb, PPP’s Nafisa Shah, JI’s Sahibzada Yaqub, PML-N’s Khalida Mansoor and PTI’s Munaza Hassan.

The JI is the leading political party, with the highest percentage of top performing MNAs.