PU registrar takes charge

LAHORE: The Punjab University vice chancellor has entrusted Prof Dr Muhammad Naeem Khan with the additional charge of the post of registrar for a period of six months.

Prof Khan, dean faculty of life sciences, according an office order, has been directed to immediately take over the charge.

Prof Khan’s task may prolong or reduce till the appointment of a regular incumbent, reads the notification.

He holds a PhD in zoology from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 1996. Naeem Khan has 30 years of professional career as dean, professor, registrar and director external linkages at Punjab University; professor, dean and chairman at University of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Lahore, and as Punjab fisheries director (1996-2003).


Chinese investment Coal power plant to start working in June: CM

SAHIWAL: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday Qadirabad coal-fired power plant would start producing electricity in June this year instead of the earlier deadline of December.

The chief minister was speaking at the arrival of the first freight railway carriage which brought imported coal to the plant site from Port Qasim, Karachi. The train brought 12,000 ton imported coal to be used in the plant operations.

Federal Minster for Railways Saad Rafique, Chinese Embassy Consul General Long Ding Bin, Malik Nadeem Kamran, Chaudhry Sher Ali and senior officers were among those present.

The chief minister said $50 billion Chinese investment in Pakistan’s energy sector was a revolutionary step which would bring a new era of prosperity and economic growth.

“The money provided by China is not a loan but an investment,” he said and added that Qadirabad plant would add 1,320MW power to the national grid.

China had invested $1.8 billion on this particular project and it was also spending money to generate 3,600MW energy from other sources such as solar and wind.

Around $112 billion investment is being done in Jhang, Head Balloki and Sheikhupura, he said.

Shahbaz Sharif also hit out at the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief who, he said, was disrupting the progress of the country.

“Those who are staging sit-ins against an elected and constitutional government are themselves bank defaulters,” he alleged.

Saad Rafiq said four to five trains would arrive daily from Karachi and the plant warehouse would deposit coal for six months which would help operate it.

The Chinese consul general, while speaking to the media, lauded the chief minister for taking interest in various mega projects.

He said the plant would be operational even before its deadline.

Litre price of petrol, diesel up by Rs2.25

ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday increa­sed the prices of petrol and high speed diesel (HSD) by Rs2.25 and Rs2.26 per litre, respectively, for the next 15 days.

Announcing the decision on national television, Fina­nce Minister Ishaq Dar said the government had passed on to consumers the partial increase recommended by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra). The Ministry of Finance would absorb an additional burden of Rs4 billion by not fully transferring the impact of higher oil prices in the international market, he said.

He said the prices of other oil products had not been changed despite substantial increases sought by the petroleum ministry and its subordinate Ogra.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources and Ogra had recommended an increase of Rs4.16 per litre in the price of petrol, Rs4.29 per litre in the price of HSD, Rs16.71 per litre in the price of kerosene and Rs12.53 per litre in the price of light diesel oil (LDO) from Jan 31, Mr Dar said.

But “on the directive of the prime minister we have decided to increase petrol price by Rs2.25 per litre and HSD price by Rs2.26 per litre,” he said. As such, the ex-depot price of petrol has been increased by 3.3 per cent to Rs70.29 from Rs68.04 per litre and ex-depot price of HSD has gone up by 2.93pc to Rs79.48 per litre from Rs77.22.

In line with the prime minister’s instructions to provide maximum relief to the common man and keeping in view that kerosene and LDO were used by low-income people, the prices of the two products had been maintained at the current level till Feb 15, he said. The decision has been taken also because kerosene caters to energy needs of the poor, particularly in the winter season.

The minister said it was despite the fact that the government had removed sales tax and petroleum levy on kerosene and light diesel oil and would be contributing some subsidy out of the budget to keep the prices unchanged at Rs43.25 and Rs43.35, respectively.

He said the government had mostly kept petroleum prices stable since April last year except for some increase in December and January while international prices went up by around 43pc.

Over the past few months, the government has been lowering tax rates on different petroleum products that been increased up to a record level of 50pc during last financial year to partially share the impact of higher oil prices at international market and tax rates with the consumers.

Petrol and HSD are major revenue generating oil products with HSD sales in the country now going beyond 800,000 tons per month against monthly consumption of around 700,000 tons of petrol. The sales of kerosene and LDO generally come to less than 10,000 tons per month.

Action against JuD chief in ‘national interest’, says army

ISLAMABAD: The army said on Tuesday that action against Mumbai attack accused Hafiz Saeed and his organisations — Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaaniat Founda­tion — followed a policy decision by state institutions.

“It was a policy decision taken by state institutions keeping in view the national interest,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said at his first press conference while answering a question about detention of Hafiz Saeed and four others a day earlier under a legal provision — Section 11-EEEE of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 that allows the government to keep terrorism suspects in custody for 90 days.

The ISPR chief said the army would give precedence to the national interest and extend full support to other state institutions for serving it.

Military spokesman warns public debate on ‘sensitive issues’ can create gulf between state institutions

The press conference was held hours after Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to discuss what was described by the PM Office as matters relating to “regional and national security”. The action initiated by the government against the JuD leader was reportedly discussed during the meeting.

The JuD chief had earlier been put under house arrest in December 2008 following the Mumbai attack and remained under detention till June 2009. The official line ever since has been that Hafiz Saeed had not been involved in any illegal action within the country and criticism of inaction against him was rebuffed.

Hafiz Saeed has been listed as a terrorist by both the United States and the United Nations for years. In 2012, the US announced a $10 million bounty for information leading to his arrest. However, the Pakistan government had then not taken any action against JuD or Falah-i-Insaaniat Founda­tion and Hafiz Saeed freely held rallies in support of his organisations’ objectives and for fund-raising.

It has been a subject of intense speculation as to what prompted the government to finally act against Hafiz Saeed and his organisations and how credible were those measures.

Maj Gen Ghafoor denied that the action was taken under international pressure. “Independent countries take their decisions according to their national interest.”

But he parried a question about what made the ‘state institutions’ realise that cracking down on Hafiz Saeed now suited Pakistani interests.

He said that more details about action against Hafiz Saeed and his organisations would become public over the next few days.

Word of caution

The military spokesman cautioned against public debate, which he dubbed “speculation” on “sensitive issues”, saying it could create a gulf between state institutions.

He was reiterating what a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations in response to the media controversy over the allotment of land of former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif said: “This debate with intent of maligning the army also has the potential to create misunderstandings between state institutions thus considered detrimental to existing cohesion.”

Gen Ghafoor’s reference was apparently to both the land allotment row and various other controversies related to the military that keep surfacing on the media.

“We firmly believe that our defense, security, development and prosperity were deeply linked to harmony and strengthening of institutions,” he said, adding: “The country can only develop if we remain united for the bigger objectives of defeating terrorism and for progress and prosperity.”

In reply to a question about the inquiry into a Dawn story about a security meeting, the military spokesman said the outcome of the investigation was expected in a few days. He said the findings of the inquiry commission set up by the government would be shared with the media.

Infrastructure finance policy approved

ISLAMABAD: A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Tuesday approved a summary on Infrastructure Finance Policy 2017 with comprehensive vocabulary having four broad parameters.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had called a single-point meeting of the ECC to ‘consider and approve the Infrastructure Finance Policy Pakistan 2017,’ said an official statement.

Under the said policy a sound and long-term infrastructure finance framework has been provided that caters to both demand and supply side of finance and it is designed to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and mobilise private financing for public infrastructure, the statement claimed.

Following is the full text of the summary on Infrastructure Finance Policy Pakistan 2017 approved by the ECC that also explains the quality of official summaries to the forum.

“Pakistan’s economy is on the rise in the wake of sustained economic reforms agenda implemented since 2013. After having achieved macroeconomic stability in the first three years, the government is now focused on attaining higher sustainable and inclusive growth”.

The GDP growth last year was 4.7 per cent which was the highest in the last eight years, the summary noted.

To carry the growth momentum further and to meet country’s infrastructure needs, the government supports the expansion of infrastructure both directly through public sector investment and indirectly by facilitating private sector investment and finance.

It said the available public finances are not sufficient for funding such infrastructure projects which need to be augmented by mobilising finances and attracting investment from the private sector.

In this regard, development of a sound, long-term infrastructure finance policy that caters to both the demand and supply sides, and that is designed to attract FDI and mobilise private financing for public infrastructure, is a critical piece of the overall strategy and will be crucial to sustain the current investment level, the summary explained to the ECC.

“Accordingly, a policy framework for financing of infrastructure projects had been developed in consultation with the key stakeholders. The policy seeks diversification of financing sources and strengthening of key institutions for mobilising of private investment in infrastructure sector,” the summary claimed without any elaboration.

It said the policy proposed an action plan that was not part of the summary but aims to address the country’s long-term infrastructure financing requirements through the following four measures.

These include “efficient policy framework for infrastructure finance, good practices framework for infrastructure projects, enhance financial intermediation to support infrastructure investment and strengthening the development finance framework”, the summary concluded, adding the input/views also came from ministries of Planning, Petroleum, Communication, Water and Power, Railways, Aviation, the State Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

The official statement issued after the policy envisaged phase-wise intervention in these areas to increase the quantum of infrastructure financing flows. It claimed the policy was intended to have particular focus on infrastructure sub-sectors more suited to private sector investment and finance namely transportation facilities (like ports, terminals, airports, railways, water-ways and toll roads), energy (oil and gas, thermal, hydro and other renewable power infrastructure) and telecommunications (eg fibre optics).

“The finance minister hoped that the approval of the policy would help the government to increase infrastructure investments. It would facilitate and increase the role of the private sector in the infrastructure development structure,” the statement concluded.