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    Pakistan's Dunya TV show on political issue, electricity shortage, economy

    June 30, 2022 - BBC International Reports (South Asia)


      The following is a summary of the talk show "Dunya Kamran Khan ke saath" [World with Kamran Khan], hosted by senior journalist and TV host Kamran Khan on moderate Dunya News TV in Urdu at 16:30 gmt on 29 June. The programme provides analysis and views of experts and politicians on important news of the day.

      Amendment to anti-money laundering laws

      Anchor Kamran Khan said "Shehbaz Sharif government had already clipped the wings of the NAB [National Accountability Bureau], which was its top priority", and now it was "planning to strangulate it". He mentioned that the government had decided to remove money laundering cases from the ambit of the NAB and an amendment in the Anti-Money Laundering Act was being drafted. He said this was the issue due to which Pakistan had been put on the grey list of FATF. He pointed out that top leaders in the government, including Prime Minister Shehbaz, his family and former President, Asif Ali Zardari, would benefit from this amendment.

      Khan contacted correspondent Amir Saeed Abbasi and asked him would this law be effective prospectively. Abbasi replied that the law ministry had prepared a draft for the amendment and "it has been proposed that this law should be effective retrospectively starting from 2010". He mentioned that the NAB had filed hundreds of cases of fake bank accounts and money laundering but this power was being taken away from the NAB and the money laundering cases would now be prosecuted by other agencies and a new "anti-money laundering authority would also be established," which would prosecute these cases. Abbasi remarked that the people in the government claimed that money laundering cases had been made by the NAB for "political victimisation". Politics in Punjab province

      Khan remarked that "the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has already lost trust" of the people and the largest political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had been expressing reservation about it. He said now the Lahore High Court (LHC) had ordered the ECP to issue a notification for five reserved seat members in the Punjab assembly [provincial parliament] but the commission had not complied so far. He mentioned that the ECP had taken the plea that it would issue the notification after the by-election [special election] for 20 vacant seats of the Punjab assembly. He remarked that the notification of members for the five reserved seats would strengthen the PTI's position in Punjab assembly and the government's party would have a lead of only three votes.

      Khan spoke with correspondent Mohsin Ijaz, in Islamabad, and asked him why the ECP had not issued the notification. Ijaz replied that the ECP had decided that "it will issue the notification as soon as the court order is received". He added that a top official of the ECP said that the commission was an independent body, which takes decisions according to the law and the constitution. Power shortage

      Khan said the electricity shortfall had reached its highest level in the history of Pakistan. He mentioned that the government ministers had been saying that the power shutdowns would end by end of June or early July but the shortfall seems to have further increased. He said power shutdowns had affected business and industry so much that the "services of the telecom companies are being disrupted".

      Khan spoke with the president of Lahore Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mian Nauman Kabeer, and asked him to speak about the impact of power shutdowns or load shedding on businesses in Lahore. Kabeer said all the industries and retail and wholesale markets remain closed for 8-10 hours due to power shutdown. He remarked that the "standby arrangements," like generators, cost very high because fuel was very expensive and the UPSs cannot be charged because electricity remains off for extended hours. He said we fully supported the government on closing the businesses at 2100 hrs [local time] but people were now saying that electricity was not supplied even until that time. Kabeer said in his view, "the bureaucracy is misguiding the prime minister about the power shortage situation".

      Khan contacted the president of Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Muhammad Idrees, and asked him about the situation of electricity supply in Karachi. Idrees remarked, "We have never witnessed a situation worse than this." He said, "We were told that if the shops are closed by 9 p.m., uninterrupted power would be supplied but that is not happening." Remarking that Karachi was the "economic hub of Pakistan," he said he had advised the prime minister that he should make Karachi his "base camp" if he wanted to improve the economy.

      Idrees said the industry that had been recently expanded through TERF loans had closed down and cannot meet the export orders. He warned that if the power issue was not solved "on a war footing" in the next few days, unemployment would increase and "lead to an increase in street crimes".

      Khan contacted Saadia Dada, spokesperson of K-Electric, an electricity supplying company, and asked her about the shortfall and demand for electricity in Karachi. Dada said the temperature was rising, so the demand had increased and there was a shortfall. She claimed that K-Electric was supplying electricity to the industrial sector of Karachi on a priority basis. Speaking about the gas shortage in the international market, she mentioned that "we are currently competing with Europe for the purchase of RLNG [refined liquefied natural gas]". She remarked that "In this situation, it is important for everyone to save electricity as much as possible". Approval of budget

      Khan said the national assembly today passed the budget and remarked that the government had to give the earlier budget a new shape to meet the IMF demands. He mentioned that the government had imposed 50 rupees [25 cents] per litre petroleum levy, tax on salaries had been increased and a super tax had been imposed on 13 major industries.

      Khan contacted journalist Shahbaz Rana and asked him whether all the requirements of the IMF had been fulfilled in the budget. Rana claimed, "This was a beginning and not the end." He said some changes had been made in the budget and now it would be transmitted to the IMF, which would review it. He mentioned that imposing a petroleum levy and notifying increase in electricity tariff had been made "prior actions" after which the IMF agreement would be presented before the IMF board.

      Rana mentioned that the IMF was holding separate meetings with the State Bank of Pakistan regarding its policy. He remarked "a positive aspect of this budget is that it includes more direct taxes" while the steps, which are not good, were that the government had imposed a fixed tax on retailers and jewellers, which was "a kind of perpetual amnesty."

      Source: Dunya News TV, Lahore, in Urdu 1630 gmt 29 Jun 22


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