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Development at a great loss

ISLAMABAD, July 15: Open roads, the wind in your hair and the green Islamabad whizzing by. That driving meant to be to an Islooite. But no more.

English: Map of Islamabad

English: Map of Islamabad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, despite new and broader avenues and expressways, the capital feels more and more like the clogged Lahore and Faisalabad.

The construction of ever bigger houses and wider roads is damaging the environment and Islamabad’s green image.

Cannot the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-Epa) check the rot?

It did oppose the Capital Development Authority’s plan to build a 13-kilometre road in the foothills of the Margallas for its dire impact on the environment. The then chairman of CDA, Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, agreed with Pak-Epa and shelved the plan.

But the plan has been revived by the civic agency to connect Islamabad with the G.T. Road.

“The Margalla Avenue project is as environmentally destructive as have proved the 7th and the 9th Avenues,” said Director General Pakistan Environment Protection Agency Asif Shuja, who is still waiting for the CDA to submit the environment impact assessment report for the project under Section 12 of the Environment Protection Act 1997.

The law requires that all parties, public and private, submit a report on the damage their building or road projects could cause to the surrounding environment.

In 2008-09, Pak-Epa had objected to the construction of the two avenues, especially the Zero Point Interchange, when the then Minister for Environment Hamidullah Jan Afridi personally visited the site and gave directions to stop the work, demanding the Capital Development Authority submit the EIA report first.

This resulted in negotiations which led to the CDA Board decide  that the civic body would submit the initial environment examination and EIA reports before going ahead with any of its mega development project.

Another outcome of those negotiations in 2008-09 was that the CDA devised an environment management programme for both the avenues as well as the F-9 Park.

But despite this arrangement between the two government offices, the CDA did not stick to the deal.

Pakistan Environment Protection Agency pointed out that the CDA simply went ahead with the construction of the 3rd Avenue, connecting Murree Road with Margalla Road, without sending EIA report to the environment watchdog.

And now, despite resistance from Pak-Epa, the Capital Development Authority has announced its decision to extend the 7th Avenue all the way to the Murree Road. Continue reading

Contempt of court: SC rejects Malik Riaz’s immunity request

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the immunity request of business tycoon Malik Riaz while hearing a contempt of court case against him, reported Express News.

Justice Shakirullah Jan, hearing the case, said that the court has not taken a final decision on whether it will follow the new contempt law or the previous one. Riaz’s counsel Doctor Basit argued that the new law bars the court from indicting his client.

The apex court had earlier announced that it would indict Riaz today (Monday).

Riaz also filed an appeal against the show-cause notice and charges against him during the hearing.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir maintained that the court’s hearing gets suspended when an appeal is filed. Continue reading

Move to attract foreign investment

CHAIRMAN Board of Investment (BOI) Saleem H. Mandviwala has praised the approval of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill by the Parliament which would help attract foreign direct investment and encourage local investors as it provides legal cover to their investments. Addressing a press conference, Mr Mandviwala said the incentive package was approved in 2008 by the ECC but it remained under discussion for a long time.

We believe that the SEZ bill passage is a step in the right direction and would lure local and foreign investors as it provides adequate incentives to those interested to exploit Pakistan’s vast potential. Though there are some impediments and on top of them is propaganda against Pakistan due to isolated incidents of law and order or for that matter blasts, which have been blown out of proportion by the western media. There is also a propaganda through which the government is described as dysfunctional and Pakistan as a failed State which is negation of ground realities. We may point out that in every country, there are incidents of law and order but normal business goes on as we are witnessing in Pakistan. The country has a huge market with about 180 million people, majority of them middle class, having reasonable purchasing power. Many western companies like the Cell Phone, pharmaceutical, food processing and others are doing roaring business in the country and there are tremendous opportunities for investment particularly in products that are being imported. We are confident that the passage of the SEZ bill will help create an industrial cluster with liberal incentives, infrastructure, investor facilitation services to enhance productivity and reduce cost of doing business for economic development and poverty reduction. The SEZ bill also guarantees that the incentives once granted would not be withdrawn due to conflict of interests. We are confident that the BOI would now move ahead at a faster pace and through a well-planned campaign, motivating local and foreign investors to invest in the country. That would not only help in bringing new technologies but also provide jobs to the people and increase our exports to reduce the trade deficit. Continue reading

Russia to invest $5.5b in Thar Coal


Islamabad—The Chairman BOI, Saleem H. Mandviwalla called on the President, Asif Ali Zardari, along with a Russian investor, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, owner of Credit Mediteranee. He is currently visiting Pakistan to explore investment opportunities in the energy sector. Kirsan has showed interest in investing a total of 5-5.5 billion US dollars in the Thar coal fields.

Further, being the President of World Chess Federation, he requested the President to include chess as a part of school curriculum, for which he would also donate books and equipment too. He also desired to organize a world chess championship in Karachi in Nov 2012. He also mentioned his plan about starting a chess academy in Karachi- Pakistan.

MOS/Chairman BOI, informed Kirsan that Pakistan offers lucrative investment opportunities and certain incentives have been allowed in the Thar Coal by the government. This includes 20% IRR to the firms, 30 years exemption on corporate tax, all customs duties on coal mining projects at 0%, exemption for 30 years on withholding tax on procurement of goods and services during project construction etc.

The Chairman also told that the government of Pakistan is strongly committed to restoring the macroeconomic stability as well was the confidence of investors by evolving a comprehensive and integrated strategy program to increase productivity and high growth rates.

Meanwhile the President also appreciated the Russian investor and welcomed him to invest in Pakistan’s energy sector. Continue reading