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Dragging feet: Pakistan misses deadline for $3.8m grant

Dragging feet: Pakistan misses deadline for $3.8m grant

Dragging feet: Pakistan misses deadline for $3.8m grant 0

🕔07:44, 19.Sep 2014

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistan missed the deadline to sign a formal agreement with the World Bank Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) fund worth $3.8 million because of the bureaucracy’s lethargy.  

FCPF is a World Bank facility set up to support developing countries in carbon emission reduction by preserving their forests. The closing date to sign the formal agreement for funding with the World Bank was March 31, 2014.

A draft agreement was dispatched to the Economic Affairs Division for approval in January. Sources at the CCD revealed that the division’s forest wing had forwarded the draft to the Ministry of Law and Justice for vetting, however, the ministry did not reply in time, causing the division to miss its deadline.

In order to secure the funding, Pakistan had submitted revised Readiness Preparation Proposals (RPP) to the Facility Management Team (FMT) and had to sign the RPP grant agreement within 14 months of the grant allocation offer.

Pakistan was among eight countries out of the total of 27 countries that were selected for the FCPF grant. The other countries selected included Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Fiji, Nigeria, Togo and the Dominican Republic.

After Pakistan missed the deadline, the grant was given to an alternate country.

According to sources privy to the issue, some officials at the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) raised objections against the grant soon after the EAD reached an agreement. The objections centred on how a two-member delegation negotiated without acquiring a no-objection certificate from the division.

The two-member delegation that had approached the World Bank comprised of Inspector General of Forests Nasir Mehmood and Biodiversity Programme Director Naeem Ashraf Raja.

The sources argued that it was a mistake on the part of the EAD officers who failed to get an NOC from the relevant department.

Reducing carbon emissions could earn Pakistan $4 to $12 billion per annum through emissions credits and other incentives.

In a bid to mitigate the impact of climate change and secure international funding for reduction in greenhouse gases emissions, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was set up in Ministry of Environment — now the Climate Change Division — under the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

CDM had forwarded a request for the FCPF grant in 2007-08, which was denied due to the lack of readiness. Later, the IG Forests’ Office was tasked with preparing funding proposals. It took around three years for the proposals to be drafted and get approval for the grant from the World Bank Technical Advisory Panel in Geneva.

Pakistan has forests on over 4.4 million hectares, 5.1 per cent of the total area, while the current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year, among the highest deforestation rates in the world.

Environmental experts believe that missing the opportunity could further increase deforestation.

Published in The NBP NEWS, September 19th, 2014.

 


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ICT colleges: More than half of students fail BA, BSc part-II exams

ICT colleges: More than half of students fail BA, BSc part-II exams 0

🕔07:31, 19.Sep 2014

ISLAMABAD: Over half of the students of Islamabad Capital Territory colleges have failed in their BA, BSc part-II examinations which were announced on Thursday.

Detailed results were not released by the varsity for the second year since the colleges’ affiliation with Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. Earlier, the colleges were affiliated with Punjab University.

In total, 3,942 students appeared in the examinations but only 1,656 (42 per cent) were declared successful while around 2,286 (57 per cent) flunked in various subjects.

Last year, the pass percentage was 53 per cent which included 1,761 students.

In the B Com group, Saadia Khan of Islamabad Model College for Girls (IMCG), F-10/3 got the first position obtaining 1,070 marks out of 1,500; Sabiha Shaheen of the same institute came second with 1,068 marks while Saqib Ali of Islamabad Postgraduate Commerce College got the third position with 1,062 marks.

In the BSc group, two students, Aneeqa Hussain of IMCG (PG) F-7/2 and Rabia Ali of Islamabad College for Girls (PG) F-6/2, clinched the first position as both obtained 636 marks out of 800.

Maira Ali of IMCG (PG) F-7/4 got the second position with 635 marks. The third position was shared by two students: Hanood Shah of IMCG (PG) G-10/4 and Sidra Ashfaq of IMCG (PG) G-10/4 secured 618 marks.

In BA, Munaza Shafi of IMCG (PG) G-10/4 bagged the first position securing 590 marks out of 800 and Iqra Riaz of the same institute got the second position with 587 marks.

The third position went to two students: Memoona Batool, again of IMCG (PG) G-10/4, and Khadija Arif of IMCG (PG) F-7/4 bagged the third position with 585 marks.

While explaining the reason for the decline in the success rate, QAU Vice-Chancellor Eatizaz Ahmad said last year the courses were mostly that of the University of
Punjab but in the following year 12 new courses were introduced so that might have caused it.

“But we will try to manage this next year as we are keenly working along with the teachers of these colleges,” he concluded.

Published in The NBP NEWS, September 19th, 2014.


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Alleged corruption: Urdu varsity staffers continue protest against VC

Alleged corruption: Urdu varsity staffers continue protest against VC 0

🕔06:07, 19.Sep 2014

ISLAMABAD:

Federal Urdu University of Arts, Sciences and Technology (FUUAST) Islamabad campus staff continued their protest against Vice-Chancellor Dr Zafar Iqbal for his alleged involvement in a Rs150 million embezzlement scam.

The employees are protesting for the last month against the alleged mismanagement and “corruption of the VC” and non-provision of medical facilities to employees.

Amid slogan-shouting, speakers claimed that instead of taking notice of the mismanagement, the VC has dismissed three employees and stopped salaries of several others.

To add insult to injury, they claim, the VC regularised 19 employees of the FUUAST Karachi campus. They demanded that employees of the Islamabad campus also be regularised.

Since reports emerged of a Rs150 million scam at the Islamabad campus, the top management has been passing the buck.

Published in The NBP NEWS, September 19th, 2014.


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Ominous sign?: Polyclinic receives capital’s first dengue case

Ominous sign?: Polyclinic receives capital’s first dengue case 0

🕔05:42, 19.Sep 2014

ISLAMABAD:

Alarm bells were set ringing in the capital after Polyclinic hospital on Thursday confirmed the year’s first dengue case.

Talking to The NBP NEWS, Dr Tanveer Malik, the hospital’s spokesman, said Saima, a resident of Bhimber Trar, was brought to the hospital with high grade fever, severe muscular ache and skin rash.

She was admitted to the medical ward and later it was confirmed that she had contracted dengue, he said.

Meanwhile, according to a Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) official who requested anonymity, said so far seven suspected cases of dengue fever had been reported in the capital.

“Out of these, one has tested positive who is admitted at the Polyclinic hospital,” said the official.

Meanwhile, at least 12 cases of dengue have been confirmed at Rawalpindi hospitals this year.

New Plan for Dengue Prevention

A meeting to review a dengue prevention programme for the capital and its effective implementation was held at the CADD headquarters on Thursday.

In the meeting, Minister of State for CADD Barrister Usman Ibrahim said after completion of a three year dengue prevention programme this year worth of Rs31 million, a new PC-1 has been formulated to initiate a new programme for the capital this year.

Furthermore, a coordination and review committee would be formed under the supervision of CADD additional secretary to review the programme’s progress of, he said.

Twin cities’ health departments join hands

The minister further said that like last year, this year too the Islamabad and Rawalpindi health departments will work together to fight against dengue.

CADD would be the main coordination forum for all those departments who are working against this deadly disease, he informed participants.

Mutual trainings regarding dengue awareness and prevention should be arranged for the technical and professional health staff of the twin cities’ hospitals, emphasised the minister.

Media training on reporting dengue cases

There is a need to train and educate media persons regarding reporting dengue cases as in the past several facts have been misquoted, said Ibrahim, adding that, “There is a need to understand the difference between a suspected, probable and a confirmed dengue patient. All of them are not dengue patients as stated in the media sometimes,” he said.

These are three different stages though which a dengue patient goes through, informed Ibrahim, saying further that due to mistaking suspects and probable dengue patients as confirmed patients, the bloated total number presents an alarming picture to the public.

Therefore, to address this issue, a comprehensive system has been devised to not only to identify patients but prospective dengue risk areas as well, he informed further.

“Proper counters have been established in hospitals of the twin cities to verify dengue patients,” said the minister.

Challenges

Talking to The NBP NEWS, an official working in the Rawalpindi health department said the current challenge in combating dengue is the absence of a proper solid waste management system in the district as well as rural areas of the capital.

“The recent rains and heaps of garbage lying everywhere in Rawalpindi and suburbs of Islamabad have already provided a favourable atmosphere to the dengue mosquito to breed,” he said.

He was of the view that every year massive efforts are made to fight dengue but the efforts will move in circles unless the root causes (breeding sites) are destroyed.

The official also expressed concerned over the Constitution Avenue sit-ins where masses are converged into a small area with potential breeding sites going unchecked as health officials are refused entry.

Published in The NBP NEWS, September 19th, 2014.


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Sorting issues: Police, ICCI agree to improve liaison

Sorting issues: Police, ICCI agree to improve liaison 0

🕔05:38, 19.Sep 2014

ISLAMABAD:

The Islamabad Police have deiced to form a liaison body to maintain close contacts with traders and entertain their complaints.

The move came after police officials allegedly manhandled Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Shaban Khalid on Monday.

Assistant Inspector General (Operations) Sultan Azam Taimuri said he would personally monitor and supervise the committee.

A delegation led by the ICCI president also called on the AIG, who reportedly apologised to the delegation for the incident.

He also assured them that legal action will be taken against the police officials who allegedly misbehaved with the ICCI president.

Published in The NBP NEWS, September 19th, 2014.

 


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British PM announces more powers for England, Wales, Northern Ireland after Scotland vote

British PM announces more powers for England, Wales, Northern Ireland after Scotland vote 0

🕔05:14, 19.Sep 2014

LONDON: After Scottish voters rejected independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, as official results showed on Friday, by a margin of almost 10 percentage points, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced more powers for England, Wales as well as Northern Ireland.

With 31 out of 32 regions declared, 55.42% voted against independence compared to 44.58% who wanted Scotland to break the 300-year-old union with England, AFP reported.

“Just as the people of Scotland will have more power over there affairs, so it follows that the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland must have a bigger say over theirs,” remarked Cameron in his speech during a news conference.

“It is absolutely right that the new and fair settled Scotland should be accompanied by a new and fair settlement that applies to all parts of our UK,” Cameron stated.

“We have heard the voice of Scotland and now the millions of voices of England must also be heard,” he added.

“So just as Scotland will vote separately in the Scottish parliament on their issues of tax spending and welfare, so too England as well as Wales and Northern Ireland should be able to vote on these issues,” the British PM stated, adding that this must take place in tandem with and at the same pace as the settlement for Scotland.

‘Will of Scottish people heard’

Referring to the referendum, Cameron said that the settled will of the Scottish people has been heard, adding that Scotland voted for a stronger Scottish Parliament backed by the strength and security of the UK.

“I want to congratulate the No campaign for that, for showing people that our nations really are better together,” he added.

He also paid tribute to the Yes Scotland.

“We now have a chance, a great opportunity to change the way the British people are governed and change it for the better,” he added.

“Political leaders on all sides of the debate now bear a heavy responsibility to come together and work constructively to advance the interests of people in Scotland as well as those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for each and every citizen for our UK,” Cameron said, requesting all political leaders to work together.

Addressing the skepticism of those in Scotland regarding constitutional promises that were made, the British Prime Minister assured them that this government has delivered on devolution and will do so again in the next Parliament.

Speaking about what the Scottish referendum represented, Cameron said that it has stirred strong passions, electrified politics in Scotland and caught the imagination of people across the whole of UK.

“It will be remembered as a powerful demonstration of the strength and vitality of our ancient democracy,” he added, further stating that record numbers were registered to vote and record numbers cast their votes.

During his speech, he appreciated the fact that vital issues such as this could be settled at the ballot box peacefully and calmly.

“Now we must look forward and turn this into the moment when everyone, whichever way they voted, comes together to built that better brighter future for our entire UK,” he said.


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Scotland votes against independence

Scotland votes against independence 0

🕔05:14, 19.Sep 2014

EDINBURGH: Scotland has voted against independence in a historic referendum, the BBC forecast on Friday after preliminary results showed 54.3 per cent voting “No” and 45.7 per cent voting “Yes”.

“The BBC forecasts that Scotland has voted against becoming an independent country,” read a statement on its website.


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Follow up on assurances: Senator reprimands HEC for failure

Follow up on assurances: Senator reprimands HEC for failure 0

🕔05:13, 19.Sep 2014

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Education criticised the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) alleged intransigence for not holding a commission meeting for the last year-and-a-half.

The parliamentary panel’s meeting, held at Quaid-i-Azam University, was largely focused on previous committee agenda regarding funding for some of the varsities in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the HEC’s distribution formula.

Chairing the meeting, Senator Abdul Nabi Bangash accused the HEC of failing to follow up on an assurance to release funds for Bacha Khan University, Mardan. “The HEC was requested to include Rs400 million for the varsity in the Public Sector Development Programme 2014-15, which has gone in vain since not a single penny was allocated for the university,” Bangash said.

He argued that the HEC had later promised to release Rs100 million in May, but till date, only Rs60 million have been released. “Why does the HEC think it can do whatever it wants,” he remarked.

Funding formula

In response to Bangash’s allegations, HEC Executive Director (ED) Mansoor Kundi replied that there is a certain criterion and funding formula for allocations that the HEC has to follow allocations. “Varsities, especially new ones, are not encouraged in its increase, while a formula based on the institution’s performance, number of students and other factor also considered,” Kundi commented.

The reply failed to impress Bangash, who said the HEC should not unilaterally decide who should get what amount.

Bahauddin Zakaria University Vice Chancellor Khwaja Alqama also disagreed with the formula and added the number of varsities is increasing, but the HEC has stuck to the same formula.

Commission meeting

The chairperson of the committee asked who reviewed such policy issues, to which the ED replied that job was tasked to a 17-member commission.

“But there hasn’t been a single commission meeting for the last one-and-a-half year,” he admitted. Bangash asked what was stopping them from holding a meeting.

The ED said, “The availability of members is the issue and next time we will ensure that a meeting is held.”

Senator Najma Hameed and Senator Ilyas Bilour suggested that inactive members should be removed from the commission. The chairperson directed the HEC to hold a meeting by October and send the minutes to the subcommittee.

The body also urged capital varsities and QAU to increase quotas for students from Balochistan and Fata. It added that Fata and G-B should not have to share a quota.

Published in The NBP NEWS, September 19th, 2014.


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Street crimes: 50 suspects arrested in eight months

Street crimes: 50 suspects arrested in eight months 0

🕔04:44, 19.Sep 2014

ISLAMABAD:

The Islamabad Police have arrested 50 people involved in street crimes so far this year, a spokesperson said on Thursday.

The police also recovered 74 snatched mobile phones, looted cash and valuables including gold ornaments from their possession.

The spokesperson said the police have enhanced patrolling as well as vigilance and have obtained records of all those persons who have been involved in street crimes.

AIG (Operations) Sultan Azam Temuri has directed all sub-divisional police officers and SHOs to ensure effective patrolling in their jurisdictions and take stern action against the anti-social elements.

The spokesperson claimed street crime has reduced significantly after SHOs launched campaigns against those involved in street crime. He added that records of those who remain involved in street crimes are also being compiled.

Published in The NBP NEWS, September 19th, 2014.


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Japan pledges grant for improvement in health, education

Japan pledges grant for improvement in health, education 0

🕔04:43, 19.Sep 2014

ISLAMABAD: The Japanese government has pledged $171,920 (approximately Rs17 million) worth of financial support for the improvement of health and education facilities in the capital’s outskirts and Khyber Agency in the tribal areas.

An agreement in this regard is to be signed between the Ambassador of Japan Hiroshi Inomata and representatives of two non-government organisations.

Out of the total grant, the Learning Awareness and Motivation Program (LAMP) are to get $101,260 and the True Worth Foundation $70,660 for improvement of educational and health facilities on the outskirts of the federal capital and Khyber Agency.

The grant to True Worth Foundation will be used for the improvement of a health centre in Chatha Bakhtawar on the outskirts of Islamabad, including the provision of an ambulance, establishment of a laboratory and the upgrading of facilities.

It is estimated that approximately 5,400 people from the underdeveloped communities will benefit from this project.

The grant to LAMP will be used for the construction of a primary school in Lashora village of Khyber Agency. It is expected that more than 170 students who are currently studying in open-air facilities would be able to learn in a newly-built school building.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Inomata remarked that Japan’s Official Development Assistance Programme to Pakistan confers a high priority to the improvement of educational and health facilities in the country.

He expressed hope that these grants would contribute to Pakistan’s goals of providing equal opportunities for good quality education as well as improving access to healthcare facilities, and in doing so would certainly strengthen the friendly relations between the people of Japan and Pakistan.

Published in The NBP NEWS, September 19th, 2014.


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