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April 20, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. Allies `not pleased` as new cabinet sworn in
• Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on April 19, 2022 finally formed a 33-member federal cabinet, albeit not without some bitterness among the ruling alliance.
• And as expected, President Dr Arif Alvi did not administer oath to the members of the new cabinet and the constitutional duty was performed by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani.
• Although the oath was taken by 33 lawmakers, a notification issued by the Cabinet Division carried the names of 26 federal ministers and two ministers of state. Besides, the prime minister has also appointed three advisers.
• A source in the Prime Minister`s Office (PMO) told Dawn that portfolios of five members of the cabinet, hailing from the PML-N, were still under consideration. They werenKhurram Dastgir Khan, Abdul Rehman Kanju, Riaz Pirzada, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Murtaza Javed Abbasi
2. PTI-era media regulatory body scrapped
• In her first policy statement, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on April 19, 2022 announced the long demanded scrapping of the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) in `whatever shape or form it was`, vowed that no black law would be enacted that restricted freedom of expression, and criticised the social media drives against journalists and incitement to violence against them.
• Last year, journalists across the country had held protests against what they called the previous government`s ill-conceived proposal to setup through an ordinance the PMDA as an umbrella body to regulate all media print, television, radio, films, social media and digital.
• In her first press conference after taking oath here on Tuesday, the newly-inducted minister stated: `I announce that the PMDA is being disbanded in whatever shape or form it was, and whosoever was working on it in the Ministry of Information has been asked to stop
3. Miftah-led ECC approves Rs69bn reimbursement to oil industry
• The single-point maiden meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the newly formed federal cabinet on April 19, 2022 approved Rs69 billion for immediate reimbursement of price differential claims (PDCs) to the oil industry on account of cheaper sales of petroleum products than the cost of purchase.
• The meeting of the ECC was presided over by Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue Miftah Ismail and attended by another Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Makhdoom Syed Murtaza Mehmood, federal secretaries and senior officers. The ECC `approved a supplementary grant of Rs68.74bn for disbursement of PDC to oil marketing companies (OMCs) and refineries for the month of April and to meet the shortfall for the month of March, an official announcement said.
• The decision is expected to be immediately ratified by the federal cabinet on Wednesday so that funds could be disbursed to OMCs and refineries at the earliest to avoid supply chain disruptions
4. IMF sees current account deficit, inflation at higher levels
• The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on April 19, 2022 forecast Pakistan`s economic growth rate at four per cent, and higher than estimated inflation and current account deficit during the ongoing fiscal year.
• The growth forecast is generally in line with similar estimates by other development lenders such as the World Bank`s 4.3pc and Asian Development Bank`s 4pc and credit rating agencies Moody`s 3-4pc but significantly lower than a 4.8pc target set in the budget 2021-22.
• In its World Economic Outlook (WEO) 2022, the IMF projected an11.2pc average rate of inflation for the current year against 8.9pc last year. The Washington-based lending agency also worked out Pakistan`s current account deficit at 5.3pc of GDP (up from just 0.6pc last fiscal year) and 7pc unemployment rate, slightly lower than 7.4pc of last year
5. Political crisis robs country of foreign investment in March
• March proved to be the worst month for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) amid a deepening political crisis as the country witnessed a net outflow of $30.4 million against an inflow of $173.4m in the same period last year.
• The latest data issued by the State Bank on April 19, 2022 is shocking for the country as the new government appeared as another challenge to improve the investment climate.
• The no-investment in March badly hit the overall FDI inflows which fell by 2 per cent during the first three quarters of the current fiscal year (FY22). The inflows have been declining since the beginning of this calendar year but March was devastating for foreign investments.