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December 28, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. Government defangs NAB through ordinance
• The Pakistan Tehreek-i-insaf government made drastic changes in the country`s accountability law the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 through a presidential ordinance promulgated on December 27, 2019 that would benefit not only politicians from across the aisle but also bureaucrats as well as the business community.
• The new ordinance The National Accountability (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 has made the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) a `toothless` body since now it can only take up cases involving corruption or corrupt practices exceeding an amount of Rs500 million.
• The latest amendments have hit the core of the accountability law that was first promulgated by then military dictator retired Gen Pervez Musharraf soon after ousting then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup in 1999.
• The powers of NAB have been curtailed keeping in view frequent complaints of the bureaucracy and the business community.
2. First batch of dual-seat JF-17 aircraft rolled out
• The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra has achieved yet another remarkable milestone by rolling out the first batch of eight dual-seat JF-17 aircraft on December 27, 2019.
• To mark the momentous occasion, a grand ceremony was held at the Aircraft Manufacturing Factory, Kamra. Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan was the chief guest on the occasion, said a press release issued by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).
• Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing and Executive Vice President of Aviation Industries of China (AVIC) Hao Zhaoping also attended the ceremony as guests of honour.
• PAC chairman Air MarshalAhmer Shehzad in his welcome address highlighted the salient features of the project. The Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) also signed an agreement for coproduction of Chinese commercial aircraft
3. Pakistan`s debt falls to 84.7pc of GDP: IMF
• Pakistan`s general government debt (including guarantees and the International Monetary Fund borrowing) declined to 84.7 per cent of GDP, from 88pc.
• A recently published report on Pakistan by IMF said this decline in debts was mainly driven by the government`s smart performance in reducing expenditures, registering primary budget surplus and increasing tax and non-tax revenues during the first five months of this fiscal year.
• `In the first quarter of 2019-20, budget execution by the incumbent government improved considerably, registering a primary surplus of 0.6pcof GDP and an overall deficit of 0.6pc about 1pc of GDP better than programmed,` the report added.
• It said the over-performance was driven by stronger than expected nontax revenues, accompanied by double digit growth in tax revenue net of refunds
4. Imran awards 46 firms on PSX ranking
• Prime Minister Imran Khan on December 27, 2019 distributed awards among 46 companies that made it to the Pakistan Stock Exchange Top-25 ranking in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018.
• Fauji Fertilizer Company, Arif Habib, Atlas Honda, Archroma Pakistan, Colgate Palmolive Pakistan and United Bank Ltd were the six top most companies that made it to the Top-25 in all the three years.
• The PSE Top 25 Companies Awards Ceremony was held at Governor House.
5. India ejects second European for protesting against new law
• A Norwegian tourist on December 27, 2019 said authorities had ordered her to leave India after taking part in protests against a new citizenship law, becoming the second European to be ejected over the demonstrations.
• Janne-Mette Johansson, 71, said that police gave her `verbal assurances` that she could take part in peaceful demonstrations against the law that critics say discriminates against Muslims.
• `Yesterday (December 26, 2019), Indian immigration officials came to my hotel for questioning and I was mentally tortured. Today, they again showed up at my hotel asking me to leave the country or they will take a legal action and deport me,` she said.
• The woman, who had posted photos from the demonstration in the southern state of Kerala on Facebook, added that she would soon leave India for Dubai and then fly to Sweden
6. China launches rocket in boost for 2020 Mars mission
• China on December 27, 2019 launched one of the world`s most powerful rockets in a major step forward for its planned mission to Mars in 2020.
• The heavy lift Long March 5 rocket carrying a Shijian 20 test satellite payload blasted off from the Wenchang launch site on the southern island of Hainan at 8:45pm, a live stream from state broadcaster CCTV showed.
• `After more than 2,000 seconds, the Shijian 20 satellite was sent into its predetermined orbit,` the official Xinhua news agency reported.
• The rocket launch `tests key technologies related to future space missions, Xinhua said.
• The successful aunch is a key part of China`s ambitious plans for a mission to the Red Planet next year and hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022.
7. Turkey unveils first electric car
• Turkey unveiled its first fully domestically-produced car on December 27, 2019, saying it aimed to eventually produce up to 175,000 a year of the electric vehicle in a project expected to cost 22 billion lira ($3.7bn) over 13 years.
• The project has been a long-time goal of President Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party as a demonstration of the country`s growing economic power.
• Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Erdogan said Turkey aimed not only to sell the car domestically but also wanted it to become a global brand, starting with Europe.
8. Russia, China, Iran kick off joint naval drills
• Iran, China and Russia began joint naval drills on December 27, 2019 in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman, in what Moscow said was an unprecedented exercise in naval cooperation and training.
• Waters around Iran have become a focus for international tensions, with the United States exerting pressure for Iranian crude oil sales and other trade ties to be cut off.
• The broadcaster said the drills included rescuing ships on fire or vessels under attack by pirates and shooting exercises.
9. Netanyahu wins party leadership vote in re-election boost
• Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told supporters on December 27, 2019 he would win a March general election after scoring a landslide victory in the leadership primary of his right-wing Likud party.
• Israel`s longest-serving premier, who faces a corruption indictment as well as a third general election in 12 months, was expected to beat rival Gideon Saar in the leadership primary. But the convincing margin of victory by 72.5 to 27.5 per cent strengthens his position in the party he has dominated for 20 years.
• Netanyahu, 70, called it a `huge win` and pledged to emerge victorious in the March 2 general election.
10. Political writer William Greider dies at 83
• William Greider, a longtime political writer for The Nation, Rolling Stone and The Washington Post, died a11he age of 83, according to his former editor.
• The Nation`s Editorial Director Katrina vanden Heuvel tweeted that Greider understood something all too rare in this 24-7 media world. `The process of re-imagining democracy requires not only real respect for the people, deep reporting, historical insight, but also patience.
• Before joining The Nation in 1999, Greider was a columnist at Rolling Stone for 17 years.
• Before that, he was a reponer and editor at The Washington Post.
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