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February 17, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. Senate committee approves PSQCA amendment bill
• The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology on February 16, 2022 ratified the `Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2022` by a majority vote, paving the way for the government to shift the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) headquarter from Karachi to Islamabad.
• However, senators Rukhsana Zuberi and Kamran Murtaza opposed the bill.
• As the bill did not mention the name of the city where the headquarters would be moved, the chairman of the committee recommended including the name `Federal Capital` in the amended bill as per the desire of the ministry.
• The committee chairman Senator Sardar Mohammad Shafiq Tareen asked the ministry of science and technology to furnish details of unutilised funds in the next meeting
2. Senate panel clears Public-Private Partnership Authority Act
• A Senate panel on February 16, 2022 unanimously cleared the Public-Private Partnership Authority (P3A) Act that gives representation to a member each of the two houses of parliament and the provinces on its board, but did not clear a bill on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA) for lack of provincial representation.
• A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development presided over by Saleem Mandviwalla unanimously passed the P3A Act, recommending the nomination of one member each of the Senate and the National Assembly, to be nominated by the chairman and speaker, respectively, for the authority`s board for input on development projects in the P3 mode.
• The bill, proposed by Senator Abdul Qadir, also envisaged reducing the number of private sector members in the P3A board to four from five, with the condition that one would come from each province.
3. Senate panel clears debt limitation law
• With Rs3.5 trillion worth of tax cases pending in courts, the National Assembly`s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on February 16, 2022 cleared a bill to amend the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act (FRDLA).
• However, it blocked another bill to relax procurement rules for public sector entities (PSEs) over fiduciary concerns.
• The meeting presided over by PTI`s MNA Faiz Ullah unanimously approved `The Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation (Amendment) Bill 2021.
• A senior official of the Ministry of Finance briefed the committee that FRDLA 2005 provided for the reduction of federal fiscal deficit and ratio of public debt to GDP to a prudent level by effective public debt management
4. SC takes up dead man`s plea two years too late
• In a case that serves to highlight the delays in dispensation of justice, the Supreme Court on February 16, 2022 took up a bail plea moved by a convict for the purposes of obtaining medical treatment, but who had died of cancer two years ago.
• The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, which took up the two-page application of Lal Khan, had no choice but to dispose of the plea. Khan was put behind bars in 2012 on charges of kidnapping for ransom.
• Advocate Syed Ali Imran, who represented the deceased in the bail application moved on Feb 20, 2020, told Dawn that he twice moved applications for an early hearing of the case, but to no avail.
• The bail plea was taken up on Wednesday only after an application seeking adjournment was filed by Advocate Mian Ghazanfer Nawaz, who is representing a co-accused in the case, Ismatullah, and has contracted Covid-19
5. State Bank raises agri credit limits
• The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has enhanced the indicative credit limits for agriculture financing to align the amount of loans with input requirements.
• According to the revised indicative agriculture credit limits shared by February 16, 2022, per acre limit for rice has been increased to Rs70,000 for the current calendar from Rs45,000 per acre in 2019.
• All five major crops` limits were substantially increased. The wheat per acre indicative price was increased by 50 per cent to Rs60,000 in the year 2022 from Rs40,000 in 2019.
• The indicative credit limit of cotton was increased to Rs75,000 from Rs52,000 in 2019; sugar cane Rs105,000 from Rs73,000; maize (hybrid) Rs78,000 per acre from Rs55,000 and maize Rs65,000 from Rs45,000 in 2019