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February 19, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. Bill on penalties for bankers clears Senate panel
• A Senate panel on February 18, 2022 unanimously approved a bill that envisages punishments for executives of banks and financial institutions for discriminating against anybody, including politically exposed persons (PEPs), in the provision of banking services.
• A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, chaired by Senator Talha Mahmood, also directed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to submit a written statement within three days on the status and details of $250 million repatriated to Pakistan by the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom.
• The `Banking Companies Amendment Bill 2021` was moved in the Senate by Mr Mahmood himself after different members, on several occasions, raised the issue of banks` discriminatory attitude towards parliamentarians, such as refusal to open bank accounts or issue credit cards, etc
2. PM to inaugurate `Rashan Riayat` disbursement today
• Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to visit a utility store in Islamabad to inaugurate the roll-out of `Ehsaas Rashan Riayat` for low-income families on February 18, 2022.
• The country`s first ever targeted commodity subsidies programme is in line with the prime minister`s vision to provide relief to the masses and target government subsidies.
• At the retail outlet, the prime minister will witness the digitally enabled `Ehsaas Rashan Riayat` disbursal to eligible families.
• Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation and Social Protection Senator Dr Sania Nishtar will brief him on the salient features of end-to-end digitised programme, which is the first of its kind worldwide
3. Political parties bag only 37pc of votes in first phase of LG polls
• In what speaks volumes about the minimal influence of political parties at the grassroots level, their combined vote bank was as low as 37pc in the first phase of the local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against the independents` share of 63pc.
• The most worrisome aspect of the conduct of the elections was the unprecedented poor quality of the preparation of election results by returning officers and the negligence of the higher authorities of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
• Pattan shared these findings with media persons at a press conference on February 18, 2022
4. Govt, Bank of Khyber agree to launch Rs12bn SME refinancing initiative
• The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and Bank of Khyber on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to launch Rs12 billion refinancing schemes to meet the capital and modernization needs of the province`s small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
• The schemes are likely to be available for SMEs in the second week of next month and will be executed by the BOK in coordination with the industries department.
• BOK managing director Ali Gulfaraz and provincial industries secretary Zulfiqar Ali Shah signed the MoU during a special ceremony, where provincial finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra and special assistant to the chief minister for industries Abdul Karim Khan Tordher were also present
5. 1,800 MHz spectrum rationalised successfully
• The telecom sector regulator for the first time has streamlined the spectrum allotted to the telecom companies by rationalising the 1,800 megahertz (MHz) spectrum.
• The rationalisation plan for the 1,800 MHz spectrum band was issued by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) in consultation with the Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) at the time of additional spectrum auction in September last year.
• While the rationalisation has been completed, its implementation will take time due to the alignment of the existing equipment with the new setup by telecom companies. The benefits of this move will be visible to telecom customers in some time.
• Earlier, various spectrums of 1,800 band were scattered among the four telecom companies operating in Pakistan.