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June 08, 2022: National / International Current Affairs
1. Cabinet restores 5-day week, slashes foreign trips
• The government on June 7, 2022 announced several `austerity measures` to conserve electricity amidst a drastic nationwide shortfall. Among the more significant measures was an announcement that foreign trips for officials would be sharply curtailed, fuel quotas for government employees would be cut by 40 per cent, and a long-awaited decision to reinstate the Saturday holiday for government employees.
• The austerity plan was approved in a cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
• Among other measures, the prime minister formed a committee to ascertain the merits and demerits of offices introducing a work-from-home policy for Fridays
2. President approves reconstitution of NEC
• President Dr Arif Alvi on June 7, 2022 approved the reconstitution of 13-member National Economic Council (NEC)a constitutional body responsible for reviewing the country`s overall economic condition and formulating plans while ensuring balanced development and regional equity under Article 156 of the Constitution.
• According to an official announcement, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has nominated Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail from the ruling PML-N, Commerce Minister Syed Naveed Qamar from the PPP and Communications Minister Asad Mehmood who belongs to the JUI-F.
• Those who will represent the provinces in the NEC, besides their chief ministers, are: Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari of the PML-N from Punjab, Senator Nisar Khoro of the PPP from Sindh, Taimur Saleem Jhagra of the PTI from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Noor Muhammad Damar of the Balochistan Awami Paty (BAP) from Balochistan
3. Afghanistan being destroyed by Taliban, says German FM
• Asserting that Afghanistan was being taken to its downfall, visiting German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on June 7, 2022 asked the international community to send `a loud and clear message` to the Afghan Taliban that they were heading in the wrong direction.
• `As long as they go down this path, there is no room for normalisation and even recognition of Taliban as legitimate rulers, she said while speaking at a joint stakeout with her Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.
• The Taliban `have brought incredible suffering and hunger to the people in Afghanistan,` she said, noting that the crisis had consequences outside of Afghanistan`s borders and that Pakistan would bear the brunt of them
4. AJK opposition withdraws bill seeking increase in lawmakers` salaries
• The combined opposition in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Legislative Assembly on June 7, 2022 announced withdrawal of its private bill seeking considerable increase in salaries, allowances and privileges of the lawmakers.
• The announcement was made by PML-N MLA Waqar Ahmed Noor at a press conference in the opposition`s chambers in view of the `outcry of the AJK government regarding budget cuts and bad fiscal health of the country`.
• Interestingly, when the bill was introduced by Mr Noor in the assembly on May 23, Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party`s (JKPP) lone lawmaker Sardar Hassan Ibrahim, who has been sitting on opposition benches for quite some time, had opposed it for the very reasons
5. Two water projects worth Rs1.15tr approved
• Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on June 7, 2022 announced that two major projects Rs900bn worth of power plant component at Diamer-Basha Dam and Rs250bn of Chashma Right Bank Canal (Lift-cum Gravity) project had been included in the next year`s budget for formal launching very shortly.
• Speaking at a news conference, the minister said China and Pakistan had also agreed to go for revision in cost estimates and terms of financing for multi-billion dollar Railway`s Karachi to Peshawar Track (Mainline-1) to modernise the obsolete track that was prone to accidents.
• He said a meeting of the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) had recommended two mega water sector projects worth Rs1.150 trillion for approval by the Executive Committee of the National Assembly (Ecnec)