January 2019

Day by Day Current Affairs (January 27, 2019) | MCQs for CSS, PMS

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January 27, 2019: National Current Affairs

1. WB gives $58m for low-cost housing

• The Pakistan Mortgage Refinance Company (PMRC) has received $58 million from the World Bank for low-cost housing while another $70m is in the pipeline.
• The PMRC, which was established in June 2018 to promote housing sector, has already disbursed Rs1.2 billion to banks for that purpose.
• `We received $58m on January 25, 2019 for general housing while another $70m is in pipeline and the money will be used for the promotion of low-cost housing in the country,` PMRC CEO Mudassir H. Khan told.
• The company makes advances to banks at low rates while the banks are allowed to lend this money solely for housing at their own fixed interest. PMRC builds its credit portfolio through loans from World Bank at cheaper rate.
• Bank Alfalah and Askari Bank have already received money from PMRC while another two including an Islamic bank are engaged with the lender. Banks usually avoid long-term lending for housing sector mainly due to a lack of such long-term deposits and ineffective foreclosure laws.

2. Local bodies complete term in Balochistan

• The chairmen of district and union councils will cease to work on January 26, 2019 as the five-year term of local bodies in Balochistan comes to an end. Fresh elections to the city, district and union councils will be announced next month.
• A notification issued on January 26, 2019 said that all local government institutions would be considered dissolved from Sunday and powers of all mayors, deputy mayors of municipal corporations and chairmen of district and union councils would cease with the dissolution.
• Balochistan was the first province to hold local bodies` elections in December 2014 on the orders of the Supreme Court.
• `Local bodies` institutions have completed their five-year term and new elections would be announced after delimitation of their constituencies.

3. Pakistan to get $279m tranche from IDB

• Pakistan is set to receive $279 million under oil financing facility from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in next few days that would further reduce pressure on import bill of the country and shore up foreign reserves.
• The IDB had activated its three-year $4.5 billion oil financing facility for Pakistan in July last year. The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the IDB Group, would roll over the $4.5 billion loan to Pakistan in next three year – $1.5 billion in each fiscal year.
• Pakistan had already utilised $100 million received from the ITFC and another $279 million is in the pipeline which would be received in next few days.
• Upcoming inflow would ease the pressure on the current account deficit of the country. He clarified that IDB’s oil facility is separate from the own announced by the Saudi Arabia recently.

4. First meeting of reconstituted 9th NFC on Feb 6

• The government has called the first meeting of reconstituted 9th National Finance Commission (NFC) on 6th February in Islamabad for discussion on strategy for the new NFC award—new resources distribution formula between centre and provinces.
• The NFC’s meeting will be chaired by Finance Minister Asad Umar and the four provincial finance ministers and four non-statutory members would attend it. “The meeting will receive briefing on fiscal position by provinces as well as federal government. The meeting will also have general discussion on strategy for deliberations over new NFC award,” said a brief handout released by the ministry of finance.
• President Dr Arif Alvi had recently reconstituted the 9th NFC to work out a new resources distribution formula between the Centre and federating units. The Ministry of Finance had notified the new 10-member Commission. Finance Minister Asad Umar will chair the NFC, which will comprise the four provincial finance ministers and their respective technical members, according to the notification. The Centre had also included the federal finance secretary as the tenth member as the official expert.

5. Pakistani Top Chef contestant Fatima Ali loses battle against cancer

• Pakistani American chef Fatima Ali known for her 2017 appearance on popular US television series Top Chef passed away on January 26, 2019 after losing a long battle with cancer.
• Fatima had appeared on season 15 of the reality competition show as a contestant and was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer Ewing`s Sarcoma right after.
• Chemotherapy appeared to benefit her initially but cancer returned in September last year with doctors telling her it had metastasised. The 29-yearold chef, who was voted `f an f avourite` on Top Chef, had in October 2018 penned an op-ed for Bon Appetit, in which she shared that she had a year to live and intended to use it to make amends with the people in her life and to sample the finest food all over the world.

6. Pakistan, India resume water talks today

• A Pakistani delegation will travel today (January 27, 2019) to India and hold talks on resolving the thorny water issues between the two countries under the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) signed by the rival states in 1960.
• A three-member delegation, led by Indus Water Commissioner Mehr Ali Shah, will visit India for inspection of Indian hydroelectric projects construction in the Chenab basin, as mandated by the IWT. It will be the first official engagement with India on water issues since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power in August last year. The Pakistan delegation is set to inspect the Lower Kulnai and Pakal Dal projects being constructed over the Chenab River. Syed Mehr Ali Shah said that the Indian authorities have also hinted at allowing the inspection of other controversial projects during the January 27 to February 1 visit.

7. Two Japanese aircraft arrive for Aman 2019 exercise

• Two Japanese naval aircraft have arrived in Karachi to participate in Multinational Maritime Exercise AMAN-19 scheduled to start next month.
• The Pakistan Navy is hosting the 6th series of Multinational Maritime Exercise AMAN-19 in February at Karachi.
• The two Japanese Naval P3C aircraft of Deployed Maritime Force for Anti-Piracy Enforcement (DAPE) visited PNS MEHRAN for Pre AMAN-19 exercise. Their aircrew participated in various events, including Search & Rescue (SAR) and Counter Piracy (CP) Exercises along with the Pakistan Navy aircrew. The Japanese contingent also visited Maritime and PAF museums to learn about PN and PAF historic achievements.

8. Arid Agriculture varsity gets new VC

• Professor Dr Nadeem Akhtar Abbasi has been appointed as Pro Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR).
• The appointment has been made by Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar in his capacity as the PMAS-AAUR chancellor, for a period of three years, according to a notification issued by the Punjab Agriculture department.
• Prof Dr Nadeem Akhtar Abbasi is also dean of faculty of Crop and Food Sciences.
• However, he will also perform the functions of the Vice-Chancellor till the appointment of regular VCr under section 14(9) of University act, as office of the VC is vacant.

January 27, 2019: International Current Affairs

9. US officials agree to draft Afghan peace deal: Taliban

• Taliban officials said US negotiators on January 26, 2019 agreed to a draft peace deal stipulating the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan within 18 months of the agreement being signed.
• The details were provided by Taliban sources at the end of six days of talks with US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar aimed at ending the United States` longest war.
• They have yet to be confirmed by US officials and none of the sides has released an official statement. Officials at the US embassy in Kabul were not immediately available for comment.
• Khalilzad was heading to the Afghan capital Kabul to brief President Ashraf Ghani about the longer-than-expected talks, the sources and a diplomat said.
• According to the Taliban sources, the Islamist group offered assurances that Afghanistan would not be allowed to be used by Al Qaeda and the militant Islamic State (IS) group to attack the United States and its allies a key early demand of Washington.

10. Qatar confirms it will no longer fund Hamas salaries

• Qatar said on January 26, 2019 it will no longer fund salaries of Hamas employees in Gaza but will still give aid to poor families, after the Palestinian enclave`s Islamist rulers refused to accept wage payments over conditions allegedly attached by Israel.
• We `will not pay the salaries of the Hamas employees` said Qatar`s ambassador to the Gaza Strip Mohammed al-Emadi.
• An informal deal between Israel and Hamas in November had seen Qatar agree to send $90 million through six monthly payments to Gaza, in exchange for relative calm along the Israeli border, which has been rocked by Hamas-backed protests since March 2018.The first two monthly payments of $15 million were disbursed and went mainly to paying salaries of around 40,000 Hamas civil servants, while around a third of each monthly payment helped impoverished Gazans. But the deal became a major bone of political contention in Israel whose territory is used for delivery of the cash and also in Gaza. `The tension was very high on Hamas … internally and on the Israeh government the tension also was very high from the opposition,` said Emadi

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