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May 07, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. PM announces two-tier LG system for Punjab
• Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on May 6, 2019 that powers would be devolved to grass-roots through two-tiered elections in Punjab.
• PM said elections for local governments would be held directly in two tiers – at village council or panchayat level and at tehsil level. Flanked by Punjab and KP CMs Usman Buzdar and Mehmood Khan, former PTI secretary general Jahangir Tareen and others, the PM said funds would directly be transferred to village councils and tehsil nazims that would financially empower locals to decide development projects.
• Tehsil nazims can coordinate and choose a representative at district level. The prime minister said that during PTI’s last term in KP, it had formed councils in villages, which were “very popular among the people”, and the same “system will now be introduced in Punjab”. Imran said: “Rs140 billion will be allocated for local bodies in Punjab. This is the first time that a government was devolving power.”
• Imran Khan said 22,000 panchayats or village councils would be set up. He said Rs40 billion was allocated for villages, which will be passed down directly to village councillor so that they do not have to wait for federal or provincial governments to secure development funds.
2. Shabbar Zaidi to head Federal Board of Revenue
• Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on May 6, 2019 the appointment of chartered accountant Shabbar Zaidi as the chairman of Federal Board of Revenue. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
• His official notification will be made soon, the PM said. Earlier, Adviser to PM on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had picked Ahmed Mujtaba Memon as FBR chairman. However, the government had withheld the notification. Zaidi, a chartered accountant, is known for his extensive contribution to development of taxation and fiscal laws of the country.
• He is a senior partner of accountancy firm AF Ferguson & Co, a trustee of the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation and a member of Board of Governors of Liaquat National Hospital, Karachi.
• Zaidi has also been the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan and chairman of the South Asian Federation of Accountants.
3. Polls on 16 seats of KP tribal districts on July 2
• Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) May 6, 2019 issued elections schedule for sixteen seats of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in tribal districts.
• According to the schedule, polling will be held on July 2 while the candidates could file their nomination papers from Thursday to Saturday. The last date for scrutiny of the nomination papers has been fixed as May 18. Last date for filing of appeals against decisions of the returning officers regarding acceptance or rejection of the nomination papers is May 22.
• The candidates can withdraw their nomination papers by 29th of this month whilst on the same day, the revised list of candidates will be published. Election symbol to the contesting candidates will be allotted on 30th this month. The Election Commission has directed that no posting or transfer of any officer be made in the tribal districts till the publication of names of returned candidates
4. World Bank proposes customs reforms
• The World Bank has released `Governance Notes on Pakistan Customs (PC)` on May 6, 2019 highlighting three key reforms including enhancement of risk management system (RMS), improving pre and post-clearance facilities and broadening tax base to enable PC build on its relatively strong base of goods and revenue control capabilities.
• The report proposes enhancement of the RMS to be the first reform priority at the PC so that the system can focus on risk problems of authorised operators to ensure only those goods` declarations posing noteworthy risk to revenue, safety, or security are selected for physical examination thereby reducing excessive controls.
• An improved RMS will subsequently help customs manage large volumes of trade more effectively while relying less on physical and documentary inspections, the report adds.
May 7, 2019: International Current Affairs
5. Jordan loses ICC appeal over failure to arrest Bashir
• International appeals judges on May 6, 2019 upheld a reprimand of Jordan for failing to arrest former Sudanese president Omar al Bashir during a visit to the Arab country two years ago.
• Amman had appealed a ruling by the International Criminal Court which found that Jordan `failed to comply with its obligations` because it did not detain Bashir in 2017 when he was wanted by the Hague-based tribunal on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
• The ICC`s appeal judges nonetheless eased the blow a bit by reversing a pre-trial chamber judges` decision to refer Jordan to the UN Security Council and the court`s Assembly of States Parties (ASP) for further measures.
• Bashir, 75, was indicted by the ICC in 2009 in connection with fighting in the western region of Darfur, where more than 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million others displaced since 2003, according to UN figures.
6. India, US to resolve trade issues
• India and the United States will engage regularly to resolve outstanding trade issues, the Indian government said, after US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met his Indian counterpart Suresh Prabhu on May 6, 2019.
• India and the United States are locked in disputes over tariffs, price caps India has imposed on imported US medical devices and over rules banning companies from selling products via firms in which they have an equity interest.
• `Both sides agreed to engage regularly at various levels to resolve outstanding trade issues by exploring suitable solutions, which are mutually beneficial,` the government said in the statement.
7. 48 parties to contest elections in South Africa tomorrow
• A potpourri of 48 political parties will contest South Africa`s general election on May 8, 2019 a record number.
• Here are snapshots of some of the front-runners: African National Congress The African National Congress rose from a liberation movement to govern Africa`s most industrialised country, but its once-glorious image has been tainted by its record in office.
• It was founded in Bloemfontein in 1912 to fight against the white minority government`s restrictions on free movement and land ownership by blacks.
• During the anti-apartheid struggle, the ANC espoused socialist values and had many communist members, but in power, it has adopted a more liberal economic programme.
• It has easily won all post-apartheid elections and has a stranglehold on parliament, where it has held over 60 percent of the 400 seats since the dawn of democracy.
8. Peace deal with Afghan Taliban can have unintended consequences: report
• A peace deal with the Taliban can carry with it the seeds of unintended and unforeseen consequences, warns a US watchdog, in its quarterly report sent to the US Congress recently.
• The office of the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), in its quarterly report on the status of reconstruction to Afghanistan to the Congress, notes that while a peace deal with the Taliban could end the war, it could also have long-term unintended consequences.
• The report stresses the importance of planning for `the day after` any peace deal in eight areas: security, civil policing, corruption, economic growth, counter narcotics, women`s rights, reintegration of ex-combatants and oversight.
9. YouTuber Austin Jones gets prison sentence
• A former YouTube star has been sentenced to ten years in prison in the US after pleading guilty to a charge of receiving indecent images of children.
• Austin Jones admitted encouraging six underage girls to send him sexually explicit videos in private messages, telling some they needed to “prove” that they were his biggest fans. Jones had built up a profile based around his covers of famous pop songs.
• The 26 year-old had 500,000 subscribers on YouTube and 225,000 on Twitter. Both accounts have now been deleted. YouTube blocked Jones’ channel from carrying advertising following his arrest in 2017 but was criticised for being slow to remove it completely. Jones, from Illinois, had also admitted to using Facebook on around 30 other occasions to entice underage girls to send him explicit photos and videos.
10. Meghan gives birth to a boy, seventh in line to throne
• Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has given birth to a boy, her husband Prince Harry announced in a statement to television cameras on May 6, 2019, adding that mother and baby were `doing incredibly well`.
• `Mother and baby are doing incredibly well. It`s been the most amazing experience I can ever possibly imagine.` Buckingham Palace said the boy, seventh in line to the throne, weighed seven pounds and three ounces (3.26 kilograms).
• Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Prince William were among the members of the royal family to have been informed and `are delighted with the news,` it added.