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May 16, 2019: National Current Affairs
1. PM forms body to control rupee devaluation
• A day when the value of the US dollar against the rupee touched an all-time high, Prime Minister Imran Khan set up a committee to control devaluation of the local currency and capital flight from Pakistan.
• The committee headed by Adviser to the PM on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh was formed on May 15, 2019 during a meeting in which members of the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) apprised the prime minister about various factors involved in capital flight and devaluation of the rupee against the dollar. The governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) is a member of the committee.
• The committee has been tasked to ascertain whether the provision of carrying $10,000 by anyone who travels abroad from Pakistan can be slashed down to $3,000 as proposed by the ECAP.
2. Pakistan ranked 3rd in world for newly installed hydropower capacity
• Pakistan has been ranked 3rd in the world for newly installed hydropower capacity, much ahead of the US and India.
• Out of the top 20 countries which installed new hydro capacity during 2018, Pakistan, with the new installed capacity of 2487MW, has been ranked 3rd, just behind China and Brazil which are ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in the list, declared by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) in its recently issued report titled 2019: Hydropower Status Report – Sector Trends and Insights.
• Formed under the auspices of UNESCO in 1995 as a forum to promote and disseminate good practice about hydropower, IHA champions continuous improvement and sustainable practices across the sector.
• India with 535 MW new installed capacity is ranked 8th while US with 141MW is ranked 15th of the list. Listing down top 20 countries by newly installed capacity, the IHA states in its report that Pakistan managed to add 2487MW of environment-friendly hydel electricity in 2018 following China and Brazil at the first and second rung that added 8540MW and 3866 MW to their systems respectively. Turkey with an addition of 1085 MW and Angola with an addition of 668 MW remained at 4th and 5th positions respectively as far as newly installed hydro capacity is concerned. The neighbouring India stood at the 8th position that could succeeded in adding 535 MW hydel electricity to its system recently.
3. E-transfer policy for teachers okayed
• Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on May 15, 2019 approved e-transfer policy an online system for the transfer of schoolteachers.
• He was chairing a meeting to give formal approval to the e-transfer policy at his office.
• Mr Buzdar said the new policy would save time of the teachers besides ensuring transparency as every posting/transfer would be made purely on merit. He said the teachers would also register their complaints in case of any problem and the service delivery would be improved through the new system.
4. Salman Shah made adviser to CM
• The Punjab government has appointed economist Dr Salman Shah as adviser to the chief minister and assigned him the functions relating to the economic affairs, planning and development.
• Dr Salman has been appointed following resignation tendered by adviser to chief minister on political affairs Muhammad Akram Chaudhry. The chief minister can have only five advisers following a court decision.
5. Govt approves 5.15m tonnes wheat procurement, supply of another 150MW to KE
• The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on May 15, 2019 approved Rs158 billion wheat procurement plan and 150MW additional power supply to K-Electric from the national grid.
• Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh presided over the meeting that did not approve about Rs118bn electricity subsidy to industrial consumers for want of further deliberations.
• The meeting was informed that wheat crop had suffered a setback due to recent rains and thunderstorms and about 5 per cent losses are initially estimated to have been caused to the overall production.
• In his presentation, the secretary, ministry of national food security and research updated the meeting about the availability of wheat in the country saying total stocks stood at 5.328 million tonnes as of May 13. It was reported that initial estimates put the total wheat output at 24.268m tonnes during the just concluded crop season against a target of 25.56m tonnes.
• About 1.213m tonnes were lost due to recent adverse weather conditions.
6. Cabinet approves appointment of Zulfi Bukhari as PTDC chairman
• The federal cabinet approved the appointment of Minister of State for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari as the chairman of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development announced via a tweet. The cabinet’s decision was endorsed by the PTDC board, the tweet further said.
• The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has laid emphasis on promoting tourism in Pakistan and has taken multiple steps to facilitate travelers. Last year, the government relaxed the visa policy and announced the offering of online visas to visitors from 175 countries.
• The government has also taken steps to promote religious tourism. Prime Minister Imran Khan last year laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur crossing that would facilitate Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit holy sites in Pakistan.
• The premier has stressed on the importance of proper infrastructure to facilitate tourists.
7. Pakistan extends partial airspace ban till 30th
• Pakistan on May 15, 2019 extended its airspace ban for flights to India till May 30 as there has been no progress at the bilateral level in this respect. Foreign flights using Indian airspace are also not allowed to cross over Pakistan.
• Pakistan had on Feb 26 fully closed its airspace following the violation of its international boundary and airspace by Indian fighter jets. In March, it partially opened its airspace but kept it banned for the Indian flights.
• `Pakistan on May 15, 2019 reviewed lifting of its airspace ban for Indian flights and decided to extend it till May 30.
• The CAA, after the decision, issued NOTAM (notice to pilots) informing them about the flight/route guidelines (till May 30). `The government will again review the matter on May 30.
May 16, 2019: International Current Affairs
8. US state passes toughest bill against abortion
• The Alabama senate has passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the United States, which places a near-total ban on the termination of pregnancy even in cases of rape and incest and could punish doctors who perform the procedure with life in prison.
• The text passed by the Republican-led senate has been sent to Governor Kay Ivey`s desk for signature into law and, if approved, is expected to trigger a legal battle which its supporters hope will reach the Supreme Court.
• Under the bill, performing an abortion is a crime that could land doctors who perform it in prison for 10 to 99 years. Abortions would only be legal if the life of the mother is in danger or the fetus has a fatal condition.
9. Ardern, Macron launch `Christchurch Call` against online extremism
• Major tech pledged on May 15, 2019 to pursue a range of fresh measures aimed at stamping out violent extremist content on the internet, amid growing pressure from governments in the wake of the massacres at two New Zealand mosques in March that left over 50 people dead.
• The `Christchurch Call` was spearheaded by New Zealand`s premier Jacinda Ardern and French leader Emmanuel Macron, who gathered executives and world leaders to launch the initiative at a meeting in Paris.
• The US government did not endorse the Christchurch Call and was not represented at the Paris meeting.
• The vow came as outrage has mounted since the massacre in which the gunman broadcast his rampage live on Facebook via a head-mounted camera.
10. Scientists unearth `most bird-like` dinosaur ever found
• Researchers in Germany have unearthed a new species of flying dinosaur that flapped its wings like a raven and could hold vital clues as to how modern-day birds evolved from their reptilian ancestors.
• For more than a century and a half since its discovery in 1861, Archaeopteryx a small feathered dinosaur around the size of a crow that lived in marshland around 150 million years ago was widely considered to be the oldest flying bird.
• Palaeontologists from Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich and the University of Fribourg examined rock formations in the German region of Bavaria, home to nearly all known Archaeopteryx specimens.
• They came across a petrified wing, which the team initially assumed to be the same species. They soon found several differences, however.