Faisal Vawda shows PTI’s ‘Clean’ image as Fake

Faisal Vawda, PTI leader and Federal Minister for Water Resources, has been in the news often over the last year, from being photographed on the Line of Control to stating that Pakistan will experience a “burst of jobs in 7-10 days.” While he may have been able to brush away all of those, he will find it difficult to brush away the latest story by investigative journalist, Ahmad Noorani.

According to Noorani’s latest story “Meet the minister who kept Rs465 millions’ properties in his servant’s name,” “Despite having no known source of income, Fesal Vawda has made hundreds of millions of rupees benami transactions by selling two commercial properties which he kept in the name of his employee Sher Nawaz Khan.”

The questions posed by Noorani in his report are “Who is Sher Nawaz Khan who sold his properties worth Rs465 million to Emirates Global Islamic Bank Limited in 2006. According to court documents, Vawda approached bank with power of attorney of Sher Nawaz and informed he was real owner of properties while Sher Nawaz was his employee. Given his income as per FBR record, Vawda couldn’t purchase such properties worth hundreds of millions of rupees. Vawda also purchased properties in different countries of the world after this transaction while his tax continued to be zero until 2015 2018.”

For details please read the story below

“Sher Nawaz Khan while giving his version admitted that he had been an employee of Vawda in his business till last year. An official communication of minister for water resources available with Daily Business World (DBW) shows that Sher Nawaz Khan is still associated with Fesal Vawda. Sher Nawaz Khan bearing CNIC No. 42501-4069125-9 owned two commercial properties No.22-C and No.24-C, Phase V, Khayaban-e-Tanzeem, D.H.A. Mr Sher Nawaz signed an agreement with a private commercial bank, Emirates Global Islamic Bank Limited, to sell these two properties on June 08, 2006 at the price of Rs465 million. However, once the agreement was done between Mr Sher Nawaz Khan and the private bank, Mr. Vawda came in the front, approached the said bank and presented a power of attorney given to him by Sher Nawaz Khan (his employee at that time) to deal all the matter related to these properties. In a later litigation before Sindh High Court (SHC) on the issue of sale-purchase agreement of these two properties, the said bank submitted before the SHC that Vawda informed the bank that Sher Nawaz Khan was his employee and he (Vawda) was the real and beneficial owner of these Properties. Copy of the power of attorney is available with DBW.”

“Fesal Vawda Group (FVG) Construction — a company which Vawda proudly introduce as the main source of his income is so small that it is neither registered with SECP as a company nor it is listed with Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) in Karachi. Official record shows that his company paid zero sales tax from 2007 to 2013 while its sales tax account is suspended by the FBR since July 2013. His firm M/s Fesal Vawda Construction is registered with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and file tax return in the category of individuals. According to FBR record, Vawda himself became taxpayer in 2004. In his private circles, Vawda use to discuss the tax he paid after 2016 and the foreign properties he declared only in 2018 after hiding them for many years. The most important point is that all the business transactions including purchase of many properties in Pakistan and in different countries of the world were made many years before when his declared sources of income were almost none and he was paying nominal or zero tax to tax authorities here in Pakistan.”

For more details and documents please check the entire story by Noorani here https://dailybw.com/2019/05/21/meet-the-minister-who-kept-rs465-millions-properties-in-his-servants-name/

Zainab and Farishta deserved better: need to protect children in a brutal society

Children are always the most vulnerable elements on society and need more protection. On Tuesday the body of a 10-year old girl, Farishta, was found from Shahzad Town in Islamabad. Farishta had been raped and then her body thrown in the forest. This is not the first such incident in which a minor girl was raped and left for dead. Last year, seven-year-old Zainab was kidnapped from near her aunt’s house in Kasur and five days later her body was found in a garbage heap.

According to news reports, “The girl’s family which belongs to Mohmand Agency said they had reported her missing to the police on May 15 after she had left the house to get Iftar. The family claims it took the police till May 19 to register an FIR and even then a proper search was not launched. The body of the minor was discovered by locals who then informed the police. The 10-year-old’s body was moved to Poly Clinic for post mortem, however, till now it had not been conducted. To protest against police negligence in the case, the family of the victim protested with her body at Taramari Chowk.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) issued a statement that it was “appalled to learn that ten-year-old Farishta, who disappeared from her home on 15 May in Islamabad, was found dead earlier today, allegedly raped and murdered. There is a chilling resemblance to the case of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur, which points to an increasingly brutal society in which children are abused and discarded at whim. This is one of at least seven cases to have surfaced in recent months, with reports of children as young as two having been raped. Some were left to return home and live with the trauma they had undergone. Others were killed and their bodies similarly dumped, leaving their families to relive their ordeal. The NGO Sahil’s recent report indicates that over 3,800 children were subjected to some form of abuse in 2018 – with 11 percent more cases reported than in 2017. It is critical that stronger, more vigilant mechanisms be enforced to protect young children – and young girls in particular – who are among the most vulnerable members of our society. Both police stations, the hospitals where such cases are examined, the courts and society overall must become more child-friendly and willing to provide the protection and support that both children and their families need in such circumstances. No society can afford to be this callous where its children are concerned.”

Pakistan’s economic woes continue: SBP talks of higher inflation

Pakistan’s leadership may be feeling good about staving off an immediate economic crisis through the $6 billion IMF bailout but Pakistan’s economic problems are structural and this will not resolve them.

On Monday, the State Bank of Pakistan raised its policy rate by 150 basis points to 12.25 per cent citing rising inflation as well as “expectations of future inflation driven by a weak rupee, widening fiscal deficit and potential adjustments to the utility tariffs.”

According to the monetary policy statement issued, “The [IMF] program is designed to restore macroeconomic stability and support sustainable economic growth, and is expected to unlock considerable additional external financing. Inflation is expected to be in the range of 6.5pc to 7.5pc in the current financial year and it is anticipated to be considerably higher in fiscal year 2020. Inflation outlook is subject to a number of upside risks from an expected rationalisation of taxes in the upcoming budget, potential adjustments in electricity and gas tariffs, and volatility in international oil prices. The bank stated: “In addition, a greater reliance on central bank financing of the deficit has acted to dilute the impact of previous monetary tightening … The resulting increase in monetisation of the deficit has added to inflationary pressures.”

According to a detailed report in Dawn, “Inflation eased from 9.41pc in March — the highest in five years — to 8.8pc in April. Average inflation reached 7pc in July-April fiscal year 2019, compared to 3.8pc in the same period last year. The decline in the rupee’s value during the past two weeks and the lagged impact of previous bouts of depreciation pushed the prices of almost all essential items including flour, dates, meat, fruit etc during Ramazan.”

Further, “The SBP’s financing of the fiscal deficit resulted in increase of printed money leading to further inflationary pressures, said the monetary policy statement. The government had borrowed Rs4.8 trillion from the SBP during the ongoing fiscal year, 2.4 times higher than the same period last year, as it is expected to book a considerably higher fiscal deficit during the first three quarters of the current fiscal year due to a decline in revenue collection, increase in security-related expenditures and higher interest-related payments. On the external front, the current account deficit narrowed by $4 billion to $9.6bn during the July-March period but financing challenges rose despite significant bilateral inflows. “The reduction is mainly driven by import compression and a healthy growth in workers’ remittances. [However,] this impact was partially offset by higher international oil prices. The non-oil trade deficit declined from $13.7bn in July-March FY18 to $11bn in the first nine months of 2018-19 reflecting the impact of stabilisation policies implemented so far,” the SBP policy statement explained. Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have already fallen to $8.8bn — enough to cover three months of imports — despite bilateral inflows from China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “Despite improvement in the current account and a noticeable increase in official bilateral inflows, the financing of the current account deficit remains challenging,” the SBP pointed out. The recent exchange rate fluctuation reflects the underlying pressures on the local currency that has depreciated by 5.9pc since the last monetary policy announcement hitting record low of Rs150 against the greenback last week.”

PayPal refuses to enter Pakistan

PayPal, an American company that is the leader in online money transfers has turned down the request of the government of Pakistan to enter the Pakistani market. The main reason appears to be PayPal’s fears that Pakistan is not a country where laws and contracts are observed and protected.

During a briefing held before Pakistan’s Senate standing committee, Secretary Maroof Afzal asserted “PayPal did not decline because it has issues operating in Pakistan. Their internal working is such that they are not ready to introduce services in Pakistan.”

Others like Senator Rehman Malik, however, stated that the reason was otherwise. “One case of money laundering could cause significant problems for PayPal. PayPal must have the backing of the government that it can secure the interests of the company.”

The committee also took up the issue of the new telecom licence renewal policy. “Under which the government is asking Jazz and Telenor for $450 million instead of the previous $291m, IT Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said the new policy has to be implemented under the new conditions. Jazz went to the Islamabad High Court earlier this month seeking to have the licence renewed according to the original terms and the 2015 Telecom Policy. The licence was issued for Rs16.8 billion (then equivalent to $291m) in 2004 and is now worth Rs41.4bn ($291m today). Two other mobile operators, Telenor and Warid – which Jazz later acquired – were issued licences through an auction in 2004, and both need to be renewed after 15 years. Both companies argue that the telecom operators are entitled to renew the licence at the same dollar price at which it was acquired, saying that it should be done “in an equitable, fair and transparent way”.”

‘Pakistan’s Military Spending Stunts Economic Development’

Many Pakistani analysts have argued that the massive amount of money dedicated to military and defense spending has hurt Pakistan’s political and economic development.

In a speech as part of a seminar organized by PILER & SZABIST one of Pakistan’s top economists, Dr Kaiser Bengali, said what others have written about in their columns and books. Dr Bengali “is not an ordinary economist, he is a guy who had been hired by different governments & sacked numerous times for not following orders. Has over 35 research publications in national and international journals and author/editor of 8 books on subjects ranging from unemployment, inequality, and poverty to education, water, gender, and regional development.”

Here are select quotes from Dr Bengali’s speech

“.. I say don’t pay taxes to this state… This state has no moral authority… They rob the people… suck the blood of common people & sell out the wine of that blood… I hardly have any tolerance left in me, I might knock their heads… These Mir Jaffars (Traitors) have handed over the country to IMF…”

“We currently have a finance minister and governor State Bank who have come from abroad. Since 1993, we have had these ‘fly in, fly out’ consultants [Moin Qureshi, Shaukat Aziz, Hafeez Sheikh, etc]. The technocrats that don’t have their roots in the people are there for the money.”

“Our political governments don’t have a say in foreign policy, and now they have very little say in the economy. The economy has been taken over by the IMF and the World Bank. In the past, Hafeez Sheikh didn’t even pick chief minister Qaim Ali Shah’s phone. Today IMF is dealing with the IMF to decide about Pakistan’s fate [qismat].”

“…Things won’t change until we come out in the streets and raise our voices. Closed-door conversations wouldn’t fetch anything… I will lead the protests if 10 Thousand traders will agree to come out..”

Regarding CPEC Dr Bengali: “…It is not a game changer, it is game over… at first, we have to fight with one East India Company “World Bank” which is already ruining the country than we have to worry about the another East India Company in making (referring to Chinese investment).”

Here is a link to the video of his speech