$10bn in Climate Conference to Lahore Master Plan Suspension; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

15 January 2023

$12bn in International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan

Reeling from the impact of disastrous floods which submerged more than one-third of the country, Pakistan co-host the “International Conference on Climate Resilient Pakistan” in Geneva with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in chair. The purpose of the moot, attended by variosu heads of state and government and other stakeholders was to marshal international support to rehabilitate the population affected by super floods and reconstruct damaged infrastructure in a climate-resilient manner. In the day-long conference, the `Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Framework` (4RF) was launched and Pakistan received over $10 billion in pledges.

The global lender wants Pakistan to withdraw remaining subsidies on petroleum products and electricity, aimed at helping the masses. The UN chief said Pakistan`s “monsoon on steroids” proved the need for the agreement reached at the climate summit (COP27) in November to create a “loss and damage” fund, which is aimed at covering the climate-related destruction endured by developing nations less responsible for global warming than wealthy polluters. Indeed, commitments of nearly $10bn for flood recovery at the donors` conference in Geneva must boost sentiments about the future of the country`s teetering economy.

Lahore Master Plan Suspended

On the December 25, 2022’ Infocus Weekly Briefs, it has been mentioned that the Lahore High Court had expressed its concern over the Lahore Master Plan-2050 saying the future of the agricultural land had been put at stake. Now the Lahore High Court this week has suspended the operation of Lahore`s Master Plan 2050. Hearing a petition against the plan, Justice Shahid Karim observed that the random and aimless development projects of the government had made breathing difficult for citizens. “These projects pose a threat to the economy of the country”, the judge observes.

Lahore Master Plan 2050

The counsel for the petitioner, submitted before the court that the approval of the Master Plan 2050 by the Lahore Development Authority was clearly a managed affair and designed to extend undue benefits to the land mafia and property developers. He also argued that the impugned plan was a classic example of urbanization, which would block any effective response to calamities, especially floods, air quality and human life would be at risk. He said the provincial government attempted to validate the Ravi Urban Development Authority illegally and gave it a legal status despite a 2021 judgement of the LHC against the authority. Besides, the plan envisaged reduction in the green area despite Lahore`s depleting air quality index. After hearing, Justice Karim suspended the implementation of the Master Plan 2050 and sought replies from the respondents within two weeks.

Construction of HMR Water Front challenged

Challenging the construction of multi-storied real estate project by M/s HMR Waterfront Private Limited, an environmental tribunal has issued notice to the chief executive officer (CEO) of it on complaint challenging construction of residential-cum-commercial towers along the seafront allegedly without obtaining the mandatory approval from the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa). A resident of Defence Housing Authority, Phase-VI, had filed a complaint against the respondent under Section 26(2)(b) of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014 for carrying out construction work on the project without fulfilling legal requirements. The tribunal headed by retired Justice Nisar Mohammad Shaikh told the CEO of M/s HMR Waterfront to file his reply till Jan 17.

M/s HMR Waterfront started construction work on the said project without getting any approval from the Sepa as required under Section 17 of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014. Therefore the complainant’ counsel has argued that it is mandatory under Section 17 of the Act that every proponent of a project should file an Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) of the project with Sepa and get an approval from it before commencing the construction work. However, he also informed the tribunal that the complainant sent a notice to Sepa under Section 26(3)(b) of the Act, 2014 to take notice of such an illegal activity, but no action has been taken so far by the provincial environment watchdog.

“All Pakistan Real Estate Conference”

An “All Pakistan Real Estate Conference” held in Islamabad this week, organized by the Islamabad Real Agent Association with Realtors of Pakistan, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and others from the real estate sector. The delegates of the Conference have called for better tax management and facilities to encourage growth in the real estate sector, as the sector can play a major role in bringing the country out of the ongoing economic challenge.

Real estate is one of the largest employment producers in the country, employing over 1 million individuals and 700,000 families. Therefore the sector can get the country’s economy out of its current struggles as it is the Pakistan’ second largest business sector with a net worth of USD 88 billion, where an annual investment of USD 4 billion is made by the non-resident Pakistanis. However with correct tax framework, the government can increase this investment to USD 8 billion.

 The participants at the conference demanded the government to implement tax rationalization, abrogate 7E, pave the way for overseas investment and reduce the tax rate as these measures will help increase investment in the property sector and get the country out of its prevailing economic crisis. The participants also demanded that the real estate sector should be given an industry status as 70 allied industries are associated with it, including the export industry with cement and steel among the major export products.

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