Call for New Provinces to Alternate Energy’ MoU; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

9 July 2023

Call for New Provinces resurfaces

Call for more provinces in Pakistan resurfaces again as Senate Deputy Chairman Mirza Mohammad Afridi suggests the formation of nine new provinces in a TV program. Mr Afridi actively advocated making Karachi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s tribal areas (formlery Fata), and the Hazara district independent provinces, adding that Punjab and Balochistan should also be divided into three provinces each. He further elaborated his argument by explaining provinces will continue to receive their share of the fiscal budget under the NFC award.


Mr Afridi`s statement has come at a time when conversations regarding forming new provinces in National Assembly are already going on for some months. Back in March, the matter of forming new provinces resurfaced when PML-N senators moved two bills, seeking the creation of South Punjab and Hazara provinces. The bill seeking the creation of the south Punjab province was proposed by Senator Rana Mehmood ul Hassan as a private member`s bill while the one for Hazara was proposed by PML-N Senator Pir Sabir Shah.

MoU on Alternate Energy with UAE

Pakistan and United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) this week to develop renewable energy projects in Pakistan. The MoU has been signed in a ceremony attended by PM Shehbaz and UAE Minister for Industries and Technologies Sultan Al Jaber. The projects included a 25km inter-district road from Torghar to Buner, 1km Karakar Tunnel in Buner and one Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) bridge on the Indus River. Further details reveals the inter-district road would be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 4.72 billion. The 1km Karakar Tunnel wouldcost around Rs 9.58bn and reduce the travelling distance between the Torghar and Buner districts by 11km. The RCC bridge was to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 9.96bn and reduce travelling distance by 250km.

Alternate Energy in Pakistan

Addressing the ceremony, the PM said alternative energy projects are an opportunity for bilateral cooperation and his government plans to generate 10,000 megawatts of solar energy. The prime minister said his government was ready to give a detailed presentation to the UAE firms on Pakistan`s potential and his government`s policies on alternative energy resources. He vowed to “make all-out efforts to convert the MoU into an agreement and its swift realisation”. While the UAE energy minister, Al Jaber assured that being the host of COP28, the UAE would ensure the development of an action plan and create a deep understanding of climate change-related issues as well as the Loss and Damage Fund.

Agha Steel for call option on the Rs5 billion Islamic bond

Agha Steel Industries Ltd reportedly decides to exercise the call option on the Rs5 billion Islamic bond that it issued at the end of 2018, the steel maker said in a regulatory filing this week. “We`re in the process of signing agreements with the investors today,” the company said in the stock filing. A call option lets a borrower redeem its bond or Sukuk in the case of Agha Steel before its maturity date. A company may choose to exercise this option because of either a better liquidity position or its belief that it`ll be able to re-borrow the required funds at a lower interest rate.

The Rs5bn Sukuk included a Rs 1bn green-shoe option, which is the over-allotment provision allowing the borrower to raise additional funds at the same rate if the public demand exceeds expectations. The debt instrument was privately placed and then listed on the stock exchange in 2019 for a period of six years, including a grace period of two years. The steel maker issued the Islamic bond to settle its existing long-term debts and finance a portion of the costs associated with the BMR (balancing, modernisation and replacement) and commissioning of a new rolling mill unit.

Urban Flooding in Lahore

Urban Flooding wreaked havoc in Lahore this year in Lahore with the unfortunate loss of at least 26 lives in the metropolitan, and elsewhere in Punjab, in the last two days of downpour.Twelve of the city’ 16 monitoring points in the city recorded well over 200 millimetres of rain in both spells. Even posh areas like Gulberg and Defence Housing Authority turned into pools. The heavy and unaccounted downpour clearly shows that the scale of the threat posed to city dwellers by pluvial flooding which occurs when the surface water accumulating from intense rainfall saturates urban drainage systems, and excess water can`t be absorbed is increasing with time.

Climate change has brought with it more intense and uncertain weather patterns, exposing urban populations to increased risk of loss of life, livelihood, and property, with instances of urban flooding on the rise. he problem is compounded by unplanned urbanisation and unregulated development, growing city sprawls, inadequate storm water drainage systems, sewerage lines clogged by solid waste and encroachments, alteration of natural drainage routes owing to haphazard construction, and poor urban governance. While the natural factors are to blame for intense and uncertain rainfall, the disaster is purely manmade.

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