Electric Vehicles to Jump in Construction Material Prices; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

20 March 2022

Electric Vehicles usher in major shift in auto industry

Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said following the approval of the National Electric Vehicle Policy, the electric vehicles (EVs) are taking off “slowly”. Addressing the Pakistan Climate Conference 2022 0rganised by the Overseas Chambers of Commerce and Industries, he said the government is aiming for a `major shift` in the transport sector by increasing the share of EVs to 30 per cent in total vehicles by 2030.

Electric Vehicles in Pakistan

The 2020 Global Climate Risk Index classified Pakistan as the fifth most vulnerable country to climate change. The transport sector is believed to be the source of more than one-third of total air polluting emissions in the country. The government has given heavy tax exemptions for the import of not only EVs but also their parts and equipment to nudge automakers to assemble such vehicles within the country.

Jump in Construction Materials prices

During this week the prices of construction material have been sizably increased by steel and cement manufacturers. First steel makers have increased the prices of steel bars by Rs 8,000 in less than four days to bring the cost at Rs 208,000 per ton. Second, the price of cement has been increased this week from Rs 787 to Rs 850 per bag of 50 kg.

steel cement
High-cost Construction Materials make Low-cost Housing Impossible

Giving justification the steel manufacturers said the steel bar prices have been revised due to “escalating energy prices and freight rates”. while cement manufactures blame the “rise in coal prices, squeezed supplies and other similar issues” have caused a surge in cement prices which have subsequently led to an increased cost of construction.

Fate of Oceans depends on waste control

At a preparatory meeting in Brasilia this week for the United Nations Ocean Conference in June, experts and diplomats warned the world`s oceans are suffocating form a lack of oxygen caused by global warming and human pollution from sewage and industrial waste. They said “The life of one depends on the health of the other” and stressed that saving the oceans requires solving drinking water and sanitation needs on land to stop uncontrolled dumping in the sea.

Rising water temperatures are accelerating the loss of oxygen that sustains marine life. Besides global warning, increasing loads of nutrients from agriculture, sewage and industrial waste, including pollution from fossil fuel power generation, are speeding up the reduction of oxygen in coastal areas that become `dead zones` for fish.

Micro Finance Bank to lend low-cost housing

The State Bank of Pakistan this week has facilitated microfinance banks to lend for low-cost housing and micro and small enterprises through amendments in prudential regulations. “Building on the measures taken in recent years to encourage financing to priority areas, the central bank has revised prudential regulations for microfinance banks to promote access to finance for low-cost housing and microenterprises,” says the SBP circular.

The SBP believes that the revised regulations are expected to bring down the cost of serving borrowers from lower-income groups to draw finance for low-cost housing and micro and small enterprises. According to statistics, at the close of FY2021, Micro Finance Banks had over 4.6 million borrowers with an outstanding loan portfolio exceeding Rs290 billion. This included over 674,000 micro and Small Enterprises and 75,000 housing finance beneficiaries with loans aggregating to Rs77bn and Rs20bn, respectively.

Weather Emergency in KPK

A weather warning was issued this week in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority about a sudden increase in temperatures in the province. The alert says the mercury may rise seven to eight degrees during the next few days causing a heat wave. It also mentioned the temperature change could cause glacial lake outburst floods in snowbound areas of the province, especially Upper and Lower Chitral districts.

The PDMA urged DCs of both districts to put the people living near waterways and vulnerable locations on high alert to prevent damage to public life. As the alert also predicted that “it is more likely that this heat wave condition will enhance the melting rate of snow and ice, which may trigger glacier outburst and flash floods in the vulnerable areas of the province.

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