National Waste Management Policy 2022 to Fixed Tax on Builders; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

3 July 2022

Approval of National Waste Management Policy 2022

The federal cabinet this week approved the National Hazardous Waste Management Policy 2022 with consensus which will be passed on to provinces and implemented at the federal level for international compliance. At a briefing, Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman says “we need to get serious about managing our waste, separating it, and tracking it, instead of the unscientific and unregulated manner it has been handled over the years. The collection, treatment and disposal of waste material have been causing significant harm to human health and the environment.”

Later the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change met for a briefing on the National Hazardous Waste Management Policy 2022 and members expressed their dismay and were surprised that deadly waste was being allowed to come into Pakistan, therefore ask the ministry to take action against those involved in allowing deadly waste to enter the country.

Senator Sherry Rehman says ”Our country has been importing all kinds of bundled waste from different parts of the world with an average annual tonnage of 80,000. To tackle this, we have devised a long-overdue policy. The National Hazardous Waste Management Policy promotes a life cycle approach to manage hazardous waste from its generation to disposal in a manner that does not harm the environment, she further said.

Fixed Tax on Small Builders

The coalition government has decided to introduce another fixed income tax scheme for small builders and other service providers through an amended Finance Bill 2022. The details of this scheme will be worked out later due to shortage of time for implementation, but it will be on the lines of the fixed scheme for small shopkeepers. A small builder has been defined as someone with four residential plots and two commercial plots for building in a year. It was observed that builders constructed houses for sale but they did not come under the tax net.

The proposed plan for small builders will comprise three categories. The first category will cover Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore for which a higher rate of Rs1,000 per square foot has been proposed. The second tier consists of Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Abbottabad, Sahiwal, Multan, Gujranwala and Faisalabad that will be charged a lower rate of Rs300 per square foot, while the third category will have the remaining cities with a further lower rate of Rs 150 per square foot. These rates would be finalised after consultation with the finance minister.

Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar’ Funding Discontinued

The PML-N government has put on hold the Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar (MPMG) schemes launched by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, and reportedly is reviewing the same. The MPMG low-cost housing scheme has been put on hold for two months while banks are advised by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to stop funding under the schemes.

Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar

Since the policy interest rate has increased by 13.75%, the low-cost housing scheme looks impossible for the government to continue. The government, under pressure from the IMF, is willing to increase revenue to reduce its fiscal deficit, which is the reason it has decided to withdraw all kinds of subsidies and all the banks, development finance institutions and microfinance banks have been advised to put further disbursements under MPMG on hold from July 1 till August 31. However, in those cases where partial disbursements have already been made till June 30, 2022, banks, DFIs and MFBs may release the remaining disbursements under the MPMG, it added. The former government had launched the MPMG scheme to provide low-cost houses for low income people. The loans were being provided at subsidised rates.

Record of Malir Expressway’ EIA Approval Sought

The Sindh Environmental tribunal, headed by retired Justice Nisar Ahmed Sheikh,has directed the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency to submit record of proceedings of the process of approving Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the controversial Malir Expressway project till July 6. Last month, the residents of Malir, along with some environmentalists, had challenged the EIA approval for the project alleging that the Sepa accorded thesame in violations of the Sindh Environmental Protect Act, 2014 and SEPA (Environmental Review of IEE and EIA) Regulations, 2014.

SEPA Permits Malir Expressway Construction

At the outset, advocate for M/s Malir Expressway Limited filed the EIA report containing around 800 pages along with a reply to the appeals. The appellants` counsel submitted that the matter involved urgency since the respondent firm was carrying out construction work on the riverbed, causing serious hazardous to the environment. They again requested the tribunal to pass an interim stay order, restraining the respondent from carrying out any sort of construction in the area till final disposal of the appeals. The tribunal, however, fixed the matter for hearing final arguments from the counsel for the appellants, Sepa`s law officer and M/s Malir Expressway Limited, and directed the Sepa`s law officer to submit the record of proceedings related to the process of approval of the EIA of the project.

The Disastrous GDP’ Cost of Climate Change

Economic costs from the combined impacts of the disaster-climate-health nexus estimated by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) show that Pakistan will have the highest losses as percentage of GDP at 9.1%. The report, titled Pathways to Adaptation and Resilience in South and Southwest Asia, offers a detailed analysis of the combined economic impact of the confluence of biological and climate change-induced disasters in South and Southwest Asia.

$ 3.8 Billion Yearly, The Economic Cost of Climate Change in Pakistan

According to the report in terms of average annual loss as a percentage of the country`s GDP, under the worst-case climate change scenario, Pakistan will have the highest losses as percentage of GDP at 9.1%, followed by Nepal at 8.7% and India with estimated losses equaling 8.1% of its GDP. Climate change scenarios for the near and far future suggest that drought conditions are likely to become more severe in the region. The variation in rainfall pattern and projected higher temperatures will likely cause more frequent, extreme, dry conditions. Projected sce-narios for 2040-59 show that multiple areas in India, Pakistan and Turkey are likely to experience a significant increase in the maximum number of consecutive dry days.

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