Pakistan Climate Authority to FBR New Property Valuations; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

12 May 2024

Pakistan Climate Authority

A bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, and Justice Athar Minallah while taking up a petition filed by the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan has ordered the federal government to set up the Pakistan Climate Authority under the Pakistan Climate Change Act, 2017, within a fortnight and complete the establishment of funds intended to address the dangers of climate change. “We understand that the climate change is the most serious existential threat to the people of Pakistan, and considering that the Climate Act was promulgated seven years ago, neither the authority nor the fund has been established so far”, the bench remarks.

The Bench added that while developing countries like Pakistan may not be the primary contributors to climate change, acknowledging and confronting its fallout was indispensable, especially for combating the high risks posed by climate change. “The risk is driven particularly by the nation`s exposure to flooding, earthquakes, tropical cyclones and their associated hazards. It is these alarming statistics that underscore the need to address climate change and mitigate its effect on people and their livelihoods,” the Supreme Court emphasized. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, Pakistan is currently the fifth most climate-vulnerable country in the world, the Supreme Court observed, adding that Pakistan was also facing some of the highest disaster risk levels in the world and ranked 23rd out of 194 countries as per the 2024 Inform Risk Index.

New FBR Property Valuations are in the Offing

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is set to release updated property values starting July, after a two-year pause since the last valuation in March 2022, as reported in a news article on May 2. According to the details, this initiative aims to incorporate new housing societies into the tax net. The FBR has initiated the process of updating property valuation tables nationwide in collaboration with provincial authorities. Initially proposed increases were temporarily suspended until September 2023, as agreed between the FBR and the real estate sector.

Committees were formed in each city to determine new values in consultation with real estate associations. Developers and builders then worked with regional tax offices to finalize these values, which were submitted to the FBR. It is important to note that in August 2023, that was agreed between the FBR and the real estate sector that the FBR for the time being will not issue enhanced values of immovable properties.

President Asif Zardari to participate in COP 29

As Azerbaijan will host the 29th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP29) in Baku in November. A delegation, led by Mukhtar Babayev, Azerbaijan`s minister of ecology and natural resources and COP29 president designate called on Pakistan President Mr Asif Ali Zardari this week and invited him to the conference. President Asif Ali Zardari in the meet up underlined the need for global efforts to address the challenge of climate change by adopting environment-friendly technology, promoting afforestation, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He highlighted that global warming and climate change were affecting the glaciers and causing water scarcity, and also said that tackling these challenges required global support to mitigate their adverse impacts.

Welcoming Mukhtar Babayev, President Zardari congratulated Azerbaijan on winning the bid to host COP29 and hoped that the global conference would result in setting the New Collective Quantified Goal on Finance that would help developing countries fulfill their climate finance needs. He highlighted that Pakistan had planted mangrove forests over hundreds of thousands of hectares that would help protect the environment, besides earning carbon credits for Pakistan. Mr Babayev also underlined the need to enhance bilateral cooperation, particularly in tourism and culture. He also delivered the invitation to President Zardari to participate in COP29 in Baku in November 2024.

Questioning Karachi Drainage System

Experts and concerned citizens in Karachi have called for improved governance and infrastructure leading to efficient systems for drainage, solid waste collection, and disposal while sharing their concerns over the city`s high vulnerability to urban flooding at a program held this week. The discussion, organized at the Climate Action Center (CAC), focused on Karachi`s lack of preparedness for heavy downpours against the backdrop of the recent unprecedented rains in Dubai that brought the city to a standstill. In the case of Karachi, the moot was of the view that a stormwater drain system hasn`t been developed to meet the city`s growing needs. This poor state of existence was directly linked to poor governance prevailing for a long time.

The participants were of the view that while both cities experienced predictable weather systems in most parts of the year, the recent downpour in Dubai was exceptionally intense and difficult to forecast accurately. They identified poor solid waste management, global warming and insufficient civic infrastructure as major causes of urban flooding. The discussion also touched upon the ongoing heatwave and water scarcity. Concerns were raised that these factors could exacerbate the situation, potentially leading to a deadly heatwave as Karachi had experienced in the past. They also lamented the politicization of disaster management in Karachi, which often led to finger-pointing instead of proactive measures.

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