Senate’ concerns on Housings to Calamity Response Call; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim
Senate’ concerns on Housings to Calamity Response Call; Infocus Weekly Briefs

1 October 2023

Senate Concerns on Project Life Style Residency Islamabad

The Senate Standing Committee on Housing and Works expressed grave concerns over the prolonged delay in the completion of several housing schemes related to sectors G-14, 1-2-3 Islamabad. With Senator Hidayatullah Khan in the chair, the committee received briefings from the Secretary Ministry of Housing and Works and the Director-General of the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority (FGEHA) who told the committee that substantial progress had been made, with 90% clearance of encroachments in G-14/2 and 99% in G-14/3. The director general highlighted ongoing operations against encroachers in G-14/1, with 2,000 plots have already been handed over and informed about the initiation of tendering processes, paving the way for imminent development works.

Senate on Islamabad Delayed Housing Schemes

The Federal Secretary Housing provided an update on the status of Project Life Style Residency in Sector G-13, Islamabad (EHFPRO Project). The Ministry of Housing and Works elucidated the project’s background, dating back to its conceptualisation in 2010, remaining dormant until 2016 and also highlighted observations by the CDA concerning water levels for the project. However, the committee expressed significant apprehensions regarding the project’s delayed completion, the transfer of 50% ownership to a private entity and involvement of a granite company. Concluding the thorough discussion, the committee emphasised the imperative of obtaining the project’s complete record, encompassing the agreement copy, company profile and all pertinent project credentials. The committee subsequently resolved to pen a letter to the AGP, urging a thorough audit of the company associated with Project Life Style Residency, G-13.

Experts calls for improved Calamity Response

In the second African Health Harm Reduction Conference held this week in Marrakesh, health and environmental experts from 80 countries, including Pakistan, have called for increased investment in disaster response mechanisms and protecting children vulnerable to abuse post-disaster. As countries become more vulnerable to climate change-induced natural calamities, the delegates were agreed that the frequency of natural disasters has increased during the past two decades and referred to the 2022 floods in Pakistan and recent earthquakes in Turkiye, Iran, Morocco and other countries. They also suggested psychological first aid training for healthcare workers and stressed improving emergency management to deal with disasters.

How to resolve Housing Crisis for Victims of Pakistan Flood 2022

World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Dr Ali said poor disaster response worsens the situation and takes more time to recover from the calamity. Aga Khan University`s (AKU) Consultant Dr Yousuf Kamal also lamented the lack of technological advancement in Pakistan and highlighted the issue of food security in Pakistan. “Pakistan is one of the largest producers of agricultural products. We have the sixth largest army, export jet planes, but we stand nowhere in human development”, he laments. Other participants also called for improvement in the disaster response mechanism and climate resilient infrastructure.

Rise in Steel Prices Likely

Despite the recent drop of the dollar to Rs290.86 in the interbank market and the decline in scrap prices in the world market, steel bar manufacturers are hinting at another price increase of Rs10,000 per tonne. The steel manufacturers had raised prices by Rs10, 000 per tonne last month due to the rupee-dollar exchange rate and an unprecedented increase in energy costs. Currently, high-quality steel bars are priced at Rs292,000-294,000 per tonne, while another quality is available for Rs286,000-288,000 per tonne. However, General Secretary of the Pakistan Association of Large Steel Producers (PALSP) Syed Wajid Bukhari, without mentioning any positive impact of the low landed cost of imported raw materials due to the rise of the rupee and the drop in world iron and steel scrap prices in July-August 2023, warned of an imminent price surge of Rs10,000 per tonne.

Making Steel in Pakistan

The steel sector heavily depends on electricity as a primary input, where power costs make up over 50% of production expenses. That’s why the imminent surge is attributed to skyrocketing energy costs, which could jeopardise the backbone of Pakistan`s economy and potentially lead to widespread layoffs. Mr Bukhari said PALSP has consistently appealed to the government for reduced electricity rates for the steel industry, promoting maximum capacity utilisation instead of incurring payments to independent power producers (IPPs) for unused electricity.

Asif Sum Sum becomes Chairman ABAD

Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (ABAD) has elected Asif Sumsum as the Chairman unanimously for the term of 2023-2024 this week. Asif Sumsum  served ABAD as Chairman Southern Region earlier. While Ibrahim Habib, Mustafa Sheikhani and Zeeshan Siddiqui are elected as Senior Vice Chairman, Vice Chairman and Chairman Southern Region of the association respectively. The election of new office-bearers of the ABAD was held during the Annual General Meeting of ABAD at ABAD House, Karachi. The meeting was attended by a large number of members of the Association. The new office-bearers of the ABAD will take charge of their offices from 1st October, 2023.

Asif Sum Sum becomes Chairman ABAD

After being elected as Chairman ABAD Asif Sumsum said that he is grateful to all members of the ABAD, especially Mohsin Sheikhani and vowed to work tirelessly to resolve problems of members and for the betterment of the ABAD without any discrimination and will try his best to use all available resources for the development of construction industry in Pakistan. Addressing the AGM, former chairman ABAD and Patron In Chief Allied Panel Mohsin Sheikhani welcomed newly elected office bearers and said that outgoing office bearers worked hard for the betterment of ABAD members and economic prosperity of country despite adverse situation.

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