Weekly Infocus Briefs

by M. Wasim

October 3, 2021

China halts financing coal projects

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged at the UN General Assembly that China would halt construction of coal power plants abroad and help developing countries build green energy production. The announcement has been termed one of the most significant developments on the climate front of 2021. China has for some years been under tremendous pressure to up its game to help the world control climate change. The pressure increased after Japan and South Korea, the other two major financiers of overseas coal power projects, announced they would stop funding such projects earlier this year.

China is the biggest financer for coal power plants but President Xi’s announcement would have a far-reaching impact on coal power expansion plans globally. It is one of the most significant developments and may well mark the end of international public financing for coal plants. As that “could affect 44 coal plants earmarked for Chinese state financing of $50 billion cost in total, but has the potential to reduce future carbon dioxide emissions by 200 million tons a year”, says Global Energy Monitor.

The moratorium on coal power is in line with global efforts aimed at reducing the sources of dirty energy in order to cut down carbon emissions and arrest global warming.

Imran Khan asserts on Bundal Island Project

Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the Sindh government to reconsider its tough stance on the federal government proposal for Bundal Island, where the Centre to build a planning new city infrastructure by inviting real estate tycoons and builders. He expressed that while addressing a groundbreaking ceremony of the Karachi Circular Railway project in Karachi.

Mr Khan asserted that the Bundal Island development would benefit the people of Sindh and ultimately release pressure from Karachi. “When we would develop Bundal Island, it would ultimately bring employment for people of Sindh and release pressure from Karachi. Because the way Karachi is expanding, it would be extremely difficult for any government to cater its needs or provide its utilities.”

But the PM ignored that the area in the Arabian Sea is an ecologically important site as it is part of the Indus delta where the 3,349 hectares mangrove forest cover is a breeding ground for shrimp and other shellfish. Developing a city here will destroy the coastal ecosystem and affect the environment as well as Pakistan’s fishing industry.

Low Mortgage Financing in Pakistan

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group in their study `Pakistan Housing Finance Is There a Business Case for Financial Institutions` observes that the mortgage finance market in Pakistan remains critically underdeveloped, as the supply of housing for low-income groups in the country remains negligible despite high demand. The study further says despite the acute demand for housing, the mortgage depth ratio the total volume of outstanding mortgages to GDP remains low at 0.3%, significantly lower than the South Asia average of 3.4%.

The housing supply mostly targets the high and affluent class of the country in line with commercial viability and affordability. Only 1% of housing supply caters to 68% of the population earning a monthly income of up to $ 188. About 56pc of housing units cater to 12% of the population earning monthly income of more than $625, the study notes. The study deduces that it reflects the lack of housing finance products, the limited capacities of financial institutions, the lack of long-term funding, and legal and regulatory issues.

Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone

The federal government announced this week an ambitious plan to rebuild $3.5 billion Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone (KCCDZ) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corri­dor (CPEC) with $3.5. According to federal minister Ali Zaidi the project would be built at Karachi’s coastline through “direct Chinese investment”. “The two countries agreed to include KCCDZ under the CPEC framework,” confirms Ali Zaidi.

The project is said to be spread over 640 hectares or 1,581 acres on the western backwaters marsh land of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) leading to revamp one of the oldest city slums Machhar Colony relocating its more than half a million population. It would house a state-of-the-art fishing port, with a world-class fisheries export processing zone, new berths for the port, a ‘majestic harbour bridge’ connecting it with Manora islands and Sandspit beach and residential resettlement to more than 20,000 families.

However the KCCDZ, according to civil society forums, is going to be built on reclaimed land of KPT and without any utility provisions. Besides there is large chuck of mangroves and a non-functional sewage treatment plant TP3, which are necessary for coastal security.

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