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Audio Overview of South Asia Issues, Thursday, 14 March 2019

APAC Assistance Operations Assistant Bhargav Reddy discusses Main Issues in South Asia.

 

Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in PAKISTAN

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday in a meeting decided to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, with stricter punishments. As per the proposed amendment to the Anti Money Laundering Act, the punishment for money laundering crimes will be increased to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of USD 35,000.
  • The Law Minister briefed the meeting on the proposed amendments in the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act, 1947, Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 and the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997.
  • According to Customs and Inland Revenue Intelligence of Pakistan, a total of 335 suspicious transactions were reported in 2018 and inquiries have started against 510 people. The Customs have recovered more than USD 47 million from the suspects.

Also in PAKISTAN

  • The Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan has extended the closure of eastern airspace of the country until further notice. Airports in Sialkot, Bhawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and D.G. Khan will remain closed.
  • According to a senior official, the closure of flight operation at fifteen airports of Pakistan is expected to continue until tomorrow and could be extended further. Pakistani airspace was closed on February 27 for commercial flight operations after Indian fighter aircrafts conducted air strikes in Pakistan.
  • Closure of eastern airspace has affected air travelers severely. Clients are advised to make alternative travel plans by road or train to travel to the Eastern part of Pakistan.

BANGLADESH

  • The left-leaning parties of Bangladesh have threatened to go on strikes if the government raises gas tariff. The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission has been holding a public hearing on proposals for raising gas prices by 80 % for households and 211 % for commercial users.
  • The Left Democratic Alliance party claimed that the hike in gas prices is illogical and unlawful, and they accused the government not being people friendly. Consumer rights groups and energy experts opposed the hike in gas prices saying the gas companies can avoid the possible loss in business by improving their operations and management.
  • The Consumers Association of Bangladesh has filed a petition at the High Court and the High Court is expected to rule on March 31.

SRI LANKA

  • Nurses in Kurunegala, the capital of North Western province launched a strike yesterday. The strike was called after a nurse was assaulted by a doctor in Kurunegala Teaching Hospital.
  • The President of Government Nursing Officers Association claimed that the doctor has been involved in three similar incidents in the past where he had threatened and verbally abused nurses at the hospital. The Health Ministry is conducting an investigation in the assault case.
  • Strikes are likely to affect medical services in the city. Clients are advised to seek alternative hospitals.

Also in SRI LANKA

  • The Sri Lankan government has decided to phase out para-tariffs on imports in five years. However, products related to tourism, manufacturing, and construction will be free of para-tariffs in three years.
  • Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday that the government will abolish para tariffs but will also help the domestic industries to reach international markets. The Treasury Department expects to lose USD 33.6 million by phasing out the para tariffs.
  • Sri Lanka currently stands at 100 out of 190 countries in Ease of Doing Business rank released by World Bank for the year 2018.

INDIA

  • India’s bid to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed’s chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist was stalled further yesterday after China put a technical hold on the proposal in the UNSC to ban Masood after his alleged involvement in various terror acts in India. The proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN since 2009.
  • The proposal was moved under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee by France, the UK, and the US on February 27, after Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for a suicide attacked which killed 44 Indian soldiers in a suicide attack on February 14. China has asked for more time to examine the proposal.
  • A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs said yesterday that India will continue to work in all available avenues to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

Also in INDIA

  • A group of 20 suspected Maoists allegedly killed a farm supervisor and burnt two vehicles on March 11 in Kukurkundi village in the Malkangiri district in the eastern state of Odisha. The violence was triggered by the Maoists to protest the road construction between Temurapali and Kukurkundi village.
  • It is suspected that Darva Division of Communist Party of India (Maoist), which operates in Chhattisgarh state, Malkangiri, and Koraput districts of Odisha is behind the crime. Search operations have been intensified by the security forces in the area.
  • Clients are advised to avoid traveling to the Malkangiri district of Odisha.

 

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in INDONESIA

  • According to Police, the wife of a suspected terrorist blew herself and their children up yesterday in the Sibolga city in North Sumatra. Police had not entered the scene suspecting the presence of more explosives. One police officer was injured during the blast.
  • The suspected terrorist allegedly belonged to the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah terror group which has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State.
  • President Joko Widodo is scheduled to visit Sibolga on March 17 to inaugurate a port. Clients are advised to be aware of security measures in the city for Widodo’s visit.

Also in INDONESIA

  • Political pressure groups such as the Pancasila Youth and the Betawi Brotherhood Forum have declared their support for President Widodo. President Widodo’s closeness with the people and the perception he is not from the now old “New Order” could be the reason for the support.
  • Opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto has played down the announcement by the groups saying it is a normal thing during presidential election.
  • The pressure groups have large followings spread across Indonesia as they have members at the district and sub-district level, which can have significant influence on the local population.

Also in INDONESIA

  • Six foreign-controlled mining operations in Indonesia intend to divest shares in the future to meet Indonesian regulations. According to the Indonesian mining rules, foreign-controlled miners are required to reduce their ownership after five years of production and by ten years, it should be reduced to 49 % or lower.
  • The companies include PT Vale Indonesia- a unit of Newcrest Mining, PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals, PT Kasongan Bumi Kencana, PT Ensbury Kalteng Mining and PT Galuh Kencana.
  • However, it is not specified yet when the companies will start divesting their shares.

THAILAND

  • Two insurgents dressed like women hurled a pipe bomb at the living quarters of a police protection unit yesterday at the Subotasae village in the
  • Yi-ngo district of southern Narathiwat province.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • The K92 Mining Company has announced the commencement of the expansion of the Kainantu gold mine in the Eastern Highlands province, to double current capacity up to 400,000 tonnes per annum. It will increase annual production to approximately 120,000 ounces of gold equivalent.
  • K92’s total capital expenditure for 2019 is projected to be USD 30 million. It aims to increase its employees from 650 to 750 by the end of 2019, and to 800 by the end of 2020 with over 96% of all positions being filled by Papua New Guinea nationals.
  • K92 is liable to pay the government USD 300 million as corporate tax and salaries during the entire expansion period. The company is aiming for a total revenue of USD 2 billion during the expansion period.

THE PHILIPPINES

  • The Philippines cut its 2019 GDP growth target from between seven and eight percent to between six and seven percent, citing a delay in final legislative approval of the budget. The chief of economic planning said that the growth may fall to below five percent.
  • The Finance Secretary said yesterday that the reduced GDP growth targets reflected major issues such as the absence of a 2019 government budget and the ongoing US-China trade dispute, which are both key Philippine trading partners.
  • Differences between the Philippines Senate and House of Representatives over fund realignments in the ratified 2019 budget has delayed approval of the budget by President Rodrigo Duterte. It has forced the government to operate on last year’s budget. In 2018, the Philippines economy grew by 6.2%.

Also in THE PHILIPPINES

  • President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday the the peace talks between the government and the communist New People’s Army will not resume without his conditions being met. President Duterte said, if they want to have peace during his term, they have to drop the arms and stop extortion and collecting revolutionary taxes.
  • President Duterte added, that the government is willing to incur the costs for the resumption of the talks, which collapsed in November 2017.
  • The New People’s Army is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, it was formed in 1969. According to estimates, it had approximately 3,200 members in 2015 operating in rural areas throughout the Philippines.

MALAYSIA

  • The Minister of Resources said yesterday that bauxite miners must each conduct a study on the environmental impact of their sites in Malaysia before receiving licenses to restart their operations. The temporary bans are due to end on March 31. It is estimated that each study will take at least six months to complete.
  • Slower bauxite exports from Malaysia will increase the global prices of aluminum. Before the ban Malaysia was one of the biggest suppliers of Bauxite to China, exporting nearly 3.5 million tons a month.
  • Bauxite mining was banned in 2016 after illegal and unregulated mines in the eastern state of Pahang contaminated water sources. Stricter rules for mining are expected in Malaysia.

SOUTH KOREA

  • Possible economic sanctions on South Korea by Japan over a legal dispute concerning wartime labor cases has raised anxiety in Seoul and Tokyo and is causing tensions for companies in the two countries. Representatives of foreign ministries from both sides are scheduled hold talks today to discuss the issue.
  • Earlier, Japanese companies Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, were ordered by a South Korean court, to compensate Koreans who were forced to work for them during World War II. The court had approved the seizure of Nippon Steel assets in South Korea and a similar petition has been filed against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The Japanese government has expressed its displeasure over the issue.
  • Japan is the fifth-largest export destination for South Korea. By sanctioning South Korea, it can have adverse effect on Japan because 85% of Japanese companies operating in South Korea show profits from their Korean operations.

Audio Overview of East Asia Pacific Issues, Thursday, 14 March 2019

APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses Main Issues in East Asia Pacific.

 

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in INDONESIA

  • According to Police, the wife of a suspected terrorist blew herself and their children up yesterday in the Sibolga city in North Sumatra. Police had not entered the scene suspecting the presence of more explosives. One police officer was injured during the blast.
  • The suspected terrorist allegedly belonged to the Jamaah Ansharut Daulah terror group which has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State.
  • President Joko Widodo is scheduled to visit Sibolga on March 17 to inaugurate a port. Clients are advised to be aware of security measures in the city for Widodo’s visit.

Also in INDONESIA

  • Political pressure groups such as the Pancasila Youth and the Betawi Brotherhood Forum have declared their support for President Widodo. President Widodo’s closeness with the people and the perception he is not from the now old “New Order” could be the reason for the support.
  • Opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto has played down the announcement by the groups saying it is a normal thing during presidential election.
  • The pressure groups have large followings spread across Indonesia as they have members at the district and sub-district level, which can have significant influence on the local population.

Also in INDONESIA

  • Six foreign-controlled mining operations in Indonesia intend to divest shares in the future to meet Indonesian regulations. According to the Indonesian mining rules, foreign-controlled miners are required to reduce their ownership after five years of production and by ten years, it should be reduced to 49 % or lower.
  • The companies include PT Vale Indonesia- a unit of Newcrest Mining, PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals, PT Kasongan Bumi Kencana, PT Ensbury Kalteng Mining and PT Galuh Kencana.
  • However, it is not specified yet when the companies will start divesting their shares.

THAILAND

  • Two insurgents dressed like women hurled a pipe bomb at the living quarters of a police protection unit yesterday at the Subotasae village in the
  • Yi-ngo district of southern Narathiwat province.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • The K92 Mining Company has announced the commencement of the expansion of the Kainantu gold mine in the Eastern Highlands province, to double current capacity up to 400,000 tonnes per annum. It will increase annual production to approximately 120,000 ounces of gold equivalent.
  • K92’s total capital expenditure for 2019 is projected to be USD 30 million. It aims to increase its employees from 650 to 750 by the end of 2019, and to 800 by the end of 2020 with over 96% of all positions being filled by Papua New Guinea nationals.
  • K92 is liable to pay the government USD 300 million as corporate tax and salaries during the entire expansion period. The company is aiming for a total revenue of USD 2 billion during the expansion period.

THE PHILIPPINES

  • The Philippines cut its 2019 GDP growth target from between seven and eight percent to between six and seven percent, citing a delay in final legislative approval of the budget. The chief of economic planning said that the growth may fall to below five percent.
  • The Finance Secretary said yesterday that the reduced GDP growth targets reflected major issues such as the absence of a 2019 government budget and the ongoing US-China trade dispute, which are both key Philippine trading partners.
  • Differences between the Philippines Senate and House of Representatives over fund realignments in the ratified 2019 budget has delayed approval of the budget by President Rodrigo Duterte. It has forced the government to operate on last year’s budget. In 2018, the Philippines economy grew by 6.2%.

Also in THE PHILIPPINES

  • President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday the the peace talks between the government and the communist New People’s Army will not resume without his conditions being met. President Duterte said, if they want to have peace during his term, they have to drop the arms and stop extortion and collecting revolutionary taxes.
  • President Duterte added, that the government is willing to incur the costs for the resumption of the talks, which collapsed in November 2017.
  • The New People’s Army is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, it was formed in 1969. According to estimates, it had approximately 3,200 members in 2015 operating in rural areas throughout the Philippines.

MALAYSIA

  • The Minister of Resources said yesterday that bauxite miners must each conduct a study on the environmental impact of their sites in Malaysia before receiving licenses to restart their operations. The temporary bans are due to end on March 31. It is estimated that each study will take at least six months to complete.
  • Slower bauxite exports from Malaysia will increase the global prices of aluminum. Before the ban Malaysia was one of the biggest suppliers of Bauxite to China, exporting nearly 3.5 million tons a month.
  • Bauxite mining was banned in 2016 after illegal and unregulated mines in the eastern state of Pahang contaminated water sources. Stricter rules for mining are expected in Malaysia.

SOUTH KOREA

  • Possible economic sanctions on South Korea by Japan over a legal dispute concerning wartime labor cases has raised anxiety in Seoul and Tokyo and is causing tensions for companies in the two countries. Representatives of foreign ministries from both sides are scheduled hold talks today to discuss the issue.
  • Earlier, Japanese companies Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal, were ordered by a South Korean court, to compensate Koreans who were forced to work for them during World War II. The court had approved the seizure of Nippon Steel assets in South Korea and a similar petition has been filed against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The Japanese government has expressed its displeasure over the issue.
  • Japan is the fifth-largest export destination for South Korea. By sanctioning South Korea, it can have adverse effect on Japan because 85% of Japanese companies operating in South Korea show profits from their Korean operations.

 

Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in PAKISTAN

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday in a meeting decided to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, with stricter punishments. As per the proposed amendment to the Anti Money Laundering Act, the punishment for money laundering crimes will be increased to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of USD 35,000.
  • The Law Minister briefed the meeting on the proposed amendments in the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act, 1947, Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010 and the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997.
  • According to Customs and Inland Revenue Intelligence of Pakistan, a total of 335 suspicious transactions were reported in 2018 and inquiries have started against 510 people. The Customs have recovered more than USD 47 million from the suspects.

Also in PAKISTAN

  • The Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan has extended the closure of eastern airspace of the country until further notice. Airports in Sialkot, Bhawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and D.G. Khan will remain closed.
  • According to a senior official, the closure of flight operation at fifteen airports of Pakistan is expected to continue until tomorrow and could be extended further. Pakistani airspace was closed on February 27 for commercial flight operations after Indian fighter aircrafts conducted air strikes in Pakistan.
  • Closure of eastern airspace has affected air travelers severely. Clients are advised to make alternative travel plans by road or train to travel to the Eastern part of Pakistan.

BANGLADESH

  • The left-leaning parties of Bangladesh have threatened to go on strikes if the government raises gas tariff. The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission has been holding a public hearing on proposals for raising gas prices by 80 % for households and 211 % for commercial users.
  • The Left Democratic Alliance party claimed that the hike in gas prices is illogical and unlawful, and they accused the government not being people friendly. Consumer rights groups and energy experts opposed the hike in gas prices saying the gas companies can avoid the possible loss in business by improving their operations and management.
  • The Consumers Association of Bangladesh has filed a petition at the High Court and the High Court is expected to rule on March 31.

SRI LANKA

  • Nurses in Kurunegala, the capital of North Western province launched a strike yesterday. The strike was called after a nurse was assaulted by a doctor in Kurunegala Teaching Hospital.
  • The President of Government Nursing Officers Association claimed that the doctor has been involved in three similar incidents in the past where he had threatened and verbally abused nurses at the hospital. The Health Ministry is conducting an investigation in the assault case.
  • Strikes are likely to affect medical services in the city. Clients are advised to seek alternative hospitals.

Also in SRI LANKA

  • The Sri Lankan government has decided to phase out para-tariffs on imports in five years. However, products related to tourism, manufacturing, and construction will be free of para-tariffs in three years.
  • Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera said yesterday that the government will abolish para tariffs but will also help the domestic industries to reach international markets. The Treasury Department expects to lose USD 33.6 million by phasing out the para tariffs.
  • Sri Lanka currently stands at 100 out of 190 countries in Ease of Doing Business rank released by World Bank for the year 2018.

INDIA

  • India’s bid to designate Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed’s chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist was stalled further yesterday after China put a technical hold on the proposal in the UNSC to ban Masood after his alleged involvement in various terror acts in India. The proposal was the fourth such bid at the UN since 2009.
  • The proposal was moved under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee by France, the UK, and the US on February 27, after Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for a suicide attacked which killed 44 Indian soldiers in a suicide attack on February 14. China has asked for more time to examine the proposal.
  • A spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs said yesterday that India will continue to work in all available avenues to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

Also in INDIA

  • A group of 20 suspected Maoists allegedly killed a farm supervisor and burnt two vehicles on March 11 in Kukurkundi village in the Malkangiri district in the eastern state of Odisha. The violence was triggered by the Maoists to protest the road construction between Temurapali and Kukurkundi village.
  • It is suspected that Darva Division of Communist Party of India (Maoist), which operates in Chhattisgarh state, Malkangiri, and Koraput districts of Odisha is behind the crime. Search operations have been intensified by the security forces in the area.
  • Clients are advised to avoid traveling to the Malkangiri district of Odisha.

Audio Overview of East Asia Pacific Issues, Wednesday, 13 March 2019

APAC Assistance Director Paul Quaglia discusses Main Issues in East Asia Pacific.

 

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in INDONESIA

  • President Joko Widodo said yesterday that he is considering forming new ministries for investments and exports to tackle a decline in investment and weak export growth. The statement comes weeks before the elections amidst rising concerns over a constant fall in foreign direct investments.
  • The Investment Coordinating Board reported an 8.8% decline in foreign investment and a 30 % decline in foreign direct investment in 2018 compared to 2017. Exports grew at 65 % in 2018 compared 16 % in 2017.
  • Bringing back investments to Indonesia will be the key for Joko Widodo if he gets re-elected in April 19 elections. Indonesia ranks 73 among 190 economies in 2018, in the ease of doing business ranking published by the World Bank dropping one place from 72 in 2017.

Also in INDONESIA

  • A debate between the two vice-presidential candidates, Ma’ruf Amin and Sandiaga Uno, will be held on March 17. .
  • The debate will cover topics including education, health, human resources, social issues and culture. Both candidates lack experience in working on policies which could prove a challenge for them.
  • Indonesia will hold Presidential elections on April 19. Incumbent President Joko Widodo is leading in the latest opinion polls with 59% while his challenger Prabowo Subianto is lagging behind with 31%.

Also in INDONESIA

  • A police officer and other people were injured after an explosive device was detonated yesterday during a anti-terror raid on a house in Sibolga city in North Sumatra. One suspect was arrested in the blast.
  • The incident occurred few days before President Joko Widodo’s scheduled visit to Sibolga on March 17.
  • Clients are advised to expect travel delays due to extra security checks in Sibolga city until the President completes his visit.

THAILAND

  • The prime ministerial candidate of the Pheu Thai Party, Sudarat has demanded that Abhisit Vejjajiva of Democrat Party should decide whether his party will consider forming coalition with the pro-military Palang Pracharath Party. Abhisit had announced that he would not back Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s re-election.
  • Sudarat said that there would be two choices after the March 24 elections, first is being a part of a coalition government and second is to be in opposition.
  • Several leaders from different parties have accused Abhisit of confusing the voters and his announcement is driven by a personal agenda. However, they added that the motive of Abhisit will be clearer post March 24 election.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • The President of Bougainville John Momis yesterday said that the landowners who criticized the government’s proposed changes in mining laws have been misled by mining companies and others with vested interest. The government has sought money to help pay for the Bougainville Island referendum to be held in October on seeking independence or greater autonomy from Papua New Guinea.
  • The president added that under the new law the landowners will get more returns from the mining companies. The old law only guarantees the ownership of the minerals to landowners before extraction.
  • The mining law change is seen as a step by the government to set up a joint venture named Bougainville Advance Mining with an Australian company, Caballus. They aim to re-open the Panguna copper mine in the southern parts of Bougainville Island.

THE PHILIPPINES

  • A police officer was killed and another injured in an ambush by the New People’s Army rebels in the Motiong town on the Samar Island in the Eastern Visayas region. Police said, they are in pursuit of the rebels in the area. The ambush occurred during a regular patrol by the police.
  • Clients are advised to exploy extreme caution while travelling in Samar Island and to expect extra security checks in the Island.

Also in THE PHILIPPINES

  • The Department of Finance has appealed to the Senate to adopt its proposal for fiscal mining reforms, as contained under the Senate Bill 1979. The Department of Finance wants to pushes for a uniform royalty rate of 5 % for all mining operations located inside or outside a mineral reservation areas.
  • For those operations outside mineral reservations, the bill seeks royalty fees 3 % in the first three years of implementation, 4 % on the fourth year and 5 % in the fifth year. It also provides for an additional government share when its basic share is less than 50 % of the net mining revenue.
  • The Senate Bill if passed may generate USD 136 million. According to the data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the Bureau of Internal revenue collected USD 20 million in excise taxes from mining operations in 2017.

MALAYSIA

  • Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that he’s looking into the options for selling off or shutting down the Malaysian Airlines. He said, the decision is open for the government to decide and it must be decided soon.
  • The Malaysian Airlines is facing increased pressure to revive its performance post its parent company Khazanah Berhard incurred a loss of USD 1.5 billion in 2018. Managing director of Khazanah said that the airline is looking into flight routes to Indonesia and Thailand to revive its loss.
  • Malaysian Airlines was made into a private entity in 2014 post the tragic incidents it faced. First, being the disappearance of the flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean and second flight being shot down over Ukraine in 2014.

CHINA

  • The United States trade chief has warned that the negotiations with China to end the tariff war is at risk of failing, saying major issues still need to be sorted out and he could not predict success at the current stage.
  • One of the key issue being tasked by the U.S is to ensure that China lives up to its commitments in the trade deal, and the U.S should reserve the rights to impose tariffs on China if the deal is found violated.
  • China and the U.S officials hope to sign the deal between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S President Donald Trump during President Xi’s visit to the U.S in March.

 

Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in PAKISTAN

  • The Pakistan Air Force reportedly remains on full operational alert with multiple squadrons of F-16 fighters being deployed on its eastern front with India. The Pakistani air space along the border with India is still under restrictions.
  • The Pakistan Army and its Special Forces brigade have been deployed all along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and air defenses have been strengthened across Pakistan.
  • The eastern airspace of Pakistan along the border with India remains closed. The security measures come after India conducted air strikes in Pakistan on February 26, following which Pakistan retaliated by conducting its own airstrike on February 27, while shooting down an Indian fighter and capturing a pilot. The captured pilot has been returned back to India.

Also in PAKISTAN

  • Police have obtained surety bonds to ensure peaceful behavior of twenty-nine individuals out of the thirty-four individuals who are being monitored under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The surety was offered to maintain security ahead of the celebration of Pakistan Day on March 23.
  • As per to the bond, the individuals under watch list, cannot leave the country and they can’t get arms licenses. Additionally, they have to inform the police before leaving and after returning to their permanent residence.
  • Police and the army have started joint search operations on a daily basis across major cities to prevent any untoward incidents. Clients are advised to expect travel delays across major cities due to increased security measures until March 23.

Also in PAKISTAN

  • Pakistan government plans to offer more than thirty onshore gas blocks to foreign companies for exploration.
  • Head of Task Force on Energy Reforms, said that Pakistan is drafting its first shale gas policy in 2019, with aims to license the shale gas blocks in the first half of 2020. Pakistan’s conventional gas reserves are estimated at 20 trillion cubic feet, and shale gas reserves at more than 100 trillion cubic feet.
  • According to the Petroleum Ministry of Pakistan, domestic gas output has fallen to 1.46 trillion cubic feet in 2017-18, from 1.51 trillion cubic feet in 2012-13. The shortfall has led to severe gas shortages across Pakistan where the demand has risen sharply over the years.

BANGLADESH

  • Supporters from the Bangladesh Awami League party and the Juba League clashed yesterday at Habignaj district in north-eastern part of Bangladesh. The clash has led to several critical injuries.
  • According to the police, a derogatory remark allegedly made by an Awami League candidate on social media led to the Juba League Chairman to respond. Police have taken control of the situation.
  • Clients are advised to avoid any political and religious events across Bangladesh as the clashes between the political parties are major of a concern.

Also in BANGLADESH

  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday strongly condemned the February 14, attack on Indian soldiers and showed her support to India’s anti-terrorism stand during her talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The two Prime Ministers jointly inaugurated four projects which included the supply of buses for the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation, thirty-six community clinics in north and northeastern districts of Bangladesh bordering India, water treatment plants and extension of India’s National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh.
  • Foreign Minister of India Sushma Swaraj said, the projects inaugurated by the two Prime Ministers symbolize the breadth and depth of partnership between the two countries and also reaffirm India’s Neighborhood First Policy.

INDIA

  • A three-member mediation panel appointed by the Supreme Court arrived in Ayodhya city in Uttar Pradesh state yesterday to begin the process to resolve the Babri Masjid-Ram birthplace title suit from today.
  • The mediation will take place inside the Gendalal Dixit Guest House inside the Awadh University campus where entry and exit have been restricted. According to the court order, the mediation process should be concluded in eight weeks and the first status report is to be submitted in four weeks.
  • Strict security measures have been imposed along major roads in the city. The identity of all residents has been verified and heavy police force has been deployed in the area.

Also in INDIA

  • The Civil Aviation Authority of India yesterday decided to ground all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft immediately, after the fatal crash of a Boeing 737 MAX plane in Ethiopia on March 10. According to the official of Aviation Authority, the planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure the plane models safe operations.
  • Domestic airlines Jet Airways and SpiceJet operate Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The decision is likely to affect the schedules of both airlines.
  • Clients are advised to confirm the status of the flights after the suspension and consider alternate airlines.

Audio Overview of South Asia Issues, Wednesday, 13 March 2019

APAC Assistance Operations Assistant Bhargav Reddy discusses Main Issues in South Asia.

 

Main Issues in South Asia

Firstly in PAKISTAN

  • The Pakistan Air Force reportedly remains on full operational alert with multiple squadrons of F-16 fighters being deployed on its eastern front with India. The Pakistani air space along the border with India is still under restrictions.
  • The Pakistan Army and its Special Forces brigade have been deployed all along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and air defenses have been strengthened across Pakistan.
  • The eastern airspace of Pakistan along the border with India remains closed. The security measures come after India conducted air strikes in Pakistan on February 26, following which Pakistan retaliated by conducting its own airstrike on February 27, while shooting down an Indian fighter and capturing a pilot. The captured pilot has been returned back to India.

Also in PAKISTAN

  • Police have obtained surety bonds to ensure peaceful behavior of twenty-nine individuals out of the thirty-four individuals who are being monitored under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The surety was offered to maintain security ahead of the celebration of Pakistan Day on March 23.
  • As per to the bond, the individuals under watch list, cannot leave the country and they can’t get arms licenses. Additionally, they have to inform the police before leaving and after returning to their permanent residence.
  • Police and the army have started joint search operations on a daily basis across major cities to prevent any untoward incidents. Clients are advised to expect travel delays across major cities due to increased security measures until March 23.

Also in PAKISTAN

  • Pakistan government plans to offer more than thirty onshore gas blocks to foreign companies for exploration.
  • Head of Task Force on Energy Reforms, said that Pakistan is drafting its first shale gas policy in 2019, with aims to license the shale gas blocks in the first half of 2020. Pakistan’s conventional gas reserves are estimated at 20 trillion cubic feet, and shale gas reserves at more than 100 trillion cubic feet.
  • According to the Petroleum Ministry of Pakistan, domestic gas output has fallen to 1.46 trillion cubic feet in 2017-18, from 1.51 trillion cubic feet in 2012-13. The shortfall has led to severe gas shortages across Pakistan where the demand has risen sharply over the years.

BANGLADESH

  • Supporters from the Bangladesh Awami League party and the Juba League clashed yesterday at Habignaj district in north-eastern part of Bangladesh. The clash has led to several critical injuries.
  • According to the police, a derogatory remark allegedly made by an Awami League candidate on social media led to the Juba League Chairman to respond. Police have taken control of the situation.
  • Clients are advised to avoid any political and religious events across Bangladesh as the clashes between the political parties are major of a concern.

Also in BANGLADESH

  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday strongly condemned the February 14, attack on Indian soldiers and showed her support to India’s anti-terrorism stand during her talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The two Prime Ministers jointly inaugurated four projects which included the supply of buses for the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation, thirty-six community clinics in north and northeastern districts of Bangladesh bordering India, water treatment plants and extension of India’s National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh.
  • Foreign Minister of India Sushma Swaraj said, the projects inaugurated by the two Prime Ministers symbolize the breadth and depth of partnership between the two countries and also reaffirm India’s Neighborhood First Policy.

INDIA

  • A three-member mediation panel appointed by the Supreme Court arrived in Ayodhya city in Uttar Pradesh state yesterday to begin the process to resolve the Babri Masjid-Ram birthplace title suit from today.
  • The mediation will take place inside the Gendalal Dixit Guest House inside the Awadh University campus where entry and exit have been restricted. According to the court order, the mediation process should be concluded in eight weeks and the first status report is to be submitted in four weeks.
  • Strict security measures have been imposed along major roads in the city. The identity of all residents has been verified and heavy police force has been deployed in the area.

Also in INDIA

  • The Civil Aviation Authority of India yesterday decided to ground all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft immediately, after the fatal crash of a Boeing 737 MAX plane in Ethiopia on March 10. According to the official of Aviation Authority, the planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure the plane models safe operations.
  • Domestic airlines Jet Airways and SpiceJet operate Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The decision is likely to affect the schedules of both airlines.
  • Clients are advised to confirm the status of the flights after the suspension and consider alternate airlines.

 

Main Issues in East Asia Pacific

Firstly in INDONESIA

  • President Joko Widodo said yesterday that he is considering forming new ministries for investments and exports to tackle a decline in investment and weak export growth. The statement comes weeks before the elections amidst rising concerns over a constant fall in foreign direct investments.
  • The Investment Coordinating Board reported an 8.8% decline in foreign investment and a 30 % decline in foreign direct investment in 2018 compared to 2017. Exports grew at 65 % in 2018 compared 16 % in 2017.
  • Bringing back investments to Indonesia will be the key for Joko Widodo if he gets re-elected in April 19 elections. Indonesia ranks 73 among 190 economies in 2018, in the ease of doing business ranking published by the World Bank dropping one place from 72 in 2017.

Also in INDONESIA

  • A debate between the two vice-presidential candidates, Ma’ruf Amin and Sandiaga Uno, will be held on March 17. .
  • The debate will cover topics including education, health, human resources, social issues and culture. Both candidates lack experience in working on policies which could prove a challenge for them.
  • Indonesia will hold Presidential elections on April 19. Incumbent President Joko Widodo is leading in the latest opinion polls with 59% while his challenger Prabowo Subianto is lagging behind with 31%.

Also in INDONESIA

  • A police officer and other people were injured after an explosive device was detonated yesterday during a anti-terror raid on a house in Sibolga city in North Sumatra. One suspect was arrested in the blast.
  • The incident occurred few days before President Joko Widodo’s scheduled visit to Sibolga on March 17.
  • Clients are advised to expect travel delays due to extra security checks in Sibolga city until the President completes his visit.

THAILAND

  • The prime ministerial candidate of the Pheu Thai Party, Sudarat has demanded that Abhisit Vejjajiva of Democrat Party should decide whether his party will consider forming coalition with the pro-military Palang Pracharath Party. Abhisit had announced that he would not back Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s re-election.
  • Sudarat said that there would be two choices after the March 24 elections, first is being a part of a coalition government and second is to be in opposition.
  • Several leaders from different parties have accused Abhisit of confusing the voters and his announcement is driven by a personal agenda. However, they added that the motive of Abhisit will be clearer post March 24 election.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

  • The President of Bougainville John Momis yesterday said that the landowners who criticized the government’s proposed changes in mining laws have been misled by mining companies and others with vested interest. The government has sought money to help pay for the Bougainville Island referendum to be held in October on seeking independence or greater autonomy from Papua New Guinea.
  • The president added that under the new law the landowners will get more returns from the mining companies. The old law only guarantees the ownership of the minerals to landowners before extraction.
  • The mining law change is seen as a step by the government to set up a joint venture named Bougainville Advance Mining with an Australian company, Caballus. They aim to re-open the Panguna copper mine in the southern parts of Bougainville Island.

THE PHILIPPINES

  • A police officer was killed and another injured in an ambush by the New People’s Army rebels in the Motiong town on the Samar Island in the Eastern Visayas region. Police said, they are in pursuit of the rebels in the area. The ambush occurred during a regular patrol by the police.
  • Clients are advised to exploy extreme caution while travelling in Samar Island and to expect extra security checks in the Island.

Also in THE PHILIPPINES

  • The Department of Finance has appealed to the Senate to adopt its proposal for fiscal mining reforms, as contained under the Senate Bill 1979. The Department of Finance wants to pushes for a uniform royalty rate of 5 % for all mining operations located inside or outside a mineral reservation areas.
  • For those operations outside mineral reservations, the bill seeks royalty fees 3 % in the first three years of implementation, 4 % on the fourth year and 5 % in the fifth year. It also provides for an additional government share when its basic share is less than 50 % of the net mining revenue.
  • The Senate Bill if passed may generate USD 136 million. According to the data from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the Bureau of Internal revenue collected USD 20 million in excise taxes from mining operations in 2017.

MALAYSIA

  • Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that he’s looking into the options for selling off or shutting down the Malaysian Airlines. He said, the decision is open for the government to decide and it must be decided soon.
  • The Malaysian Airlines is facing increased pressure to revive its performance post its parent company Khazanah Berhard incurred a loss of USD 1.5 billion in 2018. Managing director of Khazanah said that the airline is looking into flight routes to Indonesia and Thailand to revive its loss.
  • Malaysian Airlines was made into a private entity in 2014 post the tragic incidents it faced. First, being the disappearance of the flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean and second flight being shot down over Ukraine in 2014.

CHINA

  • The United States trade chief has warned that the negotiations with China to end the tariff war is at risk of failing, saying major issues still need to be sorted out and he could not predict success at the current stage.
  • One of the key issue being tasked by the U.S is to ensure that China lives up to its commitments in the trade deal, and the U.S should reserve the rights to impose tariffs on China if the deal is found violated.
  • China and the U.S officials hope to sign the deal between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S President Donald Trump during President Xi’s visit to the U.S in March.

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